dear diary ~ happy New Year 2023

A very happy and healthy New Year to all my blog friends and readers and may it be all you are wishing it to be.

You may have noticed I have a new look for a new year – I felt like a change and you may have noticed I have been tinkering around with my blog a bit recently and moving and deleting things. My blog roll is now under the tab above named ‘Lovely Places to Go‘ – I hope I have got everyone on there.

I have been planning and listing to excess in the last few days and it is time for me to choose a new Focus word for the year. Last year’s word Improvement worked out so well I intend to carry this on as well.

As usual many words went through my mind but the one I kept coming back to is Contentment. I Googled it to find the dictionary lists it as meaning;

Contentment: “a state of happiness and satisfaction”

When you feel content you are more likely to feel grateful for the small pleasures in life and it is usually these small everyday pleasures that make us happy. Sometimes life gets so busy here I often miss those little pleasures.

When I think back to both my grandparents, my in laws and my dad they were all very contented people and happy with their lot. I meet many people who are not, they always seem to be striving for the next thing but the enjoyment it brings once obtained seems fleeting.

Over the last few years I have been making a big effort to buy less and be content with what we have – it can be a struggle at times as the shops display such an array of tempting goodies to buy and it can be hard to walk away without slipping something into my basket, but all these little bits and pieces add up to more clutter and as the ‘stuff’ builds up once again will require decluttering at some future time. As I have continued to declutter through the house and at the same time tried hard not to buy new things in their place I have been loving the emptier spaces, though there is still a lot of room for improvement. It is quite noticeable now that many people, unless you are a true hoarder, are constantly decluttering – and I am too; yet I never remember either of my grandmas having these mammoth decluttering sessions and when I think about it I presume it is because they did not buy ‘stuff’ in the first place.

January is a good place to start. My first intention is to shop the house – I have been making lists of what I might need to buy and what I don’t really need to buy and this month will become the test. Where possible I will be using up, reusing, repurposing, recycling and even upcycling……anything to avoid buying.

I will be shopping in the pantry, fridge and freezer this month for food and only buying in any necessary groceries that we require as well as fresh fruit and veg, milk and bread. In fact I have bread flour never opened so this might be the time to make my own. I have a mind to run the pantry shelves and freezer down to almost nothing and definitely find ways of using up some of the bits and pieces left over from making birthday cakes and chocolates. I have quite a bit of coloured roll out icing which will go hard if not used, half a jar of mincemeat and a full tub of crystalised ginger…..I need to set time aside for a baking session.

The only item of clothing I really need is some new boots; mine can be a bit leaky in wet weather, but at a push I could probably make the ones I have last yet another year.

I have a stack of homemade and recycled cards now for most occassions and a stash of presents in the drawer so no need to buy these for a while.

Since I began knitting again I have collected quite a few balls of wool in the drawer so I am looking to make another jumper for one of the grandchildren and maybe have a go at some socks. I admire all you bloggers that knit those wonderful pairs of socks I see – maybe someone might direct me to some instructions suitable for a beginner.

In my mind there is no time like January for giving the house a good clean and I have a cupboard full of cleaning products to use up, mainly inherited from other people that I can’t waste even if I am not keen on them, and hopefully I can create a bit more space in the cleaning cupboard.

Once the inside is spick and span and I have cleared out and organised all the drawers and cupboards I will start looking at what seeds I have to use up to. I will have to buy seed potatoes though – but they won’t break the bank. We are still using our Christmas potatoes, they were well worth planting last Autumn and a real treat this time of year.

There will be no getting away from buying decorating products once we start on the laundry room and our main bedroom, but I think I might wait to do this until after all the upcoming birthday celebrations, Burns night and perhaps a trip to the cottage.

Looking forward to hearing all your plans and gaining some inspiration.

dear diary >> ringing in the new

I thought I would drop by to wish everyone a very happy and healthy New Year 2023. We will be celebrating as usual with our closest of friends that live locally – just a very informal get together.

I find New Year’s Eve is very much a time of reflection and it has been lovely to look back on some of the photos and remind myself that although 2022 has not been the best of years for us there have been bright moments amongst the gloom and I have achieved quite a lot.

We managed a lovely family holiday in Scarborough and celebrated my elder daughter’s graduation in December when she received her MSC in Environment and Development from Leeds University, which she has been studying for part time over the last 6 years or so whilst working, being pregnant and looking after little Freddie; having to struggle on with her studies during the Covid months and having Covid herself was an added test of her resilience – so we are so proud of her ability to soldier on and gain her masters degree.

My focus word for the year was ‘Improvement’ and each month I documented little things that had improved. I began in January by making a list of some areas that I felt needed improvement to make my life and the household run better and simpler…..

‘Buy things before you need them’ – I am very organised when it comes to keeping one in hand with such things as toothpaste and shower gel, I cannot remember a time when we have ever run out but buying a present for someone’s birthday, or a new outfit for an event and I confess I can leave it to the last minute.

Tie up loose ends each day ‘- I have this maddening habit of working on something but then not quite getting to finish it and I have to put it aside – often because I am either distracted or interupted by such things as phone calls, making meals or having to move onto something more urgent….or life can sometimes just get in the way. It can be a few days or even weeks before I can get back to a task by which time I have forgotten exactly what I was doing. My plan was to get better at trying to finish what I start.

Being more prepared‘, especially when going shopping – sorting out coupons and vouchers in advance and checking the fridge and freezer and store cupboards so I don’t over buy.

The ‘one hour pottering and putting away session‘ – I do this first thing in the morning whilst I wait for an hour before I can eat after I take my thyroid medication.

