Early Christmas Celebrations…

It’s been a slightly odd and busy few days, F missed his last day of school due to an overnight pile of snow and everywhere closing up.  It was a good 20 cm, which for Kent is a lot, in fact the most I’ve seen here ‘down South’ and despite the sun it’s still with us, as I write it’s all rather dripping and wet but still quite thick on the ground so I think we’ll have a few more days of snowiness yet.

I closed my shops last Thursday, which was lucky considering it was Thursday night the snow came, some of the last packages to go were the Foxy Twins, for which I made an additional butterfly lavender bag (to my original lavender bag design, set to make a come back in the New Year).  Thanks everyone for bidding on them (and Nicky for winning – hope they have arrived OK).

Another order going out last week were these Linen Cats, I couldn’t help but think they went very nicely together as I was packing them up

I am now running very low on Linen Boys but I have packed up the sewing machine until after the New Year, so replenishing the shop will wait.

I finally finished the last Roman Blind for my sister’s cottage in Yorkshire, altogether there have been 6 to make and they are VERY large, about 230 cm wide which is about as big as you can go with Roman Blinds.  The last two (for her kitchen) had stripes of my favourite Linen from Tinsmith on the sides so I used it as an excuse to buy a little for myself, it’s expensive but I have a special project in mind for next Spring.  As always, Mr C ‘helped’, he likes to drive his car up and down the lines, complete with F’s Gormitis inside as he only gets to play with them when F is at school (this is not a posed shot, I came back into the kitchen to find the car as photographed).

The blinds are now on their way to Yorkshire with my brother who has just been to visit us for the weekend.  We were very happy to see him (especially the boys, he is F’s new BF), he rarely gets away from the farm as it’s hard to find someone willing to look after it for a couple of days and he still made the journey despite the snow, so we were very pleased.  As my sister lives around the corner but is away for Christmas we had an early pretend lunch, complete with all the trimmings followed by some snowy antics outside and a little competitive brother/sister snow fight (I stood inside watching and taking photos which seemed like the best option to me).

All in all it’s been a great weekend, it’s becoming increasingly rare for me to see my brother and sister at the same time and we had such a nice day, I am now looking forward to a nice quiet Christmas with just M and the boys and hopefully some time to relax, we have such a lot to be grateful for and I feel very happy and contented right now.  I hope you have all had a nice weekend and f I don’t post again and for those who celebrate it, I wish you a very Merry Christmas!

Christmas Decorations…

Just in case you’ve been asleep and hadn’t noticed that Christmas is practically here, I though I’d share some photos of our Christmas house, past and present to get you in the Festive mood.  As I trawled through photos, I couldn’t help but notice 1. what a really bad camera we used to have hence the grainy photos and 2. how my taste hasn’t changed much over the years and I tend to stick with the same formulas.

The only photos of our last cottage is this one of the stairs (is it worrying that I photograph my Christmas decorations??!….probably!).

We were in the ‘new’ house for Christmas for the first time last year, despite owning it for 3 years.  In between there was a Christmas in Yorkshire and an extended stay at my sisters up the road whilst our house was stripped back to just the walls which went from from 6 weeks to 6 months….whilst very pregnant and with a then 18 month old Felix…less said about that the better I think.

Note the Jan Constantine union jack cushion gracing our chair.  The bits and bobs on a stretched wire on the window (I use the kind people hang net curtains from, stretched into hooks either side so it can easily be removed and stored for next year) has been a standard Christmas decoration for me for a few years, the boys like choosing which ‘things’ from the Christmas box get to hang there.   The cross stitch cards above come out every year as my Gran made them, she stitched nearly 90 every year for all her friends and family, starting in January with the next batch, I kid you not.

This year the kitchen has it’s usual white, bright look

(I emptied and cleaned all the jars as they were getting a bit dusty), even the cake had a bit of a silver and white thing going on due to a lack of coloured icing

and I sprayed the seed heads from Allium Purple Sensation that I have been storing in the greenhouse silver

you just throw them at the tree, after removing the stalks and get wonderful silver pompoms that stick all on their own.  The bright touch in the kitchen (there is always a bright touch against the whiteness) comes from the famous Mouse Advent Calender.

The tree looks remarkably like last years, being in the same place but this time with the addition of the new Fairy and a mixture of the Red Robins and Gold and Purple birds.

They work really well, I think and go very nicely with the wonderful red pompom’s that I bought some years ago from Pedlars, one of my best Christmas buys.

You may also notice some biscuits on the tree, I make these with the boys (to a Nigella recipe) and it’s always funny to see that there are little bites out of many of them after a few days!  I don’t even attempt chocolate decorations as they wouldn’t last a second.  The floor still hasn’t been laid so it’s our third year of cheap lino and no skirting…this is a half done house but we are getting there.  The picture behind is a signed Jamie Hewlett Gorillaz print, bought for me by husband as he knows I’m a Jamie Hewlett fan.  As you can see I have very eclectic taste, old watercolours and etchings sit happily along side modern work in our house, as does antique furniture next to modern design.

The last shot is of Doris/Glenda/Tammy sitting atop the tree, at the end of the day my Gran’s original paper version really is getting very fragile so from now on this is our new tree topper.

