Just about bordering on odd, I see things through different eyes.The heading says it all - I live, I love, I craft, I am me...

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29/12/2017

Thank you Mum and Dad

As a result of an over active imagination and a rather vivid nightmare, I am sitting quietly downstairs with a mug of tea, two sleeping cats and one cold foot. After mindlessly scrolling through the internet until my brain felt distracted from the dream I found I'd actually woken myself up fully and despite it being 3.25am - I thought - I should blog now and why not !

Chrimbly has been and gone and it proved to be a gently food filled, fire warmed and a family orientated one. I made a conscious decision to scale back on decorations, choosing only to have the tree and door wreath this year. I'm glad I did. It was enough.
Gifts, which were thoughtfully chosen, hand made, wisely purchased or (in the case of Himself's gansey), wrapped in an incomplete state nestled beneath Treebeard. This delighted the cats as they carefully stepped over the crinkling wrapping paper while they investigated.  It made a change from their slightly over enthusiastic bauble bashing or tinsel chewing which had occurred over the last few days. 
We, as per family tradition, ate our main festive meal with my folks on Chrimbly eve. They pulled out all the stops. The table was beautifully decorated - well done Dad! and the meal was gorgeous - well done Mum (although I do suspect you were trying to feed the five thousand!)
With our bellies under severe pressure from all the feasting, we all waddled to the lounge to collapse and recover while we played a few games, laughed at silly jokes and chatted. It was a lovely evening.
Chrimbly day dawned beautifully sunny and bright - such a wonderful change from the recent dour and wet stuff we'd been subjected to. My folks were joining us for 'late breakfast' - which was more 'mincepies and coffee' than porridge or toast! But if you can't eat mincepies whilst opening pressies - when can you?
Lunch was, what we affectionately call 'iffits' .... If  it is left over - we'll eat it. So, last night's chrimbly dinner, now as sliced cold meats and ham, plus freshly made Butternut, lentil & red pepper soup and Basil pesto & cheese lunch loaves very quickly filled us up....  A lazy settee afternoon was the perfect finale - with my Dad (and the cats) bravely fighting off the need for a nap!
Later, when it was just us, the used wrapping paper and ribbons sorted out and tidied away, Himself and I sat with a mug of tea, the cats and a sleeping dog. Our boys quietly vanished upstairs - leaving us to chat.  It was a gentle couple of days -  a bit too much to eat admittedly and a fridge full of left overs - thank you everyone - it has been wonderful.


20/12/2017

Textures and secrets and confessions

After a few weeks of what felt like a foggy filled head and no idea what to do or buy or make for Himself I was suddenly inspired. I had been quietly knitting for the boys and when on the hunt for another ball of wool in my stash, I came across this.....

A number of Isle of Auskerry balls of squashy roughness that Himself so loves. I did the unthinkable - I actually sat down and knitted a couple of swatches. I.have.never.done.that.before..... Then came the search for the perfect pattern.
Not too complicated for me to make (due to shortage of time and lack of knitting prowess) and one patterned enough to satisfy Himself's love of the gansey and aran styles. I eventually found one called Beaver Ridge and feverishly cast on.
Initially I was able to knit in plain site - pretending I was knitting myself a hat which, bless him, he did not question. But as it grew it became obvious that this was no hat - so I had knit when he was not around. This proved a little difficult as I needed to paint during the day (fulfilling chrimbly commissions etc) and then trying to disguise what I was knitting in the evenings.
Eventually I gave in.... and admitted what I was doing, because I needed to measure, the now nearly finished back piece, against him.  He has a slender frame and I was worried that despite taking that into consideration, this gansey would be too wide.
Having confessed that the knitting was for him and not a hat for me, he replied that he'd hoped the knitting was for him and not a hat for me - so YaY the secret was out - happy all round!

Now, I suspect I may not finish, despite knitting like a daemon, I still have the front to do, pick up all four pieces (doing the second sleeve at the moment) and knit into the neck and sew up the sides. So, on Monday 25th, whatever stage his gansey is, it will be wrapped and under the tree for him to open. I will then retrieve it and carry on so it will be finished as soon as possible!


