Simple and Acute Sixteen-pointed Window Star tutorial

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Hi! As anyone who has visited this space will know, my daughters and I love making window star transparencies. We only started making them a couple of years ago and were quite happy with the eight pointed star for a while, but this year we felt like broadening our repertoire 😉 so whilst on holiday we made simple sixteen pointed window stars and a couple of acute sixteen pointed window stars and we love them!

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So I thought I would share a simple tutorial on how we made them. We use kite paper, which is robust transparent paper that lends itself beautifully to the precise folding, The sheets we use come in 16cm x 16cm squares.

To save on paper ( because we prize this paper 🙂 ), we often make small stars, which we find perfectly lovely: We cut the paper in four and then halve it again to create rectangles of 4cm x 2cm. To make larger stars, you can just divide the sheets in half, so the rectangles are 16cm x 8cm

Or if you are using large sheets of transparent paper, cut them into rectangles, making sure the long side is twice as long as the short side.

Simple Sixteen pointed star

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1. Fold the rectangle in half lengthwise.

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 2. Open the piece up and fold the four corners to meet the centre line as shown.

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3. Make a second fold towards the middle line on all four sides.

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4. Place some glue on one of the right side bottom corners and stick another piece onto it, laying it along the fold line in the middle and ensuring that the end points meet.  (see below).

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5. Continue this process until the very last piece. This bit is a little fiddly: apply glue to the bottom right side of the piece you are inserting and the bottom right side of the piece to which it will be stuck.

6. Insert the piece carefully; slipping it under one piece and over the other, as shown below.

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(the photos I took fot this step weren’t too clear, so I am using the acute pointed star photos instead as they are clearer). 

Acute Sixteen pointed Window Star

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The first three steps are done as above, but there is one further fold.

After completing Step 3, fold only two of the corners towards the middle line,  making one end more acute, as seen below

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As with the simple star, place glue on the right hand bottom side, where the piece is less acute. The acute part will be on the outside of the star.

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The glueing is the same as with simple pointed star, including the final step.

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And that’s it really. Very simple and so gorgeous, cheering up our windows on our holiday and during the monochrome winter months.

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I hope you too can experience the joy of Window Stars for yourself 🙂

 

February news….

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Several weeks have passed since I last wrote here and it’s mid February now! We were finally blessed with some proper “wintry” days at the beginning of February. Our winter had been particularly mild up until this point, with only a couple of days of frost here and there. My daughters and I continued to fantasise about sledging, snowball fights and catching snow on the tips of our tongues, even though there was no snow or even frost in sight. But finally our wishes became reality…

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when King Winter and Jack Frost performed their magic over a series of cold and frosty mornings and a long awaited snow day, well…morning really….the salty sea air on the South Coast of England doesn’t allow the snow to stay too long!! 😦

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The cold nights allowed us to make Ice Windows/Mandalas. Such an easy and satisfying activity. It works like magic and winter wouldn’t be the same without a few mandalas hung on our pergola 🙂 They look glorious when the sun shines through them.

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Unfortunately the sun didn’t make an appearance on this day.

I wrote details of how to create them here.

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Due to the icy temperatures, my daughters, who are very concerned for the welfare of our now 50 + goldfish (the six we started with last spring went forth and multiplied!!),  made it their job to smash the ice on our pond with a mallet every morning before school, so the fish could breathe. We lost all our goldfish last winter, but so far we can still see them swimming, so are staying hopeful.

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We enjoyed a very early morning of sledging at our local park whilst it was still quiet. In England you can’t rely on the snow staying around, so you have to enjoy it whilst you can!

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Millie, our one year old puppy, enjoyed her first sledging experience 🙂

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It was great fun to play in the snow as a family. Snow definitely brings out the playful side in us all! A small snowman was also built and we enjoyed a quick snowball fight before school 🙂

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We celebrated Candlemas on Saturday 2nd February. It was a gorgeous day. Full sunshine the whole weekend, so perhaps winter will take another flight.

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We didn’t get out much unfortunately as the girls had various activities and parties to go to, so we ended up being  “mama and papa taxi service” for much of the weekend! Ho hum. It can go that way sometimes…

We did manage to carve out a few hours here and there on Saturday to make a few candles. We made stripy candles using odds and ends from various coloured candles we wanted to recycle. I wrote a tutorial here. 

 

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We also made beeswax floating candles; melting different coloured wax in separate tin cans, which we placed in a pan of shallow water. We cut short lengths of wicking to insert into wick holders, the wick holders were placed at the bottom of the moulds and a small amount of wax was poured in to stabilise them. Then the rest was poured in carefully 🙂

 

 

We made yellow star shaped candles for our Candlemas dinner, heart shaped ones for Valentine’s Day and violet-coloured flower candles for our spring celebrations.

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As we gathered together again in the evening, we enjoyed a candlelit meal with the floating candles as our only light. It was very sweet and I know the girls appreciate these touches.

 

It is always rewarding recycling old candles into brand new ones to enjoy over the year to come.  We have plenty more odds and ends of candles in less desirable colours that we will melt in due course to fill terracotta pots with, for our outdoor summer candles.

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As for Valentine’s Day, it was a school day,  so the morning was rather rushed, but we still fit in some sweet card and gift giving. We always go overboard with hearts!!

 

I didn’t have time to make homemade presents this year, but treated my daughters to a little succulent plant each and a little wooden box from a craft shop, which I thought they would enjoy decorating.

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The night before, my youngest made her sister a little booklet with her name on it and my eldest daughter made her sister a quick bear “mask”, to which she added elastic later  in the day 🙂

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Luckily I  managed to made some little carob sweets and heart shaped lollies earlier in the week, so there were some homemade treats. We also made heart shaped biscuits.

 

On Friday, my youngest daughter’s class performed a play that they had been rehearsing for the past half term as part of their main lesson.  In the third grade in Waldorf schools, amongst many other things, the children study Old Testament stories. The children performed a play about Moses in Egypt and Midian. They designed the posters that hung around the school, painted the set and helped make some of the costumes. It was a wonderful production.

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My daughter only had a small role, but performed it with much feeling.

 

As for my own craft news, I finished the sweater I was making.

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I am really pleased with it and it makes a lovely layering piece which is just what is needed at this chilly time of year. Layers are the answer! 🙂

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As I mentioned in my previous post, we had a fire at our house in December and I lost a whole basket full of bamboo needles and yarn. The insurance are helping us to replace all our losses, so I treated myself to a lovely bumper selection of needles and yarn and a yarn winder. I have never had one before and it’s a revelation!

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No more begging my children to hold the yarn while I wind it on, or putting it round my legs and getting in a tangle! It really is very exciting, as any knitter would understand 🙂

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I also purchased this pack of bamboo circular needles which is my favourite upgrade. I had lots of circular needles in my basket, but nowhere to store them neatly with all the long wires. This is brilliant! The needles screw onto various lengths of wire and work so smoothly and the storage is super tidy – hurrah!

I have started work on a child’s version of the Idlewood pullover for my youngest daughter in a nice bright royal blue.

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I made one  for myself last year and she has been asking for one ever since. Finally, the weather is cool and it feels right to make another. It is a lovely quick easy knit. I just need to figure out the sizing as it is designed for adults.

Apart from this, I spotted the pattern below whilst browsing ravelry and my children loved the look of it, so I am planning to make them both hats with colourful buttons 🙂 I happily take requests from my girls, especially as my eldest is quite possibly outgrowing home knits at twelve. Sob!

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I have plans to make a few things for myself afterwards and have found three patterns I like and purchased new yarn for them. So, lots of crafty goodness to look forward to! 🙂

 

I lost a lot of yarn in the fire, so it is lovely to have a new bundle of hope. 🙂

And that’s my round up of the past few weeks. We are off on holiday for a week tomorrow so decorating work can continue at our house whilst we are away. It will be lovely to be back to normal at home soon.

