Wednesday 30 December 2020

Year's End

 Hello Lovelies, I do hope you enjoyed this year's  unusual Christmas.

 Ours was most relaxing. Opening presents, cooking for one household only. Playing traditional's the one day a year...except holidays sometimes....when I can get the family to all join in.

This was taken before the boys woke up on Christmas morning. I love setting the table, though as you can see it's modestly festive.

The evening saw us playing scrabble and it all suited me very well. I did feel sorry for the boys, who are used to enjoying a big family gathering on Christmas day. There's always lots of Uncle banter, hanging with their cousins and and attention from their Nanna. They are very fortunate.

Home is no hardship for me. Especially at the moment.  Most evenings you can find me in PJ's, catching up on my temperature blanket. Not long to go now. This one only uses weekly high and low temperatures to decide the colours, so it's not a big commitment. It is getting rather huge though!

We have been blessed with quite a few sunny days and I always try and make the most of our short daylight hours.

My festive hat had lost it's bobble. Time for a colourful replacement.

Why go for plain when you can wear a rainbow!

As well as walking I've been counteracting the festive baking and snuggling with a daily morning workout. I'm sharing this as I have to thank Lucy at Attic 24 for introducing me to Lucy Wyndham Read 

I just love these short and simple workouts. No getting on the floor...hurray

Lots have a beginner and intermediate option

And there are so many to choose from.

I do two every morning, always followed by the cool down stretch.

I really love the motivation Lucy WR brings, and her focus on health and wellbeing over appearance.
Mostly I love how effective these workouts are. Recently I had got quiet the "jelly belly" which I was accepting as an age thing, wrong!
After a few weeks I can really feel the difference in my strength and balance. I can walk through slippery mud and generally feel pretty steady on my feet...probably jinxed myself there I know!! 
I'm not catching myself leaning on the work surfaces in the kitchen and it feels so easy to get up from sitting on the sofa. As I'm post menopausal now I think it's wonderful to be able to reverse some of the natural muscle loss. The workouts are enough to make me pleasantly out of breath and a bit sweaty so I feel they must be helping tone up my cardio-vascular system  too....and we all need a healthy heart don't we.

I'm certainly not about to stop walking though, as I love it and feel it has many health benefits too. I'll  be challenging myself to walk 1000 miles in 2021.....though I have an idea to change that up a bit next year....more on that soon :0)

On Tuesday morning we woke to snow, so there was no stopping me going out for a walk as soon as I could!

Our garden looked pretty.

And so did the countryside.

There was just enough snow to make the world look magical

My favourite church in the snow...lovely.

So quiet, just eldest and I, listening to our creaky footsteps.

I couldn't find my gloves, in my hurry to get out, so I was wearing my wrist warmers, made ages ago and looking rather sorry for themselves. 

I've since made a new pair...and changed the design somewhat....I'll share them next time.

Wishing you a Happy New Year Lovely people.

My sincere hope is that 2021 sees the tide of virus infections recede enough for us to relax a bit and enjoy some of the simple pleasures we are currently missing. 

I do hope you are coping ok and managing to stay positive.
Jacquie x

Thursday 24 December 2020

Merry Christmas

Hello Lovelies, 
this Christmas is like no other isn't it. Though we are not in tier 4 (essentially lockdown) yet, we are warned to be super cautious about any mixing, especially with this new strain of coronavirus which is even more contagious spreading throughout the country.

It's sad not to be able to meet up with family and friends, but as we are a family of 5 it doesn't feel lonely at all. I know I'm so blessed to have all three boys at home.

I've been making regular batches of mince pies using THIS pastry and THIS mincemeat . Christmas is wonderful for baking opportunities isn't it. All offerings disappear pretty quickly these days.

I've been walking everyday, going a little further when the sun shines.

Feeding my friendly festive bird

Who posed beautifully for me this week.

I also managed to get a picture of the Nuthatch who comes for a snack.

Back home presents are wrapped, mostly in reused and reusable gift bags.

Cards have been sent. I was impressed with these charity cards from Tesco. Minimal packaging, no glitter

And easy to recycle.

