Christmas Village

Christmas Village

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Christmas Cards

The photo I posted on Christmas Day was of the card sent to Mary (my great aunt) 100 years ago.

I also have a card sent 30 years later, during the next war.  This one was sent from my father to his parents and sister.

Sending physical cards is falling out of fashion, for very obvious and valid reasons, especially with friends and family being scattered across the globe.  However, I think there is still something special about receiving cards and we have ours displayed in various parts of the house.

Sunday, 28 December 2014


I'm still luxuriating in the Christmas season!

We've been enjoying our festive food and drink and we've been looking at family photos and thinking about family history.  This year that is helped by my second cousin sending me some photos with her Christmas card.

The snow and cold weather has meant that we haven't ventured out (it really isn't easy to push a wheelchair through snow and ice!), but we have enjoyed our special decorations and have been using all our festive crockery and glassware.

There are vague thoughts of shopping tomorrow, but we don't actually need to, so who knows … I don't have to work tomorrow so can take it as it comes.

As a reminder that Christmas lasts for at least the twelve days, here is our family Twelve Days banner:

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Happy Christmas!

Christmas is here and there is one task for today, and that is to enjoy it!

Today's photo is of a card sent by a woman named Jenny to one called Mary for Christmas 1914.

Jenny's gift to Mary was a copy of Princess Mary's Gift Book, a collection of prose and poetry with all the profits going to the Queen's Work for Women Fund.  Jenny wrote a dated dedication in the book and tucked in the card and a photo of herself.

As I look at the card and gift given 100 years ago today, I wish you all a very Happy Christmas.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

It's Started!

I was only working a half day today, so now home and ready to start Christmas.  It is just gone 16.00, so time for a glass of Madeira and a slice of panettone, which is our traditional start to Christmas.

Raising a glass …

Today's photo is the obvious for Christmas Eve

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Last shop before Christmas

Well, that is the food shopping done now as I picked up the fruit, veg etc this evening.  Anything I've forgotten stays forgotten and we'll do without!  If it was dire I could go on my way to or back from work tomorrow, but really don't want to have to do that as I suspect the shops will be very busy. 

Today's photo shows some of the pudding themed cards.


Monday, 22 December 2014

Not tonight, not tomorrow night ...

The "not tonight, not tomorrow night" was the way my brother did his own counting down to Christmas when he was a small child. What it means is that Christmas is now Very Close.  Because we had many of the team in for a meeting this morning and after today there will be few people in our main office before Christmas, we opened the rest of the Advent calendar!  It just served to remind us of how near we are to Christmas and there was a definite air of excitement.

My vital task for today was to ensure that I've got all the regular medication I'll need while shops are closed and while I don't really want to be going out to the shops. I know I could go out if I had to, but I much prefer to set aside a few days to devote to celebrating and enjoying the Christmas season - walks over the immediate Christmas period should be for pleasure, not to the shops!  Medication does need a bit of planning because there is something I take once a week and currently I'm taking it on a Thursday.  As I have to have it first thing and then have only tap water to eat/drink for about 45 mins and have to remain upright (no slouching or laying down and no bending over either) for that time, I know that I really don't want to be taking it on Christmas Day!  Christmas Eve seems a much better idea as I will be working from home and can work my breakfast and coffee around it all.

Today's photo is of Cressing Temple Barns in the snow:

It isn't a recent photo, but it looks very seasonal!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

4th Sunday

The 4th Sunday in Advent and time to put the finishing touches to the decorations.

The tree is now up and decorated and the outside lights are up and switched on.  The final list has been written up and the linen I want to use is checked and ready.

Today's photo fits with this evening's O Antiphon - O Morning Star (O Oriens)

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Sleigh Run

Today was the first major event of the Christmas season, when the family came for what we refer to as 'the Sleigh Run' (because bags of presents arrive at the house and different bags are carried away!)