For anyone who hasn’t decorated yet (yeah, right!) I hope that gets you in the mood.

Boxes, boxes, everywhere…

By 10 am today this little stash was sitting on the kitchen table

it would appear that all the Christmas things ordered are on their way (if you’re wondering what the fabric on the right is, it’s Roman blinds I am making for my sister – more on that later), it’s the result of the postman and a number of delivery men all coming in a row and a frenzied online ordering session after a recent trip to Bluewater (our best option for ‘real’ shopping) reminding me I have no plans to go there again until next Spring!  Now, the eagle-eyed will spot a number of Amazon boxes and I’ll admit, hands up, I do order from Amazon, to be fair, I also buy a lot of handmade and this years presents are the usual mix.  Those who read my blog often will know I made this bag for my sister (the blue one at the front)

along with a matching tweed lavender bird to decorate the packing (see here for all the info) and I had planned to make one for my Mother as her main present but I just haven’t had time, so I’ve been shopping in one of my favourite places instead

Jemima Lumley Jewellery, my Mother mentioned liking the hanging bird necklace in the past, in fact I have one of Jemima’s necklaces on my Christmas ‘Wish List’, well it’s the only thing there at the moment so finger crossed.

The boys have new pencil scarves from Sara Carr, another of my favourite designers and I’ve ordered some of M’s presents from other Folksy designers but I’ll wait for these to arrive before blogging.

As a little gift to myself (naughty! tut, tut) I picked up this large ‘weekender’ bag today from the village gift shop,

It’s by Gisela Graham and is ultimately intended to store fabric in but for now I have filled it with the contents of this mornings boxes so I can keep them safe from prying eyes, until I get the chance to do some wrapping.

I feel a bit relaxed as pretty much all my Christmas shopping is done and I have been re-preparing for the day itself, over at Rock Cottage Year, although in the way of the best made plans an all that my Borther is now coming to visit (he rarely gets time off, being a Yorkshire farmer) next weekend so we will be having a Pre-Christmas, Christmas lunch, along with my sister (they are all ‘Up North’ for the day itself) to celebrate.

Lastly, the Foxes are doing well in the Sue Ryder Folksy Upcycle auction (see last post), I’m really pleased they are proving popular and look forward to boxing them up and sending them to their new home once the auction is complete.

Folksy Upcycle Competition Update…

The votes are in, the special Folksy Upcycle  Ebay Auction is on (for one week, I believe) and the winners have been announced here.

I am very pleased to see Flora’s fabulous stained glass panel, ‘Winter Girl’ in the runners up list, it’s my favourite and I am happily bidding on it here.

I also love (and yes, am bidding on) this lovely Wool Felt Cocktail Hat

by Lupin Handmade.

This Upcycled Stationary by Bee Art is great.  I love the simple but very effective use of an old copy of ‘ The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady’ (My Mother bought this book when it first came out, I remember it well). It’s here for bidding.

This is such an elegant looking origami necklace from Sian Bostwick Jewellery (bid for it here).

And this bag and wrist warmers (Moon/moth, bid here) by Kettle of Fish have to get a mention.

There are really so many great designs, too many to list, you should go and check them out and maybe bid on one or two, it is after all for charity (Sue Ryder).  Oh and don’t forget the Foxy Twins are also up for grabs 😉

Obviously, if you are reading this and the bidding links are broken, sorry, the bidding must be over, but the shop links should still work!

Christmas is coming…

Not sure I’ve mentioned it, but my husband is German, a Berliner in fact and one of the bonuses are the lovely packages we get sent at Christmas.  We received this fabulous box the other day

stuffed full of German Christmas food, which was superb timing as I usually order some from the German Deli (I pretend it’s to make M feel at home over Christmas but as he’s a ba-humbug and hates anything festive, it’s really for me).  In fact a few years ago I didn’t need to as Sainsburys sold ‘Dominosteine’ which are M’s favourites, they are like a small square jaffa cake with an added layer of marzipan.

This is only half the haul, I am slightly embarrassed to note how many we have already eaten – oops! – oh well, it is the Festive Season after all…

We have also unpacked the ‘famous’ (well, in our house) Mouse Advent Calender which my Mother-in-law puts together each year for the boys.  It’s genius, made out of a 24 perfect mini hand knitted socks, each with a number that hangs on the appropriate pegs.

Once opened they contain a sweet for each of the boys (and sometimes us) and every now and again a laminated mouse picture, which means we have to grab the ‘mouse bag’ and look for the corresponding presents.

The mouse bag has a beautiful embroidered panel stitched to it and pictures of said mouse.  There is always a corresponding card, with a message for the boys (from Mr Mouse) and explanations of the different wrappings (sometimes, we also get presents).  The big finale arrives in German style on Christmas Eve with the main presents.  I am always amazed at the amount of hard work involved, it must take ages to set up and the boys love it, we are very lucky.

The painters left yesterday, hurrah!  Nice to have the house back, still quite a bit of painting to do and flooring to lay but it means I can clean and tidy, ready for putting up the Christmas decorations this weekend.  To get me in the mood I started on the kitchen with these cute glass birds from Ikea.

Although I am quite traditional with my colours in the main rooms, I quite like black and silver in the kitchen and it was a good excuse to hang one of my Blackbirds from the cupboard doors.