Tuesday, 31 December 2019

A Cold Winter’s Morning

The elms stand naked their brown leaves on the ground
On the gravel path by the winds scattered around
The overnight frost has left the park looking gray
Just after daybreak on a cold Winter's day.
The magpie on the blackwood tree seems brave to sing
He sings all year round though more often in Spring
But his voice sounds melodious at all times of year
And on a frosty morning so pleasant to hear.
The sparrows in the parkland are chirping away
In all sorts of weather they chirp through the day
Weavers classified as songbirds though that seems a bit wrong
Since sparrows as such they do not have a song.
A cold and frosty morning around zero degrees
The currawongs calling on the tall gum trees
Some say they sing their loudest prior to and during rain
And their currawong notes they repeat over and again.
A cold Winter's morning the park gray to white
Will green in the sun from the frost overnight
And the song of the magpie one cannot mistake
He sings on the blackwood just after daybreak.
Francis Duggan.
Artist Lennart Helje

Monday, 30 December 2019


"Don’t take life too seriously! Nobody gets out alive anyway. Smile. Be goofy. Take chances. Have fun. Inspire."
~ Dawn Gluskin
"Most of us don't need a psychiatric therapist as much as a friend to be silly with."
~ Robert Breault
Share a little laughter with a friend and have a happy Monday!

Saturday, 28 December 2019

Peter Pan Wishes!

The crescent moon's a sailboat, upon a crystal sea,
that's filled, with sparkling diamonds, that twinkle down, at me.
I see trees' branches, reaching, toward that sea, so high.
They're wishing, for flight's freedom, and wishing, too, am I!
From Peter Pan, a visit, I'd so love, to receive!
Perhaps, if I wish, hard, enough, and promise, "I believe",
he'll fly, down, to my window ledge, and kindly, offer, make,
of sprinkles, of Tink's Fairy Dust, for journey, we can take!
Oh, I do hope Tink would agree; the stories show, she might!
I've read, that she helped other boys take flight, into the night.
I'd love, to fly, above my house, and past my school, and then,
I'd like, to wave, into the bedroom windows, of my friends!
I'd whiz about, and laugh and shout, and they'd be so, surprised,
to see me, there, with Peter Pan, and Tinker, by my side!
We'd sit, in trees, to owls' amazement; they'd be asking WHOO?!
I'm sure, from perch, my town would show a very different view!
I sure am getting sleepy; it sure is getting late.
But, I know, it could happen, if, I could only wait.
My eyes just keep on, closing, though, I fight, with all my might.
I'll have, to try, to stay awake, again, tomorrow night!
Donna L. Ferguson Dudley, copyright 2018 5/26/18
Art, by Lisa Evans

Pumpkin, butter beans and thyme - Nigel Slater

Any gold-fleshed squash is suitable for cooking in stock. It is a good idea to brown the pieces first, so the caramelised notes lend a sweet depth to the broth. I use butter beans for their beefy texture, but haricot beans or cannellini are suitable here, too. Some bread, crisp crusted and open textured, would be appropriate for soaking up the thyme and onion-scented liquor. Serves 3-4

small pumpkin or onion squash 1 kg

groundnut or vegetable oil 50ml

onions 2, medium

thyme 8 sprigs

vegetable stock 750ml

butter beans 1 x 400g can

Slice the pumpkin or squash in half and scoop out the seeds and fibres. Cut each half into thick segments, as if you were slicing a melon. Warm the oil in a baking dish over a moderate heat, place the segments cut side down and fry until the underside is golden brown, a matter of 5 minutes, then turn and cook the other side.

While the pumpkin browns, peel and halve the onions then slice each half into six pieces. Lift the pumpkin from the dish and set aside. Put the onion into the hot oil and cook for 10 minutes or so, stirring regularly, until it is soft and pale gold. Add the thyme sprigs, a little salt and some ground black pepper. Set the oven at 200C/gas mark 6.

Return the pumpkin to the dish, then pour in the vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Lower the heat, cover with a lid, and leave to simmer for 20 minutes. Drain the beans then add them to the stock. Replace the lid and transfer to the oven, leaving it to bake for 45 minutes.

For the final 10 minutes of cooking, remove the lid. Serve in shallow bowls, ladling the thyme-scented stock over the slices of pumpkin and spoonfuls of beans.

Paul Hollywood's Yorkshire curd tart

Paul Hollywood's Yorkshire curd tart
Curd tarts were traditionally baked for Whitsuntide, when many Yorkshire villages held feasts and fair days. The filling was originally made from ‘beestings’, the first, very rich milk from newly calved cows, though nowadays it’s easier (and just as good) to use curd cheese. Rosewater is a classic flavouring.

Equipment and preparation: you will need a 20cm/8in loose-based sandwich cake tin (2-3cm/1in deep).


