Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Peace out. I'm off to party!

The packing is done and was surprisingly uneventful and painless (apart from one lost shoe which turned up in the conservatory), so I'm ready to go to the Lakes. A place I love with passion. It's beautiful and calming, and it always feels like coming home. I get to dress up, be waited on and eat lovely food. There may be some swimming pool splashing (as I can't actually swim or float for that matter) and jacuzzi lounging, and there will definitely be some photo taking. OK, maybe lots of photo taking :)
So for my last post of 2009 I will leave you with a little conversation that took place between Mr Bogert and myself :

I wander into the kitchen in search of a hammer, a phillips screwdriver and a flat head screwdriver whilst Mr Bogert is cooking dinner....

Mr Bogert: what are you looking for?
Me: hammer and screwdrivers
Mr Bogert: what for?
Me: I'm putting Alex's shelves together.
Mr Bogert:There's something very wrong about this. Why am I cooking dinner whilst you're doing the DIY?
Me: What's wrong with that?
Mr Bogert: Shouldn't it be the other way round with me doing "the man thing"
Me: Don't worry. You'll have to come and fix it in a bit anyway.
Mr Bogert: That's good 'cos you'll probably have to fix the dinner!

(It was however very yummy - Jamaican pork chops from the Levi Roots cook book - and I didn't mess up the shelves!)

And with a few pictures from the child like twister antics from our christmas party for friends.

See you in the New Year!

Sunday, 27 December 2009

So, how was yours?

I've just got enough time to pop on here and say hi whilst my party food is cooking in the oven, Mr Bogert is catching up on some much needed sleep and the small person is watching one of her new Disney DVD's.

So, Christmas? How was it for you? I have to say, for me at least, this Christmas went more smoothly than any in the past, but it also went an awful lot quicker. We always open our stocking in bed (Alexandra brings hers into our bedroom) then we go downstairs, check to see if Santa ate his snack, and left his magic key (we don't have a chimney) for us to look after until next year on the tree, and he someties remembers to leave us some chocolates on the tree too. We only open presents after breakfast which is ALWAYS waffles and maple syrup, then we just open presents from each other and people we wont be seeing later in the day. We worried we hadn't got much for the small person (why do we always worry about little things like that?!) but there was no need, I think perhaps she had too much.

I've had lovely clothes and smellies, some little things I wanted for the kitchen, too much chocolate for one person to eat in a year and some new books. I really wanted to try the Agatha Raisin series by MC Beaton, so I have 3 of those to read. I also got something I've wanted for ages, Anne of Green Gables on DVD! Yay! I used to watch it every Christmas with my mum and my nan, and then they stopped putting it on telly :( I already have the second part where they're adults at war, but I still wanted the bit where she was younger and tried to dye her hair black like her friend :D

All the handmade gifts were well recieved which has given me more confidence to perhaps make more of the gifts next year. (I always have this nagging feeling like my gifts look a bit naff when I'm done, but so long as I'm the only one that thinks that, I can live with it!). My Mum didn't even realise the roll was handmade, she thought I'd bought it with the hooks (Who's have thought I could look that professional!) and all 4 snuggies are much loved and already being used plenty. Nan did have one complaint though. As she was sitting watching telly at home on Christmas night, she felt something stabbing her. In my hurry to get all my gifts done, I'd left 2 pins in the armhole! Sorry Nan :) I did ofcourse ask if I can have the pins back, because I'm very short on them!

The only bad thing to happen so far is since Christmas eve I've developed a very anoying couhg which I can't get rid of. Mr Bogert gone to get me some "cough be gone", which will be whatever grown up medicine he can find on the shelves at the supermarket.

