Saturday, 31 January 2015

Slimbridge Sunday

Though we love living in Somerset, the major downside is that we don't have family living within less than a two hour drive away.  To maintain relationships we often plan trips which are partway between each others' homes.  That way, we only drive an hour each way and a family meet up is much more do-able in a day.

One such meeting took place last Sunday - fortunately a beautifully sunny, crisp winters day, at Slimbridge Wildfowl Centre.  In my former life I spent a few months employed assisting the Swanherd at Abbotsbury Swannery and knew lots about different wild fowl.  I am still very passionate about conservation and wildlife; although I had not visited Slimbridge myself I had heard good things about it so we were all really looking forward to spending the day there.  The children donned their borrowed binoculars and joined a whole host of 'twitchers' excited about what they could spot.

We met the Hubby's folks there, I hired a scooter (by donation - a fantastic option for mobility impaired people) and we set off to explore and witness as many different breeds of birds as we could.  We were certainly not disappointed.

Unfortunately, I have forgotten so much of my former knowledge - I simply couldn't mentally access the names of birds that seemed so familiar.  So frustrating!!  On the flip side, we all enjoyed looking them up in our bird books when we got home.  I loved that.  It extended the fun and the learning for us all.  Although... I think we could all spot these pink fellas - beautiful flamingos!!  There were actually three different types of flamingo there and we sat for some time watching their interesting antics.  They really did have personality!

I was really impressed by the accessibility of the site.  So much of wild terrain is beyond my access now and yes, if you wished there were more wild areas to visit; you could go further 'off road' or out towards the wetlands.  However, the main path accessed all the key areas of the reserve, were well maintained and it was a delight to share this completely as a family.  Some of the ducks and geese were tame enough to be fed by hand much to the Littlie's delight.  There were also a couple of play areas and trees to climb to burn off excess energy when needed - perfect.

The sheer diversity of birds and wildlife at the reserve was awesome.  I love the abundance of creatures in our world and the idea that just a fraction of the total are sheltering in this reserve.  I find it a very spiritual experience to witness so much beauty surrounding me.  There were a whole range of wildfowl (some of which are pictured above), three different types of Swans...


...and even some harvest mice!!

A very interesting, inspiring and wonderful day.  It was a brilliant way to enjoy a rare blue skied, crisp winters day and we enjoyed the whole day there.  We all left with lovely memories to treasure of time spent with family and I was reminded of natures beauty and abundance.  Happy Days.

Happy weekend folks, 

J9 x

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Make Me Progress ~ Mid January

Stitch by stitch, each day I make a little progress on this blanket and continue to be delighted with the pattern.  I did however, make a rookie error whilst joining the squares (something that I'm not very practiced in).  I used Sandra's amazing instructions (provided with the pattern) but got carried away a bit and joined identical squares together (at the column joining stage) by mistake.  To avoid this mistake I simply had to turn the column.  A simple mistake but I had nearly completed the joining process by the time I realised that my rose centres weren't alternating.

I confess, I did consider leaving it and just carrying on but I knew that each time I saw the blanket in future it would be the thing that I noticed rather than feel pleasure from having completed it.  So, this meant pulling it apart and rejoining them correctly.... grrr.  I have joined most of the squares now and this is where I have gone off pattern.  The reasons for not using the pattern faithfully were partly for speed, partly because of my rheumatic hands getting sore and partly because I was crocheting the larger sized lap blanket and thought that some plainer squares would offset the more intricate designs of the roses well.  So, I completed the Painted Roses squares and flanked them on all sides with basic granny squares.

I have joined the squares with yarn that I had in my stash (purely to make this blanket a little more thrifty) and I am now at the stage where the edging needs to be crocheted.

I have made a few Teeny Tiny Flowers to sew to the centres of the granny squares to help link it all together and to add a bit more texture.  I've yet to add these but I think they will be quite effective.

You may also remember that I plan to use a lovely teddy fleece to back the finished crochet blanket. I plan to join it with blanket stitch around the edge and then incorporate this into a crocheted scalloped edge.

I have two more weeks to go until the planned 'Gifting' day so I hope to make quick work of the final stages.

I look forward to sharing my first Make Me ~ Ta Dah  of 2015 soon!!

