Advent 2010

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Today, 10th November, I put the dates on the pages. I bought some gorgeous Christmassy green felt Thickers, a 6×6 paper pad and some rub on’s from Basic Grey called Jovial.

1st December 2010

I made Ben’s Advent calendar in 1990 and after a few years of toys and sweets I decided to do something different. The cards I am using this year are from 1996 when Ben was 7 years old. I cut some shapes from old Christmas cards and wrote out some Christmas prep that Ben could help each day with. I put the little cards into  the calendar so that he could see them all poking out of their pockets.


The calendar looks a bit worse for wear now but we still love to see it each year.

Todays tag reads;
Good Morning Ben. At last we can start our Advent, a time of preparation.
You really enjoyed helping with the Christmas preparation last year so we will do it again. I have added a few new ideas, just for fun this year.
Shall we start with the Advent Candle? You will need to find it and find a dish to stand it on. Would you like to light it each day for us?

This is the first page in my Advent 2010 book, not finished because I love to finish all the pages at the end. I feel more glittery the nearer I am to Christmas day!

December 1st

Today dawned clear and dry but so very cold. The little snow that we had earlier in the week has cleared but there is still some ice around. We lit the advent candle this evening! Ben had to blow it out because I completely forgot! It doesn’t bode well.
When I got in from work Paul had just learned that the contract he has been working on has been terminated and the company have given him 10 days notice; a worrying start to the month.
I put the advent calendar up in the kitchen with the cards I made for Ben in 1996. Ben and I talked about our Christmas plans today. We have decided what to give Paul and Ben has been out today to get it organised.

I have won my first prize from a blog! Jennifer at Jennifer’s Jumbles ran a give away on a blog hop recently and I entered and won! What a lovely end to my 1st day of Advent. Thank you Jennifer.

December 2nd

Absolutely ffffreezing cold here today with a strong wind that makes it feel even worse. No snow here in Weston although a few miles along the road in Taunton they have 18cm of the white stuff.
Our 1st Christmas card arrived today.
My 1st social occasion tonight at work. At my carers evening we were very informal, There was lots f laughing and lots to eat on our buffet table! Among the many things that I bought I found these mini Echlefechan’s
I am wearing festive earrings and badge, Ho Ho Ho!
I was thinking how grateful I am that Ben is home in the UK, not travelling abroad (most of the UK airports are closed) and working inside in the warm, not travelling around in a van delivering food for Tesco’s and he is happy!
Bens calendar
Shall we get the Christmas music going today? Can you find the CD”s?
There are six of them.

December 3rd


I ordered a photo of Ben for Lotta today. I found an ad in a photographic mag for www.semaphore.co.uk. They print photos onto clear acrylic and look beautiful in the ad.
I have ordered some DVD’s for Christmas and the first one arrived came today. I have decided not to open them until Christma day by which time I will have forgotten what I ordered.
I was at the hairdresser today and have had my colours done . I think they look stunning. Hopefully there will be a picture here ☺
Todays calendar;
Today, when you come home from school, could you help get the Christmas boxes down from the loft? This is the day to start using the Christmas cups and plates.

Ben won’t be home until midnight tonight so this one will have to go over until another day.

December 4th

I am doing some craft with the memory cafe on Thursday next week so shopping for the bits was on today’s list.
You wouldn’t think it was so difficult to get a few small terracotta pots! I eventually found these pretty long tom pots in town for 69p each so I am thrilled. I also got to go to a florist (for oasis). It is such a treat to go at Christmas to see and breathe in all the wonderful scents of Christmas flora.
In Ben’s calendar today;
Pinch Punch 4th of the month, Collect a kiss from Mum x

