"Dear Diary ..."

What a December it's been!

Lyric snippet from "Dear Diary" by The Moody Blues.

Please click here if you would like to listen to it via YouTube.

Back to life......

Back to main (current) blog page

To August 2020

To September 2020

To October 2020

To November 2020

To January 2021

To February 2021

December 2020

A lovely and busy month!

December was the usual mix of crafts, cooking and baking.....spending time with my Lovely Man and the furries......books, bargains and the beach......weight loss......the arrival of a new PC so that blogging and life in general were made easier......and two lovely lamps - one which I bought, and another (very beautiful one) which was gifted to me by a friend.

There was some disappointment when I learned that government Covid restrictions meant that I wouldn't be seeing my Gowjus Girl at Christmas. However, Christmas itself was lovely - if a little different - and enhanced by yummy foods, fab company and a cute little real Christmas tree!

2020 ended with a positive reflection on an unusual year, and looking forward to what 2021 will bring.

If you would like to look at the posts from the very first one on Tuesday 1st December, then please click here.

Thursday 31st December 2020

Picture of the day......"Happy New Year"

For me, 2020 has been a mixed one....probably the same as it has for everyone I would think.

Obviously Covid 19 has had a huge impact on the year as a whole, with not being able to see family and friends, having to adjust to a new way of life when shopping and working, and basically keeping loved ones in our thoughts and prayers that they are staying safe, happy and well.

In spite of all this for me, there have probably been more positives than negatives. My Lovely Man worked hard to give me back my garden, so that I can make it into the garden that I truly want. I also did quite a lot of stuff in my house - reclaiming rooms which had been given over to junk and making functional spaces out of them. I am actually now at the stage for the first time ever in my life, that I truly love my home, and am enjoying working on it to make it a home which I will continue to love, and feel that I belong here.

Bob and I have had so much opportunity to spend quality time together, and this has been so lovely. We've both experienced sadness this year - Bob with the death of his brother, and I lost a dear friend to cancer earlier in the year. However, we've also been there to support each other through those sad times, as well as to encourage each other in areas of both our life together, and in our individual pursuits.

We've taken advantage of the fact I live so close to the sea, and we've spent lots of time at the beach. Today was no exception, when we had our last walk of this year on the beach with Ollie. Ollie grappled with a stick bigger than him, played fetch with one that he could actually pick up, and rolled around in the pools of water, in his usual Springer Spaniel way! Again the sky was worthy of a picture or two, and we then headed home for a lovely, warming hot chocolate.

One of the other important things (for me) this year is that I have rediscovered my writing mojo, after a gap of several years.

Today I began working on the book I started around twenty years ago, and I am determined to keep at it, and set aside some quality time each day for writing. It may amount to something or it may not - but it will be fun finding out!

I wish whoever is reading this a very Happy New Year. I hope that 2021 brings you lots of love, joy, peace, good health, and the fulfilment of your hopes and dreams.

"Happy New Year", my chosen song word snippet for today, is the title of one of my favourite ABBA songs.

Please click here if you would like to listen to it via YouTube.

I'd love to see your feedback!

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Wednesday 30th December 2020

Picture of the day......"Rewrite"

This is a book, which I started writing around twenty years ago, when the ideas flowed out. Then a succession of traumatic experiences built up to a fairly serious bout of depression, my life changed and went into a completely different direction, and all my writing, together with lots of other creative stuff, got packed up into boxes and moved with me from Cardiff to West Wales.

Some boxes got unpacked in the general course of things and others remained closed for a long time, only being opened for reminscing or decluttering purposes. Some boxes remained closed for a very long time, including the box which contained all my writing.

Earlier this year, I opened the box, and decided to get back into the creative writing. I started by resurrecting a fairy story which I had written for my daughter, and which you can read/listen to by clicking here if you would like to.

Today I decided to check out that book! There are five complete chapters, and I feel it does have the foundations of a fairly decent novel, so one of my projects for 2021 will be to work on it, probably rewrite quite a lot of it, and try to turn it into something decent to read!

In other news today, I spent some discouraging minutes frogging the edging on my lovely blanket, because it wasn't sitting right (a spacing error on the first row). It certainly took me a lot less time to undo it, than it did to crochet it!

However, I'm now up and running with it again, and it's already looking much better.

"Rewrite", my chosen song word snippet for today, is the title of a song by Paul Simon.

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Tuesday 29th December 2020

Picture of the day......"Purple Haze"

Another beach visit.....another moody photograph.....and today's pic has yielded some lovely purple hues in the sky and on the beach.

I never, ever tire of the beautiful area we live in. I think we could visit the beach every day and every day see something different in that same view. Gowjus!

We went to the beach a bit later than we usually do, and it was getting dark as we left. It's a full moon tomorrow, and she gave us a lovely preview of her fullness as she was peeping from behind the houses.

Today has been another fairly chilled day, giving Bob and I a chance to enjoy each other's company and that of our furry companions.

I've had lots of time to read, and early this morning I finished this book, which I really enjoyed. Cornwall, Christmas, dogs, food, a bit of mystery, and some romance - what's not to enjoy? I will look forward to reading more Cressida McLoughlin books.

Later this morning I started reading this book. It's the third of four books I had set aside for Christmas reading. I've read one of Holly Martin's books before (The Holiday Cottage by the Sea) and really enjoyed that, so I think this will be a good one.

I've also had lots of time to crochet and have been merrily crocheting the granny treble clusters around the edge of my blanket.....but today I've had to frog them (undo them or in Llanelli speak 'take them loose') because I had the spacing wrong on the first round, and it means that the edging is slightly frilling, instead of laying flat. Sigh. Never mind, it will be fab when it's redone.

"Purple Haze", my chosen song word snippet for today, is the title of a song by the wonderful Jimi Hendrix.

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I'd love to see your feedback!

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Monday 28th December 2020

Picture of the day......"Here I stand..."

Weigh Day today and my weight is at a standstill...meaning that I haven't lost any this week......

......however, neither have I gained any! I ate lots of yummy, calorific foods on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day without counting them, and then went back on the calorie counting on Boxing Day.

Therefore, I'm happy to take a standstill for this week!

