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!