Thursday, 22 December 2011

Yesterday's Solstice celebrations.

Yesterday we celebrated the Winter Solstice.

Dave and I rose early and drove up onto the moors to greet the sunrise.

Unfortunately it was quite overcast, though the view of the low lying mist in the valleys was quite beautiful.

No sun to be seen however.

Solstice 2011

 A very different picture to last year's snowy but clear Solstice Sunrise.

Solstice Sunrise 2010

We took a nice scenic route home driving through Teesdale and over Harthope Head (One of the two equally highest public roads in England) back into Weardale.

The rest of the day was spent preparing for our annual Solstice family meal.

The menu was -

Nibbles to begin-
Rye sourdough, chiabatta and prawns served with dips.
(Garlic - recipe from "The Takeaway Secret", olive oil and balsamic vinegar, mojo sauce ) along with olives, artichokes and spicy tomato and lentil soup shots with parsnip crisps.

Main course-
Organic roast chicken, organic roast silverside and belly pork with blackpudding.
Stuffing balls (Pork, sage & onion and pork, rosemary and cranberry)
Pigs in blankets
New potatoes
Roast potatoes
Roast parsnip
Yorkshire puddings

 A choice of cinnamon panacotta served with mulled fruits or Nigella's sticky toffee pudding served with either cream or ice cream.
The mojo sauce was very garlicky and was a big hit with everyone, I used smoked paprika which also gave a bit of a kick to it. I can definitely recommend it.

I have spent today recovering from all that cooking in preparation for cooking Christmas lunch, though thankfully that will only be for four of us rather than the ten I cooked for last night!

Love Linda xxx 

Sunday, 18 December 2011

A new necklace make and swap updates.

I've just finished making a necklace as a gift for my middle daughter Rachael.

She has a thing for pirates but I didn't want to make this necklace overly piratey as I already used a pirate theme on this necklace that I made for her a while ago. I decided to just add a couple of sea themed charms to a bead cluster, just need to find a box for it now.

Talking of boxing up necklaces I found a box for the gothic lace collar I showed you on my last post, only problem is that it was turquoise and not at all gothy enough for Ellie. I decided to cover the top of the box with some of the lace halloween tablecloth I used as a veil on my halloween costume

I really like how it turned out.

Very goth don't you think?

I also need to update you on another Christmas swap that I took part in - The "Handmade Christmas Decoration Swap" hosted by Hookin' with LaaLaa.

I was paired with Sue from @ home and received a gorgeous package of Christmas loveliness.

I love everything, thank you Sue.

I can now show you the handmade part of what I sent to Sue.

Hand sewn felt tree ornaments each embellished with a single button. I also scented the stuffing with a gingerbread fragrance oil.

And last, but not least an update on my advent swap from LissyLou ..

I am so loving opening a new parcel each day. 

I can also now show you the other little project I made from the Cute and Easy Crochet Book that I blogged about here. It was for my advent swap, but I know that LissyLou has now opened this so I can show it to you.

 Love Linda xxx

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Jewellery Making

My eldest daughter Eleanore asked me to do a little repair on the necklace that I made for her last Christmas.

Eleanore is a confirmed lover of all things gothic and a big fan of Edgar Allen Poe so I based the necklace on The Raven.

As I had my jewellery making kit out I decided to get on with a couple of the projects I've been wanting to make for this Christmas. (They are for my daughters, but I'm quite safe showing them on here as they never read my blog.)

Earlier this year, I received a bracelet kit in one of the swaps I took part in. I felt it would be perfect for my youngest daughter Natasha.

I changed the pearl bead that came with the kit for the heart shaped bead as the hole in the one that came with the kit was too large for the head pin. I'm quite pleased with how it turned out.

I also made this...

for Eleanore.

I used a black lace "collar" that I sourced off ebay and attached black chain to either end and a fastener. I sewed on a shiny gunmetal/black mounted cabouchon and then added a little black bow. I do hope she likes it. 

