Showing posts from 2014

Paddington Bear; he's just so funny!!

I think this might be the US poster for Paddington, but it suits my needs. we went to see Paddington as a family just before Christmas and this has been my first chance to write it up since. Now regular readers will know that I have three (almost) teenage children; DP is 16 going on 17 and almost tired of hearing that song, JW is 14 and the Princess is a precocious 12. We watch all the superhero movies, love playing computer games and have a cool attitude to life in general. So when we were thinking about a family movie to see before Christmas you might have thought along the lines of The Hobbit, or a decent spy and action film. Oh no. Not us. We knew from watching the trailer that we really wanted to see Paddington. I am a long-term Paddington fan, having read the books and watched the TV series countless times before the 6 o clock news as a child. I love the stories of the bear from Darkest Peru and his adopted family. I loved the whole duffle coat/hat look he rocked and everything…

Blogmas 25; Christmas Day

Merry Christmas and a Happy, Peaceful and Prosperous New Year to us all!

It's true, Christmas can feel like a lot of work, particularly for mothers. But when you look back on all the Christmases in your life, you'll find you've created family traditions and lasting memories. Those memories, good and bad, are really what help to keep a family together over the long haul.
Caroline Kennedy

I need to record my children more before they grow up completely. Here's the collage of Christmas Day 2014. Look at the wrapping paper centre (there was more all over the floor!) and my parents who came to me for Christmas for the First Time Ever. Did I enjoy myself? You betcha!

Blogmas 24; Christmas Eve

I'm guessing my Christmas Eve this year is pretty much like anybody else's if you've got Christmas dinner to cook the next day. I want as little as possible to do on Christmas Day so I plan.. plan and plan a bit more. My list this year ran;

11am make stollen dough (Paul Hollywood's recipe) and leave to rise.

11.30 make biscotti. Chocolate orange and cherry in the sort of style of the Hairy Bikers' Chocolate Orange and cranberry.

Noon Stollen stage 2; incorporate marzipan and swirl into shape. Leave to prove.
1pm bake the stollen. Watch the daughter decorate her Christmas cake with buttercream icing and wonder how she can get quite so green in 5 minutes.

2pm make the chocolate mousse cake. Put the pork on to roast.
3pm prep the veg; brussels sprouts, carrot sticks, carrot and swede mash chunks, broccoli cauliflower cheese cooked ready to baking stage, parsnips, sausage and stuffing balls wrapped in bacon.

4 or 5pm prep the turkey and begin to roast it.
6pm cook the …

Blogmas 23; Favourite Christmas Story

The Story of Holly and Ivy; it's our tradition. Sarah and I disappear for an hour upstairs, we sit together on her bed and we read the book together. And it is a lovely story, about a doll and a girl who both need love who find each other and a home. It's a story about wishing and what happens when you wish hard enough.

I wish somebody else would remember how good Rumer Godden is and make an animation of this. It would go so beautifully on Christmas Eve with the Snowman and the Gruffalo.

Blogmas 20; Last minute gifts

Oh My! Last minute gifts... no, I don't do last minute. Everything I have is bought, packed and ready to go.

The husband, however, would rather wait and do his shopping on Christmas Eve. It is only the fact that I would be VERY disappointed if he couldn't present to me exactly what I had asked for.

They do say opposites attract.

Blogmas 16; My Christmas Tree Reveal... at last!

Finally... finally the chance to take photos has arisen; the weather is fine enough, I'm home (two weeks off school; I love Christmas break!) and the living room is tidy enough to risk taking some photos.  At last... only five days late.... here is my Christmas Tree reveal!!!

 A lot of my decorations come from the St Nicolas Tree decoration company. Their website is here, but they only sell to trade so to buy as an individual person you need to look at The Christmas Company website, where they have a full range of decorations that cover history, important places and special occasions. We bought a couple (don't ask me which ones came first!) and just found them so easy to buy one or two at places we visited on holiday. For a few years I could just about remember which we bought and where but now I just find it easier to write on the back.

You can see below we get decorations from everywhere we go... the Paris bauble actually came from Chartres! And the cones came from Ikea. 


Blogmas 21; My Favourite Christmas poem or picture

The Journey Of The Magi by T S Elliot 'A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.'
And the camels galled, sorefooted, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
and running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the lo…

Blogmas 18; Stocking stuffers for the family

Bah! Humbug! Do you think with the cooking, the cleaning and the tree dressing I have ANY time for stockings!

Well, yes, of course I do. We have small stockings on our beds early in the morning of Christmas Day. It's a tradition we never had when I was growing up (Mum was a teacher and some years just getting the presents she needed to bought and wrapped was enough without trying to organise stocking fillers as well!)

I started it with Mr AJ when we got married, and now I pass it on to my children. The small things inside the stocking are cheap, cheerful and mostly designed to make them smile.

I read once that the best advice for stocking fillers was
something to eat,  something to read,  something to play with  and something they need.  It strikes me that that is very good advice and I have in recent years tried to follow it.

