Thursday, 12 December 2013
When you have children, even ten minutes of peace can be heavenly. A full twenty-four hours is unspeakably precious, blissful, sublime time.
A few weeks back, Ben told me to save the date as he had a combined birthday/anniversary surprise planned. On Friday, his mum picked up the kids and whisked them away, while he left work early and we threw overnight bags into the car headed for Somerset.
Picture the scene: a beautiful stone facade, mullioned windows betraying a former purpose, just a quiet sign to show we had arrived. The double doors, adorned with Christmas wreaths, were open, leading us through to the white walls and warmly lit interior. Shown up to our room, treading black carpets and through heavy wooden doors, we found door number 2. Inside, the most beautifully simple room - just black floorboards, giant bed, an armchair and standard lamp, and heavy grey curtains, wide and tall enough to cover the enormous stained glass window that dominated the room.
First, a gin and tonic was brought to our room. I ran the deepest, bubbliest bath in the grey marble bathroom - heated underfoot and warm as toast - where I sipped and read to my heart's content. We dressed for dinner, and another treat awaited us down in the dining room. After a Bellini or two at the bar, we made our way to the table and sat - surprise! - with Anne and Will, friends who live nearby in Somerset. To start, I chose the roasted squash with mozzarella and chilli, which was something else. All the buttons pressed: salt, cream, heat, and so much flavour. Ben's pizza was exactly how pizza should be - thin, delicious, not overly-topped, cooked to perfection in the bakery pizza oven. Chat, wine, laughter, that lively hum of a busy restaurant. All such a treat, such pleasure.
Too stuffed for pudding, we stumbled back to our room and sank into the fluffy white bed. Tipsy and tired, we fell asleep with the telly on. Next morning, we awoke to find a little paper bag hung on the door held two perfectly-baked croissants that we ate in bed. Crumbs everywhere.
Later, we headed into Frome for shopping and lunch, and uninterrupted conversation and fun. I am a lucky, lucky girl in love, having such a thoughtful husband and such generous family who care for our children so well.
At the Chapel
High Street, Bruton, Somerset BA10 OAE
01749 814 070 firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, 10 December 2013
The tree is up and decorated. Festive bits and bobs are (finally) making their way into our home...
A little Christmassy vignette - miniature tree, bark wreath, tiny antique bear guards a fir tree candle /
Pomegranates drying on the back of the oven /
Slices of apple destined for homemade decorations
Joining in with Lou's Nature in the Home series.
Saturday, 7 December 2013
A: Learning backgammon
T: Learning to hold a crayon
This weekend I've been treated to a surprise night away (lucky me!), more of which soon. And we'll be getting a little bit more festive around here, too.
When I look around me, it seems as though everyone's Christmas-ready but me. I haven't bought a tree, decorated, found any presents let alone planned anything, nor have I written any cards. I'd better get on with it, hadn't I?
Friday, 6 December 2013
2. Manhattans at lunchtime
3. A wily pooch at the Frome Supermarket
4. Serious fun
5. Velvet red roses and sea thistle
6. Choosing magic keys at the flea market
Thanks to Debenhams Flowers for sending the beautiful 'Rejoice' bouquet.
Readers of Oyster & Pearl can claim £5 off any Christmas flowers by using the code XMASBLOG (offer expires 21 December 2013).
November's vegan month wasn't quite what I'd hoped. I think I'd better draw a line under the whole episode, which just confirmed for me that the middle ground is the best option (sounds contrived, but that's what the book is advocating, too). Although I was interested to see that Jay Z and Beyonce are also attempting to eat vegan for a month or so.
Anyway, on to this month. December is a month of NOW. I am the world's worst procrastinator and I like to make a simple one-step job into several, more complicated ones, perhaps dragged out over multiple days. No more. This month I'm going to say NOW and YES and OK all the time. Here's hoping.
Are you a procrastinator like me? Or perhaps you're going to attempt to try something different for a month. I'd love to know.
Sunday, 1 December 2013
Last December I heard tales of woe from a friend whose kids were waking at 4am, so eager were they to open their chocolate advent calendars. Recently, we've cut sugar right down in T's diet, partly in a bid to reduce the congestion in his system (hoping to improve his hearing) and partly to calm down his behaviour. It's been working.
So this year we've avoided chocolate advent calendars altogether, instead buying a Lego one and making our own as well.
For this simple advent calendar, you will need:
Brown paper / paper bags / envelopes
Card / little presents
Ribbons / bakers twine / other decorative bits and bobs
Match treats to days (we already have some fun Christmassy stuff planned so this is what each envelope will contain).
Match treats to wrapping, write out your numbers on the wrapping or on luggage labels.
Wrap treats or write out little postcards and seal in individual envelopes / paper bags; attach corresponding labels using festive ribbon or twine.
Hang string - we have a giant blackboard that dominates our breakfast room, so this was the obvious place for our advent calendar. You could also use a mantlepiece, mirror or beam, or hang a large branch over the table.
Peg each individual package to the string.
Add snippets of foliage - I used rose hips, ivy, rosemary and chilean potato vine - either under the pegs or glue-gunned to the pegs themselves. I also added a couple of glittered acorn cups for added sparkle.
If you need some ideas for what might go into each package, here's a list of our treats:
1. Visit to a Christmas market
2. Chocolate coin
4. Make gingerbread biscuits
5. Chocolate snowman
6. Put up little trees in boys' bedroom
7. Christmas party
8. Christmas tree shopping / decorating
9. Chocolate coin
10. Moshi monsters
11. Watch a Christmas film
12. A message from FC
13. Make paper chains
14. Lunch out
15. Make a gingerbread house
16. Chocolate coin
18. Wind-up toy
20. Tea by candlelight
21. Make reindeer food
22. Make hot chocolate
23. A decoration for the tree
24. Ice skating
Saturday, 30 November 2013
A: Bubbles on the bridge
T: New kicks don't stay white for long
Just four weeks left until 2013 is over. But lots to pack in before then. December always takes me by surprise (actually, each new month is a little like that) and I'm one of the panicked shoppers now wondering what the hell to buy for my nearest and dearest.
Last Sunday was the day traditionally spent stirring up the Christmas pud and cake but I did neither. The times I've made fruit cake in the past I've ended up eating most of it as I live with dried fruit-averse weirdos. This year, we'll probably attempt a yule log or something the kids can help with (baking AND eating), and I'll buy myself a teeny cake as a nod to tradition.
Oh, I do so love this time of year. Not only is it Christmas but it's also my birthday, and I am a fan of both celebrations. Right now I'm putting together an advent calendar for the kiddos (nothing like the last minute) and plotting and planning tree purchases, and pinning like mad to my Christmas board. Have a look, if you fancy.
Joining in with Jodi's 52 project.