Saturday, 23 April 2016

Saturday rolls round again

Hello dear Peeps. I hope you have had an enjoyable/productive/whatever week. I didn't have much work on, but still managed to fill the time doing lots of things. But also by not doing lots of things!! I am expert at filling an hour doing not-a-lot. Which can be, in itself, an enjoyable activity.

I've done some crafting - an 18th birthday card for my niece in Canada - which I forgot to take a photo of. ("Of which I forgot to take a photo"? - That should be the correct form but no-one says that now do they? Should I, as an English teacher, teach the correct form, or the vernacular?) I think I may tell you more about my crafting endeavours over at The Teapot. You'll need to pop over there. 
(but not quite yet - give me a few hours to post!)

(Picture of one of the Lewis Carroll stained glass windows at All Saints Church, Daresbury)

Our food this week has been nice. The concoction that I made on Thursday was much more enjoyable than I imagined it would be...I had 250g of beef mince, a packet of microwavable "Mediterranean rice", half a jar of tomato sauce and half a dead-ish aubergine. I browned the mince, and an onion, and added a few wrinkly mushrooms, and the tomato sauce. Meanwhile I sliced the aubergine softened it in the oven for about 10 minutes. I microwaved the rice and added it to the beef mixture. Then I layered it in the slow cooker and gave it about 3 hours on "High". Finally I made a cheese-and-mustard sauce which I poured over the top, finished with some breadcrumbs and grated cheese. 15 minutes in the oven and there you go! Dinner for three plus leftovers (with a bit of padding) for another 2 dinners.

This week I have planned:
TODAY: Minted lamb pastieswith HM coleslaw (I have an enormous white cabbage to use up!) and salad. Possibly some potato wedges too, but there's the pastry already so we probably don't need potatoes too.

SUNDAY: Thai Chicken & Coconut Rice which looks quite easy to make. There's no vegetables involved in it, so I may make a salad to start, or a chicory-and-orange salad to go on the side.
MONDAY: Chicken and pepper pasta Mr FD is in charge of this as my teaching commitments mean I don't get home until nearly 7.00 on Monday evening. 

TUESDAY: Red bean and mushroom burgers. More salad, and sweet potato wedges. OR maybe with bread rolls. 

WEDNESDAY: Pepper crusted salmon with garlic chickpeas Mr FD is in charge of this one, as I'm at my dance group in the evening. He's cooked it before. The chickpeas are lush, and would complement any vegetarian quorn-y fillet or whatever, should you be vegetarianly inclined.

THURSDAY: My friend Caireen will be joining us for dinner, as she and I are flying to Munich on Friday for a conference-y/workshoppy type thing. She's staying overnight as I can pick her up from Clermont on Thursday afternoon, and we can drive to Lyon airport on Friday morning. She is vegetarian, so we'll have a vegetable curry, with naan bread. I have various curry sauces/pastes lurking in the fridge so I'll use one of those and a load of vegatables. Nothing sophisticated, I'm afraid!

Mr FD will be fending for himself on Friday & Saturday evenings, but I would imagine that a pizza from the van may feature on one evening, and something from the freezer on the other. 

I am becoming very aware that the top shelf of the fridge has been taken over by jars and I don't really know what's there, or how old it is. I think there is a half used jar of mincemeat that could be coming up to its 2 year anniversary...My designated job for the weekend is to clear out the fridge, give it a good clean and toss/use up the jars...That may mean a marmalade cake as I think there's a couple of jars of marmalade too. Here's a link to an article + recipe from Nigel Slater - I chose this link rather than a straight-to-the-recipe link because I think he writes about food so well.

DRUM ROLL.... The phantom stair pisser has been unveiled! We have discovered, thanks to the wonders of modern technology (our friends' wildlife camera) that it is beautiful little Bib who appears to be the pisser. It is happening infrequently, so we are thinking that either she has been frightened by Millie and is marking territory, or that she doesnh't consider the litter trays to be clean enough, or that the door to the toilet where the litter trays are has been shut too much for her to open it. We are keeping the camera running, and endeavouring to make sure that other possible factors have been eliminated. 

No-one has taken me up on my offer of a zentangle. Sad face. It was a genuine offer, as I like to have a reason to do these things, rather than just plucking a subject out of mid-air. So do please get in touch if you'd like a zentangle.

Or if you'd like to receive a letter. I'm trying to write more letters, since joining Silver Pebble's Letter Writing Exchange. Sadly the two people I was assigned (one to write to, one to write to me) don't seem to have liked my letters very much. My receiver hasn't acknowledged my letter, even though it's been about two months since I sent it, and I wrote back to the person who wrote to me, and she hasn't replied, and it's been almost a month. Still...I suppose people have lives and it's difficult to find the time to write a "proper" letter. 

