Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Little Envelopes of Sunshine

Tomorrow is going to be my blog-catching-up day. I have lots of posts written and emailed to myself, all ready to load. I have three new projects to tell you about, and lots of little things to share over a cup of tea.

Just now though, I want to urge you to go to your writing drawer, take out your lovliest paper, use your favourite coloured ink, and send a letter to someone you love. You see, last Friday I came home to a handwritten letter from a favourite aunt who has been terribly ill. It was so lovely to have proof that she is on the mend, albeit slowly, and it was such a treat to have a letter that was not 'for' anything- not a thank you, not an invitation, not anything but just a lovely, chatty letter for the joy of corresponding. I spent a happy morning writing back to her, and it felt so good just to catch up on little details, share thoughts about the beauty of the snow, and such little things.

Then, I had a 'save the date' card through the post for my lovely sisters wedding, even though as chief bridesmaid I didn't technically 'need' one or expect one. She sent it just so there would be a lovely unexpected little something in the post for me.

And just now, I had an email from my brother who has gone to Afghanistan. I won't see him again until my sister's wedding in August. I did not know it before, but I can send him little letters and parcels free from the post office, abnd I have been sitting here planning things to send.

It is as though the whole universe is telling me to dust off my addres book, and start spreading a few smiles in the post. I have a friend who is having a long and hard pregnancy, so I thought I might start to send her little notes and cards just to try and brighten her day up a bit. There are people I used to work with but I don't any more....people who I have not lost touch with, but am not in touch with as much as I would like, and when I am, it is via email. Not that email and the internet are not wonderous wonders, but really, who wouldn't rather receive a proper letter, or note in the post?

So join with me, and make it a mission to choose one person in your life each week, and send them a little something to let them know you care. Just think of all the little envelopes of sunshine we can send flitting through the post!

Friday, 1 January 2010

My Parent's Living Room...Is It Any Wonder I Love Books?

Marzipan Acorns From Halloween Brunch Club

Some Homemade Christmas Gifts

Snow Day

Christmas Pictures

A Trio of Plans for January

Over glasses of champagne, my lovely hostess and I came up with a few ideas for this new year.

The first one concerns magazines...she was musing over renewing her subscription to Easy Living. Basically both of us think it has staled lately, but just as she decides to stop taking it, it turns out a really great issue. I said that she could stop subscribing, and just try the odd issue here and there whilst investigating other magazines. Then she suggested that what we could do each month is to buy one magazine for each other, on any subject (although obviously chosen with enjoyment in mind) so that we can broaden our horizons, magazine wise. I can't wait to start!

(While I am on the subject of magazines, I must say I have just discovered Selvedge, which looks terribly intimidating, is rather expensive, but is a fabulously good read, and much gentler than it looks. The issue I bought had a history of the sequin in it!)

The other idea comes from our annual visit to the Vitality Show. We enjoyed it last year and were saying that we enjoy the talks and classes far more than the stalls to buy from. Then she suggested how about we each choose 12 different ideas or products, and devote one month to trying each of them, and posting about them. So, in April, look out for Vitaliy Show posts!

Oh, and the third? I have started an extra blog....dedicated to a year of painting my nails red, whipping up face packs and sipping fruit smoothies in the pursuit of my loveliest year yet!

New Year

We are so fortunate to have some friends who are really generous with their time and home and hospitality. Last night, for the fifth year running, we arrived at their lovely home for 9:00pm where they served us dinner. First of all we had home made (and home grown!) vegetable soup, followed by a serve-yourself-course of tender roast beef, roast pork with the crackliest crackling I have ever nibbled, and a variety of veg.

After we had eaten, we pulled names out a sparkly pink cowboy hat (it is a long story!) to decide in which order we would play our song of the year, and explain why we have chosen it. I chose Relator by Scarlett Johansson. She is one of my favourite actresses, and this was the first song I heard her sing. It is really catchy, and makes me feel happy when I hear it. It was wonderful to hear the variety of songs chosen, from theme songs from films, to the Christmas number 1, to some Carpenters!

Next came going round the table, one by one, relating to the others the one thing we have learned in 2009, before each writing down our predictions for 2010. These are sealed in an envelope which we all sign, and put away for next year.

