Christmas Village

Christmas Village

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Wine O'Clock

Many wine bottles are now screwtop, but not all of course so a good corkscrew is still vital!

For many years the only type of corkscrew I could use was the counter type where you first turned the main section one way into the cork and then turned the top section the other way bring the cork out of the bottle.  I had a wooden one.

Then I discovered this type

and found that these were even easier.  Happily my brother-out-law - my sister's b-i-l - gave me one for Christmas a number of years ago (thank you, Ian!) and have used it ever since.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Guest post

A guest posting from my mother today -

This is my suggestion for a very useful piece of equipment

Bending down to switch things on is difficult for me these days and I don't move around so well either.

For some time now I have used a couple of these remotes to switch on lamps and things around my house.  At Christmas we plug the tree lights into the socket controlled by this one.

This means that I can switch on the tree lights from my chair in the sitting room and then switch them off again at the end of the day.

Happy Christmas,

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

A good pairing

The next time and effort saving item is my vegetable chopping board.  It is another of the things I take around with me as it is so useful.

The downward curved lip fits over the edge of the worktop and the little feet hold it in place.  It is a good size and cleans easily.  Moveover it is simple to slide whatever I've chopped (or the peelings) off and into the appropriate container.

Teamed with a good knife, it is invaluable!

Monday, 28 December 2015

Simple planning

The simplest of things can be the most effective when it comes to planning.

Two things I wouldn't be without for any sort of planning are my diary and a notebook.

The notebook is small enough to fit into a bag (or pocket) when shopping.  Large enough contain all the lists I make and notes of my ideas, but not so many pages that some are wasted.

The diary is quite chunky and will take take all the information I need on a day to day basis throughout the year and with a pocket at the back to take loose papers, tickets, etc.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

St Stephen's Zest

I was making a sauce yesterday and adding citrus zest, which is a cue for the day's gadget -

It is possible to make do with a knife or peeler but using a zester is so much quicker, easier and safer for my fingers!

I have had mine for a very long time; it was a gift from a dinner party guest when they first became popular.  It is one of the pieces of equipment that I take with me if I'm cooking out of my own kitchen.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Saving time and energy at Christmas

As we all know, Christmas can be a very busy time and anything that helps is welcome. This might be a labour saving device, a favourite knife or clever gadget.  I have a variety of equipment, gadgets etc., which make life easier.  Some are relatively new, while others I have had for many years.  Some are/were expensive, some amazingly cheap; and some a complex while others very simple.

This year I plan to post one of these for each of the days of Christmas.

On Christmas Day one of the things I find invaluable is the old hostess trolley I had many years ago when I held regular dinner parties.  

You do have to be a bit careful how you use these, as some things don't do well being kept warm like this but plates, sauces and covered plates of carved meat are fine.  It is also useful once the meal has been served as a way of keeping second helpings warm and not taking up too much space on the table.

It can be used in the same way as a warming drawer on a range or the residual heat in the oven.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Christmas Eve

Time has run away this year but everything that has to be done is now in place with a few things to wait for tomorrow morning.

Our Sleigh Run family celebration took place on Saturday and in keeping with the tree theme, my nephew made this pudding:

Sunday, 13 December 2015

3rd Sunday

It is the third Sunday in Advent.  The rose coloured candle has been lit and the village is now out in the hall.

Cards have been written and the first batch of present have been wrapped.

The coming week will be full of Christmas preparations in readiness for next weekend's family celebration.  The first stage of the office Christmas competition takes place tomorrow and I have one Christmas lunch and one dinner dance this week, plus a special anniversary.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Excitement begins

For me, the countdown starts properly with the first Sunday in Advent.

As a student, this was the day when I decorated my room, but that was because I wouldn't be in residence at Christmas.  Once I became more settled, this was the day when I decided who would receive which card and when I started writing my Christmas letters.  I lit the first candle of my Advent ring, ate my first mince pie of the season, drank a glass or two of Gew├╝rztraminer and listened to the Christmas music of the Messiah, while I pencilled names on the back of cards.  

