Sunday, 26 December 2010

Happy Christmas

Christmas Eve like many other households was typically busy; last minute house cleaning, veg preparation, mince pie baking and the cooking of the chicken for the Christmas lunch.  As a result of cooking the chicken ahead of schedule not only did we have a stress free Christmas morning but also a delicious pan of chicken and vegetable soup for Christmas Eve tea!  After tea we wrapped up warm and headed out to our  vigil mass and  it was lovely to see the church busy with parishioners of all ages.  The baby Jesus was placed in the crib and the church burst forth with song proclaiming The Good News that our Lord and Saviour, God in the flesh had come to dwell amongst us.  Father Stuart's homily involved audience participation from the children and one little tot became so enthusiastic he did a roly poly tumble for the baby in the crib!!

Once home Benedict and Pip had their supper and were duly dispatched to bed, happy and peaceful; then the real work began!  Dave had the unenviable task of building a wooden kitchen for Pip, a joint present from both sets of Grandparents and ourselves.  I was surrounded by cotton thread and other crafting paraphernalia trying to finish some last minute elving. To accompany me in this task I finally managed to watch the film "The Nativity", I've been trying to watch it for the past two years!  It's the second nativity film I have watched this Advent, the first being the recent BBC dramatisation of the same name.  We finally fell into bed at 3am!

Benedict and Pip were very kind to us and actually slept til 8am, so we did manage five hours shut eye, with a slight interruption at 5:30am when Dave realised there was no gluten free bread for breakfast!  By 6am the bread machine was whirring happily and noisily in the corner of our bedroom!!  No room for it in the kitchen, as all available work top space was needed for other things.

After breakfast we sat down and the children opened their main presents.  Pip was very pleased with kitchen as was Benedict!  His parcel was King Louis and  Queen Eleanor and a quest  to find the crusader knights and build a castle for dwelling and protection.  It goes without saying there were the dark knights lurking in the background!  By mid morning Dave's Mum and Dad and Uncle Bernard arrived and they thankfully kept the little one's entertained whilst I finished preparing the lunch.  It was nothing short of a miracle that we actually sat down to eat by 1:30pm.  Uncle Bernard was suitably impressed for in the past no matter how hard I've tried sometimes we have not been eating till 4pm!!  I definitely think cooking the bird the day before saved the situation!  As arranged we provided the meat, vegetables and cheese and biscuits, Dave's Mum brought the trimmings of sauces and stuffings and Uncle B provided mince pies and chocolates.

It was a lovely day spent with family and we retired  to bed last night very tired but happy.  Here are some pictures of the day:

 A baby wearing toddler on Christmas Eve determined to help in the kitchen.

Pip baby wearing her own doll Lucy.  The "mini-me" Mei Tei was my last minute elving project.  I was very pleased with the outcome, as was my mother-in-law, so much so she wondered had it crossed my mind to make and sell them?  I would need a whole heap more time on my hands that's for sure, so currently am happy to make one offs to order or as gifts.

Pip exploring the kitchen.

Pip and Grandad watching the birds in the garden.

It's becoming a habit this!  Pip and Uncle Bernard sharing a mince pie!

Dave and Benedict building the castle.

Benedict working on his own with just a modicum of help from Dad.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Terrifically Two Today!

Well yesterday actually, the 23rd!!   It's a good job I was not this disorganised the year Miss Philippa was born!  We actually finally put up the tree last night once Pip had gone to bed, I was just too tired to do it the day before.  I had been organised enough to make her cake though, so I only had to ice and decorate it on the day.  We had Pip's favourite breakfast of boiled eggs and soldiers and here she is complete with bed head and birthday crown:

We actually sat down to eat at the precise time Pip had her first boo feed on the day of her birth!  It was purely by chance but it was a lovely reminder of that special day.  She was born at 8:40 am and was nursing by 9:40am ... yep, we had slept in hence the lateness of our eating!

Big brother Bem(as she calls him!) sharing the fun.

For lunch we had another stalwart favourite of ham and mushroom pasta, followed by mandarin jelly and ice-cream.  Dave very kindly took Pip out in the car to collect wood for the burner and for her to have a much needed nap.  This little miss will not nap at home. She is the earliest of them all to drop her daytime rests and boy does it show at the end of the day!!  I also managed to catch up on some chores and even had forty winks myself, the crafting and cooking had caught up with me.

