Archive for December, 2011

December 31, 2011


2011 is almost packed up and put away. The tree is still up though and the stars are still shining outside albeit with one larger area of dark matter becoming apparent following a quick repair to enable a further six stars to light up. (Cut off light bulb, strip wires, twist together again and apply some tape. What do you mean I should have soldered the wires?! Having an electrical engineer in training here is putting a damper on my happy-go lucky electrical solutions!)

I love the possibilities that the New Year brings and every year I hope that we will be contented, healthy and all move forward in positive ways. This year we are still hopeful but also sure that unpredictable times lie ahead in many areas of our lives. I think we will have to make sure we do things that make us happy to balance out the other bits but sometimes life is like that.

There have been a lot of good times this year as well as a few bad ones here and there and these are some pictures that trigger good memories for me.

December 21, 2011


Well it’s getting ever closer now… We have been working on the tree and a few decorations but that’s it so far because I have yet to find the box containing the tinsel.

Here’s how it started on Monday afternoon

It is a simple origami folded thing from here . This year the tree is double spread of newspaper wide and three pages long. Then we plastered it with old envelopes and flour/water paste.

It was painted this very green shade on Tuesday and is looking much drier and stiffer now. The tree has already suffered some damage from being under the soaf so this will need a minor corner repair at some point! (It’s the picture that is fuzzy, not your eyesight)

Miss Amoo went to a home ed thing with friends the other week and came home with some lovely crafty things including this little fabric decoration

Hers has 2-3″ squares and a ribbon on top which looks great and I thought I might have something somewhere to do something similar. In all my tidying up of late I found a bag of 1″ squares that I cut last Christmas and the year before to make little scrappy wreaths with a home ed groups we go to. I didn’t want to make wreaths again so I’ve made these:

They’re blutacked to the back of this little door and I might sew some more tonight if I can drag myself away from doing nothing. It really feels like it’s time to hibernate and my whole self is slowing down as everyone else is revving up. Never mind.

December 6, 2011

Simpler Christmas

Yesterday I mentioned some Christmassy things and today I’m going to tell you a few things we have done, just for your entertainment. You don’t need to follow in my foosteps!

It was Christmas 2007 when I decided it was truly mad to send out cards which cost trees to make, money to buy, money to post and then would get binned a month later was madness so I wouldn’t buy any. Most people I would have sent cards to I could have called for a chat or visited or seen in the street to give them my good wishes so did I really need the cards at all? That year Mr G bought some cards and sent them to people he thought would be offended if they didn’t get one but then he said we shouldn’t buy a tree. What? No tree?

I grew up putting up a silver and white tinsel tree every Christmas. It was then folded up into a long thin box and kept in the loft til the following year. My mum never wanted to buy a real tree but I always wanted one so when I had my own home I always bought a tree. Before we had a car we would choose the most runty looking tree that no-one else wanted from the Sea Scouts at Donnington Bridge on about Dec 20th and carry it home. When I learned to drive I had an ancient Fiat with a fold back roof and we squeezed the tree in and let half of it poke out of the roof which the boys thought was really funny.

We have an old Christmas tape that we have always played in the car on such journeys and then play indoors too once we are feeling a bit more festive which usually happens around the 23rd or 24th. By staying away from too many shops I can manage to hold on to the truth that Christmas does not actually start in November at all! I can see might be hard if you have to walk through town every day to work but being here in yokelville is a bit easier.

Back to the tree thing: Mr G used the same wasteful arguments I had used against card purchase, against tree purchase and I couldn’t disagree. Why would we cut a tree down just to let it die in the house? So we made a paper tree from newspaper and envelopes that I collected during December. We folded a massive origami tree from the newspaper than papier mache’d it with the envelopes then painted it green and hung it on the wall.

We did the same thing in 2008 and 2009 with the same kind of end product. Then in 2010 I didn’t make a tree and the kids got antsy and I threw caution to the wind and bought a tree (runty again) in a pot so we could plant it therefore not violating any principles (much). I planted it after Christmas and it died. It is still in the garden looking dead so I think we may go back to a paper tree this year.

With the cards gone and the tree gone we also stopped wrapping the presents. The children each have a stocking which holds a comic to read when they wake up, a satsuma and some gold chocolate Euro coins (Lidl don’t do pound coins). Their presents are in white bags tied with red ribbon inside a larger white bag tied with a ribbon which as their initial Sharpied on it. The Sharpie bit was done by Mr G late one Christmas Eve when I had sewn a load of little bags of different sizes and sacks and couldn’t be bothered to embroider their initials on them. And Sharpie just doesn’t wash off you know!

