Friday, 31 January 2014

My GYB Giveaway!

As promised dear readers, this is a blog post in homage to my Gifty Giveaway!  I had an enjoyable time yesterday having a mooch around a store to select the items to compile in this parcel of goodiness.  My mission was to try to find some pretty things; something not too big, not too heavy, something that won't be an issue at customs (I had considered some pretty scissors) something that may appeal to the readers of this blog.  Hmmm... lots to think about!

I settled on some items that may help with general tasks at home - all with one thing in common.  I think they are very Pretty!!

Included in the giveaway is:

A pretty floral pen, a red spotty retracting tape measure, a little jar of buttons, a lovely little clipboard, pad and pen, a couple of pretty envelopes and floral stickers and some muffin cases.

Ah yes, that's a nice little selection.  ANYONE is welcome to join in and if you win you'll have this parcel winging its way to your part of the world. 

Simply leave me a comment below before 13th February 2014

Winners will be announced on 15th February (or if time fails me as close after that date as possible!)

Follow along if you'd like but no pressure!  This giveaway is open to anyone who leaves a comment on this blog post OR on the Grow Your Blog post - whether you have a blog or not.  It is also open to those living in the UK or overseas.  Those that have left a comment on the GYB post and on this post will be entered into the draw twice.

Good luck!!  Welcome to my new followers and readers who have found me through the Grow Your Blog party.  I'm gradually making my way back to those bloggers who have visited me - I will pop back it's just my time online is sporadic at best!!  I hope you'll come back and visit my bit of cyber space soon!  Happy Weekend folks!

J9 x

A County Under Water

It's been a wet and windy January here in Somerset.  The light levels have been so bad over the past few weeks - the rain simply has no let up.  We do make the most of the dry spells but it is beginning to really wear on us all now.  The sea front is just a few miles away from us and the Council made a huge investment in the flood and sea defences over the past 5 years and it is apparent that these have really saved much of the town.
Somerset floods latest: Thousands saved thanks to Weston's £29 million sea defences
Picture courtesy of Cheddar Gazette
We live high up on a hill and are not in danger of flooding but the surrounding roads are failing to drain the water that runs off from the already water logged fields - these floods alone cover 44 square miles of Somerset.  This view can be seen from a hilltop which we pass on the school run.


We live in a farming area with lots of arable crops and animal stock being the core of the local business.  It must be such a struggle for the farmers in these weather conditions where the rain has been relentless. 


The picture below is just stunning I think visually but really highlights the extent of the flooding outside the River Tones banks - you can see how the river normally flows and undulates through the landscape.


I really feel for the villages that are flooded and isolated by the water on the levels - some of which have been flooded since Christmas.  It seems that flood risk is an ever increasing problem here in the UK and the weather does seem more extreme.  Currently the main way people get around or are rescued from their homes in these conditions is by boat.  Our support services are doing amazing work - often risking their own lives in difficult conditions.  We are so fortunate to have such good emergency services and to have a wealth of wonderful volunteers but of course this has limited impact on those affected.  My heart goes out to all of those that are flooded (or who live in fear of flood) across the county.  

I hope the water ebbs soon for those in danger and that the Army (who have been drafted in this past few days to help with the situation) are able to improve things drastically for those people. 
Yet more rain is forecast again this weekend which will fall on already saturated or flooded land.  There are flood warnings across much of the South West of England.  The resilience of those people affected is staggering and I send positive thoughts to all those struggling in these conditions this winter.
The kids and I hope to travel down to Cornwall this weekend to visit my Mum so I hope the weather improves for our journey too.  I hope to post about my giveaway early tomorrow before I leave but if I don't manage it - I'll post it on Tuesday!!
Have a good weekend,
J9 x 

Friday, 24 January 2014

'Grow Your Blog'