Yesterday I managed to complete an entire mystery game on the PC (another gift) in between cooking dinner. I only cook a Christmas dinner on boxing day. Christmas Eve we go out, Christmas day we go out with Mr Bogert's mum and Sister, and Christmas tea everyone comes to us and we just do a buffet. We called in on my family after a very late dinner (in which I'd slightly burnt the roasties - which in this house is a sin - because I was distracted by my game. Ooops!) and then we went over to Mr Bogert's mum's house to play board games with her and Mr Bogert's sister. We do this every year. We played giant snakes and ladders (for the small person) and are you smarter then a 10 year old (bought for us by my brother) which it turns out, only a very smug Mr Bogert is. Do you know how many miles per second light travels? Well I don't :(`

Today is the 27th, which at christmas time means I have an entire day of cooking ready for 7pm when all our friends come round. We do a christmas quiz (created by Mr Bogert) eat lots, drink some, Mr Bogert makes Mulled Wine and Egg Nog, then we get the Wii out in one room and the Twister mats (yes, plural this year) in the other room. Oh it's going to be messy tomorrow morning!

I will try and pop back on here before New Year, but we go away with Mr Bogert's mum and sister to the Lake District on the 30th until the 2nd January, so if I don't get chance before I go, Happy New Year Everyone!

PS - This is where my creative streak comes from.
My Mum made this for the small person from an adults wedding dress and some added extras. Alexandra is thrilled to be a proper princess!

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Prep & Standing

Well most of the prep's done.

The stockings are hung down the staircase (apart from the small person's which she will hang tonight before bed on her bed post), the small person's tree has been decorated (by her), the house is as clean as it's going to get (which in all fairness isn't too bad. We just have a storage issue), the last few handmade gifts were finsihed last night and I'm really quite pleased with them. I will post photos, for now, here's just one.
This is for my Mother (she hates it when I call her that!) who in recent months has learnt how to crochet from me :) So here's quite a full set of hook sizes in a handmade pouch (fabric donated by potato salad Heather). I can safely blog about this before Christmas Day as I know she has no internet access at the moment. Mr Bogert is fixing her PC.

The neighbours cards have been hand delivered, the food shopping is done, the christmas cards are hung (all over the wall and mixed in with a few of the small person's birthday cards), most of the wrapping is done, just Mr Bogert and the small person's to go, but I really like the wrapping part :)

Yesterday Mr Bogert had his food making fun with the small person. They made chocolate crunchies that we have to leave for Santa every year (crumbled biscuits, milk chocolate melted, raisins and golden syrup all combined and left to set in the fridge), they decorated a gingerbread house using a kit from Ikea, but the small person got very enthusiastic with the pushing on of sweets and we had a major repair job on our hands. The house looks like it's suffering from subsidence, but I'm sure it'll taste just fine.

They also made peppermint bark thanks to this post here on the Long Thread blog, but ours don't look quite as they were inteded. I can vouch for the fact that they taste good though. The small person has just helped me break them up and bag them as stocking filler gifts for everyone from her, and I've used the labels provided by the Long Thread, just with the addition of "Made by Alexandra & Daddy".

Family Wishes are about to head out down the road for Christmas Eve dinner with Mr Bogert's best friend (also Alexandra's Godfather) and partner at our local pub (which conveniently is located at the bottom of the road). No cooking, no washing up. That's definately the way to do it.

The standing part? How I spent my last day at work before the Christmas holiday. Standing around, making up imaginairy jobs, praying that they could say I could go early. And they did.

So, a very Merry Christmas (or happy holidays) to all you wonderful people. Eat much, smile more, and hopefully I'll be back in a couple of days with much to share :D

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Fancy Dress 2009

Our fancy dress costumes were actually ready on time. In fact I might even go as far as to say, they were ready earlier than any other year! For seven years now we have been meeting up on the last Saturday before Christmas with a whole bunch of friends in fany dress to go on a pub crawl. It is the mark that Chritmas has indeed arrived. You get more credit if you make your own costume (obviously) and everyone tried to avoid repeating past costumes.

Mr Bogert went as Sub Zero from Mortal Kombat (but didn't decide this until Thursday evening), using a black all in one from a previous costume and his dive boots and camping glove liners :) I ran up the blue tabbard and belt quickly with a bit of cheap polycottom from the market, and Mr Bogert made his shin guards from more fabric glue to corrugated card, and his face mask from an actual face mask he uses (or is supposed to use) when he's cutting things like MDF, with a bit more fabric glued to it. He doesn't do sewing, but he does like glue and nails and things.

