Our first month in Otley

Hello! From Yorkshire!

Yes, a month ago today we made the move from Hitchin in Hertfordshire, all the way up to the little market town of Otley in West Yorkshire. It was a horrendous move….we collected so much stuff living in such a big place in Hitchin, especially with all the wedding things. Plus it was our first move with the dogs, who have a lot more luggage than you might expect! Still, they were as good as gold during the move and really did us proud.

Dogs in the car on move day

Are we nearly there yet?

Dogs on moving day

All in!

We’re finally getting sorted in the new place though, and have a place for most things and most things in their place….it has been a great opportunity for some serious sorting though and we’ve had lots to Freecycle, donate to charity shops and box up for the car boot sale. And hopefully the next move will be much easier as it won’t be so far away….we very much intend to stay in Yorkshire as we have so many friends and family here, not to mention the fact that we’ll be able to afford a much nicer house than in pricey Hitchin!

My home studio

My new studio….still a bit of sorting to do but I can work in it at least!

We’d not been to Otley ever before our move day, and hadn’t even seen our new house! With such a busy summer we just couldn’t get the time together to do a proper scout as we usually would, and were lucky enough to have some family and friends view a few places for us. Our dear friend Craig actually came to see this place and said we’d love it….and we do! Thanks Craig!

Otley is a lot like Hitchin really. It’s a market town with lots going on, but also has the advantage of quick and easy access to the countryside. My morning walk with the dogs is just perfect….we’re a few moments away from a playing field which we walk through first, then a little river side park before we get to the gorgeous formal gardens (and playground!) and then wonderful fields for the hounds to race around, as well as lots of places for them to dip into the river….Digby has even had his first proper swim (so proud!)! We’ve seen Kingfishers along the river and I’m told you can see otters if you’re out early enough too….fingers crossed!

Swimming dog in the River Wharfe

Digby taking a swim in the goregous river Wharfe

Being a little more remote we decided we’d finally have to get a car, which means we can explore other places for our walks too. We’ve taken to driving to the stunning Chevin Forest, just two minutes away, for our afternoon walk. The dogs love exploring all the winding paths, and we adore the views from up there. There’s even an ice cream van waiting at the summit, which is a great treat after the climb! The Chevin is actually thought to have been an inspiration for some of Turner’s paintings, and I love having that connection!

The view of Otley from the Chevin Forest

The view of Otley from the Chevin Forest

We’re hoping to explore some of the nearby places too before long….I love Skipton and the Dales which are now very close, and then there’s the Keighley Railway (famous for appearing in the Railway Children!), Bronte country in the pretty village of Haworth, nearby Ilkley and its Darwin Gardens and stunning moorland, plus more of Leeds which I love for food and shopping.

There’s plenty to do in Otley too, and we’ve been enjoying getting to know it. There’s a regular market which I’ve been going to for our fruit and vegetables, plus a monthly Farmer’s market which is just wonderful, and a craft market in the Old Courthouse. There are stacks of tea rooms and plenty of good pubs….all of which we have vowed to try out, although that may take us some time!

Otley Farmers Market

Shopping at Otley Farmers Market

All natural dog treat

Cooper ready for a treat from the Farmers Market!

giant yorkshire pudding filled with chips and gravy

My kinda grub….local ‘delicacy’ of giant yorkshire pudding filled with chips and gravy

Otley Folk Festival

Dancers outside the Court House Project for the Otley Folk Festival

Adam has joined the Otley Camera Club, which is celebrating its 75th year, and we’re hoping to find local dance classes and an archery club too. I’ve been loving all the gorgeous galleries in town, and there’s a Sunday car boot within walking distance, plus several more we can explore in the car. We’re looking forward to some upcoming events as well….there’s a science fair and beer festival very soon and a Victorian fair at Christmas, plus food festivals, arts events and all sorts in the new year. Oh, and we checked out the Vintage Transport Extravaganza too which was super!

