Thursday 30 December 2021



Betwixtmas, as I have recently christened it ... is that strange time between the festivities of Christmas and the start of the New Year.

The urge to un-decorate is great and the need to see space, clean, clear surfaces means that surreptitiously without sometimes even realising it things are removed and packed away.  My one Christmassy area left is the top of the radiator cover, and with the fairy lights twinkling away still connected to the Alexa smart-plug it means that they come on first thing in the morning and go off last thing at night.

I will miss them when they go away tomorrow, but they are going away.  Then I will re-oil the wooden top and during the twenty four hours of bareness while it soaks in, I will ponder what will sit there for the next few months.  I don't like to chop and change for changes sake like I used many moons ago, I like to arrange a vignette of useful and beautiful things that make my eyes happy and my heart sing.

And a brand New Year seems like a good time to make your heart sing doesn't it.

This morning I cleared and cleaned one of the window sills in the living room.

The I got it back to how it used to be, with a couple of little additional extras.

One more area cleared and cleaned and one more little step back to normality.

This afternoon I will be raiding the Lodge for my various little money boxes, tipping out the old enamel teapot, emptying my purse and seeing what cash I have for next years Challenge.  I know it will be in the hundreds as all through the year whenever I have used a 'hole in the wall' to get at my wages, I have quickly squirrelled away at least a quarter of the money taken out for emergency use.  And as I have been pretty much unable to get to the charity shops and have therefore avoided the temptation to spend, there has been no need to dip into these savings.

Whatever I have will be divided into a weekly or monthly amount and be my only shopping money for next year.  Not being able to shop and bring things into the Lodge seems like something to really look forward too after the excesses and treats of the Christmas season.

What are you up to during the last hours of 2021?  Are you making plans and resolutions ... or simply breathing a sigh of relief at the prospect of a brand new year about to start.  Either way let's hope for all of us it is a good one.

Sue xx  🎄

Tuesday 28 December 2021

Boxing Day Nibbles


Boxing Day was lovely, and as good as Christmas Day for us.  

Knowing that Alan had yet to have his final Christmas present gave me something to look forward to and him a lovely surprise.  I had paid for the latest James Bond film on Amazon Prime, and although they are not my cup of tea, making an event of it with a trayful of nibbles and a couple of drinks each made it more than passable.

I had the film ready to roll when Alan came over armed with a plate of meaty nibbles for himself and his pint pot full of beer, and we settled down to almost three hours of action movie, with the dogs watching our every mouthful and being given little dogs treats of their own every so often. 

Then yesterday we had our only visitors of the festive period, with Alan's sister and partner coming for the day from Scotland.  We had a lovely lunch with Alan preparing the soup starter and me making some 'Christmas Leftovers Pasties'  They had specifically asked for non-Christmassy things so soup and pasties seemed ideal.

We also started a new family tradition.  

We had put together a Christmas hamper for them in a tinsel-adorned shopping basket and Alan had delivered it when he went to stay with them at the start of the month ... they returned it yesterday re-filled with Scottish goodies.  Think beer, Irn Bru, Veggie Haggis, Tunnocks Snowballs and Wafers etc etc.  We loved it and after a chat between us all decided that they would get it back next year re-filled with goodies.

Now it feels as though Christmas is over and I am itching to make a start on taking down the decorations.  I will do it in my usual surreptitious way, emptying a shelf here and there and gradually cleaning up as I go along.

I had a brainwave yesterday.  

I had put the now empty advent calendar into the bin ... being of such mixed construction it couldn't even go in the recycling bin ... and I felt guilty, but I knew I did not want to be buying little things to refill it for next year.  Apart from next year being my year of not spending I don't want any more stuff. 

Then the brainwave struck as I was reading the magazine with the bauble picture above  ... what if I put the little Christmas decorations into each of the drawers, filling any gaps I have left with some festive coloured trimmings from my sewing box and then next Christmas as I open each drawer the contents will go onto the Christmas tree or be dotted around once again.  Meaning that over the course of December the Lodge gets gradually more and more festive.

