Things I’ve Learned This Week

Happy Christmas (well, nearly)!

We’ve all got two more sleeps before Christmas, and I would like to remind you that Father Christmas is STILL taking note of his naughty list, so don’t you think you can get away with swearing behind your mothers back, or blaming your brother/sister for breaking the window … OR blaming Grandma for that noise! (or the smell which followed it!).

On my own personal Naughty List is the name of one certain blogging site who, I think, must be doing some changes or updates or geeky gizmo stuff which has prevented me from working on this post yesterday and scheduling it to post in the early hours of this morning!  I tried again to bring this post to the blog here, at around 9.30 this morning, but each time I loaded the admin pages, the whole thing stalled and eventually the window closed down.  Everything else worked perfectly – I could get up any page on the web I asked it to – from Google to Amazon to an online newspaper site which is heavy on images and script (and adverts) and they all loaded perfectly.  But WordPress … wouldn’t.  So WordPress is currently on the Naughty List.  Hmmmpff!

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I’ve learned one or two things this week, and I’m here to share them with you.   Have you got your drink ready on the side?;  seatbelt on?;  suitcase packed and stored in the over-head locker?;  false teeth in the private cup to your left?  Ready?  Steady?  GO ….

This week I’ve learned that I shouldn’t give my dog – the beautiful Belly [on Legs], one of her Christmas Presents early.  I bought her an incredibly soft new blankey for her bed.  It’s vintage Christmas red on one side – looks and feels like the most expensive velvet known to man.  On the reverse is some sort of furry fleecy stuff which HAD to have been spun in Heaven I’m convinced that it’s the stuff which Angels must sleep on.

The whole blanket looks like I’ve stolen a throw from Father Christmas’s house!

I couldn’t wait to give it to Miss Belly [on legs] so I untied it from its red ribbon, and held it for her to sniff.   She got ridiculously excited . . .  so I unfolded it and draped it over her bed.  She sniffed ….  wagged her tail and jumped straight on.

Well, this obviously hissed Alf Capone (Used Furniture Dealer  –  and one of our 3 Cats)  off royally,  and to show his hissed offness he clambered all over The Belly until she got cross and got off her new blankey and came to tell me to make him stop it.  Sadly, Alf Capone (Used Furniture Dealer) by this time had snuggled himself into the blanket and when I mentioned his name (with a complaining whine to my voice) he gave me one of *those* looks which clearly said “You have NO chance of getting me off this blanket.  EVER

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Alf Capone snuggled down and pretending to be asleep on Belly’s new Christmas Blanket. tsk tsk.

The result of this was – the following day Mr. Cobs and I went back to the shop and bought two more of the blankeys.  Both of them in the same colour as this red one, so that none of our four legs  could tell the difference.  Now all the beds in the Living Room match, and they all look like I’ve mugged Santa.

Now comes a warning.

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Meet Sewchi.  (Say it like you’d say Sushi – the Japanese cooked vinegared rice dish, normally combined with other ingredients such as seafood,  vegetables,  etc.  Other rice dishes are available – as they say on TV here in the UK).

The above photograph tells you all you need to know about Sewchi.  She’s not my cat.  She belongs to Daughter No.2.  Well, no, to be really truthful, she actually belongs to Little Cobs (Grandson), son of Daughter No.2 and Son-in-law.  Sewchi was bought for Little Cobs, and he adores her.  He’ll freely tell you that Sewchi is his “bestest fwend”.  But, as the above photograph shows, Sewchi is a few sandwiches short of the full picnic.

 

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Little Cobs and his Cat.  Where ever he is, she is.  He loves her, and the feeling is entirely mutual.

Daughter No.2 has now proven what I’ve always suspected  . . .  she, like the cat, has a few screws missing.    Read on, dear reader. Read on.  For this is a story which must be told  . . .

No.2 is married to the handsome SiL, and they have miracle child, who most of you know by the name I call him:-  ‘Little Cobs‘.  She also has a dog and three cats.  I think she’s copying me, but if she’s going to copy anyone then I can’t think of a better person.  (yes, I really am joking).

She loves her animals and looks after them really well.  Tiny tidbits of treats now and again, lovely bedding, special beds, toys, etc.  They aren’t spoilt, but they’re very much loved.

One of the little ‘treats’ she gives her cats is Catnip. Catnip is another name for the herb Nepeta cataria  and  relative of oregano and spearmint.   Nepeta cataria is a pretty common plant, often found along highways.  HOWEVER ….  Don’t feed your cat any wild Nepeta cataria  which you might find along the side of the road, as it could contain an array of pesticides and very harmful chemicals.

There’s a substance in the make up of Catnip which it’s thought mimics a cat pheromone which binds to a cat’s olfactory receptors to produce catnip’s unique response.  The effects of catnip on pets range from arousal to euphoria,  and some cats drool and meow with pleasure.

 You can find more about Catnip  HERE.

No.2 was dishing out a tiny bit of catnip and turned around, forgetting that she’d left the lid off the catnip jar.  Using the photographs that Daughter No.2 took at the time, I’ll help tell the story of

What Happened the Day Sewchi Catnipped Herself!