J9 x

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Grow Your Blog 2015

Hello and Welcome!!

This is my little place in Cyber Land - Simple Things.  It is a place where I post sometimes regularly, sometimes sporadically about a whole range of things.  I am a disabled mum who is slowly adjusting to a 'new normal' following a life changing accident.

I blog to record family milestones and time together.  I blog about what makes me happy to pause and savour the experience and to celebrate the Simple Things in life that create happiness for me.

I love to be creative; crochet, card making, baking, sugar craft and home loving.  I share my makes here and have vowed to be spend more time being creative in 2015!

I take lots of photos of random things which I find beautiful and love that I can share them here and it not be considered weird!!  I've enjoyed meeting like minded people during my time in Blogland and hope to develop this further in the year ahead.

As you probably already realise, I am delighted to be joining in with the Grow Your Blog party 2015.

It would be lovely if you followed along with me in 2015. I hope that it will be a great year for us all!

J9 x

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Little Lady Bakes

As I've mentioned previously, Little Lady is well able to whip up a sponge from scratch by herself. Such was an occasion yesterday.  After tea had been eaten the ringing call for pudding was made by my two Littlies (who are currently eating through a growth spurt).  Yoghurt? Or an apple?  came my reply.  Their faces told of their disgust at this idea three nights in a row...

CAKE came the reply in chorus.  I'm not making a cake this late in the day I said (around 6pm).  Oh I'll do it Mummy and the boys can have it for supper when they get back from footy.  With this, I could not argue and so sat at the kitchen table supping a cuppa whilst the Little Lady measured, poured, cracked and whisked.  I step in at the oven stage and a little over half an hour later we have two beautiful sponges cooling on a rack.

A thin spreading of Nutella sandwiched the two halves together and I melted some chocolate for the topping.  At this stage LL took control again, pouring all the chocolate on and spreading liberally with a spatula and then going all out with my copious jars of sprinkles.  I do think there is joy in these little jars - even looking at them makes me happy.

The outcome was artistically described by LL

"A night sky picture of the universe with stars (silver stars and balls), planets (coloured disks arranged in circular shapes) and comet tails (extreme use of tiny sprinkles) emerging from the planets".  

It was a very creative concept if a little excessive in reality.  Which begs the question, is there such a thing as excessive sprinkles?  I'll let you decide.  Gladly cake is not baked or eaten daily in this house - and on this occasion it was a delightful treat.

I hope you are enjoying a little sweet something in your part of the world.

J9 x

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Happy Moments #1

These posts are nothing new or original.  They are an illustration of my gratitude for Simple Things in my life over time.  Project Gratitude helped me to heal emotionally following my accident and has now become habit in my everyday life.  This was a major reason for me creating this blog as I was writing about these things anyway.  Through adopting this practice I have found (as have so many others) that taking the time to reflect and be grateful for all the little things that make up our days... changes the routine into special times to be appreciated.

Quotes | Your mind is a powerful thing. When you fill it with positive thoughts your life will start to change.

I'm really enjoying...

::  My Energetic Companion
Hee hee, this picture makes me laugh!!  Milo is such an indoor dog I cannot begin to tell you - excepting his two favourite places: the garden (in dry weather only) and any beach.  Last Monday (an inset day) we made the most of a dry spell and ventured out to Brean Down.  It is a favourite choice - great for blowing the cobwebs away and for burning off some energy.  Milo literally ran and ran, playing fetch, eating seaweed, meeting new friends and generally bounding around in complete exhileration.  It is lovely to watch.  As you can see from the picture though, he got rather messy and after a bath I'm sure there was approximately half of the beach in the bottom of the bath tub!!

::  Loom Creativity
Apologies for the poor picture quality but this 'fad' is still in full swing chez nous.  Little Lady struggled with the return to school and missing out on time together.  To solve this constructively (I told her it's the law to go to school much to her disgust) we established a "Time Together" contract.  Essentially, we make the most of the hours after school (when clubs allow) to create, make and play.  I felt really positive about this - she requested to spend more quality time with me and we carved out a plan so we could make sure this happens - regardless of my health.  So, we can loom, read, play cards etc (from a predetermined list I'll have you know!) in my big bed if needs be.  She just wanted to know we could do it and when... LuSH!

