Friday, 31 December 2010

Goodbye 2010

I quite like looking back over the year, thinking about things that have happened, places visited and memories shared. I often think that is why I take so many photos. I love to look through them and feeling that bitter sweet sensation of remembering a past moment held forever in a snap shot. I think the most significant thing about 2010 is that I have learnt so much about how to live my life. If I find time each day for something I love, then I can't fail to be happy.

There have been so many things that I have loved about 2010, but I have tried to make a list of my top 10.

  1. Sharing so many wonderful times with my family and friends, they are what really makes life worthwhile and the times I look back on with happiness and forward to with excitement
  2. The holidays with my family to Wales,  Wellington Country Park, Butlins and camping trips in Kent
  3. There were two quite major milestones in 2010; my husband and I both turned 40 and celebrated 10 years of marriage
  4. There were also a number of crafting firsts; my first quilt, my first knitting and stitching exhibition at Ally Pally, my first blog and my first homemade Christmas
  5. The creation of the potting shed in the garden and the acquisition of our second allotment plot
  6. Growing vegetables and eating them all year round, including plenty for Christmas dinner
  7. The mushroom foray at Wildwood, I can not wait until mushroom season next year
  8. My bike...I love my bike. It is probably one of my most prized and used possession along with my sewing machine. My bike is at the top of the list for a makeover in the new year
  9. Dancing and running
  10. Realising that you can ask for help and people listen, you are never alone despite your perception

Leeks for Christmas Dinner

My potting shed in the snow

Homemade wrapping paper and tags

Wishing everyone a very happy and creative new year xxx

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

The best laid plans

The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men,
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!
(The best laid schemes of Mice and Men
oft go awry,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!)
Robert Burns, To a Mouse (Poem, November, 1785)
This Christmas I was going to be so organised and I did quite well. I made nearly all of the presents myself and quite a long time in advance, improved my wrapping skills and got most of them to the right people on time. However due to being far too casual with my planning, there is one truly special friend whose present is still under our tree. I have made truffles for her on three occasions and they have all been eaten without making it to her, not because I am mean but because they have to be eaten within a week of making them. There is nothing else for it, I shall have to make a truffle making kit for the lady in question. She is after all the kind soul who gave me the sour cherries in the first place and it is almost unspeakable that she is yet to taste them.
Some people are very special and it is not always easy to show how much they are appreciated.
I once asked Josie how she decided who to make friends with as she always wanted to make a friend where ever we went,
"Find someone who looks pretty and try to talk to them", she replied and I always thought it was incredibly good advice. All of my friends have some qualities that I admire and I can talk to all of them. For this particular friend, there is a great deal to admire, the list would be endless. She has effortless style of which anyone would be envious and the most beautiful home, the type I imagine mine would look like if I did not have children and all my mummyish things had not been Charlied. My house would of course not be anywhere near as beautiful or perfect but I do love having something to aspire to. 
The thing I like most about this friend is the loves in life that we share. We could probably go anywhere together and have the most fabulous time, particularly if it involved anything to do with gardening, art or beautiful things. We have shared good times and bad. She held my hand during one of the lowest points in my life and wiped my tears. A true friend is one to treasure and I look forward to being old ladies together one day.
For the lady who brings a little bit pink into every one's life

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Vintage Buttons

For me, vintage buttons are just as precious as diamonds and to receive some unexpectedly through the post made my day. When the parcel arrived, I knew immediately who it was from. It rattled and felt like a box. I did initially guess jewellery as I had so many beautiful necklaces for my birthday, but honestly you would not believe my delight when I discovered vintage buttons.

I was going to sit down quietly with a cup of coffee and look at them all, but Charlie squirrelled them away before I got a chance. For despite being up most of the night being sick and not having eaten, the lure of buttons was too much for him to resist. When I was younger I loved my Grandma's sewing room and spent hours up there admiring the buttons,  tidying the reels of thread and sticking coloured glass headed pins in her hedgehog pin cushion. I would be difficult to say whether I liked going through her jewellery box the most or her button box.

These are my favourite ones from the box I received today. How lovely to have such a wonderful friend who knows me so well and can understand everything that Ridgeway Cottage is about.

For the very special Leanne x

Monday, 20 December 2010

Wrapping Presents

The wrapping of presents is one of my favourite parts of Christmas. Each year the week before Christmas is spent wrapping the special presents for my closest family who I'll be with on Christmas Day and it really does take me all week. I love spending ages on at least on present for each person. I like to make my own wrapping paper, tags, bows and all the other little decorations that make the presents completely unique.The fabric pom poms are from Little Miss Momma Blog, which is completely brilliant. I've also made a pom pom hairband for Josie and a pom pom clip for myself.

