Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Making and Baking

In amongst another bout of sickness for me, I have been busy with advent crafts, Pip's birthday prep and edibles which were shared at last Saturday's make and cake.

 24 mini advent stockings for Kath and Mary Grace.
It was a close call but I managed to get these in the post before the 1st December!

 Cooking with Benedict.

 White chocolate, peppermint shortbread.

 Cinnamon rolls for St Lucia day.
These were a real hit with the kids and I did manage to find the English translation for the St Lucy song, but both Pip and I were not well enough to sing it!  Maybe next year :-)

 A family favourite ~ star mince pies.
We also dropped some of these off to our homeopath, who was involved in an accident on her bike and suffered several fractures :-(

In addition to all the regular house hold stuff, craft making for the shop and Christmas prep, there was a note from school late last week concerning a CAFOD fundraiser.  It was a wear a Christmas jumper day and make a donation to this Catholic charity.
Cue mum working hard in the loft room, but the smile on girlies face was worth all the effort:

 A Walking Nativity!
'Cos Jesus is the reason for the season, right?!
And the extra bonus was winning first prize in her year group.

Every year I try to keep things low key but every year I get caught up with all the external pressures and like others I feel frazzled with it all.  I wouldn't mind but in the real sense of the word, Christmas is actually more than just one day!  It is a season lasting from the day itself to the epiphany on the 6th January, so a whole twelve days of celebration.  So I am trying to find a small oasis of peace in uplifting music, wise words and appropriate programming, in short trying to make the most of advent.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

St Nicholas Day

Our St Nicholas activities were spread out over two days since Pip was away for most of the day with her Rainbow group.  In addition to a book each and chocolate coins Benedict and Pip woke to these two helpers sitting by the hearth:

 Two Jule Tomten

Pip's book was this one and Benedict's was this one

Pip and I made our St Nicholas biscuits after lunch today:

 Look who is helping ...

 ... her new friend.

 Santa and his sack.

 The finished yummy biscuits.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Icon Writing

On Tuesday I made my visit to Hyning to partake of the last part of The Journey Course, the theme was The Hermit's Cell and the day was led by Sr Mary Stella.  Our brief was to paint/write an icon of The Theotokos, Our Blessed Mother, The God Bearer.  The session began at 1pm and finished at 6:30pm when the bell sounded for supper in the monastery.  There were two tea breaks and the chance to attend vespers in the chapel if you so wished and the evening was rounded off with prayers and a meditation on the annunciation.

 The icon studio nestled in the grounds.

 Down the path and in through the door...

... tables, chairs, paper, wooden blocks and paints.  The smell of an art studio and I am immediately transported back to my art classes in high school :-)

Sr Mary began with an overview of the history of iconography and the arrangement of icons within the orthodox church.  Since her studio was only a single storey building she was unable to arrange them in the traditional fashion but as best as she could, she remained true to the original layout.

 On the left side of the tryptych, from left to right: Saint Peter holding some parchment to represent his teaching roll within the church and a set of keys to denote his authority, Saint Michael The Archangel and The Theotokos, Our Blessed Mother with her hands extended in a gesture of humility and intercession.  Sr Mary said that Our Lady is the best volunteer going and if we need any help she will always intercede for us to her Son and who knows a son best but his mother!

Jesus the ruler of all, takes centre stage.  
The blue of his robe denotes His divinity and the red of his tunic represents the blood of humanity, therefore truly God and truly man.  His hands are extended in a gesture of blessing but He is also pointing to The Holy Book, The Word of God.

The facial features of an icon are painted in such a way that they always point to heavenly and not earthly things and you cannot help but be drawn in by their gaze.  The image of Jesus is not exuding vanity, his nose is quite long and narrow and Sr remarked that, "He is not interested in sex, drugs and rock and roll!"  He is wanting us to focus beyond his appearance and likewise His mouth is quite small, as He has very little say since The Book tells us all we need to know. 

To the right of The Pantocrator are from left to right: St John whose cloak is blowing in the wind represented by the Holy Spirit, The Angel Gabriel and St Paul, one of the authors of holy scripture.