Otley Old Grammar School gallery

Art this way, at The Old Grammar School gallery

Ice cream at the Otley car boot sale

Me with my ice cream at the car boot sale. There’s ice cream everywhere here!

Otley Vintage Transport Extravaganza

At the Otley Vintage Transport Extravaganza

We’re celebrating our first month here with a trip to the wonderful sounding vegetarian restaurant, The Cheerful Chilli, up on the Chevin tomorrow night….it’ll be such a treat to have so much to choose from for a change and I’m looking forward to trying it out! Then it’ll be more exploring for potential places for us to settle down in….the plan is to buy a place within the next year, so we want to get a flavour for where in Yorkshire should get to keep us!

That’s all for now, but I’m sure I’ll have lots to share about our new town soon. Have a lush weekend!

Ems x

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Twelfth Night

That’s it. All over again for another year.

I hate this bit. The Christmas come-down. Yesterday was spent packing away the decorations, finishing off the festive treats and generally de-Christmassing the place. So sad.

I thought though to help perk me up a bit, I’d look back over the Christmas snaps I took. Here’s how I spent the last couple of weeks…..

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Our tree in all its glory!

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I was also allowed a second tree this year….for all my tacky decorations!

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I wrapped gifts in pretty bright colours this year, labelled with my new label maker and finished off with all-important glitter tape!

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Gifts for our friends ready ahead of our annual Christmas party.

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We made extremely yummy Sloe chocolate for friends, made from the sloes we used in last year’s gin and this year’s port! Boozy!

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We added home made Cinnamon and Frankinsence vodkas to the chocolate, and topped off with a home stitched tree decoration, they became our little Christmas mini-hampers this year.

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Hitchin got a German style Christmas market this year, but I was disappointed they didn’t have Lebkuchen or Kartoffelpuffer!

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We made up for that slightly by drinking lots of lush Gluhwein in the mugs we got at the Christkindlmarkts in Vienna last year!

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And of course, MUCH chocolate was consumed. Including this smug looking Milky Bar Kid.

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My Mummy came to visit over Christmas, as did Adam’s parents, eldest brother and sister in law. The dogs enjoyed the extra attention no end!

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Father Christmas made a HUGE delivery to our house!

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My haul! And it was the first Christmas I didn’t have to wish for a puppy!

Hope you had a fabulously festive time too!

Ems x

Living for the weekend….dealing with the post Christmas blues

That sky is grey again. And it’s all cold out there (and not in a Christmassy-winter-wonderland way). Still, the weekend is already here, and so I’ve been thinking of ways to fill it with fun stuff to take my mind off the fact it’s no longer Christmas. (Yes, I *am* still talking about Christmas, sorry)…..

Planning for the year

January is always full of the dulls. Everyone is shattered after the festivities, low on funds, and trying to catch up and get back to normal. But I find that there’s nothing like having something to look forward to to cheer me up, so I’ve been enjoying making lots of plans. I’ve bought tickets, made bookings, and started organising fun adventures to keep me busy and excited for the months to come. Get your diaries out!

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DIY Projects

With all the Christmas decorations gone, I know I’m looking forward to sprucing up the house a bit and starting work on some little DIY projects I’ve been planning. We have a Welsh dresser to sand and paint, and a few little tables and plant stands that I want to make-over. It’s a cheap and fun way to spend time, and you get the reward of something pretty to brighten your home at the end of it!

Bring in the Spring!

I don’t know about you, but I’m aching for the new season already! I’m bored of the cold and grey, and I want to see the Spring flowers come up. I’ve instigated this ahead of schedule by buying some lovely stocks to brighten up and scent the house…they look great in the Moomin Papa hat vase that I got for Christmas!

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Baking and Cooking

I know that every other person is on some kind of diet or detox, but I firmly believe that in order not to go cold turkey, you need to slowly wind down from the festive gluttony. I’m still not used to *not* having a pudding after every meal (yes, including breakfast) and being surrounded by naughty treats. And so to ween myself off, and hopefully shed a few of the holiday pounds, I think it’s only sensible to get doing some good home cooking and baking. You’re more in control when you make it yourself, so you can start to think more healthy and reduce portions, whilst still technically treating yourself and avoiding going into complete withdrawal! I have had some success with new recipes, including making French Onion soup for the first time in years….yum!

