Sunday, 21 January 2018

January Happies

Thank you for your comments on my last post. Really, thank you, especially for sharing your memories of your own grandparents which made me smile so much. You are such a lovely lot. 

This week seemed a good a time as any for a Happies post. There is lots - even in these days of incessant rain and gloom we are experiencing - to be thankful for, lots to smile about. 

:: Signs of spring, even in the wettest woods on the dullest of days.

:: Spring bulbs. The white hyacinths are drooping now and filling the house with their heady fragrance as they lean over the edge of their bowl. I always love tulips, and these sit in a vase by the talented potter Hilda Carr - whose tactile work I absolutely love - which was a Christmas present from my friend Abigail. 

:: This bookcase, which had previously lived in my Grandpa's house. I love it's shape, the sliding glass doors (puppy proof!), having all my craft books in one place, but mostly the stories and memories it comes with.

:: Exploring the woods with my parents. Watching my Dad carefully explain something about beech trees to Angus, and point out deer tracks to him. Watching Angus soak it all up like a sponge. 

:: The absolute joy that is getting back in from a freezing, wet dog walk, making a cup of tea, and drinking it while I read cookery books and plan what I'm going to cook that weekend. 

:: January rituals. When life seems uncertain or stressful, I take huge comfort from knowing that, one weekend in January, I will make marmalade.

The same as I did last year and the year before that. 

:: And, once I've made marmalade, I'll make marmalade cake, like I did last year. 

 :: Our Sunday night dinners. Tonight I made cottage pie, then tried a new dessert - Nigella's marmalade pudding cake, from the book Kitchen, which we ate with custard. It was a gratifyingly huge hit, everyone loved it, everyone wanted seconds, and it is now my new favourite thing. (We like marmalade a lot in this house.)

It's been a funny start to 2018 so far. I've frequently felt unsettled and restless and spent a lot of time thinking, talking and focusing my thoughts. My approaching birthday, among other things, has made me feel that I'm leaving one part of parenthood, one chapter of my life behind, as I move towards another. I want to do something different, career-wise. I enjoy my job very much but I don't want to do it for the next two or three decades, and I suddenly feel a pressure (which has only come from me) to do something different, something for myself. My thoughts are turning to re-training as I work out how I might balance the cost and time constraints of a career change with family life. 

With all this uncertainty whirling around inside my head, I frequently look at my new print (from the brilliant Goldlion Studio) and channel Kate Bush. 

Have a great week everyone. Onwards and upwards. 


  1. When I saw your first photo I thought, 'I love that bookcase. Glass doors = puppy proof!' How they love a good ball of wool. I've been mulling things over this year as well, setting lots of goals, writing out plans. Who knows where it will all go, but I'm enjoying the energy of it and hoping I can make it work. I hope you find something that makes you happy and fulfilled Gillian. It's exciting to find a new direction. CJ xx

  2. Lovely to read all about the marmalade...I'm the only one who likes it in my house so I've only ever made it occasionally, even though it is just so yummy.
    Career wise, I'm 47 this year and have just in the last week started a new job which is a totally new career direction and the most challenging thing I've ever done. My kids are 19 and 16 so it's time for me now...I think it's never too late to change something for the better. Good wishes for you! Xx

  3. The bookcase is beautiful and so special as it was your Grandpa's. I love the photo of Bella setting the table and your marmalade cake looks yummy. Good luck with the new direction - just saying it can even make it happen! xx

  4. The bookcase is wonderful, and I am glad you got to have it and it wasn't thrown out or given to charity (which would have been nice, too, of course). I love my living room sideboards, armchair and coffee table, all from my grandparents' house and ranging from the 1930s to the 1960s. Not only are they good pieces of furniture, made with proper wood, but they are also part of my family history and full of my own memories.

    Yes, spring can never hold back for long, can it! I am not kidding - I heard the first blackbird singing on the 8th of January.

    Interesting thoughts there about a possible career change. I had mine rather late, at 44, and now, 5 years later, am really happy with the decision.

  5. such an uplifting post ;)...i was sorry to read of your grandpa~ there are so many wonderful memories i'm sure. The rain was getting me a little blue, but ive tried to bring lost of floral happy's about the home to cheer these grey days! and HURRAHHH we have sunshine today here in the depths of devon! in some ways id give anything for a little snow but i do know what problems come with that!...kazzy x

  6. Ha, mention of Kate Bush so I have to comment...! Such an inspiring artist.
    But also, the bookcase - last summer I took a lot of Granny's furniture to our house in Brittany and am delighted that it slotted in beautifully, giving us all much pleasure. Practical, too!
    Although I don't work outside the home or my husband's company, I did decide to do a degree when I was 38 and spent a very interesting 5 years doing so, which I really felt widened my horizons (and taught me organisational skills with a family alongside!) though it wasn't intended to lead to a career. And it made me proud to complete it. Good luck with finding a new direction, you're never too old!

    Incidentally, your crocheted blankets/bedspreads have inspired me to start one of my own to use up a lot of wool stash and it's going splendidly lol!! ;)

  7. Lovely post and lovely bookcase.
    I’m in the middle of retraining currently and I’m 47. I kept putting it off thinking I couldn’t manage it with my family life and financial comments that we had but once I did make the decision i’ve been able to make it work so go for it don’t put it off x

  8. I do so enjoy reading your blog! The seemingly "little" happy, homey things that make all the difference in ones life. Melanie

  9. I made a Granny Square blanket for my daughter-in-law in similar colours to yours and she also has similar tastes in furniture to you. Love that little Scandi bookcase. I wonder what your lifestyle change will be?

  10. Hey Gillian,
    I sang Kate Bush very loudly whilst driving from the Wirral home yesterday. It was an horrendous drive, but she has the power to uplift. I have that print too. It's in my conservatory, and is always commented upon. Your happies sound ideal; full of home making and things that smell and taste nice. Good for you!
    Leanne xx

  11. Really lovely and very special bookcase you have there. Your orange cake and marmalade look delicious! Orange marmalade is my favorite. One of my favorite things to do is to drink hot tea while I look at cookbooks and meal plan. Sweet photo of Bella setting the table. Hope you have a great week. Your career change - whatever it might be - sounds exciting!!

  12. Gillian,

    At the age of 35 I went back to University and I started completely over and obtained two new to me degrees and then licensing exams. At the time my children were 13, 11, and 9. My husband was supportive but he was in the midst of his career which had him away from home 3 nights a week. It was a challenge but I greatly enjoyed it. That was 18 years ago and I do not regret it for a minute. Good luck in your career search. (Oh, and I am not positive as to what you currently do but I gather it is something in a school. I too was working in a school. I was a paraprofesssional, or teachers assistant, before I went back and retrained for my degree to counsel.)

  13. So many January lovelies... happy new week!

  14. Something good is definitely going to happen. Best Wishes Gillian. Jo xx

  15. I absolutely love your marmalade picture! All those different jars and lids. Perfect. I love how you mark seasons by the different foods you prepare! Quite the thing to contemplate a career change....blessings in that journey.

  16. I'm definitely going to try that marmalade pudding cake, looks very good. If you feel like a change and you are able to then go for it Gillian, I did at 47 and never looked back Jxx

  17. I think that if you're feeling restless and ready for a change, then you should do what you need to do and make one. I understand how you feel. I'm sure you'll find what's right for you and your family, it's good that you're thinking about whatever that may be and I hope it isn't stressing you too much. I really enjoyed seeing what you did in January, it looks like a cozy month where you took the time to focus on things that matter in your home and family life.


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