Wednesday, 30 December 2009

new year's peeve.....

I like New Year's Eve. I like it because it is the end of something and the beginning of something, all at once. It's a marker, a signpost, a line. I like to celebrate New Year's Eve although that doesn't always mean a boozy party.

This NYE marks the end of a decade. We spent NYE 1999 with friends, each of us had chosen our favourite ten songs, EVER, because it was 1999. We ruined our friends' new rug shuffling and hopping about to Blur, Pulp and Nirvana with a little bit of Aretha Franklin and Polish covers of bad, sad rock songs. It was fun.

This year, G is 'on call'. Having never been in such a position before, he doesn't know what that actually means. I doubt it will mean putting a flashing light on top of the car and rushing off to a cellar flood in Evesham but, you never know. What it does mean, however, is that he won't be concentrating on having a good time on NYE.

G & I do not have the same approach to NYE. I like to spend NYE with friends and loved ones with something sparkly. No other elements are required. G is of the NYE element that has to have a good time, right from the start of the celebrations, otherwise NYE is NO FUN. The 'on call' element involved in this year's celebrations is likely to put a dampner on his enjoyment of anything other than a DVD and a pleasant family meal.

My instinct is to accept this arrangement and stay at home but I can't help myself wanting to pass around the dips and nibbles and hop around my living room at 12.05am.

Perhaps a night in with Graham Norton and Jools Holland is the way to go.

Monday, 28 December 2009

time space continuum displaced

...in the words of Dr Tennant, this week has really become 'The End of Time'. I spend all year longing for 'down' time, 'quiet' time, time at home, time to think. I've now had over a week of such luxury and it's time to get going again.

I'm having a great time but I've lost complete track of what day it is, what time it is, where I'm supposed to be. I'm horizontal. I am not sure I will be able to last a morning at work, never mind a whole day.

I don't want to drink any more wine, port, sherry, ginger wine. I certainly don't want to hear any Christmas music although that seems to have waned, thank goodness. I have an entire home-made Christmas cake in the cupboard under several biscuit selection boxes. I fear for my waistline (yes, more than usual).

We went to a party last night. I think I was over-dressed. My inertia has extended to a neglect of my ironing pile. I had to wear a frock because I had nothing else clean/ironed/wearable. I did feel a little uncomfortable though as everyone else was in jeans. It was a lovely party though. The kids managed to keep themselves occupied and the adults caught up on who had been where during the festivities. I did need a sit down though when we got home. I wore high heels, too - another sartorial error.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

betwixt and between


Yes, thank you, we had a lovely Christmas. We spent the morning opening far too many parcels to and from ourselves and from others. We were treated to a splendid and scrumptious meal by C&P. We played some fab games. We drank some very lovely wine. We indulged in some Christmas port and we watched a bit of comedy TV magic.

Our Boxing Day has been a quieter affair. Two of us went to see West Ham beat Portsmouth. The other two, thought about being dropped off in Knightsbridge to experience THE SALES but thought better of it and stayed in our new Christmas pyjamas. We then thought about going to the pictures (sorry, cinema) but decided that we could watch 'The Spiderwick Chronicles' instead. One of us then fell asleep and had a decidedly disquieting dream about Rob Brydon and an owl.

We went for a walk - to clear my mind and to pick up our cheese board from yesterday's feast. I so needed that walk, despite the rain. We saw a rainbow and wondered whether it's foot was at the bottom or the top of Hollow Street. It disappeared before we got there.

So...Christmas is officially over for another year. I am managing to reign in my Boxing Day compulsion to gather the Christmas cards into a pile and clear the decks. It will need to be done before New Year's Eve as we all get back to normal on 4th January and I really don't want to be picking up pine needles on 3rd.

I enjoy this week between Christmas and New Year. There's not a lot to do but an awful lot to think about. I look back on the year before and make my usual list for the following year. My main priority for the next couple of days is to prune my list into a manageable, achievable one. There are so many interests I want to pursue at the moment and I know I am setting myself up for disappointment if I try to do everything (again).

2009 has been a year of change and movement - some lovely, some not so lovely and I want 2010 to a year of consideration and consistency. As I type I'm not sure I'm going to get that. Consistency and consideration have never been two of my strong points - I'm a more adaptable, flexible kind of gal, taking what comes at me and trying to make the best of it. Perhaps as I get older I'd quite like to direct some of the proceedings instead of hanging on and trying to make everything come good.

So...lots of lists over the next couple of days. I had a beautiful red leather notebook for Christmas. Just ready for the start of 2010.

Enjoy your Quality Street. I love the barrels.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

'twas the night before Christmas....



