Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Wedding Anniversary

It is not your love that sustains the marriage —
but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.”

Just a quick hello to say that Mr Letters From Home and I are celebrating our Wedding Anniversary this week, and a part of that celebration will be spending some time in a hotel in the same town where we went for our honeymoon, very exciting!  See you soon.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Working on my PhD.


I've just had such a funny email from my sister, who is a champion knitter.  She said:  When asked, tell people you are working on your Phd this year. They will show you great respect and you can decide whether to admit it stands for 'Projects Half Done' in knitting parlance.  Hahaha, I love that!  My sister raises a LOT of money for Oxfam every year through her knitting, which is hugely popular.

 I am currently working on my PhD, a jacket and hat for granddaughter Poppy.  They might not fit for a while, but  I will be seeing Poppy next Friday and want to give it to her then.  I'll try and remember to take a photo of the finished work.

I made a wonderful cake the other day from this recipe.  Give it a go, it's yummy.  I didn't have any lemons so I left them out, and I added some chopped apples and cinnamon and ginger, and I used Stork margarine instead of butter, and it was still gorgeous, this is my current favourite recipe.  

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Braised Chicken Chasseur

I had a new recipe book of slow-cooking recipes from youngest son for Christmas, so I've been trying out some of the recipes.


The other day I tried Braised chicken chasseur.

It is supposed to take 1 3/4 hours and serves four, but I like to use my slow cooker and let it simmer for a looooong time, and I always cook up a double amount to save time on another day.

The ingredients stated in the book are:-

4 chicken legs (I used 8 chicken breasts)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions thickly sliced
250g/9 oz mushrooms
1 tbsp tomato puree
300 ml/half pint white wine
400g can chicken connsomme, or stock (I used good old oxo cubes)
3-4 fresh tomatoes, quartered


This Tesco market value vegetable stir fry is one of my kitchen allies.  It's fairly cheap, and I use it in heaps of things, sometimes I even use it in a stir-fry!  On their own, I don't find frozen veg to be great, but the secret is to combine them with fresh veggies, and then you really cannot tell the difference between the fresh and the frozen veg.

First I browned the chicken and popped it in the slow cooker.


Next I browned the onions, along with the mushrooms and some dried apricots and sultanas I happened to have in the cupboard.  I usually start off with a recipe as a guide, then I add whatever I fancy to make a concoction.  I also added carrots because I had a few that needed to be used up.



Then it was all popped into the big 6.5 ltr slow cooker.  Can you see his little brother alongside?  He only cost £9 from Tesco's a few months ago, and it is so handy for smaller meals, soups, sides or desserts.




And here is the finished result, with the fresh tomatoes added a few minutes before serving.  It was delicious!


And here are some of my recipe books, I love to flick through them and plan meals, although I often make meals up as I go along too, especially at the end of the week, when I have an odd assortment of foodstuffs to use up!



Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Giving the year to God


Today I read this wonderful post at the Girltalk blog, which has a wealth of Christian resources.

'Will you wake up on January 1, 2012 and say to God: “I don’t need to read your Word or pray or listen to your voice today. I am competent on my own. I can keep my New Years' resolutions all by myself, thank you very much.”?
Of course not!  We would never dare say these frightfully arrogant words.
But if we neglect God’s Word and prayer, we are saying with our hearts and actions: “I can do it all by myself.”
Jesus has a different perspective: “Apart from me you can do nothing.” He says in John 15:5.
We can’t start a new diet, stick to our budget, or kick that bad habit without Him. None of these things—no matter how hard we work at them—will have any “eternal value or…produce spiritual fruit” without God (ESV Study Bible).
To bear fruit, we must sit at Jesus' feet and listen to his teaching (Luke 10:38-42).
We must renounce our self-sufficiency.
We must repent from our arrogant independence.
We must come to the God of mercy who is eager to forgive.
And we must sit.
When we sit at Jesus’ feet, we are saying: “I need you! I can’t obey you without your help. I can’t serve you in my own strength. I can’t walk in a manner worthy of the gospel by myself. I need your grace.”
And you know what? He will give it! God doesn't correct our self-sufficiency to push us away. He wants us to draw near to sit and listen. He wants to speak to us, to teach us, to give us grace to bear fruit.

So let’s say—with our words, our hearts, and our actions—I need you, Lord, today and every day this year!'

