Friday, December 31

New Year's Eve.

We will open the book. Its pages are blank.
We are going to put words on them ourselves.
 The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day.

Edith Lovejoy Pierce





New Years Eve - for some reason, tradition I would suspect I have been looking back on 2010. There have been sad times, like saying goodbye to a dear close friend who died as a result of a road accident, and there have been good times too. For me, I am proud to say that my very best friend who I talk about often, is no longer single in this life and she has found a new soulmate to share life's big adventure! Guess who introduced her? Yes - moi! This has to be the highlight of my year - and I suspect hers! lol!
The weather has not allowed us to have a get together over the Christmas period but there will be lots of good times in the year to come!
We are out at a family bash tonight, an indian meal and then life should get be getting back to normal. I will be glad to return to my diet as I seem to have eaten for Britain over the past few days!
Here is hoping for a good 2011 for all of us!

According to the Chinese Zodiac, the Year of 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit, which begins on February 3, 2011 and ends on January 22, 2012. The Rabbit is the fourth sign of the Chinese Zodiac, which consists of 12 animals signs. The Rabbit is a lucky sign. Rabbits are private individuals and a bit introverted. People born in the Year of the Rabbit are reasonably friendly individuals who enjoy the company of a group of good friends. They are good teachers, counselors and communicators, but also need their own space.

According to Chinese tradition, the Rabbit brings a year in which you can catch your breath and calm your nerves. It is a time for negotiation. Don't try to force issues, because if you do you will ultimately fail. To gain the greatest benefits from this time, focus on home, family, security, diplomacy, and your relationships with women and children. Make it a goal to create a safe, peaceful lifestyle, so you will be able to calmly deal with any problem that may arise.

Tuesday, December 28

X marks a spot!

 

X-Men - Definition


When googling around I discovered some facts which just so happened to fit in with my ABC Wednesday project. This little idea of mine is now in its 4th year soon to be entering Round 8!
X is always a challenge, yet I know people will embrace it with imagination and resourcefulness.

 
The cover of Astonishing X-Men #7 by John Cassaday, featuring (from left to right) Wolverine, Emma Frost, Cyclops, Lockheed, Shadowcat and Beast

The cover of Astonishing X-Men #7 by John Cassaday, featuring (from left to right) Wolverine, Emma Frost, Cyclops, Lockheed, Shadowcat and Beast

The X-Men are a group of comic book superheroes featured in Marvel Comics. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, they first appeared in X-Men #1 (September 1963).
The team’s original incarnation failed to find a large audience. However, after a 1975 reformation, the X-Men grew to become one of the most hugely popular franchises in the comic book industry, producing dozens of spin-off series and turning many of the writers and artists involved in the series into industry stars.
Since the early 1990s, the X-Men have been adapted into many other media, most notably two animated television series and a string of blockbuster Hollywood movies.
The X-Men are mutants, human beings who, due to a quantum leap in evolution, are born with superhuman abilities. Mutants are often hated by regular humans both because of ordinary bigotry and because humans fear that mutants are destined to replace them. This fact is worsened by a number of mutants, most notably the team's arch-nemesis Magneto, who use their powers to try to disrupt and dominate human society. The X-Men were gathered by the benevolent Professor X to protect a world that hates and fears them from Magneto and other threats.
Herein lies the sociopolitical undercurrent of the franchise. Mutants are often seen as a metaphor for racial, religious and other minorities that face oppression. Professor X has been compared to African American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and Magneto to the more militant Malcolm X.
Another civil rights metaphor the X-Men have is gay rights. Comparisons have been made between the mutants' situation, including the concealment of their powers and the age they realise these powers, and homosexuality, as was illustrated in a scene of the X-Men film X2 that had Bobby Drake "come out" as a mutant to his parents.
The X-Men series itself is known for containing a richly diverse cast of characters and is perhaps the most multicultural book in comics. So appropriate today when I know Xenophobia will feature in ABC Wednesday.

For more ABC fun, visit here always welcome to hop aboard!

Friday, December 24

Merry Christmas!



In a few minutes I will be moving my ample self away from the warmth of my laptop and amble into the kitchen and zoom into action, being the domestic goddess I am! There is all the prepared food to carry in from the freezer and the various meat/poultry to prepare for the overnight cooking. The kitchen needs a tidy up and I will make sure the table is set for 8 of us - how many will actually get here I have no idea! Goodness knows what the weather has in store for tomorrow!
Wherever you are, with whoever you have with you I sincerly hope you have a wonderful day.

Tuesday, December 21

W is for..We Three Kings

knitted_advent_1


In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, "Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage." When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: 'And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.'" Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage." When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.




Thank you for the comments about our nativity set. It was knitted by my Mother in Law and if anybody would like a copy of the pattern, please e-mail me :- denise by designs at google mail dot com

Sunday, December 19

Domestic Stuff!




