Friday, 19 December 2014

Friday Happies

1. Time. A small respite, an unexpected free day before Christmas. The moving date has been postponed until very early in the New Year which is a huge blessing as it gives us a bit of breathing space, but means the children can still start their new school at the beginning of term in January.

And with that precious time, I baked mince pies. 


Isn't the holly beautiful? Look at all those berries. It was a gift from a gardener friend and is our sole Christmas decoration on the mantel along with some cards. I'm not sure if it's lonely or minimalist.


2. This week we celebrated Bella's eighth birthday. Her party was last Sunday afternoon, and her birthday yesterday. The big day falling on a school day didn't seem to dampen her excitement in the slightest. If anything, it added to it. 


She said that one of her best bits from the party was blowing out her candles. My best bit was watching her blow out her candles. Every day, every year, just gets better and better. I think "This is the perfect age" and then the next age surpasses that. She is interesting, funny, bright and perceptive, full of thoughts and questions.  A joy.


Her cake was one I'd seen here and here recently and stashed it away in my head as an idea for a potential cake that was big on impact and low on effort. I showed it to Bella and she loved it, thank goodness, as I had my heart set on it. I like the way the banner adds height and impact. It's just two paper straws which hold up a length of yarn over which small pieces of washi tape are folded.


I made the cake from three round tiers of plain sponge covered in buttercream icing, with a little animal tea party arranged on the top. We raided the toy box for animals, made them hats from crafting paper and bows from ribbon and yarn scraps, and sat them at a table we borrowed from the Sylvanian Family cafe.


The little cake on the stand is three Love Heart sweets sandwiched together with dabs of buttercream. Bella ate it after the party. Eugh.


3. These beautiful contrails which caught the morning sun earlier in the week were spectacular.


4. It's been a week of farewells as we start to say goodbye to friends in Leeds in readiness for our move. I have a very secure and solid group of women friends here up here in Yorkshire, most of whom I met through the NCT and other baby-related things, and they are good eggs, all of them. I have been given some very thoughtful and generous leaving gifts and feel quite bowled over by it all. I am liable to cry at any moment.  I loved the way all these different people wanted me to take some of the best of Yorkshire down south with me, and they have all independently given me some brilliant things which I thought you'd like to see. 

Isn't this paper lantern wonderful? It shows a view of Whitby Harbour and is by the artist Kate Lycett, who is based in Hebden Bridge. 


This basket of Yorkshire produce made me smile, especially the tin of biscuits from Betty's, a real institution in this county, although John refuses to set foot in there as he says it's overpriced and full of tourists. I love it.


Soap. I do love a new, prettily wrapped bar of soap and the name of this one pleased me no end. 



These coasters show famous Northern landmarks. The top one is Salts Mill, one of my very favourite places to visit locally. I'm saving them for the new house. 


And how fantastic is this Leeds cityscape tea towel? Obviously I wont use it, no, but it will be draped over the oven handle and admired and I'll think about those landmarks and this city, and of course the people who gave it to us.


So, there ends my round up of this weeks happy things; mince pies, birthdays, cake, sun, friendship, gifts...it's been a good week.

I always breathe a sigh of relief when the autumn term ends and the Christmas holidays start. These December weeks are always so busy, no matter how hard I try to find some balance. But I'm not complaining, I love it all really. The packing continues. The house is chaos and it doesn't feel much like our home now, which is as it should be as it will be someone else's home soon.  We'll be spending Christmas with my family at my parents' house and we are all looking forward to it hugely, a whole week to forget about packing, just concentrate on being together and celebrating Christmas. Fairytale of New York is playing on the radio right now, my favourite Christmas song. Life is good. Chaotic, but good. 

I hope you have a wonderful weekend. 


38 comments:

SaraJ said...

Have a fantastic Christmas and I'm sure you will be refreshed a ready to start the New Year in your new home. Good Luck. x

Pati from London said...

