Gentle goals for January

I'm returning to setting monthly goals in 2023. I used to enjoy setting monthly mini goals and then reflecting on my progress towards the end of the month. My aim is to a) make myself more accountable b) build good habits c) try new things. Let's crack on with my short list.

1. To read at least 2 books, one fiction and one non-fiction. I've been in a reading slump of late and I'm not sure why when I love reading and have been given some interesting books recently. What better month than January to enjoy curling up on the sofa with a good book?
2. To exercise daily either by walking or training at the gym. I've been going to a gym since April last year and have been enjoying strength training, swimming and the occasional fitness class. My fitness has improved, I feel more confident and my body's more toned. However, I need to walk on my no gym days or at least stay active. 
3. Sew. I've got an embroidery kit and a some felt dog patterns both of which are adorable. 
4. Have a low buy month. We're currently shopping from our own fridge, freezer and cupboards and only buying food that we need after careful menu planning. Also, I won't be buying anything I don't need such as clothes, magazines, make-up, decorative items, plants or books. Buying from charity shops is also off limits. 
5. Make another Youtube video. I made 1 Youtube video last year which I'll link below. I'd be interested to know if this is something you'd like to see more of. 

I'll reflect on theses 5 goals towards the end of the month if not before. I'll hopefully have lots to write about as well as photos relating to each goal. 

The photo is Gwynver beach, just north of Sennen Cove. We stayed at The Hut in Gwynver last year for Tim's 60th birthday. We had fabulous views of the ocean and amazing sunsets. 

I'll leave you with last year's video which as it was filmed in January (2021) is almost current :) I'd love to hear whether you've set any goals for this month or year. 



Christmas 2022

Happy new year to you all. I didn't post at all during 2022 even though we had a busy year with more trips and outings than usual due to Tim's 60th birthday in March. It's a bit of a joke that Tim's birthday celebrations lasted most of the year.  It's a shame really as there was lots to share but I hope to post more often this year. We are well and are both almost retired now and enjoying a slower pace of life. How are you? I can fill you in with what we've been up to in another post but for now let's concentrate on the run up to Christmas 2022 and the actual day itself. Our Christmas started in early December when we visited our youngest son in London for a few days. We had a tour of The Globe and saw a rehearsal of 'The Fir Tree', hence the headphones so that our guide could whisper to us and not disturb the play. 

We also visited Tate Modern which was very close to The Globe. We booked to see a Cezanne exhibition, an artist I knew little about. I prefer to see one artist at a time rather than lots of different artists' work. The weather turned bitterly cold whilst we were there and came as quite a shock after our very mild autumn. When we visited, London was very busy, possibly due to no train strikes being on and also because so many people haven't visited London since the pandemic. The Friday was quieter than the Saturday when the train and underground were over crowded. On the Saturday we went to see Broken Spectre a video installation by Richard Mosse at 180 The Strand. It was an immersive and shocking experience to see the destruction of the environmental crimes in the remote areas of the Brazilian Amazon. I would recommend it though. Our mood was then lifted as we briskly walked to Carnaby Street to see the iconic festive lights installations. They did not disappoint.

On the Sunday we visited my brother in St. Albans before heading home. We also met their new rescue Staffy, Missy, who is an absolute angel.

The next day I had to work and then in the evening we went to see the Luminate light trail at Shugborough Hall, Stafford. We were impressed by the way the estate had been transformed. And my first mulled wine of the season was most welcome!

I did a few more days work in December as well as volunteer with my school's nativity play, 'Bethlehem Bake-Off', which was a hoot. I also had lunch out with friends and cocktails and a Christmas meal out with Tim. We put our Christmas decorations up later than usual this year and have only just started taking them down today. Tomorrow we need to clean!

On December 19th I went to Attingham Park, a National Trust property near Shrewsbury with a friend from work. The mansion was filled with a fantastic and varied display of Christmas trees. Here are just a few photos from the mansion.

Our last trip out before Christmas was to a Christmas Jazz concert which was very jolly. We then had to knuckle down and finish wrapping, last minute shopping and prepping food for the big day. On Christmas Day we had a lovely day with our sons and my in-laws. I visited my Mum on Christmas Eve but sadly I couldn't take anyone with me due to Covid restrictions. 

Between Christmas and New Year we saw both our brothers and partners and had lots of left-overs, tv, games of chess and presents to occupy us. We were on our own for New Year and enjoyed pleasing ourselves for a few days. I hope Christmas was good for you this year and that 2023 is kind to you too. I always feel apprehensive at the the beginning of the year and so intend to take January slowly and be gentle to myself. However, whilst consistency is important I think I need to improve my current output of one blog post a year. 



Christmas Day 2021

It's New Year's Eve as I write this post and a mild and bright day. We've had a  lovely Christmas with just the right mix of entertaining family and time to ourselves. My brother and sister-in-law visited us on the 19th December and we had our first buffet lunch and present exchange. 

On Christmas Day, I dusted down my 'proper' camera, eager to capture some of the day. I love reading other people's Christmas blog posts and it's also great to have a record on my blog to look back on. It's our 9th Christmas in this house which I find hard to believe. Our youngest son came home for 4 nights on Christmas Eve and it was wonderful to have both our sons at home for Christmas and for them to see their grandparents on Christmas Day. 

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to see my mum since the beginning of December due to ongoing positive cases within her care home. I'm grateful that I've seen a lot more of her this year though.

Some sustainable swaps were made by reusing paper from packaging collected over the year, using ribbon and carefully separating any sellotape from gift wrap after it had been used. I didn't want to open my presents from Tim, which were beautifully wrapped in cloth, like the Japanese furoshiki style. I'm hoping this will become a growing trend next year both in our home and elsewhere. We've saved the fabric for next year.

We were very busy in the kitchen both in the days before Christmas and on the morning of the day itself. Tim did most of the cooking, helped by me and our eldest son. 

My favourite part of Christmas Day is before lunch when we have Prosecco and some nibbles. These were our eldest son's creation. They look like smoked salmon but they're actually shaved carrot which has been marinated. I've never liked smoked salmon but these are delicious.

We cooked turkey and pigs in blankets for my in-laws and the 4 of us had vegan food. I had some Waitrose jewelled nut roast and the others had a Linda McCartney vegetarian chicken roast (it's vegan as well). The gravy was homemade by Tim. As well as being very tasty it was vegan and gluten free. My favourite new vegan find this year were these M & S no chorizo pigs in duvets. Absolutely delicious.

The table looked fairly minimal to start with but soon became cluttered with a plethora of festive drinks, dishes and condiments. This was most welcome after having less people around the table last year.

Christmas pudding, a bought vegan Yule log and fresh fruit and ice cream were the desserts on offer  to cater for our varied tastes and diets. 

Oh dear, I didn't mean for the deer to be facing the opposite way to Santa and the snowman! We all enjoyed spending the day together, opening presents, feasting, snoozing and a bit of festive telly. Three days later we did all again with my brother-in-law and his partner plus my in-laws, only this time it was a buffet lunch. It was so nice to see Tim's brother and partner as we haven't seen them properly for almost two years. We also enjoyed a mammoth game of scrabble on Boxing Day with our youngest son.

The last few days in between Christmas and New Year have been slow and restful. New Year's Eve will be a quiet celebration for just the two of us. 

I'm looking forward to continuing my blog next year and I have lots of ideas to share. Thank you for reading and wishing you all well for 2022.