Tuesday 31 December 2013

New Years Day

2013 sunrise
I've just read my post from a year ago and so hope that we can do it again. But the weather forecast is not looking promising so I'm not pinning all of my hopes on getting everybody up. I'm just going to make a promise to myself that I'm going to get out, even if it's just to the bottom of the garden with an umbrella, to see the sun rise. According to the BBC weather site sunrise will be at 08:13.

I love greeting the new year and I prefer to see it having had a full nights sleep rather than staying up until midnight keeping company with the tv. Of course we may yet have visitors, nothing is planned but that doesn't mean much. In my family people seem to call on the day to let us know that they are coming. I think that it's great that we can do that.

I hope that you have a great new year!

Monday 30 December 2013

Christmas: food

Icing fondant snowman
It is amazing the wide variety of traditions that different families have. Over the years I have taken on some that I grew up with, tried to incorporate J's and have tweaked them over the years to suit us. I have also learnt not to get quite so picky with creating a perfect day!

Friday 27 December 2013

Christmas: dressing the table

Our Christmas table.
This is something that I forgot about last year until the last minute when I suddenly turned into a whirling dervish grabbing mismatched table cloths and napkins. I was determined to be more organised this year.

I like the table to be dressed with a table cloth and/or runner. Also place mats, napkins and candles. Part of what makes this meal so special is using all of these little extras. The table cloth and runner were made from an old curtain, the runner simply had a pre-washed gold ribbon sewn around the edge. The napkins were created from a lovely light fabric I bought two years ago but wouldn't sew well on my machine. Thankfully the over-locker made light work of them. For napkin holders I sewed yet more ribbon into simple loops. Out came my favourite plates, added the christmas crackers and our table was laid.

Dressing the table takes place just before I serve food. I enjoy taking these five minutes to kick everybody out of the kitchen and appreciate the peace before we eat.

I think that it is these little things that make Christmas for me, not the presents but taking the time to do something a little different from every day life to make the day special.

Thursday 26 December 2013

Emergency planning

Local flooded farmland
This past year we have lost electricity 3 times, water for a day without notice and have been affected by flooding though, thankfully, we were not flooded ourselves. This has made me realise that I probably ought to do a bit of disaster planning.

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Have a great Christmas

I'm going to take a few days off from blogging to enjoy the Christmas revelry. Merry Christmas!

Monday 23 December 2013

Christmas: presents

Bottled plums for Christmas gifts?
This was a long, long post about what I think of the expectation of Christmas presents. It was also a bit boring and lecturing so instead I'm going to share a quote from a great book I used to have by Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli. It's called 'Unplug the Christmas machine' and within this they give a set of tongue in cheek Christmas present rules.

Saturday 21 December 2013

Winter Solstice

This isn't a date that we formally celebrate but I am always happy to get it behind me. With the coming of our midwinter festival, Christmas, the winter solstice is easily forgotten but my body always notices it's passing.

As I am sat here typing I am feeling very lethargic and uninspired to do much. It is almost a type of depression except that I am also feeling just a little tingle of excitement knowing that longer days are around the corner and this understanding helps me to cope with the now. Soon, with those longer days, my energy and enthusiasm will return. So rather than curl up in my own little corner feeling sorry for myself I am going to allow myself to enjoy a few more lazy hours knowing that in a matter of days my drive to get up and do will be strong again.

Friday 20 December 2013

Tree: real or artificial?

Holly tree.
I can't imagine Christmas without a tree. So much so that when we were snowed in 3 years ago we cut our own from the garden, a rather garish variegated holly that I couldn't wait to get rid of. It made a fabulous tree.

Thursday 19 December 2013

Christmas: decorating

Christmas tree in it's stand.
I love decorating for Christmas. But it is surprisingly hard work! As J loves to have a large, real tree it inevitably requires some kind of reorganising of our living room. I love that Christmas trees are wrapped nowadays, so much easier to deal with in the car and for dragging through the house than it used to be.

Wednesday 18 December 2013

December = music month

Music corner
We have all been having a lot of fun playing with the keyboard again. This has been tucked away in another room but with the finishing of painting the alcoves (oh, did I forget to tell you they were done?!) I dragged it into the living room again where we have all been having a go at bashing those keys.