Whilst Benedict and Pip watched a panto on television Dave and I had the interesting job of de-icing the tree in the garage!  It was well and truly stuck fast in a solid block of ice.  Thanks to Dave's quick thinking we placed the workshop fan heater next to the base of the bucket and within half an hour it had melted enough for us to smash the surrounding block.  With the tree safely ensconced in the corner of the dining room we sat down to the birthday tea:  cucumber and cheese sandwiches, apple boats and of course the cake.
A snow themed confection of butter icing, white chocolate buttons, snow men shapes and silver sprinkles.

Getting ready to blow.

A gentle puff to start with and then...

... one big blow!

Next came the fun part, opening presents and cards.

"I wonder what this could be?"

"Come on Bem I need some help!"

"It's like pass the parcel!"

Ostheimer figures all the way from Germany!  A mummy, daddy, a Bem and a Pip,a Guardian Angel,  one dog, one cat and some small woodland animals.  They are absolutely beautiful and were a joint present between both sets of Grandparents and ourselves.

Opening the cards.

Our last present of the day, a Melissa and Doug shape sorter train.

Birthday girl just before bed.

The tree in all its glory...

... and the happy elf who it made it so.

Blessings San x

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Handmade Holiday and Other Things

Lots of planned activities have gone out the window this past week... the Jesse Tree lies unfinished and I can't remember the last time I posted on the December Photo Project.  Time has caught up with me and there has been silly o'clock bedtimes as I've tried to finish the gift making, truth be told I know I'm over tired and this is the contributory factor in a current low mood.  These past weeks have taught me a valuable lesson, I hope I remember what I need to remember for this time next year!!

In addition to the Season Swap gift the following items have been made during this advent season:  two fully lined busy bags (the pattern was courtesy of Amanda Blake Soule in her book "The Creative Family"), six felt mug coasters and chequer board mitts design courtesy of Wee Folk Art, nativity finger puppets, a knit in the round hat via ravelry and  a knitted jacket for Pip.  I'm currently finishing a mini gnome set and am hoping to make a King Winter and felt trees for our own season corner.

Busy Bags

The gingham pocket bag contains a reversible apron, two cooking and baking books and a selection of cookie cutters.

The second bag contains assorted wools, a pair of knitting needles and a child's first knitting book.

Felted mug coasters.

On Saturday Dave took the children to their yearly visit on the Santa Special.  I stayed behind as we were expecting a visit from the candidates from The Home of The Mother.  It was a good job I remained home based, for due to unforeseen circumstances, they did not manage to make it North and I was left trouble shooting from command central!  Thanks to the kindness of a stranger in the form of Father White nearby, emergency accommodation was provided and we were all able to sleep peacefully that night!

Dave has an amazing knack of capturing an atmospheric photograph, mind you he did study photography at sixth form many moons ago!

Benedict and Heather looking at their presents from Santa, Pip was more interested in the train journey and scenery!

Sunday was a home day, we've been dealing with a mini cold virus this week and we were all feeling flat as a result of yesterday's dramas and activity.  I did manage to shoot a photograph from Benedict's bedroom window as dusk was drawing in, the moon looked beautiful and my shot below does not do it justice:

These past two days we have continued wrapping gifts and sending last minute cards.  We've visited friends and had good folk visit us.  Tomorrow we are visiting friends in Kendal.  Dave and Adrian are having lunch out whilst Briony and I hold the fort.  Lest you think we are missing out fear not we have a girls afternoon planned in the New Year!  Tomorrow is tree dressing day as the following day is Pip's second birthday!  I'm hoping to be a bit more consistent with the blogging during these next few days.

Be blessed San x

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Catch Up Time

The days seem to be flying by; we've been busy most days tidying, cleaning, sorting and crafting.  I cheated and made an online order with a well known supermarket and thankfully my food shop arrived today.  It was a good job I did not venture out as Benedict has been struck by a bout of sickness and so it's all hands on with viral and diabetic management.  I must be getting used to this as it's the first time, I have felt OK with adjusting his insulin and monitoring the vomiting episodes entirely on my own.  I have a strategy in place and know that, we have open access to the children's unit if required.  So far we have been fortunate and have managed to avoid a trip to hospital.  We have  sugary drinks on hand to sip and lavender oil on a handkerchief has induced a much needed sleep, so I'm praying that he gets the rest his body needs.

I shall leave you with my December Project Photos for these past few days:

Coffee quiet time for me on Monday.

Art courtesy of Benedict on Tuesday.

A televisual treat for today!

Keep warm and be blessed San x

Monday, 13 December 2010

Planning for a siege?!

