Looking Forwards.

Flabbergasted. That’s the best word to describe my response to this package, delivered by hand, last weekend.

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It contains a stack of my own letters, written twenty years ago to a dear friend. Confiding, probably moaning a lot, grieving, figuring stuff out…at least that’s my best guess because I haven’t managed to take more than a cursory glance. I read two lines and felt dizzy. 1996 to 1998 took me from a failing PhD project, through a bereavement, to engagement, marriage, moving to Italy and my first pregnancy.

I hate reading back on my writing. It’s like hearing a recording of yourself, ugh.

Still, that stack is just sitting there. I’m not sure I want to look back? What would you do?IMG_5555 (2)

The break from making school lunches and the Mummy-Taxi service has gifted me lots of quiet moments to faff about with my camera.

Filling a vase with flowers from the garden is one of my greatest pleasures and the first Spring gatherings seem the most joyful of all. These small flowers don’t have a huge impact in the garden but, gosh, don’t they look lovely when you take a close look.

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This tiny jug belongs to Small Girl’s doll’s house. It hardly holds a drop of water but can accommodate a teeny weeny bouquet of forget-me-nots. Good things, small packages, a little silliness, big smiles.

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All that’s missing is a chick…IMG_5478 (2)She’s eyeing up that egg with a suspiciously greedy look.

Oooh, and this one too:IMG_5539 (2)

I didn’t spot the greenfly until just now!

I spent an evening happily churning out little baskets from Eleanora at Coastal Crochet’s lovely pattern. Small girl happily accepted the task of filling each basket with mini-eggs and then we used them to decorate our Easter Tree. It’s a bit wonky and things keep dropping off it with a thud. IMG_5568 (2)

But still, it has made me happy.IMG_5556 (2)

Prepare yourself now for the silliest, cutest picture this side of Easter…this put such a smile on my face…ta-daaah:

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The evenings have stretched and we’ve had glorious golden light streaming in. Our den, a miserable dark cave in winter time, has come back to life. This is the view from my desk if I swivel right. Everything seems lighter, brighter, a little bit easier.

It’s time to look forwards.

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Have I mentioned how much I love April?! I have? Can you blame me?

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Off My Trolley.

Hands up, who remembers The Looting of Doon? Well, that little tea trolley that I got for a fiver at the convent auction has turned out to be a stellar investment. I wheel it around to whichever window is getting the best light, take my snaps and trundle it back again to home position. Usually, it lives here, against the kitchen window which has turned out to be the busiest part of the whole house.

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Just take this picture. You can see my sweet geranium cuttings which have taken beautifully over the winter.They must be the easiest cuttings in the world to take which is a good thing as the recent frost wiped out the few I abandoned outside. There are three in that tomato tin so I probably need to pot them on soon but I’m running short of windowsills.

Next up are some of my chitting first early seed potatoes. I think I need to plant those soon. Beyond the potatoes you can make out the Verbena and fennel seed heads which successfully lured goldfinches all winter. They’ve been stripped bare now and need tidying up. Jeanie Mac, this post is starting to make me all too aware of how much work I have to do.

Moving our gaze swiftly past the extremely dusty vase, you see the massive bunch of daffs Husband brought home on Valentine’s Day. He knows what I like. They were all closed on Tuesday too, which is the way I love to get them, and I have been taking great pleasure in watching them open into a blaze of yellow glory. They smell warm and sweet and garden-y. That urge to get out in the garden is rising.

The little jam jar holds a ‘science experiment’ that Small Girl and I are monitoring together. We filled the jar with toilet paper, dampened it, and ‘planted’ two broad beans. One is planted the right way up and the other is upside down.

broad bean geotropism experiment. science for kids.

The one that’s planted the right way up does exactly what you imagine…the root emerges and grows downwards.

broad bean geotropism, science for kidsbroad bean, geotropism, science for kids,

The upside-down root pops out its little head and then turns around and heads down. Geotropism in action, my friends. I know you know all this but it really is fun to watch!

broad bean, geotropism, science for kids.