I hope your winter days are gentle, creative, fun and peaceful. 

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Surrender – lessons in letting go

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I am slowly learning to let go…to accept things as they are….to trust in Divine Order…to surrender….

There are circumstances in life that can be trying. I find that fighting them or resisting them can be exhausting and cause more suffering than the actual circumstance itself.  I have been on a spiritual path for several years, but it has taken me a long time to reach this understanding and to be able to use the trials of life as “spiritual practise”.

To trust that everything is unfolding as it should be – that there is Universal Order, is difficult for us humans to comprehend. We like to control outcomes, to measure, to have scientific proof, but if we could only let go and trust, rather than micro-manage our lives, things would flow easier and the channel to our higher wisdom and the Divine would be more accessible.

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As we trust that a seed will grow into a plant that will nourish us or lift our spirits with joyful colour in the spring and summer months, we must trust that we too are undergoing necessary growth and development through the challenges we meet. If we trust in Divine Order, the struggle goes out of things, we can relax and be open to receive. There is great freedom in this.

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At this time,  both my daughters and my husband are ill in bed with a virus and I am holding the fort with a heavy cold of my own. 😦 All our lovely plans for the weekend had to be cancelled as well as a long awaited meeting with a dear friend after College on Tuesday.
I have been practising patient acceptance for a while now and realise I have a choice – to feel frustration and disappointment at what I could be doing (and to try to do some of it anyway…college work etc); or to surrender fully to this time at home and let go of expectation. In the act of surrender, I am able to be completely present to minister to my children both day and night and to answer their calls for loving care and physical affection at this time of vulnerability.  I am grateful for this time of closeness, when usually the girls are so independent.

Now my daughters’ fevers have passed and they are more alert, we have been watching some cosy old fashioned films together, including our two new favourites: Little Women and National Velvet and we will watch Anne of Green Gables (which we have already read and enjoyed) tomorrow, as these were some of my favourite films from my childhood, that I had yet to introduce my daughters to.

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We have also cuddled up to read some of our favourite winter books, including The Sea Mice and The Stars, enjoying ginger biscuits and spicy apple juice as the Sea Mice do in this wonderful story. 🙂

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I rarely sit down to share a picture book with my eldest daughter anymore, so it is a treat for me!

I have had a chance to do some knitting whilst my daughters rest and am making good progress 🙂

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and even managed to sew two sets of bunting for my sister’s friends in the snippets of time in-between caring for the children. Hurrah!

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The girls have helped to make pom poms for a “snowball” garland in moments when they have felt like sitting up, so we even have something to show for our time spent at home 🙂

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And I have been inspired to write this post slowly…but surely…

It will probably be a couple of days before the girls make a full recovery, but what could feel like an inconvenience has actually been a gift. A gift of the present moment, of connection, of retreat, of hibernation even 🙂

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There is always a gift if we look for it, I find. Happiness does seem to be a choice.

During the months, whilst I have been away from this space, there have been a few challenges in our lives. One of these has been changes in my childrens’ school life:

My eldest daughter’s class size shrunk at the end of last year (when some children left to start their secondary school education in the State system, including a best friend). This resulted in a class merger between her class and the class above – Grade 6/7 – and her class losing their teacher to a younger class 😦 My daughter felt her disappointment fully and whilst I sympathised with her frustration and disappointment, I tried to remain calm and centred so I could be proactive. Some words that resonated with me at this time were:

” God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference”  Dr R Niebuhr

So I did all that I could to prevent the merger, including rallying parents, helping with marketing efforts to try to attract more students to the school (with Brexit, these are difficult times for attracting new business…), writing copious letters and arranging a string of meetings with members of staff to see if there could be another way forward. I used prayer and meditation to help ground myself, but ultimately I had to accept that the merger would go ahead and that our dream of my eldest daughter staying at her Waldorf school until 16yrs may not come to fruition. I have had to let go and trust in the greater plan, whatever that will be. It will become clearer in time….

At the same time, I was meant to be studying for my Biomedicine exam in June and had to resign myself to the fact that I wouldn’t be able to study as much as I would have liked, due to prioritising my daughter’s class’s needs. I did what I could with the time at hand and had to trust that if this is my path, I would do o.k. It was another lesson in letting go and trusting in the rightness of things as they are. Fortunately it seems I am on the right path…..

And just this last week we found out that our youngest daughter will also be losing her much adored teacher in May as she returns to her home country.  😦 My daughter spent a whole day sobbing on and off, but has reached a level of acceptance despite her sadness. I think when something cannot be changed, all we can do it accept it. The future remains uncertain, but we are choosing to stay positive and trust that whatever changes come along, we will find a way that works for us.

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I am trusting in the bigger plan and trying not to get too caught up in the detail, whilst still being proactive. This has not been my habit in life thus far. I have been an over thinker and worrier – a family pattern –  but it has got me nowhere, except spiking my cortisol levels and affecting my health and wellbeing. I see that now.

I think trusting in the bigger plan is really helpful in difficult times. And remembering that we have a choice about how we react to things. Our thoughts and attachment to ideals can be our biggest enemy; imprisoning us and making us truly unhappy, if we identify too closely with them.

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The fire at our house that I mentioned in my previous post and the consequences, are another example of something that was beyond our control and where I had a choice about how I could react. I could have been frustrated that it created so much chaos and work and just before Christmas and even let it overshadow our preparations for Christmas, or I could accept what was and work with it.  I chose acceptance because it allowed my energies to be used productively; arranging our Christmas festivities etc. Of course I did feel fully the horror when it happened –  I certainly don’t want to deny my feelings.  But it really has been a revelation to see life’s obstacles as an opportunity to practise patient acceptance rather than resistance.

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a page from the year planner that a kind friend gave me for Christmas 🙂

I have had some health challenges over the past years, which were highlighted last year when I started my studies.  Nothing major, but some chronic short term memory loss, difficulty concentrating and very low energy levels, which were interfering with my ability to study. I have been seeing a healthcare professional since September and following a protocol, including going to bed around 9pm for several months and have been following a restricted diet with numerous supplements to support my recovery. It has meant letting go of seeing friends in the evening, starting new projects and spending time alone with my husband in the evening, but I have had to accept this as part of my recovery and that my body needs a lot of rest and nourishment to be able to restore a balance again after years of neglect. I have put some of my life on hold and trust that if I put the effort in with the protocol, it will be worth it. This certainly has been an act of Surrender on my part as the results did not show for quite some time and I am still in the process of recovering and will probably be for some time. But I know that if I am to study and do the things that I feel a calling to do, I need to be in good shape! So I must patiently accept this time of waiting…I am still studying this year; learning about all the different modalities in brief – Herbal Medicine, Homeopathy, Naturopathy, Chinese Medicine, Nutrition and Iridology. It is fascinating!  It is supposed to be a lighter year in terms of study requirements, but there is still an exam at the end. I haven’t found time to study yet, with one thing or another, but am once again trying to relax and trust that I will be granted enough time to study so that I can pass the exam in June.

It is a great comfort trusting all will be well. In fact, one of my favourite simple mantras for uncertain times is:

“All is well,  all shall be well, all manner of things shall be well”

I put it to a little tune and sing it to myself to soothe myself and to silence the worried voices. It really helps.

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The agapanthus decided to bloom again in January 🙂

I could see all these challenges as a catalogue of frustrating circumstances that are ruining my peace of mind or getting in the way of my life’s purpose, or I can see them as an opportunity to practise surrender again and again. This does not mean denying frustration. Frustration at change or dismay/deep upset at bad news is totally understandable and a normal reaction to something that puts our life, as we know it, on hold or changes it irrevocably. It is necessary to feel our feelings fully, but ultimately we need to move beyond that to acceptance and surrendering to what is and move forward from that perspective. Surrendering may not change the circumstances, but it is a way to freedom and peace of mind.