So we have a new family tradition and I have a plan that helps me tidy up after this Christmas and prepare for the next.

Sue xx  🎄

Sunday 26 December 2021

Our Christmas Day in Photos


My Christmas present to myself ... because you have to treat yourself sometimes  😄

Lots of you will recognise this particular image.

I've always loved the cover of the book ... and the following one ...  almost as much as the contents, so it seemed like a wonderful idea to treat myself. 

  And now - Our Christmas Day in Photos ...

Mavis loved her Santa Sack and proceeded to actually play with her new toys, something she never usually does.  Suky spent all day looking for more dog treats.

I prepped some of lunch, but coffee won out first 😉

I did potatoes and stuffing and a Tofurky roast.

Alan prepped his ham and the green demons,  along with carrots and the very last parsnip available in the supermarket.  Weird shape but very delicious.

We made lots of mess while dinner was cooking and then ate in front of the television watching Life of Pets 2 and then The Queen.  She looked beautiful, but sad and slight, and her words made us both fill up.

I got some lovely, thoughtful presents off Alan and wine from my son, just one of my favourite gifts was this box of matches.

With it's cuter than cute contents.

We spoke to relatives on the phone, watched television and ate and drank just enough to make us very happy and very content.  Then we each ended the day watching our own televisions, me with The Christmas Bake Off and Alan with a few episodes of NCIS.

I hope your day was as peaceful and happy.

Sue xx 🎄

Saturday 25 December 2021

Blogmas - A Very Merry Christmas


Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas.

I hope your day is everything that you wish it to be. That your coffee is hot or your wine is suitably chilled,  your mince pies are sweet and your Christmas dinner ... be it a full on turkey roast or simply beans on toast with a festive dash of Worcestershire Sauce ... is tasty.

With love from Suky ...

Mavis ...

... and the handsomest Ginger boy on the block. 😺

Happy Christmas

with love from Sue and Alan xx 🎄

Friday 24 December 2021

Blogmas - Advent Day 24


The final day of the beauty Advent calendar and I have a bronzer.  When I saw the box my first thought was 'ooh a soap', but no it's a bronzer.  Do I want to be bronze, not really ... maybe if I was one of Paul Kelly's turkeys, but no thinking about it who would want to be a turkey at this time of year  😟

I'm not usually a mince pie type of person, but these are the best I have ever tasted!!

*** *** *** 

For all those of you who have been kind enough to ask after my health over the last seven months, here is the final results of The Back Saga.  You'll have guessed by now I'm not someone who likes talking about my health and usually you will just get a quick 'not bad' or 'I'm fine' if you enquire about my health ... yes even these days ... so this is actually quite hard to write about. 

Seemingly I'm so healthy ... apart from the obvious ... that the broken bones have already healed too much for any simple operation to be done.  The consultant, who is a spinal surgeon said that the best option is to let the healing continue and to just accept the new curvature to my back, taking pain killers for as long as I need them which could be for a few more months as the bones continue to heal and my body adjusts to it's new shape,  and to rest and exercise to suit how I feel each day, just pushing forward slowly with the amount I do.  It was not quite the outcome that I was hoping for, but at least now I have had an expert opinion.  He also said that I am lucky in my doctor and the MSK team that he works in, as they are excellent in their field.

The blood tests that I had have showed that I am really healthy in everything.  Heart, liver and kidney and thyroid function.  I am also really good for all vitamins, minerals and iron, and I  have very good calcium levels ... something that seems so weird to me ... but my doctor says this could be because I don't drink cows milk which actually leaches calcium from your bones leaving you with a calcium deficit over time.

So I am relieved that I have finally completed all the necessary tests and now have heard the expert's opinions, and that I can now just let nature take it's course, helped along with daily doses of paracetamol, Naproxen, Omeprazole and Alendronic Acid once a week ... oh and some rather tasty calcium and vitamin D tablets every day.

