Still Winter



IMG_6566These photos were taken last Monday and Tuesday, the 11th and 12th of March. The blizzards we had on Monday were quite dramatic for this part of the world. Checking the forecast for the next few days is not a very cheery experience. Temperatures are forecast to be low and more sleet is predicted.

I love snow (I have written about it many times) but really, in March, it’s just not funny anymore.

52 weeks of happy 4/52

What made me happy this week? Well, waking up to THIS of course.snow2But I think I have probably written enough about snow already. So, what else has been going on?colouringin1Predictably, seeing the children playing peacefully makes me happy. The Middle Miss is always keen to do some colouring in and she loves to be neat and precise. What made me particularly happy about this arty session was seeing Son Number One getting equally good results. His fine motor skills get better and better. Apparently his picture is a gnome who works on a life boat.

20130128-174053.jpg I finished a little project. That’s always a good thing. I decided to make something decorative at the start of this month, just as the Christmas decorations came down. The house always seems so empty at the start of January. The large hearts are adapted from a pattern on The Royal Sisters blog (find it here); the pattern for the small, red hearts is from Attic 24 (find it here) and the medium sized, more densely stitched hearts are my own pattern.IMG_0635My fourth happy moment involves babies but NOT my own I hasten to add. On a Wednesday morning I look after the local NCT Bumps and Babies group, a meeting place for new and expectant parents and their offspring. Last week we had what I think was a record attendance of 19 parents and 20 children. There were representatives of at least 4 different nations and two sets of twins! As a volunteer you have to enjoy what you are doing and who could fail to enjoy seeing lots of beautiful babies growing bigger and cleverer every week. It’s also a pleasure to see the parents benefitting from the mutual support they can give each other. I even got a few baby cuddles this week, happy days indeed.

The snow play and the lost hill

The met office finally got it right for my patch this weekend. We had lots of snow on Friday night and now it has all gone. It melted almost as fast as it arrived. Yesterday could have been our last opportunity of the season for snow related playtimes.IMG_1474IMG_1445 IMG_1449 IMG_1450 IMG_1451 IMG_1461These were some of out antics from last weekend.

If you live in a climate where living with snow is a regular occurrence the British obsession with it must seem strange. We pore over weather forecasts, worrying about driving to work and if the schools will be closed. Children (and -ahem- some adults) stay awake at night, constantly peeking out of the window to see if there are any flakes falling yet. We moan or get excited about it in equal measures. We don’t really cope with it well, and it’s not surprising really is it? Our snowfall is unpredictable, some years there is barely any. Hardly worth investing in special car tyres for example. We live on a crowded island too. Our roads only just cope with the volume of traffic at the best of times. Add a blizzard and a few crashes and there’s bound to be mayhem.

But, I still love snow. It’s one of those things that gives me a feeling of childish excitement even though I’m now a parent. I used to share this excitement with my Dad. He loved to get out and play in it and, unluckily for the rest of us, was a mean shot with a snowball. I could rely on my Dad to take me sledging whenever it snowed, even if it was a school night. I’m sure we must have been with my Mum and Brother but I don’t have memories of that. What I do have memories of is heading off to our local sledging spot, often in the dark.

Dad prided himself on finding the best spot. He didn’t necessarily want to go down a steep slope like most of the other people on our local golf course. For him it was all about how long you could spend going down hill. To be fair, he also avoided the crowds because he was a teacher in the local secondary school and didn’t really want to be among the pupils in his spare time! So Dad and I had our own private hill and it did seem like a good long ride down to the bottom. There was a pond near the bottom that you had to be aware of. Falling in to that would have been a disaster but, at the time, it just added to the adrenalin rush. Sometimes Dad would go down the hill on his own while I waited at the top but more often than not, he would lie on his front on the sledge and I would lie on top, holding on to his shoulders. Dad did the steering by sticking his toes into the snow and by leaning one way and another. It was such a thrill to be barrelling down hill, feeling as if I was teetering precariously on top of this speeding sledge. It is such a vivid memory for me.

