Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Final Post of 2014

I'm a bit late to wish everyone here in Blogland a Merry Christmas, but I hope you all had fun.
However I am in time to wish you all a Happy New Year.
May 2015 bring you all you wish for.
I couldn't be posting December photos in January, I have spent most of the year doing catch up posts and I didn't want to start that game for the coming year too.
So I'll try and do a brief round up from the rest of December.
We carried on with our advent activities, although there were one or two hiccups along the way we did do most of the things I had planned.
One was a trip to the theatre to see The Snow Queen the weekend before Christmas. It was a real family outing with Grandparents and Aunties joining us, we made a party of 9 and jolly good fun was had by all.
One evening S and I made snowflakes from cupcake cases

and the final photo from our activities is Christmas shaped jellies, which as you can see proved to be a little stubborn for getting out of their moulds, but they tasted just fine.
On the baking theme we also made the mincemeat brownie tart from the Sainsburys magazine which was delicious and from the Co-op magazine we made some rice krispie wreaths.

Mid December we took a train to Salisbury to meet G's mum and J for lunch and have a mooch around the Christmas market. Unfortunately I didn't get much browsing time but one objective was completed when we handed in S's contribution to the Save the Children record effort to make the longest paper chain. It had to be specific width and length so I cut a sheet of card accordingly and took that along with some felt tip pens and sticky foam and S decorated it on the journey which kept her entertained.

We made our was through the Close to the museum afterwards and I'm glas we took the route we did as we got to see these topiary squirrels all decked out in their festive finery. Although looking at him he looks a bit like Basil Brush too.

G, his brother and his dad were pupils at this school but it was only his dad who could claim to have been taught English by William Golding.

It was so cold by the time we walked past the Cathedral

and reached our destination of the museum that although we got to meet three beautiful reindeer, we didn't want to be outside for much longer and so made our way back to the shops in search of a hot drink to warm us up.

The following day S and I took my mum with us to a local church for their Christmas tree festival. The only hold it every other year, the first time we went was with my dad and so it holds bittersweet memories for me. I always light a candle for dad when we go.

All this build up finally led us to Christmas Day. Christmas morning we heard T get up at 7.15 and go and wake S who then both came through to us with their stockings. I try to take a photo of them each year sat on the stairs before we go into the front room to see what delights are under the tree. Here they both are, wearing the new nightwear Father Christmas sent down the chimney on Christmas eve. T looks like a Jedi in his as it has a hood and is longer than his old dressing gown and S looks very snuggly in her pure white fluffy nightgown.

Christmas day was very mellow. We weren't having any visitors and so there was no rush to do anything. The children opened some of their gifts and then we stopped for breakfast and then finished the unwrapping afterwards. There were even some gifts from family friends which weren't opened until Boxing day afternoon. Not because they had so many, but just because they were content to be busy with what they had from us and it was lovely as things were appreciated all the more.
Of course not expecting any guests gave us all the perfect excuse not to get dressed, as you can see by the next selection of photos of us complete in our table present tackiness!

Fez's are cool.

Me with obligatory red cheeks, not sure if that's from cooking dinner or the number of Bailey's consumed whilst cooking.

T looking wonderful in his glittery glasses

and S looking equally fab in her fluffy fairy headgear.

I was pretty pleased with the crackers, each one contained a wind up reindeer and the box converted into a race track. I reckon this will become an advent activity next year.

There are a couple of memories which will stay with me from this Christmas, one of the most special is S telling me whilst I was in the kitchen how 'this is the best Christmas ever mum'. That makes it all worth it doesn't it.

It will come as no surprise at all for me to say that I totally forgot to take photos of the stash of pressies I gave my sister C for Christmas. I was annoyed with myself when I realised but I had wrapped two thirds of them before it occurred to me and by then I didn't think it was worth it. But I'm pleased to report she liked them all, as much as I did all of mine from her.
One of those I was particularly thrilled with and is already in use on the dining room table. I know it won't be to everyone's taste but I love to bits this tablecloth of sweet packaging. Who doesn't love a Drumstick????