I made a real effort on each one and if I stick to them my life runs more smoothly but it was difficult keeping this up when I had a bad back and then the Covid struck in November and rendered me useless. Now the busyness of Christmas is over I will be practising these habits once again in the new year.

Each month I also made small practical improvements around the house and garden and to our diet and health. With help from DH I made a point of finishing some little jobs that had been on my to do list for ages – hanging a picture, planting the seed potatoes, putting up a shelf, emptying out an old garden pot, selling some books to Ziffit, rehoming my candle collection, mending my dress, replacing the old washing line and the doorbell…well the list was endless but one task a day meant a lot of little tasks being completed over the year.

We also made time to go for a walk morning and afternoon and I exercised my back once a day.

I am writing a new master task list now of all those little jobs that need doing – it will no doubt run to pages – anything that is actually a project will be broken down into some bitesized tasks small enough to complete in a day.

So in the coming year I will continue with my tiny every day improvements but I will be changing my focus word – more on that in my next post in the new year.

I am so looking forward to the new year and a fresh start and am eager to read all your thoughts on what changes you might be making – whether they are resolutions or just ideas.

Happy New Year 2023 to everyone xx

dear diary >> all is calm, all is bright

We are slowly getting back to normal here and like the words of the carol – we are back to calm. Christmas was perhaps a little more hectic than I would have preferred, but with three very excited young children in the house you cannot expect that it would be restful!

We spent the week before Christmas chasing our tails. On the Saturday we had our family ‘Not so Secret Santa’ get together at my sister’s house in North Yorkshire to swap presents, play games and hold our musical interlude after a delicious buffet lunch; I am always the conductor and hold the baton.

Even though our music sheets have both coloured and numbered notes that match the colour and notes of the handbells and xylophones we still, after all these years, do not get any better at making a recognisable tune as no-one ever comes in on cue! But that is the fun of it.

After Sunday at home to put up the tree and a few decorations, my daughter came on Monday with Little L and Sweetie who hung all the baubles on the tree for us…and it looked magnificent, even though we had two, sometimes three, baubles on one branch…and yes I did manage not to rearrange it all when they had done unless a bauble was in severe distress.

We then went back up to North Yorkshire with the girls and stayed overnight to look after them at their house whilst mum went to work (who thought it was a good idea to have the children off school for the whole week before Christmas??).

We came home late on Tuesday night quite worn out and slept well…too well, and was rather late up on Wednesday morning. We decided we had better get the food shopping done in the supermarket in town and a good job too as it was crowded out and by Thursday many of the shelves had been stripped of certain items like eggs.

On Thursday while DH made a large pan of curry for Christmas Eve, I finished off the little desk calendars I had made for my friends who live locally.

I bought the original desk top calendars for about 50p each in a sale after Christmas at Sainsbury’s before the pandemic with the idea of making my own calendar sheets and re-using the metal stands. All year I have been taking photos around the village of some well known and and not so well known spots.

To make them look more special I slipped them into a cellophane bag and then wrapped them in festive tissue. Nothing goes to waste in this house as I re-used some of the brown paper bags I saved over the years from the sandwich shop when I was working – stamping them with a festive stamp – they made a handy carrier to hold the presents.

On Thursday evening we wrapped all the presents while watching some TV (our only nights’ viewing) and on Friday I cleaned and tidied with a mad dash around with the hoover.

Finally on Christmas Eve morning there was only the trifle and a jelly to make before my daughter arrived with little L and Sweetie. At 4pm after putting some potatoes in the oven to bake we went to church for the Crib Service which is the start of my Christmas. The point where everything is done and I can sit back and enjoy. My elder daughter and Freddie joined us for tea after the service and we all tucked in to a hot meal of baked potatoes and lentil curry.

Afterwards the children decorated the Christmas cake with snowmen, penguins and santa…and lots of little icing decorations – it was a very serious job taking a lot of concentration….

…and is probably a little crowded but I think they do so well and I love it.

I especially love the look on Santa’s face!

Once it was finished to their satisfaction the three of them opened their Christmas Eve boxes which contain new pyjamas, a Christmas craft to keep them busy and a story book to read at bedtime. With all three changed into their new Christmas pyjamas they settled down to make the craft item – a string of Christmas pictures to colour in and hang up.

When the doorbell went everyone went quiet waiting to see who it was….it was a wrapped present left on our front doorstep saying ‘To open on Christmas Eve’. (DH had sneaked out the back door, put the present on the doorstep, rung the bell and quickly run round the back again and into the living room without the children even realising he had gone). As you can imagine they were so excited as to who could have left the surprise present – we said it might have been the elf – it was a game of Peppa Pig Monopoly suitable for all ages to finish off the evening before bedtime.

Then some very tired children listened to a story, put out the mince pie and carrot for Santa and Rudolph and went to bed followed not long after by some very weary adults.

After today DH and I will be on our own and able to make new plans for the new year. I am always excited at this point – it is like a fresh start and I am looking forward to a good year.

How did your Christmas go?

creating Christmas * Christmas Day

A Happy Christmas to everyone – I can’t believe I have actually managed to get everything done in time as it was looking a bit shaky a few days ago. I have not had any spare time to blog; mum had a few difficult days and the grandchildren have also been a bit poorly with viruses and needed us to look after them so I have been almost last minute for everything to do with Christmas but I did make my own cards and a few gifts for friends (I made calendars this year – but more on that another time).

After Christmas dinner is over today it will be my time to relax a bit….can’t wait.

I am so looking forward now to the new year and am hoping that I can get back to blogging very soon.

Until then……

I hope Santa brings you all you desire and that you have a wonderful time. xx

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