Friday, 27 April 2012

Roast vegetable soup for lunch

Our weather has been very wet this week - torrential rain & grey skies. I have spent the week dodging it between students; it is not my favourite working weather because I arrive at my students dripping all over their places ...

Friday - my day off; always a welcome time in the week & this week it is catch up with chores at home time since it is not really the day to be out & about.

Fortunately, there was some roast root vegetables left from supper last night - perfect for a soup lunch. Heat up some vegetable stock, add the chopped roast vegetables into it, let it simmer till soft then mash or blend it to your ideal consistency! Easy & totally delicious.

Instead of toast, I made some quick chilli-garlic crutons & then sat down to peruse the wonderful Postcards from Penguin box set & a new book, The Five people you meet in Heaven, that arrived today.

Lunch for two

While taking the above photo for the blog, I noticed movement outside & it was our regular grey squirrel raiding the nut feeder outside in the rain!

As mischievious as he is, it is always good to see he / she has survived winter & is about again!

I recommend this box set of 100 Postcards from Penguin; It has some really good titles - these two caught my eye over lunch:

A Room of One's Own

Keeping Poultry and Rabbits on scraps

Interesting - one always needs a room or space of your own to just relax & gather your thoughts but ... I don't know what our two diva rabbits would think of scraps without their treats.

Hope your day has been good everyone, have a great Friday & weekend!

Dee ♥

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Decorating with real antlers & trophies ....

I shared my love of antlers in the week & lamented that mine are all faux or brass because I am the only one in my household who likes the real thing.

 I come from a long line of settlers who hunted & displayed such things. I asked my brother to share some photos of his antlers with my blog & here they are; all hunted by himself, mounted then displayed so that their beauty can be appreciated.

I particularly love the middle display with the long, straight gemsbok horns - what a statement!

Would you have the 'real thing' on your wall or is faux as close as you will get to them?

Looking forward to your thoughts on the matter, till next time

Dee ~♥~

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Faux antlers & brass animals ...

I have always loved stuffed animals & antlers. My great uncle Ben had a magnificent collection on their walls & on their large verander which ran the length of their imposing house on a hill in Pretoria. We could see them watching us as we played in the garden & we would run up the steps, open the metal verander gates & gaze at them in wonder.

He was of the pioneer age where shooting & hunting was part of life & he proudly paid homage to them by displaying & naming them.

I would gladly have real heads but my daughters are a little squeamish about them so I settled for a faux resin one which fits in rather well with our modern shabby chic decor.

I was also given some of those dark, shellac-type buck that was once a very popular souvenier in the 70's. Since the in-laws had brought it back from their time in Africa, I  wanted to use them, so they were painted in a cream Farrow & Ball paint to bring them up to date, then they were teamed with a modern one. I think they look rather good together with their strong shape.

On my browsing trips, I came across a pair of rather large brass deer; they are rather imposing  with their long antlers.

My animal collection also has a rather pretty peacock & a smaller deer that complement my mock vellum books as it shows off their form rather well.

On a recent trip back to Africa, I found these modern African animal statues in gold with traditional patterns which fit in well with our small collection. I love the patterns & form of them & they are a good addition to the animal collection.

Even though my animals are from different countries, ages & materials, they have all been selected with the 'same eye' ....

Do you like animals shapes, paintings & antlers? Do they have a place in modern decor?

Please share your animal decor ideas & inspirations ....

Dee ~♥~

Monday, 23 April 2012

Ethiopians slay St. George's dragon too ....

It is St. George's day here in the UK. However, we do not have exclusive claim to him .... according to wikipedia Saint_George

Many Patronages of Saint George exist around the world, including: Georgia, England, Egypt, Bulgaria, Aragon, Catalonia, Romania, Ethiopia, Greece, India, Iraq, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal, Serbia, Ukraine and Russia, as well as the cities of Genoa, Amersfoort, Beirut, Fakiha, Bteghrine, Cáceres, Ferrara, Freiburg, Kumanovo, Ljubljana, Pomorie, Preston, Qormi, Rio de Janeiro, Lod, Lviv, Barcelona, Moscow, Tamworth and the Maltese island of Gozo, as well as of the Scout Movement[3] and a wide range of professions, organizations and disease sufferers.

That is a lot of dragons that need slaying in my opinion. We spent several holidays in Ethiopia due to work commitments, & I can tell you that they certainly know how to celebrate St. George.

He happily slays dragons all over the country - bright colourful murals in many of the churches lay testiment to the fervour with which he takes on this responsibility.

St. George slaying the dragons....

St George even has his own church in Ethiopia - Bet Giorgis or the Church of St George in Lalibela.

It is one of the many rock hewn churches - carved into the hillside, a beautiful cross of St. George.

