#Win John Lewis goodies for Christmas!

Now, if you’ve read one of my previous blog posts, you will know that I was over the moon when I was offered a John Lewis Christmas hamper to review. I love all things John Lewis, and I am a bit of a foodie, so I really couldn’t have been offered anything better!

My Snowflake Christmas Hamper

My Snowflake Christmas Hamper

The John Lewis Snowflake Hamper Box is delightfully presented and extremely well packed to protect all of its tasty goodies:

  • Folonari Montepulciano D’Abruzzo, 75cl
  • Cairnsmhor Raspberry Shortcake, 175g
  • Mince Pies, Pack of 4
  • Maxwell & Franks Christmas Pudding in Black Box, 454g
  • Buiteman Baked With Love Gouda & Chilli Biscuits, 75g
  • Convivial Yorkshire Tomato, Basil & Mozzerella Crisps, 50g
  • Claire’s Handmade Extra Fruity Raspberry Jam, 227g
  • Clipper Fairtrade Organic English Breakfast Tea, 25 Tea Bags
  • Lessiters Raspberry, Champagne and Milk Champagne Chocolate Truffles, 95g
  • The Original Cake Company 4″ Natural Cherry and Flaked Almond Cake

How about that for a WOW selection? What I love about it, is that somebody has obviously put a lot of thought into selecting the items for the box. All the goodies chosen will appeal to everybody. Who doesn’t adore chocolates, fruit cake, wine, biscuits and mince pies? There is nothing included that is an acquired taste that would only appeal to just a few.

Retailing at £50 I think that this hamper box is a really luxurious, safe, gift for friends and family. Whether it’s your matron aunt, brother-in-law, or your dearly beloved. They will all be delighted to receive it on Christmas Day. The only thing they won’t be delighted about, is having to share it with everybody present!

…. and when the sad day comes, and the box is empty, you will be left with a pretty, sturdy box in which you can store any manner of things.

The Snowflake Hamper Box is but one of a huge selection of delicious hampers to suit all pockets, from £15 to £800 and to suit all tastes, from savory, to sweet, to alcoholic! They even have a build your own hamper set, so that you can make up your own.

Apart from the hampers, John Lewis have a plethora of Gift food, wine and champagne all of which would make splendid presents for colleagues, friends or family. In fact, you can solve all your Christmas present needs at John Lewis, I do!

Not one to covet my possessions, I would love to giveaway a little something from this lovely hamper and will also include a £10 John Lewis gift voucher to the lucky winner. All you have to do is leave a comment here, follow me on Twitter and Facebook and post and/or tweet: I want to #win a tasty #JohnLewis treat and a £10 gift voucher at www.countryidyll.co.uk Draw 29/11 Pls RT

Good luck everybody!

#Win a prize from a wonderful John Lewis Christmas Hamper!

I have to admit that I am an ardent John Lewis fan.  Whether their high street departmental stores, online store, or, of course, Waitrose. Where I can, and have, spent many happy hours pushing my trolley up and down the aisles choosing from the wonderful array of the exotic and not so exotic. I even have their Mastercard which entitles me to lots of free gift tokens, according to how much I use it. Love them.

So you can imagine my glee when I was asked if I would like to review one of their scrumptious Christmas Hampers on my blog! I jumped at it and waited its arrival with trepidation.

I missed the delivery because the courier came on practically the only day in the last six weeks I haven’t been at home. I was at the hospital for my ankle check up and, yippee, I don’t have to wear the orthopaedic boot any longer. It hurts to limp along but, hey, it’s not much to bear in the scheme of things. They said it would hurt and I will have to have physio sessions. Last time I slept upstairs in my bedroom for the first time for six weeks it as wonderful. Hope Alfie didn’t feel too lonely sleeping downstairs by himself!

Yesterday the hamper arrived.  It’s a Snowflake Christmas Hamper and is full of lovely goodies!

My Snowflake Christmas Hamper

My Snowflake Christmas Hamper

I am no “bah humbug” and I would love to offer something from this hamper to you by way of a competition, but really don’t know what you would like to win. So please check out the contents at the link above and let me know what you would like. (Excluding the wine, because it might break in the post.) I will also throw in a £10 John Lewis voucher as well, to bump up the prize even more.

Knowing what I will be giving as a prize will stop me eating it, in preparation for my review of the hamper! (Oooh, Christmas is coming early for me this year!)