My brain has been very busy lately and I felt the symptoms of a crash creeping upon me. There is nothing at all wrong, just too many projects on the go and a nasty virus trying its best to floor me. When I saw this tiny embroidery project on the front of a magazine I knew it was exactly the therapy I needed.

Mollie Makes embroidery hoop

I’m actually quite proud of myself for having spotted the signs rather than folding under the wave as occasionally happens. That, I think, counts as progress. Sometimes I just need a tiny boost to keep my head above water.

Mollie Makes embroidery hoop

Small Girl sat beside me with her pencils and colouring book while I did ‘colouring in with thread’ as she called it. Bliss.

Mollie Makes, #molliemakers, embroidery hoop

People always tell you to look at the big picture. I find the whole big picture overwhelming. Making plans for the future, trying to raise decent people, letting them loose, surviving school exams, Trump, Brexit, our faltering government…it’s too much. I do better when I focus in on the best bits, the small things that give me a momentary spark of joy. If I continue to train my eye on one small spark after another…before I know it, there will be a blaze. That’s the plan.img_4203-2

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A Jedi Jacket, an Atlas Apron and a Dream Coming True.

The land the sun forgot. That’s where I live these days.

Thankfully, it hasn’t been getting me down. The form has been steadily upbeat of late which I am attributing to my recent discovery of Evening Primrose Oil. That, and a long list of enjoyable indoor projects to keep my gaze averted from the sodden garden.

My only gripe is that it’s almost impossible to photograph, and therefore to show you, my projects.

I have a new niece or nephew (don’t know which yet) on the way so I indulged myself in the very best kind of knitting: garter stitch in newborn size. The pattern calls this a baby kimono but my kids have christened it the Baby Jedi jacket.

Baby Jedi Jacket.

This is a free pattern which you can find here. I’ve been researching complementary Baby Jedi hats. This Princess Leia Beanie is superb.

My favourite apron is in tatters. I’ve been loathe to part with it but the button of my jeans has worn a whole in the middle which makes it look as though I’m about to burst, incredible hulk style, out of my clothes.

I took a trip to town with the intention of buying some hard-wearing, practical, striped cotton.Alas, my inner map-junkie prevailed.

Atlas Apron.

So, now I look like a walking globe armed with spoons.

I’m not the greatest seamstress so I am quite proud of this creation, in particular my pattern-matched, equatorial pocket. Naturally, this is an Ireland-centric atlas-apron.

We demolished and rebuilt this house in 2011 but it is far from finished. Husband has a to-be-completed list which seems to grow annually. I am beside myself with excitement at the moment because we are tackling one of the biggest tasks on his list which also happens to be my heart’s greatest desire.

We drew a space on our house plans and labelled it ‘pantry’ but we never had the funds to furnish it. We bought a couple of second-hand shelf units on Donedeal.ie and stacked the weetabix willy-nilly.

Here are some unedited, untidied, not-even-wiped-clean, before photos.

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Sigh. I’m a hopeless housewife.

Anyway, moving swiftly along, here are some equally unedited work-in-progress photos:

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Husband is project manager/carpenter while I am chief painter/measuring-tape-locater. It’s working out grand. Tune in next week to discover whether the pantry is completed or the marriage wrecked. It could go either way.

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The East of Eden Project.

John Steinbeck Quotation. And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good.'

‘By some chicanery it has become Monday.’ John Steinbeck, The East of Eden Letters.

My children have all been dispatched to school, the breakfast table has been wiped down, bread is rising, dried fruit is soaking and I can stall no longer…time to write something.

The house is almost silent but for the churning of the washing machine and the distant groan of the rubbish truck collecting the remains of Christmas. I’ve explained to the dog that it’s just me and him again.

‘Walk?’ he asked me, hopefully. Did you know that dogs can learn around 200 words?
‘Sure,’ I replied, ‘after Steinbeck. I have to get him out of my head.’
‘Boring,’ the dog has been spending too much time with the teenagers.
‘Surprisingly, not.’

The East of Eden Project.

