Teachers Gifts Winter 2013…

My plan to have a relaxed morning organising the kitchen and baking didn’t really happen.  There is so much for the boys to do this weekend, we have topic homework due on Monday, the usual weekend homework, cards to write for the class kids and then teachers gifts.  Poor F is tired after a sleepless night (nightmares, sadly) and it’s been a bit of a battle to get him to sit down to start his many jobs, even with the bribe of promised Minecraft time afterwards (anyone else’s kids addicted?).

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The thing he did do willingly was quickly write and parcel his teachers gifts.  They are quick and easy this year.  A nice card, some chocolates and one of my little red robins.

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Job done!

(PS, to make up for the very stressful morning, I am now eating my body weight in Bettys Christmas Cake with Port, with some Wensleydale cheese whilst watching Elf, I figured the rest can wait for an hour or so).

Crackers..!

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This year I decided to make my own crackers as I get sick of buying quite expensive ones (to be fair, I often buy them in the sale then stuff them in the ‘Christmas’ box for the next year) that contain tat that no-one really wants, even when I think I’ve chosen really nice crackers with good gifts inside.  It slightly takes the thrill out of hoping to be the one to get the mini screw driver set (always my favourite and the most useful filler) but at least the boys wont be disappointed by getting the lipstick holder, again.

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I went for this ready to fill set, by Meri Meri as I fell in love with the brightly coloured ‘Nutcracker’ theme.  They come with all you need, except gifts, to make up some very festive looking crackers.  There are some things that I wasn’t happy with, but I’ll get to that bit in a mo.

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The boys actually get three crackers each (the box contains ten, so three for each of them and two for me and M, we are on our own, at home, this Christmas and the boys LOVE crackers so they can have one a day to spread them out).  I bought suitable gifts (not all pictured, for the day itself the boys get not-entirely-cheap Hexbugs) – the Batman is a USB memory stick for M.

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For myself, as I was paying for it, I bought a little bronze deer….I was buying it anyway, but decided to pop it in my cracker for fun, the idea was not to open the box when it arrived so at least I’d see it for the first time when the cracker was opened but whoops, I forgot.  At least you get a photo this way.  (The deer is from the UK based Etsy seller Romantic Eccentric, who has the most amazing snow globe necklaces, amongst other things, that I’d love to own).

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They are going to look great on our Christmas table!

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So, those problems I mentioned.  All the contents of the kit are great quality, but this actually makes it quite difficult to get the back of the card to joint together (it’s quite stiff and shiny), there is not nearly enough gold ribbon and the lovely gold glitter stickers that you add to make the buttons, lapels etc do not stay on, so I had to glue them into place in the end.  They do stick initially, but as they are also quite stiff and as the card has a gloss finish, they keep peeling off.  Would I buy this kit again…you know I would, despite the problems, all are easily fixed and the finished crackers really do look very nice.DSC_0027

It was a new introduction, for me, to the brand Meri Meri but I really love their designs and bought this year’s tags from there as well.

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On a separate note, I said I’d show photos of our tree.

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I’m really thrilled with it this year, just buying the few new decorations has made it feel fresh and different, even though all my old favourites are in there as well.  Sadly, I can’t get a decent photo of it, not even when I’m using the tripod, but you get the idea.

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I’m closing up shop soon, so I can concentrate on the family and so I don’t have to stand in line for hours at the post office, which I confess, I hate.  Business this year has been much quieter than usual, but I think this reflects my lack of new designs and general crap-ness at blogging etc.  On the plus side, I have never felt so ready or relaxed about Christmas, which feels great as it’s going to be a tough one this year, without Mum.

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Right, I’m off to make sausage rolls and mince pies for the freezer, after I’ve put our newly decorated kitchen back together…it’s so pretty, and clean, and tidy, I’ve waited YEARS for this and just in time for Christmas 🙂

Vintage Tree…

I really got over-excited this morning, when putting the vintage decorations on the tree on my studio.  I’m not sure why it made me so happy, I know in the scale of ‘life’ putting baubles on a tree really shouldn’t have such an impact but I really did enjoy myself.

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One of the first things I did was quickly photograph the boxes open, so I can put the baubles away ‘in the right place’ when the tree comes down.  I know.  I’m weird like that.  I also found myself leaving everything ‘exactly as it is’ in terms of crappy bits of string etc dangling down, I like the imperfections, it’s what makes these beauties so special.

