Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Christmas Crafts

Some weeks ago, I purchased a copy of Sew Fabulous Fabric which was co-written by my blog friend Ginny at The Flour Loft. There are so many interesting projects in this book that it was hard to decide which to try first, but as it was approaching Christmas, I decided to buy some fabric to make Christmas tree ornaments.

I bought some vintage Laura Ashley fabric on eBay and thought that it would be perfect for these pretty hearts and the little bird design. Having cut out the designs before Christmas, I ran out of time, so I didn't actually finish the sewing until after Boxing Day.


These little decorations are filled with the delightful Christmas scent recipe suggested in the book ~ a blend of orange, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, green cardamon and black pepper. It is a spicy blend that delights the senses.

This was an enjoyable project and I look forward to trying some of the other suggestions in this book, which I reviewed here.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Silent Night


Christmas was a very peaceful and relaxing time, which was just what we needed. We were late getting our tree, which did not arrive until the afternoon of Christmas Eve. Usually, the tree is up and decorated well in advance of the holiday.

Attempts to get out for some exercise were thwarted due to inclement winter weather. After all that snow, we had a sudden thaw, followed by a freeze and now rain; making conditions extremely slippery. I did manage to get out today to take some (indoor) exercise in the form of shopping, but I almost fell on my way home when I slipped on the ice. It is such a mild day that I have been able to throw open the windows and get some fresh air indoors, but any further attempts at going for a walk are going to have to wait until conditions improve.

Tomorrow, I return to work and as I work four nights next week (including New Year's Eve and the night of New Year's Day), I will not be around very much, so I will take this opportunity to wish you a safe and happy New Year. I hope that those of you who are fortunate enough to continue your Christmas break are enjoying the time with your families.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Christmas Eve

One of the joys of Christmas Eve is listening to A Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols whilst busy in the kitchen icing the Christmas cake and doing a bit of last-minute baking.

The service has just finished and I have iced and decorated our Christmas cake. Time for a cup of tea and then I will start on the baking and preparing the vegetables in advance of our Christmas dinner.

I went for a walk this morning and the snow is deep and crisp, though not very even. We have about 50-60 cm of lying snow now and walking is extremely difficult after last night's fresh snowfall. I came back wet and cold, but with glowing cheeks.

I wish all of you and your families a very Merry Christmas. Enjoy the season and keep warm!

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Christmas Unwrapped

I've been making these little hearts during the past week. As usual, I left it too late to start such a Christmas project, so I am probably going to be sewing them until well into January! Still, they add a pretty festive touch to my living room.

The Christmas lights are lit and Christmas Eve is fast approaching, though I'm nowhere near ready for the big event. We had to grocery shop yesterday morning after I finished my night shift (not a good time to go shopping!) and I couldn't get everything on my list, so I'm going to have to go out again.

The gifts are unwrapped; the Christmas cake needs icing and I'm up to my ears in housework, but ready or not, the big day will dawn in a few hours. I do hope that you are all more organized than I: my only excuse is that the night shifts are totally disrupting my life.

Monday, 22 December 2008

The Coldest Night Of The Year

Actually, it is not just the nights that are cold. We have been under a cold weather alert since last Friday and it is freezing. Daytime temperatures have remained well below zero and factor in the wind chill and most people are opting to stay indoors.

We had our third winter storm yesterday ~ no photos this time because the weather was just too severe and I didn't want to go outdoors. The photograph above was taken last Wednesday.

We now have more than 40 cm (16") of snow on the ground and another storm coming tomorrow.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Snow Had Fallen, Snow On Snow...

Yesterday, we had our second winter storm in three days ~ did someone say that it is not officially winter until Sunday?

The weather was appalling ~ I came home from the train on foot with horizontal snow blowing in my face: in these conditions, it was like being stung all over. What with my hat and hood; my scarf and the collar of my jacket zippered up to my chin; I could barely see where I was going. This is the reality of a white Christmas!

Today dawned bright and cold. The current temperature is -16C and the wind chill is -24C. Even bundled up to the eyeballs, I didn't want to spend long outdoors.

The sight of the sunlight on the crisp blanket of snow is breathtaking.


We are on another winter storm watch ~ our third storm is expected tonight ~ and yet another storm is forecast for Tuesday!

I love this photograph of the snow on the evergreens and the lantern. Now that I am back indoors, I can really appreciate it!

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

After an overnight snowfall, the landscape has been transformed to a blanket of white. About 10cm of snow has arrived so far, but there are further storms on the way.

I took the opportunity this morning to get outdoors and enjoy the sunshine and take a few photographs of the neighbourhood.

Boots have a hard life here so I have several pairs. I opted for the long ones this morning because many of the roads and paths have yet to be cleared.

Looking at the photographs, it really doesn't look like that much snow has fallen, but there will be new pictures added, time permitting, after the next storm.

This is one of my favourite houses on my regular walking route. It looks so pretty and festive at this time of the year.

And this garden is just along the street. I love the sight of mature trees in the older neighbourhoods because they give such structure to the gardens.

It is always a pleasure to get out and take photographs on days like today, but I can't say that I am feeling that enthusiastic about going out again when I have to go back to work!

