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Just a few jottings - - Random ramblings, occasional crafty creations & nature notes included. Trying to "Design a life I love" - succeeding I think -----.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

It's getting nearer - - -

- - to my trip to Munich Christmas market - and I am beginning to feel like a child on Christmas Eve, with that bubble of excitement in my tummy. I have been to collect some euros from the bank at lunch time - and got drenched on the way back as the heavens opened! I am hoping to get some traditional German Christmas foods from the markets - "pfeffernousse", and "Kuchen" - Hope I've spelled those right. I am planning my Christmas buffet on Boxing Day around what I can bring back, so plan to travel with a half empty suitcase on the basis that I can fill it for bringing it back home.I will of course have our cold meats that I have cooked myself(turkey, pork & a ham) along with pickles,chutneys & salad stuffs and trifle for pud - though I might also make Nigella's "Rocky Road" as it looked so delicious last night on TV - LOL!! Though this year I am going to be without my Chocoholic DD1 as she will be at the other side of the world - so maybe a chocolate sweet might not be needed. Actually on second thoughts I will not need it then as I won't actually have very many visitors this year at Christmas - I could do a bit of something for New Year's Eve perhaps.
Need to think about it.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

It'sbeen a little - -

- - hectic!! I haven't had a minute to do any "me" stuff for a good few days, what with DD2 having school Christmas Concert, the school panto, driving tests(theory) - she passed - DH deciding he would wait til I put the Christmas Tree up THEN paint!!!!!!!, organising posting gifts & cards as the possibility of a postal strike looms and - - - I'm sure you can imagine. My Christmas Journal has lots of page protectors with notes and so on in them - but no pages I can upload. As I am off the the Christmas Markets in Munich on Saturday for 3 days, and Friday is my works Xmas party - M & D are arriving at my sisters for the festive season next week - I can't see many pages being done now til after the 29th!
Ah well c'est la vie!!
I have some great pictures though - for at least 3 of the prompts I have not yet done pages for - and hope to have some wonderful Christmas memories to add from my trip to Germany.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Oh Christmas Tree - -

- - oh Christmas Tree -
I haven't got mine up yet - but I do so love putting it up - maybe I'll be able to do it on Saturday - hopefully anyway. Ideally I love a real tree - there is something about the scent of the pine/fir tree that is just Christmas to me, though we didn't have real trees when I was a child - I think only the "comfortably off" could afford real trees when I was growing up - unless they grew their own of course. I do know that when mum could afford it she got a real tree - and I can remember the scent as I walked in the house from school (Senior School). Magical!! Totally magical!!
When I first had my own tree it was a small artificial one - and my cats licked ALL the glitter off the baubles!!! which I only discovered when I took the tree down to put the decorations away on 12th Night.
Now I have a real tree - which goes up at different times - when my children were small it had to be up in time for B's birthday (17th) - now its the most convenient weekend - since I am ashamed to say that I have enough decorations to open a shop - - so it takes me quite a long time to put up my tree!!!