I'm aware I don't do much to support small businesses, but I did order this embroidery kit as a present to myself from a lovely UK Etsy shop . I'm looking forward to trying out a different craft after the big day

On Monday, the winter solstice, I did a final bit of decorating, prettifying my kitchen window

With much loved old decorations

and due to the lack of an Amaryllis this year...a red geranium....brought in from the conservatory.

In the evening we went to a local market town to admire their twinkly lights while it was quiet.

There's still so much I'm thankful for, despite this reduced celebration. The little things and small joys are largely unchanged. Also It's the first time in 17 years I don't have to work at least part of Christmas....I'm super grateful for that. 

I do hope you all stay safe this Christmas and manage enjoy however you celebrate it. 

Jacquie xxx


Friday 18 December 2020

Homemade Christmas Crackers

 Hello Lovelies, with one week to go until the big day I thought it was a good idea to get on with making my Christmas crackers today. 

I know these are not a worldwide tradition so HERE is a bit of background in case you are not familiar.

I started off by making the paper hats from brown paper. I simply cut strips  slightly longer than the circumference of my head and glued the two ends together. Then I folded them concertina style and cut one end to a point, make the crown shape. I added an embellishment made from cut up old Christmas cards to add a festive touch. 

I found some topical "cracker jokes" online...they are supposed to be corny..... and chose the least political ones for the 5 crackers I needed to make. Christmas dinner is a one household affair this pandemic year. Fine for us, but it's a shame mum can't join us....well it's permitted but not worth the risk.

The only other thing they needed was a small gift. In the end I decided just to go with some cute chocolates. Popular with the whole household and no cheap trinkets which would end up in the bin.

I didn't do any research on how to make crackers online...Why make life easy when you can struggle with trial and error :0) Seriously though, sometimes I just like to wing things...but now I'm doing this post knowing I'll thank myself next year...
"all being well"....

Initially I used a whole toilet roll tube for the centre and two halves for either end. I also stuck down the snap...big mistake.

By trial and error I ended up deciding it was best to shorten the centre tube to 8cm long. The two outer tubes are 3cm.

It's important to leave a big enough gap between the tubes to tie the cracker securely. My tubes were 4.5cm across. I found a 5.5cm gap was ideal for this size of tube.

You don't have to be too accurate. 

Next I glued them to the paper wrap. I was using some old gift wrap, which I cut to 35cm in width, and just enough length to wrap around the tubes with a small overlap.

At this stage add your snap if you want one. They are easily sourced online , like HERE . Just lay it through the tubes and add your other bits. For me it was the homemade hats, choccy bear....

The easy quiz question...festive themed, and one of those corny jokes.

Here's everything tucked inside the centre tube.

Then add glue. I decided a blob either side of the tubes and all along one edge worked best for me.

Roll up as neatly as possible

And squeeze together the two places between the tubes, to try and stop your bits and bobs falling out.

Keep the cracker flat and tie some strong string or wrapping ribbon around each end, checking you haven't caught or lost any of the contents in the process.

You need the cracker to be sealed, this is why that 5.5cm gap was so important. 

Check the snap is central in the cracker and adjust if needed, before sticking or gluing into place as firmly as you can...otherwise it won't go bang when the cracker is pulled....which is the best bit! 

I decided to cut points into the ends of my cracker, this is why the cardboard rings are quite small, otherwise they show. I was careful not to snip through the snap though.

Here they are...far from perfect but I'm still pleased with the finished effect. I've done some recycling, avoided loads of packaging and whiled away a few happy hours on a miserably wet December day.

In the end I decided they needed a little something else and found some washi tape in my stash to add.

The only things I bought to make these were the snaps and the chocolate. I'm hoping the fact this is basic, thin wrapping will help them pull apart easily. Brown paper would be a great choice too.

Mine are safely tucked into our tree until Christmas dinner, where I think they look really nice.

I've got snaps left over so next time I'll simply need to source the "gift". 

Toilet roll tubes are easy to collect over a few weeks. These were put in a shoe box last January with this craft in mind...get me, Mrs Organised :0)

I hope this helps anyone else out there who fancies a fun bit of Christmas craftiness.

Jacquie x