Monday, 30 November 2015

Your Face Should Be on a Christmas Card

In years past I've meticulously coordinated an outfit for Afon, selected a location, and taken dozens of  pictures of him until I was satisfied I'd something "fit" for a Christmas card.

Last year I didn't even send out cards.

This year I'm hoping to land somewhere in-between.  I had some matching-but-not-too-matching clothes in mind for Afon and Roan, and even something for me if, wonder of wonders, we were able to get someone to take a picture with all of us in it!  But the weather has been absolutely dreadful, with rain and wind I've not seen this side of a hurricane.  So when the boys were dressed for church yesterday, I hustled them outside and into the back garden to snap some pictures.  We only missed the bus and were  horrendously late for Mass.

Eh.  Good enough.

And with a little magic in Picmonkey, not bad, I say.

I'd print this out on card stock myself and save a kenning, but our printer is rubbish.  And there's always TinyPrints.

I don't send out a lot of personalized cards, as they are liable to be thrown away, but I always try to get some printed for the immediate family as keepsakes.  And I send tidings of joy with pretty, inexpensive or homemade cards to the rest of the gang.

Do you do family photos at Christmastime?  Do you bother sending them with cards?

Friday, 27 November 2015


outside the Co-op on a cold night with a Belgian bun // winter moon // the non-crawler // a family lunch at Wetherspoons // a pint of Fosters // he picked out a monster truck toy at a charity shop, calling it "orange tractor" // bundled up // rain cover // warm and dry // the last leaves

Thursday, 26 November 2015

The Highest Form of Thought

We've all got colds, so I'm going to be over here eating toast with cranberry chutney and slices of mature cheddar and dreaming about left-over turkey sandwhiches.  There's no Thanksgiving in Wales, so I have to live vicariously through others: print out these for last minute place-settings, make ornaments, or string them together in a banner.

Have a warm and friendly Thanksgiving, m'kay?

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

#5Faves: Christmas Wishlist

I've never "done" Black Friday.  The concept sort of horrifies me.  Anticipating a closed, crowded environment, waiting in long lines would ruin the take-it-slow family holiday immediately preceding it.

But Cyber Monday?  Yeah, I can get behind that.  ;)

I like the phrase something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read.  Here's what's on my wish list for Christmas.  Maybe you'll find something you like, too!

-- one --

I adore this poem by William Carlos Williams and have even gotten to teach it to my pupils during my tutoring days.  Poetry + Courier font + tea towel.   Definite WANT.

-- two --

That they're popular right now makes my folky heart glad.  WANT.

-- three --

I've held off buying a planner for a month or two because it just doesn't make sense to with so little time left in the year.  This 2016 diary from Paperchase is called Nordic Nights, and there's a whole series of this motif with some really useful stuff, such as a glasses case and ear buds.  NEED.

-- four --
Would I like the color combination of gray and mustard yellow if it weren't in right now?  I wonder, but knit mittens from People Tree might be a must any day now if I don't get around to crocheting myself the fingerless gloves I've been planning.  Perfect to WEAR.

-- five --

I had a look into this book at W.H. Smith; it hits the the perfect harmony of humorous and profound.  If I weren't mortified at the idea of taking apart a book (any book), I would frame them for the nonexistent children's room.  As a coffee table book, it's a more than delightful READ.

Linking up with Big White Farmhouse for Five Favorites!

Saturday, 21 November 2015


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015."

Afon:  if he wakes after having been put to bed for the night, he'll come and join us, then peacefully sink back to sleep.

Roan:  with Mama's shoe.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Pretty Pictures

My blog is not pretty because I want my life to look perfect.  My blog is pretty because I like a pretty blog.

That's it.

I'm an artist-y type, and I like things to be pretty.  It gives me joy and a great deal of pleasure for things of mine to be attractive, and to surround myself with attractive things.  You can imagine that that's difficult with an autistic child and limited means.

So when I have a little place on the internet that I can decorate just so, which is not limited by finances or physical space, I will strive for (subjective) perfection.  That's a personality quirk of mine; it's nice at times but mostly it's just a nuisance.  You don't want to be perfectionist-me, trust me.  I'm sure it's grating, and a total first-world problem, but there it is.

Still, I don't want people to get the wrong idea.  I'm not trying to present a false picture of myself, even though every internet presence is, to some extent, curated.  It's unavoidable.  I just want to let it be known that in my case, I'm not trying to be pretentious; I'm not trying to impress; I'm not faking it.

I just like pretty pictures.


For further reading:

Thursday, 19 November 2015

It's beginning to look a lot like Advent. . .

Gosh, it's dark these days.   But I read a really good article about how Scandinavian folks don't dread--but actually look forward to--winter!  I think it's pretty good advice to take on.  Cheery hearths aren't really a possibility, but candles and hot drinks are my best friends no matter the weather.

