Wednesday 22 December 2010

It's Christmas!

Well, nearly. Three more sleeps to go. A finished school today and hubby has just one more day at work. The tree is up, presents are wrapped, the cards are posted and the turkey is in the fridge. I'm feeling strangely organised this year!

So much so I even had time to make this little chap. I first saw him on Andrea's lovely blog Apples and Pears. She said he was "super quick to make", to me he represents three evenings of my life, I'm obviously a slow crocheter...

This is my favourite tree ornament, given to me by a Canadian family friend when I was little (eek, that'll be over 30 years ago now!)

For the first year ever I made my own mince pies. When I was young, I remember watching my parents making loads of mince pies each year (six dozen apparently!). Life's too short, I'm not doing that, I thought to myself...

...And after an evening spent faffing about rolling, cutting and filling... I'd still say life's too short for making your own mince pies! I have to say I'm rather partial to the Co-op's "Truly Irresistable" range of mince pies, certainly much less effort involved and they taste pretty good too.

Reminds me, must go and get a clementine and keep my vitamin C levels up.

Nativity ornament from Peru (funnily enough from the same Canadian lady who gave me the angel tree ornament).

Now on to the weather! We had a little fall of snow at the weekend and it's been very cold since, complete with mist and fog during the early days of this week, as you can see behind the snowmen on N's window.

We have icicles growing.

Spider's webs are thick with frost.

But today the mist lifted, the sun came out and all was sparkly and beautiful again.

The back door.

My robin suncatcher.

The sunlight made the colours of the glass friendship ball gorgeously glow.

You can see the ball in this picture too, it hangs on the centre panel of the bay window.

Another Peruvian nativity, these characters are tiny and all pack away into a match box.

Enough of inside...

...A's school finished for the holidays today at 2:30pm. N and I took the sledge with us when we went to collect her.

Lets go sledging!

Heading along the street bordering the park.

Into the park (looking absolutely beautiful in its snowy mantle)

Making our way towards the hill (with a little detour near the fountain for a photogenic scene)

And she's off, N prefers to watch as A zooms down the hill.

The trees are amazing, I've never seen the frost so thick on the branches before.

Surprisingly we seem to have the park pretty much to ourselves. A has a great time. Despite wearing an extra pair of woolly sock my feet are getting so cold they start to hurt. Time to go home (taking photos on the way!)

It was also a bit of a sad day today. I normally play badminton once a week with some of the other Mums. The local Sports Centre has an excellent creche which N really enjoys attending. The creche is in a lovely little room with big windows, it has a great selection of toys and fabulous staff. Today was his last day, the council are closing the creche from tomorrow to save money. So much for encouraging participation in sport for all - certainly for me it makes it dificult to use the sports centre now till N starts nursery which isn't till August. The creche was also an excellent way for N to get some time away from me (he can be rather clingy), and the staff were excellent. I agree it probably was under-utilised but it was really badly publicised. We only found out it was there through word of mouth, I suspect they've been trying to get rid of it for a while - too much paperwork and regulations involved. Bah humbug!

Anyway, incase I don't manage to post again before the big day, I hope everything goes well for you all. Having spent last Christmas feeling rather unwell (nothing major fortunately, but I did feel very sorry for myself) I espeicially wish everyone Good Health. Merry Christmas!

Monday 13 December 2010

A very little bit of crochet, a knitted Fireman Sam and Lots of Snow!

Amid news that major retailers are now suspending online deliveries in Scotland because of the recent weather and road conditions I'm glad to say that my USB reader was sucessfully delivered today. So I've at last been able to upload my snowy photos. Please note that not all the following photos involve snow, just incase you're fed up of the white stuff!

It all started at the end of November. I missed much of this first snow fall as I took A & N to visit my parents for a couple of nights - they live in the South West of Scotland, an area which received very little snow.

While there I had another attempt at a crochet robin. I'm still not especially happy with the result - this one was left with my parents.

Warnings of deteriorating weather and road conditions made me worry about travelling the 100 or so miles home, but as it turned out the roads were fine. It was soooo nice to be back home and not be stuck at my parent's house!

A snowy tree in "our" park.

I finally got round to making some mincemeat. I used the Sarah Raven recipe with a few substitutions for things I didn't have in my store cupboard. It was very easy to do though making the actual mince pies will involve rather more work methinks. I'll be having a bash at them at the end of this week as family are coming for a pre-Christmas meet-up and present swap (weather permitting!)

