Thursday, 31 December 2009

A Relaxing New Years Eve!

A bit of tidying up and cleaning and re-cycling, relaxing, TV, sorting through the lovely Christmas cards, catching up with emails, updating address books and my new calendar and diary for 2010.
I put away all the Christmas decorations and chopped up the Christmas tree for re-cycling!Tudur watched the proceedings, carefully. I usually throw the tree into the back of the car and take it to a park where they chop it up to re-cycle. After I did it last year, I heard that they had apparently stopped it. Oops. So this year, I am attempting to re-cycle it with our usual re-cyling scheme with all the weekly rubbish collection. I hope that my tree counts as "twigs and small branch" for the re-cycling criteria!
I have also been chasing the air in my radiators around the house. I tried to bleed them the other day and obviously didn't do it right as this morning was woken by monsters making lots of noise in the boiler and the radiators. It scared Tudur!
I am writing down thoughts and reflections of this last year 2009 and some hopes and dreams for 2010 in my journal and praying about some things too as I go. It is all good, which I will share in 2010!
Which is very soon!
It is proving to be a fab pyjama day to watch Murder on the Orient Express and Madagascar... and now there might be time to watch a few more classics! I love movies to relax to. don't you?Tudur is really enjoying time to relax too.
I wonder how you will be reflecting and celebrating the end of one year and the start of a New one?

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

How to make a cake impression

My friend Rachel from sent me a message and link today - about a fabulous picture of an amazing cake she saw here...
I am impressed, are you?
Monet eat your heart out! Literally, I guess.
thanks Rachel for the link!
I am beginning to relax now for a few days. Hurrah!
Today was the last day in my other job I have had recently, in the "bling shop" as I have been calling it! When my shift was about to end my niece and her husband and 3 children came in to the store. They were all very excited and pleased to see me at work! They then came back to my place for a while to play with the growing kitten, Tudur! They love him but he is a bit overwhelmed by their eagerness to make friends with him. Especially the youngest,Rebecca, who is 1. She is very mobile now and can corner Tudur very well indeed! She shrieks with joy as she tries to stroke him. He tries to oblige and not move backwards. Good boy. The eldest,Luke, 8, loves to throw things up and down the stairs for him to chase, which he loves. It was going well, until he nearly slid down the stairs with his socks on. Then the middle niece, Hannah, 5, just likes to follow him everywhere too.
They did try and follow him out of the cat flap at one point!

I now have a few days off before starting my new job in the New Year.
New Year - that is soon!
I am planning a quiet new year. I want to do some scrapbooking, watch TV, catch up with cleaning and laundry and tidying the Christmas decorations away and any other things I can find time to tidy away or throw out!
After reading that list, it could be quite a bust few days, after all!
Either way, it will be quality me time with me and Tudur and my new slippers from the bling shop. Aah. goodtimes.
Have fun in whatever way you celebrate the new year.
Happy 2010!

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Happy Christmas Time.

I hope you have been having a good Christmas time?
I have.

Walks in the park on Christmas Day complete with a smattering of snow,

busy shoppers at work wanting bargains in the sales, cards, emails and letters from friends, gifts in the post, time to relax with friends, time to watch TV and to cook and taste yummy food.
Tudur has enjoyed hiding in his home made den of drying laundry hung over the stairs!

Yesterday it was time to spend with family.
We had our family Christmas Day yesterday - with those of us here in the UK gathering form various locations from England and Wales for the day. There were 14 of us as some of my family are in Boston, USA.
It was a really lovely day and as we all get on well, it was a very relaxing day.
I am very thankful for that.
Food, chats, laughter and gift exchange, in between children playing with toys and chatting and wanting you to play with them.
my family all liked the look of their jams and chutneys and my brother liked his mini Christmas cake. I used edible glitter on this one!

I still have to finish decorating the cake for my sister, but she lives nearby, has a big Christmas cake to eat and so is in no rush for her mini cake. I am looking forward to having some time to enjoy decorating it.
I will be finishing my job in the bling shop tomorrow, so will have the last few days over new year to relax and get ready for my new job.
Exciting Time!