All you have to do is leave your preferred prize as a comment here on my blog, including the link to the hamper, or leave a comment on my Facebook page, again quoting the link, or tweet me your preferred prize, with the link and #John Lewis.

Then, when I know your favourite prize, I will write my review and launch the competition!

Good luck everybody!

 

 

Easey peasey rice supper

Oh yum, have just cooked another experimental dish and it has left me smacking my lips so I just had to share it with you! Whether you will have the same reaction is up to you!

I’m not going to put any amounts or weights in this recipe, because its not crucial and it all depends on what quantity you wish to cook!

Easey Peasey Rice Supper

Finely chop  a quarter (or more) of an onion and cook in butter in a frying pan until translucent;
Add some easy cook white rice (as much as you need) to the pan. (Technically if you are making a risotto you should use Italian arborio rice as it gives a lovely ‘glutinous’ risotto, but it’s expensive, so I use easy cook rice with lots of liquid and I find that the result is just as scrummy.)
Add boiling water to a vegetable stock cube (as per the instructions);
Add some frozen peas to some salted, boiling water;
After they reach boiling point add some tinned sweetcorn;
Keep stirring the rice in the frying pan gradually adding the stock;
When the stock has been added, add the liquid from the peas and sweetcorn;
Then add some Tesco’s cooked chicken tikka pieces and a generous spoonful of sweet mango chutney;
Keep stirring and make sure it doesn’t stick, add more liquid if necessary;
Cover and turn down the heat.

When fully cooked, serve up, and enjoy!

Mmm, think I’ll go and have a little more, it is, indeed, very ‘moreish’.

A day of firsts!

Yesterday was a wonderful day, definitely a big step forward (not hop!).

I had my first bath since I broke my ankle, it was glorious! Only thing that spoiled it was my lack of a bath pillow, which is essential with my bath.

When installing the new bathroom suite 12 or so years ago, I made the mistake of not trying the bath out in the showroom. If you replace your bathroom, I can’t emphasis enough that you should shake of your shoes and get into the bath! I didn’t and it was a big mistake! Why, you may ask?

Well, my bath is great if you’re tall, but for little ol’ me it’s so uncomfortable. I can’t sit up because I can’t brace my feet at the end under the taps. To do this, I have to lie on my neck! It is longer because the back is very upright, and not sloping like the old one. This makes it uncomfortable as I can’t sit up properly because my legs aren’t long enough!

However, with a blow up bath pillow strategically placed, I can lie comfortably for a long soak. I do have a brand, spanking new, bath pillow all ready to inflate last night when I decided to take a bath rather than a shower. So, with the water in the bath, I took the pillow out of its bag. The mouthpiece together with stopper are barely half an inch long,  and although I huffed and I puffed I couldn’t blow the damn thing up! Ridiculous! I feel an angry email coming on to the company who sold it to me!

So, sadly I couldn’t lie back and relax, but I did wallow around like a hippo in mud having the time of my life. What joy to have a lovely soak!

My second first was a lovely cuppa out of a china mug. What joy, again, no nasty plastic taste!

The last first was supper on a plate! Wonderful. For the last few weeks I have had to eat my food out of a plastic, lidded box, as this was the only way I could transport it, in my bag, to the dining or sitting room. I could eat off a plate because I used just one crutch, on my bad ankle side, leaving the other hand free to carry cup or plate. Great progress, but I don’t know whether I should, yet, be using just one crutch, but it was only for a short walk.

After the storm

Judging by the number of poor people who are still without electricity after Monday morning’s storm, we were really quite lucky. I am surprised that we didn’t have a power cut as we normally have one hereabouts nearly every month!

We kept Max in his stable while the storm was at its height on Monday morning. Sadly for my neighbour’s (and maybe for my new fencing panels), a huge chunky branch off their willow tree crashed down on top of their swing (fortunately no child on it at the time!) and my fence. I have to say that the rest of the tree looks rather dangerous, and, if I was my other neighbour, I would be worried that it would come crashing down on my conservatory!

A casualty of the October storm!

A casualty of the October storm!

Will this herald the demise of this willow?

Will this herald the demise of this willow?

Oh dear, and my beans have come crashing to the ground!

Flattened!

Flattened!

Will have to be careful when Alfie and I go down to check the post box, as we do after lunch every day, that no branches drop on our heads – it all looks decidedly dodgey!

