Friday, 31 December 2010


I always like to reflect and look back at this point in the year, while there is space to.  To note what has happened & been done in the past year.  I know the 1st of January is a somewhat arbitary date to start a year, I also try reflect and realign at the beginning of Autumn & the Summer Solstice.  But New Year is traditional & there is a holiday to boot. 

I gave up the notion of Resolutions many years ago as it seemed to be done simply because it was the done thing.  I would list all the things that I should/ought/must do.  Possibly do them a couple of times then drift off onto something more interesting.  Usually another craft project or something involving tea...

For a few years instead I have listed my hopes & dreams for the coming year.  Then at this time of year review what happened.  And laugh myself silly at the disparity.  The unexpected pregnancy for example.

For the last couple of years I have discoved the notion of a Word for the year.  There are a few people out in blogland who have written about this.  Christine Kane has a list of word possibilities which I find useful.  So now I need to decide what word I want to carry me through this year.  My last year's word I finally chose in about March, so as you can see I am totally on the ball with this stuff! 

I chose delight.  I made a banner which hangs at the end of the bed.  My hope with this choice was to notice the minutae of my life and enjoy it, to be present in the fleeting moments, of my children growning.
So, do I continue with this or move to another word.  I wonder if any of us are truely are present all the time, there always seems so much planning and sorting that needs to be done.  Starting this blog has helped focus my attention to the incredible beauty around me.  But I still manage to beat myself up for my failings.  I look at my 'delight' banner and use it to give myself a hard time when I am not feeling the delight!  oh the irony.

Oh, what I hold in my hand.  To remember, Enjoy & cherish.
So, whilst I am pondering my dreams and desires for this unfolding year, I wish you all the very best & Happy New Year. xxx

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Christmas in summary

Christmas eve sledging

Christmas Day walk.  Lovely snow walk as the light fell

Christmas display

My favourite decoration surrounded by a sea of children's decorating.
 I somewhat failed to take many pictures.  Christmas was a lovely smorgasbord of family, feasting and unwrapping.  Obviously there was wrapping up and frantic getting ready first. 

And now its the pause before the next breath.  The next meyhem and start the new year.  Not that New Year really 'happens' for us any more.  But the day after New Years Day I have a eight year old turning Nine. NINE.  Oh boy.  We have all been poorly too, one way or another so nothing is organised yet.  I have persuaded her that later on in January will be better.  I hope she bought it.  She wants her first sleep over so we really need to garner our strength for that one!

I am now in the list making & reviewing & planning, that gets me through the post christmas blues.  I love lists!  I also enjoy the reflective time after the craziness.  Before breathing in the next year & all its possibilities.  Happy New Year everyone!

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Solstice Sunrise

With the level of poorliness in our house at the moment, we weren't going to venture too far for this morning's solstice sunrise.  I have been sewing solstice mitts as a winter warmer gift for the children.  So this morning, after what should have been the longest night, but was spent with a sucession of small children lying beside me since 5am, we got up at seven.  To give the gifts.

They were well recieved, which was a nice suprise, as I wasn't sure if they would be loved.  Luckily they were delighted with their new winter warmers.

My brother dropped in briefly to pick up his lovely camera, as he, young and single as he is, was off to Stonehenge for the full-on experience.  We all went 3 years ago and it was wonderful.  I was dancing my socks off in the centre circle of the stones & thought 'I wonder if this was an ancient fertility ritual.'  One moon later and I was unexpectedly pregnant.  Beloved husband hasn't let us go again!  Seriously though, it was a fantastic experience to be allowed into the centre circle & a great atmostphere.  Maybe next year, winter bugs permitting.

So this year, we decided to stay local, to our 'top of the world' spot.  Baby Roo could tell that something was up, as he was all excited but not knowing why.  Getting a pressie bought a big grin to his face,'berday!' (birthday).  There is something adventure like about getting up before dawn and going out.  Unless you have to go to work of course!  So there was a real sense of excitement as we made our way through the gloomy snow.

To have mince pies & decaff coffee & juice.  Sitting on a yoga mat looking out over a frozen world.  Tintin spotted a deer in the field below us, carefully picking its way through the snow. Wonderful.

The sun failed to make an appearance so 8.04am passed us by with a barely imperceptible lighting of the skys. 
We got cold quite quickly so after about twenty minutes we came down & went to our community cafe for breakfast.  This has just started up in the last few weeks at the small hall 3 mornings a week and I just love it.  I hope it continues.

Best porridge ever, apparently

 Happy Solstice to you all.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Moussaka madness

Today I decided to make Moussaka for the first time.  We ate the most wonderful one in Kefalonia where our hotelier Stavos's Mamma made it.  She seemed to spend most of her time in the kitchen so really I should have been warned.
I went for the vegetarian option with green lentils.  I thought, 'oh it will be like making lasagne'.  

Luckily, I thought I'd get a headstart and make it early to get it in the slow cooker before tackling the ever expanding Christmas To Do list.  Thank goodness I did because it took me all ruddy day to make it.  And I chose the recipe from an alleged 'easy' book which usually delivers on its promise.  Unusually for me I had read the ingredient list and had everything, but I didn't read the instructions. 

