Monthly Archives: December 2017

In a Vase on Christmas Day – what no snow? 

Unless we make Christmas an occasion to share ourselves blessings, all the snow in Alaska won‘t make itwhiteBing Crosby (19031977)

I’ve been thinking about blessings alot this Christmas One of my favourite Christmas songs is the duet between the mighty very missed David and Bing – The Little Dummer Boy. Though, I don’t consider Christmas season has started until I hear Fairytale of New York. 

We have music on most of the time when we are in the house.  We’ve got modern Christmas songs at the moment, as we’ve been opening presents, reading cookbooks and drinking coffee.  My Chap is reading Lisbon and I’m reading Nigel Slater’s Christmas Chronicles.  I think I might be writing about food more on the blog next year – My Chap says he’s going to bake more too.

For my Vase today, I have snowberry from a neighbour’s hedge (I love living in #Monton), some curry plant leaves (as food is integral to our Christmas and life), the Son of Tom hardy fuchsia by the kitchen window (#fuchsias a long time love), bamboo which came in a pot from My Chap’s garden when he moved in with me,  and some sticks (red)  from the one of the few shrubs in our garden when I got moved in.  I’d never noticed before how red the bark is, as it’s usually pruned before now.  It’s a bit of a mishmash but that’s a bit like life, isn’t it? We become sum of all the parts.

25 December 2017 – In a Vase on Monday – snowberry, fuchsia, bamboo

Cathy over at Rambling in the Garden has bright red Cornus around a candle, on a bed of pine cones and rose hips. Very festive – do have a look at the ‘vases’ from around the world added by the #IAVOM team, they’re added at the bottom of Cathy’s posts every week. These flowers have lifted my soul in the dark times.  Thank you everyone 🙂

Cathy will probably fall off her chair in shock, when I post my link as I’m on the right day! I’m usually at least a day late!

So Merry Christmas to all my readers, especially all the In A Vase on Monday gardening bloggers from all around the world – may your gardens’ grow well in the direction you want with few pests (especially slugs!) 🙂

May your days, be merry and brightWhite Christmas (composed by Irving Berlin in 1942) 

So let’s have merry and bright days, not just at Christmas but everday. It’s the little things, that make the memories.

So, especially today, I am thinking of all those no longer with us; my darling, unforgettable brother Matt,  my wonderful Dad Jay, the man mountain Steve, and the force of Nature, Uncle Fred.  All loved cooking and often made turkey curry on Boxing Day :-. My Husband does that too 🙂 I’ve written about them before at Christmas, and will write about them again, I’m sure.

Bright memories – Forever in my heart xx xx xx

25 December 2017 – Yoda loves Christmas too

I loved ‘The Last Jedi’, it‘s complex, dark and funny. Leia, Luke and Rey showing the way (and yoda too).

 ‘May the force be with you’Star Wars IVII (1977?)

The sun is shining, so my Husband and I are off for a walk, along the Bridgewater Canal, holding hands as usual  🙂 #365daysofselfcare

Today’s photo on Instagram for #blurtmerrycalmness.  Day 25: CONNECT – thinking about all our friends and family from around the world who came to celebrate our wedding in September with us 🙂  It was a wonderful day 🙂

Instagram @becmonton56

Carpe Diem,

Merry Christmas everyone,

Love Bec xx xx xx

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Wreath (not a vase )on Monday – deck the halls

Deck the halls with boughs of holly, Fa la la la la la la la! ‘Tis the season to be jollyWelsh carol dating from 16th century.

In this case it’s spruce but I’m sure you’ll get the idea 😉 Last Sunday, I went to a wreath making course at Ordsall Hall, a couple of miles from where we live. I’d decided earlier in the year to make our door wreath – My Chap usually comes home with a really blingy one from one of his florist pals. So I’d been on the look out for a course… the one at the Hall, you could bring your own greenery too….and it was a good price too.

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How to make a wreath
Huge thanks to Kate from the Gardening team at the Hall – she was great. Do have a look at their plans for the garden for 2018. Their 1918-style allotment is back for 2018.

We could take cuttings from our garden so I took rosemary, some cinnamon sticks from the spice cupboard, pine cones we’d picked up from Worsley woods and some extra spruce branches. There was all sorts of things to add, sparkly ribbons, baubles etc, but I decided to keep the wreath fairly minimalist – and emphasise food 😉

  1. There was a ring of moss (on the back) and spruce branches on the ring already which I added to. It’s time consuming to make this yourself (and hard on the fingers) and we were only there for a couple of hours.
  2. Lay out where you want everything to go first, and think about the layers of decoration – branches first.
  3. It’s exactly the same principle to attach anything to the wreath, wrap the wire tightly around twigs and, and poke the wire through the moss and thread back through tightly and snip off. For the pine cones, wrap around the lowest level of
  4. Group things in odd numbers, as it looks more natural – same in gardening too.
  5. I tried dried chillies but they disintegrated 😦
  6. Remember to water your wreath carefully, with a jug now and again, otherwise the foliage will fade.
  7. After I took the picture on our front door I added bells on ribbons too.
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17 December 2017 – my wreath hanging by the door from the Great Hall, Ordsall Hall