So, if you'd like a letter, send me an email with your address, and I'll happily write one to you. I'm running out of people to write to!

I hope everyone has a good week. I'll try to get round to a blog post when I get back from Munich, but I'm not promising.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

All the Usual Stuff - and a kind of Giveaway.

Hello dear Peeps: I hope all is well with you. I'm fine, and generally feeling good. Which isn't always the case...My friend Cathy is due to arrive here for the summer next week, and then the weekend after I'm off to Munich for a weekend course..."Come and Grow: Say “Yes” to God’s Call to Service will enable lay persons to gain a fuller understanding of their personality style and God given gifts to empower them to creatively serve God’s people." It sounds interesting.

Well, you've seen my shopping list, so here's what's being made from it (although a couple of things have changed since writing the list)

TODAY: Piri-piri style sausages - or something similar. With sauté potatoes and green beans.

TOMORROW: Frugal Queen's Pulled Pork. But, in the true style of FQ, I tweaked the recipe to fit what I had! So I used some pulled pork seasoning (which I bought at Lakeland but didn't really like) instead of the pâprika, I used Barbecue Sauce made by one of the congregation at church instead of ketchup, and I added a dollop of Korean hot marinade sauce that I had in the fridge. I'm using the past tense, as it's cooking now, ready to be reheated tomorrow, for lunch. We have friends coming who have wanted to try pulled pork for a while, having been seduced by the advert that's on British TV at the moment.

I bet mine's better! We're going to have it with jacket potatoes, coleslaw and salad. And I'm planning on making a Victoria sponge for dessert.

MONDAY: Salmon & sweet potato fishcakes (already made & in the freezer), coleslaw and chippies.

TUESDAY: Not meatballs - this link is to Jack Monroe's site which is a boon for anyone who is trying to reduce costs. She is a great recipe writer who has known poverty and has had to make the most of not very much money. We'll have these with rice and a tomato sauce.

WEDNESDAY: Pork & parsnip cobbler. Some friends gave me 4 massive parsnips during the week. I've made a soup with two and will use the others in this recipe. I won't be faffing around with suet though for the cobbler - I use Rose Elliot's scone mix, with cheese.

THURSDAY: I'd planned a veggie + bits of meat from the freezer stir fry, but Cathy's going to come for dinner when she arrives here. As we don't know quite when that will be, I'm thinking I might make something ion the slow cooker instead - a kind of aubergine/ rice/ pork mince/ tomato layered dish, as I have a pack of Uncle Ben's microwavable rice to use up and I don't like it just as it is. Then it can just cook gently until she arrives and not spoil.

FRIDAY: Probably have the planned stirfry tonight - as I bought some Amoy stir fry sauces in Noz for 75 cents. I think the black bean sauce.

If you're trying to reduice food waste - and, let's be honest, we all shgould be, this link to Jack Monroe's site may well be of interest to you: Don't Throw That Away!

Thank you for your comments - as always.

TRISH & POMPOM enjoyed the two LolCats - I forgot you were a Beatles fan, Trish! It was a very suitable one for you! 

Thank you to MICHELLE & KEZZIE for their compliments on the zentangle cross. I was quite pleased with it.

KEZZIE - we didn't have the risotto in the end. As Mr FD said, it's hard to make risotto when you haven't got any rice. Ooops. Shopping fail!

ANG appreciated the "family shorthand" on my shopping list. Yes, Ang, "s'wich cheese" does mean cheese for sandwiches. As for the type, it rather depends what there is. I got a blue cheese for Mr FD and a Tomme de Montagne as well. Last week we had very indulgent Brillat Saverin.

For those like CRAFTY IN THE MED who are waiting to find out who the phantom Pisser is - since the camera went up thzre's only been one piss on the stairs and we can't tell from the photos who it was! In fact it didn't seem to have been captured on the camera, so we are a little confused. Still, it's now in video mode, so maybe this will be more successful.

POMPOM was querying the shopping list organisation, where I put "puddings" in the dairy section. This is because I buy little potted puds for Mr FD - I don't generally eat puddings, so these are things like fruit (or chocolate!) mousse, mini cheesecakes, or posh yoghurts. Which are found in the chiller cabinets.

CHERIE - I think I have to be organised on a list as otherwise I'd be wandering round the supermarket, having to go back to fetch things I'd forgotten. This is my "definitive" list too - there's often an on-going list that gets transferred to the organised list on shopping days. Mind you, it's not foolproof - I forgot to pick up the milk yesterday! Maybe because I went to another shop that I'm not used to, so I was a bit hither-and-thither anyway.

I've run outof ideas - and reasons - to zentangle. Is there anyone out there who'd like a piece of  original zentangle inspired art doing ? Let me know in the comments section and I can get on with it... I've done lots of different themes: music, chickens, sheep, crosses, knitting, dragons, angels... Just leave a comment and I'll be in touch! And if you're not sure what I mean, here's a couple of examples of work I've done:

Thursday, 14 April 2016

As requested by PomPom: a shopping list.

