So, these are two little owls. They’re made of commercial felt, based on a picture I glimpsed on a website somewhere, and I genuinely can’t remember where, but I think the person who posted them had taken the idea from the Christmas edition of Prima magazine, because I’ve seen something very similar there, too.
Apart from it being nice to sit and sew something cute(ish) in front of the TV of an evening, these have been an experiment in hand embroidery. The blue one was my first attempt, and not terribly satisfactory. The purple one has, I think, got a little better…. I will probably make a few more, since they only take a moment or two.
And, of course, it’s Christmas. This year, we have unearthed our advent calendar. The children and I made this when they were really very small. The background is a log cabin quilt: a number of ‘shades’ of white log cabins built around a traditional red centre, with the tree made up of green log cabins. The hanging has 24 star shaped gold buttons, and the numbers are either baubles, stars or Christmas stockings, cut out from red felt.
I sat the small children – Dan and Daisy – down with some squares of white felt, and a red fabric pen, and let them draw Christmas pictures. I guess they were two years and one year old, at the time – possibly three years and two years, but whatever. Then I cut the shapes out of red and decorated white felt, and stitched them together with a decorative machine stitch. And Moo, who would have been eleven or twelve, wrote the numbers on, in gold silk paint. We used it every Christmas from then until we moved to this house, when it got lost and I thought I must have thrown it out by mistake. I was heartbroken to think I’d lost such a treasure. But it was unearthed when I emptied a storage crate, earlier this year – I think we’re all very happy to see it, and it certainly feels more like Christmas, to have it hanging in the living room.
It’s Daisy’s birthday at the beginning of December, and so we can’t start Christmas until that’s safely over (apart from the advent calendar!) So on Sunday, with birthday festivities firmly behind us, we put up the Christmas tree. It’s a plastic one – but the children wanted a recyclable tree (in fact, they wanted to recycle last year’s cut tree, which is behind my shed in a very brown, dead condition, but I drew the line, there!)
Every year, I practise letting go of my control freakish design prejudices, and absent myself from the tree decorating. Left to me, it would be themed and minimalist – perhaps no more than lights and some angel hair – but the children still enjoy loading it with the baubles we’ve accumulated over the year. So I poured myself a gin, and left them to it… They haven’t done badly, I have to (grudgingly!) admit.
I’ve finished off the decorations, this year, with some heart-shaped fairy lights over the fireplace. I quite like these, actually – they may stay. I might even make more owls to hang amongst them, in the manner of bunting. Although, of course, when I finally get round to ordering some more firewood it will probably be way too hot there for anything so meltable.
And that’s it for Christmas decorations, chez nous – I’m not a big fan of the season, and we’re the wrong faith for the celebration. I will bring some mistletoe in on the 21st as part of our solstice celebrations (not that we’re that faith, either, but why would you miss an excuse for mulled wine and sausages cooked on the barbeque??).
But Christmas *is* an excuse for Christmas markets. On Sunday, I found myself with some time to kill and so I headed to the Manchester Christmas market. We lived in Manchester for – oh, about 20 years, and so it’s a bit like homecoming to wander around the city centre. The market there is much bigger (and better) than the Birmingham equivalent, and has German, French, craft and art sections, as well as the obligatory gluhwein and nyummy continental food! I grew up in Germany, so always enjoy the opportunity to stock up on German delicacies – lebekuche, and gluhwein and bratwurst – just scrummy! This year, I found a fabulous stall (from Hebden Bridge of all places) selling Polish earthenware pottery. The shop is Polkadot Lane, and I really defy you to click on that link and not want to buy *all* of it!! I constrained myself to the mug above, and a glorious earthenware yorkshire pudding dish, decorated with forget me nots. Tomorrow is my first morning at home since I bought the mug, and I’m sure my coffee will taste extra delicious, drunk from such a beautiful vessel!!
And finally, here’s an utterly gratuitous photo of one of the cats. Because hell, it’s my blog and I can if I want to!!