Sunday 29 December 2019

19 in 19 - Final round up

Well I missed doing an update in November and it's almost the end of the year so here is an overall round up.

1. Be more organised, plan ahead and waste less time
I was definitely more organised at the end of the year.  Being involved in a Christmas dinner for 12 has that effect.  That was a lot of work but it did get me back on track with planning etc.  Hopefully that will carry through in to 2020.

2. Work on the garden
There's not much to be done out there at the moment but overall the garden is looking better than it was at the start of the year so I'm taking that as a win!

3. Plan a lunch date/date night with Nick once a month (theatre/cinema/meal/outing) 
Well we did get out for lunch recently but only because we had been invited by friends! Definitely need to work on this one next year.

4. Eat at 6 new-to-me restaurants
I definitely achieved this thanks to my holiday with my cousins.

5. Complete the A – Z blogging challenge 


6. Family weekend away for my birthday - in June
It was lovely! Read about it here.

7. Look after my health – eat well, sleep well, play well
This has been a bit up and down over the year.  Honestly, episodes of mild depression/anxiety make this one so important but also so difficult to manage.  My self awareness on this definitely helps but lack of motivation is my enemy.

8. Visit my brother
I failed this one.  I have two brothers and I have seen one of them a few times this year.  I honestly can't remember when I last saw my eldest brother.  That saddens me which is why this was on my list.  However, with a 12 year age difference, we have never been really close.  I probably wouldn't notice this so much if I hadn't married into a family that is the opposite of mine.  Hubby's family, huge as it is, is close.  Which makes me feel guilty that I don't have that closeness with my own family.  BUT that is a two way thing and I have often felt that I've been the one making all the effort.  SO I will not be putting this aim on my 2020 list.  If it happens all well and good but I'm going to try very hard not to let it bother me.

9. Visit the beach


10. Complete my reading challenge (52 books for the year)  Yay!  Done!  I've just finished book #69. Details and reviews can be found on my Goodreads site.  (Or you can use the tag book review to find them here on the blog.)

11. Keep a journal

Another fail.  Although I have been jotting down something I'm grateful for most days.  That's a start.

12. Blog at least once per week (plus regular memes)
November saw an improvement, things slipped again in December.  I'm going to blame that on Christmas and not get disheartened.

13. Organise/Take more photos
I took some photos at Christmas!  Not many, not enough. NEEDS IMPROVING!

14. Update my clothes/accessories/make up etc regularly
I did buy a few new things in the run up to Christmas but, as I've said before, this aim is too vague.

15. Do more crafting – move the sewing machine!
I finally finished a knitting project that had been on the go for way too long!  I still have a few things in progress that I'm going to try and finish before I commit to anything new.

16. Try out a new recipe or do a bake each week
Thankfully our Hello Fresh subscription  helps with trying out new things and I did bake a cheesecake for Christmas using a recipe that had been passed down in Nick's family.

17. Visit/see Grandson Noah every month
We managed a day visit in November and Noah and his parents are arriving later today and staying for a week!  Definitely in need of time with him.

18. Make progress on the house plan
I've written before how some of this was delayed by the uncertainty of whether my daughter and her family would need temporarily housing with us.  Fortunately they did not need a Plan B with us but that's no real excuse for us just dragging our heels.  We need to get moving on this in 2020.

19. Lose 19 pounds
Well this was an over optimistic challenge.  Hopefully I haven't gained anything over Christmas so that at least I haven't gone in the wrong direction.  Maintenance will be the aim for 2020.

Overall, if this was a school report, the comment would definitely be "Could do better!"  Has it put me off? No, but as I've said before some of these aims were just too vague.  I'm already working on drawing up a 20 in 20 list but it will definitely be a bit more specific than this one.

Watch this space!

Review: The Secret Santa

The Secret Santa The Secret Santa by Trish Harnetiaux
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A lavish party. An isolated mansion. Two hosts who will do anything to protect their secrets.

When husband and wife Henry and Claudine organise their firm’s Christmas party in a remote mansion, they expect it to be a night to remember.

But the festive mood quickly turns sour when a sinister gift is unwrapped in the Secret Santa gift exchange.

As heavy snow traps the guests inside the mountainside lodge it quickly becomes clear that one of the party is out for revenge.

It’s no longer just about enduring the evening. It’s about making sure you get out alive.

A lavish locked-room mystery with a seasonal edge, THE SECRET SANTA is packed with twists that will keep you guessing until the final page.

When you can put a book down for over a week and then only finish it because it's a book club read you know it's not good. Not sure why I didn't like this book but I just didn't.