This week it has comprised lots of looming.  She received £10 from her lovely Aunty and Uncle for Christmas and chose to spend it on the above magnificent case.  She was beyond delighted.  We have made bracelets, people, butterflies and have many more patterns in our sights.  Little Lady is far better than I - my bands keep snapping much to my frustration but it is the time, not the act that we both value.  The gentle conversation that ebbs and flows so naturally whilst sat in concentration together.
::  Hyacinth Love
I bought this for myself last week and it is just coming into bloom.  I have such anticipation for the smells that these pretty flowers produce.  The anticipation of slowly watching the flower heads grow each day and begin to open out on my kitchen window sill gives me pleasure each time I enter the room.
::  Comfort Food
My meal plan has included some lovely comforting home made food this week.  Shepherds pie with cheesy topping, a nice roast chicken and our favourite homemade pasties!!  These were swede, potato, onion and cheese - a pinch of seasoning and a small knob of butter to aid the juices.  Hmmmm.  The diet isn't going too well ;0)

::  Date Day
Enjoying a cappuccino with my Hubby in a 'new to us' sheltered nook on Clevedon sea front.  I think we'll come back another day with the kids for an explore!  Why does sipping coffee that has a frothy top and is brought to you by someone else seem so very luxurious?!  I'm a cheap date I think ;o)

I find real joy in pausing to appreciate the little things in life and know that it adds greatly to my well-being.  It has been a week where I've needed to recognise them; whilst trying to fight off some horrible virus.  I hope you have enjoyed some happy moments this week too.

Happiness is letting go of what you think your life is supposed to look like and celebrating it for everything that it is.

Happy weekend lovely people.  Next week I shall provide an update on my hall Pretty Me project  and my Make Me project!!  Both of these have consumed my child free time this past week and have meant I've not been online at all since my last post!  Hopefully I'll grab a while to catch up with your lovely blogging soon!
J9 x

Thursday, 8 January 2015

A Happy New Year

I breathed a long, protracted sigh on Tuesday morning (after taking the children back to school for the first time this year) full to the brim with mixed emotions.  We could happily have filled another week together but another week of ignoring the chaos on the home front would not have been so good!!

The new year brings with it new opportunity, fresh thoughts of de-cluttering and home loving which I always relish.  The new year seems to energise my body and mind with a need to create and decorate. After the Christmas decorations came down those empty spaces and marked walls literally seemed to scream please 'pretty me'.

I've never been one for new year resolutions but I do fully embrace the renewal of potential within the weeks ahead.  I'm a real planner and have already written a monthly evening meal plan and a budgeting plan for January.  I've also written lists and am developing plans for the home front.  I am a list maker and love to indulge in ticking off those items - it gives me a sense of achievement and real pleasure.

l e     

I've decided that I will share some of those plans here.  It will help me stay committed to my plans and perhaps provide a thread to connect otherwise random posts throughout the year.

My aim is at the beginning of each month to post a commitment, with the aim of achieving those objectives.  I've decided that one of these projects each month will be a home 'Pretty Me' - decor / home loving type of project.  Plus a minimum of one other creative project - a 'Make Me' commitment.  I won't be overly ambitious - as I want to achieve my objectives whilst pacing myself and my health.  But for the remainder of 2015, I will share progress (and hopefully big ticks) on the tasks I've committed to at the beginning of each month.


Pretty Me
Priority #1 - definitely my stairs and landing - a need for paint, new blind and complete 'spruce' is required.  It will be budget constrained as most of my future projects but I'll do my best with minimal financial input.  I'll share a before (which is quite shameful) and after here and it will be my decorating project for January.

Make Me
Priority #1 - to complete the Painted Roses Blanket which I started during December.  I confess I failed to complete it before Christmas but my Mother comes to visit on 23rd January so I have now vowed to finish it for then.  I have all the squares made but I need to join and edge them.  It is looking pretty gorgeous I have to say and I can't wait to show you the finished item.  It has been a real joy to make and if it hadn't been for my rheumatic hands I would not have put it down.  The Ta Dah will come by the end of this month!!

So you saw it here and I must therefore make it happen!!  I hope you will follow along with my little Pretty Me ~ Make Me ventures.  I do so love to see what you lovely people get up to and hope that you will enjoy me sharing my newly non procrastinating self!!

