Monday, 29 December 2008

Baby it's cold outside!

We emerged from our Christmas cocoon on Saturday. Tentatively we put our heads outside the door. There was nothing gentle and hesitant about the weather though. From inside our little nest of chocolate, open fires, board games and DVDs the world outside seemed bright and inviting. A much needed walk to blow away the cobwebs was required.

So up to the Downs we went. Wrapped up warm against the elements. What a shock it was for us having been basking at home with the thermostat up high and a constant supply of carbohydrates to keep us warm. I have NEVER been so cold! The sort of cold that hurts your head, that brings tears to your eyes, and wish you had added a balaclava to your Christmas wish list.

We followed the path that was thick with frost, crunching crisp underfoot as we walked down into the valley to find some shelter from the piercing cold. Not only was it cold but it was slippery and it wasn't long before my whimpering grew louder.

My vision was now obscured almost completely by my hat which I had pulled down over my face to keep me warm and my feet were doing their best Bambi impressions as they slipped over the icy ground.

It wasn't long before us Roses were all moaning about the loss of feeling in our hands, feet, faces and Mr Roses was wondering at the joys of coming out for a Christmas walk with us lightweights ...

We reached the sheltered, wooded path that led us down to the village and all was right with the world. The warmth of the winter sun hit us, its rays streamed through the branches, and the birds sang high up on the sunny branches. Instantly I forgot the cold, I began to smile, the conversation flowed as we followed the sun.

It was good to feel part of an outside world again, nodding hello to passers by as they headed off in the opposite direction away from the sun and into the piercing cold.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

A very Merry Christmas to you!

Yippee!!!!!!! I've finished the shopping!!!!! There are not enough exclamation marks in the world to describe that wonderful moment when the last carrier bag has been unpacked, the fridge is full and the front door can be shut knowing that no more forays to the supermarket/shops are needed (well apart from the usual last minute things that we forget every year ...).
Christmas can begin. Wishing you all a wonderful, family filled, memory making Christmas. Thank you all so much for being so so lovely this year, so encouraging, supportive, downright funny and irreplaceable.
Happy Christmas!

Friday, 19 December 2008

Over the rainbow

On one of my countless visits into town this week, I found a roll of various old Christmas wrapping papers. I bought them to use for present wrapping but then found I couldn't part with them. Not because they are necessarily a thing of beauty, there are far far nicer ones around, but because when I got them home and unrolled them I was immediately transported back to the sweet shop around the corner from where we lived when I was little. In the corner of the shop, hanging in sheets were similar brightly coloured papers with almost identical images and messages.

I can't remember my mum having to go into town as much as I do now, the sweet shop was one in a row of shops that seemed to sell almost anything you might need - a grocer's, a greengrocer's, a hardware shop (which I remember being a real Aladdin's cave, just like the good ones you find in France), a haberdashery shop with old wooden fittings that sold wool, cotton, gloves, handkerchiefs, my first bra (lilac gingham I think!), a fishmongers, butchers, chemist and the beloved sweet shop.

I used to take our dog for a walk around the block, tie his lead up outside the sweet shop and buy myself a bar of chocolate or a paper bag of sweets from the endless jars or a black jacks or fruit salads from the pick'n'mix counter. In one corner of the shop was a little post office counter and you would see at least three or four people you knew in the queue each time you visited the shop. At Christmas time the top shelves in the shop were full of advent calendars, there was the brightest, gaudiest mass of tinsel to choose from in one corner and the shop window was virtually covered in fake snow and amidst all the boxes of chocolates with their festive wrappers was my mother's favourite Terry's chocolate covered burnt almonds, we would make sure she would have at least one box of them every Christmas.

Those few shops were like a little world to me, especially at Christmas time. I would love waiting for the Christmas stock to arrive, the decorations going up and going with my dad to buy my mother's chocolates. I wonder what kind of shopping memories my daughters will have now that everything is done on such a huge scale. Anyway the wrapping paper is staying put, it has brought back to me so many memories that I can't bear to part with it.

