Right Now..

Rusty wrapped up warm

..I’m recovering from a whirlwind week of friends, family, gifts and outdoor adventures. I’m thinking back to races round windy hilltops, and outrunning the tide on a wintry beach; fighting for chestnuts with a pack of cards and choosing outrageous comments for points. We shared our home, and plenty of delicious food, talked books with friends aged 7 – 70, and gifted some homemade goods.

Papercut and syclamen photo collage

Looking down at 4 pairs of boots on the beach

I’m ready for 2015: to say goodbye to some old challenges and relish the thought of those to come. I’m equally excited for the quiet moments and and the full on technicolour happenings.

But, before Monday arrives and we start truly hurtling towards midsummer, I’ll be taking a moment to catch my breath- write my alphabet year and look back on last year’s. So, ’til Monday, I hope you enjoy these late, quiet moments of the festive season to look back on your great adventures of 2014. And may your 2015 be a sweet one.

Red squirrel on a fence in Alverstone

Easy Festive Wrapping

Candycane homemade potato prints

Potato printing was one of the many homemade crafts I remember doing at the kitchen table as a kid. Twenty years later, I’ve inherited not only the kitchen table, but also the crafty inclinations. Tom and I spent part of our Sunday cutting simple Christmas shapes out of potatoes to stamp some festive wrapping paper.

I discovered that curved shapes are difficult and had a ‘tiny’ childish strop when my snowman didn’t turn out right. But, the great thing about potato printing is cheap materials; and it’s easy to slice off a layer of the potato and start with a once-more-blank-canvas.

Potato print christmas wrapping paper photo collage

I’ve always loved wrapping with brown paper, adding little extras to make it feel festive. There are countless great ideas out there. Tomorrow I intend to forage for forest floor evergreen, to add to my paper-stamped, twine-wrapped, homemade gifts (shh.. I can’t tell you what they are until the 26th!)

Almost there..

Rusty running to the top of Appuldurcombe Down, Isle of Wight

I’ve finally almost made it through this term. Just one more week of dashing around the county, hauling training materials and delivering endless workshops. It’s been a bit like the Rusty Roadshow these last few months. I enjoy training, but have recently done so much I feel like I’m auditioning for Groundhog Day 2. No wonder I’ve been trying to take a chilled approach to the festive buildup.

Things should start winding down this week, albeit with a bittersweet tang. On Friday I say goodbye to three members of the team, who I’ll sorely miss. We’ll meet over coffee and mince pies, with an eye to the holidays and the fun to be had.

I’m looking forward to mornings under the duvet with a book, restocking the wood pile, seeing the family, and sampling plenty of homebaked goodies. Just one more week to get through first. I hope your week treats you well.

Gingerbread decoration hanging from tree

Have Yourself a Mellow Little Christmas

Paper star lanterns at Winchester Christmas Market

I’m an incessant list-maker. I can’t even break the habit on a weekend. I’m not far off adding ‘relax’, right next to a neat little tickbox. I know – I have a problem. And even if you’re not in the Listers Anonymous group, lists do sneak up on us round December. After all, you’ve got to keep the fridge stocked with all those extra calories, and make sure you’re ready for the office party/lantern parade/nativity play; not to mention adding to the pile under the tree.

I love all the cliches of Christmas: the roasting chestnuts, the carols, the twinkly lights, and it’s all too easy to miss it in the holiday blur. So this year I’m being careful about what I put on my list…

  • Sing carols
  • Make a gift for someone
  • Shop local
  • Bake something yummy

That’s enough to get me in the festive mood. Anything more I’ll consider a bonus.

A Wintry Week

Tree at Newtown, Isle of Wight

Looking down at boots by a puddle

It’s been wet and stormy round these parts; a well-chosen week to be off work, drowsing under the duvet or snoozing by the fire. But even this stormy weather is worth being out in. I loved the adventure of getting caught running the coast path in a hailstorm: a Christmas Day first for me. And the perfect stillness of Newtown after a storm passes is wintry perfection.

Truly though, I only go outside so I can max out on being lazy at home, for which the Christmas holidays are perfectly designed. Visiting family, eating delicious food, and laughing/shouting over games, is the perfect way to tire yourself out, ready for another big snooze under the duvet. I’m due a little more happy hibernating before the new year arrives..

Tom opening presents by the Christmas tree

Holiday photo collage showing gingerbread, plastic penguins and Bryony