Vorfreude

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I found the above on a pin on Pinterest and it seemed a great word to describe my preparation for Christmas.  I have really enjoyed this Christmas and all the planning and preparing, I relish the anticipation and excitement of planning a big event,  I am that person with the notebooks, coloured pens and lists, its me in my element.   I have read a lot written about the stress of the period, the commercialisation and extravagance, yet I do believe that you are responsible for designing the Christmas you want.  I try to focus on the simple pleasures of Christmas, time with family and friends, thoughtful gifts, crafts, good food etc..  I started thinking about Christmas in the Summer, I like to buy one new Christmas decoration a year for the tree  and a Disney one seemed to perfectly reflect our year, full of sparkle and magic, we chose our decoration together at the Christmas shop in Disneyland and I like to think I showed great restraint in choosing only one!    Over the year, I have listened to the children on what they liked and jotted down ideas in my Filofax.  Little Miss’ joy and delight at a fan in her stocking which she had loved in a shop in the Summer was worth being that bit prepared.  I do spread my shopping over the Autumn months as this does help the budgeting and being organised means I can spend December enjoying Christmas activities with friends and family rather than worrying about shopping.  I also love browsing through the Christmas magazines for culinary inspiration and creating menus.  To me it is a pleasure to cook for my family and our relaxed meals eaten in the sparkle of the Christmas lights are as special as the big events like seeing Santa and parties.

Christmas is a very special time and to conclude in the words of Dr Seuss …

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Christmas Eve

Christmas eve is one of my favourite days of the year, as life has progressed, I’ve had different experiences but all have been special.  Its a day of anticipation and excitement and a warm glow radiates throughout the day.  As a child it was a trip to the cinema or local pantomime and lunch in McDonalds, which was a rare treat, as a young adult it was meeting friends at lunchtime in local pubs before heading out to a club or party in the evening and now its a day full of visits from friends and neighbours, pottering in town, cuddling up to watch a Christmas film and leaving goodies for Santa. Today has been lovely, I love the community atmosphere around town, everyone happy and excited, families reunited for Christmas.  I do appreciate having an hour to potter in town on my own and soak up the atmosphere, today I had my time but then we all went down town later on together, it was lovely to sit in the gardens of the steam railway watching the trains and enjoying their Christmas songs and decorations.  Now everyone is in bed and we’re just waiting to start spreading the magic of Christmas.  Merry Christmas x

Christmas Lights

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In the final few days before Christmas, I have planned a number of nice, simple activities for the little ones.  After the exhilaration  of the end of the school term, I’m trying to bring some calmness into these final few days before the anticipation and excitement of  Christmas Day.  Today’s activity was to tour the Christmas Lights.  Tommy our elf joined us showing us the favourite lights he sees on his magical flight to the North Pole every night and we played Christmas songs in the car.  We are a small town yet one which seems to embrace life and all its celebrations, hence the large number of delightful lights in a small area.  There are a real mix of lights, lots of beautiful, stylish houses and gardens draped in sparkling lights and then the Christmas character houses which the children loved.  Our favourite allowed you to walk through the garden where they had singing characters, tableaux and themed areas.

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In addition to the homes, our town is full of independent shops and their window displays are also stunning this year.   Our street lights are simple but effective with strings of lights and snowballs.

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The Christmas lights was a lovely activity and one which is inspiring ideas for decorating our house next year.

Oh Christmas Tree …….

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I love the twinkling, sparkling Christmas lights in our house its looks so pretty in the evenings.  This year I have three trees in the house and just as I did a blog entry on my decorations, here are a few notes on the trees.

Our main tree is a real tree with our favourite tree decorations.  As we have lots of lights I’ve resisted the temptation of tinsel this year preferring to focus on the decorations themselves.  I like the handmade, crafty look than a formal dressed tree and it is a tree full of stories.

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Our second tree is also in the lounge.  Its a very simple driftwood tree and is my homage to the true meaning of Christmas featuring stars, angels and the Holy family.  I love its simplicity and the powerful message it represents.

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The final tree is in the kitchen my favourite room and one where I spend lots of time, not simply cooking but pottering around.  Its a bright, fun display featuring the LED tree and a tableau of the book ‘Stickman’  along with the bunting and some very fun lights.

