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December 2011
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February 2012



The photo has nothing to do with my post but Gracie made her own breakfast and offered to share it with me but a hummus, tomato and olive sandwich just didn't appeal.  I took a photo though because she likes to make all her food look pretty.

I've been in minor, new year clear out mode but major fix-it mode. When we returned home from California to hurricane force winds it was no surprise to find a window blown out of the old garage in the garden, on closer inspection I realized it's made of plexi-glass, not the real stuff. I got out my hammer and nails, removed the moulding that remained around the frame, manoeuvered the plexi back in then repaired the moulding. It wasn't hard to do, no wood cutting with fancy tools involved, just my hammer, a screw driver and a few nails.

Window fixed

The top of the roughly made fence which happens to hold up our Sky dish had also collapsed. I only discovered this after several non-TV days. Not really a problem, until my children eventually staged a revolt – I wasn't up to arguing with two jet-lagged kids coming down from Christmas holiday sugar high. That particular repair is temporary because I simply hammered the fence back together again with the help of children lifting the wooden rail up for me. 

I also repaired and hung the post box that the home owners just had stashed in the bushes at the entrance to the house. Don't know why this one took me so long to get around to.

Also, my Jakar electric pencil sharpener, which I LOVE, was also broken, due to a long drop to the stone floor when I was moving stuff around in my craft space. I got out my screw drivers, disassembled the pencil sharpener and had a good look around. I found the source of the problem, fixed it, plugged it in and realized, when it wouldn't work that there was another problem with it that I'd overlooked. After a gigantic sigh I opened it back up, found another potential problem, fixed it and it worked – this time I gave myself a pat on the back.

Clearly on a roll, I took apart Tristan's broken alarm clock (using my eyeglass repair kit) found potential problems, put it back together again and it worked, pat-pat.

Now the small space heater that I use daily during the winter needs a repair, I'm wondering if it's a step too far. Though when I took the hedge trimmer to have the cable replaced I thought "I could have done that." Of course fixing that wouldn't have been necessary had I not "trimmed" the cable along with a hedge.

And on the topic of tools, I fell head over heals for this site, I have my eye on far too many items there to list but first up would be a nice new knife for whittling and general gardening use. 

Speaking of fixing, forgot to mention I took Gracie to see Hugo over the Christmas break and we both loved it so much. I really recommend seeing it in the theatre if you still can.

Are you a fixer? If not, next time something breaks just open the broken thing up and have a look, you never know.

Fixing for me has also been of the mending variety, more on that later. Off now to "fix" a huge tear in my favourite but ageing, linen duvet cover.

Happy Monday to you,


getting out on grey days

Sushine inside
Sunshine inside

Sitting under a grey sky meant a very wet walk this morning and enjoying the sunshine inside. My first bundle of daffodils of the year is making my desk sunny and bright.

Nature notes
Nature notes

I came across an old page of "nature notes" while I was sorting out ugly, gigantic piles of paperwork. Living in a country that often sees days on end of grey skies in the winter, I used to make up little nature scavenger hunts to help get the kids more interested in getting outside when it was cold or wet.

These little nature notes only took a couple of minutes to write up and worked well to get the children to look more closely at the world around them. Sometimes they would fill in answers when they got home and more often than not only one kid participated, but I know the other one was still taking it all in.

It's easy to make them up to match the environment where you live. If it's damp out, rub a candle over the page to keep it dry, if it's rainy then pop it in a plastic bag. 

On this particular sheet these are the questions I asked: 

  • Can you find any animal homes?
  • Can you still see any fallen leaves?
  • Look out for birds with bright colours. Can you see any?
  • Are there any fungi still around?
  • What kind of trees do you see that still have leaves?
  • Are there any bright colours in the hedgerows? What do you see that is brightly coloured?
  • Have you seen any animals that live under ground? How about mini beasts?
  • Did you find any puddles to jump in?

Very simple and achievable, that was key. I wish these sheets still worked for T & G. Nowadays I resort to bribery more often than not and we stop for a special treat half-way through our walk. 

Hope you have sunshine where you are today. 


Cold walks & a sweet new zine

Icey thistles
Tristan is ripping out a Metallica song upstairs on his guitar, Gracie is washing her hair and Pippi is tucked up next to me hogging the heater, so I'm stealing a few moments to post some images from a very frosty walk I took yesterday morning. It was one of those mornings that looked like snow at first glance and you just know an extra layer will be needed.

