A gate, a path and
light on the far horizon.
I wish you gladness.
..is your bond, you keep your word, the word is God upon my word! There are crosswords and cross words. Lucille writes about words (or lack of them) in this post, being 'wordy' is not usually a compliment. I treasure the comment made by a student at my Drawing for Non Artists course. He said that the course in the evening was 'such a relief from the wordiness of the day'.
I've chosen a 'word for the year' for a number of years now. See here and here
This was my first one I think (2011) and here are some of yours! Remember?
I think I have decided on my word for 2018 but thought it would be fun to try Susannah Conway's free course in choosing a word before I settle on it. Join me? You can sign up here.
More snow today. I love being in this house when it is snowing. And I've got as far as 'C' in my new address book..
I am inspired by Viv to get sorted today!
(Two posts today - even my blog is in a muddle.)
The essentials are done and plans are made, though I've sent two presents to one person - does that mean I've missed someone else? - and who knows what cards I've missed and whether all will arrive before the day. A book I ordered for a friend on 24th November has not arrived yet... My decorations are as I want them (except I have not had the heart or the energy to get up into the loft and fit the lights in the apex window since Barry died...) but the ones I haven't used are spread around the guest room. The rest of the house is a mess, a muddle, a guddle....to extend the dining table I had to remove a chair and a heater to another room, the large dishes I used for the last big meal are still sitting around the kitchen, wrapping paper and stray cards are on every surface and there are dead flowers in the kitchen. I've still to launder and return the huge red tablecloth I borrowed from my daughter before she even got it home from the shop :-)
No, no photographs! (You know I only show you the nice bits.) It looks too much like the before photos in Marie Kondo videos - well not that bad perhaps.
Outer order means inner calm, and they're playing Bach on Radio 3 today.
So instead of sitting here in my dressing gown writing this, I had better get up and at it. I just put the water on to heat for my egg and forgot to put the egg in. Really. Heeelp!
Oh, and on Monday I took the vacuum cleaner to bits and I can't get it back together again.
Viv will cheer me on I know.
It all began around 2010 when a little seed germinated in the top of an old fence post...
Somehow it survived and eventually put down a root which reached the soil, since when it has grown more rapidly... and now makes this year's Christmas tree!
The little 'crystal' ornaments are actually quite sparkly (will try to get a better photograph tomorrow...).
Two recipes which I made the day before made a lovely lunch for friends. This aubergine and parmesan bake and Nigella's passion fruit ice cream cake....Yum
Then the fasting next day with apple carrot and spinach juice for two meals (and the leftovers for the third!)
Works for me.
Setting the scene is the most fun bit for me (though I am beginning to quite like cooking..) I borrowed the tablecloth and brought out all the old favourites..
and lots of candles!
Have you set the scene? Or do you enjoy the cooking more?
Pause for a moment
on our great ride round the sun.
Shine your little light.
I love this sculpture at Oran Mor (where we watched the play the other night). It's as if the angels were playing hoop-la!
It is my Christmas card to you to simply wish you all a truly happy time over the holiday season, wherever you are and however you spend it.
I leave it with you for a few days while I catch up with myself....
..on sheet ice! Three days, eight buses, two cars, two ferries, two 20 minute walks which would normally take 6 or 7 minutes, rain wind sleet and sheet ice, a wonderful play and a party at Glasgow School of Art, good food and drink, and great company, and I am so glad to be home!
How are travel conditions where you are?
..a painting was meant for a particular spot, this one was.
It is a Christmas gift from my friend Lynne Cameron, and feels like a burst of wonderful energy rushing into the otherwise fairly static room..
You can see more of her vibrant work here
Talking of energy doesn't this just make you want to get up and move?
a marble cake. Which is really just a Victoria sponge with chocolate added to half the mixture. Here is how I made the one on yesterday's post.
For the first time I used gluten free flour.This one is a blend of rice, potato, maize, buckwheat and tapioca, and it made a lighter cake so I will use it again.
I always have a jar of caster sugar with a couple of vanilla pods in it and I use this to line the cake tin. After you grease the tin, put in a couple of teaspoons of the vanilla sugar and lifting the tin tap it lightly till the base and sides are coated with the sugar. It gives the cake a slight yummy crunch on the edges. I use granulated sugar in the cake itself.
