Category Archives: fun

What Summer?

It’s hard to believe we are already in the middle of September as in the UK we are still waiting for summer. One hot week in July and three hot days last week doesn’t cut it for the season in my book! It is not so much rain, but too many dull and chilly days, some which have almost tempted us to turn on the central heating. Oh well, little we can do about it other than look forward to next summer.

Cyclamen in flower already!

The garden too is slowly retreating into hibernation. The sunflowers, the glory of our road, are hanging their heads, the phlox and lilies, clematis, rudbeckias and carnations dying down, the fuschias over. Autumn cyclamen and plumbago are in flower already, another sure sign summer is at an end, as is the chill and damp in the air first thing, the dew on the grass and furniture. At least now we don’t have to keep watering the plants and it is still pleasant and warm enough to sit outside and enjoy our morning coffee but as the Earth tilts on its axis toward the autumn equinox, our garden is in shade by noon. Whilst I don’t enjoy this time of year, or the thought of long winter nights and lack of sunlight, I can indulge myself in my writing and painting to wile away the short days. Suffice to say, autumn has arrived.

This became most evident last weekend as I drove across the country to spend the weekend with family. It is about an hour and a half drive if one goes on the motorway, but a stressful one I do not enjoy especially now most of our motorways are “smart” (which means there is no hard shoulder during busy times or heavy traffic!). Not smart in my book, so I always take the scenic route. It takes twice as long although the mileage is the same, but is a relaxing, enjoyable drive through several pretty towns and through a forest. It was seeing the leaves on the trees already turning red and yellow and falling that convinced me our summer was over. But enough of that.

It is such a joy to be able to spend a girlie weekend with my two sisters, my mother and a niece at one of my sister’s home. To sit and chat about this and that, reminisce about those wonderful holidays we took together. It used to be on such occasions our first job once I had arrived was for us to pick out where we wanted to go for our next holiday and then go to the local travel agent and book it. It always gave us something to look forward to during the long winter months. Sadly not this year. Perhaps next. But it doesn’t stop us from enjoying ourselves. We laugh a lot, share jokes and stories as we imbibe in good wine, delicious food and great company. A relaxed, lazy afternoon in the garden, PJs on about 7 o’clock. An equally lazy Sunday until it is time for me to leave, drive mother and sister home on route, and take a leisurely, equally pleasant drive back home. The weekend refreshes us all, binds us. They are precious days, and the next one is planned for late November, weather permitting.

Cheers, girls.

I’m looking forward to it. As I am to next summer.

Kit Domino’s website and blogs

Sunflowers and Daisy Fun

So here we are in the middle of August and I’m asking, “Where is our summer?” One week of high temperatures and then whoosh! Back to a typical British summer of cloud and rain and coolish weather. Still, at least all the rain we’ve had has saved us many an hour watering the garden. The garden is important to Dave and me. It’s our hobby, shared interest, the means of keeping ourselves self-sufficient in vegetables and, more importantly, the place where we can relax, ignore and forget the troubles of the world and relish in the delights of the flowers, the wildlife, the tranquility. And boy, we’ve needed that these past few months with the many health issues my family has gone through this year. No, scrap that; these last 3 years!

This year, Dave decided to grow sunflowers. Lots of them. We’ve lost count of the number of people who have stopped to look and admire them. People in cars pull over. Others have knocked on the door and asked if they can photograph them. Some just go right ahead and snap away. We don’t mind. It is a pity in some respects the schools are closed for the summer holiday as many children are missing the display, and for some reason kids just love sunflowers.

But it isn’t just the garden that has kept me going during this long, difficult year. There is my writing, and yes I am still beavering away trying to get my novel rewritten and have to admit at times the motivation and inclination have been AWOL. But the urge now is back and I’m once more into the swing of it.

And then, of course, there is painting. I haven’t done a great deal these last couple of years, but this year’s two dog commissions have kept me occupied, if again, at times the inclination was missing. With painting, one has to be in the right mood and frame of mind; at times mine was not. Thankfully, my client was in no hurry for either painting and this weekend also saw me complete a large painting in one day, one that has I think has turned out rather well. I believe that is because my mind is settled again now my family in Reading has recovered from their health problems and pandemic restrictions are lifted. Our lives can slowly but surely and with caution return to something like normality, as it did last weekend.