You remember, I mentioned that Husband, who believes his wife to be far more intellectually able than she really is, gifted me two books. The first was John Steinbeck’s East of Eden (published in 1952).The second, titled Journal of a Novel (published in 1969), is a collection of the letters written by Steinbeck to his friend and editor, Pascal Covici. The interesting thing is that both books were written, in tandem and even in the same notebook. The first letter is dated January, 29, 1951 [Monday] and Steinbeck begins by thanking Pat for his gift, a large (10¾” X 14”) notebook given in anticipation of work beginning on a new novel. Steinbeck determines that he will keep a double entry system, writing his novel on the right-hand side of the book and a work diary, in the form of letters to Pat, on the left-hand side. As each section of work was completed the pages were removed and sent to Pat, usually by post, with accompanying letters.

I mimicked Steinbeck’s system; notes on the letters to the left and the novel on the right. I filled forty pages. I was enthralled.

I like to see a story unfold and I like surprises. Also, I have a stubborn independent streak and want to try things by myself before asking for help. For those reasons, I read a section of the book first and then went back to read the matching letters. In this way, I think, I didn’t spoil the book for myself but I had a supporting partner to my reading. I had a friend to turn to and say ‘do you think he means…?’ and lo and behold, my friend wrote back and told me what he thought the book was trying to say. That my friend was the author and the author was John Steinbeck turned out to be quite thrilling. Odd, I know, but true.

Here’s the thing. John Steinbeck’s letters read very much like a well-written and very nifty craft blog. He worked at his writing every weekday from 8am until 1-ish but spent the rest of his days at what I call ‘make and doing’. He clearly couldn’t resist boasting a little bit to his pal about his various projects.  He orders a carpenter’s workbench and promises to build a wooden box for Pat, ‘an actual box, to put things in.’ He paints his workbench black because of the sun’s glare and then, commenting that he is, ‘never satisfied with my writing surface,’ sands it back again to bare wood.

Steinbeck’s manual labour is partly a writing tool. He relays to Pat a bit of ‘story trouble’ and adds, ‘Anyway, thinking it out I did a hell of a lot of sandpapering.

He designs and builds a birdcage. He mentions that he is, ‘now designing a new back to the house’ and that he has ‘invented a tool rack today which is going to be the glory of the world.’

As the author approached the end of the book he wrote faster and his DIY kept pace with his writing, ‘I did well over three thousand words yesterday and built a coffee table too.’

I’ve googled but failed to find any images of Steinbeck’s handiwork which seems to me a great pity. All that remains is his knitting. Yes, knitting. John Steinbeck repeatedly refers to his novel-making as knitting. ‘I have lots of ideas,’ he writes to Pat, ‘and now I will get back to my knitting.’ Hah! I squealed with delight.

I wonder a lot about the creative mind. How does sanding or whittling help with the fabrication of a story? Why is it easier to fix your head on a problem when your hands are busy at some mindless task? And another thing: could you grade people on a scale of creativity regardless of what their particular talent or expertise happens to be? Are some people just generally creative…driven with an urge to make or improve or invent or change things?

Steinbeck writes to Pat:

‘I know you make fun of my inventions and my designs. But they are the same as writing. I come from a long line of inventors. This is in my blood. We are improvisers and will continue to be. Now I find there is a great suspicion and fear of inventors and the first attack is always based on the fact that they are crazy.’

Samuel Hamilton, the almost God-like figure in East of Eden and, as it happens, Steinbeck’s idolised Grandfather, was a stereotypical inventor. He raised his family in poverty, continuously planning and building and spending every penny earned on patent applications. And so, people thought he was crazy.

It’s funny that. You can be as creative as you like but, if you don’t make money out of it people think you are at best a failure, at worst stone mad. It’s weird or wacky to be creative just for the sake of it, to cover your house in seashells (no, I haven’t!) or maybe knit your own dishcloths but completely acceptable to ‘be a writer’ or ‘be an artist’ if you make money out of it. Granted, the amount of money someone is willing to pay for your work might be taken as a valid measure of its value but the more important thing is that, as Steinbeck points out, ‘Money always removes the charge of craziness.’