Ben was out at work until late this evening but he got a kiss from his mum x

December 5th

The day for posting a story on my blog to fit in with Sian’s Christmas Club.
One of my blog pals has invited us to share a Christmas story in the few weeks before Christmas, here is mine for this week.
Last week one particular story reminded me of one of my earliest memories. A few years ago I played along with a blog challenge and this was my ATC. (artist trading card)
When you think back to your childhood, what moment first comes to mind? Because it’s so close to Christmas I think straight back to Christmas morning 1955. I was two years old. I saw my new dolly Linda lying in a beautiful blue cot in the middle of the sitting room. She had lovely black hair; I don’t remember what she was wearing but the covers in the cot were blue and lacy. The picture is still so clear in my mind.
This is a quote from another blog pal; I am so very grateful for a mom who taught me, through her own example, the selfless joy of creating gifts for others made from heart and soul and hands. This is just how I feel when ever I make something for some one!
Over the years, at family gatherings there is much hilarity among us about what happened to Linda…but that’s for another day.
Merry Christmas Gerard! (again) Miriam x
Oh dear, I have forgotten to light the last few days of the candle so we lit it at breakfast, again at lunch and tonight at dinner time!
Ben’s calendar;
Could you find the cloths for the table today? They might need ironing, could you do that for us?

Paul & I got the Christmas things down from the loft today. Every year I feel embarrassed by the amount of stuff we have, but every year everyone thinks the house looks wonderful!

December 6th


I have forgotten to light the candle again Tonight we lit it and watched it burn down past the 7th!
I visited a client today that has nearly as many nativity scenes as me. We had such a good laugh about our cribs, where they came from and where they are put every year.
I don’t seem to have much time for anything other than work or sleep at the moment.
The note in Bens calendar reads;
Happy Christmas Ben, If I was home I would give you a kiss, ask mum to do it for me? I would like mum to have a kiss today would you do that for me? Now put this in tomorrows pocket. Love from Dad x

This made Ben laugh so much when he realized what would happen when he moved the tag!

December 7th


Last night there was a very beautiful hore frost. Today our world looks just wonderful.
The trees look magnificent with every detail of them picked out in frost. I have loved driving around today.
A perfect December day.
No Christmas stuff today. I am too tired
Ben’s calendar note;
Could you find your box of Christmas cards? Today we should make a start on the writing. Could you do ten today?

I just can’t find mine! I will have to look in the stuff I have packed away in the garage.

December 8th


No, the cards are not in the garage although there is a box of ones I made years ago!
I am so tired when I get in from work that nothing is getting done in preparation for Christmas. Even the advent candle is not being lit.
Hey Ho!
Ben’s Calendar today;
Could you find your box of Christmas cards? Today we should make a start on the writing. Could you do ten today?

I was thinking about traditions today as I looked into the boxes of Christmas stuff.
I think that the whole of our Christmas is built on tradition, some things go back to childhood at home, some things Paul & I started and then over the years they too become traditional. Ben likes everything to be ‘just as it always is’
Here are a few. I’ll add more as the days go by.
My cocktail glass filled with sugared almonds
The Fortnum’s basket is the storage box for our nativity figures and then becomes our chocolate box
I like to have mums little crib on my kitchen windowsill
Warm and spicy mulled wine whilst decorating our Christmas tree.
The purchase of the Christmas tree is a hilarious tradition in itself.

December 9th


No Christmas prep again today. I did e-mail the brothers and ask them if they have any Christmas photos of us as children and for some of their Christmas memories for a blog post I want to do.
In the advent calendar today there was a little puzzle for Ben to do. Ben’s least favourite thing to do was writing! He had to write the answers to the puzzle!

December 10th


I am listening to Christmas carols today. I have imported some CD’s into my i tunes, much to Ben’s amusement. He thinks I only have 5 tunes in it, compared to his 13,871!!! (It would take 38 ½ days to listen to this amount of songs)
A day off work Hooray! I spent the day looking in different places for the Christmas cards and have failed miserably. I have decided to give up and buy some.
In the calendar today, Could you write ten more Christmas cards today? I feel like I’m nagging myself!
We have caught up with the advent candle while we were watching the TV his evening.
It has become a bit of a Christmas tradition for Paul & I over the last few years to watch Strictly Come Dancing on the TV on a Saturday & Sunday evening.
In the calendar today;
Could you write ten more Christmas cards today?