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

A Special Carol Service

On Sunday I went to my local church for their carol service.
I loved it!
I love carols and would have loved to have been in the choir, but it has not been that kind of a year for me, with having had post viral fatigue and with my job in the bling shop, I have often missed sunday services. So it was good to have a day off to be able to relax and go to church.
My bloggy friend Rachel, sang in the choir. They all looked angelic dressed as angels and there was a grwoing and moving nativity happenning as the story unfolded. One annointed moment was when one very talented girl danced a balet solo with a ribbon. Fabulous!
It was very special for me because I was once again reminded of the real reason for celebrating Christmas time: Immanuel God with Us!
How amazing is that!
Thank you God fpr choosing to be Immanuel God with me and reminding me of this truth at this Christmastime.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Oh dear! Endings and New Beginnings.

Today I left my job!
2 weeks ago I had just got the email about the job I will start in 2 weeks time, when school starts in the New Year.
It has been a mad few days since being offered the job 3 days ago.
I was offered my new job, hoping to start my new one in January on the basis that we could find someone to replace me.
Someone "just happened" to come in to work, asking if there were any opportunities to gain some experience, whilst they do some training. Often, courses won't accept you on their training programmes without the experience.
So I have spent the last 3 morning sessions in school, with this lady working alongside me as part of a brilliant and timely hand over.
Perfect, these "just happened" moments, aren't they?

On Wednesday afternoon, I was asked to teach 3 classes as a supply teacher, which was great for me. The 3 classes of 9, 10 and 11 year olds seemed to like it too. I taught each class for 45 minutes. I made, or they made, or we made these:cute aren't they?
They are cute, made with baby sized up to adult sized hands and feet!

I got the idea from my niece, a few years ago.
If you haven't made them before, simply draw round one foot and left and right hands.
The foot becomes the reindeer head, the hands, the antleers!
We did this on brown paper and stuck it all onto card, for strength.
Use a black marker pen to draw round the outline to make it bold.
Write a message and the date, so it can become a keepsake memory.
We drew round a small coin in red card for the noses and stuck on googly eyes.
Some children chose one big and one small eye size, to make their reindeer have more character!
They then went round the edge of the hands/antlers to make them a bit sparkly and ooh ahh with colourful glitter glue.
Some used glitter very creatively!
Some children were able to build their reindeer at the sticking brown paper onto card stage, others stuck each of the 3 brown paper parts onto the card as separate pieces, to cut out and re-assemble later.
This was because they struggled with the cutting out skills with the fingers for the antlers, so we did it in stages.
All 3 classes loved it and many thought they might make a family of reindeer at home with their families!
Hole punch 2 holes for some thread to hang your "dear" festive creations!
My niece does it each year with her children and hangs them in a garland so you can see them get bigger each year!
I think she also sticks a photo of the children in the middle of the foot too.

Today was my last day in this job. Not every day was easy. One of the children I worked with could be quite aggressive and volatile towards me and other children. Some days at 8.50am would seem like very long days. Other days, would hold some rewards and breakthroughs, where we would make great progress, in attitudes, choices and learning. I also had the chance to invest and hopefully impact several other young lives throughout the school, helping them in their social and emotional development too.
It is the end of the last 2 years and my colleagues have been a really kind and supportive staff to work alongside. I will miss them but am pleased to have made some friends too. They very generously gave me this beautiful bouquet of flowers and a lovely necklace to wish me well in my new job.

A new beginning.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Thank You, Faithful God for My New Job!

I got offered a new job, yesterday - and said yes!
Last week I heard about this new job opportunity. A school was looking for a Learning Mentor and I am one. Tada!

I went along to the school on Thursday last week to meet the head and was asked to go back again on Tuesday, which was yesterday. I was offered the job and I said yes!

I have been looking for a new job these last few months, as I currently have 2 temporary part time jobs and wanted a full time post with a new challenge and opportunity. I am a trained and experienced teacher and also have had years experience with YWAM working as a child, youth and family worker. When I moved back to England, leaving YWAM, I have been working more with children with social, emotional and behavioural needs and their families, which I love. I have had a few lovely jobs but my current job had drastically reduced hours due to funding since September: hence 2 part time jobs and my quest to find a new job with increased hours.

I have found it to be quite a relentless, nearly all time consuming and almost soul destroying search at times. I had a few interviews, been very close, but not successful, had some positive and some unusual and surprising feedback, applied for several jobs hearing nothing and spent days and days and days searching websites and papers for adverts and getting details and pushing a few doors.

A few weeks ago, I found myself saying to God:
"You know, I can't do this days and days searching and days and days filling in each form and letter of application for another 1/2 term. What I would really like is for a job to just drop into my lap."

And it has.

Thank You, God for once again proving Your Faithfulness to me.

Psalm 100 says this:
On your feet now - applaud God:
Bring a gift of laughter
sing yourselves into His presence.

