Saturday, 21 November 2015

My Get-up-&-go has Got-up-&-Gone!

Hello all! I had planned to make Christmas cards today to go in the Artisans Craft Shop at the Chateau, but you know, I can't be bothered! I have spent the morning making Christmas Cake (rather belatedly!) and carrot cake for tomorrow. Plus some veggie soup.

 I also battled with some new covers for the sofas...It took me forever to iron the blessed things and then more hours to work out how they fitted on. Especially with "help" from Bib the cat!
They look okay - but nowhere near as neat as this one! - but I think we bought a size too big, so it doesn't quite fit as tightly as it might. We could send them back but actually can't be arsed!! Ours are a nicer teal greeny blue. 

My back hurts a lot today, Mr FD is very stressed (partly due to the joys of French bureaucracy and partly due to his procrastinatory powers, which have meant that the likelihood renewing something that needs to be renewed before the end of 2015 becomes slimmer!) and so we've been a bit snitty with each other. next week is looking like this:
TODAY: spicy chicken stirfry. A Chinese girl at church gave me a jar of spicy Korean marinade - I'd tried it at the Church picnic & really liked it. I'll marinade the chicken in this for an hour, and then stir fry some veggies and we'll have it with ricve.

TOMORROW: It's the annual Church Thanksgiving Lunch. I've made carrot cake to take for dessert. Mr FD will have something from the freezer.

MONDAY: Ostrich steaks, chips, some kind of veggies. Green beans, I think.

TUESDAY: Duck breast (save the fat! I want to use it to make bird feeders!), potatoes and veggies.

WEDNESDAY: Lamb with spinach & yoghurt. (from the old Crockpot cook book) It's a lamb-and-spinach stew cooked in the slow cooker. Nothing out of this world! I'll spice it up a bit with some garlic and worcester sauce! I'll prepare it before I leave for my day teaching in Roanne so it will be ready when I get back from dancing.

THURSDAY: Fresh pasta, lardons, mushrooms, pesto. Dead quick after shopping.

FRIDAY: Somerset Stew with sausages, and fewer beans but added butternut squash! Sounds good and warming.

SATURDAY: Pork chop from Sorted- sounds delicious!
We've got a bit of snow today -  a real shock after high temperatures (for November!) of 18°C. I hjope we won't get more before tomorrow.

As always, thank you for your lovely comments!

POMPOM liked the look of last Tuesday's dinner - it was only left overs, but it was very nice! 

KEZZIE gave me some suggestions for dies for my Big Shot - thank you too for the link to the site, Kezzie! Like Kezzie, I'm aware that I need to try to use the craft-stash things I've got before buying more!

JANE-&-CHRIS: Thank you for your comment about the cards (and Pompom & Kezzie too!) You're right about how we should react to terrorists...although it's easier said than done, at the moment! The Fete de la Lumière and the Christmas Market have both been cancelled in Lyon, which is a great shame, but I can understand that people just would not feel safe - and a big open, public gathering like that would be impossible to police successfully.

TRISH has made a similar point. I keep thinking back to the IRA situation in the 80s - at least they gave a warning, most times. It was disruption rather than killing. 

MICHELLE: How did the squash bake go? Mr FD cooked it with a few minor modifications and it was very nice!

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Добро пожаловать *

Hello dear Peeps, from a slightly subdued Dormouse Towers. Of course, after Friday's terrible events, one cannot help but be subdued. I wrote a post about it over at The Teapot.

But this is life as we have to live it: the terrorists want to sow fear, and panic and terror. They want us to live un-normal lives, terrified of what could happen to us. And while me continuing to write my blog in a cheery manner probably won't strike much of a note with terrorists from I.S. it does at least mean that I am showing that I know that Life and Light has conquered Death. Which leaves me free to blog about food...(!!!)

I have just realised that it is TWO WEEKS since I last posted!! I am sorry. I went to a Craft-and-Leisure show last Saturday, to church on Sunday morning and then ended up being rather busy preparing lessons on Sunday afternoon. The Craft fair was quite good, and I ended up buying my Big Shot as planned. Plus various embossing folders and cutting tools. I'm still very much a beginner, but I look forward to practising lots!

