Monday, 30 November 2009

Thank Goodness For Flannel Pyjamas!

On these cold, dark evenings, I like to get snuggled in at home and enjoy a bit of comfort and warmth. There is nothing quite like the touch of flannel on your skin when the thermometer starts to dip and I found this great pair of pyjamas to lounge in last year. Featuring Snoopy in his hat and scarf and a scattering of snow, they are quite seasonal.

In keeping with this month's gratitude theme, hosted by Ginny, I would like to add, thank goodness for flannel pyjamas!

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Advent 1

A solitary candle lighting the darkness. Advent is the season of waiting and preparation for Christmas.

The first candle is a symbol of hope.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

In The Dark

I haven't had much success with night-time photography. I thought that I would try a couple of photos of the lights in our neighbourhood, but I couldn't find the tripod and as I was taking them at dusk, I was dodging the cars in the evening rush-hour!

The garden of the house looks so pretty with all of those Christmas lights ~ I am going to try to get out and take some better photos soon.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Taking Chance

My plans for yesterday didn't quite work out. I had intended to spend much of the day studying, but after a 12-hour shift on Wednesday at an observational placement, which was a complete waste of time; I couldn't seem to find the motivation to pick up my books. Instead, we ended up watching a very emotional film, which we have seen before.

Taking Chance is the true story of Lt. Col. Mike Strobl's narrative of his voluntary mission escorting the body of a fellow Marine Lance Corporal Chance Phelps, who was killed in Iraq in 2004, on his journey home. Mike volunteered for this duty when he realised that they were both born in the same home town in Colorado, but it was only once the mission had begun that he learned that Chance grew up in Wyoming and that it was his family's wish that he should be buried there.

I cannot find the words to describe the emotions that I experienced watching this film. In a way, it is about bearing witness to the fact that there are service personnel dying every day in conflicts around the world and especially in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The respect shown and the sense of sadness that total strangers experience when they discover that they are accompanying a deceased soldier on his journey home is remarkable.

Although some may be put off by the content of this film, if you have not seen it, I would encourage you to watch it. We owe so much to young men like Chance, who gave their lives in the service of their country.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Warmest Thanksgiving wishes to my American readers, in particular to my dear friends Tracy at Pink Purl and Heidi at The Cranberry Chronicle. As they originate from adjoining states, it could be said that they are neighbours!

I know how hard it is to be far from family and friends at times of special celebrations such as this and hope that the message of friendship across the miles will warm your heart and brighten your day.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Christmas Cheer

I won another giveaway! Heidi at The Cranberry Chronicle is giving away some beautiful handmade coaster sets. In view of the season, I asked to be included in the draw for the poinsettia ones. If you want to participate, Heidi is having another giveaway this week.

An envelope arrived yesterday and these beautiful Christmassy coasters were inside ~

~ accompanied by a note from Heidi on a card depicting Auguste Renoir's painting of The Cafe.

The attention to detail continues on the reverse ~ just look at that beautiful gold fabric.

Thank you Heidi for bringing some seasonal cheer to the dark days of winter.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Armchair Cookery

I read a feature about Delia in a magazine and it mentioned that she had a new Christmas book. I love cookery books and Christmas cookery books are so inspiring. I can sit and study them for hours and just savour those gorgeous photographs!

I came across a copy of Happy Christmas for one third of the list price, so I decided to treat myself to a copy. I haven't had a lot of time to enjoy it, but I have left it out so that I can sit down and dip into it whenever I have a few minutes to spare.

Another favourite is Nigella Christmas. I saw her Christmas cookery programme of the same name on television last year and this book is beautiful. How I long to collect the reindeer crockery and have my own set to use at Christmas! This dream is a little impractical, as most of it is sold in the U.K. and the shipping is prohibitively expensive. No matter, I can dream and maybe one day I will stumble across a whole set of it...

Monday, 23 November 2009

Seasonal Delights

I love this time of the year, when the Christmas catalogues arrive in the mailbox and I can sit and dream of all those pretty gifts and home ideas. Lakeland always produces lovely catalogues and these are a favourite of mine.

Most of the planning is purely for fun ~ in these thrifty times, I am not planning on spending much money this year.

The English Home was a bit of an indulgence though ~ I couldn't resist the traditional Christmas scene on the cover, so I treated myself to this one. I love the idea of a real fire, but for the time being, I will have to make do with reading this.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Thought For The Day

'I will rise to taste the dawn, and find
that love alone will shine today.'

Ken Wilber

Saturday, 21 November 2009


If you are anything like me, you have numerous projects awaiting your attention and this is the latest one. I would like to say that it is finished, but this is actually a photograph of the packaging!

I bought this cross-stitch kit with the intention of stitching it for Christmas. The appeal of this one was the fact that it features an English Robin and you will know from a recent post that it is my favourite bird. I also liked the holly berries and the Norman church in the background ~ a traditional English scene. It would be nice to have it completed before Christmas, but as I am so busy, I don't think that it will even be started this year. So for now, I will store it away with my other projects to await a day when I have time to sit down and sew.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Ring A Ring O'Roses...

Whenever I see Cadbury's Roses, I think of Christmas.

With their jewel-bright wrappers, they will always be associated with the season ~ shiny baubles hanging on the Christmas tree and twinkling fairy lights. Watching old movies on the television and fighting over who gets the last caramel! At least these days there is less competition and I stand more of a chance of being able to choose.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Christmas Robin

The English Robin is a garden favourite of mine. I make the distinction between this member of the thrush family and its American cousin, which is closer to the size of a rather fat blackbird! The joke in our house is that the robins around here are on steroids!

