Friday, 30 December 2016

Thinking to the new year..

It is amazing to think that 2017 is just a few hours away. I honestly still am not used to writing 2016 so I feel that this shock is going to get me even more! I cannot really quite believe what has happened this year. In life, I have had 2 new nieces and a new nephew. I have gained a sister in law and have a new one coming. We have improved our house. I have grown David Austen roses. I did the flowers for a good friend's wedding. I have battled two bouts of tonsilitis and a sinus infection. I have swam almost weekly. I have used loads of white paint. I have been recognised for my photography skills as a finalist in the MADS. I have spent too much money. I have had happy holidays with family. I have seen my first London Shakespeare play. I have saved the day a few times. I have also probably ruined the day a few times. I have travelled for work to Bath with my sister (very happy times). I have met other bloggers. I have made lots of plans. I have a stove. I have two bigger children. I still have my loving husband. I have good friends. I made lots. I didn't bake as much as I should have. I cooked more than usual. I now cycle?! I have gone blonde. I have witnessed major happiness like watching a friend become a Catholic deacon. Seen deep sadness. I have wanted a lot. I have given a lot away. I have shared food with friends. I have invited people into our home. I have become older. I have changed. I will grow.

2016 has brought me more opportunity to think about a lot and that isn't always a good thing. On reflection there have been so many happy times with Rob and our kids. So many times I have been so thankful for just us 4 and our home sanctuary. 
It is amazing when you begin to sit and even try to think of what the year has brought, how little you often can even remember. I already know my list of events I have been to or things I have seen is a list longer than any other. All the celerations and parties have been fantastic and the times when I was just busy doing things I love are times I can't even list as there are so many. Happiness has been here in abundance but I have a lot of sadness over things that have creeped in and all of this I carry into 2017 in the hope of keeping it all with me so I can still be a better form of myself. 

New years always bring resolutions that I also happily try to partake in, but this year I am not setting any. Well actually I am but it is not just for this year, it is for everyone after that, that also comes. I just want to be a better person, a more responsive person and someone who pushes the good and wipes off the bad. 


Saturday, 24 December 2016

Merry Christmas!


Wishing you all every Christmas blessing and joy!

We will be back soon but just maybe not this week!!

Emily and Rob

 And a little extra read......

A Visit from St. Nicholas

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse,
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads,
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter,
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Gave a lustre of midday to objects below,
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.

With a little old driver so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:

"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the housetop the coursers they flew
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof,
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof,
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot,
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes - how they twinkled! His dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow,
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath,
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself,
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, 'ere he drove out of sight:

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”


What does Christmas mean to you?

'It is the season' is one of the most banded around comments I hear this time of year. I also personally use it a lot but why? It is the season to shop like a mad woman? It is the season to eat gluttonously? It is the season to party? It is the season to want more? It is the season to......

What is it all about? Have we lost sight of what it truly is about? So many of us of course recognise this season for its beauty and love. Family, friends, time spent at home being with each other, but why is it so commercial. Why is it so in your face? Do we actually remember what it is all about?

So many questions and so many answers. 
For me, advent is amazing. I love my advent calendar I have at home, but something I hadn't realised until I had set it up was that it actually said Christmas calender. Now this is no big issue, but it is funny how the calendar sure is an advent one to count down each day to Christmas and it is almost like advent is a religious term, so let's move away from it. Which I then find even more strange as that is what this period is. Advent is such a lovely festive time to have to realign yourself ready for the big celebration. Advent brings us time to actually take notice of each day. When do we ever do that? Days so quickly turn to weeks, months, years and we all say it, but it is so true. "Time is moving so quickly", well it does when you don't think about each day passing through the year. Why does Christmas come so slowly? Because we recognise more consciously each day to it. I find I have days in advent due to the fact that it is the one month in the year I actually know what date it is! This period is laid out perfectly for us. The first hits and then we can fully enjoy it all. Decorate, put up the tree, begin the shopping and actually find each day brings us one step closer to the celebration. I can't say I mind people putting up trees in November, but I do mind how quickly this great period is over for everyone. Why take your tree down on boxing day? What is that? After Christmas day we enter into an even more wonderful time as that week before New Year offers perfect opportunity to see people and to have fun. It's not all about the build up, it's about all the enjoyment! Even just staying at home with the kids is ace, playing in front of the warm fire and eating left overs for days. Sure all that is worth keeping the tree up for?

