Saturday, 29 December 2012

What a Perfect Day

I'm sure many of you are thinking the same thing about the day that was 25 December 2012. I'm so sad it's over already. But we'll always have the memories...

Monday, 24 December 2012

The Christmas Kitchen

Oooh golly, we're nearly there!  As usual, I am incredulous that Christmas Day is almost upon us, it comes around more quickly every year.  I actually feel quite in control, though, and confident I can enjoy the big day as well as turning out a whopping great meal and so on.  Welcome to our Christmas HenHouse.

I've laid the table so that's one less thing to think about tomorrow.  Come this time of year, I am always pleased we have a red decorated dining room, it just seems so festive.

In the sitting room, I have a little old fake tree up which for the first time, I have decorated just with vintage decorations.  I was pleasantly surprised at how many I had managed to collect over the last few years, all from thrifty charity shops, flea markets and second hand shops.

It's a time to be grateful for all we have and the love of those around us, but also to remember those we miss.

We are SO glad to have our home back in time for Christmas after this year's horrid building works and the tree takes pride of place in our family room.  I left the decorating of the tree to the boys this year (a miracle as I am usually quite particular about placing all the ornaments)!

The presents have started to appear under its branches.

Charlie Boy is getting excited about opening his stocking!

And beyond the wonderful tree, my beautiful kitchen has gone all festive for its first Christmas, too.

The cakes have been decorated, one has gone off to my in-laws and the other awaits us to devour it.  It shall not last long as it's a firm favourite with Mr HenHouse!  Old fashioned style is best, I think, when it comes to decorating; icing swirled to look like snow and old chalk decorations, with a few new ones added, too.

I finally finished my sewing project.  I bought the thin printed cotton 1950's mats from Etsy; a bit of backing and batting added, some hand quilting to outline the design and a final finishing touch of some candy striped binding and I'm so pleased with how the place mats have turned out.  Ready for breakfast on Christmas morning.

The shelves have had a complete festive makeover.  All the pretty pastel things have been packed away for a while and red and green vintage goodness takes their place.  I had a great time arranging everything!

The vintage pot holders have also been replaced with Christmas-coloured ones, all bought from America after many hours mooching on Etsy, and the mugs have gone festive, too.

Most of the items on the shelves are vintage; I borrowed a few bits from my kitchen shelves at the cottage where I have more red items, and I've collected other things thriftily over the last few weeks and months.  I will be sorry to take it down as I have enjoyed looking at it.  That's what makes Christmas special though, isn't it, the fact that we celebrate it for but a few weeks each year.

Over on the other side, there are a couple more pot holders and I'm now so glad we chose green tiles as they work so well with a Christmas colour scheme.

So all that remains is to wish you all a very MERRY CHRISTMAS.  Let's hope it's a good one...

Wednesday, 19 December 2012


Oh golly, where has the time gone to?  How can the big day be so close yet I have only today started the Munchkin's Christmas quilt in earnest?

Do you remember these?

Our American friends (and these pieces did indeed come from the good ole' US of A) call it chenille, we Brits call it candlewick.  I've always loved this stuff.  Had one on my bed for years and I still do, sleep with one every night, to this day.  There's something about their cosy furriness, ooh just scrumptious.  Of course, my mum was never impressed with the amount of fluff they shed; what with the leaking eidy feathers and the candlewicks, no wonder she was wedded to the hoover!  The furry friends love them too.  And so indeed, does that impish little person, the Munchkin.  I beheld that folks on the crafty www were making patchwork quilts from a myriad of these divine furry patches.  I'll do that too, I thought.

I decided the Munchkin might like a quilt with reds and blues, quite cowboyish, Christmassy and a bit boyish, too.  I spent an inordinate amount of time on Etsy agonising over patterns and colours.  I was not disappointed when they arrived (despite the HUUUGE customs fee, grrrrr).

It seems there is a bit of history to these bed covers and the sellers often describe them as by "Cabin Crafts", "Hoffman" and so on, and the designs have names, too: popcorn, stars and the like.  Some are deemed "rare", my faves are deemed "fluffy".  The prize, of course, is the very furry bit culminating in pretty fat flumpy flowers which beg you to fussy cut them, thus destroying most of the rest of the piece and your hard fought calculations of the number of squares you can cut, along with it!

Snow?  We haven't had snow in London, I must confess.  I am not disappointed as I am a practical type and I do so detest slush which of course, always goes hand in hand with the pretty fluffy white stuff.  But there is snow here.  Aaaargghh, have you ever tried cutting that lovely and oh so fluffy candlewick?  My home is covered with teeny bits of red, blue and white fluff.  Most patriotic.  I haven't seen so much of my hoover in a long while.