First: cook onions & garlic, add lentils, tomatoes & tasty stuff.  Cook for ONE hour.  Yep, failed to read this bit.
Second: slice & soak Aubergines (eggplant if any Northern Americans are reading) in salt for 3 minutes.
Third: peel potatoes & boil whole.
Fourth: chop mushrooms.  skipped this stage as Tintin doesn't like them & I was bored by now.
Fifth: wash Aubergines, pat dry (harump) and fry the living daylights out of them.
Six: Are you still here??  Layer aubergines, lentil mix a couple of times. 
Seven: slice potatoes on top.  Oh what, they boiled into mush?  Just wing it and pretend you can cut the moosh and attempt to get them on top.

I was soo p**d off by now, I was ready to pretend it was a casserole & serve it with rice.  Sadly I had announced my intentions so had to soldier on.

Eight: melt mountain of butter with token smattering of flour. 
Nine: Warm milk in yet another pan.
Ten: Add milk to butter melt.  Forget to stir like crazy. Strain through sieve and start again.  Stir like crazy.
Eleven: Realise this recipe doesn't put cheese in the sauce that I so adore.  Its why I wanted to make it in the first place.  Grate cheese and add it anyway.
Twelve: separate 2 Eggs. put whites aside to make peppermint creams with kids/husband to knock over side* (*delete as you see fit)
Thirteen: Still with me. Shhesh. I wasn't.  At this stage I was getting seriously grumpy. Also Bini announces that she's poorly and starts being sick.  Not in the kitchen I hasten to add. One less  for dinner.  Anyway, add the wretched eggs to the cooling sauce,
Fourteen: Pour the sauce on top of the moussaka and throw it in the oven in disgust.
Fifteen: Get husband to trudge through the snow to buy some garlic bread because I was fed up of cooking.
Sixteen: Go nuture ailing babe.

At this point for the first time in my ahem illustrious cooking career that I was hoping for negative reviews.  I DO NOT WANT TO MAKE THIS AGAIN!
Oh My.  It looked and tasted Wonderful.  It played to rave reviews, even the difficult audience of 'I don't think I'll like this, Mummy.'  Dammit.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Packing by an 8 year old

Packing for a night away at Granny & Grandads whilst Mummy & Daddy party the night away...

Fancy tiered skirt - check
Barbie denim jacket - check
Bear in homemade headscarf - check

Tooth brush - no
Pyjamas - no
knickers - no
socks - no.

Needless to say, I had to repack & make sure that everything was there for Granny to look after them.  And so very grateful to the Grandparents for a lovely 24 hours as grownups.  Our first time.  In nearly 9 years.  They have been to stay at their Grandparents but normally when I was giving birth to another one!  It was Roo's first night away & we both missed each other.  He has needed more attention at bedtime this week which I have happily given.

We had a good party, even considering the fact that it should have been Aileen's birthday.  We partied hard and long and loud.  Just as she would have done herself.  One of my best bits though was at the B&B the next morning, eating a leisurely breakfast with 4 other friends.  Between us we would have had 9 children but there we were, just us, talking grownup stuff.  Bliss.

Needless to say that by the time we got back home I was missing my babies desperately & keen to go fetch them.  The Grandparents seemed inordinately glad to see us too!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Sewing through grief

This week I have been sewing up things made from the ribbons that decorated the hall for a dear friend's funeral back in the summer.  We have a party tomorrow night to celebrate/commemorate what should have been her 41st birthday.  As the ribbons are all I have that link to her I have been trying to make some gifts for her 3 children & husband.  They were my husband's best friends at school who then went on to fall in love & get married.  To my mind they were always an item.  It breaks my heart to think that it is just M without Aileen. 

So stitching has been bittersweet this week.  I have enjoyed trying to make things using this ribbon, whilst wishing from the depth of my heart that I didn't have to.  I have spent the week thinking about her.  In my head she is still very vibrantly alive.  She was a real shining star, my friend Aileen.  And I miss that I won't be able to talk to her again.  Although they lived in New York, facebook kept us all in touch.  She used to post funny & cryptic updates on her status which sometimes infuriated me that I didn't know what they meant.  She had lots of friends, would talk to anyone & everyone, got angry with injustice or irritating people.  She had an infectious laugh & smile.  Knew how to apply perfect lipstick.  Showed me how to pluck my eyebrows many years ago.  Loved being a Mum.  Arranged the most outrageous parties & gatherings.  Put people together.  A baby is due this week from her matchmaking another lovely couple.
She is missed by so many.  Damn that driver for not seeing her Vespa.

Husband & Aileen early 1990's. A year before I met him.  He looks like a kid! Wasn't she Beautiful.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Wish Granted!

oh yes, my friends.  We got some.  It came at last. 
This stuff.  This was quite alot for us here.

The school had the common decency to close its doors for the day.  Husband stayed home.  So we got properly down to a serious snow day. 

Some attempts at toboganning but the snow wasn't really right for it.  Either that or our feed sack with a pillow stuffed in it wasn't up to its usual skills.  We also don't have much in the way of slopes round here. 
A couple of snowmen.  Throwing snowballs.  Lighting the fire.  Chestnuts & an old movie. Soup & bread.  Christmas tree down from the loft & decorated.  Phew. 
Thankyou Universe!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

We want some snow!

Yep.  While the rest of blog land and the UK is covered in the chilly white stuff, this is the best we could manage.  And I believe this little cutie involved some serious scouring of the whole garden.  Bless my kids, they make the best of what they have.
Waaaaah.  We want a snow day!