Right, so obviously handmade dishcloths aren’t Art. So, when does creativity become art? I’ve been thinking hard about this because I want to understand it. It seems to me that your (or more specifically my) average crafting, aside from being an overflow for an over-active, anxious mind, serves to fit me. I might make a hat to match my coat, I might paint a chair to match my dresser. I want to be individual and I want my surroundings to fit me well.

Just so with Steinbeck’s coffee table, with his specially designed paper-weight to fit his perfectly inclined and hand-painted writing desk.

But his art is something different. He writes again and again that ‘a man can take from this book as much as he can bring to it.’ That, I think, is the key. Art isn’t a thing that’s made to fit its creator. Art is a method of sharing an idea, a thought or maybe an emotion. There has to be a newness to it. It might be a new idea or a new way of expressing an old idea. It’s that newness which generates nervousness.

The creator has to put faith in the recipient to bring their share of understanding. Art doesn’t deliver a blow of sudden comprehension to your head. Art draws something out of you. You feel it in your chest. You draw breath, you sigh; literal oohs and aahs. Great art might blow you away but it will be your own emotion which overwhelms you.

The most moving art expresses the most universal truths, the battles that rage at the core of human souls regardless of wealth or status or education. East of Eden sets out to paint the battle between good and evil in every one of us. Steinbeck addressed the book to his sons, Tom and John, then aged just 6 and 4, hoping that, ‘perhaps by speaking directly to them I shall speak directly to other people.’

The book is oddly relaxed in tone. The more outrageous the scene, the quieter the writing becomes. Steinbeck wrote to Pat:

‘That is what I am trying to do with this whole book- to keep it in an extremely low pitch and to let the reader furnish the emotion.’

Can you see? It’s a two-way thing.

‘This is an old-fashioned novel. It will achieve any effect it has by accumulation.’

‘lead into the story so gradually…like setting a trap for a fox.’

‘I shall want to draw the reader into the personal so that he is reading about himself.’

Does it work? Beyond doubt. I spent the entire Christmas holidays trying to decide whether I am a good person (not very), a good enough person (maybe), a person as good as my very good husband thinks I am (absolutely not). I drove said Husband to whiskey-drinking.

I watched a documentary about David Bowie (it was his birthday yesterday and his anniversary is tomorrow). He commented that he aimed to give the listener fragments of a story and that each individual takes something different from it. That’s art.

‘I’m rather kind of old school, thinking that when an artist does his work it’s no longer his.’ David Bowie.

You don’t have to understand it. I think I understood Steinbeck better than Bowie. They’ve both made me draw breath this week, made me sigh and made me cry.That’s art.

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Edited on Tuesday, January 10th to add Part 2.

John Steinbeck admitted in his letters to Pat Covici that there are two books within the covers of East of Eden and that they might even have been better published separately. The core of the book is a re-telling of the story of Cain and Abel. Cain ‘dwelt in the land of Nod on the east of Eden’, was the eldest son of Adam and Eve, was the first person born and the first to kill. His younger brother Abel was the first to die. Theirs is the story of the fight between good and evil in the human soul.

Steinbeck sets the story in the Salinas Valley, California, bridging the 19th and 20th centuries and across two generations of the Trask family. We first read the story of Charles Trask and his brother Adam and then follow Adam’s sons Aron and Cal.

Parallel with this, Steinbeck tells the tale of Samuel Hamilton, a well-read and artistically inclined Irish immigrant who claims a dusty parcel of Californian land and settles down to raise a large family of Americans. Samuel’s daughter Olive marries a German called Ernest Steinbeck and they raise a son called John who is the narrator, and the author, of East of Eden. I know, it is all a bit mind-bending and I can’t remember any other author using a similar device but it works. It absolutely works.

The flesh-and-blood Hamiltons and the fictional Trasks are neighbours. Their stories lean against each other, stand apart and mingle a little. Steinbeck assures Pat Covici that ‘all the Hamilton stories are true.’ He wants to tell the story of America by creating a true picture of the Salinas Valley which he is, ‘using as a microcosm of the whole nation’ and for that reason he says, ‘I must put in all the lore and anecdote I can. And many of my family stories amount to folklore and should be used …’

So, East of Eden is a like a mixed-media image with old and very personal photographs overlaid on a painting.

