Tuesday 28 December 2021

Getting Ready for Christmas

 That's the Festive Season almost over. Just New Year's Eve to see out.  We usually spend it in the company of Jools Holland and then it will be 2022! Where is the time going? It whizzes by so fast that another year has gone by before you know it...

When I left you last it was Wednesday and on Wednesday's I usually walk with my group. I didn't on this occasion; instead I spent the day at an appointment in West Drayton on the outskirts of London with my friend, Ann. When we had finished we went to Uxbridge afterwards - just down the road from West Drayton; for lunch and a quick look around a few charity shops. Neither of us bought anything!

I wore this pleated skirt by M&S; yellow top by Next (Street Jumble; 1.00); cardigan by Store 21 and black knee length boots; all charity shopped.. All jewellery charity shopped except the earrings which were bought in Donegal.

Thursday was a hectic day but it usually is. I went swimming in the morning and swam 44 laps (1.4 km). The whistle blew as I was on the 44th lap so there wasn't time to do anymore. After swimming it was off to the hairdressers and then home to get ready and do the food shopping visiting Sainsbury's and Lidl. Once the shopping was packed away I went to collect yet another parcel. By then it was time to clean out and lay the fire and make dinner for the grandsons and OH.  I also finally caught up with the washing. I was very pleased to sit down and put my feet up in the evening and start a new book. We watched the start of another 'Walter Presents' series called 'Partisan'.

This was Thursday's outfit:

Everything was charity shopped. The red cross body bag was a Vinted buy. The cardigan was bought in Barnardo's in the last few weeks; the trousers are by Zara and I've had them for ages. The red, black, white and fawn tunic by Laura Brook was an Irish charity shop find in 2014.

All jewellery charity shopped.

The past week had been very mild with temperatures reaching 13 degrees centigrade most days. It couldn't last; it was December after all! When I was out and about I didn't bother with a coat.

Friday was cold and foggy. It seemed that normal winter weather had resumed. It would of course be the day I'd decided to pot up my seeds! First, I had a trip into to town to collect a parcel from Superdrug and to buy the final 2 Christmas presents including the Secret Santa present for my brother. I bought cards to send the family in Ireland and posted them off. Then I spent a chilly couple of hours in the garden putting my collection of seeds into pots and into the mini greenhouse. Sadly, some of the seeds had started to rot but I had six robust Nasturtiums; Foxgloves; Hollyhocks; Salvia; Alliums; Fritillaries, Anemones and two other woodland type plant seeds to plant up and label. I shall be so delighted if even just one plant grows as I've never grown anything from seed before...

I wore this outfit on Friday. Everything charity shopped except the grey velvet brogues bought from Primarni in a sale about 3 years ago. Cropped wide legged trousers by the White Stuff; jumper by Tu and polo underneath by M&S.

All jewellery charity shopped.
I then wrapped all the Christmas presents and put them under the tree. What a relief when it was all done! OH came home from work with another Fortnum and Mason hamper; his Christmas Box from his employers. We hadn't even used the Christmas pudding from last year's hamper but luckily both will still be in date for this year and next year. OH is going to use the hamper to store his DVD collection.

On Saturday I joined the other Rambler's Group for a 5 mile walk starting in the village of Risely. After the walk we went into Risely church for mulled wine and mince pies and some festive music. I had been looking forward to next Thursday's walk which was to be in London to see the Christmas lights but with the rise in Covid cases the walk leader decided to cancel. I planned to walk on Wednesday with my usual group.

All Saint's Church, Risely.
What a miserable day Saturday was. Cloudy, gloomy and dank. Very depressing weather but at least it wasn't too cold. I stayed in my walking gear so no outfit to show you for Saturday.

I spent most of Sunday morning in the kitchen making this butternut squash and chickpea tagine. The recipe said to cook it on the stove top which was lucky as I don't have a tagine; although I do have casserole dishes. Very tasty it was, too. We did the usual Sunday house cleaning and I made dinner for the grandsons and OH. I also got a lot of fiddly little jobs done such as descaling the kettle, cleaning out under the sink where the cleaning stuff is kept and I foraged some ivy from the clinic next door for my mantelpiece. Not a day for walking though; cold, very damp and foggy...

