Friday, 20 January 2017

Finding treasure in the spare room

On a high from sorting out the pantry I tackled the other dumping ground in our home - the little box room and what a good idea I found treasure that I had squirrelled away in the form of some old shop pricing tickets.  I knew they were somewhere in the house but the location had slipped from my conscience and they were just the touch I needed to help redress the Welsh dresser post Christmas.

I found them in a little junk shop in Cromer on the North Norfolk coast, it is an area that we love to visit and we have booked a family weekend away in February.  It will be baby Esme's first holiday, at 3 months old I doubt she will be too aware of her changed surroundings, however, I am sure that her Mum and Dad will appreciate the beautiful beaches, the big skies and the open countryside that the area has to offer so long as they can get some sleep in between the night feeds.

We are struggling to book or main summer holiday, I had picked a week in July that worked well with my Hubbys shift pattern but my colleague got in first and booked that very week for her holiday! next year I need to be a bit quicker off the mark. So we are now looking at going away in August, I almost made the mistake of booking something that left the day before my friends wedding! (sorry J) Looking out of the window on a rainy grey day the promise of a week of sunshine is definitely needed to lift the spirits.

Have you started booking in events for the new year or do you prefer to leave it all to the last minute?

Friday, 13 January 2017

Its January so lets tidy the pantry!

With the first "proper" week of January under my belt the festivities are well and truly over and the routine of work has settled us back down into our usual patterns.

The weather has been a bit on the chilly side and snuggling on the sofa in front of the log burner has been pretty much our favorite occupation.

My pre-Christmas to do list was never completed and anything relating to sending cards and wrapping presents has been confined to the bin but there was one job that still needed to be picked up.  Sorting out the pantry!  It is a convenient place to "tuck things away" so becomes something of a dumping ground.  After a few hours of taking everything out, throwing away a few odd bits that have gone out of date, wondering why we have so many packs of olives, knowing that there are several boxes of stuffing because I ran out last May and my family can't function without a regular input and I don't want that to happen again.  I finally got round to putting everything back and it all looks nice and organised.............. for now.

As you can see I have no loyalty to any one supermarket and Sainsburys Morrisons  Tesco Aldi and Lidl all get a look in.

We did see a bit of winter sun this morning and I was keen to capture the shadows it was casting as the bunting was blowing around

I was quite happy to see the snowdrops making an appearance, it is almost like they have waited until the new year to pop up and say hello

I haven't made anything this week, not even a cake which is not like me at all, maybe I just need a break after all my Christmas makes!

How was your return to work?  Have you had a cleaning splurge or are you happily tucked up in front of the fire?

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Exploring Hygge - how hygge is your life?

Hygge – (Hoo-gah)

I  was poking about on Pinterest for inspirational quotes to put on my blackboard to celebrate 2017 when I came across this hygge challenge.  I have very little knowledge of hygge so I set about investigating further.  This link to the Danish tourist board has a lovely little short film where the reporter visits Copenhagen to learn more about hygge and the  BBC of course had their own contribution.

It seems to be about chilling out with your friends, being cosy with candle light and snuggly blankets, stepping away from technology and keeping things simple. Embracing the dark nights and finding the light and enjoyment in them.  I tend to find January a bit of a glum month, the weather is uninviting, the days are short and the excitement and fun of Christmas and New Year are fast fading memories. In fact there are some days where I feel like I am sleepwalking around and my mood is low.  The sky is an uninviting shade of grey and there seems to be nothing on the horizon to brighten things up.

