Thursday, 30 December 2010

A kind award....

Well this is a surprise post I know! I said I would wait until next week to re open the pages of Jane's Journal but as I had a rather lovely surprise today I have decided to write this mini post. Thank you Teje for nominating me for the Stylish Blogger award. That is so kind.

To accept this award I needed to nominate 15 other blogs for it but as I only have a few blogs on my list as I am pretty new to blogging I will just ask all those who read my blog to accept it as well and pass it on!

There are 4 duties to perform to accept the award:

1. Thank and link back to person who awarded you- thank you Teje your blog is such a happy read. Please take the time to visit her.
2. Share 7 things about yourself- see below
3. Pay it forward to 15 recently discovered bloggers- please everyone take this and share ;0)
4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award- I do hope your reading this means I have satisfied my duties!

So what I will do here is to share 7 very random things about me....

1. I have been a physiotherapist for 28 years and it is still a job I love. I am a musculo-skeletal specialist.
2. I keep fit by dancing, my Hb and I attend Ballroom and Latin dancing classes twice a week.
3. I ALWAYS cry when I watch sad or even very happy films.
4. I am a total romantic and luckily have been married for 29 years to a man I adore.
5. I walk rather than drive/bus etc anywhere I possibly can. I can walk for England and I walk very fast.
6. I only read fiction when I am on holiday and then I can read a book in a day.
7. I love spiders...I can happily move the biggest ones out of the bath etc to safety.

I had a wonderful Christmas and I really hope you all did too?
This is cheeky Billy already seated at the table on Christmas Day!

There are still the New Year celebrations to look forward too....have a great time and I will see you back here again next Thursday with my promised 1st giveaway.....don't miss it.

Thanks again Teje and see you all again next week.

Bye for now,
Jane x

Saturday, 25 December 2010

No more days til......

I cannot believe we are here already, it's Christmas Eve and the big day is tomorrow. I am all ready for the family to arrive. My daughter and her fiance are driving up from Essex after work tonight...poor girl, doctors never seem to finish early. My parents will be over in the morning and my son and his girlfriend are with us most of the time anyway! The house smells so festive...mmm and my wonderful tree is still twinkling in the corner. I have even made some of Vivienne's fudge, it is superb, thank you Vivienne for sharing it. Nigella eat your heart out..!

I have my crib up which holds some treasured wooden crib figures we have bought over the years,some
from the German Christmas markets and others from of all places, the Vatican. Their gift shops sells some wonderful crib items.

It's very hard to photograph my crib as it sits on the archway between by hall and dining room. I love it, nothing is really to scale hence the huge hay fork but it is a perfect reminder for me of the season. The wise men are not real wood, we hope to buy those on another German visit.

I cut greenery from the garden: holly, ivy and fir to add to the mood. This year I have no berries on my holly, the hungry birds have eaten them all. Never mind it has been a hard time for the wildlife this year.
I have opened number 24 of my Advent Calendar and would you believe I actually have a number's such a rarity I have only ever seen one once before. My brother had one as a little boy and I was so jealous he got the extra window. Well it's my turn now, I only had to wait 40+ years!

 (For those who have Eagle eyes this photo was taken when I first put up my calender which is why number 14 is shut. The pictures inside this have been really delightful.

My cards are all hanging in the hall. Here are some of them. You will see that I have also hung the chocolates from here as we are not having our "chocolate tree" as we are in the middle of decorating. I am not sure that my son has spotted them yet as they all still seem to be there! Once they are seen there is usually no stopping him.

The weather for this Christmas has been truly festive, it's the whitest Christmas for many, many years. The last time I can remember thick snow on the ground on Christmas Day was our 1st married Christmas in 1981! I have enjoyed taking all these local snowy scenes.

Some  parcels have started appearing  under the tree (minus those which Father Christmas of course delivers tonight for my children)

The mince pies are made.
The fridge is stocked and the champagne is chilling as it will be such a special Christmas for our family celebrating my daughter's and her now fiance's, engagement.

I have also been busy creating an engagement card with a slight Christmas twist as you can see below - a heart with holly leaf. I had such trouble finding engagement peel offs and this was the very last sheet in a local craft shop.

I also used my trusty heart punch.

I really liked this rather funky heart paper. It was quite hard to get as this is certainly not the time of year to find heart themed paper.

I have used a photo of Milly's ring for the centre of the card. Sadly we did not get to their "engagement" lunch last weekend. It snowed so heavily that we could not make the journey.

This is the end result on the left.
I can't wait to give it to her and Tom. I am also so looking forward to seeing the ring in the flesh and hearing how the wedding plans are starting.

Billy will be getting a new collar. He is very good at not touching the tree but he so likes to give all the parcels a good sniff - this one is not even his!

I have also  received  2 wonderful parcels from my dear blogging and Etsy friend Mia.