So what sort of stuff will Santa pack the stockings with this year? Well, some chocolate lollies. Either Christmas or some other kiddy style lollipops. Chocolat…

Blogmas 17; Christmas in my home country

Oh, I have had such good fun with this!

You see, I am British, through and through. Born in Rainhill, lived there til I was 25 and currently a resident of a leafy middle class suburb in Liverpool. But this year I have adopted another country. I wanted to learn Danish (don't ask) and in a small way I am, but I have found myself studying the customs and characteristics of the country as well. It is no use knowing the language of a place and being ignorant of its culture, yes?
So this post I am going to talk about my adopted country. No, I don't live there, yes, I have never  visited YET but it is top of my list for places I want to go to. One day, when my Viking longboat comes in.

How do we Danes and quasi-Danes celebrate Christmas? I had fun looking this up. And even more fun trying to use some of the ideas in my life.

The Tree;
The Danes decorate their Christmas Tree with a  silver or gold star on the top, never an angel. They use strings of small Danish flags (Danes are very …

Blogmas 15; Christmas decorations

Christmas decorations; made with love by the daughter.
Made with a deal of determination by me.I am not a natural knitter. My nisse are looking after my house this season. It's full of love, smiles, laughter and just enough bitter sweet memories to add an extra dimension to my sweet life.

They look after my house and my family, according to tradition. And I love my little houses (last year's created decoration!)

The trees just look magnificent at the end of the mantelpiece. I loved making these!

And my cross stitch banner is up again. This must be about 4 years old now.

This is about the first year that I can look at my fireplace and smile at the amount of handmade decorations on it. I think over half of the stuff that is symbolising Christmas here this year has been made by me. That's a proud feeling.

Family Parties are the best.... but how come everybody else knew?

I have had a lovely time this afternoon and just wanted to capture it before the time flies by and I don't get a chance;

My lovely niece R had her birthday today; 19? 20? I can't remember! 19, I think and.... she got engaged as well!! So it was a double celebration. Now, obviously I knew it was her birthday, but I didn't realise that she had got engaged as well!!! I must have been out of the room when it was told to my family. Now I have to ring her up and say something to her instead of giving her a hug an da congratulations. My only worry is if she thinks I didn't say anything for a reason (disapproval or something like that)
Regardless, it was a good day and I wanted to put the pictures up here. It sort of fits in with my catching life philosophy this year; I want to save the memories to look at again. Of course I took photos and here are some;

Blogmas 14; What is my favourite childhood Christmas memory?

I don't know... I remember so many moments from childhood Christmasses. I seem to remember that it was a frosty Christmas Eve on the way to Midnight Mass when I first realised that the street lights made my red coats look strange, that I loved the feel of sheepskin mittens inside and out when Santa let me open them early for Midnight Mass and the cold plaster of the Baby Jesus figure for the church crib as I carried it out to the scene.

My childhood church is St Bartholomew's, Rainhill. It's not famous for much, except at Christmas when it puts up an almost life size crib scene; not on the grass or floor anywhere sensible; oh no. Their crib scene is suspended in the entrance gate to the churchyard. It takes a team of dedicated crib erectors to put it up. They have the skills down to a fine art. After all, the eldest member is 75 and has been putting the scene up for 50 years. That's him in the hat.

He came over from Ireland 50+ years ago and started helping in the chur…

Blogmas 13; How am I counting down to Christmas?

The Christmas countdown for me starts on the 24th May. That's the day after my birthday, so it's the day when I know my next gift-getting session is Christmas Day. And I start thinking in a very fragmented way that it will be Christmas again this year.

Actual Countdown Day is 1st September. 115 days to go, and a good time to set down what I need to get for presents, what gifts I want to make and to rough up a plan of what to get done by what date. Crafters can't leave everything to chance; we have to plan. I put the countdown next to the dates in my diary and mark them off day by day. I have been known to put the countdown Santa up on the 15th. 99 days to go!

There are several points on the way to Christmas that help with the countdown. Strictly Come Dancing starting on TV, X Factor live shows beginning, Halloween, Bonfire Night and Children In Need in mid November. They're all staging posts on the way to Advent.

And then the big countdown season starts. I have lots of…

Blogmas 12; Winter Wonderland where I live

How often does it snow in our world? Thank God for Bing Crosby, or we'd have no idea what a White Christmas was. Having said that, we did have a particularly lovely Christmas one year when it started snowing on Christmas Day just after everybody I knew would have travelled back to their own homes and when the houses must be groaning with food, drink and merriment possibilities for every one. Excellent timing; enforced rest when we needed it most. And it was good.

But for the children (and probably me, this year) the most excellently timed snowfall was the day we were due back to school. The Princess' school declared defeat and closed at the first snowflake, the boys struggled in to find out that their brave High School also weren't prepared to suffer the pain and anguish of teachers' cars being buried and got sent home. Two extra days after the holidays. Bliss.

We walked in the snow, and built snowmen. The Christmas food had been eaten, but I'd stocked up for the …