Thursday, December 31, 2009

Chickens on ice!

Morning everyone! I DID make it home! Arrived back on the 22nd of December in the early evening. Panic hadn't quite set in, but I did have visions of spending Christmas in Manchester!

Haven't been around much as Festivities seem to get in the way of blogging.

Spent Christmas eve chilled out wrapping presents. Ridiculously late - not like me at all, but time ran away with me this year.

On Christmas morning, we lit the fire and opened our presents. I did very well! A Nigella colander, 6 1/2 litres Le Parfait jars (yes, I was excited)! A huge bag of M&M's from the M&M factory in Las Vegas (Jase had been the week before), an Abercrombie and Fitch hoodie - I am now 'down with the kids', a Coke thermos mug for my early morning drive to work, enviromesh and fleece for the veggie garden, to scupper those pests, and lots of other bits and bobs.

Jase is loving the OWL electricity monitor I bought him. Think I might regret it though. He keeps turning the lights off!
My Mum, Dad & Gran popped over in the afternoon and we had nibbles, before they headed home. Christmas dinner was served at 5.30 and we were too stuffed to have the pudding I made, so settled for Dime bar cheesecake instead!

On Boxing day we all descended on my Parents and had a really nice day with my Niece and Nephew, who were very patient and waited until after lunch to open their presents. We left around 8.30pm as we were driving to Scotland the next day.

We planned to leave at 7.30am for the long drive to Ayr, but didn't get up until 7.45, so that put us back a bit! The journey was fine apart from a traffic jam somewhere on the M5 - it all blurs into one after a while. Made a few pit stops to refuel on Coffee (tea for me), but arrived safely around 5pm. Had a very relaxing time, with J's Mum force feeding us home made treats, chocolates and cakes! We did plan to stay until the 30th, but a severe weather warning around Wales/the Midlands forced us to leave on the 29th and drive back, praying the snow wouldn't start! Shame we had to leave early, but better than being stuck on the motorway, with not enough food! Heaven forbid!

Realised I haven't posted any Christmas pictures, so here you go!

Rita, the Christmas tree. The name seemed to suit her!

The fireplace complete with wooden reindeer, made by next door as part of our Christmas present!

You have to have a box of treats on the coffee table!

I couldn't bring myself to stick cards to our new doors with sellotape, so hung ribbons from the pegs at the back and stapled cards to them. Looks much nicer IMO. Must get the pinking shears out to make tags for next year!

Jase left for work at 6am this morning and I got up not long after. I am back on the 4th January, so a bit of time to get stuff done. I have promised next door that I would make her a tartan scottie dog cushion. Have the fabric and pattern ready, just need to muster the energy. Haven't sewn for a couple of weeks, but every time I sit down to do it, I think about the state of the chicken area, garden and veggie plot and the thousand and one other jobs that need doing.

January isn't too busy roster-wise. A couple of 3 days trips and my annual check - jumping out of mock up planes, pretending to evacuate and playing nurse with resuss-Annie! 3 days of classroom stuff. Yuck. We are heading up to Glasgow for a weekend to visit friends, so that'll be good.

Still no eggs from the free loaders. They are fine and very content, eating little and often and pleased that their run is no longer 2 inches thick with ice. They refused to come out of their run, even for corn, but mealworms did tempt them eventually. Winifred the brave, was first out. using her claws like a rock climbing pro, to stab the ice and get her grip. Elsbeth came flying around the corner, slipped, and skidded around the run on her fluffy knickers! The others were more sensible and waited until I put the mealworms inside their covered run!

If it stays dry, then I will clean them out tomorrow and Saturday. Thinking it will be about 4-5 wheelbarrows of used bedding from the covered runs, but I have an empty compost bin now.

Next door are away over New Year, so we are on Bantam watch. At least we will get some eggs!