Wish me luck!

18/12/2017

Mistle-NO - the alternative advent 18




Around this time, every year, we meet with Himself's side of the family for a festive family meal. This year was no different - well, um, it was slightly different this time.... let me explain. But first, make yourself a drink and get yourself comfortable and I shall start.

We live on one side of  Widdop Moors, our village nestled on the lower slopes of the main hill and the in-laws are on the other side of the moorland range which is reasonably high. There is a scenic (if a little hairy) narrow single width wild road that clings to the side of the hill as it winds its way over the moors. In summer it is beautiful, isolated, unpredictable and in winter - a little unforgiving. Himself has driven on it for years and knows it like the back of his hand. We have in the past crossed the moor road in really icy conditions with our knuckles white and our eyes wide and sighed a sigh of relief when we have returned down back to the valleys.

Last Saturday, we set off just as it was getting dark, the roads were well gritted, the sides of the roads were snowy and the hills were sparkly and white. We drove up and out of the village,the sky beautifully clear with stars being to appear.

As we drove higher, I mentioned to Himself that the roads were still clear and gritted.... he replied that we still had the moor road to contend with.......which we did a few minutes later. It fortunately appeared that this lonely little road was also gritted too, so we continued.

(With hindsight...) This is when we should have turned around. Here. Now. NOW.

But - hey... we carried on. The first little drop in to the wild valley was quite icy and we slipped down carefully, Himself turned the radio down low, so he could hear the crunch of compacted snow beneath the tyres.  As we reached the bottom the road cleared and we set off on the now apparently gritted surface. Himself dropped down a gear and firmly set up the long incline that starts the moor road.

(Hindsight again?) This is when we should have turned around...here NOW NOW.

We slowly but steadily continued up the incline, the road becoming quite icy with more and more snow encroachment. Conversation dropped and the radio turned off completely. You could hear the tyres alternatively catch and pull or slide on the ice. But we still made progress. The road flattened out for a short stretch, ice was clear, there even seemed to be grit down. So we carried on. Even in the dark I knew where we where and the steep steep steep drop on my left.

Another incline. Himself dropped down a gear again and we continued - I glanced at the car's clock and wondered if we would get there in time as we crawled along the road. There is an alternative sensible route but it is rather a long way round. Suddenly we could all feel the car start to slide and Himself muttered.... 'we've lost it, we've lost it' and he turned the steering wheel frantically to force the slide into the ditch rather down into the ravine.

For a moment we all sat in the dark with the engine rumbling and the car precariously perched in a ditch when Himself said .... we're going to have to walk home - it'll take us about two hours' .

Then, after a moment's thought, he told me to slide over onto the driver's seat and keep my foot on the brake while he and Youngest leapt out of the car and pulled out the snow chains.  Although he had already pulled the hand brake - he reasoned that as the hand brake only held two wheels, having the other brake on would hold all four wheels and hopefully help reduce any possible sliding. In the bitter air, with their heads wreathed in their exhaled breath, the two of them wrestled the chains onto the front wheels. They struggled to stay upright, gripping the car for support as they shuffled around. I was instructed to turn the steering wheel left or right to help winkle the chains beneath the tyre.

Finally both front wheels were chained up in their rather medieval looking manacles. Himself then climbed back into the car and (this rather startled me) he told me to get out. His reasoning was that if the car was to slip off the road he would rather Youngest and I were not in  it with him as it went over ... a sobering thought. He started to reverse carefully back down the hill.

I carefully tottered down the side of the road in the dark in my 'going out shoes and floaty Indian skirt' neither sensible nor warm for this sort of activity. Youngest quite happily slid down the ice on his feet with the ease and invincibility of youth on his side.  Suddenly the chains both came off the car and it started to slide faster than it should have. Himself quickly threw it back into the ditch to brake the slide. I had to climb back in, restomp on the brake while the boys replaced the chains and then once again, Youngest and I were back out on the road and Himself carefully started reversing back down the road.  I must reiterate how narrow this road is, hence him reversing and not turning round and reiterate how steep the ravine is - which drops away from the road with in a pace or two of the tarred surface.