Oh, and now is around the time I start playing my Scandinavian mood music (Amazon affiliate), which you can listen to for free here.

I'm thinking about personal Advent devotions, pulling back from social media, and hand-making the few Christmas presents I'm committing to this year.

There is this Waiting in the Word mother's journal, but I feel like veering away from the mommy crowd, maybe doing a daily Kathleen Norris instead.  I do admit, though, I like the easy set-up with the companion journal.  Makes things simpler for me, more organized, and therefore less easy to forget or slack off on.

Since our things are in storage, it's the perfect chance to supplement with natural, affordable "decorations."  In particular, I'm enamored of this hanging Advent wreath, and this crochet tree skirt is just my style: white and red?  Check.  Star-like Scandinavian symbol?  Check.  Crochet not knit?  Check.

I really like this Christmas tree, but I don't think we should spend so much money on it.  I'd love a real one, but we have no way of hauling it home.  Which is just as well, because we'll be moving in mid-December to our new accommodation anyway!  Hurray!

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Why the Doctor Can't Be a Woman

I've been re-watching episodes of Doctor Who from season 4 onwards while I wait out the plague.  There are things about each Doctor that puts a pleasant little squeeze on my heart: the way Nine says "fantastic" in his Manchester accent, Ten's openmouthed exclamations, and Eleven's arm-flapping and slurring, soulful speeches--Smith is arguably the best NuWho Doctor, his range is amazing and original--and that's one of the things that makes this show immortal.

There's always going to be feet-dragging from the audience in response to change of any kind, but its the flexibility inherent in the character and his casting that allow Doctor Who to go on and on.  When one storyline becomes stale, one version of the Doctor grows unsympathetic, or the themes sway in significance, all that can change.  Doctor Who demonstrates survival of the fittest for television series!

There is one thing, however, I firmly believe will never come to pass in the Whoniverse.  The Doctor cannot be a woman.

David Tennant's sideburn's tumblr, haha.

This is where I'd popularly bemoan the inherent misogynism of All Things and rant about the fact that our civilization could never accept a woman as the Cleverest Person in the Universe.  But I won't, and not because I recoil from the idea of a powerful, intelligent, and commanding female.  I was as put out as the next self-respecting woman when the writers put in that bit about "an enigma squeezed into a mystery squeezed into a skirt that's just a little bit too tight" comment.  (Incidentally, I was really unnerved at Amy Pond's kissing assault on him, so that I never really forgave her or liked her after that.)

The reasons why the Doctor will never be a woman, as long as it is necessary to pique the interest of human nature, is because women are different from men and men are different from women; and men and women are more different from each other than different races, different heights, ethnic groups, or hair colors, etc.  To change the gender of the doctor would be to distort the character of the Doctor beyond recognition.  It would be like making the Doctor an Ood or Sontaran or a dog.  Not gonna happen.

Think about the current controversy surrounding transgenderism.  It's no light thing, no matter from what point-of-view.  Trans-folks will attest to the fact that gender is far from irrelevant but a deeply psychological, soul-defining fact.  Not a trait.  A state of being.  I don't think I speak out of turn here when I say that for trans-people, gender reassignment isn't a mere makeover.  It's a becoming of themselves.

It's not possible to flippantly change the Doctor's gender, even if the possibility of it is, for all intents and purposes, canon in the Doctor Who universe.

A change like that would be monumental and irrevocable in its reimagining of the beloved character: either the Doctor was a woman in a man's body the whole time or he is a man in a woman's body now.  Problems abound.  And even though that could be used as a very enticing and thought-provoking story premise, there is no room for such a fundamental paradigm shift in the focus of the series without completely unmaking it.  It's not in the nature of Doctor Who to go down that path.  If it did, it would unravel into something much more mature and sinister (which is one of the reasons for the Torchwood spinoff).

The nature of identity in DW has been experimented with before with secondary characters: interspecies relationships between cats-and-humans and lizards-and-humans, for example.  Jack Harkness was immortal and pansexual.  The latest plot with Master/Missy is one step away from a gender-swapping Doctor.  And while it is necessary for the survival of a series for the main character to evolve, to change, to grow, to fall back, to pick himself up again, to fail, and to renew his commitment to Being a Force for Good, it is completely impossible for the main character to cease being himself.

I believe that is what a change of gender for the Doctor will do.  Either the Doctor before the change or the Doctor after the change will be made false.  They can't both be true.  And when the Doctor is false, he is not real to the audience, and there is no Doctor for us to care about.


This is how I've thought it through so far, but I'm always likely to miss something.  Change my mind!  What do you think?  Can the Doctor ever be a woman without setting up the show for failure?