The actually day itself also, the star at the top of the tree, the nativity plays, the gift exchanges all landing on this one day when actually we celebrate CHRIST-mas, Jesus' birthday. It's a funny one that, a celebration we all take part in that is actually centered around the church. For us as practising Catholics we obviously attend Christmas mass and that in itself is so joyful. Everyone is in good spirits and it honestly is a reminder of community that can often just drift a bit through the year. 

Having that as our centre is what our Christmas is about. That one thing we believe and all of the family, love, food, parties are all wonderful, wonderful bonuses that come with being grounded and keeping that celebration as it should be, with God involved. 

Christmas for me is a time of joy and celebration. Having church and the reminder of Jesus coming to the earth is a fantastic lesson for the kids and we love the whole journey.


Friday, 23 December 2016

Homemade Mince Pie Puffs and Roasting Chestnuts

Sometimes we find we dream about these perfect days and try to set them up for the kids, only to end up getting so stressed that you actually ruin a day and give up trying to do nice things. This has happened to us so often, making an experience picture perfect and then actually regretting that you even woke up. What I am learning as the children grow up is that sometimes these moments come best when there is less instruction and more "winging it" happening. Our weekends are precious time anyway so having a "Christmas day" can actually be quite difficult to achieve, but the Saturday just gone, our time at home really was a blessing. I had been reading that morning about the atrocities of Aleppo and thinking about how easy life in Lincoln is. Here I was about to stand and make mince pies and what some people are witnessing at this same moment is complete horror. In a way I think that set my mind for the whole day, just to enjoy what was happening. We turned the TV off and actually put on Christmas music and just enjoyed it. The children asked a few times but they had their toys out and in the end entertained themselves for hours. It just so happened that in this time I was able to produce some mince pie puffs which were warmly welcomed by myself. but Rob unfortunately was worse for wear from an outing the night before which meant he didn't get the full pleasure from having them warm.
These were a very quick and easy treat which I would urge you to have a go with as it literally took me half an hour to have two batches made. It is the most simple method ever: cheat and buy your puff pasty and cheat and buy your mincemeat! Hey, who knew I was so domestic! Seriously though, the point of these is to make something you can enjoy quickly. 
So cut your pastry to shape, you will need a piece for the bottom and a piece to go on top so make sure you have enough cut before you start. 
Fill with a teaspoon of mincemeat. Place lid on. Crimp edges with a fork. Cover in egg wash. Bake for 10 minutes at 200 degrees C.

Rest on a cake rack and then dust with icing sugar. No joke, DONE!

They really are that simple!
To add to our seasonal abundance of fun we also decided to try roasting some chestnuts on our stove. Our fire is a closed one, so Rob sat with the door open and his pan of chestnuts resting on the hot wood underneath.
I should have really done a bit more research into how to cook them, but as far as I was thinking we just left them until we heard a couple pop and then excitedly cut into them whilst burning our fingers.
It worked really well and with some Cadburys Festive Friends (love them) we had a little Christmas feast. 

As we sat there with the kids I couldn't help but think about how lovely a day I was having. I wasn't stressed, I had achieved the things I wanted to do and the children were happily entertaining themselves allowing Rob to recover and me to just get on. 



Thursday, 22 December 2016

Dressing yourself and not just the tree!

