Winter walk round Brockholes Nature Reserve.

Brockholes floating visitor centre.
Brockholes floating visitor centre.

I recently realized Its very nearly the end of December and I hadn’t posted a #take12trips entry for this month. Yikes! Clare from Need Another Holiday started the idea off in the bloggersphere ~ encouraging other bloggers to get up off their behinds and visit one new place each month and write a little about it. Well as I absolutely need to get off mine ( totally over indulged this Christmas! ) I persuaded Wil that a good walk in the countryside was in order. We drove to Brockholes nature reserve just off junction 31 of the M6 near Preston. I have been here before as the amazing floating visitor centre has hosted the odd farmers market and craft fair. But today was all about the fresh air and wildlife. We picked up a free map from the interactive welcome centre and set off to walk the route round the various lakes, ponds and marshes that have become home to all sorts of wild fowl.

Swan in the reeds.
Swan in the reeds.
Canada Goose.
Canada Goose.
If you go down in the woods today.
If you go down in the woods today.
I spy a church.
I spy a church.
Translucent red berries.
Translucent red berries.
Water birds.
Water birds.
a spot of lunch in the restaurant.
a spot of lunch in the restaurant.
Geese.
Geese.
Bull rushes.
Bull rushes.
Heron.
Heron.
Coot.
Coot.
Another view of the floating visitor centre.
Another view of the floating visitor centre.
Lapwing  :)
Lapwing 🙂

There are various hides along the route if you want to spend more time watching the birds. And if you enjoy cycling the Preston Wheel Cycle Way also takes in the scenery here. The beautiful floating visitor centre has a waterside restaurant with a toasty wood burning stove and there are two gift shops on site. So if you want to experience the Lancashire great outdoors just off the motorway , this might be the place to come. 🙂

What I received in the Thrifty Christmas Gift Swap. :)

Janet from the blog Words That Can Be Your Own recently organised a Thrifty Christmas Gift swap. I really enjoyed participating and the parcel I received from Leanne was just gorgeous. I managed to save it to open on Christmas day….with some reluctance I must say. Leanne must have done her homework as the prezzies she sent were all very me.

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There were a couple of lovely decorations for my tree which are now adorning said tree of course.

A pretty wooden heart with the words Sunshine Always Follows the Rain inscribed on it.
A really useful little wooden make up mirror which will come in very useful on my summer camping trips. 🙂

A retro Drumstick lolly scented car air freshener which actually does smell like a real drumstick lolly.

A couple of cute coasters which say Cake Cake We Want More Cake on them. Yes my weakness is certainly cake!

A darling little Alice In Wonderland badge which I wore on Christmas Day. 🙂

Continuing with the Alice theme, an amazing Alice animation negative framed print. This is so thoughtful as for my birthday this year I had a Alice themed/vintage tea party. 🙂

Leanne also sent me a very cute handmade card which I love.

All in all I was thoroughly spoiled and I must say Leanne’s parcel was my favorite one to open on Christmas day. Thank you Leanne and thanks Janet. x 🙂

ps you can read about what I sent my recipicant Kate HERE

2013 In Pics. :)

I am taking inspiration from a lovely blog I have recently started following for this post. Bev from Confuzzledom ( sorry my link not working at mo 😦 ) wrote a great blog entry about all the highlights of her 2013. While I can’t pretend my year has been as well traveled or exciting as Bevs, I thought It would be nice to post a pic ( or two) of something I enjoyed each month. So here is what happened to me in 2013. 🙂

Here is a pic from January. Wil and I had a fab day out in Keswick. It is one of our fave places to visit as there are lots of outdoorsy shops for Wil and really gorgeous scenery.

Derwentwater.
Derwentwater.

In February I started doing my craft fairs again. I make teacup candles and I decided to experiment with making tea cup pincushions. Good old YouTube. 🙂

Teacup Pin Cushions. :)
Teacup Pin Cushions. 🙂

In March my friend Lisa and I did a craft fair at a steam punk inspired Mad Hatters Tea Dance. A bit of a mouthful! Anyway we really enjoyed it and loved the steam punks costumes.

Mad Hatters.
Mad Hatters.
Steam Punks.
Steam Punks.

