Sunday, 27 December 2015

The Other Side

Hello my friends!!! We made it! We are on the other side of Christmas. Happy, exhausted, full to the brim with Christmas pudding and turkey, surrounded by presents and leftovers which are to be eaten over the next week in as many creative ways as we can think of. Packaging and bags of recycling waiting to go out are everywhere, which the cats are loving. Ziggy has adopted a box left under the radiator in the hallway, although is quite happy to box-hop should he need to (a little bit like a hermit crab).

My photos over the festive period were all taken on my phone so please bear with the odd lighting and shapes and sizes of the images. This year was the first year ever that we actually spent Christmas day at home. In our own house. It is a new experience for us but I think we handled it quite well. Some traditions stayed the same, we always decorate the table on Christmas Eve ready for breakfast the following morning. The tablecloth (which is sparkly!!) was new and bought to go with my table runner, which itself was decorated with cinnamon scented red tea lights and pine cones leftover from my wreath making session. We ended up with two bunches of flowers as well, one the one I bought and one a present, although the colours of the flowers are identical and looked lovely next to each other on the table.

Huzzah!! Here in photo land we reach Christmas Day, post stocking opening. Our tradition here is for everyone to congregate on the Parent's bed, bleary eyed, barely awake and, in the case of The Sister, slightly grumpy. Present opening goes in age order starting with Dad and we all go round and open one present at a time. Then there is the rubbish throwing competition which isn't a spoken about tradition but happens every year where people try to throw their used wrapping paper into the bin in the Parent's bedroom, bouncing it off the mirror and the walls and generally making a mess.
The above photo shows a couple of my new decorations which were in my stocking. The white one with sequins was made by The Mother, isn't it pretty?

No one is allowed downstairs until The Mother has gone down and turned the tree lights on to get the biggest festive impact of the morning. The presents are all arranged and glinting under the tree and it all looks very lovely.

Whilst we all gaze in rapture at the pretty tree and think about what might be wrapped up below, Dad cooks the breakfast and we all trundle into the kitchen to sit at the beautifully decorated table and pour out the Bucks Fizz (a new tradition for us started this year) with extra orange juice. The cats are hugely excited by all of the commotion and stick with us all morning. Even coming in to help us unwrap the presents.

 Kit wasn't so bothered by what was happening, he was just happy to sit with us all and know we were there. Ziggy loves wrapping paper, it makes a fantastic crunchy noise and moves around when people throw more onto the pile. The best part of Christmas for Ziggy (other than the extra treats and tit bits of turkey) is the packaging.

My gorgeous new hand painted bowl and Christmas scented dried fruits made it straight onto the table ready for the lunch time setting. As we were cooking it ourselves, Dad had decided he didn't want lots of fuss or have to spend the day slaving over a hot stove cooking the meat and timing in all of the veggies. So he cooked duck, lamb and ham (not all in one pan) on Christmas Eve ready for us to have cold with a variety of salads, hot pigs in blankets and a ham and egg thing The Sister made. It was an interesting twist. We did have a little Christmas pudding with cream to follow.

In the run up to Christmas I had bought a selection pack of photo accessories to play with at the table which turned out to be quite fun and caused some amusement.

I thought I would throw in a little photo of myself as well, looking rather fetching with my top hat and bow tie. (The 15 at the top is because it was screenshotted from The Sister's phone on a Snapchat app- it's all techno gadgets here!!!)

So I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and relaxing Boxing Day (we always have a second Christmas day with the other side of the family, with more presents, a full roast and homemade pudding (or rich chocolate and raspberry tarte if you prefer), quizzes and slightly tipsy adults), and that you got everything on your present lists and more. Here's to the next party- New Year!!! xx

Monday, 21 December 2015

Confused Seasons

We are having a very prolonged Autumn in England (especially in the South). There has been one single solitary frost to date (that actually involved having to scrape the  car windscreen in the morning) and the rest of the time has been mild, wet and windy, most unseasonal. It has really confused the garden and the Spring time plants are appearing already. We have Primroses, Daffodils, Celandines and blossom all flowering alongside the bright colours of the winter berries.

The sun briefly came out at the weekend which prompted everyone to rush outside to quickly soak up some Vitamin D before it went away again, which it soon did to make way for the downpour that was following.

Usually at this time of year the garden would be brown and dull, but there is still so much greenery around, we even still have some late flowering roses that are sneaking in.

