Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Winding Down

I am enjoying this second week of school holidays far more than the first. No surprises, really, the kids have stopped nagging about when they can open their pressies, there are no last minute gifts to buy or make, there's no fancy food to prepare...and the kids can just relax and play with their new toys and have play dates, and I'm slowly getting the house in order again too!
The late lie-ins in the morning are fantastic too, waking up at 7am next week is not going to be fun.

As promised, here's what I was making just before Christmas. A pin cushion in a teacup for my mother in law, and a sock monkey for Arthur, the kids' cousin. Liam's monkey is on the right - he begged and begged me to make him one too.

The pin cushion is a copy (or rip-off, if you prefer) of one I've seen on Etsy. I realise that there's a fine line between copying something out right, and using creative elements to make it your own. I've been blocked on Flickr by the person who inspired me to make the wedding cake toppers, I guess because she doesn't want me to 'steal' any more of her ideas. My peg-dolls are not original either - but I had never seen them before until I stumbled across them on Flickr and Etsy, so it was natural to copy how their clothing was made and their shoes and tights. I think the big difference is whether or not I was to open an Etsy shop selling my peg dolls or a pin cushion in a teacup...but when I use my own creative ability to create something (almost exactly the same) that I've seen on the internet, the creator should take it as a compliment - I liked their item so much that I wanted to make one myself, and while I'm not rolling in money that I can buy one of everything I see, I am rolling in creative talent, which I use to make myself happy and bring joy to those I share it with. If I copy something of yours, please take it as a compliment. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Day 24 ~ Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas to all of my blog visitors, followers, friends and family! I hope you all have a truly wonderful and blessed Christmas. I won't be blogging tomorrow (there's going to be so many other fun things to do!) so I thought I'd reveal the whole advent calendar to you now. I hope you've enjoyed my daily ramblings, I don't think I could keep up with a post a day for long ever again, lol! So, for old time's sake...today's square...

And what the whole calendar looks like.

My favourite has to be the gingerbread men on the baking sheet and the little robins huddled on their branch...but there are lots that come a close second!

Merry Christmas to you all!

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Day 23 - All Wrapped Up

Gosh, I can't believe tomorrow is Christmas Eve! It's getting exciting now, the gifts are (nearly all) wrapped, the groceries have been bought, the wine rack is stocked, and the kids have only got one more square to open on the Advent calendar!
I just realised I'll be tackling the cooking of my turkey on my own this year as we're having a quiet family Christmas - eek! Mom, I hope your phone will be on tomorrow, I'll be calling you for help!
Only two more sleeps til Christmas!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Day 22 ~ Almost There!

I almost forgot to post today's! I've been busy making something...in keeping with the handmade or second-hand tradition my in-laws started last year, I've been finishing off one project, and started a new one yesterday. Liam loved the new one so much, he begged me to make him one, which I've just finished doing. Holly wants one too, but we need to find the right socks first. Shh, I'll say no more until after Christmas!

Only three more sleeps, oh what fun!

Monday, 21 December 2009

Day 21 ~ Stockings

Why do we hang stockings? I decided to Google that question, and the answer is pretty interesting. Click this link if you want to see for yourself ...clicky clicky!

Do you have any personal family traditions at Christmas time? We follow pretty much the regular, historical traditions, but the one thing I do which I really like is to buy the kids a very special ornament, one that's maybe a bit pricey, and I put them away in a box for them. We don't use their decorations...so one day, when they've grown up and are moving out, I will give them their box of decorations, ready to hang on their very own trees at Christmas time. And they'll be new, but old, and very special.

Only four more sleeps til Christmas!

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Day 20 ~ Crackers!

I bought my crackers yesterday. The cheap and cheerful ones with mini whoopee cushion, magic fish and squirting chocolate bar. When it comes to crackers, I'm still such a kid, I don't want silver plated picture frames or cuff links, I want the plastic, the bad jokes and the paper crowns! These sweet little crackers were part of my Club Little House swap items last year, and I think they are perfect on today's advent square, thanks again Jill ;-)

Only five more sleeps til Christmas!

