Friday, January 22, 2021

Hey, Look... It's Another Sunshine Blogger Award! (Thanks, Cat)

It's taken me a couple of weeks to post about this, but... At the start of the month I was nominated for The Sunshine Blogger award by Cat over at The Strawberry Post after she was given the award herself by someone else - you can see her post for it here.  I can't tell you how many times I've been nominated for this award in the past - not without looking through my old blog posts to find out, which I'm not about to do, sorry and all that - but it's always an honour when someone thinks my blog and I deserve things like this.  So, thank you, Cat, for giving me that honour once again.




Naturally, there are rules that go along with accepting the award, so here are the rules:
• Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog
• Answer the 11 Questions sent by the person who nominated you.
• Nominate up to 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
• List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

 Well, I thanked the person who gave it to me - thanks again though, Cat.  I also displayed the award and listed the rules.  So, let's get to those questions, shall we?


1. Do you have any hobbies your blog followers don’t know about?

I'm not too sure.  I have some hobbies I don't mention too often on here, but I think long time followers do know about them.  For those who might be new here though, my hobbies and interests include, but may not be limited to: reading, writing, watching movies and TV shows, listening to music, doing crafts, cooking and baking, astronomy and space, astrology, science, animals and nature, history, doing brainteaser puzzles, and gaming.  Which I focus on depends on my mood at any given time.


2. What’s your favourite animal?

My absolute favourite animal in the world is a lion.


3. What is/are your favourite movies?

There are several movies I consider favourites.  However, my all time favourite movie is "Practical Magic" - it's been my favourite since I first saw it as a teenager after I was gifted a copy by an online friend.  Yes, I said online friend.  I'm old enough to remember when we didn't spend as much time online as we do now, but young enough that most teens were getting online for at least a short time each day by the time I was in my mid teens (though it was a new thing at the time, and internet connections were dial-up ones) so I made some friends online in my teens.  I've had friends online since I was almost sixteen.  I still talk to a couple of them actually - married one of my online friends, but that's another story - though I unfortunately lost touch with most of the online friends I made back then, including the one who gifted me my first copy of "Practical Magic" all those years ago.  I always think of my friend Melody when I watch the movie though - even though the copy I own these days didn't come from her.

4. What’s your creative outlet?

Mostly writing, especially poetry - yes, I write a whole lot more poems than I do stories, hence the several published poetry collections where the shortest has a good dozen poems in it.  If I'm not writing poetry, I'll be writing children's stories.  I also enjoy doing craft projects, but would pick writing as my favourite over those in a heartbeat, even though I do love doing craft projects too.


5. Do you enjoy any sports (watching or playing – assuming no pandemic/lockdowns exist)?

Playing... No.  I used to do Judo and horseriding - which I do sort of miss sometimes - and played netball at school (though I was on the team more because they needed me for the numbers than for any interest or talent on my part).  But that's it as far as playing anything vaguely sporty goes.


As for watching though: I sometimes watch football (soccer) and basketball, and do even have teams I support (Liverpool FC and the Toronto Raptors respectively).  I'm not one of those fans who feels the need to watch all my teams' games though, and don't check in on their progress constantly.  I just support them enough to sometimes wonder how those teams are doing, and will watch one of their games if I'm in the mood to and one of them is playing.


6. What would your dream job be?

I'm doing it.  I mean, when I was young I wanted to either be a vet, work in a nursery school, or become an author.  In an ideal world - and in my daydreams in my youth - I might have done one of the first two - either be a vet or work in a nursery school - while writing and publishing my work on my own time, all while raising a handful of children. However, reality and circumstances made that impossible for me personally, and I ended up going with just the author option.  Though I sometimes wonder what things might have been like if I had been a vet or worked in a nursery school, I'm happy with how things worked out.  After all, I struggle with my health and accepting my own limitations enough when I have a job as flexible as writing, so I think the stress of being a vet or working in a nursery school on top of that would have been too much, especially since I know I'd still have needed to write.  I have a tough enough time with practicing proper self care as it is, so hate to think how mbad I'd be at that if I was trying to manage a full time job on top of everything else.  Besides, writing was the ultimate dream anyhow.


  7. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?

Right here.  I've lived in Wales, England, and Canada.  All three places have their pros and cons, and all three places I could be happy living in - at least, I know that's the case for the parts of those countries I've lived in.  But, if I'm totally honest, Wales is where my heart is.  I've always ended up coming back to Wales, and always considered it home - no matter how hard I tried not to think of it that way during the times I thought I wouldn't end up moving back here.  So, like I said, if I could live anywhere in the world, I'd want to live where I am right now: in Wales.


