Saturday, 18 March 2017

In and Out!

😺 Sorry to everyone who might be coming here at the moment to catch up on my blog. I've been blogging regularly over at The Teapot, for 40 Acts, but not really had time to blog here too. 

I think blogging at Fat Dormouse may be temporarily suspended until Lent is over...but please do pop over to The Teapot to see what I've been up to. 🙀

Just briefly, Mr FD is spending a few days in Germany, at his Uncle's 85th birthday celebrations. His mum and sister will be there (sister over from Canada) and it will give him the chance to catch up with his German cousins too.

So while the Cat has been away this Dormouse has been playing - Thursday evening Friend Alison came for apèros. A bottle of rosé and a couple of hours later we'd set some of the world to rights. Yesterday evening, I decided to stay in Clermont after my lessons and I went to the cinema! I treated myself to a beer and a salad (chicken-and-bacon, with lots of lettuce, avocado and onion rings. Yummy!) and then went to see La La Land. I really enjoyed it, and was very glad I had gone.

When I got home, at 10.15, all the cats were gathered behind the front door, miaowing frantically. I had several bags with me and when I opened the door Millie made a bid for freedom, closely followed by Pomme. Luckily, only Millie succeeded (as I dropped my bags and almost fell on top of Pomme!). I say "luckily" as she is a scaredy-cat, and after one panic struck moment when she looked round the courtyard and thought "Why am I here?!" she scooted back in. Pomme, on the other hand, is a nightmare to chase back into the house, so I was very grateful that she didn't manage it! 

 Tonight I may catch up with the episodes of Coronation Street that I haven't seen, or find a romantic-comedy to watch - the kind of film Mr FD doesn't really like. I have a bottle of red open, and some left over pork-and-chorizo to eat. 

I hope everyone is well. Thank you for popping in - if I have time I will update here too, but otherwise maybe I'll see you at the Teapot.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Jasper: International Cat of Terror

Goodness me, Jasper is an exhausting cat sometimes. It gives me some idea of what a hyperactive child could be like. And Jasper is only a cat!

Cats are supposed to sleep for 22 hours a day, or something. Not Jasper! He's looking for mischief from morning till night, it seems (although to be fair, he is snoozing now) and we need to try to keep him entertained.

He chases the others - generally we think he is just wanting to play with them, but Millie and Bib are scared of him, and Pomme is still trying to sort out who's boss. Mr FD said there was a big battle yesterday, & certainly I came home to large amounts of fur on the stairs.

Here is Jasper, wondering whether to go to sleep.

Ah, I said he was snoozing now, but I've just heard Mr FD saying "Jasper...Jasper....Jasper..." in increasingly warning tones, so I think he's up and probably trying to eat the flowers that Friend Alison brought me yesterday! 

We separate him from the other cats at night, because if we didn't I don't think anyone would get any sleep. He is put in my study, with his food and a bowl of biscuits. He's got a litter tray and a basket so it's not too bad. But if we get up in the night, he'll hear us and start meowing rather pitifully to be let out, which makes us feel a bit guilty.

But he also amuses himself by disembowelling cushions - I have found fluff and wadding from one cushion where he has ripped the cover to get at the stuffing inside. So we bought him some balls to keep him occupied - during the night we can hear one or more being rolled across the wooden floor, and chased!

This is my ball, carefully hidden from your camera under my paw.

 Where is my ball now? Ooh. Something different to explore.

Then finally I bought him a stuffed toy that he can disembowel. The eyes on this elephant looked at me imploringly as I handed it over as a sacrifice. Jasper immediately took to it (or should that be took against it?) and started savaging the poor thing.

 My Nellyfant! I will kill it.

Who knows how long it will survive? My cushions didn't last long!
But, for all his cunning, Jasper is struggling to understand the cat flap. It is really funny watching him, when he chases one of the others, and they pop through the catflap onto the balcony. He comes to a halt in front of the door, and appears to be thinking "There was another cat here. Now the cat has gone.Where is the cat?"
Then he looks through the glass of the door & sees the cat on the other side.

Yikes. How did that happen? The cat is now there. How? Why can't I get there too? 

He doesn't seem to be able to work out what's happening. Because he's not yet been vaccinated we are holding off demonstrating the catflap to him, as we fear that once he has tasted the outdoors again, from the safety of the balcony, he may wish to explore further...
One of my students suggested we get this cat toy for him (and the others) It certainly looks fun!


Though how long it would survive under Jasper's onslaught, I'm not sure!

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Silly Bint.

That's me, that is. Silly Bint.

I'm well known for being unsteady on my feet, and always finding a hole to fall into/over.