For the sweet shortcrust pastry

For the filling


  1. For the pastry, mix the flour and icing sugar together in a bowl. Add the butter and rub it in lightly with your fingertips until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. Alternatively, do this in a food processor or a mixer and then transfer to a bowl.
  2. Mix the egg with the lemon juice and a tablespoon of water. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the egg mix. Using a table knife, work the liquid into the flour to bring the pastry together. If it seems too dry, add a splash more water. When the dough begins to stick together, use your hands to gently knead it into a ball. Wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
  4. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to about a 3mm thickness (about the thickness of a pound coin) and use it to line the tart tin, leaving excess pastry hanging over the edge. Keep a little uncooked pastry back in case you need to patch any cracks later.
  5. Line the pastry case with baking parchment or foil, then fill with baking beans, or uncooked rice or lentils. Bake blind for 15 minutes, then remove the parchment and baking beans and return the pastry to the oven for about eight minutes or until the pastry looks dry and faintly coloured.
  6. Use a small, sharp knife to trim away the excess pastry from the edge. Use a tiny bit of the reserved raw pastry to patch any cracks or holes if necessary.
  7. Turn the oven down to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
  8. To make the filling, beat the sugar and curd cheese together until smooth, then beat in the eggs and egg yolks, lemon zest, rosewater and melted butter. Stir in the currants.
  9. Pour the filling into the pastry case and grate a little nutmeg over the surface. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the filling is just set. Leave to cool completely in the tin before slicing.

Friday, 27 December 2019

Something Told the Wild Geese

by Rachel Field
Artist Snowwolf
Something told the wild geese
It was time to go.
Though the fields lay golden
Something whispered,—‘Snow.’
Leaves were green and stirring,
Berries, luster-glossed,
But beneath warm feathers
Something cautioned,—‘Frost.’
All the sagging orchards
Steamed with amber spice,
But each wild breast stiffened
At remembered ice.
Something told the wild geese
It was time to fly,—
Summer sun was on their wings,
Winter in their cry.

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Powerful Portraits of Rescued Farm Animals Who Were Allowed to Grow Old

Animal Photography by Isa Leshko
Phyllis, Southdown sheep, age 13
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Photographer Isa Leshko is terrified of growing old. After caring for her mother with Alzheimer’s disease, she was “forced to confront her own mortality,” but she intended to face this fear in an unconventional way. Leshko began visiting farm sanctuaries across the U.S. to snap pictures of the geriatric animals that lived there. Over the course of nearly a decade, however, the project shifted focus from being a vehicle for Leshko’s anxiety to activism. She now uses her images as a way to speak on behalf of these creatures.
The resulting series called Allowed to Grow Old features subdued black and white portraits that capture the animals in their habitat. They offer a dignified yet unflinching look at the hard lives these creatures have endured. Some, like Buddy (a 28-year-old Appaloosa horse), are blind and suffer from arthritis; and Violet, a 12-year-old potbellied pig, is partially paralyzed. Their stories are tragic, but not unique. “Nearly all of the farm animals I met for this project endured horrific abuse and neglect prior to their rescue,” Leshko writes. “It is nothing short of a miracle to be in the presence of a farm animal who has managed to reach old age.”
The heartbreaking images demonstrate Leshko’s respect towards her resilient subjects, which comes down to her approach to photographing them. “Rescued farm animals are often wary of strangers,” she explains, “and it can take several days to develop a comfortable rapport with the animals I photograph. I often spend a few hours lying on the ground next to an animal before taking a single picture. This helps the animal acclimate to my presence and allows me to be fully present as I get to know her.”
Allowed to Grow Old is now a book that features Leshko’s photographs as well as biographical notes on her subjects. You can get your own copy on Amazon.

In her series Allowed to Grow Old, Isa Leshko creates dignified farm animal photos of geriatric creatures that have been rescued from factory farming.

Black and White Animal Photography
Abe, Alpine goat, age 21

Farm Animal Photos by Isa Leshko
Violet, Potbellied pig, age 12
Farm Animal Photos by Isa Leshko
Forest, Santa Cruz sheep, age 16

Farm Animal Photos by Isa Leshko
Bessie, Holstein cow, age 20
Black and White Animal Photography
Handsome One, thoroughbred horse, age 33

Farm Animal Photos
Babs, donkey, age 24
Black and White Animal Photography
Rooster, age unknown

Animal Photography by Isa Leshko
Tessa, Yorkshire pig, age 13
Animal Photography by Isa Leshko
Buddy, Appaloosa horse, age 28
Farm Animal Photos by Isa Leshko
Blue, Australian Kelpie, age 19
Animal Photography by Isa Leshko
Zebulon, Finnsheep, age 12
Black and White Animal Photography
Zebulon and Isaiah, Finnsheep, both age 12
Black and White Animal Photography
Ash, domestic white turkey, age 8
Animal Photography by Isa Leshko
Kelly, Irish Wolfhound, age 11
Isa Leshko: Website | Facebook | Instagram

Christmas Eve

By Christina Rossetti - 1830-1894
Artist Lynn Bywaters.
Christmas hath a darkness
Brighter than the blazing noon,
Christmas hath a chillness
Warmer than the heat of June,
Christmas hath a beauty
Lovelier than the world can show:
For Christmas bringeth Jesus,
Brought for us so low.
Earth, strike up your music,
Birds that sing and bells that ring;
Heaven hath answering music
For all Angels soon to sing:
Earth, put on your whitest
Bridal robe of spotless snow:
For Christmas bringeth Jesus,
Brought for us so low.

