What I Did – How I Celebrated Christmas

Roxy and I got up super early on Christmas day more because I’d gone to bed at 9:30 the night before rather than down to excitement.  I made a coffee then we started to open the pile of presents that Sam had left for us.

 

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Roxy waiting patiently to open the presents
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My gifts from Sam

After we had opened our presents I finished of the gifts for my niece and nephew and packed the gifts to take to Mum and Dads.

At 7:30 I started to get ready to go to Mum and Dads, first I tonged my hair and clipped it up to set then got dressed and did my make up.  While I was finishing my makeup Dad text and said I could come down when I was ready.

I left the house at 10 after packing the car with their presents but had to turn round whan I was half way there as I had forgotten my medication.  I arrived at theirs just before 10:30am.

We had a coffee that Dad had made, and waited for my little brother, Richard, to arrive.  In between him arriving and present opening Mum, Dad and I made crumpets for breakfast and were in the middle of eating them when Richard arrived.

We opened our presents after breakfast, Mum loved the bullet journal I had been working on for her, and Richard loved the candle I had made for him (I will be sharing all the presents I made in a future blog post!)

We sat and chatted and watched Arthur Christmas before we had dinner which was really nice.  we ate around 3:30pm.

Dinner was lush, I don’t eat meat so Mum had bought and cooked a lovely walnut, cranberry, sweet potato and spinach nut roast thing for me, we had roast potatoes, roast parsnips, sprouts (my fav!) and carrots with stuffing and a yorkshire pudding!  It was really lovely and super filling.

Once we had eaten dinner we went and sat down and watched “What We Did on Holiday” which has got Billy Connolly in it.  Sam and I were texting through it as he was in London with his family.

After the film we had pudding  – Sticky toffee pudding and custard – it was amazing!

Not long after, I came home and Roxy and I chilled for a bit, watched tv and then went to bed!  It was such a lovely day!

How I Decorate My Table

Decorating the table for Christmas dinner is one of the last things I do decorating wise and today on the blog I’m going to share with you how I decorate my table for the day.

I took these photos a few days ago, Sam came round for Christmas dinner as he will be spending the day with his family and I will be with mine.  We decided to have our own Christmas dinner celebration before the day itself… our “Merry Not Christmas” celebration.

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This is the view of my dining table from the living room.

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As there were only 2 of us eating Christmas dinner I chose to seat us opposite each other, the big space between us would be utilised with dishes of veg and the condiments.

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I chose to decorate the table with my glittered deer ornaments, a cute little Christmas tree from Asda, pompom fairy lights, tiny baubles and these lovely vintage glass mushroom and pine cone decorations that were given to me by my Mum.

I used old beer bottles as candle holders either side of the deer and Christmas tree.

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The crockery and cutlery are from Asda and I really love how festive they look together.

For our dinner I cooked roast parsnips, roast potatoes, carrots, peas, mashed potato, sprouts, stuffing and a mediterranean nut roast which I served with gravy and mint sauce.  For dessert we had toffee pecan roulade.

How are you decorating your table for Christmas?

How To Create A Welcoming Atmosphere

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Photo by Matej on Pexels.com

Christmas is a time for families and friends to get together which means a lot of guests and visiting going on.  I’ve compiled a list of tips to help you create a welcoming atmosphere when you have guests arriving.

  • Make sure the entrance way and hall are free from clutter.  Easy ways to do this are to have a designated place for shoes, boots, coats and other outdoor accessories (like umbrellas).  If needs be, move items to bedrooms just for that period of time.  Clear mail as it arrives, put junk mail into the recycling bin, bills and other items can be stored neatly in a file or box elsewhere in the house.
  • Make sure the house is warm, not too hot or cold but at a temperature where if you are wearing a thin cardi or jumper that it feels comfortable.
  • Keep tv volume down, or turn it off completely and play some background music quietly instead.
  • Light candles, choose a scented one to fill your home with a lovely scent and add a few unscented ones to create relaxing pools of light.
  • If possible, light your home with lamps and festive lights instead of glaring ceiling lights.  This will create a lovely warm atmosphere.
  • If you know when your guests are arriving make sure the kettle has been filled and boiled so that you can quickly make your guests drinks and spend less time waiting for the kettle to boil away from them.
  • If you are serving wine or other drinks make sure they are cooled and have ice already made.  Put the glasses out ready to serve the drinks in.
  • If you want to serve snack items, such as peanuts, mixed nuts and dried fruits or chocolates, place in small bowls and dot them about the room in easy to reach places like on window sills or on the coffee table.
  • Plump up any cushions you may have on sofas, shake out any blankets or rugs and re-fold them, brush down the seats of the sofa to make them look neat and tidy.
  • If you have magazines or other items out, if possible put them away or stack them neatly so they are not in the way of guests who may want to put drinks down.
  • When your guests arrive, greet them at the door, take their coats (and shoes) and hang up, offer them a beverage and show them through to the main room you will be using.