My next small target is to lose another five pounds by 25th January - an average of about a pound a week, which I think is a nice, steady loss.

"Here I stand...", my chosen song word snippet for today, is part of the first line from Queen's "Now I'm Here".

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I'd love to see your feedback!

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Sunday 27th December 2020

Picture of the day......"Moody Blue"

We've got to that point in the Christmas break where, quite a lot of the time, I'm not actually quite sure what the day is!

I think today is Sunday? Haha.

In any event, we had a lovely trip out to the local beach this afternoon. It was very cold though!

The sky was actually a brilliant blue in parts, and I couldn't resist taking this photograph to show the blueness! With the bright houses, you would be forgiven in thinking it was a summer day!

Of course I had to take my usual 'moody' photographs. The sun wasn't near setting today, but she was low in the sky. The tide was on its way out, but still close enough for us to hear the gentle lapping of the waves on the shore. Such a beautiful sound!

Ollie is a very placid Springer, but today, being at the beach brought out his bouncy alter-ego, and he had lots of fun running on the sand, chasing (and trying to eat!) sticks, and rolling around in the little pools of water left behind by the ocean. It made me extra cold just watching him do that!

Walking by the ocean is one of my favourite things to do, but it was nice to get home to a warm house and cwtch up for a while with my crochet and a cuppa to thaw out.

Off to cwtch up with my Lovely Man now, for some T.V. We watched episode 1 of the third series of "The Bridge" last night, and so far it has not disappointed, so episode 2 is on the agenda this evening.

Wishing anyone who's reading this a very happy, healthy and safe week ahead.

"Moody Blue", my chosen song word snippet for today, is the title of an Elvis Presley song.

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Saturday 26th December 2020

Picture of the day......"Soul Cake"

A chilled out Boxing Day, with of course the obligatory cutting of the Christmas cakes!

As from today, I am back on the calorie counting. It was very tempting to have another day of indulgence, but that could ruin some of the good work I've already done, so I decided to get back on the wagon.

I've divided my Christmas cake into twenty sections, and each section is the size of the one in the picture, and has 305 calories!

That's very little cake for a lot of calories! As usual though, the cake is thoroughly delicious, so It's worth making room in my daily allowance for.

Apart from eating cake and leftovers, there hasn't been much other activity today. We didn't even manage a walk today - the weather has been really crap, and as I write this, it's proper blowing up a storm outside. Lovely to listen to, curled up with a book and a cuppa!

I have done some crochet - made a start on the edging of my off-centred grannies blanket. The sides are very long, so it's all going to take a while. I'll post pics as I make progress.

For now, my PJs are calling, and there's going to be a cuppa with my name on shortly, to cwtch up and watch the first episode of the third series of "The Bridge", with my Lovely Man. A fab way to finish the day.

"Soul Cake", my chosen song word snippet for today, is the title of a fab Sting song.

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Friday 25th December 2020

Picture of the day......"So this is Christmas..."

Even big kids love stickers!

I got these festive stickers from a Christmas cracker.

They were the gift inside the cracker. It said on the box that the crackers themselves are widely recycled and they contained gifts with no plastic in them. At £1.50 for a box of twelve, and as environmentally friendly as crackers can be, in my basket they went.

In fairness, they were exactly as described on the box. Well done Tesco.

All in all, it's been a very lovely day. We got up late and both enjoyed some reading this morning....Bob with his e-reader, and joined by Nala, who totally adores him......

......although I think the feeling is quite mutual!

Basil and Joe however, adore each other!

Whilst preparing the veg and stuff for dinner, I iced the Christmas cakes and decorated one with a star......

......and the other one with a Christmas tree.

Then, late afternoon we popped out for a lovely walk. Today was beautiful - crisp, sunny, and not too cold. Again we walked up to where the horses are and on the way back I managed to catch this shot of the sun setting behind some local houses.

When we got back, I cooked a lovely three-course meal, starting with French Onion Soup and garlic bread. I love this soup, and it's usually my go-to starter for Christmas Day.

For main course we had a vegan mushroom wellington, which I bought from Morrisons, along with quite a few other vegan products on Christmas Eve, when they had been reduced - which was actually quite early in the day!

We're going to watch the last episode of the second series of "The Bridge" now. I really love this programme, and am looking forward to seeing series 3 and 4.

I wish whoever is reading this a very happy, peaceful, blessed, healthy and safe Christmas. I hope you've enjoyed your day in whatever way you've chosen, and if circumstances have dictated that you've had to adapt it, then I hope you have had some joy from it.

It's been quite a different one for me. I am a practising Christian and Christmas Day is obviously very special for me. Bob is an Atheist and doesn't actually acknowledge or celebrate Christmas. We have a healthy respect for each other's beliefs, and we've shared the day, each with our own thoughts and beliefs, whilst enjoying quality time and lovely food with each other.

Also, this year is the first Christmas Day in my 55 years that I haven't seen a member of my birth family, and the first time in Lydia's 28 years that she and I have not been together for Christmas. That's hard, I will admit, but obviously it is far more important to be safe, so that we can spend subsequent Christmases together.

I have spoken on the telephone to my Gowjus Girl twice today though, and we did try to Skype this evening, which went a bit pear-shaped, but at least I got to see her lovely face, even if it was only for a few minutes!

I also spoke to one of my brothers, and texted my other brother and my sister.

"So this is Christmas...", my chosen song word snippet for today, is part of the opening line of John Lennon's Happy Xmas (War Is Over).

Please click hereif you would like to listen to this beautiful song via YouTube.

I'd love to see your feedback!

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Thursday 24th December 2020

Picture of the day......"O Christmas tree..."

My humble little tree, which is pretty, homely, and definitely very Hygge!

Today has been a mixture of busy and chilled. We got up late, then I spent some time cleaning.

To my embarrassment, when cleaning around the sofa, I found the written, sealed, addressed and UNPOSTED Christmas card to my eldest brother and his family. When getting all the cards together to post, I must have popped them on the arm of the sofa, or on the windowsill above, and that one fell down and was missed.

It has gone in the post now, for a very late delivery! That'll teach me for being smug that I'd made the posting dates. Haha.

