Thursday, 30 December 2010

False Start

So there we were.  

Miss Used-to-Bees snuggled up in the back of the car under a couple of quilts looking forward to picking big sister and boyfriend up from Brugge where they'd spent Christmas, me in the passenger seat trying to get forty winks after driving to the Eurotunnel so very early on Boxing Day, Mr Used-to-Bees standing outside the car as the train slowly moved off.

The movement of the train lulled me to sleep.  

I was dreaming of the mountains and the vin chaud, of whizzing down the slopes looking oh-so stylish (well, it was a dream!) and enjoying the convivial Alpine ambience.  I could smell the fresh mountain air and the woodsmoke of the roaring fires in the mountainside refuges: I could hear the tinkling of the bells worn by the horses pulling their sleighs and the swoosh of skis.

Then a voice broke into my reverie.

'I've forgotten the keys.'

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

On Tour

After our little Boxing Day trip, we decided to come back for more of La Belle France yesterday!  After a slightly hairy journey up the hairpin bends...

...we arrived safely (thanks to Mr U-t-B's excellent cold -weather driving skills!)

...and are now happily ensconced halfway up a mountain, and looking forward to some of this...

More soon, if the internet connection keeps up!

Sunday, 26 December 2010

That was the week when...

...we actually got the Christmas cards in the post on time, thanks to being pretty much snowed in and huddled round the woodburner last Sunday.  Anyone who knows us will know that this is nothing less than a miracle.  Next year we'll strive to get the international ones in the post on time too!

... I got all my Christmas shopping done in about 3 hours flat. 

 ...I spent nearly a whole morning peeling clementines for Christmas pressies of 'Clementines in Grand Marnier'.  They looked so lovely in the recipe I couldn't resist - just didn't realise it would take me almost the whole of The Ken Bruce Show to do it! 'Pears in Mulled Wine' next year perhaps?

...I wrote a 'Happy Christmas' post that I forgot to actually post.  The wishes were there - hope it was a truly happy and joyful time for everyone!

...Mr U-t-B spent Christmas Day in bed with a very sore back having twisted awkwardly getting some skis out of the car, thereby missing a lovely lunch at my parents house.

...the Christmas lunch hit for 2010 was the sprouts!  Stir-fried with bacon and pine nuts, and a dash of cream.  Seriously yummy!  This is the nearest thing I've found to the recipe my Mum used.

...we went to France on Boxing Day, but were back in sunny Hampshire for lunch.  It's a rather long and embarrassing story.  Maybe I'll tell it one day.

Sunday, 19 December 2010


 Well, hello little blog and bloggy friends, if indeed I have any anymore, given the length of my absence!
It goes without saying that things have been a trifle hectic round here, but hopefully quieter times are now returning.  

Granted, the pressie-ometer and matching card-ometer are still registering big fat ZEROS. However those tiny Christmas details are not going to ruffle MY feathers...

Since my last post we have been having a very festive time.
First came a trip here...

...for a spot of slippy, twirly stuff in very uncomfortable blue plastic boots.   

Thanks to Jonathon at for the pics! I was skating too, but I guess I was going so fast Jonathon couldn't catch me on camera!!!

This was for Mr U-t-B's work do, which involved drinks and nibbles at the office, a coach into London, time at the Winter Wonderland and a meal at
Fire and Stone in Covent Garden.  London, as we passed through, was looking very twinkly and festive and I was glad to be there.

The Used-to-Bees family were all there and feeling especially celebratory due to some special news - Mr U-t-B's eldest is to become a father late next spring!  
Miss U-t-B is very keen on the idea of being an aunt and has vowed to be 'favourite auntie', though she is in competition with her two big sisters!

Next on the schedule was our family Christmas meal, eaten a little early last Sunday evening to allow for the fact that two of the clan will be in Poland for the 25th, and two more will be in Belgium!  So the house got decorated...

..oh-so tastefully and restrainedly by Miss U-t-B...

...and preparations were made for a feast!

We began with champagne cocktails.

Oops!  Should have taken a photo once the champagne was added!

Then smoked salmon on rye bread, followed by roast beef, Yorkshire pudding and lots of vegetables (because we always do our family meal on Christmas Eve, we never do turkey), then chocolate cheesecake or pink champagne and passionfruit jelly with cranberry compote, which looked very pretty and was my favourite part of the meal!