This year the kitchen was taken over and the cooking done by my niece and her boyfriend while I remained responsible for decorating the house and table.

Photos will appear in due course, but today's picture is appropriate for a sleigh run:

Friday, 19 December 2014


This evening I have been wrapping presents ready for tomorrow's visitors to take away. Lots of parcels with pudding themed gift tags now stand ready for collection.  I've also finished off the gift boxes for the dinner table.

Tomorrow morning before everyone arrives I will put out the Christmas village and finish decorating the hall with the flying puddings.

Today's photo is another from the Snowman year:

I have a cut out of this image ready to fly over the village.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Tea Party

Today was our own office Christmas Tea Party with most of the team and some visitors dropping in at some point.  I think the most popular tea was the vanilla chai.  We've got cake and biscuits to last us through the days between now and Christmas!

This evening I'm making up some of the decorations for our christmas table - photos in due course!

Today's photo is a suitably seasonal image, although the weather here has warmed up considerably!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

O Sapientia

As well as the special anniversary I wrote of in my post this morning, 17th December marks the day when my Christmas preparations and the accompanying sense of excitement really gathers pace.  The church liturgy moves up a gear from the evening of 17th December with the introduction of the 'O Antiphons'; a different one each evening from today until 23rd. (Although earlier English practice started on the evening of the 16th.)

A number of years ago I went to an Advent weekend at Turvey Abbey at which we made, among other things, a set of medallions reflecting the O Antiphons.  I now add the appropriate one each day to my hall decorations from now to 23rd.

O Sapientia, quae exore Altissime prodidisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem, fortiter suaviter disponensque omnia; veni ad docendem nos viam prudentiae.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Happy Anniversary

My image for 17th December is not really a seasonal one, but it does mark a special anniversary.  It marks the initial coming together of a special group of women who supported each other throughout the difficult Advent and Christmas of 2008 and on into a stormy 2009.

There will be a seasonal photo for this evening, but until then  -  Happy Anniversary, SRs!

Thank you to Theresa for the layout.

Dashing through the snow ...

The Christmassy mood at work has gone up a notch again today as it was the building mid-morning Christmas carols and songs plus mince pies and mulled wine event at our Milton Keynes office.  Happily, we had already scheduled a team meeting there ...

So here I am, doing my own bit of dashing through the snow!

Photo taken by Val t at Cressing Temple Barns a few years ago.

Monday, 15 December 2014

The Master List

My task for this evening is to go through my now well scribbled on master list and work out what still has to be done.

I am a great believer in lists (as I just may have mentioned before ...), partly to keep track of what I have to do and partly because I love the feeling of satisfaction in being able to tick off items!   However, by now the master list is beginning to look rather the worse for wear and it isn't easy to see at a glance what is outstanding.  So after dinner I will sit down with coffee and mince pie and will work my way through it, transferring to a new list all the items that are not ticked off, re-work those which have changed over the last few weeks as my ideas have grown and re-schedule any where I changed the priorities.

For today's picture I'm returning to the pudding theme as a reflection of the work I did over the weekend.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Third Sunday

Third Sunday in Advent and today I started the wrapping of presents that will be collected by family and friends over the next week.  I've also been working on some of the pudding-themed table decorations.

The major event though is that the wreath is now outside the house.  There isn't a lot of holly in the garden this year, but there are berries on it. So we have bought a basic green wreath with a fir base and plain holly and then we have added in our own variegated holly with berries.

This photo shows last year's wreath when there was more holly but no berries by this point in December, which meant resorting to artificial berries:

Saturday, 13 December 2014

St Lucy

This is the day when the first of my decorations goes up.  13th December is the feast of St Lucy and so time to put up my St Lucy banner. (Though this photograph was taken as she came out of her wrapping, before being pressed!)

I have finished off the non-perishable food shopping today and have made a start on the gift boxes that will be needed for next weekend. They are all cut out ready for assembly over the next few days.