We went for a walk this afternoon, revisiting part of a walk we used to do during the summer lockdown.

There are two horses in a field - 'Milky' and 'Gwen' and they are partial to an apple. However, they clearly didn't fancy traipsing through the muddy field to where we were at the fence just for an apple, haha. So we chucked the apple pieces over the fence to them, and they were clearly happy with that!

I did manage to get this nice silhouette picture of the trees, with the last remaining rays of the sun after she had set, in the background.

It's a tradition for me to put up my Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. I know that's quite late, compared to most people, but I always leave it up until 7th January, after we've had the feast of Epiphany on the 6th.

So this evening, Bob was working on some website stuff, and I put up and decorated my tree......

......whilst indulging in a lovely glass (or three) of mulled wine......

......and accompanied by the smooth, chocolatey voice of Mr. Reeves.

This record belonged to my Mam, and I always have lovely memories of childhood Christmases when I listen to it.

After the tree was done, I made a lovely buffet meal. Yummy!

It's quite late now, but nobody's chasing for an early start in the morning, so we're going to watch an episode of "The Bridge" before bed. We're only a couple of episodes from the end of series two now, and it's getting exciting!

"O Christmas tree...", my chosen song word snippet for today, is the title of a lovely little Christmas song.

Please click here if you would like to listen to it via YouTube.

However, I particularly like it when it is sung in its original form, in German - "O Tannenbaum"

Please click hereif you would like to listen to that version via YouTube.

I'd love to see your feedback!

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Wednesday 23rd December 2020

Picture of the day......"It's my party..."

...and I'll be late if I want to!

Today I've been making two Christmas cakes, from my favourite cake recipe book, which cost me about a pound from Tesco about 35 years ago, and has the loveliest rich fruit cake recipe I've ever tasted.

I've made one cake without alcohol for Bob, who's teetotal......

...and one with (lots of) brandy for me.

Mine is smaller, because from Boxing Day I'll be back on the calorie counting, so if I have a piece of cake any time it will be included in my calorie allowance.

Christmas cake is obviously very high in calories, so it will be a tiny piece at a time!

Therefore to have made a bigger cake would have been silly. It's probably going to last until about March as it is! At least all the alcohol will keep it nicely preserved! Haha.

Christmas cake is one of my favourite seasonal things to eat, so I definitely didn't want to miss out!

The other difference in the two cakes is that mine will have marzipan and icing covering it, whereas Bob's will just have icing, since he doesn't like marzipan.

"It's my party...", my chosen song word snippet for today, is the title of a song originally recorded by Lesley Gore in 1963.

Please click here if you would like to listen to it via YouTube.

It was then (in my opinion brilliantly) covered by Dave Stewart (of Eurythmics fame) and Barbara Gaskin in 1981.

Please click hereif you would like to listen to that version via YouTube.

So there you go - I am (apparently) very late to the Christmas Cake Making party.....but it's my party, so it's ok!

I'd love to see your feedback!

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Tuesday 22nd December 2020

Picture of the day......"Tuesday's Gone"

Tuesday is (almost) gone, but Wednesday's on the way.....and of course Wednesday is Day Off!

This of course means a Day Off List, and there are some lovely things on my list for tomorrow.

Today was my last day at work until 4th January next year, and I was going to include tomorrow in my Christmas holidays, but then....no, Wednesday is my day off, so that's what it is, and my Christmas Holidays start proper on Christmas Eve.

"Tuesday's Gone", my chosen song word snippet for today, is the title of a Lynyrd Skynyrd song."

Please click here if you would like to listen to it via YouTube.

We fancied a spag bol this evening, and I tried out a new variety of vegan mince.

I really like the Tesco 'Plant Chef' range. The products are usually quite tasty.

I bought this packet as a whoopsy (reduced price) back in November and popped it in the freezer.

I'd left it a bit last minute, and hadn't taken it out of the freezer this morning, to defrost. Although on the pack it says that it's suitable for home freezing, it doesn't give any information about defrosting, or whether you can use it from frozen, or anything.

So to be on the safe side, I defrosted it in the microwave before cooking it, which only took a few minutes.

It was interesting to see that it looked like actual minced meat. Not a problem, but it does seem a shame that some companies that make plant based meat substitute foods feel the need to make it look like the real thing!

I didn't want to spend loads of time in the kitchen this evening, so I called upon one of my trusty Colman's sauce mixes for the bolognese sauce.

I love the Colman's mixes - they are always so tasty, really easy to use, and most of them are vegan!

Again my picture doesn't do the meal justice, but it was very yummy.

Bob and I both agree that this is the best minced meat substitute we have tried so far.

Therefore my search (for one product anyway) is over. From now on, I will use the Tesco 'Plant Chef' mince for any meal which has a minced meat base! It has a nice texture, is easy to prepare and cook, and tastes yummy (even on its own without any sauce). What's not to love?

I'd love to see your feedback!

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Monday 21st December 2020

Picture of the day......"Everything Counts"

Weigh Day today!

I've lost another pound, which makes nine pounds so far on this journey, and a total of twenty-five pounds from my original heaviest weight.

This coming week I'll be reducing my calorie intake a little for most of the week, because I do intend to not count calories at all on Christmas Day, and to indulge in some festive fayre!

However, I will resume the calorie counting on Boxing Day.

Of course, none of this means that I have to miss out. The beauty of calorie counting is that you can still indulge in some treats, so long as they are counted within the allowance for the day. So I'll definitely be enjoying Christmas dinner, some yummy cake, a mince pie, and a glass or two of my favourite wine.

Hopefully there will be a weight loss to report next Monday, but if there isn't, no worries. My next small target is to lose another five pounds by 25th January, which gives me five weeks. A pound a week is a good, steady rate to lose it.

"Everything Counts", my chosen song word snippet for today, is the title of a Depeche Mode song."

Please click here if you would like to listen to it via YouTube.

I'd love to see your feedback!

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Sunday 20th December 2020

Picture of the day......"I'm on the edge..."

Yaaay! I'm on the border of my blanket at last.

All the edge squares are crocheted into place, as are the corner squares.

