Thursday, 29 December 2011

Christmas 2011

 I cooked
We laughed
We drank
We ate -  a lot


We translated
We opened presents
He drove
We ate again - a whole lot more


Christmas 2011 was a good one, notwithstanding the fact that I only finished the washing up yesterday!

Hope you had a great Christmas too!

Monday, 19 December 2011

At the weekend I...

  • Went to a Christmas party and fit in my dress. Admitedly, there was no space for the padded strapless bra but thanks to my modest frontage, fellow party goers were none the wiser and I was a whole lot more comfortable. I could actually breathe and eat. Bonus.

  • Watched snowflakes the size of a child's hand fall on the ground. Winter is truly here. Let's just hope the snow remains sporadic and doesn't mess up our Christmas plans. We've suffered enough in the last couple of years!!

  • Pealed chestnuts in preparation for a Christmas day chestnut puree. French traditions all the way.

  • Did some shawl knitting. I've given myself tomorrow night as a deadline for blocking. Nan should be arriving on Christmas eve (fingers crossed) and I hope to have the shawl blocked and dried by then so that the surprise isn't ruined.

  • Wore a new golden glittery top with pride at a famous jazz club in London Town. Totally blended in and felt very festive. The martini cocktail may have helped.

  • Pealed some more chestnuts.

  • Did some more knitting.

  • Made cranberry sauce and plonked it in the freezer. One less thing to do this week. (Ok, so not French all the way. The English have got a few things right and cranberry sauce is one of those!)

  • Thought about marzipaning my Christmas cake but just didn't get round to it. Was too busy pealing chestnuts and knitting a shawl.

  • Had a little internal weep over the state of my fingers. Handling boiling hot chestnuts all weekend and pealing approximately 1.5kg takes its toll. That puree better be good!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Thursday thoughts

It's Thursday. I'm getting ready for Christmas. I'd love to have tomorrow off but I'm way too busy at work. I'm working as much as I can on the shawl. I was interrupted in my endeavours last night after sweet looking Felix had a bite at my arm. I was crippled for the evening (take my word for it, you don't want to see a photo of the marks those fangs left). Thanks Felix.

I've got a hair dresser appointment tonight. Wish me luck. We have about 20 different salons in my little town, and I must have tried about a third so far. I've yet to find The One. They better not mess up my hair though because I have a Christmas party to attend tomorrow.

I have started organising my Christmas shopping list. Different categories for improved efficiency: veg/ fruit, meat/ fish, cheese, other fresh produce, cupboard stuff. Will definitely need to split it up into a few shopping trips to ensure sanity preservation. Let's just say someone might be earning a few points on their credit card.

Finally, pretty photo of the sun setting last weekend, taken from our bedroom window. It hasn't been like that lately though, we've had gale force winds and torrential rain. All nice and dry by the time I had to walk into work though, thankfully.

Phew, countdown D Day - 9

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Gratuitous cat photos

Felix, the neighbour's cat is not allowed in the house. We don't want to give him bad habits you know? But since the weather's turned really cold, and he carries on wanting cuddling sessions when we come home, on a couple of occasions we decided to let him in.

On our terms though. He gets picked up from the front door and placed on either of our laps. He likes to choose who he sits on actually, and has a preference for Mr PF. I don't blame him (although clearly yes that is me in the photos).

He stays there for around 10min, after which he reaches his quota for cuddles. He lets you know in no uncertain terms when he's ready to go out again (ungrateful sod will go for the hand, sharp teeth and all). But who could resist that cute little face?

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Christmas decorations

It started with the tree...

And pimping out the stairs...

And embelishing the fireplace....

I am currently in a candle phase: every night, after dinner, I sit down on the sofa and light all the candles (one on either side of the advent calendar, two in the fireplace, two on the coffee table). The warm glow and gentle flicker makes the living room feel all cosy and warm. Couldn't dream of anything better.

Christmas, I'm all ready for you. Only seven more working days to get through...

Monday, 12 December 2011

Christmas welcome

The inside of the house is most definitely Christmas ready. Twinkly lights galore, shiny baubles, old fashioned wooden trinklets and a little bit of tinsel for good measure. But I wanted visitors to feel the Christmas love before they even set foot inside. So many beautiful wreaths are on sale at the moment, but few are suitable for the outdoors. We went for a walk around the market on Saturday morning and I was tempted to purchase a bunch of evergreen branches. Mr PF shook me back to life, couldn't I make one of those myself?! We could walk around in the countryside and find our own evergreens right? I thanked him for such insight.

