Monday 11 December 2023

Monday, 11-12-23: Blogmas 11

 Good morning, everyone.

In the body Shop Advent calendar today was this;  another hand cream, this time for normal skin and rose scented.

The first one was mango scented and for dry skin and you can really see the difference in the actual cream - the mango one is much thicker and needs massaging in whereas the rose one is much lighter in texture and disappears quickly into my skin.

I'm making great inroads into the mango hand cream and it's helping a lot. so, maybe, between using that, I can use the rose one.  I'll see.  But they are both products I am glad to use and, maybe, keep using.

And the scents are just lovely.

I didn't get to wash my hair yesterday so really must today so will see what the shea shampoo and conditioner are both like.

Yesterday really was a quiet and gentle day, so much so that I stayed in my pjs all day.  I can't remember the last time I did that.  I did get stuff done though - planning, lists, sorting out all my cruise paperwork into a folder, a bit of washing, a bit of ironing . . . little, useful things.

Without any spoilers, In Strictly, while I was saddened to see that particular person go, I felt it was right and also right that it was a split decision as it was really close..  Quite often there have been 'shock eliminations' through the weeks but this year, despite a few shocks regarding who was in the dance off, I felt the right choices were made.  It was so close though and very emotional.
If you watch Strictly, what did you think?
I'm really looking forward to the final next Saturday now.  It should be amazing, perhaps the best I can remember.

Today is quite busy but in a really nice way.  I need to get my hair sorted, of course, to do a bit of general tidying up (nothing too bad), get tomorrow's dinner into the slow cooker, make lunch and generally faff around because my friend, Diane, is over mid-morning.  Diane is my cruise friend and we had to cancel a get-together when I had that cold a fortnight ago.  We want to go through everything and make sure we are both as ready as we can be as well as working out what we still need to get done.
It should be a lot of fun.

Later on, I will have a bit of ironing to do but that is about it.
A really nice day!  
What is your day looking like?

Today's Blogmas music is another great favourite,  Carol of the Bells.  It is based on a Ukrainian folk song and is deceptively simple.

First, Libera's version:

. . . and now Pentatonix's interpretation, so totally different.

Sunday 10 December 2023

Sunday, 10-12-23: Blogmas 10

Morning, everyone!  I can't believe it - I didn't wake once in the night and slept until around seven this morning - pretty much a solid nine hour sleep.  Fantastic!  

I was so pleased with today's Body Shop gift.
Yesterday's was shea shampoo and I thought surely there would be some conditioner before the end of the calendar.  Lo and behold - next day, out it comes.  Someone was sensible in not making us wait for it.

I need to wash my hair this morning so I'll give them a go.

You may remember that one of the gifts was a bath/shower scrubbie sort of thing.  I've used it a few times and decided that it's not for me really.  It is a good exfoliator but so are old fashioned flannels and I find them easier to handle.
A good idea and a nice gift but not for me.

I haven't mentioned this up to now but Eileen, from A Bracelet of Days, who I know some of you follow, has been doing a lovely Advent jigsaw.  I thought it was such a nice thing to do that I only went and looked for one on Amazon and, yup, got one.  A bit bad but I can bring it out again next year and, maybe, ongoing.  After all, there will be 365 days before I do each section again!

I forgot to mention about the walled beds.  I had to laugh though - while I wasn't looking (or while I was out) I acquired a wheelbarrow and a cement mixer but no brickies!  Friday afternoon I popped a message to Maxine to let her know and got an auto reply - closed for staff training.
And then - and this made me smile - on Facebook I saw some photos - they had had their works party on Thursday evening so I guess the Friday training was strategic!
And I also guess Maxine just forgot when she told me the brickies would be here on Friday.
I'm awaiting her reply tomorrow with some amusement!
(and I really don't mind - when it's done, it's done and I won't pay until it's finished)

Today is another easy day although there are bits and bobs I want to do - if I fancy it.
I would like to finish off my washing and ironing at some point.  I would like to make some more veggie sausage rolls for next Sunday (family get-together).  I would like to do my meal planning for the week.  I need to sort some things out in my bedroom and make lists of the clothes I will be packing to make sure I have no last minute washing to do.
None of these are urgent but it will be nice to get them done.

Today's festive music is the sixteenth century hymn, Gaudete, sung by the wonderful Steeleye Span.  There are so many versions of this music on YouTube but I really love this folky close harmony rendering and, of course, Maddy Prior's voice is just . . . perfect.