8. What type of music do you like to listen to?

It really depends on my mood.  My favourite is country, if I have to pick a favourite music genre.  However, I also enjoy pop, oldies, light rock, classical, jazz, new age, etc - basically, anything except RAP will at least be given a chance.  Which genre I listen to depends on my mood, the kind of atmosphere I want to create with the music, and sometimes also the preferences of whoever else is around (since some people aren't quite as open about enjoying a variety of music genres as I am).


9. If your life was made into a book, what would be the title?

 I'm not sure, but I'd be prepared to bet that anyone who picked it up without knowing the genre would automatically assume it was fiction, and insist nobody's life is really the way mine is/has so far been.


10. What food do you never get sick of eating?

There are two things: toast and chips (fries).  Not at the same time, of course.  But, if you're having trouble getting me to eat - not an issue that happens often, but it has happened - a nice bit of toast spread with vegan butter, or a nice plate of chips, will generally tempt me.  Both are also things I eat a lot, but never seem to get bored of, no matter how often I eat them.

11. If you could bring back something/someone that has gone (disappeared/lost/died) what would it be?

This is hard.  On the one hand I want to say Kero - my Westie boy, who died in August 2014.  He was a very special little dog, and I still miss him terribly; I still miss him so much it hurts.  What I wouldn't give for just one more day with him...On the other hand, last year we lost my Nan (Dad's Mother) who also died in the month of August, and I'd love to have her back too.  I'd hoped I'd make it for moving back to Wales in time to see her again, and I'm devistated that I didn't.  I wish I could have them both back.



I'm supposed to tag people and set questions of my own at this point.  However, most of the peple I'd like to give this to don't do awards., so I'm not bothering with the tagging part, and I can't think of better questions than Cat came up with, so I'm not going to give you new questions.  With that in mind: if you're a regular visitor to my blog, consider yourself tagged.  If you want to do this, use Cat's questions.  Yes, that's cheating.  No, I don't care what anyone thinks of that.

Monday, January 18, 2021

The New House (Featuring #Pet #Photos)

Today is not officially a posting day.  However, since I’d already hit ‘publish’ on Friday’s post before Kelly took these photos - since we did a lot of work after I'd scheduled that post, which I actually set up in the early hours of Thursday morning, so it was only after I had it scheduled we agreed the place looked decent enough that I could post photos - and editing a post after I’ve uploaded the photos is a real pain because of how JAWS and the new Blogger are interacting, I decided to just let Friday’s post go up as it was, and give you this extra post instead.


Please forgive any and all messes, and bear in mind when looking at the photos in this post that we are still working on unpacking and organizing things, so there are boxes and messes in places (you can actually see me working on the task of organizing things in a couple of the shots).




First: for those who don’t realize where we’ve moved: we moved to Wales.  We’re actually now living about a ten minute walk from one of the houses I lived in with my parents, where my Dad still lives.  Whether we’re in the same village or the next one over is up for debate, since we’re on the border between the villages, and even our official paperwork for the property isn’t consistent as regards which of the villages it lists us under.  But, regardless, we’re not too far from where I grew up.  It was a long journey to get here, a lot of hassle and expense to arrange, but worth it in my opinion, especially for the fact we’ve moved from a small two bedroom flat to a three bedroom house with a yard, with only a £5 ($6.79 by today’s conversion rate) rent increase.


Also, I’m extremely proud of the petkids, who did fantastically well on the journey.  Mollie and Artemis slept the whole way (Artemis had a special little heating pad in her carrier to help maintain her temperature) and Lilie and Logan only howled for part of the journey, despite having the added upset of being in their crate for almost the entire trip (other than the potty break we gave them at the half way point).  Considering it was a little over six hours of driving, plus the time to unload and load the car at each end, and about half an hour – possibly a bit longer – when we stopped for Dad and I to eat something, and everyone to have a potty break (except Mollie and Artemis, who remained in their carriers the whole time, obviously) they all did amazingly well to tolerate it as well as they did.




But, enough of that.  You’ll want to see the house, right? I know some of you have been asking to, and that’s the whole reason I’m doing this post.  So let’s get on with showing you the new house.


Here’s the downstairs hallway:


This is the living room, where Artemis and Mollie live:



Mollie now has her bigger house in her cage, since she ate her box, so we ended up taking out the lowest level of her cage to make room so we could put the bigger one in.  As you may be able to see from the shot above where it’s featured, she still has plenty to jump and climb on in her cage, even with one of the levels missing.  As you can see from this next photo, she seems happy enough with the arrangement:



The rest of the petkids seem happy in the new house too...