Know this: God is God, and God, God.
He made us, we didn't make Him,
We're his people, His well-tended sheep.

Enter with the password: "Thank You!"
Make yourselves at home, talking praise.
Thank Him. Worship Him.

For God is sheer beauty,
all generous in love,
loyal always and ever.

I feel like a well tended sheep. How about you?
When have you or are you aware of God's care for you in the detail?
Immanuel, God with us?

May we become more aware of His tending in our lives, especially at this Christmastime: for Him to be Our Immanuel.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

My Christmas Chutney

I made this yummy Christmas Chutney using 2 of my favourite ingredients: cranberries and apples!

I found a really simple recipe:
1kg cooking apples
500g eating apples
450g onions
50g fresh root ginger
1 tsp peppercorns
500g granulated sugar
250ml cider vinegar
500g cranberries

How to make it:
1. Put all the ingredients except the cranberries in a pan. Heat to dissolve the sugar, stirring, bring to the boil and simmer uncovered until apples and onions are tender. The mixture will be thicker and no watery liquid remaining.
2. Add cranberries and cook for 10 minutes until they are soft but not bursting.
3. Put into sterilised jars and seal. Store in a dark place for up to 6 months.
Delicious with cheeses and cold meats.
I used these really really cute hexagonal jars from the jam jar shop.

And here is my chutney:-)

I love the rich red colour, don't you?
I am giving some away as Christmas gifts... but hope to keep a jar to try myself... and maybe one to share!
I can't wait to open a jar!

Friday, 11 December 2009

My "Mini" Christmas Cake #1

May I proudly present to you my first "Mini" Christmas Cake!
I hope you like it.

I am very pleased with it and I gave it to my best friend Christine when she came to stay for her Chrissie present from me.
I wonder if she ate it all the way home?

I made 4 of these 4"x4" fruit cakes in October and they have been maturing - with a little sherry!
For this first one, I decided to do a Winter Wonderland Theme, using pale blue and white icing. I then cut out various sized flower shapes and added silver balls to their centres.
Pretty and delicate I think.
what do you think?
I put it in this christmassy cake box I found at sugarcraft.

Only 3 more cakes to decorate....

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

O Christmas Tree!

O Christmas Tree,
O Christmas Tree,
Oh how I love my Christmas Tree
Is that wrong?
I hung lots of decorations.
White lights, gold and silver bells in a garland, the cheapest plastic shatterproof gold baubles I could find, some hand decorated pine cones with oodles of colourful glitter glue and my collection of very loved decorations. This one is one of my favourites, a gift last year from friends in Scotland!

Tudur seems to like it too...

He thinks it is a great place for hide...

and seek!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

To tree or not to tree?

I love Christmas trees and the opportunity they bring to have fun decorations to hang and lights and sparkle and bling. My kitten, Tudur, is 7 months old and loves leaping around, especially whilst he is hidden in a big yellow bag. This causes him to fly across the room at great speed.

The other day, I discovered the big yellow bag upstairs!
So my dilemma has been this: to tree or not to tree this year....?
I have visions (nightmares) of the tree, lights, decorations and kitten flying around the room and landing with a crash in a heap of broken mess.
As an alternative, I have some precious old vintage baubles that I really don't want broken, so I have put them in a big glass cylinder and they look lovely.

I am very pleased with them and everyone thinks they are great too.
I then hung some of my non-breakable decorations on my lighted twigs...
and thought that would be it.

But it's not the same.
I miss my tree...
and half the lighted twigs are now considerably more light less as most of the lights are broken and irreplaceable as I have had it for several years now.
I have now lived with my alternative half lighted twigs for over a week I realised that I really miss having a tree...
So, to add to the festive spirit of joy and fun and merriment, last night I went out with my friend Abbie...
and brought this...

My Christmas tree!
A 4ft high Norway spruce.
Isn't it lovely?
Sitting beautifully in it's stand with water and just waiting to be decorated - or leapt on - whichever happens first!
Today, I aim to add my lights, some extremely cheap plastic non breakable baubles I found in a local store and move my decorations from the half lit twigs. I will hopefully make some more and get some photos before the tree and afore mentioned contents go flying!
Ah. My Christmas tree.
I love my Christmas tree.
I am very happy.
I wonder what Tudur thinks?

Monday, 7 December 2009

I Made Yummy Christmas Spiced Bread!

I am soooo loving this yummy bread that I made that I might just have to make some more!

