Glorious Glass

I really like glass and the light it gives off. I was lucky to pick up a bit of glassware yesterday in London. My friend had some lovely candlesticks in her house and I loved the way that light shone off them. I thought these were pretty amazing and love the shapes and facets. One of them was a mere £2 because there was a chip on the base so the guy thought people would be put off but I quite like the imperfection of it. Besides no one ever notices the bases when they are lit and the light is twinkling. I think I’m going to look out for another two and use them for advent this year. I must be very very careful not to let the candles burn down too low – Rachel broke hers that way so I must be very careful.

I also got a couple of dishes of what the guy described as Depression glass. I thought they were just incredibly lovely no matter what they were. A bargain at £2.

My Thai Green Curry

Thank you ever so much for all your comments and emails about Ophelia. I have read each and every one several times and they have been such a comfort when I feel very empty. I always knew it would be very difficult when she died but it is still very very hard nonetheless. I feel quite sad still and thought I’d share my Green Thai Curry recipe.

500g pack of turkey thigh pieces
1 tbsp plain flour seasoned with salt and pepper
Olive oil
250ml chicken stock
50g green thai curry paste
1 can coconut milk
3 medium-sized potatoes, chopped into small cubes

Coat turkey pieces in flour mixture to coat and fry in olive oil until browned.
Place turkey pieces in slow cooker on high. Add chicken stock to pan to de-glaze and then add coconut milk and thai curry paste. Stir together and add to turkey pieces.

Two hours before serving, add potato cubes. I cooked this on low for about 4-5 hours and it was deliciously tender.

Serve with jasmine rice and green beans.

Phoebe is trying to comfort me when she can. She, too, is very very old and I know she finds climbing the stairs hard work. She likes to get up on the sofa arm and purrs at me.

Good night, Ophelia

Ophelia had a fit whilst she was at the vets today and died. She was such a lovely cat even to the last – she had jumped up on the bed on Monday morning and sat next to me. I am sure she was trying to give me some comfort for what was to come. The vet thinks that she probably had a fit on Sunday night which is why she looked so ill on Monday.

pao just mentioned that it has been almost 12 years to the day that we’ve had the pleasure of owning her. It has been an amazing privilege to spend that time with her. She and I hit it off straight away when pao’s friend Paul brought her and Merlin round for me to see if I liked them and left both cats with me whilst they went to the pub. Very quickly, Ophelia came and sat on my lap and we were firm friends from then onwards. She used to sleep on my hip at night and Sunday night was no exception.

Ophelia was also a great knitting companion because unlike Ariel she didnt really try and eat the yarn or needles. She used to love sitting on whatever you were knitting which could be an impediment.

She was great fun and she and Phoebe used to plague Sirius because they preferred his kitten food over their boring dried food. We regularly had to shut the ‘Evil sisters’ out of the way so he could eat in peace.

Sleep well, my beautiful beautiful and so very faithful friend. I love you lots and will miss you tremendously xxxx

Baking helper

Thank you for all your kind words about Ophelia. We don’t have any news apart from the fact the vet is keeping her another night and his wife said she is a bit brighter today. Hopefully we’ll collect her tomorrow. I’m not really sure what to think of that but am trying to remain positive. I do miss her so very much – it is really odd not having her around. She normally follows me up to bed and sits around whilst I fall asleep and then greets me when I wake up in the morning.

I made scones on Sunday as Sirius was having visitors. Sirius is adding sous chef to his under gardener role.

Sirius’ visitors brought home-made macaroons. I think I’m going to have to try and make them next – they were delicious.

Not quite according to plan

I had booked a day off today so I could catch up with myself as the last few weeks have been so fraught and busy and I wanted a bit of time to just relax as weekends have also been very busy too. I had planned to hang out with the kitties in the morning and then visit a friend for a cuppa in the afternoon. Unfortunately, my plans were derailed slightly when Ophelia came upstairs, jumped on the bed and looked like a vision out of an H.P.Lovecraft novel. Her third eyelids were showing and she wasn’t herself. She spent a lot of time crouching just staring so pao decided it would be wise to get her to the vet straight away.

The vet isn’t sure what is up with her so he’s taken her in and will keep her overnight. He wasn’t able to say when we could collect her and said he would call tomorrow so that doesn’t seem at all good. So healing thoughts for that lovely kitty would be gratefully received. I’m sitting on the bed with Phoebe and Merlin but it is usually Ophelia and Merlin who keep me company during the day if I’m around. I do hope that something can be done but I am quite realistic as she has had elevated levels in her kidneys before and she hasn’t the strength of personality that Ariel had so I know that her time may well be up. I hope it isn’t because she is not-so-secretly my favourite because she has always clung to me from the moment we met but I couldn’t bear to keep her going just for my sake.

All the better to capture black cats with

My new camera arrived today and it is ever so quick. I used to struggle with taking photos of Merlin and Sirius as the old one used to take ages to focus but now it is literally a snap to take photos of them.