Remember, your guests are there to see you so relax and enjoy their company!

How do you create a welcoming atmosphere for your guests?

Christmas Dinner Menu Ideas

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Photo by picjumbo.com on Pexels.com

 

Christmas dinner is usually one of the highlights of the day, family and friends gathered around the table and enjoying a lovingly cooked meal together.  This year I’m spending Christmas with my family at my parents house so I won’t need to plan a menu so, as it is something I really like doing (especially the starter and dessert) I’m going to share some suggestions with you!

Starters

Starters should be light and small and not take too long to consume.  They, for me should not be overly complicated or take to long to prepare and, fo me, not cause too much mess and clean up time!  Here are a few suggestions…

Prawn Cocktail – You can make the Marie-Rose sauce in advance and stir in the prawns and assemble the cocktail just before serving.

Wild Mushroom Tartlet – I have tried this recipe here in the past, its pretty quick and easy to prepare and cook!

Smoked Salmon Terrines – These can be made in advance (maybe the day before) and store them in the fridge until its time to plate up.

Vegan Quiches – another thing you can make in advance and just serve on the day.

Main Course

The main course is usually a traditional roast dinner with all the trimmings – think roast root veg and potatoes, peas, carrots, mashed potato, meat of some description (usually turkey), I always make a cauliflower cheese and yorkshire puds as well as lashings of gravy.  I don’t eat meat so have used a veggie option instead (like a Quorn roast), but if you fancy something a bit different to the traditional Christmas Dinner how about serving the following…

Spiced Roast Side of Salmon you could serve it with spiced roast potatoes and green veg

Spiced Nut Roast

Vegan Wellington

Vegetarian Nutty Pithivier

The last 3 suggestions can be served with the traditional veg that you would cook normally for your Christmas main.

Dessert

After eating so much food I always like to finish with a dessert that isn’t too heavy on the stomach…heres a few ideas for you to try…

Lemon Mousse – this is really fluffy and light and the citrus zing really wakes the taste buds.

Vegan Chilli Chocolate Raspberry Cups

Toffee Pecan Roulade

Winter Fruit Salad

What is on your Christmas Menu this year?

Christmas – The Final Preparation

I like to have a check list of things that I run through around a week before the big day – it gives me time to re-assess what needs doing, what has been done and anything that may have been overlooked.

Here’s how my list normally looks

Presents and Cards

  • All Cards written and sent (the last day for UK mail to be sent in time for Christmas is 18/12/18)
  • Presents bought (list names)
  • Wrapped (cross through names)
  • Presents still to buy (List Names and items next to names)
  • Check if you need more paper, sellotape or tags

House

  • All decorations put up
  • Clean and mop floors
  • Hoover – especially under the tree (live or fake, both shed!)
  • Damp wipe surfaces and dust
  • Tidy all main rooms guests will use
  • Keep sink and kitchen sides clean and clear
  • Make sure there are crackers for the table
  • Check candles and candle holders if you are using candles as part of the table decoration
  • Check that you have a lighter or matches that work!
  • Create a Christmas song playlist – I use Spotify.

Food and Drink

  • Run through menu and write a list of items needed (regardless of whether you think you have them!)
  • Go through list and check items you have got and cross off what you already have
  • Check drink levels –  wines, spirits, beer, pop, juice, non alcoholic drinks (buy more if needed)
  • Check party food (crisps, nuts, nibbles, cheese, crackers, chocolates and buy if needed)
  • Make sure you have basic food (salad, bread, butter, soup, beans etc, again buy if needed)

Other Shopping

  • Check toilet roll supply
  • Foil
  • Cling film
  • Kitchen Roll
  • Washing Up Liquid
  • Antibac spray
  • If you have a pet, make sure you have enough food for them
  • Stock up on batteries

If I think of any more then I will be sure to add them to this list!

What are your final preparation check list items?

My Christmas Wish List

This Christmas my list mostly consists of craft things and bits for the house with a couple of clothing and jewellery items thrown in!

I’ve recently gotten into candle making so I have a few things that I would like for that, they include…

For the house

Clothes and Accessories

Jewellery

Tools

What’s on your Wish List?