In April I can’t remember much in particular happening but here is a picture of Jake our labrador taking himself for a walk. 🙂

Jakey.
Jakey.

In May I felt very proud of myself for completing the Blog Every Day In May challenge set up by Elizabeth at Rosalilium I found it pretty hard work posting something every single day but amazingly I managed to do it. Hurrah ! I also took my first ever picture of a heron which was busy fishing in the river ribble.

My Heron shot.

In June we went to Hadrian’s Wall for the first time ever which wasn’t exactly the Great Wall of China but was impressive all the same. My friend Jo celebrated her birthday with a picnic bench afternoon tea which was fabulous. As you know I love cake ( a little to much ! ).

Hadrians Wall.
Hadrians Wall.
A Picnic Bench Afternoon Tea. Yummy !
A Picnic Bench Afternoon Tea. Yummy !

In July we went camping in the Yorkshire Dales with our dooog. 🙂

An extra guest for dinner.
An extra guest for dinner.
Messing about in the river. Can you spot Jake!
Messing about in the river. Can you spot Jake!

In August I had a day out at the seaside with my good friend Becky and her family and I also enjoyed the local food festival in my home town.

Beach Huts :) St Anne's
Beach Huts 🙂 St Anne’s
My God daughter enjoying the festival. :)
My God daughter enjoying the festival. 🙂

September was a great month! My old school friend Arwen got married and I was a bridesmaid which was such an honor. A couple of days after Wil and I jetted off on holiday to Agadir in Morocco.

Arwen and I.
Arwen and I.
Spices in Morocco.
Spices in Morocco.

Had an amazing day out with my niece and nephew at The Forbidden Corner in October. If you ever fancy somewhere a wee bit different to take the kids this place might just be it. 🙂

Not your typical tree. The Forbidden Corner.
Not your typical tree. The Forbidden Corner.

In November I celebrated my big 4 0. Yep i’m now forty which i’m still getting used to. Luckily my friends and family and Wil really made it amazing. Turning 40 was actually a great experience. I’m sure being 40 will be too……….

My sister and I before the guests arrived at my very merry unbirthday party.
My sister and I before the guests arrived at my very merry unbirthday party.
Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas!

2013 has been a pretty good year with family and friends celebrating Big Birthdays, Engagements and Weddings. We have had heartbreak in the form of our OAPs ( OLd Age Pets), we had to say goodbye to my dear little cat Tibbs and Jake our black lab has ailing health. 😦 We did manage to give a home to a mischeivious kitty called Slinky though, who is at this moment pouncing on my feet under the duvet wanting to be fed. I had better get up before they become breakfast!

Slinky Malinki enjoying reading about her namesake. :)
Slinky Malinki enjoying reading about her namesake. 🙂

How was 2013 for you?

The Christmas Eve Box.

Fancy starting up a new Christmas tradition? A work college is making up a Christmas Eve Box  for her little girl. This involves wrapping a cardboard box in Christmas paper and filling it with goodies that the family can enjoy together on Christmas Eve. Looking into this ( there are lots of fab ideas online ), fun things to fill your box with might include a Christmas dvd, festive pjs, homemade Christmas cookies, a letter from Santa and a Christmas themed story book to read at bed time.

You can certainly adapt the contents to suit the ages of the children or indeed adults you will be spending Xmas Eve with. As I will be spending it with the boyfriend ~ this is what I have put in our Christmas Eve Box.

Christmas Eve box contains ~ boozy gifts ( reduced at sainsburys), Lidl Gingerbread and chocs, The Hangover 3 on dvd, Pants for poverty boxers ( for him) and snuggly fawn hot water bottle ( for me) :)
Christmas Eve box contains ~ boozy gifts ( reduced at sainsburys), Lidl Gingerbread and chocs, The Hangover 3 on dvd, Pants for poverty boxers ( for him) and snuggley fawn hot water bottle ( for me) 🙂

The great thing about this time of year ( a few days before Christmas) is the Sales are already starting with many high street shops and supermarkets putting reductions on their Christmas stock, so I found a few bargains too.:)

Anyway I’m going to have a few days off blogging so I will wish you all a very Merry Christmas!!!! XX

Chick Flick Classics ~~ Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

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” I just love finding new places to wear diamonds “ is a memorable line in the 1950’s Musical Gentlemen Prefer Blondes that I rented recently. It stars Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe as showgirl best pals Dorothy and Lorelei, en route to a job in Paris , aboard a transatlantic cruise liner. Lorelei ( a captivating Marilyn Monroe) is engaged to a dopey millionaire whose disaproving father hires a private detective to check up on her on the journey. Dorothy ( a dazzling Jane Russell) who doesn’t care about bagging herself a rich heir, enjoys the attentions of the Olympic Swimming team who are also travelling!