Frosty walk

Frosty branches

I half expected a Snow Queen to pop out from behind a tree somewhere.

Now onto a much less subdued image, a new zine by Nicole, from Follow the White Bunny and Carina from Carina's Craftblog; the pair have teamed up to start &Stitches.
Issue1CoverWhen Nicole contacted me a couple of months back to be one of the crafters featured in their first issue I didn't hesitate, I knew their new zine would be fun and first rate and when I received it I wasn't disappointed. It's bright and cheerful and full of tips and talented stitchy people like the authors themselves. The zine also includes patterns like the fishies below – I'm seeing this one on a beach bag.

The first issue is all about colour and it's a cracker. In their own words "&Stitches is a quarterly e-zine, all about modern stitching. It has a strong focus on Embroidery (and yes that includes all kinds of Embroidery!) but other (hand) sewing projects and themes are definitely on the map too."

I'm looking forward to future issues, this stitchy zine is off to a fantastic start. Now hop on over and pick yourself up a copy here.


Family time

Christmas Day
Christmas Day

An unusually warm Christmas Day, even by Southern California standards, was strange but lovely. Tristan and Gracie could hardly believe it was Christmas. If we're in California for Christmas we're normally in Northern California where we grew up, where my parents still live and it's much chillier.

Warmer than the North Sea

Taking in the view
Taking in the view

With Grandma
Gracie and Grandma

Stable visit
Stable visit

Chocolate chip pancakes!

Dolphins play
Dolphins play

There's one!
Look! there's one

Another fluke
Grey whale fluke

Ice skaters
The ice skaters

Sleeping Beauty's castle

Disney by night
Disney by night

As we were in Southern California my family treated us to lots of So Cal treats while we were there. We went whale watching, ice skating where my nephew, Matthew played hocky for several years, and we hit Disneyland too. In between there was lots of food, good drink and time with family. There were also fierce Words With Friends battles between too many of us to fit around a regular Scrabble board.

Other highlights included exchanging beauty tips with nieces, hours around the firepit and walks with amazing sea views. Thanks family for such a fantastic time, especially Peter and Lindsay who had 17 of us sleeping under their roof at one point – and they were still smiling when we all left :)

We love you,

J, T & G xoxo





Wordless Wednesday

Teeny tinies for spring

Even though the supermarkets are already filled with chocolate Easter eggs, I'm not rushing into spring. These teeny tiny cashmere bunnies are part of my next Green Parent article I'm just finishing off. 

I don't usually do Wordless Wednesdays. For obvious reasons.


back again and non goals

Missed you
We missed our little girl

We've slowly sloughed off the jet-lag, finally got the unpacking finished, suitcases stored away and tree well out of the house. Ready for a new year.

I've got oodles of family pics from our trip which might bore the pants off you but I'll post them so I can remember the fun just a little longer. RIght now I have a little overdue deadline to see to. We had a lovely time in sunny CA but were happy to see this excited little face again.

I haven't yet taken the time to ponder the year ahead, still trying to get my head around the year I've just left behind so it made me really smile when I read about Erin's list of non goals. Now I'm thinking maybe my first goal for the year is to make a non goal list of my own. If you haven't read her post it's about listing the things you're already doing well instead of new goals, excellent food for thought. I'm thinking this might be a gentler way to ease into any lofty ideas for the future by first thinking about the things I'm already proud of.

For my boy
For My Boy

And speaking of proud, poor T was saddled with an outrageous amount of work over Christmas break in preparation for upcoming exams. He ploughed through page after page and set himself goals for completion. Yesterday, the last day of vacation, he woke and brought me and Gracie tea in bed then went straight to work finishing his mountains of prep. Baking a huge batch of gooey chocolate chip cookies was the least his mama could do for all his hard work – he sweetly shared them with his sister and mama too. His exam results don't matter a jot, his huge, gigantic, enormous effort is all that counts to me.

Morning wow
Sunrise back in the UK

We left some wonderful sunsets over a blue Pacific but back here in the UK we've had some beautiful colour to wake to, though slightly chillier. 

Life has seemed in slow motion this week, I've felt like I'm wading through molasses, but I hope to catch up with friends near and far soon.

Have a wonderful week.