Tuesday, 30 December 2008

The last few days of 2008 (155)

Christopher went back to work today for the first time in two and a half weeks; he really has been poorly, though well enough to join in the festivities. On Saturday we had a family lunch party, twelve of us altogether. Since it was so soon after Christmas Day I didn't do a lot of cooking, we just had cold meat, salads, roasted chicken legs and sausages, cheese etc, that sort of thing. I even cheated and bought two desserts - and golly, did I feel guilty about that. We had a lovely time. Number One Son Oliver did a grand job of entertaining four-and-a-half year old Atticus, who was, shall we say, a little over excited! Oliver set up an assault course upstairs and filled the upstairs of our house with smoke from his smoke machine that he uses when working at parties. Atticus was highly entertained, especially when all the smoke alarms kept going off!

Sunday was a quiet day - we needed it too. I made a cover for my new Nintendo DS Lite, with a pocket on the back for all the games I hope to get.
Yesterday was a glorious day, freezing cold but blue skies and bright sunshine, so Christopher and I went out for a walk. It was only short, about three miles, but we went from heathland
From December 2008
to woodland,
From December 2008
over fields and a golf course, and ended up on the top of a hill with a windmill.
From December 2008
From December 2008
Even at 12 noon, the puddles were still frozen and frost was still on the ground, so pretty. On this particular walk we only had to cross two stiles, but often there are many more.
From December 2008
This is me in all the gear - walking boots (to support my dodgy ankles), walking stick (to support my dodgy knees, and fend off wild animals - well, cows, sheep and horses), warm jacket and pixie hat.
From December 2008

Today, I went to a step class. I've been feeling heaps better over the last few weeks and now need to work at getting fit and losing some weight. It was fairly strenuous, and I got rather tired, but I'm interested to see how quickly I recover.

We have no plans for partying at New Year, which suits me well, but I do hope to get a fair amount of sewing done, and perhaps some decorating in the smallest bedroom, which is being turned back into a craft room for me.

With best wishes to you all for a happy, healthy and safe 2009,

Friday, 26 December 2008

Peace at last!!(154)

At last, a bit of peace and quiet! It's about 3.00pm on Boxing Day and I'm sitting quietly in the lounge with Christopher and Alexander (Number Two Son). They're watching a film on the television and I've just come in to join them while I write this blog. Alexander made lunch out of leftover vegetables and gravy and Christopher's just making a cup of tea. I'm on strike!

Yesterday was hectic, but good fun. We managed to get everyone up for breakfast and then got lunch started before going over to my FIL's house to meet the rest of the family for coffee. The boys had just about had time to open the various little presents in their stockings - yes, I still do stockings for them, 'from Santa', filled with fun, usually useless, sometimes useful, gifts. And we always open one present at breakfast - this time I had made photograph albums for the boys with family photographs and one for Christopher with photographs from all the plays (amateur dramatic) we've done over the years, plus photographs of the boys in their plays.

Then, whilst we were having coffee, the goose started to make its presence felt. My SIL told me a cautionary tale about friends of their who were having goose, started it cooking, went out for coffee and came home to find their house on fire! Thank you so much SIL!! So Number One Son and I rushed home, only to find that I'd forgotten my keys. So, an extra fifteen minutes going to his house for his keys and then back. Relief - no house fire. Then, when we were basting it we must have poked a hole in the large disposable foil baking tray I was using. Do you have any idea how much fat comes out of a goose - about two pints I would guess. That was fun to clear up!!!
From Christmas 2008 03/12/2008 10:43

Anyway, lunch went well, the vegetables weren't overcooked and apparently the goose tasted really good. The Christmas pudding and mincepies were actually tasted this year, surprise, surprise. And then, at last, a sit down and open the rest of our present. I had a book token from the boys, together with a neck pillow and a promise of 'something else still to come'. Christopher gave me a Nintendo DS Lite, which I've been dropping hints about for some eighteen months. It's got a brain training programme, which should help stave off senility for a little longer!
From Christmas 2008 03/12/2008 10:43

