dear diary :: February already?

Hello everyone.  How are you all – I have missed you, it has been a long time and life here has been no less frantic than when I abruptly abandoned my blog?  Of course every day I have intended to write a post….but we all know what we intend to do and then what we actually do can be quite different.

For those regular readers you will remember I had to make a hasty departure up to Scotland during the Christmas advent to survey the storm damage to the cottage.  The wind had taken the felt, on the flat roof kitchen extension, clean off and we had to find someone to come and re-roof just before Christmas and you can imagine the long list of people in the area waiting for a roofer to do repairs for them – so many properties affected.  If this aggressive weather is not due to climate change then I don’t know why it is getting progressively wilder.

Roof sorted, we returned home just in time to sort out Christmas. 

And with a long list of to do’s I set about completing the Christmas plans.  It seems an age ago now.

I had cards to finish making, writing and posting, presents to wrap and some for my friends still to make – this year I chose to make Florentines and found some pretty wooden bowls by Habitat to put them in. I had to make them the day before Christmas Eve so they were nice and fresh.

We had very simple decorations this year no more than the mantelpiece and a bowl of dried orange slices and we never did buy a tree; by the time we came back from Scotland there were only a few days before we were setting out to go up to my daughter’s house for Christmas and buying and decorating a tree for two days of pleasure seemed a little ridiculous.

Our wider family all got together for the first time in goodness knows how long for Christmas Day at my sister’s house (she has now got the most room) and we tried hard to keep it a secret from my mum just in case someone caught the virus beforehand and we couldn’t go. It was hard to surprise my mum as each day when I rang her she would say ‘don’t you know what you are doing for Christmas yet?’ and I would always reply ‘ no as we are not sure if we will be locked down’.

The grandchildren all had the most wonderful time and my mum was so happy to see us all.

I iced the Christmas cake so the three grandchildren could have fun decorating it all by themselves with some little figures and sprinkles. And they made a good job too it was quite delightful though I think most of the sprinkles were eaten before they got anywhere near the cake.

We all managed to dodge the Covid virus but DH and I did come down with a cold / flu virus the day after Boxing Day, as did my brother and little Sweetie.  Why just the four of us out of a gathering of thirteen people we will never know. 

So that was our Christmas and thank you all for your lovely greetings and messages.

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Meanwhile January has been spent catching up with myself and planning.  It is always a job I look forward to as the New Year begins and listing everything down tells me we have more plans than time.  Nothing changes!

My focus word for this year is Improvement.

I intend to improve one area of my life each month – everything from health to wealth, two of the areas which need a good overhaul.  Some areas do overlap and once I make an improvement I will obviously have to review and keep it going in the coming months….that is probably the harder part.

January is always a busy time here with birthdays. One of my oldest friends reached the grand age of 80, though she doesn’t look it, so I had cards to make. I was a bit stuck for ideas but settled on this one using up scraps of fabric.

My mum reached the even grander age of 96 and we had a trip up to see her and take her a chocolate sponge cake with fresh cream inside and chocolate on top, her favourite.

Little Freddie celebrated his 3rd birthday and I organised a little tea party for him at home with a jungle theme. It was mainly immediate family – my two daughter’s and their partners and his two cousins, Little L and Sweetie who came and they helped him unwrap the presents, play party games and eat the party food. Sweetie, who is almost the same age as Freddie could hardly wait to play with all his new toys and as soon as they were unwrapped and admired and he had moved on to the next one she would edge nearer and nearer to try them out for herself, hoping no-one would notice!!

We had so much fun making these party hats from Tesco – I can certainly recommend them. They were easy to decorate even for the little ones – each person chooses some eyes, ears and a mouth from a selection to stick on and create your own little character.

I made a jungle cake which again was super easy with some little jungle animals and dessicated coconut dyed green with food colouring. The log effect around the outside of the cake was created with some chocolate coated wafer biscuits sliced in half and stuck on with melted chocolate – it saved me mixing up some buttercream for the sides.

