Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Goodbye 2013

Hello everyone.

I thought that as it is New Years Eve it would be fun to look back at some of the things I blogged about here during the past year here in my little corner of Blogland.  So grab a cuppa (and a cheeky biscuit should you so wish!) and here we go!


A montage of photos captured on a late afternoon walk in the snow - boy was it cold!  But so, so beautiful.  I love walking at dusk, seeing all the lights on in the little cottages makes me feel so cozy.


The lovely DH and I celebrated our Silver Wedding Anniversary, and his present to me was a trip to Granada in Spain to see the Alhambra - something we had always dreamed about doing.  Words and photos can never do this place justice - it was a truly magical experience.  We have decided that instead of buying each other presents for special occasions we will put the money instead into the "travel fund".


We barely had time to unpack from our trip to Spain before we were jetting off again, this time to the beautiful Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.  This time we were lucky enough to visit the Roman city of Pella, nestled away in the Jordan Valley.  It was one of the cities of the Decapolis, so mentioned in many a historical document.


Nearer to home, my bestest friend Sue from @home and our two daughters visited the Quilt and Stitch Village at Uttoxeter Racecourse - she and the girls had work exhibited - I was so proud!  It was my first, but not my last visit to a stitching show this year - more of which later.  I hadn't been to one of these events before and really enjoyed it.


This time I treated DH to a day trip to London, including a visit to the Shard.  We were fascinated by the look of this amazing skyscraper on our visits to London last year, and as the viewing platform opened on our wedding anniversary (when we were in Spain) I thought it would be very apt to visit.  And it was well worth it, stunning views across the good old city of London.  We had a trip on a river boat, a slap up meal, and then a lovely walk down the banks of the Thames by moonlight. 


a bit of thriftiness here, a vintage sewing box bought for next-to-nothing from our local flea market.  It has pride of place next to my arm chair and is a bit like the Tardis - doesn't look that big on the outside, but my goodness it holds a lot of stuff!!


the weather warmed up nicely, so I enjoyed some crochet time in the garden.


DH and I managed a couple of days off work, and went for the afternoon to Matlock Bath in Derbyshire, a fantastic place to just slowly saunter around, enjoy a bag of chips and an ice-cream.  The weather was still lovely and sunny!

I have taken the liberty of adding another picture here, not a photo taken by me, but instead courtesy of Mr Google - my eldest son turned 21 in August, quite a milestone!


a bit of pumpkin obsession here - enough said!!  Autumn is, after all, my favourite season of all.


my second visit to a stitching show this year, this time at the Alexandra Palace in London.  Sue had a highly successful stall at this event.  We had a lovely day, I even got a turn at playing shop whilst Sue had a well-earned break!  Then DH (who had gamely accompanied me and my daughter and Sue's daughter to the show) treated us to a meal and an evening out in London.  Such a treat!


Our annual street fair rolled into town, lots of noise, crowds and lights.  I have always loved going to the fair, I never seem to grow out of it.


A glorious sunset captured as DH and I returned from a weekend walk.

I have loved this little retrospective look at the year just about to pass by - blogging really helps to lock in memories of special times - some big and spectacular (think visits to Granada and Jordan!) and some just small quiet moments, such as sitting out in the summer sunshine taking photos of crochet projects.  Precious Times with loved ones are forever captured in the archives to be enjoyed again and again.

Thank you - for reading and commenting on my varied writings, and to all my followers old and new - a special thank you!

Have a wonderful New Years Eve, hopefully the weather will be kind to us all.

Monday, 30 December 2013

In-between days

Hello everyone, hope you are continuing to enjoy the festive period.  I love these in-between days,  relaxing, doing what-I-like-when-I-like-how-I-like!! Not too many of those opportunities present themselves to me during the year, but the time between Christmas and New Year is a time to make the most of winding down, reflecting, spending time with loved ones, and of course some crafting usually comes into it as well.

So just a few random photos captured during this period.