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Check on those resolutions!

It’s not too late to revise them, so have another look at whatever list you may have made and think about how realistic it all is. If you’re getting on well, well done you! If not so much, there’s no shame in re-working your list….you’ll do better for it in the end! I have done OK so far…..I have started getting myself sorted by way of a spider diagram (LOVE THEM), as well as playing around with the new pop-up studio Adam gave me for Christmas to help with my photography!

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Go for a walk

I’d much rather kick off the new year with a nice country walk than a fad diet or detox. It’s far more fun and much easier to stick with too! The weather has been pretty gruesome all told, but the rain seems to be staying away rather more at the minute so why not take a nice long stroll this weekend? Extra points for finding a pub lunch along your way!

Whatever you get up to, I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Happy adventuring,

Ems x

Most depressing day of the year?!….packing up Christmas

So that’s it. Over. *Actually* over. Today is Epiphany, and so the Christmas decorations are down and packed away. How. Very. Dull.

I always find this time of year rather gloomy….all the excitement of Christmas has passed, and the house looks really empty and blank with all the decorations gone. I know it’ll feel like home again soon, but I can’t help but miss having the place full of Christmas cheer.

And so, I thought I’d immortalise our Christmas decorations by sharing them here…..

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I was rather pleased with our wreath, which we made from scratch using off-cuts from the tree. It was lots of fun to make and lasted really well, so I’ll definitely make ours again next year.

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We brought the greenery indoors too, as is a tradition of mine, filling the mantlepiece in the sitting room with holly from our garden.

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Things got moved around a bit to make room for the tree, so the sewing table took a holiday in the sitting room, and got decorated with pretty little birds and the starlight we got from Vienna.

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I always think this little chap looks a bit grumpy. He’s still pretty Festive though.

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As well as the holly, we put candlesticks and my mini pine cone Christmas tree on the mantle, and I made a little festoon of tartan hearts too.

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Because I still had foliage left over after the wreath and the mantelpieces, I made up some little flower filled jam jars to dot about.

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I was probably most sad of all to take down the paper chains we made. They were so fun and festive in red, white, gold and green. The sitting room looks very plain now without them….we must get some pictures up in here!

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I made some short strings of bunting using Christmas cards to go over the doors and across the mantelpieces in the upstairs rooms. I do love my bunting.

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Our tree took pride of place in the front bay window and was decked out in all manner of home made decorations I’ve collected over the years. It was a massive eight-footer…the biggest I’ve ever had! Our fairy was a gift from Adam’s mum, a stunning Victorian china doll kitted out with wings and (real!) curly red hair. I love her, but most people find her a bit scary!

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I made these 2012 tree ornaments as gifts, but left us one spare to keep ourselves!

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Capybaras are Adam’s favourite, so I made him this ornament which he found in the advent calender I made for him too.

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As well as the tartan hearts, I made us lots of little hearts from a wonderful vintage fabric I was given. I just love all the clashing colours!

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There wasn’t enough room to keep my cloche collection on the dining table as usual, so they got moved to a side table and filled with a little laser cut tree and some pine cones.

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The dining room mantlepiece was adorned with ivy I collected from the garden, and finished with swags of red satin ribbon and poinsettias. It was rather Lady Havisham-esque!

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I laid the table for Christmas lunch with our deep purple table linen, our mis-matched china, cutlery and glasses, and hand made crackers with personalised gifts in them.

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In the hallway I had some more flowers, and found a home for one of my favourite decorations….my super-glittery red reindeer!

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And over the door to the boot cupboard, beneath our ‘Capybaras in love’ picture, I hung a big bunch of mistletoe with a pretty checked ribbon.

Have you packed Christmas up? Have you run out of Christmas treats yet?! We are about to eat the last two mince pies (not counting the batch I have in the freezer!).

