Saturday 31 December 2011

The Year End

I cannot believe that tomorrow is not only the start of a new year, but it is also the First Birthday of Letters From Home!  It has been a busy year, and I haven't blogged nearly as often as I would have liked, but from now on I want to to try and post on most days.

Yesterday I bought my granddaughter Poppy a lovely coat from an 'upmarket' charity shop in Leamington Spa for £2.50, originally from Sainsbury's.

This afternoon I have made a big vegetable curry, mainly using veggies left over from Christmas, so this is almost a free meal!

I chopped and boiled some potatoes, carrots, Brussels sprouts and a cauliflower in hot water with a teaspoon of turmeric, which gives the veg a lovely colour.

In another pan I fried onions in a little oil, along with chopped garlic, and when softened I added a tablespoon of curry powder, some cumin  seeds and some paprika, just because I happened to have some.  To this I added chopped mushrooms and some yellow pepper. I threw in a handful of sultanas and some dried apricots.  Then I added a can of chopped tomatoes and about 250ml of vegetable stock.

When the veggies in the other pan were cooked, I drained them and added them to the curry mix and stirred it all together.

This is now sitting in a pan, waiting to be eaten!  I am going to serve this on a bed of rice, with low fat fromage frais on the top, along with some fresh pea-shoot salad, that I have just harvested.

I simply planted some dried peas, from the box above, in compost, a couple of weeks ago, and spread a thin layer of compost over them and kept them watered.  Ta-da!  A free, fresh salad in the depths of winter!  If you want the full instructions on growing pea shoots, go here.

Just a little walk this morning, 1.25 miles in 30 minutes, along our local streets, as the pavements were wet, so the fields would have been really muddy.  It's such a good feeling to be out walking, getting fresh air and exercise, I am feeling so much better for it, and so is Mr LFH too.

Happy New Year to you, here's to a healthy, happy, frugal 2012!

Friday 30 December 2011


I just thought I'd tell you about some of the wonderful books I've been buying and reading lately.  Many years ago, when I was working in Africa, a colleague gave me a slow cooker book.  I have used this book many times over the past twenty years.  About a year ago, I lent it to a friend, who promptly lost it!  I forgave her, because she is a good friend, but I missed my book.  Imagine my joy a week ago when it turned up at a local charity shop for 30p!

Tower's Slo-Cook Book ([Know-how books])

I am so happy to have it back, in fact I think this one is in slightly better condition than the one I lost!

I also bought two books for 99p at another good charity shop.

"Wait for Me" is a wonderful autobiography written by Deborah Duchess of Devonshire, in her own words.  She is the youngest, and only surviving member of the Mitford sisters, and this autobiography gives a marvellous glimpse into her character and her life.

The other book, which I am currently reading, is "Just a Little Run Around the World" by Rosie Swale Pope. Her husband sadly died of prostate cancer about nine years ago, and in order to highlight the importance of early diagnosis, Rosie decided to literally run around the world, sleeping at night in a tiny bivouac at well-below freezing temperatures.

She is a remarkable lady, very inspiring.  She set off, running around the world, from her home in Tenby, on 2nd October, 2003, her 57th birthday.  She ran for four and a half years, non-stop, around the world by herself.  I am really enjoying reading this.

On my reserve pile I have The Mitford Girls by Mary S. Lovell, which is a biography of the Mitford family. I don't know if I will like this as much as "Wait For Me", as it is not in their own words, but I'm looking forward to reading it.

I haven't watched much TV over Christmas, I have an extremely low boredom threshold when it comes to TV!  But I have spent some happy times curled up with these books.

A Walk in the Woods

This morning, Mr LFH and I walked through our local woods.  We walked a distance of 2.6 miles in 65 minutes, according to Bikehike.  The weather was a little drizzly, but I wore my new Craghopper coat, which Mr LFH bought me yesterday, so I was warm and dry.  It looks exactly like this one..........

I love the colour because it looks a bit like a parka - very cool!  Anyway, it's warm and cosy and keeps me dry and I love it.  It was a bit pricey at £50, but apparently it should have been £115, so it looks like I've bagged a bargain!

I feel as if I have already begun my fresh start, and I am already well on the way to a healthier year, especially as we also walked almost 4 miles on Wednesday!  

What are you doing to make a fresh start?  Or maybe your life is so sorted you don't need one!  Either way, I am looking forward to finding out.  

Wednesday 28 December 2011

A Fresh Start

I've been reading some of my favourite blogs, and a theme that emerges is one of a fresh start.  We are not quite at the start of a new year yet, but Christmas is behind us, we've eaten far too much (oops!), and the promise of  a new year beckons.

