Wednesday 28 December 2011

Christmas Round Ours...

Our Christmas has finished, we waved off the last of our guests last night. Shutting the front door our house suddenly felt very empty. Then we collapsed in front of the fire with some wine and Christmas cake.

Our enforced deadline worked and we got there in the end with our sitting room.

This was Christmas eve morning (three coats of floor varnish, just dry).

But by the time Santa had delivered the presents we'd got furniture in and a tree up (thanks to lots of help from Hugh's brother and sister-in-law). Even if we were putting curtains up at 1am on Christmas morning.

It's been hectic, beef wellington, turkey, ham (a yummy Jamie ham recipe), we didn't even get around to Christmas pudding, mainly thanks to Hugh's brother cooking a fab alternative lemon and passion fruit roulade pudding from Nigel Slater, and mountains of cheese and mince pies.

Coco trying out a new Christmas present while wearing her (pretty hideous) Cinderella dress... I put aside my taste for a while for her present, and she loved it, insisting on wearing it everyday. My mum got her some pink glitter shoes which have been equally popular.

There's a lot of my sister's Christmas cake left...

Snowflake decorations... very similar to Anabelle's.

We've got to an age where we receive lots of edible gifts...

A basket of opened presents waiting to be put away... including Hugh's new Rhino head to add to the collection (a present to him that really I wanted, cheeky, I know).

I didn't take nearly enough photos, (didn't get any of my hand-made crackers, or presents being opened). Hosting Christmas is hard work. Respect to all the old hands out there. It was wonderful to be able to do it though and to have our house full of family for four days.

Hope you all had a great time.

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Christmas Cards, Done.

Actually managed to get our cards printed, written, addressed and sent. Woo-hoo, only just after the last posting day.

I'm feeling buoyed up by the lovely comments from last nights post; and by the fact that Hugh is in the sitting room varnishing the floor as I type.

Seems the days of endless parties in the lead up to Christmas are long gone... I'd better get the worker that cup of tea I promised him.

Tuesday 20 December 2011

[Not] A Pretty Picture

Four days to Christmas and our sitting room still looks like this, can you sense my rising panic...

On the bright side it is painted.

If we ever get around to getting a tree it will be camouflaged against these walls... Farrow & Ball Green Smoke for our grown up room.

I can't quite believe we haven't had a sitting room since June 2009 when we moved out of our old flat, if we're in here on Christmas day then it will be fantastic.

I don't want to clutter my blog with messy photos (some part of my life needs to keep it's rosy glow) but be assured there are a few more places in our house like this.

Of course the last thing I should be doing right now is blogging...

Wednesday 14 December 2011

At the last minute...

Last years Christmas card, when Henry was just a bump!

I'm one of those people who is always last minute. I do normally pull the rabbit out of the hat, but my eureka moments always seem to come just a little bit late.*

It's obviously not last minute enough yet for me to make my Christmas cards as I'm sitting at my computer struggling with the design.
The 8 tabs I have open on this browser in the name of research/inspiration aren't helping much.** Neither are the distractingly long lists on my desk, lists that seem to have taken on a life of their own and are growing at a rapid pace.

11.14pm, do I carry on, or rely on tomorrow?

* Only today my Mum suggested that the thing I want to make for Coco for Christmas probably should have been started in August.

** Have you seen Hello, Little Printer!? I can sincerely write the three letters OMG. I would be very happy to get that in my stocking, only it doesn't come out till next year.

Tuesday 13 December 2011

A gift for Mila & A gift for George

Earlier this year my friends had a beautiful baby girl... I made her some letters as a welcome gift.

I saw Mila the other day and I commented on how much like her older brother George she looked while she was sleeping. The really sad thing is, she will never meet her older brother.

Very tragically George died after a rare and very sudden illness at just 14 months old. He was such a lovely little boy with a great personality; him and Coco used to play together, the last time we saw him they were both toddling and were chasing each other around my parents house.

Lucky for Mila she has two very strong and positive parents. Mark and Emily set up a charitable foundation in George's name and they really channel the love they had for George into the foundation which supports some brilliant projects.