My costume was made from some fabric found at the Range (love that shop!) which I ran up into a wrap using my dressing gown as a "template", with a belt made from a length of left over balck fabric wrapped around (and around and around...) and a few metres of gold wide ribbon over the top. I used one of my own black skirts.

My hair was surprisingly easy. I just tied it in a very high ponytail, wraped it over my hand in a loop and used some kirby grips to fix it in place. Lots of hair spray later (more than I think I actually needed) I poked some sticks through my hair that I tied cushion tassles to the end of. voila! (almost) instant geisha!

The make up was the most fun. I have to admit though my face felt very tight. I don't think I've worn that much make up since I was an experimental teenager!

We had a great time. Here's a few other costumes from the night.
A Thunderbird, Meg from Family Guy, Minnie Mouse, Snow Woman, Spongebob, Juliet, Mary Poppins, Geisha and The Joker

Montgomery III in his portrait, but his Snow Woman wife seems to have crawled into his space too :)

Potato salad Heather as Minnie Mouse (complete with yellow heels!)

The Boy as Rimmer from Red Dwarf

Spongebob Squarepants

Zoidberg from Futurama

And it snowed while we were out! Yay! Come on White Christmas! We've been waiting a very long time :)

Thursday, 17 December 2009

The Enthusiastic Elf

Today was the small persons Christmas Concert at nursery. They did a story about Rudolph, Santa, the elves and the other reindeer (including Ralph. Did you know there was a Ralph the reindeer and he had a green nose?).

Alexandra was an elf. She was a wonderfully cheery, smiling, waving, laughing elf. She helped decorate the tree, she helped make the sleigh bells ring whilst dancing around the tree, and she helped make the toys for Santa to give to children by hammering with her (paper laminated) hammer. She hammered very well. A little too well, as she almost hammered one of the daddy's in the front row's camera! Nothing wrong with enthusiasm, but I wont be encouraging wood work at home for a while yet :)

The nursery asked that we send her in a brightly coloured skirt for her to wear with a coloured tabbard and Santa hat that they would provide. Looking through her wardrobe, I realised she doesn't actually own any bright skirts. They're all pastels, or dark browns and blacks. So after she went to bed last night I ran up a (very) quick elasticated skirt using a strip of leftover fabric in red that I had. I cut out a brown felt reindeer shape and machine appliqued it to the skirt, the back stitched some white curly antlers. She wore this with her red and white striped tights left over from her pirate costume, her shiny black shoes and a green cardigan. I tied green ribbons in her hair to match. I think she looked very festive. (but then I'm biased)
Mr Bogert and I took plenty of photographs so that they can be put onto disc for the parents to buy, to help the nursery raise a little extra money. We've done this before with last years Christmas concert and also the summer concert, and the parents really seem to love it. Mr Bogert takes photographs before the concert of the kids in their costumes, then we both snap away during. I can't wait to see the slideshow when it's done, and hey, it's good for me. I get all the photos I want of Alexandra for free!

Yesterday I finally got those cards printed and the insides written, now I just need to get them addressed and sent tomorrow or it will be far too late. I also spent some time with the small person making her christmas cards.

We used brown paint and half a potato to print the pudding, then whilst the paint was still wet, sprinkled it with glitter. I cut some little triangles of green felt which she stuck straight into the wet paint for holly leaves, then in a blob of more brown paint she stuck a red heart shaped button for a berry. They were really quick and fun.

Tomorrow I'm back into work, and then I have to finish my Christmas shopping. If and when I finally get home, I have a mamoth to do list waiting for me, but I must admit the worst is over. Fancy dress costume for moi is next on the cards. Date of the fancy dress, oh, only this Saturday. Plenty of time........

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Another holiday tradition

Just thought I'd share what I was up to last night before, during and after writing my last blog post :)

Every year since the small person was born we have always taken a family christmas portrait, and we usually use it on our Christmas cards (something that seems to be popular in the states, but not so much here in the UK) which I love because we do have alot of family who we don't see very regularly spread about a bit. I'm not sure if they love having to pin up a card with our smiling mugs on them, but hey!

