Thursday, 31 December 2009

Making it look like Christmas

This year's tree was the biggest yet - good job we'd moved some furniture around and could fit it in! I went for traditional red & white with a smattering of silver.

I only bought a couple of new decorations this year, one of which was this beauty from SnowFish...

There were also a few handmade additions of my own such as the paper bird on the left of this shot:

The presents were all wrapped in brown parcel paper with white & red ribbon and teeney tiny white baubles.

The smattering of silver was a bit more than a smattering in this bowl full of baubles:

And finally - the table...

Actually, finally a photo of Toby looking cute (note: even his chew coordinated, not deliberately I hasten to add):

So I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and have a brilliant 2010. Happy new year!

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

The gift of giving

I think I’ve mentioned this before but every year at work I organise something called the Christmas Giving Tree. It’s a huge Christmas tree covered in parcel tags – each tag has a gift idea on it from chocolates to towels and biscuits to coffee. People come along, pick a tag and buy the gift on it. Then they wrap it, put on the tag and bring it back to the collection point. The wonderful WRVS collect the presents from us and then distribute them as part of their Meals on Wheels service.

The tree has been going for ten years (I’ve been doing it for three) and it’s a lot of work but so worth it when the grand total comes through – 536 gifts collected this year!
I was away for a few days during the collection period and I had such a happy shock when I walked into the room where we keep the presents to find them not only in the box we keep them in but all over the surrounding chairs and tables – it was a definite lump-in-the-throat moment.

Anyway, I just wanted to tell you about it and maybe it’ll inspire you to do something similar next year – even if you just buy a single present for a neighbour it’ll bring a smile to their face. I’m so happy to have played my part in perhaps bringing a smile to 536 people this Christmas.

Me handing over some presents to the WRVS in front of the tree

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Christmas food

This year was a Delia Christmas - although I did cheat on her briefly with Nigella.

It all started with the cake, pudding & mincemeat back in November and culminated in the Boxing Day leftover feast.

Mince pies and cake.

I bought Delia's Christmas book and I can see it's going to become a firm favourite - and not just for Christmas. As well as the mince pies, pudding and cake I used her book for the bread sauce, cranberry sauce, turkey, sausage rolls, stuffing and for all the timings on the day.

Mince pies and sausage rolls.

That cheating I mentioned? I made Nigella's Fully Festive Ham (from Feast) on Boxing Day and it was gorgeous.

Ham nearly done apart from the final glazing and stint in the hot oven.

No wonder I needed a glass of champers after that lot.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Merry Christmas

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a very happy 2010.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Final wedding photos...maybe

So we've had the official wedding photos and they're beautiful... here's a little mosaic of some of my favourites:

1. Arriving, 2. Love, 3. Welling up, 4. Exchanging rings, 5. You may kiss the bride, 6. Happy, 7. Just married, 8. Outside the front door of our venue, 9. Swishing my dress, 10. Us and my handmade veil!, 11. Confetti, 12. Our wedding guests, 13. The stairs, 14. Sitting in one of the gorgeous window seats, 15. Me and the girls, 16. Ben's lucky day, 17. Toby came to the wedding of course, 18. Me
All photos by Olga Becker

I might actually stop talking about the wedding now. Afterall, the countdown to Christmas starts now doesn't it? And I've already made the Christmas cake, pudding and some mince pies. Expect lots of posts over the next month as I'm planning to make it a very homemade Christmas.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Thoughts on marriage

So I'm quite new to this marriage lark (a month tomorrow) but so far it seems pretty similar to life before marriage. We have lived together for over four years so nothing is different there. We're still as in love as ever. But something is different - the thrill that I get when I see my new name or when I catch a glimpse of metal on his left hand. And the total happiness and contentedness I feel.
Of course it's early days and I don't expect to still smile when I see my name in 10 years time - I'll probably be over that little excitement by then.
So tell me, what's your favourite thing about marriage?

Sunday, 1 November 2009

I had to get dressed up and have my photo taken again...

