Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!


Christmas came, people.

 A great time was had by all. Well, there were the odd tantrums and fall-outs, of course. I am sure this is familiar territory to everyone! We are all human, and yes, even I was not in the best of moods for part of that time. I get very tired.


I never said I was an angel.


It was as perfect as our family could make it, and many wonderful memories were made, and that is all that matters.


Now, can someone tell me how we are suddenly sitting right at the very end of 2014, with just a couple of hours of the year left to pass? How did that happen? I am still stuck back in April. Maybe May. 

2014 has not been spectacularly good, but so much has changed during the year. Change is inevitable, and it often hurts at first, but then it works out for the best. Old sayings being proved wise once again. And there is always a great deal to celebrate, of course. We are here. That is enough. 

With a little one in residence, Christmas was never going  to be quiet, and indeed it was a riot of paper, and squeals and fun. And that included the big people too.


Antlers were worn, of course!
I do love my kids. 

My daughter-in-law was wearing spectacular Christmas pjs. I will check re posting her photo - and Diana's in her Amazing Technicolour Jersey, which was unearthed from a drawer in Granny's room. It came from Paco decades ago, and had never been worn. Paco is long gone. Diana and Ann both took turns wearing it on Christmas Day. We do high fashion around here, you know. 

We even managed some fabulous family photos - all together on and around the couch. Missy stars in them, of course, so I can't post photos, but they were lovely. Ann was given a remote control thingy for her camera, so she clicked away from the floor and it all worked beautifully. None of the running and throwing one's self into place just as the photo is taken any more. We do miss the hilarity factor, though!


Christingle time - in church, singing "Away in a manger" and totally caught up in the moment. 


Church, Carols on the Square with thousands of people together (more about that tomorrow), icy cold, crisp days and nights, brilliant sun and blue skies, with a little snow thrown in, walks in the countryside, games of Taboo, puzzles on the table, lots of fine food - Andrew's BBQ-ed lamb was so delicious, it did not make it to Boxing Day!


And then there was the hair......


 Ann did all our hair in plaited/woven coronets. I looked 15 againI have to say, but from behind or the side, Diana and I are so incredibly alike it is quite scary. For her.
(Yes. This is me.)


(Excuse the grey. Stress highlights.)


On the couch after a hilarious time trying to take selfies, and in the end, relying on the resident photographer to take one of me with my daughter.


Ann went on some dawn walks through the countryside and took the most amazing photos.


`Actually, nearly all today's photos are courtesy of Ann. She is immensely talented. I found it very difficult to choose just a couple of photos to post here. So many stunning ones. 

You know, this year, most of my photos were taken with the phone camera. I hardly touched the ordinary one. The quality of the phone camera is infinitely better than my camera, and of course, we always have a phone at hand, so can snap away when we see things. Gone are the days where you see a beautiful sun setting, rush home for the camera and return to try to capture the scene. Now you can just stop and snap away. 

Progress  in the technological field is amazing. It just suddenly speeded up, though, didn't it. 

So there is a lot to chat about in the morning. I only had just over an hour's s;eep last night, so I am probe;y writing gobbledegook. I need a nap. 

Happy New Year to you all! 

Let's hope 2015 brings with it great adventures, excitement, fun and laughter. 

My word for 2015 is DO. I will explain more tomorrow. 

And now I must prepare for my annual let-me-pretend-I-am-at-the-London-fireworks photo shoot. I need to move some lamps.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas from Middle England..........

It is a beautiful Christmas Eve here in the middle of England - the sun is shining brightly (so all the dust shows beautifully) (I made a random effort to dispel the build up and called it good) the sky is blue, and it is unseasonably mild. 

I have managed to sit down for a little while, because right this minute, I am all caught up with the things I can remember. Tins are full of goodies. The wrapping paper is packed away now. The cinnamon cake is nearly finished. I cleaned the nook. 

I lost the list. 

The family is all in residence, and yesterday, Missy and I went off on a special Moregranny adventure. She had her very first manicure, and she loved it. Even the "starfish fingers" for 30 minutes afterwards had us all playing the game. The nails dried perfectly. Bright pink and sparkly. Because she likes bright pink and sparkly. 


