Tuesday 31 December 2019

2019..........Photos From the Year

As usual for the last day of the year I'm looking back at the photos that tell the story of 2019

Last January the first snowdrops were photographed for the blog  on the 10th, it will be interesting to see when they appear this month

In February I visited the wonderful special church at Blythburgh

In March I went to Bury St Edmunds and took some photos

April was the very first Easter Egg Hunt for the grandchildren. First of many I hope

May and the vegetable beds were starting to fill up

June and the greenhouse was full of things nearly ready to eat

July................Remember that VERY  hot week.............it  was good for butterflies

IN August I went to Aldeburgh carnival with Florence etc

September and a photo of just one of the many car boot hauls through the year . They save me a lot of money

October and Big WI celebrated 100 years with a lovely meal

November when one  week eating locally produced food was an interesting experiment

December and the tree was hauled out of the cupboard for the umpteenth time

And Tomorrow is the first day of a new year and a new decade and I'm agreeing with what this bloke said...............Although next year is a leap year so it's 366 days to fill with good things............

I'm planning to 'write a good one'!

Back Tomorrow

Monday 30 December 2019

Hope You Had Time...............

...........to consider all this when you were rushing around doing 101 things at once before Christmas!!

 I found this after reading one of Elaine's wonderful rants on her Random Jottings Blog

This is from a website for a magazine telling us the latest way we should have shopped for a perfect Christmas for the planet................If only we were all perfect!

1.Are you gifting smart?

Before you start to panic-buy Christmas presents, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do they actually need this item?
  • Is this item going to enhance their life in some way?
  • Could I give a non-material gift, such as a voucher for a special experience day?
You should also consider whether you could find a similar item in a charity shop or second hand. It is important to cherish what is already in existence rather than always seeking something new

2.What is it made from?

Finding truly sustainable materials can be a bit of a minefield. But, there are some great planet-friendly ones out there. Try and avoid plastic where you can, unless you are able to find products using recycled plastics or bioplastics (made from cornstarch). Other options for an eco-friendly present include products that are made from recycled ocean plastic, organic cotton, upcycled materials, Tencel and ECONYL.
If you want to gift food items, look for products with locally-sourced ingredients (ideally organic). Avoiding products containing palm oil and artificial additives is another way to make a food more of an eco-friendly Christmas gift.
For beauty products, you can use the app Think Dirty. You simply scan the barcode of the product and it will provide you information on the product, including its ingredients. The app also suggests ‘cleaner’ alternatives, a simple way to gift more sustainably

3.How was it created?

Once you have considered what the product is made from, it is also important to look into how the product was made. Products which have been handmade or created using a simple manufacturing process will require less energy. This results in less CO2 being emitted during the process, especially when compared to multi-stage intensive factory production.

4.Who are you buying from?

When buying Christmas gifts, consider who you are buying from. It’s best to go for independent, sustainable brands who are committed to the cause, rather than high-street companies who are mass-producing their products.

5.Where was the product made or grown?

Transporting a product, whether that is via air, road or sea, will contribute to its carbon footprint. It is best to consider whether you can get products that are locally made. Not only is this good for the environment, it will also benefit the local economy.

6.Who made the product?

When shopping in a sustainable and ethical way, it is always important to consider who actually made the product you are buying. Look for the Fairtrade certification to be sure that the producers and creators were paid a fair price. For fashion brands, it is also possible to use the app Good on You, which gives an overall brand rating, as well as a break down of its labour, environment and animal ratings and information on why the brand has received those ratings


7.Will the product last?

If the item is single-use or looks like it will have a short life span, this is a big blow to its sustainable credentials. It’s better to spend a little more on an item that will remain in good condition for years to come.

8.Is it recyclable?

Consider whether the item may end up in landfill, or whether the materials are all recyclable. For more information on what materials are recyclable, see the following website https://www.recyclenow.com

9.Where do the product’s profits end up?

Supporting local producers, independent brands or social enterprises is a great way to maximise the positive impact of your purchase. You can choose a product made by a company where the profits are used to support a worthwhile cause, or a product made by a local company which will help boost the local economy.

10.Where are you shopping?

