The Calm Before The Storm

It is Christmas Eve. As far as I can work out, all the preparations are done and we are about to watch brainless TV for a couple of hours. I’ve just completed a piece I started at my Zentangle class on the 6th of December. We did a ceramic Christmas tree and they looked great. Until…

We were going to use Mod Podge to seal them but I was afraid it would smudge, so I waited until I got home and sprayed it with a lacquer.  The results are below. It seems the lacquer melted the ink. Aaaarrrrggghhhh!!! My daughter suggested that maybe I had held the spray can a little too close but, having turned it over and done the other side I’m loathe to risk it again.

I was quite proud of it.
I was quite proud of it.

So today I did it again, on the reverse side, and used Mod Podge. Fingers crossed.


I’m going to try and clean off the spoilt side with nail polish remover or white spirit and try again but it will have to wait until the New Year.


Yesterday was the most peaceful Christmas Day we have had in years. Just the loved one, our daughter Alex, her dog and me. In spite of the low numbers, we still did a joint of pork the size of Canada, with the traditional veg, proper stuffing and pigs in blankets. There was no way we were going to manage a dessert, so the Christmas pudding is still in the cupboard. It’s been there since last year and it may well be there next year too. In the evening, we had a sandwich and a selection of cakes, including a ginger and walnut cake which is mind blowingly good.  (Home made, of course, she modestly adds.)

The Christmas card I made for the loved one this year. I think I may keep it to put up as a dec next year.
The Christmas card I made for the loved one this year. I think I may keep it to put up as a dec next year.

So today, to blow away the cobwebs, we drove out into Derbyshire and had lunch at The Wheatsheaf in Baslow. There were four of us and we had intended to have a walk in Chatsworth Park afterwards but the ground was so boggy underfoot after all the recent rains, that we chickened out and drove over to Bakewell instead for a toddle round the shops. In spite of it being a bank holiday, almost everything in Bakewell was open and we had a fun time not buying useless gadgets, even though we (I) were very tempted. However, I did see a fleecy jacket with planets and rockets and aliens on it that was just right for Ben and they were on special offer – £10.00 off if you bought two and there was a design with bugs on as well – so it seemed foolish not to…

Home for sandwiches, mince pies, ginger cake and home made Bakewell tarts – not puddings, don’t like ’em. More brainless T.V. in the evening and an early night. Exhausted by the excessive eating.


Girding up our loins for the onslaught – Ben arrives tomoorow. Wheeeee!!!

The beds are made, there are boxes of gifts, including a Chewbacca soft toy that is almost as big as he is, and some games to play  and a party planned for New Year’s Eve.

We had a mini party yesterday for two elderly gentlemen who were sort of honorary uncles when I was young. One of them, Ralph, was a childhood friend of my father’s and the other, Basil, was married to my mum’s close friend Audrey, who, sadly, died earlier this year. Since Basil is about 85 and Ralph is, as he told us several times, in his 91st year, they don’t get out a lot, so they came to us for lunch and to share memories. To get away from Christmas food, I did a huge meat and potato pie (in the beautiful new dish that was a present from Alex for Christmas) with mushy peas.

Now, if you do not know about mushy peas, you have not lived. They are dried peas, soaked with bicarbonate of soda, boiled until they collapse and served with the pie, onion gravy and mint sauce. It’s very much a peasant dish, filling, warming and tasty. However, mushy peas do have a well deserved reputation for causing flatulence of epic proportions, so the loved one pointed out that we were doing them a double service – food now, entertainment later. (He has a low sense of humour.)

In spite of Ralph’s denture, which seemed to have a life of its own, his hearing aid, which whistled now and then – the only person not noticing it being Ralph himself – and Basil’s tendency to lose himself mid sentence, we had a great time, with both of them telling tales of times before we were born. (And remembering episodes from my youth that were best left forgotten. Funny how Basil didn’t lose his thread when recalling embarrassing incidents.) They left mid evening with promises to do it again next year. (I think we may do something before then, all being well.)