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I love my decorations and the Christmassy feel which radiates the house.  The decorations are now done so now its looking forward to the Christmas baking next week.

Christmas Crafting

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The Little Ones are at an age where we are beginning to do more craft projects.  I love crafting so I have been planning these projects probably since my own childhood, complemented now by the website Pinterest, my favourite website and a source of so much inspiration.  Today we made home made bunting which has been on my list to try for a long time. I think that our craft projects should celebrate and reflect us, so no Mummy doing the task whilst the children watched its all hands on deck to work.  The bunting was very simple, I drew outlines on bunting triangles and the children coloured and decorated.  Little man then went off to build his latest Lego model, whilst I showed Little Miss how to measure, pin and tack the material before we got the sewing machine out.  Little Miss was so taken with the sewing machine and after a few pieces of safety advice, I let her sew a few stitches on it.   She was so excited and was buzzing with ideas on things she would like to make, such creativity and so good to see such a spark alight.  I was very taken with a TED lecture I listened to recently which argued for creativity to be encouraged, nurtured and celebrated in schools.  Parents have such an important role to play too.  If you look in the top photo you will see Stickman made by Little Man next to Santa, subtle but it reminds of us a favourite story with a very personal touch.

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The School Nativity

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Today was the children’s school nativity for the Infants.  A very admirable feat to have all 80 children telling the simple story, so there were lots of narrators, animals, shepherds, stars and angels.  Little man was a  sheep and Little Miss a dancing angel.  We have practised the songs for weeks now at home and I have enjoyed singing all the carols from my childhood, I was delighted that my favourite Little Donkey featured, I have such lovely warm, fuzzy feelings of that song.   I think that with all the Christmas festivities its very important to remember the real story of Christmas and I’m delighted the children’s school celebrate the nativity.  This is one of my favourite parts in the build up to Christmas, the tradition and innocence of the play.  It was as every nativity has always been, pillowcases as angel dresses, shepherds with tea towels as headdresses and lots of homemade accessories.  It really was a beautiful and moving interpretation.  I did have a very pleasant surprise when Little Miss sang a solo of the last verse of We Three Kings, she had ‘forgotten’ to tell me that she had been chosen as the soloist.  She is so relaxed about such a role, she takes it in her stride and sings so confidently and beautifully.  I like that she didn’t boast of her role, she saw herself simply as one of the cast and at home she was more focused on her dance routine.  I was very close to tears at this afternoon’s nativity, not only because of Little Miss’ solo but that this year, Little Man enjoyed the play and remained on stage, happy and confident during the performance.

Shopping with a conscience

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I recently read a recommendation for the above book ‘Over dressed’ by Elizabeth L. Cline and found it in my local library.  It is an excellent read and one that reinforced my own thoughts about our consumer society.  I do try and shop conscientiously, I do look for where an item has been made to ascertain the possible working conditions in which it has been produced and I will seek out items made in the UK.  I’m delighted that our new kitchen units were all produced in the UK as was the new bedroom furniture we bought last year, with the recent economic difficulties we have to support our British businesses   I have tried to be proactive on my stance, writing to my favourite shops for their policies on working practices and fair wages and commenting on their products. For example,  I recently wrote to Cath Kidston a brand which sells itself as quintessentially English yet all its clothing was made in China.  As much as I love their prints and products I cannot comfortably buy their clothes now, such a shame but I’m happy to live to my principles.  This attitude to clothing means that I am making fewer purchases and my wardrobe is more streamlined.  In a society which has become more throwaway and we only wear on average 20% of our wardrobes I like to think I am making more sensible choices.

At times it can be difficult to buy goods I’m happy with, especially clothes and consequently I have become more interested in vintage for a variety of reasons, quality, materials, recycling etc..  I’m yet to find a hidden clothing gem but did find this beautiful, British made  vintage clutch bag in mint condition in a charity shop for £3.  I used it for the first time at a Christmas party on Friday and it made me feel fabulous.  I had gone for a 60s inspired look, fab eye make up, a black tunic embellished with a little sparkle and the fantastic bag.

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Next year my challenge is to include more vintage and hopefully start to make my own simple clothing. I made a skirt in Home Ec when I was 12, have I the same skills 30 years later?