I had to get dressed up and have my photo taken again, this time for my graduation. I've been studying for 5 years for a BSc. Hons in Business Information Technology all while working full-time, doing a bit of part-time crafting and planning a wedding (during the last year of it). I don't know how I fitted it all in and surely I should have loads of spare time now both the degree and the wedding planning is over, shouldn't I?

Friday, 30 October 2009

Have I shown you our venue?

I'm sure I must've done but here are some more shots of the beautiful Butley Priory...

Just one of the beautiful windows...

The stairs I had to negotiate in my dress and heels:

Thursday, 29 October 2009

The bits and pieces

A little look at the little bits and bobs that added to the feel of our wedding day like favours, guestbook on so on.

The tables:

More info and tutorial in the latest UK Handmade magazine

Guestbook and cake:

Front door:
That's probably enough photos for one post. Hope you've enjoyed seeing a snapshot of our wedding. We're seeing our official photos on Saturday which I'm very excited about and I'll post some here when we get them.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Starting with my outfit...

Dress: From my local Pronuptia. It was the shop sample so not only was it a good price, I could've taken it home straight away if I'd needed to. I think I tried about 50 dresses in total although this was only the 2nd I put on. I tried vintage dresses, straight, meringues, ones with straps, halterneck and so on. But this was the one I kept coming back to.
Veil: Handmade by me. There was a tutorial in the summer issue of UK Handmade. It was so easy, honestly!

Haircomb: a vintage brooch attached to a comb. Also easy peasey. Best photo I can find at the moment of it but I'll find another one if I can:

Shrug: handmade by the very talented moocowhandknits.

Shoes: Karen Millen (will upload a photo when I can find one)

Necklace was from a local shop (handmade) and earrings were a 30th birthday gift from my mother-in-law.

So there we have it, my outfit. What would you like to hear about next?

Monday, 19 October 2009

Well what a fortnight...

Wedding mosaic
Originally uploaded by ::Christine::
Lions, elephants, leopards; sunsets, cocktails and snorkelling; beautiful dress, handsome husband and lots of dancing. Safari honeymoon; Mauritius; and the best day of my life.

I can't believe it's all over after 20 months of planning. 20 months of hoping and excitement. Oh it was so worth it.

I'll do a full recap on all the wedding elements soon: my dress, his suit, the crafty details, the colours, the flowers, the handmade purchases and the dancing. But in the meantime here are a few photos to wet your appetite.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Latest news from the almost-Mrs E

Just 6 days to go to the wedding and we're putting together the finishing touches now. I've made the invites, my veil, my hair comb, the guestbook, favours, place-cards, order of ceremony cards and menus. Just need to do the table names and table plan. Think that's everything! I don't have photos of everything but here's a little mosaic of a few bits...

1. IMG_6294, 2. My handmade veil, 3. Invitations part 2, 4. IMG_6296, 5. My handmade veil, 6. IMG_6279, 7. Invitations part 2, 8. Invitations part 2

This will probably be my last post before the wedding so just wanted to say farewell and see you after the honeymoon.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Random acts of kindness?

So one of my 101 in 1001 challenges is to complete 101 random acts of kindness. So that's one every 10 days. Sounds mad but I think it's doable.

But I need your help: please leave me a comment with your ideas to help me complete this very stretching target.

To make you smile, here's a photo from my hen party that my friends held for me a couple of weeks ago...

Sunday, 30 August 2009

101 in 1001

I've been meaning to do this for ages so at last here it is, the start of my 101 in 1001 challenge.

The Mission:
Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days.

The Criteria:
Tasks must be specific (ie. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (ie. represent some amount of work on my part).

Why 1001 Days?
Many people have created lists in the past - frequently simple goals such as New Year's resolutions. The key to beating procrastination is to set a deadline that is realistic. 1001 Days (about 2.75 years) is a better period of time than a year, because it allows you several seasons to complete the tasks, which is better for organizing and timing some tasks such as overseas trips or outdoor activities.