And then, I got to the Secret Santa Swap. I am so lucky, I got a wonderful parcel from Bec at Oh Sew Busy. There's a beautiful table runner, which looks lovely on my table, a little angel stitchery, some thread and some cute little buttons. Then there's a charm pack - Fabulous Fall by Moda - and two other pieces of fabric. And two brilliant magazines absolutely full to bursting with ideas, especially the Christmas in July issue. Thank you so much Bec, I'm really touched with your thoughtfulness. And thank you to Chookyblue for organising everything.
From Christmas 2008 03/12/2008 10:43
And then, time for a rest!
From Christmas 2008 03/12/2008 10:43

This morning I got up early to clear up - two loads of washing up, drying up and putting away, one load of washing, food to put away. And after that I went on strike for the rest of the day! I made a case for Alexander's birthday-and-Christmas-camera and intend to do very little for the rest of the day.
From Christmas 2008 03/12/2008 10:43
From Christmas 2008 03/12/2008 10:43

And then, tomorrow, we start again! We've got the whole family coming for lunch (around 13 of us altogether) - though it's going to be very simple, cold meats and salads I think. And a few desserts.

Thank you to everyone who told me about their Christmas food, it was absolutely fascinating to see the different foods that people eat at Christmas around the world. I'm looking forward so much to continuing to get to know you and finding out about your lives in 2009.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Christmas traditions (153)

Reading Candace's post today, I was reminded of my thoughts yesterday when I was decorating our Christmas cake. Before I started blogging and finding out about life in different parts of the world I think I had assumed that everyone ate the same traditional Christmas food that we do. But, of course, that's daft. Different parts of the world have their own traditions. So, what do you eat at Christmas?

Our menu for Christmas Day is as follows:

Breakfast - a traditional English breakfast, the one time of the year that we do have a cooked breakfast with all the trimmings - bacon, eggs, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms followed by toast and marmalade, with fruit juice and tea or coffee.

Lunch - when I was young we always had prawn cocktail for a starter, but these days I do smoked salmon and cream cheese pinwheels and pate on toast squares. We have these in the lounge with pre-lunch drinks. The main course is usually turkey, but this year my men have opted for goose (I always have salmon as I don't eat meat). With that we'll have apple sauce, stuffing, roast potatoes, red cabbage with apple, brussels sprouts with chestnuts and bacon, sausage and bacon rolls and gravy. Then a break for present opening. Pudding is, of course, Christmas pudding and mince pies with custard or cream (something else I don't like!) followed by cheese, nuts and fruit. After that, of course, we all roll into the lounge in a state of collapse!

Nobody wants any tea of course, but there's always ham and pickles and rolls for supper.

And the cake? Well, I always make one, and nobody ever has room for any on Christmas Day, so Christopher works his way through it over the next few weeks. Not for me though, it's something else I can't eat.

From Christmas 2008 03/12/2008 10:43
I didn't have anything to decorate the cake with this year, so pinched a santa-on-a-sledge off the tree and toasted some marzipan stars to go on the top. The cake is a rich fruit cake decorated with marzipan and royal icing. As I said, you've got to have a Christmas cake!

Saturday, 20 December 2008

A Christmas present to myself! (152)

I've been umming and ahhing for some time now about whether I should buy a proper sewing table, and finally gave into temptation. After Christmas I'm planning to sort out the little bedroom so that I can use it as a craft/sewing room again so a proper table for the sewing machine will be lovely. It's the smallest Horn Cub and folds up into quite a small cabinet and I love the hydraulic lift that takes the sewing machine up and down - can't stop playing with it! 
From Christmas 2008 03/12/2008 10:43

From Christmas 2008 03/12/2008 10:43
From Christmas 2008 03/12/2008 10:43
Poor Christopher has been ill this week, in bed most of the time. He finally went to the doctor yesterday who diagnosed a severe chest infection and gave him antibiotics. So I've been playing nursemaid at a distance, as we're both keen that I shouldn't catch it. And of course it's typical that for the first time I was looking forward to his Running Club's Christmas party, as it's going to be a Barn Dance, and we can't go! Normally they have a disco, which I dislike intensely. Hey ho, that's life. 