Have put on a bit of weight I think. My New Years resolution is to stop weighing myself. There is no need. If my clothes are tight, I have put on weight, why did I need to know the figure??? It only gets you down! Actually, scrub that. I am not making any New Year's resolutions. I do want to learn more about photography and set up my website shop, but that has nothing to do with NYRs. Just something I want to do and now is a good time.

Will change the bedding today and get some cash out. MUST have fresh sheets and a small amount of cash for New Year's day. Just something I always do. Quirky, but very me.

Will leave you with a nice picture of my Father Christmas! Hope you all have a very happy and healthy New year!

C x x x

Monday, December 21, 2009

He's a lumberjack....

Well, the snow clouds built up nearly as quickly as my excitement after reading the weather forecast last week! Sadly, we only had a sprinkling of the white stuff, but freezing temperatures. Luckily I was off work, so wasn't affected by the runways closing and mass chaos on the roads and airports!

My Paris and back flight was cancelled yesterday, but I noticed before I left for work. Decided to pack my bags and take my stand by stuff in with me. Lucky really as at 9pm I was given a Manchester night stop. As the runway had been closed on and off all day, we didn't leave Heathrow until 1am! Landed safely around 1.35, but that meant we were unable to fly back today, so got an extra day off in Manchester today! Am due to leave tomorrow on the 'red eye' at 7am. Not operating though - flying back as a passenger!

Woke up late this morning and headed for the town centre. Christmas shopping all done, so was able to browse at leisure without the usual frantic 'I must get so and so something.........anything'! The German Christmas market is still here, so wandered around the stalls and picked up a few bits for decorating presents that I still need to wrap. Lots of pressies. I have wrapped Jason's, but the rest will be done tomorrow and Wednesday. Got chatting to a lady on a tree decorations stall and she gave me a discount as I spoke to her in German! Everywhere has proper snow and i nearly went arse over tit a few times.

Was disappointed that there was a distinct lack of Currywurst at the market, so made do with a dish of sliced potatoes and bacon bits, followed by a hog roast roll. Extra crackling. Well, it is Christmas!

Wednesday was supposed to be my last day until I finished for Christmas, but I had a leave day on hold. Pleased to see it has been granted, so once back tomorrow, I am off until the New Year!!

A few Christmas puddings still to wrap up and deliver, plus mince pies to bake for the neighbours. They are heading up to Sheffield before Christmas so need to bake and wrap them pretty soon.

I bumped into a lady from work yesterday, who ordered 4 Christmas puddings and 6 jars of jams for friends. She said she needed a word with me. I was slightly anxious, but as it turned out, she had already eaten one of the puddings as she said it smelt so nice. There was me thinking she had found mouse droppings in one!! As if. *wink* My mice are toilet trained!

We are spending Christmas day at home and then off to Mum and Dad's for Boxing day. Everyone will be there, so need to get there early to help Mum with the annual veg prep! On the 27th we are driving to Ayr to see Jason's Mum and Sister, then back down on the 30th as Jase is back to work on the 31st! Will all be a bit of a rush, but we should have plenty of turkey and stuffing sandwiches for the drive up! My favourite bit of Christmas - the left overs. Not that I am food obsessed!!!!

Metcheck is forecasting snow in our area for tomorrow. Hope I make it home in time. The fridge is full to bursting and we have logs stacked up by the front door! Jase is out chopping logs and kindling as I type. We borrowed next door's mega axe to chop some huge logs down into a more burnable size. Our axe could be used in a panto version of Pocahontas, as it is ridiculously small and only good for display purposes!

He isn't answering his mobile, so I hope he still has all his limbs. Probably out locking up the girls. We are looking after next door's bantams for a few days, so at least we are getting eggs. Ours are still not laying, even Elsbeth, the only egg provider, has decided to moult now.

The flights into Manchester are seriously delayed now, so I hope they don't cancel them tonight. Means I won't be getting home tomorrow and my hips can't cope with more hog roast rolls!

Have a lovely run up to Christmas and 'speak soon'!