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Because of the fire, we have a much reduced winter Nature Table scene, but King Winter had to make an appearance 🙂  

I attend a monthly Spiritual Philosophy group, in which we always do a guided meditation/visualisation. It is my absolute favourite part of the session as I spend time with my guardian angel. So much comes to light in these sessions, it is incredible. Last Thursday, we were encouraged to go sledging and we would meet our guardian at the bottom of the slope. I usually sledge with my feet as brakes when I don’t know the terrain or if it is a fast ride – I am cautious in that way – but as this wasn’t “real life”, I decided to take the brakes off and fly down the slope. Wow! My heart was so light and I felt so deliciously free, just imagining it. I can see this as a metaphor for life. If we put the brakes on (and try to control events), we are interrupting the natural flow of life and the joy of being in the moment. Life can pass us by and the opportunities that could arise often don’t when we are in a state of resistance. My guardian as usual had some wise words to impart, advising me that I already know what to do…I do think the answers are within us, the clarity that we seek, but we so often cloud things over with our overthinking, using our precious energy to try to control outcomes.

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So I am trying to make a point of noticing when I tense up and if my shoulders and jaw become tight (when I am resisting something or holding on too tightly to an ideal outcome) and consciously making an effort to let go.

Another mantra that a friend and counsellor gave me that I have put to a simple tune and sing when I feel the need is:

“ As I let go, I heal on every level”

I would highly recommend it. It literally dissolves my stress. My shoulders lower and I know letting go is the answer.

When I attended an Artist’s Way group some years ago, on the first session, we were asked to write three goals for the course down. We were given a few arts and craft materials and five minutes to do it in! Here is mine:

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To let creativity and ideas flow, we must let go and trust. In so doing we are opening the channels to Divine inspiration and what’s not to enjoy in this freedom! 🙂

These are of course just examples of my own recent personal challenges. The world is full of much greater challenges on a larger scale, but perhaps practising  meeting our own personal challenges with equinamity and acceptance is a good start. Many things are not within our personal control, so we do need to learn to live with uncertainty every day and accept it as part of life. But we do have some control over our inner terrain, our thoughts and reactions and we can practise choosing  peace and harmony.

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This has become an epic post, written over many days!!!  I felt I wanted to share my feelings on this subject as I know we all go through trials and challenges, some that in retrospect may seem trivial and some that shake the foundations of our life as we know it. We all need to have a toolbox of aids to get us through these times. Above all else, I think Faith is the most important; be it Faith in our ability to handle things; Faith that things are as they should be; Faith in Universal Order and of course Faith in the Divine.  Faith is such a comfort and so strengthening.

Wishing you all a good dose of Faith in your lives xx

I leave you with one more mantra that I have put to a tune and sing often. So joyful!

My love is vaster than a mountain,
My peace is a deep as the sea
My joy is like a radiant sun,
My spirit is strong and free”

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Calm after the storm – A New Year’s Retreat

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As I am writing, I am struck by the beautiful sunset outside the window. The bare branches of trees stretch up to the colour drenched sky and I am filled with awe at the glory of nature and the rich colour palette bestowed upon us at (what we imagine to be) the bleakest time of the year.

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The New Year has just begun and as ever it feels full of hope and promise. Our family of four and Millie (our puppy) are on a week long break from the busyness of everyday life – to retreat a little (hibernation is always my winter wish...), to play, to rest, to create, to enjoy nature and each other.

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In this quiet space, we are making the time to renew our loving intentions towards each other and the world and resolving to let go of what no longer serves us. It is a gift.

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The children are currently in the pool with my husband; jumping, diving, full of joy. Water really is their favourite medium for play – my eldest daughter says she feels light and full of energy, which she does not feel upon the earth, except when playing in very natural surroundings. They are so delighted that we have a pool here and visit it twice daily. Their eyes are wide with big beaming smiles as they duck and dive through the water and I know we are offering them a real gift of slowing down and being in the moment, just now. We are still in England (which is unlike us in January when we tend to seek the winter sun), but with a swimming pool on the grounds, everyone is happy.

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And I am finding the time to write again, to craft and have long leisurely lie ins. Bliss.

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It really is blessing to have this time together to regroup.

In the middle of December we had a house fire in our home. We typically do a star path on our Nature Table over Advent. You can see details at the end of this post. We place four small beeswax candles, held in star shaped cardboard holders on the table along the star path and light a candle (or two, three, four, depending on the Advent week) every evening whilst we sing and move Mary along the path to Bethlehem. We have been doing this for years and always blow the candle out right away after the song so that the candles do not grow too small before Mary reaches the stable. For some unknown reason; be it tiredness, carelessness, distraction, we are not sure, my daughters and I left two of the candles on and unattended and went to bed 😦 Luckily we have a smoke alarm, which alerted us all to the fire. The candles had burnt down and set the cloth on fire and the fire had moved swiftly to the television (which is hidden behind another cloth we use as “the sky” of our Nature Table), so by the time I got downstairs at around 11pm, the television was ablaze. My husband was at the back of the house unaware of what was going on, but acted quickly to stop the fire spreading to the electrics and curtains by throwing all manner of damp towels and clothes onto the fire and removing the television. He also tried to remove a burning basket of knitting wool and bamboo needles, but the smoke got too thick and the basket was too hot, so he had to leave it, but luckily it was away from the electrics and other potential fire hazards.  Three fire engines arrived and quickly put out the fire and blew the smoke out of the house with minimal mess. One of our neighbours was also a great help; giving us warm clothes and a duvet for the girls and our dog Millie, to snuggle under whilst they stayed in the car, parked some distance away at their request. The other neighbours slept through it all!! It was really horrifying at the time to see the lounge ablaze, but the thick dark smoke was the main issue as we couldn’t see properly and had to leave the building for health reasaons. Luckily all is  well and the main damage is limited to the lounge and hall where the walls need cleaning and redecorating. The wooden floor also needs replacing and some of the soft furnishings/rugs, but nothing irreplaceable really.

I lost a whole knitting basket full of wool and my favourite bamboo needles and a few items of clothes that my husband threw on the fire, but all in all, it could have been so much worse and I feel we were protected somehow.

It was an accident and where in the past, I may have berated myself about neglecting to blow the candles out, I have chosen instead to be gentle on myself, to focus on being thankful and feeling blessed that nothing worse happened. We are all fine after all, including the guinea pigs, who we had to leave in the house, so all is well. We were also able to have a wonderful Christmas celebration at home, despite the lounge being out of bounds. The insurance company has been nothing but understanding and generous in replacing our goods so far.

I was mid knitting the girls some Hogwarts jumpers – in Gryffindor and Slytherin colours – and wasn’t sure if I would finish in time, but was remaining hopeful and focused! The fire singed the jumpers in several places and due to time constraints, I asked if they might be able to replace them with “the real thing”. They were happy to help and two days before Christmas, they arrived, to the girls delight and my relief!! It felt like a little Christmas miracle 🙂

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and here they are in their whole ensemble – courtesy of Father Christmas, the insurance company and kind relatives 🙂

So currently whilst we are away, cleaning work is being undertaken at home to remove the soot from the walls and shelves throughout the house, including those black webs we noticed developing after the fire , which we were told were soot webs, not cobwebs!! The place certainly looked dressed for Hallowe’en for the first few days and smelled like a bonfire! 😦

It was difficult to sleep in a house that smelled of acrid smoke, but with the help of a couple of air purifiers, the odour did dissipate after a while and we could sleep peacefully again. We regrouped reasonably quickly as Christmas was fast approaching – the show must go on and all that! 😉 In the week before Christmas we were able to host some visiting friends from the States for an afternoon of catching up and games. They gave us our new favourite game Eleminis – which we have enjoyed it on a daily basis since then 🙂 It is rather competitive but a lot of fun!!