So yesterday I grabbed some garden twine and my trusty secateurs. No need to go for a wonder though, our gardens were able to satisfy all my needs.

Some beautiful holly from the front garden, some fragant pine and rosemary from the back garden.

Welcome to my home :-)

Friday, 9 December 2011

It's only Friday?

That's what it feels like this morning. Still one whole day to go. One long day at that, topped off with a Christmas party. "Party" is a very generous word considering the company budget involved... anyway, let's not talk about sore points. Ahem.

This weekend should be really nice though. I haven't exactly got a plan in mind, but it will/ should hopefully include the following:
  • the purchase of our Christmas tree - the all very important decision of height and fatness, you know what I'm talking about.

  • guess that means the Christmas decorations will have to come down from the attic - always an exciting moment since I seem to forget what decorations we have from one year to the next. Yes I do have a rubbish memory.

  • a decision will need to be made regarding my nan's shawl. I've been faced with what feels like insurmountable problems, having to take back more rows than I care to remember. And I still don't have the right number of stitches on my needles. Not only is this totally perplexing, but it leaves me in a difficult situation. If I can't fix this tomorrow, I may have to ditch this project entirely.... Where's my knitting fairy, I need you!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • wrapping up until I resemble a Michelin man to attend a local football game. My presence and the purchase of two tickets was another one of my great birthday presents to Mr PF. Call me selfless. Although not selfless enough to go stand in the cold on Tuesday night. That was beyond my physical abilities. I have a serious amount of Mediterranean blood running through my veins and it's fair to say I. Do. Not. Cope. Well. With. The. Cold.

  • Finalising some Christmas presents. We've been very organised this year and once again, have made the most of the internet. How I love ordering things from the comfort of my own home!

  • Feeding the Christmas cake. I can hear him calling my name for more brandy.

  • Checking my bulbs and deciding whether now's the time to bring them indoors. Such anticipation has gone into this. It's the first year I've tried out bulbs and seeing them grow has been incredible. I thought I might have killed them off but no no, they're definitely growing! Would be lovely to have them in bloom for Christmas but I'm not sure how to get the timing right...

  • Drinking lots of hot cups of coffee. My weekend tipple. Even better when served in those adorable cups with some dark chocolate on the side. I might even try to make some mulled apple juice to take to the football. Oh gosh, can't I just go home now and forget about work? I've got so much to do!!!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Rocking chair - it was fate

We have a little nook in our bedroom, between the left side of the chimney breast and the window. The perfect spot to relax and enjoy the beautiful view over the front garden and the green in the distance. Until recently, we were missing the essential tool to do just that. A chair. I'd thought about it occasionally, and dreamt of a rocking chair. My mum had a wicker one when I was growing up, but she gave it away. Funny how things go in and out of fashion. Anyway, my dream was brought to the forefront of my thoughts after I saw this inspiring post from my friend in Switzerland. This gave me the kick up the backside I needed. And boy did it send me flying. Right onto the phone to Mr PF, and straight onto ebay for some perusing. It was clearly meant to be, because a beautiful wooden chair was up for sale in a neighbouring town. Perfect, since this is the kind of item that is pick-up only, for obvious reasons! We waited and we waited and I went totally berserk in the last few minutes of the auction. We had agreed in advance on a maximum price we were willing to pay, and successfully defeated an opponent who went in at the minimum price (yes, this got terribly competitive!). So there, in the space of a couple of days, I went from being reminded about this chair which would make our bedroom feel so much more cosy, to finding a perfect one on ebay only around the corner from where we live, to actually winning it and bringing it home. How nicely do things work out sometimes? I think that's what they call fate.

An absolute bargain too, especially if you look at the price of new ones going out there... silly money! This one is in absolute mint condition, and the wood is simply beautiful. No nasty varnish to scrape off. It's going to stay as it is for the moment, but we may decide to paint it in the future. Until then, it needs a cushion. I need to get the sewing machine out.

