Daybook Entry – New Year’s Eve 2016

021114_2314_DaybookEntr1.jpgFor Today… the last day of 2016

Outside my window… I can hear some isolated bursts of fireworks going off locally. The weather is mild to cold but not frosty yet.

I am thinking… about some changes I need to make in myself, my outlook, my worldview and my expectations.

I am thankful… for so, so much! Where to start? Well, first and foremost I am thankful for the ever present grace and love of God in my life. My faith in him (and his in me) has got me through so much this year and I am thankful to have reached this point still in one piece.

I am praying for… Charlotte and Kieran who are dealing with the most heartbreaking loss anyone can imagine; my brother who is going to be having an operation in a couple of weeks and is facing a long recovery time afterwards; Roy, Margaret, Iain and Megan who will be taking a big step next week; Emma who is starting a new job on Tuesday; Ethan who has got a high-pressure time ahead this term.

I am wearing… a happy smile this evening as I look back at what has happened this year.

I am creating… a new way of thinking. I have come to realise that my thought patterns and behaviour patterns need an overhaul if I am to ever make progress with my life. For example, I am desperate to write a full length novel but fear of failure is holding me back. I know I have the skills (talent is as yet still untested), but I keep talking myself out of doing anything about it because I think my story is not good enough, or that people won’t want to read it and so on. I am trying to create a new way of thinking about myself where I concentrate on the positives of what I’m doing rather than worrying about the (unknown) negatives.

I am going… to put my new thinking into action over the coming weeks and let’s see where we are by half term.

I am wondering… whether I ought to do something about my physical health as well as my mental health this year…

I am reading… “Speaking in Bones” by Kathy Reichs. I was fortunate enough to receive an Amazon gift card for Christmas which I have already bitten into and bought this latest one in the Temperance Brennan series. I have had my eye on it for a little while and I was really chuffed to be able to buy it on Boxing Day. I’m nearly at the end of it and to be honest, I can’t wait for bedtime tonight so I can go and finish it!

I am hoping… that our financial difficulties will be eased this year, if not resolved somehow. I have faith that we will be ok.

I am learning… to ease up on myself, to lower my expectations, and to celebrate the small things.

In my garden… we have a gazebo erected over our deck area at the back of the house. We put it up there for Christmas Day so we had somewhere dry to put the settee out while we had the long tables set up for dinner. We haven’t got round to putting it down yet but I rather like it and might persuade Kevin to keep it for a while.

In my kitchen… we have some snacks and treats waiting to eat while we watch the final Harry Potter film later on tonight.

A favourite quote for today…


A peek into one of my days… I’m going to cheat here and show you a few photos from December as there’s too many to choose from!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A bonus little video for you: filmed outside our house on Christmas morning as we played for our neighbours before church. Hope you enjoy it!

One of my favourite things… is planning and researching things for writing about. One of my least favourite things is spotting when “research” becomes “procrastinating” and getting a move on and to get writing.

Post Script: This year has been a year of spectacular highs and devastating lows, and this is my chance to acknowledge those difficulties and joys and to say a public thank you to everyone who has got me through it all.

Those of you who have followed my blog over the months and years will know that from time to time my mental health takes a hit, and that my family’s financial situation is not particularly secure or hopeful. This year has been the worst we have endured and we have come close a few times to crossing the line. However, we have been blessed on so many occasions by the kindness and support of family and friends who have seen us through. With gifts of food and other necessities, and on more than one occasion the gift of money, our family and friends have literally saved the day. Ethan would not have been able to go on the trip of a lifetime with the music centre had it not been for an anonymous gift of a substantial amount of money which was put through our front door the day before the deadline for payment. More recently, we were facing a very lean Christmas with no spare cash to be able to buy any presents for anyone but again, from anonymous gifts, we not only were able to get some gifts for our children but we have enough now for both Kevin and I to be able to replace our glasses in a couple of weeks. We are both desperate for an eye test and new glasses but until this money came in, we were getting very anxious about how we were going to pay for them. As I said, we have been extremely blessed and we are so grateful for everyone who has helped us in 2016. The grace of God has been in abundance in our family this year!

Some high spots have punctuated the seemingly endless struggle to “get by”, such as our family camping holiday in Wales this summer (again, paid for as a gift to us – and boy are we glad for that gift!). We were joined by my brother and his family for a few days, which was a great experience, and I got to enjoy some spiritual time in a very special part of the world. I finally finished my studies and I got my degree this summer which is an achievement I never in a million years thought I would ever do. Kevin and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary this year too, which, as with my degree, is an achievement and milestone I never thought I would ever see. But we did and I am proud to have made it with my best friend and partner in life.