Anyway, this is the kitchen:



There’s a bathroom downstairs too, but I didn’t have Kelly take photos of that.  It’s just a little bathroom with a toilet and sink in it... I’m sure you can picture that just fine without photos.


So, upstairs...



Leading off the little landing, there are the three bedrooms.  One we’re actually using as a bedroom:


One that’s our computer room/study:



And a smaller one that’s our craft room, which I was actually working on organizing some things in when Kelly was taking the photos, hence me being in the shots...

The bureau you see there in the craft room was given to me by Dad's next door neighbours.  They gave it to me when they gave us that sofa corner that's serving as a chair in our living room... The one Lilie is on the back of in one of the photos earlier in this post.  It's a proper writing bureau, but I'll be using it for crafting, since I have no choice but to use either my brailler or computer to write these days, so it's more practical not to use it for writing.  The little cubby holes in it are great for storing craft supplies though, and I'm thrilled I was given a proper writing bureau.

 There’s also another bathroom upstairs.  Yes, we have two bathrooms.  The upstairs one is a full one with a bath that has a shower over it as well as the toilet and sink.  Again we didn’t really think you needed photos.  However, here’s a shot of my turtle themed non-slip bathmat in the bath/shower, just because I wanted to show that to you anyhow:





The kitchen and craft room look out over the little yard, which I didn’t get Kelly to take photos of, since there’s not really anything to see that you wouldn’t have seen in the photos I showed you a couple of weeks ago of Lilie and Logan in the yard (they were among the ones in Logan’s post about us having moved).  It’s just a fenced off area with stones in it, accessed by a gate that’s a few feet away from our back door (which is at the side of the house, but still considered a back door).  We usually clip the dogs on their leads when we take them out to it, just until we have them inside the gate, at which point we let them loose.  They might be fine doing it off lead, since it’s only a few steps, but we aren’t ready to trust them with it yet, since they’re not used to being off-lead outside, and are a bit excited by the idea, so we can’t be sure they won’t run off.  And, yes, we did know before we took the place that we’d need to do things this way.  But at least they have a yard now, even if they have to spend a few moments on their leads to go to it.  That’s more than they had before.


Anyhow, the bedroom and computer room have similar views to each other, since – like the living room – they look out over the street at the front of the house, where most of the snowy photos I’ve shown you recently were taken.  I don’t know how well you can see anything but the buildings across the street from the living room window, but I know there’s a nice view of some of the nearby mountains and such from the bedroom and computer room, as you likely saw in the photos of the view from Friday’s post.




This is pretty much how things still look right now.  Although, we did sort a couple more boxes since these were taken.  We also got net curtains up in the living room, bedroom, and computer room.  But we still have some work to do - and some furniture to get hold of, especially in the living room - as you can clearly see from the photos in this post.

So, there you go, that's the inside of the new house.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Random Ramblings: January 15th 2021 (Featuring #Snow And #Dog Photos)


The photos at the top of this post were taken a couple of days after we moved here.  They're from December 9th 2020.  I'd hoped to make that new computer room window view part of a post about the new house by now, but I haven't had a chance to sort photos of indoors.  Admittedly that's partially - in fact, if I'm honest, mostly - because I'm reluctant to show you the chaos things are still in at this point.  I mean, it's not too bad.  But there's definitely still chaos.  We had some pieces of furniture given to us by my Dad and his next door neighbours, and between those things and what we already had the new house is coming together nicely, even if we still need a few things.  I just don't want to show you that there's still a bunch of stuff to sort out, and boxes in most rooms that need to be dealt with though.  Somehow telling you doesn't feel as bad.  Anyway, we're getting there; we did a lot in this past week.  When things are a bit more organized, I'll get you some indoor photos.  For now you'll have to wait, and can just have those photos of the view from the upstairs window.  But I'll catch you up on some day to day happenings today too.




There were some fireworks here at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, but we didn't get photos or videos, since we couldn't see them from indoors, and Kelly was reluctant to go out in the ice and snow only to find they were over by the time he got out there.  We enjoyed listening to them though.  I do love fireworks, but do also have to admit I was glad it was just a few for midnight and not days of them going off all evening like we had where we used to live.  More fireworks might increase the chances of videos or photos, but less is better for the petkids and local wildlife.




2021 started with us spotting a robin hopping about in what remained of the snow in our yard.  We spotted it through the kitchen window.  We didn't get a photo though, because the camera was too far away.  But Kelly enjoyed watching it,, especially since it was, as I later learned, his first time seeing one that close up in real life (other close sightings he's had were via photos or videos).  I sure wish we'd gotten a photo, but at least I have the memory of Kelly's utter delight at the sight.