I beat the eggs lightly with a splash of vanilla essence, before adding half of it with half the flour, beating (lightly) with a wooden spoon into the creamed marg and sugar, then add the rest and spoon half the mix into the tin.
(That spoon is my very favourite spoon. It's the one my patient and kind Mum taught me to bake with when I was a child. This is her recipe.)
I then sieve a tablespoon or two of cocoa or drinking chocolate to the rest of the mix and dollop it into the tin smoothing it over slightly.
In my oven this cake takes about 25 mins near the top at 180. To check if it is ready I open the oven door - slowly - and feel the top of the cake. If it has a slight crust and springs back when I press it a little it is ready to come out and cool for 5 minutes in the tin before turning it out.
This amount makes one in an 8 inch tin, but for a birthday cake, which yesterday's was, I make two and sandwich them together with strawberry jam and dust the top with icing sugar.
Here is Mum's recipe
4oz SR Flour
2 med eggs
few drops vanilla essence
1 - 2 tblsps cocoa or drinking chocolate.
Oven 180 20 -25 mins
It's taken a long time to explain (though it gave me a nice excuse to make another!) but it really is a simple and quick basic cake. It freezes well too..which is what will be happening to this one.
I've treated myself to two large ultra-soft towels
and a room spray that smells of fir tree...
turning my simple bathroom into a luxury spa retreat
with the aid of a few candles...
A single rose and some pine branches brought in earlier (put some tissue on the cut ends!)
What could be nicer on a snowy night?
The rain was gentle, it wasn't really cold, and I was getting almost too comfy indoors!
I had a short and rather one-sided conversation with this sheep
and sympathised with these ones which only seem to have reeds to eat. Everyones' lawns (already full of moss) are coming up with reeds because it's been such a wet year here.
I enjoyed the misty view
and the sound of the waves.
Storms are forecast.
Connecting with nature refreshes and restores me.
..bigger donations. This has been the trend in our family in recent years.
I like it.
Arianna Huffington talks here about taking some time to disconnect from the world in order to connect with yourself, so that you can explore your values and know what you want to do.
I think that can apply to Christmas. Who needs the frantic stressful excess and commerce-driven experience that the media would have us believe is what Christmas is about? We do have a choice and we can choose to switch off both literally and metaphorically to all of that, and create our own meaningful and spiritual experiences, around this wonderful midwinter festival
Connecting with distant friends as I start to write the cards this evening.
NB I apologise if my replies to your comments are sometimes out of sync with the comment. I blame the system (but it might be me)!
Sometimes it seems everything has become an 'issue' or an ethical dilemma, but my position on Christmas cards has not changed since I wrote about them here, and here.
I love Christmas cards, the choosing, the giving and the receiving!
I know where the ones left over from last year are, but am trying to remember where I put the ones I bought recently...somewhere logical and safe of course, but where?
.. with a small a the word means a coming into view, a coming into being, an arrival. With a capital A it is the period of prayer and fasting (that's fasting not feasting!) leading up to the celebration of the arrival of the Christchild. Presumably the Christmas Day feast was to celebrate the end of fasting as well as the coming of the precious baby. I must find the balance between fasting and feasting...
My first task in preparation was to find the Advent calendar which involved moving quite a lot of stuff to get into the cupboard in the eaves where I put all the Christmas things not so very long ago!
Ah, here it is. Fun to fill it with sweets, balloons and silly Christmas jokes...
What do you get when you cross a snowman with a shark?
Are your Christmas things easier to access than mine?
And have you got them out yet? I might find a handier, separate place to keep the advent calendar next year.
..though I received far more than I gave at this year's Glasgow Hospitals' Christmas Carol Concert. It raises funds for Clic Sargent who look after children with cancer and their families, and the choir, conductor and the Glasgow Chamber Orchestra and special guest give their services for free.
A meal out, the excellent concert, and drinks till 3am with the friends who sing in the choir made a wonderful start to the season!
Scottish pianist Steven Osborne played Beethoven, Brahms and Oscar Petersen. I love his website and blog and his playing was superb, but joining in with the traditional carols -In The Bleak Midwinter being my favourite - and listening to children sing always brings a lump to the throat. So beautiful.
This is what I want Christmas to be about this year - the nicest traditions, generous giving, and the company of all the people I love best.
The planning starts now.
How do you want your Christmas to be? And how can you make it happen?
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)