Monthly Archives: December 2010

Christmas Present-ation

I was inspired to write a post about christmas presents having received this beautifully wrapped gift from my friend Julie.

I love receiving a well wrapped gift, especially with consideration given to detail and use of simple materials. Forget fancy ribbons and expensive print, the best materials can be found all year round (as above; baker’s twine and plain brown paper), which are then adorned with festive details (red bead, handmade leaf and painted card). However, there are a host of inventive papers to use as your starting point. For me, any brown paper based wrapping is an essential. This year i was most impressed by this print from Paperchase, with lots of fun illustrations and unusual (ie non-christmas) colours. However there are other paper sources to consider – one year salvage sis gemma wrapped everything in Financial Times paper (tinged a delicate pink), with thick black ribbon. Can’t remember what the present was, its the wrapping that stood out!!

Here are just a few fine examples…

Don’t stop with just presentation of presents. We were given this Panettone which was served at our christmas bonanza, and with a few extra trimmings, it looks tremendously decadent.



Filed under christmas

Oh Brother

I have been pondering a new sewing machine for a few months now, since my £100 friend purchased about 8 years ago started to show signs of tiring. The thing about sewing machines is that you can a decent model quite cheaply, but the servicing will often cost 3/4 of the initial value, and if, like me, you put it through its paces, you will probably need to service it every year. So, after extensive on-line research, i took a trip to David Drummond, possibly the best sewing shop in the world, ever. This guy excels in 2 things – machine knowledge, and customer service. I had a fair idea of my requirements, which happened to match exactly this little gem:

(If you are bored already by this post, things are about to get a lot worse…)

It features 40 stitches including overlocking and 5 1 step button holes, top loading bobbin, automatic needle threader, and, my favourite part, a funky feature which stops the needle either always up or down once you stop sewing. Granted, if your not a sewer, this will seem like a fairly meek offering, but to me, its magic! It also comes with lots of fancy accoutrements, many of which i am yet to identify:

Best of all, it has an ace freehand embroidery function, something i have featured on most of my christmas presents this year (see posts in the New Year.) Buying the machine from a specialist shop got me thinking about the lost value of face-to-face trading. I got an amazing deal involving lots of freebies, including a free servicing of my old machine so i can sell it and make up some of the cost. I honestly came away wondering what the sales guy could have possibly got out of the deal, such were the numerous perks showered upon me. I went home and convinced myself that i couldn’t have found a better deal online, plus the added bonus of doing business with the most tanned, gold-clad man i have come across all winter.

My plans for a manic sewing day today have been laid to rest by an unfortunate slip down the stairs this morning, leaving me less than dexterous. Not to worry though – i have all of the Christmas holidays to put this baby to the test!


Filed under christmas, sewing


I took the opportunity to forage for some Christmas decorating resources today, now that the snow has finally relieved branches and foliage of their heavy load. Thanks to abundant supplies on Blackford Hill, i was able to gather enough for a few projects.

My main aim was to create a wreath for the front door. Starting with a wire coat hanger manouvered into a circle, attach some evergreen as a base using gardeners wire, then build up holly and berries in an ever-widening circle. I dried some orange slices for 2 weeks in the boiler cupboard, and fashioned a basic bow from red ribbon. A welcoming sight for any passer-by or visitor!

Things got a bit more freestyle when it came to the mantlepiece. Lots of greenery piled up, flanked with candles and a few twinkling LED lights, and a felt garland hung below.

With the leftovers, i created a centre-piece using the same haphazard method.

Using fresh foliage creates such a vibrant, authentic display, and costs zero other than your time and energy.     As it happens, i wasn’t the only one feeling festive this weekend. Malcolm and his capable little helper created these delicious home-made mince pies, complete with brandy butter. Now all we need are some festive visitors to come and enjoy the proceeds!

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Made for each other

If you ask me, display/storage options for technological gadgetry in the living room are often hard to make pretty. i have been keeping an eye on gumtree for something to house our E-normous tv and accompaniments – to no avail. So when kath and i fashioned this arrangement today, i was really quite pleased.

The white table was found on the street by colin, abandoned by its owners and to make matters worse, 2 legs were twice the length of the others. After some very interesting measuring techniques, he made the legs equal (almost), and it sat quietly outside awaiting its destiny. It has been painted white but chipped over time which i think adds to the look. The footstool underneath had been residing in the guest room, posing unsuccessfully as a sort of ottoman, so i was delighted to discover it fitted neatly underneath the table, and not only that, the bottom rungs were perfectly sized for the amplifier. This is a micro-example of something i often find happening in my home-perfecting moments: things you already have can often be rediscovered and reincarnated into a happy new life. As long as you can avoid going to ikea in the meantime…..

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