Monday, 29 November 2010


Christingle to me is usually celebrated on the 4th Sunday of Advent or maybe Christmas Eve. In our area, however, we had our Christingle on the 1st Sunday of Advent, which was yesterday. It was a lovely start to the Christmas season for us. We trudged through the snow to a VERY cold church and celebrated a lovely children's' service with about 20 other families from our area.

Moo spotted the sweets on hers within seconds and devoured them one by one, quite quickly. It took a little skill to pull them off the cocktail stick, but she soon mastered this. Her eyes then wandered to everyone else's Christingles and anyone within her reach would find themselves a sweet or two short. By contrast Beanie clutched onto his preciously, gripping it tight to his chest. He kept setting it down on the bench to admire it and mutter different things about it, before picking it back up again and clutching it tightly. At the end of the service we all lit our Christingles, Beanie did his usual Happy Birthday/blow out the candle within seconds of it being lit, so after attempt number 3 we gave up. The Church looked lovely lit by the light from our Chritingles, on a cold, snowy November afternoon.

On the way home in the car, the thermometer display thingemy read -6. It felt like it too.

For anyone who doesn't know.... the orange represents the world, the red ribbon around the world represents the blood of Christ, the candle represents Jesus as the light of the world and the sweets (sometimes raisins) represent the fruit of the earth, ie the harvest.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Our Garden Friends

One of the things we really like to do each day is to put food out for the birds. We put out thistle seed, wild bird mix, sunflower seeds, fat balls, bird cake and peanuts too. We also have a rowan tree which has lovely bright red berries on at the moment, a favourite with the robins and blackbirds! There are trees backing onto our garden and also some ivy over the back fence, which provides perfect cover for them from several neighbourhood cats!

Right now in the garden I can see a robin, a pair of blackbirds, a chaffinch, several goldfinches, many sparrows and some starlings. Over the 9 months we have been here 15 different types of birds have visited our garden: robins, starlings, sparrows, blackbirds, blue tits, coal tits, great tits, goldfinches, chaffinches, greenfinches, a great spotted woodpecker, woodpigeons, doves, magpies and a pair of jackdaws! Not bad for our little garden!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

A Homemade Christmas

This year I'm trying, as far as possible, to make Christmas gifts myself. In fact, I plan to make sure each person we give to receives one homemade gift. Here's how I'm getting on.

So far I have made:
For hampers for various family- onion marmalade (recipe in last post!) and spiced pickled red cabbage
Some rainbow wax crayons
I have also almost finished a cushion  for my niece (photo to follow!)

To be made:
2 more cushions for my nieces and one for my sister from the children.
Courgette chutney
Apple and Garlic chutney
Cranberry Vodka
Mince Pies
Mini Christmas Cakes
Christmas biscuits

I'll also add wine, cheese, little sweets in jars and a few other bits to the hampers.

Some bean bags for Beanie
Some playsilks need dyeing for Moo
Some treasure baskets need 'creating' for Moo
Some craft baskets need 'creating' for Little Man

Better get on with it!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Onion Marmalade

I found this recipe in a forum I often use, so I hope it's ok that I write it here. I had a big bag of onions left from my Riverford Veg Box and was also looking for things to make to add to home-made Christmas hampers which I am giving as gifts. I made it last night, and my hubby, who taste-tested it, says it's lovely!

You need:

1.5-2 kgs onions.
500ml balsamic vinegar
Half a small cup of sugar
Some sterilised preserving jars with vinegar proof lids

1. Peel and chop your onions finely and place them in a big pan.
2. Pour over the balsamic vinegar.
3. Sprinkle on about half a child-size cup full of ordinary sugar.
4. Simmer away for 2 hours stirring every 5-10 minutes.
5. After two hours  your mixture should be lovely and soft. Taste and add a little more sugar if needed. If not,  you can bottle it all then.
6. To sterilise your jars: wash in warm soapy water. Rinse with boiling water. Place on a baking sheet in a warm oven to dry for 10-15 mins. They are now ready!
7. Once bottled up, wipe the jars with a damp cloth to remove any spillage. Marmalade can be eaten straight away or kept in a cool dark place for up to 3 months.
8. Be warned, as the mixture cools in the jars, you will hear the seal 'pop' tightly to form a vacuum. Warn any husbands who may be in the house, that this may happen. Especially if you are going out. As they may a) get a fright and b) wander round the house wondering what keeps making the noise.

