Saturday, 31 December 2016

The Annual Looking Back Post

The last day of 2016 and could it be the weirdest year ever?

Odd unexpected happenings here and abroad....................but I have no intention of writing about those!

For us it meant serious illness, giving up the smallholding after 23 years and a house move into town with Colin in hospital for long periods. Then 2 grandchildren, a wedding and another house move planned and the shock of finding  that we've got to go through the hospital stuff all over again........just further away.......


Here are some of the photos that make up the story of this year
Leaving our smallholding behind wasn't easy, this photo is from the summer of 2013

 and leaving  all my bookshelves wasn't good either.
Town Life - so different to living in the country

Buying a beach hut has been a wonderful idea, although if the council bring in plans to change the way they charge people we may be priced out, yet unable to sell.


 
Four generations when our first grandchild baby Jacob Rhys arrived in May


An interesting afternoon at this book festival finding out about British Library Crime Classics

A break in hospital treatment allowed us to have a few days away, this is Hereford Cathedral

Lots of sunny days at the beach hut

Brass band concert in Christchurch Park Ipswich

One of the nice things about town life is being able to buy cheap flowers from Aldi just a short walk away

One of the many second-hand book sales I've been to this year

Just a few of the library books that have been borrowed this year, in total 115 books have been read! and I've found many bookish blogs to read and enjoy which has opened up a whole new world of reading.


Baby Florence May arriving in October

Glimpse of our new home for 2017, we'll get there once the solicitor returns from her prolonged holiday and gets on with the paperwork. Pity none of our children wanted to be solicitors!

 Making chutneys for Christmas hampers

A visit to see Jacob in November

Holly on a walk in December

Son's wedding in December

One of my favourite photos from 2016, our daughters with the next generation

Celebrating the winter season without breaking the bank

The year has ended on a odd note too as Col picked up the winter Yuck virus from somewhere and has spent the last 36 hours in bed or in the loo! ...........but feeling slightly better today, thank goodness.

Anyway a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who reads and comments. Without you all this would just be a diary written in a notebook and lost.

Back Tomorrow..........looking forward.........it's the only way to go

Sue




Thursday, 29 December 2016

Trying

I've spent an hour trying to remember how to add another page for books I shall read next year to the top of the blog. As usual I got there in the end without really knowing how.
Is it just me?

Then I tried to bike to get milk and to the Post Office to check the size and post some letters, decided the roads were too icy so shouted back indoors that I was going to walk and went off leaving said letters in bike basket.
Surely it's not just me?

Otherwise all is quiet here, nothing of note to blog about except our youngest, OH and Florence came for a visit yesterday.

 Dressed in her Christmas dress and stripey leggings she looked so cute but too wriggly to lay still for good photos


I think I have  new followers - Margaret,Rita and Pam - Hello to you all from Suffolk
Thank you for ideas for Christmas hampers for next year

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Ideas for next years presents

Now Christmas is over here is a picture of one of the hampers I made for my sister and OH and Col's sister and OH. They were both the same except for the other basket I found at a car boot was square.
They had  home made Mango and Pepper Chutney, Cranberry Chutney, Orange and Whisky Marmalade and Lemon and Grapefruit Marmalade. Then a Tub of Drinking Chocolate, Mini Marshmallows and  White Chocolate sticks. Plus home made Rum Truffles, Mini Dundee Cake and last but not least - Chocolate spoons (mould from Lakeland several years ago) to stir and melt into the drinking chocolate.

Now I've given away my this year idea I need ideas for 2017's hampers please!

Thank you for many comments yesterday.
 For other frugal posts scroll down the blog until you come to Labels, click on Frugal Ways and you will find lots of posts from the past about our way of thrifty-ness. Of course most of these are from our life on the smallholding and things are different now, but being careful then is how we have savings ( The remainder of the smallholding sale money) and explains how we have survived the year here living on Col's Employment Support Allowance and the interest from the savings without actually having to dip into those savings very much at all.


