Tuesday, 21 December 2010


This must surely be THE week for LISTS.  I seem to write at least 2 lists every day - the first, things I must remember to do that day, the second, the things on the first list that I forgot. I have nicely written lists - usually these are the ones for presents and food as I have my brain in gear, thinking very, very hard about all that must be done. I have hastily scribbled lists - these are the ones I write sitting in cafes drinking Earl Grey tea with my sister or Mum, gazing at said list and then remembering something I have forgotten.  I have scrumpled lists sitting in the bottom of just about every bag I own - discarded and destined for the bin when I get a moment to embark on the 'mucking out the bottom of the bag' chore.  Must add that to the list of things to do.

Today's list involves: going to the tip with a mega load of household rubbish (since youngest son forgot to put the bin out when I was away and it will not be emptied now until the second week in January - it wasn't on The List!!) and a million cardboard wrapping paper tubes as the wrapping is almost complete; posting off the last of the presents, finished last night at the Christmas 'Girls Sisterhood' (no photos taken I'm afraid but much gloggi imbibed and sweets consumed; nipping to the chemist to pick up youngest son's prescription before he heads south to his father's for Christmas; there's more but I can't find my list to consult!

Anne and I went to York yesterday for a day pounding the pavements in search of those last few elusive pressies.  It was sooooo, soooo arctic-ly cold we had to take refuge in Betty's for a cuppa.  We were amused to find ourselves seated next to four Geordie men.  I was tempted to ask them if they were lost as usually the only males of the species to be found in Betty's are those that are: gay/dragged along by their wives/girlfriends/mothers or small boys who have no say in the matter. It was fascinating to eavesdrop on their - I'd like to say conversation but really it was more banter than conversation and even more interesting to see them tucking in with gusto to a full English breakfast followed by tea and cake - not a hint of guilt or stress in sight.  No checking the watch to assess the parking status, no consulting of lists.  Basically, they were doing nothing more than having a good bit of food and a chat.  Must put that on my list for 2011.

Well, I'll leave you with a few photos of the things I bought in Finland and some of the things I wish I could afford to buy from my favourite shop there, Pentik.  It's very modern for my normal taste but the shop is so inviting I always manage to find something I don't need to spend my money on.

These reindeer have been collected over the years and have also been presents for my sister in Christmases past but my budget doesn't run to the larger members of the collection.

I am drawn to the fresh simplicity of their displays and the red and white is just so crisp and uplifting.

A little inspiration for the Christmas table.

Love, love, Love reindeer and hearts!

Pretty!  These are now on the tree.
The 2010 Christmas Moomin mug by IItaala

Arguably THE best chocolates EVER - a gift from the consultant I've been working with for the past few years.
Actually, I'll leave you with a little taste of reality in the hope that it might make all of you feel a little better.  A lot of havoc and destruction is wrought in the pursuit of festive joy :)

I am too embarrassed to show you the kitchen table - have taken to wrapping on the ironing board as the only 
clear-ish surface is the floor and that's too far down for these creaky old bones!

Time to get on with that list....

Saturday, 18 December 2010


Definitely one of my coldest trips to Finland in a long, long time.  Minus 17 C most days but warming up to minus 11 on the last day!  Positively tropical.  I travelled to Finland with my Swedish friend and colleague, Viveka and due to a Finnair strike we flew via Stockholm with SAS for a change and were treated to the Sankta Lucia procession at the airport.  Saint Lucy comes as a young woman with lights and sweets and is one of the few saint days observed in Scandinavia on December 13th.

The candles symbolize the fire that refused to take St. Lucia's life when she was sentenced to be burned. The women sing a Lucia song while entering the room, to the melody of the traditional Neapolitan song Santa Lucia ; the Italian lyrics describe the view from Santa Lucia in Naples, the various Scandinavian lyrics are fashioned for the occasion, describing the light with which Lucia overcomes the darkness. Each Scandinavian country has lyrics in their native tongues. After finishing this song, the procession sings Christmas carols or more songs about Lucia.  It sounded lovely in the echoey airport and everyone stopped to listen.  Viveka was thrilled as she was hoping to be able to see it at some point on her trip.

Despite the cold it was very pretty, all of the trees are frozen over and the snow is crispy, crunchy underfoot.  The sky is blue - if the sun is out at all.  There was only one bright day - the rest were grey and gloomy.

The Christmas market was on in the town square.  I managed to get a few (not very good) snaps before my camera battery died.  I didn't linger over the photos as my fingers were turning to blocks of ice!

There's all sorts of goodies on offer from traditional hand made crafts

to the food tent with lots of Gloggi and traditional Christmas food - I didn't venture in but listened to these chaps playing festive songs - until they froze over that is :)

lovely hand knitted and felted items

and some lovely singing by these brave ladies.

now that's what you call a Christmas tree!
and my 'little' offering

I still haven't added the extra popcorn and cranberry garlands - have been too busy trying to finish my various Christmas gift projects but I have two days off work now to try and catch up.

I did do a little shopping during my trip - more on that in another post.  Off to meet Anne and Mum for a cup of tea  (yes, and most probably something sinful to go with it) but I am trying not to feel guilty about the added girth that is making itself at home round my middle - much needed Winter insulation I say!

Stay warm, keep calm and carry on wrapping.


Friday, 10 December 2010

The big thaw..

... at last, some plus degree temperatures and a bit of a thaw.  I can put the bed socks away, thankfully, as I have some rather spectacular chilblains.  I haven't had chilblains since I was a young girl and we used to put our freezing cold tootsies on the huge heating pipes that ran round the bottom of the classroom at grammar school.  They are still as painful as they were back then!

I didn't go to Finland - daunted by the snow and the thought of the trip taking twice as long as normal so I stayed at home.  Quite literally as the roads round our way are not ploughed or gritted so it was a little treacherous to say the least.

By mid week I was a tad stir crazy and rather sick of trying to clear the snow and ice on the drive and having to take a barrel of brandy with me on the trip to the bird feeder lest I got lost in a snow drift!

Beautiful sunrises and sunsets.  This was early morning as I was putting the kettle on for my first cuppa of the day.  The bird feeder is way in the back covered in massive lumps of ice and snow.

My lovely alpina clematis has gone from this (admittedly much earlier in the year!)

to this: 

Looks like Jack Frost swept both of his hands over it many, many times!

The 'Summer House' was in danger of becoming an igloo.  I haven't dared go inside to check out the contents.  This was taken at the beginning of the week.

Snow, we are all a bit sick of it, pretty and spectacular as it is so I have turned my attentions inwards.  Needless to say I have been busy most evenings with festive makings, none of which can be revealed just yet but since my youngest shares my love of all things Christmassy we have put the tree up.  I have spent the afternoon decorating the house - lights and garlands and Christmas bunting galore!  I had planned to get a short, fat tree this year (much to Will's chagrin) but when I went to the local nursery to buy one there were none to be had.  Apparently, they were all so deep in snow that no-one wanted to dig them up so I ended up with a tall, fat tree instead (much to WIll's joy).

I always use popcorn and cranberry garlands on the tree rather than tinsel etc but the tree is so big that last year's makings were insufficient so this evening will be spent stringing the freshly popped corn and fresh cranberries.....

The tree is all white this year.  In fact, it's the theme for the whole room - to match the snow and Will declared it rather 'classy'.  I nearly fell off my seat!  Compliments are few and far between but gratefully received.  I'll try and take a night photo but my skills and camera are equally crappy.  I've put less on it this year as the tree is rather beautiful all on its own.

Wishing you all a warm, safe and happy weekend.  No doubt you'll all be beavering away as the big day seems to be approaching at great speed!