I'm off now to look for some inspiration for a piece to make for middle daughter, Rachael, but before I go I'll leave you with an update on my advent swap goodies.

Linda xxx

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Simple Christmas Wreath (and Swap Updates)

Usually at this time of year I splash out between £15 & £20 on a fresh wreath for my door. In these times of austerity this seemed to me a little extravagant so I decided that something simpler and cheaper was in order. I purchased a white rustic heart from Wilkinson's for £3 and bought a lovely green and cream felt star decoration for £1. 50 from Brockbushes Farm Shop near Hexham. 

I found some organza ribbons in just the right shades of green to match the heart along with a cute green button and the result ...
I'm really pleased with how it turned out - not bad for less than a fiver!

I promised to keep you updated with the contents of my lovely advent swap, but first let me show you the beautiful goodies which arrived yesterday from Wendy for the Christmas Charity Shop Swap.

Such a lovely array of gorgeousness - (I wish you could smell that beautiful sachet at the front  - lavender, my favourite) Many thanks to Wendy. 

And finally - Days three to five of my advent swap.

Tissue case made from fabulous "recipe" printed fabric, cake toppers and cute little wooden ornaments for the tree.

Take care everyone, Love Linda 

Friday, 2 December 2011

Advent Swap

'Tis the season to be jolly ...

...and I've got plenty to be jolly about at the moment.

Christmas working in a primary school is a whole lot different to working in a secondary school.

 Working with the younger children and sharing their excitement is catching. I do so love their quirky little misunderstandings, such as the pupil today who wanted to know how to spell "Mary" so she could write "Mary Christmas" on the top of the card she was making. Another pupil told how the wise men gave Jesus a gift of "Frankenstein"

My middle daughter - mam to my lovely granddaughter has also told me that they will once again be staying with us on Christmas eve, so I will get to see our little Flic opening her pressies on Christmas morning.
In a way this brings me round to the title of this post my advent swap with LissyLou. On Saturday I received a huge box full of little advent parcels. As well as parcels for little ol' me, the wonderful LissyLou has also included a Christmas day parcel for Flic, and best of all, I will be able to watch her open it!

I've popped all my daily pressies in a basket and the two pressies for the 25th will go under the tree when it goes up tomorrow. 

I must say that the excitement of having a new advent parcel to open each day is making it a little easier to rouse myself on these dark dreary mornings - I can't wait to get downstairs and open my next one.

Day one...

... this gorgeous "postcard" ornament - isn't that a lovely sentiment?

And what a beautiful picture on the other side.

Day two...

...this oh so cute calendar which will take pride of place in my kitchen come the new year.

Tomorrow Flic is coming to stay for the night and will be helping me to put up the tree, so yet another thing to look forward to.

I'll keep you all updated on the advent gifts, not everyday, but probably in small batches.

love Linda xxx

Saturday, 19 November 2011

A little bit of hookin'

I recently bought this rather lovely book from the Book People

Rather cheaply too at only £3.99!!

It is full of inspirational gorgeousness. 
 These Babushkas are definitely on my to do list.

And isn't this cafetiere cosy fabulous?

I just had to make my own ...

and just love how it turned out. 

I didn't buy any wool specially for it, just used up any bits and bobs and oddments that I had lying around. It was so easy to do and really had me "hooked" (oh dear - I'll go and get my coat should I?)

I've also completed another of the little projects from the book but I can't show you it yet as I've made it for one of the swaps I'm taking part in.

You know what though? It feels so good to finally get my finger out and actually DO something instead of just thinking about it. 

Here's to lots more hookin'.


Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Corner Puddings (Would a dumpling by any other name taste so good?)

It's that time of year.

Autumn's mellow fruitfulness is beginning to give way to the chill of winter.

The nights are drawing in.

It's already dark when I leave work.

Food needs to comfort.