Back Soon
Sue



Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Gifts without breaking the bank

This blog started off to be all about frugal living but because it's just our way of life I hardly ever mention it now. Anyway, here's a frugal type post today

Way back in the past, on one low (council roadman's ) wages and 2 small children we could never afford to give each other the sort of presents that we heard other wives and husbands swapped at Christmas.
Then later with three children and a big mortgage on the smallholding we still couldn't splash out on "top of the range" anything. And of course we didn't want to......... keeping the smallholding, feeding ourselves, paying the bills and treating the children were much more important.

Now years later we still don't bother with exchanging pricey gifts.
So I found Col two sweaters/jumpers from charity shops, (including a Christmas one that he'll be able to bring out every year!) and my presents were the Autumn Edition of The Scribbler
Retrospective Literary Review of Women's & Children's Fiction, Features and Criticism:

 - paid for using money in the Paypal account and my big box of Lindt - bought off the reduced shelf  from Morrisons using one of their Morrisons More £5 vouchers.
Do we feel hard done by........... with no Personalised Number plates, Coffee Machines, Perfumes or the latest electronic gizmo?
No of course not.
There's no point exchanging expensive gifts in December only to find you can't afford the electric bill in January.


I noticed yesterday that I have some new followers including Heron's View, Kelli and JE A, and possibly others who've not been welcomed. So hello folks and thank you for reading.

Back Very Soon
Sue

Monday, 26 December 2016

The morning after the day before

I hope your Christmas Day went well.

We were invited to Col's sister house where we enjoyed a lovely day with their family and Col's Dad and brother. Then our son, new daughter in law and daughter-in-law's sister joined us for tea and evening.

I took my camera but didn't take a single photo....Duh!

 The highlights of the day were the very strange present H had received from her other sister in law which kept us entertained and puzzling for ages and the Very Weird Game son brought with him...... Which involved trying to make your team guess what you were saying while you had a plastic mouth piece thing in your mouth. Nephew said he'd seen it advertised on TV and wondered who on earth would be daft enough to buy it ....obviously our son! It was a bit too reminiscent of going to the dentist but literally had tears rolling down everyone's faces.........Laughter or Horror ?............we weren't sure!

We then had a more sensible session of the LOGO game but decided we must have used the same cards last time we played as we kept getting all the answers right.

Col's sister and OH are off away for a few days so as there seemed to be enough food left for an army, she sent us home with today's dinner! I'd contributed savouries and the trifle for tea so the remains of those also came home......that's the rest of our days eating sorted.

Today? Books to enjoy and a ready made lunch and dinner.........what could be better.

Back in a trice
Sue


Sunday, 25 December 2016

Season's Greetings



 


Best Wishes And Thank You To Everyone Who Reads This Blog 

Enjoy Your Day

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Christmas Eve

Sausage Rolls today (cheating with ready made puff pastry)

and the base of the trifle, ready to finish tomorrow.
Our son and new wife, recently back from the mini-honeymoon called in yesterday with some wedding photos on a memory stick.

There was actually a photo of me that didn't make me cringe!
 and look what Col did on his facebook page after a bit of photo-editing (NOT airbrushing!)
A privilege to be married to this lady. Happy Christmas













Oldest daughter commented "Soppy!!"









Anyway, here I am, a 61 year old Mum of 3, Grandmother of 2, wishing you all a

Happy Christmas

Back Soon
Sue







Friday, 23 December 2016

Thursday and Friday

On Thursday we delivered one hamper of goodies to my sister. I said they needed to keep it somewhere cool but as their boiler had just gone wrong this may well be anywhere in the house! Hope they get it fixed soon but they've got in a stock of coal for the fire just in case.
We called in at the Gift Shop on the way home, so many pretty things - I managed to avoid buying anything except a photo frame for the picture of a one-day-old Florence that our youngest gave us when we were there on Monday.
Then a tour of the charity shops in Stowmarket but I didn't see anything I wanted or needed so we had lunch out - a rare treat - instead.
This morning the cheese straws have been made. They always look awful but taste good. I do wish I could roll out to an even thickness and cut to an even length, but It's never going to happen.

 


 I'll add the recipe to separate recipe page.
Sausage rolls will be made tomorrow.
I'd better go and get some cream as a traditional trifle has been requested - with multi-coloured sugar strand sprinkles of course.