"I'm on the edge", my chosen song word snippet for today, is from Lady Gaga's song "The Edge of Glory"

Please click here if you would like to listen to it via YouTube.

The blanket has two sides which look like this......

......and two sides which look like this.

All four corners are the same, and look like this.

I've crocheted two rows of single crochet in cream around the whole thing, so that it's in keeping with the cream separating each square.

I'm now ready to crochet a multi-coloured edging around the whole thing, and have lovely colours to choose from.

I'll probably start with the oatmeal and loosely follow the order of the main centre square. I'm so pleased with it so far and can't wait to get started on the edging. There'll be more pics as I go along.

I'd love to see your feedback!

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Saturday 19th December 2020

Picture of the day......"Days of Future Passed"

This Christmas is going to be very different for me.....and I imagine for many people.

The plan was to drive down to Kent on Christmas Eve, and spend Christmas with Lydia and Lewis, then drive back to Llanelli on the 27th. However, in light of the lockdown rules put into place from midnight tonight, I won't be able to do that now.

I've chosen 'Days of Future Passed' as my song lyrics tag for this evening's blog, because I've been reflecting on lovely Christmases from the past spent with my Gowjus Girl, and thinking that they will happen again. We just have to be patient, ride this situation through, and trust that normality will at some point be restored. In the meantime, the most important thing is to keep everybody safe.

There's no point celebrating a Christmas with loved ones, whilst putting them (and ourselves) at risk, and therefore risking possible empty places at future Christmas dinner tables.

Days of Future Passed is a fabulous album by the Moody Blues

Please click here if you would like to listen to it via YouTube.

I've been going through some old Christmas photographs to put on here tonight, and they've brought back some beautiful memories.

This photograph was taken last Christmas, when I travelled down to Kent and spent the festive season with Lydia and Lewis, and Lewis's family, who made me feel so welcome.

Lydia and Lewis cooked Christmas dinner, and it was so yummy.

It was my first Christmas not eating dairy, and they cooked lovely vegan foods for me.

I had anticipated that the lockdown may happen, at least in Wales anyway, because of the rising numbers of infections and deaths.

So I have had a Plan B - Christmas at home! I wasn't sure if I'd be alone or not, because Bob is an Atheist, and doesn't celebrate or acknowledge Christmas.

However, we each have respect for the other's beliefs, and on that basis we will be together over Christmas, and share precious time together and enjoy yummy food, chill time, and the company of our fur babies.

Had I been alone, it would have been ok. For me, Christmas is in my heart and in my belief in Jesus Christ as our saviour, and in celebrating His birthday. However, I am glad not to be alone, and am looking forward to time with my Lovely Man, and to 'see' my Gowjus Girl via Skype or Facetime, and hopefully make contact with my siblings. These are positives from this situation!

I always try to find positives wherever I can when things are not so good, and here are a few more.....

  • I will keep my tradition of dressing the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve (since I won't be travelling now), accompanied by mince pies and mulled wine, and some festive music.
  • I will find a worthy cause to donate at least some of the money I would have spent on petrol, travelling to and from Kent.
  • I won't be sitting in any traffic jams! The M25 was horrendous last year, on the return journey.
  • When I eventually get to see my Gowjus Girl again, it will be the most wonderful feeling ever! I must hold on to that thought, when sadness threatens - as it inevitably will.

I hope that everyone who is feeling disappointed, sad, lonely, anxious, etc., because of the current situation, can find some positivity. These are such scary, uncertain times.

I'd love to see your feedback!

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Friday 18th December 2020

Picture of the day......"...I'll take the blanket from the bedroom ..."

This is how I'll be spending the rest of this evening, until my bed calls me.

Simply catching up on my blanket - attaching the rest of the edge squares, and then the corner squares......whilst drinking tea, dipping in and out of a chapter or two, and watching a bit of Corrie which is stored on my Sky planner.

Of course, I'm sure there will also be some kitty cwtching thrown in for good measure! I also have enough calories left to indulge in a few squares of yummy Old Jamaica chocolate.

This week has been quite busy and I have a really busy weekend ahead, as I need to do some preparations for Christmas. So I need this lovely time out on the sofa this evening to recharge. A lovely, cosy, Hygge couple of hours!

I wish anyone who's reading this a very happy, healthy and safe weekend.

I'd love to see your feedback!

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Thursday 17th December 2020

Picture of the day......"New light..."

This is the lamp which was gifted to me recently by one of Bob's friends.

Originally I was going to put it in the lounge, but then decided it's perfect for the landing.

Bob had put a new plug on it and put it into place for me by the time I got home from work today.

I absolutely love it. Helen, if you're reading at all, thank you so much.

The four corner squares for my off-centred grannies blanket are done now, so I can crochet them into place, with the rest of the edging squares.

I'll be able to start the border over the weekend.

I'm incredibly tired this evening, so it's off for some T.V. - another episode of "The Bridge" - and then bed!

I'd love to see your feedback!

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Wednesday 16th December 2020

Picture of the day......"...a lovely day..."

This is my lovely Christmas tree for this year. I bought it a couple of weeks ago, and it's been still wrapped up and out in the garden. Today I took the wrappings off and I am so pleased with how lovely and even it is.

Although it's in a pot, I'm not sure that it has a root, but I'm hoping so, so that I can put it back out into the garden after Christmas, and try to keep it going for next year.

I'll bring it in at the weekend and put some decorations on it. I never put my tree and decorations up until quite close to Christmas, as I keep them up until 6th January - the feast of Epiphany, when the Magi (three wise men/kings) visited Jesus.

We didn't do everything on the Day Off list today - the beach trip didn't go ahead, mainly because of time and partly the weather - but we did have a very successful trip to the charity shops, where I got these beautiful red boots......

......and these lovely navy boots.

Both pairs look brand new and fit really well.

I always end up buying books at charity shops. I just can't resist them. So I got these two books to add to my Christmas reading.

I think I'm going to have to read lots over Christmas, as that now makes four books!

Sophie Kinsella is one of my favourite authors. She's the author of the "Shopaholic" series, which are very funny.

She also writes under the name of Madeleine Wickham, and these are two of her books which I haven't read.

This book also caught my eye.