You may recall my nephew Gary and his wife Nicki, George’s parents, adopted a baby girl almost 3 years ago. Dave and I were included at the official adoption hearing and signing back in 2019. An official naming ceremony was planned for Easter 2020, to which we were also invited but sadly, three times this event had to be postponed because of you know what. August saw the day finally arrive when Daisy’s “Naming Day” could finally go ahead. And what a great day it was.

A naming day is a non religious, humanist ceremony performed by an official celebrant whereby a child (or adult) takes their name. The celebrant on this occasion was a man with a wonderful sense of humour and a deep sense of fun. This was confirmed by the small pots of bubble fluid and wands he put on every chair, both adults and children, to enjoy, which we did, during the long ceremony wherein her parents followed by six “guide parents” spoke their vows and committment to Daisy, and her big brother George with help from granny read out the poem “What is a Brother?”. It was lovely seeing my sisters, nieces, nephews, great nieces nephews and members of Nicki’s family we have come to know over the years, catch up on news and general conversation. It is great we all get on so well. The day was full of love, laughter, fun, hugs, delicious food and memory-making. We’re hoping the next family day won’t be too long in coming.

Kit Domino’s website and blogs

Bridal Shower sans Cake

Good morning and happy August – Jillian here.  An update on Hobbes first—He is back to this normal, crazy self and even though he can be a pill waking me up for food or to go on the porch in the wee hours of the morning,  I’d rather have him like that than when he wasn’t feeling well. Serendipitously,, I met a vet tech who told me more horror stories about that 24 hour emergency vet place – including one where they did a full battery of tests on a dog where they said it was vomiting blood and the animal had serious issues.  The truth? He bit his tongue and it was bleeding where the phlegm he was spitting was discolored.  Reiterates my decision to never darken their door again. 

Yesterday, I drove two hours each way to attend a bridal shower for a nephew’s bride-elect. It was a long trip, but worth it to see family I haven’t seen since February 2020 (the month before Covid lockdown).  The shower itself was utterly unorganized and lasted forever. I was texting my niece that I could feel my hair getting grayer by the minute. 🙂

It was a lovely venue and the bridesmaids did a beautiful job on the decoration and food. They clearly had no clue about timing, though.  It was supposed to be from 2-4 but they didn’t even tell people to eat until 2:45 and they never cut the cake! Here is what it looked like- I didn’t get a pic of it there, but this is a link to how it looked. Red Velvet Rose Cake! – CakeCentral.com  They also didn’t start opening the presents until 3:55 pm. And she got a TON!  So, my plans to get home before dark dissipated.

I really wanted some of that cake, but alas, it was not to be!  The place was beautiful even though it was a barn in the middle of nowhere. Home – The Gilded Oaks  My niece and I put the address in her GPS and we ended up driving down a road that went from pavement to gravel to red clay.  I kept saying, “This cannot be the way.” We were laughing hysterically and the road got more and more narrow–I kept waiting for the dead end— or the banjos from Deliverance. 🙂 (We have a blast every time we get together—she is more like a sister to me—we’re only 6 years apart in age) and when we got there, we kept telling everyone about this road that was not really a road and they looked at us like we were crazy. When we left, we turned the opposite way from the way we came and guess what?? It was a paved road.  All the way. 🙂

A cool thing they did was a flower bar. They had a variety of flowers in a large basket and each guest was allowed to make a bouquet to take with them. How fun was that?  Sure wish I’d gotten a piece of cake though…..

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Wow! First Horse Show

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Kennedy turned four two weeks before the show. It’s hard to believe, time sometimes goes way to fast. The show was in Eugene Oregon, about a four-hour drive from here.  This was her first class and like I predicted she … Continue reading

Tea For Three

A little late with my blog this month, as was the birthday tea I enjoyed with my two sisters yesterday. We were certainly waiting a long time for the day to come round. Well over 18 months! But it was worth the wait and we three enjoyed ourselves.

