The Christmas Table

Every year, around October, I start to think about how I would like our table to look on Christmas Day. I love thinking about colours, the place cards, the treat that I put on each persons place. I try to create an atmosphere that ensures that each person who sits at our Christmas table feels special and loved, and excited about the day.

In 2010 I went with an icy blue and silver look. I made personalised baubles for everyone, which were very quick and easy to do, but looked gorgeous. I just used a thin brush dipped in pva glue to write the names, and then shook fine blue glitter over the glue.

In 2011, I chose a cheery green, red and white colour scheme. I sewed up felt stockings for everyone, and placed a few fun treats inside, such as wind up toys, lip gloss, and chocolates.


2012 had a natural theme. I created a table runner using hessian bags that I bought from Bunnings, the kids and I scavenged some pine cones from the nearby golf course, and gingerbread angels lay on each persons plate. I really loved this look.

In 2013, my aim was to not buy anything new for the table setting. I limited myself to things I already had around the house and greenery that I found in the garden. I always cover my placements in gift wrap so that they match the table (Thanks Mum for that idea!), and luckily I had lots left over from previous years.

  Last year, I did a kind of Scandinavian/ foresty/ fairytale look. My Ikea hanging star light was once again put to good use, as were the green cuttings from the garden.

    This year, I am thinking of using a lot of glass, gold, copper and creams, and having an antique look to the place settings. Anyway, we’ll see how it goes. I always set the table on the 24th, so I have plenty of time to fiddle about with things. 

Even though I love planning and decorating our table for Christmas, I know that the most important thing is that we are all there, family and friends, together on Christmas Day. That’s what makes it special.

Moments in Time

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Happy Easter everyone!!

We have been having such a relaxing time of it these school holidays. After a few days away at Kangaroo Valley, we are now home again and have been very busy doing nothing much at all.

There has already been much chocolate eaten (I keep promising myself that after Easter I will start eating better!) and I suspect there will be lots more consumed before the weekend is over.

We went for a walk yesterday, to get out of the house and enjoy the beautiful weather. The kids and Barry kicked the soccer ball, while Molly the dog and I kept a more leisurely pace, and watched the birds diving for fish in the water.

Every now and then, one small, warm hand would find it’s way into mine, and a little person would chat away to me about this and that.  I drink up these moments, realising how fleeting these early years are. When they were very little, it seemed that we would never emerge from baby/ toddlerhood. I was so consumed in the day-to-day, that it didn’t occur to me that one day we would leave this stage, never to return. I now make a point of savouring the little things- tying shoelaces, brushing hair, listening to rambling tales about their day, tucking them into bed, because what seems permanent now, is merely just a moment in time.

While walking, we were also looking for ‘the perfect branch’. One that had fallen from the tree, just the right size, spreading twigs- perfect for our Easter tree. Just when I was about to give up, I saw it, and it now stands on my kitchen dresser, festooned with ribbons, tiny birds, and coloured eggs. It makes my heart sing every time I look at it. It is just so pretty!!

Do you decorate an Easter tree?

Do you sometimes wish that you could slow down time?

Are you planning on eating too much chocolate this weekend?

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Back in the saddle again

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Well, hello again! I’ve decided to get back in the blogging saddle after a long break. It was actually this article that motivated my return, as it reminded me of why I started blogging in the first place:-

I love writing.

There are so many amazingly talented writers out there and it is easy to get discouraged. I had started a few drafts over the past few months, but they just never seemed ‘good enough’. I had forgotten about the pure joy of writing for the sake of writing.

In my work as an early childhood teacher, we are always emphasising the importance of the “process, not the product”.   When a child is doing a painting, for example, we are more interested in the skills the child is learning, and the enjoyment of the experience, rather than the finished product.

I think this approach is just as important for adults. We need to remember to go for a walk because it feels good, not because we want to lose weight. Or to play an instrument because it relaxes us, not because we expect to make a career out of it.

I love that state of flow that writing produces, where you become so immersed in the words and thoughts, that time seems to disappear.

So I’m going to make room for blogging, and concentrate on the journey, rather than the destination.

ps. How amazing is that sunset?! We were driving Lucie to ballet this afternoon, and just had to pull over to admire it. Breathtaking!

My shabby chic wedding – Part 2

Yesterday I started to tell you about my wedding, which took place in 2008. (see post here) Today, I’ll fill you in on a few more of the details, if you’d like to take a look.

These are the little take-home gifts that I put together for our guests. I chanced upon a pile of beautiful Cath Kidston hand creams in Target which were on sale, so I gathered up each and every one of them, as I knew they would be perfect for the ladies. I also picked up a few larger gift packs from the same range to give to people such as my mum and bridesmaid.

For the men, I bought miniature bottles of Johnny Walker whiskey, a nod to Barry’s Scottish heritage.

I loved how pretty they all looked, tucked into the wicker baskets.

My gorgeous Auntie Christine made the wedding cake. I described to her how our wedding was going to look (ie, pretty, floral, pink & green), and showed her a few pictures of cakes that I liked, and she came up with something better than I could have ever imagined.

A couple of days before the wedding, I decided that we needed programs, see below. As I had so much spare time (Ha!), cutting out one hundred and twenty paper butterflies was no problem at all. It’s hard to tell from the picture, but the butterflies were attached with tiny metal fasteners, which allowed the wings to ‘flutter’ on the card. They were very pretty, but I must have been slightly deranged to attempt this in the lead up to our at-home wedding.

So there you have it, our wonderful, magical wedding day. It was such a lot of fun getting everything ready and spending hours playing about with ribbons, flowers, and paper lanterns. Barry, in typical man-style, was happy to go along with whatever I planned, and would make the appropriate sounds of approval whenever I showed him something new. I was thrilled with how it all turned out, but at the end of the day, what made it so special and memorable was the love of our family and friends and having them there to share it with us.