Friday, 12 December 2014

It is amazing who you meet ...

… when you're Christmas shopping!

I had a day off work today to finish up my Christmas present buying. Waterstones was obviously going to be on my list of shops to visit, but it wasn't so obvious that there would be a dalek dressed as Father Christmas standing outside.  I couldn't resist it as today's photo!

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Thinking of Tea

As I drive around and through local towns and villages, I'm enjoying the sight of the festively decorated shops and high streets.

We are also planning for our office Christmas Tea Party, which we will be holding next week.  The idea is for people to bring along a small amount of their favourite tea.  It could be ordinary black tea, scented tea, green tea, fruit tea … It will be interesting to see what we get.

Today's photo is a seasonal combination of snow and berries:

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Inching closer

We started the office Christmas decorating today.  The tree is up and the windows have snowflakes and snowmen while the walls have stars and various other less identifiable decorations!  I suspect more will appear over the next week...

Most of the decorations are home-made, which is part of the fun.  Several of us brought in Christmassy refreshments and one person brought some mulled tea, which is really rather good.

So today's photo is the sign above the main entrance to Selfridges, proclaiming Destination Christmas:

Tuesday, 9 December 2014


On my Christmas preparation agenda for this evening is getting my Christmas letters written and finishing off the last of the Chirstmas card making.

It was another frosty morning, so today's photo is yet another from the December 2010 weekend:

This is one of my favourite frost photos.

Monday, 8 December 2014

More Puddings!

Tesco have reduced their children's Christmas craft packs and one has puddings!  So it goes without saying that I couldn't resist …

I really do need to get my Christmas (non-food) shopping finished but I'm not sure when I'm going to get it done.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

2nd Sunday in Advent

More card writing today plus getting some things ready for our Sleigh Run dinner.

I'm also looking out my decorations ready to start decorating the house next weekend.  I put up cards as they arrive but will leave the main decorating until the third Sunday in Advent.

Temperatures are starting to drop now and it is very clear this evening, so today's photo is another from the December 2010 weekend:

I think several of us took photos of this.  The fountain was struggling against the odds to keep flowing!

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Cards and Trees

Christmas cards are starting to arrive with every postal delivery, which means that I need to get mine ready to post.

I refer, in my introduction to this blog, to complications and one of my complications is that I'm somewhat prone to fatigue.  The fatigue has caught up with me this weekend, so I had a rather slow start to the day.  After that I did settle down to a session of card writing.

It is the weekend of the local Christmas Tree Festival and craft market so I went along this afternoon.  the trees are set up in the parish church and visitors are being asked to vote for their favourite.  There are some good ones with a mix of traditional, modern and innovative and a few particularly caught my eye.  The Beer Festival have a tree decorated with bottle tops and beer mats, the WI have a traditional looking tree.

The Brownies' tree includes some pudding decorations:

and the Retirement Group's tree has some lovely work on display:

My decision was a difficult choice between the Junior School's Advent tree of decorated biscuits:

and the Floral Society's tree of 1914-18 cards and event memorabilia:

Wandering round the trees and market has made me feel that the season really has started.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Christmas Spirit

Today's photo actually carries a date stamp of 4th December 2010 and was taken at a weekend gathering of a rather special group of women and it shows the table being prepared for our celebratory meal together.

It was a cold weekend but we had a warm house with plenty of mulled wine, mince pies and friendship. A good reflection of the Christmas spirit.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Carol Service

One of the offices from which I work is in a not-for-profit organisation building and another organisation based there is Wycliffe Bible Translators.  They moved in late last year and are establishing a tradition of hosting a lunchtime carol service for the building.  Last year it was in the last week before Christmas but this year they went for an early slot and it was held today.

If I'm honest, that was a bit early for me to be singing O Little Town of Bethlehem and Silent Night and I think they missed a trick by not having a few verses of the Advent hymn O Come, O Come Immanuel, but I was happier with Joy to the World and Hark the Herald!