Where possible, you want to cut out as many middle-men as possible to ensure your money goes directly to the producer. That ties in with the above as the more profit the producer gets, the bigger positive impact your purchase can have. If you shop online, go straight to the producer’s website, rather than shopping on Amazon.

11. What certifications does the company have?

Looking out for official certifications and awards is one of the easiest ways to gain confidence in the item you are buying. Any badges should be listed on the company website or the product itself. The following guide can help with what certifications you should be looking for: http://www.ecolabelindex.com/ecolabels/?st=country,gb
You should also look out for companies employing carbon offsetting schemes to minimise their environmental impact. For example, many companies like Buyagift are partnered with Cool Earth to offset four times the amount of carbon produced by their day to day operations and their experiences.

12.How will you wrap the gift?

Choose items with minimal packaging, and make sure that any packaging is recyclable. When you are in store, could you ask the shop assistant not to wrap the gift? In some shops, such as Lush, there is the option to have items wrapped in fabric. This can be reused in numerous ways, such as scarves, hair ties, or even tied into bags. When it comes to wrapping the presents yourself, could you use a reusable gift bag that the recipient could re-gift, or even old newspaper? Remember, sellotape and other sticky tapes are made from plastic. So, consider using a plastic-free version such as paper tape or ribbons that can be reused

Well, I'm just so glad I didn't read that Before Christmas!

Seriously though,  I do agree with lots of the points made but listing 12 things to make you feel guilty about buying a present is probably not the way to go about changing peoples Christmas shopping habits.

Back Tomorrow

Saturday 28 December 2019

For Warm Winter Evenings

The Monday before Christmas was a busy day as Col's brother Andrew came over with his chainsaw to cut some of the logs from the trees that were felled in the first year we were here. He cut and I barrowed and chucked on the heap in the wood shed.

The lengths of logs to cut were heaped in front of these bigger logs and sometime this winter he will come again with the log-splitter to split these.

I still have plenty of logs in builders bags for this winter but before Andrew came this section of the shed was completely bare

 The Ash section is nearly empty and no more Ash to cut which is sad

And this section is going down

I'm wondering if I should get the Tree Cutting people to come and fell some branches and top out the poplars so they can be seasoning ready for cutting in winter 2021/2. Could be a plan.

Have a good weekend. I need to do a bit of prepping ready for the Suffolk children and Grandchildren who are visiting on Monday.

I think there is a post in drafts ready so I can be back on Monday.


Friday 27 December 2019

Now You Can See The Hampers

This is what they looked like........... the hampers I put together for Colin's sister and my sister and their husbands..

Edibles and 'drinkables', some things  bought and several things home made and the mini Christmas crackers to trim and some festive pot pourri. I think it looked quite cheerful.

Until this year I've never actually been with either H and S or L and J when they've opened the wrappings, so I was a bit nervous, but I think they were OK with them. I did tell them the toffee vodka could be used as a paint stripper if they didn't like it!

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Thursday 26 December 2019

A Happy Day

I felt very lucky opening my presents - lots of lovely things.

Books and chocs and boxes of frothy coffee, a stick blender and new jam spoon, Christmas coasters, a book mark and produce bags and a tea towel from Penny Pincher friends and those lovely wooden mushrooms and soap from my penfriend on a windy Scottish island.

Off to Sister in law's house with the Christmas pud for a lovely day with too much good food! More presents of books and chocs and lots of laughter.

Home late on a very cold and icy night.

I hope your day had food and laughter too and safe journeys home.

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Wednesday 25 December 2019

Happy Christmas!

A Polar Bear's Tale: May this Christmas... 


 Best wishes to you all for a Happy Christmas
I hope your day is just how you like it

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Tuesday 24 December 2019

December 24th and All Things Green and Colourful

After cutting a few bits of holly with berries from a tree down the road I went round the meadow and garden for some more greenery to bring indoors

I found Bay, Rosemary, Spruce  and Ivy to go with the Holly. Sometime in the future who ever lives here will have their own holly too, but holly is so slow growing so the saplings planted 2 years ago are still only 18 inches tall.

