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… And she’s back!

Happy New Year to you!

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I hope you are having a good start to 2015?

L and I spent our New Year’s Eve at home with colds … but we had champagne and watched fireworks out of our back window! 🙂

One of my New Year resolutions – that’s right! I’ve made too many more than one! 😛 – is to get back to blogging. I miss writing, sharing my photos and keeping in touch with you guys!

Last year was a hard one for many reasons, which was mostly the reason for my silence. But here I am at the start of this next year – with more-than-plenty of challenges coming, that’s for sure! – but with exciting things happening and new things to experience! I can say without a doubt that I will say many silly things, do too many crazy things and take many many more than I need photos!! 😉

One new experience for this year – for both you and me! – is that I will be writing about the hard, dark things as well as the easy, bright things. I hope that this doesn’t scare you away, but just helps to bring a realistic slant to my blog.

I hope you’ll join me for the ups and downs of 2015!

Have you got new – exciting or scary! – changes happening this year?

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Happy Christmas!!!

Happy Christmas everyone!

I hope you have some truly happy times over Christmas and much joy and peace in the year 2014 to come!

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There are many lovely Christmas things I would like to tell you about …

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We decorated our tree with two of L’s work colleges, along with our own mulled wine and festive snacks …

I’ve been finding (with a little help from the husband!), sewing, sticking, painting and wrapping Christmas gifts for friends and family …

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I held a Gingerbread Party for my friends and my sisters …

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… we had so much fun decorating gingerbread men that my friend A and myself had made!

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My personal favourite was Eve – complete with a little red apple in her hand! Go C!! 😉

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I cooked up a two course Christmas meal just for my hubby and I, with inspiration from the latest Masterchef The Professionals Series … although thank goodness I’m not being judged on the final result!! 😛

(Pickled Beetroot with Grilled Goats Cheese and Walnuts, followed by Shin of Beef braised in Red Wine, with Bacon-wrapped Potato Cakes, Roasted Shallots and tenderstem broccoli.)

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I baked, fed with brandy, iced and decorated three Christmas cakes for friends and family …

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And we got to attended the lovely Christmas wedding of two wonderful, God-loving friends and celebrate with their blood and church families!

My faithful little camera broke and although L thankfully has one he never uses, it is taking quite a bit of getting used to – hence the lack of photos! 😛 Our internet connection is also playing around, so I can’t always upload/download things when I want to …

If this was not the case, you would have had more photos and blog posts from me … I miss talking to you!

My first resolution for next year: learn how to use L’s camera so it takes photos I like!!

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Have times of much love with your families, peace in the midst of trouble, happiness in the small things, joy in the greatest gift of all time and the hope of things to come!!

Our love,

Mr and Mrs Moose

Mince Pies

Many times in the last few months, not to mention over the last number of years, I have expressed my opinion on mince pies being in the supermarket far too early … I have said that you shouldn’t eat your first mince pie of the season until it’s December.

Yesterday I ate my first mince pie for this Christmas.

I know! I know! How inconsistent can I be, right?

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But these weren’t any ordinary mince pies! No shop-bought or Mr Kipling varieties here!

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These were homemade mince pies, which I made with my three sisters. The pastry was made by my youngest sister T, who makes melt-in-the-mouth short crust pastry.

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The mincemeat we used in the pies was made by my older sister J, who chopped the apples, finely sliced the almonds and stirred in the currants herself.

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We rolled out, cut out, filled and topped each mince pie between the four of us.

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They were dusted with icing sugar as soon as they came out of the oven – or Aga in my family’s case … wish I had one of those to keep my flat toasty warm! 😉

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We ate the mince pies in front of the cosy wood burner, while they were still warm and fresh out of the oven, while sitting on the hearth-rug and chatting.

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Mince Pie Heaven!

Now don’t you think I’m forgiven for eating my first mince pie before the 1st of December?!

Date Nights

The best kind of evening.

L, me, cooking together, wine, music, a good film, time …

That’s what I call a good date night!

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We cooked a favourite of ours – Jambalaya – and enjoyed some white wine.

Does anyone else think there’s something a bit special about drinking a glass of wine while cooking?!

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The Jambalaya was delicious (just as we knew it would be, but still good to note … 😉 ) and then we watched the second half of the latest Sherlock Holmes film.

We’ve watched it before, but we’re kind of Sherlock Holmes fans …

Ahhh, now that was a lovely evening!

Forest School!

In September I was thrilled to be asked to help out with a local forest school for pre-schoolers!

I’d been hearing about it since March, as a friend of mine, C,  was going along and helping to look after a mutual friend’s (M) little girl while said mutual friend was running the sessions. It sounded like lots of fun! Maybe I was a tiny little bit jealous … 😉

C and her husband have just adopted a gorgeous little one of their own, so I now get to go along with M’s awesome girl G!