Sewchi is a truly beautiful British Short-hair Cat with incredible fur of soft, smokey grey She really is a bit of a dopey sort of thing.  She behaves and re-acts to things in such comical ways, but her over-riding best character trait is that she’s an amazing friend to Little Cobs, and loves nothing more than to snuggle with him or sit by him while Little Cobs is playing.  However … like a lot of cats, she has a weakness for Catnip.

When she saw that the lid had been left off the Capnip jar she moseyed on over and ….

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. . .  stuck her head into the open jar, and took a looooong deeeeeep  sniff.  However, she couldn’t reach it with her nose,  or her tongue, so she tried another way . . .

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. . .  this gave her more success (as you can see by the bits on the floor) …  but it still wasn’t satisfactory to her.  So she ‘accidentally’  tipped the jar over.

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Ohh, she rolled in it, rubbing her cheeks, her head, her back … everywhere she could rub, she rubbed.  She was so much in pleasure land that eventually,  this happened  . . .

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See the pleasure in those paws?  She lay on her back, on a fluffy blanket,  and crashed into pleasureland.  Her feet were curled up all tight and she was so incredibly happy at that moment that nothing on earth could have upset her.  Nothing.  Mummy could have offered her fresh Salmon and she couldn’t have cared less.  She was the most ultimate H.A.P.P.Y.  she could ever have been.  A little later …. she slept it off, peacefully – if ever so slightly drunk.

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And now ... she’s looking forward to Father Christmas bringing her own supply of the stuff of her dreams ….  but Mummy doesn’t hold out any hope.  Mummy says that she’s going to be fully in charge of catnip in future.  Sewchi wishes you a very . . .

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So … let that be a warning to all you cat people out there.  Don’t expect your cat to be sensible about these things, because sensible doesn’t work when Catnip is involved.  😀  And I’ve learned that any Catnip toys I make for my own four leg family members will have to have very tough seams!

Oh … and it’s not just house cats or domesticated cats who like Catnip . . .

 

I’ve also learned this week:

US scientists calculated that Santa would have to visit 822 homes a second to deliver all the world’s presents on Christmas Eve, travelling at 650 miles a second.

If you have children or Grandchildren visiting or in your home coming up to Christmas day, there is a lovely Google Santa Tracker you can visit, both to track Santa’s progress and also some games to play and various bits and clicks, which you can find  HERE <— CLICK

NEARLY 60 million Christmas trees are grown each year in Europe.

THE word Christmas comes from the Old English “Cristes maesse” meaning “Christ’s Mass”.

KISSING under the mistletoe is thought to spring from Frigga, the Norse goddess of love, who was associated with the plant.

THE highest-grossing Christmas movie is 2000’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas, which has raked in £175m so far.  And … as a little bit of extra information …  I’m actually watching this very film as I type this!

GOLD-wrapped chocolate coins commemorate St Nicholas who gave bags of gold coins to the poor.

THE first Christmas celebrated in Britain is thought to have been in York in 521AD.

Do we have a ‘Christmas spirit’ network in our brains?

A Danish study has identified what could be described as a “Christmas spirit” network in the brain.  The researchers recruited a group of people who celebrate Christmas, and a group who do not.  Using fMRI scans – which detect blood flow in the brain to identify which areas are activated – they investigated which parts of the subjects’ brains responded to be being shown Christmassy and non-Christmassy images. They found that certain areas of the brain were much more highly activated in the festive group than the control group when they were shown the former group of pictures.  The Christmas spirit network exists in the sensory motor cortex, pre-motor and primary motor cortex and the parietal lobule; these areas have been associated with spirituality and recognition of facial emotion, among other functions.

Exchanging Christmas cards could be a form of social-climbing

Far from being an act of generosity, exchange of Christmas cards is sometimes used as an opportunity for social-climbing, as people are more likely to reciprocate card-giving with people they are interested in scoring points with. Previous research has shown that people reciprocate card-giving even with complete strangers. A study conducted in 2000 at West Texas A&M University took this a step further, arranging the exchange of nearly 600 Christmas cards between strangers of different social classes. They found that perception of high status increased the likelihood of a sender getting a response, and the effect was even more pronounced among low-income receivers of the cards. High-status strangers – such as doctors, lawyers and CEOs – received responses for 1 in every 5 cards they sent, with few recipients so much as asking about their identity.

