Sunday, December 31, 2006

Looking forward to 2007

I've been inspired today, as on so many occasions since I began this blog back in April (has it really been so short a time?). I have made friends, learned to do new things and best of all, appreciated my own life so much more. I don't do it often, but it is nice to know I can read back over those little snapshots of my life this year and enjoy things all over again.

When I read Beki's post, I wondered if I might also be able to use the blog as a catalyst for getting things done this year. She set herself a whole lot of goals and has been re-visiting them. I'm so impressed, partly by what she's achieved, but more by her courage in committing them to 'paper' in public. In the hope that fear of failure will keep me focused, here are mine for 2007.


  • Make Tiny Happy Bag

  • Paint CD storage shelves

  • Get back to walking - in the summer, my friend Sarah and I had a great thing going with an hours walking-for-fitness a couple of times a week. We stopped when the evenings got too dark to go after dinner, but I want to go while Johnny's at pre-school. it's a great excuse to chat, nose round the village and you don't even notice that you're exercising - multitasking, love it.


  • More inspiring cooking - I've been lazy recently, too many ready made items, too many same old dishes.

  • Fix up the new office - oh yes, another post in itself. Johnny swapped bedrooms to get away from the noise of the central heating and lo, I have a new bigger office cum craft room. Yippee.

  • Sell some things on eBay - got to fund this crafting habit somehow...

  • Find us a project house - this is hubby's mid-life crisis project! Perhaps it would be cheaper to buy a motorbike (but less fun I suppose).

  • Be more mindful about how I spend my time - books to read, children to nurture, stuff to make, life to live - if only I had more hours in the day. This is my resolution not to waste those I do have.

Happy New Year to you all and thank you for everything this year. Your comments, your friendship, your inspiration.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Sa-sa please.

Today, the boys had carrots for lunch. This is not in itself a blog-worthy event I realize, but it did help solve one of Johnny's mystery sentences.

He'll be 3 in February and like many small children, has a lot to say for himself. Unfortunately, his speech, though full of amazing vocabulary, is still extremely unclear. Usually I can understand and translate for him, sometimes Mark steps in, but occasionally he has us both stumped. Today was one of those.

Mama, can ree have sa-sa tooo deee?

I got most of it (Mummy, can we have ..... today?), but sa-sa had me baffled. I tried all the usuals - is it something to eat? Is it somewhere you want to go? Is it something to play with? What colour is sa-sa ... Bingo! Sa-sa is red, but unfortunately I am no closer to figuring out what it is.

Very solemnly he takes me by the hand to the fireplace where a piece of carrot has been carefully placed. And the penny drops - Mummy, can we have Santa today? He's luring him back. Think it will work?

I could re-use my gift bags then! Tutorial from Amy, blue elastic (VV Rouleaux) and matching jingle bells (Paperchase) from shopping trip with Caroline.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Special delivery

At the end of last term, Mark told me he needed a new school bag. He was very specific in his requests so I had him draw what he wanted.

Hmmm. Would it not just have been easier to mug a postman? Probably, but a whole lot less satisfying. I used a pattern people!! Yes, me, self-confessed patternaphobe. Simplicity 4391 if you're really interested. And here's the finished article, complete with reflective tape (the best bit as far as he's concerned).

I know it looks huge, but it has to accommodate an enormous book bag, plus lunchbox, plus extra water, plus all the other small boy requirements for the day. At least his hands are free now.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

Reminders to self for the festive season
breathe deeply::relax totally::walk humbly::indulge completely::read quietly::sing lustily::give generously::sleep sufficiently

Hope yours was utterly fabulous.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Who ate all the shortbread?

I made another batch of macadamia and mandarin shortbread tonight intending to take it along to my book group Christmas get-together, but hubby has requisitioned it for work. Those colleagues had better be grateful...

We are discussing Fear and Trembling by Amelie Nothomb. It is the story of a Belgian girl who spends a year working for a Japanese corporation in Tokyo and I absolutely loved it. But then, I don't know how much of that is because I have worked in Tokyo and found it hugely familiar to read about. I'm looking forward to seeing what the others thought.