What an excellent reminder or the all-sufficiency of our God.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Thank you


I want to say a big thank you to everyone who responded yesterday.  So often, when I am unsure about anything, or if I am feeling upset, I will 'disappear', which in the virtual world means I stop blogging!  But I decided yesterday to take a different approach and to share what is happening, and to see if anyone sheds fresh light on the situation - and you most certainly did!

Elizabeth, your blog is so beautiful, and you are right, things are not getting any cheaper, so we all need to be more savvy.

Pom Pom,  Thank you for your positive attitude!  This is how I feel too!  There is plenty to do at home, I love pottering about.  I hope your new dishwasher is NOT a lemon!

Jane and Chris, It's the simple life for me!

Susan  You also helped me to see the positive side of the situation, there are at least two ways of seeing everything, the secret is in choosing the right perspective.

Tina,  As always, you are a big encouragement, always there, with just the right word.

I have a wall-hanging in my kitchen, given to me by a good friend which says: "Friends are much cheaper than a psychiatrist."  I can vouch for that, and they are a lot more fun too, and that includes virtual friends.

So thank you everybody, that is exactly what I needed to hear.  I feel that I need to be doing a bit less, but that was also mixed with a tinge of worry, but I can see clearly now that this is a good opportunity to get my work/life balance a little bit more manageable.  Less stress, more knitting, baking, veggie-growing, more...............watch this space!

Monday, 9 January 2012

What next?


I started back to work today, and had some surprising news.  I work on a freelance basis, as a mentor to students in higher education.  For the past 16 months, I have been working many hours a week with one particular student, however it is currently not clear whether this student will continue studying, which basically means I may have less work, and therefore less money in the weeks to come.

In one way, it might be a blessing in disguise to be able to spend more time at home, I have plenty of things to do.  I want to grow more veggies this year, I have a few grotty corners that need sorting out, etc.  It also means paying even closer attention to wonderful money-saving blogs like Life After Money,   The Tightwad Telegraph and Frugal Queen.

I have been saving quite a bit of money over the past few months when I shop online, by mainly buying things that are on offer, as long as they are still healthy, I don't do convenience foods hardly ever.  This has saved me about £20 a week, no small feat.  It would be nice to have the time to go into shops, and buy items that have been marked down.

Anyway, we'll see what happens, and I will continue to try and blog on most days, so you can come along with me on the journey.  Bye for now.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

York again


Today we have driven to York and back home again, taking youngest son back to University.  The holiday seems to have sped by, as holidays often do.  

There was huge frustration when we arrived, as somehow the lock to our son's room seems to have broken, so we had to wait for a locksmith to come and fix it before we could unpack all his stuff.  But it finally got sorted, and we had a little wander around York.  We went to the minster, and just poked our heads in the door, as the entry cost is expensive, and we've been around it several times before, and then we found somewhere to eat.

Ahh, life will seem very quiet around the old homestead for a while.

Friday, 6 January 2012

A new project



Today, four balls of this beauty dropped through my letterbox.  It is Sirdar Baby Crofter in a shade called 'Maisie'.  I have already knitted a cardigan in Baby Crofter for granddaughter Poppy, but as she is growing bigger by the day, I thought a larger size was in order, in more summery shades, for the spring.  I haven't had a project on the needles since Christmas, so now my fingers are twitching to get started!  Pictures to follow!

I went out for my daily walk this morning, just a 1.25 circular walk from home, amidst trees and birds and sunshine, really nice.  Since then I have been giving youngest son some moral support as he gets to grips with writing two 3,000 word essays to be handed in next week.  He's been working very hard, so he's on the last lap now.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

A day out


(google images)

Had a lovely day out today with my lovely husband to celebrate my birthday!

We had a good walk, (I wish I'd remembered my pedometer!) and had a very nice meal at Strada - with a two for one voucher!  I had chicken in a mushroom sauce with roasted new potatoes and roast onions.  There were not many people around, so it was nice and quiet, and not too cold.

I've been really spoilt! I've had an orchid from my husband, and of course my new coat; Body Shop toiletries from eldest son, flowery secateurs from my daughter, and a lovely personalised card from darling Poppy, with her smiley face on it; flowers from youngest son and a poem he wrote about me!  Ahh, happy times!

Hope you're all having a good day!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Dollies!

Do you love dollies?  I always have, and probably always will!  A few weeks before Christmas, DD and I went shopping for presents for my granddaughter Poppy, and saw this delightful rag doll at Cath Kidston.


