six months.

It’s the 6 January.  That means that I in six months it’ll be my birthday.  And I’ll be thirty.  And this means that I don’t have long to get through my challenge-30 list.  Eek.  I’ve just looked through and I’ve found that I’ve ticked off twelve of the thirty challenges.  Eighteen to go.  The odds are not in my favour.  In my defense these eighteen do include visit a Disney World and a day spa – neither of which seem very likely, ha! A lot of them, though, seem pretty do-able and so I’ll endeavour to finish the lot before the clock strikes twelve.

There’s nothing magical about this list.  I don’t turn into a pillar of salt if I don’t complete the challenge.  I doubt I’ll even be disappointed.  The whole purpose of it is not in the result but rather the process.  Sometimes we need to give ourselves a kick up the bum; to break out of the mundane, to widen our horizons, to reflect and discover that there is much joy in life if only it were grabbed with two hands.  Some of the things of my challenge-30 list are ridiculously trivial.  They are nothing in the grand scheme of things.  But they are stuff that I’ve either wanted to do for a long while or at least know I’d have a load of fun trying it out.  Plus, I’m a goal orientated person, I do enjoy the satisfaction of ticking something of a to-do list.

Girls back to school tomorrow and so the new year really kickes into gear.


It actually sends real emails!

So The Husband and are creeping back into work mode and the anticipation of Christmas seems so long ago.  The Husband got double brownie points on New Years Day because he let me sleep late AND he took down all the decorations all by himself so I woke up to a reasonably normal looking house again.  I’d have been sad to do it any earlier but once its January it’s time to look to whats in store for the year ahead.

For me, January will hopefully be a month of:

  • Finally finishing the kitchen.  All thats left to do is painting the cupboard units and putting up a long shelf for my beloved Kilner Jars.  These are the kind of jobs that can easily be left undone for months.  So there was only one thing for it – Shift everything from some of the units so they HAD to be done – and soon.  The Husband LOVES it when he comes home to already-started-and-can’t-be-ignored house projects.  I think its why he loves me so much…

empty cupboards

  • Stengthening my ridiculously pathetic body.  My back is been so great over Christmas and I’ll hopefully be getting more active.  Hurray!  Ironically I never enjoyed the gym until just before I hurt my back, and I really was loving it – it’ll be a while before I get back there but any kind of active gets the feel-good hormones flowing!


  • Eating healthy.  December was a serious chocolate splurge for the whole family.  The girls had chocolate for breakfast more than once.  I know, I know, shoot me now.  It’s seriously a habitual thing – I woke up this morning, had a great breakfast to start off the day and before lunch I was reaching up for the hobnobs without even thinking.  I realised it was not a good idea but by that point the packet of lovely chocolatey oaty goodness was in my hands and there was no going back.  I’m never going to be someone who can completely walk away from chocolate – I don’t like the look of a world without sugar.  But it’s about conscious choices and there needs to be more healthy choices in this house.  And even if my girls choose chocolate, mummy’s choices trump theirs, so ha!


  • Trying not to become obsessed with my new phone.  While the rest of the world were keeping up with modern technology over the past two years, The Husband and I were oblivious to the countless possibilities that a phone can bring.  We thought text messages were cutting edge.  So now we’re a little attached to these little devices that actually let us send emails – I mean whats that all about?! Its like a mini computer in the palm of your hands! Blimey.  I’m using Intsgram for my photo 365 and I LOVE the fact that I can do it all from my phone.  So I’m a little aware that I’m probably showing my mobile more care and attention than I am The husband, and as much as my phone can do…we’re yet to find a one that will do the vacuuming for you.  Joke! Kinda.







Now that I’ve got a new phone, I’ve been dragged from the dark age and am over the moon to have more options at my fingertips.  So I’m going to have a go again at photo 365.  Eek.  I’ll be taking all the pictures from my iphone and uploading them through instagram.

So here’s to 2013. The year that I’ll leave my 20s, celebrate 10 years since The Husband proposed to me and embrace all it holds for me and my family.  New years resolutions and challenges to come soon! Have a good one tonight and I’ll see you next year!


soggy days, tummy bugs and a call to Green Flag

Its a weird week between christmas and new year.  I’m not ready to say goodbye to the christmas decorations, but that high of pre-christmas anticipation has left the building.  My younger self would be wanting to make each day count – taking advantage of our little family being together.   At some point I’d be wanting to storm the sales, a husband and two littlies in tow. Expectation would have been high.  But with that would have come pressure to meet that expectation – and as does happen at times like this, too high expectation leads to disappointment (and a shopping bag full of ‘bargains’ that I wouldn’t have been interested in otherwise).

