It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

With one month to go…I am SO ready for Christmas! I’ve spent the afternoon listening to Christmas music, wearing Christmas socks – and decorating my flat!!

(yes, I know the pictures are awful and blurry…I’ve got the shakes at the moment for some reason)

Hooray for Christmas movies!!  The book is my favourite Christmas book of all time, it’s so lovely. It’s about a family who have loads of guests (expected and unexpected) on Christmas eve, so they have to have people sleeping in the bath and on mantlepieces … they put the baby in the sink and the five skinny aunts in china dresser. We read it every Christmas, and it always reminds me of when my Mum first read it to be when I was only 9.

I feel like I’ve been getting ready for Christmas since October, because my church is holding a Ladies’ Shopping Event this Thursday (the 5th Annual!) and I have a stall selling little stocking fillers & other crafty gifts. I’ve made cards, cinnamon ornaments, bath bombs, tea-cup candles and glass votives…it all looks very pretty – but I won’t post a picture until after the event.

I’m really looking forward to it – I’ve done stalls twice previously,  and I don’t know whether I prefer being a seller or just a buyer. It’s a lovely atmosphere and it really gets me in the mood for all things Christmas.

Just look at some of the things from my pinterest Christmas board:

Trying to organise family Christmas on the other hand, well – that’s been a little tricky.

I’ve probably said before, but I’m one of 4 children [plus two younger siblings from my dad’s second marriage] Add to that, two of my siblings have partners so we also have to factor in their plans with in-laws etc, and the added fun-fact that my Dad is currently working in Afghanistan so only gets a certain amount of leave and isn’t coming home until 28th December … that makes a LOT of different schedules and priorities to figure out so that we can all spend time together.

Since Christmas 2010, there has only been one weekend where we were all together; Abigail’s 18th Birthday weekend in June this year. I see my sisters more often, but my brother comes home less regularly and he and his girlfriend spent last Christmas in Canterbury, just the two of them.

I think I’ve given up on trying to ensure we are all together – because everyone seems to do what they want anyway! I don’t mean that in a grumpy way [well, maybe a bit] … I just mean that, my brother and sister are both in serious relationships, and my younger sister’s job has fairly anti-social days/hours (she works in the pub across the road and they have a fully-booked restaurant for Christmas day).

I sometimes think I need to loosen my grip on my Ideal Christmas…but at the same time I think, why should I?

It’s a hard compromise, because I really value the time when we are all together and love all our weird little Christmas quirks and traditions – even when all of us together means that you can’t move without tripping over someone, and having to wait over an hour for your turn to shower!

I think I’m a little autistic in the way that I would love to keep our little routines at every Christmas – but at the same time I have to accept that my siblings are in different phases of life, and value different things to me.

I guess I’m just going to try not to stress about it – the more I try to organise things and get a plan together, the less organised and less planned everyone else seems to be… I think they do it on purpose! So it doesn’t help me anyway – I just get very anxious and worried that it will all fall apart because no-one else seems to think that planning is necessary.

Sometimes I wonder how my very “anti-planning”, hippie-fied, “what will be, will be” mother ended up with a stressy type-A daughter like me…

But, for now, I have my Christmas tree, I have my pile of presents and my list of things to buy, and I have a great idea for how to decorate my presents (thank you Pinterest!) and that is enough for me!

{via}

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Jazzy

This Wednesday, Rosie and I went to see Chicago at the local theatre. I had so much fun!! I  haven’t seen Rosie in a little while, other than saying “hello” at church, so it was lovely to spend a whole evening with her. We had dinner at hers beforehand and caught up a little, then off we went to the Marlowe.

I love Chicago! The staging of this version was particularly impressive because the band were on the stage, rather than in the ‘pit’. They incorporated the band area by having doorways/entrances to the stage and the musicians were very much a part of the show. And, instead of having the characters in the wings, they had chairs lining alongside the band’s stage so the entire ensemble was on stage for the majority of the time.

Roxie was played by Ali Bastian, who used to be on Hollyoaks. Velma was played by someone whose name I can’t remember and Billy Flynn was played by Steffan Booth. It’s a bit funny actually, because Steffan was on Hollyoaks too – back in the day (I think I was about 13) and he played Ali’s character Becca’s boyfriend, Jamie…who died in a potholing accident.