Here are three cards that I've made so far:
This is for someone at church - I used the Big Shot to emboss the card, and also to cut out the dove from an old card from last year. I'm well aware that the writing is horribly wonky, so I'm going to redo the card after I've finished blogging.

Another embossed card, with the little sentiment cut out with another cutting die. This one went to SiL to thank her for my birthday present, and the following one went to my mum whose cheque made all this possible!

I'm reasonably pleased with these, and will be continuing to play and experiment! Anyone with Big Shot experience, please do contact me with suggestions for projects or must-have tools.

Food this week has been reasonably simple, so I don't need to catch up really. Yesterday's planned dinner was abandoned for a pizza from the van...I ate about 2/3 of mine and finished it for lunch today!

Planned for the following week:
TODAY: Slow Cooker Pork Catalan - from an ancient (1970s) slow cooker recipe book. I can't find a recipe to link to, but it's basically pork casserole. I'm not sure what makes it "catalonian" except the green pepper (I used a red one!) and the addition of some olives. Still, hopefully it will be nice whatever it's called!

MONDAY: Sweet Potato and Spinach Pie - not quite this recipe, but nearly. Mine has no cream, and has tomatoes sliced into it, for moisture. Mr FD will make a tomato sauce to go with this, and we'll have it with Jambon Persillade

TUESDAY: Leftover pork stew with baked potato and veggies.

WEDNESDAY: Turkish Meat Loaf - again from the 1970s CrockPot cook book. It's Turkish because it involves a daring teaspoon each of cumin, cinnamon and coriander! To be served with some chips and a tomato-and-red-onion salad. 

THURSDAY: Pasta with bacon and caramelised onions This was Saturday's planned-but-abandoned-for-pizza meal. We have feta to use up.

FRIDAY: Turkish Meat Loaf in some guise or other. I'm thinking possibly with baked potato and coleslaw. Or maybe with baked beans (not very Turkish!!) Ooh, or maybe potato gratin... As Mr FD is preparing this meal it will be his choice (unless I feel generous and make the gratin on Thursday)

SATURDAY: We may be going to Lyon to have a meal out and to see "Spectre". We had planned to go today, but felt that enjoying a film full of explosions, gun shots and killing would not be appropriate after Friday. And if we don't go, there's a couple of ostrich steaks in the freezer we can have!
SUNDAY: It's Thanksgiving Dinner at church. Mr FD isn'ty going, so he can have something from the freezer for his dinner. I will be having turkey-and-all-the-trimmings. I will probably take carrot cake as my dessert offering.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your comments.

PomPom: It sounds like you had a good time in Mexico - I enjoyed reading about it. The stuffed peppers done in the slow cooker were very, very nice. Definitely one to do again!
Here is a Mexican cat just for you:

Jane-and-Chris: I almost always include LolCats in my posts. Two is the usual amount!!

Cro Magnon: You must try pulled pork!! It is very good (although I felt the spice mix was a huge disappointment and much prefer this recipe.)

Trish: I too was glad I didn't have a heart attack!! I did feel a bit as though I had wasted people's time, but changed my mind when I heard yesterday about a woman in the village who had similar symptoms, put them down to indigestion and thought about going to see the doctor the next day if it wasn't better...but didn't make it through the night. 

* I have a new Russian Follower, but every time I try to find out where his/her blog is, my Follower box goes odd. But can I offer him/her a
большой толстый Соня Добро пожаловать (roughly translated as "big fat dormouse welcome!!!)(according to Bing Translator, that is)

Saturday, 31 October 2015

dinner,dinner, dinner, dinner, BATMAN!

Hello dear Peeps! I hope all is well with you. I have had a week without much work, but I didn't do much with it...
Monday I prepared lessons for the weeks ahead

Tuesday I prepared lessons for the weeks ahead, and then slept in the afternoon - I was wiped out for some reason!

Wednesday I had a lesson in the morning, and then spent the afternoon in hospital thinking I was having a heart attack. But I wasn't. So they let me go home. Richard and his friend Andrew came for dinner.

Thursday: I had phone lessons most of the day, but persuaded myself I wanted to go for a walk later in the afternoon. I'm glad I did - very peaceful and calm, and remarkably warm for the end of October! I collected some windfall apples which I fed to the municipal goats as I went by.