The Foolproof Tree Decorating Guide

In all the years I have been putting up my tree and decorations there is always something I have forgotten to do, whether it be to check the lights work or having to take all the decorations off because I havent added them to the tree, so today I’m going to share a guide on how to decorate the tree.  Unfortunately there are no pics as I was having too much fun and totally forgot about taking any…

  1. Choose where your tree will be placed, check that there is a power socket near by for the lights to run off or add an extension cable to the nearest socket and make sure that it reaches where your tree will be placed.
  2. Assemble the Christmas tree if you are using a fake tree or bring in the real one and make sure it is acclimatised to the indoors temperature and watered before starting.
  3. Get out all the decorations, lights, tinsel and bead strings you want to use, sort into piles – big baubles, small baubles, accent decorations, tinsel, bead strings, lights.
  4. Check that the lights work.
  5. Place lights on the tree, I find it easiest to work top down.  Plug lights in and switch on to check placement, it’s easier to move the lights around and spread them out evenly without other decorations getting in the way! Turn lights off before continuing to the next step.
  6. Add any tinsel or bead strings and check placement.
  7. Now to add baubles, start with the bigger, most plain ones and add to the bottom 2/3 of the tree.  Again check placement is fairly even and spread out.
  8. Add the smaller, more plain baubles to the top 2/3 of the tree, checking placement as you go.
  9. Now you can add the accent decorations, make sure these are evenly spread out with smaller ones to the top of the tree and larger ones to the bottom part.
  10. Pour your favorite tipple, gather around friends and family and hold a “Switch on event” then stand back and admire your hard work!

DIY Gift Ideas

Most people go out and buy their friends and family gifts but there is something nice about making a gift for someone, and something really touching about receiving a hand-made gift from a loved one.  There are lots of different gifts you can make so today’s post is a little bit of inspiration (along with links to instructions and where to buy things that you may need in order to make the gift.)

  • For someone who loves scented candles…
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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Why not make your own to give as gifts?  You can get kits that are reasonably priced in most craft shops (such as this kit for £10 from Hobbycraft)  If you have never made candles before then a kit is the perfect way to start, and should you want to then continue making candles you can buy all the items you need individually both on-line and in craft stores.  I really like these tins that you can use as candle holders.

  • For the one with a sweet tooth…
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Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

How about having a go at making your own fudge or toffee?  You can then present it in a cute container, tin or jar.  There are lots of recipes online and heaps of handy instruction videos, but I’m a fan of this one for fudge (its super quick to make and tastes amazing!) and this one for toffee (I could eat this all to myself!).  You can get really pretty tins, jars and other containers in most supermarkets now and its worth checking out the cheaper shops to see what they have as well.  I really like the look of Kilner Jars or these clip lid jars from Wilkinson .

  • For the Fashionista
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Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

Nothing would be more fabulous than a one of a kind t-shirt.  You can buy plain t-shirts fairly cheaply in most clothing outlets and supermarkets so why not buy one and customise it?  You can use fabric paint from any craft shop (I love the Tulip range as they have lots of different finishes).  You could create a t-shirt with the recipient’s initial on it, a tie dye top, or even add in sewn elements like pockets or a collar depending on their fashion tastes.

  • For the Beauty Lover
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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Home made bath bombs are a really lovely gift to make and receive.  You can customise the scent to match the recipients favorite scents or add elements such as popping candy or petals, and make them any colour or shape you choose.  There are some fab tutorials available on-line, my favorite one is this one over on youtube .

  • For the Jewellery Magpie
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Photo by Artem Bali on Pexels.com

A cool necklace or bracelet to match their style or personality always goes down a treat and doesn’t need anything more than some waxed cord and some pretty beads in the recipients favorite colours.  You can add items like small charms or shells, pretty ribbon or chains.  I really like this store for my jewellery making supplies.  The beauty of making a gift like this is that it can be as simple or intricate as you want it to be and can be created regardless of skill level.

  • For the Blogger
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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

A notebook is always a welcomed gift (talking from experience) and if you know anyone who blogs then why not gift them a customised note-book?  I really like Kraft books for customisation purposes and they are pretty cheap to pick up too, though you could choose any plain hard backed book.  Once you have chosen the book you can let loose with your design, maybe you could personalise with the recipients blog name or a favorite hashtag?  And if the blog has a theme (like recipes or food for example) you could decorate the front and back to match.  The fab thing about a personalised notebook is that you can decorate with any material you want, whether it be painting something onto it, sticking things like feathers and sequins on to it or decopatching it, the possibilities and customisation possibilities are pretty much endless!