Candy canes used to be “pure white”

Few things say Christmas more than those sugary sticks of red and white deliciousness. There was a time, however, when they weren’t red and white.(Although we imagine they were still pretty tasty.) The familiar Christmas treats started popping up around the 17th century as Europeans started using trees to celebrate the Christian holiday season and made special foods to decorate them with. Candy canes first appeared around 1670 when a cathedral choirmaster would hand out the all-white confections to children to keep them occupied during Christmas mass. While no one knows exactly who gave candy canes their stripes, one (unproven) theory has it that the “J” shape was once meant to stand for Jesus and the three stripes represent the Holy Trinity. (Red is meant to represent the blood of Christ).  Chew over that the next time you bite into a candy cane!
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Mr. Cobs taught me something this week which I didn’t know before and I wondered if you knew this … so I’m including it so that you can quote this over Christmas, and everyone will knocked out by how clever you are.  Not Christmas themed, but ….
Do you know where the ‘sleep tight’ bit came from when you say  “Night night. Sleep tight”?
It derives from the fact that they used to use ropes on beds to support mattresses.  And the tighter the rope, the more comfortable the sleep.  Hence … Night Night,  Sleep Tight.
I’d never heard that before!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A few jokes to tell once you’ve had your Christmas Day Sherry …
Knock Knock
Who’s there?
Wayne
Wayne who?
Wayne in a manger…!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Knock Knock
Who’s there?
Oakham
Oakham who?
Oakham all ye faithful…!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Knock Knock
Who’s there!
Anna!
Anna who?
Anna partridge in a pear tree.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Knock Knock
Who’s there?
Igloo
Igloo who?
Igloo Suzie like I knew Suzie!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Q: Whats the difference between the Christmas alphabet and the ordinary alphabet?
A: The Christmas alphabet has Noel.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Q: What do you call people who are afraid of Santa Claus?
A: Claustrophobic.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
What do you call an obnoxious reindeer?
RUDEolph.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Q: What do you call an elf who sings?   . . . . .
A: a wrapper!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Why are Christmas trees so fond of the past?
Because the present’s beneath them.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Why does Santa Claus go down the chimney on Christmas Eve?
Because it soot’s him.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
and finally . . .
What do reindeer hang on their Christmas trees?

Horn-aments!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

All that is left for me to do now is . . . .   wish you a very happy Christmas.  May Peace fill your home and love fill your heart.  Presents are just such a lovely way of someone showing they love you enough to go to the trouble of shopping with you on their mind.  However, the very greatest gift someone can give you is their time, for in giving their time, they are giving you themselves.  So just because someone might not spend money to say I love and care about you,  if they’re giving you their time, even if it’s just to stop and have a few friendly words at the front gate, then that’s a show of their respect and admiration for you, because, right now it’s a busy time of year, so if they spare a few of their minutes to share with you, then I think that’s the most wonderful, caring gift.

If I could send you a gift, I would send you a box of 365 rolled up little notes and quotes.  One for each day of the coming year.  Each note/quote would be designed to make you smile as you read it.  For I would love to know that I could make you smile even on those days when a smile is the last thing you think you can muster.

Sending you the happiest of Christmas Wishes.  Be good to each other.

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He’s [definitely] Making a List . . .

Around fourteen or fifteen years ago I made and painted a whole bundle of these boards for a Christmas Craft Fair which I’d been asked to do, and they went down a smash hit with parents and grandparents, who bought them for their little ones.

The idea is that the little ones would write their list of toys they hoped that Father Christmas would bring for them, then Mommy, Daddy, or a Grandparent or carer, would ‘peg’ the list to the board using those pegs which you can see in the photo – which are permanently attached to the board.  However … Father Christmas with the wording over his head, was a reminder to the little monkeys amongst them to be good because they had to remember that Santa Claus was   making a list – and checking it twice!  What better way to make sure that a little monkey changed his or her ways and became a little Angel – at least … until after Christmas!

I was reminded of these boards recently and thought that I really ought to make at least one more, for the littlest member of my family – in the hope that perhaps a little Angel might just be made from a rascally monkey!

So here it is . . .   oh, and by the way   . . .   he’s still making that list!  😀

Made from a rectangle of slim MDF (Medium Density Fibre-board) – as it’s known here in the UK (not sure what it might be called in the country where you are – perhaps Mr. Google would be your friend there!).  I got himself to bevel the edges (using a router) so that they curved away and then had him drill two small holes so that, once painted and sealed, I could feed some wire through them, in order to make the curly wired hanging wires.  Then it was on to the fun stuff ….

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I hand painted the night sky and snow, then, once dry, painted the cutesy Father Christmas, or Santa.  I left the boards to dry for a couple of days (so that they were fully dry) and then gave the whole board a gentle, but good, spray over with an acrylic varnish which has the finest particles of glitter dust suspended in it.  Once this was dry the glittery particles twinkled merrily in the light – but it doesn’t give it that white sheen which other glitter varnishes can sometimes give.  Sadly the twinkles didn’t show up in the flash photo, so you’ll have to imagine them there!

I don’t draw when I’m going to paint something – I will scribble a few lines as a reminder of where I want to place something,  but I don’t actually ‘draw‘ anything.  For example – on these board paintings all I ‘drew’ was a freehand circle – which was where I roughly wanted F.C.’s face to be,  But other than that I didn’t draw anything.  I’m someone who prefers to just go straight in with paint and ‘see’ the idea I have inside my head come to life.

I didn’t use a pattern or anything like that,  I just painted the idea I had, so sadly can’t offer to share a pattern to paint something like thisBut painting a folksy fun type of Santa isn’t that difficult.  You don’t have to put in much detail, there are no wrinkles to his face or his clothes – so you don’t have to worry about that.  But – even if you think you’re not a painter – just have a go!  You’ll never know what you can do unless you have a go!