Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Lots to Celebrate

It's been a busy week but a very lovely one. Bella turned thirteen and it all felt very grown up. Presents were few, smaller and cost more, and opened early before school.

No parties (I'm not especially sad that phase is over if I'm honest) but she chose to go shopping after school and have dinner out in Wagamama.

She still ordered off the children's menu though. :-)

The last week at work has been fun and my Secret Santa gift was particularly inspired.

A half day finish on Friday meant that we could go on one of our first after-work dog walks during daylight hours in a long time.

It has rained so much lately and everywhere is very muddy.

Saturday morning was spent at home, making cards, drinking coffee, planning menus and writing a huge shopping list.

This kitchen table scene makes me happy.

Later that day we went to the theatre to watch a pantomime with my parents, then had fish and chips for tea afterwards. Such a nice start to the holidays.

I have loved receiving Christmas cards this year. I persevere with this tradition because I think it's a nice way to stay in touch with people, plus it's one of the few times of the year when post is fun. My friend Charlotte made the card above from sea glass. 

Crafting is always what keeps me sane, and I found a few moments here and there this week to sew this little mistletoe hoop from last year's Winter Craftpod. It was the perfect seasonal project and I enjoyed every stitch.

Sunday was spent elving. We picked up the food shopping, baked mince pies and ginger cake, made peppermint bark, decorated the Christmas cake and made the gravy for Christmas day. 

Yesterday was similarly industrious; changing beds, vacuuming, washing, ironing, and generally getting the house ready for guests. And today will include picking up the turkey and ham, cooking the ham, making a yule log, making a tiramisu for those who don't like Christmas pudding, and preparing the vegetables for the big day. Christmas is hard work, isn't it?

But I have family around me and John to share the workload. I have food in the house, presents under the tree, and the promise of quiet home days once the big day has passed, so I do feel extremely fortunate. Oh, and I have lots of prosecco in the fridge too so I think I will make myself a kir royale later, and drink it while I listen to Carols from Kings.

Merry Christmas lovely people. I hope your day is filled with warmth and laughter. 

Friday, 20 December 2019

DIY Christmas Jumper

Well, if you're struggling to get into the Christmas spirit, I can highly recommend wearing fairy lights to work for the day. It's the biggest mood booster you'll find.

Christmas jumper day is a big thing at the school I work in, for both staff and children. I've never owned a Christmas jumper, but have a couple of nice wool sweaters (one with a pheasant, one with a star) that I usually wear when something seasonal is required. 

But this year I had a change of heart. I saw a lovely tutorial in Mollie Makes a while back for a DIY Christmas jumper, where a sweatshirt was decorated with sequins in the shape of oranges. I wanted to make something similar and couldn't face sewing on hundreds of sequins by hand, but it did give me an idea of how I could use an old grey sweatshirt that I hardly wear to make something fun and unique.

I found a brilliant free online tutorial for crochet fairy lights and set to work making lots. Thirty, in fact, in ten different colours using scrap cotton yarn from my stash. When I had enough, I laid them out across the front and back of the sweatshirt and drew lines across with fading pen where I wanted the "wire" to go.

I sewed this on using embroidery thread in chain stitch, to create the impression of an old fashioned cable.

I was pretty happy with the jumper like that, but I had bought a little battery operated pack of white fairy lights the week before, and had an idea that I could somehow incorporate this into the crocheted lights.

It just about works. I've managed to tuck the fairy lights into the embroidery thread, and the cable goes down the inside of the jumper into my jeans pocket.

I absolutely love it. I feel like, if you're going to make yourself a Christmas jumper covered in crochet fairy lights, then you might as well go all out and make it as ridiculous as possible.

I'm no further on with my gift wrapping, but I am starting to feel Christmassy. 

Monday, 16 December 2019

Festive Panic

Christmas is almost here and despite the fact that I've been thinking about it, shopping for it and planning it since October, I still feel woefully unprepared. I am trying my best to quell a rising sense of festive panic, a feeling that there just aren't enough hours in the day, while at the same time having a quite a nice time at home and at work doing all sorts of things. We've reached that point in the calendar where every hour between now and Christmas day is full or booked or somehow accounted for. There are Christmas parties for the kids, Christmas parties for John and I, a trip to the pantomime, Christmas Jumper Day, all kinds of festive events and concerts at school. All lovely, just busy.

Here are some things I've done over the last couple of weeks to make myself feel better:

:: Sit and admire the tree. This never gets old.

 :: Get out in the fresh air as much as possible.

:: Crochet. (More on this another day.)

:: Unpack the Christmas things.

:: Light the advent candles.

:: Admire the Christmas lights on our neighbours' houses. Angus has taken to joining me on my after work dog walks, just so that he can admire all the lights. It's lovely actually.

:: Pottering, arranging, cleaning. Tidy house, tidy mind.

:: A child-free morning in Chichester with John. We had breakfast out and did some shopping.

:: Sunday morning, pyjama-clad fudge making with this one.

:: Going to a wreath making workshop organised by our PTA.

:: Getting a manicure. (This is a once every couple of years event.)

:: Baking mince pies with this one while listening to Christmas music.

:: And this one always makes me feel better.

I am trying to go easier on myself this Christmas. As I mentioned before, I just bought the kids chocolate advent calendars this years, rather than making them. I'm sending half the Christmas cards I usually would and I haven't made any, I bought them all in Waitrose. I still wanted to make some gifts for teachers and colleagues and had planned to make lots of mini Christmas cakes, like I did a couple of years ago. But at the last minute I made a huge batch of gingerbread fudge (a really easy, child friendly recipe - no boiling necessary) which took about ten minutes and was significantly less hassle than baking and icing lots of little cakes. I think I have done all my shopping, but no wrapping yet. I know I still have time, but as soon as we break up for the holidays the madness starts. We have family staying and we're hosting Christmas lunch, so there is quite a lot to do - food shopping, menu planning, cooking. Mustn't forget to breathe!

Oh, and Bella turns thirteen this week.....