Tuesday, 28 November 2006

What I Am Going To Do On My Holidays

This year, for the first time I have booked some proper time off over Christmas. After I finish work on the 21st, I do not go back until January 2nd! I am very excited. I am like the lovely Posie (www.rosylittlethings.typepad.com); she posted recently about...well this

Here is my dream. I'm sitting on a comfy chair-and-a-half [note: I don't actually have a chair-and-a-half, so a comfy chair would do, but a chair-and-a-half would be even better], in front of the fireplace, sipping hot chai, knitting a sock, corgi at my feet. I'm all caught up with all my work, it's pouring outside but I don't care. Perhaps there is an apple pie in the oven and the dishwasher is going. Even better, there would be something yummy bubbling in the crock pot so I wouldn't have to get up and make dinner, either. The phone's not ringing. The computer is off. Music is on. What should I listen to? I don't even know. Doesn't that sound awesome? If only, if only it would snow. What kind of music sounds like snow?

I hope it is not rude to borrow so much from a blog! But this is exactly how I feel and it was her post that made me decide- I am going to make me a list of lovely puttery, cookery, crafty things to do on my holiday.

I am going to make pasta from scratch. I have never made it before and I dont have a machine to roll it out with- but I do have a Nigella book, and a packet of 00 flour sitting in the cupboard, silently promising me an adventure every time I open the door.

I am going to treat myself to one of the wonderful Jane Austen Mysteries by Stephanie Barron. I am going to read it curled up at the end of the sofa, with a pot of tea and a plate of home made mince pies.

I am going to buy myself some wool, and sit and knit socks for myself, while watching old Christmas Films. I have knit two pairs of socks so far- warm slouchy ones- and given them both as gifts. Now I want some for me!

So that is three on my list so far- do you have anything to suggest I do on my holidays, or is there something special that you are saving up to do for yourself?

Today, I Am Wearing

A black skirt with my ‘Nigella Blue’ jumper. It is very soft, with ¾ length sleeves, and always makes me feel a bit domestic goddessy. I have some little drop earrings in the same colour, and am wearing my sparkly alice band to keep my newly-shortened locks in some semblance of order!


Serendipity: the faculty of making happy and unexpected discoveries by accident. Also, the fact or instance of making such a discovery.

So many of the things I love most intensely have been blown into my life upon a gust of serendipity. Some of the things that have touched the very core of my being and changed me in some small way- but utterly- have been completely by chance. By accident. Now that I sit blowing on my tea and waiting for it to cool, I cannot help but think perhaps, perhaps if I had not discovered these things in this way or that way, the way that I did- perhaps I would never have discovered them at all. And who would I be now, if that were the case?

Well happily, most happily, I have discovered them and I do not have to think about who or what or where I would be without them. Perhaps the whole of life is nothing but a whirl of Serendipity with us caught in the centre of our own whirl of it? But here are some happy and unexpected discoveries that I have made by accident.

The Enchanted April a sweet lady at work and I were talking about how many days were left until pay day. She mentioned that she keeps a little notebook to track where her pennies go, and when she cannot make it balance, she makes a note of the erroneous figure to an unknown soldier ‘just like in Enchanted April’. First I watched the film, and then I read the book. And I fell very much in love. So much of what was in the book was also in me- but in reading it, I recognised it for the first time.

Carl I was going to a camping weekend for a friend’s birthday. I had a rather bad cough and was going to stay at home, but on a whim I went. I had been told that he wouldn’t be there (an unfortunate romantic disappointment between he and I at the tender age of 14 had put me off him FOREVER). He was there. I was there. And we have been together ever since.

Brocante Home what a scrumptious website! What a lovely Alison who creates it! Vintage Housekeeping, puttery treats, little rituals, aprons, tiny candles, routines, lavender water- changed our home life so much. Made me write! Made me blog! I scrub seasonally! All I was trying to do, when I found this haven on the internet, was to find a website that would tell me how to make my own Christmas Crackers…

Mrs MiniverBrocante Home Alison mentioned this book recently. I got it from the library shelf the same day, and had devoured it by the next. Again, it is like a part of me I had not met had somehow been captured by someone else and scattered across the pages for me to meet. Of course I do not think I am Mrs Miniver- just that the way she thinks, her observations….seem very familiar to me!

