Friday, 24 December 2010

24th December 2010

Just one more day . . . . .

For some this is the start of Christmas. the Americans open gifts on Christmas eve I believe, but for me its much more about waiting for the big day itself! Sam has finally got his wish and has put his presents under the tree. He has quite a pile there for all of us :o) His main present from me and his dad is actually hidden in plain site. Its ahuge box which I doubt would even go through the bedroom door (where all the other presents are waiting), so I threw a table cloth over it and its sitting in the dining room! I'm sure he must have noticed, but I havent said anything . . . . and he hasnt said anything either!

Normally today I am busy baking and doing the last minute preparations for tomorrow, but this year I am lousy with a cough. I feel a bit strange about baking some mince pies when I am not well, but as we dont have any, I am going to make a few later. Just one batch. Dont feel up to doing much and apart from the mad dash to the shops early this morning (up at 5am as usual) I havent done much at all. Thankfully a lot of the tidying happened last week and earlier this week, otherwise I would be flat on my back with exhaustion by now.

I will lay the table up later today ready for tomorrow, which is always the last thing I do in preparation for Christmas Day.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

23rd December 2010

And the stockings were hung by the chimney with care . . . . .

When the children were small we had stockings for each of them. They'd be filled with fruit and goodies and tiny presents and left at the end of their beds. Now they are grown, I tend to make up gift bags.

Just today, Leanne asked if she was going to have a goodie bag, so its a good job I made them up just a couple days ago!

It isnt Christmas unless theres a stocking or goodie bag!!

22nd December 2010

Making a list . . . . .

Use today's entry to get yourself a definitive list of what still needs to be done

Well, I have two lists on the kitchen door for this task. One is a request list - for food mainly as a couple family members have asked for specific items of food if possible.  The other list is a list of food still to buy, mainly fresh bought on Christmas Eve.

Any other jobs I need to do to prepare for the big day are the usual . . . housework housework housework!

  • clean the kitchen
  • clean the bathroom and downstairs loo
  • keep dining room tidy (difficult with Steve wanting to hang his coats on the chairs!)
  • tidy lounge
  • hoover stairs and bedrooms
  • put up guest bed and add bedding
Not too much to do as long as I get the support from my family of course!

21st December 2010

A bit of reality . . . .

Todays prompt is to take a pic of what the house looks like right now. Well as I have just done the dining room I will add a couple of those. It looks so pretty now its all clean and tidy and I keep looking at it!

 The photo on the left is with a flash, the photo on the right without so a bit dark. the big cardboard box in the photo is one of Sams presents - theres nowhere else to hide it other than in plain sight!

Todayʼs dose of reality is meant to remind me that Christmas will be here very, very soon. No matter how much I do or do not have left to do, I'm to make sure to take time to enjoy the next few days and the Christmas spirit. Well, now the dining room is ready I think I can do that!

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

20th December 2010

Tales of the unexpected . . . . .

I'm supposed to write down anything unexpected today. Ideas include cards from people out of the blue, parcels etc. Well I cant think of anything like that, but the most unexpected thing I reckon is going to happen this year is it looks like its going to be a snowy Christmas. It might not actually snow on Christmas Day but theres plenty of white stuff around and theres more forecast for Christmas Eve in the south east. That would be very pretty provided it isnt too much or the surprise might be a Christmas without my sister!

19th December 2010

One more letter to post . . . . .

You've sorted presents, dinner, decorations and cards, but you've forgotten one very important thing! You haven't written to Father Christmas!

Dear Father Christmas,

I have been a bit good this year so am hoping for some lovely presents. I have tried to be kind to others and kept my mouth shut if someone upset me to keep the peace.

I'd really like the following:
  • a dongle for my new tv so I can watch iPlayer on it
  • various dvds Blurays! I can now watch my films in HD with the tv and my bluray plater bought for me for my birthday :o)
  • a fluffy scarf and gloves
  • the willpower to get slimmer (2011 is the year of slim)
  • a laptop - technically this was supposed to be a 50th birthday present but still waiting!
  • a fun filled Christmas with all my family

18th December 2010

Menus please . . . . .