Well, it's actually 9.30am but I'm sure you don't mind me getting ahead of myself.

My pretty bejewelled tree and a rather ostentatious peacock for your fuzzy, sherry-hazed (?) viewing sometime today. (Note to self: learn how to use camera properly in 2010).

The parcels are wrapped - this is the first time EVER G has wrapped any significant quantity of gifts before Christmas Eve. I feel quite victorious.

The fridge is full - I have a nice looking ham to cook. Which reminds me, I need to start cooking it sooner rather than later as we are going for festive mince pies to the B's early evening. J insists on ham, egg and chips on Christmas Eve. I'm not keen on the chips but I quite like having the ham to pick at until New Year's Day. I grant his wish graciously.

The laundry is up to date - although there are piles of redundant clothes hanging about. I had to clear out J's drawers. It was like looking through the cupboards for sell-by dates. I noticed, with shame, that some of his clothes are aged 8 - 9. He's 12. He doesn't wear them. He just buries them under his sports stuff. I hate to think what Forest Gump moments would have arisen if I'd left those 8-9 trousers in there....fashion hell.

So....there is nothing left to do other than wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy 2010.

I hope FC brings you all you wish for (and then some). Enjoy!

I imagine I will need projectforty bootcamp come 1st Jan...

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

getting carried away


This time last week I was looking forward to the kids finishing school, me finishing school and a week of gentle preparation before Christmas day. This week, I am wondering if I was slightly misguided.

I have one child who simply cannot wait for FC to arrive and is on serious countdown duty. I have another, who, is flipping between being ill and somewhat random. It's taking sometime for us to settle into our usual family pattern of jogging along quite nicely with the occasional spat. We seem to be spatting more and jogging less. Perhaps it's me.

I do get the sense that Christmas is changing for us as J & E get older. I find it harder to find presents that don't involve some kind of wireless application. I want them to have pencils and colouring books still but I think they'd prefer a dvd. There are some traditions that do not change. I always buy them pyjamas even though I don't really think of them as an actual present. I just like the idea of new pyjamas on Christmas day. I'm sure they'll be delighted!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

ski tuesday




We have a sub-section of decs devoted to skiing - a small grouping, so far, of two. Skiing snowman and skiing santa. They both look so cheerful. Perhaps their boots fit properly. Mine never do.

We are going skiing in February. The brochures usually arrive at the end of August. G spends early autumn scouring pages, attaching post-it notes and creating skiing spreadsheets. I do not jest. He loves to ski. He loves to ski with us. Two of the three of us love to ski. One of us likes it but doesn't like to ski for more than a couple of hours a day. Guess who that might be. I do, however, like ski holidays. I like the fact that the landscape is so different and that the whole holiday is spent together. I also like the fact that, over the years, I have wheedled and whined so that, recently, distance and accessibility to swimming pools and spas have been included in the spreadsheet calculations.

That's progress for you.

Monday, 21 December 2009

synchronicity city


Here I am typing away, wondering what little gem I can show you today, I am looking out of my window onto a couple of inches of icing snow on the top of next door's wheelie bin AND 'White Christmas' is playing on Radio 2. Sometimes things just come together, don't they?!

I now have the conundrum that I DO NOT DRIVE when it snows. Yes, a little pathetic, I know but once, a long time ago, I drove in the snow to go the sales in Bromley and I did a gentle slide along a suburban street, into a parked car. It wasn't a high speed incident but I didn't like it and I don't want to be involved in something like that again. It's best I just admire the snow, go for a walk in the snow and then wait for the snow on the road to melt.

I find myself in a conundrum as I have last minute things to source for the festivities. The fridge is full, the wine and beer and sherry supplies are buoyant but, as happens every year, we have run out of wrapping paper and I've got a pair of ill-advised boots to return to M&S before the post-Christmas queues grow. I'm also quite keen to buy a turkey to cook to have cold. I don't have to cook Christmas lunch which is a wonderful treat but has the downside of no leftovers.

Having said that, I am no leftover queen. I make stock. I freeze stock. I defrost stock when I need space in the freezer for ice cream. This does not make me feel frugal or green or pious. It makes me feel a little ridiculous.

We watched 'Cranford' last night. Is it me or have the bonnets got bigger?

Sunday, 20 December 2009

as promised


Is there anyone else out there who has never made papier mache? I mentioned the fact that I'd never made it either as a child or with my own children at a gathering of school-associated mothers and I felt as if I'd dropped down the league table of mothering.

I associate papier mache with lumpen bits of school-craft no matter how many beautifully crafted examples of the technique I see. I look at this bauble and cannot see how it is papier mache. I concentrate on the painting and the jolliness of it instead.