  • For the Student
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Here’s one I made a few years ago!

Fabric can be bought in many different places these days and in tons of different designs so why not try your hand at making a pencil-case or zip close pouch for the student in your life?  I really love fat quarter fabric bundles and experimenting with making my own zipped pouches and they are super useful, not just for pens and pencils, you could make smaller ones to gift as coin purses, larger ones for makeup or even to keep an e-reader in.  I love the fat quarter bundles you can get at Hobbycraft though you can buy these at most fabric or craft shops and you can pick up zips there too.  I found the Wikihow tutorial really easy to follow!

  • For the Photographer

 

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I really love the look of this one, unfortunately, I can not credit the source as I can’t find the original post however, the image has been shared on Craftionary – https://www.craftionary.net/decorating-lights-20-diy-string-light-projects/

As a photographer, there is nothing better than taking photos, printing the best ones and displaying them around the home.  A DIY photo display using an old picture frame, some cheap string lights and some tiny pegs would be a lovely gift to receive, especially if you added prints of your favorite photographs that they had taken too.  You can find old picture frames in charity shops, at boot sales and local selling pages and can customise to suit by spraying with a colour of your choice, after removing the glass and back of the frame before adding a string of fairy lights.  Once the frame has been put together add the chosen photos using tiny pegs like these.  If you wanted to, you could add to the back, a piece of fabric or wallpaper with a cool pattern or design on it or just leave the back open.   The beauty of this gift is that new life has been given to something old, its been re-purposed and upcycled, the pegs mean that the images displayed can be switched around easily and there is the flexibility to display anything you want, from photos to lists.

  • For the Book Lover
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Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Instead of gifting another book token, how about crafting a customised tote bag for the book lover in your life to carry around their books in?  If you purchase a plain tote bag (like the one here) you could use some printable fabric transfer paper (which you can find in most good stationery, craft or fabric shops) to print out and iron on to the bag a quote from the recipient’s favorite book.  To make the bag extra special you could use beads, buttons or sequins to enhance the quote.

  • For the Foodie
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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

My Dad loves cooking and I have made him flavoured oils a few years running.  You can make almost any flavour of oil that you want but I have found that things like rosemary and thyme, garlic and chilli seem to give the best flavour pay off, not only that but the oils can be used in cooking, as salad dressing, dips and many other things.  The method I use is …

  1. Cut up whatever ingredient you are using to flavour the oil, and bruise it slightly so that it starts to release the flavours.
  2. Warm up some olive oil, you want it to warm, not bubble or boil.
  3. Add the cut up flavorings and stir gently at intervals over about 10 mins while the oil is still warming.
  4. Remove the oil from the heat and leave to cool.
  5. Strain the cooled oil to remove the bits of flavoring.
  6. Before adding to bottles, I always add fresh flavour ingredients, such as a sprig of rosemary and thyme to the bottle that will have the rosemary and thyme oil added to it (this adds a bit of visual interest and lets you know at a glance which oil is which)
  7. Add the oil to the bottle and seal.
  8. Add a tag or sticker with the oil used, flavoring and when it was bottled.

You could give several different flavoured oils to your recipient along with a little leaflet about what you could use the oils for.

  • For the Eco Friendly
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I found this image here https://diyjoy.com/craft-ideas-diy-soap-dispensers/#

How about creating a unique soap dispenser repurposed from an old bottle?  You could choose an empty bottle of their favorite tipple, sauce or an old glass oil bottle.  Just clean out the bottle and use a pump top (I found this but you can find lots via a google search) just make sure that it will fit the bottle you will be using!  There are other ideas here, which is where I found the above image!  You can give the dispenser empty, or why not fill it with a lovely scented hand wash?

  • For Your Partner
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Image from https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/479774166545105449/?lp=true

For a gift that shows you really care how about a 365 Jar?  Write down memories, songs, reasons why you love them, fold them all up small and put into a jar.  The idea is that they get to pick a new note each day to read right from the 1st Jan to the end of the year.  You can get really pretty jars here though any glass jar will do so long as it has a wide mouth to it.

  • For Your Bestie
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Photo by Chwastek on Pexels.com

What would be nicer than a friendship package?  You could include a small hand-made candle, a bath bomb, a CD of both of your favorite songs, a little book with photos printed out of the pair of you along with little notes about the day that they were taken.  Package it all up in a pretty gift box or wicker basket along with some chocolates or treats that you know they would enjoy.

What sort of gifts will you be making?  And what would you love to receive?