Sunday Sevens #18

This week has been a hectic one!

We finally finished working on the dining room floor! It took all of David’s seven days holiday! He’ll need another holiday to recover! We still have the hall and living room floors to do but I am thankful that I have my kitchen and dining room back!

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I felt lost without my kitchen. I put a lot of effort into cooking the evenings’ meal. So when all I can cook is microwave, convenience meals, I feel rather short changed! Also this week was Meat Free Week, (mainly for Australia and the UK), another initiative to get more people to eat less meat. So once I got my kitchen back, I was able to make meals such as a vegetable taigne.

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Ingredients and Method, feeds two people

  • I fried an onion (chopped), 1 pepper (sliced) and a green chilli (chopped) in an oiled pan until softened.
  • I then added to the pan 2 sliced cloves of garlic, 1 tsp of ground cumin, 1/2 tsp of ground coriander and 1/2 tsp of chilli flakes.
  • After a minute I tipped in a tin of chopped tomatoes and threw in a handful of frozen peas. I covered the pan to simmer gently for 15 minutes.
  • Lastly I added a tin of chickpeas (drained and rinsed) and cooked for a final five minutes.
  • I served on a bed of spinach, with two fillets of Quorn chicken (sliced) and crusty bread.

On Sunday we released Hoppy back into the wild. David had managed to get most of the thread from around her leg, it was a painstaking endeavour. However, everyday since, she has been heard pecking at the back door for her dinner, which we dutifully give! What have we begun?

Tuesday was David’s birthday! (‘Happy birthday!’) To celebrate we went to the cinema to see Star Trek Beyond, not the strongest of the three films but an action romp none the less. We were also invited to David’s brother’s house for a chickpea balti cooked by his wife Bilgen. I was touched by the thoughtful gesture that all of the meals were vegetarian! While we waited for the homemade bhajis to cook we were entertained but their 11th month old son.

Pet news, and Troy has a fellow patient joining him in the hospital cage. Poor Aura has had a relapse from his earlier condition which almost took his life last year. We found him on the floor of the cage squeaking, so we have administered anti-mite drops and are keeping him warm. Troy continues to be cursed by his inner ear infection, though seems much happier he has a bed fellow to snuggle up too.

The weekend dawned with the promise of warm, sunny weather (ha ha)! So David and I headed off for a walk, but where did we go? Post to follow. 🙂

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Best wishes for the coming week!

Christine x

Sunday Sevens was devised by Natalie at Threads and bobbins.

Sunday Sevens #17

This weeks Sunday Sevens, (devised by Natalie at Threads and bobbins), comes mostly from our home, as David and I have embarked on a major ‘project’. The fortification of the beams that hold up the floors in the dining room, hall and living room. Phase one: so far, as I write this post, very tired and dusty, we have managed to work four days just on the dining room. David is ever the optimist, but I am a bit more realistic. Things never go according to plan, not in a 100+ year old house.

Day one was all about taking the boards up and assessing what work needed doing. Day two was spent in DIY shops, too much time for my liking if you ask me! Work proceeded in fits and starts on day three! Day four we managed, (or more truthfully David) to finish work on the two sagging beams and replaced the floor boards.

Phase two: we have now moved our attention to the floor between the kitchen and the dining room. On taking up the boards David found that the job was bigger than we had hoped! It never seems to end!

You wouldn’t have guessed it but I began the week feeling much more chirpier. I baked an apple pie from the harvest of bramley apples we were given. I still have lots of apples left so when work on the house is done (ha ha), I will make an attempt at making miniature pies.

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In between work, David and I have been catching some fresh air in the yarden. While I enjoyed the flowers, David played at being the bird whisperer. Firstly we found a pigeon, (Blake I named him), sitting scared in a corner of the yarden. David picked him up, and we saw what looked like puncture wounds on his wing. We tried to nurse him but he passed away a few days later.

All week, David has been trying to catch one pigeon that has been seen with string around its foot. On Friday David managed to catch, Hoppy as she’s affectionately named. He gained her trust by hand feeding her and then captured her in a box! (Probably lost her trust then!) She is now resident in our guest room. How long she will stay is anyone’s guess. The thread that is wrapped around her foot has been covered with skin so David has been teasing the fibers daily in the hope of loosening some. Only time will tell.

I on the other hand caught sight of a large white butterfly resting on my buddleia, and my Grow Wild seeds have grown to become plants that have started flowering.