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Where Did That Week Go?

A much heard refrain from this time of year, but really, where did that week go?
Back to last Thursday we go.
As well as doing fun stuff for ourselves some of the advent activities are about doing good things for others and so I asked S to sort through her well stocked bookshelves to see if there was anything she was willing to part with. A small selection was made and these were set aside to be donated to the Infant school for their library.
Friday night was going to be sit down and watch a Christmas movie together night. S had a friend staying over and so in the end the pair of them sat and watched a movie whilst munching their own body weight in popcorn. 
They were happy and so we were happy too.
Saturday morning we took the girls to a nearby plant nursery, which is set in one of the parks, as they were holding their Christmas fair and just look who we got to meet.
Comet the reindeer. What a handsome fellow he was.

The girls had a good run around and stop off in the playground before we headed home for lunch and Saturday's activity which was icing and decorating chocolate digestives so they look like Christmas puddings. They loved this.

Sunday was paper chain making. We normally have the ones you stick together but these have little slits in them and you just tuck one end in. If we are careful we'll be able to just undo them, keep them stored nice and flat and use again next year.

Monday should have been a round or two of the Snowman board game but we ended up having to dash to my sister to pick up some clothes which S was going to borrow for her school production. I hadn't read the note from school properly and when I realised the clothing had to be in school on Tuesday we had to put our game on hold.
Tuesday was a Christmas jigsaw. The pieces are big and it doesn't take long to complete, so we have been racing to see how quickly we can get it done.

Wednesday was making a food donation to a local animal rescue charity. The librarian who runs the book club I attend collects donations on behalf of the charity and as Wednesday was book club night I took a couple of tins of dog and cat food with me.

Today's activity was a bit of a cheat as it was S's school play. We had very limited time this evening to do anything very much rather than squeeze something in and be even more rushed this option made sense.
The Year 5 production was Mary Poppins and S was in the chorus dressed as a chimney sweep. Luckily the 'costume' involved wearing her own black leggings, navy tshirt and black boots, T's navy shirt and my sister's grey waistcoat. Soot smudges were provided by the school make up team!
G went to this afternoon's performance and I went to the one this evening and very proudly watched S singing most enthusiastically.

And so that's us up to date.
Of course there has been the day to day stuff too.
Also I managed an evening out with a friend on Sunday and G is on his third night out of the week. He has had a few music gigs to go and see. I've been out doing more Christmas shopping, very nearly there now! Plus this week we've been having some work done on our roof so it's been pretty busy one way or another. 

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Advent Activities

Day two and I'm very pleased to say S was feeling fine once again and back at school. I work until 6.30pm on a Tuesday and so for Day 2 we needed something which was quick and fun to do.
The pack of Christmas snap cards we have had since T was small proved ideal. We had a couple of games with S and then a game of pairs. S was amazing at this game when she was little and would regularly beat me without me trying to lose!

We then spent a very hectic half an hour playing racing games with these mini cars. 
Two simple ideas but such good fun.

Today was card writing day. From previous years I have learned to do this earlier rather than later with S. She has already received 4 cards from friends at school and I knew she would be keen to start writing hers.
Mince pies and nibbles were set on the table, to help keep the energy levels up during this strenuous task don't you know.
A girl after my own heart, before S began writing in the cards she wrote out a list.
I love a list. I seem to have several on the go myself just now, as I'm sure most others do too.

I made a start on my cards but still have a fair few to go. The ones I wrote this evening have been stashed in my new bag where they will be kept until all are complete and ready for the off.
I just couldn't resist the little robin stamp motif.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Let The Countdown Begin

G and I had a child free day out in Chichester on Saturday as both T and S were staying over with friends . G is always looking to add to his vinyl collection and had been recommended a couple of record shops to try which came up trumps for him.

There was one shop which I wanted to go in, good old CK of course. And something was purchased there too, but it has been spirited away and I'll get to see it again Christmas day.