Sr said that you always keep your first icon as a remembrance of how far you have progressed so here is a recent rendition of The Pantocrator:

By now it was time to begin the writing process.  A prayer to St Ephraim was said, Sr gave our first set of instructions and some beautiful music wafted over us as we painted in silence in that room.  The first tea break was a welcome breather but by the time a second cup of tea was on offer many of us declined, preferring to work with the image in front of us. The bell for vespers rang and some got up to attend and my friend Sallie, went for a walk as dusk was looming.  My prayer was in my hands and I relished the peace and quiet of the studio and the  pitch blackness outside.

 Sr Elizabeth, very kindly let me take a shot of her icon as it really spoke to me of "peace"  Sallie and I both agreed that this icon depicted a person rooted and grounded in prayer and as a contemplative that was so true!

 All our icons lit before prayer time.  We all had the same design brief but each one was so different from the other, we painted something of ourselves in that image.

 My icon.
 Each night, I light a candle in front of her and ponder those outstretched hands offering me help and guidance and goodness on most days, all help is much appreciated!

The Journey Course has been such a blessing to me and it was with a sadness that we said our goodbyes to one another in the cold night air.  As with all journeys though, as one finishes there is the promise of another and so come January I will be back in that little studio on a Wednesday afternoon, you see I have found my calling and it all really is good x 

Sunday, 30 November 2014

This Week

It has been a busier week than usual, hence my absence from this space but here is a run through of the goings on at number twenty two:

Pip ~ on the whole she seems to be at peace about going to school; she has a really great friendship base and enjoys all aspects of her day.

However when she is very tired or unwell as was the case this past weekend, it is harder for her to manage the intensity of school and so on these days we find the "middle way" and go off in search of nature. So on Monday we had a lovely time together at Leighton Moss:

 A very cheeky Robin came to say "Hello" and was inches away from my feet but by the time I could locate the camera it had perched itself on the branch instead!

 Chatting to the ducks.

 Happy that we had almost reached our destination!

Whislt in the hide there was a great flurry of excitement as a Bittern had been spotted in amongst the reed beds.  We didn't see it but we did spot a Marsh Harrier instead!

 Colouring pictures in the education room.

 A lovely day and a great tonic for us both.

Benedict ~ We have had some real whacky diabetic readings of late, but don't ask me how we have managed it but his last three monthly blood averages were still within target range.  So for long term management that is good but the daily management of his medical needs is very exhausting and by the end of the week I am wiped.

We are still keeping on track with the curriculum but I have also been helping out where possible so that Dave can go off and chill out in the workshop or have rest time during the day.  Our viking craft this week has been a Jarls helmet:

 Early stages of the paper mache process and a shot of Dave's hand!  I will try and remember to take a photo of the completed craft.

He has however enjoyed some good contact time with friends this past week and was also able to take part in a community fund raiser with scouts.  Hooray!

San's Sweat Shop! ~ is slowly coming along.  I finally finished another batch of Japanese knot bags and I am glad because right now I am sick of making them!  To curb the frustration with the repetitive process I have been listening to some really great simple living podcasts and watching you tube videos!

In between the "work" crafting, I have been knitting for St Nicholas Day and I also made an Advent gift for Kath and Mary Grace, which required a whole heap of into the small hours crafting.  Photo's should be uploaded in the next day or so when I have had chance to upload them from the camera.

Christmas and Birthday Preparations ~ Christmas cooking  this year will be shared family affair.  I have been asked to make an old favourite, cashew and sage stuffing nut roast and mince pies.  Kath is organising the veg and sausages wrapped in bacon and my dad is making his famous baked ham and plum sauce.  There will also be cheese and biscuits and dessert for later in the day.  Boxing Day is usually all girls together with a trip to the beach and a warm up in costa, so we might just manage to pull it off again this year.

Pip's party will be on her birthday and hopefully will be a Christmas craft party and pizza lunch.  I have aimed for two hours and she only wants three friends from school, so it should work out OK.