Inside is looking even more festive and we hosted our first Christmas party at the weekend, prompting the arrival of my table runner to the table, along with The Mother's new red, sparkly tablecloth. I also bought a festive bouquet of flowers, complete with a glittery golden pine cone accessory!

I also finally (thank goodness!) finished the present for my Grandmother. I quite like the messy look of the back as well as the slightly neater front.

There are so many tiny stitches in this piece!!

I had bought a frame online which I thought would fit my embroidery- it had an inner size of A3 which I thought would be perfect, however I hadn't taken into account that although the original image had been printed on A3, the embroidery size was slightly smaller, and after the above photos were taken I had to go around the edges again and make them a big bigger so that it would fit into the frame properly. Good thing I checked before stretching and framing!!! Eventually on Sunday evening I slotted all of the pieces together in the frame and tentatively turned it over to reveal... framed embroidery of August Cottage!!! I am literally so thrilled with this. It has taken so many hours to do and a lot of umming and ahhing over certain stitch types. I really really hope that my Grandmother likes this piece!

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Christmas Things

Hello my friends!! I was so worried that I wouldn't be able to blog anymore- my computer died rather dramatically at the weekend right at the moment where the killer was about to reveal themselves in Criminal Minds (I still haven't found out who it was). I have spent the majority of my evening waiting for tests to be run and buffering type symbols run across the screen whilst the laptop sorted itself out, fingers crossed it won't happen again- especially as there is so much to write about at this time of the year!

Last Thursday we took the Guides ice skating at Calverley Grounds in Tunbridge Wells. I was there really early, sitting on a bench in the mizzle watching the session in the run up to the one we were booked in on. The rink looked so pretty surrounded by blue lights- they were strung up between the lamp posts, around the little huts, in the flowerbeds...

It was v.e.r.y wet!! It isn't quite cold enough here for the ice to stay icey and the rink keeps melting, so much so that when anyone slips over, they essentially land in a very shallow swimming pool.
I don't skate, I did go once but it was such a traumatic experience (lots of time spent upside down with ones legs ungainly waving in the air having fallen over, yet again) that I have vowed to never step on the ice again. It just isn't for me. I was more than happy, however, to offer words of support and encouragement from the side of the rink, and take on the responsible role of chief photographer.

At home the decorations have been up for a little while now and we are still enjoying walking into a room and being surrounded by festive lights, colour, sparkles and ornaments. We have two trees now as I bought a little one whilst I was at university, but the main tree (a 7 footer!!) is in the living room. It did at one time have a purple colour theme but everybody keeps adding to it and there are the traditional ornaments, plus the handmade collection which grows every year so the colour theme has kind of changed to 'anything goes'.

I have bought a new bauble for this year as I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it. It's quite large and has sparkly peacock feathers on it, so pretty!

The little university tree is just right for the kitchen and sits on a dresser next to the table. Dad has gone a little bit mad with lights this year and keeps buying strings of battery operated lights, or posh new LED lights with all sorts of settings. We now have outside lights, and two strings on each tree, as well as a string on a bookcase and two new sets wound together and installed on the kitchen ceiling.

I have Christmas Cyclamen on the table. Usually it would be a bunch of flowers but I have been so busy lately that I haven't had a chance to buy any flowers. We do keep going to garden centres though and I really love Cyclamen so it seemed a good compromise.

At the weekend I had my works Christmas do. This is only the second one I have had with my current job and was very different to last years where I had to leave early. This time around I shared a room with one of my colleagues and Elvis and I booked in quite early to give us time to settle in.

As always, first things first- coffee!!

As I knew I was getting to the hotel early, I took a little WIP- the Christmas present for my Grandmother. It is so nearly finished now, tantalisingly so. But I think it is one of those projects where you could keep adding to it and it would just keep growing so at some point I will have to stop. The night before Christmas perhaps?

It was really rather splendid to be stretched out on a comfy bed, wearing my Christmas socks (one of many pairs), watching a Touch of Frost and stitching away- a very relaxing afternoon!

The party was rather splendid too. The hotel had a Hollywood theme and there were staff members dressed up as members of the paparazzi taking photos of all the guests as they walked in. There seemed to be several large groups from different companies so it was rather loud and boisterous, especially as the evening wore on. My food was lovely (brandy butter on the pudding, yum) and afterwards there was a disco which is always entertaining when members of management are involved!

This week is just as involved and action packed. There is all the present wrapping to do, cards to give out, people to see and have lunch with, handmade gifts to finish (and then wrap), more Christmas lunches, a really is all go!