I know from growing up not too far from where we now live that it's not Unusual for wildlife to be spotted around here.  Well, there's loads of sheep too - I mean, it is Wales - but I mean things like birds, and common British wildlife like foxes, hedgehogs, etc.

For example, there's an owl nearby.  I've heard it most times when I've been awake nights since we got here, though we've seen no physical signs of it.  I'm not entirely sure if it lives close by or I just hear it as it passes between its hunting ground and wherever it roosts.  I've definitely heard it several times though.  At least, I think it's the same owl each time.

There's at least one fox too.  In fact, possibly more than one.  I've heard at least one fox, and Logan and I startled a fox when we went for a potty run one night.  Although, I'm not sure if the fox or Logan was more startled by the close encounter.  Judging by how quick it ran off, I'd say the fox recovered quicker than Logan though, and the fox did at least know what a dog was before, so Logan was probably the more startled.  Either way, Logan was more vocal about how he felt about things once he did recover, though he thankfully didn't feel the need to make his feelings known for more than a few moments, and soon stopped barking.  Luckily chasing after the darting fox wasn't an option for him.  I assume the fox thought we'd gone indoors with Kelly and Lilie, so assumed the coast was clear, since they generally don't risk coming too close to houses with dogs when they think there's even a slight chance the dogs will be coming outside any time soon.


Anyway, we had snow flurries on and off for the first week of the new year, but nothing that came to much.  In fact, most of them were so brief it wasn't even worth grabbing the camera.  Rather exciting to a snow lover like me though, as I'm sure you can imagine.

There was another snowfall - on the evening of January 7th - that was worth grabbing the camera for though, so here are some photos Kelly took when the dogs and I were out checking it out:

As you probably figured by the tire tracks in one shot, the photos were taken when we were in the street out the front.  We had taken some when we were out the back (in the yard) too, but the lighting and snow falling on the camera lense combined meant they just ended up being blurry patches of white in the darkness, so I'm not bothering to share those ones with you.  Oh, and, in case you were wondering: Logan is there... You might be able to see that I have his lead in my hands as well as Lilie's lead.  But he kept going behind me, so you can't really see him.


In other news:there's a scheme set up nearby where you can get a box of food stuff the supermarkets will soon be unable to sell because of how close their sell-by dates are for just £1 (that's about $1.36 by today's conversion rates).  It's a good sized box, and the stuff is still good, though some of it you'll want to use or preserve/freeze pretty quickly if you don't want it to go to waste.  So we've been going with my Dad to get a box.  It's one per household, so he gets one and so do Kelly and I.

Though obviously it's various food items, the exact contents of the boxes are random, so sometimes Dad will have stuff he can't/won't use, and sometimes we will too, in which case we offer them to each other.  If there's something in them none of us can make use of, we'll pass them on to other people, like my Mam, my brother, Wayne, or a couple of particular friends of my Dad who are in a financial position where food donations are very much appreciated and needed.  Dad's next door neighbours (the same ones who gave us some furniture items) get a box too, and pass anything extra from their box on to Dad, who then considers it extra stuff to either add to his, offer to us, or donate to those friends of his, depending on what the items are.


Getting these food boxes has helped us keep our food shopping costs lower, which was very much appreciated with the move and the holidays happening right on top of each other.  Mind you, for us - and Dad too - reduced costs for essential expenses is always a good thing.  Plus, we're helping to reduce the amount of food supermarkets have to throw away, and most weeks have a little something to offer someone who really needs it.  So, everyone wins.



Mam and I made a bunch of pickles and chutneys with some of the stuff from the boxes.  We also made some vegan friendly orange marmalade when we got loads and loads and loads of oranges, which I was thrilled about, since it's difficult to get a good marmalade you can guarantee is vegan, and incredibly expensive when you do find one.  Considering it was our first attempt at making marmalade using arrowroot as the thickener, I think we did a fantastic job.  It's perhaps a little runnier than it should be, but it's thick enough to be spreadable, and it tastes great, so that's the main thing.



Yes, we're still in lockdown over here.  No, we're not seeing loads of people all the time.  Both my parents - and Dad's neighbours - only come to drop off or pick upthings, and nine times out of ten don't even come inside to do it (they only come in if they absolutely have to, and then only for as long as they need to in order to do what they came for).  And I haven't seen my brother since early December, when we were between lockdowns.  All contact Kelly and I are having with anyone besides each other is for essential tasks to be done, like Dad's neighbours providing us with something to sit on besides the floor in our new home, Dad taking Kelly to fetch those food boxes and staying long enough for us to go through our box and his own, Mam picking up the bits we're giving her from the boxes (Dad takes Wayne's to him, since he's his carer so has to see him anyhow) and that kind of thing.  Just thought I'd put that out there, before anyone accuses me of breaching Wales' current lockdown rules.