It was a good event, with tea, coffee and mince pies afterwards, giving us all a chance to mingle.

All of which means that the photo for today is carol singers in the village that forms part of my Christmas decorations.  As I won't be decorating for Christmas until a bit later in December, this is a photo from last year.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014


It was a bit of a frosty start to the day today, and again the car was warning me that that there was a danger of ice. So this seemed a good photo for today (although the day it was taken much considerably colder!):

It warmed up a bit and got wetter as the day went on, but fortunately the rain held off for this evening's Christmas market/fair in Wendover.  It wasn't actually much of a shopping opportunity, but it all helps to build the festive spirit and there was a lovely happy atmosphere.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Card Making

Today's image is one of the cards I made the year our theme was The Snowman.

This year's cards are almost all made, although a few still need inserts and a couple need some finishing touches.

I need to settle down to some letter writing ...

Monday, 1 December 2014

Advent Images

The first section of the Advent Candle is now burning and this morning at work we opened the first door of the office advent calendar.

It isn't actually a new calendar; it is the one that was a gift from the grandmother of a member of staff a year or so ago and which we shut in January and have brought out again… Yes, we could have a new one, but this one is now "team tradition"!

Last month I had the idea of posting a photo for each day from 1st to 24th December, together with any relevant notes of my Advent and Christmas preparations.  Being realistic, I can see that I'm likely to run into difficulties with making it a daily task unless I queue things up as drafts and get the posting semi-automated - which seems a little too mechanical.

However, as there were Christmas Fairs and events all over the country this weekend I will at least make a start with this image from an event last year:

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Advent Sunday

The clock is running!

The first candle on the advent wreath has been lit and we have eaten the first mince pies of the year (taken together with a glass of Madeira!). This year I've started with the Heston spiced ones...

Advent Sunday is also the day when I aim to finish making my Christmas cards and work out who will be receiving which card.  In many cases they are made with the recipient in mind, but in others I find I have an image I really like and so make several variations and leave it to now to decide who will have which.

The other main activity for today has been to make sure that the remaining tasks are in the diary with the days I want to have achieved them.

Remember to make a wish for each mince pie you eat between now and Christmas Day!

Monday, 24 November 2014

The Start of Winter

This morning did feel wintery.

For the first time this year I had to scrape the ice from my windscreen and the car spent the entire journey telling me that there was a "danger of ice".  It was however, a beautiful journey.  I set off as the sun was rising and drove into a sky of ice blue criss-crossed by pink tinged vapour trails.

Later in my journey I was in a traffic queue behind a lorry carrying Christmas Trees.

The Christmas preparation theme continued at lunchtime when I was out to buy a sandwich and came back with a Heston Hidden Clementine Christmas Pudding … That is the key thing for me from now until the last few days before Christmas; buy things as and when you see them and cross them off on The List.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Stir Up Sunday

Today is Stir Up Sunday; the traditional day for making the Christmas Pudding.

In my family it is, by tradition, the day when preparations for Christmas begin in earnest. The Christmas cake would have been made either the week before or that weekend (with everyone having a stir of the mixture and making a wish), advent candles and calendars would be bought and the food list be written up.

So in keeping with tradition, I have now started buying the non-perishable food.  The ginger marmalade is in the cupboard, together with the crackers and the chocolate biscuits. I have my advent candle ready and waiting for next weekend and the invitations to the Sleigh-Run Dinner are ready to go out.

It is also the weekend after Beaujolais Nouveau comes in (on the third Thursday of November). While this isn't the big event it used to be, it is still worth celebrating - so we did!

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Food For Thought

As I have mentioned before, the theme this Christmas is 'Christmas Puddings' and this weekend, inspired by finding some pudding cup cake toppers in Hobbycraft,  our minds turned to food.  What can we do to reproduce puddings in different ways?