Friday: I packed up socks for Socks for Refugees and took them to the Post Office. Then I tidied my study. Then I messed it up again by making Christmas cards. So I tidied it again!

Saturday: This morning I cleared 6 litter trays (definitely my turn as Mr FD had done it the last two weeks, while I was at church!) and then cleared up the litter from the split binbag, AND the litter tray I kicked over. And now I'm here! It's another lovely day so I may go for a walk, although my feet are hurting quite a lot today. We shall see.

Dinners for this week are all planned...When I bought my slow cooker in the summer at Lakeland, I bought a packet of Pulled Pork spices
Tonight we are having pulled pork. I usually use Frugal Queen's recipe (slightly adapted, depending on whether I have all the ingredients) but as I had these spices I thought I'd give it a whirl. We're having it with baked potatoes and coleslaw.

SUNDAY: Turkey Kiev, carrots, braised endives and hassleback potatoes.

MONDAY: Pulled pork, potato wedges, chicory & orange salad.

 TUESDAY: Corned beef hash and baked beans. I may swap Monday & Tuesday round as Mr FD is going to be very busy on Tuesday with work and with helping people to move house. So the pulled pork is an easier dish to throw together (though there's not THAT much work in the CBHash!). I might have to do the shopping after work today, instead of Thursday, in order to maximise cooking time on Thursday.

WEDNESDAY: Freezer meal. Don't know what's in there!!

THURSDAY: As my afternoon student has cancelled today's lesson, I've invited friends over for dinner. They run a restaurant and so don't have many free evenings, & neither do I during the week, but this is one where we coincide. Jean-Luc is a Michelin starred chef but I'm not going to be intimidated! (Well, not much!!) If I shop on Tuesday I'll have time around my lessons (8-9 am, 10 - 10.45am, 11-11.45 am and 2 - 2.45 pm) to prepare the meal!
I'm doing the River Cottage warm salad that I didn't do for Richard & Andrew, Slow Cooker Sun dried tomato and balsamic lamb stew with mash and green veggies, and then a dessert. Not sure what, but I may just buy a tart. (Traudel has just phoned & offered to bring dessert. So I gratefully accepted!)

FRIDAY: Spicy pork and rice Mr FD is in charge of this one. 

SATURDAY: Vegetarian Slow Cooker Quinoa stuffed peppers...except I'm using rice and chickpeas instead of quinoa and lentils... Basically a mix of rice, feta, chickpeas and olives stuffed into peppers & cooked in the slow cooker.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for leaving your comments. I am always very happy to read them!

POMPOM: I'm sorry to hear the Parisians were unhelpful (Lol!) but I look forward to your arrival for Pulled Pork tonight. The cats are looking their cutest, specially for you! Do you want to come & meet Traudel and Jean-Luc on Thursday?

KEZZIE: I look forward to seeing the results of your work on the Sidekick (I have no idea what it is, but guess it's a type of embossing machine. As I said, I've been making Christmas cards to sell - mostly using a couple of kits that I bought in Noz. I've got lots of cards from last year to use as well, so I can see another creative day coming up soon!

SHEEPSKINS & FAIRYLIGHTS: I am very fond of my Pandora braceloert already - my friend Alison gave me a charm for my birthday too (it was she who prompted Mr FD...!)
Thank you all for visiting! I hope you've found some inspiration for your menus this week! Do let me know if you decide to try anything!

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Wot - no LOL catz?!

Thank you for birthday wishes. I appreciate them very much. Mr FD bought me a lovely Pandora bracelet, with a charm to start the collection

I have rather wanted one of these for quite a long time, and my friend Alison managed to prompt MrFD in time for the birthday! My MiL sent me an Amazon voucher - I promptly ordered THREE Rend Collective CDs! My mum sent me a cheque which I am going to spend when I go to a craft fair in a couple of weeks time

I am considering going a bit mad and buying a Big Shot machine, or something similar, but we shall see.

We went out for dinner to a restaurant run by friends - we had a lovely starter of fresh woodland mushrooms, followed by duck, cheese and then chocolate cake. Traudel and Jean-Luc (the chef - whose birthday it was too!) came and shared a bottle of fizzies with us. Veryu nice. I'd made a carrot cake in the afternoon, and I took that to share at church today.