C x x

EDIT! Spoke too soon. The last flight up from Heathrow has been cancelled so I guess I won't be getting home tomorrow morning *sad little face*

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas market

Sometimes I forget how lucky I am. Take today for instance. Up at the crack of dawn, but walking around the Christmas market in Basel by 11.30 this morning! Luckily, the two crew with me are big kids too, and got really excited wandering around, taking in the smells and sights of the festive season. It is so nice wandering the streets, peeping through shop windows and seeing what they have 'in store'.

I didn't realise how expensive it was in Switzerland. The prices are at least double the rest of Europe, so we all agreed to hold on until tomorrow, when we are off to Frankfurt to do it all over again!! The market is only a 5 minute bus ride away and huge, so we will meet up and sample the 'proper' Currywurst, sausage with curry sauce and chips!

I have been going to German Christmas markets since I was very little. The one in Bremen usually, but not for several years now. Little wooden huts, crammed with wooden toys, candles and the like. Wonderful. The smell of Gluhwein and sausages gets you feeling the Christmas spirit. I defy any Scrooge to visit a German market and not come out feeling Festive.

I have had a couple of days off, but with the dark afternoons and miserable weather, it has flown by. I managed to sew a couple of felt Christmas trees with chunky trunks and took pictures, but forgot to load them on my laptop, so will do so later this week. Edit - here you go -

Jase is off to Las Vegas today. His friend is working the flight and thought he would like 4 days away for a pre-Christmas break. I miss him already. I am away for 3 days, so the hens are fending for themselves, with next door popping in to check on them. No eggs for a few days as they are still moulting, but it has turned colder and they aren't looking too happy. I'm sure they are fine, apart from the state of their run. They don't mind, as they happily scratch around in the mud, but I must clean them out soon. Just finding the time, dry weather and hoping my back can cope.

I went into Town on Friday and finished off the last of our Christmas shopping. It was vile. Absolutely heaving with people. So glad it is all done. Working until Wednesday, then 3 days off. 3 days of Christmas preps and getting the house in order.

I watched Kirsty's Homemade Christmas on Channel 4 the other night and loved it. Over 3 nights, she tried to bring the spirit of Christmas back, i.e. homemade stuff on the cheap - ish. Some of her ideas were a little, erm......expensive, but on the whole her enthusiasm was infectious and got me in the mood.

I bought 2 large jars (as if I need an excuse with my jar fetish), filled them with sweets, glow in the dark figures and finished them off with fabric for my Niece and Nephew as stocking fillers. Again, pics taken but not on my laptop yet! Some of the ideas I have written down for next year as I won't have time before Christmas now.

edit - pic added -

Bought the tree on my way home and she is sitting in an old watering can in the garden until I am ready to bring her in and 'embelish'. That is a mammoth task, but one of my favourite Christmas jobs. Unlike writing cards!! They are sat on the desk, taunting me. I know I have to write them but it is the most mind numbing job in the world!!!

Next door were away for a couple of days, so I offered to look after their Bantams. They do make me laugh. The way they waddle like little, fluffy wind-up hens and squeak like guinea pigs. They are still laying really well and the eggs were very welcome.

I have enough brown parcel paper to wrap Terminal 5, so should be ok when the marathon wrapping session begins later this week. It will be a fest of cinnamon sticks, baubles, dried orange slices and ribbon. My precious ribbon, that I am loathed to use and would rather save, but it is the season of goodwill after all! It usually takes me a few hours to wrap all my pressies, but with Carols on my ipod speakers, I enjoy it. The Christmas lights are up on the kitchen shelf and Jase didn't seem to mind the extra set that appeared around the window!!

Right then, the cards are winking at me and desperate to get written. Will update the pictures when I get home......!

Have a good week everyone!

C x x

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Do you want to know?

Happy December everyone!! Not long now until the jolly fat man arrives with his bulging sack! Cannot believe that Christmas it nearly here. Strange, as it is the same date every year, but comes around so quickly.