55 minutes after our initial slide into the ditch we finally reached a part of the road where the gritters had given up and turned around and gone home! Himself managed a careful three point turn and then allowed us back in the car. Shivering I quite happily jumped in. He trundled the car down, still in the chains until we found somewhere wide enough to get off the road. He and Youngest then had to try and get the chains off which now were ice-welded together and virtually immovable. It took a bit of chain-wrestling and they finally came off. Much to all our relief. They got into the car, hands filthy and frozen cold but triumphant. Now we just had to get to Hebden Bridge and sharpish - looking at our watches we knew that the dinner we were attempting to get to should have started 20 minutes earlier and we still had to get there. Our new route took us another 30 minutes.... we were late....and they waited for us!!

Woo hoo - dinner never tasted soooo good!

PS - we came home the long way too.

I will probably not blog regularly for the rest of 2017 as life is a bit full at the moment! Something to do with it being December etc, but I will bob in and say hello and check what you lovely lot are up too - thank you Julie for organising this month's advent calendar :) it has been fun!





17/12/2017

Wrapping paper - the alternative advent 17

When you are kitten,
the gift is more fun once unwrapped
and cast aside,
then you can get down to serious play -
with the paper!
Those eyes are looking for trouble!
The crinkle of the paper is purr-fectly irresistible !
You can't see me-ow...

16/12/2017

Tree - after - the alternative advent 16

Not much to say............ except...

 Treebeard - take it away!



Joining in with Julie's Advent Calendar 

15/12/2017

Tree - before - the alternative advent 15

Last Sunday, just before the snow, Himself went out into the garden to collect Treebeard..
Yes, our chrimbly tree has a name and like everything in our lives, 
a story too.

A few years ago our artificial tree (purchased over a decade ago) finally stopped looking good and was needing more than the usual primping and tending to make it look acceptable.  I had been hankering after a real tree for a while but had been put off by the price and the inner-frugal-me kept saying that the artificial tree would last another year, would last another year, would last another year, when one evening Eldest and I went to our local supermarket. Outside in the cold and wrapped up tightly was a crate of trees. I stopped and looked at them - they were both affordable and some were even marked down.  I hesitated, so Eldest went over and investigated. So I followed - as you do....

Well,to shorten a longish and not very riveting story, we brought one home and in keeping with our ethos, it was the smallest, wonkiest and rather misshapen tree with branches missing - coz we both saw it needed a home and love.

Now, several years later, with the help of judicial pruning, garden twine to train branches, Treebeard is beautiful and he graces our home with his presence and pervades our nostrils with his delicious scent during December while he wears his festive finery with such grace and gravitas.

Then, once he has done his festive duty, he is released back into the garden to frolic with the other trees that also reside there. He soon takes up his outside responsibilities - to act as a decoy for the cats, to catch cherry blossom in spring,bird feathers in early summer and leaves in autumn.

He is a happy tree and we love him :)




14/12/2017

Christmas cracker (jokes) - the alternative advent 14

Did you hear about the stupid plastic surgeon?
Yes. He stood in front of the fire and melted!

Doctor, Doctor! Everyone thinks I'm a liar!
Doctor: I don't believe you!

Father Christmas lost his umbrella but he didn't get wet! Why not?
Because it wasn't raining!

How can you get your name in lights the world over?
Change your name to Emergency Exit!

How do monkeys make toast?
Stick some bread under the gorilla!

How do you start a polar-bear race?
Say 'Ready! Teddy! Go!'

How do elves greet each other?
"Small world, isn't it?"

How do you describe a rich elf?
Welfy

How long should an elf's legs be?
Just long enough to reach the ground!

How does Father Christmas climb up a chimney?
He uses a ladder in the stocking!

I say, I say, I say! My wife's gone to the West Indies!
Jamaica?
No. She was quite happy to go!

What happened when the snowgirl fell out with the snowboy ?
She gave him the cold shoulder !

What do snowmen wear on their heads ?
Ice caps !

If I'm standing at the North Pole, facing the South Pole, and the East is on my left hand, what's on my right hand?
Fingers!


sorry :D






13/12/2017

First chrimbly card - the alternative advent 13

We celebrated our annual knit and natter festive lunch on the 5th December and cards were handed around (well - the more organised handed them out and the less organised sort of shuffled her feet and made excuses (me)).