Another trip down memory lane for me this afternoon - Little Sister and I went to see the stage show of The Wizard of Oz, I'm afraid I did shed a tear at Somewhere over the Rainbow, so many memories ... The real highlight for me was being able to see the original ruby slippers from the film that were on display in the foyer. To think Judy Garland wore these very glittery wonders nearly 70 years ago ... I bet, just like my wrapping paper, they have a few stories to tell.
Hope you all have a great weekend of festive flurries, enjoy the winter solstice( hooray the days will start to get longer) and emerge from your tangle of pressies and wrapping paper, have fun.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

That Christmas Feeling ...

When I was younger, the measure of a good weekend was how often I had gone out. These days the opposite seems to be true. When it's cold and dreary and the town is swarming with shoppers, there is nothing I like better than being holed up at home. I think this is the first weekend in months where nothing needed to be done (well I say nothing, putting to one side the million or so Christmas preparations that kept me up all night last night worrying about them). A weekend of choosing what we should do and not having things forced upon us. A couple of days of quiet amidst the madness.

On Saturday afternoon, with a still poorly Big Sister, I chose to sit down with the girls, make a fire, watch a film of their choice and enjoy the moment. It was Little Sister's call so we watched "Pride and Prejudice", yes, even my little one is an Austen fan.

An occasion that necessitated the wearing of ballet shoes and keeping your feet pointed up in the air all afternoon, according to Little Sister. Whilst I kept my feet firmly on the ground, my heart was all a flutter at seeing Mr Firth again, the ONLY Mr Darcy in this house! I have to admit that there is a bit of War of the Roses going on in this house - just who does Mr Firth belong to? Me, Big sister or, well I was going to say Little Sister, but she surprised us all last week by telling us just how handsome Dr Who was. Many a meal time has been spent squabbling with my eldest and I have found myself in the uneviable situation of being Mr Firth's mother-in-law, which makes me Mrs Bennet!!!!!!!!!

Not sure he would like my choice of cake today, for some strange reason I had to buy some fondant fancies, their sweetness and sugary colours were just what I needed. I haven't had one of these since I was pregnant when I craved them all the time. Scarily enough, I'm sure Mrs Bennet would like them though.

So Sunday morning had been earmarked as "putting up the Christmas tree/moving all the furniture/finding the Christmas lights/ last minute bright idea to redecorate/sisterly fighting over who puts the angel on the tree/ losing the will to live" time. Mr Roses comes to the rescue by deciding to go out and buy a new tree that will fit an existing space already, without any furniture moving or painting. Two hours later after about ten phone calls he seems to have tracked down the perfect one, only to find it being wrapped up behind his back and sold to somebody else whilst he is on the phone to me in delight .... Another hour on he returns home laden with a different tree and very bored Little Sister.

The decorations and lights are fetched from the loft and the fun begins. This is one of my favourite times of Christmas, the sign that the holidays have truly begun. A time when the baubles are literally thrown on the tree, Big Sister, because of her lurgy, is allowed to put the angel on top this year, the cats sit in the corner rubbing their paws together in glee imagining all the fun they'll be having each night when they're left alone to play volleyball with the decorations ... And all of this accompanied by Mr Crosby in the background, as much a part of our Christmas as everything else.

Yesterday evening, after Little Sister's school play, I indulged myself one more time. I'd bought the "White Christmas" DVD and we watched it around the fire, eating doughnuts, tree lights sparkling and dare I say it, to quote Bing "it's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas ...."

Friday, 12 December 2008

Friday "thank you"

Thank you so much for your warm and moving comments on my last post, it has been lovely reading them. I know that I have been at risk of sounding a bit of a bah humbug kind of person over the last couple of posts so here to redress the balance is a festive(ish) photo of a corner of our living room last night. No, I know I'm not getting carried away with the old decorations, but at least it is a start - a pompom snowball sitting next to a favourite old vase sitting next to a Christmas tree is a nod towards the Christmas decorating that I hope will begin to get underway here this weekend ... Having read through some of your blogs this week I am amazed at just how organised and ahead of the game you all are.

Whereas I, well I seem to have done nothing more than languish about at home nursing Big Sister and dreaming of living in that little wooden chalet you can see painted on my vase ...