Lorelei tries on a diamond tiara.
Lorelei tries on a diamond tiara.
Whose going to take me out on a date??
Whose going to take me out on a date??

Lorelei soon becomes impressed with the wealth of married diamond merchant ‘Piggy’ ( Charles Coburn) whose wife lets her try on a sparkling diamond tiara. Meanwhile the private detective Mallone ( Elliot Reid ) befriends Dorothy in the hope of finding out any dirt on Lorelei. Dorothy proves herself a loyal friend but he still manage’s to photograph Lorelei and the diamond tycoon in a compromising position Piggy ~ demonstrating on Lorelei how a python squeezes a goat.Ho Ho.

Lorelei and Dorothy looking very glam.
Lorelei and Dorothy looking very glam.

Mallone thinks he may be falling in love with Dorothy but the two girls feeling hoodwinked manage to trick him into giving them the film. Lorelei passes it on to Piggy, who very much grateful and relieved gives her his wife’s diamond tiara as a reward. Dorothy who was growing fond of Mallone too, before he revealed himself to be a private detective vows herself off men and the two best pals arrive in Paris.

Don't we look French in our berets !
Don’t we look French in our berets !
Diamonds are a girls best friend.
Diamonds are a girls best friend.

Fun and frolics follow in France as Lorelei is accused of stealing a certain diamond tiara and all the men folk hotly pursue them. Will love find Dorothy? Will Lorelei’s penchant for diamonds continue?
You will have to watch this gem of a glorious tecnicolor musical comedy to find out….if only to watch Marilyns iconic rendition of ‘Diamonds are a girls best friend’.
I loved this film.Can’t believe I’ve never seen it before now!

Whats your favorite Marilyn film?

A Magical Christmas Memory.

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Does anyone out there remember ever seeing Santa? The real bona fida Santa Claus I mean!

There’s this memory that has stayed with me through the years and every Christmas time I puzzle over it and think…..
did that really happen?

As a child I grew up on a farm. Weather seemed to be alot harsher and colder back then so during the winter Dad would go round the fields dropping off sheep lick blocks and barrels of treacle to suplement our livestocks diet. Yes barrels of treacle! When a new barrel was opened my sister and I were allowed a dollop each of the sweet black sticky stuff.:)

Anyway one such occasion we were out with Dad in the fields. There was hard frost on the ground and the sky was white and heavy with the promise of snow. We had nearly finished our rounds as Dad said something like “Look up now and You’ll see Father Christmas” …… and sure enough there was Santa and his sleigh pulled by reindeer rushing through the winter sky above us.

I remember telling Mum.I remember telling my school friends. I was convinced I had seen Father Christmas and Dad had too. 🙂

Even looking back now its hard to feel sceptical. Perhaps I dream’t it. Perhaps there was something in that treacle! Dad is no longer with us and my younger sister can’t remember but When I happened to mention it to Mum recently she said “Well you were with your Dad so I imagine it did happen”. So I will smile and keep it as a precious magical Christmas memory. 🙂

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A Thrifty Christmas Gift Swap. :)

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When Janet from the blog Words That Can Only Be Your Own posted about the annual Thrifty Christmas Gift Swap she started last year , I couldn’t wait to sign up. It sounds such a fun and festive idea. I knew I would enjoy putting a box together for my recipiant Kate ,who is a new Mum with a love of vintage and reading among her interests. Janet asks that your box should be all about hand made and thrifty finds and the suggested price be around the £12 mark. I couldn’t wait to get started. 🙂
I’m not terribly good at the whole handmade malarky but as I frequent the odd craft and vintage fair with my Mrs Tibbs Teacups stall , I am in a good position to hunt down some pretty things. 🙂 Here is what I put in Kates box.