Use today's entry to document any or all of the
aspects of Christmas dinner, including:
-who does the shopping
I do
-what's on the shopping list
The one on Christmas Eve will be for fresh foods and lat minute bits I have forgotten or not been able to buy earlier
-who does the cooking
I do
-how long it takes
Maybe 4 hours from start to finish. Lots easier now I buy a turkey crown not a whole turkey
-what recipes are used
oh definately Turkey Salad on Boxing Day! Lorraine would never forgive me if I didnt! Also 'Joans Rice' (a family favourite since my good friend and adopted sister gave me the recipe )
-where those recipes came from
Turkey salad - from an old Del monte recipe booklet
-who comes to Christmas dinner
This year, 4 x Pearmains and 2 x Clows
-where you eat - whose house? What room?
Dining room, where else? Oh Boxing Day is a big buffet so whereever theres room!
-how long it takes you to eat dinner
we usually allow 2 hours from start to finish

To sum up, I  do most of it with contributions from other family members. I do all the washing up on Christmas Day as I use my best china and dont trust Steve to not chip it ! But Steve is allowed to wash up in the evening and Boxing Day if he wishes :o)

17th December 2010

I saw this and thought of you . . . . .

This is rather a literally appropriate prompt as I watched a dvd from the library this week and thought how much mum and dad will enjoy it. Its called Centurion and is quite bloodthirsty. BUT there are Romans in it (for dad) and a few native celts (for mum). I thoroughyl enjoyed it and knew I had to get it for the folks. I have already got them their presents but it really was a case of "saw this and thought of you" !!

I love it when this happens, it happened a while back when I was watching QVC and saw the drawer unit - I immediately thought of Miriam

16th December 2010

A moment of clarity . . . .

Today I should be talking about what/who I am grateful for. Well that easy - my family.

To put it into context for this time of year - then I am very glad that most of my shopping is done. I have been able to think of gifts without consulting lists from people, meaning that for the most part, my gifts wont be the same as others. I'm extremely grateful for my love of all things craft. I have made all my cards again this year, and have just a few family ones to go. I had a brilliant idea for a gift for Mimsie and cant wait to see her face when she opens it.

We have a nice home, which will look great once I knuckle down and tidy it properly, and I am grateful for that. So many people dont have a home or the space to have family round.

Lastly I am grateful that for once, Steve wil be here Christmas Eve, Christmas day and Boxing Day. I cant remember him getting all three days off before :o)

15th December 2010

Have you any visitors . . . . .

Todays prompt is meant to be quick - just a few comments about who I am likey to see over the Christmas period, so here goes:

Christmas day
*Colin & *Sam 
mum & dad
All for Christmas dinner

Eddie (Steves dad) in the late afternoon and evening

* the boys know they are allowed to go out and see friends after dinner today. As we have a lot of the family arriving tomorrow, they'll be expected to stay home

Boxing Day
Colin & Sam
Leanne & John (and Phoebe)
mum & dad
Lorraine, Miriam & John

14th December 2010

Tales of Christmas presents . . . . .

Today is all about how the presents are handed out. Years ago, we piled each of the childrens presents in their own area of the lounge. The "biggest" was usually not wrapped so they could see straight away what they had got. It seemed to add to the excitement for them. As they got older their presents got smaller, and it looked very lopsided, so I started scatterinmg the presents at random under the tree. I would allow Leanne and Colin to hand them out as they were that bit older than Sam if Steve was at work.

These days the presents get divided into two. Those for Christmas Day and those for Boxing Day. Its become a huge present opening time for us with family visiting on both days :o)

When the children were younger a present was left at the bottom of their beds, just a small token something to keep them occupied until the magical time of 6am arrived and they were allowed to come and 'wake' us up. It was fun to lay in bed and listen to the children whisoering to each other what they got. Again as they got older, that tradition chnaged slightly and it was stockings left at the end of their beds. Now they are all adults I have stopped doing that, as sometimes I am in bed before they get home!!

Its fun to think back on the Christmas traditions we had. I hope that in turn my children will continue these traditions adding to them as their own children grow.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

13th December 2010

Fa la la la la la la la la . . . . .

Christmas music playing in all the shops - wonderful. I love it! I havent been out much this month as the weather has been terrible. I'd rather stay home and look out the window!

Carollers at the door? Hmm, I havent seen any this year, and I dont remember there being any last year, Occasionally the youth at church come round, but I think they tend to go to the older or single members. Thats fine by me, too cold to stand at the door - does that make me sound a bit bah humbug??

The best thing about this year was the Carol Concert at Romford chapel. Mum and I joined the Stake Choir and had a wonderful time. It was a magical evening and well worth all those weeks of driving up to Romford every Sunday afternoon. Hopefully next year Steve will be able to come see the show too.