Then the clock struck midnight, and we all sang 'For Auld Lang Syne' and drank champagne. Then we opened last years predicitions, some of which were spookily accurate, and some of which were downright silly, and talked until it was time for bed.

Somewhere along the way we had sparklers, and set off one of those Chinese Wish lanterns too. When we were sitting eating breakfast with them this morning, snow began to fall like icing sugar being shaken over a fresh baked cake. What bliss!

Wishing you a very happy 2010 (that is two thousand and ten to me, not twentyten!)


Looking Back At December

December was a busy month for me, as I suspect that it is for many women. This year I made all my Christmas cards, which were minatures with origami envelopes. I also made most of my gifts, including 23 pairs of crochet slippers, which I filled with little treats such as bath bombs, chocolate coins and candles, in an echo of the European tradition of children leaving their shoes out on the feast of St Nicholas for him to fill. I also made Winter Spiced Coffee Liqueur, and hot water bottle covers from old cashmere jumpers. I knitted a cabled cashmere hot water bottle cover for my Mum, and a pair of mittens for myself. I made a Christmas cake which was more of a pudding, but delicious none the less. I stitched felt robins, went ice skating for the first time in years, and went to two Christmas parties. I fell in love with Bury St Edmunds all over again, and emailed myself several ideas for posts which I never quite got to blog. I took lots of photographs, decided that Scarlett Johansson is my new favourite singer (check out 'relator' on youtube!) and bought another red lipstick.

I shed some happy tears on Christmas morning, as I felt so much love from my friends and family in their gifts. I am going to learn to throw pots, have a frilly pokla dot apron, a cd of french women singers, and a cupcake book with silicone cupcake cases in the shape of hearts!

I decorated three Christmas trees in one week, and devoured as many books (but over the month, not one week!).

Best of all was my visit to Bury St Edmunds. Although I had started making my cards and gifts before Mum and I went, I wasn't feeling particularly Christmassy. After a day spent there though, I felt little tendrils of tinselly excitement unfurling somewhere in my tummy. There was the living nativity again, where I stroked a donkey and a dear little sheep creature on impossibly long legs. We drank Bailey's laced hot chocolate to keep warm, and found ourself thoroughly cheered by all the lovely people and lovely things to see and do.

The other thing that really made me feel Christmassy was the last Women's Institute Country Market before Christmas. Mum and I had both ordered a few bits in advance, and when we went in, they had put our orders into boxes and labelled them. Mum had an un-iced cake, mincemeat and a giant pudding. I had mincemeat and a smaller pudding. We also bought boughs of holly, tiny boxes of home made marzipan fruits, and some beautifully decorated cupcakes. The tea was free that morning, and every cup came with a tiny home made mince pie. The atmosphere was lovely, and it made me really look forward to Christmas.

Christmas Eve we had my family come to visit, and I decided to be inspired by Nigella in my catering. In past years, I have made a vast buffet, but this year I cooked a huge fish pie which had prawns, lobster, scallops, smoked haddock and smoked salmon in it. There was trifle for dessert, and amaretto chocolate soya milk to drink. By 10:00pm they had gone home, we had washed up, and were sitting on the sofa in the glow of the tree lights, feeling relaxed and excited about the next day.

We spent most of Christmas day at my Mum and Dad's house. Mum made some new decorations this year- bunting made of Christmassy fabrics, and then used the same fabric to make fabric paperchains! She also had a lovely little tableau using a bough of Christmas tree with pretty lights wound into it, a tiny nativity scene, and a glittery acorn ornament. I will post some pictures so you can see! We spent the evening at Carl's parents house, where we played board games until midnight. It is so lovely to spend time just laughing and enjoying each other's company.

Oh, and I had a new outfit for Christmas! A black and white striped dress from New Look, which looks a bit Parisenne. It has a black blow with some large pearls and crystals, which pins to one side where you would usually wear a brooch.

I hope that you had the most scrumptious of Christmasses, were surrounded by love and laughter, and have some wonderful memories to look back upon.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year! I hope that if you stayed up to see the new decade in, you were with people you love drinking a glass of something sparkling. If you were early to bed, I hope you woke up after a wonderful night's sleep with a smile.

It would be stating the obvious to say that things have been quiet around here for a while, but now Christmas is behind me and there is a new year ahead, I hope that is going to change!

But before I get to looking back over December, or looking ahead to January, a heartfelt Happy New Year to you all!