The little bags are mix and match depending on who has what size of present and some new bags needed sewing when Miss Froo grew old enough to want presents. I sew the bags with the Easiest bag gusset in the world which I had been using for a while but used as one of my first posts on this blog way back in 2009.

It is fun trying to remember where I have stored the bags and the stockings the finding a bag to fit each present and tying them up and we don’t have to come downstairs to a sea of wrapping paper on Christmas morning either. We stay in bed and let them open their presents and do what they want all morning then we get up and start making something to eat.

And so to food: we are meat eaters but we don’t buy a turkey. I get a big long piece of beef which I chop about a third off and make into stew for Christmas Eve then we roast the rest for Christmas dinner which is usually at about 6 o’clock. No rushing around to eat before the Queen’s speech in this house, no. The Queen is lucky if we haven’t got back into bed after having put the meat in oven by then!

My food tips/observations are these:

  • Freezing breadcrumbs before Christmas is helpful as you can never spare any bread to make stuffing once the shops have close for the holidays.
  • No-one eats more on the 25th and 26th of this month than than they do on any other two days so there is really no need to go shopping as if the end of the world is nigh. The shops are only shut for 2 days at most so if we can survive on what we have in the house for that long in ‘normal’ weeks so we can in this week too.
  • You can never have too much mincemeat but you can have too many roast potatoes.
  • It is hard to stop anyone eating any Christmassy snack foods before Christmas without the threat of some form of dire punishment
  • It is just another day and another meal so as long as everyone is full at the end of the day it is all ok.

    We have some stars that we hang up under our porch thing. We love making the snowflakes from Marcel’s kids crafts as seen here last year and the stars from here

    It all boils down to not buying stuff thereby avoiding shops and shoppers, being ordinary and remembering that these days are also about midwinter and that we are halfway to the days being longer again which will bring warmth and new growth soon. Stay calm!

  • December 6, 2011

    I know it is cold when…

    …I start getting orders for Winter Sling Things and the mad Christmas rush starts in earnest.

    Two orders this week and a little purchase, out of the blue, from Folksy too! I am a bit chuffed about the Folksy sale of a little purse because it must mean that someone was searching for a purse, looked at hundreds of them and chose mine!

    Winter Sling Thing sales don’t amaze me so much because people find my ebay listings and Folksy shop by googling for stuff like “fleece cover for sling” and then following the link.

    I think it has taken Folksy a while to hit its stride and in the year or so I have been on there it has changed quite a bit and got a lot more coverage here and there too. I have been a very bad Folksy shopper and only ever bought one thing so I’m setting a really bad example to other shoppers! I bought a print from this shop for the girls for Christmas last year. I am ashamed to say that I still haven’t had it framed yet! I must do that this month.

    So today I cleared the floor to unroll and cut some super snuggly chocolate brown fleece and for the first time I’ve been able to sew a little tag onto the Things. It can’t be seen when the Thing is being used because I hate that kind of branding all over stuff but it has Orange & Green on one side and the design registration number on the other.

    Here’s a mad close-up

    I’ve been sewing some tiny weeny cross stitch pictures for the girls which will also need framing at some point… I thought it would be nice to sew something by hand for a change so when I saw these on sale in our favourite shop in February I paid for and pocketed two while they were distracted by the beads and jewels at the other end of the shop. It has been a labour of love to get just one finished . Just the outline of this one took me three hours! Perhaps doing this whilst watching The Killing (with subtitles) wasn’t the smartest decision, but anyhooo

    That square of fabric is just 5″ x 5″ and the biggest box is onnly about an inch and a half wide. One pub night with the home ed ladies and one night of tv watching later I have got it all coloured in as per the picture so I have started on number two which is a bell in two shades of yellow. What was I thinking? I am so glad I started stitching at the start of December and didn’t leave it till Christmas Eve to get started. Nothing else for Christmas has been done though so I am thinking about writing a very short list of things I want to do (not need to do or should do) and get on with doing them at a snail’s pace. A few years ago I found that if I kept in mind that it is just one day, with one meal, that took the madness away.

    Tomorrow I’ll post about some of the things I’ve been doing, if I get a minute.