Ems x

 

Festive Salutations!

I trust you all had a splendid Christmas?! What did you get up to? Did Father Christmas bring you nice things? And did you gorge yourself on Christmassy foods as tradition dictates?!

Well what a fabulous Christmas I’ve had! I was so delighted to be able to host Christmas in our new home and to have all of Adam’s family over to share it with us….it’s been wonderful! Adam’s brother and sister-in-law arrived late last week, along with their two gorgeous dogs (Peanut and Buddy, both darling little Staffies) and since then we’ve been scoffing ourselves silly on various meals and snacks, walking the dogs, and lazing about.

For Christmas day ‘proper’ we also had Adam’s parents over for the day, and Adam and I made our first Christmas lunch together! We cooked a huge gammon joint (thanks Jo at Breakheart Hill Farm!), a monstrous chicken, roasties, pigs in blankets, and stacks of veg….all followed by my home made Christmas pudding (my first one!). Everything was super yummy, and the house felt so wonderfully Christmassy full of people (and dogs!) and with all the decorations we put up.

I was a very lucky girl and received some gorgeous gifts, including (but not limited to!)…… a pretty Rob Ryan mug, a Moomin Papa hat vase, an amazing antique writing set (which Adam’s Dad had actually put toegther for me), a Lindor fondue set, some books and my favourite….a Totoro onesie!

Me modelling my beloved Totoro onesie by the tree!

It’s traditional in my family to have a yummy Christmas Day supper, despite having a huge lunch and various treats throughout the day! Adam promised me that his family never even thought about eating such a meal and that I needn’t go to any trouble to serve up any more food after lunch. However, I went ahead and brought out the cold meats left over from lunch, as well as pickles and cheese and whatnot, and everyone was delighted to tuck into a little something alongside a glass of Port! Adam and his brother also whipped up some delicious eggnogs for us, which went down very well….especially with the dogs! The rest of the evening was spent lazing around in the living room, having cuddles with the dogs and watching Lord of the Rings. It was such a blissful day all in all!

Super delish eggnog!

Begging for a share in my Christmas supper!

Boxing Day morning saw our sad farewell to our house guests (we were saddest of all to see the dogs go!)….I will miss snuggly warm cuddles with them, their excellent begging skills, walks in the countryside and even their early morning wake up calls / assaults (they took to sneaking upstairs first thing and jumping on our bed to give us lots of kisses!). We weren’t lonely for long though, as our dear friend Hannah popped over for a cuppa and some Lebkuchen, as well as a tour of the new house. Hannah had also made us a marvelous hamper full of home made treats including sea salt crackers, fig and walnut balls, quince jelly, spiced peaches, preserved tomatoes, chocolate fudge and almond biscuits! I can’t wait to dive in and try them all!

Afterwards, I sat and wrote some thank you notes using my gorgeous new writing set, whilst drinking lots more tea and scoffing left overs (one of my favourite bits of Christmas!). Later we’re off out for our dinner so we’ll not have to bother cooking, then I think it’ll be a nice loungey evening with a film and an early night before we head out for some sales shopping tomorrow….Hobbycraft look out!

Writing my thank yous with my beautiful antique writing set

Finally getting around to using my letter seal!

Catching up…. a week (or so) in Instagram

It’s been a busy couple of weeks with Christmas orders, preparations and hosting, hence the radio silence here on my blog. Still, there’s been plenty going on, and so I thought I’d catch you up with a round up of my latest Instagram posts…..

I enjoyed baking up a batch of Lebkuchen for the Domestic Sluttery Just Desserts club….we devoured most of them ourselves but managed to save a few to share with guests!

We had our Christmas party and house warming the weekend before last, and loved having more guests to stay over as well as a very merry bunch for a festive supper. There were crackers too.

We spotted Father Christmas himself at the market whilst out doing some Christmas shopping. I was worried he was leaving it a bit late!

We met (again) and fell in love with (again) the local Greyhound Rescue bunch….the dogs were all kitted out for the festive season!