I have a Christmas carol book that gets pulled out every year and each year I get a little bit better. I can now play all of the songs competently though only a quarter of them with any true confidence. I love how this has spiralled into my youngest having a go too. I think that we are all gaining so much by having more self-played music in our lives.

This is a time when I remind myself that the journey is as important if not more important than the end result. I am enjoying my practise time. I have no fantasies of being an expert just enjoying where I am and pushing myself just a little each day. And those days when I don't want to push? Then I play the songs I enjoy and feel good about how far I have come.

Tuesday 17 December 2013


As you can see from the photograph this is a wonderful image of condensation. Being a double glazed window theoretically we shouldn't get much condensation but they are old (for PVC) and clearly we do.

Monday 16 December 2013

A strange couple of days.

We were all looking forward to our little hamlet's annual carol get-together. Unfortunately it had to be cancelled at the last minute which has left us all feeling a bit flat. Added to the fact that my car has broken down it's not been a great couple of days.

However, things are on the up again. J has a bonus coming to him that will almost cover the cost of a new (to me) vehicle. (The money was earmarked for the house but never mind. There's always next year.) We are going to pick it up tomorrow morning and life should be able to move on again at a better pace.

When my car passed it's MOT a month ago we knew that we would have to look for a replacement at some point in the next year. It had a long list of advisory's that would need sorting and, to be honest, the car just isn't worth putting that much time and money in. Which is a shame as I love it. Luckily we have managed to track down a much newer model in a private sale that, fingers crossed, will be completed tomorrow. Perhaps the sun will shine again too.

Thursday 12 December 2013

The importance of good design

A well designed, for our purposes, work space
I find myself pondering this subject often. It is so easy to spot a bad design but how do you come up with a good one. What makes a good design?

Christmas: Nativity

Playmobil Nativity
As a child I always wanted my own nativity set. I saw them in other peoples houses but for some reason (most likely cost!) we didn't have our own. As an adult I finally have my own nativity. A playmobil one!

This has been a surprisingly good purchase. My children look forward to it coming out every year and it ties in with the rest of our playmobil, primarily Romans and ancient Egyptians. I love the fact that as it is a toy I'm not too precious about letting children play with it, in fact I'm never quite sure which scene I'll see next. Did Santa visit?

Wednesday 11 December 2013

Why do I take these pictures?

A few weeks ago we were passing Stonehenge and decided to pop in. It was nearly closing so we didn't have long. The children were being awkward to deal with, one wanted to run ahead and the other was dragging his feet. It was very cold. But somehow I still found the time to take photo's of this great monument.

Tuesday 10 December 2013

The kitchen

Behind the sink
As I've said before, our house is still very much a work in progress. There are times that I wish that we had found a more modern home that only required a lick of paint.

Monday 9 December 2013

Christmas pud

Z zesting the oranges
A couple of weeks ago I felt like being organised so I dragged out my mothers old recipe and made this years Christmas pudding. These are so simple to make and always taste better than the bought ones but in recent years it has been a task that I have put off until it is too late.

Friday 6 December 2013

Blue sky day

Footprints in the frost
Some days are grey. Some are damp. And then you get that occasional gorgeous blue sky day where you wake up to find that Jack Frost has been playing in the garden.

Frosty leaves
These are my favourite autumn days. Days when you quickly pull on many layers and grab a cuppa to warm your hands. Days when you can see the animal runs through the ice tipped grass and wonder about the creatures that left them.  

Days when you know that if you don't hurry the sun will soon melt the crisp frosting and return the land back to soggy, damp mush. 

But, for just a short time, it is glorious.

Thursday 5 December 2013

Feeling bleurgh!

Ginger and lemon infusion
I've been hit by a cold again. I gave myself a gentle day expecting it to be gone swiftly. Then, instead of the good nights sleep that my body needed, I have had three nights of not enough rest. Thank you boys! It is now a lingering cold and a massive cold-sore has appeared for good measure. I am definitely run down.

I am also out of my favourite cordial. Not feeling up to making more I came up with a simple solution: whizz up the ginger with some squeezed lemon juice in my mini chopper (you could grate the ginger instead) and store in a jar in the fridge. It is working well! I steep one teaspoon of the mix in boiling water for a few minutes and add sugar to taste. A tea strainer is essential unless you enjoy munching on raw ginger.