December 11th


I have had three replies from my brothers! Two I expected and one I certainly did not.
I miss Tim x
I haven’t wanted to go to the shops this year. If I don’t see lovely things I won’t wish I could have them.
I ordered the cold meats from Waitrose today. I plan to have a cold buffet on Christmas, Ben is working and it will be nice for him when he comes in.
Today I ordered Ben’s Christmas present. He had sent me a list of things he would like, Paul & I spent ages looking on the internet for ‘just the right thing’ I sent him the customary e-mail telling him that now that he had published a list he wasn’t to buy himself anything on it! This is a challenge every year. I have lovely flowers in the house in Christmas colours and the festive table linen is out. It’s officially Christmas in the Kitchen!
In Ben’s calendar today;
Could you get the fairy lights out today? They will need to be tested as well. Don’t forget the Victorian lady, she holds a light in her hand.

December 12th


The day for another story for the Christmas club. This time it is my story about the year Mum, Tim & James came to stay. Christmas 1995.
Do reindeer eat carrots?
Christmas 1995
I especially loved Christmas this year. My mother, brother and his young son stayed with us. My son was six years old. My brother’s boy, James was eight and was wavering in his belief in the man in red. We had such a lovely and exciting Christmas eve talking about Father Christmas, when would he come, what would he bring, would he know that James was in a different place to last year. James was worried about our fireplace “We shouldn’t light the fire Aunty Miriam because he would get burnt!” This year I had found some little packets of reindeer food at one of the garden centre’s I thought it would help set the scene. Before bedtime the boys had been outside on the drive to sprinkle the treat for Santa’s reindeer and they had also left out a huge carrot for them; “Do reindeers eat carrots aunty Miriam?” wondered James?
“Well, I’m not really sure, but we will leave it just in case James” was the best I could offer.
“I think they do” said Ben enthusiastically! (Anything to make sure he came!)
The boys hung their stockings and left a mince pie and a glass of milk by the fire for Father Christmas, with nothing more to do the boys had to go to bed! As every child knows “He won’t come while you are awake” The usual Christmas Eve followed; restless excited chatty boys sharing a bedroom, laughing and keeping each other awake. Excited adults, whispering, laughing, drinking, keeping each other awake as we made the room ready for Christmas morning. There was the usual getting up & down to the boys or calling out
“No he hasn’t been yet” and “He won’t come while you are awake” No presents go under the tree in our house until Ben has gone to bed!
(Even now I don’t put his gifts under the tree until Christmas morning when he is still asleep!)
Lots of creeping around followed, bringing the gifts carefully stashed away all over the house into the sitting room to be arranged under the tree. Some presents we leave in the fire grate; a little soot and ash is sprinkled on ones near by. Streamers are everywhere! A paper cover goes onto the sitting room door with the number 25 on it. (Now one of Ben’s favourite memories)
Some time in the early hours we got to our beds and just a few hours later boys shouting with joy wake us!
“He’s been, he’s been” when the stockings are found.
Later that morning Nanny was looking out of Ben’s bedroom window
“There is something on the drive boys, come and see, whatever is it?” Two little boys ran outside to look. James and Ben returned, with eyes as big as saucers, holding two pieces of carrot with strange teeth marks in, a little piece of mince pie and the certain knowledge that reindeer do indeed eat carrots!
In the calendar today;
Today you need to make your list ready to go to the shops tomorrow. You need to buy a gift for mum, a gift for dad and a little gift for my cracker.

December 13th


At my singing group today we sang Christmas Carols, it was so festive!
At my visit this afternoon the conservatory where we sat, was full to the brim of Christmas presents. Some were wrapped some waiting to be wrapped. The little Christmas tree was laden down with decorations and the whole house was lit with fairy lights. In contrast to that my house looks very bare with its solitary vase of Christmas colours!!
Christmas music then;
John Lennon So this is Christmas…
Band Aid Do they know its Christmas…
Queen Thank God it’s Christmas…
Jona Lewie Stop the Cavalry…
Jethru Tull Ring Out Solstice Bells
Fairy Tale of New York of course, here’s the fly, I love the Christie Moore version!