Thank you all for reading and commenting over the past year.  It has been a great year for developing blogging friendships and I know 2015 won't disappoint either if you lovely lot share along with me. And welcome to new readers - it would be lovely if you would share in these ventures too!!

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Happy Holidays

Hello Dear Readers... please indulge me and allow me to share some Christmas time images despite it being early January!  I do struggle to find the time to blog during school holidays with so many demands on a finite amount of time.  Regular readers will know how I share a quick catch up post simply to create a record here and hence this is my 2014 Christmas post!!

We spent our first Christmas Eve (since the Baby years) away from home this year, staying with the Hubby's brother and family and we all enjoyed it immensely.  The Littlie's had cousins to share the excitement with and we could all enjoy the magic of Christmas together.

On the home front, I decorated three trees this year:

a large one in the Living Room:

...a medium one in the Conservatory...
and... a small one in the kitchen.

Each had a different theme.  The first was BRIGHT and BOLD.  The second was RED and WHITE and the third had a WOODLAND theme.

It is the first year I've used all the trees we've collected over the years AND it was the first year I'd actually themed a Christmas tree.  Normally I load the big tree with my favourite decorations.  It is true that I have a slight obsession with Christmas decorations.  I always joke that it is my main legacy of 'things' to be left in a Will.  'Pre' children I had a real obsession - a time when finances were less stretched - but it has meant that I now have a varied collection that I adore.  It is also lovely to see my children share in the delight... to recognise different much loved decorations as they unwrap them after them being stored for a year.  Some which they have made over the years... a few from travels to New Zealand... many gifts from friends and family who know of my LoVE of decorations plus many more bought and treasured over the years.

We decorated on the 30th November this year and really enjoyed the decs until the last few days.  During the first week of January I did begin to crave the space.  I took them down yesterday and vowed I wouldn't put up so many next year.  Although Little Lady did say, "But it looked so lovely Mummy".  

Oh, in that case, give me a few months and I'll have forgotten how long it took me to pack them away ;0)

We returned home on Boxing Day and my mum arrived the next day to stay until New Years Eve. Then the first few days of January were spent relaxing, looming, crafting, playing cards and board games, reading, watching movies, eating too many sweet things, enjoying gifts and generally being together.  Happy times.  

I hope you all had some happy times together over the festive period.  I am completely behind on reading and commenting on your lovely blogs but am so looking forward to Thursday when I've 'scheduled' a mammoth catch up in Blog Land with a very large cup of coffee!!  I can't wait to see what you've been up to and next time I'll share my plan for 2015!!

J9 x

Tuesday, 6 January 2015


Way back in October, when the grey days were upon us I decided that I would book a family treat. An experience to look forward to and to raise our spirits in the grey days leading in to winter.  I kept the actual experience a secret from the children - simply telling them that on that specific day in December we were having a special family day out.

And boy, it did not disappoint.  Perhaps I was most excited of all as it was my plan - although Little Man was a very close second.  We stood on the platform waiting with the beautiful steam train on a cold and crispy winters day full of anticipation.  It puffed in to the station and we chose our seats in a lovely, vintage carriage.

We enjoyed sherry and mince pies (and the children juice and chocolate) before arriving at our destination - another quaint station housing Father Christmas in his grotto.  I was a little disappointed at this stage - it was clearly a 'person helper' of the big man but the children were happy and went away with a nice little gift!  

Whilst we were at this station the children could get into the cabin of the steam engine and properly look at the gauges, fire and handles - very special.

The weather was kind - a beautiful winters day which added to our enjoyment as we were on our journey.  The Somerset countryside passing by our window at a beautiful pace.

On our return journey we played Jenga (Little Lady's gift from Father Christmas) and they built with the bricks.  It was a real joy to spend such quality time together in this way; momentarily taking our family back to a time when life was much simpler with less distractions.

This is another wonderful memory captured whilst the magic of Christmas is fully embraced and I shall treasure it.

This post was drafted mid December awaiting photographs (a cause for delay) and thus I've added them and pressed publish to record it here.  I do so hope you had a wonderful Christmas Time.  I've another catch up post to share soon plus lots more to share over the coming days,  Take care,
J9 x