Saturday, 31 December 2011

A year in photographs - 31st December 2011

On the 1st January this year, I set myself a challenge to take a picture everyday for a year and I did it, I completed the challenge and now have a unique collection of photographs that reflect a whole year of my life. I still have to add some photos to my picassa daily photo album but they are on the laptop and ready to go, probably the ideal job for New Years Day. Here are some of my favourites, one from each month.

Tulips - January 2011

Herbie - February 2011

Josie - March 2011

Bluebells - April 2011

Rhubarb Champagne- May 2011

Home sweet home - June 2011

Camping - July 2011

Charlie - August 2011

1st day at school - September 2011

Alexandra Palace - October 2011

Sparklers - November 2011

First craft fair - December 2011

Friday, 30 December 2011

The antidote to Christmas fatigue - 30th December 2011


The dramatic bare branches

The spidery silhouettes against the moody winter sky

The glorious bark of the silver birch

The sunlight on the firs

No tinsel, no lights, just trees

Thursday, 29 December 2011

The end of an era - 29th December 2011

It's seems that there is always an end to things, no matter how much you want them to continue, people and their circumstances changes and the world just keeps on spinning. I remember every single one of my inspirational dance teachers, as they are a group of people for whom I have the greatest admiration. For me a life without ballet would be a sad one but one without dance, an impossibility. Changes are a foot at the gym which mean I am no longer able to attend my much loved fitness ballet classes, but perhaps this is the push I needed. Perhaps I will now take that plunge to return to the ballet of tights and leotards, of plies, port de bras and enchainements. So it is regret that I say goodbye to Fitness Ballet, DW Fitness and the completely fabulous Kirsty.

Photo courtesy of

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Slippers - 28th December 2011

It wasn't until recently that I even had a pair of slippers. I am definitely a one for bare feet and I still wonder around first thing in the morning without them, but I am learning to appreciate their worth. It's probably down to the fact that I now have several stylish pairs, with my latest addition being some grey ballerina style ones with felt flowers, all the way from my sister in Australia. She is the queen of pyjamas so my slippers always remind me of her. The children also received slippers for Christmas and as a celebration of slippers and Josie having a friend for a sleepover, here are our cosy slippered tootsies.

I think you can probably judge a person by the slippers they wear!

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Pretty little girls - 27th December 2011

When Josie was born, she was tiny, less than 6lbs and just like a dolly. She had such beautiful teeny tiny little clothes and was just so pretty. I did so love to dress her in the most adorable outfits, she even had frilly knickers. As she grew into a strong minded fiercely independent toddler, I had little influence over her outfits. She would not wear anything other than pink, wore every single hair clip, hair band and item of jewellery she owned all at once and was instead on wearing fairy wings and wellies everywhere. Then one morning she woke up and said she wanted jeans and ever since her fashion sense has changed with the wind. It is not unknown for her to change several times a day.

Today as promised, I took her to the sales and was really expecting to buy something highly fashionable, totally hideous, to be worn once and then dis guarded at the bottom of the wardrobe. However I was pleasantly surprised to see her drawn to the delightful party frocks in Monsoon, which compared to the tat in the over-crowded Next sale, was a breathe of fresh air.

It was so wonderful to see her as a pretty little girl, in a classic adorable dress with lace and embroidery and net, that I had to buy it for her.

Like a little angel and perfectly dressed for future tea parties.

Monday, 26 December 2011

The Boxing Day Sales - 26th December 2011

Every year I go to the Boxing Day sales with my mother-in-law. Instead of presents under the tree, I get to choose all of them myself. A little materialistic, but after reusing, repurposing and refashioning for the rest of the year, my love of clothes just gets the better of me.

The extravagant purchases I was unable to live without this year:

A green blue faux fur coat from Top Shop. It was on my Christmas wish list and is very fluffy. It's got toggles, poms poms and a hood. Ideal for the snow.

A completely beautiful dress from Noa Noa that I look every time I go in for a browse. I love that shop. The dress is the perfect colour, with net, trim, an adorable style and cut.

And a little black dress in chiffon with pleats and crochet detail shoulders.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Christmas Day in pictures - 25th December 2011

 12.15am peaceful, quiet and only just Christmas.

06.30am after an hour and a half of whispering, rustling, holes being discovered in the wrapping, presents mysteriously falling out of the paper completely by themselves and small children being retrieved from under the tree...

they were finally allowed to open their stockings

07.30am opening the presents under the tree

Herbie tried to get chocolate coins out of Charlie's tin

Lovely happy children

09.00am croissants for breakfast

10.30 am collecting my prize cabbage from the allotment

and checking on my January Kings

12.30pm setting the table

2.00pm Christmas dinner

3.00pm a walk by the river

Merry Christmas Everyone

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Twas the night before Christmas - 24th December 2011

It's family tradition to track Santa for a while on NORAD leave out a mince pie glass of milk and carrot and to read "Twas the Night before Christmas" as a bedtime story.

  Twas the Night before Christmas Poem
Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

Friday, 23 December 2011

Chocolate Yule Log - 23rd December 2011

Sometimes you just get an idea in your head that you can't shake and for some reason I've really been wanting to make a yule log and then after watching Kirstie Allsopp not only make one but enter it into a competition, I had to give it a try. My mother in-law arrived today so it  was the ideal opportunity to have a go a making one. I need an extra pair of hands and eyes when I'm cooking with the children. They are a little like octopuses with their tiny little fingers dipping into everything.

Whisk 6 egg yolks and 150g of caster sugar

Gently fold in 60g of sifted cocoa

Whisk 6 egg whites until stiff

and then fold into to the chocolatey mixture

Bake at 180c for 20-25 minutes and allow to cool

Whilst still warm, roll in grease proof paper and leave to cool whilst you make the decorations. The chocolate covering is a secret recipe completely made up and inspired by my research into chocolate yule logs, the chocolate bars that Josie and Charlie persuaded me to buy and it tastes delicious enough for the children to have eaten but I suppose you can't really go wrong with chocolate, cream and icing sugar. We also made a few decorations with marzipan and a tray of super thin chocolate for the bark (seriously it takes all day and there is a huge amount of washing up).

Once the cake has completely cooled, whip up some cream and add  some chopped glace cherries or sour cherries soaked in brandy or both, unroll, spread over the cake and roll in back up again.
And finally it's time to decorate and sprinkle with icing sugar and edible glitter.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Stockings - 22nd December 2011

I'm having too much fun making things for Christmas to come and go as quickly as it does. There are still so many thing that I want to make and only two days left until the big day and then the Christmas making will come to end for another year. I'm also lucky to have had little helpers with most of the things I've made and I think that's what has made it so much fun. Today we made mini Christmas stocking with some of my scraps of fabric. They honestly were super simple and my friend's son has made one for her with very little help from me, however I can't post a picture of that one as it's a surprise.

First of all I cut a very simple stocking shape from some old red fleece and then we cut out shapes from scraps of fabric to create the design.

The machine sewing was a joint effort, I did the steering and Josie and Edward turned the wheel. We did a zig zag design to catch the edges of fabric.

Finally the children hand sewed a plain piece of fleece to the back to create a stocking which was stuffed with chocolate coins.

I did blanket stitch around mine but the children simply over sewed which was much easier for their little fingers.

This one is Josie's which she gave to her dad.