Then there’s the classical music I love the most
Handel Messiah, I play this at full volume in my car.

And the classic carols that we sang today, well I love them all but my favourite, always, is Silent Night. I love the story of this carol and I especially love it sung in German.
In the calendar today;
Think about other people today. When you go to your bank maybe you could get a little extra money for a charity that helps children. Think about getting a little gift for your dog & cat. There are also charities that help animals, you might prefer to give a little to one of them.

December 14th


I had a lovely day in the office with the girls today. There was much laughing and bemoaning the fact that it is only 2 weeks to go and we have ‘done nothing’
Have come to write this and find that
I have had e-mail to say that Ben’s gift is in the post,
Paul’s gift is organized,
Lotta’s gift is under Pepsi’s bed
2 meat orders have been placed
And I will get the Christmas lights out in a minute and check them!
Actually I have done loads!
Oh and there are fresh cranberries in the fridge and Amaretto in the cupboard! I think I’ll have a lie down
In Ben’s calendar today;
Could you get the artificial tree ready to go on the front door step? Put the special outdoor lights on the tree before you hang your decorations on it.

December 15th


More traditions
We always have something special for Christmas morning breakfast.
Either Kedgeree or Scrambled egg with smoked salmon on Brioch or Eggs Benedict. Scrummy!
We have a small parcel, something that will fit on the table, at breakfast time, usually chosen by Ben, the rest have to wait until after we have cleared away and Alan arrives.
In Ben’s calendar today;
Would you like to put your Christmas tree in your room today?

Ben has had a tiny tree in his room since he was a little boy!

I put the santa’s on the stairs and thought of this song
Guess who just got back today?
Them wild-eyed boys that had been away
Haven’t changed, have much to say

The boys are back in town
The boys are back in town
Thin Lizzie 1976
…and the crib before the figures went in made me think of this…
Are you waiting for the family to arrive?
 Are you sure you got the room to spare inside? 
Does your granny always tell ya, 
that the old are far the best?
Slade Merry Christmas Everybody 1973

December 16th


My last working day for this week, hooray !I feel so tired and can hardly believe that it is Christmas in one week!
I did get some decorating done today. Paul put the nativity figures out and I hung the glass teardrops on the twiggy tree.
All the fairy lights are working! The windowsill and the mantle shelf are looking very festive.
Ben has four days off work. He and Lotta had to cancel their planned time together in Glasgow because of the weather. Scotland has had some dreadful weather for a few weeks; our forecast snow will be here tomorrow. Ben can’t risk being stuck in Glasgow & not getting to work for Monday & Lotta needs to be in Helsinki in time for her vaccinations for the Christmas trip to Goa. We will see her on 2nd January all being well.
In the calendar today;
Could you set the crib up today. I have bought a new bale of hay but I can’t remember where I put it! Could you help me find it?

December 17th


The snow came in the night! Our world looks very beautiful. Pepsi is not at all impressed at having to go out in it!
I made the shopping list today.
We have a very traditional roast turkey lunch on Christmas day. We buy our turkey crown from Marks and Spencer’s. This year I have bought a trifle and a cheese board as well. The cooked meats for Christmas Eve are coming from Waitrose this year.
I make our gravy, cranberry sauce and bread sauce and prepare the veg but the rest of the food I buy in now.
More snow and freezing conditions today. I am so pleased that Lotta is safe in her home, Ben is safe in his and Paul is not travelling this week.
In Ben’s calendar today;
We seem to have done a lot towards Christmas already. It is the Cub’s Christmas Party tonight. Shall we have a chat about what is left to do?