Wednesday 4 December 2013

Catching up in the garden

Future leaf mould
Each time I mow the lawn I tell myself that it will be the last time for this year. But just a couple of weeks later I'm having to drag out the lawn mower yet again thanks to the multitude of trees in my garden. This time I managed to fill a second dumpy bag, cram yet more leaves into the first and still had some left over that ended up on the compost heap.

Tuesday 3 December 2013

Autumn days

Beech hedge

Autumn can be a strange season of contrasts. Nature surrounds us with bright colours but also often offers grey, low light days.

Monday 2 December 2013

Remembrance Sunday

Remembrance Sunday means different things to different people. To me it is my day of the dead, a time to remember those who are now gone irrespective of whether or not they were in the armed forces. I realise that my interpretation is more traditionally associated with Halloween/all saints day traditions but with the way that this has morphed into a children's fancy dress party I am more comfortable shifting them to this later date.

Sunday 1 December 2013

November review, December planning

Last months plan:
 Nanowrimo. I gave it a go. I didn't get very far. But I did learn more about me. The first thing that I learned is that I have too many other priorities at the moment to give this a fair chance. I also learned that I do want to give this a fair chance at some point, I really enjoyed the writing that I did. I am still too much of a perfectionist and whilst I have improved a lot on this over the past year there is plenty of room for progress. The final big point is that much as I enjoy writing I seem to work best when I have a structure to work around rather than some hazy idea.

Another goal that slipped past without me noticing was that I have reached over 200 posts! Not bad going.

This month? It's all Christmas, Christmas, Christmas! I'm not setting any goals other than the usual time related mad rush happenings that commonly occur in December. I love preparing for Christmas, I think that I enjoy this more than the day itself!

Friday 29 November 2013

Worshipful places

I have just watched a few minutes of a television programme about Wells cathedral. I love Wells cathedral, I can remember being awed by it as a young child, climbing the worn steps up into the towers wondering how many feet must have come before me and taking part in the country dancing festivals on the large green in front of the main entrance. But what grabbed me about this programme was something a visitor said about the building. She came because she could feel that God was there.

Thursday 28 November 2013

Bonfire Night

This is an odd festival. I do enjoy it but you don't have to scratch the surface too deeply to realise that it is a fervent anti-Catholic celebration. Who wants to celebrate that? But I do enjoy what this event has become and that is why I titled this post as bonfire night, not Guy Fawkes night.

Monday 25 November 2013

Happy feet

First colour
There is colour on my painting! Always the hardest bit for me. Now to find more time to myself to get more detail on there.

Previous posts:
Wellies painting
Jumping in a puddle
Dancing in the rain

Friday 22 November 2013

Forgetting about the garden

Getting the garden tidied up for winter is what I am supposed to be doing at the moment. But I'm not. I need to collect all the fallen leaves for leaf mould. I keep putting this off. I just want to be tucked up inside the house with I nice hot drink.

Thursday 21 November 2013


I may be struggling with my National Novel Writing Month but my eldest is having no such issues. For his birthday he requested a typewriter and we (just) managed to find one in our budget.

This has been fabulous for his creativity. He doesn't have to worry about his handwriting. He doesn't think about his spelling or grammar. He just types. And thinks. And types some more. He loves it. Something tells me I'm going to have to find some character recognition software soon!

Wednesday 20 November 2013

A good quote

Start where you are.
Use what you have.
Do what you can.

Arthur Ashe

I think that I have found my next piece of quotation art.

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Art week

Day 1: canvas background
I don't do as much art as I would like to with my boys. I'm not really sure why but their total lack of interest definitely plays a part!

Monday 18 November 2013

Decorating again!

I've not even posted the finished pictures from the bathroom yet and I'm already moving onto something new. Actually the bathroom isn't quite finished though I have completed my bit so I'll have some after pics up soon.

Friday 15 November 2013

Sewing pyjamas

Pyjama trousers
I do have a tendency to wear clothes until they are falling apart, and this goes doubly so for nightwear. I never used to be a pyjama kind of girl but living in a cold house has definitely changed this for me.

