Thursday, 29 December 2011

Holiday Hangover

Well, we survived! It was only about 48 hours of hustle and bustle, food, drink, children, and presents.

On Christmas Eve we had 14 people from the ages of 7 months to 75 years in the house, all hungry and filled with anticipation for what the weekend would bring. Unfortunately my husband had to work and was one of the last to arrive. He quickly jumped into his role as sous chef. Fortunately the menu was fairly simple and much of it was made already.

A few went home that evening but the total head count for the remainder of the holiday was 9. My husband and I slept on the couch, his parents in the guest beds, and his sister's family in the master suite with the children on mattresses on the floor in the dressing area.

Christmas morning the children woke up several times to see if "Father Christmas" found them at our house. Before they made it down stairs we snuck away to the gym for a quick swim and they opened their stockings.

The rest of the day was again filled with food, drink, and presents for all. The after dinner opening took a few hours to get through as the sessions are very slow and controlled compared to what I grew up with. One gift at a time each person watching the others open their gifts.

Boxing day was filled with leftovers after a few of us went to the carol services at Fountains Abbey (see my previous blog post). My sister in law and her family went home that afternoon and the American cats were finally let out of their room to get some exercise.

My husband's parents went home the following morning. I had grand plans of cleaning and starting some new projects, but I spent the day watching movies on tv!

After loads of leftovers have been eaten, the fridge is still jam packed full. Tonight will be a relaxing evening. Dinner tonight, steaks for a change from leftovers. As you can see, we still have quite a few to get through!

Monday, 26 December 2011

Boxing Day at Fountains Abbey

Last year my husband had to work but I came in the snow for the carol service with my in laws. This year my husband was able to join us.

The grounds are lovely and the service is quite traditional and similar to the Catholic Christmas Eve Mass I would attend with my family. There is loads of space and you can choose how much you would like to participate. I have taken some pictures from the 'room' to the side of the chapel area where the service was held. You can hear the service very well and yet enjoy the outdoors and beauty of the Abbey. It is really quite impressive to think it was all built in the 12th century. I do think this will be a tradition to keep as long as we spend Christmas in England!

Check out my Facebook page for some videos too!

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas and God bless us every one. I hope Santa has been good to everyone this year.

We had a great Christmas with a houseful of family and friends. It was such a flurry of activity i didn't manage any pictures

This morning went to the gym to swim before more food and for some peace from the excited children. We did a quick 360 meters, just enough to give us the energy to cook a huge meal and open loads of presents!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Happy Winter Solstice

I have made it. Although today is the official start of winter and I have many more months of cold and gloomy weather to look forward to there is a silver lining to the gloomy cloud. Today is the shortest day of the year. Starting tomorrow the sunsets will get progressively later and will be much appreciated. As Floridian and self diagnosed seasonal affective disorder sufferer even an increase of a minute of sunshine a day will be noticed. I have discussed with my husband on our last year in the UK going to Stonehenge for the winter solstice so I can stick my tongue out at winter (figuratively, don't want it to get too cold lol) and let it know that it has not nor will it beat me, especially as we are moving to Florida lol.

The weather in North Yorkshire has been especially beautiful today. I know from growing up in Western PA that winter is long and although the days are getting longer it does not mean they are getting warmer. So I took full advantage of the mild weather and went for a walk along the river (check out my pictures on instagram) and collected some twigs, seeds, berries, and buds for our Christmas arrangements.

I suppose that is enough play time as I must continue baking and getting ready for the weekend!

Here are a few pictures of our lovely day, baking pictures soon to follow!

(my spoils, our pampas grass, and a lady bug that has waken from hibernation)

Happy Winter!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Fa la la la largh!?!

We have been back in the country for 10 days now and have just 10 more days until the family arrive for Christmas.

As always I have taken on a major project in addition to getting ready. Instead of just cleaning up after all the cats and decking the halls, I started painting our dining room. Previously i started painting one of our guest bedrooms prior to a family overnight visit. Someone did sleep in a room that wasn't quite finished but it was not the end of the world. This is a bit more involved since we will be serving two very large meals and a few small ones from this room.

The good news is I am more than half way done with my plan since we returned from the States. Two Christmas trees are lit and I just have to find ornament hooks to finish decorating them. Might be making ones out of twine at this rate. Note to self, have family buy package after Christmas and bring back with me next trip out!

Food is also well underway. Sauce and lasagna rolls made, sausage stuffing is on the list for tomorrow as well as the baked goods. Turkey has been ordered from the local butcher, a free range herb fed bird! Cocktail sausages and streaky bacon from the butcher as well, no store bought frozen stuff this year! Vegetarians not to fear, plenty of meat free options as well!

Gift shopping is nearly there. Will be cataloging our shop against my list in the Evernote App tomorrow. Now I just have to figure out how to get a few surprises for my husband... Not so easy living in a tiny village with no car. Might be doing a bit of Internet shopping tomorrow!

Most importantly the ever important frock for Christmas Eve has been purchased and it should keep me motivated to not pick on the previously mentioned baked goods!

Nearing the end of my 'workday' and managed to get both trees decorated and a chicken is in the oven for supper tonight. As long as I don't wimp out about leaving my warm and cozy room to go to the gym today will be rather successful!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

The American suburbanite returns to rural England

The last time my husband and I were in the States together, he had to leave me behind while I waited for my visa application to be processed. Not this time, for the first time in our 3 year relationship we are flying out and back together!

This has not been my healthiest trip unfortunately. I arrived in PA and started coughing so badly I went to the Doctors on Monday,had one of the worst stiff necks/shoulders in my life (even worse than after one of the several car accidents I have been in) and topped it all off with a migraine. We have made the best of our northern leg of our holiday though and I will be sure to post some pictures soon.

In the mean time the view from my seat as I post in JFK airport.