Month: December 2011

Weekly Photo Challenge – Winter

It’s good to be ready for the new year, filled with hope and expectations.  Each new day is an adventure, and just waiting to be experienced.  My challenge for 2012 is to spend more time being creative.  Beginning the collage a day earlier this year was a big step forward as the previous year had been spent working only on developing workshops.  I now have so many ideas to work on I can hardly wait to get started.  All I need to do is rearrange my timetable!  I’ll have to see how it goes.

So, the door to postaday2011 closes, and challenge365 begins.  (In theory it should be challenge366 as this year is a leap year).  It’s also the year of London 2012, and I want to make it abundantly clear that this blog, and all my others, will be Olympic Free Zones!  It seems fitting to finish by wishing you all a very Happy and Peaceful 2012, with a photograph from 12 months ago which fits perfectly into the current weekly photo challenge of ‘winter’.

Oh, and if you feel like it, maybe you would like to vote for my colour of the year……
FireBox

Just Snaps

365 Days of Colour

More entries in the challenge here and here 

It’s a grey day……

The sky is bright, but grey

The above photograph, taken just a few minutes ago, proves it.  The chances are that it will get darker as rain is forecast for later.  Who knows, though, the sun may come out and the wind blow in another direction.  It’s chilly too

My plan for today is to stay inside and catch up on some reading.  So many of you have followed me through the year, for which I am extremely grateful, but I haven’t had time to visit you in recent days.  I plan to put that right today.  Thank you for following me this year, I can’t wait for next year to start.  That fresh page is almost ready for the ink.

Oh, and if you would like to see what the tree in the top photograph is hosting, just take a look here.  It’s the same tree, seconds later.

Just Snaps

365 Days of Colour

Looking Back

The end of the year is only a short while away.  Soon the book will close and can no longer be opened.  What an interesting year this has been.  How will you remember the year?  Have you recorded it in any way?  Have you recorded it the way you would have wished?

If you are looking for a new way to keep a record of next year you may like to consider something like this

‘This is a year-long time-lapse study of the sky. A camera installed on the roof of the Exploratorium museum in San Francisco captured an image of the sky every 10 seconds. From these images, I created a mosaic of time-lapse movies, each showing a single day. The days are arranged in chronological order. My intent was to reveal the patterns of light and weather over the course of a year.

This video is designed to be viewed in a large format, so it’s best viewed in full-screen mode at 1080p.

More information on the project site:
http://www.murphlab.com/ahots

If you view it in full screen mode you will notice that the time of day is noted in the bottom right hand corner.

Today’s 365 Days of Colour

Today’s Just Snaps

 

Rat-a-Tat-Tat

Now, who is that at the door?

Yesterday I read this post, and it struck a chord.

Over the years we have gone through spates of door to door salesmen.  Double glazing, solar panels, tree surgeons; all have knocked, and of course others too.  Fortunately our hall is such a shape that we can ignore calls like that, but not everyone is so lucky.

My mother had two neigbours, Bernie and Joan.  Bernie was a big strapping Welshman.  Formerly a member of the Military Police he still had the bearing of such even though he was now well into his 70’s.  He abhorred door to door salesmen of any description and had consequently evolved a system of getting rid of them in the shortest possible time.  We were visiting on one occasion when one called.  The conversation went something like this…

Salesman ‘Good morning sir, I notice you are in need of double glazing’

Bernie ‘I don’t want double glazing due to health issues’

Salesman ‘Really sir? That’s very interesting, what sort of health issues are those?’

Bernie ‘They’re your health issues.  If you don’t leave my property pronto you will have several that you didn’t expect’.

Word got around very quickly, and surprisingly enough he wasn’t bothered very often.  I’ve always thought I might try something similar, but so far I prefer the ‘glance down the hall and ignore’ approach!

Just Snaps

365 Days of Colour

 

All’s Well that Ends Well!

Imagine the scene.