So here's this years photographs

And here's the final version I've edited for the cards

What do you think? Now I just need to get them printed, written and delivered. I'm leaving it a bit late!

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Christmas countdown

It's getting closer and closer to my absolute favourite time of year, and jobs are slowly getting finished and things are coming to an end for the year, yet I still seem to have so much to do. Being a grown up and having "things" to do sucks a huge amount of fun out of the christmas anticipation.

Mr Bogert has finished work until Januray 6th (Yay!) so it's nice having him at home. He's even cooking dinner tomorrow! (This normaly only happens on Saturdays whne he makes curry, but tomorrow he's volunteered and aparantly roast pork is the menu :D).

We had our last camera club session last night where we discussed white balance. As usual we left it until the last minute to do our assignment from last time (which is pretty bad considering Mr Bogert runs the sessions and I'm suposed to be his tea lady/helper/general dogsbody). So darkness fell and we found oursleves 2 hours before the session is due to run taking photos of light trails over the A46 (or was A45? I'm terrible with roads and places!).

We had mulled wine (made by Mr Bogert) and mince pies and chocolate log, and we took pictures of christmas trees and lights. Very festive. So, anyway, that's another thing completed until the new year.

Today was the last day of term for toddler group, and as Mr Bogert made the msitake of being on holiday from work, he became one of my volunteers. We always have a little tea party for the kids on the last day of term before christmas, with christmas music and mince pies and chocolate log for the mums and other carers. I managed to get the final presents for the kids on Sunday, so they were all wrapped an labelled. I had loads of fun giving them out because the kids looked so happy (and it was a releif not to have to store them any longer!) although several were far more interested in the mini selection box than the actual gift! Another thing done until new year. It feels good to finish things :)
I got to play Santa!

You may remember that I mentioned the small person had been feeling unwell? Well she went to the doctors with her Daddy, and it turns out it was a chest infection made worse by the fact that she has asthma. Poor thing, so now she has to have an inhaler which she really hates witha a passion. But she is getting used to it. As soon as I get chance I'm going to make a nice little bag for her to keep it in (as she'll have to take it with her to nursery and other places). Bright side is, she's now much better and back to her monkey-like self.

Another things checked off our list is our trip to see Santa. We always take the small person to the same garden centre every year to see Santa because they do it so nicely. You follow the brightly coloured triangles on the floor through the garden centre to get to Santa's grotto. Then you walk through a winter wonderland (which is in a heated marquee outside) into Santa's living room where he has a fireplace, a christmas tree, bean bags for the kids to sit on and he sits in an armchair himself. They see the kids through at about 3 at a time, but they don't rush you. Santa chats away for quite a while to each child and will pose for photos as you want, then he sends you through another door into his toy workshop whre you can exchange your voucher for any toy on the shelves. Part of the tradition is we always take Grandma with us. (my nan)

After we browsed all the gift shelves and craft section (obviously!) and also the christmas decoration section. Oh if I were rich I would blow a bundle of cash on the decorations alone! Then we sit in the cafe for a drink and cake before the samll person drags us to the pet section to show us "Nemo" and "Dory".

Now crafty wise I have much to do. I need to finish the mini bunting so that it can go on Alexandra's tree (she has a mini white tree in her bedroom. I did say we were Christmas mad in the Wishes house, didn't I?) I need to finish her scarf, or it will be summer by the time it's ready to wear, I still have the other snuggies to make (another 3, but they are quick) and then I have a couple of other little things I'd like to make that I wont mention just yet, just in case of nosey parkers :D
Mini Christmas bunting in progress

I did also make this.

What is it? It's a jumper for my phone. Well, actually, it was a practice bit of kintting I did to try and remind myself how to cable (remember, I'm a crochet girl. I can knit, but it's very slow going and not incredibly polished), then I was so pleased I hadn't messed it up, I wanted to use it, and it was too small for most things. So here it is. A cabled jumper for my phone, and he's toasty warm.

Ooo! And I've joined UK Handmade. I have been a busy girl, haven't I?

