I'm not quite Kirstie, but there are a few homemade touches here and there
This was going to be for a child, but I thought better of it.
Note the pocket to maximise present potential
Pasta angel hanging out with the mitten
Cereal box and wrapping paper wreath
Jay-Z was delighted with his bling from Hip-hop Santa
We're in Wales as of tomorrow so leaving it all behind. Aside from the presents and a vast Christmas cake. That comes with, balanced on a boy. Maybe the elves will have packed everything away again by the time we get home. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas or a Happy Channukah (both, if you're my in-laws).
PS. Did you see the linky post for the Christmas swap? If you've done a post on your gifts, link up here.
Thanks to everyone who did the Christmas version of Faith Hope and Charity Swapping, I've seen a lot of the gifts sent and received and have been amazed by all the fantastic things people have found and made. You're all incredible gift givers. Anyway, as with the last swap, I've set up a linky so you can share your post on what you received in case I missed it. If you're waiting til Christmas to open it, then don't forget to link up afterwards! [I don't have that kind of patience]
It's the time of year that Boots run an advert on a permanent loop, showing some bunch of shrieking harpies elbowing each other in the ladies' loos as they apply 'shimmering party eyegloss' and tong their hair effortlessly with one hand, and one is forced on nights out with previously normal colleagues who suddenly resemble Little Mix rolled in glue and glitter. [Yes I know I said I liked Christmas. I do. But I can't maintain a Pollyanna attitude indefinitely.]
Otherwise achingly modern magazines prefer to merely lift an article from the archives of around 1958, assuming that if women work at all, it will be in an office, and that we're all dying to impress 'Tony from Accounts' by donning something spangly over the top of our normal work attire. [Just add dangly earrings and a sequinned bolero and he'll be looking at you in a whole new light! I'm not sure why it's always 'Accounts' either. The department has been called 'Finance' since at least 1994]. If you already have a partner, or just aren't interested in an over-weight credit controller in a shiny Next shirt, tough. Christmas parties are all about finding LOVE!
Lifebuoy soap advert from Tit-Bits magazine December 1957
Once you've primped, preened and adorned yourself with novelty jewellery of the flashing kind - just make sure you're 'careful enough about personal freshness'. Man-made fibres and a few too many eggnogs in a crowded function room can result in a man-repelling whiff - and 'perfumes and deodorants are not enough'. Yes, apparently Lifebuoy soap was the equivalent of Lynx for the ladies back in the day, getting 'right into the pores' and ensuring you went from stinky man-repeller to engaged and fragrant fox in the blink of an eye.
Hello! Just a quick post before I chicken out to say THANK YOU to everyone who voted for Faith Hope and Charity Shopping in the Dorset Cereals 'Little Blog of the Month' awards. I'm really pleased to say I won November's vote! Like I said before, it's exactly like the Oscars, just with a rather delightful egg-cup (Wedgewood darling) instead of that tacky gold man affair. Obviously there was an award ceremony (in my dining room, brought to you by Sauvignon Blanc), and I remembered you all in my speech.
Oh! What's occurrin'?
In addition to the egg-cup and certificate there was also cereal aplenty, none of that cheap crap either, this shizzle's four quid a box. The Mr's already swiped the honey granola to take to work.
Charlotte Church papped post-Waitrose shop - classy
But seriously, I know it's just a little award, but it means a lot. All of you who read, follow, comment or even search 'hessian panties' - you're all awesome. Thanks again.
I seem to have a problem. As Mr FHCS carried down more and more boxes from the loft it became apparent that I have quite a lot of Christmas decorations. I did some quick mental arithmetic and discovered I must have 250+ of the regular bauble type alone. And that doesn't include the ones I used to make my wreath last year.
Yeah, I got a bit carried away...
Stag says, baubles are macho, m'kay?
[If you want to make one, you just need a wire wreath frame, florists wire, shatter-proof baubles of different sizes, and ribbon to cover the huge amounts of wire I used you use and to make it look neater at the back. I know mine isn't exactly round in the centre, it got away from me a bit!]
I have baubles with flock, baubles with glitter, baubles with hand-painted scenes, baubles which look like mirror-balls, home made felt puff-balls, and some ruinously expensive ones from Bombki which look like traditional English Christmas fare. I bought them in the sale in January, and hope they'll survive to decorate my tree until we're all vintage. Hopefully a great-grandchild will be really pleased to have them one day. Do you ever buy modern knowing it will be a desirable antique in years to come? I don't quite understand people who only look to the past - all the vintage we love was the thrill of the new for someone once; I want both.
With all this sparkle, not to mention my other decorations in fabric, wood and metal, I'm not sure why I'm still stalking ebay for vintage Christmas decorations. This is my most recent batch, which probably date from around the 1950s. They are a little scratched, but look stunning on the tree, something about the quality of the glass. I love the concave ones and those which are tear-drop shaped rather than round.
