Sunday, January 31, 2010

There: All Better.

After playing nurse for a week, the effort has finally paid off and the First Sergeant seems to be on the mend.
I give all the credit to a batch of homemade chicken noodle soup, it has worked it's magic.

This is the little "I need TLC " bell I had placed on the night table bedside his bed, it now goes back in it's box, and hopefully won't be needed anytime in the near future.

Your prayers and get well-wishes, were greatly appreciated, it's nice to have such caring friends.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Snow Storm.

Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o'er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river, and the heaven,
And veils the farmhouse at the garden's end.
The sled and traveller stopped, the courier's feet
Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm.

The Snow Storm ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ferry 'Cross The Mersey.

Isn't the world of blogging just a wonderful means of meeting the most special people, that undoubtedly our paths would never cross ?
It truly is a shrinking world.

Last week, I had an unexpected visit from a local Tennessee lady and her husband. They met across an ocean via the Internet, fell in love and married.
"Mrs" is from Tennessee, "Mr" is from Liverpool, England, which happens to be my grandma's birthplace.

Having lived for six years in Liverpool, they have made the move over to Tennessee, and though this is "home" for "Mrs" it is all a new experience for "Mr".
The wonderful thing is they seem to be quite at home, wherever they hang their hat.

The part of this story that intrigues me most, is the fact that "Mrs" ran across my blog, whilst living in Liverpool, England.
She had been reading it long before she knew I lived in the same town, in Tennessee.
When we finally got to meet each other last week, it was just such a a lovely surprise.

Of course, most of our conversation was about English foods, and what we miss the most, and where we can find it.

Chocolate mostly ;)
Isn't it all so exciting .......

Picture: Royal Liver Building, Pier Head, Liverpool, England.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Double Double Toil and Trouble.

I've decided it's time to pull the rabbit out of the hat, and bring to an end, all of the hocus pocus we've endured over this past week or so.
Leaving the most mind-boggling trick 'til the last, it seems we have run out of all other options.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg, and owlet's wing,—
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
Macbeth ~ William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

Hearty Farmhouse Chicken Noodle Soup.
Known to cure what ails you !

Monday, January 25, 2010


You know how it goes.....
Everything in your life seems to be running along nicely, at it's own pace, and then out of the blue you're thrown a curve ball.

The First Sergeant has been dealing with a variety of health issues over the past few months, this weekend included time spent in the ER.

Why does it always take a "slap upside the head" to make us realize that life is not guaranteed, each day is a blessing, and to tell those you love, just how much.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Simon's Cat. Let Me In.

For all the cat lovers amongst us, a little feline frolic to share.

To turn off the sound. Scroll to bottom of the right sidebar and click the large round button on the PLAYLIST.

Oliver thanks you >^..^< Video credit: simonscat/youtube.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Silver Majesty.

Throughout the year, I've been keeping an eye out in the thrift shops for pieces of silver. You'd be surprised how many beautiful servers and chafing dishes are discarded, mostly for want of a good cleaning.

These are just a few pieces I have collected this past year. All have been "bargain buys" for pennies on the dollar, with the exception of the candelabra, which was so generously given to me as a Christmas gift, by a very special lady.

My daughter keeps reminding me, if we continue, we'll have enough silver to set the table for her majesty "Lillibeth" over for tea.

It keeps the twinkle in my eye ;)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Tea Time.

A Cup of Tea

When the world is all at odds
And the mind is all at sea
Then cease the useless tedium
And brew a cup of tea.

There is magic in its' fragrance,
There is solace in its' taste;
And then laden moments vanish
Somehow into space.

And the world becomes a lovely thing!
There's beauty as you'll see;
All because you briefly stopped
To brew a cup of tea.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Serving Of Ginger.

What greater gift than the love of a cat?
~Charles Dickens

"Oliver" seems to have made himself quite at home these days.
Be it making himself comfortable
laying in a wicker serving tray.....
Or, sitting in his favorite spot in the kitchen......

Or, snoozing in his favorite chair, dreaming of infinite fields of tasty mice.. .............
You'd think he's lived here all of his life!
The rythym of the house just seems right once more.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Winter Friendships.

"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

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Return To Cranford.

If you're a fan of Masterpiece Theatre on Public Broadcasting Service , this evening is the airing of Return to Cranford.