Having cut the squares last week, I grappled with sewing them together this afternoon.  As you may have guessed, that is far from easy.  I rarely pin very much when I patchwork but with this, I am pinning everything in sight.  I am using my beast of a machine up in my quilting den, I have no doubt a regular machine would not cut it.  Will it be done in time?  Oh well, there are plenty of other things if not.  Any expert chenille/candlewick patchworkers out there?  I am all ears!

Time to repair downstairs to the sanctuary that is our newly decorated sitting room and put my feet up.  A few refreshments perhaps, yes I definitely need refreshing.

A trip to the kitchen reminds me that I have at least made some progress with the Christmas cakes.

I've had fun decorating the kitchen, taking all the things down from the shelves and walls and going all vintage-Christmassy.  Want to see?

Time to light a candle, atop its new (old) cross-stitched cloth.  I LOVE my cloth, (a purchase from Lewes on Saturday, along with the sideboard actually, and the lantern for that matter).  Gotta love thrifting.  And Mr HenHouse for strapping the sideboard to the roof of the car in the dark and pouring rain.  Reader, he's a keeper.

I'll listen to some tunes.

Mr HenHouse has thoughtfully loaded some seasonal faves and printed proper Christmassy labels.

And I'll savour the scent of my delicious "Winter" candle in its nest of vintage tinsel and mini crackers.

I'll do all this from my new favourite spot.  That sofa is too darned comfy.  Normally, I am not a sitter, definitely not on a sofa in the daytime, anyhow.  I whiled away the whole of Tuesday afternoon watching "Goodnight Mister Tom" which I discovered on an obscure cable channel quite by chance.  You know how it is, "I'll just sit down with Jacky Ginge for five minutes".  Zonk!

The poor new sofa will be having an identity crisis.  It's already had a festive make over.  There are red and white cushion covers and I even re-discovered a vintage red flowery cover for Charlie Boy's eidy (bought at a "vide grenier" or car boot if you will, back in France in the Summer for mere pence/cents).  I've a little seasonal sewing project to sit and finish hand sewing, which I'll show you soon.

Ahh, that's better and the view is pretty good, too.

I hope your preparations and celebrations are going well...

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Let there be Light!

I've been at it again with the patchworking, this time in combination with lampshades.

I chose ten pretty fabrics, mainly 1930s-'40s inspired, and quite a few of the new Cath Kidston cottons.  I am so glad she has finally brought out some more haberdashery weight fabrics in pretty colours.   Maybe our chat when she admired my patchwork bag did the trick!

You can see them all when the shade is upside down.

Pretty when lit too.

Other than that, there's also been some more felty stuff going on.  I was lucky enough to source some more vintage stamens at the weekend, lovely ones with pearlescent finishes, and so have used these in a new batch of 1940's style posy brooches as the first batch all whizzed off to new homes.  I tried a couple of different styles.  I made a posy with three rose stems but it took me so long to make I think it shall be a one-off as far as my shop is concerned!

I have restocked my Etsy shop and you will find the posies and the lampshades there if you fancy a spot of shopping. 

I have also decided to move on some of my stock, why wait for the January sales I thought, when folk could probably do with making some savings now?  So you'll find good mark downs on all sorts of things from cute cuddly owls to heart shaped crochet brooches to feedsack cushion covers.

I can barely believe that in less than an hour's time, the Munchkin finishes school for the Christmas holidays.  Crikey.  So, that's it for 2012 for making goodies to sell, time to get on with a quilt that needs making for a Christmas gift, some placemats and goodness knows what else.  I hope your own preparations are going well.  Feel in control?  Good for you!  Now I have to evacuate my Den as a really cold wind is blowing and I can barely feel my hands!

Monday, 10 December 2012

Wessex Wonderland

The weekend saw us head West for a meet up with my folks, a little pre-Christmas jolly and gift exchange.  We were not let down and the sun shone bright against a stunning blue sky as we mooched around Bridport.

This has become a little yearly ritual for us now.  Father Christmas was present on the Rotary Club float.  Sadly, I think the Munchkin is now a little too old to invest the same meaning in this as he used to, if you get my drift, but was not averse to posing for the annual photo and taking a chocolate in return for a donation.  Each year, he gets closer to the top of the float!

This scene always plays out on the second Saturday of the month,when there is also a farmers' market in the town.  This time, it seemed extra festive.

Wandering round with a hot mulled cider was a treat.

After a good look round the street market and picking up some thrifty goodies, we headed off for the moochy area around St Michaels.

After a lovely day, we headed back via another local town which as the sky turned dimpsy, was also looking very pretty.

I love this nativity scene which is arranged every year at the town hall.

Back at our cosy cottage, is was time to get on with some festive decorating.  Mr HenHouse is always in charge of the lights.

It was soon looking like a sweet little grotto and time for a celebration.