Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Frosty mornings and birthday cake

Bella turned eleven on Monday. This feels like more of a milestone birthday than any before, although I don't really know why that should be. I think it's the knowledge that her time at primary school is gradually coming to an end and, with that, a distinct era of her childhood. She is very definitely still a child - reading, playing, doing all the things she always did - but so self sufficient too. She gets herself up and ready for school, makes the packed lunches, organises her school work, reminds me to take certain things in on certain days. I haven't been needed to wash or style hair in months. I don't know where she gets her self motivation from but I'm proud of her.

Her gifts included clothes, Lego, books, toys and stationery. She chose not to have a big party with her friends this year, but wanted to go shopping then out for lunch to Wagamama, which we did. On Monday night her cousins and my family came round for tea and we sang Happy Birthday to her then. Her cake was, at her direction, chocolate marble sponge cake. This proved fairly easy: I made some plain vanilla cake batter, then the same again just replacing about a quarter of the flour with cocoa powder. I dolloped equal amounts into the cake tin then roughly swirled it around. It looks a lot more impressive than it should. Icing was plain buttercream with gold dots, topped with a cake topper I ordered from Etsy at the last minute. It was all good, and not too stressful.

Thank you for your thoughts on Christmas stress. I think, as some of you astutely pointed out, that these kinds of pressures are the flip side of the coin that is having a full and busy life. I have a lot of people to shop for, a lot of gifts to wrap, but then I am blessed with a big, close-knit family and dear friends. I have meals to plan and food shopping to sort out and a lot of cooking to do, but I will have a house full of guests and meals full of chat and laughter and wine. My house seems to endlessly need cleaning but we have a puppy. The washing...well, I can't think of anything positive to say about the amount of laundry I seem to do on a daily basis, not to mention the ironing. 

The weather has been lovely these past few days - cold, crisp and sunny, with some beautiful frosts. It's my favourite kind of winter weather, short of snow, which we rarely get down here. I heard tonight that the weather forecast for Christmas will be wet and mild. The worst kind of winter weather. Throw in "windy" to that combination and I'll just stay indoors for the rest of December.

We have one more day of school, one more get up, one more morning rush. Tomorrow, after work, I'm having my nails done, then walking Ziggy, then a hot shower before putting on my only little black dress and going out for our work Christmas party. I have some hot pink tassel earrings and new shoes. I'm probably going to drink too much and I'm definitely going to do some bad Mum Dancing. I can't wait.


  1. Love that third photo, amazing. Glad Bella had a lovely birthday, great job with the cake. I tried a zebra one once, which involved piping straight lines of vanilla and chocolate sponge. Mixed results. Eleven is indeed a big important one. My middle boy is eleven, and it's definitely a year of change and growing up. CJ xx

  2. Happy Birthday to Bella. Love your frosty photos and the cake looks scrumptious. Enjoy the Mum Dancing! xx

  3. Happy birthday to Bella! I'm glad she had such a nice day. You give me hope that I can finally stop washing and styling my little girl's hair someday because she'll be able to do it herself. Not that I don't want to help, and I'm sure I'll want to sometimes, but it will be nice to not be required every time. :) I hope you have fun at your party!

  4. Hope you have a fun last day of term... and evening. Sounds fabulous! And then Christmas!

  5. Eleven is, as you say, still very much a child but it is also very close to puberty. I remember how I felt at the time I was around 10 - 13; very much conscious of that my childhood was gradually ending, and also aware of how good my childhood was, at the same time this was making me a little uncertain about how the coming years were going to pan out.
    By the way my Mum always made marble cake for our birthdays :-)

    Enjoy your work christmas party! I am enjoying the last visits to our wonderful Christmas market; it lasts a whole four weeks but is going to end tomorrow (Friday) night. I went yesterday with my sister and our Mum and will go tonight with a friend and (again) my sister; I don't think I can bear going on Friday for the very last evening - it makes me sadder than it should, because then on Sunday night it's Christmas Eve, yay!

  6. Happy Birthday Bella! It is Heidi's last year at Primary too but I must say they broke up on the 15th so we have had plenty of time for Christmas planning in fact I am such a shirker at these self induced stress events that I booked us all into a hotel in Bath at the weekend. It was lovely with just the right amount of Christmas excitement - but not in our own home! Happy Days Gillian. Jo x

  7. Gorgeous photos, as always. Bella's birthday celebrations sound perfect – 11 (and year 6) is a time of change. My girl is now 13 and alternates between her hilarious, loving, still-a-child self and a confident, wise, super-organised young woman. It's a privilege to witness these shining beings growing up. I hope you have a marvellous time at your Christmas party and that you all have a very happy Christmas and relaxing holiday. Sam x

  8. My youngest turned 11 a few weeks ago, and I too felt a little sad at the thought of this being his last year at primary school. Time is passing too quick. I’m trying to enjoy this final week. I’ve had that mad rush to buy, to make, to wrap and now I’m at that phase of ‘it’ll all come together’.

    Happy Christmas Gillian and I look forward to reading about your creativity in 2018!!!!!!

    Love Vanessa xxxx

  9. What a beautiful cake. Bella looks so happy with the cake and presents, lovely to see. Happy Holidays.

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  11. I tell myself (as I face mounds of laundry 😉) the washing says "You have people that depend upon you, people that matter, people that love you back & not just for your cleaning skills" :) It also says "We have enough (finances, home, family) to enjoy all these things".
    Happy Christmas

    1. Absolutely Kate - I will now go and unload the washing machine full of gratitude. Xx

  12. I so enjoy your posts, I can't even properly put into words how much I enjoy them. My daughter turned 11 this past June, so I am with you on those feelings. We are also having guests and Christmas here, and we have a puppy too, so I relate to everything you're saying. But the way you ended with getting ready, admitting you will probably have a few too many, and will be doing bad mum dancing had me in hysterics - also very relatable!!

  13. Happy belated Birthday to Bella! She sounds like a wonderful girl and no doubt will grow into a wonderful young woman. My daughter Annie is fiercely independent and keeps us all on our toes. She'd never forget an appointment (like I do, sometimes). Sometimes though she is still my little girl and I am sure she always will be.

    You are blessed with a loving big family. I have a desperate need for a large loving family and no doubt this is the reason why I have four children. I am looking forward to being the hub of family celebrations, later, when they have all grown up and have their own families. Wishing you and your family a wonderful Christmas.

    I hope you had a fab time at the mum dancing party! xx

  14. Happy birthday Bella. Happy Christmas to your family. Lovely photos - thank you for sharing. Cathy x

  15. Belated birthday wishes to Bella and I wish you and your family a very merry Christmas xx


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