We had our venison pie last night. I would have liked a bit more gravy and I had had an incident with the puff pastry but everyone seemed to enjoy it. J & G had brought delicious either sides of the main meal and a dastardly game of Pictionary rounded off the evening.

My only disappointment was that the Whittle did not win Strictly. Having not seen the programme, perhaps he had some kind of dance-trauma but I doubt it. I bet he danced the best just as he's done on every Saturday night since the show began. I bet Craig R-H's a bit cross this morning.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

global festivities


We bought a set of 12 animal decorations in India on our travels years ago. Each year we count out the menagerie and each year we carefully count them back into their battered box with it's tiny squares of wadding which protect them for the other 11 months of the year. This year E arranged them around the bottom of the tree, giving it something of a Noah's Ark quality. I would hate to lose any of them.

We also swapped the Swatch watch we'd worn between us for the whole 16 month trip for some papier mache baubles which also take pride of place. They'll be along sometime this week.

I had a lovely web-wandering last night...

** a bun can dance has a great post about gift giving at Christmas **

** hen house has a magical tour around her festiva abode **

** 1/4 of an inch has posted a beautiful collection of makes and creations **

Enjoy your pre-Christmas weekend. I'm sure there will be some festivities occuring.

Friday, 18 December 2009

is it a horse, is it a goat?


I have no idea, it's blue and it's sparkly. This one is Cath Kidston 2009. I try to limit myself to one or two new decs each year but I've been a bit greedy this year.

I went to a workshop a while ago and some of the attendees were a little sniffy about Ms Kidston and her work - too samey, too everywhere, too easy etc. I love a bit of CK and I am grateful for her because she made pretty-retro OK again and I like that fact that even if you don't want to pay CK prices, it's possible to root about and get that look from all sorts of other places high-street or vintage. CK can be a bit pink for my liking but I love the spots and the florals and the sewing boxes.

As I type I think I can see a few tiny snowflakes. We are way out west and far awyay from the whiteout in Kent but, could there possibly be a chance of a white Christmas? How great would that be?

It's the last day of term for the kids and I am going to have the house to myself in an hour or so. I've got lots to do as we're having our first Christmas celebration tomorrow. Venison pie.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

little house on the pine tree


My sister bought this for me at Westonbirt Arboretum, a few years ago now. It's ceramic so is quite heavy. It needs a sturdy branch, otherwise it threatens to drop and I know that if it drops it will no longer be with us.

When I unwrap it each year, I think how nice it would be to have a little place like this by the sea or in the mountains, with a log-burner, a pile of cosy blankets, a basket of crafts and psychic Ocado delivery.

I hope you're enjoying this tour around our tree. I haven't had a look around yet to see if anyone else is doing such a thing. I suspect there is a huge Christmas tree blogring of which I am woefully unaware.

I think my interest in Christmas trees is possibly genetic. I have an aunt who used to participate in a charity Christmas tree decorating competition each year and who would send me photographs of her themed creations. Our tree is a culmination of years of collecting and not much editing. There are very few ornaments that do not find their way on to our six-footer each year.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

he's on his way....


I like this one because it's got that traditional Christmas dec look but was £1.99 from Homebase last week. I spied him as I replaced every single string of Christmas lights we own. Homebase does lights in very useful sealable tubs instead of wobbly cardboard boxes.

I am attracted to sparklier decorations this year, still no tinsel, but definitely shinier.

Monday, 14 December 2009

friend of the cup


My other favourite Christmas decoration 2009.

Am now a member of the official Christmas lurg club. Head - woolly. Ears - blocked. Stomach - churning. Ho ho ho.

Back soon with some deeper, more healthy thoughts.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

cup of festive cheer


Posting deco #2. I add to my collection each year, randomly, of course and I found this with its natural partner at Lexi Loves in Cirencester yesterday. It's by Gisela Graham.

I would make links on your behalf to both of these people but the links I found by googling aren't very useful. Please do not miss the 's' from Lexi Loves as I cannot responsible for the more risque websites you'll come across.

Gisela Graham is stocked far and wide - I'll leave you to do the google-work.

Mince pie making is calling but I've got a weird sensation in my neck and ears. I may be about to be struck with the festive flu....timing is, as always, everything.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

little boots


Just because they are here for a short while and where else could you display a pair of gold lame (read larmay) boots other than on your very own Christmas tree.

I've been watching Kirstie Allsop handmaking her Christmas. Well, you knew I would. I like KA. I think she's jolly and sensible and a bit of champion of the handmade. I wish, however the producers of the show had decided to shoot some more footage or do something instead of repeating the same sections of VT ad nauseum until I was forced to switch off after the 7th time I'd seen the blown blue bauble and the 8th time I'd learned that this was the first Christmas celebrated at Meadowgate for 37 years.