Our dinners this week are planned...
TODAY: Slow cooker Panang Lamb curry. This link isn't to a slow cooker recipe, but it gives an idea of what it will be like. I forgot to buy any rice, so I was going to make Jamie Oliver flat breads, but I see the link suggests noodles. I'm as yet undecided. It looks rather a "wet" sauce so I may go with the bread.

MONDAY: Hairy Dieter Cornish pasties. With coleslaw and maybe potato wedges, but maybe not...

TUESDAY: The rest of the curry, with noodles. Or rice if I've bought it!

WEDNESDAY: Richard came with us to the restaurant yesterday, and his friend Andrew was due to come too, but was too tired. Mr FD wants to pick the brains of Andrew as he's a professional photographer, & MrFD has a new camera, so I've invited them for a meal today. I'm not working much this week (and there's no dancing) so it won't be a problem.

Richard is vegetarian, so I think I may just do a mushroom paté, or smoked salmon paté (easy peasy whizz in the food processor) and we can have a raclette. That caters for meat eaters and vegetarians alike. 

I like to marinade mushrooms and courgette strips too, to add something different to the mix. With a big green salad as well it's a nice easy meal to prepare. I may even go as far as buying a dessert, although we do have apples to use up, so I may make an apple tart.

THURSDAY: Slow cooker vegetarian lasagne - made with a tin of ratatouille and some fresh veggies and a white sauce of ricotta. 

FRIDAY: Kamchatka - and look! It's a slow cooker recipe!! I will probably add a bit of chorizo as well, as we find it adds a nice twist of extra spice.

SATURDAY: Pulled pork, coleslaw and baked potatoes. 

Thank you for your comments as always.

  • JULES: You may have been 130th Follower but someone has dropped out and doesn't want to play anymore! Never mind...their loss!
  • POMPOM: I waited for you in Paris, but you didn't come!! Which day shall I set your place for this week? You mentioned you like Elizabeth Goudge books - I'd forgotten how much I had enjoyed them in the past. I must try to find some to reread!
  • KEZZIE: I've enjoyed catching up with your blog today. I had a good time in Paris (as you've already seen!)
  • VINTAGE MAISON: Thank you for following too. 
  • JEAN: I love taking part in blog swaps. I'm getting a bit excited as I have been promised a parcel from one swap which I thought I'd missed out on. I sent my parcel off and heard nothing back from my partner. I just imagined that Life got in the way and wrote it off to experience, but my partnner contacted me recently, apologising and promising to send it to me soon. Huzzah!
  • ARIL & MEAN QUEEN: thank you for your birthday greetings too! It's been lovely having greetings from friends, both real & virtual, over Facebook and on the blog. I feel very touched & grateful.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Eating a-bit-too-much in Paris

Happy Birthday to me!

Mr FD is at work this morning, so I haven't had my prezzies yet. But that is to come. Also, we're going out for dinner to a local restaurant tonight with a friend, Richard, and his friend - who I've never met! - tonight.

I promised to tell you about my Paris convention - there is the more serious stuff over at The Teapot -
but this is about the food! Nick and I, plus Rob, our rector, were based in a small hotel near Montmartre, and the first evening the delegates (except clergy and spouses) were free to find their own restaurant. There were some organised, but Nick and I decided we wanted to be close to the hotel, so we went back and found a very nice place just down the road...I've looked on Google and can't find it, but we had a very good, and quite reasonable meal. I had a kir, soupe de poisson, delicious duck breast and a shared dessert; Nick had a beer, chevre croustillante, a slab of steak and a shared Assiette Gourmande desert, plus a bottle of wine between us, and coffee. It was just under 50€ each. Not cheap, admittedly, but certainly not too unreasonable for a touruist area in Paris.

The following day, we had lunch provided in the Cathedral -  the church provides a sandwich lunch for the homeless every Friday, and we partook of the same food. Ham-and-cheese baguette, home made cookies and fruit. We ate ours sitting in the nave of the Cathedral.

