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.



Summer Catch-up

It's been a busy summer so far but thoroughly enjoyable. We were very lucky to have a week in Far West Cornwall in June and spend a few days in Gloucestershire on the way home. We stayed at Boscrowan where we've been staying regularly for 18 years. The G7 Summit 2021 was on whilst we were there so we steered clear of St.Ives and the political circus and spent our time walking, reading and visiting art galleries. There was also lots of delicious food and some vintage and charity shop shopping. The weather was mixed with some memorable mizzle but got very warm towards the end of our stay. I even had one refreshing swim in the sea at Marazion early on our first morning. It was exhilarating but too cold for me to want to repeat the experience. 

We left Cornwall and visited Exeter and Chepstow en route to Gloucestershire and had fabulous weather.

This month, since returning from our hols, we've been to London as our youngest has just started a job there. It's his first job since graduating and he's woking for an architectural practice as he begins the long process of becoming an architect. It's an exciting time for him although a little nerve racking for us as we adjust to him living independently. We went down with more of his belongings a few weeks ago and seeing his accommodation put our minds at rest. He'll have to move again soon and is looking for a house to share with friends but price bidding wars are making it difficult to find a rental property.

I've also done a little work, just a week of supply teaching at my last school. I actually taught my old Year 3 class who I last taught in March 2020. They're soon to be Year 5, which is crazy. I'll be doing very occasional supply work there (and not working anywhere else) if I'm available. I must admit I've adjusted to life without working and one week of teaching was a reminder of how consuming the job is. By Wednesday lunchtime I was pretty tired. However, it was great to see former colleagues and I have missed working with young children. They all deserve a long restful holiday. I have lots of garden photos to share but will save that for another post. I hope you're all well x x x



Coastal Bedroom Makeover

We've just returned from a restful break in Cornwall. Before we left we started redecorating our master bedroom. It's been long overdue as we've been in this house for (ahem) 9 years now. I don't know if it's an age thing, but having a calm bedroom, comfortable bed and fresh bed linen is one of my favourite daily pleasures. The room's not quite finished as it needs new carpet and a ceiling light but it feels almost finished, which is why I thought I'd share it with you today. 

A feature wall with patterned red wallpaper on the wall behind the bed dominated the room and although the rest of the walls and carpet were neutral the room felt oppressive and old-fashioned. What we longed for were fresh white walls, minimal furniture and a coastal vibe with a blue and white colour scheme. Oh, and new cushions, although Tim's not a fan of cushions on beds, being more of a minimalist in that department than me. Cushions, for me, add interest, comfort and 'finish' a bed. 

Luckily, the wallpaper came off really easily and we used Rock Salt by Dulux, a paint which we've used before in our living room. It's a fresh, clean white but soft and not too harsh. I did the wallpaper stripping and painting myself and I enjoyed it once I got into it. Listening to BBC 6 Music in the morning and Classic FM in the afternoon kept me going too. I'm not going to lie though, I hate the mess that redecorating involves.

Once the room was painted it was time for the fun part adding new bedlinen, bedside lights and a picture. Whist I love white bedding it can be difficult to keep clean so we chose a classic blue and white stripe design, 'Content' by Terence Conran via Next. The bedside lights were from Amazon and were chosen to echo the black of the bed. Our bed is 24 years old and was from Habitat. Our chest of drawers are also the same age and luckily have fitted into the 3 bedrooms we have owned since buying them. They were made by a local firm, 'Paul Martin Furniture', and were made to measure. They're so well made and I hope we have many more years use from them. 

As we were beginning our bedroom revamp, a company called Photowall contacted me offering a print. I'm usually wary of accepting such offers but I was impressed with their website and so accepted their kind gift. They have an amazing selection of designs in wallpapers, posters and canvas prints. The one we chose is called 'Coastal Ripples' and is a canvas print. We were very pleased with how quickly it came and it was easy to assemble. Also, it definitely adds to the calm vibe we were aiming for. 

Photowall will also make a picture using your own images. That's something we'd like to have made for another wall, we've just got to pick our favourite personal photo from our archives! If you're interested in something a little different for your walls Photowall have a vast and stylish range and I'm happy to offer you 25% off any order until 31st August using the code, justalittleless2021. Thank you Photowall. 

The bee cushion was my own choice and I love it. It's by Sophie Allport via Next and is 100% cotton. More cushions may follow. I've seen an image that I like with 3 cushions on a bed, 1 square, 1 rectangular and one circular, so I'm on the look out for more cushions to add to the bed. 

I hope you enjoy this little house update. Take care x x x



60: Happy Friday Links

I hope you feel inspired by this week's links which include stunning photography, 2 minimalist YouTubers I enjoy and information about this year's city of culture. 