Christmas Customs in Wales

Noson Gyflaith (Toffee Evening) was a traditional part of Christmas in some areas of Wales when families would invite friends to their homes for an evening of making toffee and storytelling.
When the toffee had boiled it was poured onto a greased slate or stone slab. Then people would cover their hands with butter and while the toffee was still warm, people would pull and twist it until it was a golden yellow colour.
Housewives would also sell their toffee, which was also called taffi, dant, fanny or by the name of the person who made it, e.g. losin Mag.
The Recipe;
three pounds soft brown sugar
half a pound salted butter
juice of one lemon
quarter pint boiling water (or a little more according to the consistency of the sugar)
Using an enamel or steel pan, gradually melt the sugar in the boiling water over a low heat. Stir it continuously with a wooden spoon until the sugar is thoroughly melted. (This usually takes from twenty to thirty minutes.) Remove the saucepan from the heat, add the lemon juice and the softened butter, and stir in the sugar. Boil this mixture fairly briskly for a further fifteen minutes without stirring it.
Gently drop a teaspoonful of the mixture into a cupful of cold water, and if it hardens at once it has reached the required consistency. Pour the mixture slowly on to a large, flat dish previously greased with butter. (Do not scrape the pan clean as this mixture might turn the toffee back into sugar.) Butter the hands and 'pull' the toffee into long, golden strands while hot. Cut into smaller pieces.

Christmas Recipe Gordon Ramsay | Pear and Saffron Chutney

Christmas Recipe Gordon Ramsay | Pear and Saffron Chutney


  • 1 onion
  • Ginger 50 g
  • 1 nutmeg
  • Cinnamon 1 teaspoon
  • Cayenne pepper 1 teaspoon
  • Demerara sugar 100 g
  • White wine vinegar 200 ml
  • 2 Williams’s pears
  • 2 apples
  • Sultanas 100 g
  • A pinch of saffron
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 tomatoes
    Source: https://gordonrumsay.com/pear-and-saffron-chutney


  1. Let’s cook pear and saffron chutney. This is a fruit relish that works brilliantly with a sweet aromatic ham. Slice one big onion. Heat the pan, drizzle some olive oil and add your onion. Fry without coloring it.
  2. Then, grate in 50 g of ginger and one nutmeg. Next, add a teaspoon of cinnamon and a teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
  3. Then, add 100 g of Demerara sugar. When the sugar dissolves add 200 ml of white wine vinegar.
  4. Next, chop 2 Williams’s pears. Pear is a star of a chutney. Place the pears into the pan. Then, add 2 chopped apples. Give that a good mix.
  5. Then, add 100 g of sultanas and a pinch of saffron. Saffron gives a rich golden color to the dish.
  6. To make the dish lighter, add zest and juice of two oranges. Bring your chutney to boil, cook out for 15 minutes.
  7. Chop 2 tomatoes and add to the pears and apples. Mix the tomatoes in and cook literally for 30 seconds.
  8. Serve in a beautiful bowl as a complement for ham or fish for Christmas dinner. It can also be separate Christmas dish for vegetarians.
    Source: https://gordonrumsay.com/pear-and-saffron-chutney

The 12 Dogs of Christmas

On the Eighth Day of Christmas my true love bought to me..........
Seven Shih Tzus Swimming, Six Greyhounds Laying, Five Gold Labs, Four French Hounds, Three Calling Bulls, Two Teething Pups and a JACK RUSSELL IN A PEAR TREE

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love sent to me........
Eight Mutts a Munching, Seven Shih Zus Swimming, Six Greyhounds Laying, Five Gold Labs, Four Calling Bulls, Three French Hounds, Two Teething Pups AND A JACK RUSSELL IN A PEAR TREE

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love sent to me.....
Nine Pointers Pointing, Eight Mutts a Munching, Seven Shih Zus Swimming, Six Greyhounds Laying, Five Golden Labs, Four Calling Bulls, Three French Hounds, Two Teething Pups AND A JACK RUSSELL IN A PEAR TREE.

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas my true love sent to me.......
Ten Daschunds Drumming, Nine Pointers Pointing, Eight Mutts a Munching, Seven Shih Zus Swimming, Six Greyhounds Laying, Five Golden Labs, Four Calling Bulls, Three French Hounds, Two Teething Pups AND A JACK RUSSELL IN A PEAR TREE