looking back – 2013 in pictures

IMG_6358IMG_6823January – a sad start to the year after the loss of my Dad; cold weather

February – ahhhhhh, sun and sea and family in Cape Town for three weeks: good times – a birthday, a cricket match, a grown-up weekend away, lots of days at the beach.

IMG_7486IMG_7705March – more snow;

April – 8 years married – still loving it; sunshine at last and afternoons in the garden; D learns to ride his bike; weekend with good friends in Ely

IMG_2966IMG_4650May – paddles in the canoe; visits from my Canadian aunt and cousins; apple blossoms and yellow poppies in the garden; first visit to the dentist; Gran arrives to help out with…

June – the arrival of our littlest; first sports day; walks; family to stay; fun with friends; strawberry picking; five of us climb a hill

IMG_8799IMG_7523July – summmer holidays; braiis in the garden; sunflower growing; a precious week away in Gardenstown; a new citizen is added to the United Kingdom.

August – birthday parties; a flower show; first day of school

IMG_5399IMG_9660 September – another birthday; a ceilidh; a dedication service; some family feasts; a final harvest of apples

October – an eighty-year old and a three-month old enjoy each others company;

IMG_20131116_154642IMG_8814November – cold; leaves turn slowly; a long weekend in Edinburgh; D loses his first tooth; E gets her first tooth.  Not enough sleep.

December – Christmas parties; Christmas food – time to celebrate.

happy Christmas



It has been a happy day.  From the moment K appeared to open her stocking with wonder and delight in our bedroom to now as we all relax and think about bed.  At bedtime, D asked me what my best things about today were.  So in no particular order:  K opening her stocking in our bed with all the delight of a three-year old who does not remember last Christmas and does not really know what to expect;  wrapping the presents then putting all the wrapped presents under the tree last night and admiring them before bed; setting the table for lunch with a vintage white table cloth and napkins from my favourite charity shop; watching D and K run around dressed as a dinosaur and a white rabbit in their new onesies;  singing ‘Oh come all you faithful’, in church; the tulips Ross gave me sitting on our breakfast table.


its a wrap


We’re in the midst of present wrapping and cracker making here tonight and I have a confession to make.  Its something I confessed to my husband just last week and was surprised to see how shocked he looked.  All I said was: to be honest, how a present is wrapped is as important to me as what’s inside.  I actually thought everyone felt like that; apparently not.  Well, I love wrapping presents and instead of doing it at midnight on Christmas Eve, I’ve made the pleasure last a little longer by starting it earlier this year.  Here are two I prepared earlier.  Yes, I do love a well wrapped gift.


jingle bells and biscuit smells


We have been getting ready for Christmas in a hop, skip and a jump chaotic kind of way.  This morning Daniel and Kirsten were able to take boxes of biscuits to school and playgroup to distribute to all their friends.IMG_0184

We baked the biscuits together and then I discovered the fun of letting them both type the labels on the computer (I’m amazed by how much D has learned about how to use a computer in one term at schoool).  They love racing upstairs to get the result from the printer.IMG_0178I did find myself wondering why I do things like this?  The most honest reasons I came up with:  it gives us a constructive and purposeful activity to do together after school; I can’t get my head round sitting down and writing cards to every child in the class (how to find out the names in the first place?); it gives me a high level of satisfaction to complete a small and effective project.  What about the recipients?  Well, they might love our biscuits or they might just eat the icing.  My sweet little packets will be torn up by breaktime, but we don’t mind!  Happy 13th of December!


I heart Provence


Provence – the colour as opposed to the place.  I’ve been painting with it.  And very much enjoying the result.  It has transformed an ugly old chest of drawers into a piece of furniture I can really enjoy.  I used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (mainly because it says you don’t need to sand or prime before you paint) and after adding wax, I’m pleased with the result.   The chest is for little K’s room which is painted a pale pink.  I was inspired to combine the pink and blue by the bunting on her wall and this funny little owl.

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IMG_9787 Here’s the chest before I set to work.  I’m sure it has been upcylced once before – but whoever did that stripped it, waxed and and changed the handles.  I really did not like the dull wood.  Warm blue – green?  Much better.

pumpkin update

IMG_9762As you can see, my pumpkin pie turned out rather well – delicious.  My roasted pumpkin seeds are tasty – salty and nutty – but a bit chewy.  My pumpkin soup did not work so well – it looks beautiful but tasted a bit odd.  So odd, in fact, we didn’t eat it.  Shame.

happy pumpkins

IMG_9734While I am recoiling in horror from halloween with its uncalled for obsession with all things ghostly, ghoully and gruesome, I am very grateful that this year I have discovered pumpkins.  I’m falling in love with their beautiful colour, so lovely and aumtumnul; I love everything that we can do with them that match so well our needs at this time of year: providing us with warmth, colour, light and hot food.  So for the first time I made two pumpkin lanterns.  I made a pumpkin pie.  I am ready to make pumpkin soup.  I am about to roast pumpkin seeds.  What more could a body ask for?  (Really, I should have photos of all of these lovely things but my lovely R is away with the camera.)IMG_9737


IMG_3336 I made some bunting this morning as a present for a little girl’s birthday party.  It was a bit of a rushed job but I made it in time (just).  It reminded me that I’ve made a couple of other strings of bunting that have never appeared here.  I like making bunting: often unexpected colours and patterns look good together, I like adding letters and stringing it together into something jolly and celebratory.  I also like that I can reuse all sorts of material for the flags: these ones include pieces from a little girl’s dress; napkins; a cot sheet; a skirt of mine; shirts; pyjamas and a pair of jeans.IMG_9542The one I made today (there’s actually an ‘O’ on the third flag in, a bit hard to see but too late to change.)IMG_7503Lovely colours for a little boy (above) and my ‘Christmas’ bunting that hangs permanently on our stairs.IMG_1116A big thanks goes to Kate who made beautiful bunting for D and K and is my inspiration for  all of these!

the story of our sunflower

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Once upon a time, a little boy whose name began with D brought home a sunflower from nursery.  His Granny helped him to plant it in a great big plant pot.  It was much smaller than he was. (That was on the 21st of June).  It grew and grew and grew and grew.  Soon it was over the little boy’s head.

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It kept growing all through summer until it was nearly autumn.  It grew taller than his daddy.  Finally, the flower came out.  The little boy had to stand on his Daddy’s shoulders to see the petals.  It was 234cm tall. The sunflower opened the same day the little boy’s Grandpa left to fly home to Cape Town.  It was like a big yellow flag waving good bye.

the turning of the seasons

IMG_9471Summer has definitely come to an end here this last week.  I’ve got out my boots and a warm jumper. We’ve lit the first fire in the stove and reluctantly turned the heating on.  In the garden the plums on our tree are finally ripening.  Our apple trees are weighed down with fruit.  Rowan berries are bright.  A few leaves on every tree are yellow among the green.  After such a good summer, I welcome autumn: I love the brilliant colours and mild days; the yellow fields, the bales stacked high; I even enjoy trying out my warm clothes for the first time in months.  But still I feel a little heavy at the thought of  seven months of cold, layers, dark mornings and short afternoons.  I’d better enjoy this time between the seasons while I can.