It is fair (although a little scary) to acknowledge to relative strangers that I started my personal blogging journey following a life changing accident.  Six years ago my life had changed beyond recognition - my body was broken and for a while my mind was lost.  And then after operations, physical treatments and on-going pain management and physiotherapy, I forced myself to accept my change of circumstances and to... choose happiness - not self pity.  To choose positivity over regret.
I had found escapism through reading some wonderfully popular blogs and recognised elements of my own personality in different places across the world.  This combined with the fact that I was journaling to help process changes that were happening in my life meant that starting my own blog seemed like another positive step.    My home journaling was mainly to recognise things each day that were good... positive... made me happy.  They were little glimpses amongst some very hard times but they were to be clung to.  And over time, recognising these things 'despite it all' became habit.  How wonderful is that?  In the bleakest of times, human nature can learn to focus on those moments of happiness and have faith.  And now, when I am incapacitated through pain I value Simple Things; small, everyday, natural, emotional or home based moments.  Please believe I'm not trying to say I have all the answers or that this was easy.  It completely wasn't.  But it did feel like a moment of clarity and helped me to find my new place in our world.

I blog for two key reasons - to more effectively record and appreciate all the transient elements of everyday life that bring happiness and secondly, to find a creative outlet to share all the things that I make, up-cycle or crochet with like minded people.  Through the love of my family, my friends and a few new friends my mind has healed and although I struggle physically... I am more grateful for my life now and SO appreciate the freedom to give more time to my family than I was able to before.

A friend once observed that I have an 'Old Soul' - and it is true that perhaps I was born in the wrong era!  I'm a lover of all things vintage (and did so before it was trendy and will do when it is well out of vogue!) and home made - there aren't too many with a similar attitude to me where we live.  This fantastic thing called blog-land means that I can find other people who value the simple things, nurture their family and home and embrace the randomness of photographing all things that inspire!  The balance on this blog has been largely family focused during the last quarter of 2013 and whilst I want that to remain key I do also want to gain confidence in sharing some more of my own makes this year.
So in an effort to go out of my comfort zone, I'm joining in with this 'Grow Your Blog' exchange.  I have been fortunate to meet a few wonderful people through this bit of cyber space and hope that 2014 will bring more my way!

As part of the huge gift Vicki of 2 Bags Full is organising with this Grow Your Blog event, I thought I'd join in the giving by holding my own giveaway.  Please just leave a comment below on this post to be entered.  I'll write a separate post on the giveaway next week - hopefully the light levels will be a bit better than they have been today (torrential rain).
The winner of the Giveaway will be announced on the 15th February so please go ahead and leave a comment on this post.  You can be entered a second time for leaving a comment on the actual Giveaway post next week too.

Happy New Year to all readers and welcome to those of you that are newly visiting!  I hope that you enjoy your visit to my bit of cyber space - take a look back through my first year of blogging and see if any of it floats your boat!!  I'm looking forward to reading some more inspirational and wonderful blogs taking part in the event too!

Janine x

Thursday, 23 January 2014

FAMILY - A Perspective in Poetry by my Little Man

I've had this post in my drafted items for months.  I came across it this week while I was endeavouring to get back on track with trying to journal family happenings over recent weeks - which I am dismally behind in!!  It would be a real shame if this was left as a draft, so in the spirit of  valuing the important things in life I'm pressing the publish button.

Way back at the end of July whilst we were writing our summer bucket list, my little man was sooo happy.  He had lots of ideas of crafts to enjoy and places to go.  Like many across blog-land, the summer bucket list has become a ritual that we all partake in and often the requests are so simple.  They don't ask for the world, more often just time in different situations.

The following day he presented me with this saying "Mummy, I love you.  It's great what we do together".

It read:


Family's are the best thing to have.
When you need them they hug back.
You dream about all the happy things that you do with them -
Nothing is better than Family.
They do anything that you like.

I was blown away.  He had just turned six.  Such a wise little man.  Such a proud Mummy.  Of course I've framed it.  Beneath he had drawn a typical house and stick people of our family.  No matter how I try I cannot get the photograph any clearer - but hey, you get the vibe!