It was a delight to watch her. My phone battery died, so Andrew brought me another phone from home. I did not want to miss a photo of the whole event. 
Little girls are great fun. 

Check out her hair - a coronet of a french plait. Even my hairdresser thought it was stunning. The word was "epic", in fact. 

And then I spent most of the afternoon yesterday finishing The Dress. 

Missy sent me a letter of detailed instructions which included fairy dust and crowns, and floating parts. The fabric was a little hard to find basically because it does not exist. I know this because I had a whole shop full of people (and Jean) attempting to match fabric to her instructions. We even found fairy dust. Or rather, the delightful owner called out -" I found fairy dust!!"at one time. 

I tried. 

It does not look exactly like the instructions. 

And so I asked Missy to come and try it on, and she informed me that "Moregranny, you DID NOT FOLLOW MY INSTRUCTIONS" at which point Moregranny nearly reached for the scissors and/or collapsed over the sewing machine. And then sat there and finished the dress. 

I like it. It is bright and colourful (there were many colours on the Detailed Instruction papers) and it works. The fact that I could not find my vitally essential sewing equipment - as in the zipper foot for the ZIP - screech - made it a challenge. But it is done. She may or may not decide to wear it. 



Moving on.
Last `Sunday was the impromptu nativity during church - it was lovely. I remember stitchng the Joe and Mary  names onto those shirts last year. All those papers on the floor are Christmas cards. The children cut them up to fit the word "Love", which now hangs from the church balcony. You will see this in a sec.  Christmas is all about Love, after all. 


The sunset was stunning. Every evening has been similar in recent days - just glorious. 


Carol service - the 9 lessons and carols which are traditional - was on Sunday night, and I was just fine until we got there and I realised a brass band was going to be playing. So I sat in the car, but I could hear 2 carol services from the car - in adjoining places - our church and the pub. They also had a brass band. It was fantastic. 

Here you can see the word Love. 

And the wonderful brass band. 

And, for his Mum and Dad far away, evidence that Dougal is just fine and reclining on their sofa. Dougal and I are looking after each other over the festive season. He is very sweet. 


So, my family is here. David is at work at the moment, and the house is full of people. There is plenty of food, the ice cream is made, the meat is defrosting. Andrew is BBQ-ing a leg of lamb tomorrow, and I will be cooking a three bird roast with all the trimmings. 

There is no chance of starvation, believe me. 

Presents are wrapped, delivered, and cards have been sent. I wonder if you are also at that wonderful stage of waiting - anticipation of the glory of Christmas. The birth of our Saviour. The reminder that Love came down at Christmas. 

Wherever you may be, and however you will spend the day, I wish you all a wonderful, peaceful Christmas. 

Lots of love, as always, 



Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Mince pies, biscuits, meringue........

Morning, all.
Mince pies. Fruit mince.
I made the mistake of popping in to the local giant supermarket early this morning, and came face to face with the "pile them high and sell them cheap" thing supermarkets do best. And I immediately thought - I need that. I must get that - such a bargain. And then I remembered that I have ordered our fresh vegetables from our local farmer and I do not need anything more. 


So I did. 

We have more than we need.  More than we could possibly need. 

Nothing fancy, mind you, but even in the toughest of years, there has always been more than we have needed. And believe me, there have been tough years. The secret to the tough years and survival, by the way, is to make things into a game. I am exceptionally good at that particular game. I could write a book if I was so inclined. I am not, by the way. 

I digress. 

There has been the annual mince pie and biscuit (cookie) baking marathon in progress around here. The house smells great and very festive and the tins are full-ish. My family keep eating things, but, as they point out, it is for them anyway. They are right. I can bake more. Now that I have replenished the baking supplies. I still have a roll of pastry I made for mince pies in the fridge, which must be used. I will make something this afternoon. 

I was so pleased with my 41 mince pies (odd shaped baking trays = odd number) until, so help me, my sister messaged us a photo of HER mince pies. Her husband has made over 200. So I am feeling a trifle inadequate even though 41-9=32 or so is still MORE than enough for us.  (See above.)

We always were a competitive lot.