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Day 19 ~ Holiday Cheer

We have a website bookmarked, it has an automatic tab at the top of our browser window called "Holly's Games" and it is filled with fabulous games for kids. It's called Games2Girls.com, although Liam finds just as many games to keep him happy as Holly does, and they will sit side by side for ages playing together. We found this fun game this morning...Santa's Tree. You'll find it under the design games tab. Another favourite is Fire Boy and Water Girl (under adventure), you need two players for it and it really challenges you to think and uses team work all the way.
I'm sure my kids are going to want to boot me off the computer pretty soon to play!

Only six more sleeps til Christmas!

Friday, 18 December 2009

Day 18 ~ Last Day of School, Phew!

When it started snowing last night, I started holding my breath. Becky and I have been planning the gift boxes for our kids' teachers all week, we only finished them yesterday, we really needed the school to be open today so that we could take them in. At 6:30, I woke up (before my alarm!) dashed out of bed to look out the window and let out my breath, lol! It had snowed, but maybe an inch. Just enough to make the last day of school really fun, and very pretty.
So, the teachers and their TA's (teacher's assistant) get these...

We made the candy cane hearts by taking mini canes, laying them on greaseproof paper, filling their middles with luxury white chocolate, and sprinkling peppermint crisp, red flakes and silver glitter onto them before the chocolate set.

Becky made each teacher and TA one of her gorgeous felt hearts (we had so much fun at Hobby Craft buying buttons and ribbons for them and my dolls!). I gave each one a clothespin doll, and then I made a tray of mini mince pies, with hearts instead of stars, in keeping with the theme.

And then we wrapped them all up in these lovely boxes, tied up with green and red ribbon!

One box for Swallows class, one box for Larks class. I'm sure they're going to love them!

Seven more sleeps til Christmas!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Day 17 ~ My Mince Pies are in the Oven!

I am taking the 15 minutes my mince pies need to check my emails, post this blog post, and blog hop. I've used 10 already, so I need to post this quick! I'm off to visit all your blogs now ;-)
Only 8 more sleeps 'til Christmas!

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Day 16 ~ It's Snowing!

I took this picture this morning just to add to my blog post. I bought this little winter scene in the Christmas sales last year, and I couldn't wait to be able to take it out and put it on my mantelpiece this year. It's really little, but I think it's perfect in front of some of our Christmas cards.
And then, I was out in town getting some last minute bits, when it started snowing! Proper, soft white beautiful snow! It just made everything look so pretty, and suddenly it felt an awful lot more like Christmas. I wonder if we're in for a white one?

My little herb pots, dusted in snow.

And a fabulous Christmassy cupcake in the snow on my table!

My little backyard, looking a lot prettier with a bit of snow, lol!

And not forgetting, today's advent. I could do with a warm pair of mittens today.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Day Fifteen

The silly season is never more appropriately named than in the last week of term, when you're rushing about trying to sort out the last of the Christmas shopping without having kids in tow, getting teacher's gifts ready, remembering who needs what for their school parties on what day...but I love it! I had a lovely day, starting off with a coffee morning for school mum's at my friend Becky's house, then sorting out the gift boxes we're doing for the teachers. We're so lucky to have both our children in class with each other's children, so we're doing one box for each class, filled with handmade loveliness! I'll take a pic when they're all finished on Thursday to show you everything, but I must say our mini candy cane hearts are just gorgeous!

Monday, 14 December 2009

Day 14 ~ Elves

Have you seen Mercedes's blog post with the room box she made for the little elves I sent her? Click here if you haven't yet. I was blown away by the exquisite detail she put into it, and amazed that she created the whole scene around the elves, who weren't quite small enough to be called dolls house scale. I made some flatties for the advent calendar, but they're nowhere near as cute as the real thing!

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Day 13 ~ Posada

I had never heard of Posada, but we have become part of the tradition this year by hosting Joseph and Mary for one night of their journey as they make their symbolic trip. They will end their journey on Christmas Eve by returning to the church, where they will be placed in the nativity scene with Baby Jesus. They started their journey on the 29 November, and travel from family to family within the Parish. It is up to each family what they'd like to do with Joseph and Mary, but traditionally you would light a candle, say a prayer and place them in a special area and remember the story of Christmas.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Day 12 ~ Our Tree is going up today!