This year we wanted to make these days count.  There have been no day trips, bundling the girls into the car and facing the elements.  There has been no detailed itinerary.  Ultimately there has been no expectation.  There were days where the girls have not been out of their PJs.  There were hours of christmas TV watching.  There was one afternoon where Chloe (6) took me shopping to spend her christmas money and we had a little mooch around the sales without Ruby playing hide and seek in the clothes rails.

There was also a barrel full of tummy bugs and viruses unleashed on our family.  Ruby got sick the day before Christmas eve, I got sick on Christmas evening and The Husband got sick two nights ago.  Thankfully, Ruby and I recovered after 24 hours or so and The Husband is just starting to eat again.  Maybe this is why we’ve had a take it as it comes mentality towards this week, maybe it was the soggy weather.  Whatever it was, it did us all some good.

What didnt do us good was me parking at Morrisons and walking away from the car with the lights still on.  An hour later I walked out of Morrisons with Chloe and as soon as I saw the car I just knew the car wouldn’t get us home without a call to breakdown services.  It was a bitter lesson learnt!

I’ve put my photos from Challenge Photo 52 on up at the top and I just have the last one to take and put up for it to be completed!  Hurray! I’ll put up that last one tomorrow as we bid farewell to 2012, along with a few thoughts of the year ahead.

Christmas 2012 – The Steward way.

IT’S CHRISTMAS EVE! I can’t believe its been so long since I blogged.  It’s never been far from my mind – only it’s been fighting for space with all things christmas and….erm, Netflix.  A little while ago, Tom, my bro-in-law introduced me to Netflix and I’m hooked.  The perfect escapism from pain when I’ve needed to rest up.  I’ve fallen in love with Mr Rochester from Jane Ayre and can’t stop working my way through the six seasons of Monarch of the Glen – why did I not love this when it was on TV??

The Stewards have scaled Christmas right down this year.  You see, I’m an ideas person.  So it’s no surprise that in October I was concocting endless schemes of creativity.  I blame Pinterest.  I was all set to glitter some christmas baubles, bake endless Christmas treats and get skinny to wear cute polo-necks and tartan skirts.  The thing is I just sat eating Quality Street, staring at more and more pinterest ideas, putting an end to all my festive goals.  I did manage to sew a few christmas felt hearts and crochet a few snowflakes (I know – get me!) that make my fireplace look pretty – but that is as far as I got.  Oh yeah – I did also bake  some devastatingly flat and floppy profiteroles too.  Last year I cut out a recipe for gingerbread cookies and made way too many because they were so amazing – and this year I just couldn’t find it anywhere.  Gutted.  I toyed with the idea of trying a different recipe but I knew they wouldn’t be the same so couldn’t bring myself to it.

What the family has achieved though, is worth way more than the best homemade decorating or the most impressive christmas cookies.  We have slowed down.  We’ve sat together and picked out our favourite chocolates from the tin.  We’ve watched ridiculously cheesy and naff christmas movies and we’ve sat with the Radio Times on our laps and negotiated picked out what we’ll record in sky plus.  The Husband and I have soaked in the girls’ innocent excitement with the bitter sweet knowledge that it won’t last forever.

This morning The Husband let me sleep longer and took the girls to meet grandma and grandad for breakfast.  We’ll potter this afternoon, no doubt further familiarising oursleves with Quality Street, and later we’ll head out to be with our church family at a christmas service.  We’ll then head back home, sprinkle reindeer food on our lawn, get a snack out of Father Christmas, tuck the girls up in bed and tuck in to our traditional chinese takeaway.

It’s nothing flash or impressive.  I won’t be feautured in Good Housekeeping.  But I’m sane calm and collected, and looking forward to christmas day.