Monday was a long and busy day. I went to Barnardo's and worked hard putting the Christmas cards on sale and sorting, tagging and hanging clothes and other donated items. My daughter's partner came to put shelves in the wardrobes when I got home. I'd been thinking the space above the hanging rail in the wardrobes was a waste of space; by putting a shelf in each of the 3 wardrobes it would give us extra storage. It did, but not as much as I thought!  It was a good time to have a cull of clothing items I no longer liked, or didn't fit as I'd like. When OH came in from work he did the same. Between us we filled 2 black plastic sacks and we already had 1 sack waiting to go to the charity shop!

Everything charity shopped. Jeans by East, top by Oasis and striped polo underneath by M&S. Red boots online retail. All jewellery charity shopped. It was another miserable day as you can probably tell by the awful light. It was cold at 6 degrees all day.

It took me until 9 pm to sort the two wardrobes out. Taking everything out and putting it all back; hoovering up and deciding what went where. I took most of the shirts off hangers and folded them and put them on the new shelf. I don't wear shirts that often in the winter so I probably won't need them until Spring. I culled some (short) cardigans and put the remaining ones on the new shelf; I don't wear short cardigans that much and could probably get rid of more but I do like them! I also put lighter weight trousers that I'm unlikely to wear until Spring on the new shelf; by which time the shelf was full. In the spare bedroom wardrobe it was making room for my son's old stuff by utilising the new shelf which then freed up more hanging space for my dresses, jackets and long cardigans.

It was full on at the food bank on Tuesday. I stayed on for an extra hour as one of the afternoon volunteers was unwell. I went swimming in the afternoon and did 44 laps (1.4 km). I noticed in the big sort out yesterday I was missing a swimming costume so enquired at the pool if I had left it there but no luck. I can only think it blew off the washing line into another garden...or maybe it will turn up in an unexpected place.

(I put the flash on the phone camera as the light was very poor but it makes eyes look demonic)!


I started out wearing black and white plaid trousers but they were too big on me and went into (yet another) charity shop bag. The last minute substitute was these Prince of Wales checked leggings. Cardigan by Next; leggings by New Look and tunic by Glamorous; all charity shopped and boots bought in Sainsbury's sale. All jewellery charity shopped.

After the swim I did a wash, sorted out the fire and made dinner. My next door neighbour had Covid so I took her some of my Butternut Squash and Chickpea Tagine. I rang her first and left it on the doorstep. She was self isolating in her bedroom as she has a lodger. I offered to walk her dog but the lodger had taken that task on. 

I had a brainwave when I was sorting out the fire. When I buy kindling from the farm shop in Sharnbrook it often comes in small plastic crates. These are sometimes utilised for other things; to hold my bird food supplies or spare plant pots for example; often they are disposed of. I thought I could use the 2 spare ones I had to put my piles of folded clothing in on my new wardrobe shelf. I managed to squeeze one in but the other one was slightly bigger and wouldn't fit. I asked OH to saw the corners off for me and he did as he had a day off on Wednesday. We finished watching 'Partisan' a Walter Presents crime drama set in Sweden. Slightly strange but very gripping...

It was a relief to see some sunshine on Wednesday even though it didn't last that long. I had planned to go walking in Maulden Woods with my group but woke up too late. It was just as well as I had plenty to do on Wednesday.

It was very cold. Starting out at 1 degree in the morning it peaked at 3 degrees later in the day and then dropped again. I wore these black Marilyn jeans by M&S;  polo by Oasis; tunic by Masai; jacket by New Look - all charity shopped and boots were donated by my daughter. Underneath I had a vest and thick tights on and when I went out I wore a knitted wool 'Donkey Sanctuary' coatigan; scarf and gloves.

All jewellery charity shopped except the earrings which were a present.

