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.
I’m not sure if it’s too early or not but I made my Christmas cake this week. Last year I made a 20cm fruit cake using a Mary Berry recipe. It was lovely but rather bigger than I anticipated (I’m terrible at judging sizes!) and most of it ended up in the staff room come January. Why does no one like fruit cake?
Last year in the January sales I bought these cake decorations:
We loved the Raymond Briggs books The Snowman and Father Christmas when we were little so these were a must for me. They’re a nice quality ceramic so will hopefully be an investment and can be reused year after year.
I need to spend a few weeks feeding my cake spirits before I marzipan and ice it. This year it’ll all get eaten!
It is with a tablespoon and a bottle of value brandy in hand I say:
For some reason the faux fur cushions are a step too far. Perhaps because Kanye West once tweeted “It’s hard to sleep on fur pillows…” I associate them with the interior decor of a drug lord or an idiot who has more money than taste.
I’m afraid I can’t even remember where I came across this image but it was probably Pinterest. I fell in love with this little downstairs loo – quite charming, don’t you think? I like that fact that even though it’s a tiny room, its owner has lavished attention on it in the form of elegant wallpaper and a range of vintage mirrors.
Part of the work we’re having done at the moment is to our down stairs bathroom. We’ve removed a badly leaking shower and made the room smaller, to give us more space elsewhere. This gives me a snug downstairs loo that I can decorate in a vaguely quirky way.
So far, these are my ideas:
I like the idea of putting some wallpaper on one wall. I don’t have it anywhere else in the house as I’m not usually keen on too much pattern and colour, but I think maybe a little pattern could go a long way. I looked at botanical prints, but decided I liked these geometric designs better. I just need to pick one now!
I’m sticking with the copper posser as a freestanding toilet roll holder and thought I might bring in the copper theme again by adding this towel holder. It’s rustic, possibly ‘steampunk’ and I like it.
I absolutely adore these tiles. I found someone selling them on eBay and managed to get a deal on half a dozen of them. They’ll go above the sink and Incorporate my love of vintage advertising.
My final idea is this. I found it ages ago in Pinterest and have always fancied it but it enough room in my bedroom so I though maybe I could put a selection of books on this suspended shelf. I’ve located a chunk of Waney edge wood, just need to track down some rope and suitable hooks.
Those are my ideas. I just hope my brother is onboard for making them a reality, cos I’m stuffed if it’s down to my DIY skills! I see myself more in a supervisory role…
I have some tricks up my sleeve for my bathroom remodel. It’s a lot of money to spend and we want to get it right.
My secret weapon is this vintage cistern I bought on eBay for a tenner on a complete whim last year. My husband though I’d suffered some kind of aneurysm, my brother said something I can’t print here, but I knew it wasn’t a mistake. When I showed our builder, Jon the cistern – covered in cobwebs and lime scale – he dusted her off, examined her insides and said “Ah, isn’t she lovely!”. I knew from that moment he was the builder for us.
I’ve bought another copper posser which will become a loo roll holder – I like using things for purposes other than those they were intended for. I wonder if there’s a name for that?
I love the whole mirror collage thing. We have three vintage mirrors in a row in our bedroom and it’s a nice effect. Although looking at my reflection in a state of undress is definitely not my favourite past time – especially at 7 months pregnant!
I’ve been a fan of these ‘subway’ tiles since they became the in thing and they do actually lend themselves really well to the kind of remodel I’m planning. We’ve talked about using black or silver grout too – I think it will look fab!
I’m also obsessed with the idea of a ladder for my towels. I’ve never really liked heated towel rails. They waste so much energy, and always seem to be rusting somewhere! This seem rustic, rather than rusty.
I hope it all comes together smoothly, I’m so excited – it will be the first time I’ve ever got to design my own bathroom. I do love long relaxing baths and I’m looking forward to bath time with Baby too. Hopefully it’ll be a family bathroom we can all use and enjoy!
It is with a dream of the Cadbury Flake advert that I say:
I feel I should warn you that I’m about to become a bore. I’m about to bore you with all the details of my bathroom revamp. For weeks. Possibly longer. I’ll talk tiles, I’ll talk toilets and I’ll talk toilet roll holders. Think you can cope? Read on…
Following some revelations about the state of the plumbing in our charming period house (built in 1930), the Dr and I have decided to have some work done to our bathroom. The state of the plumbing, plus that fact that I hate just about everything about our main bathroom has meant I’m pretty happy about this decision.
I’ve never had the chance to model a bathroom from scratch and the prospect of making all the decisions about it is quite exciting. Of course, I’m a fan of vintage looking bathrooms and have one or two tricks up my sleeve which our builder, Jon, has taken in his stride.
So farewell wobbly toilet, goodbye mouldy grout, so long peach tiles (seriously, peach? It’s not 1987!), bye bye futuristic taps and ta-ta mint green paint. I just hope I can do a better job…
The Dr (my husband) very kindly agreed to take me to a car boot sale on Sunday. This is a rare occurrence and he usually accepts repayment by means of a home cooked Full English.
Anyway, the boot sale was pretty busy this cold, clear morning. I’m quite picky, and I try to only buy the bits I really feel I can’t live without and this time my main purchase was these ice skates.
The guy I bought them off had lots of vintage stuff on his stall and when I picked them up he started telling me how the blades were new. I said I wasn’t going to wear them, I was going to use them as a decoration. He went on to say there was a sad story attached to them but I managed to dodge the sad story – I wasn’t sure I wanted them tainted, but I’m now intrigued! I’m imagining a Bunty-esque story about a brilliant ice skater, involved in a tragic accident who becomes a tough, uncompromising coach.
For the princely sum of £2 I was very happy with my purchase. I thought they’d look nice displayed somewhere at Christmas.
Pinterest has lots of ideas and I’m now very excited about my Christmas decs! I’ll be on maternity leave from the middle of November, with lots of time (hopefully) to plan what I’m putting up.
I don’t have any fruit trees in my garden, which is something I plan to remedy in the new year, until then I rely on the kindness of others for my Autumn fruit. I’ve been lucky enough this year to be given some by a student at school and by a work colleague. My challenge now is using them up!
Eve’s Pudding is an apple based dish with a sponge topping, named after the Biblical Eve who tempted Adam with an apple! The first time I made it (years ago) my batter was quite thin, it just spread out and seeped into the apples. Not so with this recipe! I like the fact it’s made with soft brown sugar – it adds some depth and richness. It smelled fab as it came out of the oven and the apples hadn’t gone completely mushy which I quite liked! It made a nice big dish of pudding which we shared with my sister and there’s still some left for tomorrow. Or at least it’s in the fridge calling to me… It might still be there tomorrow!