It was a bit weird to remember that  I was very into Hollyoaks for a couple of years as a teenager. We’re talking online forums and absolutely could not miss an episode or the omnibus (I think one time I cried because I’d missed it…) Nowadays I can’t think of many programmes I’d less like to watch!

Anyway, the show was great and it was lovely to spend some time with Rosie. There are lots of shows coming up at the Marlowe that I want to see…Dirty Dancing for one! I think Ro and I are going to see that together.

And now, I’m back in Devon for a much anticipated long weekend. I drove down last night, and my sister and her fiance were supposed to be driving down then too – but they got to Birmingham and their car broke down. They have breakdown cover and we thought they had journey completion…apparently not. The recovery driver insisted on taking them back to Bangor. Fortunately though, it was a quick thing to fix and they are somewhere on the M5 at the moment. Hopefully they will be home by 11 and can get a decent night’s sleep because…

TOMORROW we are looking at wedding reception venues and then in the afternoon we’re trying on dresses! It’s a proper action packed weekend with a real-life written down agenda…so I’m a bit thankful that I’ve had a whole day off with Mum. We did a bit of shopping this morning and I’ve been crafting and relaxing all afternoon.

There was a point where I nearly died…climbing the ladder into the loft and the ladder gave way. I was literally half in/half out. Could have been quite badly injured but fortunately we just laughed hysterically whilst I dangled there!

…and on that note, goodnight!

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Ideas

I am having a merry old Christmas time right now. Yes, I know that it’s only September 7th, and I know that I blogged about not wanting to wish away my time – but having said all those things…I’m still planning ahead.

Why?

Well. My church has a now-annual Ladies’ Shopping Event at the end of November, where lots of people have stalls selling home-made crafty things – mostly with a Christmas theme. There is live music, free mulled wine and mince pies and a great atmosphere with all the lovely ladies from the church. I love it.

Last year it snuck up on me, so I didn’t have a stall. Rosie and I waitressed and gave out mince pies instead! But this year, I thought I’d make use of all my Pinterest fun and get started early so that I have plenty of good things to sell.

So far my ideas include:

Mix and match crayons – I think these are so cute and I could do blends of the same colour, but different shades (e.g. apple green/sage green/olive green) and package them in rainbow sets

Scent bags – dried Christmassy scents; cinammon, orange, clove and spices…to make the house smell yummy

I think these cards are just SO cute, I love the simplicity. I’d  need masses of buttons, but I found a supplier on eBay!

I made stockings two Christmasses ago, and attached them to ribbon so that they could be strung across the mantelpiece. It was very cute, but they weren’t very substantial and also weren’t able to be used – purely decorative – so I think I’d do proper ones to be used, and line them. I also have some fleece that could go along the top if the fabrics are plain.

Hand warmers!! I was thinking about making some little microwavable heatpacks, but these could be really sweet stocking gifts!

This is my favourite idea, probably – making centrepieces from saltdough; cutting out stars to make a tower! I had the idea in my head and then had to search Pinterest for ages to find a photo as nothing I sketched made sense! I also might make tealight candle holders using just a few layers of stars? I’ve read that glue mixed with epsom salts looks like glitter but classier so I might try that for decoration.

I also have already made some really adorable book bags/gift bags from a lovely bunting patterned fabric.

Now, blogosphere, can I just say that I’m sharing these ideas from my Pinterest board (http://pinterest.com/readiesb/christmas-comes-after-the-olympics/) so none of them can technically be called original – and I’m not really claiming them as my own. But, I will be putting my own slant on them, and I can’t wait to show you at Christmas!

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p.s.  I’m listening to Friday Night is Music Night, on Radio 2 (yes I am so cool) and they are playing White Christmas, and just said it’s only 108 shopping days until Christmas. Morrisons already has Advent Calendars. So I’m not really that far ahead of the game, right?

We went to the Zoo!

My mum and sister drove up to Canterbury yesterday, and are visiting until Friday. Since I was only able to get yesterday and today off of work, we have made the most of our time together.