For parents, I know hearing this makes them hug their children a little tighter... no one knows what is around the corner and having one of my worst fears come true for a friend has been horrible. It's made me realise how hard it can be to be a good friend. Supporting The George Oliver Foundation is one way I can help my friends, and to keep the memory of a gorgeous little boy alive.
If you'd like to give to the foundation they have a website and they are also having a Christmas Ebay Auction of gifts they've had donated to them (xmas shopping and charitable donation in one go)!

Our heart strings are pulled a lot around the Christmas period, but it is a bitter sweet time for many and just purely depressing for some... which also makes it a good time to share some love around.

Monday 12 December 2011

Half Way to Christmas...

12 open windows on our advent calendar, 12 baubles on the 'tree'

This is the advent calendar that I failed to make this year.
But lucky for me, I love buying advent calendars.

This one seemed to be a one off in the shop and it wasn't until I took it out of the cellophane on the 30th November that I realised that each window is actually a detachable bauble, so you can put a string through the punched hole and hang it up...

So I needed something to hang the baubles on. I got a few strange looks loading up the buggy with twigs on the way back from dropping Coco at school (and my neighbour who I was with did her best to act as if this was totally normal behaviour).

Big of bling spray paint and... ta da!
Needless to say this didn't all really get pulled together until about the 5th December.

I like the idea of keeping the baubles for next year
I'll never be organised enough to have a tree up on the 1st December, so maybe this will be the next best thing? Maybe a family advent tradition has been born?
We'll see.

There is nothing else Christmassy in the house yet... we just have builders dust instead! No presents bought, let along wrapped. It's going to be a hectic couple of weeks. Did I mention that we are hosting for my family this year!?

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Two Room Living

While we keep out of the way of the builders all four of us are sleeping in one room, along with piles of random stuff that we moved out of the way in a hurry (nothing is ever done in advance in this house).

The last couple of days I've been feeling a bit like a prisoner in my own home, hiding out in the kitchen with a soundtrack of power tools filling the rest of the house.
Every time I open the kitchen door there is a flurry of dust. Henry keeps making escape attempts. He's getting pretty quick too. I missed him once and he got covered in wood shavings in a millisecond.

But things are happening, and I'm keeping the faith. People keep asking me where we are going to put our tree, 'why the sitting room of course' (currently filled with tools, materials and very much undecorated, and more vitally unheated).

We may be putting the tree up at 11pm on Christmas eve, but there's nothing like a deadline to keep up momentum.

Thursday 1 December 2011

Further tales of a four year olds party...

The party bags, I think it's my love of multiples that makes me want to do things like this. There is something so satisfying seeing lots of things laid out the same.
Hugh got the bags from Paul Gardner (as featured on Spitalfields Life). He had to buy 100 but I'm sure I'll find uses for the others, and at £2.20 for the batch you can't complain really!?
[If you need some orange stripe paper bags feel free to contact me!]

I really have no desire to perpetuate the children's party mania, but I do enjoy putting together these party bags. In addition to the poppy growing card I also put in these bracelet making cards. The beads were recycled from their previous life as the contents of baby-shakers.*

I did an order on Handy Candy for some retro candy whistle sweets, remember them? Coco of course is insisting on pretending her whistle is a lipstick (rather scarily).

The obligatory plastic content was fulfilled with plastic rings and creepy-crawlies. Next year I will rebel and it will be plastic free. I have such high aims in my life.

Am thinking about doing a little party bag service on my etsy shop... what do you think? Would people pay to have these made and put together for them?

I was too busy joining in with a party games on the day to take many photos, but here are a few instagrams from the actual day...

The bit she most looked forward to; candles on a cake. Being the birthday girl is a serious business!

My Mum organised the cake (thanks Mum) from her village bakery where it was lovingly made by one of my primary school contemporaries - thanks Kirsty!
And the enormous collection of pink cards... there is a pink conspiracy, but I'm assured she will grow out of it. Plus, we got to re-use her birthday banner at home again.

Now, of course, there is a lot of talk about "When I'm five..."!

* I put these beads in small glass ex-herb pots to make shakers. Fine for Coco at 5 months, but Henry at 10 months would be smashing the glass - he's a little thug!