Any hoo, although I had a few to open, this one was the first out of the envelope, so this one has the honour! (thank you Gillian!)

Now, I better sort this year's cards out.....


Joining in with Julie's Advent Calendar 2017

11/12/2017

Snowman - the alternative advent 11

Trawling through my images looking for something for snowmen, 
I came across a few pictures I'd forgotten about.

Like this snow mama my sweet wildaboutwords 
and I built one lunchtime at work a few years ago.
She was strong and she was taking no rubbish!
Sno'way!
Then there was this cheerful chappy,
built by Youngest, several years ago, using every last drop of snow
in our garden.
He gave the snowbloke a fezz
and salubrious smile

Trawling further back,
I came across this fellow,
from times when my two were knee high to a grasshopper
and we spent a happy school day at home 
thanks to the school being closed due the snow.

Joining in with Julie's Advent 2017

10/12/2017

Holly and Ivy - the alternative Advent 10

Yesterday we had our annual 'wreathy making thing' where we meet and chat and eat and make. It was lovely (as usual) and we had a goodly selection of youngsters with us this year. So often with these sort of events, the participants are friends and happily mature and age all together. This particular annual fun day now has the next generation joining in and creating lovely festive wreaths and decorations with us too. Now, that can't be bad.

So, what happened? Well, there was eight of us and between us we made one star, one heart, two bunches and 13 wreaths. We make not only for our front doors but for friends and family.  And as well as our creative prowess,  we managed to heroically munch our way through a most delectable Jacobs join, mincepies and cake, tea and coffee.

So, how does this fit in with today's words from Julie?  Well, apart from all the leylandii, yew, sitka spruce, laurel, acuba japonica we always have HOLLY and IVY and this year, Eldest and I used the variegated green and gold from our garden.

Want to see some of our efforts?
Clockwise from top left - wildaboutwords - front door,
AG - front door,
Eldest -  small wreath for uni-digs, SG - heart wreath for memorial bench.
Clockwise from top left - SG - for front door, Jak - star (to go in window and light up at night),
Eldest - large wreath for different uni-digs,
Jak - large wreath for front door.
Large image - My frosty front door tangle wreath 
(the image does not show how HUGE this thing grew!),
top right Me - Moss' doggy day care lady's front door,
bottom right - AG - friends front door.


Having just added these photos, I realise I have not taken photos of everyone's beautiful creations - I try to record our efforts and must have hundreds of images from over the years. Never mind, these give you a flavour. And yes, some of those wreaths sitting on a snowy ground.

Any hoo - a few more pix of said huge white tangle wreath...


Joining in with Julie's Advent 2017,
see you tomorrow x

09/12/2017

Christmas Bauble - the alternative Advent Calendar 9

 Bauble babble - Random facts (or fiction?)


Vintage glass bauble - German origin from approx 1930s
  1. Originally based on fruit and nuts - the precursors to the glass variety - baubles were invented in Germany in the town of Lauscha.  The earliest recorded glass shapes blown and filled with lead or tin and painted with thin layers of wax, were from 1847.
  2. It was thought that a poor glass blower who lacked the usual decorations of fruit and nuts, blew little glass orbs as replacements to hang on his tree. 
  3. The town of Tlalpujahua in Mexico makes 38 million glass baubles a year of which approximately 26 million are exported. It is the 5th largest festive bauble maker in the world.
  4. In 1848 an engraving of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and various children standing in front of a heavily decorated tree was circulated in both the UK and America. In 1850 the drawing was reproduced and Victoria is shown without a crown in order to appear more 'normal' and less regal so not to alienate the colonial viewer.
  5. In the mid 1500s Germans brought branches of evergreen during winter to encourage the spring to return. The decorations of fruits and nuts and in some cases blown eggs shells, were hung as a symbol of hope and rejuvenation. 
  6. It was also believed that by bringing in the branches or trees, not always a fir, would help keep wood spirits warm while the fruit and nuts would keep them sustained.
  7.  Although not baubles, metal and glass bells were hung in the tree to alert the home owner to the possibility of sprites hiding in the tree. As they quietly slipped through the branches, it was hoped their movement with make the bells tinkle.
And if you have not decorated your own tree yet and fancy a little mindless distraction pop over HERE or HERE or HERE and add a few baubles to the trees ;)