Check back later if you want to see a picture of it, it's still early and I haven't put it up yet, but I promise I'll take a pic and add it in later.

I got a new tree today! Every year, I debate whether or not to get a real tree, or stick wit my fake one. Every year, I say how I love the idea of a real one, the smell of a real one, the look of one...but every year I stick with my fake tree and I'm always happy - it's pretty, it's strong and it doesn't take up as much space. But this year, as I was opening it up and saw how tired the 'leaves' were looking, how gappy it's branches were, and how wide it actually is, we decided maybe the tree I saw for £59 at the garden center was a good deal. So, I jumped in the car, put on my CD of Christmas cheese as Tristan calls it, and set off. When I got there, they had sold out completely, but I got the display model! And it is very pretty. It's so full and thick, and it holds all my very heavy decorations all the way to the top! It's looks lovely in the living room as a whole, you don't get the real feel from this shot showing just the tree, but my living room is a bit too messy to include in a wide shot just now. Maybe another day ;-) You can see my old tree here.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Day 11 ~ What do you want from Santa?

You know, one year, I just want a stocking full of little goodies! I love all the special Christmas gifts the stores bring out - I'm a sucker for all those gimmicks! The kids wrote the sweetest letter to him the other day. Holly helped Liam with his, and they posted it off to the address Royal Mail give on their website. He writes back too, to let the kids know he's received their lists.

This is Holly's peg doll. She chose the colours and accessories herself, she just asked for help with painting because she's a perfectionist like her mother and didn't want it to look messy, LOL!

This is my favourite of the blue girls, she's holding the last of my snowflake embellishments from a scrapbook layout I did. I've decided I simply have to keep one of each colour, they look so pretty together!

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Day 10 ~ School Christmas Plays

We're going to see the kids' Christmas plays today...I can't wait! Liam had to bring in a "WW2 Soldier" outfit, and I know of someone else who's a 1950's housewife, and an angel who needed black tights. It all sounds fascinating and I can't wait to see how it ties in to Christmas! Holly is a narrator, and I know she knows her lines backwards, LOL!

Did you know, in Britain, the average person sends 50 cards a year. I'm guess 2/3rds of those are sent at Christmas. Mine are written, I need to start handing them out now. Holly's turn to open the advent calendar, these little robins were one of the very last squares I made, and one of my favourites for sure.

I thought I'd edit this post to tell you about the play. They started with the mum and dad decorating their tree with the children. Then, when everyone was asleep, a bright star appeared to the children and took them on a journey to discover where the story of the bright star on the top of the tree comes from. They then time traveled, stopping off at the millennium star, the 80's star, the 60's star, the 40's, and finally the Victorian, before coming to the bright star of the east where they then portrayed the story of Mary and Joseph in the stable. At each star, they played a song, did a dance, and made us laugh. But, when they got the 40's, the children "heard a mighty roar and found themselves in the war", and cue Liam, with two other soldiers and two little girls dressed as housewives, with the request that parents join in the singing of Silent Night. Well, I tell you, I was finished! I was sobbing, and couldn't possibly join in the singing. Liam's one teacher's assistant saw me and had a giggle - she had warned me to bring tissues! It was the best nativity play any of us have ever seen, and it was written by the teachers of Reception Year. Absolutely amazing.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Day 9 ~ Busy Busy Busy

Phew, what a day! I hit the shops this morning with Becky, and I think we both had very successful days! I'm nearly done now, and I've made good progress on my peg dolls too. I think I'm a bit late to try sell them this Christmas still, I'm not sure if any of my local crafty shops would take any on so close to Christmas (don't they stock up months before?), but failing that I'll try flogging them to my friends, LOL. I'm not sure how much to charge for them either...I'm such a bad business person, I just want to give them away! I'll take proper portraits of each dolly when they're done, this is just a quick snap now...