In the spirit of Thanksgiving in the US today, I thought I would share with you a list of things I am thankful for in my life just now:

  1. homeThe roof over my head. Yes, we owe more on the mortgage now than when we took it out 18 years ago, and yes there are some fairly hefty repairs that need doing on it, but these four walls and the roof on top are my safe haven. Homelessness and the possibility of losing the family home have been brought home to me recently, which makes me all the more thankful that I have this place to call my home.
  2. The food in our freezer. It was only a few short weeks ago that we were in a position to pool a couple of weeks worth of groceries and do a big batch cookout so that we would be seen through the “silly season” ahead, yet already we have had to turn to those supplies because of an unexpected bill (and therefore massive bank charges for failed payments) and we have very little cash to see us through the next 6 weeks or so. We also have an unexpected lodger too, so the food in the freezer was well timed, and continues to be a life-saver for us. I am thankful that I was prompted to fill the freezer just before the money ran out.
  3. Spiritual support from church friends. Linked to point #2 above, this one is another big one in my life. My faith in God is as strong as ever, but sometimes, the spiritual support of other people is what keeps my grip strong. I am thankful that my faith in God has brought me to such a place that I can be part of a group of supportive and understanding friends.
  4. dsc_0949.jpgMy family. Especially my husband. We are like a tag team at the moment, and we seesaw between being strong and weak. When one is weak the other lifts them up, and vice versa. Sometimes we are on an even keel in the middle, but as anyone dealing with a financial (or other) crisis knows, emotions and ability to cope can swing quite violently from one extreme to the other and it takes a particular type of relationship to hold it together. My kids have been fantastic too, both in emotional support and simply bringing laughter and sunshine into an otherwise bleak and austere existence. My parents too – where would I be without them?!! From my mum “accidentally” making an extra Shepherd’s Pie, to my Dad transferring an emergency lump sum into my bank account over the summer to bail us out (yet again), my parents have been instrumental in me holding things together in the last few months. I am thankful for the loving and supportive family I am surrounded by.
  5. crochet-hookCrochet. A life-saver a couple of years ago when my illness first took hold and everything seemed pointless and without direction, crochet has been an activity that I turn to again and again to help with anxiety and depression. I have started some Christmas projects and I am thankful that I have been able to find a cute snowman which I am working on for our house this Christmas.
  6. Music. Like crochet, music has been a life-saver in so many ways over the years for me. Whether it is listening to it, playing it, writing it, arranging it, planning it, organising it or whatever, I am thankful for the presence of music in my life.
  7. My Kindle. I was bought a Kindle as a gift for Mothering Sunday a couple of years ago and at first, I was a bit sceptical about using it. A lifelong lover of books and reading (notice the differentiation I made there), I didn’t really want to engage in technology like a Kindle but having been given one as a gift I thought I didn’t have much to lose. I haven’t actually looked back since being given it and I have engaged in so many more books and articles than I would have done in hard-print books in the meantime, largely because of all the free books available online. I am thankful that I have got access to such a large, free, library of books to read and the mechanism to carry them all round with me all the time.
  8. bedMy big comfy bed. Might sound a bit trite, but I honestly say a prayer of thanks every time I get into my bed each night. Linked to the point about the roof over my head above, I am so grateful that first of all that I have a place to put my head each night, and second of all that it is so comfy and warm once I get in. I am thankful that I have the opportunity to rest properly each night.

This is not in any way an exhaustive list, and it isn’t in any particular order, but these things are on my mind most of the time and they are the things see me through when times are bad as they are now. I am sure that when the climate changes for me I would come up with a slightly different (and longer) list.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.


Inspirational Quote




“As you start and end each day, be grateful for the little things in your life. You will come to realise how blessed you really are.”


Daybook Entry – 9th February 2015

021114_2314_DaybookEntr1.jpgFOR TODAY

Outside my window… spring flowers are dozing quietly beneath their earthy blankets. Morning will bring more sunshine to wake them from their winter slumbering and I can’t wait to see the welcome return of the daffodils in my garden. Apart from that, it’s dark, misty, moist and cold.

I am thinking… that this poetry module is working its way into my brain at last!

I am thankful… for my husband doing some shopping earlier this evening. We have food in the house now yay! (I think it is also fair to say that I am extremely thankful for him earning the money to go and buy some food in the first place. He certainly takes his “for richer for poorer” vow very seriously and I am thankful for that too).