The best, the most good, character in the novel is a real person. Samuel Hamilton makes people feel good, makes them feel like better people and makes them believe that the world is a better place. It was Steinbeck’s intention that Samuel be a guiding light, ‘by whom little and frightened men are guided through the darkness.’

Cathy Ames, the villain of the piece, the monster and devil incarnate, is only make-believe.

Cathy and Samuel are fire and water. They recognise each other and can’t bear to be close.

Cast and torn between these two extremes are the ordinary people. Some of them are dreamers, others are schemers. Some are blind to evil, others are drawn to badness. Some of them are Hamiltons and some of them are Trasks but they all feel like real people.

Yes, it’s all very symbolic but the weight of symbolism is balanced with good story-telling. Steinbeck knew what he was about, ‘I want to clothe my symbol people in the trappings of experience so that the symbol is discernible but not overwhelming.’

Does good triumph over evil? What do you think? Has it, in the real world? The point is not whether it did, in this story or any other. The point is not whether it will in the future. The point is that good could triumph over evil, if men so choose, it could.

‘It’s too easy to excuse yourself because of your ancestry,’ says the wisest man in the book.

‘There’s a responsibility to being a person. It’s more than just taking up space where air might be.’

This is from Steinbeck’s Nobel prize acceptance speech in 1962:

 ‘Fearful and unprepared, we have assumed lordship over the life of the whole world – of all living things. The danger and the glory and the choice rest finally in man. The test of his perfectibility is at hand. Having taken Godlike power, we must seek in ourselves for the responsibility we once prayed some deity might have.’

In chapter two, writing about the first pioneers to colonise America, Steinbeck writes:

‘They trusted themselves as individuals because they knew beyond doubt that they were valuable and potentially moral units – because of this they could give God their own courage and receive it back. Such things have disappeared perhaps because men do not trust themselves anymore, and when that happens there is nothing left except perhaps to find some strong sure man, even though he may be wrong, and to dangle from his coattails.’

There it is. There is Donald Trump, sure and strong. Did you draw breath? That’s art.

But wait. Take East of Eden down from your book shelf or go to a book shop and take the book in your hands. Somehow, I feel that a portion of the power of this lies in holding a book. Find Chapter 13, part 1, and read.

These are just excerpts:

‘When our food and clothing and housing are all born in the complication of mass production, mass method is bound to get into our thinking and to eliminate all other thinking.’

‘and men are unhappy and confused.’

‘Our species is the only creative species, and it has only one creative instrument, the individual mind and spirit of a man.’

‘And now the forces marshalled around the concept of the group have declared war of extermination on that preciousness, the mind of man. By disparagement, by starvation, by repressions, forced direction, and the stunning hammerblows of conditioning, the free, roving mind is being pursued, roped, blunted, drugged. It is a sad suicidal course our species seems to have taken.’

‘And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual is the most valuable thing in the world.
And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected.
And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual…I will fight against it to preserve the one thing that separates us from the uncreative beasts. If the glory can be killed, we are lost.’

Phew. Art.

Knitting your own dishcloths might just be a tiny step in the right direction. Knitting your own dishcloths and kneading your own bread might give you time to do some hard thinking. You might stretch your mind to considering rebellion. You might be too busy thinking to worry about the great mass of people who might think you are crazy. You might become the person your Husband thinks you are.

Here are more words of wisdom from David Bowie:

‘Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth. And when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.’

Because, you know, life takes courage. Responsibility takes courage. Creativity takes courage. Individuality takes courage. If you get hung up on being perfect, on playing safe, then you’ll just follow the crowd, the group, the mass. You’ll spot some strong sure man and, even if he’s wrong, you’ll hang on his coattails.

Be brave. Swim deeper. Make a splash.

‘And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.’ John Steinbeck.

John Steinbeck Quotation. And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good.'

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Books about books.

hand-knit teddy and books about books.

I met a young woman many years ago, when I also was a young woman, who corrected me when I drew her attention to the geraniums on my balcony. She, quite rightly, informed me that they were actually called pelargoniums. Boy, oh boy, did that ever rankle. I’ve never made the same mistake again. She also told me that fair isle knitting was very easy and I should try it. I didn’t.

