Autumn Mantle

I was watching a video post in Facebook earlier this week, and the lady posed a question about our skin care routines. If they weren’t what they once were, she suggested, it can be an indicator that our self care is starting to slide, and we are putting ourselves to the bottom of the pile.

It struck a chord. Somewhere along the way I have gone from a double cleanse, tone, moisturiser, sometimes serum, occasional mask to a cleansing wipe, hot flannel and a dab of moisturiser before falling asleep.

It is so easy to slide to the bottom of our own to-do lists. If anyone is going to have a freshly made nutritionally balanced lunch, it will be Jessica. That doesn’t exclude me from having one, but where I pack up Carl’s first thing, then make hers, there is just less time and energy for me.

Just before I dozed off on the sofa last night, I realised that the mantelpiece I used to love arranging with seasonal displays has been neglected. Sympathy cards from my Dad’s passing were there, and nothing had been changed around in a while. Making those little displays is self care for me, a way to exercise a little creativity, a way to acknowledge the changing seasons, and give myself something pleasing to look at in the evening.

So after dropping Jessica at nursery this morning, I cleared everything off, dusted, rearranged. I’ve lit a candle even though I am here alone, and I am pleased with the result. 

I’ll collect some autumn leaves with Jessica later, and make a pretty garland to hang to finish it off. 

I can’t decide if I want to hang it from the picture rail. Out of Jessica’s reach, or from the bottom of the mantelpiece. We’ll see how it goes later!

Changing the calendar and daily peg doll with Jessica is something else which has slipped lately, so I will be getting back into that too.

For now though, I am going to sit down with a cup of tea and enjoy a few quiet minutes with my new mantlescape!

Tea and Toast at 3:00am

The world, it seems, is softly sleeping. The thin hours of the morning, and all is dark, except for the tiniest of lights in our living room. Snuggled under a duvet in the sofa is Jessica. She has woken cryin every twenty minutes or so, been into our bed, into her bed, back and forwards, and finally asked to come downstairs. 

I’ve made her a little snugly nest, and settled down to watch over her. There has been tea and toast even though it is 3:00am. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but is sitting slightly uneasily in my tummy now.

We buried my Dad’s ashes today. So much has happened and changed since I was here last. I never meant to be away so long. I was just tired one night, then the next, and the next. Suddenly it seemed hard to come back.

I’ve written many a post in my head,formed the words, but they have just quietly drifted away. I’ve come to realise that for me, at least, blogging is cyclical with fallow periods and fruitful ones. As we enter the autumn days of harvest, I hope and feel that words will blossom here again.

That toddler of 19 months I wrote of in January is now 28 months! She chatters away to me, is so full of life and light, and although she has her moments, generally she is a delight. She is all bouncing blond curls, in constant motion. She loves to snuggle with a book, to run and to climb, and just recently has taken to softly singing nursery rhymes to herself.

That baby niece of mine I posted about in January is perfectly delicious, with the biggest eyes like melted chocolate, and at the weekend made it halfway up the stairs at Grandma’s house in the blink of an eye.

Grandma’s house is now just that. Not Grandma and Grandad’s anymore. It has been the strangest time. Dad’s dementia and Parkinson’s were getting worse, and he seemed to give up on life,whilst draining it out of my poor Mum. Social services arranged for respite care so she could have a desperately needed break. He never came home. He went into hospital after refusing to get out if bed, or eat, or drink. Days passed. The consultant, the kindest man,said sadly he had tried everything and could do no more. The hospital phoned to say come. We did. And waited. Hours stretched and melted and collapsed into each other. In the end, there was the silence of time pausing and passing, then a last breath, and away.

Jessica collected so many conkers from the church car park today. We buried Dad’s ashes in his parent’s grave. It seemed fitting that the should be together again. It is a beautiful place, where he grew up. A little country village in full autumn bloom. I love that Jessica adores acorns and conkers and leaves and sticks. She absorbs so much. She can count to ten in words, and two and three in actual things, knows her colours, but best of all is developing an appreciation for autumn, for buttons and ribbons, for the little lovely things in life.

I visited Alexandra Palace this weekend just past, for the Knitting and Stitching Show. I listened to a talk by Jan Beany and Jean Littlejohn, two wonderful embroiderer artists. One of them said she is asked sometimes why she has creates a piece – her work is beautiful and interpretative but not practical – and she replied ‘because I can, and because I want to’. Wise words to think on there. They shared so much of their creative process, from the original idea to visits and excursions, their sketchbooks, rough designs, and the finished piece. It has given me a lot to think about.

We have a new branch of Foyles bookshop opened in town. The most glorious thing is you can smell it before you can see it! I thought perhaps at first I was imagining it, but several other people have remarked upon it. That unmistakeable scent of book.

I think perhaps, I need more tea.

Welcome, Little One

Today I have been reliving some special moments from 19 months ago. How can my little tiny baby be a toddler who says ‘lemon’ and ‘dinosaur’?! But I have another reason today for my trip down memory lane, not just that Jessica has turned another month older.