It may be tempting fate to say so, but I think I am finished with Christmas shopping (at least on the present procurement front). Now I just need to attend to a couple of wrapping dilemmas (rugby ball ideas anyone?) then it's food food food! My favourite bit.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Someone's idea of a joke?

My washing machine has chosen today to give up the ghost.
I have many words to describe this, and all of them have 4 letters.
I know what Santa's bringing ME this year.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Teacher treats

Thanks to a great packaging idea from Joanna at Stardust Shoes, we got all the teacher Christmas Goodie plates to school for Mark today. He stencilled christmas trees on the top plates and we tied them up with stripey string.

You'll have to excuse the exceptionally dodgy photo, but I was running out of time and at almost 3pm the natural light in my kitchen is non-existent. The goodies are the fruits of a lovely Sunday, spent baking Macaroons, Cinnamon Cookies, Mandarin Pecan Shortbread Sticks and dipping dried apricots in chocolate and pistachios. Yum yum - the boys were in bowl licking heaven.

Now we just need to deliver 4 for Johnny's pre-school teachers and that's another thing ticked off my list. Johnny and the other teeny-tinies are meant to be doing a performance of festive songs tomorrow - he'll belt out Twinkle Twinkle but flatly refuses to join in with Jingle Bells and denies all knowledge of a bizarre little ditty called Plum Pudding. Tomorrow should be fun...

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Trans atlantic meet up

I met Tasha earlier this year through a kids cooking swap, but I never thought I would get to meet her in real life, what with Minnesota being some way from Oxfordshire. Then she e-mailed to say she was going to be in the UK. An opportunity not to be missed....

I'm often quite shy with new people, but somehow blogger meet-ups are different. Tasha is such a lovely, serene person and chatting with her was a wonderfully relaxing interlude in the midst of the hectic Christmas run-up. It made me think how important it is to make time for the people in our lives, to really listen to them. I'm often guilty of having so much on my plate that I forget that the whole point of what I am doing is to make the people around me happy. Perhaps sometimes I need to do less and sit and talk more. Sounds good doesn't it?

And do you want to know why there are no Tord garlands left in Target? It's because we in the UK are benefiting from personal deliveries of all known stock!

Thank you so much Tasha for that and the gorgeously soft alpaca, which far surpasses the standard of my knitting. I hope to do it justice. And if I ever find myself in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, I will be sure to e-mail and let you know.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

My meme innocence, lost

I was happily reading a meme over at Little Cotton Rabbits today, when I found myself tagged by Julie. I am stuck somewhere between flattered and embarrassed, but here I am, baring all - my love of almost any form of food, my puerile taste in TV and films, my nomadic youth. Stripped down and exposed, so think kind thoughts as you read. I'm feeling fragile.

4 jobs I've had
1. Management Consultant
2. Teaching English as a Foreign Language (the hardest job I have EVER done)
3. Dry Stone Waller (yes, I can lay hedges too - many hidden talents, me)
4. Obligatory barmaid/shelf stacker in supermarket/market barrow sweetie seller student jobs.

4 movies I could watch over and over
I don't like watching films over and over- is that weird? But here are some I have enjoyed more than once.
1. The Snowman - have to cry quietly, so as not to upset the children
2. Howards End (Helena Bonham Carter is practically my neighbour - amazing, but true)
3. The Sound of Music - for sing-along-ability
4. Speed - sorry, Keanu Reeves.... Had a bit of a thing about him.

4 places I have lived (apart from where I am now)
1. Yokohama, Japan
2. Nuku'alofa, Tonga
3. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
4. Georgetown, Cayman Islands

What can I say, I like to put myself about a bit.

4 TV shows I love
1. ER (CBC, Chem 7, type and cross for 6 units, stat - I could be a doctor)
2. Nigella Lawson on any cooking program - she's so GREEDY! I love it.
3. X Factor - I'm addicted, I apologise, but I HAVE to watch.
4. Charlie & Lola - doesn't everyone?