Hope they make nice gifts!

Friday, 5 November 2010

Caving with Toddlers

He's been in one of those moods all week. You know the ones, where they have more energy than they can burn off, more enthusiasm than you can direct into a task and, well, more to say for themselves than ever before! On days where we can get out and about, I really enjoy those moods. I feel Beanie's learning is almost tangible. His enthusiasm and energy for life radiate from him, and a walk in the woods, jumping from tree stumps, kicking leaves, hunting for squirrels and collecting conkers/acorns/pine cones in the spotty bag which goes EVERYWHERE, is an absolute joy. It's getting to the woods that's the problem or more specifically, getting to a point where we can leave the house, without leaving utter devastation behind us!

This morning, whilst attempting to dry my hair, Beanie began to play with the clothes airer. I remember playing with my Nana's clothes airer as a child so I watched him and listened as he chatted away. "Building a cave! Look Mummy! A cave!" he chatted as he turned it on its side and made a traingular prism shape with the sides. "I made a cave!" he shouted whilst crawling through. Now Mummy really ought to know better than  to interfere with children whilst role playing, but interfere I did and fetched a black bed sheet from the airing cupboard, draping it over the 'cave'. Feeling quite proud of myself for enabling his play further, I stood back. "No Mummy, that's not a cave," said the Boy quite indignantly, whilst pulling the sheet off the cave. He looked at me, picked the sheet up and said "I doing it!". The sheet was re-arranged and 10 minutes of crawling in and out of the cave ensued. Moo got in on the act and crawled in and out too, giggling away. They really do have a language and way of communicating all of their own.

2 hours later we still haven't left the house... whilst I tidied away the 'cave', he had water play with the toothbrush holder... whilst I mopped up the water he made a 'bed' with the duvet covers I had put to one side to take to the Thrift Shop and took a bath in the baby bath which was also headed to the Thrifty.... whilst I re-arranged my Thrift pile a whole train/car  track extravaganza was constructed in the lounge! Upstairs is tidy, downstairs not, and I haven't even touched the breakfast things. Moo is dressed, Beanie has been dressed three times, undressing himself again after 5 minutes. It's been one of those mornings, but at least someone has had fun. Daddy will be home soon, so maybe we will get out of the house this afternoon?

Thursday, 4 November 2010

To Do...

Inspired by PixieMama, these are the things I really need to do in November:
  • do some real sorting out and selling- clothes toys and other general clutter- and take it to the thrift shop/sell on ebay or take to charity.
  • Have a good hunt in charity shops, thrift, car boots and at the market for lovely Christmas stocking fillers, and for some lovely bits and pieces to brighten up the house.
  • Do some Christmas making and baking. Christmas cake, Christmas pudding, sausage rolls, cheese rolls, muffins, chutneys and other lovely nibbles won't make themselves! I also like the look of making some of these for the children.
  • Make some Christmas hampers: a yummy goodies one for my Father-in-Law, a pamper one for my Sister and some arts and crafts ones for Little Man.
  • Sign up for some craft courses at our closest Arts Centre- there's a Christmas wreath making one and also a beginners crochet I'd like to try.
  • Do my tax return
  • Do 2 CCRS (Catholic Certificate in Religious Studies- a Catholic Teaching Certificate) to complete the course by December.
  • Print off lots of photos and update the family albums.
  • Start a season table and do some seasonal crafts with the children. Take them out and about more too.
  • Blog more
I'll let you know how I get on!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Pumpkin Fun!

Ready to roll!

Beanie's technique is just to let it go! Not even giving it a push!

Who won? Beanie of course, he's just one of THOSE children who can turn his hand to anything and be good at it!

The boys were even quite enthusiastic about fetching the pumpkins back up to the top of the hill!