I found some jungle animal and foliage pictures on the internet to print out and stick onto card for decorations and to stick on the front of each party bag with their names (which I have obscured). The party bags contained a few chocolate coins, and other jungly bits and bobs and these cute little hand puppets peeping over the top I discovered in Poundland (£2 each and made from recycled bottles) and they were a big hit.

Currently we are back in Scotland enjoying a break for a few days.  There are improvements to be made here at the cottage, weather permitting and if the weather is bad then it is the perfect place to sit and do some more planning. But I will tell you more about that another day.

Bye for now x

30 thoughts on “dear diary :: February already?

  1. It’s so good to hear from you. I love all of your holiday and birthday decor and gifts. You make occasions so nice for everyone! I hope you get to do either improving or relaxing in Scotland – whichever you prefer!

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    1. And good to hear from you too. I saw your magnificent Christmas tree on your recent post and next year if we fail to buy one again I thought I might just get a blow up cardboard poster made of yours to stand in the corner of our living room! I am doing both improving and relaxing, just not in equal measure which would have been nice.

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  2. I was just thinking of you the other day. What a nice surprise to see you had a new blog entry today! I absolutely love what you have done with the birthday “Jungle” theme. It is so imaginative and I bet the grandkids loved it!

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    1. Jungle is quite easy as there is a lot of stuff around that fits in with the theme. Last year I did dinosaurs – it makes a change having a boy as usually it is all pink and fairies for the two girls.

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  3. Maybe mind power works – I was thinking of you as well and ….you’re here just like that. Hopefully you’ll not be inundated with too much to do up at the cottage.

    Easy is certainly the less stressful way to go about things where youngsters are concerned- big bold and ‘simple’ creations…..just like your hats, goody bags and cake…..are things children will remember.

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    1. My mum never liked doing parties for me or my sister and I don’t think my brother ever had one, so as my daughter was feeling stressed with work at the moment I offered to do something on her behalf for Master Freddie to celebrate the occasion as last year we were in lockdown.

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  4. You are so creative – I love the Christmas gifts you made and the jungle cake is amazing.
    I hope you have a lovely break in Scotland and you can relax a bit as well as getting jobs done.

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  5. I hope you have a wonderful break in Scotland and get some down time,lovely to see all your Christmas photos. Take care,Margaret

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  6. Good to see a new post with all the things you have been doing. Love that Jungle cake!
    (from Sue in Suffolk)

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    1. Thank you Sue – I have been bobbing in and out of my usual blogs even when I haven’t had time to comment and look forward to getting back to a daily read on your blog – you always have interesting things to say – I didn’t appreciate until reading your post that the £200 fuel allowance was just a loan – so thanks for that information. x

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  7. Welcome back, I have been thinking about you and concerned if you were able to get repairs done at the cottage. How lovely that you were all able to get together for Christmas, making lovely memories for everyone I hope.

    Enjoy your time in Scotland, I am hoping to get up to New England Bay early in the season this year.

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    1. Let’s hope we get to meet up this time. It is a little windy here at the moment and the sea is choppy, but I quite like the winter landscape. There have been many changes with the new owner at the caravan site – some that affect us and our plants as some of the shelter we had is no longer here. x

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  8. Lovely to hear from you, I’ve been wondering how you’d got on back in Scotland and hoping the damage wasn’t too bad. I’m pleased that you were able to proceed with your Christmas plans, your mum must have been happy that she was able to see you all, and you her, and wishing her a very happy belated birthday, I’ve also been wondering about your visit to Temple Newsam before Christmas, did you enjoy it? Looking forward to hearing more about your improvements this year, I could definitely do with a few of those myself. Enjoy your time in Scotland.