Since you can never have too many cute puppy photos, I'm going to end today's post with a couple of photos of Lilie and Logan, which were taken early hours of the morning on January 8th.  We grabbed the camera to get the shot of Logan, who considered me getting out of bed an invitation for him to climb in my warm spot and snuggle in, but grabbed a shot of Lilie (also on the bed) at the same time.


Friday, January 08, 2021

#PetKid Pals: Monkey


Hi everyone.  This is Lilie the Westie.


I have a new friend for you to meet today.  So, let’s see who it is, shall we?


Hello, new friend.  What’s your name? If you have an unusual name, or there’s an interesting story behind it, I’d love to hear about it, and am sure others would too, so please share.


“My name is Monkey! Charlie, one of the people I live with, named me that. He and Sue kept trying different names out for the first few days of me living with them, but Monkey just stuck.”


That’s an interesting name, but how you got it makes sense.  So, Monkey, what species and breed(s) are you?


“Just a basic kitty. Not really sure.”


Fair enough.  Well, describe your appearance.  I know you and your human sent a photo – which I’ll be showing everyone in a moment – but please describe yourself too, for the benefit of those who can’t see the photo.


“I weigh about 7 or 8 pounds. My grey fur has black stripes throughout, especially on my tail. I’m not thin, but I am what you might call svelte. And yes, I’m all that!”




Such a handsome kitty.  Anyway, Monkey, where do you live? What sort of place do you live in? Who do you share it with? Do any other animals live with you? Or is it just you and your human?


“I live in a house with Noodle (the other kitty), Sue and Charlie. They claim the house belongs to them, but I know without a doubt that it’s mine.”


Yeah, humans are always trying to insist things belong to them.  Silly humans.  Also, I remember Noodle... Logan interviewed him a couple of months ago.  Back to you though, Monkey.  So, what’s your favourite thing to do?


“It’s really a toss-up. I have a number of things that I enjoy like scaling up the kitty seat thing in the family room, stalking Noodle when he’s not looking, pouncing on Sue’s feet when she’s trying to walk, playing fetch with tiny things I find, and watching Sue go to the bathroom.”


Sounds like you keep very busy.  That last thing is a very important job – humans should never be allowed to go to the bathroom unsupervised.  You mentioned playing fetch... Do you like toys? If so, do you have a favourite toy? If yes, what is it?


“I’m not too big into toys, except a dangly thing on a wire. That’s LOTS of fun to bat at. And I suppose a random mousey that I come across can be exciting.”


Oh, I see.  How about food? What’s your favourite food?


“I don’t eat any people food, so I would just say the Iams stuff that Noodle and I get.”


Shame you don’t eat people food – they have some great stuff.  But, hey, as long as you enjoy your Iams stuff, that’s fine.  Speaking of human stuff, what’s the one thing your human does that you love most?


“When Charlie lets me lay on him and put my face in his hand.”


Oh, that does sound nice.  I bet there’s things they do you don’t enjoy though, so... What’s the one thing your human does that you hate most?


“Cut my claws. I don’t like it!”


I totally don’t blame you for that! I hate nail trimming time too.  I mean, how can they expect us to stand there calmly when they’re bringing sharp things so close to our paws? *shudders*


OK, let’s talk about something else.  Hey, Monkey, I happen to know your human is a writer.  Well, one of them is.  Has she written anything about you? If yes, can you tell us about it? If no, do you think she will in the future?


“I don’t believe that she has, and no, I don’t think I’ll show up in any future books. That’s okay, though.”


Well, as long as you don’t mind.  So, what do you do while your human writes/works on blog posts?


“Try to sit in her lap and press computer keys.”


That sounds fun! Hey, if she can do it, why not you, right?


Anyway, Monkey, we should probably finish up here so you can get back to your day, especially since your list of favourite things to do makes it clear you have a very busy schedule.  First though, is there anything else you’d like people to know about you?


“That I’m adorable (and I know it). And that I can be really sweet. Oh! And I love company! (but not now, while Covid is going on)”


Ah, yes, Avirus has made things really tough for those of us who love company and making new friends.  Well, at least you have Sue, Charlie, and Noodle.  Hopefully soon Avirus will go away, and you can have other company too.  In the meantime, thanks for visiting.  At least things like this can be done while observing those new rules put in place to keep the humans safe.