In the kitchen… ah, this is a tricky one today. I have eaten 2 slices of toast at playgroup this morning, a cheese and beetroot sandwich made for me by my mum at about noon and two slices of toast for my tea at about 6 o’clock today. I also had a slice of cake with a cup of tea at a meeting tonight which was delish. Yes, I’m very grateful for the food shopping my husband was able to do today.

I am wearing… jim jams – it’s time for bed shortly.

I am creating… a blanket for the house which is shaping up nicely and providing some welcome stress relief for me in the process and I am designing another one for a friend at church who has asked for one in a specific colour scheme. I’m glad it’s coming up to Spring because I don’t think I could crochet a blanket in lemon, yellow and white if it was Autumn somehow.

I am going… to spend the day studying tomorrow.

I am praying… for my mother in law. We had a multi-agency meeting this afternoon to discuss her medical and nursing care needs and to decide what is going to be the best care for her next. She is a very poorly lady and is surviving despite complex life-threatening conditions, which are now more serious for her than the Parkinson’s Disease that she has been suffering with for more than 20 years.

I am wondering… how much she understands of what is happening to her just now. She is mostly asleep but even when she is “awake” it is difficult to communicate with her so it’s difficult to know what she knows of things around her.

I am hoping… there will be a place for her at the Alexian Brothers nursing home nearby. They have a fantastic reputation for nursing care and I personally feel it will be a lovely place for her to spend her last months or weeks.

I am reading… “Stolen” by Rebecca Muddiman

I am looking forward to… getting my Inside Music assignment mark tomorrow. I really enjoyed doing it and I just hope I get a good mark for it. I’ll let you know.

I am learning… lots about how to put together a melody and harmonisation effectively, and I am building my confidence in composition skills.

Around the house… I have a teenager draped over a computer keyboard, a husband draped over another computer keyboard and various items of clothing draped over radiators drying for morning. You could say it’s a drapey house tonight.

I am pondering… how to lead the services on Sunday morning at my churches. We are down to do a Morning Service at both of them, and I would like to do something a bit different but I’m not sure what or how yet. I’ll give it some more thought tomorrow and will ask advice from someone before I decide.

A favourite quote for today… “If people made it, people can undo it” in relation to poverty.

One of my favourite things… is hugging my children. Even at the ages of 21 and 16 giving them a hug (and in the case of my son being hugged by them) is one of the best things in the world.

A few plans for the rest of the week: studying tomorrow, prayer meeting on Wednesday evening, study group on Thursday evening, band practice on Friday evening. I’ll be throwing in a bit of crocheting and lots of reading in there too no doubt.

A peek into my day…

This was Stay and Play this morning just after we opened the doors. It was a hugely successful morning today with over 30 toddlers enjoying their time together - even though it did include me doing some singing with them at the end!

This was Stay and Play this morning just after we opened the doors. It was a hugely successful morning today with over 30 toddlers enjoying their time together – even though it did include me doing some singing with them at the end!


If you would like to participate in this meme, please hop over to The Simple Woman’s Daybook for instructions on how to join in.



Wednesday Hodgepodge

Wednesday Hodgepodge – 26th November

1. Besides U.S. Thanksgiving it’s also National Game and Puzzle week…what game have you played most recently, and who were you with? Have you worked a puzzle of any kind in the past week?

I love puzzles and games, and word games are my favourite. I have recently discovered Scrabble on Facebook…watch out world!

2. What is one place you were thankful for this year?

I am so thankful for the holiday time we spent as a family in the Northeast this year. My favourite time and place during that holiday was when Kevin and I got up before sunrise one morning and spent about three hours taking photos and watching the sun come up from Bamburgh beach. A few days later we went back to the same spot on the beach with the kids and while they played with the kite and went paddling in the rock pools I sat on a big rock and sketched Bamburgh Castle. It is a magical place and it was a wonderful time spent there.

3. Take a nap, watch football, go for an after dinner walk, or hit the stores…which ONE is on your must-do list for Thanksgiving day? If you aren’t in the US answer as it relates to any big holiday meal.


4. Besides Thanksgiving, what’s your favourite home cooked meal?

A proper Sunday roast – which here in the UK is a traditional meal of roast meat (pork, beef, lamb or chicken – my favourite is beef) with roast potatoes, peas, carrots, Yorkshire puddings, boiled potatoes, stuffing, gravy…. Delish!