I like to play pretend though and imagine that I've actually pulled my finger out and made up this tapestry kit I was given last Christmas... Can someone please stop the clock, there just isn't enough time!!!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Secret embroidery

When I showed you photos of our little weekend away in the Peak District, I mentionned some secret embroidery. Secret it was because I was a little behind and was hoping to get it finished in time for the big day. Turns out I was one word short (this will make sense shortly!) in the end, but it did remain a secret - my needle and I put every effort into keeping this a surprise. Quite hard when the only time you're not spending together is when you're having a shower or using the toilet. Nice vision for you there, you're welcome.

The idea was to reinforce important concepts in a relationship. The basis for a happy couple. I'm conscious that sounds unbelievably cheesy, but we felt that sometimes, some of these important notions get forgotten about. And what better way to remind ourselves what love is all about than with a cute little embroidery to match the colour scheme in our bedroom. And my idea for a shelf covered in white frames. The first one I blogged about here remember? The heart frame? Oh yes, we've got a pattern going on.

So we have Understanding, with Patience, Love, Care, Kindness and Tolerance all branching off. Various shades of green embroidery floss. Natural linen background. Have I mentionned how much I love embroidery work? My mind is bursting with ideas. In a weird way, I can't wait for the new year to begin and Christmas to be behind us so that I can start on those new projects!!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Home-made advent calendar

I always think it is quite interesting to see how people come up with ideas, what thought-process they go through, how things change along the way. A couple of weeks ago I started thinking about making an advent calendar for this year. As much as I enjoyed making last year's one, I'm not keen on all that paper being wasted. Best to make something which could be used year after year. That's when the concept drawing was born:

Interested in seeing the finished article? Drumroll please.....

Here we go! What do you think? Only space for little chocolates and small notes. We've gone for jokes this year... Anyway, back to the calendar. I used a square wooden board for backing, some natural linen for the background, some green yarn for the outline of the Christmas tree, brown felt squares to create a little pocket for each day, some gold beads to create the numbers. Some red embroidery thread was used to fix the squares in place, and a variety of buttons were used to embellish the tree.

It has taken centre stage on the chimney breast from now on, replacing the autumn wreath. Christmas is on its way!!!

Friday, 2 December 2011

Friday tales

  • On Wednesday, I helped French union members find their way back to St Pancras to catch the Eurostar home. Yes, they had come especially for the day to support their fellow public workers. As if there aren’t enough strikes in France, they come here for extra practise.

  • I watched the Benton dog video (check it out on youtube if you haven't seen yet, it's hilarious) and because I’m a language sponge, I keep saying Jeez all the time as a result (after the owner’s Jesus Christ cries). Someone sort me out, my vocabulary is dwindling as I type.

  • I’ve messed up a couple of rows on my shawl, which means I’m going to have to take 3 entire rows back. I even went to see the Rowan rep at my local John Lewis at lunch time to see if she had a magical solution and her advice was to just “go one stitch at a time and go slowly”. Not what I wanted to hear. I t makes me want to cry.

  • Tomorrow we’re going to Cambridge to pick up a new sofa bed. Depending on the size of the package, I may or may not have to get home by train instead of the warm car. Wish us luck.

  • On the plus side, my advent calendar chocolate is waiting patiently for me at home. Can’t wait.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Birthday celebrations

Not mine this time, no no, Mr Petit Filoux's. As you can probably work out, our birthdays aren't too far apart, which is quite nice I reckon. It means that when we want to, we can combine celebrations. But not this year, oh no. T'was way too much of an important birthday for Mr PF for me to even consider combining efforts. 

So we trotted off to the Peak District for a long weekend and goodness I just can't wait to go back. Stunning scenery, and I'm conscious we only saw about 0.001% of it all... Nonetheless, here are a few photos, I'm sure you'll want to go there too by the end of this post.

Intertwined with this was a lush rented converted barn, lots of cups of coffee, some special kiddy sugar-filled cereal for the morning, an overly fancy shower with sideway jets and a radio, some secret embroidery (a late birthday present!), a scrumptious chocolate cheesecake and a Sunday-night curry from a curry house in a small town which was so incredibly busy, cars were double and triple parked. Still haven't figured that one out. Anyway, there it was, a wonderful weekend enjoyed by all. A few days away from the mayhem of the house and work.

November, you've been a good month. Can't believe it's the 1st of December already. Where has the year gone?! I've got a million and one things to do now to get ready for the festivities, but I feel a weight has been lifted off my shoulders now my advent calendar is all done. More on this tomorrow!!!