Well that is me caught up!  1st December tomorrow!  I have the last part of my journey course on Tuesday which is icon painting at Hyning Monastery, there are three birthdays this week of family members and friends, Pip has a rainbow day camp at a "Winter Wonderland" and it is St Nicholas Day too.  Lots going on but all good.

Be Blessed San x

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Crochet Therapy

After an epic fail of a neurology appointment, which necessitated setting the alarm for 6am and being out of the door by 7:30, followed by a stressful motorway drive in the pouring rain, I came home and for the first time ever really needed to craft.

  I have been following this clever lass  for some time now, I love her happy colourful place and she very kindly shares tutorials for free.  After three attempts I had mastered the triple layered flower  and very quickly moved on to the cosy striped blanketThe blanket is part of an autumn crochet along but I am not following her pattern entirely and have switched up the design ever so slightly.  Either way there is definitely something very soothing about working with a crochet hook and yarn; who'd a thought it, I am a #crochetaddict!!

 Joining in with Nicole over at Frontier Dreams

Monday, 17 November 2014

A Trip Down Memory Lane

 We were greeted by a roaring log fire and Christmas Decorations!

 The promised treat a fruit juice and a packet of handmade crisps.

 A ride on the old fashioned roundabout...

 ... whilst I stopped to admire the blooms.

Then it was time for the main event!  We walked through the gate and crossed the road...

... and down the lane ...

 ... passed the river...

 ... and the funghi

 We admired the allotments and ...

 ... swished in the leaves.

 Nearly there!

 Destination Forest School! 

 This was Pip's treat at the end of a very tiring week. 
On the whole I believe that she enjoys school but they do push them hard and that is when she begins to wobble with the pressure, hence this visit to "Forest School."  She definitely misses getting out and about, so health permitting I am hoping to take her on a few more adventures before the turning of the year.

On our way home we sang the preschool song:

We are walking back to pre school,

We are walking back to pre school,

It's not far!  It's not far!

 We tried playing pooh sticks but I had not stopped and oberved the course of the river and the sticks floated away from us instead of under the bridge and out the other side, doh!

 Pip found a stick and played musical railings.

 I sang "The Holly and The Ivy" and Pip covered her ears!!  I didn't think my singing was that bad :-)

 As usual Miss Full of Beans, ran on ahead, passed the local primary school buildings and waited here for her ancient mum to catch up!

 Time to take a left turn and head down the main street and who should we meet?

 Kris coming out of her house!!  This really made our day!  We caught up on the preschool news and promised to let her know next time we were in the area.

 We walked down to the Institute and the pre school gardens.

 Looking very neat and tidy, unlike our garden!

 One final run about before heading home.

Pip and I had a lovely time together and I am glad that I was able to fulfill my promise to her at the end of a very tiring week.

If you want to read about a family that are really getting out and about then take a look here  I must admit it is mildly funny as this was a "pipe dream" of mine two years ago before Pip started school!  Sadly our combined lack of health really prevented this from happening, but I am pleased that this family are making a go of things and I will enjoy reading about their exploits along the way.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

A Friend Day

Today we met with another HE mum and her son.  We have been meeting regularly since the beginning of the year and a good friendship has blossomed for us all.  We attended a home ed meet organised by the Local Education Authority and it was a chance to meet new people and ask questions if necessary.  I actually had a chat with our named support worker and she was very sympathetic of Benedict's medical and learning needs.  It was good to have someone to talk to and she was able to confirm that Benedict would be able to attend Myerscough College at fifteen to study for external exams.  I think it will do him good to have some much needed independence by then and a chance for someone other than ourselves to shoulder some of the educational support and medical care.

After the meeting we visited Frankie and Benny's, our local New York Style Diner!  As always the food was very good and very reasonably priced.

 Look who is masquerading as the statue of liberty!

A walk along the shore helped aid digestion followed by a play in one of the play park dotted along the promenade.  It was a good day and despite the grey and cold it was lovely to be outside the home.