Back Soon
Sue




Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Winter Solstice

When we went walking in the wood a few weeks ago a small branch of holly "fell" off a bush just as we walked by! How strange was that?
The holly is now indoors with bay and rosemary from the garden for the Winter Solstice and candles will be lit tonight for the first time.

 The older I get the more I look forward to this day when we know the days will slowly lengthen and spring will come around again, looking forward is the only thing to do.


I'd not come across this poem until recently, and now I can't remember where I found it.


The Shortest Day
by
Susan Cooper

And so the Shortest Day came and the year died
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, revelling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us - listen!
All the long echoes, sing the same delight,
This Shortest Day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And now so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.


Back Soon
Sue

PS The charity shop came up trumps with something to put the things I'm making for the hampers into. A Christmas tree shaped box and small gold filigree basket thingy with lid. Both on their Christmas table and reduced to half price. Excellent.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

A couple of quiet days

While the world and his wife is rushing around buying up trolleys full of food. Me and him have had a couple of quietish days.
On Monday we went over to Leiston to babysit Florence while our youngest went to the dentist. Florence was very interested to see us and wide awake and happy for an hour then grumpy when she got tired. Luckily her Mum came home then and we passed her back!
Back home to start the last of the hamper presents.Need to get them finished to deliver before Christmas. I spent half an hour searching for coloured cellophane bags that I knew were somewhere, just not where I thought. Found them at last and then the mini Dundee cakes wouldn't fit in them anyway. Resorted to cling film in absence of small tins which last year I was able to find at car boot sales. Still have a dilemma on how to pack the other things I'm making. The small kilner jars would have been OK but they are full of marmalade. Jam jars don't have a wide enough opening. I hope I can find something in one of the charity shops. I don't really want to buy anything new but might have to venture somewhere - like The Range or Dunelm- early tomorrow morning.

We had a phone call from our solicitor on Monday afternoon, or rather from her assistant. Solicitor is away now until JANUARY 16th..... nearly 4 weeks good grief and the stand in locum has pulled out at the last moment. So we can't complete the purchase until after then........how annoying is that. I had originally wanted to go with a big company in town but that was the company our seller is with so we couldn't. Harumph is all I can say!

Had a letter from the County Council  about Col's pension and he can definitely take it at 60 which is March. We will get a lump sum and then an annual sum. We can choose between a big lump sum and higher annual rate or a huge lump sum and lower annual rate. Given that Non Hodgkin's Lyphoma is treatable but never curable I think it had better be the latter choice. Not something that we ever thought we would need to think about but needs must. (Terrible grammar there!)

This morning we met with the MacMillan Cancer Benefits person  to see if Col is entitled to any more money after the end of December. We thought his benefits would end then but it seems that as he is in the support group they will continue until he retires in March.

I need to wander down to Aldi later for milk and then fruit from the greengrocers and that will be that until I wander down there again on Saturday.

Back Tomorrow
Sue






Sunday, 18 December 2016

A few mince pies and a lot of library books

I wasn't going to make enough mince pies to feed an army, but look what happened. This is 1lb flour and the recipe for sweet shortcrust is on my separate recipe page about half way down. They are all in the freezer to be shared around various family over different festive days.

A large heap of library books  were collected on Friday, lots that had been ordered have turned up all at once, goodness knows when I'll have time to read all these. The trouble is I'm now following lots of bookish blogs, I spot a book that looks interesting, hop over to the library site to see if they have it then instead of making a note somewhere for the future I press the Reservation button and end up with a lot to read.
'Lake Wobegon Day's is one that was mentioned somewhere, no idea what it is. Angela Thirkell - 'The Headmistress' is another Vintage Modern Classic reprinted in November. 'Christmas Around the Village Green' by Dot May Dunn is a memoir. 'A poem for every night of the Year' is a children's poetry book I wanted to look through. 'Island on the Edge' by Anne Cholawo - about life on Soay. 'High Mortality of Doves' is a new crime novel by Kate Ellis.  'The English Year' another book just to look through and the small book in the middle is an old Local Interest book titled '........and over here' memories about the USAF airmen when they were here in 1944.
And Whoop! Whoop! On Friday I  found another Persephone for £1.50 in the Samaritans charity shop in town. 
 Persephone 50 - Hilda Bernstein - The World that was Ours. Not a nice grey one, but one of their cheaper Classics but as my mum used to say "beggars can't be choosers". At the same time I also picked up this little gem for 50p.
It was published in 1949 and has several black and white photo plates. What I like are lots of quotes from writings of each period. This may well have been a school reference book as Batsford did lots in this style right through to the 1970s.