The first day of the holidays is when Josie and I wrap her presents which is accompanied by hot chocolate for her. When my husband goes out for his work Christmas party, I have a wrapping evening, watching all the Christmas cooking and crafting television programmes and drinking mulled wine. My favourite wrapping session though is on Christmas Eve, when everything finally comes together. This year is even more Christmassy with all the snow outside.

Sunday, 19 December 2010


 If I had known before just how easy it is to make truffles then I would have been making and eating them for years. If you were on my truffle list and haven't received any yet, blame the snow and please accept my apology. Josie and Charlie are making sure that none go to waste. They are quite delicious.

There is a secret ingredient, sour cherries soaked in brandy. However this could quite easily be substituted if you weren't lucky enough to have a friend pick you a bag of sour cherries in the summer and the foresight to soak them in brandy for several months. I think it is just as simpe to buy dried sour cherries and soak them in a tot of brandy, but doesn't bring back memories of stoning them whilst sitting in a deckchair in the garden in the summer sun. The truffles are not expensive to make so if they are for someone special, you could splash out on the best chocolate you can afford. It needs to have at least 70% cocoa though and why not go for fairtrade?

Recipe for Sour Cherry Brandy Truffles

150mls Double Cream
75g 70% Cocoa Chocolate
50g Sour Cherries soaked in Brandy 

Decorations - Cocoa / dessicated coconut / edible gold dust / edible glitter

Finely chop the chocolate and place in a mixing bowl (we used a blender to chop because it was noisier and kept little fingers away from the chocolate). Heat the cream in a pan over a low heat until just before boiling point and then pour over the chopped chocolate. Slowly fold in with a metal spoon until all the chocolate has melted and all is well mixed. Add the chopped sour cherries and mix gently. Place the bowl in the fridge for a couple of hours. During this time you could make some Gift boxes. 
When the mixtures is ready, roll into small balls in the palm of your hand and then roll in which ever decoration you have decided to use.

The truffles need to be stored in the fridge and eaten within 7 days which shouldn't be too much a problem. I doubled to recipe and made 45 truffles, gave lots away and still had to make a second batch the next day.

For the very lovely Bee

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

The Jesus Set

When Josie was little she always referred to the Nativity as the Jesus Set which I still love the idea of . There's Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the Kings, the wise men, the sheep, the donkey, the star and baby Jesus. It's a set.
This week I have been treated to two traditional Nativities.

Charlie was a shepherd with the classic tea towel on the head costume. When he had been practicing at home, he had insisted that I joined in the actions and he also did this during the performance. He was, as every child is, completely adorable.

Josie was a star in every sense of the word. She stood up in front of a huge crowd and sang a beautiful duet with her friend Emily. A verse from O Little Town of Bethlehem. I could have watched it over and over again. It is one of the joys of being a parent, watching your little angels in the Christmas Nativity. Christmas has begun.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

My latest 'to do' list

At the weekend I celebrated my 40th birthday and I had a truly fabulous time with my family. I looked at my life and decided that I pretty much had everything that I wanted. There weren't really any unfulfilled dreams, apart from having a dance studio in my house. I never really became a professional ballerina, but still wear leg warmers to a class on a weekly basis. So I decided to make a list of all the things that I would like to do before I die. There are of course plenty of lists out there. 101 things to do before you die is a book with its own related website and bloggers dedicated to the list, which really appealed to me, however there were lots of things on the list that I would never want to do ever and a number I'd done already. There is practically no choice, I am going to have to write my own and seeing as I have until I die to do them, I feel I probably have just a little less time than that to write the list.

So far I have a total of three things on my list and volunteers to do each one with me. I'm quite optimistic, it could definitely go very well.

Things to do before I die

  1. Swim in the sea on New Years Day
  2. Travel on the Trans Siberian Express
  3. Travel on the Orient Express

I am completely seduced by the romance and style of the 1920's and would most definitely need a sympathetic wardrobe, accessories and luggage for the trip. Perhaps I should add that to my list?

Friday, 3 December 2010

Snow Days

Nothing changes the world like snow. It makes the ordinary extraordinary. I could just walk around in the snow for hours if it wasn't just so cold. Yesterday I stood in the garden and watched the snow and it was silent, beautiful and silent. I love the way that snow slows down the world and pretty much brings public transport to a stand still. I know that is probably quite irritating for a lot of people, but I like everyone being at home because it's snowing. Snow makes the world shimmer and shine. I'm now dreaming of a white Christmas.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

All that glitters

After the tragic and shocking news of my friend's death yesterday, the start of December was a much needed lift for my spirits, a reminder of just how precious those moments are you spend with those who are dear to you and the start of a magical month in our house. The glitter is officially out and the Christmas making has started. My "to do" list has been filled with all things Christmassy, there were Christmas songs on ipod and dancing in the kitchen. I made wrapping paper with Charlie, Christmas cards and Josie did her Christmas Cards all by herself. It is such a special time of year and so very exciting.

For Angela