But why the long wait? Back in Sept 2019, my twin sisters celebrated a milestone birthday. A gift from their four children was a thermae spa 2-night break in Bath, England. This is an incredible mineral spa with rooftop swimming pool giving panoramic views over the city. As the year was getting late, the trip was arranged for the following April and invited me to join them for afternoon tea as my birthday treat. But we all know what happened the month before, that dreaded word: Lockdown. The hotel agreed to hold the booking to the end of lockdown. Another birthday for my sisters came and went. Lockdown eased only to be fully re-imposed Christmas 2020. Again, the hotel happily rescheduled it for my birthday April 2021. But lockdown was still on, though easing. In March, it was finally arranged for June, when most restrictions here were lifted, except for the few we are still under.

https://www.thermaebathspa.com/
Britain’s original thermal spa in Bath.

At last my sisters were able to enjoy a much-needed break, spoiling themselves relaxing for a few days indulging in some spa treatments, sight seeing, and the best part — my being able to join them for a champagne tea at their hotel.
The historic city of Bath is some 25 miles from my home. Whilst I could have taken the car, it would mean I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the champagne. Not to worry, I have a Diamond Travel Pass, giving free travel on buses. I hadn’t been on a bus for over two years, and having enjoyed this journey often in the past, was looking forward to the trip there and back. The only problem is the time the bus takes: anything up to 2 hours or more depending on traffic, as it is a complicated route with many stops, but scenic. My other half was not happy.

“I’ll drive you,” he said. “The car needs a good run out and it gets me away from the house for a few hours too. How long will you be?” he asked. “And where can I park and wait for you?” Now, you would have thought by now after over 40 years together, he would know that whenever I meet the girls for lunch or my sisters, we chat and chat and chat for hours. Nor was I going to spend the time clock-watching. I told him I would get the bus or train home, both stations being right by the hotel, and he could pick be up from the station. I didn’t think it fair him having to spend his afternoon/evening driving me back and forth twice (Bath is an hour’s drive from home). But no, he wasn’t happy with the idea of me travelling by bus. Or train. So it was agreed he’d pick me up, I would ring him when ready.

It was lovely seeing my sisters again. Admittedly it was only a few weeks since the last time we were together but sitting in different surroundings, being waited on, lovely champagne, a delicious scone cream tea served by the most helpful and friendly staff who made us so welcome and comfortable. Afterwards, we decided to go for a walk and find a bar where we could sit outside (the weather this past week has been gloriously hot), enjoy a glass of G&T and people watch, wishing and missing our many fantastic holidays abroad together, but it was a wonderful way to spend a summer’s afternoon. We wandered back to the hotel, and whilst we waited for Dave, still with an hour to enjoy, we ordered another round of G&Ts.

“Shall I be mum?”

Such precious time goes far too quickly, too much precious time has been lost but we treasure every moment together. May there be many more.

Kit Domino’s website and blogs

Life Is Expanding

This year feels good when I think of where we were last year at this time.  With restrictions relaxing, and more business’s opening, Karen and I took advantage of the great weather last week and ran out to a nursery we heard about in Adna. 

It’s a bit of drive from here but the trip was part of the lure. Beautiful country out that way. I clipped the photo from “Adna Floral” website.  This is a nursery I’ll be visiting again.  

Adna Floral est. 1963. is a family owned plant nursery, that takes great pride in personally growing every plant they sell. Open April 15th through June 30th. There is an excellent selection of healthy plants to choose from. Some of the colors are ones I haven’t seen before. 

Of course we included lunch in our outing. And, what an experience. Just up the road from Adna, in Chehalis, is Jeremy’s Farm to Table restaurant. Karen had been there and suggested it.  I don’t know how I missed it as I’ve certainly been in and out of Chehalis over the years. Like the nursery, I plan to go back. 

I can’t say enough about Jeremy’s. It flanks the historic Chehalis railway and was started in 1990. It partners with local farms to provide the freshest ingredients for menu items. I had “The Special”, Crab Cake Benedict. It came with home fries and I could have made a meal on them. So Good!!!!!  Of course I had to get dessert to go . . . Strawberry Crisp. 

Are you hungry yet?  Looking forward to more days out and about. Hopefully you are getting back out there too. 

