Monday, 28 November 2011

Advent Calendars

Yesterday was the First Sunday of Advent, and the countdown to Christmas has really started.  To help us we  have three Advent Calendars in our house.

The first is one I made (at least 20) years ago when my sons were both small.  I saw one in Country Living magazine, and thought it was lovely.  It was beautifully sewn and appliqued.  Now I am no needlewoman, so decided the judicious use of glue would work.

I traced a very simple pattern of trees and deer and cut them out using some old fabric I had.  The background was a piece of tartan from an even older skirt.  I stuck the trees and deer onto the tartan.  At the base I added a piece of wood, into which I had screwed 24 round hooks.  I attached two curtain rings to the top two corners.

I wrote the numbers 1 - 24  above the hooks.

When it was completed I attached 24 wrapped chocolates.  (I used tree decorations as they already have thread on them!)

The boys loved the Advent Calendar when they were children, and were happy to take it in turns to eat the chocolate.

When their little sister came along they suggested I took the Advent Calendar out again, so she could use it.  It's a firm family tradition!

The Calendar hanging in the dining room

Christmas trees


With glittered coats!

Chocolate for the Calendar

Attaching the chocolate

Waiting for the 1st December

Our second Advent Calendar is new this year.  I bought it from Lakeland.  Two Christmas's ago I had noticed one at a friend's house, but was too late to buy one.  Last year Lakeland didn't stock it, so when I saw it this year I bought it straight away.

It features a little chest with draws on it, and numbers 1 - 24.  In each little draw there is a figure for the crib, and the child(ren) can make up the complete crib by Christmas Eve.  Again this is something that can be used from year to year, and although it was expensive I believe that it will delight us for a very long time.

Once you get to the 14th the stable turns round

For the second set of numbers

There is a tiny figure in draw number 17

A little shepherd

Waiting for the 1st of December

Our third Advent Calendar is this sheet stuck onto the fridge.  They were available at our Church this Sunday.  On each day there is a little message about Advent, which will help my little girl  focus on Christmas being  more then an opportunity to receive presents.  It will help her  to think about the 'real meaning of Christmas.' It has the bonus of continuing to the Feast of the Epiphany, or Twelfth Night.

This calendar started on Sunday

My little girl is going to mark each day as we read it

It's not long until Christmas.

Do you and your family have an Advent Calendar?  I'd love to hear about it.

I am linking this post to Floss's: A Pause for Christmas.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Wrapping Christmas Gifts

I know, it's far too early!

However, overseas gifts do have to go very soon. And I attended my first 'blogging event' yesterday at Fortnum and Mason, and somehow had to present my meagre offerings.

I stuck with a red and white theme, which always works at Christmas, it brought the three gifts together visually.

Copious boxes, stickers, labels, ribbon and string

Every year I buy a little more!

Which box should I use for my truffles?


The liqueur was easy, just some labels and ribbon

The mini preserves were the most difficult,
I ended up stacking them in a tall plastic bag,
then more ribbon

Perhaps a bit too much cellophane!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Bright Shiny Shoes!

If you ever get a catch or mark on black patent leather shoes, then a deep black nail varnish will save the day!

I was popping up to town last week with my little girl.  Before I left I,  thankfully, looked down at our shoes!  What a disgrace, two pairs of patent leather shoes with imperfections! But I had the solution, or at least the nail varnish!

Years ago, while I  was shopping in London, I  tripped up.  My beautiful, (new) shoes got the most terrible mark on them, so I trotted straight off to Ferragamo for advice.  Black nail varnish will cover most imperfections I was told, so I rushed  to Boots, and  bought the darkest, blackest nail varnish I could find... and it worked.

I have used it ever since to maintain the beautiful patina on my shoes!

Our slightly imperfect shoes

Tiny tear on my shoe

Huge, picked at, hole on hers!

Super hero to the rescue!

That's better

(Nearly) as good as new!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

A Fragrant Home

I live in a modern 1960's house, with no fire place and poor ventilation, so keeping the house fresh is pretty important to me.  A few weeks ago Nina wrote a fascinating post about the  scent she uses in her  home, do follow the link to read her inspiring post.  I found the post was  full of great ideas, and of course, super photographs.  At the end of the post she asked for ideas and I replied that I use sliced lemons with cloves and cinnamon.

  Many years ago, I read about this simple idea in the Good Things column of Martha Stewart's Living Magazine, and I have found a link for you here. Of all the inspiration I have taken from magazines, I find that this is the one I use most often.

It's simple, it's inexpensive and it works!

Chop up a couple of lemons, they don't have to be the freshest, ones that have been at the bottom of the fruit bowl will do.  Put them in a saucepan half filled with water and add a good handful of cloves.  I sometimes  add a cinnamon stick as well.

Pop the pan on the stove top, once boiling turn to a simmer and leave for about 20 minutes.  You will find the scent permeates throughout the house, and it is delightful, clean and fresh.

It's especially good if you have been doing a lot of stove top cooking, and there are any lingering kitchen smells.  I also find it perfect on those very wet and very cold winter days, when I can't face chilling the house by opening the windows to allow a through breeze!

Nina's suggestions inspired me  to try the Yankee Candle range.  I found them in my local department store in Kingston, and bought a few mini candles.  I stuck the labels on the base of the candle holders, so I knew which candle  I was burning.  I have lit them several times and they certainly add a lovely mellow scent to the rooms.  With the bonus, that there is still a faint pleasant smell in the morning.  So Thank you Nina, for inspiring me, I will certainly be buying more.

It smells wonderful, and is pretty too!

Ingredients that everyone has in their kitchen

Old or new, both are fine

Chop and pop in the pot

I always add lots of cloves

And sometimes a cinnamon stick

My super new candles

Wonderful scents

Ready to be tested!