Sunday, 28 December 2014

Christmas Happies

Hello and Merry Christmas! I hope you all had a wonderful few days break as we did. I've missed this space and it feels good to be back. We've lolled on sofas and gone for brisk walks. We've eaten a lot of good food, drunk a fair bit, played board games, unwrapped a lot of presents, laughed a lot, sometimes at the presents. A proper family Christmas. 

This weeks moments of happiness include...

1. Indulging in some Christmas kitsch at the local garden centre. 

 The expression "so bad it's good" comes to mind.

These tiny light up houses would normally send me running to the hills, but I found I was quite drawn to them, peering in to the little windows, examining the idyllic scene. 

I love how it's ok to have really bad taste at Christmas. 

2. Food. Oh, we have eaten so well this week! Too well. Christmas lunch was a roast turkey, plus a goose (just in case 14 pounds of turkey wasn't enough) with all the usual trimmings. Mmm. I love the trimmings. The roast potatoes, stuffing, pigs in blankets, bread sauce, cranberry, so good. My mum and John cooked for thirteen people. I am frequently very thankful that I married a man who can cook.

For the first time we roasted some chestnuts. 

It was a bit of a faff to be honest, scoring the shells, wrestling the nuts out of their hard casings after they were cooked. They smelt and tasted amazing though.

They were cooked with sherry and pancetta and added to the sprouts. My verdict was that sprouts are still sprouts however you pimp them up.

3. It is very rare indeed that I get to see both my sisters on their birthdays (the 23rd and 27th December) and I can't think when that last happened before this week. I offered to make their cakes and had a glimpse of the kind of Decembers my mum must have endured during our childhoods, a marathon of baking and hosting, preparing and clearing up.

4. The most perfect walk on the beach this afternoon. Very cold, very sunny - just the kind of weather I want at this time of year. The sun set as we walked. The kids ran about, chasing the waves, collecting shells. Angus said it was his "best walk" all Christmas because he got to run around in the surf. 

I forgot my big camera so made do with the rubbish camera on my phone, but it doesn't matter, I can go back again and again!

* * * * *

I think I might make this my last weekly "happies" post for now. It feels like a good time to stop - the end of a year, the end of an era. I will however - and possibly somewhat ambitiously - be looking for and celebrating one good thing a day throughout January, that most challenging of months. There is so much to love about winter, and I'll be focusing on the positives that January can bring us. I'll post weekly again, with each weeks moments of goodness. I haven't really ironed it all out just yet, but I was just so excited about it I wanted to tell you.

We go back up to Leeds tomorrow to pack up the house. I've basically been in moving denial for the past week. I need to focus. Wish me luck!


  1. Merry Christmas to you too Gillian. It's been much of the same here albeit without the beautiful coast. I love sprouts and ate chestnuts a few times in London. They're not really eaten here much. Love the birthday cake. I suspect your sisters are delighted you'll be around to bake for them. I've loved your happy posts and look forward to your celebration of January. I was just reading an article in Flow about gratitude and being grateful for the little happy things. It's so important and rewarding! Bee xx

  2. It looks like you have had a wonderful week. Best of luck with the packing.

  3. I'm cheering you on with your moving adventure, Gillian, and so glad you had a happy week
    with your family! xx

  4. Those chestnuts sound delicious - I buy the vacuum packed ones so I'm very impressed. Good luck with the move! Claire xo

  5. What a happy week. Good luck with the move!
    Jacqui xx

  6. Good luck with the move !!
    And as for Christmas and kitsch, same here, for some strange reason in december I seem to lose every notion of good taste ;-)...

  7. Very good luck Gillian, I look forward to visiting your new house and to your January happies - it's a good idea! Also, you are indeed very lucky to be married to a man that can cook, I'm ashamed at how envious I am (yes a sore point!) Happy New Year to you!! Sam xxx

  8. It's all so very lovely! Like you, I feel it is absolutely OK to indulge in some kitsch at Christmas. Love the woodland scene with the deer, and the tiny houses would have had me glued to that display for a long time as a kid (and probably as an adult, too).
    Nice cake :-)
    What's wrong with sprouts? I like them!
    Your Christmas and two birthdays sound wonderful, and the beach photos are good - it's not the camera that makes a good picture, but the eye behind the lense.
    Good luck now with the move!

  9. Lovely birthday cake - especially the kitkat round the edge; great idea. I'm so envious of your move to the sea; I'd so love to do that. Good luck with the rest of the packing. x

  10. Lovely times, especially that lovely walk. Hope the packing and move go well. Has john got a new job? Hope that 2015 is the best ever got you all. Xx

  11. Just catching up after a couple of days away in Canberra to see our 2 boys. I love your photos and so glad you had a great Xmas, especially with your move soon. Birthdays around Xmas are very much a family thing here too. Our older son is 11/12, my stepdaughter 15/12, my daughter 28/12 and our youngest son 4/1, so that is 4 children within 3 weeks of each other. Ugh! We've also got a couple of other family members in December as well as at least 3 friends that I can think of. Keep warm and take care.