I had to include one of the church photos. As we arrived, with Diana on her scooter with her red and white candy cane striped cast, our little 2 year old friend on her scooter arrived too. Dressed in red and white striped tights. They were a matching pair and SO excited! The cuteness was just off the scale. 


Back to the baking. 

As always, after baking the mince pies, I had egg whites left over from the pastry, and this year I decided to make a pavlova instead of individual meringues. We can have a pavlova on Boxing Day. For those who are unfamiliar with them, they are essentially a cloud of meringue, named after Anna Pavlova, the ballerina and they are New Zealand's national dish. I think. They are a great Southern Hemisphere favourite. You make normal meringue mixture, then dollop it onto a baking tray covered with baking paper in a circular fashion. Preferably the size of a dinner plate TIN. A few inches high. Then bake as normal and leave in switched off oven over night. I did this. I am a star. And then discovered that I had been over-generous with my Pavlova size and there was not a single tin large enough to take it in the entire universe. So I ended up wrapping it in greaseproof paper, cling wrap, and then putting it in a plastic storage box under the kitchen table. 

I will forget where I put it. 

You serve it on a large plate, piled with whipped cream and sliced fresh fruit, or berries. Divine. Seriously delicious, and perfect after left overs the day after Christmas. (Boxing Day.)


MY Pavlova in hiding. 


Custies, of course. I tried replacing them with another biscuit one year as gifts and that didn't go down too well. So custies rule. They are delicious too. 

And now I want to introduce you to the grand old lady who has been my faithful baking and cooking friend for my entire adult life. 

This is the Kenwood Chef I got as a wedding present in March 1976. Apart from one little mishap when my sister used an open grill right next to it and melted a hole in the side of the bowl (I still used that bowl for years until I swiped my mother's whole one - I just covered the hole with a tea towel when adding flour, or it sprayed the entire kitchen with the white stuff) it has never given me a single problem. I have just ordered a new K beater, because this one needs to be retired. So it will be 39 years old next March. 

39 years old. 

How many modern day appliances would last that long? I don't need new fancy things, you know. I like Old Faithfuls. I asked a friend of mine who also had an ancient Kenwood before she got a Kitchen Aid machine  a few years ago what it did that the Kenwood couldn't do. 

Not a thing she said. 

Old Faithful stays. 

And finally, this is my darling daughter in "leave the house" mode. Complete with scooter, candy cane cast and crutches. She is over the hump, so to speak. 3 weeks down already and less than 3 to go now. It is tough having limited mobility, but she is being a star. 

The post man has just called and I now have a little more wrapping to sort - I will be back in the morning......

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

I should be doing things on the "to do" list, but.............

I have been reading some of my favourite blogs this morning - and a word leapt out and caught my attention over at Vee's place. This word is at the heart of what I am supposed to do. How I am supposed to shape my life. My days. A word about which I have read a great deal. I understand the theory, but oh boy, do I fail miserably at the practice. And that is why I am a wreck every couple of days. Every evening. This can be verified by my children. They take photos of me slumped in the chair fast asleep. Probably drooling. {shudder}  Lovely kids I have. 


Pacing myself. 

Slowing down. Being mindful. 

Saying no. Focusing on one thing.

Miserable failure. 

Seriously. I am so bad at this that I amaze myself. It is as if I am not ready to admit things are different, in a sense. Slow down, Linds. But what if there is not enough time? Does it really matter? But I have stuff I want to do. It can wait. Yes, but...... And therein lies the problem. I have a "Yes, but" answer to everything in the Entire World. 

I suspect I am not the only one. So in the new year, I am going to make a conscious effort to try out the pacing idea a bit more thoroughly. It is my mind, you see, it never stops racing about all over the place. 
I am doomed. 


On to more seasonal things. 

Do you see the little Christmas Care Bear there on the tree? A long time ago, it was my ornament of the year. Diana adored all the Care Bears. Every traveller we knew brought back another one from the States. She had them all. 

Geoff built her a big shelf up high in her bedroom, and cut out and painted white clouds made of wood. Then he nailed them to the front of the shelf, and she had all her Care Bears up there in the clouds, looking down on her while she slept.

She was about 3 at the time. 

