Thursday, 31 December 2015

Decorating for Christmas

This year our keyword for decorating was rustic.  I was going to make another wreath, but decided to reuse our existing one on the front door.
The snowflake decorations and the ribbon were newly bought this year and I made the bundles of sweetly scented cinnamon sticks.

This is a new position for our tree; we threw out our old pc which used to sit here.  I did wonder if the cats would show an interest in the tree as it sits on the floor, but they haven't touched it!  I don't think my cats are normal! :)
My moose kept me company in the kitchen.
So did this little kitty that was a gift from my husband many years ago.

I sprayed the allium seed heads that I had saved from the garden and this arrangement also sits in the kitchen.

I placed some homegrown twisted willow branches in my Nana's vase on the living-room window sill
and arranged some greenery from our woodland walk around a candle on a vintage glass cake stand, that was a recent charity shop find, for the table.
We picked some mistletoe from our older allotment to hang over the stairs.
I stitched this robin
and Rudolph a previous Christmas
and this year beaded some snowflakes
and started knitting a festive flock of birds for the tree, from some homespun yarn.
Of course there was cake!  In fact, there still is cake as no one has cut it yet!  This year I baked my usual Delia recipe and soaked it with sherry.  The decorations are cut from rice paper using my Big Shot machine.
I made my own mincemeat and used it in this recipe on Kate Davies website.
Some of my macaroons were a funny shape, but I had no complaints. :)
The mini Christmas puddings are still in the freezer.  Which reminds me, I must defrost them for tomorrow's lunch!

Pre Christmas

Due to hurting my back at the end of October, I had bought few gifts before the beginning of December, so when my husband took a day off work I roped him in as my bag carrier and we set off for Winchester.  We started off with lunch at Maison Blanc and we just had to have the Christmas muffins for dessert! :)
My OH had the elf muffin
and I ate the snowman.
We wandered around the Christmas market beside the cathedral.
S loves roasted chestnuts so we stopped here for a bag of almost too hot to peel nuts

and a cup of mulled highland mead.
That might explain why I didn't get much shopping done! ;)

I did eventually get all of my shopping completed in time and finished my Christmas gift knitting before we picked J up from uni in Birmingham.

The Christmas market in Birmingham always looks so festive
and the lights in Selfridges were very pretty.
No trip to the Bullring is complete without a visit to Bully.  My husband has a special present for me in the bag he is holding. 
The next day we travelled down to the south coast to visit my in-laws and S's Nan.  This 90 year old lady helped lead the way for working women in the 1970's, as the first women "foreman" for a large engineering firm.  We had a lovely time looking at her old photos and newspaper clippings.

For the winter solstice we have a tradition of visiting Stonehenge for the sunrise.
Not that we saw the sun, but I love the moodiness of this photo.
The clouds started to part as we left the stones.

My husband wanted to pose with the mushroom on this van as we left. :)
I always feel that the festive period starts with our visit to Stonehenge.  

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Our Italian Escape

Recently my husband and I escaped to Southern Italy for a few days to stay in a cave hotel. We arrived in the dark with very little idea of our surroundings. Our cave was everything we expected it to be and more!
I wanted to bring this bath home with me!  The cave was lit by candles and was warm and cosy.
The next morning we woke up to the most amazing view and sunshine!
We breakfasted in an old church
And then set out to explore the town of Matera and the surrounding area over the next few days and evenings. Just leisurely strolling around admiring the architecture, looking inside churches and eating locally produced food.

We had such a wonderful time that I really didn't want to leave!  As I work part time in a school, as a librarian, we could only fit in a short break during my days off because I am unable to take time off in term time. I love my job, but as my husband and I want to travel further afield, this restriction has become an issue. This week I handed in my notice on my job of 15 years!  I'm still a little stunned, but I am consoling myself with the fact that we have already booked our next holiday! :) Next year we are off to The Maldives! :) I don't think any of it has sunk in yet!