4 places I have been for a vacation
1. Yacht charter in Greece - can't wait for the kids to be old enough to do this again
2. Canal boat on the Kennett and Avon - I defy anyone NOT to be relaxed puttering along at a maximum speed of 4 mph.
3. Camping trip across Germany.
4. Numerous holiday cottages in the UK, Cornwall, Suffolk, Somerset, Northumberland (our preferred holiday with kids option)

4 websites I visit daily - sorry nothing very exciting.
1. Bloglines
2. Hotmail
3. The site meter on my blog - you think you're watching me, but really, I'm watching you!
4. Google

4 favourite foods - do I have to choose?
1. Fruit - I never met a fruit I didn't like: mango, cherries, strawberries, satsumas, raspberries...
2. Seafood - lobster, cockles, clams, whelks, crab, shrimp, fish
3. Nuts - favourite is a dead heat between brazil nuts and walnuts
4. Meat - steak, bacon butties, roast chicken, spare ribs - we're a pretty carnivorous family.

4 places I would rather be
1. In bed - I have new flannel bedlinen - it was VERY hard getting up this morning.
2. Boston
3. Starbucks - preferably the concession in Borders so I could read all the imported magazines with my gingerbread latte.
4. Living in my dream house, Georgian/Edwardian/Victorian, walled garden, gigantic kitchen, craft studio, cleaner, money in the bank. Good think dreaming is free.

4 people I am tagging - sorry if you hate these, pretend you never saw OK?
Caroline (Dolliedaydream)
Tiel (Tsk-tsk)
Kirsten (Kirstencan)
Soo (My little space)

Monica, you got off lightly on account of moving! Count yourself very fortunate. The picture is a hi-jacked attempt to show you my new fuzzy socks, someone just can't resist the lure of a photo opportunity.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Dreaming of a White Christmas

I love snow, but we had none last year and just enough the previous year for one night of snowball fighting. I love the strange muffled silence when it falls and the way that the ugliest corner, where the bins go, suddenly becomes quite magical.
While I'm unlikely to get any round here any time soon, I can at least indulge myself with this magical snowflake generator. I'll wait here while you play.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The third stocking

The final stocking in the trilogy is done - thanks for the blue motif suggestions. I worked on a dove for quite a while, but it just looked odd, so a snowflake it is.

Can you spot the not-so-deliberate mistake? But I rather like it that way, so it's staying. Now I really have to get to work with the stocking stuffing part. What are you hoping for in yours?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Rug, spuds and book

Sorry, just had to hi-jack the blog to show a picture of my new rug to my mother. She's not good with e-mail, but blog surfs like a demon! Like it Mum?

I've had the boys hard at work today. Putting them on spud peeling duty pretty much ensures I can get the rest of lunch prepared in peace. If I teach them to peel chestnuts, I could keep them fully occupied between now and Christmas. I feel a new tradition coming on...

I've been so absorbed in reading about everyones Christmas traditions recently. Particularly the seasonal kids books, and I'm not the only one interested, judging from the response Amy got to her post. Today Simmy, with a stroke of genius, has set up a Flickr group to show your favourite Christmas books for children. Take a look, it's going to be a great one I'm sure.

My contribution today is this. With a chapter for each day of Advent, it tells the story of Joachim, who is lucky enough to obtain a magic advent calender. Hidden inside it, is a secret story, which unfolds each day. For the first time this year I am reading it to Mark, who is loving it as much as I do.

And thank you so much for all the wonderful Birthday greetings - made me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Friday, December 01, 2006

First of December

Can you believe it? December already! Let the preparations begin, only, not today, because it's my birthday so I'm allowed the day off. Especially since my truly wonderful sister-in-law sent me this.

It would be rude not to sit down and have a good look through, don't you think?

I had grand ideas for a thirty-something fascinating things about me post, but after my friend Sarah fed me a delicious lunch, I discovered that I have become sadly unaccustomed to daytime drinking. I can only think of half a dozen mildly interesting snippets, and I probably shouldn't share half of them. So I shall remain silent and enigmatic.

Happy Advent one and all.