Puppy Power!

This blog began a few years ago whilst I was awaiting the arrival of a new addition. Well, that addition is now four years old and starts school in September (sob). Since it started, it’s gone through peaks and troughs of activity, but the last few months have seen a total lack of new posts. Not sure why really. I just seem to have been super busy with everything else, you know, work, kids, household stuff, breaking a rib (don’t ask) and so on. I haven’t felt inspired to blog. However, I now have fresh motivation in the form of our latest addition to the family (at last, a link to the opening line). So here he is, Pip the chocolate Labradoodle puppy, eight weeks old today!

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Now, I think it’s fair to say that eight week old puppies are HARD work. Like a cross between a newborn baby (the getting up in the night bit) and a very mischievous toddler (the ‘into everything’ bit). We’ve had him five days now and he is running us ragged, but he is also (luckily for him) the most adorably cute ball of fluff you could wish to meet. Right now, we’re trying to find a routine and get Pip used to his new home. We’re all on a steep learning curve. The kids have to remember not to leave stuff lying around on the floor and they also have to remember not to walk around in bare feet just in case Pip has left anything lying around on the floor. Gareth and I are constantly checking where he is or standing outside with him encouraging him to have a wee al fresco instead of on the nice wooden floorboards.

 On a different note, it’s given me the impetus to get my sewing machine out. I’ve already made a very simple microwaveable rice comforter ‘thing’ using a rectangle of leftover Cath Kidston fabric (only the best…) and I’m planning to make  a cover for his crate (currently an ugly wire contraption which doesn’t bring anything to the ambience of the living room).

So there we have it. A new blog post about a new puppy. I don’t intend to leave it so long next time.

Do you have a pup? What are your top tips? I’m all ears…

 

 

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2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,200 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Comfort Food for a Rainy Day

Ugh, it’s miserable here this morning. Barely light and raining heavily, I’m just glad that Maisie’s half term break started yesterday so we haven’t had the school run to deal with.

Anyway, on a positive note, it’s the sort of weather that makes you crave something warming and tasty, so today I have not one, but two comfort food recipes to help you get through the day.

The first is a delicious Sausage and Bean Casserole which can be cooked on the hob if time is a little short. Also, if you keep a pack of sausages in the freezer, the rest of this meal is pretty much made from store cupboard ingredients. It serves 2-3 adults I would say (but then we’re greedy in our house). You will need:

1 tbsp veg or olive oil

1 large onion, sliced

6 fat sausages

2 cans beans (I vary this, but you can try haricot, borlotti, black eyed, canellini etc…)

1 tsp mustard

Half bottle passata

1 tbsp black treacle

Half pint of chicken stock

Brown the sausages in the oil in a deep sided frying pan. Next add the sliced onion and fry gently til golden and soft.

Add all of the remaining ingredients and give it a good stir before bringing to the boil.

At this stage you can either pop it into a casserole dish with a lid on and cook in the oven for about an hour on a lowish heat (say 170-180 degrees) or you can leave it in your frying pan and pop a lid on (or cover with foil) and simmer on a low heat for about forty five minutes. This is best served with crusty bread and perhaps a dollop of creme fraiche!

Right, well that’s the savoury sorted, but I did say I have two recipes for you and the second is for mindblowingly good Gluten Free Chocolate Brownies. I can’t claim any of the credit for this recipe but wanted to share it with you nonetheless. To find it you’ll need to head over to the fantastic foodie blog Frugal Feeding. When the blog post popped into my Inbox I knew that we’d be giving this recipe a go and it didn’t disappoint.

I wouldn’t like to think about how many calories you might be consuming if you have both the casserole and the brownies, but I do know that both will leave you in a state of cosy well being.

Happy Weekend!

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Knit One, Purl One

Did you know it’s National Knitting and Wool Week right now? Well, it is. From 14th to 20th October to be precise. I have limited experience of knitting and find it’s one of those hobbies that’s best suited to Autumn and Winter months as, let’s face it, that’s when we need woolly stuff, right?