On the 21st December we hosted a gathering of some of my “crafty” girlfriends and their children.

The children took turns decorating the two gingerbread houses that my friend Sofia and I had baked (one very late night) a couple of nights before and we ate, drank and made merry; singing all the Christmas songs we knew, with a variety of simple instruments as accompaniment. It really lifted the vibration of the house, which had been feeling rather sorry for itself. A loving hug of friendship for our home and us.

Luckily, we hadn’t had time to put our tree up in the lounge before the fire, so it didn’t smell of smoke and we enjoyed decorating it in the back extension, where we planned to have all our celebrations.

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We also put another smaller “children’s tree” (with mainly homemade decorations) up in the playroom.

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It felt healing to decorate the tree together and set our intention for a beautiful Christmas. We added a few new decorations that my daughters had made at school.

It felt cosy, and with the lounge closed off, we had a lovely celebration and probably one of our loveliest, quietest Christmases, just us four, for several days. We also had a couple of nice days out with friends

and we rang in the New Year with a favourite friend of ours at home

A fun game of charades!!  🙂

So really, although things looked rather bleak for a couple of days, there is so much to be thankful for and we have felt blessed by the many messages of support, friendship, kind offers of help and love. My husband and I even managed to go on a “date” on the 28th December when the girls went to friends’ houses – another Christmas miracle!! 😉

We missed some of our crafting time before Christmas due to the chaos at home, so we have been making up for it now on our break 🙂 The girls and I have enjoyed making some lovely window stars to adorn the windows of our holiday cottage.

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We made some sixteen pointed stars this time as well as our favourite eight pointed stars. The sixteen pointed stars look almost floral to us, we think, especially the greens and reds.

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I love the acute pointed star I made – it looks like a radiant sun, something that is often missing at this time of year! We love creating a warm, homely atmosphere wherever we go and adding our own touches 🙂

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We also made a few pipe cleaner snowflakes.

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I bought these shiny white pipe cleaners earlier in December with no real plan. I just liked them. It dawned on me they might make nice snowflakes and I am rather pleased with how they turned out.

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We twisted four lengths of pipecleaner around an axis to create eight spokes and cut small lengths to twist around each spoke. A fast and easy craft!

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We also cut out handprints of the girls hands – a yearly activity to mark how they much they have grown ( my youngest daughter had a big growth spurt over the summer and is almost catching up with her older sister!). This year they decoupaged their hand prints on cardboard (other years there has been felt, gold card, henna’d hands and hands used on a “family tree” painting.

My daughters also wanted to make their own Advent Calendars for next December.

My eldest decided upon a Hogwarts theme, as she discovered the Harry Potter books series this year and is captivated by the magic of it all.

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My youngest says her Advent Calendar will be for us – mummy and daddy – It is so adorable – we all love it!

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They are using water colours – a present from Father Christmas that come in a handy small tin where each section screws onto the next, so super portable.

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and Lyra Super Ferby pencils – like they use at their Waldorf school – for the detail. I think this is going to be an ongoing project through January as they are only doing a little at a time.

As for me, as well as losing the girl’s sweater knitting to the fire, I also lost another work in progress. that I was making for myself 😦  I urgently felt the need to make a fresh start. Luckily I had some 4mm circular needles left (my only remaining needles – sob!!) and some yarn I kept in the studio, so I have started knitting this sweater – again for me! 🙂 and I must say knitting is such healing work – creating something new stitch by stitch.

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We have also spent time contemplating the The Madonna Sequence each evening as we did last year, as the girls were keen to mark the twelve Holy Nights in some way and we used these Angel cards as a fun way to predict the twelve months ahead, with the girls drawing pictures corresponding with the month or the cards message.

I did my own special inner work, using Lynn Jericho’s Inner Christmas. Lynn, an anthroposophist,  has been sending Inner Christmas messages for the twelve Holy nights for a number of years, but this is the first year I have participated. This year, the contemplations centred around the 12 Inner Freedoms. Each day we received an email with some questions to work with/contemplate, centred around the twelve freedoms: freedom to expand, contract, centre and flow; freedom from ideals, oughts, fears and doubts and freedom of surprise, grief, love and questions. It was very freeing and thought provoking to work with these questions. I have been journalling every morning and meditating on the questions and would highly recommend this Inner work at a time when we are naturally more inward looking and  “when the veils lift that hide the spiritual world from our ordinary consciousness… and allow us to see with inspired clarity” (L Jericho).

Well, I’ve been away from this space for a very long time. I doubted I would return to my writing here, because once I was out of my weekly habit of writing, it was quite easy to let it go, as life felt full enough as it was. I even stopped taking photos for a month when my camera broke 😦

The New Year has arrived and with it, a new calling to write again, to share and record our family life, to express gratitude, for it is only a moment in time, being a mother to younger children. In the two years I have written here, a lot has happened and my daughters have changed so much. My eldest daughter is now 12 and although she still believes in magic, it is only a matter of time before her feet are firmly on the ground and cynicism and skepticism creep in; the Age of not Believing (Sherman Brothers ) and I won’t be able to share this part of our family life any more. So I will begin again and try to fill in the gaps as best I can.  Beginning is half the battle sometimes, don’t you think?

At a friend’s suggestion, each of us is writing down something for which we are grateful or something we enjoyed each day of 2019. My youngest and I want to put the messages in a jar and my eldest and my husband are going to write a list. 🙂 We routinely do this verbally at the end of the day anyway, but I think writing things down will be a more tangible reminder. It is especially a gift for the melancholic temperament (quite a few of us here!) to look back at how much goodness there is in our lives, when we may sometimes doubt it.

We will be returning home tomorrow and and luckily the bulk of the cleaning in our house has been done whilst we are away. Nothing irreplaceable has been lost so we really do count ourselves lucky. Onwards and upwards 🙂

Wishing you a peaceful and joyful start to the New Year 2019. May it be a blessed year for you all. 

 

 

 

Warmth in the cold

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Finally, I am finding a pocket of time in which to write. It feels like ages, since I was last here and I must say I have missed it. As I wrote in my last post, we have been suffering from illness over here. As soon as I recovered – literally the day after I felt my energies return slowly, my husband went down with a heavy virus, from which he is only just recovering, almost three weeks later 😦 so all of February has passed in a bit of a blur….

Today is the second day of March and we have snow!!!

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It is so absolutely thrilling for us, having resigned ourselves to another winter without. What a gift! My daughters have been running outside first thing in the morning, to play in the snow and although there hasn’t been deep snow, they have enjoyed making snow angels, building miniature snow bears 🙂 and drawing a snowman on the snow covered pond…and throwing snowballs of course 🙂

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They had an afternoon off school and went sledging with Daddy (while I was at college). We have certainly been enjoying the snow covered world in all its beauty and wonder.

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Only the other day, as we walked around our local park, we felt that spring was in the air; the birds were very vocal,  the daffodils were out and the sun felt warm on our skin. I wondered about setting the Nature Table up for spring, but luckily didn’t have the time, as finally our winter scene has come to fruition. 🙂

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We may even have more snow tonight. Hurrah!

So let’s see what we have been up to in the last few weeks…hmmn…

We had our half term break after my husband came down with illness, which was lucky, in a way, as we didn’t have to rush off anywhere early in the morning and I was still not totally recovered energy-wise. We had a lovely break really: slow days, lots of cooking, making and baking and seeing friends.

After three weeks of illness and also missing Candlemas, I thought it was important to spend lots of time doing nice things together; to reconnect and to find the joy in family life again. We finally rolled some beeswax candles, that I had ordered for Candlemas and my daughters decorated them with beeswax hearts that they stamped out of these thin beeswax sheets.

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On Valentines, we went overboard with hearts, pinks and reds!