Set in the early 1840s in the fictional village of Cranford in the county of Cheshire (which just happens to be ny home county ) in North West England, the story focuses primarily on the town's single and widowed middle class female inhabitants who are comfortable with their traditional way of life and place great store on propriety and maintaining an appearance of gentility.

Change is racing towards the small, close-knit village of Cranford like a steam train — quite literally. As the railroad continues to encroach at the edge of town, Cranford strives to open to new realities, from surprising romances to unexpected losses and even waltzing! Matty Jenkyns (Judi Dench), Miss Pole (Imelda Staunton), Mrs. Forrester (Julia McKenzie) and Mrs. Jamieson (Barbara Flynn) are back with other distinguished residents of Cranford, along with one well-outfitted and mischievous cow. When a shocking event seemingly derails Cranford from its innocence, can a bit of magic and faith in enduring friendships save the day?

Based on the stories of Victorian-era writer Elizabeth Gaskell, Return to Cranford also features Tom Hiddleston (Wallander) and Tim Curry.

Make yourself a nice pot of tea, finish the last of the Mince Pies, put your feet up and enjoy !

Photo credits: BBC

A Gentle Giant.

"The tree which moves some to tears of joy,
Is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way.
Some see Nature all ridicule and deformity, and some scarce see Nature at all.
But to the eyes of the man of imagination, Nature is Imagination itself. "

~ William Blake, 1799, The Letters

Photo taken at The Hermitage: Home of President Andrew Jackson, Nashville, Tennessee.
Click image to see the pheasant carved in wood.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Recipe For The Birds.

After posting yesterday about feeding the wild birds, I have decided to add a quick and easy recipe for making homemade suet cakes.

They can be made inexpensively, and in bulk quantity, and offer a wholesome and life sustaining treat to our feathered friends.

Homemade Suet Cakes.
Making homemade suet cakes is simply a matter of melting fat down to a pour-easy consistency, adding a few ingredients of your choosing, then pouring the mixture into a mold. The shape of the mold is determined by the type of suet feeder you'll use.

If you are using lard or shortening for homemade suet cakes, adding equal parts of crunchy peanut butter flour will help maintain correct consistency of regular suet cakes.
To this warm and pour-able mixture you could add rolled oats, bird seed, cornmeal, raisins, unsalted nuts and anything else you think the birds would enjoy.
Then, pour your warm suet 'soup' into the mold (a bread pan where you could slice off bits for your store bought suet feeder, cupcake tins that you could pierce with wire and hang from a tree, etc.)
Keep any unused portions in the freezer for up to two months.
Things You'll Need:
lard or beef suet
quick oats
peanut butter (crunchy is better)
bread crumbs
container for mold
bird seed

Step 1
Place 1 cup of lard and 1 cup of creamy peanut butter in a saucepan over very low heat. Stir until melted.
Step 2
To the melted shortening mixture, add 3 cups plain cornmeal. Mix thoroughly.
Step 3
Here's the fun part...stir in any combination of the following: quick oats, raisins, chopped apple, bird seed, bread crumbs, or dried berries. Stir until combined.
Step 4
Pour into a plastic container lined with aluminum foil. Place in the refrigerator to cool.
Step 5
Once the suet is cooled and solid, slice into squares and place into your suet cage. Suet cages can be found with the bird feeders at most home centers.
Step 6
Store any remaining squares in the refrigerator.

If you prefer, you can roll out the mixture when cool enough to handle, and using cookie cutters cut into any shape you prefer. Insert a straw to make a hole, and add ribbon or jute string.
Hang from a tree branch.

Enjoy watching your feathered friends!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Beneath Our Wings.

"I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment, while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance that I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn."

~ Henry David Thoreau

As the temperatures dip throughout the Winter months, let's not forget our little feathered friends.
There are many species of birds who do not migrate for the Winter, but instead depend on the habitat they are most familiar with throughout the year, to survive.

During the Winter months the mortality rate of the bird population reaches dangerous levels when the temperature drops.
It is a fact, that a bird can use up roughly ten percent of it's body weight trying to keep warm, on a cold Winter's night.

One of the easiest things we can do, is to provide food and water, during the Winter months.
Hanging suet cakes, and bags of nuts and seeds from branches, are an ideal food source, and easy to get to.
Bird feeders can be stocked with a mixture of seeds, and a bird feeding table can also be stocked with kitchen left overs including fats (from meats etc), potatoes, cheeses and pastries.

