I can’t believe it’s almost Christmas! This year has flown by, and we’ve had a beautiful autumn in the UK; plenty of sunny crisp days, and I had a good mix of being busy with time to relax and use up my overtime. Here is what I got up to this fall!
Home Sense – We have made a choice to burn only soy or beeswax candles, or at the very least low smoke ones, because our walls and ceilings were filthy from burning cheap, chemical-laden candles. This is obviously a health concern, so I’m being selective about the candles I now buy. Apart from Etsy, sourcing relatively inexpensive soy candles is tricky. But, if you hunt hard enough, you can find some at Home Sense! We picked up three: chai tea, a wintery “man” smell, and a citrus one. All came in glass recyclable/repurposable jars and I made sure not to get any with plastic bits. Unfortunately, all the greeting cards came wrapped in non-recyclable plastic. You win some, you lose some.
We found that when we switched to storing our bread in cotton bags in the freezer, it would dry out quickly once it de-frosted. I used the dried bits to make breadcrumbs, but I was getting annoyed that my toast was too stale. The solution— a bread bin! Why I didn’t get this sooner, I’ll never know; it’s my new favourite kitchen item. 😁
Lechlade Wool Mill – We also stopped off at a local wool mill, which is more so a museum, gallery, shop, and cafe. I picked up some apples from their orchard (for a small donation), a couple of Christmas gifts, and a recycled wool blanket.
Blenheim Palace – I’ve posted about Blenheim before (see Walking around Blenheim and also last year’s autumn outings) but I’ve included a couple of new pictures from our autumnal walk. I had to renew my card before we go back for the Christmas lights!
We had Thanksgiving (I made chicken et al.) and I made several pumpkin pies to share with colleagues. This autumn, I also made red velvet cupcakes for a colleague’s birthday, and I’ll be making an apple caramel cake next week for another birthday.
Lectures and Exhibits:
I went to the Tolkien exhibit at the Bodleian Libraries. They had a fascinating collection of Tolkien’s artwork, manuscripts, maps, and personal items. Apart from the artwork for The Hobbit, I enjoyed Tolkien’s marginalia doodles [read: amazing artwork] in newspapers, his Christmas sketches and letters to his children, and all the cover art for versions of his books from around the world. Related to that exhibit, I went to a lecture on Tolkien and his work on Old English. This talk covered how Tolkien became interested in Old English, taught at Oxford, and the ways in which Old English riddles and nomenclature were incorporated into his writing.
I’ve also been trying to get more involved with the work the Oxford Martin School is doing on climate change and environmental issues by going to their public lectures. The first lecture I went to was by Prof Myles Allen, one of the authors of Ch 1 in the IPCC Report on climate change and the 1.5C target. This provided a lot of great insight on deciphering the contents of the report, and correcting some of the misinterpretations made by the media. I then attended a talk by Christiana Figueres, who was the Executive Secretary of the UN during the climate change convention and the creation of the Paris Agreement in 2015. Her talk was recorded, and I really encourage you to watch it. It was strong, no-nonsense, and optimistic.
Halloween and Guy Fawkes:
My boss came in wrapped in a spooky cloak and pretended to be a ghost because “she felt obligated to ensure that we celebrated Halloween appropriately for the Canadian in the office”. We also got chocolates. 🙂 Lucy and I didn’t buy any candy this year, or dress up, but I did make themed dinner. How cute are those stuffed bell pepper jack-o-lanterns in the cover photo?! 🎃 I think it’s too cold for us to go to bonfire night, but I plan on making smores in the oven. Check out my Instagram on Monday for pics!
Finally, I’ll leave you with a photo of my new orchid. This species is a cymbidium and blooms from autumn through to spring. They originate from the Himalayas and like colder temperatures. It’s going to be a new challenge to keep this type of orchid as I will need to split the bulbs each spring. You’ll be pleased to know that, although this orchid isn’t adopted like my other ones, it was on clearance so I feel like I “rescued it”. My new orchid is actually a birthday gift for last year – I was too indecisive and by the time we returned to the garden centre in January, they were all gone.
So long pumpkins, I’m in full Christmas elf mode now!