I couldn't help but smile, because when we were in the UK with our friends Louis and Odette, we took them to Liverpool Anglican cathedral. There ther cafeteria is in the main body of the cathedral. As we sat eating our soup, Louis kept saying "I cdan't believe I'm eating soup in a cathedral..."

Liverpool Anglican Cathedral: The shop below, the café above...

As we sat eating our sandwiches, gazing at the high altar of the cathedral in Paris, I couldn't but wonder what Louis would have made of it! And as for the evening "do", well - I think it would have blown his mind! We had the Bishop's Dinner ("Dress:elegant") in the nave too!! The pews were moved, and tables set up, beautifully draped and bedecked in flowers. We had kir royale and delicious hors d'oeuvres in the Parish room, then moved into the Cathedral for Boeuf Bourgignon, dauphinoise potatoes and carrots, salad and date-and-walnut pudding! We were entertained by a group ("Les Colporteurs" ) who sing and perform Cole Porter songs. 

It was an excellent show... 
Here I am, looking I hope, reasonably "elegant"

sitting at what is allegedly Cole Porter's piano. Very appropriate. Lee and Laurie appear to be lurking in the shadows!

The following day quiche and salads, kindly provided by the cathedral volunteers, made up our lunch, and then the evening meal was in a rather bizarre restaurant: Nos Ancetres les Gauloise

It was definitely one for the meat eaters! When we arrived there were not "baskets of crudités" as advertised, but rather baskets of chunks of raw vegetables - a lemon, half a cabbage, a bulb of fennel, entire carrots... You chopped off bits of what you wanted and ate that! Here is Nick deciding what lump of vegetable he will have...

Then a "sausage bar" where you hacked hunks of saucisson from a large choice to have with more salad...

Then the main event "Chicken - duck - lamb - beef - wild boar sausage?!" shouted the waiter...I chose beef but rather wished I'd gone for the sausage. It was, to say the least "toothsome". It arrived with a baked potato which needed another 30 minutes or so cooking. Nick's chicken was "the toughest he'd ever eaten" - so maybe not quite as good as it could have been! But it was quite an enjoyable evening, even though the acoustics were very bad in the cellar-like room. Cheese and a fairly non descript dessert finished the meal.

On Sunday, after a very traditional Solemn Eucharist, we were fed once more by the Cathedral volunteers - more quiche and salad! - before we set off home. Mr FD picked me up at Vichy station and brought me home to a pot roast that he had prepared. I think I ate really rather too well last week!!

I'm starting to think I need to go back to 5:2-ing!!

I've got lots to do today - cards to make, posting to do, carrot cake making for church tomorrow, prayers to write and a prayer rota to put together, so I will probably post next week's menus tomorrow. I have a week off next week, (mostly) for the school holidays, so I hope to catch up on my planning, as well as having some time to do some crafting for myself!

Toodle-pip! See you tomorrow (probably!)

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Hello! I'm here!

But last week I was here
at the American Cathedral in Paris (They'd turned the lights out by the time I got round to taking the photo!) Here's a photo of it in the light:

(from "Celebrity Bride Guide" no less!)

It was a good convention, at times interesting, at times challenging, at times moving, and at times very boring! We ate well (more about that at a later date) and we talked a lot. I'm still trying to find time to arrange my thoughts about what the keynote speaker talked about, but I will post them on The View when I've managed it. I met some interesting people and deepened a friendship with one of the guys from church, who was another lay delegate there. 

This is Nick - as fun, open and jolly as he looks. We spent most of the time together, giggling and chatting!

Here I am looking rather shiny on the first day. The notice round my neck does not say "Please look after this Bear"!

This rather lovely little statue is in the coutyard of the cathedral. "A little child shall lead them"

A good time, which has helped to move me on a little in my journey of faith - I have at last been told what's happening vis-à-vis my Licence, and there's an interesting sounding course that I heard about in April. Things is happening!

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Welcomes, food and spelling mistzakes

Hello, hello dear Peeps! This blog post comes to you courtesy of Mr FD. You see, I knew that my two jobs for the weekend - my turn, so no complaining! - were to clear, sort & dispose of the recycling, and clear, clean & replace the litter in 6 distinctly whiffy cat trays. I get home from church to find dear, dear, DEAR Mr FD had done both jobs! Sadly he hadn't done my ironing too, but I think that vwould be taking husbandly devotion too far!

