Archive | October 2012

Dylan is two!

There was much excitement here in the cottage at the weekend.  My grandson Dylan is two years old and he had  a party with lots of friends. It was very noisy and fun.

This is his birthday cake.  He’s very into Ben and Holly’s Magic Kingdom at the moment so of course the cake had to reflect that.

Just look at his face when his mummy shows him the cake.  He’s so pleased isn’t he!

This darling little boy is the apply of my eye and I can hardly believe he is two years old already.

Daily Chores – The Washing Up

Most people these days, so it seems, have dishwashers in their houses. Not me. I’ve tried them and they don’t work for me. I prefer to do the washing up myself or even better, with a partner so we can chat over the day’s affairs. It then becomes a social time, a time for fun.

Over the years I’ve tried different ways of getting the job done and this is the way I find the best… always use a clean wash-up sponge every day and wash in hot, soapy water, starting with glasses and glassware. These need to be rinsed.  It is debatable whether or not to rinse everything else.  Personally I think it is a waste of time, except for the glassware, but dh swears by rinsing. Perhaps the soap is different in England.  It certainly seems less sticky to me.  Also, maybe you don’t need to put so much soap in the bowl – that way you don’t need to rinse it off everything all the time.

Once the dishes are washed, they go on the draining board to dry. I like to dry them with a clean tea-towel and I find that the best way is to start with the largest item; dry it, then move on to the next largest and so on down the pile until you get to the knives and forks and spoons.  Somehow the drying up goes much quicker this way. Look at the pictures on here and you’ll see what I mean.

This is my favourite washing up liquid.

Back in 2007, I wrote a ‘Letter from America’ while I was getting used to living there. I repeat it here for those who didn’t read it the first time. I hope it makes you smile!

Letter from America 18

I have never been a fan of dishwashers, other than the human kind!  To me they are a noisy, expensive nuisance, which are difficult to load and unload and, when opened up, they are incredibly good at knocking your shins, which are a tender part of the body.  Since we live in a rented apartment, a dishwasher belongs here.  It comes with the lease.  I wish it didn’t.  I wish it would go away and more cupboard space would replace it.  I wish, I wish, I wish… Sometimes I wish too often and too much, as you will see later…

I managed to get my computer hooked up and working satisfactorily.  It works, so long as every time I reboot it, I first remove the USB connections, all except the mouse.  It doesn’t mind the mouse!  All the others, it spits out with deference and sleeps, refusing to wake!  Next problem I encountered was the anti-virus protection.  I use Norton.  I have an anti-virus Norton programme and a separate programme, dealing with the firewall – also Norton.  Both needed their annual update, which means visiting the Norton website and parting with £28 to get the update.  This I did without too much trouble.  I updated the firewall, but I had second thoughts about the anti-virus software.  Since I last bought some, the programme has become much more complicated.  It was call “Norton Systemworks”, and it took over the whole computer whenever it felt like it and wouldn’t let you have it back until it was good and ready.  I think they must have had a lot of complaints because now we have “Norton 360”, which by rights should be easier on the computer and also on the nerves.  I don’t know what the “360” means.  Perhaps it means “the whole gambit”, or “the whole of your computer and nothing but the whole of your computer!”  Who knows?  Anyway, I didn’t buy either of those.  I just bought the anti-virus part and then spent the whole evening trying to install it…

The computer kept telling me that there was a previous Norton anti-virus programme on there.  Well I knew that, didn’t I?  I put it on there.  Finally, I got it to load and it was working.  So now I am fully covered, in a manner of speaking.

The nasturtiums in the planter pots are getting leafy and I saw some flower buds on them yesterday.  My beans are 4 inches high, but there are no birds nesting in the bird box.  I think they found somewhere better.

So now back to the dishwasher.   When I first got here, I was finding that the utensils I wanted use, were always in the dishwasher, waiting to be washed, and this became a source of annoyance.  We came to an agreement that the dishwasher would be turned on once a day, at bedtime, and that way all my implements would be clean and dry in the morning, just ready for me to use them.  Larry is in charge of it because I don’t want to have anything to do with it!

One night, soon after, I went to bed.  The dishwasher was humming and whirring in the kitchen.  I dropped off to sleep.  Not long after, Larry jumped up.  He could smell burning.

“Must be outside,” I grunted, and turned over. ‘ It turned out to be the label from a jam pot. The label had come off in the dishwasher and then caught fire during the drying process!


This is what happens to silver spoons when they have been through the dishwasher! The spoon in the middle is how it should be.


What do you think?  Are you a convert to dishwashers? or are you a stick-in-the mud like me?

Lighting the fires.

The last two mornings here at the cottage have been very misty and foggy. So, it’s time to light the fires and cosy up. Personally I don’t mind the dank, dark mornings and the early evenings when I have to draw the curtains at 4 o’clock. I’m definitely not a summer person, although I do like my garden during the summer months. That’s mainly for the flowers though, not the heat.  We didn’t get any heat in England this summer, nor much sun either, but I made up for that when I travelled to Tennessee and spent a few weeks with dh in the hot humidity!

