Monday, 14 December 2015

Scandinavian Wreath Ta-Dah!

Hello there. Are we all enjoying the run up to Christmas? E's term ended last Friday, so we've now bought and erected the tree. The latter was easier said than done as none of us had noticed the rather wonky base which had to be sawn off in order to make it straight enough to fit into the stand - much unfestive cursing ensued! Then there was the usual 'let's wind Mummy up over the tinsel' moment - hate it, hate it, hate it. Grr!

Moving on .............. I managed to get my Scandinavian wreath finished. It took me quite a while as each of the leaves, hearts and stars had to be cut out, backed with wadding and sewn on the machine. Then they were turned inside out, blanket stitched around the edge and individually sewn onto the ring. It was actually quite an enjoyable job as I could have a quiet stitch in the evening whilst watching old Agatha Christie films.
Anyway, here it is:
A close up of all the blanket stitches - I can now do it automatically, without my usual 10 minutes of trying to work out where to put the needle next when I start off!
I didn't want to hang it outside in case it got wet and the only hook we have on a door is in the kitchen, which wasn't ideal either. In the end, I put one of those suction hooks on the dining room window and hung it there. Sorry the photo isn't the best:
Other happies this week:
Having a quiet baking moment while the rain poured down outside:
 A trip to the farmers' market:
 My new calendar holder. I have my 'working calendar' (ie. the one with all the family appointments etc. on) in the kitchen. This one is in the hall near the desk so I can remind myself of the date without having to try and squint at the tiny numbers on my watch!
 Our delivery of logs in the new log store. I still can't work out why R ordered the extra large one, but it looks quite cosy tucked in the corner near the side gate:
 A book of Christmas piano music from the library:
 Marveling that we still have roses in December:
 ....... and the odd Californian poppy:
 The first mince pies of the season - sadly, not home made, although we may get around to baking some at some point:
 The Christmas tree - we never manage one of those tastefully decorated, colour coordinated affairs - my favourite decorations are the ones the girls have made over the years: 

Anyway, that's all for this week. I may not get another chance to post again this side of Christmas. If not, can I take this opportunity to wish you all a wonderfully relaxed and peaceful time. I'll still be popping by your blogs to see what you are all up to if I get a moment.

Merry, merry and all that.
Toodle Pip for now. x

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Chucks, a Birthday and a Belated Ta-Dah!

Hello there and a happy December to you all. I can't quite believe that it is December already - is it just me who thinks it was only 5 minutes ago that we started 2015? Tempus certainly does fugit as you get older. Thank you so much for your supportive comments about my mammogram; they were much appreciated. All went well - it was mercifully quick, if a little chilly, and the all clear came through yesterday - Yay!

Sadly, we lost one of our Pekin Bantams a few weeks ago. Harriet died at the age of 10, which I don't suppose is a bad age for a chuck. She was a great character and we shall miss her dearly. Fortunately, it was very quick - she didn't seem ill, so there was no prolonged suffering, she just died peacefully in her sleep. We should all be so lucky. Phyllis, her little soulmate, missed her terribly and went into a decline, refusing to get up in the morning and therefore not eating or drinking. More for Phyllis than for us, we purchased a couple of new chucks from a local Pekin breeder and here they are:
Meet Brenda and Penny - named by L. Brenda after Baroness Brenda Hale, Justice of the Supreme Court and one of L's heroes, and Penny, well because 'Henny Penny', you know! We sneaked them in with Phyllis at night and the following morning she was downstairs, pecking around and eating quite happily again. I think the new chucks were what is politely termed 'table hens' - ie. each had little defects when meant that they weren't suitable for showing - Brenda has a sooty bit around her neck and a toenail missing and Penny has an oddly shaped cushion. At least with us they aren't destined for the pot! Harriet was buried by the bench near the river, where she liked to sit and have a cuddle. RIP sweet chuck.