Rosie, aka The Laziest Cat in the World, certainly knows how to make herself comfortable. Somehow she'd managed to turn back the quilt (very neatly) and snuggle up underneath.

Well, I've finished all my Christmas preparations, all the sewing and gifts are finished, all of the shopping done except for collecting the goose and ham on Tuesday and picking up a few last minute vegetables. So the next few days will be dedicated to baking and decorating the Christmas cake and having as much rest as possible. And keeping my fingers crossed that Christopher is well enough to enjoy Christmas, and that I don't go down with the lurgy!

I also plan to read A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens - again. One of my earliest Christmas memories is of my father reading it to me, and he read it to me every year until I was old enough to read it for myself. I then continued to read it every year. When I was about 22 I went to Jamaica on Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) and for my first Christmas there he sent me a copy of the book that he'd found in an antique book shop.
From Christmas 2008 03/12/2008 10:43
This edition was printed in 1945 and has the original illustrations by John Leech. So my very own personal Christmas tradition, and a quiet chance to remember my father, is to read the story every year at Christmas time. You'd think I know it by heart by now, but there's always something new to think about, or something I've forgotten about. 

If I don't get to post again in the next few days, I'd like to wish you and your families a very happy and safe Christmas,


Thursday, 18 December 2008

Some more Christmas decorations (151)

We've never had our Christmas decorations up so early! Christopher went out and bought a tree on Sunday, and Ah, the smell as be walked through the door. One of the great treats of the Christmas period for me is to be the first up in the morning, open the door and smell that wonderful pine aroma, a real scent of Christmas. This year I've been busy making decorations, which was just as well as we don't seem to have that many left from previous years. I think we gave most of the tinselly, glittery things to the boys to decorate their flats.

Be patient with me, this is a rather photograph-heavy post!

This is a coloured version of the bird rope that I made for an ornament swap.

Our front door wreath was looking a little tired so I made a new one, I bound strips of scrap wadding around a wreath frame and then twisted lengths of fabric and ribbon around it, added a few felt holly leaves and yo-yo berries and a wool bow - which appears to have gone a bit floppy in the cold weather.

Don't you love our stained glass window? It's about 100 years old now, the original door from the house when it was built around 1905.

I adapted a pattern for denim Christmas trees (One Crafty Mamma) and used green gingham, red buttons, felt circles and little stocking pegs for another garland.

This is a simple banner made out of Christmas fabrics.

For me, Christmas is very much a time of remembering. Apart from Christopher and the boys, and my in-laws, I have no family of my own left now and I always love to remember them and Christmases past as I put up our decorations. This is a Christmas banner that my mother stitched many years ago. I'm always amazed at her stitching, she used linen and her stitches are so tiny.

Our tree too holds many memories, there are decorations going back throughout my life, including two that my mother made when she was a child, which have gone on every tree since I was born; there are decorations that the boys made when they were young, decorations that I have made, others that Christopher has bought over the years.

And last, but certainly not least, happy birthday yesterday to Alexander, Number Two Son, who reached a quarter of a century. Sadly we weren't able to see him on his birthday as he was working (as a DJ) until 4.00 am the previous night, and was also working again last night. So it was a rather short birthday day for him, spent with friends. We spoke several times on the telephone though. We won't be seeing either of our sons now until Christmas Eve, as they are both working hard till then. 

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Dr Who and the Daleks (150)

I had quite a few people asking me what daleks are. Daleks are alien space monsters that have cropped up regularly in the BBC television series Dr Who. Dr Who started in 1963 and ran until 1989 and then a new series was started in 2005. Dr Who is a Time Lord who travels through space and time. He is able to regenerate, which has enabled different actors to pay the part. There have now been ten doctors. If you want to see what daleks look like have a look at this clip on youtube. If you like science fiction you should really try to get hold of any of the modern Dr Who programmes, they have a great following here. Wonderful, family, hide-behind-the-cushion entertainment.
This is a picture of David Tennant, the Tenth Doctor, with his space ship, the Tardis.