Well, today was another spectacular fall. I'd gone down to Friend Alison's to pick up their dog, Marvin, to go for a walk with him - as the family had goner out for the day. I decided to take the car & go somewhere further afield where I can let him off the lead, so I drove down, parked the car and fetched Marvin. On the way back to the car my foot went into a hole in the pavement, and I fell forwards. I'm not sure quite what happened but I may have hit my face on a conveniently placed fire hydrant on the way down. My glasses are now bent, my knees battered, bruised and swollen and - worst of all - I have broken a front tooth

Not an attractive view, I'm afraid. 

I sat on the ground weeping with shock (while two ladies walked past me on the other side of the road without stopping!) and Marvin just sat next to me, shivering and clearly confused that his walk (about which he had been very excited) had been cut short. I deposited him back in his garden, and went looking for someone to take care of me - I was worried I'd broken my cheekbone as it seemed to be hurting quite a lot. (It's calmed down now, so I think it's okay) Mr FD wasn't at home - out cycling - and I needed to be looked after! Our friends Louis & Odette weren't at home, and I finally ended up weeping over poor Michel who clearly didn't quite know what to do with me! After about 5 minutes of crying and shaking, and a glass of water, I felt much better, but Michel wanted to look after me some more so I sat there for about 20 minutes.

I'll have to try and find an optician tomorrow that can bend my glasses back into shape. I'm due to go to the opthalmologist in a couple of weeks, and I think I'll need new glasses, so it's not too much of a problem (I'll be reusing old frames though. Can't afford the lenses AND the frames!) I've also booked an appointment at the dentist, but she couldn't see me for three weeks so I'll be left with my chippy tooth till then. I'm not sure how much dental work is covered on my mutuelle, so it could turn out to be expensive. Grr. I suppose one could argue I could claim from the Mairie, as they hadn't kept the pavement in good repair, but I'm a firm believer in accidents happen. And I wasn't looking. 

Hey ho.

Mind you, having just been to the Mairie to tell them about the hole, they did suggest I spoke to my insurers to see if it might be covered. So I'll do that. 

Silly Bint.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Inspiration Fails Me

Hello Dear Peeps!
Sorry, no clever title today!

Here's hoping all is well with you - I have a cold developing. I felt bad this morning, so didn't go to church (the thought of an hour's drive to get there was unappealing with my head in a very muzzy state!) I feel better now, but my throat is uncomfortable, and needs clearing every 30 seconds or so. I think I will make sure the spare room is ready for occupancy today in case I need to decamp there tonight to avoid disturbing Mr FD.

I have made a momentous decision - in 2015 (and two years before that) I worked at a Summer School teaching English. Last year, as the Head of the Dept had decided not to go back, and as I was feeling old and in need of a break, I also declined to go. While I enjoyed a slightly less fraught summer I did miss it. So when I heard the Head of Dept was going back (at least for this year) I decided to apply again. I don't know if I will be successful - although apparantly one of David's conditions for returning was that "The Old Team" was back together (and I think I qualify for that, both in the sense of "the former team" and "the old-in-years team"!) so maybe I'll be accepted with open arms. As Mr FD said "The money will be useful" (as he's not working AND we seem to have booked quite a lot of holidays!!) so there you go! Let's see what happens.

Here we all are, in 2015, outside trhe Hawk Conservancy Trust. 

On other news - over at The Teapot you can read an exciting account of One week in the Life of a Fat Dormouse.

Mr FD is applying for jobs. We keep fingers crossed.

Today - despite cold-y feelings I am determined we shall have our roast chicken dinner.

MONDAY: Chicken & Ham in a mushroom sauce, with rice and green beans. This will use up some of the chicken, plus 1 of two ham steaks I bought reduced to half price a couple of weeks ago & stashed in the freezer.

TUESDAY: Spinach & Ricotta lasagne, with added chicken.

WEDNESDAY:Oven Baked Bacon & Leek risotto - but using the other ham steak in place of bacon and adding lots more veg...such as mushrooms, pepper, spinach, onion. And not frozen peas.

THURSDAY: Curry spiced veggie burgers with wedges and a chicory salad.

FRIDAY: Salmon with Chinese Leaf I keep looking at this recipe and thinking "Surely it needs something else" as it does sound a bit "meh"-y. But some recipes never look promising and then turn out well, so  nothing ventured... If we don't like it I can remove the recipe from my folder and never speak of it again. Of course, it all depends on whether I can get Chinese cabbage in Super U.

SATURDAY: Sausage casserole.

SUNDAY: Chicken & sweet potato - actually this is another Does-it-need-something-else? recipe. We'll see.

Thank you for your comments - and, if you don't comment, thank you for popping in.

KJSUTCLIFFE (who I know as Live,Love,Craft, Me) pointed out how invaluable chickpeas are for filling up growing yoofs. I guess they are much healthier than lots of other things one can fill up on!

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Ways To My Heart... 💜

 But before the Food Talk, what about other things?!