I spent lots of time last week readying the house for our guests as well as making last minute Christmas gifts and orders. I most enjoyed making a little Wonderland inspired jam jar, as I’ve been meaning to do one for ages!

You know it’s Christmas time when you have jelly beans for breakfast (thanks Mark!)……

…..and cupcakes for lunch! (thanks Brigitte!)

I painted my nails all Christmassy for a friend’s Christmas party, but we couldn’t go in the end because the trains were all cancelled into London!

Despite my busyness, we still popped to the antiques market on Friday, where I was lucky enough to find this wonderful haul of vintage cameras!

I also fell in love with this gorgeous little cruet set I got…super cute!

We’ve been spying our chances in between the rain to go out for walks with the dogs….we have two staying with us for Christmas along with their owners, Adam’s brother and sister in law

Adam got rather stuck in the mud on one walk though as it had been so rainy! He was stranded for a while and nearly lost a boot!

I made up the mince pies with the mince meat I prepared months ago, and have been feeding weekly with brandy! They are pretty good!

We’ve been loving having the ‘young uns’ to stay…..they got giant knuckles or ‘Postman’s Knee Caps’ as early Christmas pressies!

Buddy has been loving our nice long garden, and my throwing lots of balls for him!

Adam’s brother and sister in law brought LOTS of treats with them, so we have been gorging ourselves!

Yesterday I planned out our Christmas lunch, noting down a time line of when to do everything and sticking labels onto pots and pans and dishes to reserve them!

We went over to Adam’s parents’ last night for a roast lamb dinner….Peanut enjoyed meeting a very attractive new friend there!

Supper was concluded with a delicious pudding of Bannoffee Pie and Butter Cream Meringues. I am still full!

I hope you have been enjoying the build up to Christmas and you’re all set for the big day too!

Ems x

Domestic Sluttery Just Desserts Club….. Christmas Lebkuchen

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I was so excited to have another great excuse to do some baking, in the shape of Domestic Sluttery’s Just Desserts Club. Not that I usually struggle for an excuse….there’s always one to be found somehow! Still, with a Christmassy theme of ‘Cinnamon’ I just couldn’t pass up the chance to get involved again!

I had initially thought I’d bake the yummy German biscuits we had made after our trip to Berlin last year (we bought Ampelmann cookie cutters and had to try them out!) as they are deliciously filled with festive cinnamon. We have also been making cinnamon flavoured vodka, but that’s not *really* a dessert, and it’s not really a recipe when all you do is shove some cinnamon sticks into a bottle of vodka! So, after scoffing up lots of the wonderfully Christmassy offerings on our recent trip to Vienna, I couldn’t think of anything more fitting (or tempting) to bake than Lebkuchen. I absolutely adore their wintery spice flavour, and love the soft texture and crisp sugary coating. The ones we brought back from Vienna lasted no time at all, so I was more than happy to get baking some!

I started out with this recipe on BBC Good Food, which was recommended to me by a fellow Lebkuchen lover. She did warn that the texture would be a little different to what we’d bought in Austria, so I tweaked the recipe to make them more like I enjoy them, and of course I just had to add an extra chocolate coating to make them more authentic still. Here’s my version of the recipe and how I made them…..

You will need (to make about 30 little biscuits)…..

  • 250g plain flour
  • 85g ground almonds
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 heaped teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 8 cloves, ground fine
  • 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 200ml clear, runny honey
  • 85g salted butter
  • The finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 100g dark melting / cooking chocolate
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 1 egg white

How to make them…..

