Saturday, 8 December 2018

December




Here  we are in December, and all I can think is how fast the year has gone. It feels like no time at all since I was getting ready for Christmas last year. It has been a busy week here and I'm relieved we've reached the weekend, so I have the chance to catch my breath. I use this time to get on top of chores and prepare for the week ahead but at this time of year, it is even more important than usual to find a balance, make time for fun and put a bit of magic into the season.

The advent stockings were hung in good time and Lily can't wait to reach inside for her chocolate snowman each morning. She was more than a bit disappointed, however, that she didn't wake up to snow on the 1st of the month and has been looking out for some every day since. So far, December has only brought us wet, windy and gloomy days. The weather has been far from festive and hasn't really lent itself to cheer and joyfulness, so we've been creating our own. We've been baking, doing festive jigsaws, reading Christmas stories and enjoying bit of crafting. Lily has had fun with our new Christmas stamps and I treated myself to some cute reindeer lights which, at the moment are the only decorations we have on display, besides my new Nisse. This is the crafting I mentioned.

Having watched a few tutorials online I decided to have a try at creating one myself. It had been ages since I'd done anything like this but I found it quite straightforward and fairly quick to make up once I'd got the hang of it.  😊
You need coloured felt, some white embroidery thread, beads and a small amount of wadding and rice  to stuff them with. There are many tutorials to work from and can be adapted to suit your own style.






I enjoyed making it so much, I made two more in  different sizes. They look very sweet on the fireplace and, of course, are perfectly safe for when small hands decide to play with them.

J. X

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Getting Prepared



It finally happened at the weekend, I began to think seriously about Christmas. Not so many years ago it would have all been organised by now. Lists would have been made weeks ago, most gifts would have been bought and wrapped and cards written, ready to be posted. I'm glad to say I have a far more relaxed approach these days and enjoy the season all the more for it. And yet, although I favour the more laid back view, there is still quite a bit of organising to be done, with the build up usually far busier than the day itself.

Whilst thinking about food and drink, my thoughts turned to making a Christmas cake. Not unusual, you might think, but I've never really been a fan of fruit cake (don't even get me started on marzipan) and for that reason it's been years since I made one. Maybe my tastes are beginning to change, but I think it was mainly to do with the whole process of making it. It has kind of got the festive season under way for me and lets not forget the wonderful enticing aroma which wafts around the house while it's baking. I'm really pleased with how it's turned out and I can't wait to decorate it now  but, of course, the proof will be in the eating.







It was a pottering kind of a weekend, catching up with chores, a quick trip into town and making Christmas plans but these fell by the wayside slightly and we just had to get out for a walk. We decided on the nearby deer park and our early arrival meant it was lovely and quiet, save for a handful of dog walkers and, of course, the deer. The trees are mostly bare now and the branches made for some impressive silhouettes against the Wintry looking sky.



Back on track, I set to and made the Christmas chutney. It's simple to make and tastes so delicious with it's festive flavours. I'm really looking forward to enjoying it with my cheese and biscuits.

So, I've done it. I've made a start. This week I really need to turn my thoughts towards gift buying and I mustn't forget to set up the advent stockings - I often get caught out with this and find myself faffing around at the last minute. 

Christmas Chutney 🎄🎄🎄

Olive oil.
150g shallots, finely chopped.
2 pears, peeled and chopped .
1 large red Gala apple, peeled and chopped.
2cm fresh ginger, finely chopped.
175ml apple cider.
35ml white wine vinegar.
2 tablespoons lemon juice.
125g brown sugar.
1 star anise.
1 cinnamon stick.
1 teaspoon mixed spice.

Gently sauté the shallots in the oil. Add the pears, apple and ginger and stir through, cooking for another couple of minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to the boil and then allow to simmer for approximately 50 minutes. Pour into sterilised jars.

J. X

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Feeling Chilly


Thank you so much for all your good wishes on my last post. I'm relieved to say my sore throat is all but gone and I'm feeling much better.
Since the weekend, the temperature has plummeted here and the damp in the air only adds to the feeling of cold. I've been rummaging at the backs of drawers and cupboards for woolly hats, scarves and mittens and I'm pleased to report that the central heating is holding it's own - for now at least. I hope I haven't just jinxed it as I do not relish a repeat of last year.
The days are becoming darker now and the lack of sunshine is taking it's toll. I'm trying to remember to take care of myself  but it's the time of year when there is so much going on that time for myself is easily overlooked. As usual, it is something I need to prioritise.



This wasn't the situation at the weekend, however. The sun was shining and the weather was glorious - hardly a cloud in the sky. It is always a wonderful feeling when the good weather days and the weekend coincide with one another.
On Saturday we went for a gentle bike ride out towards the nature reserve. It had been a while since our last ride so we didn't cover many miles but we contented ourselves with the sea views and watching the gliders taking off and landing, one swooping so close, right above our heads.







I knew the forecast for Sunday was just as good, so had already planned for an early start to Gowbarrow Fell. The route begins by Aira Force and is a clearly marked, well trodden path, just the thing for a relaxed morning walk. We followed the path up through the waterfalls and around the side of the fell turning up sharply in order to reach the trig point on the summit. On the way back down we walked around the eastern side of the fell and were treated to the spectacular views of the lake opening up before us; the late Autumn sunshine warming our faces and allowing for the removal of our jackets.
We found the perfect spot for our picnic - a row of rocks which appeared like a bench, overlooking the lake. However, my day was complete when, on return to the café at the car park, I enjoyed one of the best cups of tea ever! I know, I'm easily pleased. I'm not sure if it had been the fresh air and exercise that increased my satisfaction but it tasted soooo good. Although it had only been a gentle walk, this cup of tea was so welcome as tiredness suddenly overwhelmed me. Lily, on the other hand, managed it with ease and had even skipped most of the way!

While collecting Lily from school this evening, I noticed the roads through the village had been gritted,  most of the Autumn colour has gone and the tree behind the house is now completely bare. This week I could really do to have a last tidy  up of the garden before Winter and put away the outdoor table and chairs. I can't think that in a little over a week we will be entering the last month of the year but I'm getting ready to look forward to Christmas and all the excitement it will bring.

J.X

Edit. The gate in the second photograph holds cast iron British birds in military camouflage. It forms part of an art installation which is a war memorial on the site of former practice trenches used for training soldiers and cadets during the first and second world wars.