Both little G and forest school are amazing and so much fun!

Here are two things I’ve made while helping (playing) at toddler forest school …

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A couple of weeks ago we painted pictures with mud and blackberries – I got more messy then G, who did a nice picture of “splotches”! 🙂 Just in case you can’t tell what my masterpiece is, this is an owl. One mum told her toddler it was a pussy cat …

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This last week we made mud sculptures – so many good opportunities to get messy in the name of learning!! 😉

I decided to make a mud-face on a tree – I set out to make a rabbit but quickly decided I was making a moose!! 😛

One dad and his kid made this incredible dog, complete with lead, eyes, tail … dad worked hard to conceal his disappointment when kid insisted on taking dog for a walk … bye-bye dog sculpture!

I love being out in the woods and fresh air with lots of little people who treat every new find of an acorn or a mud puddle as an incredible discovery! The joy on one little girl’s face when she got completely covered in mud, head to toe, after stomping and splashing around in lots of gooey, messy, brilliant mud!! 🙂

Now I just need to work out a good excuse for how come I couldn’t avoid stomping in the mud and I’ll be a happy girl!! 😉

Sausage, Leek and Cider Casserole

I got asked today if I post recipes on my blog. I said no, because I tend to add a bit of this and a bit of that without measuring it properly. It got me to thinking … I love hearing about other people’s food and flavour combinations and having a go for myself, so maybe you might like to do the same with my creations? Anyway, I thought I would post a few of my recipes from time to time, so let me know if you like it or if you’d rather I went back to my culinary ambiguity! 😉

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Sausage, Leek and Cider Casserole

1 good dessertspoonful of butter or margarine and/or a good dollop of olive oil

2 medium-to-large onions, chopped,

3 big garlic cloves, crushed or chopped (or to taste)

8 sausages, cut in half (I use kitchen scissors!) – I used Cumberland (peppery) pork sausages, but you could use any flavour or type of meat you like – or veggie!

2 regular/1 massive sized carrot/s, cut in half-rings

2-3 sticks celery, chopped

2-3 leeks, cut into large, chunky, whole rings

2 heaped tbsp plain/all-purpose flour

1 regular sized bottle of dry cider – about 500ml

2 heaped tbsp tomato puree

2 overflowing tbsp Worcestershire Sauce (if you can’t get that, try some vinegar and/or mustard)

1 scant tbsp brown or muscavado sugar

150-300ml/as needed hot stock (I used a chicken stock cube)

1 heaped tsp of dried thyme, oregano and sage, or other herbs to taste

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

1-2 bay leaves

1 tbsp lemon concentrate (bottled lemon juice) optional

  1. Fry onion in butter/oil for about 5 mins, till slightly translucent, add garlic and cook for another 3-5 mins.
  2. Add halved sausages and fry until nicely browned, but make sure onions aren’t burning.
  3. Add carrots and celery and fry for 5-10 mins, then add leeks and fry for another 10 -15 mins or until all veg very slightly softened/just look right!
  4. Add flour and stir, cooking for 2 mins, until all flour well mixed.
  5. Add cider and mix until the cider has combined to make a sauce, along with extra stock.
  6. Add all the rest of the ingredients except lemon juice, bring to a boil and then turn down to simmering, with a lid on.
  7. Leave to simmer for about 40 mins, stirring occasionally (or if you’re like me – as few times as you can resist! 😉 ) or until veg are cooked to liking.
  8. Add lemon juice and adjusting seasoning towards end.
  9. If needed, remove lid and simmer until your desired stew/casserole consistency has been reached.

The first time I served this in a bowl with boiled new potatoes and crusty white bread, but I have also served with mashed potato and fresh veg, or baked in a pastry pie in the oven. I would also serve this with rice.

For me, this made 3 man-size (or 3 regular and 3 small) portions and freezes really well.

I hope you enjoy! 🙂

Autumn is here because …

I put on a pair of fluffy slipper socks tonight.

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I cooked this Sausage, Leek and Cider Stew last night.

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I cuddled up in my slanket this week for the first time since the spring.

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My laundry is taking twice as long to dry as it did a matter of weeks ago.

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I’m wearing my well-loved monkey slippers around the house.

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I’ve dug my long socks out from the bottom of my drawer … and remembered why I thought I needed to buy some new ones!

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My head is starting to buz with thoughts about starting on homemade Christmas presents.

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My strippy hat has been reinstated as a daily fashion essential – I don’t think it’s actually that fashionable, but I’m wearing it regardless! 😉

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It’s less then a month until my birthday.

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Oh yeah, did I mention something about the arrival of cold weather?! 😉

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