Paula Hawkins wrote "The Girl on the Train", which I thoroughly enjoyed, so I thought I'd give this a go too.

Finally, I picked up these fabrics.

The one on the left is a bed sheet. I don't like patterned sheets, but I love roses and have rose-patterned things in my house, so I'll probably upcycle the fabric from this sheet into cushions or something similar.

The fabric on the right is a table cloth. The colours are exactly what I'm using in my kitchen, so I may use it as it is. Then again, I might make it into tea towels. The fabric is the right sort of texture for tea towels, and the colours are perfect.

Whereas I love books - to hold them, smell them, turn the pages, etc. - Bob prefers to use an e-reader, and he picked up a nice one at the charity shops.

I love visiting charity shops. I love the idea that one man's (or woman's) junk is another's treasure, and I love that things are re-used, re-purposed, re-cycled, and up-cycled, rather than going into landfill, and that a charity gets to benefit from it too.

I didn't manage to get my Christmas cards in the post today either, for one reason and another. However, they are all written now, so I can do that tomorrow.

Tomorrow is always another day!

I'd love to see your feedback!

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Tuesday 15th December 2020

Picture of the day......"Santa Claus is coming to town ..."

It's that time again - Christmas card writing.

I'm always late to the party with this one, often posting at the last minute, and then always end up sending them first class!

This year though, if I can get them written up and posted in the next day or two, I might just get away with second class and save some pennies! I've been getting cards in the post from family and friends for a good couple of weeks now - clearly there are lots of organised people out there!

Anybody else usually leave it until the last minute, or is that just me?

Tomorrow is Day Off, and therefore a list has been made!

Hopefully it should be a mixed day of productivity and relaxation. I'm not sure whether the weather will allow us that walk on the beach, but we'll see.

Yesterday and today have been hard for me health-wise. I've had dreadful fatigue, and today noise was a big problem. There seemed to be more noise around than usual - I'm assuming that it's because of the season, and everyone's getting that bit more excited, especially with the promise of being able to see family over the festive season, when lockdown rules and such are being relaxed from 23rd to 27th December.

In any case, I spent a fair old time today in my headphones, being soothed by Nick Drake! Going shopping after work was hard too - it's all so noisy and busy, and I was very glad to get home to my Lovely Man, Ollie & the kitties, and peace & quiet with a cuppa!

We're starting the second series of "The Bridge" this evening - I hope it's as good as the first series was.

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Monday 14th December 2020

Picture of the day......"Measure of life ..."

Monday is Weigh Day!

I was very happy this morning to find that I've lost another 3 pounds. That makes 8 since the beginning of last week, when I put my determined calorie-counting hat on, and it makes 24 pounds in total since I started - quite a long time ago.

This also means that I've reached my second mini-target, several weeks in advance. My next target is to lose another 6 pounds by the end of January. This makes an average of about a pound a week, which is a good pace I think.

Fatigue hit me like a brick wall this afternoon, and hasn't left all evening. I'm off to bed very soon, for some much-needed sleep!

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Sunday 13th December 2020

Picture of the day......"Sweet potato pie ..."

I finally got around to doing some baking today.

I've been itching to bake for weeks, but something always seems to stop me. However today I was on a mission, and so......

......I got out one of my favourite baking books......

......and turned on the oven!

I made one of Bob's favourites (and mine)......

......good old lemon drizzle cake. Well, actually in the book it's called 'soaked lemon cake', but it's the same thing really.

When Bob got in from work this afternoon we had some with a pot of tea, and it was very yummy!

I also had some bananas in the fruit bowl which were definitely over-ripe......

......so I made some banana muffins and topped them with some drizzled vegan chocolate and pretty gold sprinkles.

For dinner this evening I went back to the Fearne Cotton "Happy Vegan" book for some inspiration, and made a mixed vegetable pie with sweet potato mash topping.

It was a really lovely pie. The sweet potato mash wasn't as wet as the one I made the other evening, and the pie filling itself was really tasty.

We ate it with some fresh broccoli. I'll definitely do that one again, and there's plenty left over for lunch tomorrow.

One of Bob's friends has gifted a lamp to me. It's really lovely - a mock oil lamp, with a lovely red glass shade. It's packed up in this box at the moment, until I find a suitable home for it - I do have one in mind. Bob also needs to replace the plug, and may need to replace the cable for a longer one, depending on where I put it.

We watched the last episode of the first series of "The Bridge" this evening. I have to say that it's probably one of the best series I've watched, and I'm really looking forward to starting series two.

Off to bed now to get some beauty sleep! Weekend definitely flits past too quickly. I hope you've had a great weekend, and I wish you a happy, healthy, safe week ahead.

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Saturday 12th December 2020

Picture of the day......"Tangerine Dreams..."

Lots of lovely fruit and veg - and not a piece of bloody plastic in sight!

I went into Llanelli town this afternoon, to check out the market and see if I could just buy loose produce without having to have loads of unwanted plastic, because I'm so fed up with all the supermarket packaging.

I took my own re-usable shopping bag, and the lady at the stall I bought from was very happy to have the bag on her side of the stall and put my purchases in it as she went along, although she did use brown paper bags for some things.

I still have veggies in the fridge from my shopping the other day, so I didn't need to get loads, but we eat lots of broccoli, so I picked up some of that, and we'd run out of fruit and potatoes.

I was impressed with the quality and range of the produce and the fact that the lady serving was very patient, friendly and accommodating with me.

However, the prices are quite high - I think I probably paid twice as much for what I had, as what I would have paid in the supermarket, so obviously that's not so good.

The brown paper bags were a really good quality, and they're in good enough condition to use again, which is great.

I popped into Asda on the way back, as I'm told that they have loose produce and you can either use their (plastic) bags, or bring your own.

I didn't need anything else, other than this aubergine, which I was able to buy without any packaging on.

Going forward, I'm not really sure what to do. I use lots of fruit and veg in my diet, and when cooking. I don't want to be paying a fortune for it (neither can I afford to), but I do feel very strongly about the plastic issue.

It seems as well that it's practically impossible to buy any berry fruits (I use them in smoothies) which are not packaged in some kind of plastic.