Care Bears were very important people. 
(Remind me to tell you about plane trips with her. We had to ask the pilot to look out for Care Bears in those clouds.)

So I invented Christmas Bear. He was very cute. I gave him to all my friends, and wherever they ended up in the world, little red Christmas bears appear on their trees every year. 

Considering he is roughly 30 years old, he has weathered the ravages of time rather well, I feel. 


I also wanted to show you the Noel ornament up there at the top of the (dark) photo. See it? Well, it is something that hung over the fireplace at my parent's home every single year. I found it in the bottom of a box this year and rescued it. So many memories of hot summer Christmases. 

(The double "s", or any letter, seems to be dropped - apart from the "p" - by autocorrect.  We still do things a little differently in the UK!)

Speaking of Noel, I unpacked my 4 blocks of red letters which spell out NOEL. I love them. However, I seem to have misplaced the "O". NEL does not have quite the right ring to it, does it? I have NO idea what I have done with it. Hopefully it will turn up.

By then, I will have lost the N, E and L, of course. 

Pace yourself, Linds. 

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Legs and eyes and a whole lot of stuff.........

I vanished again. I have a perfect excuse, of course. You will hear all in a sec. I have a doctor's appointment in 15 mins and my daughter has one too. It takes us time to get anywhere. I will tell all, I promise. And the new template? It is temporary. Until I can find a festive one. Or do something. It is red.

Red is festive.

And so is this.

As you can see. My daughter has a candy striped cast. Or a Where's Wally? cast.

Two weeks ago, she had surgery to fix her foot. Five operations in one, or maybe 4. She now has a metal plate and screws in her foot,  4 incisions, bone removed from hip and inserted into foot, and much fiddling with ligaments and tendons. And she is now in the non-weight-bearing phase. This will last till the new year and then a boot will be entering our lives too, for a few weeks, while she has physio etc etc. 


She has also rented a knee scooter to help her manage her life because the crutches are exhausting. So the wonderful wheeled thing is packed into the boot (trunk) of the car and off we go to the supermarket, or wherever we need to go. 

Life is certainly interesting. 

We(She) have(has) had a pink cast, followed by a purple one and now candy striped. Heaven knows what will come next. But candy striped is very good for Christmas.


I was waiting for vegetables at our local farm when I took this photo. It just looked stunning with the fog (which was icy) down in the valley. Irrelevant, but pretty. 

So, before her op, as she is unbelievably organised, she masterminded the removal from the loft of all essential Christmassy things, and we stored them throughout the house until the start of Advent on the 30th. And then I decorated the house. 


With most of the usual [pieces, only I must have left a few vital boxes up there, and cannot be bothered to go and hunt them down. So I improvised. And I also made enough Christmas bunting for the nook as well. It was looking very bare. Yes. In my house. A scandal. 


One of the boxes forgotten up in the roof had all the things I keep for my kitchen/family room. So instead of using greenery in the advent ring, I used masses of baubles, with some painted pine cones, some ribbons and gold bead chain, and it worked out just fine. Especially at night!


The tree was decorated, new lights bought and draped on it and it looked beautiful, then............... 
just wait for the next instalment of the saga

I decided to clean my house. 

Cleaning is vastly over-rated, people. Believe me, I know this. I have a Dyson vacuum cleaner. It has great suction power. `And I got just a little too close to the cable for the Christmas tree lights, and it devoured it, and crunched to a halt just before it yanked the entire tree over and gobbled that up too. 

I had to perform major surgery on the Dyson to release the cable and clip, which had been stripped  down to bare wires. 

You. Have. No. Idea. 

We now have a blacked out section of the tree. I do have another set of lights waiting in the wings, should any more expire for whatever reason. I could not believe it happened. I sort of flung myself on the floor to try and wrestle with the machine and unravel the cable before logic kicked in and I switched it off. And unplugged it. It was like trying to stop a hungry alligator. I have no idea what possessed me to think I could stop it by hand. 

One of my finer moments. 


I also have new glasses. There have been many medical type of appointments and outings. Nothing exciting, but just many of them. And I will now go and cook for the rest of the mob, and come back tomorrow to continue.......