Tuesday, 16 December 2014

The Christmas 2014 blog post Anthology

Just in case I go missing again in the run up to Christmas and you're desperate for something seasonal to read on this blog, here is the annual, updated for 2014, Everyday Life on a Shoestring anthology of Christmas blog posts, past and present.

If you're looking for a recipe, a homemade gift idea, a good Christmas book to read, or a corny cracker joke, then you might find what you need here! I've added 'A Simple Christmas' button to the bar at the top of the blog's home page so that you can easily find that peppermint cream recipe at a later date...

Everyday Life on a Shoestring Christmas traditions, Christmassy photos...they're all here! Just click on the link to be taken to the relevant blog post.

Santa comes to Corsham, 2012!

And here Santa is in 2013!

How to make an advent Christmas crown

Vegetarian mincemeat recipe

Christmas Pudding recipe

Christmas Cake recipe

Millionaire's Shortbread recipe

Peppermint Creams

Chocolate, orange and almond torte

How to make bath bombs

How to recycle candles into new candles for great gifts!

Easy Peasy Icecream recipe

Christmas Jokes

Christmas Music

Christmas Poetry

Christmas Books

Operation Christmas Child - Shoeboxes

Travelling in the UK at Christmas? Links to travel news here

Monday, 15 December 2014

A Pause in Advent - Week 3

(Oops, as well as Pausing in Advent, there's been an unintentional pause in blogging for the last couple of weeks, ...did I mention this time of year can be hectic?)

Time for another Pause in Advent - that chance for a reflective pause amidst what, for many of us, is a busy time of year as we prepare to welcome the light (in whichever sense you celebrate that - religious or not).

One of my favourite parts of this time of year is the music. Granted, all the old favourites are being trotted out on the radio and in the shops, and I do tire of some of those. But each year there's a new surprise. Often it's been discovered at a school concert: a few years ago it was A Wriggly Nativity - one of the better off-the-peg nativity packages that some UK primary schools buy into these days. One year it was the secondary school choir performing a Tears For Fears number - not your usual Christmas fare but very moving.

This year is the first year where we have no primary school Christmas show to go to and neither child is performing in the Comp's Christmas concert, so we have had rely on the oldies for our Christmas musical thrills. Yesterday Grandad's Choral Society's performed Bach's Christmas Oratorio. In its own way, just as exciting as A Wriggly Nativity. Not least because a tier of Basses and Tenors were balanced precariously at the back of stage and there was a real possibility that someone might fall off the stage, Reception class style. Thankfully there were no accidents. Not many musical surprises either. Bach's very dependable.

No, this year's new discovery for me is 'People, Look East! (Carol of the Advent)'. The words were written by Eleanor Farjeon (who also wrote Morning has Broken) and set to an old French melody. I came across this carol at a concert where it was one of the 'all join in' carols for the audience, most of whom, like me, did not recognise it. I really like this Youtube version without the lyrics, so for this week's Pause in Advent I give you the tune and the words separately. If you're feeling very Christmassy you can karaoke along with the video...

People of the East, Carol of the Advent
People, look East, the time is near
Of the crowning of the year.
Make your house as fair as you're able,
Trim the hearth, and set the table.
People, look east, and sing today:
Love, the Guest, is on the way.

Stars, keep the watch, when night is dim.
One more light the bowl shall brim.
Shining beyond the frosty weather,
Bright as the sun and moon together.
People, look east, and sing today:
Love, the Star, is on the way.

Angels, announce, with shouts of mirth
Him Who brings new life to earth.
Set ev'ry peak and valley humming
With the word, "The Lord is coming!"
People, look east, and sing today:
Love, the Lord, is on the way.

Eleanor Farjeon

Angela at Tracing Rainbows is hosting PiA this year, and if you visit her blog you can find links to the other bloggers taking part and sharing their Pauses

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

A Pause in Advent - Week 1

This year I'm joining in with some other bloggers for A Pause in Advent. 

It's a blogging tradition that goes back a few years - a chance for a reflective pause amidst what, for many of us, is a busy time of year as we prepare to welcome the light (in whichever sense you celebrate that - religious or not).

Angela at Tracing Rainbows is hosting PiA this year, and if you visit her blog you can find links to the other bloggers taking part and sharing their Pauses

I'm hosting the "Pause In Advent" here - continuing the tradition started by Floss

Perhaps you're thinking that finally this is the point where my writing becomes deep, meaningful and full of insight. Sorry! You'll have to visit some of the other Pausers for that.

Over the weekend I spent a lot of time thinking about what I would write and I'm afraid the best I could come up with is a toilet. 

A toilet.

But not just any toilet - this toilet in Cambodia:

It's twinned with the toilets at the Friends' Meeting House in Redland, Bristol*, where I happened to be using the facilities on Saturday. Its photo hangs above the wash basins along with its longitude and latitude so that you can be locate it on Google Earth.

This gave me pause for thought, quite literally. I'd never come across toilet twinning before but what a fantastic idea. Simple but so thought provoking. I've already thought of a few toilets around here that could be twinned.

The scheme, organised by Cord and Tearfund, allows people or organisations to fund raise to twin an existing toilet or toilets in a home, organisation, village or town with a community in a developing country that does not have a toilet, so that they can build one. 

Shockingly only 1 in 3 people in the world has access to a toilet and many health and hygiene issues result from this lack. For me, this really puts the excesses of Christmas into perspective, especially in the light of all this new fangled (over here in the UK) Black Friday/Cyber Monday nonsense.

This season I'm going to pause gratefully and remember the riches I already possess, including clean water and my very own flush toilet, right here in my house.  Even if I only pause for a minute every time I go to the loo, over the next few weeks that'll add up to a substantial pause in Advent...

* Sorry I didn't think of taking a photo of the Meeting House toilets - it felt eccentric enough taking a photo of the photo of the Cambodian toilet...If you imagine a few clean toilets in cubicles with wash basins and squirty soap dispensers you've pretty much got the Bristol picture...