All sorts

I have been wanting to put a few posts together the last while but haven’t got around to any of them, so I will throw them all together here for you.

I promised Karen over at Back Road Journal, I would put a summery garden post together as all she has seen for a while is snow.  Every opportunity I have had to get into the garden, there has either been a gale blowing or it has been raining! Sorry Karen!  Below is one of the two shots I did manage to take.

Potato bush

I also took a  quick shot of the “spare” swallows nest just outside our front door.  They have broken out the base to rebuild and it is the perfect heart shape.

broken nest

I think there are triplets in the nest in use and got a flying shot of mommy or daddy coming out the nest heading out to find more insects to feed the very hungry chirping babies.

flying swallow

I made the most incredibly tender and delicious oxtail casserole a couple of weeks ago and was going to do a post with the recipe and wonderful photographs but all I got was this shocker.

Oxtail casserole

I coated the oxtail (1.3kg) in seasoned flour and sealed and browned the pieces and set aside in a casserole dish.   I gently fried 2 large sliced onions added them to the oxtail, added a glass of red wine and about the same of beef stock, maybe a little more, covered it and let it do it’s thing in the oven set at 180°C for 3 hours, then added some carrots and a tin of butter beans in tomato sauce, covered it back up and let it do its thing for another hour and then served it with creamy mashed potatoes. Scrumptious!

I promised the lovely Emma over at Surrey Kitchens I would do a post in acceptance of the Shine On award she passed my way!  Emma in her own words: “Writer, ideas machine, literary geek, food geek, musician, lover of all animals, especially our beloved rescue cat Miles who is working hard for his cat treats as the face of SurreyKitchen.  Working in collaboration with photographer extraordinaire husband.”  Such a lovely “About Me”.  Thanks again Emma.

Kim over at My Inner Chic asked me to do a video tutorial on how I ice (frost) my cupcakes.  I promise I will do this as soon as I know how and have more than myself at home.  I see quite a few takes with lots of chuckles before we have the final video.  So far I have the tripod, the camera (never used the video function), everything to bake the cupcakes and make the icing.  Now I just need my videographer Pete to be home. 

46 thoughts on “All sorts

    • Love is all around! The swallows build the nest with little mouthfuls of mud. It is amazing to see how quickly they build. The family we have (I assume it’s the same family who return every year) love sitting on the mast of a model boat we have in the lounge and chirp at themselves in the mirror. Very special. Have a super day and here’s hoping I get to the icing tutorial soon! 🙂 xoxoxo

  1. It’s so nice to catch up on all your goings on at your home, especially your beautiful garden and its flowers! Spring is just beginning to appear here, so a bowl of your oxtail casserole would be very welcome here.. with a few last snowflakes falling!

    • I love our swallow family, even though they make a royal mess of our lounge and entrance hall. Belle, I have resubscribed to your blog, I stopped getting your notifications. Hope it is all sorted now. Have a super day. 🙂 xo

  2. Beautiful flowers, Mandy! Such a happy shot. And the amazing heart shaped swallow nest. I didn’t know that they made their nests out of mud or whatever that construction method is…how interesting. And what fun to watch they fly to and fro and to see the babies. Hope your kitty isn’t too interested. 🙂 I think your oxtail stew looks rich and comforting, and I’ll bet it was good. Have a great week, Mandy!

    • Thanks Betsy. Yip, the swallows build their nests with little moutfuls of mud. It’s amazing to watch them build. I am sure the mommy and daddy argue too, because every now and again when they both come back with mouthfuls, there is lots and lots of chirping going on. Not sure who is in the wrong though. Hee hee. The oxtail was oh so moreish. I feel another one coming on soon. Have a lovely day. 🙂 xo

  3. Wow – look at that nest! One year we had a mama bird build a nest in the wreath on our front door. I never noticed until I heard peeping out there one morning & we couldn’t use the door until they were all grown up. When I took the wreath down I noticed all kinds of twigs but a lot of tail hair from our Berner woven in the nest. Hope it was loose hair & not plucked out.
    Beautiful flowers – we’ll have them soon…well maybe after this next storm that’s supposed to hit tomorrow.
    Yes! a video…that would be awesome.