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Berries

This photo was taken last month just as the last leaves were falling. I love the contrast between the evergreen boughs and the berries ~ a beautiful reminder of the Christmas season.

I am certain that many of you are too busy to blog much these days; I know that I am. I had a giveaway here and there were only four entries: the winner is Fiona at Gingham and Flowers. Congratulations Fiona!

In the spirit of the Christmas season, I will be sending a little thank you to the four ladies who entered.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Magic Slippers

I am embarrassed to admit how long it took me to finish these little gems. I knitted them about three weeks ago and they waited forlornly for me to stitch them together and buy the buttons. I even went to the store to buy buttons and came back without them!

My dear friend Tracy at Pink Purl kindly shared some of her stock of yarn with me and gave me this pretty pink. I thought that the pearly buttons would be a lovely finishing touch. The photos are not great because once again, I had to use the flash on a dull day, but I wanted to share them with you, as they are winging their way home to the U.K. today.

I hope that my little niece Katy will love them ~ I am certain that big sister Jessica will be eyeing them, as pink is her favourite colour! I wonder if she clicks her heels together, whether she could be here with me for Christmas?

Postscript: if you are reading this, don't forget to visit here to enter my giveaway.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Rose Heart Swag

This was the view from my window as I sat at my sewing machine yesterday afternoon. It was actually snowing, which is why the photograph looks a little blurred. I decided to remain in hibernation and start a project that has been on my list for longer than I can remember.

The problem with starting this project was partly my inability to find calico anywhere. I came across an old dress in a thrift store and thought that it would be suitable for recycling into velvet hearts. It wasn't actually a quality velvet, but some synthetic immitation which proved difficult to work with both cutting out and stitching; but I persevered.


In place of calico, I used an old pillow slip and added body to it with interfacing. This was much easier to sew and I was relieved to have completed the worst part of the project first. I am not a particularly fast worker when it comes to sewing, so I was pleased to complete this rose-scented heart swag in an afternoon. There is a pleasant scent around my home at the moment.

I'm really happy with the result, but must apologize for the awful photographs. With this dull and snowy weather, there is no hope of photographing in natural light.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Seasonal Affective Disorder

There is something about this season that can best be described as Seasonal Affective Disorder. No, I'm not talking about the kind which is considered to be the winter blues; although I'm certain that I have this type during the dark months of the year: I'm talking about the mad frenzy of activity involving cleaning everything in sight!

It strikes without warning every year ~ normally around the end of November/early December. I suddenly remember just how little time I have to get organized for Christmas and I start ripping cupboards apart and emptying bookshelves.

I decided today that enough is enough and I'm not cleaning anything ~ once I put my cleaning tools away after cleaning the bathroom! I have the sewing machine set up after rushing to finish those Christmas gifts that were started in October (I spent yesterday afternoon making three more drawstring bags) and I'm going to start some Christmas projects of my own.

First though, I am going to make a cup of tea and indulge in one or two of those delicious Danish Butter Cookies whilst watching the snow falling outside. At least I managed to grab a photo yesterday while the tin was still full ~ it doesn't look like that now!

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Hibernating

Wouldn't it be lovely to be tucked up inside this cosy house? I imagine myself sitting inside waiting for callers to drop in and buy some flowers for Christmas. Naturally, all of the Christmas preparations would have been organized well in advance and the cards written and sent. If only life were that simple!

Today, I have been hibernating. Hibernation mode set in after a brief outing to buy milk etc when I discovered that it was -12 C outside with a wind chill of -21 C. (For those readers who prefer fahrenheit, this is around 10 F with -6 F wind chill). Whichever way you look at it; it's freezing! Once back indoors, I was determined not to venture outside again today ~ or possibly until the spring...now there's a thought. We had some snow yesterday and we are expecting more this week.


Participating in NaBloPoMo significantly increased the total number of posts on my blog. Today's post marks 150. As I didn't do anything in the way of celebrations at 100, I thought that I should mark this event. If you would like to enter a little draw for this calendar, please leave a comment on this post. I'm going to leave this open until Tuesday 16th December, although this will mean that it may not arrive until the New Year, as the last mailing dates are this week.

Monday, 1 December 2008

I Survived NaBloPoMo 2008!

I survived! I can hardly believe that I managed to post 30 times in 30 days. At times, it was touch and go whether I was going to make it, especially as I was working night shifts throughout the month and I was also sick last week.

The interesting aspect of this challenge is the increase in my blog readership. I have gone from about 12 visitors per day to 22 and their average length of stay is about 2.5 minutes. This would suggest that my visitors are finding something of interest and actually staying long enough to read my posts. My main question is why are these visitors lurking and not leaving comments? Although my readership increased significantly, the number of comments on each post has remained the same. I'm wondering what would encourage these readers to come out of the shadows....

From a personal point of view, I have enjoyed the challenge and it has stimulated the creative mind. Thank you to those blog friends who have supported my challenge with their words of encouragement ~ I couldn't have done it without you. I have found things to blog about that I may not have blogged about in the past and I have thought about what I can blog about every day. Would I do it again? Probably, although not until late in 2009. Watch this space.