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

An Outing to - -

The Clog Factory - -
Living on the very edge of the Pennines - the Lancashire side - we were nevertheless within touching distance of Yorkshire, in fact when I was a little girl (Saddleworth - on the outskirts of Oldham - - was in Yorkshire!). From Royton we were less than an hour away from Todmorden, Holmfirth, the Colne Valley & Hebden Bridge - the home of Walkleys Clog factory - They are now the only company in the UK making clogs - but I digress -
the time I am remembering was when this enormous yet beautiful - well to my eyes anyway, building - an old stone built mill, on the edge of the river Colne had the clog workshop and shop on the ground floor (where you can still go to buy clogs - if you go they will draw round your foot and make you a pair of clogs that will only fit YOU. The master clogmakers then, were men of character with broad Yorkshire/Lancashire accents busy in their workshops - where you could watch them at work - and their skill with a few bits of beech & leather has to be seen to be believed. I believe clogs are the most comfortable shoes you will ever wear - but I could never afford to buy any to test the theory out - we were on a tight budget with a growing family.)
However the the upper floors were given over to small and unique retail outlets, selling wonderfully quirky items, and hand made delights like soaps, bath oils & salts, bubble bath, handmade chocolates, sweets, glass ware, pottery, toys - and all manner of other beautiful things - clothes, hats, leather goods, bags, jewelry, scarves & knitwear - - a wonderful place - full of surprises - each little shop like opening the door of the Old Curiosity Shoppe - - you never knew what treasure you would find inside!
The Piece de Resistance - the two top floors -- a German Christmas Market, Santa's Grotto & the Cafe - a Christmas lover's dreams come true!! At this time - probably 20 years ago - this was unique in my part of the UK - there was no where else like it. So on the second weekend of December we would bundle up the children in warm clothes ,wrap up warm ourselves (the van heating system didn't work too brilliantly) collect mum - & dad sometimes too if he felt like it and set off to see the Man in Red. we were welcomed to this magical world of a shop by The Nutcrackers - two beautiful carved & painted life size Nutcrackers on each side of the entrance and inside all the amazing decorations were set out on stalls to browse around, little wooden smoking men - with incense cones, wooden carousels full of tiny Christmas figures, exquisite coloured glass baubles, not only the round ones but teardrops, cones, houses, churches, trees, drums, soldier boys, trains, angels, little children, skaters, dancers, snowmen & Santas - & I am sure I have forgotten some, other stalls contained wooden decorations - toys, stars, moons, eggs - some painted some not - and miniature Nutcrackers!& yet more stalls had cards, giftwrap, tinsel and so on- it was like being a child in a sweetshop - we just didn't know where to look first!

Our fist little wooden Christmas decorations came from Walkleys as the children each chose one decoration they loved each year, as did I & some of my most precious glass tree decorations came from here - now taken out each year - and memories come flooding back. We would finish our trip with the visit to Santa then tea or coffee and spicy biscuits in the cafe before the drive home in the darkening afternoon - watching for houses with Christmas Trees & Lights - getting excited about putting up our own tree & adding the new decorations when we did. Christmas Magic on a cold December Saturday - - wish I could do it again right now!
I don't think that the Clog Factory has the Christmas Market any longer - - so sad to think its gone - & am glad to add it to this years Journal - so at least my memory of it will live on.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Countdown - -

- - to Christmas - - so dark as I go home after school in these short winter days – yet sometimes I get an unexpected boost to the spirits – I look up to see a sickle moon and the evening star – shining so brightly against the deepening blue of the twilight sky – almost I can reach out and pluck them from the sky shiny and bright – ready to hang on my Christmas Tree. A typical Christmas scene moon, I think – the kind usually in the background when you see Santa and his sleigh flying up over the rooftops on a Christmas card.
It’s a true midnight blue at this time of the evening – yes I do know the timing is all wrong! – the smudges of cloud creating texture – it looks so “strokable” and tactile, blue silk velvet in the cold air. As the sky darkens even more the stars begin to appear – pinning up the curtain of the sky!

Another day dawns and I awake to the sound of rain drumming on the skylight – it has turned considerably milder – so no snow for us then - but time to think about our family traditions as we countdown to Christmas - do you open an Advent Calendar, light an advent candle, open a small gift, eat a chocolate? I have done all of these things and this year have gone back to the very old fashioned Advent calendar I had as a little girl - with tiny pictures behind little doors - I think my children think I am finally losing it!
I have been looking back at my pages so far - and have realised that this years journal is mostly journalling - and though I love the papers I am using I am not totally happy with the way the pages look!!! Might have to do them again I think - when I have a bit more time at the weekend perhaps.
With that thought in mind I am going to go with one of the prompt ideas today.
So 25 reasons why I love Christmas

1: The sense of anticipation it brings
2: Putting up my Christmas tree
3: Seeing family & friends
4: Candles
5: Spices - the scent of Christmas baking!! Yum!
6: Candle lit Carol services
7: Pine cones on the fire giving off both scent & colour
8: My glass angels
9: Time at home
10:School Concert
11:Twinkling lights
12:Robins in the garden
14:Special food we only ever have at Christmas
16:Winter walks on Christmas Day
17:Ben's Birthday
18:Gift giving - (no longer too fussed about receiving)
19:Christmas Eve
20:Christmas Music
21:Carols - Listening to and singing them
22:Using my Victorian Sherry glasses (the only time I ever do)
23:Lydia's Birthday
24:Wrapping parcels
25:Christmas Day!!