12th December 2010

Tales of Christmas past . . . .

Christmas has always been a family time. It used to be just Christmas Day when we all lived close to one another, but after Lorraine moved away, we started having Boxing Day as a second Christmas Day.

Nowadays, although its lovely Christmas day with the dinner, etc its Boxing Day thats sacred. Thats when everyone is together. lorraine arrives with her two and this year, Leanne & John will be coming (having spent Christmas Day at Johns parents)

Occasionally I ring the changes slightly with Christmas dinner, but one thing I always have to make Boxing Day is the turkey salad. Lorraine adores it and says she looks forward to eating that as much as seeing all of us!! Years ago, it was mum who hosted BDay with turkey curry, but as I have the biggest home (and its not that big!), I do both Christmas and Boxing Days.

At least my Christmas tree is up now. I can start looking forward to the big day now I have twinkly lights!

Sunday, 12 December 2010

11th December 2010

Oh Christmas Tree ......

What have I accomplished over the last week or so? I have managed to buy nearly all my presents. I have completed a mountain of cards and got most of them written and posted. I have NOT got the lounge ready for Christmas yet, and as for the dining room .....

My tree (when it goes up) is themed. I always choose a colour scheme. This started way back when I saw some delicious purple baubles and green baubles and couldnt choose which colour I liked best, so bought both and they looked great on the tree! I also worked in The Army & Navy department store for a short while and saw how they used single colours in their Christmas displays. They sold off their lights afterwards, so the following year I had a gold theme! Over the years I have changed the colours I use. In 1999, as we approached the new millenium, there were some multi coloured decorations with a silver base that I loved so bought a load. The following year I added a few more silver and slowly as the years passed they changed to frosty colours and now this year its going to be silver and white.

I would love to have a real tree, but a) they cost too much, b) they leave their needles all over the place even if you follow the instructions to keep them from dropping, and c) I dont agree with chopping a tree down just for a couple weeks pleasure. We had a real tree on our first Christmas, but when Leanne came along I fretted about her getting the needles in her hands so opted for a fake one and thats what we have had ever since.

One year I bought a black tree. it was huge! After a few years I got bored so Lorraine and I swapped one year. I had her white tree and she took my black tree. Eventually as most fake trees it started to look spindly so I got rid of it.

I found when we moved here to Billericay, a large tree took up a lot of space. It didnt seem to take up that much in our old home. The room measurements were the same but the room was laid out differently so could take the larger tree. Last year I bought a slim line one and it fits in the room perfectly.

10th December 2010

Brown paper packages...

People vary as to the amount of time and effort they put into their gift wrapping. Steves parents seemed to have really old stuff, almost 50's feel to them. I dont know if this is because like me, my mother-in-law bought her paper in bulk, then spent years using it up or what! I used to buy really cheap paper off the market, but these days I take more time to make them look nice. Good quality paper and this year I found some that has a grid on the reverse making it easier to cut straight lines, how wonderful!

Some years I use lots of bows and others I just add tags for names. This is definately a "bows" year!

9th December 2010

Year after year .......

When we think of Christmas, we no doubt think of the little traditions that make our own holidays unique. Whether that be in the decorations, when and where presents are opened or the meals we prepare, our own Christmas quirks are certainly what makes the season special.

We had some fun traditions when I was younger. Every Christmas morning Lorraine and I had to wait until after 6am to rouse our parents. Then we had to wait until they were dressed before we got to go downstairs. Dad would always peek through the door and say "he hasnt been" That was our cue to shove poor dad out the way and charge into the lounge - he always had been of course! I loved that tradition so much, when Steve and I had children we did the same thing. I always stood back as our children pushed just as hard as I had done.

Another tradition was that mum always decorated the tree. She usually tried to do it when Lo and I were out and it was a magical moment when I walked through the door for the first time to see the lights and the decorations. it really was just like walking into Santas grotto. mum did a fabulous job and it was hard for me to get it right when I decorated my first tree. I realsied the time and effort mum put into doing hers every year

Christmas day has always been tv free in my family - apart from the Queens speach which we all sat and watched after Christmas dinner. I remember going to great pains to list all the programmes I wanted to watch when the children were small and set the video recorder. Then I spent many days playing catch up to see them all. Now I dont care so much. We also have iPlayer on the net so its easy to catch up with something.