To start creating your own list, go to

Start date: 30 August 2009
Finish date: 27 May 2012

  1. Research family tree
  2. After doing family history, visit some of the places my family lived
  3. Make my first quilt
  4. Build a website from scratch
  5. Get married!
  6. Have a go at geocaching
  7. Write a book
  8. Write menu plans- seasonal and cheap- every week for a month (0/4)
  9. Grow potatoes
  10. Join a screenprinting class
  11. Go on safari
  12. Move house
  13. Do something creative every day for a week (0/7)
  14. Do something creative every day for a month (0/30)
  15. Run 5K (run the whole thing)
  16. Eat 5 things I've never tried before (0/5)
  17. Cook 5 things I've never cooked before (1/5)- Liver!
  18. Make a scrapbook of my 30th birthday
  19. Make a scrapbook of my hen do
  20. Make a scrapbook of our wedding
  21. Try waxing (at a salon, not eyebrows)
  22. Write a routine for cleaning/house management
  23. Go to opera for the first time
  24. Go to the ballet again
  25. Donate blood again as soon as I'm able
  26. Volunteer 101 hours (3/101)
  27. Make & write thank you cards for Amanda & Kate
  28. Perform 101 random acts of kindness (1/101)
  29. Read the ones I haven't already from this list (Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy & To kill a mockingbird)
  30. Participate in a craft fair
  31. Blog daily for a week (0/7)
  32. Blog daily for a month (0/30)
  33. Finish the charity shop quilt I bought
  34. Make a zine
  35. Learn to make clip frame purses
  36. Learn to knit
  37. Learn to crochet granny squares
  38. Organise and tidy craft room
  39. Go to an auction
  40. Document my tea cup collection
  41. Get a promotion
  42. Climb Snowdonia
  43. Have another horse riding lesson
  44. Select & take part in a “big” charity event like the Moonwalk
  45. Take part in a beach cleaning event
  46. Get up at 7am every day for a week (0/7)
  47. Get up at 7am every day for a month (0/30)
  48. Learn another craft I haven't already done
  49. Set up bi-monthly craft nights/afternoons (0/16)
  50. Set up a water butt
  51. And a compost bin
  52. Take part in illustration friday, once a week for a month (0/4)
  53. Visit a farmers' market or farm shop once a month (1/33)
  54. Continue to run the Christmas giving tree at work every year (0/2)
  55. Treat myself to a 'treatment', either in a salon or DIY, once a month (0/33)
  56. Go to yoga once a week for a month (0/4)
  57. Make lunch to take to work every day for a week (0/5)
  58. Make lunch to take to work every day for a month (0/20)
  59. Write a love letter to Ben every month (1/33)
  60. Start a new collection- perfume bottles? Vintage clothes?
  61. Go on a picnic
  62. Visit a local attraction once a month e.g. beach, park, museum etc. (1/33)
  63. Update my blog template
  64. Make a skirt
  65. Make a dress
  66. Go to a classical music concert
  67. Polish up my French before next holiday in France
  68. Buy a Diane von Furstenberg dress
  69. Buy a vintage dress
  70. Donate something to freecycle, or a charity shop, once a month (0/33)
  71. Turn down plastic bags for a month (0/30)
  72. Make some reusable shopping bags to fit in my handbag
  73. Visit five countries (0/5)
  74. Write a letter to myself to be opened on my 33rd birthday
  75. Find a photo of myself that I like and frame it
  76. Make a cake for Ben's 36th birthday
  77. Have a session with a personal shopper
  78. Learn about a historical period (Tudors?)
  79. Read 10 biographies (0/10)
  80. Have a boudoir photo session
  81. Make something from each of my craft books- donate to charity any books I don't make anything from
  82. Finish working through the book, “ The Creative License: Giving Yourself Permission to be the Artist You Truly Are”
  83. At least once a month, go to sleep without reading first (it drives Ben mad!) (1/33)
  84. Buy new glasses
  85. Go to New York again (with Ben)
  86. Re-stock etsy shop
  87. Find a new band/singer every month and listen to their album (1/33)
  88. Get my hair cut every 8 weeks (I hate having my hair cut) (0/17)
  89. Go to motocross or fishing with Ben once every 2 months without complaining (on average, season permitting!) (0/17)
  90. Eat a piece of fruit every day for a month (0/30)
  91. Pay my naughty library fine and don't get any more fines!
  92. Make something and give it to a friend for no reason
  93. Make 100 handmade presents (1/100)
  94. Plant a tree
  95. Have a spa day, just because
  96. Give snowboarding another try
  97. Watch 20 of the Times top 100 films (1/20)
  98. Read a newspaper every day for a week (0/7)
  99. Learn how to use my mac (I really need to learn the shortcuts I'm so used to with Windows!)
  100. Start an art journal
  101. Give £1 to charity for every uncompleted task