So how hygge is my life

  • Candles and fairy lights are present in my home all year round, we have switched to battery operated candles as they are cleaner and safer but they still offer soft ambient lighting.  We had a log burner installed a couple of years ago (this was a step up from the open fire we had put in about 30 years ago when we moved into our home) this scores very highly in creating the hygge vibe.
  • Unplugging from technology, I have got into a bad habit of watching TV with my laptop on my knee or my phone in hand, giving neither my full attention so therefore not being in the moment an important hygge element. So I am trying to be more aware of this and making a choice to do one or the other but not both.
  • I spend quite a lot of my leisure time with my family especially now I am Granny to baby Esme. With Hubby working shifts it can be more tricky to find time for meet ups with friends this an area that I need to make more effort in.
  • Being alone and reading a book - I love reading and for some reason tend to only give time over to it when I go on my summer holiday. I treated myself to a book in the January sales, "The year of living Danishly" by Helen Russell in pursuit of learning more about hygge and seeing it in context of the Danish lifestyle. Helen and her husband move to Denmark for a year when he gets a job at Lego HQ, in the book she investigates various aspects of Danish life and queries if these pursuits and cultural references make them the happiest nation.  I am making time to read a chapter a day with a cup of tea and the TV turned off. 
  • Living in the moment, to some extent this is something that we all do and don't even think about.  However, I am very much a planner and sometimes I don't give myself over to an experience as I am already calculating how to do things better next time.   I will try and be aware of this and make more of an effort to go with the flow and immerse myself in the moment.
  • Connecting with nature - I alway feel a bit brighter after a walk, mother nature usually has something to show us we just need to take the time to look for it. Not to mention that walking helps to burn off some of those Christmas calories! But given a choice reading a book curled up on the sofa is going to be the first choice on a grim winter day, I think a bit more effort is needed from me in this area.

My conclusion is that I already have some hygge in my life and there is room for more and that can't be a bad thing if hygge encompasses feelings of wellbeing.

When I have been trying to learn more about hygge I am a little bit disappointed that it has been hijacked as an opportunity to sell cushions, throws and all manner of other things!  I think hygge is something you feel and not something you buy.

Now it is over to you, how hygge is your lifestyle?  Do you agree with my interpretation or have I got it all wrong? What do you do to beat the January blues?

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

12th night - taking down the Christmas decs

I have been quite active on Instagram over the Twixtmas period, I found it a good outlet to post a few pics and not have to provide any context other than a few #hashtags.  I was a bit surprised by the number of people posting pics of their Christmas Decs getting put away, some even before the 31st of December.  I am a traditionalist and to me the decs stay up until the 5th of December and only then do we take them down.  I am not saying they all survive to the end, we have already had a few drop off the Christmas tree and the tree itself has some distinct bald patches!  For various reasons it has been a few years since we had a real tree and I had forgotten just how much they drop the needles combined with we haven't taken the correct care of it. The accompanying photos were taken when it freshly decorated, so no bald patches should be visible!

An ex- colleague always had a family party on 12th night to mark the end of the Christmas period and everyone brought all the odds and ends of leftover  food and booze to use them up. There seem to be such a hurry of social arrangements in the run up to Christmas so it makes a nice opportunity to catch up with everyone. Although I believe there was one uncle who needed to be steered firmly towards the door at the end of the night as he had something of a reputation for outstaying his welcome!

I am quite please with my lack of Christmas leftovers, 1/2 a packet of ginger spiced biscuits and an unopened box of biscuits for cheese, this was not due to some carefully thought out plan as such.  My daughter hosted us for Christmas dinner, however, I ended up buying the food and cooking it on her new swanky range cooker (the rest of the room was like a building site and the only running water was in the utility room next door).  She had booked an online shopping slot and shoved a few items in the basket to "save the slot", we had gone through together and worked out what we needed, unfortunately, when she went in to update the basket the next day the order had already been sent to the despatchers and couldn't be replaced so had to be cancelled. It was Mum and Dad to the rescue and we battled our way round the supermarket, I focused just on what we needed for Lunch, snacks for the evening and a good old full english for brekkie on Boxing day with enough turkey left over for sarnies it would be criminal to waste the cranberry sauce.

I hope you had the Christmas that you wanted and said goodbye to 2016 taking the good stuff with you and leaving the bad stuff behind.

I would love to hear if you have already packed Christmas away or are you waiting to take it all down on the 5th Jan,