I have, I think, caught up with my blogging however and apologise to the lovely Louise for not showing you earlier, this gorgeous vintage brooch she made a while back and I won in a giveaway on her blog. Not only does the brooch look lovely on my winter woolies, it arrived in a beautifully decorated vintage tin, complete with winter snow dove, tinsel, vintage postcards and ribbons. THANK YOU!!!!! I love receiving pressies and sat amidst all this prettiness and admired it for far too long!

Last month I was also given some awards and thank you to April for this one

and Clare and K for this one too.

Please go along and visit their beautiful blogs and say hello. When I first started blogging I really worried about how I would fit in and be welcomed into this community, all this time later and I am still surprised and touched and overwhelmed by the kindness and supportiveness of you fellow bloggers. Each time I read a comment or an email or a blog post I try hard to remember just how special this blogging thing can be and how lucky we all are with our "virtual" friendships. At times, life takes over and perhaps blogging can not be as frequent or as prominent a part of our lives as we would wish but it is such a good feeling to turn on the computer and read all your lovely words, just like coming home on a Friday night and that warm feeling you get when you shut the door behind you!

Have a wonderful weekend, enjoy your Christmas preparations, decorating the tree and make sure you find time to eat some chocolate, purely to maintain those energy levels - judging by the amount of chocolate I'm eating at the moment I should have enough energy to come and decorate all of your homes this weekend ...

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Light and dark

I have been looking out of the window a lot recently. Feeling a bit like a child with her nose pressed up against a sweet shop window, wanting to get out and have some fun. At long last the sewing is over, shop orders completed, school play costumes completed and craft events out of the way. Look out bloggers I'm on my way to visit, put the kettle on! I thought today I might have gone into town to start (Yes, start!) the Christmas shopping, yet, here I am once again looking out of the window. I'm nursing a lurgy that I know is trying to take a strong hold of me and am determined that honey, lemon and echinacea will get the upperhand...

On these beautiful quiet winter mornings the view can be quite mesmerising. I was listening to a play on the radio yesterday and one of the characters was talking about April being the month between thin winter and plump spring. Those few words are great aren't they. Winter can be dramatic, violent and stormy, yet it can also be still and calm and ethereal, the air does seem thin at times doesn't it. Early frosty mornings are the best - yesterday morning on the way to school as we walked down the hill I heard a bird singing and its song was all the more beautiful set against a solitary blanket of mist and silence.
I love the run up to Christmas but do regret that there always seems to be such little time to enjoy it all! It would be so good to be able to stand and savour these days.

Early December is a funny time of the year for me, the anniversary of my mother's death colours the start of the festive season. Isn't it strange how one day will always be forever locked in time, no matter what I am doing on that day I will forever be back in the hospital saying my last goodbye...

But now the fun begins. Lists to be written, decorations to be found, endless trips to the loft to find the missing Christmas tree lights, school plays to attend, carols to be sung and somewhere, somewhere in this very messy home there must be some chocolate to be eaten. Home alone, the computer to myself and loads of lovely blogs to catch up with, I'm putting Christmas on hold for just one more day ...

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

What's new pussycat?

Do any of you remember that feeling you got the night before exams? That twisted knot in your stomach, the utter, utter feeling of desperation and, of course, the disbelief that once again you have left all the revision to the last minute? Oh, I hope I'm not the only one who went through school like that? I used to revise until late at night, set my alarm and wake up really early in the morning to pack in a few hours before school. As much as I tried I could never, ever get to grips with revision until it was really, really necessary - but sssssh don't tell my daughters that! Well, that's a bit how I'm feeling at the moment, worrying and worrying that all this sewing will not get done, annoyed with myself for not doing more earlier on and hoping and hoping that come the weekend I will have done enough. I'll never learn ...

I have been very lucky to have had some orders for my work coming in plus a Christmas event too where I can sell my wares. Some friends have requested items for pressies and in the corner of my kitchen I see a pile of fabric that needs to be transformed into costumes for the school Christmas play and all needs to be done by the beginning of next week. Something has had to give and I'm afraid it's my blogging. Along with the hoovering and ironing, I have been a very naughty blogger. So so sorry to you all. I have been tagged, I have received such lovely comments, pressies and awards and I don't think I've thanked any of you on my blog. I have been exercising as much self restraint as I can muster at the moment and kept the blogging down these past few weeks, which means that I haven't been able to visit all the blogs that I would have wanted to - I am sorry and will try and make up for it soon.

