Yah! the decorations are done, pressies wrapped and most of the food shopping done. At last time to now enjoy the Christmas and the end of a rather strange year! This year has been a lot of changes, also a time to take stock and a lot of reflection on the personal, home and work front, so I am anticipating a refreshing and exciting start to 2009! This year I really made a conscious effort to think more ethically regarding environmental issues. Being a bit of a fashion victim I am highly influenced by new trends, designs, technologies and inventions. However I have become a lot more thoughtful of my shopping habits regarding all areas, food, clothing etc. (Recycle-Reduce-Reuse)
This year I purchased my first Christmas tree with roots , so I can plant it in the garden after Christmas, and get all nostalgic when the children are older and tell them that was our first tree in the house! Unfortunately my partner moaned a bit , cause it does look a little sad, a bit lop sided and the needles may all fall off by Christmas day! - but it is the right choice, or perhaps no tree is the right choice!? Well, with all the room all pretty and some of my bunting and holly from the garden I think it looks quite pretty. I have added a photo of Kevin, the ultimate homely feel is my little cat in front of the hearth!
I love this time of year, the children have such a fun filled time with all the school shows and parties. I double checked the calender every day for the past two weeks because it is so busy, as they have had Christmas dinners, activities and etc on different days. The children broke up from school on Friday so this weekend has been the chance to relax and enjoy being at home and finish off the decorations and a few last bits of Christmas shopping.
A few pictures of finishing touches.
Of course the guinea pigs have a stocking!
The cutest elf-cat in the world! X
My son made his own wonderful Christmas hat creation to wear at Christmas Lunch.
Last weekend I managed to bag a craft stall at a wonderful place called Chasely at the Christmas art and sculpture exhibition. Chasely is a fabulous Victorian building, overlooking the sea near Holywell in Eastbourne. Chasely is the home to many people with severe disabilities, including spinal injuries, MS, acquired brain injury and cerebral palsy. residents receive expert care and the building provides top quality accommodation. The art exhibition was a remarkable showcase of local talent.(Lots of sales) The craft stalls were also as fabulous, with lovely friendly crafters too! Of course I had to take a few pics of every ones work for you all to see. This work is by a lady called Doreen Carter, and I discovered that she lives quite near to me, so hopefully I will meet her again. She makes the most wonderful enamelled and fired copper bowls, I couldn't resist buying some little ones for Christmas pressies. This is Tanya who runs the creative co-op, and a truly talented lady, beautiful art work , jewelry, amazing recycled Christmas decorations and a master poet. Here is lovely Sue, with her beautiful table and the most exquisite jewelry. This lady is truly blessed with talent. I always feel so inspired when I see Sue. She flew in with the wings! This craft event was also the most entertaining, we had a little lull on the Sunday afternoon, so Tanya decided to sing (no music) one of her own songs: the "anti-consumer" song, Not only was it lovely to hear but hysterically funny too, followed with her own poetry! Is there no end to her talents? This had an effect On Sue who then stood up and recited one of her poems, followed by some Shakespeare from a lady called Maria and finished with a hilarious story of "Ernie the Electric Eel" from Doreen. I did,nt become rich from the event by definitely had a few giggles. I am going to have to learn a new entertainment piece for next craft fair! Tanya singing.
Busy, Busy painting and decorating my little boy,s bedroom and the front room. The front room is my space for sewing, the p.c. and a lot of clutter and I have yet to decide it,s future purpose. I hate the space the computer takes up, and I can not quite work out where to put it.( shed at the end of the garden, perhaps?) You will see phoographs when the room is finished, By then I will think up a grand name for the room ( rather than sewing/p.c/clutter room).
This is a quickie post of the lovely little "Crafty Ladies" Christmas craft fayre I sold my wares at , on Saturday. Really lovely stalls of jewelery, crystal angels and salt dough Chrimbo decorations. I shared a table with Mrs. Lingdesigns who also sales her cute hand-knitted crafty creations on etsy. Photo of Mrs Ling and my friend H at the table we shared.You may just see my fab new Christmas bunting in the corner, I will be putting some on etsy this week, because I have grown some what obsessive about making it - very relaxing.
A shrill voice of my distressed daughter beckoned me to the garden. As I approached the garden, panic of my daughters cries were mimicked by a distressed miaowing! Kevin was stuck in a conifer tree! Last Sunday we had to make an emergency trip to the vets after Kevin had been stung by a bee! His poor little paw had swollen treble (if not more). This problem could be easily solved ( I initially thought) I asked my daughter to get the dried cat food and we spent a good 20 minutes shaking the food and calling him. The problem was that it was a very windy day and the more the wind blew,the more the tree shook and Kevin decided to climb higher. He was crying in distress but could'nt work out which branch to climb down. I really did not want to call the emergency services ( having visions of three or more fire engines arrive in my street would be quite embarrassing. I decided to call my bro, who is a fire fighter for any "cat down the tree "tips. Alas, he was out and his mob was off. Another twenty minutes passed and finally Kevin worked out how to descend the tree! Later my brother informed me that a cat can stay for up to 48 hours in a tree! What would worry me is that if he was blown out of the tree at night time I am sure the pack of foxes or badgers who venture into my garden at night would eat him for tea!!!!
Whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles yada yada!!! Yes I love all pretty things especially sparkly and glittery things. So my first festive creation had to be a combination of cute, glitter, sequins and tied up with ribbons! Voila my Christmas baubles, somehow these may be a limited edition as they took longer to make than anticipated!
A busy and fun filled week this half term was had by all. Although, little making for my etsy and looming craft fairs.On the first day of half term we took the train to London to see the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum, we did have a great day and managed to see another small area of each museum (because they are huge). I did,nt quite anticipate that everyone else had also decided to descend on the capital, as there were huge queues everywhere. Think I will probably take the children again on inset days.
On the days we spent at home, it felt somehow appropriate to head to the kitchen and bake. I think the colder days and dark mornings and evenings seem to have an effect on me like animals that hibernate. The need to fill up on warm homely cooked foods and prepare for the harsh cold winter, when we are snowed in and cannot get to the shops. Well, perhaps I slightly exaggerate, it never snows until April!
The first batch of baking this week was some yummy banana muffins, which swiftly disappeared.
Halloween, yet another excuse for more baking! With the emphasis of aiming to be a self sufficient household we scooped the seeds , to save and plant next year. The little Herbert's created some ghoulish , yet cute pumpkins and we saved the flesh to make yummy, scummy pumpkin muffins. These muffins are so light in texture , but rich like a chocolate pud, that I think they would be delious warm with custard.
In the U.K., not everyone is pro trick or treat, it is only a bit of fun, but I guess some folk don,t see it that way. So we decided to dress up in Halloween spirit and meet some friends with their children at a child friendly pub for a meal. This was enjoyed by all and we went to another country pub afterwards to see a firework display. So a great time was had by all, especially me, as I had no washing up!
When we arrived home I let my eldest daughter stay up and watch my new ( or not so new) "Footloose" DVD. I bought this the other day which is actually a double film set with "Flashdance". To me Footloose is a classic 80's film,and it only seems like yesterday that I saw it at the Cinema. Quite scary how long ago it was made; 1984 to be exact! However you will see a young Sarah Jessica Parker and I think she is a classic example of someone who has blossomed with age. My daughters verdict was that she thought it was a good film!! Could be because of the fashion cycle, a lot of the fashion in the film can be found in your local Topshop or Primark!
Finally back to blogging after a little computer annoyance! Though, I am happy now that I have broadband. So much has happened over the past few weeks, many ups and downs, so in some ways it has probably been a blessing that I had no p.c. I don't know where to start, so I will start with a little autumn warming dessert recipe. I have tried this a few times over the past few weeks and its a bit of a winner in my home, so took a few photos of the creation.
With the price of food shooting through the roof, I am trying to be resourceful with what I can find in the garden. We have a glut of cooking apples and eating apples, therefore my recipe is for Apple and Plum Crumble. The plums are one of the few fruits which are quite cheap in the shops.
This is a dish that anybody can make, and even easier if you have a mini master chef with you to make the crumble.
Now, everyone wash your hands, pop on an apron and pay attention
Can serve 8 (or in my case 1)
8 fresh dark plums, cut in half and stones removed
8 cooking apples, fresh from the tree, or bottom of the tree
glass of red wine
4tbsp of caster sugar
FOR THE CRUMBLE
100g brown sugar
200g plain flour
Pre-heat the oven to 200 c /gas mark 6
Saute the plums and apples with the butter for a few minutes. Add a teaspoon of nutmeg, the cinnamon stick, red wine, sugar and 50ml of water, then bring to the boil and simmer for about 8 minutes.
As the fruit breaks down to a thick, syrup like texture, place in an ovenproof dish. I am putting some in a large dish and some in a little individual dish (so I can take one to my mothers)
My son is always more than pleased to measure the ingredients, sift the flour and make the crumble.
Sprinkle the crumble over the fruit and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden. This is a before photo, just to show you how sweet the crumble is as an individual portion, in my 1970's dish I bought from a charity shop.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly, before serving with custard, ice-cream or cream. I have opted for cream today. This is such a lovely comfort food and with the cinnamon and nutmeg, you have this glorious warm homely aroma wafting around the house, which make the dark early evenings seem a little cosier.
I am IT!! Deborah from the gaudygoddess has tagged me. I suggest you visit her blog at http://thegaudygoddess.blogspot.com and see her lovely blog and her 6 secrets!! Now I am IT, I have to tell you my secrets!
The idea of this game is to learn something new about our blog friends, I have to list 6 secrets about myself and those who I have tagged will divulge 6 unknown facts about themselves.
I may regret this later!
1) I was asked to leave the church choir,(must of been about 11 years old) due to my appalling voice and diplomatically asked if I would like to be a church server. I stopped attending church from that point.