Monday, 16 November 2015

Autumn Beeswax Garland {Illustrated}

I've wanted to make one of these garlands ever since I happened upon them on the world wide web.  There was only one thing holding me back: the total and utter lack of autumn in my part of the world.  So guess what?  When I saw there was still fall foliage upon the trees when returning to Wales, I waxed those babies and strung them up to make a garland!

I even let Afon help some.  Mom of the Year over here!

I bought some bars of beeswax on Amazon, and the process was really quite simple.

Because I didn't have a crockpot or disposable baking dish, I lined a saucepans with tin foil and let the wax melt in there.  It was surprisingly easy.  I thought maybe the bars would take longer and that I  had erred by not looking for some special wax "petals" or "chips," but I honestly had no problem melting these down. I cut the first two in half and didn't even bother with the rest.

My leaves were a bit dirty but I didn't know how washing and wetting them would affect the waxing, so I brushed them off and dipped them as they were.  I do sort of wish I'd had a bit more wax and/or a deeper pot because the large leaves had to be sort of scrunched in there to get them completely covered.

I dried them on a sheet of clean aluminum foil because we didn't have wax paper.  After the first batch, I realized it would be better to hold the dipped leaf over the wax and let it drip for several seconds before lying it down on the foil, so that the wax wouldn't harden and the leaves wouldn't stick and be more difficult to peel off.

If I felt like they needed it, I dipped the leaves more than once.

The smell is so rich!  Afon tried to eat the wax, I don't blame him, it's too much like honey.

After I finished waxing my leaves and carefully peeled them from the foil, I used a white thread and needle and strung them along so that the leaf surfaces were all facing one direction.  If I'd had more, I might have sewn then up so that their surfaces were all touching each other, like single file soldiers, but I needed them to stretch, and I wanted a biggish garland.

The string got tangled in the crevices and leaf edges; thick string would have been better for sturdiness, but wouldn't have sewn through the leaf skins so well.  If I'd had my (now stored and over the ocean) usual range of craft supplies with me, I might have done twine and wooden clothespins.

Wow!  A craft that I could execute successfully with minimum effort and planning.  What's not to love?  But if I were going to do things differently next time, I would:

  • use wax paper instead of tin foil
  • use a larger and deeper container for the melted beeswax
  • use thicker string or twine

Still . . . it looks really great, no?  (Note: I could have adjusted the colors and lighting in post-processing to make the autumn leaves appear more brilliant, but I wanted to keep them as close to natural as possible.)

Hope you're enjoying the last scraps of your autumn.

Sunday, 15 November 2015


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015."

Afon:  on a windy morning at the bus stop on the way to school.

Roan:  sitting up in his bath, with suds on his chin!

Roan is still not crawling.  He much prefers to be on someone's lap than on the hard ground on his hands and knees and will wail and wail to be retrieved from such an insult.  He caught HFSD and now I suspect I have it, minus the gruesome-looking rash, plus the fibromyalgia aches.  At least November is my ideal month to be ill!

Friday, 13 November 2015

#7QT: Windsdays

Tuesday was warm and windy.  I brought Afon to school but got off on the wrong bus stop.  Never mind.  We had a walk with a beautiful view of bay from way up in Llysfaen.

Did you see our Martinmas?  I also finished Roan's mittens!

I feel myself turning toward winter preparations, but I'm not sure what that means.  I don't have any livestock to slaughter or grain to stow away.  But living in Wales where the seasons are felt is stimulating me to be busy before I hibernate.  This must be what animals feel!

What do you do to prepare for the deep of winter, those of you who live in cold climes?

Maybe because we jumped right out of the sauna into the season. Here are the photos from the very, very hot Halloween in Florida:

Each year, we go to the home of long-time friends of ours in town, who are innkeepers.  I only took Roan around to the trunk-or-treating at the church around the corner, and then we came back to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters.

Now skipping forward in true consumer fashion, I'm thinking . . . Christmas presents?  Probably all going to be homemade this year.  But I am the worst worst worst at keeping to a timely schedule.  Should I start now?  I guess I answered my own question.

I think list-making is order.

BUT before Christmas, in the heart of Advent, we will be moving to new accommodation!  This is all good, with a side of inconvenient, but once we are settled at a permanent address, we can apply for my immigration.  Of course, then I'll have to leave the country again. . .

We've actually been made two offers.  The person in charge of house placement interviewed John a few weeks ago and liked him so much that she wanted to give him the choice of a larger and nicer accommodation.  Though this second one is not immediately across from Morrison's (boo!), I'm withholding judgement until we see them both.

Prayers being answered, two months late, but twice as good.  So there you go.

Roan did end up having hand, foot, and mouth disease, but I can tell he's on the mend because he's sleeping much better.  Poor babe!

And those are my quick takes!

Linking up with Kelly for Seven Quick Takes Friday.
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