December 18th


I made some very simple Christmas cards today using chocolate santas and chocolate coins.
Ben took a beautiful photo of Pepsi so I made some cards with her face on them.
Sara came in to do my nails; they are looking very festive!
Paul & Ben did the supermarket shop for me, they came home laden with stuff.
The main roads are clear but the side roads and paths are sheet ice.
In the Calendar today;
Would you like to make us a fruit punch for this evening? We have some friends coming ‘round.

December 19th


We bought the Christmas tree today; it is a Nobel fir this year. It has a kind of blue tinge to it and it smells wonderful.
We also bought a new pot to put the tree in. Last year the boys had so much hassle trying to pack the tree into a bucket with bricks and pieces of wood!
The house is looking very festive with the lovely bowl of nuts, the wire cake stand is full of Satsuma’s, lemons and limes, the white hyacinths perfume is glorious, Christmas lights are twinkling on the twiggy tree, The new cushions look fab! and the Christmas quilt is on the back of the chair, Christmas is happening in our house!
In Ben’s calendar today;

Could you get some things ready to take to Nanny’s? The presents, things for Floss (the dog) and things for you.

December 20th


The roads are treacherous here today; even the main road is covered in snow. It is our singing group and Christmas lunch today but after spending 20 minutes in the car on the drive I called in to say I couldn’t make it. I also felt it was foolish to be gathering a group of vulnerable old folks together on a day like today.
It snowed all day; lots of people rang in to say they wouldn’t venture out. The world looks wonderful but the fresh snow has fallen on to ice making the pathways very dangerous. Daytime temperature was -4 today.
In the calendar today;We won’t have any time at home today so I thought you might like the other thing in the pocket! (I wonder what it was? probably edible!)

December 21st


The main roads have been gritted so Paul drove me into the hospital where I was working today. We only had a few patients turn up and most of the staff managed to get in. The busses and taxis are running and the temperatures are down to -4 again but no snow is forecast.
While I was waiting for Paul to pick me up I watched a blackbird foraging in the snow and then watched a beautiful Mistle thrush just sitting on a branch taking in the mid day sunshine. I hope to have a picture of the blackbird but the thrush was too far away for my little camera.
Paul put the fairy lights around while I was at work, they look so festive.
Alan is snowed in at his home in Barry. He lives on a very steep hill and the local authorities have closed his road! He is planning to spend Christmas day with us providing he can get here.
In the Calendar today; We will be late home today but there should be enough time to put some presents under the Christmas tree.

December 22nd


It is the first time I have driven in days. I went to the office. The road that the office is on has not been cleared so I felt very nervous driving on it but all was well. The temperature has risen slightly; the shed roof has beautiful icicles hanging from it.
It gets dark so early these days, there seems to be hardly any day at all. I completely forgot about the winter solstice 20th/21st! so the days will at least be getting lighter from now on!

The Christmas cards keep falling through the letterbox, I haven’t done many of mine! I am so tired by the time I have finished work.
I am really looking forward to a few days off work.
In Ben’s calendar today; What a funny day this was. What we need is more time! Here is some for you.
I can’t remember what on earth it was. Could he stay up later, maybe I gave him a watch?

December 23rd


Paul & I got lots of prep done today.
All the veggies ready & bagged,
Tiny Brussel Sprouts, bases cut; done
Carrots cut into battons; done
Parsnips blanched; done,
Red cabbage & apple; done
Carrot & swede cooked & mashed: done
Gravy: done
Beautiful fat dates filled with white marzipan; done
Cake, decorated; done
Champagne in the fridge; done
I’ve been watching too much Gordon Ramsey!
In the calendar today; Lots to do today. We need to get the fish tanks done and delivered, that’s the most urgent thing.
We made some gifts for Bens friends that involved some glass jars and glass fishes but I just can’t remember what they were like now.

December 24th


I was at the VW garage at 9.00am this morning getting the docking station fitted in Paul’s car for his Christmas present. Paul had gone into town to M&S to collect our turkey and then later we both went to Waitrose to collect the cooked meat. Ben was working, I really missed him in the kitchen with me. It was a different Christmas Eve this year, very relaxed, which made for a lovely evening. We had cold meats and salad, for tea, a few drinks and a reasonably early night.
The last pocket; We have all been so busy for the last few days I think we will have a lovely rest today, What do you think?
We always put something very special in the pocket for Christmas Eve, but of course I can’t remember what it was this year!!