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For breakfast, we made pancakes and heart shaped waffles with fried apples and cinnamon which we all enjoyed.

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We also did a lot of baking – jam tarts, ginger biscuits…

and heart shaped rolls for dinner with pink (beetroot) soup!

I noticed that the girls really appreciated all these touches and they were very much involved in the making of all these edibles. I also made our favourite carob sweets, this time adding a cranberry to the middle and some chopped nuts, which made them extra special, we thought.

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I love these happy photos – the girls insisted on wearing the heart ‘crowns’ that we made with friends many moons ago (basically felt hearts, threaded onto red yarn).

We made each other gifts for Valentines.  My husband was in bed all day, but we opened his presents for him and put them, and his cards, by the window in the hope that it would make him feel loved.

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Below are the presents my eldest made us. My youngest made her sister the heart with the penguin on it,  so we all got a heart! There was a distinct dolphin theme for Daddy 🙂

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Here are my presents 🙂 Can you tell the girls know I love purple?! 😉

I  managed to knit up a couple of quick hearts for my daughters in the two nights beforehand. I didn’t have time or the headspace for anything more creative. They are pleased with them, which is all that matters!

My daughters also made cards for all the animals, including our guinea pig Bubble and our hen Delilah who died last year. Delilah’s has been laminated and is by her grave.

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Gosh just noticed how creased the tablecloth looks here – eek! 

The hens also have theirs laminated to hang by their coop!

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They still have their Christmas lights and baubles up too! Bless them they are so cold out in the snow, they have stopped eating and are just huddled up together looking miserable 😦 Any tips are very welcome.

My daughters have been playing lots and there were various scenes set up all over the house and garden! Things were feeling a bit chaotic, so I had a big tidy up today to create some order again. When the girls came home after school, they remarked on how much better it felt – like a clean slate.

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They have also been drawing lots and just being creative, which is always nice to see.

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We saw friends in the afternoons on quite a few occasions over half term, which was lovely, after having been stuck at home and reclusive for a few weeks. The girls enjoyed some dressing up with a friend in a local museum. 🙂

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Last week was a busy one for me, with lots of study and trying to sort our car out (the insurers wanted to write it off because of the cost of repairing it, but I have now found a local garage that will do the repairs mid March, with second hand doors, so hopefully that is now sorted.  It does annoy me how easily they write a perfectly decent car off  though….)

After the girls returned to school on Tuesday, I only had four days in which to study ten subjects in preparation for a mid-term exam – Cytology, the Skeletal System, the Muscular System, the Respiratory System, Cardiology, the Blood, the Digestive System and Digestive Pathologies, the Lymphatic system and Skin and the Endocrine System… you get the picture!!! Quite a bit!! I had hoped to have the weekend for further study, but my husband had not recovered yet, so I only managed a couple of hours each day really. This sort of intense study doesn’t suit me at all. I had another intense study session on Monday and my head was buzzing with all the information I had studied, so I had an early night and felt all I could do was trust and hope….

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The next day, it had snowed overnight and the world looked so peaceful and pretty, Unfortunately that didn’t mean peaceful traffic and there was a fair bit of tension involved in getting to the exam in one piece with the icy roads!! The UK is never prepared for snow!!

I think the exam went o.k, considering the fact I didn’t have enough time to study everything, with illness and half term and family life. I certainly had to reduce my expectations of doing well!!!

Afterwards, I took a walk outside to try to calm my system down and was so happy to hear the crunch of snow underfoot and to feel the crisp fresh air on my face.

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I missed out on sledging, but I enjoyed a walk around the college campus to take in the beauty of it all and breathe in deeply. I experienced a sense of deep peace, which I have not felt for a while. What a gift.

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Wishing you all a peaceful, gentle time, whatever the weather!

 

 

Knitting and recovery

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It has been a funny couple of weeks for us here; with illnesses, a car crash and my computer being hacked 😦 My daughters are back at school now, but I am still feeling really weak and depleted, despite dosing myself up on lots of goodness.

My youngest daughter was the first to get sick, with a high temperature, tummy aches and headaches a couple of weeks ago. She was off school for a week; resting, watching favourite films and a spot of knitting once she felt a bit better.

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A dear friend of ours is due a ‘surprise’ baby in March and she has asked if friends would like to contribute a knitted or crocheted square (or two) towards the baby’s blanket. We love our friend and her family very much, so my daughters were very keen to knit a couple of squares each. 🙂

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I also knitted a couple of squares, so we have a quite a selection of squares to add to the blanket. All that love! 🙂 I was looking for a heart design pattern to copy for mine, but couldn’t seem to track any down, so made it up myself using seed stitch. They are a bit quirky, but hopefully the heart stands out a bit!?

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I have also asked around in our friendship circle for other offerings and the squares are all so different,  but I think my friend plans to crotchet them together using white/cream yarn so it should all come together nicely. There will be so much love in that blanket to wrap her baby girl in. 🙂

Before I became unwell, I knitted all the pieces for a teddy, for my friends baby, like the teddies I knitted my own girls for Christmas.  I will wait until I feel better to sew them up, to make sure I do the teddy justice!

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Apart from knitting and helping to gather squares from other friends and ourselves towards the blanket, I am also making my friend a “birthing” anklet.

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These were mine 🙂

I think I found the idea in a book whilst pregnant with my eldest and just loved it. Basically, I asked all my friends, near and far, to contribute a bead (or two) towards the anklet and I threaded the  beads onto wire or cotton and wore it whilst in labour. I made one for each of my daughter’s births and it was so strengthening to know that all my lovely women friends were with me. So I wanted to do the same for my friend. I have asked the friends we have in common and she is also gathering a few from other friends and her daughters too (who are 13 and 11), so we should have a lovely collection soon. Here are some of the beads so far.

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My eldest pointed out that the long shell looked rather like an angel’s wing 🙂

Anyway, back to our two week saga…. 😉 On the Friday before last, I was driving my eldest to school, when we were involved in a car crash. A car came out from a side road as we were driving along and crashed straight into the two side doors, spinning our car around with the impact. 😦 Luckily, neither of us was driving at great speed, but it was a shock for us nonetheless and we didn’t end up going  to school that day. Instead we went to a cafe to recover and drink sweet tea. The car will go into the repair shop tomorrow. It looks quite a state. But we were uninjured, apart from a few aches and pains, so that’s all that matters really.

I think the shock of the accident brought on the virus in my eldest daughter and I, because we were soon feeling unwell. My daughter had very similar symptoms to her sister, whereas I started with a cold. I still had lectures to attend so soldiered on through them, but feel I probably overdid it,  as a week later, I am still feeling  weak and unable to concentrate on my studies. Instead, I find myself sitting on the sofa, watching lecture videos and doing some mindless knitting.

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Knitting has been the order of the day in the past week it seems. I saw this fab hat pattern at the Crafting On Link up last week and loved the way it looked. Luckily I had the perfect pink yarn on hand, so in a few hours, the job was done. Very gratifying 🙂 It used just under one 50g skein of yarn and is really cosy. I gave my youngest the Wurm hat I was making in pink and purple, so I am pleased to have my own pink hat at last 🙂 I don’t have any photos of me in it as I am not up to taking photos right now!

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I also continued work on the scrap blanket that I started some time ago. It has doubled in size, just by me sitting watching my lecture videos and is now nice and cosy over my knees as I knit 🙂

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It is nearly wide enough for me to have it as a blanket if I use it lengthwise, so I may decide to do that, so it is finished sooner rather than later, but on the other hand, it is making a nice soothing project, so perhaps I will leave it in the basket for another time when I can’t concentrate on anything else. It feels good to have something to show for my time, I must say!

My husband kindly brought some daffodils back home to cheer us up, which of course they did. These small thoughtful gestures mean a lot.