Don't shake me too hard or I'll rattle 😄

Here endeth the one and only health update, and thank you for all your concern.  We can now move forward slowly but surely into the Christmas festivities, then come January ... on my own orders ... I want to try to lose two stone in weight, after all if I'm staying three inches shorter I have to get my BMI down to a sensible level again.

Sue xx  🎄

Thursday 23 December 2021

Blogmas - Advent Day 23


I think today is a good day to stop for a moment in amongst all the rushing around and the sometimes perceived and self-inflicted mayhem that is the run up to Christmas Day, to think of others.  Those that might be hating all the build up and festivities, those that may be dreading what is supposed to be a 'family' day spent alone.

We each do Christmas in our own way and sometimes life and events can stir things up, change things in the blink of an eye to something that perhaps you weren't expecting or into something you are not looking forward to.  All the talk of buying this and that sometimes needs to stop and over a mug of coffee it's good to let the calm settle and realise that if things are different, or more difficult you can and will cope.  There are people thinking of you and caring about you,  if you just let them into your world a little.

Let's all take a moment or two today to be grateful for what we have, to say thank you to someone who has helped us ... even if that is just the dog, cat or goldfish for simply being there.  And to acknowledge that we matter, we all matter.  💖

Day 23 and I have a little tanning thingy.  

Seemingly you add it to moisturiser to get a 'healthy colour', I'll just eat some fruit and veggies and be healthy from the inside out instead.  I've never been one for a fake tan, even a mild one.

Sue xx🎄

Wednesday 22 December 2021

Blogmas - Advent Day 22


My latest little acquisition, another little tree ... even smaller than my fake one and beautiful in its realness.  I decided to treat myself when I fell in love with it's hat, scarf and little strung mittens, I loved it so much that I sent one to my Mum too.  

I got it from a company called Bloom and Wild and it's a letterbox tree.  I had great fun setting it all up and fluffing it back into tree shape, following the instructions stage by stage.  It can go into a slightly larger pot and live outdoors as soon as it has done it's Christmas duty.

Day 22 and I have a beautifully scented candle, it really is a lovely scent.

Sue xx 🎄

Tuesday 21 December 2021

Blogmas - Advent Day 21

Ooh, it's looking magical in here now.  

One word from me and Alexa turns on the fairy lights and the living room is suddenly festive and cheerful, something definitely needed on these dark and dull Winter days.  With today being the shortest day of the year anything that lifts the spirits and brings some light is very welcome.

Day 21 of the beauty Advent calendar and I now have a little tube of Ebony Rose Face Mask.  Ooh err, sounds proper posh!!

Sue xx  🎄

Monday 20 December 2021

Blogmas - Advent Day 20


My kitchen here at Lavender Lodge is finally finished.

The kitchen fitters had left me without a switch covering the wires that lead to the under counter lights and thus no way of turning them on.  To give them their credit the company had tried over and over to get an electrician to call round a do this 30 minute job but failed miserably.  So after three months and in a fit of 'I'll just do it myself then' Alan fitted a switch last weekend and I emailed the company to let them know that the job was now done.  Fearing a lawsuit no doubt if I then went on to electrocute myself after an 'amateur'  fix they quickly sent a qualified electrician round to check over and sign off on the work.  (Alan is not a complete beginner by the way, we did used to own a building company.)

Anyway before the electrician arrived they sent a representative round to apologise for the delay in finishing the job and he handed me a little box as a Christmas/apology gift.  I accepted gracefully ... through gritted teeth.  I have never seen someone handing over a gift appear so in fear for their life!! 😄

We shared out the contents, with Alan getting all the bits I either don't or can't eat ...

... and me getting all the bits that I can.

Isn't the jam jar that came with the mini hamper just so cute.  I dug out one of my mini Bonne Maman jars so you can see that although it's not teeny tiny, it's also not a full or even half sized jam jar.  I can see me using this little jar over and over.

Day 20 of the beauty Advent calendar and I have ...