What do you love?

Thursday, 4 December 2008

A Perfect Christmas - -

- - a view like this outside
- - warm & cosy inside
- - delicious food on the table, glassware gleaming in the candle light
- - family & friends around my perfectly decorated tree
- - love & laughter in the room
- - Christmas music we all enjoy playing softly in the background
- - children with "candle eyes" as they open the perfect gift

Christmas is always like this - in my dreams, yet surprisingly often a little of that perfection creeps into the room - usually when I least expect it - when just one of those "perfect" elements is mine for a fleeting moment in time, captured like a snapshot in my head, and when I find that picture coming to mind I smell the cinnamon, the pine, the wood smoke and delicious roast, I hear the music & laughter & see the glittery decorations of the tree as firelight flickers - reflected in the baubles. Once it was the children with eyes like candles opening the perfect gift as, once their awe as they attended their first Christingle service. Another year all my family were there - I even remember a white Christmas, and once upon a time I had crystal glasses.What will this year bring?

Pages 2 & 3 - -

- - of this year's Christmas Journal.

- - the patterned paper on each page is a pocket - and I have put a copy of the weather forecast for the day inside this one. I have made my snowflake this year from wire and assorted glass beads.

This years cards - well just a few.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Christmas Crops - - Cards - - Correspondence

- - last night was our Christmas Crop – yes I know it’s very early to celebrate the season – but if we didn’t have our meeting on our usual first Tuesday – we wouldn’t have one at all. December is a hectic month – many of us have children – with their attendant Nativities, Concerts and Parties – many of us work in schools – with all that brings in the way of Christmas Activities – so you see early December is perfect for our Christmas Crop!!

It was a wonderful evening –

mulled wine (a non alcoholic variety which is truly delicious!!) with mince pies,

a small buffet

a Secret Santa Swap of crafty goodies for each other

held our usual raffle,

Lynsey brought along her “shop”

swapped Christmas ATCs

took photographs & printed them out to scrap

- – not that many of us did LOL – too busy talking and laughing!

I had ordered some small custom made stamps as a surprise gift for our subscription members which was very successful – a great relief for Hayley& I (our idea!! - & as we are running things we thought it a good one) and we had 2 new ladies – who are going to join us on a regular basis I hope – so I think that made the whole evening a resounding success. I know I had a lot of fun.I even completed my page in my Christmas Journal - (about the only thing I did) but foolishly I have left it at home so can't scan my page to show yet. I will have to add the pics later.

It was icy cold this morning - and the roads quite treacherous with black ice everywhere - but oh what I wonderful sunrise - one of nature's gifts to me - (to make up for getting up in the dark to go to work?) beautiful skies - giving Gansey Bay a mystical shoreline, the sea a steely looking glass with scarcely a ripple visible - - gulls soaring high overhead - tiny black dots against the orange of the rising sun. I tried to capture it on camera - and failed totally. Maybe one day!

Now to consider my thoughts for page 3 - - Christmas Correspondence - very apt as a few ladies were making Christmas cards last night & our Christmas Stamps are illustrations from The Jolly Christmas Postman!!!

Do you write a Christmas letter to go with your cards when you send them?? - I have done since I moved away from the area where I grew up and lived for a large part of my life. Ooops - -I haven't started this year's yet - -however I do like to put my year down on paper - I don't hand write them - all done by word processing as they would not get done otherwise!! I need to get a move on as I have some cards which MUST go by Friday.

