Reflecting on my week #16

Actually it's two weeks, as things have been a little quiet here over Christmas, but first Happy New Year - I hope 2018 is good to all of us. I've certainly got some plans but more on those another time, as this post already has the potential to be a bit of a whopper. 

2017 was a good, but busy year and its last few weeks were no different, and truth be told I was ready for a break and a bit of a rest. First though there was the final push towards being ready. Several planned items went by the wayside relatively early on, like making some pine table decorations using cuttings from the garden, and more joined that list as our guests arrived. The smoked salmon and watercress mousse starter was quickly replanned as a smoked fish 'picky board' and then later abandoned altogether when we realised it wasn't necessary at all, as there was plenty of other food to be had.

christmas badges in our home made crackers

Instead of crackers, and in the absence of any other table decorations, I repurposed six of our advent calendar boxes as table gifts, each personalised for the recipient. Not wanting to miss the noise from crackers MOH dutifully sourced party poppers, which left the light above the table looking like it had celebrated New Years a week early. 

They had corny jokes, a small gift - mine proved to be the perfect excuse for a pretty roll of washi tape - and some badges too. No hats, as well no one really likes wearing them anyway, do they? 

I finished work the Friday before Christmas and with the turkey and vegetables collected on the way home I was all set to head off to the hairdressers guilt-free the next morning. I was turning the kitchen over to MOH so he could make his customary Yule Log and I was hoping to miss the creativity in action and booked myself in for some colour too.  

I almost skipped into the village in my new trainers sent to me by Vionic - they're so light that MOH could hardly believe the parcel he collected from the Post Office were actually trainers. But they were. And good looking ones too, I'm still trying them out and will share more about them soon.  

The Yule Log was a success, but arriving home a few hours later it was still a work in progress and I seriously wondered if I'd get the kitchen back before Christmas Day lunch! 

Our Christmas was full of family, and food, and a bit of snow to driving home after a Boxing Day in Peterborough. And cake, there's been a lot of cake which in my book is never a bad thing. As well as the Yule Log, we've had Christmas cake parcels from both mums - and Christmas cake made by mums is the best kind, and I'm particularly partial to the 'proper' Royal Icing and traditional snow scene that is dad's speciality. 

Cake - precisely six of them - were also a present, along with a Greggs gift card from my brother- it seems he was right all along and it's the ideal place to do your Christmas shopping. The actual cakes were from Macclesfield and I'm telling you, they're good. So good that I could be heading that way this year, just for the food... 

Of course in between Christmas and New Year I had grand plans to do plenty of things, to craft more and to catch up and even get ahead of myself. But as it turned out just taking some time out and not pressuring myself turned out to be just what I needed. I've spent a couple of days pottering and crocheting, and as a result have made more progress than I'd imagined with the first of my projects, a granny square blanket for our spare room.  

granny squares in yellows greens and blues

The colours have extended to blues and greens as I've gone along and I've still to nail down the final layout, but I have a rough plan of how I want it to be.  

I've also hit another milestone. Fifteen years after moving in I've finally emptied the last box!  Clearly it was full of things I didn't need, but I've found new homes for most of them and for some that's the charity shop. I also found music books from my guitar, trumpet and recorder learning days, so these have been added to my craft stash as I'd been toying with the idea of buying some for cards. No need really when I have my own, is there?

The last cardboard box from when we moved in is now empty - yay!

There's also been some sales shopping and Saturday our new television arrived. A new TV is something MOH has been lusting over for a while now and has been most frustrated that our TV was still going strong after eleven or so years. But after seeing a too good to be true deal we were tempted and so Saturday was spent figuring out how to get the new one on the wall. Of course it meant a trip to the local DIY store for the right kind of screws/bolts but we got there. We were both keen to make use of the existing bracket but a change in design meant it was quite tight for all the necessary cables, but with some ingenuity it's on the wall and is a marked improvement on our old TV.

While waiting to be called on in my TV installation assistant role I downloaded the patterns for both of the crochet projects I'm planning and discovered a new one too, and I might just have bought the wool for two of them too.  Well, sales shopping can't all be about TVs and things for the house can they?

One of my favourite parts of all the Christmas food (apart from cake) is the leftovers and we've made our turkey work hard. It's been there to accompany bubble and squeak, a turkey and parsnip curry and a turkey and ham pie, as well as a turkey sandwich or two along the way. Tonight we'll see the last of it, apart from the meals in the freezer, and will enjoy turkey fajitas. Yum

New Year here was quiet and just the two of us. We're off to the football this afternoon and then tomorrow it's back to work. I've not done half the things I'd hoped to, but I've a feeling that 2018 is going to be just as busy as last year so taking time to get ready for it seems time well spent. Over the next week or so as I get back into the swing of everyday life and the routine that brings I hope to catch up with myself and to share some of the usual review posts for last year. 

I've been giving some thought to which word I'll chose for this year, and my intentions for the year, which you'll not be surprised to learn involves finishing the craft projects I've started and even some of those I'm already planning too, and much more besides.

But for now, that's it - I've a football match to get to, and I'm hoping for some chips on the way and to buy an avocado for tea on the way home - I know how to live!