We are snowed in again so I am making the most of it and cracking on with preparations for the Christmas Dinner. My MIL phoned this morning - worried that she wont be able to get here if the snow continues as it is - but we reassured her she will definately get here as Jon will collect her in the pick up. There should be 8 for dinner - My SIL, her partner, the 3 nephews, MIL, Jon and myself. I must admit I love preparing in advance as on the day itself, once the meal is served the family clear up and there is a constant supply of nephews to help out. I will designate jobs - important ones like making sure everybody has drinks nd the likes!

This is the menu

* denotes this dish is prepared and in the freezer!

Tropical Fruit Salad in something alcoholic



Turkey

Roast leg of lamb

Roast beef

(all of the above will have cooked through the night in the aga)



Home Roast Parsnips & Potatoes*

Mashed champ potatoes (with cream & spring onion)

Vegetable Bake*

Green veg (brussels  *, cabbage & brocolli)

Peas *

Yorkshire Puddings

Gravy

Chipolata Sausages/bacon rolls

Stuffing Balls*



Desert..

Vanilla Scones, *Fruit, Clotted Cream with Cointreau

Raspberry Trifle

The vegetable bake is my own recipe heavily influenced by M&S. Here is how I make it:-

Half a white cabbage - chopped and lightly steamed.
1 large onion  -  chopped and lightly steamed.
4 large potatoes partly cooked
2 Big hand fulls of green beans chopped
4 carrots cooked and chopped
3 tomatoes finely chopped
1 cooked cauliflower finely chopped

Stir all together and add 3 beaten eggs, half a pint of milk and grated cheese and season to tastle.
Place in a casserole dish and cook - you will thank me for this recipe it is awesome.

The picture is of the stuffing balls now in the freezer. I like to keep things simple and used a packet of paxo sage and onion stuffing to which I added some seasoning I was given at the Great Yorkshire Pie Show in October. Not sure what it is but it was to add to sausagemeat to add flavour - so I have now added it to the stuffing mix together with plenty of cooked onions. I tasted a sample and it certainly had a kick to it!
For desert I am trying something different - the vanilla scones, made with yoghurt are absolutely delicious. I know I have gone on before about them here but the taste is just out of this world. I will serve them on a large platter with lots of clotted cream and a variety of fruit. The cream with contreau again is awesome. I did make some up with this cream and orange curd - awesome!

I only need to get the odd thing in which I will do locally. I didn't dare order any shopping on-line as the deliveries have been cancelled due to the bad weather!

Thursday, December 16

It's back!

The view of the Moors on our way home today!



Well the weather forecast was correct yet again - down to the time of day we would get more snow! We had to go to County Durham today so we were keen to get any running around done - and we just did.
As we left the village this morning the fluttering snow stopped just after 11am and as we drove towards Durham the roads were clear.
Coming home however we could not get away from the fact that the area which seemed the worst hit was once again the North York Moors - indeed as we were driving home the all too sure signs of the effects of snow were all too clear. Cars, fearing for their traction were definately driving slower and as we watched on, clear roads were suddenly covered by the drifting snow off the moors. Apparantly this bout of snow is going to be worse than the last one due to the icy cold wind which as I speak, I can hear howling away outside.

I was listening to "Thought of the Day" the other morning on the Chris Evan's breakfast show. The pastor was talking about a journey she had made on a motorway, during the snow we had a few weeks ago.
As she approached a convoy of military vehicles - where we often see the brigades of servicemen in the rear, instead this convoy was transporting shepherds, together with their sheepdogs. What a sight that must have been at this time of year! The army have indeed being active in rescuing many rural communities, people and animals alike.

All the sheep in our village farms are now inside the barns and outbuildings - we hear them as we lay in bed as we are just over the road from Ronnie, a sheep farmer. Let us hope the winter conditions are not too devestating for the farmers and sheep alike.

I enjoy Radio 2, but my big favourite is Classic FM. One of my all time favourite christmas music was played today and it did make me think about what is going on around us.

Christmas music is so moving, no matter what your preference don't you think - do you have a favourite piece/carol?



Tuesday, December 14

Very Special baby!



Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given,
and the government shall be upon His shoulder;
and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God,
 the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
(Isaiah 9:6)


Monday, December 13




Angels Appear to the Shepherds


There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby. It was night, and they were looking after their sheep.
An angel of the Lord appeared to them. And the glory of the Lord shone around them.
They were terrified.  But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy.
It is for all the people. 
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord.
Here is how you will know I am telling you the truth.
You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger."
Suddenly a large group of angels from heaven also appeared. They were praising God.
They said, "May glory be given to God in the highest heaven! And may peace be given to those he is pleased with on earth!" 
The angels left and went into heaven.
Then the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem. Let's see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." 
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and the baby. The baby was lying in the manger.
After the shepherds had seen him, they told everyone. They reported what the angel had said about this child.
All who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.

Sunday, December 12




The Birth of Jesus

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

Friday, December 10

Thawing?




Last night, from the various sounds coming from the roof, it would seem we are in for a thaw. The weather forecasts have been very accurate so far so it is with a heavy heart I read that we are due for another dose of snow next week.

We live just off the A171 Whitby coast road and it has certainly been in the news this week, in particular on Tuesday. Jon and I had to go to Guisborough and as we set out it started to snow - nothing drastic - just a steady even fluttering.