Keeping me going until then is a stack of 24 presents from my sister T, one to open each day in the advent countdown.
One evening at my sisters way back in January we each put our names into a pot. My sister T drew out my name, I drew out C's and C therefore had T's. We decided we would buy 18 small gifts and 6 others which could be food or drink based.
We also bought a further 8 gifts each for mum so she would have a set of advent gifts too, but we didn't tell her about it. 
We all went to see mum yesterday afternoon and surprised her with her basket of goodies and swapped our gifts too which we had put into pillowcases. We chose pillowcases as when we were little this is what we used to put at the end of our bed on Christmas eve.

This is what C opened this morning. I just love how cute he looks! My first present was a mini chocolate Father Christmas.

These are three of my favourite things from the rest of her haul which she'll be opening over the next couple of weeks.

Last year S and I kept busy from 1st December until Christmas with our advent countdown. I've prepared another for this year and today was 'put up the tree'. It wasn't going to be but S was sick during the night and so didn't go to school today. Decorating the tree this afternoon was just the ticket for cheering up a poorly girl. Thankfully she is fine again now so fingers crossed it's back to school tomorrow.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

I Have Been.......

......Wishing I could have forced myself through the little gap in the back of this snowman so I could have had my photo taken. Probably best I didn't as I wouldn't have looked even half as cute as Little Miss S.

...... On a shopping trip to IKEA with my sister. Wisely we timed our arrival nice and early so we could have a cuppa and a bacon roll before we mooched around the store. Very little was purchased but I was extremely pleased to find a new doormat. Not the most exciting purchase for the home but we had had our previous one for 17 years, it was from PastTimes and had been a wedding present from G's brother. The pattern of three potted geraniums had all but disappeared and I have been on the lookout for a replacement for most of the year. I love the pattern on this one.

......Admiring S's handiwork on her latest Sylvanian t-shirt. Once she had coloured in the little critters she asked if she could draw a heart round them and write on it. Do with it as you please I answered, it's your creation to design and wear. When she had drawn round them she decided it was more of a Christmas bauble shape. I also like the addition of the words Happy Family.

...... Cooking some new meals from a cookbook given to me by my sister which she no longer wanted. So far I have cooked webbed cheese pastamozzarella rosemary chicken thighs and the latest one is ginger chicken. I'm glad to say all were well received.

...... Wearing my new, to me, boots. I have written before about my traffic wardenesque legs and to find a practically brand new pair of boots in a charity shop at the weekend which I could get the zip up on and still feel comfortable was a delight. They were only £3.99  and what made it even lovelier still was when G said he would buy them for me. What a lucky girl.

......Busy on the jigsaw front again. We found this a couple of weeks ago and managed to complete the border fairly easily and then it languished for a week or so before we found the time to go back to it. This was a treat to do, interesting to look at all the names which have disappeared along with the ones still around on our supermarket shelves today.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

A Very Cherry Christmas

This is the first of a couple of gift ideas I wanted to share with you as you know I like a bit of a theme when it comes to gift giving.
This may be too early a post for some who refuse to start thinking about Christmas until the beginning of December but equally it may help prompt some ideas for others.

As the title of the post suggests it's all items are cherry based.
All of these gifts will be individually wrapped and placed in a gift bag or box for the friend they are intended for and the label will wish her
A Very Cherry Christmas. 
I also plan to sketch of a pair of cherries on the tag and make them nice and sparkly with a healthy dose of green and red glitter.

First item is Carmex Cherry lip balm. Mine came from Superdrug.

Also from Superdrug is a bottle of Cherry and Almond bath creme and a tub of cherry and macademia body butter.

Cherry and strawberry patterned socks from Store 21. The present would work equally as well with all of these items in a strawberry 'flavour' and the gift labelled as A Very Berry Christmas should cherries not float your boat.

Cherry and Vanilla Yankee candle from Tesco.

A small bottle of tangy cherry hand gel from Primark. The friend this gift was bought for is never without a bottle of hand gel in her handbag so this isn't as strange an item to include as you may think!

She is a cider drinker so a bottle of cherry cider will be welcome. Mine was bought from Sainsburys.

Lastly a bag of jelly cherry sweets purchased from Wilkinsons.