Now that I am taking my own children sledging I wish I could find that hill. It can’t have changed. The little conifers that we used to pass through to get to it must be considerably bigger but it must still be there. Somehow I just can’t seem to work out which hill it was that we used to use. Yesterday, despite not being able to find the hill, I did resurrect Dad’s sledging technique. Going downhill fast with your face inches from the snow is really the only way to go sledging and I think I have passed on this family tradition to another generation.IMG_1587


The Joy of Snow….up close

IMG_1501Can you see tiny snowflake shapes twinkling?IMG_1530
IMG_1528What about now, slightly closer up?IMG_1524

IMG_1509I’m sure I never used to see ‘proper’ snowflakes when I was a child. Was I just not looking carefully enough, caught up in the more exciting activities that come with snow? Is this viewing of snowflakes the consequence of age or has the type of snow we get changed?

I’d love the opportunity to see snowflakes under a microscope but for now, the macro function of my camera will do.

All images taken with Canon Digital Ixus 80IS and edited with iPhoto.

Inspiration from Little Tin Bird, here. Scroll down to the last picture.

52 weeks of happy: 3/52

Four things that have made me happy this week are…IMG_60671. Alternative transport on the school run.

The happiest thing about this picture is that I am not the one pulling the sledges.
IMG_60512. Three children playing together happily (sorry this is a terrible photo, I know).

This makes me REALLY happy as it doesn’t happen all that often. This was another no TV night though, which certainly helps. There have been other, snow related moments of play that have made me happy this week but I can feel an extended, snow tribute post coming on so I’ll save those pictures.IMG_60823. My thrifty lemon and elderflower jelly was put to good use in a cream sponge cake.

I was a bit unsure about how well it had set but it is a lovely texture for glazing cakes. Earlier on this week The Husband used it on top of a baked cheesecake. He took it to work to (belatedly) celebrate his birthday. He had more than one marriage proposal on the strength of it, though I’m sure it was his baking not my jelly that was responsible for that.IMG_60944. Well risen Yorkshire puddings made into individual toad in the hole.

I never got Yorkshire puddings right until I found this recipe. I have never had a dud batch since. Seeing them rise almost impossibly high makes me happy every time. Eating them gives a certain amount of pleasure too.

52 weeks of happy 2/52


I saw the sun this week. That made me very happy. A day of clear blue skies seems so rare. I hope there are a few more in 2013 than there were in 2012.IMG_5937Contrary to popular belief, I am not really very organised when it comes to domestic tasks. I cook, but cleaning, pah, I’d rather be doing this…20130115-130222.jpgSpeaking of cooking, another thing that made me happy this week was seasonal food. I managed to squeeze in a little trip to my local farm shop to get some seville oranges for making marmalade. It seemed a much easier task this year. I must have learned something last year after all. IMG_1418The week started with bright sunshine but ended with snow.IMG_6013I love snow just as much as the children and I have been a tad disappointed by how much has fallen. The weatherman promised so much. Still, this is supposed to be a happy post and you can’t fail to enjoy a toddler’s response to snow. It even inspired a three word sentence from Babykins “Dada, Mama, ‘now (snow)”. Call back next week to see if I am still feeling as positive about it.

Babykins’ first Snow

I love snow. I still get excited by it. I still anticipate it, hardly daring to hope that it will arrive.

I watched the weather forecast on Friday night and saw the enormous band of snow that was due to cross the country the next afternoon.

Almost bang on time, flakes started to fall at two o’clock, as I took my boys out to visit our friends. I don’t think Babykins was very impressed by the cold wind blowing into his face. His cruel mother wanted him to experience snow so didn’t put the rain cover on the pushchair.

By the time I went back out again at three o’clock to collect the Middle Miss from her dancing lesson, there was a covering of snow. She skipped along with me all the way back to our friends house. She didn’t care about the gusty wind, she just kept saying “I can’t believe this snow is here”. Thank goodness I had had the foresight to send her off to class with her warm clothes and snow boots. By now the snow was falling so fast that it really would have been cruel to expose poor little Babykins to it.