Some festive tableware from Homesense

I've some more Homesense loveliness today, and I make no apology for that. Since their store opened in Greenwich earlier in the year, I'm a confirmed fan. So when they asked me to put together some of their festive tableware, well, who was I to refuse?

The thing is about tableware is that at Christmas there never seems to be enough, does there?  

With a houseful of guests arriving Christmas Eve I'm as keen as ever to avoid multiple bouts of washing up in between meals, just so there's enough plates. While plates are pretty important, so is spending time with friends and family without donning your marigolds!

And it’s usually supper that we run out of plates for - but not this year!  

Festive tableware this Christmas from Homesense

For us supper - a meal we probably only ever eat at Christmas - is one of those meals that is made up of food leftover from lunch, think pigs in blankets, cold stuffing and a turkey sandwich. Or from the cheeseboard, with some salad added for balance - sometimes we even eat it too!

Mince pies on a Noel side plate  from Homesense

But it always ends with a mince pie, or maybe a first slice of Christmas cake, along with a small glass of something sweet - this year after our trip to Porto, it could be port, or maybe the Marsala that’s already open.   

And this year we’ll be using these festive plates for that. I’m hoping that they’ll have their second outing of the day, having first been used for smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels at breakfast. No washing up needed either as they’ll be in the dishwasher with everything we use at lunch. 

snowflake plates on an enamel tray from Homesense

They’re stylish aren’t they? As usual and spoilt for choice, I opted for two designs - a snowflake patterned plate hailing from Portugal and a boldly decorated Noel plate, in a 4:2 split.  

The tray, which is just gorgeous, had a ‘Vietnam’ label on and I spent more time than was probably necessary deciding on which size. There’s three and I opted for the middle size, but would have happily taken all of them! 

Sparkly coasters from Homesense add a touch of glitz to any table

the coasters were the final addition to my basket, and while they look pretty and sparkly- what I’m really looking forward to is a lack of marks on our glass table. Not that I’m planning on spilling any drinks... 

reds, whites, blacks and grey tableware  from Homesense

I’ve snuck the new plates into the cupboard, do you think MOH will spot them?!

Do you think he'll notice?


What do you think? Do you have festive tableware? I’m not alone am I.,,

This is a collaborative post, but all views and opinions are my own.  

A Christmas hamper, my way.

A couple of weeks ago I headed over to the Homesense at Merton for a bit of a challenge, which was to put together a hamper of my own. And it's not as easy as you'd think. But before that I haven't been over to Merton for quite a while - I used to go that way most weeks to play netball, so it was great to see how much had changed over that way. And like in Greenwich, a brand new Homesense store is a good addition.

On arrival the team gave me a wicker hamper, which comes complete with a cellophane wrapper, a golden bow and filling to make it look oh so professional. My job was to find items to go inside it, and I wanted to give it a Christmassy theme.

As you'll know Homesense is packed with many, many fabulous items, so what did I choose?

I was pleased to spot these glasses, they're a cross between a champagne glass and cocktail glass and will come in handy this Christmas as we realised, after a quick glass count-up, we realised that we didn't have six of any of our everyday glasses (don't laugh about the everyday glasses - that really is a thing).  We're planning a Christmas cocktail for Christmas eve and so these will be just the thing for that.

Glasses and Christmas goodies from Homesense

The sparkly beaded coasters will also come in handy, and I'm sure we'll be using these throughout the year - at just a fiver, I thought these were a bargain.  I wanted to include some Christmassy items, so the next items were:

  • a small panettone, in a gorgeous tin
  • some Willie's cacao chocolate, a favourite of mine
  • a pack of four Christmas spreaders 
  • a Christmas scented candle
  • some tea towels to take care of those glasses
  • and finally, some LED star lights for some added sparkle.
A Homesense hamper that's tailor-able to you

The star lights are great, and I think they can be used year-round. I'll admit though, even though they're not golden stars, I couldn't help but feel like I was looking for stars on I'm a Celebrity... but thankfully without the critters!

Star LED lights for my Homesense hamper
Sparkle and fizz for my Homesense hamper

The spreaders look fun and I'm sure will be useful, both on our breakfast table and later for the soft cheeses on the cheeseboard.  I've a feeling that they'll be so useful that I'll want to use them year round too. I know MOH isn't seeing the value of them yet, but give it time and I'm sure he'll be convinced, and in which case I'll need to head back there during the year and find some less Christmassy ones!

Christmas spreaders in my Homesense hamper
A scented candle as part of my Homesense hamper

The candle is understated but hints at Christmas smells and no doubt will help set a soothing atmosphere when things get a bit fraught, as the preparations in the final weekend get underway. For me that's usually when I realise just how many vegetables need prepping, I forget each time that I cook for more than the two of us, how many more are required. It usually works out fine...

And there's usually panettone too. This year just a mini one and I may well have been swayed by the pretty tin too, I've a feeling it will make its way into my craft room at some point in January.  About January 2nd I predict...

It's not Christmas without panettone is it, mine was from Homesense

So if you're still looking for Christmas presents and are stuck then maybe putting together your own personalised hamper could be just the thing, what do you think?

This is a collaborative post but all views and opinions are my own.