I went to M&S to buy some Christmas food items; stuffings of various kinds including a vegan one for my daughter and I picked up a vegan Christmas pudding for her, too. I then went to Sainsbury's to buy mixers, soft drinks, mince pies and the turkey. My friend Ann goes to Tesco on Christmas Eve at about 3 pm and picks her turkey up at a greatly reduced price. I'm not that brave. Knowing my luck if I tried it; Tesco wouldn't have any turkeys left! I then had to go to into town to buy one more present - there's always one I forget. The days leading up to Christmas Day always entail me going into town every day for one or thing or another. I came across this thought today in a blog I follow (HERE) and it summed up this phenomenon perfectly!
have no idea how it is, but every single year, no matter what you might plan, it seems that you end up spending sundry and irregular amounts, day after day. I have given up resisting this and now simply accept it. 
I dropped some books off at the library; collected a parcel from the sorting office and on my way back from M&S which is at the retail park; the town centre branch closed down a couple of years ago, I dropped off the charity shop donations to the Cat's Protection League. I had a wander round and bought a pair of black patent lace up boots for 5.00. Whilst I was doing all this OH went out and did his Christmas shopping. He's always late as he only usually has the weekends free. This year he was determined to take his due holiday before 31st December and not lose the days as he has in the past. After I wrapped the last of the presents I made some soda bread having picked up buttermilk in Sainsbury's. It was very easy to make but it was very dense and not as I like it.  I wasn't sure I had used the right flour as I bought it from the Polish grocery asking for wholemeal flour. (This was during lock down when there were shortages of some grocery items). Not vegan because of the buttermilk, but I have a recipe for oat bread which is vegan so when I make that I can share it with my daughter. We started watching 'Witch Hunt' on Walter Presents in the evening; set in Norway.

I went for a swim on Thursday morning swimming 46 laps (1.5 km). It was a dreary, dank day but it wasn't cold; the temperature reaching double figures of 10 degrees. After I got back from the pool I got ready and went to Lidl to do the food shopping. Once the shopping was packed away I ventured into town (again) for forgotten bits. That was it. All finished. If I'd forgotten it we would just have to go without! I was hoping to be able not to go anywhere at all on Friday as I had a lot to sort; ready for Christmas Day.

This was the town bridge lit up for the NSPCC at Christmas...

I didn't bother with a coat; I just wore the Donkey Sanctuary coatigan over the pinafore dress and shirt by Kaleidoscope. Boots as before.

Earrings bought from Sainsbury's ages ago; back when they had a good range of earrings...

I did venture out on Friday; just to Sainsbury's at about 4 pm to see what reductions they had. They didn't close until 9 pm so I timed my visit wrong. Middle grandson's mum went to Tesco's in the morning and bought most of her Christmas dinner at greatly reduced prices!

Everything I'm wearing was charity shopped except the boots. All the jewellery was charity shopped.

I spent most of the day preparing for Christmas Day and our visitors. I changed 3 sets of bedding and brought our fold down bed out of the loft. I washed the dining room seat pads and ironed a tablecloth for the garden table we brought indoors to accommodate the 10 of us around the table. I set the table ready for Christmas dinner. I prepared all the vegetables and potatoes for Christmas dinner. My daughter was making a vegan wellington, a beef wellington for the (red) meat eaters and a small salmon wellington for her partner who doesn't eat red meat. I just had to cook the turkey on the day...

I used 2  pieces of metallic African cloth for the main tablecloth and the white table cloth which came from Mauritius. A present from my lovely ex-next door neighbour who stopped by on Friday to say hello. All the glasses, napkin rings and food warmer came from charity shops. All the plates and bowls we used on Christmas day were charity shopped as were all the vegetables dishes and the platter for the turkey. The Christmas place mats came from Chicago in the 1970s; a present from my Aunty Mary who lived there for 50 years before she retired to live back in Ireland. I also received a Christmas table runner with the mats but that disappeared some years ago.

