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Friday, January 30, 2015

Mid Winter Stroll

 
 
" The rapid nightfall of mid-December had quite beset the little villages they approached on soft feet over a first thin fall of powdery snow.
Little was visible but squares of a dusky orange-red on either side of the street, where the firelight or lamplight of each cottage overflowed through the casements into the dark world without.
Most of the low latticed windows were innocent of blinds, and moving from one to another, the lookers-in, so far from home themselves, watched a cat being stroked, a sleepy child picked up and huddled off to bed, or a tired man stretch and knock out his pipe on the end of a smouldering log."


Ratty and Mole, In The Village. ~ Wind in the Willows
 
 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Flowers In Winter

 
 

How strange to greet, this frosty morn,
In graceful counterfeit of flower,
These children of the meadows, born
Of sunshine and of showers!

How well the conscious wood retains
The pictures of its flower-sown home,
The lights and shades, the purple stains,
And golden hues of bloom!

It was a happy thought to bring
To the dark season's frost and rime
This painted memory of spring,
This dream of summertime.

Flowers In Winter ~ John Greenleaf
 
 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Winter Moon


 
 
Brightly the moon like a jewel is beaming,
White in the east, o'er a lone landscape gleaming,
Over the meadows and over the snow,
Glimmering, shimmering, silvery glow.

Low in the east, when the gloaming is ending,
Slowly this white winter moon is ascending,
Looming so large and appearing so nigh,
Satellite framed by a star-spangled sky.

High in the sky, with soft radiance teeming,
Nigh to the time when men, women, are dreaming,
Weird is her splendor on valley and hill,
Cold is her gleam upon river and rill.

Brightly the moon like a jewel is shining,
White in the west she is slowly declining,
Beautiful Moon ! Which beams gorgeous and grand
Over the homes of our own Native Land.

~Charles Nevers Holmes. 1926.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Winter's First Snow

Mother Nature threw down her blanket shortly after midnight last night, just in time for an artic blast moving through area.
Our first snowfall of the year, magically transforming the landscape.

 

 
 
Out of the bosom of the air,
Out of the cloudfolds of her garment shaken,
Over the woodlands, brown and bare
Over the harvest-fields forsaken,
Silent, and soft, and slow
Descends the snow.

~~By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.~~ 
 
 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Winter Dreams

Oliver is unimpressed by the rain and sleet we've experienced today, he does however appreciate the luxury of a cozy chair.
 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Smitten

I love timeless kitchens, Old English or Primitive style.
They don't have to be large, just warm and cozy, with hanging copper pots, blue and white dishes, baskets for storage, and time-weathered cupboards. 
I fell in love with this kitchen the minute I laid eyes on it, the colors soft and inviting...perfect.
 
 
Original source unknown.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Winter Repose

Winter days have warmed to a balmy 70 degrees.
 
 
 
 
 
The Iris are pushing their shoots out of the soil, I keep reminding them it's Winter and to stay safely snuggled  beneath their blanket of earth, but they insist on reaching out to feel the warmth of the sun. 

 

 
 
Late afternoon the wild turkeys came a trotting, since the young poults are now grown, the flock has grown to forty six.
There seems to be a lot of flapping wings and flaring tails, in an effort to show dominance amongst the males.

 

Oliver keeps watch over his domain.
 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Of Cottages And Tea

 
Some of my most prized possessions are gifts my parents have bought for me throughout the years.
They always put a lot of thought into choosing them, something usually that would remind me of England, and would be a worthy antique to pass along to my daughter.

On one occasion we were enjoying a day out at Beeston Castle ; http://www.theheritagetrail.co.uk/castles/beeston_castle.htm where they often hold flea-markets and antiques sales.
One of the stalls sold Cottage Ware, and I immediately fell in love with the look of the quaint little country gardens and shapes of cottage teapots with their thatched roofs.

My parents surprised me with the tall coffee/water pot, milk and sugar, and a butter or cheese dish, I have since added the teapot to the collection.

 
 
 
 
 
It is mostly displayed in the kitchens of English homes, to inspire culinary glory, with the herbal gardens and flowers surrounding the thatched cottages.
If you are not familiar with Cottage Ware it is the name given to a class of ceramics formed in the shape of, or decorated with English country cottages.
These delightful designs came into their own in the early part of the twentieth century, after WWII there was a building boom, and the style and decoration reflected the pride and joy of young Britons buying their first homes after tenement living.
Price Brothers Pottery of Staffordshire were the most popular in production of the whimsical pieces, but later merged with Kensington, another well-known cottage ware producer.
Sadly the manufacturer closed it's doors in 2003.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Great British Baking Show



Anglophiles and baking enthusiasts received their own Christmas gift from PBS. (Public Broadcasting Corporation).
The network is now broadcasting the wildly popular U.K. series The Great British Bake-Off (albeit under the name The Great British Baking Show).