December 25th


Paul & I were early in bed last night and awake at 5.00am this morning! Paul called me downstairs and by the tree was the most amazing sight! Ben had made a reindeer from a shoe box! a cardboard head, branches for antlers and tied in the middle with a tartan ribbon! We just stood and stared, and looked and stared some more and then began to laugh! This was THE most a-may-zing thing. We did eventually get back to bed and went off to sleep, still laughing until 8.00am.
We had a lovely morning, just the tree of us, Paul cooked breakfast, and we got the potatoes peeled and the turkey in the oven and then opened our presents before Alan arrived at 12.30.
The rest of the day was just great, relaxed and happy. Our champagne cocktail was gorgeous this year. A little Cointreau in the bottom of the champagne flute and topped up with gorgeous Prosecco, really lovely.
I was determined to enjoy my lunch this year so had nothing else to eat or drink until we sat down to lunch at 3.00pm
Lotta called Ben at 4.00pm so he was happy.
I received a beautiful purple mohair waterfall cardigan from Ben. Paul bought me a cross-stitch project. He had bought a computer programme into which you load a photo (of Pepsi!) it works out the stitches and the colours to use. He had bought the fabric, hoop and silks. My project for the New Year!
Ben also gave me i life 11 for my computer, which will arrive in the post very soon.
Paul and I bought Ben a lens for his camera.
Alan & I agreed not to exchange gifts this year. He bought ephemeral treats, champagne and the wonderful Christmas day sausage rolls, now a tradition!
The rest of the day passed talking, drinking, laughing, a little TV, some music, some sleeping until around 8.00pm when we cooked Alan’s Christmas Sausage Rolls.

We all wanted to watch The Royal Family Christmas Special, which made us scream with laughter. I thought Alan would be sick, I certainly laughed so much that I had a little laughter incontinence! We all just laughed and laughed and laughed. I am sure we are all now a few years younger.

Having calmed down from that we had a game of horse racing which was great fun.
I won!
We called it a day at 1.00am. “Thank you all for a wonderful day” ringing in our ears as we climbed the stairs x

December 26th

Boxing Day is such a lovely day almost a Christmas day part two. The house is full of lovely things to eat and drink, there is time to play with the Christmas gifts, time to have a lie in and a non-cooking day. We have a beautiful fish platter (a Christmas treat) and a wonderful sherry trifle in the fridge for today.
I have loved putting this advent book together again although this year I found it tough going.
I was busy at work, Paul wasn’t busy with work but Ben was working which was really strange. I also tried to keep up with my blog posts.
I have a few days off work now so the plan is to finish this, my Simple Things book and In My Garden book.
I would like them all ‘done & dusted’ before 12th night.
On Boxing day, in the evening, Paul & l always talk about ‘Christmas day’ & how it was for both of us.
Christmas is always a difficult time for me, I am never really happy and I am always pleased when the day is over. I really hate feeling like this and try so hard to fight it, so in the late evening, when we are alone, I like to talk about all the good things. So for the first time ever I have put some of my thoughts into words. But, as its a first here is a list (my name is Miriam and I make lists) of all the best bits, with no great long explanations or explanations of any sort.
This year we decided to exchange just one gift each. This plan completely failed when it came to my gift/s.
I stuck to the plan with Ben, we bought a gift for Paul
I stuck to the plan with Paul, we bought a gift for Ben.
They didn’t stick to the plan and each bought me a gift
We all loved what had been so carefully chosen for each other
My brother Alan came over again & as agreed, only ephemeral gifts were exchanged this year, it was just perfect
My lunch was beautiful
Alan’s champagne was chilled and sparkling
I talked to all my brothers
We laughed loads
It was perfect
I know I am loved.
This has been cathartic. I will write more about it, but not here.

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