#CFFC – Fun Photo – Hands and Paws

My husband came home from hospital on Friday afternoon and is recuperating at home for a month before seeing the neurologist again in mid-February and the physician at the beginning of March. He is doing very well and its going to be a long month for him as his screen time is limited and he may not work.

Cee’s photo challenge this week is Hands and Paws. Here are a few pictures of mainly paws. I don’t seem to be much in the habit of taking pictures of people’s hands.

White lioness
Fondant dormouse in a fondant teacup – you can see part of the teapot cake behind (I made this cake for my mother’s 84th birthday last year)
You can see the bottom of the lioness’ paws (the pads) in this picture
Caracul – she only has three legs because one had to be amputated after she was caught in a trap. She lives in an animal sanctuary.
Fondant kitten with paws in the air in a fondant poppy
My circus strongman’s clenched hands were quite difficult to model and attach

You can join in Cee’s challenge here: https://ceenphotography.com/2023/01/17/cffc-hands-and-paws/


Treasuring Poetry 2023 – Meet poet and author Andrew McDowell and a review #poetry #bookreview #Treasuring Poetry

Welcome to my first Treasuring Poetry post of 2023. Today, I am featuring poet and author, Andrew McDowell. I have also reviewed his excellent fantasy novel, Mystical Greenwood, and a most intriguing collection of poetry called As the World Burns: Writers and Artists Reflect on a World Gone Mad, to which Andrew is a contributor. Thanks for hosting, Kaye Lynne Booth.

Writing to be Read

Which famous poet has influenced your poetry the most?

When I was young, I admired William Shakespeare. I was impressed with how he used words to convey emotions and ideas, and I wanted to follow his example. In my junior year of high school, I participated in a Poetry Out Loud contest where we had to recite a poem. I chose Sonnet XVIII (“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”) and won third place. The Shakespearean sonnet was the first poetic form I tried to consistently write in beyond regular rhyming lines. It would not be until college that I began branching out to other forms and eventually free verse.

Which poem that you’ve read has impacted the way you see things in life?

This was a tough one, but one poem that has impacted me is Robert Frost’s famous “The Road Not Taken.”

Two roads diverged in a…

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Robbie’s Inspiration – Poetry book review: Finding a Balance by Lauren Scott

What Amazon says

Finding a Balance is Laurens second book of poetry, following New Day, New Dreams published in 2013. This compilation speaks often of her emotions and spirit after finding out about a life threatening disease two years ago in one of her family members. There is no devastating ending in the near future but many unanswered questions that will plague her family indefinitely.

In contrast to this sadness, Lauren has always possessed a romantic soul and is blessed to have celebrated twenty six happy years of marriage to her husband and best friend. So from darkness to finding the light again through faith and adding a touch of romance, she finds strength to move forward. This book takes the reader on a roller coaster ride of different emotions evoked from life and love but regardless of what is thrown in her path, hope will always prevail.

My review

Finding a Balance is a collection of beautiful poems that speak to the daily emotions of life and, in particular, the pain and sadness of her journey along the path of a life threatening illness in a family member. Both my sons have suffered, and continue to suffer, chronic illnesses so this is something that is close to my own heart and to which I intimately related.

The poet’s shock at the news is clearly described in her poem The Cards We’re Dealt, a saying I use myself in relation to my own family’s illnesses. This is a quote from the opening stanza:
“We sail through life smoothly
until a wave knocks us down
with no means for escaping
no turning around or backing away”

Seeing our loved ones in pain and ill and not being able to do anything about it is one of the heaviest burdens a mother can bear. These words say it all:
“Shaking my head,
I lie in beads of sweat’
gripping the edge,
waiting to fall
into the depths …”
From Reality’s Edge

Not all the poems are about chronic illness. Many are about the poet’s love for her family and her husband of 26 years. There are some delightful romantic poems in this collection. The one I enjoyed the most is called The Box:
“You placed it in my hands, adorned with a red bow
only a short clip of time had passed by our window
After pulling out tissue paper of white
I was entranced by the amazing sight
For inside was a lifetime together
and a house to be filled by the love we would gather
The walls stood bare waiting for memories to dress
showing reasons for us feeling truly blessed
The best gift of all, thought, I am thrilled to say
was your heart at the bottom, committed to stay”

I have read another book by this poet and find her writing and poetry to be simple and genuine, filled with realistic emotions and thoughts and not couched in complex wording that is difficult to decipher and understand. There is poetic strength in simplicity.

Purchase Finding a Balance by Lauren Scott

Amazon US

Lauren Scott Amazon Author Page

Growing Bookworms – Teaching children about nature and conservation

My first Growing Bookworms post of 2023 discusses teaching children about nature and conservation. Thanks for hosting, Kaye Lynne Booth.

Writing to be Read

Teaching our children about the natural environment and conservation is one of the greatest gifts we can give them. There are a few good ways of making sharing about nature and conservation with children, as follows:

  1. Reading books about nature with your child;
  2. Exploring nature with your child;
  3. Art and play; and
  4. Watching documentaries


There are a number of wonderful children’s books that subtly teach children about the wonders of nature. One is The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett when Dicken shows Mary how to care for the locked garden and plant new flowers. Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson is another. Set along the Amazon River in Brazil, this book has a strong theme about the importance of nature to the human spirit. A few other wonderful children’s books about animals are White Fang by Jack London, The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford, Charlotte’s Webb…

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Robbie’s Inspiration – chicken and vegetable stew with white wine

Firstly, I’d like to thank everyone who voted for my gingerbread for the 2022 Holiday Gingerbread Smackdown Challenge. I did not win, but I enjoyed making the train and there were some amazing entries especially the Museum of Gingerbread.

My husband was taken critically ill last week Wednesday. He had fast and effective medical treatment and is doing much better now. He had a small procedure in theatre on Friday evening to relocate a dislocated shoulder which happened during the whole incident on Wednesday. He really was so much better today and I am feeling very grateful for that and the fortunate events that saved his life that day. Thank you for all your kind and supportive comments.

My boys still have to eat so I made this Robbie Surprise chicken and vegetable stew this afternoon. It came out very well and I used up the left over vegetables I had in the refrigerator.


2 medium onions, peeled and diced

250 grams sliced button mushrooms

9 chicken thighs and 9 chicken drumsticks with skin on

salt and pepper to taste

700 grams peas, sliced green beans, carrots, and baby marrows, and broccoli florets

1/2 cup white wine

60 grams tomato paste

15ml garlic flakes

15 ml thyme

20 ml Worcestershire sauce

3 bay leaves

4 large potatoes, peeled and diced

8 cups chicken stock

60ml plain flour dissolved in 1/2 cup cold water

Olive oil


Heat olive oil in a large pot. Salt and pepper to taste and then brown the chicken pieces (in batches if necessary) and set aside. Add more oil if required and fry the onions for 5 minutes. Add the mushroom and cook for a further 5 minutes and then add the vegetable mix. Cook for a further 5 minutes and add the white wine allow to simmer until the liquid reduces by 1/3 (about 10 minutes). Add the garlic, thyme, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves. Add half the chicken stock and then the potatoes and chicken pieces. Add the rest of the chicken stock. Mix the flour in the water until all the lumps have dissolved and stir into the stew. Bring to the boil. Reduce the temperature and simmer for 50 minutes.