As forecast, the snow fell almost continuously until about nine p.m. I took these photos around midnight, just before I went to bed after a rare night out with my girl friends.

Can you see the little foot prints to the right of the photo? I’ve got a suspicion there’s a resident mouse in the garden, swiping the seed and dried fruit from the bird food dishes (where the faint trace of circles are).

Taking pictures of snow at night time is a technical challenge that I have not yet conquered.

Of course this morning, the fun really started. Son Number One and the Middle Miss had a great time pulling each other and the sledge up and down the street. They shovelled the snow off the drive into a huge pile  castle.

Babykins seemed to really enjoy his first snowy experience. I wish I could post the video of him being pulled along in the sledge. He showed his babyish signs of appreciation: a big smile and kicking legs. Fortunately, because he is baby three, we had welly boots at the ready and he made his debut walk through the snow.

He coped extremely well but by ten-thirty he was ready for a nap. So was I if the truth be told but you don’t get the chance to go sledging every day. Moreover, you don’t get the chance to do it with some of your oldest, out-of-town friends and their children.

Who had the most fun do you think?

Edited to add: Babykins does own mittens, he just keeps pulling them off. Can anyone tell me if my use of the apostrophe is correct in the title?

To Drive the Cold Winter Away

There are weather warnings about today. Alas, there is no snow forecast for my neck of the woods, just high winds and rain. This time last year we had about 10 inches of snow and unusually cold temperatures. I really love snow, probably because the furthest I have to travel in a day is to the school or shops at the bottom of my road. I did that pulling a sledge quite  a lot last year. Thinking back, I must have looked quite a sight since I was over 34 weeks pregnant.

My Dad was a real lover of extreme weather and he has passed his sense of excitement about it on to me. It seems a bit sad that the two most severe winters we’ve had have been since he died.

January 2010

Despite the lack of snow, it’s been a festive day here today. I attended my second nativity show at my children’s school. Son number one had a starring role as lead shepherd. Unfortunately he looked really tired, every time I turned the video camera onto him there seemed to be a yawn escaping. He’s had a lot of trouble getting to sleep the last few nights. I put it down to general excitement and a developing cough.

After the school performance, I came home to a nice tidy house, thanks to my Mum who had been keeping an eye on babykins. I soon had a peaceful, tidy house as babykins had a lovely long nap. I climbed up to my CD collection which is now on a high shelf through lack of use and retrieved my ‘winter’ CD. This was given to me by my Aunt a few years ago and though I love it, I’ve probably listened to it less than ten times. It’s a very atmospheric recording, mainly of old sounding folk songs. The voice of the singer is beautifully pure and is accompanied by just a harp, accordion or whistle. On days when it’s wild outside, it really does ‘Drive The Cold Winter Away’.

I lit my vanilla candles, made cup of tea and got busy with the crochet hook. Actually, I started off by darning in the ends on all the stars I’d whipped up the other night.

I’ve been enjoying crocheting stars and snowflakes. I think I may have to keep doing them into the New Year so that I have enough to create something with next Christmas. The stars came from an Australian blog called The Royal Sisters. The pattern, called ‘The Grandma Twinkle’ is here. They are really easy, though I find that I need to use the edited final round in order to make them sit flatter. So far I’ve only made two snowflakes. One was my own design that I just made up as I went along

My own design

The next one was from the crochet snowflake tutorial at Attic 24 (thank you Lucy). Following Lucy’s pattern was much easier than making my own up.

Attic 24’s Snowflake

I also blocked out all my stars and snowflakes so that they will be much more pointy. I’ve used a couple of my foam yoga blocks, covered in a layer of muslin. They are ideal for pinning out these little beauties. I spray them with cheap laundry starch, available from Boyes store (source of all crafting materials in my town).

I’m hoping that I will be able to create a few more individual snowflakes, after all, ‘in the wild’ no two are really alike.

It’s still blowing a gale outside tonight. Time to go to bed and dream about snow. As I’ve been organised and bought a super new sledge and snow boots for the children It’s probably the nearest I’ll get this year. Mother Nature always has the last laugh.