It’s not often you get the chance to stop.  To really stop.  Even when I’ve been forced to lie in bed with lots of ice on my back, I worked from my laptop.  And then I’d hear the girls sqeal, either out of joy or distress and I’d force my non-cooperative back up out of bed and towards the source of the noise.  There has been a couple of times over the past year that The Husband had encouraged me to go and spend a few days at my parens in the Yorkshire Dales.  Evertime there was always a hundred reasons not to pursue it.

But when we talked about it a couple of weeks ago he didnt need to ask me twice.  After driving to and from Wales last weekend we both new my back would need to catch up with itself.  I knew I could do with a little rest.  No driving.  No picking Ruby up.  No supermarkets. No laundry.  No flying around from one place to the next.  So on Tuesday I met my mam at Lancaster and she drove me over the moors to their house.

I’ve been spoilt, sleeping in until my body told me it had enjoyed enough rest.  I’ve read no emails and done no work; trying to forget for a few short days how much work I have on before Christmas.  I’ve knitted and I’ve sewed.  I’ve read a book and fallen in love with Downton Abbey.  I’ve taken the time to think back over the previous weekend in Wales with 30 or so very awesome people, trying to tie-down memoried before they have the chance to float away.

I don’t take one second of this time for granted.  I’ve not rested like this in seven years and I know people have gone far longer who perhaps need it more.  Why do we not value rest enough?  We argue it slows us down but surely doesn’t it keep us going longer?  My physiotherapist asked me how often I alloted time in the day to rest my back – not including those times I am forced to rest through pain.  I stared at him a while, knowing if I didn’t look away I’d soon not be able to see him through the tears.  I didn’t need to say a word.  When he asked me why, I launched into a babble of justification as a mother, as a home maker, as a wife and as an employee.  Stopping when you didn’t need to is unthinkable right?

The next few minutes flipped all of this upside down and inside out.  He told me that I need to see resting as part of my physio plan each day, and it was what would strengthen up my body more than any stretch or exercise.  I always saw rest as the absense of action.  In music a rest is the absence of a musical note.  In working out, a rest is the absense of movement.  Surely?

Now I see rest as so much more than that – maybe everyone has always seen it and I’ve just been ridiculously ignorant of it.  There is always so much going on behind the scenes during any kind of rest.  A drawing of breath in music.  A regulating of the heart in working out.  It’s absolutely neccessary.  There is purpose in rest – it makes everything more efficient.

I will never be one to be comfortable with prolonged absence of activity.  I’m way too impatient and impulsive.  But, even forgetting the recovery from my back injury and thinking about life in general, I recognise that short bursts of regular rest  (I’m talking even five minutes to flick through a magazine or just sit for a while in quietness), should almost certainly make me a more patient mother and wife and more effective in everything I try to do.

Do you need a little rest?



when is it not too soon?

So I expected to be in premature festivities after Bonfire night (possibly the most bizarre annual show of patriotism?).  I started making lists – and thats always a clear sign that I’m gearing up to something.  But since making space on top of the wardrobe at the weekend, its fizzled.  I’m resting up as much as I can because I’ve had a little set back with my back this week and I want to be ready for a weekend in Wales next weekend.  The halt on the christmas feeling is good though.  I was a little startled with it myself, wondering if I’d peak to early and be ready to take down the decorations by Christmas eve.

No, I need to pace myself.  This is no ordinary Christmas.  This is my first Christmas with…Pinterest! I created a Christmas board back in September and restricted myself to occasional pins with great self control.  But now – most pins out there are full of seasonal deliciousness.  I draw complete blanks when I explain Pinterest to a pinterest-virgin.  Maybe I dont explain it well, but even I think about it and it seems a little random.  But a couple of hours and two glazy eyes later you can’t help feeling a little whimsical and you don’t know where the time went.

We have a family deal (or a fear of The Husband’s brothers’ wrath) that we don’t play christmas music before December 1st.  We try to get our tree and decorations up as soon after this date as possible too.  I used to have shopper rage when I heard Christmas music early.  Once when I was a student and went into town I confess I even growled a little to the cashier at the Early Learning Centre.  Her cheerful response was that The Early Learning Centre starts Christmas early.  I growled back.  But now that I’m a busy mum I’m a little less precious about it.  In fact, nowadays I’d probably high five the cashier, not because they’re cashing in on the extended holidays season but because they’re making it easier for us who have got to get organised way before the mulled wine is brought out.

So when do you put your christmas decorations up and start to play along with Mariah Carey?