About the human

Sue is an indie suspense/horror author who has been writing since 2012. She currently has three novels and two collections of short stories – all which can be found on Amazon OR purchased through her website ( She is working on Rage, novel #4, and plans on having it available sometime in 2021.

Aside from writing, Sue is two months shy of retiring from Illinois State University and is looking forward to spending her free time learning to play French horn, keeping up on exercise, reading, spending quality time with her husband, Charlie, and hopefully getting to do some traveling.




Track 9


After a catastrophic railway accident leaves a trail of carnage and devastation in its wake, the small train station in Rain, Germany is shuttered.

Six months later, Gary and Grace Wolf, returning home after their belated honeymoon, find themselves trapped inside the now defunct terminal. What they discover within its walls leads them to make harrowing decisions. What they learn about each other pushes them to the brink of disaster.

Back in Bloomington, Illinois, their best friends, Mike and Sarah Waverly, await their return. A few hours before the plane is scheduled to land, Mike becomes tormented by troubling premonitions concerning Gary and Grace. Driven to find out the truth, Mike finds himself battling mysterious and inexplicable obstacles that plunge him into his own personal hell.

Everyone’s fate hangs in a precarious balance as the clock runs out.




I hope you enjoyed meeting Monkey, and getting to know about him and his human, Sue.  Don’t hesitate to leave them a  comment, and please consider sharing this post around.  I know it will make me and Mummy very happy, and I’m sure it will make Monkey and Sue very happy too.


Also, we always love making new friends, so... If you’re a bird, cat, chinchilla, degu, dog, fish, gerbil, guinea pig, hamster, rabbit, rat, tortoise, or other non-human animal, you share your home with a human calling themselves a writer – yes, blogging counts – and you’d like to be our guest, feel free to get in touch.  Head over to the “PetKid Pals” page to learn how, as well as to meet all our previous guests.


In the meantime, thanks for popping over to meet our newest PetKid Pal!


Lots of licks,


Friday, January 01, 2021

#WinterSolstice + #Christmas + #NewYearsEve 2020 - Celebrating The Holidays In Lockdown Thanks To #Covid19 + Ending The Year With #Snow

Happy New Year! I hope yours is off to a great start so far, and that it only gets better from here on out. 



I wish I didn't have to mention this in a post about the holidays.  Unfortunately it's the reality of how things are/were, and can't be ignored.  So... 


The UK - at least, Wales and parts of England - went in to lockdown again right before the holidays, because of the situation with Covid-19.  Infection rates are high, not helped by a new mutation of the virus showing up. It was announced on the evening of December 19th 2020, in a last moment change of plans by the government, came in to effect at midnight on December 20th, and meant a bit of tweaking of plans for us.  Although, we were luckier than most, since at least we were able to see some of the family around the holidays, and had each other the whole time.  That's more than many people had/had, and I'm grateful we were among the lucky ones not spending the holidays completely alone.  My heart goes out to those less fortunate, as well as to those who were counting on last moment holiday shopping to get gifts for their children, but couldn't because one of the restrictions was the banning of sales of what the government considers, "Non-essential items," which includes toys, and - for some reason that makes no sense to me - clothing.


Anyway, I won't bother telling you what our original plans had been.  Things couldn't happen that way, so there's no point dwelling on it.  Instead I'll tell you what ended up happening for our lockdown WinterSolstice and Christmas celebrations. 



On December 20th, Mam took me to get a few bits of food shopping I'd need for over the holidays.  She needed a few things too, and since I physically couldn't take myself, we went together.  Neither of us needed much - just a few essentials, and a couple of the ingredients needed to make the things we planned to eat over the holidays - but between having to line up to get in to the supermarket and some other rules that had to be followed because of the pandemic, it took us three hours.  Although, I do admit that we could have shaved a bit of time off that if we hadn't grabbed a cocoa to go from Costa (who do vegan cocoa using plant milks on request).  But believe me when I say that didn't add much to the time we were out.  Besides, as is often the case in the UK at this time of year, it was cold and wet, and we needed something warm after lining up in the chilly drizzle to get our turn to go in to the supermarket.



December 21st was the Winter Solstice.  With not much in the way of spare money, and most of what had been available being used to buy gifts for family and friends (which is totally fine by us, so nobody we got anything for should feel guilty) Kelly and I just had a small gift to exchange with each other this year - just so we'd gotten each other something we could open on the Winter Solstice.


Of course, as I'm sure you already guessed, the petkids all got something too.  In fact, here I am giving Lilie and Logan the little squeaky Santa teddy dog toys that were their Yule gifts this year:



Artemis got some grapes, which she was apparently incredibly pleased with.