I can sympathise with the apprehension of leaving dear people behind as I moved a few years ago from Spain to the UK but am sure you will meet new friends wherever you go and hopefully you will be able to keep the good friendships you already have in Leeds. Having children opens many doors and through your kids you will meet lovely mums. Whenever I go back to Spain I see my friends from childhood and school and I love it as there is still a strong bond, however I am very happy to have a close group of friends here in London. You will find the same too and the great plus is that you will be closer to your family, which is priceless really and the most important thing. Those presents are lovely and they will hopefully bring you lovely memories and comfort when you need it. I hope you have a wonderful and peaceful Christmas and a fab 2015!!! The best is yet to come...... Pati xx

Ingrid Orens said...

I'm so happy for you that your move has been postponed a bit - at least you'll be able to enjoy Christmas a bit more..
And I know I'm repeating myself, but I love-love-LOVE Bella's cake !!

Christina said...

You made an amazing cake for Bella's Birthday Gillian. How you manage to even bake with a house full of boxes is just unbelievable and next time when I feel a bit stressed I'll be thinking of how you are able to pack the stress away in a box for a while and enjoy the loveliness of a Birthday instead. Have a wonderful Christmas. x

Claire/Just a little less said...

Love the minimalist holly (of course), your so pretty cake, contrails (always wondered what I should call them) and your correct choice of favourite Christmas song. I'm not surprised you're feeling emotional what with a birthday, Christmas, moving house and relocating. Phew! Here's to the holidays! Claire xo

Jennifer said...

Such a nice post. You are obviously much loved by your friends. That cake is amazing, and you are an amazing mother. I hope you have a good weekend, as peaceful as possible right now.

Penny Miller said...

Love the photographs of your mince pies! And the cake for Bella's birthday- amazing. Your friends have given you such thoughtful gifts, hard to move away from a good circle of friends. Have a wonderful Christmas! X

CJ said...

That's my favourite Christmas song too. What lovely gifts you have Gillian, all wonderful reminders of beautiful Yorkshire. I'm glad you're not upset that the move has been postponed. I used to do conveyancing and it all used to get very frantic before Christmas and Easter with people wanting to be in at all costs. The cake is fantastic, I've admired it on those blogs you mention as well. In fact it's exactly the sort of cake the littlest boy might like, he's a big lover of animals. Obviously no pink though. In fact I think the only pink I own is my kitchen timer. It's not that I don't like it, I'm just you know, outnumbered. The little cake is particularly sweet, and I love how the hats are sat on the rabbit ears, brilliant. Wishing you an excellent weekend. CJ xx

Sol said...

Adore the paper hats on the animals, you sure are creative! Loving the lantern and the tea towel, I would frame that and have it as a picture in the new house. Yorkshire tea is my favourite.

Mereknits said...

Happy Birthday to your lovely daughter, 8 is a fantastic age, they love everything including their Mum's and the hormonal thing hasn't started yet! Good luck as you are preparing to move. Your friends will still be your friends, they just won't be around the corner.
Hugs,
Meredith

Winwick Mum said...

What a wonderful cake! I love the party hats and the tiny cake - although I'm not sure I would want to eat it! xx

VeggieMummy said...

What a lovely post. That cake is fantastic - I love the banner idea. The holly is definitely minimalist, not lonely! It's always difficult to move away from a circle of good friends, but now you have a good excuse for days out to visit. Such thoughtful gifts they gave you; I especially love the lantern. Enjoy your week at your parents and I hope "the bells are ringing out on Christmas day" for you. x

Librarian said...

The cake is brilliant!! What a great idea!
Love the Whitby lantern. Do you know whether there is one of Scarborough?
The Yorkshire goodies gift bag is another great idea. I love getting Yorkshire things sent to me from friends and family!

mags said...

Good news about the move, I hope you enjoy the holiday. I love the cake, inspired and very quirky. Theat lantern is gorgeous. Yorkshire is a special place and you will always carry it with you. It must be a sad but exciting time for you. Take care. Xxx

Jacqui Galloway said...

What a lovely cake and those mince pies look good enough to eat! Yummy x

love those cupcakes said...

Lots of lovely happies in this post. It sounds like everything is falling into place beautifully.

Susan Smith said...

Some lovely gifts for you to remember your time in Leeds. I do hope Xmas and your move go well and smoothly. A belated happy birthday to Bella and a big hug from down under. Take care.

rachel said...

Not. Crying. Definitely not.