I got all the drinks and glasses ready and prepared a tray with cocktail making equipment. Eldest grandson loves to make cocktails for everyone...apart from the drink, everything on the sideboard came from charity shops or car boot sales - including the side board.

Grandson's cocktail making kit. He also brings various bottles of his own...

This was my Christmas Day outfit. The same one I wore to the family reunion in Norwich. Dress by First Avenue; from the 1980s I think;  bought in the 3:16 charity shop. Grey boots by Manteray charity shopped from Barnardo's.

Scarf and all jewellery charity shopped except earrings bought online.

My Uncle Paddy (my dad's brother) lived with us for a while when I was about 12 or 13;  around 1967.. He bought me a very similar necklace to the one above as a Christmas present one year. It was far too old for me and more suitable to someone my mum's age but I was thrilled with it. I don't know what happened to it and when I saw this in a charity shop a few years ago was instantly transported back to that Christmas.

We had a really lovely day on Christmas day. The preparation was such a good idea as it made cooking the dinner much easier. It was a struggle though to get all 10 of us around the table and still get in and out of the room; I ended sitting on the edge of the sofa arm to eat my dinner! The food was lovely and we all enjoyed our dinner; desserts and turkey sandwiches later in the evening. In between eating and drinking we played games; Charades and Articulate and had great fun and laughs. I went to bed at midnight absolutely knackered! I received some lovely presents; perfumes, scented soaps, scented candles, a subscription to 'Slightly Foxed'; walking socks, a pair of animal print chunky boots; a flask for hot drinks when I'm out walking; chocolate and some Amazon vouchers; which I spent on books and music.

Boxing Day was busy.  I took my brothers back to Kettering in the morning. When I got home there was a lot of clearing up and putting things back where they belonged. There was admiration of the presents - and putting them in their respective places.  I made soup with some of the leftover turkey. We did several washes of towels and bedding. Grandson and girlfriend wanted to go to Milton Keynes so I dropped them off to the shopping centre. They had a good day; bowling and eating out coming back in a taxi after midnight. My daughter and the grandsons came round and we played more games; cards and more Articulate.

This was what I wore to the charity shop on Monday. Yes, we were open even though it was a bank holiday in the UK. We had about 5 customers who looked around but bought nothing! In fact, I was the first paying customer picking my self up a bag; and a trinket dish each for my stud earrings. I now have a dish for hoop, post and stud earrings and as they're made of glass I can see them and therefore wear them more frequently. Everything I'm wearing was charity shopped, top by Next with John Lewis polo underneath; Kettlewell skirt and long suede boots no label. All jewellery charity shopped.

I went to Sainsbury's to buy next years crackers at half price and a few bits and pieces. OH made a turkey curry for dinner and we watched the rest of 'Witch Hunt'. It was a very gripping programme - who knew financial irregularity could make such an interesting story line?

 Tuesday was still a bank holiday day but more shops were open. In need of bird supplies I made a trip to Home Bargains. I had checked out whether the swimming pool would be open on Tuesday and was surprised that it would; I booked a swim for 3.30 pm. I usually swim between 2 -3 pm on Tuesdays but was just grateful the pool was open on a bank holiday. There was no food bank this week and I felt a bit discombobulated!

I wore this dress by Next and my new to me black patent chunky boots bought at the Cat's Protection League last week. The cardigan was an online purchase.

All jewellery charity shopped.

That's it folks! I wish you all a very Happy New Year and hope that 2022 sees us all in good health and spirits. And wouldn't it be marvellous if Covid was no longer in the news on a daily basis?