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In a Vase on Monday – good enough when not ‘in the pink’ 

You are enough, just as you are, right nowAnonymous

It’s been minus four all day both today and yesterday in Manchester (Mon 11th/ Tue 12th December 2017), it’s been gloomy but a biting wind. For a change, we swerved the heavy snow, hitting the Midlands instead, there was some snow on the hills that ring the city on Friday Night and during Saturday. We rarely get much more than a smattering of snow, where we live in #Monton, as it’s very flat, near canals and rather built up (the ground is too warm for snow to settle). Not that I’ve seen much of any snow, as I’ve been wiped out by a cold and in bed – my arthritis pain was a bit full on too. As usual My Chap has been looking after me 🙂 Still it could be worse, Cathy who hosts In a Vase on Monday at Rambling in The Garden in the Garden has a Vase of snowdrops and rose hips among rather deep snow this week. There are Northern and Southern Hemisphere contrinbutions so there’s always something lovely.

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12 December 2017 – In a Vase on Monday – rosemary, pelargonium and lavender in the Salford gloom

Today (Tue) I felt a bit better, so I wrapped up well and dashed outside, as I could see pink flowers on a very well sheltered hanging basket, and snipped a few stems. It was the trailing pelargonium (pictured in my blog header), I’ve managed to ‘over winter’ for five years now, along with another pink standard (non trailing) pelargonium. Also I found some lavender and did a little pruning of the rosemary that grows in the front garden and my mini bouquet was ready. I picked one of my mini jugs, partly because it had lovely pink roses on it, but also because I bought it at Bodnant Garden in North Wales in summer 2016. We got engaged there in the Rose Garden 🙂 Reminding me of sunny summer days 🙂

The picture frame and quote ‘you are enough just as you are right now‘ were used as a photo prompt for an Instagram Challenge I’m following from the Blurt Foundation (www.blurtitout.org) for December #blurtmerrycalmness. As it was so cold I took the photo in the porch at the front door; it has been a popular spot for photos recently as it gets the best light and is dry 😉

The photoframe and card represents DAY 7: WORTHY. I think it’s difficult at times to believe you’re good enough, especially if you’re ill and have long term health conditions. I’ve been working on accepting I’m enough. Mindfulness and affirmations help with this too.

You can follow my Instagram @Becinmonton and contributions from other people to #blurtmerrycalmnessyou can get involved too 🙂

Today’s prompt is COMFORT (DAY 12); it’s a picture of our ramen soup we had for dinner but of course, comfort comes from many things, not just physical aspects of life. Ive spoken before about how much IAVOM helps me – how flowers, plants and the great outdoors lift me.

About the Blurt Foundation – INCREASING AWARENESS AND UNDERSTANDING OF DEPRESSION

Blurt produce a range of resources for people with #anxiety and #depression including these Card Decks – 12 cards in each with affirmations (£8.95 if you buy them seperately). They suggest pulling them out, steadying your breath and reading the cards. These two cards ‘spoke’ to me today…

12 December 2017 – Press pause, You are enough and Believe in yourself cards – produced by Blurt Foundation

I received these cards as part of my monthly Buddy Box from Blurt. they describe the boxes as a Hug in Box. These can be ordered as a one off, monthly, for a friend or send a Random Act of Kindness (Blurt pick someone to receive a box who really needs it).

My December box is due this week – and it will contain The Selfcare Project written by Jayne Hardy, Blurt’s Founder and CEO. The book is published on 14th December and can be ordered on Amazon – Print, Audio and Kindle

The Self-Care Project: How to let go of frazzle and make time for you

I’m really looking forward to reading this book – the blog posts and resources from Blurt are excellent. I’ve written a few times about Blurt before – #blurtfoundation

I’ve got much ‘better’ at self-care over the last few years but there’s always new options and ideas. Selfcare, mindfulness, yoga, affirmations are part of my daily life now. I’m on a journey and I’m not at my destination yet.

Do you have favourite affirmations? What’s your #365daysofselfcare routine? Are you going to join in with #blurtmerrycalmness

By the way, I decided not to include any fuchsias in my vase to give you all a rest from them over the last few weeks, but there are a few flowers under the kitchen window sill. Have a look on #fuchsia to see more 🙂

I hope the weather is OK where you are 🙂

Carpe Diem

Love Bec xxx

*Note: I paid full price for the Buddy Boxes and haven’t been asked to write about them. I wanted tell my readers about the great work Blurt do – and see if anyone want to get involved in #blurtmerrycalmness

In a Vase in Monday – winter childhood memories (and fuchsia too)

“Hope”  Leia Organa in Rouge One (2016)

I’ve been thinking about Winter alot this week, it was the metrological start of Winter on last Friday, 1st December.   It’s been cold, but sunny in Manchester, we’ve had a couple of nights of frost so that’s finished off the final flowers – apart from the perennial wallflowers and some violas. Christmas is on everyone’s mind – trees and decorations going up, toy adverts everywhere.   I’m feeling fairly ambivalent about Christmas this year – despite looking forward to spending time with My Chap.  We had a wonderful wedding day, and we’re incredibly happy together. But this has been a truly dreadful year – we each lost a brother this year. Both incredibly loved and missed – I can’t express in words how devastated I am about my wonderful brother Matt – I think about him every day and I always will.