As for Mollie... When we moved we got her a new bigger cage.  We got her a new bed/house to go in it, but it turned out to be so big it wouldn't fit through the cage door.  We can only assume they meant it for a hutch type cage rather than the kind of cage Mollie has.  Anyway, we had her in the bottom of her pet carrier for the first few days...

But that's plastic, and she was trying to chew it, which is a bad idea for multiple reasons, so my Dad gave us a small box he'd cut a doorway in for her to use until we could get her one that did fit in her cage.  At least it won't hurt her to chew on that.  You may be able to see the box in this next photo, which was taken of her on the morning of the day of the Winter Solstice.  Then again, you might not... I don't remember what level of the cage Kelly said she was on.  Here's the photo anyhow:

Anyway, because of her house situation, we got Mollie a new little wooden house for her Yule gift, and let her have some of the grapes that were Artemis' gift too.  I think she likes the little house, but it's a bit too cramped in there for her for sleeping, so we're letting her keep her box for now, and have just called the new little house a playhouse for her, since she can - and does - go in and out of it, but can't settle comfortably to sleep in there.  Here's a video Kelly got of her tentatively checking it out when we first put it in her cage:

We've since moved it to one of the other levels, and put the box back in that spot for her to have as a bed.  Her new cage is plenty big enough for her to have extra play things anyhow, so we thought we might as well.  When we can, we'll try again for a bed for her.  Or maybe - since finding one the right size that isn't plastic is proving difficult - I'll just see if my Dad can do a bit of D.I.Y. work on the one that's too big and shrink it just enough that we can get it in the cage, while at the same time leaving it spacious enough for her to be able to sleep in it comfortably.  Whatever the case, I'll let you know when it's done, and try and get a photo or two as well.



We didn't have much else planned for our Yule celebrations, since we were looking forward to having it as a reasonably quiet day - something we were both in need of.  But the other thing we did for the Winter Solstice was to enjoy our holiday meal.  I made my first successful attempt at a vegan toad in the hole.  It's usually sausages in a batter made from milk, flour, and eggs, with the option of adding tomatoes and/or onions if desired.  My vegan version was mushrooms and tomatoes in a batter made from flour, soya milk, and arrowroot (the latter being the binding agent).  It worked really well.  I served it with a festive stuffing, which was a basic sage and onion stuffing with cranberries added to it, as well as some potatoes, carrots, and sprouts.  Next time I think the toad in the hole needs cooking a little more, but other than that I'm really happy with how it turned out.  For anyone who'd like to see, here's a photo of my vegan toad in the hole and my festive stuffing:

There was also a chocolate Yule log for Kelly, and a vegan Christmas pudding with some oat cream for me.  Or, we planned to have them on the Solstice, but ended up having them a few days later.  Neither of those was home made this year though, but were instead brought during my shopping trip with my Mam the day before, since I'd had neither the time nor energy to make them myself.



During the days from December 22nd to December 24th we alternated between making the things we needed to make ourselves for Christmas Day's planned buffet, trying to get a couple more boxes unpacked without making too much more mess and chaos in the house than there already was, and attempting to get some quiet rest time in.  The first two of those was more successful than the last of them, as I'm sure you're not surprised to hear.  Well, being totally honest, that second part wasn't as successful as planned either.  At least I got the cooking and baking done on time...


We generally prefer to make everything ourselves, but I didn't do much baking this year, since we'd brought some bits to make things easier on us (because of limitations on time and energy from the moving) and my parents were cooking and/or bringing a few things to contribute too.  But I wanted to make a vegan quiche, as well as some kind of biscuits and cake.  So I made a vegan cheese and onion quiche, savory apple tarts, some vegan carrot cake, gingerbread, cinnamon cookies, and nutmeg and raisin ones too.  I also made up some banana nog.  It's only the carrot cake I have a photo of though, but here you go: 


Between what we'd brought and made, and what my parents provided, we ended up with quite a spread for the buffet we were doing for ourselves and them for Christmas Day, with a mixture of vegan and non-vegan items available.  There were the things I mentioned having made, vegan cheese and cranberry scrolls, vegan lemon cake in the shape of a unicorn, non-vegan quiche, chicken and cranberry rolls, raspberry pavalova, and cheesecake, which were made or provided by my Mam (actually, she made all but the cheesecakes).  Sausage rolls, crackers, cheese, pineapple, pickled onions, and some dips we provided but didn't make ourselves.  Plus, Dad organized some veggies to have with the dips.  Like I said, quite a selection.  Especially when you consider it was only feeding four people.  Needless to say, there were leftovers for everyone to enjoy the following day (Mam and Dad each took some home, and Dad also took some to my brother, Wayne).  I don't have photos for most of it, but here's a photo of the vegan lemon unicorn cake my Mam made for me: 


As for drinks: we had the banana nog I'd made, two different kinds of pop (soda) and a variety of fruit juices, as well as the option of hot drinks like tea or coffee.  Even cocoa if anyone wanted it.  With dairy and non-dairy milk options.  No alcahol, since Kelly and I don't drink, and Mam and Dad were driving.