Hello, Lovely Peeps! I hope your Sunday is as sunny and balmy as ours. I have to admit to being a little discombobulated by this weather. It is definitely very springlike, and we have seen catkins and Pussy Willow starting to bud. But I don't trust it. At All. I'm sure we are going to have another very cold spell which will mightily confuse the creatures (especially those woken early from hibernation) and kill off the early blossoming blooms. But I suppose all we can do is enjoy the weather and see it as a blessing!

I forced myself to heave my lazy bum off the computer chair yesterday, and am very pleased I did. The feet are so much better now, so Friend Alison and her dog Marvin went for a walk in the woods above the village. It was probably about 4 km or so. The weather was beautiful, and Marvin enjoyed following the scents of what we assume were wild boar (judging by the rootled up ground) I took my campera, but we were so busy chatting that I didn't take any photos!

But here's a view of the village on the same walk in October 2015

And a view along the pathway.

Otherwise, I have spent my weekend blogging, (See over at The Teapot),cooking meat for the poor cats, tidying my study, working on my Desiderata project which has been ongoing since June 2015 and generally just enjoying myself! Next week is a lull in lessons - partly due to contracts finishing, and partly duer to school holidays - but I have lots of admin/ preparation/ sorting stuff out to do, which will fill up the free hours. Mr FD isn't working, as his contract has finished too, but he will be looking for more work, plus doing things he hadn't had time to do while he was working. 

So, what is on the menu this week?

TODAY - was going to be a roast chicken dinner, but Mr FD is feeling delicate. He has had a bit of a "gastro" since Thursday night - and while he's feeling better, he thinks a roast dinner mightn't be the best idea. Sad face.😿 So I'll be doing the chicken legs in a mushroom sauce, with rice instead. I can't think why he feels that would be better, but hey. There you go. Roast dinner postponed till next week.

MONDAY: Butternut squash and chilli risotto. Maybe this isn't the best idea for someone with a gastro either!!  Still, Mr FD will be in charge of cooking it, so he can change the recipe to something less spicy if he prefers!

TUESDAY: Honey mustard chicken pasta. However, we'll be having it hot, rather than as a salad, so I'll use some creme fraiche instead of mayo. 

WEDNESDAY: Butternut squash & black bean enchilladasWhich sound delicious! I'll be using red kidney beans, rather than black beans, but otherwise they'll be about the same.

 THURSDAY: Tomato & bacon gnocchi - or something similar to this recipe. I'm not sure I'll be faffing with cherry tomatoes. I'll probably just go for a straightforward tin of plum tomatoes!

FRIDAY: Not meatballs, pasta and sauce. A recipe from the fantastic Jack Monroe. Very cheap to make (except aubergines aren't so cheap at the moment!) 


 SUNDAY: The postponed roast chicken, with parsnips, roasties, carrots and stuffing. I may get a whole chicken, or maybe a couple of legs. Not sure yet.

Thank you, as always for your comments. It is lovely when people take the time to comment.

Lots of people were sympathetic about nasty eczema, and your lovely comments made me feel better. Thank you for those!

CONFUZZLED BEV - Your chickpea-y spag bol sounds nice. I don't often think to put chickpeas with pasta, though I can't think why not. I might be tempted to include mushrooms in the mix though!!!

JAN - another chickpea dish that sounds yummy! I don't put chickpeas in soup either!! Aren't they versatile! I usually make a spinach/chickpea/mushroom (there they are again!) curry. That's nice.

KEZZIE: Sorry to hear about your rogue mushroom experience! If you don't like them I can imaginethat wouldn't be a nice thing to happen at all!

So there you are!
Thank you again for popping in, & I hope that maybe you'll be inspired to make one or two of the recipes. Do tell me if you do!

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

And this week's menus are....

YESTERDAY: We had pizza and potato wedges. To pretend to be healthy we had some green salad too, but there was a lot of CHEESE on the pizza.

TODAY: No steaks cut into heart shapes for us, I'm afraid! A turkey and vegetable stir fry, that's all.
Kezzie has given some lovely ideas for Valentine's Day cards but I'm afraid I opted for a total cheat version, by sending Mr FD this
by email at work! Not very romantic really. Sigh.

Just looking at the photo now I can't help feeling that it looks like the Valentine's greeting is from Dave Newman, NASA Deputy Administrator!! He's a very romantic chap, isn't he?!

TOMORROW: Something spag-bollish. Mr FD will be cooking it with mince and stuff. Hopefully not carrots this time.

THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW: I'm out for lunch with a student so won't want much dinner. We go to a great little restaurant that does a 4 course lunch for 13€. Last time I had paté, followed by a great bavette with potato gratin, cheese and then pineapple. Simple but delicious. Mr FD can have an omellette with potato wedges.