We weren't long in Guisborough and coming home the snow started to lay thicker and heavier. Now the A171 is an unforgiving road with many blind bends and hidden summits. It is important not to brake unecessarlily as this can lead to skidding and there are many ditches along the side.

One of the dangers on the moor road is drifting snow. One minute you are looking at white fields on either side of the road - the next the wind carries the snow across the road which suddenly is not visible and you are surrounded by a vast whiteness - yet you know the ditches are there!

As we use the road daily we are aware of the many blackspots - so as we left Birk Brow and headed down the sloping road the car in front was indicating left. The car began to turn left, then changed its mind and reversed back onto the main road, straight into our path. Now this junction is a notorious black spot - indeed it claimed the life of our neighbour some years ago and I always think of Peter everytime I pass.
Jon was driving and by his quick thinking swerved round the car and carried on. Fortunately nothing was coming toward us!

The snow was pelting down by this time and as cars in front of us drove cautiously towards Whitby we eventually turned left towards our village. The road was barely visible but we managed to get to Jon's workshop and on the way home came across a vehicle which could not get over the brow of a slight hill in the road. It was still snowing heavily but Jon stopped and towed the car over the brow and onto a part of the road where the driver could carry on. Would you believe we knew the driver? His dad was our best man! lol!

Shortly afterwards the roads were closed. Mayhem! There had been various accidents and incidents. If we had been any later we too would have been stranded for a few hours.
Our location leaves us with two routes - the moor road and the coast road. The coast road involves saltburn bank - to give you an idea of the adverse conditions we have had to dope with here is a video of Saltburn Bank taken last week. The coach driver now has his own following!

Tuesday, December 7

Unnecessary and untimely.

John Lennon

9 October 1940 – 8 December 1980

 

John_Lennon_Paul_McCartney_durante_ceremonia_Palacion_Buckingham_1965

 

Wednesday 8th December will be the 30th Anniversary of the untimely death of one of my all time childhood pin-up’s John Lennon. I was a big fan of the Beatles and would sing along to their songs. The partnership of Lennon & McCartney saw some of the very best songs from the 60’s and 70’s. I wasn’t really old enough to go to any concerts of “gigs” as they are sometimes called – I was only about 9 when they first hit the headlines. My uncle ran a music quiz at a local pub - an avid record collector  he would buy the latest records and play them for me – and test out his questions!

I remember reading that the Beatles were touring England and I actually wrote in to parlaphone records giving our address and mentioning we had a spare bedroom – can you imagine?

Like many people I grew up with the Beatles, their subsequent split and followed the various projects which followed. I was a big fan of Paul McCartney and Wings, loved George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord”, Ringo’s quirky, jolly songs and the many songs of John & Yoko.

I heard about John Lennon’s death during my first year of teaching The staffroom was stunned. As the facts became known the feeling of utter disbelief and denial came to us all.

 

Were you a Beatle’s fan?

Favourite Beatle’s Song?

Can you remember where you were when you heard the news?

 

Monday, December 6

View from the Kitchen Window






Just as I was about to sit at the kitchen table I had the feeling I was being watched! Fortunately my camera was on the table so I tried to capture the moment as best I could.

Although there seems to be signs of thawing the snow is still here. Hens continue to stay in the henhouse and we are all quite happy to remain indoors. However, Freida needed her walk and so we ventured up the lane to feed the horses. The village was so quiet!




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As we came up our drive there was lots of activity across the front lawn.


The icicles just outside the window are now beginning to thaw!




The view from the bottom of our drive gives an indication of how the weather is here.


 

If you look closely in the bottom left hand corner you will just be able to make out the snow on top of the patio table!


Sunday, December 5

Garden Visitors

The Woodpecker

The woodpecker pecked out a little round hole
And made him a house in a telephone pole.
One day when I watched he poked out his head,
And he had on a hood and a collar of red.

When the streams of rain pour out of the sky,
And the sparkles of lightning go flashing by,
And the big, big sheels of thunder roll,
He can snuggle back in the telephone pole.

Elizabeth Roberts




I hang our bird feeders outside the snug window in a tree and also  in the big cherry tree outside the kitchen window, so during the day we can watch the birds feeding We have a variety of visitors, blue tits, chaffinches, mistlethrush, blackbirds, robins but yesterday I could hardly believe my eyes when I spotted a woodpecker eating the peanuts. He was there for quite a while.
The hens will not venture out into the snow - I have moved them from the hen hut into the empty goose hut (sigh) as there is more room for them to potter during the day I close the door, once I have given them clean sawdust, food and water and they are quite secure. I am aware of paw prints in the snow each morning when I go through the garden to the hen hut and I am worried that if I left the door open a hungry fox could quite easily pop inside for breakfast. Beyond the back of our garden are open fields and countryside so we know there are many wild animals out there.

We are entering Day 12 of the snow and whilst it would appear a thaw seems to be happening - the roads are treacherous due to ice so again I am staying put! I normally go to our village church for advent but all services are cancelled due to the bad weather so later today I think we are getting the tree down from the loft and decorating the house - watch this space!
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