I spotted this sweet little mug on eBay. I was hoping to catch one of those Emma Bridgewater mugs, but they are so expensive. When I saw this one and no-one else placed a bid, I got it for the bargain price of £2.99. It arrived safely wrapped in layers of bubble wrap and a substantial box and now I can enjoy using it during this Christmas season. It is actually a Denby mug ~ another of my dreams is to own a whole set of Denby, but I think that will have to remain on my wish list for a while longer.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Feeding Time

Feeding my Christmas cakes with brandy has become a weekly ritual. For really moist flavourful cakes, I find that it is best to bake them in late September/early October and then liberally feed them each week. The air is filled with the aroma of spices and fruit cake, mixed with brandy.

I leave them uncovered until the brandy has soaked into the fruit, then wrap them up again in greaseproof paper and foil. The first of the cakes is going to be served before Christmas, so I want to get it as moist as possible before I have to start the icing.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

You're A Midwife Aren't You?

Some time during the past week there was a shift in my thinking. For a long time now, I have been in a kind of denial about midwifery, then someone asked me this question.

I think this came about because a) I don't practise midwifery in Canada and b) I can't officially call myself a midwife here because I am not licensed to do so.

This left me in a kind of limbo where I call myself a Registered Nurse who trained as a Midwife in the U.K.

All of a sudden, I am on a course working with midwives from across the globe and we are talking about midwifery and our varied experiences.

To be honest, the past few weeks have been absolutely exhausting as the course is really intensive. I have a pile of work on my desk and another pile of reading that is about 6 inches high!

For those of you who are wondering why I am taking a midwifery course, it is a requirement in Canada that internationally trained midwives complete a bridging programme in order to be eligible for registration.....

The good news is that I passed my mid-term exams. The end of term exams are tomorrow, so now I really should get back to that reading....

Monday, 16 November 2009

Lake Erie Adventure

We found ourselves on the shores of Lake Erie on Thursday after a meeting I was to have attended was cancelled at the last minute. This is an area of Ontario which is new to me, so I was interested to see it.

Lake Erie is divided between Canada and the United States and the opposite shoreline is Ohio. Though the smallest of the Great Lakes, it is renowned for its ferocious storms, due mainly to the fact that it is shallow (for a lake).

We visited Erieau in the region of Chatham-Kent. This gives the impression of being a holiday resort, as there are lots of rental cottages and many of the homes are already battened down for the winter.

It was another glorious day. We have been so lucky with the weather during the last week or so. It was mild enough to be outdoors for a few minutes without a jacket.

We journeyed on to Port Stanley and had lunch at this little bistro/restaurant. It was getting late, so we didn't have time to explore the village, but we intend to go back in the future and have another look.

This is one of the more unusual cottages overlooking the shore.

It was a wonderful day and a real adventure. Sadly, we had to return to reality and go home, but I look forward to more days like this next year.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Thought For The Day

'There is a harmony
In autumn, and a lustre in its sky,
Which through the summer is not heard or seen,
As if it could not be, as if it had not been!'

Percy Bysshe Shelley

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Guerilla Bagging

I was the lucky recipient of a recent giveaway at Sweet Myrtle. Ginny had posted about reducing our plastic bag usage last month and wrote about Morsbags.

Today, I was delighted to open this little package and find my very own Morsbag which is so pretty and beautifully made.

I also received this lovely handmade card with a personal message from Ginny.

Thank you Ginny! It is a wonderful example of how reusable bags don't have to be boring and I feel certain that it will stimulate lots of interest when I go shopping.

Friday, 13 November 2009


Things I Am Thankful For...a perfect Sunday afternoon for a walk in the autumn sunshine.

Yes, this really is a picture of the blue sky! It was a gorgeous afternoon and unbelievably mild at 17 C.

The majestic Oak trees, their branches now bare.

And a self-portrait of me crunching through the autumn leaves.

Thursday, 12 November 2009


My dear friend Tracy at Pink Purl recently sent me a surprise parcel of delights. When I opened it, I discovered the most beautiful selection of fabrics and ribbons.

I had mentioned that I had purchased some fabric on eBay and I was thinking of starting a little fabric stash, to enable some spontaneous creativity when the mood takes me (or more likely, when I can find the time!)

So Tracy very kindly sent me some fat quarters from her own collection.

I was quite overwhelmed by the generosity of this gift and also by the bond of friendship that has formed through our blogs and personal email correspondence. Little did I realize that starting a blog could lead to contacting such wonderful people over vast distances. The gift of friendship is the greatest gift I could wish for.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009


In Flanders' Fields

In Flanders' fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flander's fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders' fields.

Liet.-Col. John McCrae



Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Things I Am Thankful For...

November is gratitude month and I have joined Ginny at Sweet Myrtle in posting about Things I Am Thankful For.

I am thankful for the harvest. I may not have any agricultural connections, but without a successful harvest, we would all be going hungry.

This pumpkin is on a gargantuan scale, so I suspect that it would not be particularly edible, but I thought that it was an impressive specimen!

Monday, 9 November 2009

The Royal Visit

We made an impromptu trip to The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair yesterday. We actually missed the royal visitors (Charles & Camilla) who opened the event on Friday, but we made our own Royal visit!

The event seemed smaller than in previous years, with fewer exhibits and less to see. I imagine this is a sign of the times, with people cutting back on show attendence. The vegetables were still there ~ with some prize specimens to be seen.

Seasonal pumpkins and glorious strings of perfectly formed onions. Wouldn't it be marvellous to hang a bunch in the kitchen?

And plenty of evidence of the year's harvest, with sheaves of grains ~ wheat and others.

It doesn't seem possible that it is a year since we last attended this event. Where does the time go?

I wonder what the next twelve months will bring and whether we will be attending another Royal Winter Fair...