So I have a window of time to post here. Huzzah!

So I have to say a big, Fat Dormouse WELCOME to my newest Follower, Pam, from A New Life In Wales. We are swap partners in The Twelve Days of Christmas blog swap. So she will be stalking me, and I her! For information, Pam, there's another of my blogs over at The View from the Teapot.

My Followers list says I have 131 Followers, but I don't have anyone between Vintage Maison, who I welcomed as my 129th Follower and Pam, who is my 131st. So if you've snuck in and I've not welcomed you personally, I do apologise.

Life is very hectic, but I'm remarkably grateful for the work - I have 8 groups of 3 students, all of whom are jolly and motivated. I had a terrible time settling in, as I had to keep trying to find spaces to fit people who couldn't come to planned lessons. One group got changed from one time to another andf back again. They were most miffed and a bit grumpy, but I bought chocolate to apologise and I grovelled lots. I think I've been forgiven! And now it has been agreed that I no longer have to tie myself in knots to find extra spaces for those who miss lessons. If they can't come, tant pis!

On Thursday I'm off to Paris for the Episcopal Church in Europe's Convention - I'm lay representative for Church. I'm rather nervous, but hopefully it will be interesting & rewarding. I thought I was going to be leaving on Wednesday, but it's now Thursday: I'd cancelled my private lessons already, so rather than reinstate them, I decided to keep them cancelled. That gives me an extra day to get planning sorted for the following week.

I went for a walk with friend Alison yesterday - really warm! I went out in a thick jumper but soon took it off. It was nice to catch up and have a natter. (Disclaimer: this is not ther wxalk we did. I've shown you this photo before.)

Anyhoo...Food for this week.
YESTERDAY: fish pie, with a breadcrumb topping from my disastrous bread making exploits. Not good bread, but fab breadcrumbs, coming out really crunchy!

TODAY: Fruity Turkey Tagine

MONDAY: Pasta, meatballs and pasta sauce. I'm afraid I have bought the meatballs and thepasta sauce, but Mr FD will jazz it up with some fresh(ish) veggies. It's an aubergine sauce, and there's half an aubergine to use up.

TUESDAY: Turkey tagine again.

WEDNESDAY: I wasn't expecting to be cooking today! I was due to be in Paris!! We have some Kangaroo steaks in the freezer, so I think I'll make a Kangaroo Stroganoff.

 It's not snowing yet, but I have started to disinter my winter clothes.

Then Mr FD is on his own until next Sunday evening. I think he'll mostly be eating out of the freezer, but he does have a calves liver meal planned...It's something I loathe, and won't cook, so it's his special treat when I'm not here. I suspect there might be a visit to the pizza van on Saturday evening too!

As ever thank you for your comments.

MICHELLE: the curry was lovely! Mr FD is actually a very good cook, but I do try mostly to make it easy for him, as he has been, working most days too.

KEZZIE & JAN both expressed their thoughts on "real life" getting in the way of blogging & wished me well in my busy-ness.

JEAN - I thought I had missed your blogging. I hope you're okay too, and just busy enjoying life!

POMPOM mentioned my cards - from the 40 or so I'd made, I sold just under 30! I'll have tro make some more I think (Lord knows when!) Enjoy the grand-kitten! What day are you round this week? (Just so I know to set an extra place!)

KEZZIE: Did you enjoy the last two week's Doctor Whos? I thought they were very creepy, and I'm not totally sure I understood everything that was going on, but never mind!!

JO: the Sausage Bake-y thing was good! Mr FD threw a few extra things in too, which added to the flavour. How's the knitting getting on?! (Mine has ground to a halt as every time I get out the wool and needles I have to fight off the kittens!)

JULES: I'm glad you like the blog - are you my mysterious 130th Follower?!

Well, I'd better go and do my ironing.

Please forgive any speeling mistakes. My new keyboatd is smaller than my last one, and while the keys are the samle size (I assume!) I seem to hit neighbouring keys more oftenh than I used to, which givres some weird spellinbg patternsd. (That was a demonstration!)