Thursday 14 November 2013


Vanilla fudge
Home made fudge, using the recipe from the good food channel. This took a lot longer than the 25 minutes they suggest for cooking, but then I did double the ingredients. I must remember next time to use my largest pan for a larger surface area to hopefully speed things up. It has a lovely soft texture, instead of beating the mixture with a spoon I took my electric whisk to it for a few minutes. Well worth doing.

Wednesday 13 November 2013


Writers block?
I mentioned in my monthly review post that I would be attempting National Novel Writing Month. Whilst I have been enjoying this experience it has been so hard. I've barely even started! My biggest issue has been that I have become caught up in my novel, it has become too important to me and I now have writers block. So, in order to keep on writing I have started a second story with the help of some inspiration dice that we made a while back out of old wooden blocks. These have been a great way to get going again.

I'm not sure where I am going to go with this after November is over but so far it has been an excellent exercise on getting me working in the evenings again and I am surprised at just how much I am enjoying the process of writing. If only I could let go of my perfectionism it would all run a bit more smoothly.

Tuesday 12 November 2013

Not feeling well

Wouldn't it be nice if all of those nasty bugs would just blast off into space.

Monday 11 November 2013


Patio puddle
I love the rain. It makes me feel refreshed and gives me an renewed sense of energy. It is very elemental, nourishing the earth. One of my favourite things is to wrap up in waterproofs, grab an umbrella and enjoy a wet weather walk. I even enjoy getting wet! I just don't enjoy getting cold which is inevitably the case.

Too often when it rains I find myself trapped in the house with low light levels. These are the days that I really need to get outside most. Perhaps I need to revisit the mantra
"There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing"
and get out my brolly more often. Jumping into puddles is fun!

Wednesday 6 November 2013

Book review: We are wearing out the naughty step

This was one of S's birthday presents. He thinks that he is too old for picture books but this was specially chosen by one of his youngest cousins. The subject matter was an interesting idea for a young audience. 
The illustrations are typical Mick Inkpen, simple but colourful. Unusually the storyline is about a single mother who is trying to keep on top of everything from the point of view of her child. I love the image of her on the phone to the doctors about the bead that somehow ended up in babies ear just before the babysitter was due. Result was that Mum misses her class. It is a reminder of how hectic motherhood can be especially with young children.

And who hasn't been here? To be honest S simply thought that the mother was a bit silly and couldn't relate to this at all. I, on the other hand, actually felt my eyes water. It is so easy to relate to 'mum'. This would have been a useful story for when my two were younger on those hectic tired days that I was reduced to tears. Motherhood can be so hard at times. Thankfully it is balanced out by having wonderful kids!

Tuesday 5 November 2013


We did a quick review of alcohol yesterday. 4 demijohns of wine went down the drain, there really wasn't any hope of them turning good now as over two years old and they take up space. Over the years the only wines that I have consistently succeeded with are blackberry and elderberry, delicious! I'll occasionally experiment with other ingredients but those demijohns then seem to linger around for years whilst we wait for them to mature and hopefully improve in flavour, they usually don't. I'm not making any this year, we've been too busy harvesting our own fruit to get out and find wild berries and most of my demijohns have been stolen by J for his cider.

Monday 4 November 2013

Halloween update

Pumpkin storage!
Our Halloween plans all changed at the last minute. I had access to a car, an invite to my sister's and two boys who didn't fancy staying at home all day. An impromptu Halloween party!

Saturday 2 November 2013

A ramble through the thorns: money, politics etc.

Some of the currency designed by my boys
"Why can't we all just have our own currency? Then the money will have to stay within the local community." - my son (8) 

Friday 1 November 2013

Bread: Granary

Granary loaf
This loaf was made using Hovis Granary flour following the recipe on the packet. It was a surprisingly light loaf with a good texture. It was unfortunately also a bit light on the taste side too but I love the chewiness of the grains so this is definitely a flour I am going to purchase again. Next time I'm going to make two small loaves and pop one into the freezer as despite us enjoying it this bread is still going four days later. This is the problem with having boys who worship sliced white bread.

October review, November planning

Thursday 31 October 2013


Halloween 2008
This festival has always been very important to my children. In the last twenty years Halloween toot has exploded off the shelves and become mainstream in this country. Now, I'm all in favour of a good celebration and don't mind this too much especially as my eldest has his birthday just a few days later so we have a fine collection of decorations for what became, until recently, his annual Halloween party.