And for colour.......... a bunch of flowers I bought myself for Christmas. I was too mean to spend much, consequently lots of the flowers fell off my £5 supermarket bunch before I even got it home into it's vase!

 Over the last few days I've had comments from so many new people - it's been lovely to find who's reading and enjoying the blog and more folk have tapped the follower button too - welcome. I enjoy writing the blog and it's been a brilliant thing to do since Colin died. As I said to someone recently "without the blog I would have had to keep busy doing more cleaning!"

Didn't get to sing any well known Christmas carols at church on Sunday, I forgot that The Methodist church follow an advent plan so we sung advent carols - some I'd never heard  before and I don't think the stand-in organist(because the usual one had flu) had either! Lunch at Col's brother's house was delicious - out of necessity over the last years on his own he has become very good at roasts.

Now we are round to Christmas Eve, I've brought my pressies into the living room and tomorrow will put on the tree lights and open them - being alone will be odd.  Then I shall finish making a trifle to take over to SiL's. It will be a grown up Christmas this year - my niece is the youngest and she's nearly 30! There will be 9 of us altogether and it should be a lovely day.

(Ho! Ho! Ho! - yes that is a Santa on a stick in the middle of the flowers....it came with them, I hope Santa comes to your house tonight.......bringing you all the gifts you wished for)

Back tomorrow........briefly

Monday 23 December 2019

December 23rd and The Mistletoe

Mistletoe grows in a few places in Suffolk, not as widespread as the west of England - in areas like Herefordshire where there are more orchards it can be seen everywhere.

There are a two places that I know it grows in profusion and one is my village churchyard. Coming down a hill the church is straight ahead and the tall churchyard trees have lots of Mistletoe balls high up.

The Hog and Hen Farm shop had a barrow of mistletoe outside which people could help themselves for a donation to charity. I just had this little piece so I could add it to my greenery jug at home.

 No wonder it was considered sacred and magical by our ancestors. Always there and green when all around the leaves have gone.

The Mistletoe

Sitting under the mistletoe
(Pale-green, fairy mistletoe),
One last candle burning low,
All the sleepy dancers gone,
Just one candle burning on,
Shadows lurking everywhere:
Some one came, and kissed me there.

Tired I was; my head would go
Nodding under the mistletoe
(Pale-green, fairy mistletoe),
No footsteps came, no voice, but only,
Just as I sat there, sleepy, lonely,
Stooped in the still and shadowy air
Lips unseen—and kissed me there.

By Walter De La Mare 1873 - 1956

Another place where there is lots of mistletoe is in the much smaller trees all round Ipswich hospital. I noticed it during the many hospital visits when Colin was ill.

I might try squidging some mistletoe berries into little nicks on the apple tree branches here - it's not worked before but you never know.

Many thanks for comments yesterday, lovely to hear from people who enjoy reading the blog and are commenting for the first time.

Back Tomorrow

Sunday 22 December 2019

December 22nd and the Winter Solstice

According to my Folklore diary Winter starts today, although meteorologically  it started at the beginning of December.
The winter solstice marks the date that the Earth is at its maximum tilt from the sun and that was at 04:19 this morning, it is the first time in four years that it hasn't fallen on 21 December, the solstice's most common date, although on rare occasion it can also occur on the 20th or 23rd. London will have just 7 hours, 49 minutes and 44 seconds of daylight, but from now onward the length of daylight hours increases........... imperceptibly at first but by this time next month there will be 1¼ hours more daylight................Reasons to be cheerful Part1!

 The Winter segment of the turning wheel from Celebrations of the Seasons by Jennifer Cole.

Special places have always been used to celebrate the Solstice

I found this poem a couple of years ago

 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.


So much for circling things to watch in the Radio Times, the first things I wanted to see were only on if a Liverpool football match wasn't on TV in the evening - and it was because they qualified for something?  Then I found Swallows and Amazons - the more recent film - was on and as I'd re-watched the older version and loved it all over again last week I decided to re-watch the this newer and in my opinion not very good film,  and that meant I missed the next thing circled. But that was OK as it was on the 5 catch-up channel, which I can now watch on my new TV.
Reasons to be cheerful part 2!

1 day down 13 days circling programmes and watching/not watching left!