Today my wonderful sister and her husband welcomed this little girl into the world!

I remember so well that newborn purple colour, the feeling of surreal bliss at finally having your baby in your arms. That moment where everything changes in a heartbeat. That eternity when they look into your eyes for the first time.

Sending all our love to Macy Grace, her mummy and her daddy. 


ay Today is a very special day. As I type, my lovely sister is in hospital, awaiting the birth of her first baby. It feels so funny to be going about our daily lives while hers is about to change forever in the most wonderful way.

I’m working through a short ecourse called Make Over Your Mornings. I’m only a day in, and this wasn’t covered, but it inspired me to do it anyway – after I washed up the dinner things last night, I made Carl’s lunch and put it in the fridge ready for this morning. It saved me a few minutes this morning, but more importantly than the time itself, it has made me feel organized which is lovely!

I haven’t signed up for Fly Lady as I’ve done it a few times in the last and find the sheer volume of emails overwhelming and alienating. Inspired by a post over at Attic24 though, I am going to start doing 15 minutes a day in whichever ‘zone’ she is in. This week, the kitchen. I read her suggestion for Tupperware – storing all the lids in a ziplock bag. I think that could be really useful as however often I tidy out that cupboard, I always seem to end up with boxes and lids which just do not fit!

I’ve also signed up for the ‘Sophie and Max’ series over at Entangled Heart. 

Home For Christmas

Home…when it comes down to it, is there anything more we could want for Christmas? To be home with our family. Luckily enough this year, I got to spend Christmas at home with Carl and Jessica, at the home I grew up in, and the home he grew up in!

It was lovely waking up here, having Jessica sit between us in bed refusing to open her stocking. Every time I tried to tempt her to pull a toy or book out of it, she said ‘nooooooo!’ Very firmly! I had gone to bed on Christmas Eve exhausted and cross, and Carl hadn’t liked to wake me to ask where our stockings were, so Fathwr Christmas had left me an Ocado carrier bag!

Onwards to Mum’s house, and as much as it was nice to wake up in our little home, there is nothing quite like going home home. It is one of my favourite places to take Jessica, and she loves it there. Look what a beautiful job Mum did of decorating…




Although we were eating with Carl’s family later in the afternoon, Jessica had a mini lunch at Mums…and we had a taste too! Her sage and onion stuffing is the one thing without which there would be no Christmas!

Somehow I don’t seem to have taken photos at Carl’s parents. Jessica’s cousin was also there, and I think with two toddlers everything just got a bit busy!

I can’t believe Christmas and indeed New Year have come and gone already. Reading a few blogs where people who are not usually organized for Christmas were this year made me smile wryly, as I did not manage to be as organized as I would have liked. When I have finished writing this, I’ll be making a cup of tea and putting some dates in the calendar to make sure that this year I really am ready by December 1st!

I hope you had a lovely Christmas, and are enjoying these cozy early days of the new year. Welcome, 2016!


Carl is out with his friends, and I have a sleeping baby. It is dark outside, and wet. As the occasional car drives past, I can hear the rain which has fallen on the roads slicking to the tyres. 

What to do on such an evening? What indeed!

Light this beautiful tea light holder (thanks Mum!) with a lavender scented candle, and go to bed early with tea, a hot water bottle and a good book. Oh, and Radio 4 just for good measure.

My eyelids are heavy already, but I do hope that I can stay awake long enough to luxuriate in this for a little while!

A New Year’s Resolution

There will be a lovely post-Christmas post soon, but I wanted to share with you a gift I had in my stocking which has inspired a New Year’s Resolution, which I have started early.

In the photo, you can see a beautiful notepad, the kind of notepad I would normally save for best, and so probably not actually use. But when I had breakfast with the lovely Midori Green a few days before Christmas, we were talking about something, and she pulled out her day book notebook to refer back to an idea we had had last time we met. At the time I thought what a good idea, to have all my lists, notes of books I want to read, recipes jotted down from the tv etc in one place.

Then when I opened this notebook, I decided it was the perfect notebook to use as my day book. One of my other resolutions is to have a bit of a declutter – partly because we are moving later this year, and partly to mKe room for a beautiful but large play kitchen Jessica was given for Christmas.

One thing I can do to make some space is pass on some of my magazines. I tend to read them, and some I want to keep as the whole thing is so lovely (like Flow) or there is a book I want to look up and order, or a recipe I want to try…

So from now on (and I’ve started already!) I’ll keep my day book to hand and jot down the book titles and so on, and tear out any articles, recipes or interviews I want to keep as I read, then I’ll have the magazine ready to recycle or pass on.

Talking of Flow magazine, they have published a collection of four journals. They have lots of prompts inside, and I’ve been haunting the shelves of WH Smith trying to find them. Today I had success, and home with me they have come!

Carl is out tonight, so I plan on an early night with a cup of tea and a candle, radio 4 and my journals. Bliss!