Better than a vision board! by Lefie
3 more things I won't make time for anymore by Courtney Carver via Be More with Less
What is UK City of Culture? Coventry is this year's city of culture and this link explains exactly what it is and if you explore the site you can find out what's on

I hope you have a good weekend wherever you are and whatever you're doing x x x


Wisteria, Wildflowers and Weeds

I went out for a few hours today. The wisteria at Shugborough Hall was calling and it didn't disappoint. We enjoyed our picnic of onion bhaji baguettes and savoured the midweek quiet of a National Trust property. The mansion wasn't open but we were very happy walking in the vast grounds. As well as wisteria there were bluebells, cow parsley, forget-me-nots, alliums, azaleas, late daffodils, tulips and green alkanet

To be honest, I had to look up the name of this plant. I thought it was a weed and many would agree but it looked stunning in the walled garden's borders amongst forget-me-nots and mountain cornflowers. 

Most of the grass at Shugborough was left unmown and just tidied up at the edges. The buttercups and dandelions looked beautiful in the long grass especially in the sunshine. Parts of my city's public spaces are being left unmown. I like these little steps towards rewilding. Do you like the naturalised look? When is a weed not a weed? 



59: Happy Friday Links and a Chat

Welcome to Happy Friday Links whether you're a regular reader or new here. I love putting together links to interest and inspire you. I choose articles and videos about simplicity, minimalism, plant-based recipes, style on a budget, small space living and more.

This week has flown by and has been a bitty one with appointments and errands. I've had a long overdue dental check up and an eye test. My new glasses will be ready in 2 weeks and I'm very excited because for the first time I'll also have prescription sunglasses. The highlight of my week was a catch-up with a lovely friend I first met at The Minimalists tour in 2014. A beautiful friendship and all because of minimalism and this blog.

The photo above was taken on Thursday morning when Tim had his second covid vaccine at Lichfield Cathedral. I'd bought a coffee which I'd planned to drink outside while I waited for Tim but I was invited into the cathedral by the welcoming volunteers (yes even with my coffee). I couldn't resist having a chance to see how it was organised and I was impressed by the friendliness and efficiency of 'Team Cathedral' (this name was printed on the back of the high vis jackets worn by the volunteers). Tim had his second dose of Pfizer and fortunately apart from arm ache has had no after effects. It was such a great venue for vaccinations. Surely those high ceilings must help with ventilation. Above all there was a palpable sense of peace, community and spirituality. Onto this week's links which I've enjoyed and I hope you do too.

This is The Classic Short Haircut Making a Big Comeback for Summer by Hannah Coates via Vogue. I love the photo of Lea Seydoux wearing a mask looking chic. How very 2021.

Filter More Out by Tynan. According to Tynan, "... people don't spend enough time figuring what they shouldn't be paying attention to." 

How to Declutter Your Closet and Stay Stylish with a Minimalist Wardrobe by Elisa Llera. This is a new YouTube channel and one which probably soon grow because it's so good. Those earrings.

Linda McCartney's Expands into Dairy Alternatives with Plant Milk Range via Vegan Food & Living. This is great news.

15 More Creative Ideas for Food Scraps via The Zero-Waste Chef. Eat the entire apple, save that bean broth and other ways to reduce food waste.

Growing, Harvesting and Crafting with Lavender via Seasalt Stories. I'm definitely going to plant more lavender this year and love these ideas - roasting potatoes with lavender intrigues me.

From Confusion to Clarity by Hilary Jacobs Hendel. In this blog post Hilary helps us understand and recognise our emotions and how to use this insight when we have difficult decisions to make. 

Have a relaxing read and enjoy your weekend. Please feel free to leave a comment below. We'll catch up soon x x x



Mum's New Room Peek

I was delighted to get an email from the customer services manager at Mum's care home with an update on Mum's new room. She attached photos, to show us what her new room looks like. There are still a few more pictures to be hung but doesn't it look lovely. She moved in on Monday which is great. 

I'm very grateful for such good communication from the home. They have a new garden pod which is where we had our last visit in March. They call it the 'happy pod' instead of the garden pod which sums up their upbeat attitude to dealing with the pandemic. I've included photos of the happy pod and Mum at the end of this post.

I think Mum will really enjoy the big window with lots of light flooding in and being at the front of the care home there'll be more comings and goings for her to watch. Also, from the car park when I drop off anything for her, I can see her room even if I'm not allowed in. It makes her seem a little bit closer if that makes sense. I'll have to wait until 24th May at the earliest to visit Mum in person. It won't be long. Fingers crossed.