Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Photo scavenger hunt : December

It's time for my final scavenger hunt entry of 2014. This month's was a real challenge if only because the low light levels and the fact we haven't been out much means that I've taken very few photos. I didn't want to miss out though as taking part has been one of the most enjoyable parts of my year. Very many thanks then to Greenthumb for organising the hunt each month. Here's my entry.

Where you stood : From our walk in the woods earlier this week.

Down low : A frosty spider's web down low under a bench.

A view from here: A regular view over Christmas: watching a DVD while working on my crochet blanket. Yes, we're watching Frozen. 'Do you want to build a snowman...'

A favourite thing : Having a cup of tea from my favourite new Emma Bridgewater mug, eating a Christmas pudding cupcake, while reading The Great Christmas Knit Off (another present).

Front door : My front door with a wreath I made several years ago.

Sweet : A cupcake that was being sold to raise money for Save the Children on Christmas Jumper Day.

Christmas : Christmas dinner at my parents.

Decoration : Some colleagues made a nativity scene using meerkat toys!

Tree : Not mine but my friend, Sue's. I love her tree - it's always real (ours is fake) and is covered in all kinds of interesting little baubles and wooden figures,

Tradition : Holly and berries are a traditional sight in December.

Black & white : Painted moulding on the front of a house. The one next door was painted completely white and looked far less striking.

Whatever you want : This is Bruiser, the local tom cat who regularly visits our garden whilst patrolling his territory. We don't know his real name, where he lives, or even if he's definitely a tom, but 'Bruiser' seems to fit as he's big and chunky and looks like he could do a few rounds in the boxing ring!

I'm so glad to see that the Hunt is continuing. If you'd like to take part in the fun, head over to Made with Love for January's categories.

And last but not least, a very Happy New Year to you all. x

Monday, 29 December 2014

Misty morn

Nature is really outdoing herself at the moment. After yesterday's clear blue skies, I woke this morning to another hard frost but also to mist. I know a lot of people don't like mist and fog but I find it quite beautiful, particularly when it's floaty and ethereal like today. I thought I might stand a chance of something interesting for the 'black and white' category for the scavenger hunt so headed down to the lake. I'm not sure I achieved that but this is what I did find...


So much beauty in monochrome colours and I love how the berries look like they've been dipped in sugar!

Hope you've had a good day. We've had quiet at home time. I've made progress on a winter embroidery, played around with another (unsatisfactory) idea for a mug cosy, and, thankfully, managed to hunt out the recipe for the roast lamb I want to make on New Year's Day. I'm now feeling slightly squiffy from the Naughty Naughty* cocktail I've been drinking whilst writing this post! I'm hoping I sober up soon as I have to make dinner shortly! xx

* white rum, lemon juice, orange juice, ginger beer

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Winter woods

We woke to a hard frost this morning and beautiful clear skies: perfect for a walk in the woods. The low winter sun filtering through the trees and the mist was so atmospheric.

We saw several squirrels and, well, it doesn't look like finding food has been a problem! Either that or their coats are particularly thick at the moment! I can't tell you how great it was to be able to get outside into the fresh air - it was just what I needed.

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. We spent the day at my parents as always and went back the next day for the traditional Boxing Day buffet. Yesterday we braved the sales as we were in Manchester to see 'Little Shop of Horrors' at the theatre. We didn't buy much though and it was thankfully less busy than I expected. Tomorrow will be a quiet one before the build up to New Year. Chickpea is spending it with her boyfriend and I'm going to a party at some friends of my parents who only live a 10 minute walk away.

I'm hoping to be back to post the Scavenger Hunt on New Year's Eve but if not, Happy New Year! xx

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

One more sleep

Only one more sleep to the Big Day! It's also my first day of Christmas leave and I'm not back until 5 January - hurrah! I'm looking forward to the rest but also the chance to get out into the daylight. December has so far been unremittingly grey and I'm hoping for some blue skies and sunshine.

On Sunday we went to the carol service at our local church. The photo above was a display on one of the window sills and I thought it was beautifully done. The street lights were particularly effective.

I love this particular carol service as it's conducted completely by candlelight - so atmospheric.

The decorations were unpacked a couple of weeks ago: all our old favourites like this teddy. It's a musical box which plays 'Have yourself a merry little Christmas'.

