Happy New Year! Gosh, it's 2021

Sunday, January 03, 2021

Happy New Year to you and yours! I'm so glad to see the end of 2020, as I'm sure you are too. It was a year unlike any other, and I still shudder when I think about our lockdown here in Abu Dhabi. As we are in an apartment 27 floors up, we didn't have access to a garden (oh how I longed to have our garden back in England! Or a balcony, at the least) and I think it's amazing that we were all still friends by the time we were allowed out for "socially distanced exercise". We miss our family and friends, not only in England but in South Africa as well - I don't think that the world has ever felt so big before, or so far away. We are all in this together, but apart.

Happy New Year from us and all the dinosaurs!
I spent a lot of time in the doctors' waiting rooms trying to get to the bottom of some medical issues, but we're on the right track now after being diagnosed with an auto-immune disease, two chronic conditions that require monthly monitoring, and several points on my frequent-flyer hospital card. That's not a real thing but it really should be because I'd be winning!

But not all was bad. I always try to see the positive in any situation - and while it was incredibly difficult to find the silver linings during lockdown! - I did find a few positives. I watched quite a lot of Roots & Refuge farm on Youtube (link here) which follows the journey of a big family as they turn a foreclosure home with an unruly garden in Central Arkansas into an incredible farm that feeds their whole family. Goals! Jess, the mom, regularly reminds everyone that if you can't be exactly where you want to be RIGHT NOW, then you've got to turn your WAITING ROOM into your CLASSROOM. So that's what we did. We made a list of everything we wanted to learn, do, and explore - and then we started.

Sunset at Al Wathba Lakes, Abu Dhabi

Graeme and I have both signed up to do a diploma in botany, focussing on home gardens. We also decided during lockdown that we're going to focus on having more adventures and seeing/doing more out of our routines and comfort zones once lockdown finally lifts. And we did. We have been posting pictures on our shared instagram account here. We've been camping, dune driving, 4x4ing, exploring landmarks and lakes, and we welcomed the new year in with a sunrise breakfast in the dunes. Graeme got his sailing license, and just today, passed his exam for his powerboating license.

Fairfield Button Up. Because all shirt cuffs should be embroidered, right?

I rediscovered my love of sewing. While I've done little bits here and there before getting stuck in during lockdown, I really managed to "level up" and even got a new machine when we were finally allowed out again! I now have a beautiful Janome 9400 which I love completely and have used extensively. I've sewn five Made by Rae Trillium Dresses, two mini Made by Rae Geranium Dresses, one quilt, two christmas stockings, a red riding hood cape and a mermaid dress for halloween, a Twig & Tale dinosaur vest, several quilted zipper pouches, one Fairfield Button Up Shirt, and one small Thomas Shirt (see pic above for psychadelic traffic shirt!). Shirts! I have always wanted to make a man's shirt. It was ridiculously intimidating but was totally fine once I got stuck in. Slow and steady. 

A rainbow of 1-inch English Paper Pieced hexagons

I have also been spending quite a lot of time hand stitching 1" english paper pieced hexagons. I've made 300 so far, and I'm doing a few each week and storing them for a project some time in the future. I worked out that I need around 4000 hexagons to make a bed-sized quilt so I'm fairly sure I'll end up using them for something much smaller when the inspiration finally strikes, but I really like the idea that I'm using up all of my fabric scraps from sewing projects and turning them into little hexagons of happy memories. 

2021 for our family is going to be a year of doing just a little more, and putting in the effort. I've made a list of all of my "unfinished projects" that were abandoned during low moments in 2021 and I'm going to finish them. So far, I have two pairs of knitted socks that still need heels, one hat that is about half way knit, one bundle of fabric that I bought to turn into a shirt but didn't make it that far, and some lovely dark blue courdroy fabric that was destined to become a child-sized gilet. I also have a cupboard full of "shelf stable" foods for lockdown that never got used. I'm going to try pull out a random ingredient at least once a week to turn it into a meal and free up some cupboard space! I don't want to collect half-done projects or half-formed ideas anymore. With 2020 behind us, we have to make the most of every day going forward.

For 2021, I wish you love, health and happiness. I wish you happy memories, and amazing opportunities. But most of all, I wish you the freedom to enjoy the simple things and spend time with the people who matter the most. 

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