Saturday, 3 December 2016


I turn the page of the calendar to December and realise that Christmas is fast approaching and also the end of 2016.  I completed my personal NaBloPoMo challenge in November ~ posting every day for a month.  I don't think that I have that many readers these days, but I do appreciate the comments and support of my blogging friends. 

I sometimes find myself wondering why I continue with this blog ~ I think that the reason is a desire to write and be published ~ little more than a dream at present, but I hope to one day make it a reality. 

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Woody Woodpecker

One morning, I was trying to study and heard this insistent tapping.  For a while I tried to block it out and concentrate on my books, but after it had continued for quite some time, I decided to investigate the source of the noise.  

It didn't take me long to discover that we had a woodpecker drilling holes in the wood outside our window.  I didn't manage to get a photo until it moved to a nearby tree.  I'm informed that it is a Hairy Woodpecker.  Similar in appearance to its smaller cousin the Downy Woodpecker, but with a much longer bill.  In reading about this woodpecker, I learned that it forages along tree trunks and the main branches of trees, but this one had been busy drilling holes in our balcony!

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Santa's Laundry

Yes, this was another unfinished project!  I started it last year and ran out of time before Christmas arrived, so it was consigned to a bag until I finally got round to getting my knitting needles out again.

As everyone knows, Santa wants to look his best for his big day, so his clothes have to be clean and ready to wear.  Nice shiny black buttons and pristine white fur trim on his jacket.

Coordinating trousers with a drawstring waist for the times when he over-indulges in the mince pies!
The whole outfit includes long-johns, striped socks and a wool hat with a fur trim and bobble.

This pattern was for hanging tree ornaments, but I thought that it would look good if I use some bakers' twine in red and white and buy some mini clothes pegs, then I can string Santa's washing up to dry..

Monday, 28 November 2016

Tea Cakes

One of my favourite tea-time treats is a toasted teacake with butter.  I have fond memories of cosy tea shops offering such delicious treats on cold winter days, with a reviving pot of tea.

Sadly, there are no such places here and I have yet to find anything resembling a teacake.  I saved a recipe from a magazine and made this batch for a Sunday afternoon treat.  They were not quite how I remembered them, but they were still delicious with a cup of tea.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Thought For The Day - Part Four

'The Advent moon shines cold and clear.
We watch and wait.'

Christina Rossetti

Today we light the first candle of Advent ~ the candle of hope.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Our Daily Bread

I'm not ashamed to admit that I use a breadmaker for most of the bread that I bake.  The only dough that I physically handle is pizza dough and dough for breadsticks, but only after it has been kneaded in the stand mixer.

After a neck injury left me with chronic pain, I am not able to knead bread myself and I like the convenience of being able to put everything into the machine and have a perfectly cooked loaf come out at the end of the process.

Since we got our 'new' breadmaker (second-hand, but in as new condition), I've stuck to the recipe for quick French bread, which gives excellent results in only two and a half hours.  I did try a malted loaf, using a recipe from another breadmaker book, but it was not successful, as it came out burnt and crispy.  As our machine is a Cuisinart, I suppose that Americans don't bake malt loaf, so there is no recipe supplied.

I fancied a change and decided to try the Rustic Italian loaf.  This bread is amazing and it even keeps well for a couple of days.  I can't resist the still-warm crust with melted butter, though I usually share it...delicious!

Friday, 25 November 2016

The English Home

The appearance of The English Home on the newsagent's shelf is a certain sign that Christmas is approaching.  The annual ritual of buying the December issue signals that it is time for me to begin my Christmas preparations.

Whilst I can aspire to the perfect English country cottage, beautifully decorated for the Christmas season, the reality is a little different.  I think that this year will be a pared-down version of Christmas for various reasons, the least of which is lack of space. 

Anyway, I can still dream of curling up in front of a fire in that cottage in the countryside and enjoy a welcoming cup of tea and a seasonal nibble as I daydream...