I wonder if Liam's advent window put him in the mood for hot chocolate? The first thing he asked for when they got home from school was a mug of hot chocolate. Yum.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Day 8 ~ Chrisdtmas Shopping

Eeek! I'm starting to panic. While my friend Becky has been hitting the shops for weeks now, doing her shopping, I was relaxed and calm, thinking I have less than half the number of gifts to get than her, I can do it later. The problem is, with my in-law's family rule of gifts having to be hand-made or second hand, it's a little bit more difficult. I guess I'm more than half-way, but the one thing I'm making is going to be tricky when it comes time to glue it all....I'll reveal it after Christmas!
I got the idea of raiding my Phoenix Cards catalogue from Mercedes, and look how perfect the wrapping paper worked here on number eight!

Monday, 7 December 2009

Day 7

Red and green are the traditional Christmas colours. Green represents the continuance of life through winter and the Christian belief in eternal life through Jesus. Red symbolizes the blood that Jesus shed at His Crucifixion.
Did you know that? I didn't, but I'm enjoying finding out all these little facts about Christmas traditions. Although my tree is not up yet (we're doing it this weekend) my wreath is hanging on my door. Here's a little wreath on a little advent square!

And a very happy birthday to my nephew and Godson Michael, who turned eight today! Hope you have a fabulous day today Michael!

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Day 6

In true Sunday style, I've had a break from blogging, so I'm just going to post today's square for those of you that are following! It's ten past ten and I'm off to bed with my tea and a mince pie and my book ;-)
Good night.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Day 5

Have you ever wondered about mistletoe and where it came about that you should kiss when caught underneath a branch of it? I found this interestig little titbit about it and thought I'd share it with you.

The Druids, who lived in Britain in pre-Christian times, are responsible for the use of mistletoe at Christmas. They worshipped the oak tree and as mistletoe grew on oak trees they regarded it as a very special plant and thought it possessed magical qualities that kept the sleeping oak alive during the cold winter days. They believed chopping down an oak tree covered in mistletoe promised death to the woodcutter within the year.

The Druids dedicated mistletoe to the Goddess of Love, which explains the kissing that goes on under it. Originally, when a boy kissed a girl, he plucked a berry from the cluster and presented it to her. When the berries were gone, so were the kisses.

A traditional rhyme about mistletoe

'Pick a berry off the mistletoe
For every kiss that's given.
When the berries have all gone
There's an end to kissing.'

Victorians bound the mistletoe to a frame to make a 'kissing ring'. Each time a gentleman caught a lady under the mistletoe, he was allowed to claim a kiss.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Day 4 ~ Who is Father Christmas?

We owe much about what we know about the Father Christmas today to the Americans of the 19th Century. In 1822, Clement Clarke Moore described what he imagined Father Christmas to look like in a poem.

The poem is often referred to as 'The Night Before Christmas', but originally it was titled 'A Visit from St Nicholas'.

He was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his sack.
His eyes how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow.
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face, and a little round belly
That shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly.
He was chubby and plump,--a right jolly old elf--
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.

Written by Clement C. Moore in 1822 as a Christmas present to his children.

In 1866, Thomas Nast, a cartoon artist for the Harper's Illustrated Weekly, made a montage entitled, Santa Claus His Works, and for the first time established 'Santa' as a maker of toys.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

I Love My Kids' School

Specifically, the fact that the little ones in Reception Year do cooking every Wednesday! Us parents contribute £10 per year, and every week we look forward to seeing what the kids bring home just as much as the kids do. They do really fun things, like beach trifle, pumpkin biscuits, rock cakes, flapjacks, soup, curry with naan bread...but for the last few weeks, they haven't brought anything home. The reason being, they've been making Christmas fruit cakes, complete with marzipan and regalice and decorated with either trees or Rudolphs! They were so sweet, and the kids love bringing home their wares to show us! Here's Liam's cake:

He was so proud about how he'd rolled a ball of red icing to be the nose, and he carefully placed the stars in a ring around Rudolph, ending in a brown one so you know where the top is!

He made sure I'd noticed the stickers around the bowl too!