I'm thinking that I may start buying berry fruits, and things such as broccoli and sprouts in frozen form. Of course, they'll still come packaged in plastic, however it would be in the form of a stretchy plastic bag, which can be recycled at Tesco, in the box they have for recycling carrier bags in their foyers.

For other veggies and fruit, I'll maybe buy as much as I can in loose form at the supermarket, and then go to the market stall for anything else.

In other news, Bob and I fancied a curry this evening, so I decided to try out the Tofu Tikka Masala recipe which is in the Fearne Cotton 'Happy Vegan' cook book.

I didn't want to use tofu, and I had this product in my freezer after buying it as a 'whoopsie' last week, so I thought I would try that.

I halved the amounts used, because Fearne uses 800g of tofu in the original recipe and the chickenless pieces were in a 400g size.

It was really yummy, and I'll definitely make it again.

It could have done with being more spicy, so maybe I shouldn't have halved the spice amounts as I did the other ingredients. I'll use more spice next time.

We ate it with some basmati rice and vegan garlic & coriander naan bread, and the coriander garnish was from my own herb garden!

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Friday 11th December 2020

Picture of the day......"I'm so excited!..."

What am I excited about? A new PC, that's what! Well, not brand new, but new for me, and it's absolutely gowjus!

One of Bob's PAT testing clients have recently upgraded their IT system, and they were going to send this PC to be recycled, but offered it to Bob for me instead. I am so grateful to them! I've had technical issues for months, which have made blogging very difficult and means that a few things - such as my writing and making updates to my website - have been put on hold. I can do them now. Yaay

So, from excitement to annoyance.

This picture annoys me......

......as does this one......

......and this one also.

Have you worked out what it is that's annoying me? I'll tell you - plastic! Plastic on everything these days, and it drives me mad.

I am so fed up of all the plastic on fruit and vegetables in the supermarkets. If you follow my blog regularly, you may remember that on my birthday, I made a set of 'resolutions' of things I want to achieve this coming year. One of those things was to use less plastic. It infuriates me, that with all the information we have about how plastic is damaging the planet, that the supermarkets seem to be doing sod all about it. In fact, on the contrary, they seem to be using more and more plastic.

So I've decided that from now on, I'll be shopping for my fruit and vegetables at a proper market stall, where the produce is loose and I can choose to put it in my own non-plastic bag! Tomorrow morning I'm off to Llanelli market to see what they have to offer. Again, I say - watch this space!

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Thursday 10th December 2020

Picture of the day......"Please Mr. Postman, look and see..."

I received joyful mail today!

Something which I ordered over the weekend......

......and which I am really looking forward to reading!

First of all though, I need to finish the book I'm on - "Lockdown", by Peter May, which is really good. Then I have a couple of feel-good Christmas themed books to read. So, I think it's definitely going to be next year before I get around to reading "Brave New World".

Healthwise, I'm having a bit of a rubbish week. Noise sensitivity has been a big problem this week, as well as things like mouth ulcers, a sore scalp, and itchy skin, and my ever-present headache has at times been at pounding level. The tips of some of my fingers are on the point of splitting, so I'm moisturising like mad and using gloves at work to sew. I always get this problem with my hands, especially in the colder weather. It's proper miserable! Also, yesterday evening, I had a flare up of joint pain - mainly my feet, legs, shoulders & tops of my arms, and my left hip & thigh. There was less pain this morning, but through the day it hasn't been wonderful, and tonight I am quite achy.

So, after a couple of chores which I must do, I think it will be a hot, bubbly bath, and an early night with my book! Friday tomorrow, and almost Weekend again! Night night.

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Wednesday 9th December 2020

Picture of the day......"Pussycat, pussycat, I love you..."

One of my Big Loves holding one of my Little Loves! Blinkin' gowjus.

Today was another fab day off, in the company of my Lovely Man and all the fur babies.

I did actually achieve everything on my Day Off List. I found this corner shelf and brackets in my stash. They need a couple of coats of paint before they can go up, but I have that too, so hopefully I can get that done in the next couple of days.

I also found this lovely lamp for the lounge, which is exactly the same as the one I already have in there - or at least it's the same as the other one was when I bought it......

......before I prettied it up to look like this, and to be more in keeping with my own taste and style.

Over the next few days (whilst the paint is drying!) I'll be looking through the stuff I have left over from the curtains, etc., in the lounge, to see what I can use to trim the new lamp shade.

In spite of it being an overcast and drizzly day, we did manage to get to the beach late afternoon, for a walk and to give Ollie a well-deserved run around.

Since the sun was hiding behind all the clouds though, there was no setting-sun picture to be had......

......just a rainy, almost deserted beach! No less beautiful for that though, and it certainly didn't stop us enjoying the sea air, nor Ollie from jumping around on the sand as if it was doggy heaven!

In keeping with the 'eating yummy food' part of my list, I decided to try another new vegan recipe. This time from a vegan cookery book which Bob bought for me for my birthday last year.

Ratatouille pie with parsnip mash sounded really nice......although neither of us fancied the parsnip aspect. Bob suggested I do a sweet potato mash instead.

This was the first time I've ever cooked ratatouille, but I'm very impressed with the variety of yummy, healthy veggies which go into it. It felt like we were eating a rainbow! It's also fairly low in calories, which is great for the weight loss plan, and also meant that I had a few calories left over for a small amount of chocolate whilst watching T.V. What's not to love?

There was no photograph of it in the book, so of course mine looks exactly how it's meant to!

It's also the first time I have eaten ratatouille, although Bob has had it before, so I had it on good authority that it tasted right! Haha. We both thought the sweet potato mash was a little on the wet side, so next time I will make it with half regular potato, and half sweet potato to see how that goes.

There's enough left over for lunch tomorrow. I love it when dinner yields enough for lunch the following day, as it saves me time in the mornings.

All in all a very rewarding and recharging day off!

Now for more of "The Bridge" with my Lovely Man. We are both thoroughly enjoying it!

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Tuesday 8th December 2020

Picture of the day......"Thank you for the days..."

It's Day Off again tomorrow! Gosh, they do come around quickly.