... a Snapshot Ready Foundation Primer.

Being carefully guarded by little snowball girl, oops I've just noticed her little foot is painfully facing the wrong way ... gosh I'm cruel!!

Sue xx🎄

Sunday 19 December 2021

Blogmas - Advent Day 19


I had given up on the idea of getting any fairy lights for my little tree, and not wanting her to stay quite as naked as she was, I hung a few little decorations and some candy canes.

Tucked in and tied carefully on are my little Emma Bridgewater china cups and jug from last year.  As the tree is on the thoroughfare to my bathroom, kitchen area and front door it's the most used part of the lodge, so although the bows are pretty ... the knots are tight!!  And it's handy that me and the animals got used to walking through the narrow gap while the tree was naked.  😀

Now I have just discovered a box of fairy lights that Alan doesn't want to put anywhere so I have commandeered them, hopefully they will drape far enough from the plug socket to reach along the radiator cover to the tree.

Day 19  of the Advent calendar and am now the owner of a little pot of face cream.

I hope your weekend, the last one before Christmas, is going well.

Sue xx  🎄

Saturday 18 December 2021

Blogmas - Advent Day 18 - Weekend Watching 7


Day 18 of the Beauty Advent calendar and I have a tiny little tube of face mask to add to my toiletry collection ... and I photographed it in front of some books just for Sue in Suffolk who's having lots of fun trying to see the books on my shelves when they appear behind my little gifts. ðŸ˜

These are just a couple of books that I picked for their colour scheme rather than being of a similar genre.

And now for the final time before Christmas it's time to sit down with a mug of your favourite hot beverage or a glass of something suitably chilled ... depending on the time of day or your mood ... for some more Weekend Watching.

The first one this week adds this delightful 'old style television' frame to your modern flat screen, I loved it and yes, I used to have a television just like this when the boys were small.

Vintage UK Christmas Adverts - Epic Compilation - YouTube

Next, lets go and visit The Cottage Fairy again, I do envy her new job in that gorgeous book store.

I think I too would want to take my wages in books ... not good if you have living costs though!!

And finally, something for charity, after all it is Christmas ...

Why not download your copy today and help The Trussell Trust this Christmas.

Sue xx  🎄

Friday 17 December 2021

Blogmas - Advent Day 17

'Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful' ... a very famous and oft repeated quote from William Morris.  

I feel this way about most of my stuff and that is why in the latter stages of my decluttering journey things have slowed right down.  When you get to the nitty gritty of your possessions you really have to think.  Some things I would never part with and two of them are my gorgeous old wooden boxes.  I don't have the keys to either of them as they were both car boot sale purchases and cheap because of that, but in my eyes they are both beautiful and useful.  After all you can hide a multitude of sins in a gorgeous wooden box. 😀

The top smaller box is actually a money box with two slits in the top, why two I have no idea as there is no divider in the box itself and one of the holes is very slim, so slim that no coins will fit through ... a puzzle that I quite like.  The much bigger and equally beautiful box is full of small candles and tea lights ready to replenish any that I burn, it's nice to have them handy.

I think I could honestly say if I had to choose just 100 possessions as some true minimalists do, then these two boxes would be among that number.

The little drawer for Day 17 of the Advent calendar gave me a bottle of perfume ... sadly I really do not like the scent of this one. 

  If any of you happen to know you like this particular Aldi scent and would like it yourself please leave a comment (I will then ask you for a second comment which I will not publish) and then post it on to you, it seems a shame to waste it.  Sadly this must be for UK readers only due to postage costs.

Now claimed - thank you. 

Sue xx 🎄

Thursday 16 December 2021

Blogmas - Advent Day 16


To the left of me as I type 💖

They melt my heart these two girls, keeping me company while Alan is away working.  Punctuating my days with feed time and snoring sessions.  Luckily as they are both now slightly elderly ladies they are happy to miss a day of walks, the garden is a good place to let off a bit of steam and do what doggies need to do.  But with the cold and wet weather they are always eager to come back in, have a drink and then settle down while Mum gets on with what ever Mum needs to do ... and if that is just from the comfort of the sofa then they are even happier.