I'm all for Kirstie celebrating local craftsman and having a go at making a polar bear from icing but there really needed to be a bit less wadding.

E & I went Christmas shopping this morning and we had a lovely time. It was great to see her taking such care over her present buying and making such considered choices. We stopped for coffee at the Brewery Arts cafe and saw the most magnificent experience of paper cuts and sculptures. When I remember to look up the relevant artists. I'll post something useful about it. I've already taken my scalpel to an ordnance survey map after being inspired.

Am off to Malmesbury Abbey for a rousing carol and brass band concert this evening. I have just finished my Christmas cards and am planning a little mince pie making for the morrow.

I do love the countdown to Christmas...

Saturday, 5 December 2009

be prepared....




We have been invited out for Christmas lunch by friends who we invited for last year's Christmas lunch. We will eat late so that we can all indulge our respective Christmas traditions.

Ours are very predictable - up to see what FC has brought, a slice of two of Terry's Choc Orange before breakfast, buck's fizz at breakfast, some of the party might get dressed at this point, a little more present opening (if we're lucky) and then absent friends at 11am.

This is usually followed by a collective appreciation of the goodies amassed and general festive indulgence.

I enjoy cooking Christmas dinner. I enjoy gathering the mountains of food, even if it's just for the four of us, naming my turkey (no, I don't know why, but I do), preparing red cabbage, telling G how much the turkey cost and watching his eyebrows shoot up, it's the little things that make Christmas, you know.

In any case, I do not need to source a turkey this year, so will not be able to name it. I might name the tree instead.

I have not been able to resist making cranberry sauce (for jars) and braised red cabbage (for freezer).


I love the insides of red cabbage. That combination of red-purple and cream is very pleasing.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

the proper care and husbandry of lists



Almost every blog I've seen contains at least one list, and most of them contain more than one - lists of links, books, interests, followers (hopefully), tweets, feeds, online collections of information, favourite knits, favourite foods....I'll stop there because now I'm making a list without even thinking about it.

ANYWAY. I'm reading a book by a lady called Barbara Sher called 'What do I do if I want to do everything'. It's one of the most interesting self-help books I've ever read, mainly because it tells me that my interest in a wide range of (often unfinished) projects means that I am rather special and a 'scanner' rather than a flaky diletante (?!) with the attention span of a 6 year-old nativity Joseph.

I do like a self-help book that tells me I'm marvellous, not mad.

Anyway....one of the exercise she suggests (amongst others, such as placing your 'Scanner Day Book on a pedestal if one was to possess such a thing) is to make a list of things you don't have an interest in, thereby ruling out some of the pressure us flibbertigibbets feel when we overcrowd our waking minds with 'ooohhhs and aaaaahhhhs' over every potential hobby to take up, interest to explore, exhibition to visit, book to read.

Here's my top ten list of things I do not, no never, ever want to explore further:

- sport beyond the level of how it infiltrates my life at the moment being married to a man and mother to a son (both fairly obsessed)
- deep see diving
- pottery (making of)
- orienteering
- pot-holing
- huntin', shootin', fishin'
- archaeology (unless it involves fabric/yarn/sewing boxes)
- DIY
- science
- crime/reading about crime/reading about criminals/forensic scientists/CSI/waking the dead

I feel free already!

The book above is another suggestion of a self-help/enabling book. Apologies if you've seen it already. I have a sneaky feeling I might have posted the pic when I bought the book during the summer.

Julia Cameron of 'The Artist's Way' is the messenger on this one....morning pages. Not 'Morning, Pages' but 3 pages of long-hand writing every morning. I manage this for a week at a time, probably about once a month before I give up because it invariably becomes a solitary, early morning moan-fest but, weirdly, it's starting to work. I've started to write things that don't start with 'I don't know why, but....' and 'the problem with x is........'

Day 3 of advent and the Celebrations that were left from the re-usable chocolate advent calendar have been decimated, leaving only the Snickers and the Bounties. It's OK though - the huge, enormous, re-usable tubs were 'Buy one Get one Free'. There's another one in the cupboard - we can keep going!

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

and the countdown begins....

Parcels are starting to arrive, the first Christmas card is here, the advent calendars have been started and J is cooking mince pies at school next Monday. There are just over two full weeks left of school and then it's Christmas cocoon time. Can't wait.

I wonder whether it would be good to pick a day of each month and create a kind of advent for all sorts of events - birthdays, deadlines etc. Something like that might work for me as I find each year dripping through my fingers.

Hope you enjoyed your first day of advent.