Here's another version of the same carol, sung by the choir of Queen's College, Oxford.  Same music, totally different interpretation.

Saturday 9 December 2023

Saturday, 09-12-23: Blogmas 9

Morning, everyone.  Welcome to Saturday!  I have no idea what the weather is actually doing right now as I haven't taken a look, but the BBC says it is raining and could be raining all morning and into the afternoon.  Drat!

Today's Body Shop Advent calendar gift is a wee bottle of shampoo, shea for very dry hair prone to breakage.
It past times, I used Body Shop shampoo and conditioner a lot.  They were very good products, reasonably priced and, for someone with very long and dry hair with split ends (didn't bother the hairdresser much in those days), it helped a lot.  As life got busier and I didn't have time to go into town much, I started using products I could get locally.
So this is a blast from the past.  I have pretty normal hair now and it is short, but I don't need to wash it more than around every five days or so.  I'll give this a go and see what effect it has.  

Did you know (it says on the little box) that for centuries, African women have used shea butter to protect their skin from the dry winds that blow from the Sahara?  No, nor did I.
I won't be using this shampoo on my skin, mind you!  😉

Yesterday morning was hectic.
I set off for Slimming World as usual and thoroughly enjoyed the session.  Despite all the recent shenanigans - wine tasting, afternoon teas, friends round, etc, etc, etc, I am still in target range - just!  Phew.
Then I did just a little bit of shopping at Morrisons, not much but it still seemed to cost an arm and a leg.
Once home, the cleaners had just finished so I unpacked as they departed and then I snatched a bit of fruit and set out to be mamma Santa.  First to Julia's to pick up her gifts, then on to Beths for ditto and then to Linda's to pick up her gifts and to drop off hers from me, B and J.
Then back to B to drop off hers and then to J for ditto.

There was a complication.  Isn't there always?  Beth has done something to her back, some sort of inflammation similar to mine a few months back, if you remember, but quite evidently much worse; she's prone to back issues anyway.  After a bit of hassle, she managed to speak to a GP on the phone earlier (after she had said if they couldn't do anything she would be going to A&E, whereupon they found they could let her speak to someone) and they gave her some meds - strong painkillers and anti inflammatory things.
Alex was going to go into town to pick the meds up so, ont he way back, I picked Alex up as I dropped Beth's gifts off, we stopped off at Julia's and then went into town.
To cut a long story a bit shorted, we had to wait a while because the prescription had only just been send from surgery to the pharmacy but that was OK and Beth had her meds quite a bit earlier.

So all that took well into the afternoon.
The evening was a delight - a four way chat on Messenger with drinks, a cracker and gifts to open while we caught up on life in general.  Such a lovely time.

I have an empty diary this weekend.  I'm so pleased because I feel pretty weary and intend to chill somewhat.  I need to write some lists of things to do next week and when I can fit them in or they won't get done and time is running short now.
Are you finding this as Christmas approaches?  xx

I absolutely love today's song and have done ever since Glad appeared  at Spring Harvest more years ago than I care to remember.  They sang a few songs and were such a hit - standing ovations galore - that they did a special concert the next day.
The harmonies are amazing and send shivers up and down my spine at times.
Did I say - I love acapella singing?  

'In the First Light' sung by Glad.

( A little extra, not specifically Christmas - a sort of potted history of acapella in ten minutes.  I enjoyed it.)

Friday 8 December 2023

Friday, 08-12-23: Blogmas 8

Good morning, everyone.
After yesterday's self inflicted early morning whinge, you might like to know that I went back to bed, fell asleep and woke feeling pretty much OK again.

Let's start with the advent calendar.  Today is is this: a satsuma shower gel for all skin types.  This is something I will definitely be using - I love citrus scent.

Nop product info on the box bit it does suggest that I could reuse the calendar next year, something I had already considered.  It's a nice box with useful sized containers inside and I could store it in one of the Christmas boxes.  The only thing is remembering to get the little gifty things so - well, we'll see.

