Thursday, 18 December 2014

Wonderful Winter

I really enjoyed having goals for Autumn, short term goals seem easier than year long resolutions - and they tend to be fun things as well as 'improvement' orientated - so I'm taking part in Wonderful Winter with Lucy again.

The first two goals are ones from Awesome Autumn that I failed to do.

1. Walk in the woods
Not difficult (or so you'd think), this is about getting out there and enjoying the world around me, I live in such a beautiful area but most days I just don't see it.

2. Go to the beach
The addition to this one, this season is to see the seals. Andy mentioned he'd like to take a drive to Norfolk to see them so on the list it went. This is his quiet time of year so I like to spend as much time with him as possible, doing lovely things (see 5 & 6), before he disappears again in a cloud of dirt and dust.

3. Read three books
I haven't made my piece with that book yet but I have started to read again. I'm being a girly swot and reading the second book for Alex's A Blogging Good Read (I'm taking part in the April, so I'll have this done and dusted super early). The book I'm reading is Notes On A Scandal by Zoë Heller. Next on the list is Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett, which will leave me with just one more to choose.

4. Have friends over for dinner
Andy and I say we're going to do this all the time but never seem to get anything in the diary.

5. Watch Frozen
Although this is the same as on of Lucy's goals, I haven't copied her entirely here. This is actually something Andy suggested to me (I know!). He came home one day and said 'would it be completely ridiculous for us to watch Frozen?' Hell no.

6. Visit Hogwarts in the snow
After seeing a picture on Twitter of Hogwarts in the snow I really wanted to go and see it. I asked Andy thinking that he'd look at me quizzically, but he didn't.

7. Finish my patchwork quilt!!
I started it on March 1st 2014 and want to finish it within the year.

8. Make Jaffa Cakes and this boiled fruit cake.

9. Make home improvements
There are a lot of little jobs to do around the house (as well as some larger ones) but I'd like to do at least one thing a week, even if it's just to hang a picture or buy a plant.

and finally...

10. Sort out my office.
It's become a bit of a dumping ground, so being able to walk from on side to the other without having to step over something would be wonderful. I'd also like to put the finishing touches to it after decorating it back in October 2013!

What are you looking forward to doing this winter?


Wednesday, 17 December 2014

How was Autumn? Awesome?

When joining Lucy for Awesome Autumn, my goals were few and simple.

Forage for sloes and make some gin
I found the sloes, I found the recipe, I found a demijohn (albeit dusty and covered in cobwebs). This happened people, this totally happened. I've since been told that the finished product is much nicer if left for a year, and I can't believe I'm about to say this, but I'm going to be patient and wait...

Go to the beach
This didn't happen. I'm not sure where the time went.

Decorate the side entrance and hallway
Done! Almost. I still have the woodwork to sand and gloss, but as we're so close to Christmas, and I'm hoping for an electric sander, I'm going to wait and see what Santa brings.

Carve a pumpkin or two
Fail. Halloween seemed to completely pass me by, honestly it came and went before I realised the pumpkins were on sale.

Watch a creepy film on Halloween
Fail, see above. However I did watch my favourite Christmas film - The Holiday. Twice.

Bake something
I've got three apple crumbles under my belt (literally!) and this cherry cake. The recipe comes from Bessie's Veggie Kitchen. I've cooked recipes from this blog before - here and here - and it turns out that the blogger behind it is a friend of mine. Someone I've known since I was 14. I'd been following her Pinterest boards for ages without even realising. Small world.

Resist the urge to buy new scarves and wear all the ones I own!
Loved this mini challenge and succeeded in not buying any new ones. Scarves are something I wear all year round but they feature heavily at this time of year. I wore almost all of my collection and selected a few to go to chairty. I received three for my birthday at the end of August, one of which was awesome (and huge), but, I'm told, not as big as one Lenny Kravitz has.

Read 3 books
To help towards my goal of 12 before my next birthday. I read A Cup of Tea by Amy Ephron, which is my chosen book for Alex's A Blogging Good Read. And then I started The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, which is where it all started to go wrong.

Something happened in the book, something that I didn't want to happen. It was awful, I saw it coming but still hoped that it wouldn't actually happen. It did. And when it did, I threw the book across the room and there it still sits. I sobbed and I haven't picked another book since.

