Thursday, 21 December 2017

A Letter to Santa.

My grandson Dylan is writing his letter to Santa. Yes, he has been a good boy this year. He's done well at school, enjoyed his football club and taken great care of his little sister Ruby. So I think Santa will come down Dylan's chimney and leave a little something for him to enjoy.

If you were writing a letter to Santa, what would you ask for? a new cooker? a special book you've been longing to read? peace in the world? a new president? a smooth Brexit? the list is endless.  All these requests come with a warning, though, don't they. Will the new cooker be as good as the last one? will the new book be a disappointment? Will peace in the world take away all our challenges? Will the new president be worse than the last one? Is Brexit going to be a mistake or a success?

We are constantly having to make choices in this world, choices which affect ourselves, but as I get older, I find I'm making choices more for the way they will affect future generations.  We have come so far and yet there is so much further to go. When plastic was invented, it seemed to be the answer to many things, but now we learn that plastic in our oceans is killing the wildlife and will ultimately kill us because even the smallest creatures are ingesting it and passing it up the food chain. If you haven't seen it yet, Blue Planet 11 with David Attenborough, is a timely reminder of how we need to do something urgently about the plastic situation. Since that is uppermost in my mind today, I think my letter to Santa would read something about - please don't send me anything that is wrapped in plastic!

What would your letter to Santa say?

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

We're all snowed in!

We had such heavy snow on Sunday that we are snowed in still today! This morning we attempted to get the car off the drive, but had to abandon it because there was just too much ice everywhere. It would have been too dangerous even to make it to the end of the road. Larry cleared the snow along the garden path so I could get out and feed the birds, who depend on what we can give them when it gets like this. In so doing he put his back out and can hardly move now! Poor Larry, he's suffering bigtime.

The next picture is of the snowy scene in my back garden on Sunday before we tramped all over the snow and spoilt the look. It was soooo pretty, we spent most of the morning just looking at it with wonder. Christmas came early this year.

Panda, who has never yet seen snow, was mesmerised by it all and kept going out to investigate it, but by the afternoon he was cold, wet and tired so he spent the rest of the day and evening curled up in our washing basket on top of all the washing. The washing basket is over a hot water pipe that runs under the landing floor so he had made a good choice.

The holly tree is looking resplendent in its winter glory, but I think if the cold weather goes on much longer, there won't be any berries left.

The bee house is insulated with snow. Inside is lots of straw and maybe some hibernating bees.

My shed is adorned with its winter wreath, looking pretty in the snow.

I have put a sign up to tell Santa where to go to leave his sack!

Panda coming back from one of his expeditions.

The cathouse is ready for any passing animals that may need some shelter.
We had about four inches of snow that day.

So today we are having whatever is in the cupboard for dinner, which happens to be sausages and mash with fresh vegetables, bought on Saturday and rice pudding with jam for dessert.

This afternoon I shall watch a Christmas film, which with the view outside, will be very appropriate.


Monday, 11 December 2017

The Christmas Pudding

'There is no standard recipe for Christmas pudding, which has its origins in a medieval beef or mutton broth thickened with bread and enlivened by the addition of prunes and spices.  Around 1495 the meat was dropped and a stiffer mixture called Christmas pie tended to be steamed in a pudding cloth, which resulted in the round pudding seen in comics and cartoons and now only sold in National Trust shops.

By the mid 19th century a basin began to replace the cloth, and the plum or figgy pudding, with added sugar, became Christmas pudding.  The Queen's Christmas Pudding is made to a recipe based on one used in 1714 for George 1's first Christmas in England.  He was known as the Pudding King and his contained suet as well as prunes, dates and glace cherries.

The custom of the cook inviting others to stir and make a wish may be an early 10th Century custom.  The wooden spoon is said to represent the wood of the manger where Jesus was laid.  Stirring should be from east to west, signifying the journey of the Magi.  Another tradition suggests that the pudding should have 13 ingredients to represent Christ and the 12 Apostles.'

Taken from 'Keeping Advent and Christmas' by Leigh Hatts.
Picture from

I usually buy my Christmas pudding from Sainsburys, our local supermarket. I like their recipe very much so I get two of them, one for Christmas and one to keep for Easter.  The puddings keep well because they are loaded with good things, with spirits added! If you decide to make your own pudding, they are not difficult and everybody has their own favourite recipe. However, I have made them myself and I can't improve on the Sainsburys version, so I make it easy for myself and buy them.  I usually do that - if I can't improve on what is bought, then buy it! especially now I am getting older and everything takes me longer to do.

When I was growing up, it was traditional to add a silver sixpence to the pudding (to crack your teeth on if you found it in your bowl!). That was supposed to bring good luck for the New Year (not the cracked teeth, but the finding of the coin). We don't have sixpences any more. The nearest thing to it would be a five pence piece, which looks silver, but isn't.