Brrr ...(149)

Brrr, it's nippy here. I've just got back from taking Christopher to the station and I'm wearing so many layers I can barely move. Apart from my usual underwear I'm wearing thermal long johns under my trousers, a long sleeved thermal vest, a cotton polo neck and a thick sweater, as well as thick sports socks! I'm trying to avoid putting the heating on during the day, even though Christopher says I'm mad and we can afford a bit of extra heating. But if I keep busy I don't feel the cold and it makes me feel good to be saving a bit of money.

We had a lovely lunch on Sunday, with both our sons here. Christopher decided to get out his collection of Christmas hats, of which he has far too many!

Alexander was less inclined to make such a fool of himself!

I've made a few more Christmas decorations too. This dinky little quilt uses Gail Pan's free Christmas design.

I think I may find these staying up all year, as they're not really all that Christmassy.
From Christmas 2008 03/12/2008 10:43
And finally, I've made this wonderful angel from Anni Downs' book 'An Angel's Story' - isn't she great? Again, this is something I can see staying up all year round, far too nice to hide away for 11 months of the year.
From Christmas 2008 03/12/2008 10:43
And now - Christmas cards. I've finished making all our cards, addressed the envelopes and now I need to sign them. Is it just me, or is doing Christmas cards always a woman's job? If it were left to Christopher I don't think we'd send any at all.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Christmas comes but once a year .....(148)

and aren't you glad, looking at the state of Santa Claus! It's enough to frighten the children.
From Christmas 2008 03/12/2008 10:43
From Christmas 2008 03/12/2008 10:43
Luckily, he didn't. Yesterday Christopher was playing the role at his niece and nephew's school Christmas Fair and had about 50 children through the door of his grotto. After three hours of it he was dripping wet and exhausted. He hadn't even been able to take a loo or drink break - drinking coffee through a straw just didn't work! I stayed for long enough to help him get into the costume and spend some money and then left him to it. I had more than enough of school fairs when I was teaching. I did manage to win a box of chocolates on the tombola and bought this wonderful Dalek. 
From Christmas 2008 03/12/2008 10:43
Isn't it great? I just couldn't resist it. 

On to other Christmassy things. We've got round to getting the boxes down from the loft, but won't decorate for real for a while yet. We have got my Friends for Christmas quilt up though, so here's a much less wobbly photograph - it IS still wonky, but that's Christopher's inability to hang anything straight, not the quilt!!
From Christmas 2008 03/12/2008 10:43
On Friday I made this lovely stocking to stuff with goodies for Number Two Son's partner.
From Christmas 2008 03/12/2008 10:43
And now, I must get on. Number Two is coming up from Brighton for lunch today, so we'll have all four of us together for the first time for ages. Time to kill the fatted calf!

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

This and That (147)

Golly gosh, it's nippy outside today. I've just got back from doing the shopping after dropping DH at the station, and it's still -2F outside (that's 28C). I was glad not to be out walking too much. 

Yesterday was Number One Son's 27th birthday. Poor lad, he was off work with a chesty cough and cold so didn't have the greatest of days. Mind you, if he'd been well he'd have been at work from 8.30am until 8.30pm, so that wouldn't have been too special either. I don't know about you, but I always have a quiet personal celebration each time one of my sons reaches another birthday without having any major mishap in the preceding year. 

I'm well into the finishing straight now with making Christmas presents and cards. And I'm starting to think about what decorations I can make this year, before I have to get into baking in the last week. We don't put our Christmas decorations up until the weekend before Christmas, so there's a couple of weeks yet. We got into the habit when our boys were small of leaving the decorations until a few days after Number Two Son's birthday on the 17th December, so that he could have his birthday slightly differentiated from Christmas. Once they go up we can really get into the Christmas spirit.

I'm feeling really chuffed with myself though. I have finished my Friends for Christmas quilt in time for this year. It's from Lynette Anderson's book Friends for Christmas (the one I lost for about six weeks in the summer) and it's huge - 50" x 55". I gritted my teeth and machine quilted it by stitching around the outside of each shape and then meandering round them. In the borders I meandered and looped and threw in a few stars and holly leaves. All it needs now is a label. Sorry it looks a bit wobbly and wonky - I had to perch it on the top of the door and door frame to get a picture.
From Christmas 2008 03/12/2008 10:43