Here’s my yearly round up of the decorations in my house.
I did debate whether to have a fresh tree this year or just to put up a fake one I have. I thought dealing with the aftermath of a real tree might be one less thing to worry about with a newborn in the house, but my Mum was so horrified when I mentioned this that we went ahead with a real one. Must admit I don’t regret it – it looks and smells so lovely. My friend Becca helped me decorate it, doing the crawling around on the floor and the positioning of the lights etc – things I’m struggling with whilst heavily pregnant! It has my two strings of vintage lights and mostly vintage baubles too. I love it!
I’d wanted a vintage sledge for ages and finally found a local vintage seller on Instagram who had some available. I fell in love with this one and I think I paid £40 for it, but it’s well made, in lovely condition and – who knows – there might be a little person who wants to use it for its real purpose next winter. That would rely on us having enough snow to actually go sledging, which is unlikely in the South but I can dream! For now Mr. Sledge is our coffee table for the festive period…
My three vintage Christmas themed prints in the dining room have been flipped! I literally have these back to back with other images that I can just rotate during December. Makes life easy!
As with lots of jobs this year, I’m just glad I’ve managed to get it done before my Baby arrives and other things take over! Baby is currently two days overdue and who knows when they may finally appear. We’re trying to relax and be philosophical about it! At least the house is cosy and welcoming – this may be the most exciting (and demanding) guest we’ve had in a while!
It is with a whole new level of Christmas excitement I say:
The thing about baking is that it’s rather disappointing when a recipe doesn’t go to plan. I always research and try to choose recipes carefully but I do struggle to commit to new challenges – preferring to rely on a tried and trusted friend who I know will perform as I expect and rise beautifully!
In terms of festive baking I’ve cracked a mince pie recipe, and last year I made Nigella’s Christmas Rocky Road for the first time which was a real winner! One of my favourite Christmas flavours is gingerbread – I love the rich dark flavours combined with the spices and so I thought I should find something with these characteristics to add to my repertoire.
I read lots of recipes for gingerbread biscuits, but many of them seemed flawed – people reported dough that was flaky and difficult to work with. Too risky! This sent me in search of a gingerbread muffin – you know the big overblown kind of thing you get in coffee shops. Sometimes dry and bland and not actually something I choose very often, but perhaps a higher success rate than a biscuit?
Again I looked at some different recipes and found this one from Seasons and Suppers: http://38d.gs/2hoiriL . I adapted it slightly – substituted some of the honey for golden syrup, added nutmeg instead of ground cloves. I have to say, it says ‘easy’ and it really was easy. It would be a good one to do with kids as it doesn’t involve any heating or melting, just measuring the dry ingredients and mixing, then measuring the wet ingredients and mixing, then combining and popping in to your muffin cases.
The flavour is great: sweet and rich from the honey and treacle, but with a nice spiced edge from the generous teaspoons of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. When I make them again I might add some finely chopped crystallised ginger for extra texture and moisture. With a sprinkle of icing sugar these were lovely with a hot drink and have a nice warming flavour – not in the least bit dry or bland! Definitely adding these to my December bakes!
It is with an increasing repertoire of Christmas bakes I say:
It’s all taken longer than it should (not the builder’s fault) and gone way over budget, but finally! I can share it with you! I’m starting with the downstairs bathroom.
My brother was here at the weekend and he put the finishing touches to the downstairs bathroom. He is essentially Handy Andy to my Laurence Llewelyn Bowen. I come up with odd ideas, he shakes his head and then makes them a reality… This is my long wanted floating shelf. Slice of tree from eBay and rope from The Range. This is a vintage copper posser – it’s for agitating your washing, but I’m using it as a loo roll dispenser… another eBay find!
I absolutely love these tiles! A guy on eBay had a couple of dozen to sell and he wanted £9 each for them. I asked if he’d do me a deal on 6 and he said £30. Bargain! I have to say, I’ve often been pleasantly surprised when haggling with people – if you have the cheek to ask for a deal or a couple of quid off, the response is favourable. My bruv chipped off some very uninspiring and poorly laid plain grey tiles and I think these have so much more character!
This copper towel rail came from jacobre_123 on eBay (http://www.ebay.co.uk/usr/jacobre_123). I liked the raw look of the copper and it’s not lacquered so it can be polished or allowed to tarnish depending on the look you’re going for.
I think the vintage tiles were a great find, they blend well with the copper towel rail and I’m so chuffed to finally make the hanging shelf a reality.