I am already thinking about things I would like to do or achieve in 2012.  Last year I grew a few vegetables for the first time.  I am already collecting yoghurt pots, ice-cream tubs etc. to sow seeds early in the spring.  Also, having a new granddaughter called Poppy, I would like to sow some different types of poppy seeds, in her honour!

Another project for next year is to live more frugally, and to decrease my carbon footprint.  There are wonderful blogs, such as Life After Money that inspire me in this direction.  By spending less, I hope to be able to be more generous to others.

We constantly need new starts and plans, because we are fallible creatures, who stumble and fall, and need to pick ourselves up again, time after time.

Saturday 24 December 2011

Christmas Eve

Today has been a wonderful, busy, happy day, wrapping presents, peeling vegetables, having fun. The highlight of today has been a wonderful Carol Service this evening here...........

It was truly magical, because on the stroke of 7pm, as the service started, all the lights suddenly went out, and we realised there were candles glowing everywhere, hundreds of them.  

On the front cover of the service sheet was this image..............

This is the Stalingrad Madonna.  On Christmas Eve, 1942, a military surgeon was working round the clock in a field operating theatre in Stalingrad.  He was a German Lutheran Pastor, a gifted artist, deeply opposed to the Nazi regime.

When his work was over for the night, he gathered a group of soldiers to hold a Christmas service in an underground bunker, with no cross, no tree, no candles.  But on the back of a captured Soviet military map he had drawn an icon, the picture of a Russian Mother, a Russian Mary and her Child; the Stalingrad Madonna.  It was fastened to an earthen wall.  This Russian Mother, like Mary, was sheltering the vulnerable Christ child in the midst of a world of suffering.  

Even though the artist and doctor, Kurt Reuber, died in Soviet captivity, along with 60,000 other German soldiers, miraculously the Stalingrad Madonna survived, and is now hanging in a church in West Berlin.

Here are some lovely words penned by Dr Rowan Williams to guide us into Christmas Day itself.

He will come like last fall's leaf fall.
One night when the November wind
has flayed the trees to the bone, and earth
wakes choking on the mould,
the soft shroud's folding.

He will come like frost.
One morning when the shrinking earth
opens on mist, to find itself
arrested in the net
of alien, sword-set beauty.

He will come like dark.
One evening when the bursted red
December sun draws up the sheet
and penny-masks its eye to yield
the star-snowed fields of sky.

He will come, will come,
will come like crying in the night,
like blood, like breaking,
as the earth writhes to toss him free.
He will come like child.

A Holy and Happy Christmas to you and all your loved ones.

Thursday 22 December 2011

Reading Miss Read

Product Details

I have been re-reading this lovely book this week, A Country Christmas, by Miss Read, which always makes me feel all warm inside at any time of the year.

Here are a few words from the introduction:

     "Winter may not be everyone's favourite season, but of all the year's festivals Christmas takes pride of place, and has lost none of its magic.....partly because we hark back to the excitements of childhood Christmases but also because we look forward to renewing friendships and to taking part in the foremost of the church's festivals.

     But the fact that Christmas Day falls in the dreariest time of the year also highlights its impact.  We are usually in the grip of the winter's cold, early darkness, frost and snow, and all the ills that they bring.  Doubly precious therefore are our domestic comforts - a blazing fire, sustaining food, the comfort of friends and, at the end of the day, a warm bed.

(Google images)

     Outside, the winter landscape has a beauty of its own: bare branches against a clear sky, brilliant stars on a frosty night and perhaps a swathe of untouched snow.  

But these beauties are best when seen from the comfort of one's home, with a good fire crackling and the smell of crumpets toasting for tea.

(Google images)

     That is the charm of the winter season, the contrast between the cold and the warmth, the light and the dark.  I hope that you will enjoy Christmas and the wintertime in the book before you.      Miss Read, 1991. 

Doesn't that make you feel all warm and cosy inside?!

Enjoy these wintery days, with their own special beauty.

Wednesday 21 December 2011

A Childlike Christmas

Christmas is coming!  Lucy and Tom are helping to stir the Christmas pudding.  As they stir they each make a wish.

Stockings are hung before a roaring log fire, while we warm our toes.

The children are too excited to sleep!

Let's peep and see if Father Christmas is on his way.

Parents and grandparents take a well-deserved rest.

At last Father Christmas comes, with sacks full of gifts for everyone.

Happy Christmas everybody!

If you are enjoying these Childlike Christmas posts, go over to Pom Pom's blog where you will find lots of us together enjoying a childlike Christmas party.  Come and join in the fun.  We've saved a Christmas cracker for you and lots of sweeties!
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