One of my cats has been keeping company at the sewing machine. She sits permanently on my lap and is used to fabric, pins and lavender falling on her head. Now I'm not foolish, as much as she loves me, I know this new found show of affection has something to do with the dip in temperatures. The poor thing, not only is she in need of warmth and cuddles, she is also under constant attack from her sister who is waging a one cat war on anything and everything. We are seriously considering buying the little madam some happy pills she is such a grump at the moment. I heard her growling in the hall the other day, and hesitantly walked towards her, stomach churning, fearing what she might have brought in from the garden this time, only to find that she was growling at absolutely nothing at all, plainly miffed that she had nothing in particular to be miffed about.

Mr Roses has always said that it wouldn't be fair to have a dog as, well what with two cats, they might just end up fighting like cat and dog. Which is just what we have going on here without the dog. If I had the time, I would be half tempted to join her in the hall and sit and have a good growl ... see you soon!

Friday, 28 November 2008

May your treetops glisten & your children listen ...

It's Friday again, surely not! What happens to all those days in between? I'm guessing we're all chasing our tails right now, I'm feeling a bit like one of those hamsters in a wheel, running round and round and round in circles. Not only has this week whizzed by, it's been so so so cold. So cold and no snow - can't help feeling a bit cheated. With the promise of snow last weekend and Little Sister putting us all on constant sledge alert, all we've done this week is shiver. No snowballs. no snowmen, no pretty Narnia like gardens to greet us in the morning, just cold with nothing to show for it!

I went to buy some doughnuts the other day from the baker and couldn't open my purse, my fingers were so numb. (Yes that's me in the photo looking marvellously attractive as I face the elements with my terrier under one arm, vintage tartan blanket over my knees and snow covered trees whizzing past behind me) It's been the kind of weather where you just want to be holed up at home, hands tightly wrapped around a mug of hot chocolate and at least two cats and a blanket on your lap! I would have added yet another eiderdown to my bed too, if I hadn't been put off by the thought that my legs would just crumble under the weight of them all - poor old Mr Roses... I hope we get a couple of days of snow over the holidays - a White Christmas for once, wouldn't that be lovely.

When I was little, watching "White Christmas" was as much part of Christmas as Turkey, presents and Morecambe & Wise. It seemed to be always on BBC 2 and I loved it!! I'm going to try and get a copy for my girls to watch as we always seem to miss it when it's on. I think I always cried too . So all this snow wishing led me to make another nostalgic lavender sachet to put in my Etsy shop. I wonder if I put one under my pillow and wish very hard, the snow might come ...

A very big "thank you" to everybody who has been buying sachets and pillows from my shop recently. I am very grateful and happy and building up a nice little relationship with the lady at the Post office!

Not only is it the end of another week, but also another month is drawing to its close - it can't be December next week, how did that happen? If, like me, you are not particularly organised in the Christmas preparations dept and the thought of making an advent calendar rather than buying one seems just like one thing too many, have a look here at my cheat's, no sew Advent. Is it really a year ago that I wrote that? Oh how i love blogging, being able to look back and see exactly what you were up to at any given time of the year - and, in my case, it seems I'm still just as disorganised ...

Have a great weekend and if you see any of them snowflakes, blow them over here please!

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

A question of balance

It's always a question of balance isn't it? When I'm busy sewing or ragging our home crumbles. When I'm busy cleaning and tidying and am unable to make anything then I'm not a happy bunny. Sitting in front of the sewing machine and catching sight of the pile of ironing, dusty shelves and dirty windows is as frustrating as running around with the hoover, dettox in one hand and duster in the other, and walking past a pile of fabric and sewing and having to ignore it. I know I'm not alone and yet from reading other blogs you always seem so much better organised than I am!

After weeks of crafting and watching the hour hand speed round on the kitchen clock I decided to tackle the mess that is our kitchen. I decided the only way to do it would be to do it properly, not half heartedly and to devote enough time to it to feel happy with the results. We're not just talking washing up, sweeping the floor, the stuff that gets done about three times a day here, I mean the taking down of things from the shelves, the sorting through of junk that was threatening to stage a coup in one corner of the room and the pile of ironing that was, at one point, taller than me!