Amy at love made my home said...

Such lovely things. I love the lantern especially. I am glad that Bella had a great birthday, the cake is fabulous, I love it!! I really hope that you can enjoy one last Christmas in your home before setting off to adventures anew, a new year, new things to come, it will be wonderful!! Happy Christmas! xx

Sarah said...

I do love that cake! And the mini cake with Love Hearts - so clever.
You must be relieved that the move's been delayed until the New Year. Hopefully you'll just glide through Christmas and enjoy this last one in your current home.
And your friends have some seriously good taste! I'd be sad to be leaving too!
Have fun counting down to the Big Day - and then the Big Day in the New Year.
S x

SandyShoes Cornwall said...

You've really done well to hold it all together despite the move on the horizon and still find time for friends, food and celebrations! Your mince pies have set my mouth watering and the cake is picture perfect. Enjoy the holidays, Antonia x

Helen said...

What an amazing cake! Sounds like Bella had a wonderful birthday, good luck with all the moving paraphernalia, your friends are sending you off with wonderful mementos :)

Jo said...

You made a brilliant cake. Now you can have some unexpected slow down time to get ready for your move. Enjoy your Christmas in Yorkshire. Jo xxx

Marion Ogden said...

These are all wonderful happies. Your mince pies look very inviting and Bella's cake is just perfect. I'm glad to hear you've got a few more days before the big move- you can slow down for a bit and have time to celebrate Christmas with your family. Have a lovely one! x

Chrysalis said...

What amazing gifts, and that lamp is to die for!! Love the cake. Enjoy xx

Kate-Em said...

I am glad you have a bit of space without packing. Lovely leaving gifts from your friends. I love Kate Lycetts work, so colourful and beautiful. Have a lovely Christmas.

...Nina Nixon... said...

When we moved from Broadstairs in May I was given a tea towel too. I did giggle at the time, but it is one of my most treasured things now. Just looking as the seascape and other familiar things, when moving gets tough and I've lost it a little...I love my tea towel.

Good luck with the move and have a very Merry Christmas.

Warm wishes for 2015

Nina x

Life With The Crew said...

Gillian - that cake is SO adorable! Just perfect for a little girl - so lovely and sweet.

Julia said...

Glad to hear you will have a little extra time before moving day. Bella's cake is just amazing! I hope you have a wonderful Christmas with your family!

Gillian said...

I'm sure you are glad to get a bit of a breather before moving. And you really put your time to good use by baking those delicious looking mince pies. I haven't baked mine yet! I can't believe it as I usually have made dozens by this time. Bella's cake looks fantastic. Belated happy birthday to her. All your leaving-Yorkshire gifts are great and will remind you of your friends and your favourite places for many years.

Jacqueline said...

Your have really written a lovely post. The cake looks wonderful and so unusual. Hope you have a very peaceful and relaxing christmas!

Ali Whale said...

I wish you lots of luck and happiness in your new home. I'm a Leeds girl and love the city and surroundings, in fact my Dad lives in your town, but I think if I was not close to my family I would want to move. You just can't beat that support from family.
And, before you move you manage to do a lovely post with a gorgeous cake and some equally gorgeous pictures. You are a marvel - have a great Christmas and best of luck with the move xx

galant said...

I don't know about Bella, but I'd have loved that cake for my 70th birthday last September!!! It is absolutely gorgeous!
Best wishes with the move, and Happy Christmas to you all,
Margaret P

Andrea said...

Oh wow, you are moving, and my your friends have spoilt you. That's so sweet. I'm sure you will make another happy home in your new home.....now thinking I must have missed a few posts so am going to go back through for a looksee. As for the mince pies....I really must learn to broaden my baking repertoire (quiche/sausage rolls/pies) because they look just lovely..

Katie Bedlow said...

Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas, those mince pies look divine!! :) x

Col | Hello Olive Designs said...

That cake is exquisite! Happy birthday Bella! x

the linen cloud said...

Lovely happies tinged with a little sadness too. The cake is brilliant and the tiny birthday cake inspired. Wishing you a wonderful Christmas with your family and I hope the move isn't too stressful, Any yes, Fairytale of New York, is simply the best. Bee xx

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