THE DAY AFTER THAT: Mushroom Stroganoff. I think this is one for Kezzie to avoid: if I remember rightly she believes mushrooms are the food of the Devil! I like them.

We'll have this with fresh pasta.

SATURDAY: Stuffed peppers, using pork mince and a packet of pre-cooked grains. Let's see what it's like. The recipe is made up, so I can't really give you any hints!
I got these at Noz. Never had them before so it's a new experiment!

SUNDAY: Roast dinner - using chicken legs. Parsnips, roasties, gravy, stuffing and a green vegetable too. Yum-yum!

Thank you for all your lovely sympathetic comments. My feet are getting much better as the medicated cream kicks in. Still a bit uncomfortable, but not painful any longer. They don't vlook very pretty however.

I'll reply to the coments individually next time, but now I have to go and have lunch, then face doing some cleaning. It's a working day without much work today, so that means I have to do housework instead (that's my self imposed rule!) But first, lunch of soup and cheese on toast!

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Bits and bobs; this and that.

Hello Dear Peeps. This is a rather bitty bobby post as I've not planned my menus for next week yet, but wanted to pop in while I have some time!

I hope you are all well and happy. I'm doing okay, but a bit held back by a bad attack of Dyshidrotic eczema on my feet at the moment. This is a horrid type of eczema consisting of blisters that are filled with a watery liquid. They either burst when they're quite small or get bigger and then burst, leaving one's feet in a painful, red, tender mess, which means wearing shoes is very uncomfortable. I am treating them with a hydrating cream which is helping a little, but it means that walking any real distance is generally out of the question. I don't know what sets this off - possibly when my feet get overheated, although that's not happened much recently. It's a possibility that my lovely new fur-lined ankle boots might be the culprit this time, but as they're new it doesn't explain past outbreaks. The dermatologist was spectacularly unhelpful, and t'internet seems to suggest that no-one really knows what causes this. Hey-ho. They've been really bad since Friday, so I'm hoping that in another couple of days they'll start scabbing over. ANYWAY that's probably too much medical information at the moment!!!!

 And they're a lot prettier than mine!

Otherwise things are fine.

Mr FD has found out that he has been successful in his bid to take part in Ride London this year. He did it in 2015 with a friend from the Cyclos here in the village; this time he'll be doing it with his brother - 100 mile cycle ride from the Olympic Park, around London & Surrey, then finishing outside Buckingham Palace. So he's out starting his training today!
2015 : Mr FD checking his medal is genuine!

Louis and Mr FD after they finished.

You may well remember that last year I took part in 40 Acts during Lent, and I plan to do the same this year. I'm also doing something else too, so head on over to The Teapot, if you'd like to receive a rather lovely postcard from me

 Or, if like Jan, you can't find how to comment at The Teapot, then you can leave a comment here.  I'm not sure if it's a problem with the Wordpress site, but I think that at the bottom of the post it says either "Leave a comment" or, if someone has already commented, it says "1 comment" - if you click on that you should be able to comment. But maybe it's different for you, Jan. It is in quite small writing, amidst the tags and labels, right at the end of the post.

So, I hope to pop in tomorrow (very briefly) with menus, but it might be Tuesday. Tomorrow is a bit rushed as I'm leaving home early to get to Montbrison for my lesson, as I'm going to get my hair cut - I'm trying out a new salon, so who knows what it'll look like! I'm also back later, as I'm stating a new contract of 20 hours, which finishes later. 

As always,n thank you for your lovely comments:
CONFUZZLED - Courgettes are definitely more expensive than usual, but I assume they will come down in price as summer approaches and the weather improves. For now, we'lol have to use other things. Mr FD was rather discombobulated at having to make a pasta sauce without courgette. He used carrot, but I'm not convinced it was a good idea!

JAN - hopefully the note above will help you comment on The Teapot. If not, I'm happy to receive your comments here instead!

SANDRA - I'm not sure if you were joking asking what a phone lesson is (though I still need the occasional lesson from Mr FD how to use his old smartphone that he gave me!). In case you weren't joking, basically I have a student who wants to improve their fluency in English, so they phone me (or I phone them) and we chat for 30 or 45 minutes. I make notes of theitr mistakes, and in the last 10 minutes of the lesson I go through their errors. Then, when we've finished, I send them an email with notes about vocabulary and grammar, plus something to read for the next lesson. And that's a phone lesson. I have taught students with a very low level of English over the phone, but that's not successful. I think the student needs to be at least pre-intermediate level, for it to be of any use.

JOYCE - thank you for the hint about plum sauce. There's not that many Asian stores (that I know about) around where I do my shopping, so I'm rather reliant on the supermarkets for supplies. In the end I adapted the recipe, using a plum-and-apple chutney, some chilli jam, and some fruit juice to make the glaze for the sausages. It worked well, and I really enjoyed them!

Shall we have lasagne this week?