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Wild Side of the Street

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Yesterday, once the frost had lifted and the temperature rose a few degrees, in the bright sunshine I ventured out for proper walk, the first one for many weeks now lockdown restrictions here in the UK are easing. I took … Continue reading

March is Here!

Jillian here. Sorry I missed last month. Things were getting me down and I lost all my oomph and get up and go. I’m better now and hopeful again for better things ahead.

I just got back from a socially distanced conference which was nice as I got to see people I haven’t seen in a year and got in some good, masked visits. The advantage to this conference over the old days was it was limited to 400 people instead of the usual around 1,000. AND instead of tables of 8-10 at the meals, there were only tables of 4 so there was all kinds of room to spread out. There is usually quite the squeeze in happening.

My friend is the conference chair and for the second time, she upgraded my room to a suite which was sweet! I paid the same price as if it was a regular room. Last year, my suite even had a dining table for 8. This year, I “Only” got a sectional sofa- but I did get a full foyer. 🙂 I felt pretty spoiled.

AND the piece de resistance? I got to see my son and his family before I headed home as well as have dinner with them the night before the conference started. So, a good four days then. Here are some pictures of my Sweet Baboo. The frog was his Valentine’s Day gift from me. He’s a happy, sassy little dude and makes me laugh with his awesome personality.

‘Tis The Season To Be Jolly

And suddenly Christmas is almost upon us once more. Despite the difficulties of the past year, it has crept up seemingly faster than ever. I should have been more prepared, after all the shops were playing seasonal music since November, cards and decorations and seasonal food on sale back in September and the Christmas movies on TV since the summer! Not that I have much to prepare. As it has been for the past 20 years, ours will be a quiet time, just Dave and me and my mother, who finally decided yesterday she did indeed want to come to us again. No presents, no fuss, no crackers, just enjoyable food and a little drink or two and even more enjoyable company with the Christmas tree twinkling in the corner, and hopefully a good movie or two to watch on TV.

Talking of TV, the Christmas advertisements haven’t been up to their usual standard this year, in our opinion, although there is one that has moved me to tears. No silly song, indeed, no dialogue whatsoever but the sentiment is so strong it brings a lump to my throat every time I watch it.

https://youtu.be/yg4Mq5EAEzw

With my mother being German, we were bought up with many of the German Christmas traditions, from the Christmas tree never being put up until Christmas Eve, when us children were in bed so it became an extra special magical Christmas morning, to the Advent Calendars, sent from Germany by our grandmother (Oma), years before they became available or popular in the UK. They were simple affairs, a little religious scene behind every dated window or door, and lots of glitter. No chocolates or treats or perfume or even bottles of gin that are so popular nowadays – the ones for adults, that is. These came each year in a large parcel sent from Germany at the end of November, along with a homemade Stollen, Lebkucken, iced gingerbread hearts, packets of Dr Oekter vanilla sugar (because Mum couldn’t get any in the UK), special coffee beans, our presents from Oma, along with other items for Mum and Dad. I will never forget the aroma that filled the house those days when the parcel arrived and opened. Now Stollen and Lebkucken and other German treats are readily available here, much to my family’s delight although nothing yet beats Oma’s baking.

Lovely memories of childhood Christmases fill me each year, and for many a year I have been on a quest to find a recipe my mother would make just after the festivities were over. Years ago you couldn’t buy beer in the supermarkets like you can now. If you wanted to drink beer at home, especially for parties, you bought glass flagons of it from the off-licence section in the pub. When you needed more supplies, someone had to take the empty bottles to the off-licence to be refilled. Of course, the beer went flat very quickly if not drunk and, rather than waste it, my mother would use some of it in beef stews and casseroles and as a special treat, make beer soup! I can taste it now, in my mind. But I have never been able to find the recipe for it. Mother cannot remember the recipe now, nor can she find her German cookery book in which it was written. All I can remember is she used to put custard powder in it.

I have spent many years trawling recipe books and the internet to no avail. Yes, there are recipes out there, but they all include cheese and made with lager, all claiming to be the original German beer soup, but cheese nor lager was ever used in ours or in that Oma made. Try as I might to recreate it adjusting from those recipes, I failed every time. However, a few days ago I came across a site that had many old German recipes from a cookery book dated 1897 and low and behold, there was one for beer soup that sounds very much like the one I know.