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I am not a very good patient, thinking that I am letting people down, but when I do try to help out, I end up dropping things or making mistakes. Ho hum…clearly I need to be more patient!  Of course, this too shall pass….

In the meantime, whilst sitting on the sofa, I can enjoy the twinkling lights of our Nature table 🙂

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I shall stop now as I feel exhausted, but it was lovely to spend a little time with you 🙂

Sharing at Frontier Dreams Crafting On 

Short but sweet..

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We had a lovely cosy home day on Sunday, with our daughters playing happily and imaginatively for much of the day.

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On Sunday mornings, I traditionally enjoy a lie in – if I am lucky! 🙂 (my husband has his on Saturday mornings) and our daughters appreciate the opportunity to spend time with Daddy; colouring in his funny pictures and drawing their own.

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They decided on the theme of “Under the Sea” and drew mermaids (good and evil!), fish, sharks, treasure chests and an underwater castle with windows to open! 🙂

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By the time I had woken up, they were in the process of cutting out their characters, and sticking them onto short skewers with sticky tape, so they could be used for an impromptu “puppet” show! They haven’t staged a puppet show for us in a long time, so it was a nice surprise!

My eldest covered the playframe with blue/green coloured cloths and they each took it in turns to stage a little show for us.

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The storyteller 🙂

There were little mermaids peeking out of the windows in the castle below, but I wasn’t allowed to take photos at the time. So sweet!

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My eldest did sound effects for her sister, which brought the show to life. Here are a few of the instruments in question!

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Our Schleich animals were also recruited for a jungle themed show 🙂

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It was so lovely to see the girls enjoy their playspace and to experience them being imaginative and creative. They tend to play in private nowadays, so it was a real privilege to be party to their imaginative play on this occasion.

I do so appreciate these times; when things go smoothly and we spend warm and happy times together.

Our Schleich animals continued to have a great time for the rest of the day 🙂

 

 

 

On Holiday in Tenerife

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First of all, I would like to wish my lovely visitors a very Happy New Year!

May your year be filled with abundance, adventure and great joy. 

We returned from our trip to Tenerife last Wednesday evening, unpacked and recovered from our travels on Thursday and started back at school on Friday. My daughters, especially the eldest, struggled with the transition back to school. The fact that we have to get up in the dark doesn’t help!

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I thought I would write a little about Tenerife and what we did whilst on holiday.

Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands. It is a popular destination with holidaymakers, who can rest assured that there is guaranteed warmth and sunshine all year round. The beaches are black sand due to previous volcanic activity on the island. In the centre is the Teide National Park, home to the towering Mount Teide and the volcano Pico Viejo. The centre of the island is arid and less hospitable compared to the fertile coastal regions. We have visited the island on four occasions in the past and have felt drawn back to explore more of it. There is a lot more to discover here than on some of the smaller islands, we have found. It is somewhere you can really imagine enjoying living.

This time we stayed fifteen minutes drive from Puerto de la Cruz which is a popular tourist destination, especially for German holidaymakers (my German mother was in her element!). It is also a popular spot for surfing.

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There is a very pleasant tree lined avenue leading down to the seafront promenade.

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We were surprised to see several apparently wild chickens scratching around the place, including this rather handsome cockerel!

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The promenade is lined with shops and restaurants in front of the larger hotel and appartment blocks

There is also an outdoor pool complex along the promenade called Lago Martianez which my husband and daughters visited one morning. There are several salt water pools in the complex, including a large pool with a ‘volcano’ that erupts periodically. It is right next to the sea, but this area isn’t great for swimming due to the crashing waves, so the pool is a better option. There is plenty of space to lounge around and it must be a great spot in the summer. Unfortunately the water was too cold to really enjoy and we found the sea a lot warmer at this time of year!

Whilst away, I had to study two hours per day to keep on top of all the work I need to do for my course. I usually studied in the morning – when I was still fresh enough to take things in! –  and my husband, children and later my mother, rested, played or spent time reading or listening to books. It rained for a couple of days  which was a bit tricky as we were all confined to the house in the mornings and it wasn’t too big, but The Famous Five adventure stories came to the rescue! 🙂 The girls were totally engrossed in those stories, kindly read to them by their Daddy! It was a shame about the rain – we have never had any whilst on holiday in the Canary Islands before – but the locals were delighted as it hadn’t rained for some time. It was unfortunate that on the five days my mother was on the island, there were only a couple of sunny days 😦

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We still managed to get out and about in the afternoons and enjoyed some time at the beach. We were staying near El Sauzal on the North Coast, but never really explored this area much as the children were keen to go to the beach (in complete contrast to last year’s trip – the swimming lessons must be doing them good!) and the waves at El Sauzal were too much for them. We visited one of the main beaches near Puerto de la Cruz which was great fun; jumping and chasing the waves for hours.

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We also visited a beach on the South Coast on the day we were picking my mother up from the Southern airport (there are two airports). We particularly like this area: It is called El Medano and is a good base for families and younger folk visiting the island. There are quite a few self- catering appartments and lots of eateries and even a vegan restaurant and a health shop 🙂

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It is a popular spot with surfers and we saw a lot of kite surfers out on the ocean, which was a glorious sight. The girls stuck with their rubber rings (purchased at one of the many tourist shops in Puerto Cruz) 🙂

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The southern beaches are open all year round and the sea is very shallow for quite some distance, making them very safe. We were disappointed to find the Northern beaches closed for some periods. We managed to enjoy the beach there on two occasions before we found it closed on our third visit 😦 We even tried a more secluded beach nearby to see if the situation was different there, but Playa de el Socorro  was also taped off.

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Supposedly they frequently do this as the undercurrents are very strong. For us, the sea looked rather tranquil and the girls were disappointed not to be able to go in for a paddle after the rainy days.

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They tried out the exercise equipment on the promenade instead, which was some consolation 🙂 and we went for coffee and cake at our favourite Service Station Cafe  with an amazing  view.

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The cakes were delicious and the thick Spanish hot chocolates (the kind you can eat!) were a real treat and so reasonable too at 12 Euros for all five of us! We found eating out quite affordable, although we mainly cooked at home. My mother is German so “Kaffee und Kuchen” is the order of the day on holiday – we didn’t complain! 😉

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We visited the Botanic Gardens on one occasion, which was a lovely treat. The tropical plants are so at home in this climate. We recognised many of them from the house plants available here in the UK. Lots of the plants were in bloom and the whole place felt lush and vibrant.

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My mother really enjoyed it, until she stumbled on a big root and fell into a bush! but she quickly recovered herself and we all found it fascinating and relaxing to be surrounded by all these exotic plants.

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There are plenty of beautiful vibrant flowers around the coastal areas of the island too: it is a feast for the eyes.

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Poinsettias grow in the wild in Tenerife – I am always delighted to spot them. When I see them growing wild like this it reminds me of the book The Legend of Poinsettia,  which we love.

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We had hoped to see the Three Kings Procession on the 5th January as we did in Fuerteventura last year, but we didn’t manage to get there in time unfortunately.

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It is typical for the ‘Kings’ to process through the streets on the day before Epiphany, waving and throwing sweets to the children. The Kings are the bringers of “Christmas” presents to Spanish children on the 6th January, when they have their family Christmas celebrations. We did manage to watch some of the procession on a TV screen in our restaurant, which was of some consolation to the girls.

It rained all day on the 6th so we just celebrated with a trip out to a cafe for tea and cake 🙂 There is a traditional Three Kings Cake that can be bought at the supermarket (or made of course!) but noone fancied it.

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We also visited the Loro Parque Zoo after enjoying our trip to the Zoo in Fuerteventura . It was also rather expensive, but there were several shows included and it was an enjoyable afternoon out.

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We particularly enjoyed the sea lion show

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and the dolphin show

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They are such bright, friendly animals – we do love them so.  We also saw an Orca show later – once my camera had run out of battery 😦 -which was very impressive – what amazing powerful animals they are. All the animals really trusted their trainers and were very affectionate with them, which was a joy to behold.