Back Soon
Sue

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Whoops or.............

......................how to embarrass new neighbours without even trying!

The lady who is selling us her house invited us over for tea and cakes and invited some of the close neighbours round so we could meet them. Very nice too.

Conversation goes like this
One couple were telling us how long they had lived in their house, saying they had moved here from Essex and had found everyone very friendly.
Another couple had moved there from London and said how lucky they had been to find nice neighbours as they had friends who had moved into another Suffolk village and hadn't been made welcome at all.
First lady pipes up with "of course Suffolk people always say you have to have lived somewhere for 25 years before you can call yourself a local"
Second lady says " I think it might be even longer than that, some locals can be very ....you know... unfriendly"

Conversation turns to where we have lived before as we'd already said we were in Ipswich but hadn't been there long. So we explained that we'd had a smallholding over near the coast for the last 23 years and before that we had lived in the villages of Bacton and Cotton just a few miles away across the other side of the A140.

"Oh you are local people then?"
Yes - I was born in Stowmarket and Colin in Bacton. Suffolk through and through!

Subject changed quickly!

There is a moral here I think!

Many Thanks for hat comments - I'm still not sure. There were just 4 of us wearing hats or fascinators at son's wedding so it's definitely going out of fashion now.
Apologies for not replying individually to comments, trying to write a post everyday and reading everyones December posts seems to be taking up all my time!

Back Soon
Sue

Friday, 16 December 2016

That hat (definitely not an advent photo!)

Some more wedding photos have popped up on various Facebook pages including me and That Hat


I can't wear a fascinator - hair to short! So it has to be a hat. The hat came off eBay (£5) it was navy and cream- the colours I wanted and looked OK but had a HUGE papery flowery thing on the side which was silly. I took that off, then the hat was too boring, so I fished about in my ribbons and bow box and stuck this bow thing on. I thought it looked much too daft to wear but went with it. Everyone assured me it looked very suitable for a wedding but I think they were just being kind!

Jacob demolishing Col's buttonhole rose
And our son looking super-douper slim - he lost 2 stone for the wedding!

I think that's all for wedding photos.


I'm running out of ideas for Advent photos and there are still 8 days to go so I may be back tomorrow or not.
Sue

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Christmas dinner for £10...........unless................

.........................you are 'sniffy' about frozen food.

I had never in my life bought frozen roast potatoes until this year. After all, why would I, we were self-sufficient in vegetables and most years Christmas dinner was completely home produced.
 Then came town life  and when I was home alone for 7 weeks and fancied roast potatoes, I didn't have any spuds in the house and anyway it seemed silly to par-boil and roast 2 potatoes. So I splashed out 79p on a bag of roasties from Aldi. And found they were perfectly fine and only 30 minutes in the oven. Then I tried parsnips and they were OK too.
So when I saw this Special Buy advertised at the local Co-op I had no hesitation in buying.
Turkey breast joint, roast potatoes and parsnips. Yorkshire puds and Brussels sprouts (Hmmm not sure about these) and a gi-normous Viennetta. £10 the lot. They have topped up the freezer and will be very handy after Christmas.
I bet a lot of people will throw up their hands in horror at a whole meal from the freezer, but surely this could be one way to save a heck-of-a-lot of money and still be traditional.
 

Back Soon
Sue






Wednesday, 14 December 2016

The Mystery of The Christmas Tea Towel

I opened the box of Christmas decorations
and what did I find on the top

This


Where did it come from?
Someone must have given it to me for Christmas last year...........
But who?
And why was it in with the Christmas decorations rather than with the tea-towels? *
I have no idea, I hope I said thank you to whoever gave it to me - how embarrassing .