As the weather is getting colder, I thought that I had better hop out and start my car up and run it for ten minutes, as it’s about two weeks since Barry, the builder did it for me. Don’t want the battery to go flat on me… Whoops. It’s not just my bean support that’s flat, my car battery is too. Boo hoo. Now, what do I do? Do I ask somebody to put the battery on my charger, or do I wait before I can drive, then charge it up then? Probably the latter is the better idea, as I won’t need to keep turning the engine over regularly for the next few weeks, before I can drive. Wonder when that will be?

This time last week I made my first ever Sainsbury’s online order, tempted by the £15 discount for first orders. As the cost of delivery on Saturday evening is only £2.50 (because Strictly is on TV I wonder?), I went for that. Was most impressed that 24 hours before my delivery slot, they emailed me to say that I could amend my order up to and until 11 pm on Friday night. What a good idea, as ever, you always remember items you’ve forgotten to include in the order. Taking advantage of the chance to amend my order, I followed the instructions in the email, going into my account, where I could see my order, and clicked ‘amend’. Eeeeek the screen went blank, except for the headings. Heeelp! I  yelled when returning to my account only to find that the ordered had completely disappeared!

Not knowing my way around Sainsbury’s online (have done many Tesco online orders) it had taken me over an hour to input my order. All wasted! I was furious, to say the least and banged off three irate emails to their helpline, hoping that somebody could bale me out as the 11 pm deadline was fast approaching and I had nothing to look forward to but an empty fridge!

By 10.40 in desperation I phoned their helpline (don’t know why I hadn’t thought of that in the first place). The young lady was very helpful and talked me through what I had to do, as, indeed, my order hadn’t been lost! (Hurrah!!) After I had clicked on amend, as previously instructed, and the main screen went blank, she told be to click on basket. This took me back to my order where I could include those item I had forgotten, proceeding to check out as normal. Easy peasey…. when you know how!

After several emails from Sainsbury’s apologising for my experience which they thought was because of new programming functionality with their updated website, which was currently being integrated into their current site.

The next day I emailed the helpline again, suggesting that to stop this happening to other customers, all they needed to do was to include some more instructions vis: When you click on ‘amend’ your order will disappear from your account. By clicking on ‘basket’, you will return to your order where you will be able to add the extra items and continue as normal. Crazy that they only give you half of the instructions to get into your order. They said that they would take my suggestions on board, so that’s something I suppose! Oh yes, and they gave me a £10 voucher code to show their good will. Even better I say!

Apparently I should have disconnected my car battery, knowing I wouldn’t be using it for at least six weeks. Why didn’t anybody tell me? Will now have to ask somebody to remove it from the car for me and I’ll put it on charge, hoping that it will take it. If not it’s a new batttery. Not what I want to hear. Oh, I do so hate being reliant on other people to help me. Is this is what it’s going to be like when I’m old? God forbid.

Footnote: News report on TV re Suffolk villages still without power showing a young mother with her baby. She was dressed in a down jacket and long boots, saying she couldn’t keep the baby warm despite layers of clothes and a blanket, as they had no heating. I shouted at the TV “Then put a woolly hat on him you silly girl!!!” Don’t people realise that 30% of heat loss is through the head? Grrrrrr!!

 

 

Positively hopping forward!

I really can’t believe that it’s been three weeks since I jumped off Max (my horse, er, in case you were wondering!) landing on his foot and breaking my right ankle!

Am finding out just how useful crutches are: for turning on light switches; dragging Alfie’s food bowl towards me; closing doors, etc., as well, of course, keeping me upright, well most of the time anyway!

A couple of days ago, Nicky, my horsey help, brought Max in early because she couldn’t hang around as her partner was coming over for dinner. That’s okay I said, if you could mix up his dinner (Max’s, not her partners, tee hee) and leave it with his hay in the stable next to his, I’ll cope! Instead of mixing his feed in his big plastic manger, I asked her to put it in a feed bucket with a handle as I would have needed to carry the manger with two hands, not leaving any for my crutches. I could hook the feed bucket over my left hand crutch handle, which would help when I needed a free hand to close the stable door behind me!

I have always insisted that Max stand back when I go in with his feed, making him wait until it was in his manger before he started to eat it. I just hate bargey horses! This training really paid off, because he waited for me to hop to his manger and empty his feed in, before he stuck his head in.