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    1. Temple Newsam was a mixture of good and not so good. It was a bit too crowded for comfort mainly because the timed arrivals failed to control the amont of people going in as we had to queue to park and therefore many of us were made late for our actual timed entry into the event which we also had to queue for. The number of dogs were a problem too in the crowded parts because they couldn’t be seen very well in the dark, especially when you were often engrossed in looking at the light shows – one elderly lady behind us got wrapped up in someone’s dog leads and fell over their dogs, they were dark haired and we were on a dark part of the trail – she could have broken her hip as it was she ended up badly shaken and covered in mud. The whole walk was very muddy. There were a few dogs started fighting and snarling too as the pathways in parts were narrow and they couldn’t be kept apart. Some dog owners had them on short leads (which was the rule, but not always heeded) and a fluorescent collar which helped.
      The lights themselves were good especially the Carol of Bells which we have seen before and the laser light show. I would say it wasn’t as well organised or spectacular as the Dunham Massey one we attended in 2016, but I heard they had problems this year because of flooding and many people complained that the trail should have been closed and tickets refunded.
      I am just trying now to catch up in blogland and hearing about everyon’s Christmas and New Year – a lot of reading when I should be improving, as I have plenty of that to do. x

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  9. Good to hear from you. Was hoping all was well. Happy to see the whole family was able to be together for Christmas especially after these past two years. As usual, your creativity is amazing. The cake, the decorations, all of it.

    Am keeping a list of some of your goodies (i.e. Tesco party hats) to see if I can pick some up for my grand’s birthdays…as I will be back over the Pond the middle of next month for a couple of weeks. Will be in London most of the time, but will also be in Edinburgh for several days, too. Realize it is unlikely we’ll get to see each other, but I live in hope!

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    1. Hi Mary – lovely to hear from you and wouldn’t it be lovely to meet up sometime. Sadly, both London and Edinburgh are a little too far from us but if you ever made it to York or just beyond say that would be better for a quick get together. If you come over again and we have more time we could stay over in Edinburgh – it is a lovely place and one we should visit more often but it is more than a days travel unless we happen to be at the cottage.
      The party hats and party bits and pieces were all from one of the Tesco’s Extra stores the larger ones that open 24 hours. Some of the smaller ones have very little in their party section. There is a wealth of things on Amazon for parties but as usual this was a last minute thing and so I had to be creative with what I could find in the shops and at home. Still Master Freddie is only three so he had no expectations but he did know what birthdays are all about now and was so excited. xx

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  10. What a lovely post. So full of happiness, smiles and miles of creativity. Your cakes look wonderful, especially the birthday cake. I am so glad to hear that you were able to get together as a family for Christmas, it sounds wonderful.

    I am glad to hear that you managed to get things sorted in Scotland and hope you enjoy your time there just now.

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    1. We had a good but hectic Christmas – the three grandchildren love playing together – Master Freddie especially as he is an only child. The roof got sorted and is still in place today but with these high winds going over I do wonder for how long!

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  11. So lovely to see your new blog post, and with such a fresh and Spring-like header! Makes me realise I haven’t bought a pot of dwarf narcissi yet this year. I hope you’re not being too blown about on the West coast, and really good news that you got your roof sorted. The two recent storms, Malik and Corrie, caused yet more huge damage to woodland here in North East Scotland, to add to that of Arwen. I agree, it is far, far windier than it was in our youth. Your cakes are so wonderfully creative. All I managed for one of our young adults’ birthdays in January was a very dry chocolate cake with icing sugar sieved over a doily. 😦 We have some snow these past few days which is a relief, as it has been far too mild a winter. The weeds are continuing to grow!

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    1. I noticed just how many trees have come down around here – we had a couple down an old pine that had lost its top in a previous storm and it was completely uprooted and a very spindly pine. Even if we plant more now we are probably too old to ever see them come to maturity. Chocolate cake whether decorated or not is a favourite here and yes our weeds are flourishing too.

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  12. So nice to see a new post from you. I hope you are enjoying a relaxing and well earned break.
    It was a joy to read about your celebrations. Love the picture of your mum and the grandchildren. What a lovely surprise for her. You sure do know how to add beauty and creativity to your celebrations no doubt making the guests of honor feel very special indeed.

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