Years and years passed while I maintained a mulish resistance to fair isle. Then, last week I went to the supermarket for a loaf of bread and came home with Let’s Knit magazine. This, I swear to you, is the first knitting magazine I have ever bought. I saw a picture of a little fair isle teddy on the cover, full instructions were promised and the yarn was all included, and that thread of stubborn resistance inside me just snapped. It was old, I suppose, and frayed and ready to go. What a relief.

Here he is:hand-knit teddy and books about books.

It’s just a teeny, weeny bit of fair isle work but I am quite proud of it.

Now, you might be wondering why he is standing with a stack of books. I’m amused by how often I find myself piling up stacks of books to be photographed these days. It makes me very happy to, laughingly, call this work.

To find out what those books have in common, you can read my article on Bookwitty.com here. Teddy doesn’t feature in the article, he just stuck his head in for a quick photo.

I rarely read two books at the same time. I like to immerse myself completely in a book, read it in as little time as possible and move on. I’m breaking my habit for a good cause. Husband gave me a present of these two books:

The East of Eden Project.

The first is John Steinbeck’s East of Eden and the second is a collection of letters which Steinbeck wrote, on a daily basis, to his editor while he was writing the novel. In the letters, Steinbeck details his plans for the novel but also chats about his house renovation and carpentry projects. It is absolutely fascinating.

I’m less than halfway through; it’s very slow-going reading both in tandem.

I have no idea how or what I will write when I get to the end but I feel that something is stewing at the back of my head.

The eagle-eyed amongst you will have spotted the early Christmas present from Husband. Basically, he couldn’t live with me in my caffeine-deprived state. Regular mugs just don’t cut the mustard. I am, once again, the happy owner of a blue Burleigh mug. If there is a reader in your life, I can imagine no better gift for them (or perhaps for yourself).

The cake, not shown to best advantage is Nigella’s fresh gingerbread. It is one of our winter favourites but we make the icing with lime rather than lemon. It is very good cake.

Have a great weekend, my friends, we are nearly there.

Relish, Reindeer and Melomakaronas.

Christmas Preparations.

Hah! Say that with your mouth full of cookies.

The sky is hanging about 12 feet above the ground. It’s not raining, exactly, but the finest mist is dangling there in the most exasperating fashion. It feels like a slight weight, a downwards pressure on the shoulders and the spirits.

I am feeling tired, perhaps under-caffeinated (more on that anon) and in dire need of cake.

If you fancy a delicious morsel pop over for a look at my melomakarona recipe and review of The Little Christmas Kitchen. I worked hard to make this a good recipe and it really is.

melomakaronasMelomakaronas are delicious Greek cookies, soaked in a spiced honey syrup and traditionally eaten at Christmas. We devoured (I say we because I don’t want to admit that I ate so very many) dozens of them as I was testing this recipe. The book, The Little Christmas Kitchen by Jenny Oliver was also a real treat. I didn’t expect it to have much bite but it caught me by surprise and really hit a nerve. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it for holiday reading.

I went all out, hell for leather, on the Christmas preparations last week. The only problem is that there is almost no light at all so I have very little photographic evidence of my efforts. Here is one candle-lit photo which pretty much encapsulates my week:

Christmas Preparations.

Rudolf was the high-light. Isn’t he adorable? He is my very first crocheted toy and I am more than a little enamoured.If you are tempted, you can find the pattern here. He may get stuck with the name Rudolf Gilmore as I made him while watching The Gilmore Girls with my daughters. Anyone else watch it? It was terrible. Less said the better.

I realised in panic, as I opened my last jar of rhubarb chutney, that I was in imminent danger of having NO CHUTNEY FOR CHRISTMAS! Action stations were assumed, my most humongous pot was excavated from the dreaded corner cupboard and filled to the brim with the stuff of toasted cheese sandwich fantasies. We call it fakeymaloe relish, it’s not so far off the real McCoy and you can find my not-so-secret recipe here.