As I mentioned, my camera ran out of battery not long into our visit there, which was a shame as our highlight was most definitely the lions. There are two females that are only a year and a half old and are still very playful and a two year old male who is so handsome. They were fascinating to watch and we could see them very close up, which was a treat. Their fenced off area had plenty of interest and enough space to roam around in, I thought.

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My eldest was particularly excited to see the white Bengal tigers. She loves all wild cats.

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They also have a new inside Penguin Grotto, where they even have snow falling from the ‘sky’ and nice cold conditions for the penguins. It looks really magical.
You can stand on a slowly moving conveyor belt and watch as you move along. Quite special. There were also puffins nearby, which are a favourite of mine.

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Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of photos to show all the sights we saw and the photos aren’t that great – I do need to fix my camera but there never seems to be a good time….

We loved the jellyfish acquarium area. The inside is dimly lit but the numerous tanks, containing a vast array of jelly fish, are lit up to show off their amazing features – it was fascinating to see how they breath and move. So graceful. I could have spent a long time there and wish I had some photos to show for it. I was transfixed. Unfortunately my mother struggles to see in the dark and I was  concerned that she might trip up again, so we had to move on.

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We had planned to visit Mount Teide, but due to the weather and my mother’s mobility issues, we decided to leave it.

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There was often a thick mist over the mountain and we heard there was snow up there. We have visited before and enjoyed many a walk around the rugged landscape.

Our holiday home was well situated in a quiet area. Unfortunately, the next door neighbour was having building work done, so it ended up being far from quiet most days  ☹️ which was a pity. Since then, we have had a percentage of the price refunded to us for the inconvenience, which was a kind gesture.

The house itself is situated right in the centre of the property, with a garden surrounding the house on all sides.

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There were plenty of plants and trees and even a lovely playhouse for the children to play in, which was a bonus!

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The girls had fun playing their fantasy games in the house and up in and amongst the two avocado trees!

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We picked a few avocadoes to ripen with some bananas, but only one actually did ripen by the end of our trip. One of my good friends lived in Spain for a couple of years and had an avocado tree. I was always in awe of it. The avocadoes took a while to ripen, but they were so creamy and delicious, I thought we should try it!

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The views of the sunrises and sunsets from our terrace were stunning. We never tired of the sunsets, especially coming closer to 6pm than the early nights here in the UK.

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We mainly spent our evenings playing cards before bedtime with Oma.

Tenerife is a wonderful island to explore. It is great for touring in the car and for a walking holiday – we did a lot more walking on our visits pre-children. The views are breathtaking and it is affordable and always warm. We did not get around as much as we usually do this visit due to rain and my mother’s mobility issues,  but we still really enjoyed our visit.

For those of you who wondered if we did any crafts on holiday, we didn’t do too much as I was either studying or we were out of the house. In the mornings, the girls made steady work on their reindeer. We didn’t manage to get going on them before our trip, but we are pleased with how they turned out. The instructions in the book said to sew them and turn them inside out. I didn’t read it properly so the girls did blanket stitch all round. As they are quite neat with their stitches, it worked out fine, except for the need to add a few extra stitches to the legs and neck once the body was stuffed. I helped them with this as I blamed myself for not reading the instructions properly and so that they weren’t discouraged. Here they are – one is Rudolph 🙂

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The girls did lots of drawing including these angel pictures.

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I always bring plenty of materials with us – paper, scissors, glue, sticky tape, yarn etc so the girls can make all the contraptions and maps that they desire!  Everything always gets lots of use by my ever creative children 😉

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Back at home the Kings are still on the Nature Table and Babuschka has finally reached Bethlehem – my girls insist she reaches baby Jesus on time – although the Legend has her searching forevermore.

I am planning to set the Nature Table up for winter very soon! It’s so mild and wet here – but we will be glad to see snowflakes and a wintry scene inside.

I have hung up the hearts, on which we wrote our favourite things in 2017, at the back door. It is so nice to have some colour at the window. 🙂

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I had better dig out those lovely window stars we made last year and perhaps make a few more since they bring us such joy.

Hope January is treating you well.

Happy New Year!

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We made it on holiday to Tenerife after all! There were a few obstacles as I mentioned last time, not least our eldest having a major panic attack in the car before taking our flight, poor dear love. It was so distressing for us all and with the pressure of getting to the airport on time and feeling exhausted, we didn’t handle it very well.  😦

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Once things had calmed down, we arrived at the airport with only 50 minutes to spare, but the Gods were with us as we moved easily through check in (we were brought to the front of the queue), breezed through security and amazingly didn’t have far to go to our gate  (it usually takes a good 15minutes walk).  The flight itself certainly wasn’t ideal. We had strong head winds so there was some mild turbulence on and off throughout, but our dear girl handled it admirably: she shut it out by closing her eyes during the stronger turbulence and otherwise distracted herself the rest of the time, by playing hangman, guess the animal and other games with us.

We also encountered several hours of turbulence on our return flight from the States which is why I imagine she went into meltdown, that being her last flying experience. I wish I had had the foresight to arrange a Fear of Flying for Children – will do so in 2018 for sure as my husband is fantasising about a journey to see the Northern Lights for his 50th…

We arrived at our villa by 8pm and were delighted to find that it has a lovely view to the sea and plenty of space around it to play and relax in.

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We are feeling very grateful. It was very bleak when we left the UK and the sunshine has cheered us up already.

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For our New Years celebration, we stopped off en route at a petrol station and bought some ‘junk foods’ like crisps and peanuts (special occasion foods for us) as the shops were all closed by the time we arrived. I tried to make the place look a little festive with bits and pieces I had on hand.

 

In the spirit of gratitude for 2017, I had cut some heart shapes out of card and we wrote down at least five things for which we were grateful in 2017. We all wrote on both sides, realising there was so much to be grateful for in the past year. We are all quite practised now at looking for things to be grateful for, I am pleased to say 🙂

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I have hung them from the ceiling using little pegs on a length of red yarn – there is literally nowhere else to hang them from, as everything is rather sleek and new here. They bring a lovely touch of colour to house 🙂

 

We also looked forward to 2018 by sending little walnut boats into a “lake” I set up. A birthday candle is placed in a walnut shell, by melting the wax into the bottom and the boat is placed in the centre of the “lake” with the candle lit. There are four corners, representing Abundance, Adventure, Healing and Love/Romance. and wherever the boat lands, is the area that will see or needs the most development in the coming year. I wrote how we did this in more detail here

Both of my daughters and I landed in the Healing Corner, where we picked up an angel card. Both my eldest and I picked up the Meditation card and my youngest picked up Spiritual Growth. This was very interesting as since Christmas Day, we have been sitting down for 10 minutes each evening together, looking at a picture of the Madonna for a short time and discussing what they would like to happen in the months ahead (each one of the twelve days of Christmas corresponds with one of the twelve months of the next year, so for example we started speaking about May on Christmas Day). We discuss what comes up for them when we think of that particular month and what their wishes are for that month in 2018.

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They come up with lots of interesting ideas. The girls then pick one of these angel cards (the messages are very suited to children) and I read what it says in the little book that accompanies them. Following this, they either draw pictures or write about what the cards ask them to do. For example my eldest daughter has drawn the “You are Special” card twice so far and we have been discussing what her strengths are. My youngest has drawn “Let go of Your Fears” and “Angel Lights” twice each and we have been looking at what she would like to let go of and she has been talking of the purple angel lights she sees, particularly at school, which I didn’t know of!