On a happier note, this week was L's birthday. E had managed to get tickets to see Radio 4's 'John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme' being recorded in London. R and L were in London anyway that day, so when E finished school we just hopped on a train to join them. The recording was excellent - they are such a talented bunch of people. Jason Hazeley (he of the Ladybird books for adults fame) stepped in to play the piano and was brilliant and John Finnemore can do no wrong in our eyes.
We also had an Ethiopian meal here:

The food was lovely. Served on and with pancakes called injeera - a type of sourdough flatbread with a spongy texture. It was surprisingly filling. The types of food were an interesting mix too - felafels and chana dahl - we all enjoyed it and would definitely have it again.

 Back home there was cake!
 Other happies this week:
Fergus now has 3 girlfriends - one was too quick to catch with a photo:
 Finally finishing my Summer Primitive Stitching -yes, I know it's December!
Here are all 4 seasons, now I just need to hang them. I decided against making them into cushions in the end, only because I thought they would need washing at some point and I didn't trust the calico not to shrink. The chicken in the summer one has rather long legs but Google assures me that there are long legged varieties, so I'm going with that!
 A walk in the woods with a friend. It was rather muddy!

Lighting the advent candle over breakfast:
And lastly, a little festive make - a Scandinavian fabric wreath. If I manage to get it finished in time for Christmas 2015, I'll let you know. It is quite slow progress though.
That's all for this week. We've got a load of logs being delivered today, so then the cold weather is welcome to do its worst. Keep warm and enjoy the rest of the week.
Toodle Pip for now. x

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Boobs and Fairy Lights!

Good morning! I bet the title of this post grabbed your attention didn't it? No, I haven't been adorning my chest in preparation for the festive season, I have merely bought some fairy lights to brighten up the dismal afternoons that we seem to be having at the moment .........................oh, and I have been summoned for my first ever mammogram.  
Here are my twinkly lights:
I am defiantly classifying them as winter lights, as opposed to Christmas ones. Despite the fact that our neighbours put their Christmas decorations up at the weekend - it's NOVEMBER for pity's sake! I'm not a great fan of Christmas decorations. Truth be told, if left to my own devices I think I would probably go to the other extreme, putting them up on Christmas Eve and taking them down again on Boxing Day. My birthday is December 28th and, believe me, it's a sucky time to be born! Stamped all over by Christmas, ("this is for Christmas and your birthday dear" being the phrase that every child longs to hear!) and then nothing to look forward to for a whole year. My mother even used to take the 'Merry Christmas' sign off the cake and replace it with a 'Happy Birthday' one - despite the fact that it was half eaten! Bitter, me?! Anyway, we now compromise, getting the tree (which I do actually like) after E's school breaks up, usually around the 10th, and taking the whole lot down on the 3rd January in time for E's birthday on the 4th. Yes, I know, I timed that badly too!
There is tension every year over the tinsel - beloved by everyone else in the family but considered the work of the devil by me. I can't stand the stuff and would happily jettison it to Room 101, along with whistling (it makes my brain itch!) and people who festoon the town with sheets declaring 'Happy Birthday Kylie' or some such nonsense. It's not the putting them up that annoys me so much - it's the failure to take the wretched things down again after the big day. There they flap, filthy and progressively more tattered for the next 2 months; a hideous blot on the landscape.
Oh my, I do seem to be having a bit of a rant this morning! Moving swiftly on .......
This afternoon, I'm booked for my first mammogram. Perfectly routine, but I'm not exactly looking forward to it. Let's face it, it's not exactly going to be afternoon tea at The Ritz is it? Stripping off in a mobile unit (mammovan?!) in a hospital car park and having your breasts squashed between 2 X-Ray plates until they resemble an anatomical version of pitta bread isn't my idea of a good time. Embarrassment and discomfort aside though, I never doubted for a nanosecond that I would do it. Having lost a good friend to breast cancer just over a year ago, I would happily strip off in said car park, even without the van, if it meant that I didn't have to go through what C did. Check your boobs, ladies!