I’ll end on that colourful note.

I wish you all a wonderful week ahead.

Christine x

It’s all About the Pheromones!

Recently, I have noticed that the insects have been enjoying the plants in the little ‘garden of Eden’ we have created for them.

Garden of Eden.... on a small scale

Garden of Eden…. on a small scale

When the sun burns down brightly, the visiting bees have a riot! Today I counted at least five bees in amongst the flowers, feeding at one time.

bee on honeysuckle

bee on honeysuckle

We visited Lady Green Garden Centre this May Bank Holiday Monday and I came away with a Phlox and Polemonium! Amongst the display of flowers for purchase there was a bee keeper attending to his hives! 🙂

Back at home, sunbathing in the sunshine before the clouds came. I spotted many bees on the Cat Mint. Amongst the visiting bees there was one I thought had become trapped in the mints foliage and then she popped out with a male on her back!! I was shocked! I did not know bees ‘mated’. I always thought they laid eggs and then the males fertilized them afterwards! What do I know!! You learn something new everyday! 😀 Anyway, the male clung to her for over half an hour. I was fascinated! I took some photos, (as you do!) and then left them to it. She was still foraging amongst the Cat Mint flowers while he was ‘doing his thing!’ lol 😀

Mating Bees!

Mating Bees!

I had my eyes closed enjoying the sunshine, while David was painting the yard floor! Then I opened my eyes and saw coming towards me, the female and her mate! She was buzzing at me and tried to land on my arm! I freaked out! I don’t mind buying plants to feed them, don’t mind them buzzing around the garden and merrily mating, but I do mind when they try to include me in their antics! lol. I am rather ashamed now, but I stood up, screaming as they tried to land on my back! Why come to me? I am no flower!! David came to the rescue and herded them away! I was left shaken and embarrassed for screaming like a girl! I did not want to become The Bee Dancer!

I later found out that the bees may have been Bumblebees. The female a Queen, (or a new Queen). I was sad to read from The British Bee-keepers Association, that the male, a drone, usually died after mating! Poor little chappy! He was far smaller than her!

Poor male and Queen Bumblebee

Poor male and Queen Bumblebee

The whole incident made me think of a poem by Sylvia Plath, about bee keeping. She and her husband Ted Hughes when they lived in Devon had attempted to keep bees. It doesn’t sound like she was that ‘fussed’ with the whole idea!

The Arrival of the Bee Box, by Sylvia Plath. 4th October 1962.

I ordered this, clean wood box

Square as a chair and almost too heavy to lift.

I would say it was the coffin of a midget

Or a square baby

Were there not such a din in it.

 

The box is locked, it is dangerous.

I have to live with it overnight

And I can’t keep away from it.

There are no windows, so I can’t see what is in there.

There is only a little grid, no exit.

 

I put my eye to the grid.

It is dark, dark,

With the swarmy feeling of African hands

Minute and shrunk for export,

Black on black, angrily clambering.

 

How can I let them out?

It is the noise that appalls me most of all,

The unintelligible syllables.

It is like a Roman mob,

Small, taken one by one, but my god, together!

 

I lay my ear to furious Latin.

I am not a Caesar.

I have simply ordered a box of maniacs.

They can be sent back.

They can die, I need feed them nothing, I am the owner.

 

I wonder how hungry they are.

I wonder if they would forget me

If I just undid the locks and stood back and turned into a tree.

There is the laburnum, its blond colonnades,

And the petticoats of the cherry.

 

They might ignore me immediately

In my moon suit and funeral veil.

I am no source of honey

So why should they turn on me?

Tomorrow I will be sweet God, I will set them free.

 

The box is only temporary.

 

Beautiful!

What a beautiful weekend it has been in the NW of England!

Above us only sky!

The sun has been shining brightly for the past three days! It has been warm as well, with temperatures peaking at 21/22 degrees C. Though it has felt warmer!

Amongst popping out to sun myself, I have been doing the obvious weekend chores like visiting the supermarket and cleaning the house. On Saturday I even accompanied David to the local tip to dispose of the pile of bricks that had come from the demolished shed. They had been lying in the middle of the yard for over a year! I was glad to be rid of them! Since their departure the yard is finally looking more like a place to unwind in the summer months after a long day!