Just like all other animals birds need water too. Provide a small shallow bowl, filled with gently warmed water. Check the bowl several times a day if possible, to ensure the water is not frozen.

If possible consider a small bird bath which will allow the birds to wash their wings: an important requirement in Winter as their wings become clogged with mud etc.making it difficult to fly.

Lastly, shelter.

Despite their ability to nest in trees and shrubs, providing a warm, draft-free bird house will provide them a safer, and warmer home in these cold months.

Stay warm, dear sweet little friends.....

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow.

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.~~

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A BIG Snow On A Small Island.

England is experiencing almost three weeks of snowfall across the entire country, a rare and disabling occurrence.

Students are out of school, airports and motorways are closed, power is disrupted...
According to the BBC news, the streets are literally deserted, with people not able to travel.
When one London bus driver, was asked about his view on the enormous amount of snowfall, his reply: 'It's a right " How's Your Father"....... that's the British !
Photo credits: BBC

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Ending OF Yuletide.

Tomorrow marks the end of the Yuletide tradition, twelve days of Christmas.

In England, the Christmas decorations are left in place until the 6th day of January, and since old habits are hard to break, the decorations around our house, are still in place.

Yule is the period traditionally celebrated between late December and the end of January, marking Winter on the "Wheel of the Year". It is also one of the names given to the Winter Solstice, which falls on or around the 21st December each year.
For Pagans, Yule is their traditional festival to mark this time of the year. On the darkest, longest night, that of Winter Solstice, communities of old gathered around the Yule log to celebrate the birth of the son of the Goddess, The Mabon.

Known as the Star Child, this son would become the Sun God, representing the return of Light, and within a few days the nights would begin to shorten.

Christianity later chose the 25th December to mark the birthday of Jesus Christ, placing it in line with the Pagan Winter Solstice. Before the coming of Christianity, the wise men and women of the community would have announced that the festive magical workings had brought about a return of the Light. This magic would have involved decorating homes, sharing gifts, lighting bonfires, and giving offerings to the gods, such as red berries and seasonal greenery.
To celebrate the returning of Light, folk would bring out their stored food and enjoy cheerful festivities. Even in times of poor harvest, the Star Child would have inspired whatever celebrations were possible.
Dances, special songs and the decorating of houses and trees would all take place up until what is now known as Twelfth Night, where the Yuletide feast was brought to an end with a final day of merriment and activities.

Since we are predicted to receive three to five inches of snow in the next two days, I think the decorations will be snugly in place for the next week or so.

That's OK with me, I like the look of twinkling fairy lights in the glistening snow.

Info credit: Wikipedia

Monday, January 4, 2010

Got Snow ?

"In the bleak midwinter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter,
Long ago.
Christina Rossetti, 1872 ~ A Christmas Carol.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Soup's On.

As with much of the nation we are experiencing an Arctic blast of Canadian cold weather.
It's predicted for much of the coming week, with no more than highs in the teens.

I've made a hearty fifteen bean soup today, chocked full of country ham, celery, onions, tomatoes, carrots, garlic, and chili spice.
Served with a pone of buttermilk cornbread, it's just the ideal comfort food, on a Winter's day.

Come join us for a bowl !

We'll leave the light on for you.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Mother Nature's Blanket.

There is nothing in the world,
More beautiful than the forest
Clothed to its very hollows in snow.
It is the still ecstasy of nature,
Wherein every spray,
Every blade of grass,
Every spire of reed,
Every intricacy of twig, is clad with radiance.
~ William Sharp

Friday, January 1, 2010

This One's For The Birds.

{Click to enlarge}
I wanted to share one of my Christmas gifts with you, from The First Sergeant. A gorgeous hand-painted piece of glass, featuring all native Tennessee birds, and a Morning Glory vine weaving it's way through an old weathered rail-fence.
Just perfect !

It's as if I had commissioned the piece myself, everything so near and dear to my heart.
Not sure which window will be graced with this piece, I'm still working on that.

Oliver couldn't care less.
Birds or NO birds, he's catching up on his beauty sleep..........

Off now to eat the Black-Eye peas....Happy New Year !!