PBS is currently airing the fifth season, which originally appeared on BBC One this fall. The October finale was 2014’s second most watched TV program in the U.K.
Follow the trials and tribulations of passionate amateur bakers whose goal is to be named the U.K.’s best. Each week, the bakers tackle a different skill, the difficulty of which increases as the competition unfolds.

The Great British Baking Show is a cooking show high on charm, skill, and eccentricity. Hosted by the serene 79-year-old cookbook author Mary Berry and master baker Paul Hollywood, it’s filmed under a tent decorated with British flag pendants and pastel colored mugs. Sheep graze and brooks bubble on the bucolic grounds outside the tent, where mild but engaging drama ensues as contestants attempt to assemble crack-free Swiss rolls and perfect their powdered sugar glazes. Andquaint alert!each contestant’s dish is introduced via an illustration.

The BBC had the great foresight to hire Berry, the mild mannered cookbook author who has become an overnight sensation. In 2012, Queen Elizabeth appointed her a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, and she’s since had a big hand in forming British food trends


Watch full episodes of “The Great British Baking Show” online, and be sure to check your local listings to see when the show will be airing in your area.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Friends

Tom Tilly has found herself a new friend.
She doesn't 'hiss' or walk away, she just sits quietly by her side and watches.
They took a selphie, I think they look purrfectly content.
 
 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Through Bare Trees

 

 
 
Through bare trees.

I can see all the rickety lean-tos
and sheds, and the outhouse
with the half-moon on the door,
once modestly covered in
summer's greenery.

Through bare trees
I can watch the hawk
perched on a distant branch,
black silhouetted wings
shaking feathers and snow,
and so can its prey.

Through bare trees
I can be winter's innocence,
unashamed needfulness,
the thin and reaching limbs of a beggar,
longing to touch
but the hem of the sun."-

~ Lisa Lindsey, Bare Trees

 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Queen's Garden

Tomorrow (Sunday) is the airing of episode two in Season 5 of The Downton Abbey series.
I'm still reeling from episode one.
As if the excitement isn't enough, directly following Downton Abbey, we are treated to a showing of The Queen's Garden.

With permission from the Queen, this program reveals a year in Buckingham Palace Gardens, uncovering a wonderland with a five century history, an urban oasis of wildlife where the Queen grew up and a ‘living museum’ where almost every plant (and some of the animals) have a royal story to tell. Premieres 1/11 at 10 pm ET. Check your local listings.
Whether you are a gardener, an Anglophile, or just plain want to escape these cold winter days, be sure to tune-in.


Friday, January 9, 2015

Hobbit Days



Goodness the weather is bitterly cold.
The sun has shone all day long, but the wind has been horrendous, and temperatures have barely made it to the freezing mark.
The town is full of sickness, colds, flu and lots of pneumonia, I've been trying to stay home as much as possible, since I tend to be one of those 'susceptible to bronchitis' types.

I made a hearty homemade beef stew today, chocked full of vegetables, with an aromatic tomato base, and spices.
It's a Southern recipe, easy, and delicious.


Always best accompanied by a skillet of buttermilk cornbread.



Nothing fancy, just basic Beef and Vegetable Stew.
One and a half pound of stew beef.
A large onion chopped
Two ribs of sliced celery
Cut up potatoes
Sliced carrots
A large can of whole peeled tomatoes chopped up in bite sized pieces
Can of chili beans with the sauce
Can of sliced green beans
Can of peas
Can of corn if I have it.
Chili powder
Bay leaves (2)
Garlic powder
Parsley fresh
Salt and Pepper to taste
Most anything you like to throw in the pot....sometimes I add cabbage.