Thank you to everyone for comments - I love it when someone who's never commented before says they enjoy reading the blog.

Today I will be singing carols and having lunch with Colin's sister and brother .........Reasons to be cheerful Part 3!

 Back Tomorrow

Saturday 21 December 2019

December 21st and Winter Reading

Thank you to everyone for comments yesterday and hello and welcome to some more new followers.

It was so very wet here on Thursday night and yesterday. I needed to go shopping and only just about got through a deep flood, everyone was being sensible, driving through slowly, taking it in turns one at a time. I came home up the main road instead. I wanted to go to the Hog and Hen farm shop for some of the local butter but that would have meant a detour through a low spot......... which often has small floods,  on a back road. Decided against - hopefully things will have drained away a bit by this morning.

 December's library book photo ....8 books ordered and collected giving me plenty to read............. for the  quiet days after Christmas and into January.

From the top down...........Seems to be mostly crime -Again. Two authors (Helen Cox and Kathleen Hewitt) I've not come across before but the others are tried and trusted. At the bottom is a book by an historian and nature writer who kayaked down the Atlantic coast from Shetland to the Channel (my cousin's husband was reading this a few months ago when I visited them and said it was good) and The Medieval Christmas - just because it's Christmas!

AND...........I've still got 7 at home  from last month's haul.... below.

 A few have been read - added to the Books Read 2019 page - two have gone back unread as  I failed with the Nicola Upson. This series uses the real author Josephine Tey to solve mysteries. I've read all the earlier books but this one started in a complicated way by having a bit set in 1948 then going back to 1938 and then jumping back to 1915, by which time I was feeling lost. So I gave up. I'm sure it's a good story but not for me this month. Couldn't get on with The Victory Garden either.

Back Tomorrow

Friday 20 December 2019

December 20th and Leiston Posties

Youngest daughter shared this on her Facebook page, some of these posties are her friends
Thought I'd share it further round the world!!

Many Thanks for all the comments and interest in the Jesse Tree. Well known for a while to some people and completely new to others - like me. I ought to have gone further round the town for more photos but some were in houses and it would have looked a bit odd to take photos of house windows!

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Thursday 19 December 2019

December 19th and the Jesse Tree Art Trail

Jesse Tree  Art Trail?

No, I had no idea either

This was something I'd not heard of before I thought I'd better go and have a look.

I didn't go round all the trail as the weather was cold, grey and damp.

Here are a few photos, not in the right order and much too much reflections in windows  but you'll get  an idea of the variety of  art mediums used.

Certainly something different.

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Wednesday 18 December 2019

December 18th and Preparing Christmas Food

First of all I must remember to welcome another follower. The numbers have been stuck at 535 for ages so nice to see it up one......I'm not really obsessed by follower numbers...........much!
Thank you also for comments recently

Another horrible wet day yesterday, I did my usual once a month collecting prescription and having cheap pensioners fish and chips thing. It always seems a treat. Also made  a Chocolate Meringue Gateau (On  recipe page somewhere)and froze ready for taking to SiL's on Christmas day....with the Xmas pudding.
Now I need to buy some Gluten free plain biscuits for a Banoffee to take to Son's for Christmas eve lunch - I like making desserts! We finally sorted out a day for Suffolk children and grandchildren to visit me over Christmas so now I can work out what to cook and also other things to do to fill empty days........I don't need to fill every empty day as I'm happy at home but it's a good idea to have a few plans for my second Christmas alone, which is different to first Christmas alone because the 'novelty' has worn off.

I've put the  accidentally bought marzipan and icing on the accidental Christmas cake. I'm a slap it on cake decorator but I always remember to turn the cake upside down so the surface to ice is nice and flat. I just cut some stars out of the remaining icing and stuck them on. Cake recipes will say use warm apricot jam to stick the marzipan to the cake......I never have apricot jam handy so use marmalade, avoiding the shredded peel...............no-one has ever commented so I think I've got  away with it for the last umpteen years
 On thing I want to do is chocolate teaspoons  - just for me. I've made them a few times for the hampers when  including drinking chocolate but never tried one myself,  I got the silicon mould out of the cupboard to remind me.