One of Chickpea's favourites is this row of Father Christmases which I made several years ago at my quilt group.

Another Father Christmas sits outside the gingerbread house we decorated at the weekend. It's a kit which was given to us as a present. All the gingerbread pieces and icing were included so all you have to do is assemble it. As you can see, the icing gave us a bit of trouble! It was on the runny side and all the sweets were sliding off as I was trying to take this photo! We were still happy with it though and it was a lot of fun to do.

I've also made a start on designs for the mug hug workshop I'm running with my quilt group in February. I need to give them a list of what they'll need at our January meeting so the pressure is on! This was a prototype just to test out ideas for the fastening - elastic and buttons are definitely the way to go as ribbons were just too fiddly to tie.

This morning I've been out to buy pastries for Christmas breakfast and have been playing around with tinsel and clementines to make a table decoration - a recent tradition. I've had the snowflakes for several years and the tinsel was a bargain 50p purchase this morning. There are tiny lights hidden in there too.

And that only leaves me to wish you all a very merry Christmas.

Thank you all so much for visiting this year and for all your support and comments. If I don't pop back before then, see you all in the New Year! xxx

Monday, 8 December 2014

Lancashire Night

Time is just flying by and I'm finding it difficult to spare a few moments for blogging. I did promise to tell you about our Lancashire night though.

We had such fun on Burns Night back in January that me and my friends, Sue and Gordon, decided to try celebrating other occasions, momentous or downright obscure! Most recently, we had a Welsh Night in October for Dylan Thomas' birthday and next up was Lancashire Night.

We chose the Saturday nearest to 27 November which commemorates the day in 1295 when Lancashire sent its first representatives to parliament and I decided to steal a few ideas from Burns Night for the running order and entertainment.

Once everyone had arrived and was settled with a drink in hand, I proudly read out the Lancashire Proclamation, wearing my handmade brooch. The Proclamation is a bit long so you can read it here.

Next up was a spot of morris dancing to the Manchester Hornpipe. Imagine if you will, 5 fully grown adults ranging in age from 20s to 50s, including 6'2" Christopher, parading around the living room waving red roses in the air and making arches with the roses for everyone else to shimmy underneath. Well, you get the picture. My sides ached from laughing.

And so to the food. At Burns Night, there's an ode to the haggis, so it seemed only right to have an ode to the black pudding (which I found here).

Black pudding made us what we are.
It gave us wit and wisdom.
For the blood of pigs runs through our veins,
Or at least our digestive system.
Black pudding, black pudding, I give this ode
To you all, be you Scottish or foreign.

The Lancashire peeler was symbolically presented to the pudding and it was time to serve dinner.

While I dished up, the others listened to Chippy Tea by The Lancashire Hotpots.

Funnily enough, Lancashire hotpot was on the menu, made using this recipe (and very tasty it was too). There was also the black pudding and black peas, pickled red cabbage and pickled beetroot - all traditional Lancastrian fare.

While we ate, we watched the Wallace and Gromit classic, The Wrong Trousers, which is set in Wigan and is by Preston-born, Nick Park.

For dessert, more Lancashire goodies. We clearly like pastry very much! There's shop-bought custard tarts and Eccles cakes, and homemade Goosnargh cakes and jam slice. Sue's 8-year-old son had 4 of the Goosnargh cakes and they took the rest home with them! I hadn't made jam slice before even though I've eaten it many times - will have to share the recipe sometime as it was so simple and a brilliant use for my blackberry jam.

And there ended the Lancashire part of the evening as we then settled down to watch Maleficent. Hope you enjoyed hearing about all our silliness! We definitely did and I think Chris has invited himself back for Burns Night and probably all the other evenings he suggested we had!

I thought I'd end by giving you an update on my crochet blanket which I'm doing as part of Attic24's Crochet-A-Long. It's actually a bit longer than this now but I forgot to take a photo when the light was good. I'm more or less following her sequence of colours but have also added in a couple of my own, like the dark purple, just so that it's not quite the same as everyone else's. I'm enjoying it so much and can't wait to work on it each evening. Unfortunately it's going to have to take a back seat shortly as I have more urgent crafting matters to get on with. I foolishly offered to lead a session on mug hugs at my quilt group 'towards the end of next year' and found out last week that I've been pencilled in for February! I haven't even made one yet!! Keep calm and make mug hugs! x