Part of Julie's Advent Calendar 2017



08/12/2017

Sleigh - the alternative Advent Calendar 8

On my quest to continue an alternative view to the words supplied by Julie, sleigh stopped me in my tracks.... then with a bit of thought and northern nouse* I think I've have come up with an excellent alternative.

Sleigh -  a Dutch word with an alternative spelling of sley - an old English spelling (from before 1050s) is also associated weaving fabric.  Sleighing (sleying) the reed was to draw the warp ends through the heddle eyes of the harness...are you still with me?

No?

No, me neither - I had to look it up !

yardage – Page 9 – Warped for Good
(source  http://www.warpedforgood.com/category/yardage/page/9/)

And in simplified terms, it is the action of pulling the yarn through the reed (the comb) with the sley (hook) which, if you look,  is the same shape as the runners on a sleigh!

So now you know!

Joining in with Julie and her Advent Calendar 2018



07/12/2017

Bells - the alternative advent calendar 7

Pepper and Pan, our cats, are two very different creatures.

One - Pan, is a princess with a wonderfully haughty outlook on life and believes her hoomins are only there to serve her, feed her and open the door when she requires. We can only really show any affection when she needs it and only for as long as she can tolerate it. We, her hoomins, slavishly allow her to dictate.
She will wear but intensely dislikes - a collar and bell.

Pepper, is an effusive, bubbly, maddeningly over friendly little furry humbug that, give or take a few things, is virtually bombproof. We often call her 'Blunderpuss' for good reason :)
 She quite happily wears a collar...... and multiple bells.

Both girls have to wear their respective collars and bells when in the garden. 
To notify the birds, 
to notify us 
and to notify the neighbours where they are.

Pan - despite being a huge fluffy coated part Turkish Van cat with a predominantly gleaming ice white coat can completely vanish in the garden. Somehow she becomes invisible and transparent as she slides through the vegetation, disappearing from both ours and bird's eyesight - hence the bell.
Pepper - who is not road savvy, knows no personal or garden boundaries and sees fences and walls as an invite to leap up and over - wears a harness and six bells. Two below her chin and four from her chest so we can hear her every tinkle and jingle around the garden.  The number of times we have had to pull her off the fence between us and a neighbour just as she was about to go and say 'hello' to his aviaries full of exotic birds!!!

 So, jingle bells is for all year round and not just for chrimbly time here in our house!! 

So - there, an alternative bell story to Julie's Scrapbook Advent Calender 2018

You can join in too - just pop over to her page HERE for the list and instructions as well as see the other bloggers who are taking part.



06/12/2017

Robin - The alternative advent 6

Waaay back in September, 
inspired by my visitors to the bird table,
I started painting a robin...
or two....
or three!
 

Ever wonder why there are robins on cards? 
In times past the postmen wore red tunics and were called 'Robins'. 
So during the festive season, 
more 'Robins' than normal, were seen delivering gifts and cards.  

The bird itself was originally called 'Redbreast'- in the days before the word orange existed
(are you with me so far?) 
Then, it became a habit that birds were given a 'full name' 
so the Redbreast became Robin Redbreast, 
the wren became Jenny Wren 
and the daw was called the Jackdaw.

Interesting isn't it? 
How language evolves, words get lost or morph into new ones. 
I find it fascinating!

So - there, another alternative to Julie's Scrapbook Advent Calender 2018!

You can join in too - just pop over to her page HERE for the list and instructions as well as see the other bloggers who are taking part.

05/12/2017

Stained Glass Window - the alternative advent 5

A couple of years ago, I borrowed a couple of liquid chalk pens and made our own 'stained glass window'.  Best seen at night as during the day it had less impact - think I might do it again this year :) Watch this space!

Joining in with Julie's Advent Calender pop over HERE to see what is going :)