After I’d been there for three days, I got a spider bite, which necessitated a visit to the hospital emergency room!

For the next 5 weeks I was unable to wear any sort of footwear except flip-flop sandals or Scholls! It is almost better now – six weeks later. I had to take strong anti-biotics. Just as the antibiotics were finishing, I developed a wheezy cough, which was annoying both day and night and would not go away! Eventually I went to the doctor who did a chest X-ray and an asthma test. Both were normal so he prescribed Nasonex, a nasal spray for allergic conditions. I had to take that once a day at night for six weeks! Considering I had arrived in Knoxville with a very sore back, I was not doing too well was I? and I began to long for my cosy cottage back in England.

Worse was to come! My dh started having panic attacks about coming to England. As you know we were going to bring the cat, Millie, and stay in England for three months with the idea that dh might like to consider moving here permanently. He just isn’t up to it!! So we are destined to remain apart and I’m not at all happy with that situation.

Anyway, I’m back in England, thrilled that I’m going to be an Oma again next May and for what comes in between, let’s just wait and see…

Here are some lovely pictures of the beautiful trees around the area where I live in Knoxville:

Woolly scarves and grandchildren…

Well he got it! the scarf I mean.  I wrote about it here… It arrived on Wednesday, which happened to be a special day for his mum! It was her birthday.  The parcel fitted through the letterbox so Dylan was able to open it himself.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of him opening the parcel but here he is at the end of a long, tiring day in London when he went to visit the dinosaurs!

Looks like they had a great time, doesn’t it!

Dylan came to my house today and we had lots of fun playing with his circus train. It was great to be with him again. In the few weeks I’ve been away he has grown a little and increased his vocabulary. He now understands ‘too high’ ‘too hot’ ‘too big’ etc. and he can count to ten, although it is parrot fashion. He doesn’t understand the concept of counting beyond two yet.

We had fish fingers and baked beans for lunch and he had chocolate pudding for dessert. That’s a sort of yoghurty pudding over here and he loves it.

In the afternoon I made him a tunnel for his train to go through. I upturned the clothes airer and put a dark green tablecloth over the top of it. It looked like a big hill or mountain and served the purpose really well.

Tomorrow night he’s coming for a sleepover.

Country Matters – a very English village

Some time age I went to Country Matters in Hexton.  Hexton is a tiny hamlet near where I live and Country Matters is like an Aladdin’s Cave of treasures, old and new, to rummage through.

They serve lunches…

and they sell eggs of all kinds…

and when you go in, there are all sorts of things to look at. Let’s look at them together…

Click to enlarge the photos.

Here is the local pub, The Raven.  It’s right opposite Country Matters.

The Lavender Tea Rooms were so busy that we went right home where an orange syrup and walnut cake were waiting for us.

A New Addition!

I have returned to England early to some great news!  My youngest son David and his wife Michelle are expecting a baby next Spring and so I am going to be an Oma again and Dylan will have another cousin.

My return to England was a little premature, by one week and dh and cat Millie are not with me. Suffice to say that our plans have changed somewhat.

However, I am happy to be back in my cosy cottage and looking forward to the new arrival with great anticipation.

Now to catch up on my sleep 🙂

Have a great week everybody! I’ll be catching up on what you’re all up to over the next day or so.


Home-made Tomatoe Soup from Oma’s Kitchen

In the winter months I make a lot of this soup. It tastes great and if you make enough of it, it will feed the family for four or five suppers.  Here are the ingredients:


Tomatoes, quantity dependent on how many you’ve got or how many you want. The best ones to use are the Italian tomatoes because they have the most flavour. They also taste best if they are ‘going over’ a bit because then the sweetness is released.

1 large onion

1 red pepper

1 green pepper (optional)

flat dessertspoonful of salt (don’t overdo it.)

1 teaspoon of sugar

1 small tin of tomato paste (optional). I put one of these in if the boiled mixture looks a bit insipid. I like the soup to look really red.

1 squirt of tomatoe ketchup

a grind of pepper

1 teaspoon crushed chillis (optional). Do this if you want an extra kick in the soup.

Half pound of pork meatballs (optional)

Handful of rice, long grain

NB if you add the meatballs, bear in mind that the soup won’t keep for as long. I keep the soup in the fridge between eatings. Always boil the soup every day, whether you eat any or not. This will kill any bacteria and keep the soup safe to eat.


Put the tomatoes into a pan, large enough that the tomatoes come up to the middle of it. Add cold water to cover. Add other chopped ingredients and boil gently for half an hour.

Smells delicious at this stage.

When the boiling is done, leave to cool with a lid on.

When cool enough, put the mixture through a blender to purify, leaving a few bits of vegetable to chew on in the soup.

Return the soup to a large pan, add a knob of butter and if desired, some meatballs.  Pork taste best.

Ten minutes before serving for the first time, add a handful of long-grain rice. This will thicken the soup and soak up some of the flavours. Each time you reheat the soup, the rice will become thicker.  You may need to add more liquid (water) as the days go by.

Enjoy with crusty bread.