Tag Archives: Christmas

Christmas Day

Christmas Day is an odd one; all that build up and rush for the world to stay still for a single day. Or increasingly not.

The pressure to batten down the hatches and forget the run of the mill whilst having the prefect day with loved ones. All that planning, worry and stress for one day of the easy life.

That day is now done and dusted for another year and the world can return to normal. I am back at work for another week, but very grateful of the few extra days spent with family. It was not a complete day of closed down; I still stopped at a petrol station and filled up whilst taking my sister and her partner to their Christmas dinner and my brother still managed to find somewhere to purchase instant coffee when to his horror the jar was down to the last few mugs worth and that is living out in the sticks.

Today (Boxing Day) I had to visit the supermarket with work, as much for the trip out as the young man I care for cannot stand to stay in, and there is more or less panic buying after the single day of close down; very little bread in the aisle, the fridge containing milk was nearly bare and very few fresh goods were left as we walked through the doors. Beside the empty shelved people were phoning loved ones “there are only a few loaves left, how many do you need?… Well, you can always freeze it” and this was a super store supermarket not the small town ones I am use to.

It makes me stand in wonder at the world and how it turns in a ‘normal persons’ life. The world is now a changing place and I truly believe that others will look back at this behavior as a time of madness, the shops have been (mostly) closed for one day that people have had a years warning of and yet this kind of stock piling is the result. Didn’t everyone eat enough yesterday? I highly doubt these people went without but how would they cope if something went awry?

This is not just a personal flight of fancy either, although I do often long for a return to something more in line with my ideals of how the world should work, it has already happened more than six years ago in Cuba when they were ‘cut off’ and their imports of oil were halved and food imports dropped by 80%, The Power of Community: How Cube Survived Peak Oil was made in 2006 and is amazingly hopeful watching if there is time for a little bit of insightful watching during the remaining festive period

Hand made winter greeting cards…

Winter greetings cards - December 2012

Winter greetings cards – December 2012

Made by own fair hand…

Dear Secert Santa

Under my normal rules talk of Christmas is banned until December the 1st and only then if people really have too but this year has been different, I have not managed to avoid noticing the shelves in supermarkets became laden with Christmasy things at the same time as they bought out the Halloween things e.g. as they packed the summer BBQs, furniture and outdoor games and I have already spent some time poking fun at some friends who have already completed and wrapped their Christmas shopping (their argument is that it is now done and, apart from food shopping, there is nothing more to do and so can enjoy themselves and possibly poke fun at me when I go shopping in the week before Christmas…)

But any way, that is not why this year is different. This year we are having a family ‘Secret Santa*’ instead of everyone getting everyone else something we have all taken a gift tag with someone’s name on it and we have all written a list or something that we would like, to the value of about £25, and stuck it to the fridge.

Hopefully this will mean that everyone gets something that would like to open on Christmas Day and not so many ‘things’. I like the idea of a family ‘Secret Santa’, it makes the idea of present giving a lot simple and more personal.

*normally we only have Father Christmas at home but ‘Secret Father Christmas’ doesn’t flow so well

Present lists

Firstly, just to make completely sure that this cannot be mistaken, I like and am grateful for all the presents that I received over Christmas and the thought that has gone into them.

Now for the “but”… I don’t know where to keep any of it. I am having a real downer on “things” and “clutter”, not that I am thinking of a single present as clutter but it all adds up to more stuff, and I am sure that more “stuff” is only going to keep me happy or entertained for a finite amount of time. It is all stuff that I will value and treasure and use, but…

I am not an easy person to buy presents for; there is just never anything that I really need or want and most of the time I have no idea what I would like for Christmas or Birthdays so if I don’t know what I’d like how is anyone else going to stand a chance of knowing.

This year I want to cut down and cut back to what is really important, the things that are going to get me closer to “the good life” and stuff is just not going to help me with that.

For example, me and Rhys were given a few cheese collections, which is an ideal present in most ways. We both like food, and cheese is one of my favourite foods, it is a gift that we/I will enjoy, but it did remind me that one of the things on my long list of “things I am looking at”  is cheese cultures and cheese wax. A gift of a set of, or one or either of these I would be over the moon with and it would help me on my quest for self-sufficiency. Another example; I’ve been given some of those bathroom-bubble-bath-shower-smellies sets, again something that I will enjoy but what I would have really liked is a book of recipes for making these things myself leaving me with the nice-smellie-things but without the empty plastic bottles when I have finished and the pretty box/basket that I will keep and use to sort more “stuff”.

Does that all sound amazingly ungrateful of me?

I don’t mean it to at all. I desperately want out of the “stuff” part of life, “stuff” is meaningless at the end of the day, but I do need “things” and enjoy “things” it is just getting the balance right. The solution that I have come up with is lists, I just hope no one is offended by them (I will try writing a nice letter and include that with it, everyone likes nice letters…)

28th December 2009

Cows eating hay - Christmas Eve 2009

Well, that is Christmas over with for another year, and it passed in an unremarkable but pleasant way. The snow and ice stayed around to make it a white Christmas day but then cleared on Boxing Day to give a few days rest before the four to eight inches of snow that is forecast to fall tomorrow morning reaches us. The week between Christmas and New Year feels a little like limb and seems to last longer than it really is.

Donkeys eating hay – Christmas Eve 2009

On Boxing Day I got up to find that we had had a fox attack during the night, some left dead, two injured and others fine still in their house. Unfortunately I think it was my fault as the door wasn’t done up properly. The two injured ones are in the house by the stove and doing ok.