For some reason, Pompom expressed an interest in seeing people's shopping lists...

Who am I to refuse?!

Here is mine for this week. 

As you can see, it's neatly set out in sections - veggies, fruit, household goods etc. It's a little sparser than usual, as we need to tighten our belts this month - it's thin on the ground work-wise, due to school holidays and students cancelling lessons due to illness (6 hours of lessons cancelled! Ooh, that's going to hurt!) Having said that, I did go to Noz yesterday and buy a load of socks for Socks for Refugees!

The P-G-M in the fruit section is shorthand for "Pineapple, grapefruit, mango" which goes into Mr FD's breakfast fruit salad. The "Sq bread" refers to "square bread" - prepackaged bread I use for toast in the morning. 

And I can spell cat food and cat biscuits, but somehow these two items have evolved their own spellings: "cat fud" and "cat biskits". Who knows why?!

Actually, as I wrote that, I remembered why it became "Cat fud":
From this Gary Larson cartoon.

Speaking of cats, we have had some problems with one of the cats peeing on the stairs, but with 4 in the house we haven't known which cat was the culprit. Mr FD has threatened to buy a motion sensor camera to find out which one it was, but I resisted, thinking of the cost ("Oh they're only about 30€!" he says gaily) Yesterday our friend lent us his super-duper wildlife motion sensor camera, which Mr FD has gleefully spent time adjusting to get the perfect shot of the offending (offended-against?) area. We now wait for the cat to do the business....

Yes...and that's another story, when I start planting up the pots on the balcony. Sigh.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Crosses, cats and cooking...

Hello again, dear Peeps. I am sorry I'm not blogging very frequently at the moment.. There's no real reason, save generally being quite busy, but I shoulodn't forget my loyal readers. Thank you for popping by.

The sun is shining today - as yesterday. Yesterday I forced myself to go for a walk - I had bought two delicious cakes, so felt we had to earn them! Mr FD went riding with the club (although he returned 20 minutes later having had leg spasms. He just thinks they were because it was quite chilly, despite the sun. He's gone oput today instead.) I walked for about 7 km which isn't bad for me - my feet and knees were hurting quite a bit at the end, especially on the downhill bits, but I was very glad that I went.

The other thing I did yesterday was finish a Zentangle.
It's for the good folk in the 40 Acts team. I hadn't meant to use colour, but I made a complete hash of the pattern, and it came to me that the gold pen might cover it over; once I'd done gold, it looked daft by itself so I added the silver, and then thought I might as well go the whole hog, so I used the red and green. I'm not sure I prefer it to a monochrome look, but it works for me.

So, food this week has been planned thuswise:

TODAY: Veal stew with some potatoes, and broccoli and green beans.

MONDAY: Lemon & Thyme roasted cod. As Mr FD is fasting (I've rather given up on fasting, I'm afraid!) we may have this with just salad. But possibly with some boiled potatoes too, as his "tank" will be a bit drained from today's ride.

TUESDAY: Pork meatballs -
I'm not using veal in mine, just pork mince. 

I'll be at my dance group tonight, so I try to choose something either slow cooker-y or easyish for Mr FD to cook - not that he is incapable, by any means, but I just want to make life easy for him! I only have one lesson, because it's school holidays, which finishes at 12.30. My dance group starts at 6 pm. I could go home & come back again, but it's 30 minutes each way, and once I was home I'd probably not bother to go back. I was hoping to visit a friend, but she's out for lunch, so I may do a bit of Noz-browsing, then find a sunny spot (if it's sunny!) to relax and read. I might also do a short walk - but if I'm doing the two full dance classes I don't want to exhaust myself beforehand!!

THURSDAY: I had planned Majorcan tumbet - not sure now. We'll see. If we have it, we'll also have a couple of fried eggs with it. I'm teaching in Clermont in the morning and then shopping in Clermont too, as my Roanne student has cancelled his lesson for the next few weeks.

I want to try to find a seamstress who can alter a pair of trousers...I bought an expensive pair of black jeans from Long Tall Sally 4 years ago, when I was at my plumpest. I then lost weight soon after so they have hardly been worn. Rather than buy a new pair of black trousers (which I need) I'm going to pay to have these altered. I know there's one in Clermont so I'll pop there before I compe home on Thursday.

FRIDAY: Orange & Herb chicken, rice and veggies.

 Thank you for your recent comments - sorry (again!) I've not been good at replying!

KEZZIE: I think Danièle liked the book - she said she did, anyway!! It was fun to make, as well.