The book was recommended to me by my best friend. When she read the awful thing, she was on a plane and sobbed just like I did. But she read on and tells me I should do the same, but I need to make my peace with it first. Despite this I'm impressed that a book can make me react in such a forceful manner - if nothing else that's pretty spectacular writing.

Walk in the woods
I live a two minute walk away from woods and yet didn't make it there for an autumnal stroll. Shame. On . Me.

Meet friends for coffee
This was really about just seeing more of my favourite people. And I'm pleased to say that I did. Time spent with friends is always a pleasure, even if it's for a quick lunchtime coffee. This is something I'm definitely going to keep up, it's all to easy to let time go by.

I'll be taking part in Lucy's Wonderful Winter too, hopefully I'll do better.

How was your Autumn? What are you looking forward to this winter?


Monday, 15 December 2014

A Christmas wreath, an Aladdin's cave, a mantlepiece and Secret Santa...

I made my own Christmas wreath this year and it hadn't occurred to me to share it with you all until I saw Janet's (and I call myself a blogger, tsk!). Check out her post for a step-by-step guide. It's super easy and a fraction of the cost of store bought.

I used holly and a florists oasis - whereas Janet used and combination of greenery and a wire moss ring - which actually seems a lot nicer. I also used a piece of ribbon I had kicking around (never throw ribbon away), some found pine cones and some berry decorations bought on a trip to a local shop.

Which brings me neatly to the subject of the shop. Now, this shop is no ordinary shop (and I'm not talking about M&S here), it's a fabulous Aladdin's cave of gorgeousness that I was introduced to recently by a friend.

Nestled in Middlewood Green in Suffolk is W&M Smith Florist Supplies. The website does not do it justice, it's packed to the rafters with all sorts of floristry and craft supplies and has the nicest range of Christmas decorations I've ever seen. The outside is very deceptive, it's hard to tell if it's open, or if you're even allowed to go in. Once inside the tiny entrance you go through to a huge main area, chock full of high shelves, this has lots of little rooms leading off it, also full of heaving shelves. I loved it. Children aren't allowed in and once inside this makes perfect sense, not to mention making it a bit of a playground for the fully grown. My friend and I wandered at leisure, marveling at it all and filling our baskets with all sorts of goodies.

I was rather more restrained than I thought I would be, but now I know where it is there is nothing - nothing - to stop me going back. In addition to the decorations for my wreath I purchased a heart wreath for our new mantlepiece - one that I can bring out year after year. Some cake glitter and ribbon for the Christmas cake that I am, ahem, still yet to make. And some little fabric hearts for making Christmas cards next year.

We had a mantlepiece fitted back in September when we changed the fireplace from an open fire to a woodburner, and since then the thing I've been most excited about is being able to decorate the mantlepiece for Christmas! Priorities, right? The heart wreath looks fab sat there with all sorts of other bits and pieces I've been collecting, waiting for the day I'd have somewhere to display them.

I signed up to Char's Secret Santa

To add to my Christmas excitement I recently received my not-so-Secret-Santa gift, I'd completely forgotten about it, so it was a lovely surprise when it arrived. I received two Yankee candles in Frosted Spruce and Holiday Magic. Both of which I love. In my local Wyevale recently I made myself dizzy, and gave myself a sneezing fit, by sniffing them all so much.

I was also sent the cutest button and daisy necklace (two of my very favourite things) and a patchwork pattern case, that I can use for either my glasses or my phone, and some chocolate that didn't last very long at all! Poor Snowman had his head bitten off before he could even get his bearings.

It was lucky that my gifts arrived in good time as, although I'd ordered (and made) my Secret Santa gifts early, I'd put them to one side and then promptly forgot all about them. So I had a mad dash to the post office. Oops.

I sent one 'main' gift and some goodies and a few little bits and pieces.

A few of my button tree decorations and I thought the Satsuma Shimmer lip balm was fabulously festive!

Now, I'm just waiting for the Christmas tree, a hangover (Andy's) meant that our original plans were scuppered, so I'm patiently waiting...

How is your Christmas shaping up?


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