Our puddings are steamed and if there is any left over, I resteam them the next day. They are just as delicious the next day.  Some people like them with fresh cream or brandy sauce and others like to put the newer squirty cream on theirs. I like fresh cream best. My ex mother-in-law also used to add a drift of caster sugar on hers!

This year I will be making a pumpkin pie too, to please my American husband, Larry. However, it is more likely to make its appearance on New Years Day because we will not need it at Christmas.

What will you be having for dessert on Christmas day?


Monday, 4 December 2017

Jacquie Lawson's Christmas Advent Calendar

I want to tell you about the Jacquie Lawson card website. When I downloaded her latest Advent Calendar, it was so pretty, I just wanted to share it. This year's calendar is an Alpine Village to have on your computer throughout the month of December and enjoy each day. There are beautiful Christmas songs to listen to, games to play and all sorts of other delights. It is not expensive and well worth the money.

For a small yearly subscription you can also choose a variety of cards to send to your friends and family for their delight and enjoyment.

I have been using them for some years now and the new cards just keep on coming.

Why not click on the link above and look at them for yourselves?

Perhaps you have your own favourite online card shop? If so, what is it? I would like to know too.

Have a nice Monday.


Sunday, 3 December 2017

Grandchildren update

This little poppet is my grand-daughter Ruby. Isn't she cute! I have been busy making dresses for her since the summer and so here she is in one of them, posing beautifully, I thought. Ruby is one and a half now and sister to Dylan. She is different in character to him, but they get along really well and he is very protective towards her.

Dylan loves his football. Yesterday saw him win a trophy for 'man of the match'. His team did really well and won their game 4-0.

Their cousin Sammy started school recently.  Here he is proudly showing off his school uniform on the first day:

Oh my goodness, they grow so quickly!


I have been busy lately with
That's a family history site, like Wikipaedia, if you haven't heard of it and it is a free site for everybody to contribute to, if they feel so inclined. The idea of it is to link us all together and follow our families back as far as we can go. Apparently it isn't long before we are all related in one way or another. I recently connected to a (third) cousin I had never met before. She is English, but lives in the States and our connection is through my maternal grandmother, the one I call Oma. Oma's sister was call Miriam and it is through her marriage that my 'new' cousin is related.  I never met Miriam, which is not surprising because she was a lot older than me and she and my Oma were members of a very large family - 13 children all together, but I shall be interested to hear about her life through my new relation.

Meanwhile I am working on a Jenner Name Study, which aims to follow the Jenners around the world to see who they are and where they ended up. The most famous Jenner I have found so far is Edward Jenner who discovered the smallpox vaccine. He is not a direct relative, but his is a very interesting story. You can read about him here.

The Jenners originally came over to England from France with William the Conqueror. They were engineers. Although many of them stayed in England, they didn't seem to move far, staying mostly in the south-east of the country. My Jenners all lived in Lowestoft, Suffolk, which is probably why I am so drawn to that part of the world.

I hope you are having a happy Sunday.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Autumn Fires and football.

Last weekend we put our clocks back so as to give us a little more daylight in the mornings, but I know it won't last for long. Funny how some mornings seem darker than others and warmer. During this week I have been known to trip happily down the stairs at 6.45 a.m. in just my nightie and feel quite comfortable. Opening the curtains, light appears and the day looks promising.  Yet other mornings I shiver and wrap my beautiful red dressing gown around me just a little tighter. The curtains remain closed for another hour or so and the kettle sings noisily whilst I prepare my toast.

I find myself buying crumpets for tea and lots of comfort food for dinner. To be honest, our summers here in England are so short that my knowledge of summer foods and salads is quite abysmal! Each year I promise myself that I will get a cookery book with lots of summery things in it, but so far I haven't done it. How does the saying go? 'The road to heaven is paved with good intentions!' well that is one of mine.

I celebrated my 66th birthday in October and once that date has passed I turn my attention to Christmas, but not a minute before.  Once again the shops are full of gifty things really early. Last year I think I had them all bought and wrapped but this year I am struggling with some of the people on my list. I think I will have to ask for advice because I don't want to disappoint.


For those of you who like watching soccer (English football), here is a video of my grandson Dylan in a football match yesterday.  He is in red and white, no. 2 (defense) and always kicks with his left foot!  At point 2.32 mins in the video, you can see he nearly gets a terrific goal stopped only by a fantastic save by the other team's goalie! 


Have a great Sunday!


Thursday, 28 September 2017

A New Sewing Machine

I am excited about getting a new sewing machine for my birthday. It will be a Singer C440 like the one in the video above.