(It doesn't have to be Body Shop stuff, of course)

Yesterday was nice.  I popped over to Chris at ten and she had provided not only coffee but a few refreshments (we don't normally have refreshments of any kind) because of the season.  I enjoyed her home made mince pie very much indeed.
We semi-planned to do a trip to town and have lunch in The Range and then a good look round once things have settled after Christmas, maybe in February,

At twelve, Val turned up and we had a great old natter over lunch and coffee..  It was really lovely.
I got some washing and ironing done but, really, it was quite a quiet day

Today, I believe that the bricklayers are coming to finish off my walled beds.  Fingers crossed.
I'm off to Slimming World and then I am playing Mary Christmas and taking the gift exchange pressies around for our Girls' Chat on zoom come the evening.  I'm looking forward to that very much indeed.
The house is pretty much cleaner-ready so,once they have gone, I will do some more sorting and moving stuff around and there's always washing/drying/ironing to be done.

So that's today.  What do you have planned?

Today's Christmas music is one of my favourite melodies in two different versions.

The first is In Dulci Jubilo, arranged by Robert Pearsall and sung by the Choir of King's College, Cambridge.  I can't remember how many times I sung this at school.  And it has a good alto part!

And the other is Mike Oldfield's instrumental hit.  I want to dance to this (and sometimes do, but not when anyone is watching!!!)

Thursday 7 December 2023

Thursday, 07-12-23: Blogmas 7

Morning, everyone.  Here I am, bleary eyed, slightly upset tum thinking 'serves me right'!  Seriously, the wine tasting was great fun and I would do it again like a shot (but maybe not this month!) but mixing drinks is asking for trouble really.  100ml at a time isn't loads, but six, all different, is!
It really was fun though - interesting talks from some wine producers that Naked supports, lots of chat (written chat, we weren't on screen) and people asked good questions.  

Moving on - the Body Shop calendar gave me this today - they call it a cleansing face and body bar and I call it soap!

It smells lovely.  However, I started a new bar of soap just a couple of days ago so it's going to either be regifted or join the collection of soaps I already have (which includes some from Mum and Dad's house - they liked to buy things like that in batches from Droyt).  I suspect I will do the former.

There's no info about who they work with to produce this on the box.

Yesterday seemed to go on for ever.  
The traffic was really bad going into town for some reason.  that usually happens when there are problems with the A12 and everything comes our way through which used to be the old A12.  I got there eventually and did what I had planned to do - Matalan, Homesense, Home Bargains, and then on to Longacres.  I pretty much managed to get what I wanted and, by the end, I felt all shopped out.
Once home, I grabbed all the wrapping stuff and got going.  The Christmas tree now looks lovely and festive with the pressies around the bottom.  Time was when they were stacked high but not now.  I have 'no gift' arrangements with some friends and no little ones in the family.  Fine by me.
Personal training was great although the traffic was still awful.
And the wine tasting was fun

Today, quite apart from any drinky repercussions, I'm feeling weary but it is an easier day.  I have my chat with Christine, Val is round for lunch and there's washing/ironing so plenty of time to rest easy, thank goodness.

Today's advent music is 'Candlesong' by Graham Kendrick.  Simple and absolutely beautiful.

Wednesday 6 December 2023

Wednesday, 06-12-23: Blogmas 6

Good morning, everyone.  We're well into Blogmas now and I'm well into preparations.  Yesterday's trip into town wasn't just to look at the Range.  I had a list of this and that; some gifts and some smaller things for my festive jolly.

The Range was  - big.  Very, very big.  If you're from round here, you will know how much floor space Debenhams had and the two floors used all of it.  It was really busy so it was hardly a restful visit but I'm very much looking forward to going back there when things have calmed down in the New Year.  There was quite a lot I would like to look at more carefully.
I got some gifts, I got some crackers and I noted where the coffee shop/cafe was.  The Christmas dept was splendid and I could have spent a fortune - but didn't.

I then went into Boots and managed to find everything that was on my list.  Nothing very exciting - some makeup pads, a mascara, stuff like that.  Oh, and a couple of gifts.

Then it was on to The Body Shop where I found a larger pot of the shea body butter, a toner for dry skin and other bits and bobs - and a nice gift for someone.
I looked in Primark, Next and New Look but really wasn't tempted at all.
And just as I got to the bus stop, along came my bus.  Wasn't that fortunate?

Once home, I dug out wrapping paper, cards, tags, sellotape, etc, and had a wrapping session so the foot of the Christmas Tree is starting to look quite exciting.

All of that, plus Groove class and doing some more clearing and moving about, filled my day quite nicely - most satisfying.

Today's Body Shop calendar gift is something I will definitely use (with yesterday's gift!), a coconut shower cream for dry skin.  Nice!