Merry and Bright:

Further baking reinforcements:

Sunshine and shadow:

During these in-between days we celebrated the birthday of my Darling Mum who turned 88 years young.  This cake was served in her honour:

Do you like my lovely new spotty tablecloth?  Darling Mum included this in one of my presents.  It really cheers up my dining room table!  We rounded off the evening by watching the Italian Job on TV (the original) which she loved, especially the car chases.  And of course she thought
Mr. Caine was a good bit of eye candy in his younger years!  Although she has never driven a car, she loves watching motor sport, especially Formula 1, the whole family loves this sport, even DH has been converted to it (having originally said it was boring).  At this point I should mention that we are all hoping that Mr. Schumacher makes a speedy and full recovery from his ski accident.

I have had time for some crafting during these in-between days, I always seem to turn to cross stitch when I have some serious relaxing time.  I will share the results soon as I have nearly finished my little project, just a few last bits to do.

Well, must away as sadly I have to pop into town to run a few errands, nothing too much though. Have a great day, whatever it is you get up to!


Friday, 27 December 2013

Festive bakes!

Following on from my "Festive Makes" post yesterday I thought I would follow this up to show you my "Festive Bakes".  Each Christmas I make a variety of chocolates, biscuits and treats to give to my loved ones.  This usually entails about 9 hours in the kitchen, but I like to think that the results are worth the effort!

Here are some of the things I made this year:

Rich chocolate truffles, dusted in dark cocoa powder and iced with white chocolate - my trusty tasting team (DH, DS x3 and DD) and declared these as delicious.

Peanut brittle, probably my favourite of all the treats I make, I have to admit that I made a few extra for me to eat...

Vegetarian-friendly Rocky Road, I replaced the marshmallows with glace cherries and candied peel.

Here is everything boxed and bagged ready to go into gift bags. 

At this point I must add my personal thanks to the afore-mentioned intrepid taste testing team, who selflessly give of themselves to quality assure the goods before they are dispatched.  Truly heroic effort from them as usual this year ;)

Did you make any gifts this festive season?  Would love to hear about them!


Thursday, 26 December 2013

Festive makes

Hello everyone, hope you all had a wonderful day yesterday, and that today you are taking it nice and easy, as I am!

We had a lovely day yesterday, spent at my Darling Mum's house.  My brother had certainly gone to town with all festive decorating, hope to share some photos of all that later on this week.  I helped to cook the dinner, and DH served it all up in a very organised fashion.  Lots of wonderful presents for everyone, lots of laughter, not least when my Darling Mum opened a present from one of my cousins - it was a bottle of Ultra Sexy shower gel - why the laughter?  Darling Mum is looking forward to celebrating her 88th birthday on Saturday :)  of course we sang a jolly chorus of "I'm Sexy and I Know It", she didn't stop laughing for about 10 minutes!

In the lead up to the Big Day I had been making gifts for my loved ones, and now everything has been received I can reveal some of the results.  As usual I was busy with the wool felt and patchwork fabric, and made a batch of lavender scented hearts:

Usually the background of the hearts is made with red felt, but went for green this year by way of a change...

I always use wool felt, it is marginally more expensive, but it is so much nicer to work with and I like to think it gives neater results...

I loved using ric-rac braid for the hanging loops - have fallen in love with the look of it, so might well be using it in other projects!  Here are the hearts grouped together before being wrapped and sent to my friends and family:

Feedback so far from the recipients has been positive - it is a bit of a tradition now for me to make a variant of scented hearts for Christmas gifts, I started out doing this 4 years ago and everyone seems to like them.  They do take quite a while to make, but I love the process and like to think that the time spent on them is appreciated by those I gift them to.  I also include batches of home made edible treats, will post about this year's batch tomorrow.

Have a lovely Boxing Day, whether you are at home cosy by the fire, whizzing around the Sales, or taking a walk out in the fresh air!


Wednesday, 25 December 2013

'Tis the season...