As mothers, and even women, we could all agree that sometimes life does take over and there is no time to just enjoy dressing nicely. Recently I feel I have been in a rut and just struggled to get on somewhat, meaning that jeans and flats have very much been my choice style dressing. I don't have many Christmas parties to go to and what I do have is lots going on at home instead. In that way it is nice as slightly casual dressing is fine but you know what, I do miss those really glitz and glamour evenings where everything is sparkly and perfect.
I received some really beautiful pieces from Swarovski which made me squeal like a little girl as they were the things that dreams are made of! Seriously sparkly and seriously perfect for this festive party period. But, no party to wear it too. Yep, shed a tear for me.... it's fine really, as for me, these items are not only perfect for wearing on a special occasions but they will also look beautiful as daywear meaning that I will enjoy wearing them a whole lot more. 

When you are getting ready for Christmas the dressing the tree is such a pinnacle part. Not only do you carefuly select your collected baubles and place them in prime spots for all to see, but your tree is there to show off and when people come in it is what they notice. In the same way I think it is wonderful to have the opportunity to free yourself but so often, so many of us don't actually get out that much in this busy time, but, hear me now... when do we ever really need a reason to get dressed up. I find that sometimes when I feel most rubbish a good face of make up, pretty tops and shoes make me feel pretty and like I have no other cares. Dressing nicely for no reason is just as good a tonic as a glass of prosecco sometimes. These pretty pieces of Swarovski bling have brought me many smiles in the last few days of wearing them just as I catch a glimpse in the mirror. I feel decorated, frosted even and am thoroughly enjoying them with jeans and flats. 


*These products were gifted but the thoughts are my own.


Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Fires and The Snowman

Watching 'The Snowman' and 'The Snowman and The Snowdog' has become staple Christmas viewing in our house for the past few years. I actually couldn't wait until December this year (not allowed to watch it before then) as a few months ago I just really had the urge to watch them. I adore the music in 'The Snowman and The Snowdog'; I find it so uplifting and magical, it really gives me goosebumps, but I decided to wait until now to watch it. And I am so glad I did. Both films are perfect Christmas viewing and with our IGNITE Stove burning away we all stopped and watched.
Last Christmas Eve we gave Raph and Etta a snowman and a Snowdog soft toy and as the films started Rob ran up to retrieve the dolls from the bottom of the toy box. I am sure these will be flavour of the month and be out for a while now.
With the fire roaring away it really set me off feeling all Christmassy. I know a lot of people really love the original Raymond Briggs 'The Snowman' but I must say I prefer the latter 'Snowdog' addition and much to my excitement, this year BBC are producing the story of Ethel and Ernest which is one of my favourite books ever, no joke. My mum got my dad this picture book years and years ago and it is fantastic. I adored reading it as a young teen and still, when I am at my parents house, seek it out and have a look. It is a truly lovely story of Raymond's parents and it is honestly a brilliant book to have if you love his Christmas collection of stories. The illustrations are perfect and it displays the story of their life so well. Anyway, it is on 28th December at 7.30pm on BBC1, so make plans to sit in with your loved ones and watch it!
For now though, this is the first of many watching of 'The Snowman and The Snowdog' that we will be having!

Saturday, 17 December 2016

The Christmas Clean

OK, who does it? Hands up? That big clean just as the kids break up from school in preparation for not getting the hoover out for at least 2 weeks while the house is full of love and laughter. I really try and do a super, big clean of everything so that I can just avoid thinking about it for a few weeks or even months if we are talking about dusting!!
Luckily, I can't complain too much. Our three bedroom end-terrace isn't full of space to get dirty. Bedrooms are obviously a big one, we literally only really sleep in them so they are not too messy, but washing piles grow and toys begin to take over beds, so it almost becomes time to sort it all away in prep for all the new bits coming in. 

Dusting is the bane of my life, and we don't even have that many surfaces that require a duster, the hoover is usually my ally and I get through it all.
Sorting out the downstairs is also relatively easy for us. The same wooden floor runs through all the rooms meaning the hoover and mop can do the most of the work and with the freshening of the table cloth and bringing in fresh flowers makes it also a relatively easy space to clean, it just is a bigger space for doing it. 