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One of my favourites to open, was an old plastic Jacob’s crackers box that contained a very eclectic mix of trinkets folded in old bubble wrap.  I remember bidding for this but it arrived after Mum became quite ill and was shoved away untouched,  so opening it today was the first time I’d see the contents.  It was quite a large lot of decorations that went reasonably cheaply (oh my goodness, I’ve noticed the Ebay prices this year are through the roof for these things!!) perhaps because it contained some ‘tat’ and wasn’t as perfectly presented as some items.

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It has to be said, I do like a bit of tat and it’s usually here that the real gems lay.  Take the fairy, she is quite knackered, but was sitting at the very top of the box and I was so pleased to remember I’d managed to get a tree fairy in the mix.  Check out her dodgy eye!

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The same box contained tree more clip on birds (I’d already collected a few) which I really do love as Gran had similar on her tree, when we were kids.DSC_0026
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and bunnies…so cute!

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I remembered that a main attraction of this Ebay lot, apart from the fairy, was that it contained a load of clip-on candles, which really did make me a happy bunny.  Our primary school tree had these and they used to light them on the last day of school and we’d each get a present from underneath.  I’m obviously not planning to light these, that would be a bad idea.DSC_0059I also treated myself to a new set of lights, in the form of these little coloured lanterns.  The cable is a bit clunky but the colours are so nice and I think it really works with the old decorations.  I’d love to have an original set, but would be afraid of burning the house down, plus the idea of a bulb blowing and spending hours trying to work out which one doesn’t really appeal.
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Even the scary clown made it up there.

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I found it really difficult to get decent photos, especially of the whole tree so you get one minus the top.  It’s sitting by my work bench, in the middle of the window area, I’m quite nervous of the boys (or cat) knocking it and the misery of a pile of broken glass, I’m sure there’ll be at least one casualty but that’s life.

DSC_0026As it is, I’m happy to take the risk, on order to have something that makes me smile each time I see it.

Back to work, I have the bathrooms and hallway to clean today.  I’m going to put a festive movie on whilst I work, oh yes folks, I really am getting in the mood!

Christmas is Coming….Oh yes it is!

I had plans for lots more designs for the shop, but reality has struck and the knowledge (from previous years’ experience) that the next two weeks will be a whirl of kids Nativity plays, secret santa gifts to organise and trying to get the boys to sit down and write the many cards they want to send, means I’ve given up.   I decided that getting the house into shape, ordering any remaining gifts (oh yes, I got in there early and spent a couple of days ordering everything from the good old internet – I don’t really do shopping in the traditional sense, I’m afraid, I can’t be doing with the crowds and I ease my conscience with buying lots of handmade gifts from small sellers) and generally feeling Christmassy takes priority.

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I had promised the boys we’d start decorating last weekend, on Sunday.  I was quite pleased with the mantel, usually I have to fight the boys for some sense of design over their enthusiasm.  They normally win.  I was especially pleased with the little dog collar made from one of my Gran’s decorations, found randomly in the bottom of an old suitcase that came from the attic.  M dreams that I’ll drop this dog by accident, he HATES it, but I’m refusing to remove it at the moment.

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Most of our decorations have been collected over the years and are quite traditional.  The cute snowman cards were given by Mum to the boys a couple of years ago, I’m glad I kept them now as there is always pressure to recycle all cards, come the New Year, but these somehow ended up in the Christmas box.  I’m struggling, generally,  to get rid of anything with her writing on now, as happens when you lose a loved one.

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In some places the boys took over, they tend to want to put out every decoration they can find, in this case all the bristle animals in one spot.

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I bought the trees today, one large one for the living room and a smaller one for my studio (to cover with my collection of vintage baubles).  I was going to wait until the weekend, but I know it’ll be crazy busy then and in terms of tree wilt and needle drop, I can’t see a few days will make any difference.  The boys get to be in charge of decorating the tree, they will be very excited to see it tonight, on their return from school (I’ll take photos when it’s done).

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For the first time in ages, I bought a few new baubles, all Gisela Graham ones, bought on-line from Perrywood Garden Center which proved to be lots cheaper than many other on-line sellers.  I especially like the clip-on glass toadstools.

DSC_0027This afternoon I plan to make a start on writing cards, which is partly why I’m blogging, so I could show you these fabulous ones bought from Dee Beale, aren’t they lovely?

I realise for many this post is a little early, but with young boys it’s hard to ask them to wait to get in the Christmas mood and I tend to set the beginning of December as the start date for making merry.  Right, I’m off to bake a batch of mince pies whilst wearing one of the new aprons 🙂