I love getting letters myself, so really should be a better correspondent than I am - - I love that my godmother always includes a letter with my birthday card & Christmas card - but I fear that letter writing is a dying art since I don't get many others -( I am just as guilty as the next person for not finding time to write letters - for someone who loves words as I do that is a shameful admission!!) Would Shimelle's report read "Must try harder" were she to write one??

I know many people now feel that Christmas cards are waste of money and prefer to make a charitable donation instead - I understand their sentiments, sometimes I feel guilty not doing the same - but for me writing my cards, including a letter - - is my gift to those friends & family I don't see from one year to the next - by writing a card I give them a little of my time, I think of them, wish I had phoned/seen them more often in the last year - - and always mean to do better in the New Year. I don't of course - - so - however hectic or frantic these season may get I will find the time to write my letter - and my cards - even if it means burning the midnight oil.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

What a change - -

- - in the weather! Yesterday was icy cold and bright - today - to steal a line from the song - nothing but grey skies!! and so much milder, at least that's what I thought til I heard the weather forecast on the the radio when it was announced that our Mountain Road is closed because of "adverse weather conditions". Oddly enough I didn't think it was cold enough for that - but there you go!!Life is full of surprises! The weather forecasters had said it could snow - and I have to admit to looking forward to that - just because it always looks so pretty - as it so rarely gets cold enough for snow here on my island, though I am NOT a great snow lover really.
I love the way it LOOKS - not the way it feels - I don't do cold & wet - yet tell me it's snowing and I will dash to the nearest window to watch the flakes as the first few drift apparently aimlessly down before turning into a great flurry - all in a race to be the first to land. And a real snowstorm - snowflakes accelerating like a Formula1 race driver, whirling past the window at a rate of knots, dancing, spinning, swirling & tossed by the wind so all you see is the snowflakes mad dance - muffling all sound , turning the world white & silent - and completely beautiful!! From inside looking out that is!

Also here is my page from 1st December - It lifts up to show the photos I took yesterday of our girls crafting (Crafty Corner in school) and our Advent calendar. There is additional journalling to go on - ie their names and details of what they are making, but I do not want to upload that info to the web so took the pictures before I add it.
My journalling for today's entry is above, and I will post pictures of my page tomorrow.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Advent begins - -

- - with an Advent sky today coming in to work, the softest peach where the sun was rising, turning to a golden shimmer as it paled and spread long pale fingers of light out over the landscape and the bay – so , so beautiful – I wish I could capture it and bottle it to share – it is so fleeting – this ethereal beauty of the morning skies – I always feel as if the heavens are giving me a gift – such an appropriate feeling for the beginning of Christmas don’t you think?

However it was so COLD – we had a heavy frost last night and there was ice on the windscreen – not common here let me assure you! When I got out of the car the ground was glittery & sparkling – more beauty – well to my eyes at least – so that it really did me think that today is the start of something special - - well it is of course as it is Advent & is also the start of 2008 Journal Your Christmas class with Shimelle Laine – so my first prompt has arrived in my Inbox with its idea of making a little promise to yourself, writing your manifesto, declaring your intentions – so here is mine – for 2008

I am going to -
Keep a record of this Christmas season
By making a few notes each day of my thoughts
Creating a little page - every day -
Just because I want to – and its fun –
To tell the stories of my favourite time of year.

That by taking a little Thinking time each day
that I can keep the true Spirit of Christmas
alive and kicking - not only for me
but for all of my family, so they can
look back at these memories with smiles.

That I meet likeminded souls
who will make this particular Advent journey with me.

To Share my creations occasionally with them as
they may do with me.

To remember why I love Christmas – not the
madly commercial variety – but that one that
Ebeneezer Scrooge promised to keep – so like him
“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”


Skip the days when it gets a bit too hectic!

I also found an old fashioned Advent Calendar - the kind with little pictures behind tiny doors as opposed to a chocolate - at the weekend so have bought it for my desk - at home I have given B & R one with a chocolate inside - but am an old-fashioned girl at heart - so I prefer them without chocolate.