Well I did it, I did it and it felt good. I did it happily knowing that i'd achieved all I wanted to do at the sewing machine. Things have been washed and dusted and rearranged, jugs and pots that haven't seen the light of day for a while have found new homes on the shelves and it feels good once again to be sitting at the kitchen table.

We finally managed, well I say we, I mean M, to frame and put up a couple of prints that had been hanging around for far too long. Far, far too long. I love these prints, they're very special - one was a gift from a dear friend and the other a happy find at a car boot.

They came into our home months apart and yet I knew they belonged together. I won't tell you how long they have been waiting to go up on the walls, but it's been a long time - we wanted two similar frames and just haven't had the money for new ones recently.

Fortunately a game of musical chairs with some other prints meant that we could use these two frames that were in the loft and they now sit perfectly under the long kitchen shelf. I haven't stopped standing in front of them since Sunday afternoon, just smiling at them and the way their colours go so well with the all the bits and bobs on the shelf. I guess sometimes it's good to wait.

A bit of rearranging in the bedroom too - I am now in hibernation mode and this cold weather makes me want to snuggle up in bed with a good book as early as possible. But I really, really feel the cold and can't get into proper dormouse mode unless I'm nice and toasty which means that more and more eiderdowns are joining me in bed, only to be thrown off in the middle of the night when of course I'm feeling impossible hot and then frantically searched and groped for in the morning whilst I lie in bed and bury my head in them and psyche myself up to trundle downstairs ... now if any of you clever ladies could come up with a remote control for the eiderdowns please let me know!

Friday, 21 November 2008

Seaside sachet sewing (this week's tongue twister)

A big 'thank you" to everyone who has been leaving such lovely comments recently, it means a lot! Also a huge, huge apology to everybody for my inability these past couple of weeks to visit as many blogs as I would have wished. It seems that the sewing machine and I are now joined at the hip and we have been spending most daylight hours sitting side by side at the kitchen table. Fortunately we're good mates and get along fine and dandy, but I must say I do feel the need to spread my wings and (I'm saying this in a hushed voice so that Janome doesn't get too upset) leave the house!

The sun was shining the other day and I couldn't bear it any longer, I went out into the back garden to sit on the steps and enjoy the fresh air. My poor garden has been sadly neglected these past few weeks and is almost looking unloved. It felt good to breath in some air and feel the sun on my face. I was surpised to see amongst all the dead leaves lots of new shoots appearing already. I'm guessing it won't be long before we'll be able to get out there again, planting bulbs and sowing seeds, just the little matter of Christmas in between!

This morning I drove over to West Sussex to visit a friend. I decided to take the coast road, it felt so good to see the sea stretching out to the horizon. Sometimes when I'm cooped up I lose all sense of place, I don't know if that makes any sense at all, but it was good to see what lay beyond the four walls of my kitchen. So I drove along, one eye on the road, the other taking in the rows of beach huts, moored boats, a pier miles in front of me and another still visible behind me in my mirror and took a deep breath.

it's frightening sometimes to think where the days go, even more frightening to think that it was a year ago, practically to the day that I wrote this post. I had no idea this week when I was busy sewing that a year ago I'd been making much the same things. Perhaps the need for whimsy is even greater at this time of year before the real excitement of Christmas kicks in.

A recent find of some beautiful vintage fabric and a new stash of ribbon was all I needed to get me going this week. Gorgeous seaside images and cheerful brightly coloured ribbons, Janome and I have been having fun. Little bundles of nautical nostalgia.

Alongside these seasidey "postcards" are two that I really love. Wild ponies in the English countryside

and an old fashioned country fair. All bundled up looking bright and cheery in my Etsyshop. Talking of fairs, "Good luck" ladies to all of you lucky enough to be going along to the Vintage and handmade Fair tomorrow. I know you are going to have so much fun, enjoy meeting each other and spending lots and lots of pennies on all the beautiful things I've been seeing on all your blogs.

Have a wonderful whimsical weekend