 DiL is vegetarian and I enjoy eating veggie too so a few days ago I made the veggie layer loaves to pop in the freezer.
This is something I concocted several years ago now, it was  a mix of different recipes, freezes well, heats up easily and is tasty and it has no strange ingredients.

This time I made enough for 3 mini individual ones and a larger in a loaf tin using 3 times the recipe

Good handful of dried cranberries soaked in boiling water and cooked in the microwave for a few minutes  'til soft, then drained.
4oz carrots }   Boiled and mashed
4oz parsnip}        together with some black pepper
2oz unsalted cashew nuts whizzed in the nut chopper thing, but not too fine*
3oz breadcrumbs
1 small onion                     }    chopped finely and cooked 'til soft in a teeny bit of butter/water in
2 smallish stalks of celery }                          the microwave then drained

Mix the celery,onion,nuts and breadcrumbs together with an egg yolk

Line 2 mini cake tins with parchment paper and put a layer of the nut mix in the bottom.
Press down tight.
Then a layer of parsnip/carrot mash and smooth down again
Next some cranberries
Then another layer of the nut mix.
Press down firmly again.
I used medium hot oven and cooked them for about 40 minutes until they were firm and golden.
Because I wanted to check that they froze OK I then left them to cool, popped each one still in the tins into the freezer.
They were taken out of the freezer in the morning and left to defrost in the kitchen and then reheated, with a bit of foil over the top, for about 25 minutes to serve hot for dinner.

*I really should have read this recipe on my recipe page here rather than my notes in my folder before making it this year....... because as I was using chopped cashews I didn't whizz any to a powder and I'm not sure the celery/nut/onion/breadcrumb mix will stay bound together very well. AND worst of all my hand written recipe doesn't mention the egg to bind the celery etc mix together better and I remembered too late that it could do with a bit more seasoning or herbs added somewhere. So they will probably all fall apart when turned  out!
Oh Well, too late now!

Back Tomorrow

Tuesday 17 December 2019

December 17th and Another Christmas Hamper Gift Made

When I found a couple of flip top bottles at a boot sale in the summer I decided to make something to put in them for the hamper gifts.
I don't drink alcohol any more and when I did it was never spirits or cocktails so no idea what was best for drinking. My first thought was Limoncello - something I had seen mentioned when other bloggers have made it. Looked up recipes but there seemed to be so many variations and they all needed so many lemons. Then I found a Toffee Vodka recipe which seemed simple.

200g hard toffees
4 tablespoons dark brown sugar
750 ml vodka
You will also need
  • A funnel, coffee filter paper and a 1-litre sterilised lidded jar and 1 sterilised bottle (approx. 1-litre capacity)
  1. Unwrap the toffees and put in a plastic food bag and smash with a hammer/rolling pin to break them into small pieces. Tip the toffee shards into the sterilised jar, then add the sugar and a pinch of sea salt. 
  2. Pour the vodka over the toffee mixture and stir. Leave in a cool dark place for two days or until the toffees have dissolved. Shake the jar twice a day during this time. 
  3. Once the toffee and sugar has dissolved, line a funnel with a coffee filter paper and set it over the sterilised bottle. Slowly pour the mixture through. Seal and store in a cupboard for up to three months, and shake before serving.

I tried one sip - oh my goodness- is that what Vodka is like - it nearly knocked me over!. What a lightweight I am!  Maybe it needs lemonade or something with it?  It will be kill or cure I think!

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Monday 16 December 2019

December 16th and Village Christmas Trees

For the first time my local village church had a mini Christmas Tree Festival. (Not mini as in small trees but mini as in one day and just a few trees.!)

Thought I'd better take a look. This church doesn't feature in the 100 Suffolk Churches book so as a non C of E church goer it's not somewhere I've visited before.

Plenty of water in the stream that has to be crossed to get to the church. Further down the road this stream flows right under a house.
 Many of the gravestones in the old part of the graveyard are leaning

There were more trees than I was expecting, the theme is Christmas Carols

This below must have taken weeks to do, all trees made of folded pages of books

 From the primary school, all made from plastic bottles filled with tinsel and shiny paper

And the font is trimmed for Christmas too

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