Of course, I'm thankful for every day, but especially for days off, when I can recharge, and either get things done, or rest......or both! Both are planned for tomorrow, as you can see from my Day Off List. There are a few restful things I want to do, but also at least two practical things.

I need to put another lamp in the lounge. I'm not a fan of bright lighting, and usually just have one lamp on in there, together with a string of fairy lights across the top of the window valance, and candles when I light them. However, it's not bright enough to read by, or to crochet/knit, etc., on the sofa, which is on the opposite side to where the lamp is. It's also usually where Bob sits and I know that he struggles in the more mellow light if he's doing any work on his laptop.

So I've decided to get another lamp, and put it over in the sofa side of the room. I'll need to put a shelf up for it though, so tomorrow's two main jobs are to have a furcle in my DIY shelving stash and see if I have a small corner shelf, and to pop to the shops to see if I can pick up a lamp which is similar to the one I have.

For tonight though, it's more of "The Bridge" with my Lovely Man.

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Monday 7th December 2020

Picture of the day......"I feel good..."

My target for this first week of getting back into the weight loss plan was to lose two pounds. My actual loss was five pounds!

Wow! What a fabulous surprise. I kept getting on and off the scales this morning to check, in case I'd got it wrong! Haha.

Of course, I am fully aware that the first week always yields well, and that subsequent weeks won't see such a big loss, but that's ok, I'm happy with a pound or two each week - slow and steady wins the race. Going from my original heaviest weight ever in 2008, this means that I've now lost a total of 21 pounds. I do feel good!

I decided to cook something else from the Miguel Barclay vegan cookbook this evening. Sue, one of my online friends, said that she'd tried the roasted tomato tower recipe and it was easy and nice, so I thought I'd give that a go.

However, I didn't think it looked substantial enough for a main meal, so I decided to do it as an accompaniment to some cod.

Sue was right - it was easy, and very nice! We also had some brocolli and samphire. Again, my picture doesn't really do it justice.....I need a better camera! So, you'll just have to take my word for it that it was yummy, and I'll definitely do it again.

Healthwise, today has been quite good on the whole. My pain levels are quite low at the moment, and my energy levels are pretty good. I do have a mouth full of ulcers, and a sore scalp (two of the more strange Lupus symptoms), but on the whole I feel generally good.

Off now to watch some more of The Bridge with my Lovely Man. Hope you've had a good start to your week.

I'd love to hear about your Monday with some feedback!

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Sunday 6th December 2020

Picture of the day......"You've got a friend..."

I had a 'phone call late this afternoon, from my lovely friend Angela. Angela is the lady who gave me this gowjus tea light holder for my birthday. It currently sits on the windowsill in the lounge, adding to the Hygge of my home, and I light it every evening, and obviously Angela comes into my mind.

It seems that Angela's husband Roger, has dragged his lovely wife into the 21st century by buying her a PiePad, so she can go online and look at things. Ooh! It also seems that one of the first things she's decided to look at is this blog! Angela, I am honoured - thank you for reading my blog, and I hope you continue to enjoy it.

Since Angela's call I've been thinking about friendship, and how valuable it is.

I'm not the most sociable of people. I'm naturally an introvert, and although I do like to go dancing or partying, or joining in with social gatherings, I also often breathe a sigh of relief when I can get home and shut the door, and either be alone or just with someone I'm close to.

However, I do value my friendships. I have lots of friends - some closer than others - and I like to know how they're doing and if all is ok with them. My friends are in my prayers every day, that they're safe, happy and well. Some friends I see quite often, others I haven't seen for years, and others yet I've never met, because they are online friends. They are no less important or valued for that, and I enjoy that I can keep in touch with them, and many of my other friends, via social media, since I'm not the best at writing letters and making 'phone calls.

So here's to friendship - and I raise my glass of SuNW (Sunday Night Wine) in honour of all my friends, near and far.....and also those who are no longer with us.

Plus, I do so with a glass which was given to me by another lovely friend Leanne, as a leaving gift when I left White Orchid.

I was able to enjoy a glass of wine this evening because I've been frugal with my calories again today, so there were enough left over to indulge. I had the left overs of last night's Fearne Cotton lentil bolognese for my dinner this evening. It actually tasted even better than yesterday. I find that some foods are a bit like that. I think this evening's picture of it is a bit better than yesterday's too!

I'm really looking forward to getting on the scales in the morning to check if I've lost any weight. I do feel as if I've lost some, so we'll see.

Today I've attached about half of the squares along the edge of my blanket, and I've also frogged the granny square which I wasn't happy with for my craft room, and the yarn is ready to use on a corner-to-corner cushion.

Another lovely friend - Andrea - was kind enough to send me the link for the YouTube tutorial for the corner to corner pattern. Thank you Andrea. I'll start it off this evening before I go to bed, so that it's ready to take into work tomorrow for me to crochet in my breaks. I'm taking the yarn from the middle of the ball though this time, so that the yarn I've unravelled has a chance to straighten out a bit on the outside of the ball.

It's already the second sunday in Advent. I can't believe the rate at which time moves, it's a bit scary.

I've been burning my lovely Advent candle and its companions each evening. I love the calming glow which they give to my lounge, and the feeling of peace.....it's so much needed in these very uncertain and sometimes scary times.

I love the shapes and patterns which the wax melts into too as they burn. I think though, that I'm going to have to replace the shortest candle ready for tomorrow evening - there's not much left of it!

I'm off to catch up on some T.V. now.....some Coronation Street actually. I grew up with Corrie, and never missed it, but over the lat few months I haven't kept up. I'm back into it now though, and enjoying it. Then I'm going to read for a while, before heading off to bed.

In a flash, Weekend has whizzed by again! It's been a really lovely one again though, and I'm looking forward to starting the working week again. I hope whoever is reading this has had a lovely weekend, and I wish you a very happy, healthy and safe week ahead.

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Saturday 5th December 2020

Picture of the day......"Kiss from a rose"

Beautiful roses from my Lovely Man.....such a lovely surprise.

Roses are one of my favourite flowers, and I love the combination of colours. Being given flowers brings me such joy.

Thank you Bob! XXX

Today has been quite productive. My energy levels have been really good, and my pain levels quite low, so I've taken advantage of it.