View all my reviews

Saturday 28 December 2019

Christmas Round Up 2019

Phew it's been a busy few days.  Monday was spent going over to my daughter's house and collecting the chairs they'd hired for Christmas dinner.  I also had to sort out a puncture which was annoying but done fairly quickly.

Tuesday we got everything together to take with us.

Things like extra plates, bowls, large cooking pots etc.  Basically anything that was going to be needed for the Christmas dinner that the girls didn't have!

It took a while, but eventually we set off.

Nathan was so excited to see his Grandpa.  He also thought it was hilarious that we all had the same PJs for Christmas.

The Doctors set we bought him was a definite hit.

After present opening on Christmas morning it was full steam ahead with dinner prep.

Catering for 12 takes a lot of work but it was definitely worth it:

Everyone seemed to enjoy the food and I think Vicky was pleased with how it all turned out.

Boxing day was definitely quieter and yesterday, after returning the hire chairs we headed home.

We managed to video time Noah and his parents.  Noah clearly had a good time with his other Nanny and Granddad - they wore him out lol

And Rory seems to have got over the jet lag that had him waking in the early hours of the morning!

So we all had a good time.  I hope you did too!

Friday 20 December 2019

Friday's Fave Five - 20/12/19

Hey it's Friday and I'm here!  Time to look back and reflect on the good things from the past week.

This meme is hosted by Susanne over at "Living to Tell the Story".  Pop over there to see who else is taking part.

Here are mine:

1.  Time with Nathan and his Mummies on Sunday.  We spent some time planning for Christmas.  We will be spending Christmas with them (from Christmas Eve to Friday) but some of Vicky's family will be joining us for Christmas dinner - we will be 12 plus Nathan.  (And a dog!) What a difference a year makes though:

2018  Nathan was not impressed with Father Christmas!

2019 He definitely looked happier to be there!

2.  Being relaxed about Christmas.  I still have a few things to get out and buy tomorrow and a few jobs to do but I'm not stressing about it.  It also may shock a few of you but I haven't (yet) put any decorations up.  I will do some of that tomorrow but I won't be putting up a tree.  Partly because we will not be here but after we get back Noah and his parents will be coming here.  They will be here for a week.  Putting up my tree would mean rearranging the furniture in the living room and thus less space for Noah to move around.  Their dogs will also be here and they need space too.  So this year the tree will stay in the loft.  Hubby is very happy about that lol.

3.  A hubby who is on my wavelength.  Following on from the decision not to put up a tree we have also decided not to buy each other presents.  Christmas can be so commercialised and I like to try and remember why we are celebrating.  Plus deciding what to give each other ends up being stressful and difficult.  We are fortunate to not want for many things and it feels like we are just buying each other something for the sake of it.  Therefore we are not buying each other anything and hubby is certainly relieved by this decision.

4.  Safe flight for Rory and his parents.  They flew to Boston this morning and have arrived safely.  They now have a 3 hour coach ride then an hour's drive to Barre in Vermont to celebrate Christmas with his American family.  I miss him already but I'm grateful that they decided to start their married life here in the UK.  Hopefully he might spend some of the journey like this:

5.  Organisational skills.  Vicky is quite stressed about the prospect of 12 for Christmas dinner but for me it's just a roast dinner scaled up for a bigger number.  Having married into a large family, cooking for large numbers is no longer intimidating for me - provided I have planned ahead.  I'm good at thinking through the logistics such as how we will all sit, how much crockery, pans, cutlery food quantities etc we need and planning a time frame.  I also take the attitude that, if things don't go to plan or aren't quite right, this is a family event and people should be supportive and not critical.

So it's almost time to start the festivities.  I hope that all of you have a lovely time, however you are spending or celebrating Christmas.

Friday 13 December 2019

Friday's Fave Five - 13/12/19

Hey it's Friday and I'm here!  Time to look back and reflect on the good things from the past week.

This meme is hosted by Susanne over at "Living to Tell the Story".  Pop over there to see who else is taking part.

Here are mine:

1.  The right to vote even if it didn't feel like I was making any difference and it was a dreadful night.  Of course now that the Conservatives have won the election, with a much larger majority than, I think, anyone thought they would, hopefully Brexit will get done.  Personally I voted to remain in the EU and I think the referendum was badly handly but, it has to be respected.   Only time wil tell if it will be a good thing in the long term.