Time not cooking, eating or being merry was spent sewing, for the last of the Christmas Markets. Lots of these, because they sold so quickly at the last Market...

...a few of these...

...lavender crinoline ladies...

...postbox stamp cases...

...and cottages galore... 

The Christmas market was, unsurprisingly, very Christmassy, even if not as lucrative as I might have wished...

With that behind me, I tidied up all evidence of sewing and got my apron out to prepare for our Drinks Party.  

Thanks only doing supply teaching now I had the fantastic luxury of two days to enjoy making nibbles and treats for the party.  Mind you, it meant that by Friday lunchtime, when the first very heavy snow flurry arrived, I phoned Mr U-t-B in a panic to say he'd better get home quick to start eating everything I'd prepared all as we were sure to be guest-less in the evening!  

Luckily though, it was only a short flurry (and we didn't eat the party food ahead of time!) so in the evening our friends were able to enjoy some tasty (so they told me) morsels. There were Delia's Posh Sausage Rolls, figs and rosemary wrapped in Parma ham, goats' cheese and pimiento pinwheels, sticky sausages, hot-smoked salmon and
crème fraîche on soda bread flowers (because some celebrity chef has obviously promoted blinis so I couldn't buy any in any local supermarket!) and little mini-pizza type things with anchovy and olives.  Oh and my favourite, mini filo baskets with Coronation chicken and fresh mango.  Yum!  Then Katie Stewart's Mince Pies, Amaretti biscuits with mascarpone and lemon and profiteroles.  

Needless to say, I failed to take any photos when things looked stylish!  All that's left is the aftermath.  

The goats' cheese wraps I forgot to cut up and serve...

The profiteroles I took out of the fridge and left on the side in the kitchen, where there were only a few to eat them...

The decorative frosted fruit...

A glut of wine...

And a very fine selection of chocolates...

Watch out waistline!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Vital Statistics

Number of days till Christmas                                      16

Number of Christmas presents purchased/made   0

Number of cards written                              0 

Number of decorations put up                         0

Number of days till final Christmas Fair            4

Number of items to make for Christmas Fair   29

Number of days till our Christmas Party           7

Number of food items made for party               0

Hey-ho!  It will all happen, ready or not!

Counting my blessings instead of the things on my 'To do' list

Christmas 1966 - carefree days!

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Dumpy Red Riding Hood

Remember this from the day before yesterday?

Here are my updated versions...

The perfect place to keep your needles and pins to hand!

These, as well as some of my more usual Red Riding Hoods...

...will be coming with me on Saturday to Farnham Maltings Market! 

I hope people will be able to get there - Mr U-t-B and I had the misfortune to have to drive through bits of Surrey today (it was an essential journey as my poor brother fell over and broke his leg this morning, so we were taking him home from hospital!) and the roads were terrible!  Cross into Hampshire and within yards, the roads change from hard packed snow and ice, to slush. Hmmmm.......Freak weather conditions that obey county boundaries or lack of gritters in Surrey?  I wonder....

Keep safe in these pretty but hazardous conditions!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Winter reaches Hampshire

Although we have not reached the snowy depths of last winter, which saw Mr U-t-B skiing to work...

...and some amazing natural ice sculptures... is cold and snowy enough here today to decide to snuggle beneath this...

...sit close to this...

...pull a pile of almost finished projects close to hand...

...along with a few supplies...

,,,and get cracking!

I often seem to get side-tracked from projects just when they are almost done - seems silly, but I guess it is the lure of some new idea, or perhaps because when I have an idea I just HAVE to get on with it asap or I might well forget what it was!

First finished were these.

More bottletop pincushions in festive colours

 Now at this point I must apologise for the fact that you may well have felt the need to flip your head to the side for that photo.  Don't know what is going on today, but the computer/camera/Picasa/Blogger (don't know who the culprit is - so many to chose from, all unfathomable) keeps rotating my photos without me doing anything!  Very frustratingly I have now spent AGES re-downloading them (crashing the computer once in the process) but it is still doing it!

Last ditch attempt is to take photos again, even if that does mean the nth climb down, then up, two flights of stairs.

YAY!  Success at last!

So second to be finished was a mini-matchbox cosy, and then a needlecase cottage.

Then this...

Sketch book slipcover

And last (so far), this little lady...

Russian Doll Brooch

Now to return to the quilt, the burner and the rest of the pile!