Guess who is having a shower rather than a bath this morning!

The bumph on the box says that the coconut oil is sourced from Samoa where coconut harvesting os a family business; gathered by hand (is there any other way to gather coconuts?) the locals do all the cracking, pressing and filtering of the oil before exporting it.

I'm going shopping again today.  However, before you think 'What?  Again?', I have a detailed list of places to go for gifts and I am hoping that by this afternoon I'd have pretty much finished my gift shopping and by this evening it will be all wrapped up and ready for giving.
Time was, when I was working, that it was a family joke that I had all my Christmas stuff sorted during the October half term.  That was because I had to - being the music person on staff meant that there was an awful lot of extra things going on on December and I just didn't have time or energy for much else.

Anyway - Matalan, Homesense and Longacres, here I come!

Later on, there's my personal training session with Lindsey and then, in the evening, I have a wine tasting 'event' on Zoom.  I've never done anything that before and am hoping it won't be too daunting.  I'm not any kind of expert but it just sounded like fun.  The wines have arrived (just 100mls of each) so I'm all set.

Bet I sleep well tonight!  🍷🍷🍷
Today's music for Advent is an old favourite that I expect lots of you will know.  It's 'For Unto Us a Child is Born' from Handel's Messiah.  It's one of those choruses where you can just let go and give it all you've got and, because of the nature of the style, the alto part is as interesting and singy as all the others!  Superb music.

It's sung by the incomparable Choir of King's College, Cambridge, with the Brandenburg Consort, conducted by Stephen Cleobury.

Tuesday 5 December 2023

Tuesday, 05-12-23: Blogmas 5

Good morning, everyone.  I was awake a bit early this morning but not too bad, just earlier than I would have chosen.  There's lots of things bubbling around in my head so that's probably why.  It's not a problem but I feel a Little List coming on to ensure it all gets done.
I get great comfort in a Little List.  Do you?

Today's Advent Calendar from the Body Shop gave me this - one of those shower scrubby things.  I've just looked on the site and it is called a 'bath lily'. 

I remember these from years gone by, made of plastic or nylon possibly.  However, this is made from plant fibres which is, presumably, much better for the environment.  If so, that's good.
I use flannels for washing and have a great stack of them but I'm happy to give this a go and see how it goes.

I'm loving yesterday's offering, the Shea body butter.  When I'm in town, I think I will look for a bigger tub of it - my arms and legs feel so much better after just one day of using it and that pot was small./

Yesterday was one of those busy days.

Because Alex was round for lunch, I get everything prepped and cooked a netted turkey breast in Nellie the Ninja.  I've done chicken in the air fryer so expected that it would be OK and it was.  It came out very nicely cooked and sliceable, just like the ham I did yesterday.

Then I started some more moving stuff about, this time from the garage.  Now, all my supplies of poly bags, easy leave sheets, rolls of cling film and baking parchment, recycling bags from the council, etc, are far more accessible.
I have so much because most of it is from Mum and Dad's stuff.

Small group circuits was great.  I think I was still under the influence of the sugar overload from Sunday because I felt very energetic and sort of 'buzzing' - do you know what I mean?  
Anyway, it was lovely to get back to it after taking last week off.

Roast dinner was great and both Al and I enjoyed it very much.  Then he helped me move all the china I am keeping for him (from Mum and Dad's), all the cutlery and a few other bits and bobs, some of which he took with him.

After I had driven him home, I really just chilled for the rest of the day, watched some Vlogmas videos, It Takes Two and House of Games and made plans for this, that and the other.
All very satisfactory!

Today starts with Chris and me walking down to Groove class at St Andrews Hall.  After that, I will freshen up, have a quick breakfast and then I want to get the bus into town.  I have a list - of course I do - and I really want to look round the new and ginormous Range that opened in the old Debenhams's shop on the High Street.  I gather there were queues right down the High Street last Friday on opening day but it might not be so bad today.
It's quite exciting to have a Range in town.

When I get home, I have earmarked the next cupboards to go through and move stuff around.  I will get there although it seems endless right now.  

So that's today - hopefully, it will be productive and satisfying.  Fingers crossed anyway.  I'm hoping your day will go really well too.  xx

Today's Christmas music makes me smile.  A jolly little ditty given some serious class by the amazing a capella group, Voces8.   Some outstanding vocal arrangement here - those jazz harmonies.  Wow!