SWEET POSY DREAMS: The cake not only looked good, it tasted pretty good too!! I hope you ejoy reading the blog, and maybe you can find some links to recipes you like too.

(from the post before last)
ARIL: I also did an Easter swap through a forum (Ship of Fools) but I'm still waiting for my gift....It will be a Pentecostal swap at this rate!!

POMPOM: I thought you might like this week's LolCats - Tabby Road!! (snort) Ialso think you might like this one:

MICHELLE: Glad you liked the Chicken Tangle - I was pleased with it, as was...
BUSY LITTLE CHICKEN - I hope it looks good framed!

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Easter Weekend...

I'm slowly getting myself back into the usual routine - but I'm finding that the weeks are getting busier again (which is not a bad thing, but it does, as many of you know, mean the weekends become fuller of things you Must DO, instead of things you Want To Do) But I have managed to find time to blog! No menus today, just a post about our weekend away with our friend Danièle...

 I spent 2 hours this morning sorting outr my bills for March - it's not that difficult, but it just takes a while, scanning and sending copies of attendance sheets, checking (and double checking) the names and file numbers of students, checking dates against my diary and so on. Still! Finished for another month and hopefully the cheques will start rolling in soon!!

I've started writing more letters - I joined in with Silver Pebble's "Real Letter Writing" swap. I received two lovely letters, and have sent two back. Plus I wrote a letter to mum while we were away, I've written to a couple of old school friends, and to a neighbour oif my mum's, who has moved south to be in a Hospice nearer to her daughter. It's lovely receiving letters too, but I'm enjoying writing them (even though I've not got that much to write about) If you'd like to be added to my list of people for me to write to, then send me an email with your address. I splurged a bit on the Paperchase web site, so I now have some lovely writing paper to use!
We had a lovely Easter weekend: Good Friday isn't a bank holiday in France, so I had a couple of lessons to give, but as they were in Clermont, I thought I'd take the opportunity to go to the Good Friday service at Church. It was a joint French-English service with the Eglise Reformée and it started quite late. So I popped into ILS (the language school for whom I do some work) to catch up on news and do a bit of photrocopying - and to leave my car in their car park! - then I went into the city centre. I wouldn't shoip on Good Friday normally, but I wanted to get a gift for the Rector & his wife, so I thought it would be "OK" to pop into a couple of shops - I bought them a bottle of wine, a pot of artichoke paté and some mini Easter eggs. Then I went to a reastaurant that we often go to in Clermont (mostly because it serves food throughout the day) and I had a prawn-and-avocado salad. That's another of my Good Friday traditions - I don't eat meat on Good Friday. The servioce was good, but a bit long, and I'm glad I went, especially as it was the only Holy Week/Easter service I got to!

On Saturday I had to do some ironing, and I had to finish off a special present. This was because we had been invted to stay at a Gite with our friend Danièle, her family and friends. This was to celebrate her 70th birthday. To be honest, I felt really honoured to have been invited as part of her close circle of friends: when I said this to her she replied that she wanted to celebrate this time with the people who had been closest and most supportive when her husband Paul had died (If you scroll down here, you can read a little more about Paul and saying goodbye to him)

I made a scrapbook that people could write in during the weekend:

 There were pages to sum up Danièle in one or two words:

 A page to write a longer message for her to read at her leisure...

 A page to write our hopes for her future...

 A page to write our memories of our first meeting, or a funny story...

A page for the family to write on (her four children, their partners and her 5 grandchildren were all there...)
 A page to stick photos, or put them in the pocket...

 Some Bible verses...

and then, on the last page a photo of Paul, and a verse that was read at his funeral:
I will be joyful in God my Saviour. The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights

I hope she likes the book.

Every meal, the table was beautifully decorated with candles and twigs...and my camera battery died! So no photo of that. I hastily put it on here's the table later on during Saturday evening's dinner...Looking not quite so pretty!

The food was quite simple - with over 30 people to cater for, it couldn't be anything else! We started Saturday's meal with rather strong Mojitos, and bowls of houmous and tapenade. Then lots and lots (and lots...and lots...!) of Flammekeurches with salad

Then there was birthday cake!!

The following day, Easter lunch was a chicken tagine with cous-cous followed by apple tart. In the afternoon, there were walks of various lengths - some went for a short stroll, others (me and Mr FD) managed about 5 km, while others were out for hours. This group included Danièle's son, Sylvain, his partner Aurelia, and their dog, Arlo. Arlo was a bit tired when they got back!

There was much sitting around, relaxing, chatting, drawing, playing... and then more food!! The evening meal was boiled potatoes, salad, Lyonnaise sausage, and sarrason ( a type of salad sauce made with creme fraiche, shallots, herbs etc) and then fruit salad. We left on Monday morning feeling very well fed!

We had a wonderful weekend! I leave you with Arlo and Aurelia: