Wednesday, 20 December 2006

Crafting In My Jammies

I am sure I have mentioned before that I have a terrible habit of magpieing. Magpieing, in case I have not mentioned it lately, is when I went to visit a friend, and saw that she had hung baubles from organza ribbon all along her Christmas window, and immediately decided that next year, I would do that! Or realised that I like receiving letters from a particular friend so much because she always uses proper black ink- and resolved to buy myself a fountain pen and find some purple ink. (So, not copying exactly- more borrowing and idea and putting my own twist on it). Or when I went read in a post over at about having pajama crafting days- which is just what I did on Monday. I got up, put on clean jammies and my flowery Cath Kidston apron, and set about making sweets for Christmas Gifts. Found darling (and very reasonable!) boxes at, and filled them with homemade: peppermint creams in the shape of holly leaves, coconut snowballs, marzipan stuffed dates, chocolate truffles, vanilla fudge, and almond macaroons. I opened the door to the postman before I realised what I was wearing…and that was before I knew I had a cocoa smudge (from the truffles) on my nose!

Do give it a go sometime- there is something particularly cozy and lovely about knowing that you are in your jammies for the whole day, with nothing to do but cook and craft and play.

Today is my last day at work before I break up for the holidays. I have taken some leave before Christmas to finish off my little projects, wrap gifts and so on, and some time off afterwards- just to play. I do not have the internet at home, so posts will be a little sparse, shall we say. But what I plan to do is to make scribblings as I go along, and then when we visit either of our parents who do have the internet, I shall update my blog then. I hope you all have a marvellous, sparkly, scrumptious, delicious Christmas!

Walking In A Winter Wonderland...

Aren’t people just marvellous? Really, I mean just fantastic. Just look at these examples….

The friend of a friend at work emailed my friend to say that in her office there would be a sale of Benefit makeup! I was there like a shot, as I am sure you understand. I got a huge bottle of Bathina Bubble Bath…for £9!! And a little pot of Benebalm…for £7! And a few Christmas presents as well….

Vintage Pretty, one of my favourite bloggy friends sent me a gorgeous handmade Christmas card, and a fabulous hand-stitched Christmas decoration. I love it when our postman comes!

A of Pretty Little Parcels left a present on my desk- wrapped in a beautiful gingham bag that she has stitched. She has started a tradition of making bags to put her gifts in- the only condition being that you use the bag to wrap someone elses gift next year! Fabulous- environmentally friendly, and absolutely scrumptious too!

Oh, and words- aren’t they just one of the most wonderful gifts? I have a pale blue covered A4 book in which I write down favourite recipes, poems, knitting patterns- just little bits really. Well from now on I am going to write down words, phrases- lovely bits that come my way. Alicia was posting about Christmas excitement, and said:

I tell you my head would've exploded into a million shards of candy canes and then I would've run in a small circle around the living room while crying tears of joy

Now isn’t that JUST how it is? That if your head did explode with joy, it would burst into candy canes? Delicious!

And Jilly Cooper. Oh, Jilly. I love Jilly. I do. If I feel down and blue, or want to relax, or read something easy, or on those nights when I have run a bath, but cannot choose a book to read from our three shelves…then I turn to Jilly. Particularly to Lisa and Co and the story Christmas Stocking. In talking about it being foggy and cold, she says something along the lines of:

The house had pulled down the sky like a hat around its ears.

Oh, yes. Which brings me on to the fact that I woke up this morning to find that it is a Winter Wonderland out there! We have had frost, and it is c.o.l.d.- and I love it! I love how the sunlight is so bright, and yet brittle. I love how the grass looks like it should taste of peppermint creams, and how my breath puffs out like a dragon! I love needing my gloves, and the way my cheeks sting slightly in the cold. I love that everything looks like a Christmas card. Of course I am afraid of slipping over on the frost, and such winter nightmares, but I distract myself with the idea of getting home from work, and putting on a little pan of my favourite hot chocolate- because I am cold enough to need it!

I can take a hot water bottle to bed (well, I have been already, but I really need it now!) and find out my softest fluffiest socks. I can plan hearty soups for dinner, proper winter food. It is as though Jack Frost drifted off in the autumn sunshine for a nap, and has just startled awake and realised that it is winter! And as if to compensate for his lateness has touched everything with a beautiful shimmering of shivering silver.

Monday, 11 December 2006

Feeling Festive...

As you know, I have been feeling rather festive of late. And while I havenÂ’t swung into full on Christmas Elf mode yet, I do feel deliciously Christmassy. How could I be anything else, with the last few days being as lovely as they have?

It definitely started Wednesday with the wonderful NigellaÂ’s Christmas Kitchen- I have been looking forward to it from the time I heard that she was making a Christmas special, and she did not disappoint!

Thursday, I went back to my little town to meet a friend for lunch and chatting. We swapped gifts early- and it is so lovely to open a pretty package and find something utterly perfect! Lovely Anna had got me some hand made rose and violet creams, and some soap roses to go in the bath. All done up with gorgeous Victorian paper, with matching tag and card! It was raining outside, so we sat in the little coffee shop for ages, and when the drizzle finally stopped, we ventured out to the Shops. We went to the little cake decorating shop, where I bought some edible glitter sprinkles to go on my Christmas Cake, along with a 50Â’s style fawn, and some iridescent fir trees!

When I got to work on Saturday, the Christmas Tree had been put up! I could smell it before I could see it, and when I did see it- oh! You see, the library I work in is in the County Hall, and the tree is four floors high! And it is real! So big and bushy amarvelousous- all hung with ropes and ropes of tiny gold lights, and huge shiny red baubles, and gold bells, and ribbons. Then, Saturday evening we went on the train to go to a Christmas Drinks party. Oh, it was delightful! There was mulled wine, and delicious little nibbles, and their house was so pretty. There were baubles hung from ribbon all along the kitchen window, and tinsel everywhere! The company was lovely- we got to spend the evening with several dear friends, and although we left perhaps earlier than we had planned, it was nice to leave wanting more.

And best of all, I have very nearly finished stitching the 12 Days Of Christmas. I ran out of white thread yesterday! I got some today at lunch, so all I have to do is cross stitch the ermine robe of my leaping lord, back stitch him and I am done! Then all I have to do is find some cards to mount the embroideries inÂ….oh and tonight I am also going to marzipan my cake as I can hardly wait to ice and decorate it!

To top it all, my gift making is going well- I have been knitting hot water bottles, crocheting handbags, and have ordered some boxes to put shortbread and sweets intoÂ…do you know, this time in a fortnight, it will be the day?!

I hope you are all feeling as merry as I am!

(PS Another Thing That I Am Going To Do On My Holidays is to watch some of the House of Eliot on dvd! I discovered we have the first two series in the library!)

Tuesday, 5 December 2006

Santa Tea And Gingerbread

I am terrible at two things. The first is keeping a secret. I won't spill your secret, but mine? The moment I had paid for Carls birthday present, all I could do was say 'you have such a good present this year!'. And when I spied two cheerful Santa mugs in a Christmas Shop the last week in November...well it was so hard to keep them for advent! And even harder to keep them for an advent surprise. The mugs are so sweet- I got two, and they are slightly different, but both are 3-d santa heads, with his hat making the handle. They are saved from tackiness because they have that Scandinavian vibe to them. Every morning of advent so far, we have had our first cup of tea of the day in them, and our last cup of tea of the evening, with the Christmas tree lights twinkling upon us.

Now the other thing that I am terrible at is gingerbread. Not eating it, no, no, I can do that! And nothing in mind is nicer than a really firey ginger nut and a hot cup of tea. There is a particular kind (I think they are Borders but I could be wrong) that are really gingery, and are covered with dark, thick chocolate.

Oh, but I digress! The thing I am bad at is Gingerbread Houses. How lovely they look in magazines! How wonderful they look on other peoples blogs. How disasterous it was last year! I had found a kit, with the pre-baked sides and roof- it even had a little window cut out, and a door. All I had to do was fix it together with icing and decorate it...

...All! It was so brittle that one wall snapped in half, and the icing wouldn't stick...and I couldn't find the sweets I wanted to use for decorations....let us just say that it has become a little bit of a joke in our house! Dear Carl tried to rescue it for me- it was so far gone, he had to tie it with string! But even after all this, when I visited the lovely and saw that Ikea are doing kits for £1.50- it crossed my mind for a whole minute that I should go buy a kit!

Perhaps I am better off sipping tea from my Santa mug, and nibbling away on a chocolatey ginger biscuit instead?

Monday, 4 December 2006

What's That Noise?

No, it is not the sound of snowflakes falling-yet. No, it is not the jingle of bells on a sleigh….yet. It is the sound of scrub-a-dub-dubbing in our little flat!

That is how Saturday was spent- making our home ready for the Christmas Decorations. It was rather lovely actually- nothing beats that feeling of everything being fresh and clean and in order. I started work in the kitchen while dear Carl did the bathroom- and we put a speaker into each room so we could both listen along to our current spoken word book- Cross Bones by Kathy Reichs. We popped out mid afternoon to buy our tree. Now Carl is the voice of reason, while I go right ahead and fall in love with a great bushy tree that is taller than our ceiling! Usually I beg for a tree a little larger than is sensible, and Carl begs for one that is a little smaller, and we meet in the middle.

We drove out to the little nursery which is in the middle of nowhere, just how I like these places to be. We wandered around and around, looking at all the potted trees. I squealed in delight at a great tall beauty…and we wandered some more. You see, all the medium sized ones were just…not right. Too bushy. Too…not right. And the big ones were just too large- even I could see that! What to do? We always have a real tree….finally, much out of character, I suggested getting a smaller tree, and standing it on our table. So now we have such a darling of a tree in our living room. All bedecked with 100 tiny twinkling lights, small iridescent clear baubles, and pink and blue lametta. Nestled in the branches is a beautiful pair of lovebirds from Liberty that Mum bought us, and a little silver angel that Carls Mum bought us. And right in the middle- a robin called ruby that we fell in love with while buying the tree. Her body is all sparkly with beads, and she has a bright red feather for a tail. She smiles out of the tree at us- I think she likes having such a sparkly home!

Tonight we have a friend visiting, and we are going to snip out snowflakes and glue together paper chains to go up, while drinking mulled apple juice, and eating mince pies warm from the oven.

A Delightful Nightmare Sunday!

It is a truth universally acknowledged that time flies when you are having fun. And what fun we had yesterday! We visited friends for December’s Brunch Club. The theme- A Nightmare Before Christmas, but it was anything but a nightmare! We were greeted at the door with a wine bottle bearing the label ‘empty tears’ and when we went down into the basement where the kitchen and dining room is, there was a skull grinning away at us, probably as he was pleased to be wearing rather a lot of tinsel! The food was quite delicious- I never got on with tofu before, but there was some really delicious home made tofu jerky that was so savoury that I have become quite converted! I ate rather more of the Christmas Tree made out of salad than I should – but dipping peppers into ‘pureed mole’ (guacamole) was so tasty! Then we had marvellous santa blood soup, followed by a chop- a play on the skeleton throwing a rib to the dog in the film – which- after lovely dessert- we watched.
And suddenly, it was time to go home. It seemed like we had only just got chatting when it was time to leave- but then I think it is the mark of a good evening when you leave wishing you could stay just a little longer.

Oops though- I very nearly gave away Carls birthday present! See how much a glass or two (or three!) of red wine loosens my tongue? The band Trivium was mentioned, and I said ‘OOooooo! Um, nothing!’ Oops. I will reveal all after December 23rd (Carls birthday) just in case he should happen past my blog between now and then…

Santa Baby...

...oh it is silly, I know it is. But I don't ever really feel truly Christmassy until I have watched either version of Miracle on 34th Street! But this year...alas...our video player has died. And the library has it only on video. I thought that was it, this year. But...

...we were at Carls parents house, as they had workmen in and we both had the day off. I was writing Christmas Cards- all home made! And using fountain pen- and not getting it over myself! Then dear Carl announced that he had a surprise. I was hoping for a cup of tea! But instead he switched on the television, and put on a video. From the very first note of music, I knew what it was!

The lovely, lovely Carl had found out a video copy of the 1994 version, and we happily watched it while I wrote out the rest of the cards. I am still feeling all warm and Christmassy now!

I am also feeling all smiley and merry from your lovely comments on this blog. It is lovely to have bloggy friends- and dear Vintage Pretty- I must confess it was your post that made me want to make pasta!