I guess, at this time of year when we can get consumed with the commercial image of what modern life 'should be', this can pose an important reminder of what is actually valued by our children.  Plus, I hope that one day, when my littlies are older and find this... hopefully they will smile and remember happy times.

That's what I wish for...

God Bless,
J9 x

Monday, 20 January 2014

December Days

This year the festive period passed in incredibly relaxed family focused splendour in our household.  We have very few family traditions around Christmas time but fully embrace the opportunity to actively enjoy our time together.  My mum came to stay with us and arrived on the stormiest day (in the SW of England) of 2013.  Bless her - by the time she had made the journey she needed another hour in a chair, cradling a cup of tea before she returned to her normal colour! 

Little Man played a wise man in the school nativity.  It was a moment to treasure as this will be the last year he gets to perform the nativity.  Bless him - he did speak so clearly and concentrated so very hard.

We hosted a get together for Ben's side of the family.  I picked up a multiple games table in the charity shop for a bargainous £15 which I put in the shed for a timely Christmas present.  This party seemed the perfect opportunity to give this to the children- a full day of snooker, table football and table tennis ensued!  Such fun!

On Christmas Eve we went to the village church to take part in the Christingle service.  It was the first time I've been with the children since Little Lady was a baby.  They thoroughly enjoyed the service - Ben is not religious and didn't come so I was really glad of Mum's company.  I love the message of Christingle and the participatory element of this service. 

We managed to avoid eating the sweets (which represent the seasons and all things good God gives us) and they held centre stage on our Christmas table.

The elves delivered new pyjamas on Christmas Eve and suitable snacks were left out for Father Christmas and the reindeer.  On Christmas Eve morning, the children decided to write their letters to FC.  Would you believe it? I managed to encourage them to understand that FC had probably already wrapped and decided what he was to give them considering for the previous 12 hours he'd been delivering to children in New Zealand and Australia etc. so wouldn't have the opportunity to alter anything. 

On the morning, not one item on their lists was in their stockings.  Gladly, it completely didn't matter.  They were so very thrilled with each little package.  They laughed and tore, hugged and skipped.  Magic.

The kiddies had crafted a couple of surprise gifts for us - sew lovely!!

Christmas Lunch was gorgeous, comprising a roast chicken with all the trimmings - can you believe the price of turkey at this time of year!?! We all ate too much (but lots of veggies too!) and it was sooo yummy!

I extended our kitchen table and made a makeshift bench for the children to sit at so we could all sit in our new kitchen.  There's my girl - "Cheers - ing" with a Yorkshire pudding!!

It felt very festive with all our warm white fairy lights (I have to confess they are not coming down from my dresser and are now a permanent fixture!)

Our December Days continued in a Lego making frenzy, craft and cake making and a surprise visit to Paulo's Circus.  Little Man helped Paulo & a Clown with some tricks - confident as anything in front of the audience.  Hubby returned to work quickly after the Christmas celebrations but mum remained plus he was off on the weekends so our days passed in happy contentment. 

I do love the time between Christmas and New Year.  We're not at all materialistic either pre or post "the big day" and our time is very family focused.

As a family we have little expectation; a mixture of playing, eating, crafting and relaxing in PJ's is the order of our days!  Oh yes, that is an eye mask holding Little Ladies hair back - she struggles to sleep and a mask is a real aid for her!!

Its all over far too quickly - the inevitable return to school and routine ensues.  I'm not a fan of the New Year.  January holds both hope and uncertainty for us this year especially.  The Hubby was told in November that is job won't exist in 2014 and he will find out by the end of the month whether he will be made redundant or redeployed.  Either way, his level of job is removed and thus either no job or less money is the result.  Great.

I shall try to keep this space all fluffy and positive but there are definitely some hard times ahead. Christmas and its resulting quality time together was a welcome distraction for us all.  The magic that children find in this time of year is enough to raise the lowest of spirits!!  In the interim, we shall trust in the path that we are on and believe that ALL will be well.

Happy New Year to all my wonderful Bloggy Followers and Friends - here's to a fab one!!
J9 x