I adapted a basic fruit loaf recipe to make my own christmassy spiced bread!

So instead of using raisins or just mixed fruit I used a combination of dried cranberries, some mixed fruit and dried chopped citrus peel. For spice I used mixed spice that already has cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg in it. Such wonderful aromas and flavour!

Delicious toasted and with a cuppa anytime on these cold wintry days and nights.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Our Thanksgiving meal

Yesterday, we, the groovy girlie cake chicks did the most fabulous Thanksgiving meal together :-) for some of our friends.
Tudur helped me decide which table cloth to use...

and I used the wreath I decorated with pine cones, orange slices and cinnamon sticks as my centrepieces, with a candle in the middle.

There were 11 of us in the end and everyone brought something!
We had time to share some things we have been thankful for each over this last year. It was good to reflect on things we are thankful for and also to hear more about each other's lives too.
We ate turkey, mashed potato, stuffing, sausages, fresh greens, honey glazed carrots,sweet potato casserole with oats and marshmallows on top, roast parsnips. We also had stuffed bread as a vegetarian option.
For the stuffed bread I sauteed red onion, garlic, carrot, celery, green pepper, mushrooms. I used fresh cranberries and chestnuts for a lovely Christmassy flavour. Season with salt and pepper and mixed herbs. Simply carve off one thin slice from one end of a small loaf of bread and scoop out the centre of the bread.(One of my friends actually ate all the centre of the loaf!) Stir in some grated cheese before adding to the centre of the loaf and then place the end slice back. You can you small cocktail sticks or kebab skewers and heat in a moderate oven for about 20 minutes.
We then ate pumpkin pie, apple pie and chocolate cupcakes. Yummy.
I also got to wear my red shoes too.
Delicious. Great food and great company with my fabulous friends.
Thank you friends for a wonderful evening.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

How To make my advent bucket garland.

Here, as promised are a few tips for you to make your own bucket advent garland. There is still time to make yours, as of course, there is always time for chocolate.
You need:

24 buckets. mine are from IKEA, measuring 6cms diameter and didn't have handles.
string/ribbons/twine: to make handles, decorate the top of each bucket and to hang.
florists silver wire to strengthen the twine (my personal choice)
24 pegs - clothes wooden pegs are great. leave plain or decorate.
24 numbers either written or cutout or printed off onto card. I used white card.
24 coloured stars or jewels to add to the number cards
24 small goody/treat sized chocolates!
Garlands available in various colours and lengths. I used 3 down my hallway.

How I made my advent bucket garland.

1. Paint 24 pegs and leave to dry. I used silver, gold, green and red and painted 6 in each colour.

2. Tie string/ribbon/twine around the top edge of your buckets to help begin to make your handles. I then threaded silver wire through and twisted it to hold in place on one side. Thread through a small piece of twine/string/ribbon and tie in a knot on the same side, 15 cms should suffice. This is the first part of your handle. Twist the wire around the string and take the handle over the bucket and thread, twist and tie the wire and string. The bucket handle is now secure and will stay in position.
You might be lucky enough to have found buckets with handles, or to have one of those super crocodile crafting gadgets to simple punch a hole on each side of your bucket.

3. Thread and tie some ribbon through each bucket handle. I looped ribbon and tied it before looping through the handles. You will need these loops to thread your buckets into your garland swag, so the buckets hang facing the front.
I used white ribbon for a wintry look.

4. Thread and tie ribbon in bows around the top edge of the buckets to finish them off nicely. I used a mixture of white, green, red and silver ribbon and raffia.

5. If you painted your pegs, you might like to add glitter for some extra sparkle. I used red, green, silver, gold and used glitter glue in easy squeezable tubes from the early learning centre, a children's store. Crafting stores would sell similar too.

6. make your 24 numbers on card. You could cut out numbers from magazines, draw your own, paint, print off. I used a mixture of various fonts and used various green and red shades. I also did some digits and some numbers as words for fun.
Add jewels or stars or snowflakes to one corner of each number.

7. Hang your buckets onto string or ribbon. I hung 3 swags with 8 buckets on each, so that it wasn't too heavy on my tiny nails in the wall! Add your garland to decorate your swag. I used 3 swags that have pearl and glass effect beads on. Greenery or red berry swags would look great too. Just twist the swag in a few places so that the garland hangs over the string.

8. Peg the numbers either in place onto each bucket, or onto the swag garland directly above each bucket. I put the numbers in a random order, but you can do it in numerical order if you wish to help younger ones with some ordering numbers!