The following Sunday (which was the 5th Dec) I went for an afternoon walk, a Saturday morning bike ride being out of the question due to icy road conditions, as you can see from the above photo.

Looking across the fields. Notice the cow on the right of the picture, one of the few not yet snug in a barn for the winter.

Tree silhouette (a favourite one to photograph at the beginning of my bike rides when I take this same route out the village). Beautiful blue skies.

More snowy roads.

Looking back towards the sun which is starting to set.

The road home. A lovely walk. I thought it best to get out and enjoy the snow while it was still with us. Little did I know...

This was the next day, Monday 6th Dec. The snow started falling about 9am. The whole central belt of Scotland (where about 70% of the population lives) was affected and traffic chaos ensued with many people being trapped in their cars for 12 hours or more. (And for the first time ever I spot a bullfinch in the garden. He's on top of the shed in the above photo, a pair of collared doves sit high on a branch in the tree behind.)

We were lucky. Hubby was sent home early from work and managed almost all the way home, just failing to get up the final hill to our driveway. A's school closed early, it's only a 2minute walk away from the house so it wasn't a problem. We only had about 4" or so of snow, the problem seems to be the time it fell (rush hour) and the fact that it then froze hard and the gritters were ineffective.

As we weren't adversely affected we could enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the snow.

Bird on branch silhouettes are another favourite subject of mine to photograph. If the branches are snowy and the sky behind is blue then that's even better!

Looking over the field at the front of our house. A and I are off for our first sledging session (and a walk to the local shop to stock up on some supplies).

Low lying mist lies at the foot of the trees.

Our park is excellent for sledging. Neither of us has been down the big hill yet, but we have a shot on the lesser slopes.

Just one of the many shots of the snowy tree branches I took.

Now to Tuesday. The school is still shut (and remains so until Friday). We go sledging again.

More branches (just can't resist photographing them, especially when they're turning pink in the light of the setting sun)

A and one of her school friends. With his encouragement she managed to sledge down some steeper slopes.

One neighbour noted temperatures of -14C at about 10pm tonight, wonder how cold it actually did get before morning.

And now Wednesday which I think was the most beautiful day of all. I'm organising a night out next week and the deposit for the restaurant is due. I don't like driving in the snow so I take the opportunity to walk (with my camera!) to the nearby town.

Once back home A & I go sledging yet again (hubby is able to work from home while the roads are bad and it's possible to leave N with him for short periods of time). I didn't take my camera, I wish I had - A suddenly discovered her confidence and was zooming exuberantly down some pretty steep hills! I've enjoyed the snow too. We had a lot of snow last year but at the time I felt so unwell (cold, chest infection, sinusitus) I couldn't go out without starting to cough and shiver, this year for me has been so much more fun (so far!). It is actually rare for us to get this kind of snow, I thought last year was a one-off so it's nice to have a second chance this year. I expect I'd feel differently if this was our normal weather. For me it beats the mild but wet and windy weather we usually endure.

On Wednesday night I baked the Christmas cake. It's now wrapped in foil and in the freezer. It's the Nigella chocolate fruitcake (here's the recipe). I made it last year and we all really liked it. I'm not a fan of the traditional Christmas fruit cake and this is an excellent substitute.

That night the thaw started... day the postman was finally able to deliver some parcels...

...and a snowman was built. A is very pleased with her work. N was rather fed up by this point. We then went in and watched The Snowman on DVD, it always brings a tear to my eye!

Now the snow has pretty much all gone, the warm weather has gone too and it's freezing again.

Anyway, enough of the weather... on to a completely different subject - N loves Fireman Sam. On ebay you can buy some lovely hand-knitted fireman toys (well beyond my current knitting abilities).

I bought this one. I didn't like his face but otherwise he looked well made, not overstuffed, and good colours. He sold for about £5 less than the better looking firemen available. I was reasonably confident I could give him a make-over, if not it was only £1.99 I would lose...

...and here he is now. New eyes & mouth, helmet badge and laces removed. I'm happier anyway, we'll find out what N thinks on the 25th Dec!

The house is mostly decorated for Christmas but still rather untidy. I'll take photos once it's all more presentable. As I mentioned earlier we're having folks round (at least 7 of them) for lunch on Sun so I'd better get a move on and get sorted out (switching off the computer would help!)

I'll leave you with...
...a little peek at the sunset this afternoon from the back door. Well done if you made it this far.

Enjoy your week!


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