    • Oh my goodness, how lovely to have a nest in your wreath, although like you say, not the most practical for you. Birds are amazing at finding soft bedding for the babies in the nest. The swallows often use bigger birds feathers. Nature is awesome! I am very worried about this video now. Have a beautiful day Diane. 🙂 xo

    • It doesn’t feel like there are 24 hours in a day any more, or maybe it is just me being a little slow. I am itching to make another oxtail casserole, it was so scrumptious. Have a beautiful day too Celia. 🙂 xo

  4. So nice of you to send a photo my way of your garden and the mention, thank you! We are getting more snow again tomorrow…winter just doesn’t seem to want to end. 🙂

    • Karen, I will still try and get to taking more garden shots for you. More snow doesn’t sound like fun anymore. Stay warm and here’s to Spring finding its way to you soon. Have a lovely day. 🙂 xo

  5. Amazing how those swallows have to keep rebuilding their nests. I love the purple plant you have growing – what pretty flowers. I love the look of your oxtail casserole – what excellent comfort food xx

    • I’m not sure if the swallows are going to rebuild the next this season. We ahve had quite a bit of rain the last few days so it will be interesting to see if they start renovations. The purple bush is called a potato bush and it seems to die off every year and then all of a sudden it is covered in leaves and the pretty flowers. Have a super day Charlie. 🙂 xo

  6. Love your photo of the purple flowers. Breathtaking and that ox tail stew looks so tender and delicious. Are those flying ants? What kind of little creature builds a mud igloo hut? LOL Have a super week. BAM

    • Thanks Bam. Pity the purple flowers don’t last if you pick them. They would make a lovely arrangement in a vase. The fleeting glance is a swallow. These beautiful little birds build their nests one little mouthful of mud at a time and rebuild portions of it every year. Have a super week too Bam. 🙂 xo

  7. Congrats, Mandy, for your deserved award! Seeing the heart shaped remnants reminded me of a book of photography by Drew Barrymore. Over the years, she has photographed naturally occurring hearts. They can be in a dog or cat’s fur, a stray piece of paper, your bird nest, etc. It doesn’t matter, just so long as it’s heart-shaped. It’s amazing all of the hearts this woman has come across. 🙂

  8. Swallows are my husbands favourite birds. Every year they nest in the stables at Epsom Riding for the Disabled where I volunteer every week. It’s so cool to be able to see them so close up when I am tacking the horses. A fantastic post! Your oxtail casserole looks like my kind of dinner and very much suited to the British weather. Lots of Love Emmaxxxx

    • Hi Emma. I must try and get some close up shots of our swallows for your husband before they start migrating for the season. They really are lovely little birds. How lovely that you do volunteer work. You are clearly an angel. Stay warm and have a beautiful day. 🙂 xo

  9. There’s something so special about birds nesting in the eaves of your house. Those vivid purple flowers are a joy – what are they?

    • Hi Sally, I love watching “our” swallows fly in and out of the house although they are a tad messy. The purple flowers are called a potato bush. What a pity I can’t send you a slip to grow in your garden or a pot. Have a super week ahead. 🙂 xo

  10. I love this post, Mandy and I was going to say that I enjoyed the photo of the oxtail casserole (which looks like it tasted amazing) the most, but I think it may be the nest and the flowers that I lingered over the most. We’re desperate for warmer temps and little signs of spring. The weather pops up to 70 for a day, only to dip back down to the 30’s.

    I hope you are well! 🙂

    • Hi Allison, thank you for such a lovely comment. Must say, I see another oxtail casserole on the menu soon. We are enjoying the last of our warm days before autumn really settles in which I am not looking forward to. I would have summer all year round given the choice. I hope your weather starts warming soon. Have a lovely day. 🙂 xo

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