This was the snowman scarf I won at the beginning of her Christmas craft calender which she wrote everyday from the 1st December. I was so pleased to win it and it has kept me warm during this bleak weather. But last Saturday the postman arrived with a new parcel from Finland....

Just look what she made for me........................I squealed with delight when I opened it up and found this darling candy pig inside ready to join us for Christmas. Mia knows how much I love pigs. Thank you so much by dear friend. It really cheered me up as it arrived on the day we were unable to get to my daughter's engagement lunch. How kind can someone be??

I think that is now about time to bring my final countdown to Christmas post to a close as it will soon be time to think about welcoming our guests and perhaps opening up the sherry this evening. I have got to work today until 1pm ish but I will then be home until after the New Year, bliss!

I have so enjoyed sharing this countdown to Christmas right from my very first ** days to Christmas post back in November. Thank you for all so much for joining me. I have been delighted to read all the comments and that you too have enjoyed sharing my Christmas traditions and preparations. As I am quite sure you realise by now I really do love Christmas. I am such a kid when it come to this time of the year and I cannot see me ever changing.

So I will close Jane's Journal for a few weeks. I will be back in the New Year and  intend to reopen the pages of my journal on Thursday 6th January 2011. To help to ease us into the new year I will also be holding my very 1st giveaway! Without giving too much away it involves my handmade jewellery and spread the news and do come back to visit me then.

The final thing I want to do is to wish everyone who reads my blog the very merriest of Christmases and the healthiest and happiest New Year. Enjoy spending time with your loved ones and catching up with friends. 2010 was the year I started my writing blog and it has been such fun - thanks to all of you who take the time to read it.
Here is my last piece of Christmas prose which I would like to dedicate to you all - wherever you are around the world!

Somehow not only for Christmas
But all the long year through,

The joy that you give to others
Is the joy that comes back to you.

And the more you spend in blessing
The poor and lonely and sad,
The more of your heart's possessing

Returns to make you glad.

(Written by John Greenleaf Whittier)

Merry Christmas everyone!
Bye for now, see you in the New Year
Jane x

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

And winter came............

Today is the winter solstice  and the official 1st day of winter here in the Northern Hemisphere. It will also be the shortest day. That means from tomorrow the nights will be getting shorter again..... but summer does indeed seem a very long way away at the moment. We have had some unseasonably cold weather here in the UK and I think sometimes we forget that Christmas is actually only just in winter by 4 days. The likelihood of a white Christmas here is actually a very remote one but this year seems odds on.
Since early December we have had biting cold weather and such heavy snow. Everything really is a true winter wonderland and for once the Christmas cards with their snowy scenes are perfect illustrations!

This is our local church at the ponds and it really looks so festive covered with snow.
I am considering using some of my snowy photos I have taken this year in my Christmas cards next year....they are perfect with the snowy scene!

On Sunday we sang this song at the Carol service. I smiled as I thought how apt these words were!

It is not quite midwinter but the earth is certainly
hard as iron around here and the snow has definitely  fallen, snow on snow. As we came out into the icy darkness
after the service my Hb and I just stood and looked
around, taking in the almost surreal beauty of the
surroundings that  night.

I took some photos, which although I appreciate are a little out of focus, ( it is hard to stand still in the freezing cold until the camera shutter shuts!), I think almost have a magical winter glow to them...
Despite the freezing cold we had walked there and back as our car at the moment is going nowhere. I am actually glad we did as I am not sure we would have realised how beautiful it was outside.

So now that we are in winter I have also had a look at my garden and the local wild life to see how they are faring.

Under all this snow are my violas and snuggling deep inside are the bulbs I planted in the autumn. These are usually very hardy but it will be interesting to see what does emerge next year.

I have to keep bashing the heavy snow off my palm and the weight is almost breaking the branches. I have had this hardy palm for many years and up until now it has survived. I will have to keep my fingers crossed that it does after the extreme temperatures of this year.

Some of the plants are providing welcome berries and of course the viburnum is in flower! I love this shrub in my front garden, even with icicles hanging the delicate flowers are in bloom.

What a plucky plant this is.
The local wildlife seem to take the winter weather in their stride, the birds down at our ponds still paddle around in the icy water......


I also caught sight of the squirrels playing, they are very well fed with nuts by the local children so have no problems in the snow and actually seemed to be enjoying it.

This one kept running in and out of the trees.

So the garden and wildlife seem to be doing alright out in the winter what about is he faring on this first day of winter.....?

Well he is most intrigued to find that we now have a tree in the dining room.  Now how on earth can you explain that to a cat?

I do hope this winter does relent a little for us here in the UK but wherever you are ......
..................welcome to winter...............