 Other than the fox attack it has all been quite, I got some lovely presents including a jacket and a woven scarf or wrap. I got my new camera but they sent the wrong model, the one up from the one that was ordered, but it doesn’t record sound so it is going back.

Christmas shopping

It snowed again whilst I was out Christmas shopping yesterday, when I arrived in town it was coming down quickly and settling and I was worried that I would have to leave to get home safely but it didn’t come to anything and as I left town there was just a light sparking in the corners that we left undisturbed, which could just as likely been the remains of a hard frost as snow.

I’m pleased with my Christmas shopping this year; most of it has been bought online but not from big store websites. Some have been from Folksy and others from individual websites of the people who make the items. And of course there where the presents the came from the LETS market.

What I haven’t bought from these places I have tried to get locally, even if it has just been the local supermarket. Yesterday I went to Gloucester for two presents these were both things that I couldn’t find local, or didn’t have a clue what to buy the person so needed ‘browsing’ time for ideas. I have one more present on my list and then have home-made hampers to help put together for Rhys’s family.

It would have been lovely to have made more of the presents this year, but time is never on my side and I dislike starting to think about Christmas to early as having to long a build up makes the day feel almost like a let down when it finally arrives. 

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A big change around here in the last few weeks is the Rhys has a job, he is working shifts so isn’t always off on the same days as me. He also starts work earlier than me so even on the days that I haven’t been working I have been awake earlier than normal but I am enjoying it.

For the last few mornings I have got up and spent leisurely time surfing the internet, reading blogs and discovering new ones, catching up with friends I haven’t had time to stay in contact with via email and researching this that are important to me that I never seem to have time to spend reading about.

For example, since I first watched A Farm for the Future I have wanted to find out much more about grass, a subject I doubt many people even think about let alone want to find out more about which means that the information I am looking for is buried and hidden away but I have finally started to learn more.

There are ten thousand species of grass, it makes up 25% of all plants on the planet. Rice is a type of grass, which started being cultivated for food by humans ten thousand years again, with over half of the world’s population now relying on it as a food staple. Wheat, another kind, underpinned the development of Western civilization and now covers more of the land than any other kind of plant

 This morning on the way back from dropping him of I called by at the allotment to see what was happening up there, very luckily as it would turn out as one of the nets had come off the kale and the rabbits had eaten half of it, stems and all, right down to the ground. I pulled the net that was on them back over and then added an extra one, which I had to unfreeze from its spot on the ground, for extra protection.

Christmas tree earrings

Seed bead Christmas tree earrings in green and redWell, the long dark evenings really do seem to be the time to spend being crafty and making things, in between my habit of wasting a lot of time on the internet which I’m getting increasingly annoyed with myself for doing.

This time it has been seed beading and I have been making little Christmas tree earrings. I came up with the design half way through December last year, when it was much too late to really do anything with but I was pleased with the idea.

Seed bead Christmas tree earrings in green and redI have been planning on making some and maybe taking them to Christmas craft markets with a friend since October, and so far I have managed to make the grand total of… TWO PAIRS.

I have added the green and gold pair to my Etsy shop as I do plan on making more and adding them before the end of the festive period, it is still not quite December the 1st after all. With the red and green pair, the very first complete pair that I made, I would like to send them to one of my blog readers.

I have seen a few give aways and posts about things that people have ‘won’ or been given lately and it seems a nice idea, and as they are the first pair that I have made I would like them to go somewhere special where they will have a story attached to them.

So if you would like a chance of ‘winning’ them please leave me a message saying so, making sure that you include a valid email address in the formy bit. On the 5th of December I will put everyone’s names into a hat, or more likely a bowl or box, and pull one out. Simples (yes, I have been watching the meerkat advert)

Christmas Carrots

This is a little later and not as long as I had planned (the camera’s batteries kept going flat, and of course I hadn’t even thought about needing such a thing at Christmas) so there are a few stops and starts but I think you can get the idea of it any way.

The carrots weren’t as big, or as purple, as I was hoping for but they still tasted very nice!

pict0067

Winter Solstice

Today was the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. From now on days will be getting longer and everything with start to wake up.

As a sort of celebration I have spent this evening making paper pots and sowing peas, carrots (to be grown in buckets until the warmer weather when they can go outside) and a few leeks. I’ve been reading a little bit about how leeks can be started off now in polystyrene boxes  so thought I would try it.

The carrots and leeks were also to do my second bit of moon planting, so far I’ve only managed root crops on the right day, last weekend I planted some onion sets and garlic.

Rhys has spent this evening making chocolates for Christmas presents, and when I first got home from work we tried to ‘candle’ the quail eggs. It didn’t work but I’m hopefully, the weight has changed in them from how it feels when they are first laid. It will be time to stop turning them in the next day or two ready for hatching.

Getting ready for hatching

I’m getting ready to hatch some quail eggs, I’ve been collecting the eggs and turning them for the past two days and the incubator has been washed and is running ready to put the eggs in on Saturday.

It seems like an ideal time of year for hatching now, especially after the disaster of the lot of eggs that I tried hatching in May, all the quail are inside for the winter now so it’s not an issue hatching chicks now and having to have them inside until the spring as everyone is inside any way. There is almost no chance of any thunder storms, which I’m sure was the many problem with the May hatching and if I set the eggs on Saturday hatching will happen around Christmas eve which means I will have a few days off for it but there will be other things going on so I won’t be as likely to keep wanting to have a peep inside to see what is happening.

Some of my current quail are getting on for two years plus now so their life expectancy isn’t that much longer either so I need to be replace them too.