Southern Cornbread
1 1/3 cups of buttermilk or milk
1/3 cup of vegetable oil or solid shortening (melt if solid shortening)
2 cups of buttermilk cornmeal mix
1 ounce of melted butter
1 beaten egg
Oven temp 425 degrees

Place a cast iron skillet, or cake pan with a small amount of shortening inside the oven until the shortening melts and pan is hot.
Add mixture, bake for 15 / 20 minutes until golden brown


It's been a good day to stay close by the hearth side, indulge in a bowl of homemade stew, and enjoy the company of a portly cat or two by your side.
I wish you a warm and snuggly weekend.
 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Done And Dusted

So Yuletide has passed.
The Christmas tree ornaments and decorations now packed away in their boxes for another year.
Pine needles and tinsel vacuumed yet again, although it's usually an ongoing chore for several weeks.
It's funny how quickly we get used to all the Christmas excess, festive colors, baubles and bubbles ,and greenery, and once they are removed the house feels so incredibly bare.



We are braced for an Arctic blast of extremely cold temperatures, down in the single digits no less, and as if to let us know that Mother Nature can be a fickle friend, a dusting of snow blanketed the fields this morning.

I wanted to share a sweet little Christmas card we recieved from a loved-one.
It made us smile.
Oliver cat, and Tom Tilly, what could have been more perfect !

 
 
Hope you all stay warm and cozy inside, the Nesting Season is upon us.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Wherever You Hang Your Hat

On being evicted from his Christmas-paper squat, Oliver cat  promptly declared he had found a much cozier, albeit smaller, place to call home.
 
 
 

Tom Tilly aka Tom Kitten prefers her new plush leopard print cat bed, to any Christmas paper squat.
It's a 'girl-thing'.




Sunday, January 4, 2015

Winter Days



The recipe books are once again sitting snugly on their shelves, instead of being strewn about the kitchen counter tops.
It's a ritual I go through every holiday, drag out the recipe books, and yet make the same tried and tested dishes as the year before.
Tradition prevails.




We're having a blast of Arctic weather blow through in the next few days.
It's a rare occasion when the temperatures drop into the single digits.
I'm leaving the tartan tablecloth in place for a little while longer, the colors warm and inviting, giving dull Winter days, a much needed splash of vibrancy.


 
 
 

The Christmas ornaments will be packed away by mid-week , marking the end of Yuletide.
I tend to stick to old traditions of leaving the decorations in place for the twelve days of Christmas, just as my parents and grandparents did in England.



It's the perfect weather on a late blustery winter afternoon for indulging in lots of tea, and enjoying a shortbread biscuit or two.

 

"Come along inside... We'll see if tea and buns can make the world a better place."
 
~ Kenneth Grahame, "The Wind in the Willows"
 
 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Wait Is Over



The most anticipated television event of the year is here! Downton Abbey Season 5 premieres Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015, at 9pm ET.
Check your local listings.

Make yourself a nice pot of tea, finish off the Christmas cake, be sure to use the best china.
The wait is over.......

Friday, January 2, 2015

Soup's On

As with much of the nation we are experiencing a blast of cold wintry weather.
It's predicted for much of the coming week, with no more of the fifty degree weather we have been enjoying these past few days.
Such is the pleasure of living in the American South, one day wearing flip-flops, the next furry Ugg boots.
 
 
I've made a hearty fifteen bean soup today, chocked full of country ham, celery, onions, tomatoes, carrots, garlic, rosemary and chili spice.
Served with a slice of buttermilk cornbread, it's the ideal comfort food, on a Winter's day.
Come join us for a bowl.
 
 
 
 
We'll leave the light on for you ! 
 
 

 
 
If you feel like making your own pot, here's the original recipe.
I also add sausage meat,  ( of your choice) or country ham pieces 
Fresh Rosemary (1tablesoon) crushed
Two chicken stock cubes
Two sliced carrots
Two stalks of celery
Three cubed potatoes
One bay leaf

 Original 15 Bean Soup® recipe Hurst Beans

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Ring Out The Old, Ring In The New

 


 
I truly wish each and every one of you, a New Year filled with much love, peace, good health and happiness.
Your friendships have encouraged, enlightened, and made me laugh my frock off throughout this past year.
Here's to a 2015 filled with the same !

To friends and family alike
Many Blessings.
x
 
 

                                                       
A Happy New Year! Grant that I
May bring no tear to any eye
When this New Year in time shall end
Let it be said I've played the friend,
Have lived and loved and labored here,
And made of it a happy year.

~Edgar Guest

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Winter Friendships

Taking a few days off to catch up on overdue visits with dear friends.
Share a cup of tea, a piece of homemade Christmas cake, and swap Christmas gifts.
Be well !

 

"Winter, a lingering season,
is a time to gather golden moments,
embark upon a sentimental journey, and enjoy every idle hour. "

~John Boswell

Ratty, and Mole visiting Badger ~ Wind in the Willows