Lalibela, Ethiopia - Bet Giorgis, The church of St George

Lalibela, Ethiopia - Bet Giorgis, The church of St George

Lalibela, Ethiopia - Bet Giorgis, The church of St George

Axum, Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion

So whatever your thoughts are on St. George, just enjoy the shared history with many other countries & cultures who are not shy to celebrate their Patron Saint.

Happy St. George's Day everyone!

Dee ~♥~

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Emails are just not letters .....

I recently got a random card from a special friend & sister in law that simply said:

I saw this and thought of you ..... can there be no nicer words to read?

While visiting my folks last year, my (now late) Mom took a massive bag out of their hallway cupboard. It was absolutely full of ... letters home from us.

I love nothing better than finding pretty card & then sending them off telling them of the happenings of our lives away and in return, I would get home, open the door & find an overseas letter waiting on the mat for us.

The joy of seeing the familiar handwriting always lifted any day. The ritual was always to put on the kettle, make a welcome cup of tea then open the letter carefully as it often contained little cuttings or a pressed flower, an interesting stamp, a photo or something else that might drop out, then sit & savour their news.

Mom had the gift of the gab; her letters were always brim full of stories, news updates & being far away, I encouraged the girls to write back and they did ... from a young age.

Youngest daughter just managing her name as she started school to add a drawing to a card ....

or send a postcard they specially chose ...

or a newsy letter to the grandparents ....

or oldest sharing her first photographic exhibition at The Drum with her grandparents on the other side of the world ....

or doing a card together ....

And this is some of the many letters & cards sent home from around the world: letters written on various hotel notepapers telling of antics & trips - all shared & very much appreciated to be re-read again & again as we do too.

My writing is often at my little desk - tucked away in the corner of my bedroom - a very personal space to send & receive news. It is here that I safely keep the letters in ribbon tied bundles - a bit of history to be re-read another time in the future when that person is perhaps no longer with us & these letters will form a tie to that person; a time capsule of them to be enjoyed by others too.

In this digital age, consider how much joy is given & received when someone puts pen to paper, and sends a letter from home, a personal card or just a "saw this and thought of you" ....

Take care & send that note or letter ♥
Dee ~♥~

Monday, 16 April 2012

A bit of history on plates

Our Shire, Shropshire, is not too far from the famous potteries of Stoke on Trent in the Midlands.

Stoke on Trent was for centuries, synonomous with the famous names of pottery - Royal Doulton, Wedgwood etc and we fortunately still have some production from there, even though much of it has gone.

Royal Doulton

It harks back to the days when dinner sets were a 'must' item for any household; they were often given as full sets to be cherished & added to; to be brought out on high days & holidays ....

I freely admit to a great love of the beauty of pottery & china patterns - so many are just so lovely that they deserve to be enjoyed just for their own sake.

A few months ago I saw two interesting charger plates in a local charity shop - cobalt blue trim with a crest on each & I just loved them so they came home with me.

Avignon Freres DC plates

I noticed the backstamp & so I did some research & it appears they were made by Royal Doulton for the caterers & bakers - Avignone Frères; the Adams Morgan caterers that dazzled Kennedy inauguration guests and they supplied treats to guests during the Watergate saga …

and then I found further information via another Flickr photo
Watergate Complex from TR Bridge

The Italian Count di Carpegna was a project architect on SGI's staff, and the Countess de Rochefort was a sales representative for the Watergate East apartment cooperative. (The countess once commissioned Avignon Frères, the now-defunct French bakery in Adams Morgan, to make a 50-pound cake with 13 layers in the likeness of the 13-story building.)

I have no idea if my pair of immaculate plates ever left their Midlands home. Perhaps they were kept back in the potteries as examples of the set or maybe they were used in DC and came back again.

The connection is very interesting as it shows how widely our goods travelled & how sought after they were and still are.

I have had several offers to purchase them but for now I just enjoy their story; I hope you have enjoyed it too.

Dee ♥

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Snake adventures in Africa ....

Africa is home to some pretty spectacular snakes. Many are very venomous & need quick action with an antidote to prevent a painful death.

Many of these snakes live quite close to people & even though they try to avoid contact with humans, our world's do collide at times.

Such a time came during out recent trip when late teen nephew & I were minding our own business quite happily until Dad's two dogs started to kick up a fuss.

Farm dogs chasing monkeys

At first we took little notice of their antics as they are essentially guard dogs so chase anything that ventures near the house.  We then noticed that Zulu, the larger dog, had something in her mouth.

Telling her to 'drop it' was probably not the best command & she obliged by dropping a 1.5m snake on the ground close to us.

 I am pleased to report that my reactions have not slowed too much ....