With the new lockdown, Christmas Day was the only day people outside your household were allowed to spend time with you.  They did say about being careful with socializing outside of your bubble.  However, since we've had to have them helping - especially in the initial days, when I was in the new place and Kelly hadn't gotten here yet - we figured it was too late to consider my parents not part of our bubble, even with them technically being separate households, so invited them both over Christmas Day.  We did also invite my brother, Wayne, who my Dad is carer for, so had also had to be part of the bubble from day one, but he chose not to come. 


Anyway, my Mam came over on Christmas morning, and my Dad came over on Christmas evening. 



While Mam was here, we had the stuff that would have been in our stockings if we'd been able to locate them before deciding to give up and just put the stuff under the tree, and exchanged gifts with her.  We also had our gifts from my brother, Carl, who being in Norwich couldn't join us (the rule was that you could mix with another household on Christmas Day, but only if you could get there, have your visit, and get home again on that day... Norwich is too far for that to be possible, even if Carl had wanted to risk it).  We also made a start on the buffet food.  Later, when Dad was here, we exchanged gifts with him, and had more buffet food. 


    We did also just enjoy a bit of a visit, though neither of them stayed more than a couple of hours.  In Mam's case partially because of Izabel, who she decided not to bring with her this time, given that the holidays are a lot for dogs to deal with as it is, and Logan is still getting used to the idea of dogs besides Lilie going near him.  We were worried it would be too much for him.  It was also possible - in fact, quite probable - Lilie would get overly excited, which would possibly be a bit much for Izabel to deal with on top of everything, since Lilie's excitement is a bit much for a lot of people and dogs at times, especially when they aren't used to it.  So we thought it best for all the dogs if Izabel didn't come this time.  She got gifts and treats later with Mam.



Of course, the petkids got what they asked for from Santa Paws.  Lilie and Logan got teddies with squeakers in them, balls, and treats.  Mollie got a wooden dinosaur gnawing toy, some raisins and some oatmeal.  And Artemis got some raisins.  I didn't do much in the way of Christmas Day photos and such though, but here's a video of me giving the dogs one of their Christmas presents:

And here are a couple of photos of Lilie and Logan that were taken on Christmas morning:



Though we had a few small gifts to open - most of them edible - most people gave us money, which we haven't decided how we're spending yet.  And we got several cards.  In fact, here are our cards:



Thanks to everyone who sent us holiday greetings, sent us cards, sent us money, or gave us a present. 



 So, that was our Yule and Christmas for 2020.  We aren't doing anything for New Year's Eve.  How did you celebrate your holidays? Did things look very different for you in 2020? I'd love to know, so tell me about it in the comments.


    First though... 

    The weather watch things had been promising me snow since around the Winter Solstice.  Yesterday morning (so, New Year's Eve) we woke to a very frosty morning, and signs there was some snow up on the mountains, as you can see from these photos, which were taken looking out of our computer room window in the new house:

I figured that would be all we'd get, but then it started to snow...

So, I took Lilie and Logan outside to see it, since I love snow, so had to go see it anyhow.  Besides, it's Logan's first snowfall, since we didn't get any last Winter.  Anyway, I let them loose in the yard so they could check it out, and Kelly snapped these photos...

They don't quite share my enthusiasm for it, but they seem to quite like the snow.  Both dogs have a thing for attempting to catch and eat snowflakes as they fall for some reason though. 


Anyway, this is what it looked like a short time later...

As you may have guessed from the snow photos and video in this post, the computer room looks out over the street at the front of the house, and the yard is around the back.  You can only see in to the yard via either the kitchen window or the room we're going to be turning in to our craft room.  But I'll tell you about the house another time.  For now, I think this is plenty long enough, so I'm just going to once again say... 

    Happy New Year!


At least snow is a nice note to end the year on, especially since I love my snow, and there was enough snow for me to be happy without it being enough to cause problems for those who - despite the lockdown - actually had to be out in it for more than just to play with the snow. 

    At the time of writing this post, my snow is still there - I just checked.