Oh there are many more, but how boring for you to read! I just feel thankful for these things. Perhaps the American Thanksgiving Tradition has crept into my consciousness? Anyway, for all of these- and blogs through which I have met some lovely, lovely friends – I am thankful!

The Whirl Of Gaiety

Have you ever read These Happy Golden Years? It is one of the Little House On The Prairie books. In it, there is a chapter called ‘the whirl of gaiety’ and that is just what this last weekend was.

Friday was my day to go to see my lovely Mum. It was cold and damp and very unpromising- but we had a marvellous time. We started with continental coffee (whipped cream and nuts!) then did some Christmas shopping, then popped to Sainsburys (there is not one near me) where I got some 00 flour to play making pasta with. Then she took me to Fontenay Orchard – a little orchard in the countryside that has Concorde pears- they are marvellous, really delicious. This orchard is through tiny winding roads, and all the trees were dropping golden leaves on us like rain. Best of all, there was an honesty box to pay in. I love that trust still exists.

I came back into town, got my hair cut, and then went home to dress for a Winter Ball! How exciting- a proper evening out. It was a fundraiser for the scouts, and we went as it was a friend who works with the scouts birthday. I wore my black dress that looks like the Mouret Galaxy dress, and red lipstick, and felt grown up! We left as the clock struck midnight…

Saturday I had to work during the day, and was more than a little tired from the evening before! But after work, I had dinner at Café Rouge with dear Carl and my lovely friend Lisa. I had the softest steak and a glass of red wine- delicious! Then we went to see the new Bond movie. Oh, I loved it! Very long- so we took in a cup of tea- but good. And then we walked back through the town at ten to midnight- two late nights in a row!

Sunday we went to Cressing Temple Barns where there was a food and craft fair. On the way, it thundered, lightninged, rained and hailed, and there was a glorious rainbow! The stalls were set out in ancient barns, and although we got rained on and very muddy, it was a marvellous morning. We bought irish cream scented coffee beans, and best of all- a proper yule log. It is a beautiful log, about the size of my forearm, with three spaces drilled into it that each hold a tealight candle! Then we hurried home and on to see a friend for Sunday lunch. Convivial company and a roast lunch- nothing better.

So that is what I have been up to- what about you?

Sunday, 19 November 2006

Someone Up There Was Listening!

We came into town yesterday- and although I hate jostling crowds, I did love the afternoon. It was cooler than it has been, and there was a Continental Market it town. We hate hot paella for lunch, and wandered about the stalls together.

Later, we bumped into Mum and Dad and had drinks in Costa (peppermint hot chocolate for me, bliss!). We were on a roll of Good Things- because- in Smiths, I found....the Martha Stewart Living Handmade Holidays special edition I have been wanting so much!

And even better- it lives up to expectation! So when I am home from work today (yes, Sunday! This is my last one) I am going to curl up on the sofa with Green and Blacks Cocoa, and read it from cover to cover and plan my Christmas presents to make.

A random observation- the leaves outside our little flat have turned bright, bright yellow. They are falling like confetti in abundance at the moment- and as I got into the car (dear Carl took me to work this morning!) I looked up through almost bare branches adorned with acid yellow leaves, to a clear blue sky. Quite, utterly, perfect.

Happy Sunday everyone!

Thursday, 16 November 2006

I wish, I wish, I wish!

Oh, oh, ohhh.

One more post, and then I shall not post about magazines again for a little while, I promise.

I was merrily clicking away at www.marthastewart.com today and then I saw it! A special holiday issue of Living Magazine!

It is called Martha Stewart Handmade Holiday Gifts, and oh, oh, ohhh how I want it! But I have no idea how to get it. My local shops dont get it, and the only ebay sellers are in the states....sigh.

Perhaps if I am really good this year, Santa Claus can magic one into my stocking! Until then I shall have to satisfy myself by awaiting the December issue of Martha Stewart Living Magazine instead...

Wednesday, 15 November 2006

Stumbling Upon Good Things

I have posted before about how other bloggers will post about something I have been thinking, or seen, or read, and also about how often fellow bloggers give me ideas for things to make, read, cook….