Sunday, 9 August 2009

I'm still here

No lame excuses (apart from the fact I'm planning the biggest day of my life) but I've just realised I didn't post here for the whole of July. I didn't blog about my 30th birthday, the fantastic Take That concert or the latest issue of UK Handmade magazine.

Today I've had a lovely day. I went for a wander around the shops followed by a panini and latte in my favourite coffee shop. Then I went strawberry picking and picked up some veggies & chicken for dinner from the farm shop.

I've also been pottering around the garden. Some flowers have been and gone (poppies and allium) but the vegetables are looking beautiful and so are the artichokes that have gone to flower.

1. Tomatoes, 2. Chillies, 3. Chillies, 4. Tomato, 5. Dried poppy heads, 6. Dried Alium, 7. Artichoke in flower, 8. Artichoke in flower, 9. Artichoke in flower

Monday, 22 June 2009

Veil sneak peek

Here's a sneak peek of my handmade veil...

I might show you some more photos soon if you ask nicely...

Thursday, 18 June 2009

The invitations continued...

The fabric flowers have now been added. I do rather love them if I do say so myself!

I was inspired by this beautiful invitation set (and whole wedding!). I decided not to sew around the edge- I simply glued the flowers on to the screenprinted cards. Cutting out the flowers is very fiddly but I think the effect is worth it. Don't you?

It feels nice to make something

Even if it's something quick and simple like these origami shirt father's day cards- tutorial here.

I need to make something else soon (other than wedding invites of course).

Monday, 15 June 2009

A weekend by the sea

Some of you may know I live fairly near the coast but I rarely actually go to the beach. This weekend we rectified that and headed an hour down the road to Mersea to enjoy sun, sea & seafood.

We went to the Company Shed for amazing seafood followed by a mini-crabbing championship off the jetty.

And we enjoyed the beautiful views.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

A bit of colour...

My garden is currently full of gorgeous colour so I thought I'd share some here (especially as the sun seems to have gone somewhere else recently)...

I hope the sun comes back soon so I can take photos of the stunning poppies that have invaded my garden.

Sunday, 31 May 2009

The printing of the invites has commenced

So I dug my gocco out of retirement and printed up our wedding invites this weekend...

I even let the husband-to-be have a go...

I'm really pleased with how they came out. The fonts were Albermarle Swash and Little Lord Fauntleroy (can't find a link to it at the moment!).

Next step is to add some colour in the form of fabric flowers. I'll show some more photos soon.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Taking it slow...

So often I rush around when I do things whether it's cooking, cleaning, working, reading or surfing the internet. So this afternoon for once I slowed down and enjoyed cooking. It started with the Tesco delivery- no bread. So I got out the granary flour & yeast and got on with making bread. I have to confess to using my Kenwood Chef for the kneading but it was still nice to make something so easily bought in the shop from scratch. Bread is something you can't rush, it has to be left to rise twice, and then baked, filling the kitchen with a lovely smell in the process.

And I made a lovely rhubarb & Bramley apple crumble; the fruit was picked up from the farm shop earlier this afternoon.
After gently stewing the fruit, I topped it with oats, flour, sugar and butter that had been rubbed together by hand (no gadgets this time).
Baked in the oven for 30 minutes and topped with homemade custard. Perfect.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

A corner of my home...

Sorry for the quietness lately there are just not enough hours in the day.

Here's a little photo I took the other day of a corner in my living room; the pretty embroidery was a charity shop find. It was originally in a not so pretty frame- I think it looks much better like this.

I'll be back soon hopefully!


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