2.  Wonderful nieces and nephews.  Nick's parents had 23 grandchildren and they have all grown into lovely young people.  This week one of them donated her stem cells which had been matched to someone who needs them.  She had signed up for the registry fairly recently but a match had already been found.  Hopefully the recipient's health will improve thanks to her.

3.  A night out with former work colleagues.  We usually do lunch taking it in turns to host but it was proving diffiult to find a day that worked for all of us so we opted to go out one evening instead.  It was good to catch up.

4.  A Christmas Concert.  Our DIL sings in a choir and they always do a carol concert in December.  We attended it last Sunday with our son, Rory, plus Nathan and his Mummies.

5.  Being able to look after Rory for an extra day this week.  He's had a rotten cold and cough and his parents took time off last week.  I was able to step in for an extra day but thankfully he's better now and back at nursery.

I'm also grateful for duvet days - the extra day with Rory and catching his cold left me feeling exhausted yesterday and today so I've taken it easy.  I'm grateful that I can do that.

Thursday 12 December 2019

Decision Day (or maybe not!)

Yep I've been AWOL again.  I've had 3 back to back days looking after Rory.  Poor thing has had a rotten cold and cough so no nursery for him.  He had conjunctivitus last week so Mummy and Daddy had already taken time off work so I stepped in this week and did an extra day.  He's gone to nursery today.  Hopefully he'll be ok.  He was a lot better yesterday in himself but still very runny nosed and dribbly.  He's just cut his canine teeth though so not that surprising.

Anyway I was thinking of just having a duvet day today.  Catching up on here, reading your blogs and just generally recharging my batteries.  BUT, I will have to get myself out at some point to VOTE.

Yes election day is finally here in the UK.  I think we're all sick of hearing about it and just want it DONE.  Although as to what the outcome will be - watch this space.  It's really hard to predict, although that's still happening.  It has been a very dirty battle with lots of smear tactics employed. 

There have been a number of live debates on TV plus various interviews but I must admit I haven't watched a lot of it.  I think we may well end up with a hung parliament, i.e. no party with an overall majority.  Then it will be a case of negotiating who will do deals with who to get some sort of Government in place and goodness knows how long that will take.

Or we could just be back to a Conservative Government.  Heaven help us!

My own local area has been Labour forever (not factually checked that but it's certainly feels like it) so if I didn't drag myself out of bed to go and vote it probably wouldn't make a great deal of difference but that's not the point!  Women went through horrendous ordeals to get the vote for women in this country and to not exercise your vote is just not acceptable.  Especially if you then want to have a say in the debate.  If we all opted for the "my vote won't make a difference" stance we would be a hell of a mess.  Personally I think it should be compulsory to vote as it is in some countries.  

I'd also like it to be able to be done online and for all those out there who claim that it could be subject to hacking, tampering etc are you really sure that paper ballots are that much more secure?

Right enough of the soap box for now.  Time I got my act in gear.  One of our local bars is holding an all night session for people to watch the results as they come in.  Personally I think I'll have an early night and try not to have nightmares about what I might wake up to tomorrow!

Saturday 7 December 2019

Friday's Fave Five - late again!

I seem to be making a habit of posting this on Saturday! This is the third week running I've been a day late but it's still good to look back and reflect on the good things right?

This meme is hosted by Susanne over at "Living to Tell the Story".  Pop over there to see who else is taking part.

Here are my 5 for this week:

1)  Time with Nathan on Saturday.  We babysat while his Mummies went to the theatre.  It was during the day this time so it was good to be able to have time with him awake.  I miss looking after him now he's at nursery as we don't see him quite as often.  He is getting so talkative now although sometimes it's a bit of a challenge to work out what he's saying lol.

2)  I finally finished a crafting project that feels like it has been on the go FOREVER! Enough said.

3)  Good train services.  I usually drive when I look after Rory but there were works going on at their building which meant parking was restricted.  I opted to take the train this week so I'm grateful that there were no hold ups/cancellations.  The trains run frequently too - every 10 minutes.  (It also meant an increase in steps on those days due to the walks to and from the stations!)

4)  The safe arrival of baby Martha.  This is the second daughter for one of Nick's nephews.  She was a couple of weeks early but both Mother and baby are doing fine and are now at home.  It's always a blessing to hear a new baby has arrived safe and well.

5)  Motivation - this week I actually took some steps towards getting rid of some of the things we had left from doing the jumble trail (yard sale) back in September.  I posted some items on one of our local freebie sites and washed a load of clothes that can now go to a local charity shop.  These things had been stored away so that they weren't getting in my way but they definitely need to be gone!

Hope you've all had a good week and enjoy the rest of the weekend.