A Christmas Spice fragranced expresso cup candle. I found a set of two mustard expresso cups at a vintage fair and thought they would make adorable candles. I think it has a cozy retro look.

A festive felt Christmas Pud brooch made by the lovely ladies at Juniper Spools . I had to purchase myself one too…..they are so cute.

A darling dove decoration, perfect for the tree. My friend Lisa has a tile company Tile Productions and makes gorgeous tags and coasters with any spare material left over.

A copy of Truman Capote’s ‘ Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ which I found in a second hand book shop.I loved the film starring Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard. It does differ from the book though…so I would love to know how Kate finds it.

A pretty bow brooch pinned to a Bo Peep playing card. I like to sell vintage brooches atached to these nursery rhyme cards as they’re quirkiness always attracts attention.:)

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I wrapped everything up in this cute Christmas paper and sent it off in a well wrapped shoe box. The lovely Stag card is handmade by Claire at http://www.folksy.com/shops/realicoul/

My parcel has arrived too. I am very very tempted to open it but I have been very good and placed it under the tree. Can’t wait for Christmas Day.:)

I will of course do a follow up post on the contents of my present then.:)

Star Anise Christmas tree Decorations.

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When I put the tree up I totally forgot about the handmade tree decorations I atempted a couple of weeks ago. I found a tutorial in LandLove Magazine about using old candle wax to make festive decorations. I thought these star anise stars looked very sweet.

You will need.

saucepan
milkpan
roasting tin
cookie cutters
star anise
candle wax

1.Line roasting tin with baking paper.
2.Melt some wax over a bain-marie.Remove remains of the wicks.
3.Cover base of tin with a thin layer of wax and place cutters on top.
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4.Lay one star anise in the middle of each and fill with wax, making sure star anise still peek out. This is where I had a problem! The wax seeped out the edges of the cutters. Maybe covering with something heavy super quick as soon as you’ve poured it in may help.
5.Once cooled and set remove from cutters. I lowered them briefly into warm water to loosen.

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6.Heat a needle over a flame of a candle and make a hole in each decoration so they can be hung up.Use parcel string or ribbon.

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Most of mine came out to thin and broke.But I managed to salvage a couple and hung them on the tree last night.
So thats my attempt at Christmas crafting.:-D

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Desert Snow

Wow I love this blog. Partly because this girl has amazing adventures towing a teardrop round the states and she takes fantastic photo’s.Also she is accompanied by her very handsome dogs who always look like they are having the best time. Well worth a read. Today’s post features snow in the New Mexico dessert. 🙂

Travels with the Blonde Coyote

Why winter in New Mexico? Because the hiking is epic, no matter the weather. We’ve had two significant snowstorms so far this year and all that white stuff adds such a stunning dimension to this desert.

When it snows, it’s not unusual to get to stuck out here for a few days until the road becomes passable. That’s one of the challenges to living down a very long, unpaved, private road: no snowplows! I don’t mind though. I always keep a supply of rice, beans, pasta, dog food and books on hand just in case. And when cabin fever strikes, I go for a good long snowy walk!

For more desert snow pictures, check out my previous posts: Bright Angel SnowstormUtah in Winter and Sand Dunes Snowstorm.

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Oh Christmas Tree

The Tree Is UP !
The Tree Is UP !

Home Alone is on the telly. The Tree is up and decorated. Suddenly feeling very Christmasy round here. 🙂

Decorating the tree is one of my favourite Christmas traditions.I’m not one of those people with a colour co-ordinated tree, no siree. Its all a bit of a mish mash but that’s what I like about it. I love to open my boxes of tree decorations each Christmas and rediscover each and every one of them all over again. Through the years I’ve tried to pick up bits and bobs for the tree from wherever i’ve been on holiday. Its surprising how easy it is to find them,even in the summer. Among’st my favourite baubles are a merry red bell discovered in Sorrento, a beaver peering from behind a tree given to me by a friend when we were visiting her in Canada, a white dove I bought last Christmas in the Yorkshire Dales, a stripey bauble a friend gifted me from Harrods in London and a trumpeting Angel found on a trip to st honorat island in the south of France.

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I do seem to have lost my star from the top of the tree though so I had better get looking. Have you decorated your tree yet?