Back Sooner or Later
Sue

PS Thank you for all the comments, we are still talking about the wedding and different photos keep popping up on Facebook. I'll probably share more - 'til everyone is fed up with them!

*Actually I think I know why it was in with the decorations........it was probably because so many other things had already been packed in boxes for the move.




Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Apart from a wedding................

..............other things have been happening here....................................

On Saturday we went to feed Son and Daughter-in-law's cat as they were busy with clearing up after the wedding, we happened to go via Needham Market car boot sale where I found this little book for 50p

 Then on Sunday Col had to return his waistcoat and cravat to the Posh Clothes Shop and we happened to go via the Portman Road car boot sale (and had we needed Christmas decorations we could have found enough to have trimmed a whole street of houses!)
Instead I picked up another book for 50p - you just never know what you'll find and a Tasha Tudor book from the USA was very unexpected.

Very odd how we 'chanced' upon boot sales both days wasn't it?

Later Sunday M and R called in on their way home from all the clearing up to deliver some of the flowers from the tables and a piece of left over Wedding cake. Oh it is good.


Monday we went to Asda to print out a few wedding photos so Col's dad had something to keep quite quickly (he is not well enough to  cope with a  wedding) We also delivered a piece of cake to him and took the lap top so he could see the rest of our pictures.

Last week we sold Col's bike on eBay so that's added a bit more to funds and we've found a photo printing website where we can pay by Pay Pal - so the bike sale will pay for some wedding photos.The machine at Asda turned out decent prints but they were a bit pricey.

A few books have been read although not as many as usual
Angela Thirkell - Marling Hall is one of the latest batch of her books to be re-printed by Virago Modern Classics. It's a good chunky read set in her fictional Barsetshire during the war years.
A.A.Milne -The Red House Mystery. Who knew that way back in 1922 the Winnie The Pooh author had written one crime novel? I certainly didn't until someone mentioned it on one of the book blogs I read. The library had a copy, I've forgotten the story already!
Bernard Knight - The Lately Deceased. Another crime fiction re-printed from 1963.
Melissa Harrison- Winter - which I've already mentioned last week.

According to my Books Read 2016 page I've read 111 books this year but so few of them have been Non Fiction and so many have been crime fiction. I perhaps need to even things up a bit more next year although it all depends on what turns up from the library or what I fancy reading of my own.
 
 Thank you for all the comments over the last few days.
Yes the wedding was at Knodishall church, I wrote about it HERE. It was an exceptionally mild day for December which was OK until we got to the Westleton Crown for the reception, where of course all the wood fires were lit and they were not able to have roof lights in the big restaurant open due to noise restrictions so as not to upset neighbouring houses in the village. Phew..... it was warm!

Back to Photos In Advent tomorrow
Sue






Sunday, 11 December 2016

Winter Wedding

On December 9th 2016 MC married RJ and she became another Mrs C just like me! So happy to have another Mrs C in the family, wish Col's mum was still alive she would have been so happy too.

Weddings may be much more complicated to organise than "back in our day" but they are much more fun!
Here are some pictures from the winter wedding (although the weather was unseasonably warm)

Caught this photo of Col and our son, just before we went into church. The Best man W - who has been son's best friend since they were 9 -  is behind and between M and Col and over on the left is Col's brother A - if he had noticed he was being photographed he would probably have taken a step backwards out of shot!
The wedding had a Christmas theme and we sang Ding Dong Merrily on High for the final hymn

Bride and Groom

Our Eldest, her husband and  Jacob


Our wonderful family ( minus Florence who had finally fallen asleep after being so grumpy all through the service  that B had to take her out into the vestry)

A choir entertained everyone with Christmas carols on arrival at the reception venue while M & R went off to Leiston Abbey Ruins for special photos
Extremely yummy Wedding cake which became the desert for the meal, thereby saving M & R the cost of an extra course!
The Proudest Grandad in the world with Jacob and Florence



The two little cousins get to know each other!
Son photobombing photo of his niece and nephew


Jacob enjoying his meal!
 
The newly weds first dance, wonder if anyone anywhere has danced their first dance to "All I want for Christmas is  you"!



A Good Time was had by all.

Thank you for comments over the last few days, I must get round to replying properly.

Back Soon
Sue


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