Aside from my WINTER lights, other happies this week have included:
Butterfly cakes and squash soup for lunch:
 My beautiful irises - I just love that combination of purple and yellow:
 A new garden mobile - bought for a mere £2.99 from a Christmas Fair at our local theatre:
 Loving the bountiful crabapples on our little tree:
Joining a new gym. My old one closed down at the beginning of the summer when the council sold the land for new housing. Since then, I have attended a pilates class and forced myself to go swimming at the local pool. Sadly, said pool is a bit on the grim side - it's not the cleanest and it smells of rancid mop. So, a membership to another gym is going to be my Christmas and birthday present (count them!) from R this year. It's heaven to have clean changing rooms once more and swimming has become a pleasure again, rather than a keep fit chore.
 A cup of tea and a magazine:
Crocheting some snowflakes. Initially I tried some from a book but found I was struggling somewhat, so I did what a lot of us do when we have a crochet problem and headed to Attic24. Lucy's easy to follow tutorial made them quick and simple. It was the first time I had tried blocking too. I bought this pad last year, thinking it might come in useful for blocking. Unfortunately, E then borrowed it for one of her archaeological digs, so it's now a bit on the bent and grubby side. It still did the trick though, along with a can of spray starch.
Since the weather is colder, the ducks have started coming up to the patio to be fed. This one can get a little impatient and often taps his beak on the glass to hurry me along.

Lastly, a beautiful bunch of flowers from my lovely neighbour (not the one with the premature decorations!) as a thank you for cat sitting at the weekend whilst they went to Centre Parcs:
Anyway, that's all for now. Enjoy the rest of the week and have a fun weekend.
Toodle Pip. x

Saturday, 14 November 2015


What Ho! Another week, another post. Not a lot has gone on around these parts this week. The weather, on the whole, has been pretty grim - wet, windy and unpleasant to be out in. We all seem to be incubating colds, E is bogged down with school work and L is in Oxford for a few days. So, mostly it's just been Hamish and me cosying up inside. Here are a few photos of our week:

Lighting the lanterns to cheer us up on a dark afternoon. I really love my lanterns - they are souvenirs from holidays. The little one on the left is from Istanbul and the bigger one from Marrakech. 
 Doing a few ripples on E's Dorset blanket and noticing that the colours match my tights beautifully!
Working on my Summer Primitive Stitching. It's going to be a cherry tree, so there'll be lots of French knots to do - not my forte!
 Hamish trying to help:
Having a happy half hour with a cup of coffee listening to L play the piano. She is very musical (no idea where that came from!), has perfect pitch and always amazes me with her sight reading ability. Nothing makes me happier than listening to her and E practising; I love a house full of music.
Having a Nigella moment!!! Did you hear the hoo-hah after she spent 5 minutes showing us how to make avocado on toast in her latest series?
Spending a merry morning ( a dry one for a change)  replanting my pots with some cheap flowers on sale at Homebase. Some of them looked a little peaky but I'm sure they'll perk up.
Fergus keeping me company. He has a lady friend at the moment but she's rather timid:
The last of the toms for this year. They're currently in a brown paper bag with an apple to help ripen them. Now, I REALLY must get around to clearing out the greenhouse for next year.
Starting another 'smurf' hat. This one may be either for E (who miraculously rather liked the one I made for L) or me. We'll have to see how it turns out.
 Lighting the stove while storm Abigail blew and starting the ribbing for the hat: 
This photo made me laugh - that's the ball  of wool on my lap; I'm not pregnant! A lit stove, cosy slippers, a bit of knitting and Miss Marple on the television - heaven! To cap it all, the fan element had blown on the cooker, so while R was fitting the new one I had no means to make dinner and we were forced to have a take away!
Well, that's my week - I did warn you that not a lot happened. Sometimes though, that can be just what we need. I'm just off to make a hot cup of tea and to hunt out those balm tissues. I hope the weather treats you kindly this week; keep warm.
Toodle Pip for now. x