As I start using it, I am hopeful that all the new features will be easy to use.  It is several steps up on the machine I already have so I expect it will be challenging for me while I get used to it.

I have watched the video several times and find it very good to follow. I won't say 'easy' but everything is strange to start with, isn't it.

Looking forward to showing you what I make with it soon.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Sometimes I just like to sew...

I'm so enjoying having a little grand-daughter at last that I just love to sew and make dresses for her. I've yet to see her in any of them though?

This little dress is from the Vivienne pattern from and it comes in many different guises. You can make it with or without sleeves, with or without a lining (this one is fully lined), zipped or snaps, circular or box pleat skirt. This one is circular and the circle is 2 metres round - plenty for a quick twirl!

The pattern is also available in many sizes from 1/2 to teens size and all in the one pattern, which is downloadable.

Why not give it a try for your little one?

Here is the video:

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

A Visit to Canterbury to see Rupert the Bear

Tourtel was born as Mary Caldwell and raised in an artistic family, youngest child of a Samuel and Sarah Caldwell, a stained-glass artist and stonemason. She studied art under Thomas Sidney Cooper at the Sidney Cooper School of Art in Canterbury (now the University for the Creative Arts), and became a children's book illustrator. In 1900 she married an assistant editor of The Daily Express newspaper, Herbert Bird Tourtel at Eton.[1]
Rupert Bear was created in 1920, at a time when the Express was in competition with The Daily Mail and its then popular comic strip Teddy Tail, as well as the strip Pip, Squeak and Wilfred in The Daily Mirror. The then news editor of the Express, Herbert Tourtel, was approached with the task of producing a new comic strip to rival those of the Mail and Mirror and immediately thought of his wife Mary: already an established author and artist. Rupert Bear was the result and was first published as a nameless character in a strip titled Little Lost Bear on 8 November 1920.[2] The early strips were illustrated by Mary and captioned by her husband, Herbert, and were published as two cartoons a day with a short story underneath. Rupert was originally cast as a brown bear until the Express cut inking expenses giving him his iconic and characteristic white colour.[3]
In 1931 Herbert Tourtel died in a German sanatorium, and Mary herself retired four years later in 1935 after her eyesight and general health deteriorated, and the Rupert Bear strips were continued by a Punch illustrator, Alfred Bestall.[3]
Mary Tourtel died on March 15, 1948 aged 74 at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital and was buried with her husband at St Martin's Church, Canterbury; they had no children.[1]

I have a little ornament of Rupert putting on his magic boots. Isn't he gorgeous!

Here are some of the books from my collection:
How many do your remember?
Do you collect books? If so, which ones?

Friday, 4 August 2017

Grandchildren update

My not so little grandson Dylan and his sister Ruby have just got back from the seaside. The weather was not always sunny, but they did have a lovely time. Dylan is proving a very protective older brother and takes care of his little sister with so much love, it is a pleasure to see.

Grandson Sammy has just had his fourth birthday. Here he is with his cousin Cora and new puppy Max, chilling out on the sofa.

Our little grand-daughter Maren is one month old already. Larry has worked hard on the rug he has made for her and sent it across the pond for her to roll about on. I hope she likes it. Cute isn't it!

I have been busy with the sewing machine, making little dresses. Here is what I have accomplished so far:

The patterns are from Frocks and Frolics. You can download a pattern yourself. They are not expensive and fun to make. Just click on the following picture:

The safari dress was made up from some lovely cotton fabric I had over from a patchwork quilt I made for Sammy when he was a little baby. I looked everywhere for a hat to go with it, but couldn't find one suitable so in the end I made one myself, but it turned out too small. Never mind, I expect Ruby has lots of hats already.

I love the material on the following dress.  If you look really close you can see little baskets of flowers. I covered the buttons in the same material to match and it is fully lined.

This next one is the Kitty dress and there is a discount on the pattern - 25% until 7th August so be quick and get yours before it is too late!  I made it with an Indian design, but you could make it up however you like. More pictures on my other blog,

I call this one the alphabet dress. I just love this material. The red extras are from a tablecloth I bought in Sainsburys last Christmas.  The tablecloth was much too big so I cut a chunk of it off and have used the remnants for lots of other projects since. The skirt is circular so it will twirl beautifully when she turns around. I can't wait to see her in it.

You can see explanatory videos of how to make these little dresses. Some are on my other blog and lots more on YouTube. Just go to Frocks and Frolics and you can follow along.

I hope you are enjoying your summer. We have been lucky in England because it has been cool but in other parts of Europe it has been excessively hot (and horrid) and bush fires have broken out. Trees are burning as I write this. I do hope they can get things under control soon.