Bye for now,
Jane x

(Remember that my very last **days to Christmas post is coming up on Christmas Eve, so do come back. The big day really is nearly here :0)

Sunday, 19 December 2010

8 days til......................

This is my 8th  and penultimate Countdown to Christmas post. I have so enjoyed writing these posts and again would like to thank everyone for their kind comments; I really do  love reading  them. I also enjoy hearing how others celebrate this magical time of year and what your traditions are. My very last ** days til post for 2010 will be posted next Friday, on Christmas Eve, so please remember to come back for my final instalment.

We were finally able to decorate our Christmas tree last weekend. We have a real treasury of ornaments, some owned by my grand parents. As a said in my last countdown to Christmas post we chose our tree from the local nursery, with the reindeer close at hand!

We firstly attached the lights which immediately brightened the room......
Next was our fairy who has sat on top of our tree for many years. It's an interesting question to you have a fairy or a star at the top of yours?? ;0)

We also love to open our boxes of treasured ornaments and I wanted to share with you some of our special ones, both old and new. I know the history of every single ornament we own which makes them so unique and reminds us of our Christmas past.
The very 1st ornament my Hb and I bought was this dated Betsey Clarke ornament for our 1st married Christmas in 1981, the box is a bit bashed...

But this remains one of my favourites. Betsey Clarke was huge in the UK from the early 70s-80s, I still love these images and I really think she would sell well again now.

My Hb used to buy me birthday, Christmas and anniversary cards with these wonderful illustrations....I rather miss them.

Some of the oldest ornaments we own were my grandfather's who was born in 1898! He had these just after the 2nd world war, they are made of early plastic and although not hugely pretty they are special to me.

I also still have a very "kitch" elf which I can remember my Nan (born in the early 1900s) hanging on her artificial tree in the 1960s when I was a little girl. I know it is really quite brash but I do love hanging it on my tree. Here it is below. Very 1960s!!!

I also have some other rather old glass baubles....

My Hb and I have also  been lucky enough to visit the  German Christmas markets in Cologne and Nuremberg and have bought home some really beautiful  ornaments. Some are even limited editions. Here is a small selection....yes we have lots!!

As you already know from this post I am a great fan of the man in the moon and one of my oldest memories of buying an Christmas tree ornament was with my Mum, possible in 1968  (yes that long ago!)when I was quite small. We used to have a shop nearby which sold cards and gifts and one year I remember seeing wonderful man in the moons twinkling in the window. As children always do, I managed to pester her into buying a pair, a blue one for my brother and a pink one for me.


They are really showing signs of age now, this is my pink one.....don't tell my brother but I also have his!! You will spot his blue one on the tree at the end of this post.

Over our years of marriage we have also bought some other dated
ornaments. The one on the right was made for us at Covent Garden in London in 1990, my children were only 4 and 1 at the time and I can still remember walking around the craft market held there and us choosing this festive heart. Such fond memories.

I also have these other dated ornaments, not for every year but some.....

These are ones my Mum bought for me over the years on our Christmas visits to Harrods, I also have a really rare unusual Harrods man....

He is at least 25years old and survived so far intact. My Mum has one too but hers has a broken arm sustained during a fun New Year's party when our dancing got a little out of hand and the tree was toppled!!

This year I commissioned the talented Vita to paint me 2 wooden ornaments, 1 for mine and 1 for my daughter's tree and I was totally delighted with the results shown below. These are signed and dated and will be treasured by us.

And of course I could not possibly have a Christmas tree without pigs could I......
Now it took nearly 3 hours for us to put all our decorations on so this is just a small selection of our treasures that I have shared with you. Here is our finished tree, fully decorated. Please excuse the stark walls....we are in the middle of decorating.

Every bauble has a special memory of Christmases past and has been hang with love....a special tree every year for us. Each morning when I come downstairs to turn the tree lights on I get that wonderful smell of fresh pine .......mmmmmmmmm! The smell of the Christmas and it can transport me back so many years..

To finish this post I have found a little poem to share ...I hope you have also "decorated with optimism" your homes, as it suggests, and can hold the spirit of Christmas close throughout the year.

Recipe for Christmas All Year Long

Take a heap of child-like wonder
That opens up our eyes
To the unexpected gifts in life—
Each day a sweet surprise.

Mix in fond appreciation
For the people whom we know;
Like festive Christmas candles,
Each one has a special glow.

Add some giggles and some laughter,
A dash of Christmas food,
(Amazing how a piece of pie
Improves our attitude!)

Stir it all with human kindness;
Wrap it up in love and peace,
Decorate with optimism, and
Our joy will never cease.

If we use this healthy recipe,
We know we will remember
To be in the Christmas spirit,
Even when it's not December.

By Joanna Fuchs

Bye for now, see you on Christmas Eve ;0)

Jane x
PS I am not sure why the day shows as Thursday today... that's computers for you!