My shabby chic wedding.

It’s the beginning of Spring here in Australia; the days are getting warmer, the smell of jasmine floats on the breeze and everyone seems to be gripped by the urge to fling open their windows and let the freshness of spring clear away the stuffiness of winter.
As spring is also the traditional wedding season, I thought it would be a good time to share some pictures of my own wedding, if you’d like to see.
We got married at home, in 2008, with our three children, families and close friends in attendance. It was intimate, personal and relaxed.
Right from the start, I tried to plan a day that was as much fun for as guests as it was for us. I wanted time and space to be able to chat with everyone, just like a big party. And I hoped the wedding would look and feel pretty and home made, like a country fair or garden party.
I wanted lots of flowers everywhere, especially roses. In the months leading up to the wedding, I looked out for cut glass vases at charity shops, markets, and garage sales. These looked gorgeous dotted around the room with the pale pink blooms spilling out. We ended up with so many flowers that we needed to use whatever vessels we could find, so buckets, milk cartons and plastic tubs were quickly covered with wrapping paper, and became part of the decorations!
In order to achieve the abundance of flowers on our rather limited budget, we headed off to the Flower Market. I went with my mum the week before the wedding so we could see what was there, which flowers we liked and to speak to some of the growers about ordering their flowers. The following week, on the day before the wedding, Barry and I headed off in the darkness to gather our blooms. The flower market is such a feast for the senses; the growers yelling out to one another, the scent of thousands of fresh flowers, the cold air of the pre-dawn and the dizzying array of colour. It was well worth having to get up so early and so much cheaper than buying them from a florist.
The ceremony took place in our back garden, which we covered with a marquee. It looked so pretty decorated with the flowers, pink and green chinese lanterns, and the floral bunting which I spent days (and days…and days…) sewing. In hindsight, I would have just cut the shapes out with pinking shears and sewn them to a long strip of fabric. They did, however, look beautiful, and I have reused them to decorate my daughters’ bedroom.
As the weather was so hot, we provided paper fans and parasols for guests to cool themselves with. I picked these up from Chinatown, along with a bowlful of fortune cookies containing love notes for everyone to nibble on as they arrived.
There was also a lolly bar, which was extremely popular with both kids and grown-ups! We had biscuits and truffles, that you can see above, and also musk sticks, milk bottles, jelly beans and many other ‘old school’ treats. I also put together goodie bags for all the children, which contained small toys, colouring books, pencils, and other things to keep them entertained.
Coming up tomorrow, I’ll show you another few of my favourite parts of the day.

Keeping love fresh.

Do you ever go through stages in your relationship where your partner seems to just blend in with the furniture? You get so busy and side-tracked with making the dinner, putting petrol in the car, picking wet towels up off the floor, feeding the dog, etc, that you forget to actually see them. They become just another part of the routine and the landscape. Even worse, I find that when I am in a rut like this, I really only notice my husband when he has done something that irritates me, like forgetting to put the bins out. Not exactly the recipe for romance!

When I realise that I am doing this, I make a concious decision to really  take the time to notice my husband. Yes, it sounds a bit strange, but I promise it works. It’s like looking at them with the fresh eyes that found them so attractive in the first place. You know that feeling you get when you come home from holidays and you see your house in a whole new light? You lok around and think “I forgot how spacious it is here, and how pretty this paint colour is”. Well this is a bit like that, without the going away part.

Sometimes I look at my husband and try to imagine what other people see when they look at him. Do they like his warm brown eyes? The way he seems so friendly and confident?

Other times I wonder what I would think of him if I met him now for the first time. When we first met and fell in love, I spent a great deal of time noticing all the appealing details of him. Yet these details can get a little blurry as the years pass.

Taking the time to notice and appreciate my husband helps to remind me of the wonderful man that he is, and of how lucky I am to have him.

Sleeping Beauty

On the weekend I booked tickets to go and see the ballet, Sleeping Beauty, with my mum and daughters. It is being presented by the Imperial Russian Ballet Company, at the State Theatre. I can’t wait!

Each year I try to take my kids to see a show. I would love to think that they will keep the wonderful memories of these experiences, and that they will gradually develop an appreciation for artistic expression. Most of all, I just love the fun and anticipation; sitting in the darkened theatre, waiting for the curtain to go up, clapping like crazy, and talking about it for days afterwards.

When I was about five, my mum took us to see Disney on Ice. I can still clearly remember sitting in the rows of seats, being bombarded by the colour, lights and energy, seeing all those larger than life characters. We bought a program, and I would look through it again and again in wonder.

Last year, I went with my mum and daughters to Mary Poppins. The best part was actually watching my girls faces during the show. Their wide eyes, taking in the magic, excitement and drama. When she ‘flew’ over the audience, I thought they were going to take off too!

The year before that we saw Swan Lake on Ice, with the Russian Imperial Ice Stars. This was one of the most magical performances I have ever seen. I spent the show in a combination of goosebumps, tears and open-mouthed awe. Many of the performers are former Olympic skaters, and their skills on the ice are mind-blowing. They tell the story of the doomed lovers in an incredibly poignant way. Oh, and the kids enjoyed it too!

The very first concert I took my girls to see was the ballet of Swan Lake, also by the Imperial Russian Ballet Company. (They truly are amazing). We were so far up the back that I nearly got vertigo, but the kids didn’t seem to mind. They were taken in by the spell of the orchestra, the magic happening on stage and the sense of occasion. It was performed at the State Theatre, which feels a bit like stepping into a palace.

Do you remember the first show you went to as a child? I’d love to hear! xx