Would you like an update on my Craft stall?? *wink*

Saturday, 7.50am. Sat in my Mini at the craft centre, listening to Michael Buble on the radio. Maggie, the organiser of the fair - handed the role at the last minute, arrives jangling keys to let me in. I am the first and have 30 minutes or so of peace before the Pros appear. I have learnt that the Craft circuit is a very close knit affair. You are either liked or not. I was liked, luckily. I was referred to as a 'Newbie' on more than one occasion!

By 10am my stall was set up and I had a chance to look around and see what else was on offer. The Ladies opposite me, were a formidable force. Organised to an extreme, with each one slotting into the pecking order, governed by the 'top hen'. Garden centre green appeared to be the uniform for the Andover Farmers market stall. I have a feeling that any other colour would have been frowned upon. Cakes, mince pies, hyacinths everywhere and knitted goods were on offer. I affectionately called them 'The Coven'.

I later found out they were once the local W.I, but 'things turned nasty and it wasn't a pleasant time'. Juicy gossip that I didn't get the chance to hear.

I think I did really well on day one. The stall wasn't in the best location, being next to the door, as people would stop and look and then get moved along by others arriving. I still enjoyed it and managed to sell most of my jam and mincemeat.

Would you like to see a couple of pictures? I went for the cluttered, cottage feel to my stall (mainly because I had so much stuff)!!

I had a couple of surprise visitors! Caroline, who leaves comments on my blog, arrived. She bought a few things and then announced who she was!! Then Charlotte and - I want to say Vanessa, but think that is wrong? - introduced themselves. They had travelled from W.Sussex especially to see the stall! I was incredibly touched that you all took the time to pop in and say hello. Really, really kind of you all!

On Sunday, the weather was dreadful but I still sold a fair bit. My friend Yvonne came down to help and manned the stall very well. She is booked for next year!! Yes, I will be doing it again next year. It was worth the time and effort! I have been advised to do the Michaelmas fayre in September too.

I even made a couple of contacts! Sue, 'bespoke jewellery' and June 'the Fudge Lady' invited me to a craft fair in Lyndhurst on Tuesday this week! They called it the 'Turkey and Tinsel' lot. I referred to them as the Blue Rinse Brigade. At least I managed to write a few Christmas cards, whilst they rifled through my wares! I picked up a copy of 'It's a Wonderful Life' which I have been after for ages. A must see film I have been told. And a few stocking fillers from other stall holders. Even got a 'traders discount'.

(Top tip, don't eat sausage rolls that were supposed to be put in the freezer for Christmas, whilst typing your blog. Flaky pastry is a nightmare to get out of the keyboard)!

I spent today putting everything away and reclaiming the house. The lounge is no longer a resting place for fabric, no sign of raffia and my sewing machine has been put away (until tomorrow, when I am making something for the Omlet secret Crafty swap)! The office now resembles some sort of normality and you can actually see the carpet. Made a long list of jobs to do over the next few days.

  1. Sort out chicken area - like a swamp with the incessant rain we are having. Holding a chicken course on Saturday and might have to issue inflatable arm bands.
  2. Tidy lounge/kitchen - done
  3. Write Christmas cards - my most loathed job in the world.
  4. Make a scottie dog cushion for next door.
  5. Make a ************** for the Omlet Craft swap
  6. Take Jase's old clothes to charity bin
  7. Write blog - work in progress........
  8. Make scottie dog brooch for Charlotte - brown button on collar!
  9. Sew initials on several stockings. Hope my embroidery is up to it??
Plus all the other boring things, like food shopping, changing the bed sheets, making fudge, mince pies (never tire of fudge and/or mince pies)!

Now that I have updated my blog, I think I will chill out for the evening. I have a couple of Christmas magazines, John Seymours Complete Guide to Self-sufficiency and a fire. Bliss. Fairy lights are up in the kitchen, and after 10 minutes blew a fuse! All sorted now and feeling festive again.

Thank you once again for all the lovely comments. I means a lot to me.

C x x