Thinking that slinging a haynet over my shoulder would undoubtedly unbalance my precarious hop to his stable, I had asked Nicky  to put his hay in a large, empty plastic feed sack. Then it was just a matter of dragging it into the stable and emptying it under his manger. Brilliant, all sorted! Oh, how lovely it was to stick my nose into his neck and smell his distinct odour, feeling his soft hair on my face! I hadn’t realised just how much I had missed the contact with him!

Clocks changing tomorrow… Spring forward…. Fall (Autumn) back… my way of remembering whether to go forwards or backwards. Simples. This will mean that Max is coming in earlier (because, of course, it’ll get darker earlier) , so I will take over giving him his feed and hay every night. Have got out of the habit, hope I don’t forget!

Just in case you think that I have become a couch potato, supping tea and watching daytime TV all day, yesterday I pushed the hoover around and made a batch of bread. I am afraid I cheat by using a breadmaker these days, having always made it by hand. Don’t know why, but the loaves weren’t as successful as they used to be. The flour I was using maybe.

Everybody on social media was extolling the virtues of Panasonic breadmakers, above all others. So 9 months ago, I decided to push the boat out (they’re not cheap) and buy one.

I adapt the wholemeal loaf recipe using approx 200 g of wholemeal flour, 125 g of malted flour and 75 g of white flour, for the medium size loaf. I add 40 g of chopped walnuts, 15 g each of pumpkin and sunflower seeds, 10 g each of poppy and sesame seeds to the seed compartment, and, 5 hours later I have a superb loaf. Easy peasy.

A wholesome Panasonic breadmaker loaf

A wholesome Panasonic breadmaker loaf

 

Hoppity, hoppity hop!

After a day of inactivity yesterday, I decided that today I really should crack on and not just sit around with my feet up.

Well, I said inactivity, but I did a little more hopping around as I went outside three times. The last time was to welcome Max’s physio, Jo, who had come to give him the once-over! It was quite tiring as I spent 45 minutes on my crutches leaning against the stable door watching.

Kind Nicky had put the mounting block out for me to sit on, but I couldn’t bring myself to ask for it to be taken into the stable. I am fiercely independent and find it really difficult to ask for help, or take from other people. My mum taught me how to give, but not how to take. Well, I suppose she couldn’t really, because she wasn’t much good at it either!

After trotting him up I was told that he was a little sore on his near side, so he went through some strong massage and manipulation. I knew that he was feeling uncomfortable as he kept jumping forward. I was in a bit of an ‘iffy’ position leaning over the stable door, because if he came towards my head I wouldn’t be able to jump (well, er, hop) back quickly! But luckily, my friend Myf managed to keep him away from the door! Hopefully, he’s all sorted now and after his good long rest, until I am out of my boot, he’ll be as right as rain.

Feel quite chuffed today as I’ve done two lots of washing and dried it (albeit in the tumble drier) and put it away. Something as simple as that to an able bodied person is nothing, but when you’re on crutches it’s quite a challenge. Armsful of clothes are quite diffficult to carry when you’re arms are trying to keep you upright!

Have de-limescaled the sink, draining board and loo, cleaned the microwave and washed and dried my hair. Washing my hair over the edge of the bath with the hand shower isn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. You can take quite a lot of weight on your forearms on the side of the bath, and my loo is strategically placed next to the bath so if I’m getting a but wobbly I can just plonk myself down!

Coping with the stairs and the step on the landing is so much easier, now that I have the technique, that I’m tempted to move back upstairs. I am sleeping on my spare bedroom mattress (on a camp bed) at the moment, downstairs in the dining room. My goodness, it’s so lumpy. What uncomfortable nights my guests must have endured!  Have you ever slept in your spare bed? Might be an idea to give it a go one night, you might get a shock. Guests are far too polite to comment.

Am just going to pop outside to say hello to Max, who should be back from his field by now, and give him some carrots. I am sure little Alfie would like a breath of fresh air too.

Ahh, that was lovely, he’s such a sweet little horse, can’t wait to be mobile again so I can spend more time with him.

Well, that’s it, for today. Looking forward to tomorrow’s challenge… Hmm, think I’ll have a bash at some ironing. I have a huge stack of white pillowcases that hadn’t come out of the linen cupboard for years and years and they had all turned a nasty shade of yellow! Have boiled them up and they are now back to super white. Can’t think how I can carry the ironing board while on crutches,  so it’ll have to be in the kitchen where the ironing board is kept.