I did get a new screen for my Casio so I can continue to use it and have it as a spare. pao did an amazing job in getting it disassembled and reassembled.

Introducing my new garden helper

I’ve been dreaming and thinking over what seemed an increasingly cold winter about what I was going to do in the garden this year. Tomatoes, chard, basil, carrots, beetroot – just a smattering of what we achieved last year. I got my paper potter. I bought the chutney book when I spotted it on sale over the weekend and I’ve been dreaming of what my garden this year will look like.

Then dreaming about the chutney and sauce making. I found the WI booklet at an antiques fair in Detling earlier in the month and I’m enjoying thinking about what I will make. We’ve started eating our chutneys that I made last year now the flavours have matured ready for a new lot this year.

I am not a big flower grower but my imagination was caught by sweetpeas. I can just imagine the smell now and I want to fill my old teapot with them – let’s hope that the slugs leave them well alone. I’ve not been successful in growing garden peas yet so sweetpeas may also be irresistible to the slimey ones.

I did rather wonder how I’d manage without my garden supervisor this year. I needn’t have worried though, Sirius has stepped up to take on the role.

He loves to watch and I was amused that he spent ages just looking at the seed trays after I’d planted them. pao’s nan has agreed to grow some tomatoes again for us but I thought I’d better grow a few myself as the people I’d given plants away to last year were asking if I was growing any more. She is going to grow the more conventional tomatoes and I’m going to grow some more exotic types. Luckily, I’ve just bought a half-size plastic greenhouse to house them on so I don’t end up with a conservatory floor covered in plants again. Maybe 🙂

Paper potting puss

Inspired by watching Gardener’s World, I thought it was high time I got out my paper potter and started making pots ready for gardening season. Of course, anything that I do is of great excitement to Sirius Black. Can you see how carefully he is inspecting the newspaper?

Toilet roll tubes carefully saved were pressed into action to create biodegradable pots for sweet peas. Sweet peas remind me of pao’s mother as she ran out into her garden and cut me a load soon after I met her and I love the smell. I bought an old tea pot without a lid which would look great with loads of sweet peas in.

Sirius and I had a grand time – he was chasing and swatting the newspaper and don’t you think his face is warning you not to run with scissors?

Happy Mother’s Day

We had a special Mother’s Day service at church this morning where the kids all give out posies to the women in the congregation. Mother’s day holds mixed feelings for me and my friend Gail who was preaching asked me last week if I would lead prayers this morning. It was only after I said I would and heard she was preaching on Hannah’s story in 1 Samuel 1 that I realised the irony of me praying for mothers. pao and I have been without mothers for quite some time now and even then certainly at least my relationship with my mother had been very difficult. It has only been time and prayer and contemplation which has helped me come to a place of peace about my mum.

Hannah’s story is of a woman who was unable to give birth until later in life. It’s funny how it happens but when you are thinking about something like that in preparing the prayers you think about your own situation. I think I’m pretty ok about not having kids and a very wise friend suggested that perhaps we could be adult friends to our friend’s kids and being someone older and wiser they could talk to. We’ve had some nice times recently when our friends have brought their children over and it has been nice to play but I don’t feel that pull of motherhood that I hear other people describe.

Years ago when my mum died, I really did feel that pull because I was so lonely and I wanted a husband and kids to soothe that loneliness and soothe the rawness of the pain I felt because of her loss. I prayed for a young couple with their first child after the service and was struck by how tired and lonely the wife seemed. If things had worked out how I’d planned in my head those years ago, I imagine I would have been just like her. I realise how happy and content I am now with the way I am and perhaps I might not feel that loneliness in motherhood now I’ve moved on and matured from that frightened daughter who lost her mum, her anchor, all those years ago.

Beef in beer

Yesterday was really a beef in beer day. It was bitter cold – the sun was shining but the wind was biting. I threw in a few things I had to hand but it is a really tasty dish – even tastier the day after when the flavours have developed.

450g stewing steak
1 onion, chopped
3-4 rashers smoked bacon, chopped (can be streaky – whatever you have)
1 can beer (I used Wadworths 6X – this isn’t a dish to cook with beers such as Budweiser – use proper beer such as an ale, failing that Guiness would do )
1 dessertspoon tomato chutney (tomato puree would also be ok)
8-10 mushrooms, halved
1 carrot, chopped
Handful of fresh thyme leaves
Beef stock
Pinch of pepper

Brown off beef in small batches in a frying pan and add to crockpot. Fry chopped onion and bacon in the pan with the crusty beef bits in it and add to beef in crockpot. Add rest of the ingredients and leave to cook for several hours until tender. Serve with rice or mashed potato and veggies. You can add dumplings 30-40 minutes before serving.

I was really touched to have been given this lovely hand-made merino/alpaca mix scarf today by a lovely Norwegian lady called Ingunn. It is so pretty and warm. I am very lucky!