Saturday 17 December 2016

Merry Christmas

No, it isn't too early to be sending Christmas greetings. We all do it round about now in the form of cards, so why not write a little post too?

I'm officially closed for business until the New Year. A few little bits over the weekend, perhaps a Frond & Feather post, then that's it. The past month or so has been a swirling snow globe of activity. School things (including the Nativity), parties, planning, making, socialising, decking the halls...

And there's still much to do. This morning we went to see a shadow puppet show with Joe: 'The Magic Lantern'. He almost managed to sit still throughout the performance. This afternoon - in an hour, in fact - we're heading over to Cheshire for a 60th birthday party. 

Tomorrow we're going out early to buy all the nice Christmas treats to eat. Fizzy things, smoked things, sugared things.

And. of course, a copy of the Radio Times.

We're pretty much done in terms of gift buying. There are parcels and paper galore, so a night of wrapping awaits. I still have cards to write and deliver. And I'm going to the carol service at the little church across from school on Thursday.

It's all been exhausting, December so far. Joe's worn out and crying at the slightest thing (saying goodbye to a ladybird I freed from the house/my throwing out a past-it's-use-by-date yogurt/not letting him eat breakfast sitting on the worktop etc. etc.)

At yesterday's Nativity one of his little classmates was literally falling asleep in her chair then repeatedly waking up to do dance movements before nodding off again. It was cute but I really felt for her. They don't finish school until the 22nd. I can't wait for term to end.

Neither can Joe. He's desperate to make mince pies. I told him my mum made the best ones, so he had a chat with a photo of her, making a request for help in the kitchen. He ended with 'Amen'. Bless him.

Anyway: I'd just like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year. Thank you for reading Mitenska, for leaving lovely thoughtful comments and for taking an interest in our little household. Thank you too to those of you who've ordered personalised paintings from me. Things are taking off nicely and I intend to focus more on Frond & Feather next year, particularly in being a bit more organised and learning about how to run a business properly.

But for now - it's all about the festive season. Food, family, friends and all the other good things. Have a restful Christmas. See you in 2017!

Sarah x

Monday 12 December 2016

Wintry days

I say 'wintry' as it's not officially winter yet. There's are still remnants of autumn clinging on, in the form of fungi and crisp leaves, but it's feeling decidedly colder and Christmas is almost here.

The gift fair is, thankfully, over. I did reasonably well and sold artwork, cards and stationery. Just as importantly for a fledgling business such as Frond & Feather: I met lots of people and made some new contacts. It's always heartening when people show an interest in what you do and ask lots of questions.

It was a long day (and evening). When I got home I had a drink of cherry liqueur and ate Joe's stash of chocolate coins. Must remember to replace them before he notices.

On the work front, things are actually pretty busy. And it's here where I promise to respond to any emails I received last week. Hopefully I'll get a little more time this evening to deal with that.

As I've mentioned before, this time of year is all about home comforts, introspection, planning, evaluation, hibernation. The days are short and we try and get out at the weekend for some fresh air before heading back to the warmth and the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree. It all looks very pretty and festive. Of course, there are still things to do: a few more presents to find, food to be bought. But I've decided that next week I'll stop.

Today I met up with my old boss, who's here on a flying visit from his new home in Spain. We went out for tea and cake and a catch-up. It was good. We hadn't seen one another for almost three years, and we just fell  into conversation and jokes as though it was only a few weeks since we last saw one another.

I have plans with more friends tomorrow, then on Thursday and Friday I'm going to see Joe in his Nativity: once with my stepdad, once with Jay.

Yesterday we engaged in that most festive of activities: grouting the kitchen tiles.

On Saturday we've got a family birthday celebration. And before that I have to brave Ikea for a couple of picture frames.

Why am I listing all this stuff? 

Because it's all too easy to fall into the trap of 'busyness', particularly at this time of year. So I've decided on a cut-off point. It'll give me a few days to myself before Joe finishes school for Christmas. A few precious days to wind down and savour the little rituals and pleasures: watching The Box of Delights. Reading winter poetry. Going for solitary walks.

I cried yesterday. I cried for my mum, for the thought of another Christmas without her. 

But I also thought about the comfort to be had from our yearly rituals. Friends and family. My brother coming over for Christmas dinner. Little things, like opening a present on Christmas Eve. Storing all the treats in the dresser. Buying those foods - even the slightly naff ones - which remind us of Christmases past.

There are new rituals too. I've bought a stocking for Joe so he wakes up to see it hanging on his bedpost. And we'll be putting mince pies and carrots out for Santa and Rudolph.

I'm looking forward to a slow Christmas and a slow winter too. I've requested books and books alone. No vouchers, no perfume or clothes or jewellery. Just plenty to read. A pile of books, a warm house, peace and quiet (when Joe's out): that's enough to keep me happy.

So once this week's done, with it's long list of to-dos, I'm going to make an effort to switch off: both figuratively and literally. It's something I struggle with but I'm hopeful that if I can ease into a new mindset over the weekend, by the time term ends I'll be ready to welcome the festive season with open arms.

I hope your December isn't proving to be too frantic (unless, of course, that's the way you like it)!

Thursday 1 December 2016


Well, it's here. And December is definitely chilly. Although that could also be because, as I'm typing, the joiner is in and out of the house sawing and lugging bits of wood about. The back door's been wide open for the past three hours.

And the dust. The. Dust.

I'm having a desk and shelves built into the tiny, awkwardly-shaped workroom. It'll all need painting next. 

This week has been pretty tough. I accompanied my brother to the inquest for his partner's death and it affected me deeply. The verdict was that it could have been avoided had she received the correct medical care. I haven't slept for two nights - last night was spent on the sofa (so as not to wake Jay). My mind's been jumping from one thought to the next.

Sleep will come. But usually this pattern takes several days to dissipate.

On a brighter note (there are many), Joe is delighting us with his rather odd renditions of Christmas carols. He's going to be a shepherd in the school Nativity. I'm attending two showings: one with Jay, the other with my stepdad.

And to add to the dust: glitter. This was the best card. The other trees resemble pylons. I'm just happy he's holding a pen properly...

I've been very busy with work, sending out commissions and printmaking in readiness for the Christmas gift fair next week. After that I'll be able to slow down a bit. And maybe do the grouting in the kitchen.

There's a trip to Hebden Bridge coming up with some of my fellow creative business ladies. We thought it might make a nice change from eating cake around each other's kitchen tables (although that's nice too).

And I've got a few exciting things coming up writing-wise, too, including an interview about my artwork and creative process. More on that in a future post.

The joiner's just clearing up. I'm going to thaw out with a bowl of soup then tackle the cleaning. Damp cloths and the hoover nozzle are the way to go. I hate mess and tried not to show my dismay just now when I noticed a dustsheet had slithered off my bookshelf and everything underneath is now a pale gingery colour. And my recently-fitted carpet looks suspiciously frayed at the edges. A bit like me.

I'll feel better once everything's back where it should be and the dust has been banished.

Wish me luck.

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