Time has moved on and things are slightly different. We no longer sit to watch the Queen although she is still on. Last year we waited until after our dinner to open our presents. Way back when, they were all opened well before mid day! I relaxed the rule of sitting together as a family all day when the children got older. They get to go visit friends now if they wish. Boxing Day has become the sacred day with Lorraine driving down to stay for a few days. Of course now Leanne is married, she and John are visiting Johns family for Christams Day this year, so we wont see her until Boxing Day as well.

8th December 2010

Do you see what I see? .......

I'm supposed to write down what I've been seeing in my head. Well, a lot of wrapping paper and shopping has been on my mind the last few days. Along with a vision of how I want the lounge to look by the weekend.

I havent had a chance to get the tree out or anything, and right now the lounge is a pig sty. Steve and I are terrible for not putting things away and we both have "corners" where we pile our things up. These piles eventually encroach on the settees making it impossible for more than one person to sit on them at a time! Not good when I want the lounge tidy for Christmas.

When I look around me now as we approach the middle of the month I see:
twinkling lights
houses lit up
Christmas trees
people with lots of shopping
slush left from the snow
festive displays in shop windows

Thats about all for this one. No pics as I dont want to publish what my lounge looks like right now!

7th December 2010

Time to get organised .....

Todays prompt is all about lists. About this time every year, I start making a list of food I need to buy. There are certain essentials that I buy every year - mayo, peanuts, curry paste, pineapple ... the reason? If I dont make my turkey salad, my sister wants to know why! She says its the one thing she thinks about for about a week before travelling to us! One year I didnt make it for a change and Lorraine was so disappointed, so I darent not make it

I already have my list of gifts bought as I always forget what I have got already and end up overspending. I thought I had remembered everything this year, but when I did a wrapping stint the other day, I came across things I had forgotten!
I cant cope without my lists, they rule my life! Or at least my life falls apart coz I forget things, this is why I have a diary, in a way thats a list too!

6th December 2010

Mixed memories ......

When we sit and think about Christmas memories, sometimes a few dark ones creep into our thoughts as well as the happy ones. Thankfully my fun memories outnumber the bad, and then there are just many Christmases where I dont remember them at all!

Today I am to tell a couple of contrasting memories, so lets get on with the lesser one first - it was 1978 and we had just moved down to the south east of England and were living in a grotty flat roofed place in Vange, Basildon. I had left friends and a boyfriend behind in Scotland. Mum and dad had wanted to move south to be nearer their fathers who were ill and Essex had some kind of exchange program and with dad being an Essex boy it was a fairly quick process to get a place. Anyway, for me it was a miserable day with just the four of us. Although I hadnt believed in Father Christmas for many years, Christmas had always held a kind of magic anyway. But this time, there was no magic, just a day of pretending to be festive. I rarely think about this Christmas as it makes me sad that I couldnt find anything to enjoy about that day.
Skip back a couple years and it was all so different! Mum and dad had saved hard and had arranged for us to spend Christmas and New Year in America. What a fabulous memory that is! We stayed with friends in Springville for Christmas and had New Year in Salt Lake City. There was no snow when we first got to SLC, but when we were asked what we'd most love to see, we all agreed snow! The following day, it was thick on the ground and you cant get much more magical than that! America was where we first encountered the decorating of the whole house (both inside and out) and we were agog at the lights in the gardens and on roofs. Truly an amazing and magical Christmas. Sadly non of my photos from then have survived as I would love to share them here, but the images will remain in my memories forever.

A good photo opportunity happened today. Leanne had come to visit and brought Phoebe, so while we watched her tear round the garden with her ball, I started looking at the frosty branches on the tree and holly bush. I soon had camera in hand and after taking a few shots came up with my favourite. It sums up how cold it was and also fits perfectly into the Christmas theme. After all, at Christmastime, snow and holly are the perfect partners :o)

5th December 2010

How many days to go? ......

Todays prompt deals with the countdown to Christmas, and in particular how do I count the days? As a child I was enamoured by the glittery advent calenders that were available then. None of these chocolate calenders! It was an exciting moment to open the window and see what picture lay beneath. It was an innocent time then, without the constant reminders on tv that you had to have the toy of the moment. Looking in wonder in a toy shop window could keep children occupied for hours if parents allowed it. My parents tell tales of me looking in shop windows and asking what items were. When asked to point at what I was looking at, I would wave my arms (indicating the whiole display) and say "t-h-a-t". Maybe I really was looking at everything?