It’s the morning of Boxing Day.  We overslept, and there is food to prepare. I don’t do panic!  However, time really was running out and I couldn’t even remember what I was supposed to be preparing……

I’m not usually so vague, but it was the desserts that confused me.  You see, I was planning on doing something different, so I’d brought some ingredients, but now, in my haste, I couldn’t remember which was for what!  No recipe, it was all ‘in my head’, and that was the saving grace, because no-one expected anything specific.

So

Cherries were prepared, biscuits crushed, oranges peeled, oatmeal mixed with this and that.  Chocolate was melted, sugar added in suitable proportions (just a very little), a few more ingredients whisked and chopped and hey presto, two new dishes made their appearance.

Fortunately all was well.  They tasted good, but……

Just as the first guest put a spoonful into their mouth I remembered what I was actually going to do!  Guess what – I’ve written down the old new and the new new recipes, so I won’t be making the same mistake again.  I did forget one thing, though, and that was to take any photographs.  Who knows when I’ll make them again, we aren’t really a dessert family, however, I’ll make a point of taking a picture, and then I’ll share the recipe with you.

(But please don’t hold  your breath because it won’t be this week!)

Today’s 365 Days of Colour

Today’s Just Snaps

 

Plain and simple

Yesterday was a lovely family day, and today is going to be another.  There will be lots of lovely food again today, so tomorrow we will all crave something a little less fancy.  Here is an easy and warming soup that is almost a meal in itself if you need it to be!  It’s a sort of ‘throw it in the pan and see’ type of recipe, so if you want to vary it a little just add something else……

First, prepare your lentils!  I use red lentils (they add to the colour) but you can use any lentils you like or happen to have.  I use about half a cup for 4 servings.  Let them simmer or partially cook if this is needed while you  prepare the rest of the ingredients.

You will need -
peeled sweet potatoes cut up into chunks,
peeled squash cut to about the same size,
an eating apple well washed, cored and cut into chunky slices (I leave the skin on – but that’s up to you)
a piece of fresh ginger about the size of your thumb up to your knuckle which I peel and slice fairly thinly

When the lentils are ready for the ‘long’ cooking I transfer them to my slow cooker and add the rest of the ingredients along with some hot stock.  If you haven’t got any stock it works just as well with water.

Now pop the lid on and wait for it to cook.  This recipe works well on the top of the stove too, but remember to turn it down to a simmer after it has all come back to the boil.

While it is bubbling you can decide how you would like to serve it!  If you like it ‘with bits in’ you can crush it with a potato masher.  If you want it a little finer push it through a seive – the apple skin won’t go through, and the ginger will struggle as well.  I usually whizz it with the blender, until it is smooth, with just the odd fleck of apple skin to give it some texture.  Don’t forget to taste and season at this point.

To serve I grate a little hard cheese (preferably a good cheddar) into the bottom of the serving bowl. This melts as the hot soup is poured in and creates creamy whirls within the colour.  You can also add a little chopped parsley if you have some.

I’m going to make a big pot for tomorrow.  Would you like some?   Yum.  There’s enough for you too.

365 Days of Colour

Just Snaps  (Today’s picture might amuse you if you read this post)

