Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas and Willies in Scotland

We are now home after an extremely busy Christmas period where we drove a total of 900 miles. The weather forecast on Christmas Eve said not to travel unless absolutely necessary; there were multiple accidents in Lincolnshire (where we had to drive through) and snow was forecast for Yorkshire (ditto). It was very stressful making the decision to carry on with our plans, but I'm glad we did because the roads were fine (the BBC travel advice must've scared others off) and it was so nice to see our family and friends. The worst part of the travel was driving from home to the cattery, half an hour's drive, to drop off Meg. The country roads and our driveway were icy. 

These photos were taken at the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh when we stayed with our friends Pete and Lyns and their kids. JJ always attaches himself to me from the moment I turn up to the moment we leave and he is the sweetest little person. One of the best conversations I had on the trip was when JJ and I were sitting in one of the rooms at the gallery while our friends milled around looking at the art. Instigated by JJ we discussed which of our friends had willies, and which didn't. These things are important when you're three years old. It was established that Haggis, Pete, Ian, Kevin, Paul, JJ and Nate all had willies. Paula, Lynsey, Connie, Isobel and Sam were declared willy-free.

So, now we are home. I drove from Edinburgh to Wetherby (the halfway point where we change drivers, get Costa coffee and food from M&S) and as soon as I stopped driving my body started shaking with flu. This used to happen to me when I toured with Hagos's band. No matter how long the tour: two weeks or two months - as soon as I got home I got a cold. My body had managed to hold out for as long as it needed to, and then it collapsed.

I spent most of yesterday in bed and am feeling better all the time. I had just completely exhausted myself before we even left, and with all the driving, socialising, and sleeping in strange beds on top of it all my body had just had enough.

So, now we're glad to be home and settled and calm and I'm looking forward to getting back to my own work, though I still wish we lived near our family and friends and could see them more easily and frequently.  

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snow; Snow; Snow; Snow; SNOW

This is the view outside my kitchen window this morning. Poor Meg is (literally) climbing the walls because she can't get out hunting and exercising. She goes out for seconds at a time and often comes CRASHING back through the cat flap.  

These are her footprints early this morning. Sometimes you just have to go out in the snow, even if you'd rather not.

And these are the bitesize Christmas Cakes I brought back from Diane's Pantry yesterday. I couldn't resist them when I got to the till.

I've been trying to finish Christmas jumpers for Nate and JJ, but this morning I have admitted defeat. I reckon, realistically, there is 12 hours' work to go. And I could knit all day today and have them both finished but I would be completely exhausted. So I will buy them a shop bought present instead, to go with the game I am making for the whole family. The jumpers will be sent in the new year, when I've had the leisure to finish them. Common sense MUST prevail, because I want to have the energy and relaxed-ness to enjoy my wedding anniversary on the 23rd December, and Christmas with our families. 

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Christmas Tree

We bought our Christmas Tree today. I like short, dumpy trees and we found the perfect one. We decided not to put tinsel on it this year. It looked so good with just the white lights. So we left the tinsel off and just put the ornaments on instead. Now we just have to add the chocolate :) 

It's so nice having Hagos home - a real treat. I love it when we're both knocking about the house doing our own thing, and then come together later to watch a film, or earlier to go out for the Christmas tree.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

An almost-finished Winter Skirt, and a new Walking Foot!

The above photo isn't great. I decided to take the photo after I'd unplugged the machine so it didn't have its light anymore! Anyway - it's my new walking foot, which I only discovered because I bought stretch cord to make my skirt with, and when I tried to sew the front to the back it stretched big time. I tried about three times and had to unpick it each time. So, a trip to John Lewis saved the skirt. I was very excited first time I used the walking foot. I also used a concealed zip attachment for the first time, which made a huge difference. I've been struggling to make my favourite Amy Butler A-line skirt with the wrong zip attachment all this time. It's a revelation to use the right materials. 

So this is the skirt, almost finished. I just need to slip stitch the lining around the zip, then hem the outer and the lining and that's it! I can see myself ending up in the fabric shop during my lunch breaks on Thursday and Friday! There are some tweeds I like. I could make these skirts in different materials indefinitely. 