Good morning everyone - Merry Christmas!  I am just taking a few moments before the household wakes up and the merry-making madness starts!  A cup of coffee and a mince pie - the pre-breakfast of champions. 

Wishing you and yours warm greetings for the festive season!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

'Twas the night before Christmas...

...and all through the house...

not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

Enjoy your evening, Helenxx

Monday, 23 December 2013

Like mother, like daughter

Hi everyone, hope you are all just about sorted for Christmas!  I think everything I need to do is just about done, just a few more things to wrap and that's it.

I cant share photos yet of things I have made, but I thought in the meantime I would show you what my darling daughter made for her class mates:

She spent hours and hours on these, lovingly embroidering the names of each recipient onto the heart.  All were filled with luscious smelling lavender.  Here are a few close ups of her handywork:

I think her friends will love them!

Well, must away, I put a load of potatoes in to bake whilst darling daughter and super son #3 did their baking this afternoon, and they smell as if they are about cooked - beans and veggie sausages to accompany them, something simple but cosy, just the thing before all the rich food of the holidays.

Have a lovely evening, keep warm!


Saturday, 21 December 2013

First Day of Winter

Well it is official - Winter is here.  School, college and work have finished for the holidays.  Mad last minute rushing around has started!

Have a great weekend!


Sunday, 15 December 2013

Winter Walking

Hello everyone, hope you are having a lovely weekend.

Yesterday DH and I had an early start, dropping eldest son and his friend off at the train station - off on a jolly to see their favourite football team (who drew 1-1!) so we took the opportunity to get the supermarket run finished early so we could head off into the local countryside for a brisk 8 mile walk. 

The weather was suitably chilly and breezy for the time of year, and of course I had my trusty camera with me. So here are a few of the photos I snapped as we walked along:

Local council education centre - oh what we teachers will do to attend a meeting at this place, it is absolutely beautiful, and the lunches are superb!

Church in one of the villages we walked through, made from our local stone and slate.

 They had a little Christmas Tree, but I was taken by the old gravestones - I have to confess to really enjoying walking around old church yards, the memorials tell so much about people from times gone by.

Winter views across the fields, all the crops have been gathered in and now the fields are sleeping in readiness for the spring.

And finally, some seasonal colour!

Well, must away as several seasonal jobs need doing!


Saturday, 14 December 2013

Holidays are coming.....

Good morning, how are you all out there in blogland?  Hopefully enjoying the lead up to the festive season and not feeling too stressed out by it all!

When my second eldest son was little, he was fascinated by the Coca Cola Christmas TV advert, you know, the one where there is a massive truck all lit up with fairy lights and a big painting of Santa - it rolls along a snowy road, with a jolly tune playing "Holidays are coming, holidays are coming..." and the folks from the local town all run out to see it drive through.  At the end the Santa painted on the truck comes to life and raises his Coke bottle to say "cheers".  Well, my son loved it and eagerly sat through all manner of boring TV programmes just to see it.  Even as he grew older he used to say that he didn't feel it was really Christmas if he hadn't seen this advert (and of course as he was a child in the 90s we didn't have Youtube or anything like that). 

His fascination with TV adverts, TV idents and all things TV production-related carried on into his teenage years, and he began studying media, successfully completing a level 2 Diploma and a level 3 extended Diploma.  He is now at Uni studying Media (TV production).  Well, we were in Leicester yesterday (we both had meetings there so went over together) and guess what we came face to face with?

Yes, you guessed it - the Coca Cola Christmas Truck!!!!!  He was absolutely gobsmacked!  Cue mother and son taking out phones and snapping away:

What a fab number plate:

All lit up like a Christmas tree:

Arty (!!) picture taken from the bridge at Highcross:

As silly as it may sound, I felt quite moved by how excited my 19 year old son was to see this - and how being fascinated by this simple TV advert played a part in inspiring him regarding his future study and hopefully career choice.

So now he (and I!) can genuinely feel that...

Have a lovely weekend!