9. Add chocolate and or other gifts to each bucket. You could add an encouragement, a verse, a challenge to do each day or some coins or a small gift, or a small ornament to add to your tree each day...


Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Here is My Advent Garland Creation

Ta Da! Here it is! I finally have finished my Advent Garland creation. It is a swag garland with buckets hanging off it going down my hallway.
This has taken me ages but I am very very pleased with the result!
24 buckets with 22 chocolates in it.
I might be behind with finishing it and hanging it up for the start of advent, but I am not behind with eating the chocolate! I have some photos showing a step by step of how I made it, so will post that tomorrow as a tutorial for you!
Happy Advent and chocolate eating :-)

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

My turn to join Turn the page Tuesday

I have joined in, today, just now, with some of a kind... for Turn the page Tuesday to reflect on a book I have enjoyed.
As it is December, I am going to tell you about this book I really enjoyed reading last Christmastime: December by Elizabeth H. Winthrop.
I loved it because it was a fairly easy read, interesting family dynamics and a fascinating storyline with an 11 year old child who is an elective mute! As this "winter's tale" unravels, we learn more about the family and why this girl is such a determined mute and, of course, how this wintry tale resolves.
I could have told you about another wintry tale, Light on snow by Anita Shreeve but you can read a bit about it here at Some of a Kind.
If, like me, you love to read - especially curled up on the sofa during the wintry months then try a new book and join in TTPT!

Happy Advent 2009!

Let The preparations begin!
It's nearly Christmas!
I am just a little bit a lot excited! (can you tell?)
Of course there is loads to do on my list that includes:
1. cards to write
2. gifts to make
3. few things to buy
4. food to prepare
5. lovely decorations to make and hang.
My home made advent creation is still not quite complete but I have had loads of fun working on it today and will show you step by step how I did it very soon!

I wonder what is on your list of things to do and what you are expecting to happen during this advent season?
My expectations include hearing from many friends with newsletters, cards, emails and hopefully seeing some friends and family too. I also would love to have a new job in the new year, so hope to find a suitable job to apply for.

I received my first Christmas card today!
All the way from S.Korea from my friend Kat who just went there for a year last month.It was complete with greetings written in English and Korean. Thanks Kat!

It is all a work in progress during this advent season for me and the countdown has begun.
24 days to go!
24 sleeps
And counting.
Enjoy all your Christmas preparations this Advent season, the time to get ready to celebrate the coming of Christ: Immanuel God With Us.

Monday, 30 November 2009

It's so very nearly December!

It is nearly December 1st and I am very excited!
I ordered an advent calendar (with fairtrade chocolates in) and didn't see my friend at the weekend, so I don't have it yet.. so no chocolate windows to open for me in the morning :-(
I have plans for an advent creation, but have only made 1.

only 23 to go...
I will be busy tomorrow, or maybe I do one each day!

Sunday, 29 November 2009

It's beginning to look a bit more like Christmas!

It really is beginning to look a bit more like Christmas in my wee house!
On Thursday I went shopping with my sister. I love spending time with my big sister and we had lots of fun looking at some great ideas for Christmas decorations this year. We went to a florist wholesaler and shared the cost on some bits and pieces: cinnamon sticks, dried orange slices, pine cones. I have put some of them in a couple of square shaped glass vases for instant seasonal pot pourri effect.Simple!

I decided that to do a tree this year would be asking for trouble this year with my kitten, Tudur. He likes to leap around and has sometimes set the burglar alarm off(he is clearly a cat burglar!) I have some lovely, treasured glass baubles for my Mum and Dad's tree and my Gran's which I would love to be able to continue to use for years. I have had visions(or would that be nightmares?)of Tudur leaping and swinging from the top of a tree... So, instead of a tree, I bought a big glass cylinder and put all my glass baubles in it. I love it and it was much easier to do.
At the moment, all baubles are still intact and beautiful.
My Christmas cards have all arrived! I only ordered them as postcards the other day! VistaPrint were very quick. The printing is great so I am very pleased and impressed. I need to put them in envelopes and post them now.

My marmalade has worked, for the most part!
The fruit peel seems to have risen to the top, though, presumably that is because I poured it into the jars too quick?
I really love the funky shaped jars I got from the jam jar shop!
My big wooden spoon arrived too, so now I can make more yummies for Christmas gifts!
One of my friends suggested that the difference between marmalade and chutney is marmalade gone wrong. We'll see, Richie!