Tonight my comfort food was Corner Puddings.
A big comforting pot of mince and gravy topped with oven baked suet dumplings.

Hubby asked "What's for tea?"

I replied " mince and dumplings."

"Mmmm corner puddings" came back the response.

It got me thinking.

My mam always calls mince and dumplings corner puddings, my mother in law calls it corner puddings. My late dad would call it "puddings in the corner". (Even when baked in a round dish!)

I can't remember when I began calling it "mince and dumplings" but I do, as do my dear daughters.

Still whatever it's name, it's good warming traditional fare, perfect for a chilly evening.

We had ours tonight with potato and turnip (I think those from more southerly parts of the UK will call it swede) mashed together, what our Scottish neighbours would call neeps and tatties, carrots and cabbage.

Cheap, filling, warming and comforting - whatever the name.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Flea Market Finds

Another trip to the wonderful Flea Market at Tynemouth Station today.

Two gorgeous broaches. The blue one cost me £4 and the pewter shield like one £3.

I also picked up the lovely Paragon demitasse cup. The photograph really doesn't do it justice. It is bone china and only 6cm high. On the base it has a double royal warrant stating "By appointment to HM The Queen & HM Queen Mary. A little research into the backstamp dates this at between 1938 and 1952. 
I can just picture this little cup come springtime filled with primroses. (I know! Spring's a while away yet - we've got winter to get through, but I like to dream.) 

Best of all was the little price tag to go with this little cup - only £1!!!

Also for the princely sum of £1...

This pretty velveteen case with embroidered insert, and inside?

A practical pocket sewing kit. 

I just love it!

Linda xxx

Monday, 31 October 2011

Happy Halloween

Tonight being a "school night", I did my Halloween partying on Saturday night at Sunderland district Motorcycle Clubs Halloween Bash.

Recipe for black widow outfit:
  • 1 long black skirt
  • Black lace trimmed top
  • 1 pack of poundland tarantulas
  • 1 75p Wilkinsons witches hat
  • 1 poundland halloween lace tablecloth!!!
 What a great time we had ...

Dave got a bit goggly eyed...

...a condition which seemed to be catching. (Youngest daughter)

Though she did  later recover.

Happy Halloween!!


Sunday, 30 October 2011

A sloe harvest & birthday thanks.

Today we went a sloe picking. What a great year for sloes this has turned out to be!

Just need to buy lots of bottles of gin and vodka on my way home from work tomorrow to make lashings of Sloe Gin & Sloe Vodka!

Just as well as we are down to the final dregs of our last bottle from last year.

I was a very lucky girl on my birthday, not only did I get spoiled by my family, but I also received the lovely gifts below from ladies who have taken part in the Birthday Swap.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Still have intentions to declutter but well ...

...swanning off for a relaxing weekend away takes precedence.

Before I tell you where I've been though I must thank the lovely Vix for sending me a brilliant 1984 book by Don Aslett - "The Secret of How to Win Freedom From Clutter"

Brilliant cover illustration.
Back in my younger days I bought Don's book about how to do housework - read it from cover to cover and felt so inspired and virtuous that I reformed my slatternly ways forever ok reverted immediately to my normal housework hating self!

I have great hopes though that inspiration will be forthcoming and with the help of Don I will win my freedom from clutter. Well at least I will take heed of some of his wisdom and weed out the clutter I want to keep from that which truly is just useless "stuff".

Back to the weekend jaunt - we went to the village of Kirkholm near Stranraer and stayed here...

Obviously NOT taken this weekend in the howling gales and driving rain!

The weather was frightful - howling gales accompanied by bouncing rain, but we were all warm and cosy in this little cottage.

A real fire and original wood shutters made everything oh so cosy.

Friends from Dunoon travelled down to join us. They arrived much earlier than we did, so on our arrival we were greeted with a lovely log fire roaring merrily away in the hearth, with those lovely original wood shutters battened down against the night and a supper of steak  and wedges accompanied by copious amounts of wine.