There are always cupcakes using the toppers, but there are other ways of using them (especially as we're not really cup cake people because they tend to be so sweet).  We thought first of shortbread rounds with the toppers in the centre. Okay, the colour is wrong, but it plays into the theme and we are very much a shortbread family!

What about chocolate crispy cakes with, placed on top, a dollop of white icing with green holly leaf shapes and red circles, if we've already used the toppers?

I'm also keen to go with a Chocolate Orange unwrapped and with a topping of white icing and the green leaves and red berries.

Then, today in Tesco's I saw these:

Christmas Pudding chocolate muffins!  The fact that they were reduced made them irresistible …

Sunday, 26 October 2014

From the Jaws of Defeat

The original plan was to spend the weekend cutting images for cards using our new-ish Cricut machine.  Unfortunately, we found that the design area of the website refused to load, and you can't use the new machine other than through the online design software.

We salvaged something from the weekend by using it to stamp, colour and make-up some other designs.  But it does illustrate the need not to leave everything to the last because of those problems over which we have no control.

All very annoying …

Just the sentiments to be added to the cards we did make and that will be done shortly before we send them to allow for personalisation.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

The Dilemma and the Compromise

Once October comes I have a dilemma to face.  The shops are full of the Christmas stock and I know that if I'm to be ready without a last minute panic then I really do need to make a start on getting things bought and made.  BUT, I really don't like to start everything too soon; rushing into Christmas and missing out on all that autumn has to offer.

Once upon a time I didn't start working on Christmas until mid way through November when it was time to make the cake, and that gave me plenty of time.  However, things have changed over the last decade; I am busier at work, have increased family commitments and much less energy.  Waiting for mid November would be a recipe for disaster.

So I compromise.  I gather together all the Christmas craft items, work out what else I'm going to need and get it bought.  I make a start on the crafting and I make lists but at the same time I make sure that I take time to appreciate the fruits and colours of autumn.

Last weekend we went to a craft show and bought the rest of the coloured card we will need for our Christmas things. We also managed to pick up a few more items including a couple of stamps.  This weekend I have been sorting through the textile items I need - wool, embroidery threads and Christmas patterned fabric. This coming week I plan to make a start on the embroidery and after that it will be time to start making cards.

But just to even things up, I have also been for a autumn walk and remembering my late brother-in-law's superb pumpkin and ginger soup.

Saturday, 20 September 2014


Well, autumn is certainly here now.  I'm no longer getting stuck behind combines on my drive to and from work, but I am seeing people with buckets collecting sloes; I've picked the apples from the tree; more importantly, the Royal Mail Christmas service leaflet is now out at Post Offices.

The summer celebrations of family birthdays (including 21st) and graduations are behind us, and I'm now thinking seriously of Christmas preparations.

The key thing for me is that we have a new toy

Sunday, 20 April 2014

A major Landmark

One major landmark on the way to Christmas is Easter.  More about Easter preparations in a future post, but for now here are a few pictures of our Easter celebration preparations ...

This is the Easter door wreath I made for the porch to welcome people to our family celebration.  The basis is a wicker wreath I bought and then stripped down and re-assembled adding some extra items.  More on this in the future.

Generation after generation make these chocolate crispy cakes.  This year my niece made milk and white chocolate ones.

My younger nephew's contribution was the Easter cake.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Mixing the Seasons

Spring flowers are everywhere now; in gardens, by paths & roadsides and in the shops.  This makes it a bit difficult to be thinking of Christmas, but the planning goes on!

Every year, just before Christmas, my family gathers together for what we call The Sleigh Run.  It is the day when we meet to exchange the bags of presents we will be opening on Christmas Day. And, because our informal family motto is "where two or three are gathered together, there shall be a celebration", we have a special meal with fun, games and small table presents.  Come Christmas Day itself, we will be celebrating in a number of different homes, but this is the day we celebrate Christmas together.