My biggest job before the Christmas influx is the toy cull. I know that sounds harsh, but after a year of gathering bits and bobs I always have a really good sort to rid the boxes of unnecessaries. I also try to keep the toys age appropriate as the children do stop playing. Our Duplo is out now (only in the shed) and some big Bob the builder toys, that horribly annoying Doc McStuffins singing microphone also sneaked out! They don't play with them so a trip to the charity shop means that others can buy them at a much more affordable price. For me, my Great Little Trading Co stacking storage boxes are a God Send. Both kids have a few and they are labelled so that they know what's in them. And these are a perfect fit for our toy cupboards means that putting toys away is so easy and perfectly hidden that cleaning up in this area makes life very easy. After a sort and reshuffle with our Great Little Trading Co Abberville Storage Bench, I have ended up with one and a half empty boxes meaning that I have a bit of space to put new presents without the worry of "where is that going"?

We are so lucky with the space we have that creating a happy home comes easily. As much as I loath tidying and sorting, there is great satisfaction in finishing the big clean and as a mother and wife, feeling that my job is done. I have got all the Christmas shopping done and Rob does the food so for me this is my last big job before the relaxing starts! Bring it on!


Traditional New Pyjamas

Young and old will celebrate with me when I say the words 'New Pyjamas'. Why? Oh, because we simply adore that feeling of new and fresh! And a perfect time to receive such items, well that would be Christmas time, and Christmas eve to be precise!
I love that idea of going to bed filled with excitement of the great nights events, barely sleeping and waking up to enjoy the early morning of pure ecstasy in seeing the presents under the tree!
As a child it was a crazy feeling of pure elation, I mean how exciting was that first glimpse of the full stocking at the end of the bed knowing that not only did you have presents there but under the tree would be this bounty of gifts! Oh it gives me tingles just writing about it!
For me, that morning is prime for activity and having special Christmas pyjamas makes it all so magical.
Then as the afternoon draws in and you are full of food and just want to play or sit and watch TV, how ace is it putting your pyjamas on early to really be able to relax again in! 
Oh, Christmas time how I love you! Oh, new pyjamas how I love you!


* This post is sponsored by Cath Kidston

Our Children's Christmas Day Outfits.

Less than a week to go to the big day and I have some beautiful inspiration for children's outfits for Christmas day. This year more than ever my developing partnership with Cath Kidston has been wonderful. Being privvy to so many behind the scenes chats and seeing new bits of their Disney collection has been a pure joy so when it came to deciding the outfits for the Children it wear on Christmas day, they were my first port of call.

Now I think Cath Kidston children's fashion has come along way and their development of their boys section is ever growing better. I think for boys it is easy to dress them in shirts and trousers and Cath Kids boys is full of bold prints and classic cuts that would suit so many and still bring that child like element to dressing. It is always easier with girls and I am sure CK have found this as so many of their prints are flowers, which lend themsleves to a wealth of styles. Their ballerina is a favourite print of mine so their use of gender sterotypical colours isn't as backwards as some people think it is. Actually quite perfect and classic for dressing children well and easily.

For me, getting a new Christmas day outfit is one of the most exciting outfits to buy in a year. There is something so special about all the new pieces being laid out ready for wearing on Christmas morning. There really is some kind of Christmas magic that comes with them. So finding the perfect outfit is something I like to spend a little time doing. I try to really think about what the kids like and what I know they will love wearing and that's where the planning starts.

Looking through the Cath Kids pages gives me loads of inspiration so this year getting outfit pieces was easy. For Raph I had to salute the classic soilder print with his Christmas jumper; what a perfect item to team with skinny jeans and their desert boots.

For Etta I decided that clashing red and pink was the way foward. I love the Bewmore Rose print so getting that in a Child's dress was perfect. And to clash up the colours more, her beautifully Christmassy pink desert boots brings the outfit together matching with the array of pinks and reds from the dress print.

With the children in such beautiful outfits all will know that it is a special day indeed, full of celebration, love and looking good!!


*This post has been sponsored by Cath Kidston
Blogger Template Created by pipdig