I think the lining has worked out very well. Always - contrasting linings.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Blue-and-orange is the new purple-and-green

Last night I cut out the winter A-line skirt I've been meaning to make for ages. I got the material from Anglian Fashion Fabrics, the shop near my work. When I was buying the material I almost chose a blue lining, then I thought, why should I? I love contrasting linings - it seems to add a secret luxury to a garment. So I chose orange. It was only when I laid it on the table last night that I realised I'd chosen the same colours as my TV jumper I'm currently knitting. Perhaps blue and orange is the new purple and green.

I've had a lazy morning so far. Now I plan to do a little bit of housework, then have lunch, then sew my skirt. I really hope it turns out well because I'd like to make a few.

I also want to make some knitting bags and a bread bag from my Oxford Green material. We have a little padded seat next to the fire, recessed, that is covered in my knitting projects, music books, my iPod and camera live there too, and I'd like to tidy it up a bit. I thought if I made knitting bags for each project, just a simple rectangle with a pull-cord and stopper, with a tiny photocopy of the item I'm making attached to the cord, it would all look organised and would make it easier for me to pick up projects to work on. Apart from the current project, which is Nate's jumper, all other projects are buried in various types of bags. It's such a jumble. But it's another of those projects I've been meaning to do for months. 

Hagos arrives home about 4pm from Munich, hopefully avec chicken.  

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Delight: Finding interesting articles in the paper while making sticks for the fire

I save our newspapers through spring and summer so I can make them into sticks to light our Parkray fire in autumn and winter. And one of the delights of doing this is coming across stories or items I missed in the papes first time round.

Today, for example, I saw this beautiful coat.

And something that appealed to  me greatly: a reading holiday, where all you do is read!

Making sticks can take up to an hour, depending on what I find. The end result is then used on top of firelighters, in place of real sticks, which cost a fortune.

I was awake at half three this morning, making Hagos breakfast before he drove to Stansted, then flew to Munich. I went back to bed, of course, and eventually got up at half nine. I've had a really lovely day, sorting the house out, reading, shopping, and early afternoon I had an urge to make bread.

The finished loaf is lovely, but I had a bit of a scare very soon after putting it in the oven. I was in the bathroom handwashing my mittens, scarf and hat, when I heard a bang. I came through to find smoke oozing from the cooker! I turned it off immediately and opened the front door, as there was an obvious electrical-burning smell. I was really upset as I'd put so much love into making my loaf I thought it would be ruined. But then I got brave, once I trusted the cooker wasn't going to go on fire. I turned the oven back on and believe the bang was something to do with the fan, and nothing else. Anyway, Hagos is back tomorrow and I'm sure will be able to figure out exactly what's happened. 

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Christmas in Reepham

When I drove through the village tonight, after being at the gym, I saw that the main road was closed off, which could only mean one thing: Santa would be switching on the Christmas Tree lights!

It's become an annual event. Little stalls line the street, with a heavy St Johns Ambulance presence (tonight there was even a fire engine at-the-ready). There is a hog roast, lots of mulled wine, tombolas etc. You get the picture.

I was sorry that Hagos is in Birmingham today for one gig, as last year we had fun attending. Anyway, in my pyjamas, covered up with Hagos's jogging trousers, I headed into the square to buy some mistletoe, only to find no one was selling it this year. Anyway, the tree was nice, though I missed seeing Santa himself. Hopefully he'll be round on Sunday, passing all the houses on his sleigh being pulled by a tractor.

When I came home I downloaded Delia's Christmas programme from yesterday onto my computer and sat on the couch under a blanket and a cat in front of a roaring fire watching it. I would've liked some mulled wine to go with it but hadn't managed to find any.

I had been planning to test-drive my Chocolate Yule Log tonight (I'm making Christmas dessert this year: Chocolate Yule Log and Raspberry Pavlova. I want to make them both before the actual day to make sure I don't encounter any problems when I make them for Christmas dinner!), but I didn't quite feel in the mood for that much effort (it has to be made over two days), so instead I scoured my cook books for chocolate chip cookies and Mrs Beeton didn't let me down, et voila, half an hour later they were made. I'll take most of them into work tomorrow, and leave a few at home for Hagos when he returns.