They were only asking me a couple of days ago if we could continue these meditations after the twelve nights are over, so when the “boats” landed in the area of Healing and we all picked the Meditation/Spiritual Healing cards, it felt like a sign to continue what we are doing as it is doing us good. Regular meditation and quiet contemplation are undoubtedly great healers. I have also been meditating on my own with the healing Madonna sequence each evening and am so relishing in the peaceful time spent in contemplation before bed. I have the lovely Stacey to thank for this suggestion which I found in her very informative Christmas Eve post (I love all her posts!) I am only now really discovering how special the Holy Nights are spiritually. I had some inkling of it before, but I plan to look into it further and look forward to working with them more deeply in the years to come.

My husband landed on  Adventure, with the Angel Card of “Children”, which was also interesting as he was just saying the other day that he feels he wants to work a bit less and make more time for fun, especially now he is reaching his 50’s this year.

We also wrote our wishes for 2018 on pieces of paper and wrapped them in burlap and string and piece of greenery from the garden. We set fire to them on the bbq outside, sending our wishes out to the universe. Besides this, we drew a simple ‘Wishing Circle’ and wrote these wishes down again, as we often forget what we have wished for. We all put down a dog as our wish! Let’s see…. My eldest decorated it so it looked prettier. We have taped it to the only chest of drawers in the house, next to our line of felt booties, which we peg up daily to mark the passing of the twelve days of Christmas.

One more thing we do at some point over the Christmas period, is draw around our daughters’ hands onto card/felt or whatever inspires us that year, to record how they are growing from year to year. This time they drew henna style patterns on their hands (my eldest was studying ancient India this year at school and is fascinated by everything Indian – except the food!). My youngest daughter doesn’t tolerate henna on her skin, so it was her chance to enjoy the experience 🙂

I find New Year’s Eve a very powerful time spiritually to set intentions and feel deeply into what it is I want to achieve in the coming year. I so appreciate the time and opportunity to do this together with my family.

Apart from this meaningful work, my daughters decided to make party streamers and cut up several paper napkins and used lots of cellotape and paper to create this ‘contraption’ (taped to a bucket!)  🙂 At midnight we waved them around like crazy cheerleaders and did a happy dance 🙂 followed by some time out on the terrace viewing the fireworks. We collapsed into bed at 1am exhausted, but happy!

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I shall leave you now until we return from our holiday. My mother is feeling better now and will join us on Thursday and my husband seems to be fine now too – hurrah!

Wishing you all every good wish for a joyful, peaceful and abundant 2018.

Memories of Christmas 2017

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It is the sixth day of Christmas and the New Year is almost upon us so I thought I would pop in to share a few of our Christmas memories from this year.

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We made it to the cinema on the 22nd to see White Christmas and it was a lovely experience for us all. I have never been so immersed in the film (I am usually knitting or multi-tasking in some way!) and I found it very funny and heartwarming. We had a break half way through too so we could stretch our legs and have a drink and munch on the popcorn we had brought with us. T’was fun!

We had friends over later that afternoon so we spent some time baking and making sweet treats on the 21st December, which was enjoyable – both the baking and sampling 🙂

 

The stars and heart biscuits are a German recipe. The Germans I know bake a wide variety of delicious “Plaetzchen” (in their hundreds) during Advent to offer around at their cosy Advent get togethers. I have memories of looking into the biscuit tin with wide eyes, not knowing what to pick first – you are so spoilt for choice! I imagine I took a fair few! 🙂 Many have ground nuts in them, which mine do too, instead of flour which makes them nice and chewy – yum! We also made more carob sweets ( I shared the recipe here) and date truffles (the recipe is here), which were both suitable for our guests who are gluten intolerant/vegan/avoiding sugar.

 

For us, Christmas really starts on Christmas Eve when we attend a Christingle Service at a local church. The service is geared towards children and there is a lovely storyteller who weaves the story of the Nativity beautifully. We never grow tired of it. Each child is allowed to add a figurine to the Nativity scene at the front of the church and they also each received a Christingle. The service always sets a reverent mood which we appreciate.

Of course the children were also eagerly anticipating Father Christmas’s visit. We follow his journey using the Norad Santa Tracker and we always leave him and Rudolph a snack.  Father Christmas has a penchant for Baileys we think 😉 Before bedtime, we spent a little time sitting by the fire singing all the carols we know and other Christmas songs we enjoy before trying to get the girls to bed – hmmn…needless to say they were rather too excited to have an early night!!

We were up bright and early and the girls ran into the lounge with glee to discover that the magic had happened overnight- I just love to see the wonder in their eyes. With my eldest being eleven, I am very conscious that this could well be the last ‘magical’ year for her, but I think she has a strong wish to believe, so you never know….I think I was over twelve….time will tell.

 

The magic also happened on the Nature Table as we welcomed dear baby Jesus to the stable.

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The shepherds (and sheep!) arrived the next day

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and the Kings started their journey to Bethlehem and will arrive at Epiphany.

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We spent a really peaceful Christmas Day in each others company. It was lovely to have a slow day after a busy Advent. We opened presents, had a delicious breakfast made by Daddy and went out to see a brass band perform Christmas songs at a bandstand half an hours drive from where we live. We do this every year for a change of scene and some fresh air and it is a really fun experience as the conductor gets everyone dancing and interracting with the band in various fun ways. We brought along some coffee and Baileys (for the adults) and mulled apple juice for the girls and some home made biscuits of course 🙂

 

Then we came home to eat lunch, followed by several games of charades – we do love a game of charades 🙂 As it grew dark, we went for a walk around our area to look at the Christmas lights, singing a few carols as we walked.

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And later that evening, we cosied up on the sofa to watch a ballet film performance of the The Nutcracker  (from 1993 with Macauley Culkin) on YouTube. We found it a couple of years ago and it is a really lovely film for children to watch at this time of year, especially if they don’t have access to the Ballet locally. My daughters love the costumes and dancing and the choreography and casting is great. Very magical.

As for homemade presents, I actually managed to finish the Teddy Bears on the 23rd December!!! It did surprise me!  It was a close call and I promised myself I wouldn’t be up late on Christmas Eve finishing them off as I was last year, so I was open to finishing them off by the New Year, but somehow it all fell into place. A little Christmas Miracle 😉

My daughters love them so it was worth redoing them from scratch; starting again just over a week before Christmas – eek! Anyway without further ado, Meet Milly and Molly 🙂

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Milly in the green is a little smaller than Molly due to the green yarn knitting up differently, but no matter.

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I added little ribbons to their heads so they appear more feminine. I wasn’t sure about the way they looked initially as I was making them so quickly, but I am happy with them now. The main thing is that the girls are smitten 🙂

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The girls sewed and knitted us some little presents. They didn’t have much time, but we were really pleased with what they made.

 

A double sided gingerbread house for Daddy from our youngest daughter, complete with little gingerbread man and lady and a gingerbread lady for me.

 

Our eldest daughter knitted me a hairband and made Daddy a cute felt snowman.

We also spent Boxing Day by ourselves because the girls wanted to spend the whole day in pyjamas and we realised we were craving this sort of family time. We saw a couple of friends on the 27th and 28th, which was a nice contrast. We also took our friends for a walk in our locality to look at the lights including a model village that some people had set up in their front porch in aid of charity.

 

I must say, those model villages do bring out the childhood wonder in me – I could have gazed at all the detail for hours! 🙂

Well, I had better be going as we might be heading to sunnier climes tomorrow. The trip is in  doubt at the moment, despite being all packed, as my husband might be coming down with something and my mother can’t go as she is ill (we have been on several winter holidays where my husband has been ill for the entire time – poor him 😦 – so we won’t risk it if he isn’t well tomorrow morning….) So I am still unsure where we will see the New Year in. I wrote about how we celebrate New Year’s Eve here incase anyone is looking for some nice ideas of how to make it more meaningful.

Well, I shall leave you now and wish you all a wonderful New Year 2018! May it be a blessed year for you all. 

Linking with Ginx Yarn Monthly Link Party and Crafting on at FrontierDreams.