Vintage 50s baubles
Compared to a lot of bloggers into vintage I think I'm relatively minimalist when it comes to clutter and collections, but Christmas is where I happily fall down. I love the rediscovery of old favourites each December, and find it hard to understand people who theme their tree each year, deciding on a different colour scheme and ruthlessly tossing the previous Christmas's decorations. My sister and I adored decorating the tree, and I saw my boys' faces mirroring my own as each treasure was unwrapped. I should point out here that once they'd gone to bed, a teeny bit of re-organisation may have occurred. [I do try to be one of these mothers who's chilled enough to have everything at toddler eye-level over one square foot of tree, but I'm just not, ok? I'm happy to have the glittered pinecones and toilet roll and crepe paper crackers on there, but spread out. Tastefully].
Shiny, sparkling, magical and fleetingly displayed so you don't get bored with them - I think they might just be the perfect collection. Ok, so that's why I'm still on ebay.
My Christmas swap parcel has arrived from the gorgeous Sandy at Vain Glory Sinner. As with the swap I organised earlier in the year, there was a price limit, and at least one item was to be thrifted, one handmade, and as a festive difference one was to be a Christmas decoration. It arrived while the kids were at school, so this time I was able to tear into all the tissue paper wrapped packages myself!
Sandy sent me a December 1954 copy of Woman's Own, a really charming owl trivet, a gingerbread look tree ornament shaped like a teapot, two bangles, a fabric bag and some sweets. Yay! Thanks so much Sandy. I continue to be tardy with my half and haven't sent it yet, although I have got everything ready I need to find packaging! If you haven't visited Sandy's blog, it's a delicious mix of thrifted finds, gothic gorgeousness and dramatic make-up ideas.
The cream bangle has a rose pattern carved into it
The teapot decided to be out of focus in every picture, I'm blaming the glittery finish
Thanks to everyone who participated in the swap this time and has posted about it already. There were even more people this time than the Summer one - 80 swappers across 4 continents! I'll put up a linky post soon so everyone can share what they received.
Further to my glue-gunned angelic creations, I had a look through my crafting bits and pieces to see what else I could press into service as tree decorations, and remembered the scrabble tiles left over from my ring making phase.
I've seen similar decorations done on actual scrabble racks, but as I don't have any, and even if I did, couldn't be bothered with using a hack-saw to cut them to size, this - as usual - is my easy version. You could do the names of all your family members, or just choose some Christmas-y words like I did. If I was attempting to sell them as a set in a fancy gift shop, I'd suggest they were 'Christmas Wishes', and that you "concentrate on your festive hopes as you hang them on the tree" or some such nonsense. You can if you want, I haven't made 'Mulberry handbag' or 'Pony' yet though. [I'm out of Ys]
There's a 90% chance of one of these
I simply hot glued the tiles together at the edges, and added a screw eye left over from the printer's tray earring holder project as a loop to thread the baker's twine through. If you don't have any screw eyes, you could just glue a loop of ribbon to the back. They're a bit flimsy without anything else holding them together, so I cut some scraps of felt to size and glued them to the reverse.
^Last week's hot glue burn
Boy1 hung 'PEACE' on the tree and said seriously, "I'm not really wishing for that". I explained that it referred to 'absence of war' rather than the more commonly requested peace and quiet. He decided that was fair enough. What are you hoping for this Christmas?
When the good folks at 'The Pasta People' got in touch with me and asked if I'd like to get hot glue burns and gold paint all over the kitchen floor whilst crafting, then eat a hearty dinner afterwards, I could hardly wait to get to get started! Oh no, hang on, that's how tedious sponsored posts open. I was confused there for a minute. *ahem*
I did however promise a craft post involving macaroni, which I feel is justified as the festive countdown has officially started, and nothing says 'Christmas' like carbs and swearing. Given my six years of servitude as 'craft lady' at a playgroup, and possession of two small boys, you might think I'd have had enough of offerings made from uncooked Italian food. But you'd be wrong! It's so versatile! All of us with kids have at some time worn something like this, right?
And who wouldn't want to keep their pencils in one of these?
That's right Grandma, start practising your happy face
But pasta angels are another thing entirely. I obviously had a sheltered childhood, as the first time I came across this idea was a couple of years ago in Croatia, where I met a guy selling them to tourists. Being a sucker for a Christmas decoration, I bought one, and then thought - I could make those! Since making mine I've discovered them touted on the internet as a craft for kids - but frankly I'm not letting my offspring near the glue gun. Cub scouts are obviously hardier in the States, what with all that hiking in bear infested woods that they do. But I genuinely think they look quite cute on the tree, belying their pre-school materials. [Pasta angels that is, not cub scouts]
You can do 'classy' versions, painted white with a suitably angelic face drawn on afterwards, but I think we can all agree that pasta and gold go together like Donatella Versace and, er, gold. See?