The garden

It has not just been myself enjoying the warm sunny weather, the plants in the garden have all sprouted up and the bees have loved visiting my Scabiosa and today they were seen on my Cat Mint and Honeysuckle!

bee

Saturday, while David was busy pointing the back yard wall. I was listening to Classic FM At the Movies and cooking vegetables for our makeshift Tortilla Pizzas! Friends of ours had posted their pizzas on Facebook earlier in the week which gave me the idea for Saturday’s dinner.

Tortilla Pizza

Ingredients for Tortilla Pizza: 

  • Pack of tortillas
  • Tomato purĂ©e
  • Low fat mozzarella cheese
  • One red onion
  • One red pepper
  • handful of peas and sweetcorn
  • Three cloves of garlic
  • Handful of fresh oregano for sprinkling (I used leaves from the garden!)

Method:

  • Smear tomato purĂ©e onto one tortilla, leave space at the edges
  • Crumple the mozzarella on top
  • Then place the vegetables, in any order. You can use meat if you like. David had pepperoni (though not so healthy!)
  • Once complete put in oven 200 degrees or gas mark 6 for around 7 minutes or until starts to burn.
  • Take out, flake oregano on top and cut into sections. Enjoy! 🙂

Sunday, and David got up at 8am to continue to point the back yard wall. I stayed in bed snoozing until 10am! In the afternoon, after sunning myself I prepared a very easy dish for the left over tortillas.

Sweet potato spicy wraps

Ingredients for Spiced Indian Sweet Potato Wraps:

  • 3-4 sweet potatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1 red chilli, cut finely
  • Oil
  • 2 tsp of cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp of garam masala
  • 1 red onion thinly diced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tsp of sugar
  • Mayonnaise or natural yoghurt
  • Coriander for garnish

Method:

  • Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Toss the sweet potatoes with chilli, 1 tsp oil, cumin seeds, garam masala and plenty of seasoning on a roasting tray. Roast for 25-35 mins, turning wedges halfway, until tender and golden.
  • Meanwhile fry onion in remaining oil for a few mins until partly softened, stir in the lime juice and sugar with some seasoning, then turn off the heat.
  • Warm tortillas  following pack instructions, then assemble by adding a couple of wedges of sweet potato to each, followed by a scattering of onions, a dollop of yoghurt (or mayonnaise) and a small handful of coriander leaves. Roll up and eat.

I enjoyed it, but David didn’t. I gave the rest of the meal to my mum who enjoyed it too! It was spicy but not too spicy! As you may have guessed I am in sweet potato mode of late. Hopefully this week sometime I will be able to make sweet potato and lentil soup!

Who knows what the new week will hold!

The Days’ Seem to be Blending into One Another.

I really need to get myself a ‘proper’ job! With work at the university slowly ‘drying up,’ I find myself with more and more time on my hands, and am I working on my novel? No! I am not! I am wasting my days lounging in bed, listening to music and dreaming away! The only time I get out of the bed covers is to grab lunch or to do a quick 30 minutes exercise on the treadmill!

I need to get myself a life!

Gardening news and the flowers on my Aquilegia have begun to open. They are of a very subtle pink. The purple seems to have been bred out of the strain.

Aquilegia

My Flame of the Forest seems to be going from strength to strength too!

Forest Flame

Green Fingers?

For this long, May bank holiday weekend, David has turned his attention to the garden.

David clearing the excess bricks

Since he has completed his fireplace and hung the TV on the wall. (Pictures to follow). The back door is now the next priority.

While I was happy in the kitchen, making focaccia.

focaccia

David was measuring and planning how best to make the door and frame.

As David moved the remaining bricks from the demolished shed, I made use of the back door being open and managed to get my honeysuckle from mum’s garden. It is full of buds and when the flowers open they smell divine!

My Honeysuckle finally in its new home.

 

…and on a lighter note.

Leaf Liverpool

On Friday I met up with my student, Rachel who I have worked with for three years. She is moving to Manchester and going to finish her degree at Manchester University. I thought I would be sad to have our last coffee/tea but the day was nice. After meeting up in Costa and I having a cappuccino and toasted tea cake, we headed into town and to Leaf, a tea shop in Liverpool! I had not been there before and the cafe/restaurant was very bohemian. The tea we ordered came in neat little pots and it was nice to see fresh ingredients being used.

I had a migraine all evening, probably with all the caffeine. lol

Saturday and David has been working all day on putting his TV on the chimney breast. No DIY job goes smoothly in a 1901 house!!