  1. Happy Twixtmas, Vronni! Your house looked fabulously colourful and inviting and I loved how your Xmas table looked.
    Loving the sound of your tagine and how kind to leave some for your isolating neighbour. I often see tagines in chazzas but they're always enormous, I don't think I'd have a cupboard big enough to keepone in.
    Fab outfits in particular the Marilyn jeans and Masai cardi which make you look about 8 foot tall and the 1980s tartan dress which fits like a dream. Well done on the massive declutter, too - I bet the cats will be very grateful for your generosity!
    Here's to a fabulous 2022 and hopefully some drier weather, hasn't it been dismal? xxxx

  2. Well done on swimming 1,4 and 1,5 kilometer, Vronni! That's quite a feat! Also well done on doing a wardrobe cull, I think it's time for me to do another too. I've been hoping that with my week off I would regain some of my energy but so far it hasn't happened. It must be the dismal weather, I guess. After a handful of proper Winter days, we are expecting warmer weather again. Alas accompanied by rain!
    Your Christmas table was looking properly inviting and your dress is a stunner. Ever since you wore it for your family reunion, I've been regretting not snapping up a tartan dress I saw in Think Twice. Of course it was gone when I went back!
    Wishing you a wonderful and relaxing NYE - we'll probably spend it in the company of Jools Holland as well - and here's to be an infinitely better 2022! xxx

    1. Thank you, Ann,

      Having a good clear out feels so good!

      Happy New Year to you and Jos.

  3. Happy Xmas, Vronni! I love your tree and your festive décor! What a huge crowd around your table! I love that all of your platters, plates and naperies are thrift shopped, along with your outfits. I am just loving all of your fun holiday looks, especially that red leopard jumper, that marvelous plaid vintage dress, and you are STUNNING in that last maxi dress!

    Here's to 2022 - it can't be any worse, so here's hoping it will be a whole lot better!

    1. Thank you, Sheila!

      I was thinking of re-donating the yellow maxi dress as I wasn't feeling it anymore...

      Happy New Year to you and L,

  4. Your Thursdays are very full on! Your Christmas table looked lovely. One of the best things about Christmas is bringing out treasured and much loved pieces for the table, and decorations. And a lovely selection of outfits. I thought I recognised the Kettlewell skirt! I like the grey outfit with the donkey sanctuary coatigan. Very chic, and grey looks good on you! Your green Christmas Day outfit was lovely too and a change from the usual sequins or red that people tend to wear. A Happy New Year to you and your family. Maybe we could meet up in 2022 for a walk or charity shop visits! xx

    1. Thank you, Gail.

      Yes, a meet up would be very good. I'd love to walk in Epping Forest it's been many years since I last walked there...

      Happy New Year to you and John!

  5. i´m exhausted by only reading about your preperations for the festivities.....
    love the outfit your wore on the day itself - the gorgeous plaid dress and the green headscarf..... the rhinestone necklace is very pretty too.
    wish you and your family a happy and HEALTHY new year!

  6. Happy Christmas and New Year!
    Your holiday table looked beautiful and your outfit was too.
    Hoping for the very best for you and yours in 2022

  7. Thank you, Goody and the same to you.

  8. I'm glad to read you had such a lovely busy family Christmas. I love your Christmas day dress, so lovely. A very happy New Year to you. x

  9. I really like your festive green Christmas outfit and it's nice you had such a wonderful Christmas with family! :) I always find the same - no matter how much planning there's always something I forget to buy and the run up to Christmas can be expensive buying things here and there, haha! We tend to stay home on those quiet days between Christmas and new year, just going out local places with the kids, and letting them enjoy all their Christmas presents! So I never look as stylish after Christmas as you did here! :)

    Hope that you had a lovely weekend :)

    Away From The Blue

    1. Thank you, Mica and a happy new year!

      After all the Christmas prep it's good to chill out at home afterwards. A lot of places shut down for the period too which, if you wanted to go anywhere, makes it difficult!

  10. Growing things from seeds is fun - I do hope some of your little plants come up.

    It was kind of you to take some tagine for your neighbour. It looks delicious. I wouldn't dare wait till just before Christmas to buy my Christmas food either. (I do get some stuff early and freeze it, in case there's a rush for certain things.)

    What's eldest grandson's favourite cocktail? I've just started making them - and rummaging in the charity shops for nice glassware! Your display of barware is really impressive.

  11. Loved seeing your Christmas Decorations, received your blog by email this time Thanks


Blogoversary and some other stuff

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