Look, you can hardly tell the difference
Ok, so to make my version you need:
- wooden beads, 3/4 inch diameter
- pasta tubes for the bodies - I used Millerighe
- Farfalle pasta aka 'bowties' for the wings
- macaroni, for the arms
- Christmas shaped novelty pasta (optional)
- gold elastic thread, or similar
- hot glue gun (or other strong glue)
- gold paint and brush
1. Thread a loop of elastic through your bead and secure with a knot
2. Put glue around the base of the bead and attach to the millerighe pasta tube
3. Choose some slightly curved macaroni for the arms, and attach a farfalle to the back. I think it looks best if you set the arms at an angle, so the hole at the top is hidden by the wings. My photos in progress have the arms at the wrong angle.
4. Choose a novelty shape for the angel to be holding - I like trees and presents. The candlestick looked a little indecent. If you can't find Christmas pasta then you can always make a little 'hymn book' or similar out of card.
5. Cover the back and sides of the head in glue, and roll in cous-cous to make hair. Again, I've seen these online using tiny individual rolls of pasta, which gives a hairstyle somewhere between Marilyn Monroe and Hilda Ogden. Also this is extremely time consuming and if you're anything like me will result in you burning yourself with hot glue. [I have a blistered thumb]
6. Let the glue dry. Then paint. I only had gold and silver paint designed for railings and garage doors and the like - it would probably be easier and less drippy to use spray paint, which I will try if I make any more.
A decoration to treasure!
Never let it be said there's no room on my tree for a bit of kitsch. How about yours?
As a stay at home mother, you'll understand that I have a finely honed daily routine. So you can imagine that I'm pretty pissed off* when the postman interrupts my designated hour of lounging in lingerie and eating peeled grapes in front of Cash in the Attic by hammering on the front door. Luckily, it wasn't my neighbour's Next Directory delivery again (how many polyester work blouses can one woman need?) but a parcel sent by the delightful Max of Blackbird Has Spoken, all the way from New Zealand. Max has had me glued to her I'm a Giant dolls' house do-up challenge - what she can do with lolly-sticks and ball pool balls is quite unprecedented - so I was really rather excited to get to name the Blythe doll inhabitant of her masterpiece. Go and check out her blog, it's great.
Anyway, look what I won:
A little cute little house - guess what it's for?
Handmade fabric Christmas tree bauble
Lovely Christmastime Treats book with crafts and recipes
Milk chocolate with feijoa (nope, I'd never heard of it either - it's a fruit)
It houses recipe cards!
I was also lucky enough to win another gorgeous Christmas book a couple of months ago from Annie at The Felt Fairy, so I basically have no excuse not to have a picture perfect festive home. You know, aside from my general slackness and the fact that we're supposed to be moving house. [Yes, I'm still going on about that]
I also need to say a big thank you to Scarlett, Jem and Miss Tea and Luce, who were lovely enough to send me cards and presents for my birthday. Scarlett was convinced I'd need to know how to fit in with the crazies once I move to the outskirts of Watford wilds of Hertfordshire, and with fellow bloggers like La Dama around she's probably right. Hopefully this guide to country ways will stop me being spurned as a city type. And look - an Operation biro! The only way to write one's poison pen letters about the vicar, or whatever it is they do in rural areas. Jem sent me a lovely little notebook, and also this heart keyring, with uncanny prescience since the old one I had with photos of the boys was falling apart. Susan aka Miss Tea chose me a gorgeous monochrome enamel bangle, which goes with everything. Apologies for the photos ladies, the light has been terrible so I have made no attempt to stage these properly.
Thank you all very much. You'll be thrilled to know that I'll be repaying you with a craft post shortly. And it involves macaroni. Yes really. Be afraid.
I know it's still a little early to be putting decorations up, but these 1950s paper lanterns are so pretty I'm tempted to keep them on display all year. My mum has some which always come out at Christmas, and as she's unlikely to relinquish them any time soon I was pleased to find my own at the Country Living Fair recently. Aren't they beautiful? I think I like the yellow one with the bird best, but I'm always looking for more.
Lovely underneath too
I also picked up these vintage Japanese paper fans from Acorn and Will, I'd seen them in Homes and Antiques and thought they were really pretty. Of course as they fold down to virtually nothing they're also easy to store, and don't add to the clutter pre-move. [That's my argument and I'm sticking to it!].
I have an ever growing collection of Christmas decorations and baubles and always like to add a couple every year. I'm not usually a great fan of the colour themed Christmas tree, and prefer to mix and match with lots of different colours and textures.The paper lanterns and fans weren't the first decorations I'd bought this year, but when I spotted this box of baubles in the hospice shop yesterday I obviously had to investigate.
There were ten rather dusty baubles in two designs, mouth blown (I think) and hand-painted with snowy scenes of children in hats and scarves, skiing and snowman making. One bauble had a 50p price sticker on it, but as the shop was having a half price sale I thought I'd get a couple for the tree. I took the whole box up to the counter, whereupon the volunteer took one look and said "That's 25 pence, please". I have no idea how old they are, but I think 2.5p per bauble can safely be considered a bargain!
Someone has written 'mini winter wonderlands' on the lid of the box - perhaps they were made for a craft fair and unsold stock was donated. Or maybe someone else had so many decorations they needed to label them for ease of unearthing them from the attic.
Anyone else obsessed with Christmas decorations? What's your approach to decorating the tree?