In the garden. My Azalea is looking wonderful and David’s Acer is sprouting back to life!

Azalea

For the evening dinner I decided to dress up for the curry we had, and in the garden David took a picture. Do I look like a nymph or an alien??

'They're callin' me an alien!'

 

Easter Monday… a brighter day!

Today was spent looking for abstract art for the garden and coming back with bird seed and plants!

We visited Dobbies and B&M firstly. I find Dobbies quite expensive. I think we should have gone to Lady Green!! I still need a Phlox for the garden!

Then David said ‘we’re close to Widnes and more garden centres’, so we put the satnav on and went to two other garden shops, however came back with nothing!

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Power station and Rape Seed field in Widnes

David is still worrying about the TV and the chimney breast. It does not help with me freaking out, saying the whole chimney will cave in if not supported!! After lunch we visited B&Q in search of answers to David’s chimney problem and we came back with a Scabiosa and Lupin for the garden.  I am happy now that there is lots of colour in the garden!

Scabiosa

 

Later that afternoon, I managed to soak up some vitamin D! I sat outside in the garden, did some reading (Kate Morton’s The Secret Keeper), ate strawberries, drank wine and listened to the Classic FM ‘Hall of Fame 2014‘ 😀 I am very excited. I wonder who will be at number one? Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto Number 2, I hope! 🙂

I had voted for Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings, but it only got to number 15!

Happy Easter…everyone!

I was looking forward to sending the long four day Easter break with David. I had hoped we would spend the time together, having fun. It was not meant to be.

The Friday started off ok, visiting family and doling out the simnel cakes I had made for everyone. I even sat out in the yard and enjoyed the warm spring sun with a glass of wine and Classic FM’s ‘Hall of Fame‘ playing in the background! 😀

 

 

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However the rest of the weekend was mired with worry over the living room fireplace, where David was trying to put his TV on the breast. He drilled in four holes for the bracket and found that behind was hollow with bricks falling down!! It did not help matters that I was snapping like a crocodile due to ‘that time of the month’ slowly approaching!

Sunday, Easter Day was a cloudy affair, though I noticed in my garden that things were slowly coming back to life! My Aubrieta, which I thought was dying has sprung into purple flowers and my lovely Magnolia tree is budding with small white flowers. 🙂

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Small wonders!

Trying to Keep the Black Dog at Bay!

I have been rather depressed this week with one thing and another. It has left me feeling rather headachey and stressed out about money. Work at the University finished on Friday, nice for a three week break but I don’t know whether I have any hours after that. I really need to find another job to cover me for over the summer, otherwise the trip to Scotland, Aberdeen’s Wild Dolphins and The Kelipes, with a quick visit to Edinburgh will not go ahead and I will be bereft. 😩

This weekend has all been about keeping the Black Dog at bay. If you feel down, ‘do something that you are good at’ I say, ‘something you enjoy.’ So on Saturday after shopping, cleaning the house, and exercising for 30 minutes I cooked David and I a meal of honey glazed mustard trout, (called Jack) with salad, vegetables and new potatoes.

For the glaze I mixed two tablespoons of lemon juice with two teaspoons of mustard and a tablespoon of honey. Then I smeared it over two fillets of Trout. Cooked it in a 180 degrees oven for 15 minutes. Boiled the potatoes and made the salad.

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I ordained the table with napkins in the shape of peacocks, (well what I tried to look like peacocks anyway), had a nice glass of wine and poured David a cool glass of Pepsi.

I even dressed up! I bought the dress from Jane Norman years ago and had it taken up, (as I am short) but thought it was taken up too much. I found that it fitted me well. I felt very glamorous and sexy!

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Sunday and it was the birthday of my favourite actor 🙂 David went to help his brother with his house and I relaxed home alone. I had a nice soak in the bath, with Classic FM playing and a glass of wine in hand. Afterwards I made a loaf of bread. My finest yet! Then chopped up many vegetables and made Blind Scouse! It was very filling!

 

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Re: Gardening. I was distressed to see a black ‘plague’ on my newly bought poppy. All the heads were eaten from it! Flowers are very expensive, especially if they die within weeks of purchase! But I am happy to see the Magnolia tree I bought has started to bloom. I just hope the weather changes for the better and we get some nice warm weather, and a bit of sun. So the flowers and myself can feel more ‘alive’ again!

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Christine xx