  12. It looks like a really wonderful Christmas. We had a lovely beach day yesterday as well, the light was fantastic wasn't it. Not long until the move is done, look at it that way! One way or another, everything will end up in the lorry on the appointed day, and somehow it will all get unpacked, and then you'll be off and away into new adventures. Hang on in there! I'm sending you some good energy. CJ xx

  13. You are very lucky that John can cook ;)) Your Christmas looks wonderful, Gillian. The Kit Kat cake is brilliant.
    Leanne xx

  14. Lovely photos Gillian!!! Looks like you all had a wonderful days.. ! :)))))

  15. Gillian, Thank You for sharing your lovely photo's, and Good Luck
    Best Wishes for 2015
    Sue xxxx

  16. Very best of luck with your move! Sounds like you have had a beautiful time at Christmas X

  17. That's a great idea, the January good things. Glad you had a lovely family Christmas. Hope the next few weeks go smoothly for you!

  18. yum cake!

    and the beach for Christmas! how cool.

    Good luck with the move. And can I just add OMG, a daily fix of Gillian? So many people slow down blogging in winter so this will be a real treat! hooray!

  19. I do so enjoy your blog, Gillian. Like you I am thankful for marrying a man who can cook! The very best of luck for your move. My home town is on the south coast, we've lived in London, Hertfordshire, Somerset, West Yorkshire and now we're in Scotland so there's been a fair few moves! My advice - take your time unpacking and crack open the champagne instead!! Helen

  20. so glad you had a wonderful break Gillian; it all looks lovely. and I'm envious of you being married to an excellent cook ;-). good luck with all the sorting and packing, and fingers crossed for a smooth move; these things can be so stressful but I'm excited to see where you end up when the dust settles x

  21. Focus woman!! Sending you packing vibes from Shropshire - Jo xx

  22. I love a bit of Christmas kitsch too! Looks like you've had a lovely few days, Gillian. Wishing you the best of luck with the packing up of the house xx

  23. It's lovely to read about your Christmas with your family. The birthday cake looks yummy. I'm thankful too to be married to a man who loves to cook, especially as I'm not very good at it : )
    Good luck with packing and the move. I hope the snow is not too bad in Leeds. x

  24. Looks like a lovely Christmas. Good luck with the packing up and wishing you all the best for the move and for 2015.

  25. What a lovely Christmas. I have to confess to loving sprouts just the way they are (I think they're the marmite of the vegetables) or pimped...those chestnuts look yum. Good luck with the packing and the move! I'm looking forward to your posts in 2015. xx

  26. Sounds like a lovely Christmas with your family. I wish you all the best for your packing up and big move with much happiness to come in your new house and relocation!

  27. Just to wish you well for the Big Move South!
    Margaret P

  28. I'm glad that you had a good Christmas and that you got to celebrate your sisters birthdays too, it all sounds so great! I hope that the packing and move goes well and that 2015 brings you many happy things every day! xx

  29. sprouts will always be sprouts. But over the last couple of Christmases i've converted 3 of the 4 sprout haters in my family to eat 'the sprouts Clare cooks' it is a very simple BBC Good food recipe involving frying pancetta and chestnuts, adding vegetable stock, letting it reduce by half then adding blanched sprouts.

    My dad spent 45 years convinced sprouts were disgusting due to first trying them days before being diagnosed with TB when he was little (pretty sure he thinks the sprouts gave him TB...) and now loves them... but only when i've cooked them.

    Sprouts will always be sprouts, but sprouts can be amazing!

  30. Sounds like a wonderful week of Christmas! And that birthday cake looks fabulous. I'm looking forward to seeing how you spend your January. I love this time of year and look forward to the tranquility and peace that allows us time to read, do needlework, etc. Happy New Year to you and yours.

  31. Both my sons birthdays are in December - 17th and 19th - so I can confirm that it made December a totally mad month for baking and celebrating. Not quite so bad now. The move will just happen and before you know it you will be in your new home. Hope you have a very Happy New Year.

  32. Happy new year Gillian and Family x

  33. What a delightful family Christmas you had. Lovely memories to treasure.
    Good luck with the packing and the moving!
    And Happy New Year to you all.
    Lisa x

  34. Wow a wonderful Christmas my dear friend. It's always so nice to look back and see all the different things we do for every Christmas ... And they all end up making wonderful memories.
    Looking forward to another great year.

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