I got the last piece of lino down in the kitchen today, and I'm really pleased with how it looks.

There is still a lot to do in the kitchen. Lots of painting to do - cupboards & base-boards, the 'island' table, and some shelves, which will obviously need to then be put up. I also need to do something about the work tops, which have become quite marked over the years. I'm not sure what I'm going to do yet - still pondering on that one.

However, now that the floor is looking nice, it's spurred me on to get other stuff done......

......and my little furry helper Basil definitely approves!

This evening I tried a new recipe - a lentil bolognese, from Fearne Cotton's "Happy Vegan" book.

This was a quick and easy meal to put together, mainly using store cupboard ingredients.

I'm afraid my picture is a bit crap, so it doesn't look as nice as the picture in the book!

However, it was rather yummy, and we'll definitely have that one again! It was also quite low in calories, and for the first time this week, I have more than enough calories left to have an actual bar of chocolate whilst we're watching T.V. tonight. Yaay!

We're continuing with "The Bridge", which we're thoroughly enjoying. Even though the programme subject is very serious, the writers have given it a definite humorous edge (without being distasteful), which I really like.

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Friday 4th December 2020

Picture of the day......"Turn me loose"

Now that my lovely blanket is too big to take into work for a spot of crocheting in my break times, I've been looking amongst my WIPs (Works In Progress) for something else to take in.

I bought this yarn quite a while ago, with the intention of making something for my craft room with it. I started to make a crocheted 'corner-to-corner' cushion, but then couldn't remember where the pattern was online and couldn't find it. So, I frogged it ('took it loose' as they say in Llanelli, and really means undo what you've done!) and started a plain old granny square with it.

However, I don't like how the colours of the yarn are forming in the granny - there are too many clumps of the same colour. So, I'm going to frog it again, and look for the corner-to-corner pattern again online. It must be out there somewhere!

In the meantime, I've been adding the edge squares along the sides of the blanket......

......and I'm very happy so far!

I just need to make the four corner squares now. Unfortunately, I've run out of the green yarn which I was using to edge all the squares. I only have a small amount left, and not enough to edge the corner squares. Since I'm using up yarns from my stash for this blanket, I have no idea what it is, to buy some more, neither do I want to buy any more, as that would defeat the object of stash-busting!

I have found another green yarn, which is similar but not exact, so I'll use that. This is all a bit annoying, but not the end of the world, and as my Mam used to say - "Nobody's going to stop a galloping horse to look at that!" Haha, Mam had some funny sayings.

I hope whoever is reading this has had a good week, and I wish you a happy, healthy and safe weekend.

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Thursday 3rd December 2020

Picture of the day......"Hip to be square"

I have a very satisfying little pile of crocheted squares, all ready to crochet around the edge of my lovely blanket.

So this evening, there is just one thing to do......

......install myself on the sofa...add a cup of tea, some T.V., and a kitty or three...and join them on!

More pictures to follow tomorrow, but for this evening, that is all!

Oh, and tomorrow is Friday, which means that lovely Weekend is on the way! Toodlepip.

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Wednesday 2nd December 2020

Picture of the day......"1984"

What would be in your Room 101?

Bob's would have Brussels sprouts and mine would have mayonnaise! Haha.

As you can see from my first picture, finishing this book was on my list of things to do on this day off. Definitely ticked off the list!

Watching the film of the book was on the list as a maybe - that was ticked off too.

I found the book really frightening - one of the most frightening I've read I think. The film was also frightening, although not as much as the book. I was impressed though, with how loyal the film was to the book. That doesn't happen very often, and over the years I've learned to treat both as separate art forms, so as not to be disappointed with any films where I've already read the book.

Everything on my list was ticked off today, including a visit to the beach to walk Ollie, and of course to take the obligatory moody almost-setting-sun picture!

This evening I started reading this book, which I've had since the summer. Apparently, Peter May wrote this book in 2005, but it was rejected by the publishers. Then, when we did actually have a Covid 19 lockdown for real, he presented it to the publishers again, who went ahead and published it. I'm impressed already by just the prologue, so I'm really looking forward to reading the rest of the book.

Back to work tomorrow after what has been a truly lovely day off. I am feeling blessed.

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Tuesday 1st December 2020

Picture of the day......"...needles and pins..."

At work, I am currently working on some customisation samples - some strips of buttons, a cap sleeve, and a couple of Chantilly lace sleeves.

The picture shows the materials used to make a cap sleeve sample......

......and this picture shows the pieces for the cap sleeve being cut out.

This is the finished cap sleeve. When making them to order for brides, we use lace which matches the gown the bride has chosen. The sleeves are then inserted into the gown.

Here are two sample button strips. We make them from tulle strips, and the bridal outlets which sell our gowns can put a button strip against an existing gown to show a bride how the buttons would look.

We offer six different varieties of buttons, ranging from buttons covered in plain fabric or tulle, to sparkly crystal buttons. They can be used to replace a gown's existing buttons, or simply added to a gown which has no buttons at all, for decorative effect.

Here are two samples of our Chantilly lace sleeve. The sleeve is floaty and feminine, and the lace we use is so pretty. It is one of my favourite customisation pieces.

Here is our lovely mannequin Taylor modelling a Chantilly lace sleeve.

As with the cap sleeves, this lace sleeve can be inserted into the gown. Alternatively, the bride may choose for them to have poppers put onto them, so that they can be detached from the gown if she wishes.

I love working with such pretty designs, fabrics and notions, and I love the variety of customisation pieces which we offer. It means that when we do the actual customisations on real brides' gowns, they are all so unique!

Although I love my job, I am once again looking forward to my mid-week day off tomorrow. Fatigue and noise sensitivity are a problem again at the moment, so some respite from that will be nice. Bob has the day off too, so we'll be spending some quality time together. Hopefully the weather will be kind enough for us to manage a walk somewhere with Ollie.

For now though, it's some T.V. before bed. We finished watching "The Killing" towards the end of last week, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. We've started watching the second series, but we're not enjoying that as much, so tonight we're going to start watching "The Bridge" - another Scandi crime series - instead.

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Back to life......

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