However, I know that we have to carry on with life. Christmas coming has got me thinking of childhood memories too. I did something I haven’t done for decades and bought an Advent Calendar.

4 December 2017 – climbing fuchsia ‘lady in black’ and Winter moons illustration with

But first, in this week’s In A Vase on Monday, I’ve picked Lady in Black which is a bit of an unusual fuchsia – it’s a hardy, climbing fuchsia. My mum, who loves fuchsias, bought it for me a couple of years ago.  it’s still getting established and is only about two foot high and not really filled out yet. It lives at the end of our garden on our decking, so it’s the very last fuchsia still flowering.  There were more flowers when I picked them but they fell off as I walked up the garden – typical.  I’m only a day late for this link up which makes a change 🙂

The fuchsia is displayed in a bud vase which has appeared in IAVOM regularly, as have fuchsias – including for the last two weeks

The print came from a magazine – it’s a picture of a Wolf along with the three moons associated with winter – Cold moon (December), Wolf moon (January) and Snow Moon (February). Most of these names originate from Native American or Celtic descriptions. There are three other prints, so I’m sure they’ll be appearing on the blog another time too.
The Spring Print has now appeared with a beautiful drawing of a butterfly, with (Worm Moon, Pink Moon and Flower Moon.  It had snowed here!

4 December 2017 – Our bistro table on the decking Summer 2015 (with yoda too)

I’ve not got a picture of the decking in winter, but here’s a photo from a few years ago – it’s my sanctuary.  We spend alot of time, relaxing and thinking especially as it gets the last of the evening sun.  #dreamingofsummer.   You’ll also notice yoda peeking out from the fuchsias. He makes me smile every time I see him. He’s appeared on the blog many times too. check out #yoda

Advent Calendar 

It’s no ordinary Advent calendar it’s a Lego Star Wars one. I’ve thought about buying one for a couple of years but this year thought I’d buy it and think of all the happy times with Matt. We had a very large lego collection and spent hours playing with it.

Star Wars came out when I was 11 and my brother a year younger. We went to see it with our amazing Uncle Fred, who loved the theatre and films. We saw it in Leicester Square in the West End of London and I remember the crawler opening very clearly

‘A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…’ Star Wars – A New Hope (1976)

and ducking as the Imperial battle cruise passed over. We loved it, and watched the film three or four times that summer. And countless times since then.  We had lightsabers toys at Christmas – wish we’d kept them but I think they were in a right state. We were hooked on Star Wars and watched the subsequent films many, many times. I’ve written about Star Wars on the  blog too – it’s definitely a shared experience for people my age watching all three films at the cinema, waiting for the next instalment, and like many I wasn’t particularly impressed with all aspects of the prequals.

4 December 2017 – The Ghost, The Phantom and Sabine Lego Advent Calendar 2017

My Chap wasn’t much of a fan, as he’d only seen Phantom Menace (1999) and all he could remember was the jar jar binks character (not impressed). But he’s taken me to see Force Awakens (2015) and Rouge One (2016) and enjoyed them very much, so I think he’s slowly getting hooked. Only a minor eye roll when I bought home the calendar.  But, I’m looking forward to opening the doors, building the toys and thinking of my brother.  My favourite characters are Leia and yoda – there’s a lot of wise thinking in Star Wars including advice for managers 😉.

I really must read The Princess Diaries by Carrie Fisher 🙂 although I’m so nackered I think I might need to get an audio book instead.  I read Postcards from the Edge many years ago and loved it. She’s a great loss to the world  and also taken far too young.

I’m so excited about The Last Jedi – fortunately I know quite a few geeky Star Wars fans so will have people to talk to about it with, but it won’t be the same not taking to my brother about it.

My Chap and I are both hoping that things will improve in 2018 – I’m doing my best with exercise, eating well, mindfulness, yoga but most of all being kind to myself and self-care too.  But time heals and helps – and hope helps too.

#365daysofselfcare this week involved:

  • Managing #anhouroutside everyday – I went for walks around the neighbourhood and at work, and gardening. One day it rained so persistently I was potting up in the porch.
  • Finding some new mindfulness articles and guided meditations about managing pain 🙂
  • Ordering the Christmas food so I don’t need to stress, running round to get it at the last minute. My Chap works ridiculously long hours in the run up to Christmas so can’t do much to help.
  • Getting out the Star Wars dvds 🙂
  • Booking a Christmas wreath making course. Cathy who hosts in a Vase on Monday over at Rambling in the Garden has her door wreath as her ‘Vase’. Do have a look 🙂

Are you a star wars fan or are you looking forward to another film over the Christmas Holidays? 

There’s a fuchsia called star wars but it’s stopped flowering in my garden now… But it will be back – it’s always here like The Force

Carpe Diem

Love Bec xx xx xx

P.S. I bought My Chap a Thornton’s chocolate Advent Calendar so he wasn’t left out 😉 I bought both items full price and wasn’t asked to write about them.