Christmas Day

As a child we often spent Christmas in Wales. My Welsh grandparents lived in Brecon, a delightful town which still retains all its old charm and well worth a visit. They had a small house, and at the time in question even had outside ‘facilities’! We would travel down from Surrey via the A4 and the A40, through Abergavenny and Crickhowell and the journey would take hours. Literally a whole day. Speeds would rarely be above 30mph, and it was very tiring for small children. We would be so excited to see Tretower Castle as it would mean that we were nearly there, although there were still several miles to travel. And so, finally, we would arrive to a hot meal and a house warmed by a coal fire and range in which the meal had been cooked. The kettle would hang over the fire and was always on the boil, ready for tea. Grandparents delighted to see us, and us, although pleased to be there, really ready for bed and needing to sleep.
And so it was the particular Christmas that I have in mind. We arrived and there was the tree in the corner, bedecked as usual with the traditional family baubles and of course some tinsel. No fairy lights, but there were candles and little gifts hanging and scattered beneath. Before long my brother and I were tucked up in bed, all cosy under a beautiful Welsh quilt that unfortunately is now long gone. The journey had made us very tired, so we slept soundly, completely missing the sound of Rudolph’s hooves as he landed on the roof, and how Santa got down that chimney with the fire still burning in the grate I really don’t know, but he managed it, and before long it was Christmas morning.
It was very quiet. There were sounds downstairs, but the coutryside had a different feel about it, and the light was so bright. We both crept down the twisted staircase to find the adults up and busying themselves. What a shock! There had been a snowfall overnight. The snow was at least halfway up the door and it was impossible to get out either at the front or the back. As already mentioned the ‘facilities’ were not inside, so it was essential to dig a way out as soon as possible. My father and mother did this, and fortunately it wasn’t far. I don’t remember if the water was frozen, but it wouldn’t surprise me. We huddled around the range for breakfast, and then we were allowed to open some of our gifts. The funny thing is that I don’t remember what mine were. I do remember, however, that my brother had a set of lorries, all in green and red. He lay on the floor and played with them for hours. At some point during the day I was allowed to use my grandmother’s treddle sewing machine. This was an especial treat, and I’m sure that in this lie the seeds of my love of machine embroidery.
It was a happy time. One of the few Christmas Day memories that I have of us all being together. Shortly after this my father was promoted and from then on always had to work on Christmas Day. Although our celebrations were always happy they were disjointed, him leaving home at 6am and often not back until 9pm at night. We would have presents, but our real celebration would be a couple of days later when he was home all day and everyone would gather. Our trips to Wales for Christmas ceased too. Grandparents had to travel to us. They came by coach and we always collected them at Reading bus station. I used to wonder what happened to the range when they were away. Did it look after itself? Did Rudolph still call with Santa and find no-one at home? Who knows.

Happy Christmas, friends, whether you celebrate or not. However, somewhere in the midst of all your hustle and bustle please try to remember at some point that Jesus is the reason for the season.

365 Days of Colour

Just Snaps

 

Jingle Bells

Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle every day
Tell the world it’s Christmas time
And Santa’s on his way.
Oh, jingle, bells, jingle, bells,
Carillon of the night.
Spread the word and bring the news
That Christ is born tonight.

Just Snaps

365 Days of Colour

The Day is nearly here

(If you are looking for the Thursday Theme you will find it here)

I woke this morning to discover that it was Thursday.  Now that might not be a partlicular revelation to you, but this has been a busy week, and a lot has happened.  Once I realised the day I began to panic.  I’m nowhere near ready and there is hardly any time left.   So today I’m making a concerted effort to prepare.

Now, you all think that I’m talking about Christmas, don’t you.  Well you are wrong.  I’m talking about tomorrow, 23rd December.  The day before Christmas Eve.  It’s a tradition.

Once, a long ago, when she was as fit as a fiddle, my mother did a friend a favour.  The friend was younger, but very grateful, and she has never forgotten.  Each year she brings us gifts to commemorate this deed.  She arrives, has coffee and biscuits, tells us about the circumstances and how grateful she is, then hands over some little gifts.  We don’t expect them, they have to be a surprise, and we are extremely touched that she still remembers.  She then departs, pausing only to turn, on the doorstep, touch Mr Chittle Chattle on the arm and say ‘I’ve brought you your favourite.  I know how much you like them’, and then she is ‘off’ as though in a puff of smoke.

Tomorrow is nearly here, and I need to prepare those biscuits, so that’s my task for today.  Then tomorrow we will have our visit, and on Christmas Day Mr Chittle Chattle can open his gift and we will exchange one of ‘those’ glances.  Of course, the rest of the family will be watching too, and one of them will giggle.  You see, this package always contains…….

a pack of Werthers Originals!

Guess who doesn’t like Werthers Originals?

Well, actually, none of us!

So.  There you have it.

Buying a pack of Werthers Originals is something else I won’t be doing in 2012!