The cookery books are out, the gloves are off and I'm doing battle with a two week menu/ shopping list beginning this weekend and hopefully seeing me through til the New Year!  I dislike supermarket shopping at the best of times, but none more so than at this time of year, the queues, the overcrowded aisles and the inability to find a parking space. I'm not a bah humbug kind of gal but I do find the over commercialisation of this feast a tad depressing, so I'll get my shopping as quickly as I can and return home to a warming fire and relative peace and quiet.  I hope!!

Blessings San x

Saturday, 11 December 2010

December Photo Project - The Nativity Cross

This colourful piece of Peruvian Christian art hangs just above our dining room table.  So often truth be told it goes unnoticed, we are too familiar with its presence and story.  Today something changed and although I was initially drawn to capturing its beauty for the photo project, as I have gone about my chores today the real meaning behind that image has hounded me.  Essentially we have God made man, born to die for us as our very own sin offering, even though He was totally sinless.  In short true love personified.  Food for thought for the remainder of this Advent Season.

Advent Blessings San x

Finally Finished!

My season swap is complete.  I just need to work out how on earth I'm going to get it packaged safely!  Hopefully by tomorrow morning it will be winging it's way to far distant hills.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Belated Posting

I'm out of whack this year and totally behind on posting for the December Photo Project.  Our Jesse Tree is also succumbing to sporadic attention and we have been known to stick on several pictures at once with a quick precis on each!  Not ideal I know but then we don't live in an ideal world, as they always say "It's the thought that counts".

Benedict has worked hard this past week; we've covered daily maths work, some of which he has managed independently.  We've also been following some of the suggestions outlined in the Real Learning book by Elizabeth Foss.  Our Advent reading material is based upon the books written by Tomie de Paola.  If you are interested in further info then click on this link and look for the category Advent clicking.  Her Serendipity site is also jam packed with stuff too!  Benedict really enjoyed reading Merry Christmas Strega Nona and when he narrated the story to me, I was astounded how much information he remembered.  From the tiniest descriptive detail to passages of speech it was all there, in all I scribed four sides of A4 paper in the process.  He is currently working on his drawing to accompany the narration.

We have had fun making spiced Advent biscuits and have been packaging them up to send to friends and family.  I've been busy making felt craft gifts and have so far made mug coasters, nativity finger puppets and have nearly finished my season swap, evergreen felt trees and a King Winter.  I need to get my skates on as the package is being sent to Nepal!  So without further ado I will leave you with this weeks offerings for the December Photo Project:

Sunday bird chasing!

Monday St Nicholas Day.

Biscuit making.

Our Lady candle.

Friday, 3 December 2010

For Kacka

But the souls of the virtuous are in the hands of God,
no torment shall ever touch them.

In the eyes of the unwise, they did appear to die,
their going looked like a disaster,
their leaving us, like annihilation;
But they are in peace.

If they experienced punishment as men see it,
their hope was rich with immortality;
slight was their affliction, great will their blessings be.
God has put them to the test
and proved them worthy to be with him;

He has tested them like gold in the furnace,
and accepted them as a holocaust.

                                      Wisdom3 v 1-6

Happy Birthday Dear Friend and Anam Cara, gone but never forgotten.

Eternal rest grant unto her O Lord and may your perpetual light shine upon her and may she rest in peace.  Amen.

Advent Art - Our Jesse Tree

Yesterday we made our paper Jesse Tree.  The ornaments were courtesy of:  It is a fantastic site full of ideas and printables and organised by a very clever mum.  Here is our finished attempt:

Hopefully we will light our candle , read the appropriate reading for each day and glue on the associated ornament on the tree.  We are a little late with this, ahem, so Pip and I will do some gluing this morning whilst Daddy and Benedict are at Shein's.

If you are looking for a quiet and reflective site , a chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of shopping and list making then pop in here and savour the peace:  Ann Voskamp truly has a God given gift of bringing the Holy into the ordinary.  God uses her ability to write most powerfully and through her eloquent and often humble words she points the reader back to the very source and staff of life - Our Father in Heaven.  As an extra Advent gift you can subscribe to her link and receive an e-book centred around our salvation history, the Jesse Tree Journey.

Blessings Sandra x

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

This past week

In amongst editing previous posts and general family mayhem we've been:

 Baking lemony muffins courtesy of Hugh's new book, "River Cottage Everyday",

 Watching the birds at our local reserve,

 Playing in the snow,

 Reading Christmas books in the warmth, including the new Tomie de Paola "Merry Christmas Strega Nona",

"Borrowing" the camera and taking pictures of our very own:

Benedict's layout of his nativity story

 View from the lounge window with the camera hanging out of the top section!!  Hmm, good job Mum wasn't around when this was taken!