Well we had the calm; we had the storm and now we have the calm, not to say anti climax, again. The boy has been and gone. (In case you were wondering, he doesn’t come alone, we do allow his parents to come too.) Of course, he was giddy as could be and was all over Grandad, aka Wallace, from Wallace and Grommit, until we were both weak at the knees. Chewbacca was a great success and we have a had a lovely time.

Of course, I have done very little drawing over the Christmas period and my desk is pretty much as I left it having finally done all the Christmas cards. (I did do a couple of ZIAs for friends too.) I’m rather looking forward to starting some new stuff but my conscience says finish some of the ones you’ve already started. You know what, I might just do that.

Our New Year’s Eve party was pretty good. It was a mix of family and neighbours and my younger daughter had brought a bag full of board games for people to play. The one the younger ones played sounded a bit rude to me (Cards Against Humanity) so I got the parental end of the gang into the other room and we played Articulate. We thoroughly enjoyed it and resolutely stayed away from the increasingly riotous noise in the dining room. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss.

We had supper of home made pulled pork – only the second time I had made it, so a bit of a nervous moment but it all went down very well. Lots of party foods besides, of course, as well as all the usual cakes and buns.

Midnight came and went, with Bryan Adams playing away towards the countdown and fireworks and we finally broke up around 01.15, which was fine.


It is 7 a.m. on New Year’s Day. You went to bed about 2 a.m., having cleared away some, but not all, of the detritus from a party for a dozen people. You did drink more than usual, although not to a ridiculous or debilitating extent. You awaken to the feel of the duvet being lifted at the bottom of the bed and a small person scrambling up between you and your spouse, dragging with him a Jawa(?), Chewbacca and  a robot called BB8. Two little arms go round your neck and a voice says “Grandma, are you awake? ” “Yes, Ben, why?”  “Oh, nothing, I just wanted a cuddle.” The year couldn’t have started any better, could it?

Not sure what was going on in my head but here it is.
Not sure what was going on in my head but here it is.

And now it’s Diva Day and the Challenge is to use two old favourites – Auraknot and diva Dance. A nice easy one to get back into the swing of things.


Oh, by the way, HAPPY NEW YEAR!


13 thoughts on “The Calm Before The Storm

  1. It sounds like you had pretty much a perfect Christmas and New Years with friends and loved ones. I would have been near to suicidal had I wrecked my masterpiece (your Christmas tree). Do let us know if you were able to save it. I can’t decide whether your Diva tile is sticking out its tongue at us or if it has a lovely piece of cloth looped over it. I see you also went the Diva Dance Rock and Roll route. Great minds. 😉 Happy New Year.

  2. I really enjoyed reading your post. You were making me hungry with all the food mentioned! Your challenge piece is quite creative. So sorry to hear about your project melting. I hope you can save it.

  3. Great post, love the contrasts, and the ‘uncles’. My parents had a fish n chip shop in Bradford when I was young. I know all about mushy peas…
    Lovely art work, well done for not going to pieces over the melting 🌲. I hope you can salvage it as it is very beautiful.
    I really like your challenge piece but not sure quite what inspired it. Happy New Year! Axxx

  4. Ohmigosh! I’ve just spent the better part of my morning coffee giggling whilst reading and rereading several of your blog posts…such a delight:-D Thanks so much for commenting on my blog~I didn’t make the swap connection until now. For the Black and White Swap tile I swiped black gesso across the watercolor paper tile using a palette knife and used a white gel pen and a Rapidograph technical pen. It was an idea I got from an earlier white on black Diva challenge where Laura covered up an old reject tile with black gesso spread over it using an old gift card. Beautiful work here btw, I especially love that wreath card with the beautiful gems. Happy New Year!

  5. What a nostalgic post for me, I miss Bakewell Tarts and Mushy Peas. So much so if they were offered to me together I might even eat them! I remember going for walks at Chatsworth and can imagine it waterlogged at the moment. So sorry to see your poor tree, it looked a great idea. Your coloured wreath is absolutely beautiful and your Diva tile is very original. How clever to fit so many Auraknots into the tile, I struggle with Auraknot when it is small. Anyway Happy New Year to you and I am looking forward to a new year of your newsy hilarious posts.

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