Snake antics - KZN South Africa

I openly admit to not knowing one snake from the next so I phoned Dad who was on the other side of the farm - more than 30 minutes away to ask his advice. 'Kill it' he said & keep the skin for him to identify!

Drat - we should have left the dogs to it ...

Nephew & I managed to get it into a tall sided bucket with a rake then found some of the farm workers to come & kill it for us.

It seemed a shame as its colouring was stunning with striking green eyes & a vivid yellow chin area.
The joys of the internet - nephew sent a photo to Facebook & it was identified as a juvenile Boomslang (tree snake) Boomslang, one of the highly potent venomous snakes.

boomslang picture

I felt quite sad looking at the beautiful snake once it was dead but my main thought was  juveniles usually have parents - so I spent the next few days being extra careful about closing the stable doors into the house & checking in the bed & suitcases for the parents. Luckily ....

Have you had any close encounters with venomous creatures?
Dee ~♥~

All things creepy crawly ....

How do you feel about things with more than 2 legs?
I am generally fine about insects but anything with 8 legs leaves me running for cover. 
The farm in Africa has loads of creepy crawlies - most of whom are never seen as they are quite shy.

On our 6 day stay on the farm, we came across some absolutely stunning butterflies ....

Butterfly, South Africa

Butterfly, KZN, South Africa

and this equally impressive Preying Mantis who was reflected in the window glass

Preying Mantis, KZN, South Africa

until daughter gently moved him ....

Preying Mantis, KZN, South Africa

The locusts are not for moving as they have sharp barbs on their legs that leave nasty cuts so they get chased on ...

Locust, KZN South Africa

All in all, they make for interesting times with all their bright colours ...

Do you tolertate insects or are they just not your thing?

Dee ~♥~

Friday, 13 April 2012

Catching up with family in Africa ...

Eldest daughter & I have been in South Africa to join family to lay my mother to rest according to her wishes & to be there as my father adjusts to life after being together for nearly 56 years. It is, as you can well imagine, a massive adjustment & we all wanted to be there for him.

I chronicles Mom's family story in a previous blog post Special Women in my family  . We all met to lay her ashes to rest & to pay our respects to her close family members who are buried close as well.

It is at times like this that we all draw near to gather strength from one another as the circle of life takes another ....

and then onto my sisters father in law - Joe - where he made us all welcome again so that we could all gather in a large extended family group to catch up with each other in a relaxed way before some of us headed off with Dad to the farm for a week.

I just love the scenery along the way - as the long flat roads give rise to majestic mountains & familiar scenery. The 7 hour trip - with lots of leg stretching stops - afforded quality catching up time.

The photos were taken on a fast speed while travelling & daughter of Wondering Star    blog did some editting for me & I think they turned out rather well ....

Do you enjoy long trips or is it something to be endured rather than enjoyed?

Dee ~♥~        

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Ladurée macaroon treats

Hi everyone, forgive our absence but eldest daughter & I have been away in South Africa & en route home via Paris, we bought some Ladurée macaroon treats for youngest as an Easter treat ....

Laduree treats from Paris

They are prettiness themself - beautifully presented in their box with their stunning colours & perfect shapes ....

and YES, they were as lovely as the photo ♥

Are macaroons the new cupcakes?  Could you resist these stunning ones?

Dee ~♥~

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Bunnies are not just for Easter ....

We have 2 gorgeous Lionhead house rabbits - a golden one called Vivaldi & a black one called Fred.

Vivaldi - or Aldi, cheap & cheerful, came home with daughter from university & she won us over straight away with her antics. It was a steep learning curve finding out how to care for her.

Soon afterwards, the younger daughter decided that Aldi was lonely for bunny company so she searched for a companion & fortunately found a lovely black rescue bunny as the 'mail order groom' from a local Underhill Rabbit Rescue  centre.

It is most definitely recommended to have a bonded pair of bunnies because they are so cute & mischievious together - they like nothing better than to 'forage' in the pot plants on the patio ….

It is not fully appreciated how intelligent they are - they know their way around the house, have their quirky ways & can even operate the cat-flap if it is not locked!  They love nothing more than a good run & 'binky' (funny leaps) around the garden for exercise & are quite good at making their intentions known & they seek out our company when we are about at home, taking themselves up & down the stairs to find company....

even in the snow they wait for a run around before coming back in to snuggle against the radiator

snow bunnies

or share a bowl of freshly cut herbs …..

They have been with us for nearly 5 years already & as pampered house bunnies, they can live to around 8-10 years so it is not something to be taken on lightly but ... if you do, you will be rewarded with great personalities & company.

Bunnies are not just for Easter folks ....
Dee ~♥~