As for the blog I've so far trawled through 50 posts (with help from DH) only 130 to go!  All this in amongst home schooling, house cleaning, craft and present making.  I think this is going to be a long project!

Blessings Sandra x

Friday, 26 November 2010

Every Picture Tells A Story

Or not as the case may be!  As a result of creepy online behaviour from a previous blog reader I have moved here to blogger.  It has been an interesting learning curve; I have even bigger bags under my eyes as a result of all the extra work and the ironing pile has grown to interesting proportions!  I've discovered grey cells that I did not know existed and my patience and willingness to persevere has been sorely tested.  Grace In The Ordinary?  There has been plenty of opportunity to call on such grace this past week.

Sad to say as a result of the move all the photographs accompanying the blog were erased as a result of the previous site shut down.  My lovely hubby is a techno kid and even he did not realise that each picture had been assigned a specific code for the previous site. So far I've edited 30 posts so only another 150 to go, it's a good job I've never been a daily blogger!

Blessings Sandra  

An Angel To Guide You

If  you are ever in doubt about the presence of an Angel to guide you, then this account might make you think:
After having slept soundly the past two nights, Philippa decided to rouse us all from deep slumber with shouting and hollering at the ungodly hour of  2:00 am.  No chance of burying one’s head under the pillow and pretending it is all but a dream, this gal needed attention and quick!  Dad went in to reassure and calm her and as he was doing so, little man was shouting from his bedroom that, he was having a hypo!  Mum’s turn to be on duty and dispatch jelly babies and assorted snacks to alleviate the situation.  We all finally settled an hour or so later.
Some hours later after having eaten breakfast we had time to ponder on the night times events and it was only then, that we realised how vital it had been that Miss P had actually woken.  After all, if she had slept we all would have slept and instead of sharing breakfast together as we regularly do, we would have been calling the paramedics for sure Little Man would have been unconscious.  Both of the children’s Guardian Angels were working overtime last night and for that I am extremely grateful.
For He will give His angels especial charge over you to accompany and defend and preserve you in all your ways.
Psalm 91 v 11

“Angels are delicate creatures.  You can’t grab hold of them.  They come unexpectedly.  You must lay yourself open to them so that you can meet them.  Angels come soft footed”
Angels of Grace – Anselm Grun.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Storage Solutions

Yesterday we  had a long overdue visit to our favourite Swedish shop, IKEA.  Our list included a decent sized bookcase for our ever increasing collection of children's books,  a shoe rack for the hallway as I was sick of tripping over the piles of shoes, a book basket for Pip's board books and a three tier shelving system for Benedict's Lego.  We managed to come home with the items on our list plus a warm duvet cover set for Mum and Dad, much needed place mats and a star light for Benedict.  Today has been a building day, most of the work has been undertaken by Dave and Benedict with a modicum of help from Pip!

Many hands make light work!

Miss Philippa flying solo.

This makes a great play cupboard Daddy!

 Shoe storage sorted.

All ready to read.

Pip's basket.

For my part in between laundry and general sorting I made two home cooked meals, for lunch we had:

Greens S'ghetti!

Vegetable mix: a large bag of chard, two small onions and three courgettes, all finely chopped and sauteed in a little oil.  To this  I added a home made cheese sauce and mixed thoroughly.

Since we are gluten free due to coeliac problems I used a brown rice spaghetti and cooked in boiling water until al dente. 

Our evening meal was:

Moussaka with a difference!

The meat and vegetable base consisted of:  two onions, one sweet red pepper, two courgettes, 500g of organic beef mince, one box of sieved tomatoes and one beef stock cube dissolved in a little hot water.  On top of this we added a layer of sliced and fried aubergine.

Instead of the ususal souffle type topping I went with a  vegetable and potato mash mix, this consisted of five small white potatoes, two sweet potatoes and 500 grammes of chopped Brussel sprouts.  Once cooked and drained mash the veg mixture and spread on top of the meat.aubergine layer.  Top with a little grated cheese and brown under the grill.

I think we can safely say that the following subjects have been experienced these past two days:

Map reading, safe  handling of large goods, interpretation of written diagrams, wood work and rudimentary mathematics.  Tick VG Bookworm!

In closing Roo raised several smiles today as she announced the following:

" Dad gone, back soon!"  and my favourite, " No! Mine!!"

A busy and blessed day, thank you Lord.