That thing that was getting to me a while back still isn't resolved, but I've grown used to the thought of it being there in the back of my mind, so I'll just carry on regardless. Completely unrelated to that, I may have some news which made me far more smiley than usual, but You'll just have to wait and see.......... :D

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Cream crackered but crafting

Work days completely wipe me out :) A good place NOT to work in the run up to Christmas is the Post Office. Very busy. Normally I get to take my break at the end of my shift so that I can get to pick up the small person in time, but Christmas pressure is on at work and I've been loaned to processing. Sounds good doesn't it? (after all, I'm just a human resource) and processing won't allow breaks at the end, in fact, they wont even allow you to choose when to take your break :(
So, anyway, break at 9am this morning (that's only 2.5 hours into an 8 hour shift) I took myself off to the canteen with my ready planned craft. I'm making some mini bunting for Christmas trees using the pink and blue dotted fabric from the pirate bunting and some lovely felt and embroidery floss. It was very theraputic. Without the mini bunting (and The Philosophers Stone in audio book format) today could quite literally have driven me insane!

Anyway, now I'm wiped (in fact I was falling asleep whilst on the phone to Mr Bogert, but that could have something to do with the small person still feeling poorly and waking up coughing alot in the night) I will leave you with a couple of piccies from Christmassing (what do you mean that's not a word? It can be a word) up the Wishes house this past Sunday. Mini bunting photos when I'm done, I promise.
Yes, we have a train that goes around the tree. It plays chritsma music or makes train sounds, it's front light works (and I love seeing the big round circle move across the wall as it goes around the track) and Sanat is driving the engine and he waves out of the window as he passes by. Actually, confession, it's Mr Bogert's train.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

The crafts of Christmas past

I did so much whittering on in the last post I forgot to post pictures of some of the crafts I was talking about, so here's some (not very well lit) photos of Christmas crafts from several earlier years.

Here is Mr Bogert's treasured (and large) advent calendar that hooks over our living room door. It is made from and old curtain and lots of felt and embroidery floss. Santa is attatched to the top of the calendar by a length of plaited embroidery floss and moves to each pocket as a new day comes and the chocolate is taken out. That way we get to see just how close Santa really is!

This elf is actually one of four door hangers, but as we're in the midst of major DIY I'm rather short om door handles to hang them all! He's also made of felt and fabric scraps. The other door hangers are Santa, a snowman and an angel.

This is Mr Bogert's giant stocking made from a bath towel (or 2!) and trimmed with all sorts of oddities I found lying around and in bags and boxes. Buttons, fabric scraps, ribbons,sequins, a christmas tea towel, felt and even a sock!

The following piccies are a selection of our Christmas day visitors stockings. The one above is my Dad's and his partners. Karen's is a newer one made for last year, and had I had time to re make all of the stockings as I'd wanted, they would all be in the same style as this one. I even got as far as asking everyone what their favourite Disney character is.

These 2 are for the mums. The Candy cane is my mums, and the star is Mr Bogert's mums. It's a good marker of how old these are by looking at the fabric. The Terracotta fabric was left over from the first curtains we had in our last house. We've since then had a different set of curtains and got rid of those too in favour of wooden blinds :)

These 2 are my Nan and Grandad's and a closer up deatil of both of them. Santa and an Angel :)
Looking back over our stockings, sometimes it's a little sad as every now and then we "retire" a stocking. Either because that person is no longer with us, or just because times have changed and we don't see them for Christmas anymore.

Not a Christmas craft I now, but I thought as I was photo sharing, I'd show you my pirate bunting a little closer up. Not great light for the colours, but with the pictures from the previous post and these, you should have the idea.

The small person putting one of her birthday gifts to good use and making some lovely necklaces from painted wooden beads.

And here's the one she made especially for me to wear for all of the Christmas season.

Finally, the last toddler group craft of 2009. Ta da! We made tissue paper wreaths. I cut 2 " wide rings from card and the kids glued scrunched green tissue paper to themand added a bow at the bottom. You could also add berries made from tissue paper or from some tiny beads or craft pom poms. I can remember making one of these when I was a kid, but It was on a much larger scale, to the point where I ran out of tissue paper :(

What treasures of christmasses past do you still have every year?