Chutney crisis averted, I moved on to emergency mitten replacement for the Small Girl. If these look like exactly the same mittens I made last year it’s because they are, but one size bigger. I used the same ball of cheap yarn that refuses to come to an end regardless of how many Barbie dresses and babydoll blankets I make from it. The Small Girl is content because they match every other pink thing in her life and I won’t be heartbroken when she inevitably loses one of them (never both). Just looking back at last year’s mittens I was reminded of this post which I must try to bear in mind as I strive to resist strangling my Teenage Son in the run up to his Christmas exams.

So, we were going well (errant teenagers aside) with the reindeer and the mittens and the twelve jars of chutney and then…disaster struck…my beloved Burleigh mug took a nose dive off the arm of my chair, bounced a couple of times and skidded out the door to the hall where it spun around dramatically before striking a tragic handle-less pose.

It has been carrying a chip on its rear end for months now but that didn’t bother me. This mug is a champion, a hero amongst mugs. It can hold thirty percent more than the average mug which is just exactly how much more coffee you feel you need when you reach the bottom of an average mug. This ergonomically-shaped mug also keeps coffee hot for a good forty minutes which is exactly how long you need to drink a thirty percent longer cup of coffee. Also, it’s very pretty. And my favourite colour. Sob.

I was quite prepared to live with a handle-less-chipped-but-otherwise-perfect mug but when Husband attempted to fill it he discovered a fatal injury. Scroll back up to the photo and see if you can spot it.

‘Yes, you can still use your mug,’ he assured me, ‘but only if you are willing to approach it sideways on and never have more than an inch of coffee at a time.’

The family have little pity. They are all greatly relieved that I, as opposed to anyone else, broke my own mug.

Since then, I have achieved nothing. Zilch. Nada.

I have sliced the top off my left index finger bringing a halt to all yarny activity.

I have thrice stepped in dog poo and some incontinent, foul fowl has taken a shine to the windscreen and bonnet of my car.

The laundry basket has complained to the laundry basket union about over-time and over-crowding.

I ordered pizza for Sunday dinner.

There is every chance that my Husband is writing to Santa as we speak requesting a proper, functional housewife as his old one appears to have broken down.

Here…the man said it:

 

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And so it begins…

trifle bowl snow scene

I’ve been doing my level best to hold back on an all out, no elves barred, Christmas post but I can restrain my reindeer no longer. It is December 1st my friends; let the insanity begin!

I know that I’m not the only Corkonian(e) to lose the run of herself  in the brand new Sostrene Grene shop that opened three doors down from Waterstones and twenty yards or so from my favourite coffee-and-a-bun shop (Ali’s Kitchen). Let’s just say that you won’t require any fancy triangulation technology to discover my location over the next few Saturday mornings.

From the dizzying array of prettiness I chose just two  bottle-brush Christmas trees. I’ve been searching for these for five years so that I could recreate a cute idea I saw on Pinterest (famous last words, eh?). Nary a plastic tree could I find and then, like the proverbial buses, three come along at the same time. I found a teeny weeny tree in the Ballymaloe shop and then, lo and behold, Sostrene Grene have them in various sizes and degrees of snowiness.

All that I needed to do was hijack a dinky truck from Teenage Son’s vintage collection and wash the dust out of the trifle bowl…

trifle bowl snow scene

Look, that trifle bowl is making me 40 shades of happy so no laughing!

trifle bowl snow scene.

Of course, that scene will need to be dismantled on Christmas Eve to make room for some actual trifle.

In further Christmassy creative endeavor, I thought it would be a hoot to make my own Christmas crackers. I was wise enough to check the availability of cracker-snaps on the internet before committing to the project. By committing I mean telling the Small Girl. I failed to notice in the small print, however, that it is not permissible to send explosives, however miniscule, through the post from the UK to Ireland.

Worry not, once committed there was no backing out so the snaps were found locally (thanks to Cork Art Supplies) and the crackers were created. The gifts inside them would have been far cuter had Sostrene Grene opened a week earlier! You can read more about that here but prepare yourself in advance for some truly dire cracker jokes.

homemade diy christmas crackers.

We are off to the Panto tonight so the madness has well and truly started.
Oh No It Hasn’t.
OH YES IT HAS!

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