Maybe a few of these items popped into a gift bag with the addition of a pretty glittery cherry label could make a good Secret Santa gift too, just a thought.

Monday, 17 November 2014

All the trees are brown

apart from the green fabric ones.

Who doesn't love a helter skelter?
We spotted this in Salisbury on Saturday as we made our way to our lunch date.
It's my mother-in-law's birthday today and we all met up in Salisbury for lunch. 
And very nice it was too.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

I Have .......

.......... finished this month's book club selection in record time ahead of our next meet up. I found the storyline of Tideline quite disturbing and it made for a very uncomfortable read which is why I wanted to get it read and out the way. 
Saying that it was a good book and I'm sure will provoke much chatter for our group.

........... been in love with Marilyn Monroe since I was a young teenager and have watched many of her films and read stacks of books about her life and untimely death. Earlier this year G and I watched My Week with Marilyn and I have just started to read the book the movie was based on, a birthday gift back in July from G.

.......... received a parcel in the post this week from a fellow blogger. I bought a beautiful crocheted poppy from Mitzi who has been busily working away and raised a fantastic amount of money for the Royal British Legion.

.......... watched something I originally recorded from the TV in September 2013. Quite why it took us so long to watch The Wipers Times I'm not sure. If you didn't see it and it gets repeated then try and watch it, you won't be disappointed. An added bonus for me is that one of the leading actors was Julian Rhind-Tutt, swoon.

.......... been enjoying wearing my new (to me) red shoes. A local church held an autumn fayre a couple of weekends ago and I paid £2.00 for these. I have since found something very similar on line for £45.00 so I'm pleased with that bargain.
 And they are very comfy.

.......... picked up the latest free magazine from the Co-op and decided we need to try the chocolate mince pies. I'm not a huge fan of mince pies but surely with the addition of chocolate these have got to be a winner?

Thursday, 6 November 2014


As well as being preoccupied with leaving one job and starting another and all the other things which were happening which kept me away from blogging we were busy doing some fun things too.
One Sunday me, G and S went for a little explore in a copse we have driven past umpteen times but never investigated.
We were delighted to find an oversized chair

and table. G is 6ft 5'' so that should give some idea of how big these two items of furniture are.

When I was little this whole area was trees and fields but has since been built on with a relatively new housing estate, it must be handy if you live there now having this copse on your doorstep. A green space to go and stretch your legs in and do a spot of squirrel spotting, we saw loads of them scampering around.

This is just one of the jigsaws we've completed recently. On the days when getting outside isn't an option a jigsaw is a good indoor activity.

Not an activity but an event from September, my nephew's 21st birthday. 
What to buy was a mystery. 
Pinterest provided the solution.
I bought a black umbrella from the local 99p shop and packaged up £1 and £2 coins totalling £21 in pieces of paper and attached them to the umbrella with lengths of cotton. I then wrote on a tag Save for a Rainy Day. 
He was a bit bemused when I gave him his gift but pretty pleased with it once the penny dropped.

S and I have been to our first ballet performance, we went to see Coppelia.
It was billed as the ideal family introduction to ballet and it was indeed perfect. The ballet is in three acts and during each intermission we discussed what had been happening in the story. It took a lot of concentrating for S and I think her attention would have wandered with anything more in depth. The costumes were beautiful and the grace and elegance, not to mention strength, of the dancers made it a spectacular experience.
We had booked the tickets months ago and originally we planned it would be me, G and S who would be going. 
G didn't join us in the end because he took T to Norwich instead.
The end of October is his brother L's birthday.
T, G, L's adopted mum and T's birth siblings met up at the crematorium as they wanted to take L some flowers. T had been wrought with anxiety about the visit for a couple of weeks beforehand but G described the day as being filled with a few tears and lots of laughter as everyone supported each other.

Last week being half term meant it was time for our annual trip to the country park for their Halloween trail. T didn't join us this year as he has been volunteering in a charity shop on a Sunday afternoon for the past few weeks and he offered to do extra shifts whilst he was off. S bought a friend along with her and neither of them liked the huge spider hiding in one of the trees!