Our festivities include some sort of activity or game to reflect our chosen theme and my mother has just proposed the one for this year.  Based on the traditional village hall beetle drive this will be a Christmas Pudding drive, with a race to add dish, pudding, custard, holly leaves, holly berries and currants.  She even had a sketch to show me - and bearing in mind that she has lost a lot of her sight, that was no mean feat! So her sketch and notes are in the file and another item has been ticked off the Master List, a highly satisfying feeling.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Deviation from Plan

I had planned to visit my first craft fair of 2014 last weekend but a minor family crisis, in the form of a gas leak at my mother's house, rather got in the way.  As a result I didn't make it to The Creative Craft Show, where I had been expecting to shop for some textile craft bits and pieces as well as look for inspiration and (no doubt) make a few spur of the moment purchases.

However, we did get some cupboards sorted out as a result of the upheaval in the kitchen. If they can only stay that way it will make all special occasion meals, and not just the Christmas ones, so much easier!

In the meantime I have been continuing to work on various Christmas Pudding designs and have nearly completed a blackwork one.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

A Final Goodbye to Christmas 2013

Last night I finally put away my crib scene, which means that the last vestige of Christmas 2013 has now gone back in its box.  My justification for keeping it out until now is that in time gone by the Christmas season was held to last for 40 days and to end with Candlemas Day, the 2nd of February.  Although I have an all-in-one wooden crib scene today, I used to have a cheap plastic set of individual figures.  I would set it out in stages and the Kings were on the opposite side of the room from the manger until they "arrived" on 6th January, so putting it all away immediately seemed a bit rough on those Kings!

Looking forward to Christmas 2014 I have been shopping again, to the final days of the sales.  Supplies for Christmas puddings in various formats ...

I am also gathering together patterns and images for the various things I plan to make and I'm drawing up and charting my own designs.

Another of my February tasks is to be on the look out for good photo opportunities.  In previous years that has included taking snow photographs that I have used in cards.  Today's sun prompted me to take some of the rather beautiful berry-laden holly tree:

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Starting the Countdown

It may be the end of January but this first post on the countdown to Christmas has to go back a few weeks.

In very early January, or possibly late December, we think about the theme for the next Christmas.  This means that I can search the post-Christmas sales for anything appropriate that fits the theme (along with any other things to be put aside for next year).  This Christmas the theme was snowflakes.  The hall was decorated with snowflakes cut from card and fabric, and many of the cards I made using various techniques had snowflakes in the design.

These snowflakes were cut on a Cricut machine, using a cartridge I'd purchased over the previous Christmas holidays. We had them suspended on cotton thread from fishing line that criss-crossed the hall.

Next year, well this year really, the theme is going to be Christmas Puddings.  I've already bought the paper napkins for use at the pre-Christmas family dinner - in the sale, of course! I have also sorted out various craft items that fit this theme (stamps, card blanks, relevant coloured card and patterns from magazines) and they are now in the box I use for the themed items.  I'll add to it as the year goes on and I find more things I'll need.

Also in early January comes Twelfth Night when, by tradition, all decorations are taken down.  The key for me at this point is making sure I know where everything goes away in order to avoid panic come December and this is especially important where various items have been lent to other family members for the season.  In practice, and by tradition, decorations may be left up a bit longer in my family. This is because my mother's birthday comes a few days after Twelfth Night and the decorations were always left for her party when she was a child.

I have also looked through all the Christmas cards I, and my mother, received this year.  Some of them will inspire those I make for Christmas 2014 and others I will use as templates.

During the winter months I find that I don't mind working on things for Christmas, but I know that as spring and Easter approaches I will lose the enthusiasm for it until well into the autumn.  For that reason I try to get a bit ahead now, while I'm in the mood.  My mother's disability means that I now take the lead in preparing the decoration for her house as well as mine, and I make most of her Christmas cards in addition to making almost all of my own.

Right, back to stamping Christmas puddings and colouring them for gift tags ...