Advent for me nowadays means making sure the boys have the right advent calender and trying to be prepared for the big day itself. I try and buy their favourite chocolate style. As for Leanne, now she is grown up and married, I chose a different kind. The kind she and John would appreciate - chocolate still the theme, but a deeper religious aspect that I know they would enjoy. Hence the Chocolate Advent Candle. It has a list of Christmas carols and scriptures related to the birth of the Saviour, one for every day of advent. Still a chocolate every day, but also a chance to stop a moment and reflect on what Christmas is really all about .....

4th December 2010

Bringing back the positive:

Today should be all about perfection. Whats my ideal/perfect Christmas? Having my family around me, I didnt even have to think about that! Christmas has settled into a routine for my family. Christmas Day - go to carol service, home for Christmas dinner with mum and dad. Boxing Day - Lorraine comes with the young 'uns and we all fill up the Pearmain house. Table laden with food.

This year however, it'll be slightly different. Leanne & John will be spending Christmas day with Carole and Neil and Johns brothers and sisters. Mum and dad will still be here, along hopefully with Steves dad in the evening. Theres no carol service on Christmas Day which is sad, but I am singing in the Stake Choir and we'll be performing on 12th. Boxing Day will have everyone here, but I am going to try and cut back on the food a bit as theres always tons left over and we are eating turkey salad for days!

Today turned out to be a perfect day craft-wise as I made Miriams storage unit. I painted it all last night, then added another coat this morning. Once it was dry I set to work cutting paper and decorating it. I have to say, I am really pleased with the end result. Just want to add some goodies in the drawers and all will be ready for wrapping up

3rd December 2010

Write real Christmas cards ......

Todays prompt for JYC was all about Christmas cards. To send cards or not to send? Whats the alternative - ecards? My personal preference is to send cards. I love to see a line of cards hanging above the fireplace. This year I have invested in a card holder that hangs over the door instead of the usual cardboard holder which I need to add blu-tac to, to keep them from falling all over the place.

I have spent the last few weeks doing nothing but making cards. In UKPC (UK PaperCrafters) we all try and make a few cards throughout the year. Every month has the perfect day . . . 25th of the month, called a Rudolph Day. Its a gentle reminder that Christmas is a month closer! Not that I am thinking about the next Christmas on 25th January, but its a good habit to get into and means I am not all carded out by the end of the year. A few of this years offerings .....

2nd December 2010

Oh the weather outside is . . . . .

This is a chance to chat about the weather. Winter is certainly here, with another dumping of snow today. It was about three inches deep this morning (where it had been cleared yesterday), but having snowed all day today its more like 10 inches today. This was my walk to work ....

I finished work at 2pm, so now can have some fun with the snow and enjoy its beauty. Thats got to be a perk of living in the northern hemisphere, I love that we get cold frosty mornings or snow. Christmas wasnt the same when we lived in Australia and it was usually hot. I remember vividly mum insisting on giving us the full turkey roast and all the trimmings. It may have been sweltering outside, but inside the Clow home it was a traditional cold Christmas (probably thanks to the fans running at full speed!)

On my way home from work I took a few pics of the road, and then
when I got in, I grabbed my camera and when snappy mad for a few minutes

The icicle which I noticed yesterday for the first time outside Colins window has grown, its pretty much double the length it was.
Its been snowing all day, still is and tonight now its dark, its very cold. I looked out the window and the deep tracks Steve and I made in the snow in the back garden have almost filled already. Will measure it all again tomorrow

1st December 2010

My Manifesto for Christmas 2010
I promise myself to enjoy this years JYC in preparation for the big day on 25th. I will be adding my thoughts to this Blog rather than scrapping the event in the hopes I can keep up with the prompts.
I want to remember throughout the year the joy I feel whenever its this time of year as I prepare to celebrate Christmas. I also promise myself that I will remember the true meaning of Christmas and try and bring the love of Christ to those around me.
Its already snowed this year, the earliest we have had snow in 17 years apparently. It was a good 4 inches deep as I ventured out yesterday morning to walk to work. It was fun walking in the snow as not many people had walked the paths as yet, meaning it wasnt too slippery. I watched with amusement as various cars tried to get up the steep hills. One in particular was revving al the way up. The smell and the smoke/steam coming from his car told me he had to at least have burned his clutch out.
Walking home however was not so nice as it was dark and the pavements were slushy. I was glad to get home into the warm