  1. Tip all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix
  2. Melt the butter into the honey, either in a pan over a low heat or in a measuring jug in the microwave
  3. Pour the wet mixture into the dry and mix well
  4. Stir in the lemon zest and combine to form a solid dough
  5. Cover the dough and pop in the fridge to cool for 15 to 20 minutes
  6. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius / Gas Mark 4, and line two baking sheets with baking parchment
  7. Once cooled, roll the dough into little 3cm diameter balls with your hands…. you should get around 30
  8. Place them on the baking parchment lined trays, at least 5cm apart (you may need a third tray to ensure they are spread out enough)
  9. Squash each one down to flatten it into a disc, about 1.5 cm deep
  10. Bake them in the oven for about 12 minutes, or until they are golden brown
  11. Whilst they cool a little on a wire rack, melt your chocolate over a Bain Marie
  12. Lay your biscuits face down on the wire rack and coat the flat underside of each with the melted chocolate using a teaspoon
  13. Once they have cooled again and the chocolate has gone solid, flip them back over the right way up ready to ice them
  14. Whisk together the icing sugar and egg white, adding about 1 tablespoon of water so that you have a smooth and runny mixture
  15. Using a teaspoon again, coat each biscuit with the icing, spreading it over the face of each one so that you have a nice fine coating
  16. Decorate if you like with more melted chocolate or hundreds and thousands….you can even add a little colouring to the icing to make pink ones like we had in Vienna!

Happy baking!

Ems x

Wednesday Wants….. Christmas Tree Ornaments

I’m afraid I’m not one of those people who carefully styles their themed Christmas tree in matching colours and with perfectly chosen decorations. My tree always has been, and always will be, a mish-mash of home made bits and bobs of all shapes, sizes and colours. If I ever have a second tree for Christmas, I will no doubt dress it immaculately in coordinated adornments, but until then it’s home-made charm all the way! And so, with that in mind, I’ve been spying a few Christmas tree ornaments that would fit nicely with my no-theme theme……

I think these are just brilliant. Cute and funny, and sort of traditional in a quirky way, these sets of Victorian style chenille dog and cat ornaments are handmade and designed by Old World Primitives and sold on Etsy. Each little face is a Victorian era image, mounted onto little chenile bodies. They are just so wonderfully different and charming…..and they’d fit in with my other ornaments beautifully! The cats are £6.37 for a set of two (plus £4.43 shipping to the UK) and the dogs come as a set of three for £7.64 (plus the same shipping). I love them!

There’s something so wonderfully decadent about this beaded bauble by Creative Treasures on Folksy. Hand woven using tiny seed beads in a Russian Leaf design, it’s brilliantly Deco and rather reminds me of a 30s chandelier or head dress! Its utter glitzyness would definitely make it at home with my other decorations! It’s £8.50 with £2.70 shipping to the UK.

This last one is just so much fun! I love the idea of Father Christmas delivering presents on his own space rocket! The design rather reminds me of the little ornaments I made from model clay a few years ago….I made jolly, fat Father Christmases, snow men and reindeer….unfortunately they are all a little damaged now after moving house a few times so they need some TLC! In the mean time though, this personalised one by Chantal Davenport on Not on the High Street would fill the gap brilliantly! It’s £11.50 with UK shipping at £2.75.

How do you like to decorate your tree? Do you have lots of hand-made ornaments, or do you have a proper colour scheme and theme?!
Ems x

Something from the weekend….. Coffee, Crafting and Christmassyness

The Christmas prep is really hotting up now and I’ve been super busy with orders and getting ready for a stall, as well as making lots of Christmas gifts and decorations at home! So I’m afraid I’ve rather neglected my little blog….but hopefully I have some time for catching up today!…..

On Friday evening we started our Christmassy weekend by (finally!) decorating our tree. We’d bought it from the market on Tuesday but had a tricky time putting it up as it’s so tall and came fitted to a far too tiny stand! Having secured it in a large bucket full of sand though, the lights went on, followed by all my home made decorations and the beautiful Victorian china fairy that Adam’s Mum gave to me right on top. I’m rather pleased with how handsome it looks filling our front bay window, and can’t wait to add the other Christmassy bits around the rest of the house!

On Saturday we ran a few errands and did some shopping around town….it’s getting very Christmassy there too and the market square was hosting lots of stalls from local Young Enterprise companies, as well as a stunning antique mechanical pipe organ. It had me welling up, it was so beautifully Christmassy!