This is a tradition I continue to this day. Most of my cards are now made, and those that are have all been allocated, with names pencilled in on envelopes and the back of cards.  Letters and cards are yet to be written, but that will be the joy of the coming days.

I know that later this week, we will start decorating our offices under the direction of team members who are as enthusiastic as I am myself.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Time to start work ...

Over the last week there have been a couple of important milestones in the countdown to Christmas.

The first two of the "last posting" dates for surface mail passed at the beginning of this week.  It isn't actually called 'surface mail' any more, but so many people still think of it in this way that even the Post Office web site uses the term somewhere in the explanation!

Secondly, we are now into October and, with last week's equinox behind us, the days are getting shorter.  We are having some glorious autumn days at the moment and my journey to work has been beautiful, with the mist sitting in the low lying areas so that just the tops of the trees poke out and with a large luminous moon hanging in the blue sky.

Time to start card making ...

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Preparing to Prepare ...

It may have been July and I may have been on my summer holiday, but I couldn't resist going into one of the several Christmas Shops in Prague!

I didn't buy anything there, although in the market I did buy a couple of small wooden Christmas tree ornaments.

Back home I found that in the latest craft magazine there are Christmas card designs and while I won't be making cards just yet, soon it will be time to give serious thought to whether I have all I need to get started.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Christmas 2015

It's official!  The theme for Christmas 2015 will be 'Christmas Trees', and probably a fairly wide interpretation of the theme.

With the sales of Christmas merchandise almost over, with us now into the season of Lent in preparation for Easter and with the first craft show of the year attended, I have a good haul of tree-themed goodies to add to those we possess already.  The ideas are starting to flow and notes are being made.

The photo shows a few of the paper craft items but there are candles, napkin rings and both tree and house decorations as well as all the textile and other crafts bits and pieces.

It is just as well that I've got the basics for Christmas settled as it is time to start on the Easter makings ...

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Twelfth Night

There isn't total agreement as to whether Twelfth Night should be celebrated on 5th or 6th January.  I have my own ideas, but they are not really relevant - the important thing is to mark it in some way.

For many people it is the day when the Christmas decorations are taken down and packed away, although the superstition that leaving decorations up after Twelfth Night brings bad luck originally applied to decorations left after 2nd February - the real end to the full Christmas season.  As I mentioned last year, I follow a tradition set by my great grandmother and keep some decorations until after 8th January, my mother's birthday.

Yesterday evening, as I drove through the local market towns, the Christmas lights were still on.  This evening they were off, although some individual shops and houses still had their festive lights.

We still haven't finally settled on our Christmas 2015 theme, but all will be revealed very soon!  In part the delay is because we found that the post Christmas sale at the major craft shop chain we visit was rather disappointing this year.  However, we have short-listed three possibilities and I think we have a distinct leaning towards one of them.

The photo is of some of our Christmas greenery - which, in a centrally heated house, can't last the full Twelve Days without being renewed!

Sunday, 4 January 2015

A bit of a moan

In spite of all I see to the contrary, it is still Christmas!

I can understand people who have packed away their decorations this weekend.  While many of us were working between Christmas and New Year and on Friday, there was then a distinctly festive atmosphere, which will not be present tomorrow. Plus, the weekend gives people time to take down and pack away their decorations, which is important when you have a lot to do.

Where I do have a bone to pick, is with shops that want to pack away Christmas on Boxing Day.  While I may have some sympathy with price reductions on Christmas wrapping paper and similar such items, the disappearance of Christmas food before Twelfth Night is not so forgivable.  It is still the Christmas season, and get togethers this weekend should still be able to feature mince pies and other such festive foods without the need to have bought them on Christmas Eve!

So the photo that goes with this post is one of three tree decoration made by my mother. Each depict one of the three Kings - who haven't yet arrived …