Yesterday after Mum and Abigail arrived at around 2.30, Abigail stayed at my brother’s house with him and his girlfriend while Mum and I walked around Canterbury. I showed her Westgate Gardens and we walked along the river to the High Street and bought ice-cream. We also stopped off at  a gorgeous little cafe called Cafe St Pierre and bought some pastries. All their pastries are delivered from France early each morning, and at around 4pm they reduce lots of prices so they don’t have to throw them away – we bought a fruit tartelette, two slices of apple tart, an apricot-custard lattice and a pain au raisin, for 90p each! Bargain.

We also stopped at the new Marlowe Theatre and looked at all the programmes of the shows that I want to see. If I go and see everything, even purchasing the cheapest seats, it will cost me £187. I’m not sure if I can justify that expense…although the shows are spread out over several months (til next July in fact).

After our wander around we headed back to my brother’s house and had dinner with him and his girlfriend. She made a yummy spag bol with mixed fruit and our fruit pastries for dessert. We watched Tangled and Monsters Inc, then Mum and I walked back to my house, had a cup of tea and went to bed.

This morning I had a lie-in, then my brother and sister walked over to my house and the four of us went to Howlett’s Zoo near Canterbury. I’ve never been there before, despite living in Canterbury for almost 5 years. I never knew it was such an amazing place – I was imagining a tiny little farm type place, but they have had a great breeding programme for so many different animals – gorillas, elephants etc, there was so much to see!

So we did the zoo, and cooed and ahhed over the babies animals, then I dropped my brother and sister to my brother’s house (she is staying with him and Mum is staying with me) and Mum and I have been busy since – we went and picked blackberries from the hedges near the river, and Mum felt like doing some crafting so is half-way through making a very cute stuffed dog! Dinner is in the oven and we’re now sat down waiting for Downton Abbey to start.

After we’ve had dinner I’m going to make jam! Yay for ticking off two things from my Bucket List 🙂

Phew! That’s a lot to cram into just 30 or so hours!

I’m bummed that I have to work tomorrow, but Mum and Abigail will find stuff to occupy themselves and we’re going to plan something for the evening, before they leave on Friday morning. A whistle-stop tour, but lots of fun and family time which I’m very grateful for.

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Fabric Flower Tutorial

I’ve fallen in love with this really simple way of making pretty flowers out of scraps of fabric.

It involves minimal sewing (basic running stitches only) and the whole flower takes less than an hour to complete. Perfect little task for when you’ve an hour to spare.

You only need:

6 rectangles of fabric…matching or contrasting, you can use anything. For this flower I used a pink fabric with multicoloured spots, but have also made one using two different florals, and another using 6 completely different fabrics. It really depends what you have available, and if you want to match/contrast to an item of clothing or something like that.

Anyway, six rectangles. They can be any size, as long as the short end is 1/2 the long end. (e.g. 3 inches x 6 inches) This is because the first step is to fold the rectangles and sew along one side, at right angles to the fold:

The next step is to cut a curve, from the bottom of the stitched seam, to the diagonally opposite corner on the fold. Like so…

A tip to make sure your curves are all the same is to cut one, then use it as a template for the others. They won’t be exactly identical, but they need to be as close to identical as possible so that there is uniformity in the petals.

Next turn your squares inside out, and ensure that where your seam meets the fold, there is a clean corner.

Here comes the fun, and only tricky bit. You need a strong thread for this – I use regular cotton but doubled over for extra hold. Tie a knot in the end of the threat, and sew a loose running stitch through the petals, ensuring that the start of one petal overlaps onto the end of the one previous.

I was so involved in this step that I didn’t get a photo, but the aim is to have all the petals along the thread. You want as few stitches as possible, so that the petals pleat easily when you pull the thread through and scrunch them down.

They should all just come together neatly in the centre, though on all mine I’ve done some oversewing on the back. On the front you don’t need to be so neat, since you can fix a button over the section where all the petals meet.

And there you have a 1 hour fabric flower. I’ve turned mine into hair accessories (sew on an elastic hair band, or fix a hair grip in place with a few stiches to make a slide in accessory) or corsages by fixing a length of ribbon to the back of the flower (ensuring the stitches are halfway through the length of the ribbon). You can also purchase brooch backs from craft stores/online, if you’re a brooch kind of person.

I think they’re really cute and they’re so simple, making use of the scraps which you keep for “that project one day”!

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