And then just a quick little fill-you-in : My friend who originally gave us her daughter's old house is buying it back from me - well technically, she's just paying for all the lighting that I put in so that I can buy new lights for the Arthur - because since I took it on and re-did it, her daughter kind of wished she could have it back! So, I'm happy that she will be happy, and then I can get cracking on the Arthur's interior and buy it some new lights!

I've finished the hall floor which had always been left in the raw stripped wood, I've replaced the chimney breast after recovering it in brick paper, and neatened up all the trim. I've also re-done all the wiring and taped up loose ends, shortened the plug ends so that there's no wires trailing around and given the patio a fresh coat of paint. My friend is collecting it tomorrow, which means I'll have a dining table again, yay!

Day Three

Christmas Jokes

What goes "Oh Oh Oh!"?
Santa going backwards
Why does Santa always go down the chimney?
Because it soots him
Mrs Claus said to Santa "What's that outside?"
He said "It's rain, dear."
What did one snowman say to the other snowman?
Can you smell carrot?
It was Christmas and the judge was in a merry mood as he asked the prisoner,"What are you charged with?"
"Doing my Christmas shopping early." replied the defendant.
"That's no offence", said the judge.
"It is if you do it before the shop opened."countered the prisoner!

I found a fun website with all sorts of Christmas info, the history of Advent and some fun jokes sent in by kids. Hopefully I'll find enough to post for another 21 days! I love this square - those are buttons that I filled with Fimo to hide their holes, then painted and varnished. I made the baking sheet out of card and kitchen foil. They are only 15mm from head to bottom, and ever so sweet!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Day Two

The beginning of Advent is when the preparations for Christmas really begin - the festive menu is planned, gifts are chosen and wrapped, carols sung, cards are written and posted and houses are decorated. Have you put your tree up yet? I'm usually right there on the first day of December, but I have decided to wait until the weekend this year, as it is so much more fun to do it with the kids. Their school day is so long, they're too knackered to do anything more than play when they get home.
It's Holly's turn this morning...

Tuesday, 1 December 2009


What does Advent mean? Advent is a term from the Latin word "adventus" which means arrival. It is a time of waiting for the arrival of Christmas, the coming of Jesus to earth when he was born as a baby at Bethlehem more than two thousand years ago.

The first day of December marks the the first day of opening an Advent calendar, an event my kids look forward to from the moment I bring the Advent calendars home. But this year, I've done something a little different. I've made them a mini muffin pan Advent calendar, from an idea I got on TwoPeas last year. They'll be sharing this one, taking it in turns to open the 'windows'.

So, here is Number One. Do you love the Advent as much as we do?

Monday, 30 November 2009

Bits and Bobs

Happy Birthday Mom! Yesterday was my mom's birthday. I finally managed to time it right with the South African postal service and got this card sent out to her in time for her birthday. My poor dad suffers from having his birthday two days after mine, and I'm always so self-absorbed I never remember to post his card out quite early enough. I am going to make it my New Year's resolution to get better at that. Anyway, I hope you had a lovely day, Mom, and I would love to be able to make your 60th cake next year...we'll have to work on that!

I saw the little owl brooch on LollyChops in her post dated 26 October. She is fabulously creative and generous too, check out her free printables link if you like digi scrapping and card making. I knew straight away that I had to make my mom an owl - she has collected owls since forever!

And then, I have been crafty, I just haven't been blogging about it all. Tomorrow I will start the reveal of my latest project...it will take nearly all of December to reveal the whole thing, hehe, can you guess? And because I managed to drill holes big enough for the pegs to fit in on these wood beads, I've managed to make a few more peg dolls. I'm going to have to find someone who can ship me the proper head beads from America though, because my wrists were killing me after hand-drilling all of these, then wood-filling the top hole and then sanding the whole bead down again. They're going to look very sweet when finished, and hopefully I'll be able to sell a couple before Christmas!

ETA Fixed the link ;-)

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Mother, wife, photographer, crafter, scrapbooker, painter of murals, dabbler. Sometimes in that order, sometimes reversed! Trying to juggle all of them and having a ball in the process.

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