What do you wish for in 2013? I would like to: learn to use my new camera properly (I've had it for three months and I'm progressing v-e-r-y slowly) worry less make more time to enjoy seeing friends and family
Wishing everyone who stops by here a very Happy New Year...
The greatest thing about the holidays is having time to do non-essential things. I've been doing my annual cull of my old magazines, ripping out pictures and pages that I want to keep. I've finally completed the enormous scrap book that I've had for the last 10 years. It's a very fat book, full of all the images that I've loved the most.I use it all the time, for the magazine, for ideas when I am making stuff and just for browsing when I feel like it.
Now I've started a new book, a lovely black bound volume for a bargainous £3.99 from Rymans (they do lovely journals). This time, I want to include some of my own paintings and sketches alongside the magazine inspiration.
Labels, tags, old birthday cards, they'll all be stored in here. I painted those fat peaches one summer in Spain.
Doodles from the other night, and things I've liked.
Yesterday morning saw a glimmer of sunshine here, but instead of our traditional walk, my husband and I spent the morning clearing the garden. Not very festive, but we had our willow tree cut back a few weeks ago, but because of work and the weather, we hadn't been able to get out to tidy up the branches which were smothering the lawn. It was great to spend a few hours in the fresh air, working off that Christmas lunch and restoring some sort of order. When the clouds finally came down and the rain started, the light was already fading, so we came in to light the fire. There was a stillness in the house, after yesterday's socialising and festivities. The boys were watching movies and playing computer games, Perry was reading and snoozing, and I was playing around with my water colours and listening to music. I browsed through lots of my old 1940s gardening books to see if I could reproduce the illustrations myself. I couldn't, but I had fun trying. Then I opened my Angie Lewin book, Plants and Places, and spent an hour or so sketching seed heads and cow parsley. I was completely caught up in what I was doing, which doesn't happen very often, and it was absolutely lovely.
We're winding down now, just making a few last minute preparations. We're having quite a few family members here on Christmas day. Husband fetched the turkey and sausage meat from our butchers this morning, I went to the market for vegetables on Friday. I've just made some candied orange for last minute gifts and a caramel Christmas cake from Dan Lepard's brilliant book, Short and Sweet. This made the house smell of spicy and fruity toffee. I hope it tastes as good.
The house was decorated in time for our party, and most of the presents are wrapped.
Lovely table decoration from Tracey at Foxtail Lilly.
I bought lots of white cyclamen from the market, for £1 a pot and put them into an old copper pan. They look so pretty. I hope you are enjoying your preparations. I think Christmas Eve is my favourite part of the holiday, with everyone safely home, so I am looking forward to that most of all. Thinking about the people, homeowners and shop keepers, who are affected by the floods and wishing you all a safe, harmonious and peaceful break.
I've just pressed 'send' and my last piece of work before Christmas has gone. Hooray for that! (Famous last words, it may come back to haunt me, but it's gone for now). I started doing some decorating last night, and slowly things are taking shape around the house...I haven't bought any new decorations this year, except...for this hare. He may well hang around after the festive season, too.
I found these old alphabet blocks on ebay during the year. They were only £2.99 and I love them. I have thinned out my dresser a little, not that you'd really notice :), to make way for some more festive colours and a bit of charity shop bling. It's the only time of year that I get out the 'family silver' and I had a happy half hour polishing it all up with the Silvo last night.
I can't wean myself off my 'old roses' prints and china. Retro is lovely, but so are these.
The tree is up and decorated.
A bit of glow and shine on a foggy day.
I'm just off to shop for a small party that we're having on Friday evening. I am going to make mulled cider, and lots of 'small food', my favourite kind. Hope your days are not too fraught at the moment. Back shortly.
A lovely new magazine called LandScape contacted me out of the blue a few months ago, and asked me to write something for them. As I am feeling very much better these days, I leapt at the chance, and my first piece for them is out now. It's all about the conservators at a stately home called Burghley House, which is just down the road from where I live. This was a lovely piece to write.
I love the honesty seed decoration on this cover Last week, the same magazine asked if I'd like to do another article for them, this time in Cumbria. So, early yesterday morning, I was motoring along the A1 with photographer Richard on the way to Penrith. We arrived by 11am, and stepped out of the car into an enchanted spot.
There were ponies and deer grazing in the fields and the sunshine was dancing on the white frost. I had very little time to take any shots, as I was doing a long interview, but I just managed to capture a few photos. I had not been to the Lake District for about 20 years and I had forgotten just how beautiful it is.
The weather could not have been more spectacular
This is the 'stumpery' in the gardens of the house.Very Hobbit-y, as a friend pointed out.
I can't be too specific about what I was doing as magazines don't like to give away their future articles, but I had such a lovely day, meeting some brilliant people. I got the train home from Penrith, as Richard was driving north for some more work. I had an hour to look around the town as the sun was setting. It's a busy little market town, with some very old fashioned shops, all looking very Christmassy. The castle is opposite the station, and so atmospheric.
I was shattered by the time I arrived home at 10pm, but I'd enjoyed every minute of the day. It sounds corny, I know, but I do give thanks for my better health every single day that it lasts. Now, it's time to write up my interview, and then slow right down again. Christmas is calling!
It has been a Sunday of sorting out. A not-quite-Christmas Sunday, where a few preparations are being made, without any big pressure because 'there's still time....' So, that means some wrapping, card writing:
A bit of glow...
Quite a bit of skiving off...
In fact, this cherry cake is not for us. At my eldest son's parents evening last week, his English teacher leant over the desk and said sorrowfully: "I'm afraid there is one thing that I do need to mention to you..." My heart sank and I gave my son a hard stare. "Yes?" I said, bracing myself. "Every month, we ask the students to bring in some cake to have in the lesson. Last Monday, it was Jack's turn...and he forgot," she said. "We were all very disappointed." My son is the only boy in a class of 12, so I could imagine the reaction when he failed to come up with the goods. Yes, a cake crime had been committed and the mistake had to be rectified as soon as possible. Hence, a cherry and almond cake for school tomorrow. And finally, I've been doing something I really enjoy at this time of year: pulling out recipes from magazines and newspaper, dreaming what I'll make over the holiday period (it doesn't always happen but I enjoy thinking about it...)
I'm off to light the fire and do a bit more of that culinary plotting and planning...
I am absolutely determined to do as little of my Christmas shopping as possible on the high street this year. There are so many bazaars, craft and vintage fairs popping up everywhere that it shouldn't be difficult to achieve. I went to a church bazaar yesterday and found a bunch of these Chinese lanterns. I love the way the orange glows. I walked home along the lanes with them as the light was fading and it was like carrying a torch. They are destined to be decorations.
A friend had a stall at the bazaar and she makes these dolls using old linen that she inherited.
Today, I went to two more small local sales, a vintage and handmade and a Christmas craft fair, all happening within five miles. It was lovely to see so many different crafts and styles. I could not resist this beautiful tin from the vintage fair:
Or these handmade Christmas cards by Jessica James:
So, my Christmas shopping is a step further along. I hope all sellers had a good weekend.