Something really weird happened before.  I was peeling an 'easy peeler' of some description that must have been in the fridge for a couple of months ... yes the Smeg is the greatest for keeping food fresher far longer than any other fridge I have ever owned ... still I half expected it to be dry and unappetising after so long but it was delicious, anyway as I was peeling the skin off all in one piece, something that makes me childishly happy, I remembered one of the caravans back on the caravan park that had a little 'Orange Man' in their garden and wondered if one day I should try and take my peel off in this fashion.

Then look what popped up on my Facebook Memories just an hour later!!

Day 16 of the Advent calendar sees me with the titchiest, tiniest mascara I have ever seen.  It could be useful for travelling, but I haven't worn a black mascara for years it's mostly clear these days just to sort out my long eyelashes into something that looks less like a spider.

Sue xx  🎄

Wednesday 15 December 2021

Blogmas - Advent Day 15

I was in Alan's spare room the other day looking for something.  

It should be called the 'room of doom' as he has it stacked in a very weird way, or perhaps I should say 'non-stacked' ... you can just about open the door and peer in ... think Monica's Cupboard and imagine it all flat on the floor instead of piled on shelves and you have an idea 😄

Anyway I noticed that he has a tv table on wheels and there was a gap behind it, so I carefully pushed it backwards revealing cardboard boxes from the move that I hadn't seen before, or at least since I packed them back in Wales right at the start of this year.  Two boxes of books clearly labelled as such  ... I knew I had some books missing!!

I've asked him to carry them over when he has time and then I can try and find them a home here where they belong. 💖

Today's Advent calendar gift was a pleasant surprise, a beautifully scented candle.  I don't usually like the scent of roses, but this is divine.  I think I will save it until the New Year when all the Christmassy scents have been burnt and the house is clear of decorations.  

Just a little something special to look forward to.

Sue xx  🎄

Tuesday 14 December 2021

Blogmas - Advent Day 14

Earlier this year I discovered a new to me online sweet company ... The Conscious Candy Company  I found it after watching a YouTube video with Grackle and I have never looked back. It is just so refreshing to know that all their range is totally animal product free and the selection of chewy and jelly sweets that would usually have gelatin in just don't!!  Instead of brown paper packages tied up with string you get well packed boxes filled with gloriously pink tissue paper, all of which can be used ...and has been ... for gifts to other people.

And in amongst all the froth of tissue is all the gorgeous and fully vegan sweeties that you have ordered.  To say my sweet tooth is back would be an understatement.  But in this run up to the festive season and while I have been feeling so down in myself I have welcomed it and will do so for the next few weeks, then once again I will be all-growd-up and turn back to more savoury treats.  I am quite grown up in that no longer does opening a bar of chocolate mean I have to finish it all and then scout around for more, I can quite happily have a few squares or half a chocolate bar and relegate the rest to the fridge for later or the next day.

Something that I will be enjoying over Christmas and rationing out carefully and are these wonderful little Truffles.  The taste is amazing and lingers long after you have eaten them, with a glass of sparkling wine they are Christmas in a mouthful.

This latest orders will perhaps be my last as these 'crunchy' type bars and the box of  NOMO caramel chocolates have nice long dates on them and I will be saving these as a treat for next year when my excessive spending of this year is grinding to a halt.  I sealed up the box and hid it in the cupboard as I have lots more delicious treats to keep me very happy over Christmas ... but the Truffles are staying out ready for Christmas Day.

A previous order and one that I still have most of.

If you want to order from them try using the code GRACKLE to get a 10% discount, I'm not sure if it's still valid but it worked for me.

Todays Beauty Advent calendar gave me a 'Healthy Glow Plumping Serum', I wonder if I use all these products in the week before Christmas will I get a really good Christmas Glow Up.

Sue xx  🎄