I bought her and took her home, and decided that before I gave her to Poppy, it might be nice to make some clothes and a little bag, so I knitted these.........


Then I remembered that I had lots of pretty yarn left over from making Poppy's blanket, so I made a matching blanket for dolly.


Then I rang DD, and told her the dolly was ready, and she remembered that I had made her a rag doll when she was a baby - well over twenty years ago! - and could we bring it with us at Christmas?  Of course I could!  So I washed all her clothes and got her ready to be reunited with her owner.  Here she is modelling her bloomers!


Frilly underskirt.


Dress and hat.


And here they are together, Poppy's new Cath Kidston doll, with clothes designed and knitted by me, and DD's own doll, all made by me, many years ago, including all the clothes.


Ah yes, I can see happy days ahead, playing with Poppy, playing with dolls, lots of fun!

Monday, 2 January 2012

A Sunny Walk

Today, was sunny, so Mr LFH, our two sons and I ventured out on a walk around Draycote Water, a local reservoir, which has a 5 mile perimeter track.  It took us 2 hours to walk the 5 miles, but that included stopping to take pics, as well as bumping into a whole bunch of our friends, with lots of hugs all round!

Draycote Water is 6 km south of Rugby in Warwickshire, in the village of Dunchurch, and is owned and operated by Severn Trent Water, to supply drinking water to Rugby.  It covers more than 600 acres, and holds up to 5,000 million imperial gallons of water.  It is by far the largest expanse of water in landlocked Warwickshire, so it almost feels like a walk along the coastline.


We stopped off a little way around to see the alpacas.  The alpaca farm is in a village called Toft, and these woolly beauties have a lovely view while they graze.  You can buy their wool to knit here.



More alpacas.


The sky and the water were really blue, amazing for January.


Here are the boys, wondering which way to go next, while I look on.  Do you like my new coat?  It's lovely and warm.


These were the views of the Warwickshire countryside we enjoyed along the water's edge.



Only one sailing boat braved the water today.


After leaving the reservoir, we had a little wander around the village of Dunchurch, and enjoyed seeing these quaint thatched cottages.




Here is the 14th century church of St Peters, Dunchurch.



I remembered to wear my pedometer, and was pleased to see that by the end of the walk I had clocked up 12,541 steps.  I've just looked at it again and it currently stands at over 13,000 steps.  I am feeling very pleased with myself!


It's been a great day.  I'd like to come back here again soon, as part of my plan to walk a lot more.  

This evening we had the rest of the veggie curry.  It's DH's last day of holiday, so I lit lots of candles on the dining table, and played Eva Cassidy while we ate.  Now we're sitting down and relaxing our tired feet!  
Bye for now.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

happy New Year and Happy Birthday

Happy New Year to you all, and a Happy first birthday to Letters From Home.  Is it really a year since I posted my first post?



I am the new year. I am an unspoiled page in your book of time.
I am your next chance at the art of living. I am your opportunity to practice what you have learned about life during the last twelve months.
All that you sought and didn’t find is hidden in me, waiting for you to search it but with more determination.
All the good that you tried for and didn’t achieve is mine to grant when you have fewer conflicting desires.
All that you dreamed but didn’t dare to do, all that you hoped but did not will, all the faith that you claimed but did not have—these slumber lightly, waiting to be awakened by the touch of a strong purpose.
I am your opportunity to renew your allegiance to Him who said, "Behold, I make all things new."

It's great to have that new white page feeling at the start of a new year, but also good to know that with Christ every day is an opportunity for a fresh start, and His mercies are "new every morning".

If I could sum up all the joy of 2011 in a single image, then here it is, spending precious time with my darling granddaughter, Poppy Annabel.  Her arrival has brought incredible joy to everybody. Isn't she a sweetie?!


I didn't go for a walk today, as I went to church, and we spent a happy day with my sister-in-law. But I am determined to walk more in 2012, and today I dug out my pedometer, that I bought when I used to go to Weightwatchers.  I've only done 2,500 steps today, and probably won't do many more now, but I want to get into the habit of wearing it every day, and gradually doing more steps.  I also like bikehike, where I can work out the number of miles I have walked.  

It would also help if I ate more sensibly, but the house is still full of tantalising titbits, in fact I am munching on Divine white chocolate as I write this, also my birthday is coming up this week, so maybe I will wait a few days before I give up the sweet stuff - lame excuses I know!  Bye for now.
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