2) I was a proud Brownie with an arm and a half of badges!
3) I have always had a burning desire to run the London marathon. I have got to do it before I am 40 - so I have a few years left! I expect I could start training after I have got rid of this chesty cold. I have run half marathons, but I really want to do the big one!
4)I have an O.C.D with cleaning. I have not actually been diagnosed, but I seem to spend a lot of time doing it. I blame my mother , shes always cleaning! It dose not matter how much time I spend sorting, tidying and cleaning ; it,s a mess!
5)Career- Ever since I was a child I wanted to be a vet, but I was never a straight A student in the science area, which is what you need to be! (I used to set up charity sales when I was at junior school to raise money for the PDSA.)Even if I studied now it would take far to long to qualify (and a lot of money).
6) I do not want to spend my entire life in England and wish to live and experience other parts of the globe! I would so love to live in another country, just for 1 year, while the children are young just so they can have that experience.
When I came down stairs this morning I walking into the living room and found my youngest daughter curled up with Kevin the kitten on the sofa, both fast asleep. After oohing and arghing , I grabbed my camera to photograph the cute duo. There is something warming and comforting seeing my children lying in the fetal position, it also reminds me of when they were babies and I would cuddle them as they slept in the same position.
So after such a lovely sight first thing this morning, youngest daughter and kitty had to be today's subject for a painting.
I am so pleased to have started painting again after so long.I have been meaning to start a series of work based on elements of my very own three little Herbert's for some time. This painting is based on my eldest daughter. She has butterfly like characteristics ( if you can understand that!), as a tiny toddler she would dart to and throe and she is no different now, the dress is similar to the pretty dress she wore on her 11th birthday; feminine, floaty and fairy-like! I always have a ridiculous list of things that I want to do and make and there is never enough hours in the day! During my "sorting out" time , I now feel more relaxed and have temporarily put my sewing machines away in the cupboard under the stairs, we need a trial separation.
I am not completely happy with my painting, but then again I can over analyse my own work and that will probably never change.The paintings (Flutterby and future series) are purely light hearted, intended to be just aesthetically pleasing, whimsical and childlike, no heavy message or concept involved with this work- as I wish to enjoy this creative process! I do feel a kind of inner self satisfaction and forgot how much I enjoy painting. today I will start painting number two, but must go out and buy some new paints as many had dried up. Unashamedly I get just as excited buying paint as I do fabric!
The sun is finally shining, which is fabulous, typically expected we have an Indian Summer. Typically I now have a cold, which has zapped my creative juices, so I have spent the last few days feeding my obsession with arranging my art and craft bits and bobs, due to my creative yet chaotic mind I strive to have some order and try to work in a methodical manner. I become irritated when I cannot find what I am looking for and end up making a big mess and quickly lose momentum. So here is the result of hours of sorting!!!! They look very pretty, but I do think I am bordering on having OCD!! Colds must be the most irritating of common ailments, and so easily prevented if I consumed more vitamin C. So to quickly get the cold out of my system I am using my dear mothers recipe of honey and lemon in hot water. I intend to continue drinking this when the cold has gone , as it must be healthier than the silly amount of tea and coffee I normally drink.
The Summer seems to of paid a very short visit year, short bursts of sun followed intermitant with lots of rain. I did intend to brave the world of camping but seriously the weather was so bad that the camping venture is postponed for next summer! However I did have some fun times with the children and thought i would post some random snippets of our not so sunny summer.
Yes we spent many days freshwater fishing in the rain catching big fishes and lickle fishes, and many a fish got away!
I postponed our Barbey, but a brave friend carried on with his summer barbie with the aid of much tarpaulin and everyone had a fabulous time.
Tales of the river bank :
It was beginning to feel natural to be near water!
The Guinea Pig Project :
The interactive 3D project, It was fun to make, the children loved it and I thought that if we made one it would be so much cheaper than buying one! I thought fabric was expensive until I had bought the materials for the guinea pig run! I also wished that I had not looked on the web at the price of ready made- home delivered ones. I guess the secret to saving in pennies is to source the materials from anywhere but a D.I.Y. store. Homer and Bart the guniea pigs loved the finished run.
I could,nt quite remember why I had,nt booked a holiday to the Caribbean, then as September dawned I remembered why : I had to buy my little darlings there school uniforms. this does occur at the same time every year you may think. However this year eldest daughter starts senior school and her school tends to have a lengthy list of uniform requirements. My other two little darlings changed school when we moved at the beginning of summer, so I managed to get away with not kitting them out with all of the uniform. All three looked very smart when they started the new school term, but I do wish schools would not make us purchase all the items with the embroidered logo!
The shoe photo reveals the scary financial reality of three children in 2008!
I am so glad it is Autumn now, my favourite season; it never lets you down. Autumn is the season that does what is is supposed to do. Today was a glorious beautiful autumn day, in fact it was one of the sunniest sundays in a long time. Autumn fashion is so much better as well. Too much pink flesh or per ma- tan on show in the summer!