Having had a successful shopping trip, we decided to treat ourselves to a coffee, and finally managed to get a couple of free chairs in the Hermitage Road Coffee Shop, where we’ve been wanting to try for ages. I think I’ve already mentioned that we have really been struggling to get a really good cup of coffee out in our new town….we have rather turned into coffee snobs now that we can make it so well at home with the Aeropress! And so we were delighted to find on their menu that they will make you an Aeropress coffee there! You can also choose from a big pot of dripped coffee for two, as well as specialties such as Cortado, which is what we opted for. It arrived with the coffee and walnut cake we’d offered, as well home made biscotti on the saucer. The cake was yummy and the biscotti divine….but the real winner was the coffee which is by far the best I’ve had outside of Monmouth. I’ll write a little more about the place when I get a chance, as it’s really worth its own little review.

Once home, I started to slowly cook up a chilli for dinner, as we were having our friend Hannah over in the evening. Hannah brought the pudding….an absolutely AMAZING lemon meringue pie!….and Adam tried out a few more cocktails on us for practice (he really is getting very good!). We chatted the evening away until Hannah pointed out how late it was and reminded me that I had to get up rather early the next day!…..

We were up and out to the local Christmas Gala Day on Sunday morning, where I was having a stall selling my various hand made things….. I had made some Christmassy bunting, tree decorations, gift labels and greeting cards to sell alongside my usual stock of jewellery and drawings. It was a lovely busy day in the market square, and lots of people came to see my stall (and buy lots too!), as well as to see the entertainment on the stage. There were local choirs singing carols, puppet shows, clowning, some rather crazy performers known as Granny Turismo (two men dressed as old ladies sitting on top of giant shopping trolleys which they zoom around on!), and the local radio station playing Christmas songs. With the smell of mulled wine and roasted chestnuts too it was a wonderfully festive atmosphere and I enjoyed every minute, despite being sat out in the cold all day!

Once we’d packed up the stall and taken everything home, we popped around to Adam’s Mum’s for dinner…she’d made a yummy sausage supper to save me having to cook after such a tiring day and it was most appreciated! Back at home we slobbed for a little while on the sofa, before a much-needed early night!

Hope your weekend was just as Festive!

Ems x

Wednesday Wants: Advent Calendars

With only five more sleeps until advent, I am feeling ever more Christmassy! Heaven help anyone who doesn’t enjoy Christmas as much as me after I’ve been around all these Christmas Markets in Vienna too….I’ll be unbearable!

Anyway, it seemed rather apt that this week’s ‘Wants’ have a Christmassy theme, and what better than to shop around for my dream Advent Calendars?!….

Anything with a DIY element is a winner for me, and I just love the idea that you can decorate this lovely wooden advent house from Star Dust Kay on Etsy. It’s £82 and is made up of 24 drawers that can be pulled open to reveal a different treat each day during advent. You could even use it for storing little bits and bobs through the rest of the year too! It’s easy to decorate with paint, decoupage, fabric, or probably just lots of glitter for me….what a lovely way to personalise your advent!

I find this one just stunning. I’ve always enjoyed the idea of building something for advent rather than just scoffing chocolates from behind a cardboard window, and I adore the design of the Villeroy and Boch Advent Calendar Set from John Lewis. Made from china, the beautiful traditional tree comes with 24 ornaments to add each day leading up to Christmas. It’s a rather hefty £295, but it would make a fabulous treasure to keep forever.

It’ll be hard to beat this one though. The chaps at Drinks by the Dram have teamed up with The Gin Blog to create the Ginvent Calendar, as I discovered via Domestic Sluttery.  Behind each of the 24 doors is a different 3cl sample of some of the very best gin around at the moment….although they are a surprise (quite rightly!). We are promised some superb spirits inside, from the market-leaders, to the rarer, artisanal brands, and although £79.95 is rather a lot for an advent calendar, I think it’ll be well worth it and the top of my list easily!

Merry adventing!
Ems x