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.