Feeling creative, I decided to dig out my needles and the brilliant Stitch and Bitch book and have a go at making something. Bearing in mind that I’m a) short of time and b) a little impatient, I thought it best to begin with something straightforward and functional, so I picked up a ball of this lovely chunky yarn by Patons and got on with making, yep you guessed it, a scarf! What’s so great about this yarn is that one ball is enough for a scarf and there’s even a pattern for one on the label. It probably took me about three or four hours (done in short bursts over a period of about a week), but I’ve finished up with this gorgeous, teal coloured neck-warmer and it only cost a fiver.

My next project is going to be slightly more complicated – a hat! Watch this space…

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New Beginnings: September

I love September for lots of reasons, but mainly I like the sense of newness it brings. For me, the beginning of Autumn feels a lot more laden with promise than, say, the beginning of Spring. There’s something so invigorating about preparing for the start of a new school year (in Maisie’s case) and going back to work after the six weeks holiday (in my case), oh, and I have a birthday too which helps!

I turned 39 yesterday. It was an understated sort of a day but lovely nonetheless. There were cards and pressies, cake and flowers and a really relaxing early evening bath with a book. Kitty and I had a little scoot round the shops in the morning and we admired all of the gorgeous Autumny clothes. I just had to buy this and this for her and again found myself wondering why such clothes aren’t made  in grown up sizes. I’m sure it wouldn’t just be me making a beeline for them.

Anyway. the weather’s turned miserable today after a week of late summer glory. The sky is leaden and it’s bucketing down here in York, but hopefully it won’t be too long before we can get out and enjoy those wonderful Autumn days when the leaves are falling and everything takes on a cosy kind of feel. I’m looking forward to pulling on tights and boots and heading out with a coat on (is that weird?). Here are a few of the things I have my eye on.

Duckfeet - Vejle

Gorgeous leather boots by Danish brand, Duckfeet. So many colours too!

Ladies' DENIM WRAP SKIRT

Toast. Need I say more?

Women's KELBY JUMPER

Toast again!

Product Details

Been meaning to buy the second Kitchen Diaries. Loved the first one.

Buy Le Creuset Shallow Casserole, 30cm Online at johnlewis.com

New colour Le Creuset at John Lewis. I LOVE this green.

Starting soon…

Do you like Autumn? Tell me why…

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Salad

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As blog posts go, this one is  little random, but I was eating my lunch earlier and felt the need to share a couple of foodie tips that I’ve recently discovered. Now, where do you keep your tomatoes? In the fridge I bet. After all, that’s what it says on the packaging if you buy them from the supermarket and because I’m very law abiding, I tend to do as I’m told. If you do keep them in the fridge, I’m guessing that you find them flavourless and boring when you come to eat them, right? Well, here’s the tip. Don’t refrigerate your toms. When I went shopping last week, I bought a lovely vine of the cherry variety and popped them in a pretty, rustic bowl which we bought on holiday in Italy  few years ago. I then left them out on the worktop instead of putting them in the salad drawer. The results are absolutely yummy, delicious tomatoes which taste as though they’ve been freshly picked from a sun-soaked Mediterranean terrace. What a difference. I urge you to try it.

 

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On to tip number two. Lettuce. Expensive isn’t it? Well, not if you buy a tray of living salad from Lidl for 99p. But that’s not all. If you then plant the six or eight little plugs of lettuce into a couple of larger containers, you’ll have enough  to keep you going for months. Seriously, the pot pictured above has been providing us with salad for since about June and there’s another one the same. Much easier than growing it from seed and so easy to keep. Basically, the more you take from it, the leafier it grows back.

Similarly, this rule applies to shop bought herb pots. We planted out a Waitrose basil plant which cost a couple of quid (was a big one though) and it’s going strong in a sunny spot by the back door (I do think the sunny patch helps a lot, oh and don’t over water it).

And last but not least, avocadoes. Advice here is you should never refrigerate those babies and if you want to ripen them relatively quickly, keep them with your bananas. Works a treat.

Do you have any foodie tips?

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RHS Harlow Carr

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