Beer Soup
1 cup dark beer
1 cup water
1/2 cup light brown sugar
Pinch salt
1 egg yolk
1 heaping tablespoon flour
Place egg and flour in a heat safe bowl; set aside. Heat beer, water, sugar, and salt until just before boiling. Pour beer slowly over egg and flour, constantly whisking.  Return to pan. Serve hot.

I haven’t tried making it yet, but I intend to.

Of course, Christmas isn’t Christmas without a carol or two, so here is one of my favourites “Oh Holy Night” sung by four gorgeous hunks to sign off with. But before I go, I want to thank you all for your friendship and support during this difficult year and wish each and every one of you a Happy, Safe, Merry and Enjoyable Christmas, no matter how you are celebrating yours. See you in the New Year.

https://youtu.be/a5j_XuATgRU

Kit Domino’s website and blogs

Busy Doing… Lots

Whooo…sh! Where has the past month gone? After last month taking time to smell the roses, this month I can’t keep up with everything. Having switched on my “do something” button, I’ve found my lost mojo and am now in a spin with so much going on and am well and truly back on the novel writing track. But that’s not all! I’ve been inspired enough to delve into the paintbox once more, with a new piece in progress which is coming along well and am pleased with it so far. But not ready yet for the great reveal.  Hopefully, that will be soon. If I’m still happy with it…

I have also been getting to grips with a new writing tool on the computer whilst I write. You would think that was enough to contend with, but oh no. All my working career I found the more pressure I was under, the more I could achieve. The busier I am, the more gets done. And to prove the point, last week saw me revamping my website/blog, streaming off the gardening section into a new separate site (Kit’s Garden). Now all I have to do is keep up with it all as well as find time to sit back, enjoy the garden, and remember where and what day it is!

Ah, September, month of mellow fruitfulness and birthdays. Lots of birthdays including our daughter’s 50th. As a special card, I made one using several photos of her over the years. She adored it, as did the two grandchildren, whose birthdays are also this month, along with a dear friend’s, my twin sisters’, my sister-in-law’s. Am sure I’ve forgotten someone. Need to check. Back in a moment … Yep! My other sis-in-law’s. Boy, am I glad this month I also finally got round to setting up an online calendar and networking it across the three computers I use or I would have forgotten her. That would not have gone down well.

On top of all this, these last few weeks I’ve been figuring out and setting up a new laptop my nearest and dearest treated me to. Poor man, he was getting so annoyed at my constant grouching how slow my old lappy was. Well over 7 years old with an ailing battery, it had been a good workhorse. Lately fit only for doing online jigsaws, not that I’ve had time to do any this month.

There have been some pauses in the pace though. We’ve had lovely weather here in the UK the past few days. Enough for Dave and I to spend mornings in the garden. Taking time to read the newspapers or a book as we enjoy a coffee in the warmth of the sun. Relax a little. Do a little weeding, a bit of idea throwing for next year’s displays. Much needed respite from sitting at the desk too much.

I shan’t be at the desk for a few days next week either, as I am finally trundling off to Reading to spend time with my mother and sisters. Hurrah! It will be the first time since February I have been further than our local supermarket and I am looking forward to the drive cross country. But not as much as seeing my siblings and mother again. It’s been too long.

The four of us intend celebrating being together for the first time since last Christmas; to belatedly celebrate my mother’s 94th birthday back in March; raise a glass to mine back in April; and as I mentioned above, to celebrate my sisters’ birthdays next Monday. On Friday I am making them a birthday cake but, shhh… don’t tell them, it’s a surprise, and knowing my baking skills, it might not turn out so well. I might have to resort to buying one!

Must dash. There’s things still to do, such a shopping. The larder and fridge are bare and the freezers both half-empty as we’ve been without a car for nearly two weeks as repairs were needed. Thankfully it is now back sitting on our drive. So places to go and family to see before lockdown swings in any tighter.

Enjoy your month, whatever it brings.

Kit Domino’s Website and Blog