The reading room!
Just how brilliant is this bathroom? Not only a bookcase opposite the throne no less, but a quirky little fireplace too!

We visited a stormy ...

...but nevertheless pretty Portpatrick.
The amazing Logan Fishpond. The pond was created in 1788 from a blow hole to be used as a fish larder for Logan House. The present day aim is to showcase native species of fish and to educate the public in how to protect them. The fish are returned to the sea every two years to enable them to mature and breed. Our guide was very knowledgeable and informative and we all thoroughly enjoyed our visit.

On Sunday we visited the Mull of Galloway Lighthouse.

Again very stormy, but oh so dramatic.

Now back home all safe and sound, but with lovely memories to keep me going through the continuing clutter declutter.

Linda xxx

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Progress is slow, but...

Well following a week of Flylady - all be it at the most basic level, I've decluttered the hall and have actually carried upstairs AND put away the small mountain of "stuff" that was sat on the bottom (six - yep it had risen to the sixth step!) of the stairs to await repatriation.

The top of the box to the left of my PC has been cleared and has remained so, and I am keeping on top of the one bench that I decluttered in the kitchen.

Google Images
Baby steps indeed - but at least I'm heading in the right direction, it's getting better, not worse.

Of course one or two things are much more interesting and important do make progress slow.

I still try to find some time in each day to catch up on all your lovely blogs, even if I don't have time to comment or blog myself.

And then there's Pinterest.

I'm not spending hours on Pinterest as some have been tempted to, but I'd be telling fibs if I said it hasn't accounted for a fair bit   some of my time. 

I must say though that I am finding it great for keeping tabs on those little snippets that you come across on t'interweb and want to remember and so it does save me the time I used to spend trawling through my history to find for example that recipe that I wanted to make.


Sunday, 2 October 2011

Time to get organised.

I have reached one of those times in life when I have come to think that enough is enough!

I keep muddling through with no sense of organisation and direction.

I've never been much good at housework, but things are out of hand even by my lax standards.

Junk mail has piled up, not just in one place either but wherever it happened to be put down when I opened it.

My wardrobe is full to bursting with clothes that are either too big or too small, and there is nowhere to put the things that do fit me.

Everywhere I look there is clutter, clutter and more clutter...

Google Images

and I am fed up with it!

So time to make a stand.

Time to have a plan.

Stop saying "I'll do it my October break" - Let's get real it's just too big a problem to be tackled in just one or two days, it's growing worse by the day and needs to be tackled NOW!

There's only one thing for it...


I'm joining the Weekly Flylady Thread over at Moneysaving Expert.

I'm aiming to start low so that I do it and don't become disheartened too quickly, so for this week I'm aiming for Level 1 only.

I'll let you know how I get on - wish me luck!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

You can tell I'm back at work!

Oh yes - more than two weeks since my last post!

Time just seems to fly, but I am grateful that I have a job to keep me busy and I just have to content myself with posting when I can for the moment.

I am still managing to read all of your lovely blogs though - reading them helps me unwind at the end of a busy day.

I have also managed to take part in the autumn swap organised by Blueberry Heart.

I was paired with the talented Victoria from Giddystuff.

Look at what she sent me ...
(oops my camera is playing up and  won't let me download the pictures so I hope that Victoria won't mind if I use pictures from her blog post about the swap!)

Gorgeous multi toned embroidery skeins in luscious autumn shades.

Lovely autumnal fabric.

How pretty are these buttons?

A beautifully made knitted pincushion pumpkin, already taking pride of place on my little shelf display in my craftroom, I love it!

And another hand made lovely, I've already worn this stunning bracelet several times.

With the nights drawing in what could be more welcome than a weeks supply of flavoured hot chocolate?

Thank you so much Victoria.

I love swaps.

If you want to see what I sent Victoria she has posted it on her blog here.

Love Linda xxx

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