Firstly, I have been struck by an urge for chunky vegetable soup having visited the every lovely http://prettylittleblog.blogspot.com Secondly, I have been out on my lunch hour on a mission- Posy www.posy.typepad.com/posy/ posted about BBC Good Homes magazine. As well as coming with a voucher for a free pack of mini baubles from M+S, it also has a free little Christmas Ideas magazine. The good thing for me is that some of the ideas come from one of my favourite Christmas books- Christmas Inspirations by Rose Hammick, and some from a book I have been pondering about buying- Creating Your Perfect Christmas. Better still, you can buy the books at reduced prices! And there is more…the magazine looks great too!

Posy has sparked another idea in my mind- you know how I am for magazines-especially the Christmas editions? Well it seems she is like that too- and she has a photo of all her magazines stacked up, ready to read. Well it strikes me I buy them as I see them, here and there, read them, buy another… Next year, I am going to go out and buy them all at once. It will cost the same, but I think it will feel much more indulgent. I am going to stack them up next to ‘my’ chair with a nice box of chocolates (Single origin from Thorntons have caught my eye) ready, waiting for me.

A lovely piece of post when I got home from work last night: the new Cath Kidston catalogue. Imagine my delight when not only did I fall in love with one of her new patterns-Lapland-but that she even does candles, paper plates, matches now! How to resist? (I probably won’t be trying very hard to!)

Tuesday, 14 November 2006

I Live In Santa's Workshop

Gosh! I have been away for so long. From my blogging, I mean. And I owe too many emails too- all of a sudden, the days have started slip slide skidding away- it must be getting near to Christmas!

I have been doing Christmassy things since I last posted- and doing them on ‘pajama craft days’ that were an idea planted in my head by lovely Alicia at www.rosylittlethings.typepad.com

Sunday was a pajama craft day. It is so cozy when it is cold and dark outside to putter around inside all wrapped up. The only thing that could have made the day better, would have been hot chocolate. Alas, no chocolate in the house- and I wasn’t getting out in my pajamas to get some!

So, Christmas crafts- I have been making Christmas cards. Snowflake cards for nearly everyone, except for 3d angels for work friends, Christmas tree cards for family, and the 12-days-of-christmas series (that I MUST get a hurry up with!) for Carl. I still need to make some cards for the children I know, and then write all the cards I have made…

Best of all, a Christmas wreath is all ready for our front door. Inspired by the same lovely Alicia of pajama craft day fame. Last December she made a fabulous wreath, and I have adapted it. I got a polystyrene wreath form from Hobbycraft, and covered it with strips of felt in bright pink and bright blue. There are embroidered green felt holly leaves and mistletoe, and buttons for holly berries. I embroidered a leaf with ‘Joyeaux’ and then made ‘Noel’ out of glittery pipe cleaners. The whole thing is to be hung with a bright pink ribbon with gold edging. These are my Christmas colours this year! I am going to wrap up presents in bright pink paper with blue ribbons for girls, and bright blue paper with pink ribbons for boys.

Lovely, lovely to make- the mincemeat. I have used the Delia recipe that I make every year, only this year I have added some dried cranberries that I had left over from my cake. I always make too much, so I have some to give away. Always a jar each to my Mum and Sister, then one for dear Carl’s Mum, and a little one for my kind friend Lisa. I used vegetarian suet this year which seems to have given it a slightly strange texture, but Carl has been ‘testing’ it for me and declares it to taste well. There is something really satisfying about a little row of recycled jam jars, all odd shapes and sizes filled with mincemeat, labelled prettily and given little paper hats to wear!

It is funny though…for all of this, I still don’t feel as Christmassy as I normally do. Perhaps I am more relaxed this year, and it is this relaxed feeling that is unfamiliar?

Random thoughts- when I was making the mincemeat, I had my Christmas music cd on (Santa Baby, When A Child Is Born, Mary’s Boy Child, White Christmas, all of those) and the wind was gusting beautiful gold leaves from the trees outside my kitchen window. The air smelled of Christmas, and I felt really contented.

I am reading ‘Bel Canto’ by Anne Patchett. It is really, really good. I am only two chapters in, but I find myself scurrying off to snatch a page whenever I can.

Probably enough randomness for now- except to ask, does anyone know what has happened to Brocante Home? Where has lovely Alison and her scrumptious site gone?!?

Oh, one last thing- well, two- the pumpkin soup was AMAZING, make it (from last post) and thank you all for your lovely comments. I cannot believe it has been a fortnight since I last posted! I will be a better blogger from now on! And again, thank you for your comments and emails, they always brighten my day.