5. What product from an infomercial would you most like to own?

I would have a steam mop. We have lots of uncarpeted floors in my house (laminate flooring and lino mainly) and I love the idea that I can just steam everywhere clean without the use of chemicals.

6. Christmas shopping? Have you begun? Finished? Will you shop on Black Friday? How do you feel about stores opening on Thanksgiving Day? What percentage of your Christmas shopping is done online?

ARGH!!!!!! The whole “Christmas shopping” thing drives me mad. To my mind, Christmas is far too overblown and it has become obscene just how much money people are expected to spend on it. For some reason, this year we seem to be celebrating Black Friday here in the UK. Why? WHY??? As if we need any more invitations to spend money that we don’t have! As for the question of have I started yet, no, I haven’t. Most of my gift shopping will be done online this year as we are on a very tight budget…VERY tight…and it is easier to control spending when it’s clickable and not pickable.

7. What are you most grateful for that adds beauty to your everyday life?

My garden. It isn’t very big, but it is lovely and green and we are visited by birds and squirrels most of the day. I love the colours of the sunshine on it, and I love it when it rains. I love looking at it and I love sitting in it. It is a lovely place and really does add beauty to my everyday life.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I found this video yesterday and thought it was absolutely beautiful. I haven’t heard of the group before, but I am familiar with the song as we used it in our Experience Christmas at church last year. We used the Ceelo Green version, and this is very different. Still just as moving though. It tears at my heartstrings. Let me know what you think.


Wednesday Hodgepodge

Wednesday Hodgepodge – 12th November

1. We celebrate Veteran’s Day in the US of A on November 11th. When did you last interact with a member of the armed forces (either currently serving or retired)? Have you ever written a letter to a soldier, bought a meal or coffee for a soldier, said an unprompted thank you to a soldier you encountered out and about somewhere? If you’re not in the US, comment on a similar holiday in your own country.

The last time I interacted with a member of the armed forces was my daughter this afternoon! She is in the University Royal Naval Unit (URNU for short) while she is studying for her degree, and we were chatting about all sorts of stuff. I have quite a few friends in the forces too, and we are in contact quite regularly on Facebook etc, and the last time I interacted with retired service personnel was on Sunday, which was our Remembrance Sunday here in the UK.

I haven’t ever written a letter to a soldier or bought a meal or anything like that (apart from my daughter), mainly because our service personnel don’t go around in uniform because of security concerns so it’s difficult to spot them in public. To be honest it’s not something I would do anyway.

2. You can have fifty pounds of anything at all (except money)…what would you choose?

I would love 50lbs of wool to crochet with. I’d make hats and blankets for the special care baby unit at the local hospital, and hats and scarves for a homeless charity. I can’t think of anything I’d like 50lbs of for myself.

3. When did you last receive an invitation in the ‘real’ mail? What was it for and did you attend? When it comes to RSVP-ing, are you an ‘early responder’ or a ‘last minute, barely-under-the-wire’ kind of guest?

I received an invitation a few weeks ago for my cousin Stephen’s wedding at the end of this month. I haven’t responded yet…I’m kind of a “last minute meets almost forget to reply” guest.

4. What’s something you really don’t like to waste?


5. Cheers, Friends, MASH, Seinfeld…of the ones listed, your favourite long-running sitcom?
Of the ones listed I only watched MASH, so I would go with that. However, my favourite long term sitcom is Frasier.

6. What decision are you glad you made?

Oh so many to choose from!! There are a couple of personal decisions that I made that would be top of the list but as I don’t particularly want to discuss them here, I am going to say the most recent decision that I am glad I made was the decision to continue with my degree. It has been difficult and stressful at times, but I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel and I feel a different person because of it.

7. In this month of ‘Thanksgiving’ what is one thing that’s different today than it was a year ago that you’re grateful for?

This is quite a difficult thing to answer because the past twelve months have been particularly rough and lots of aspects of my life are worse now than they were this time last year. However, I am grateful that I have a study space now even though it means that Emma doesn’t quite have a bedroom she can instantly move back to if ever she needs to. We can convert it back again quite quickly, but for now I am enjoying the space where I can organise myself and study in peace.

8. Random thought:

I got my first assignment mark back this week for my music course and I scored 95%. I am totally gobsmacked!! A lot to live up to for the rest of the course, but it’s a cracking start and I am so pleased. I haven’t received my mark for my creative writing assignment yet and I can’t publish the piece I submitted for it until I do. Watch this space! 95% is a high benchmark but it will be interesting to see how my words match my music ability. #doingthehappydance



Thought For Today

Thought For Today