Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Goodbye 2013...

It's been a crazy ride this year, with plenty of change and challenges to keep us on our toes but with some very good times too. Happy New Year to you all x

Monday, 30 December 2013

Ice skating in Bath...

As the sun was setting we followed a trail of fairy lights to the ice rink in Royal Victoria Park, Bath for another new family Christmas tradition, ice skating. The staff were really friendly and were fab helping the boys and I get some boots and some little cub skates so even Stan could have a go, well sit on a giant banana anyway! It was a really lovely atmosphere and despite being really busy, everyone cheerfully skated their way around the rink weaving and wobbling in an anti-clockwise formation. I'm not sure that Stanley understood what we were doing but the older two and I had a great time, rewarding ourselves with hot chocolate, special ice skating boot gingerbread biscuits and crepes afterwards. It isn't cheap, a family ticket for an hours skate is £32, but it's definitely worth it and it is something we look forward to every year as a treat the whole family can enjoy.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

A Christmas Cleanse

Last year just after Christmas I went to the Lido, an open air swimming pool, spa and restaurant hidden in the middle of Bristol. It was magical. So this year we did the same again, enjoying a swim and massage. A perfect remedy for all the overindulgences of Christmas and lovely to make the most of the lull between Christmas and New Year. I love the eccentricity of the Lido, the history, the craziness of swimming outdoors in Winter and the fabulous bar and restaurant, it is now a tradition that I hope will continue every year!

Friday, 27 December 2013

Christmas corners of my home...

I used old man's beard along the mantlepiece with its fluffy white bits wrapped around fairy lights, instead of tinsel for a more natural look. The vintage hurricane lamp above was a Christmas gift from my husband, I love it! 

More fairy lights along the back of the pew and a branch cut off the bottom of the Christmas tree adorns the centre of the dining table. I've put the sheepskin rug along the bench, it's lovely to sit on and gives the room quite a wintery Scandinavian feel. 

Simple spruce sprigs are placed on the top of picture frames around the house, the one above sitting on my grandma's baptism certificate from 1914 (wow that's almost 100 years old!)

My favourite vintage Christmas trees come out every year! Sometimes with the Schleich reindeer, this year just on their own. 

Gingerbread snowflake biscuits for a nordic inspired Christmas dinner table, added to sprigs of spruce at each place setting. 

Just a few glimpses of my home. 

Christmas blessings

We had a simple family Christmas, full of friends, family, fairy lights and the frenzy of opening presents! I feel really blessed this Christmas to have food on the table and loved ones to share it with. We've had a difficult year of change and disappointment, peppered with illness and the loss of loved ones, and I'm using this break to rest and reflect and look forward to the year ahead and everything it holds in store for us.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Our Christmas Eve Alpine Bar

On Christmas Eve we transformed the treehouse into an alpine hot chocolate bar with a little help from some fairy lights, mistletoe and sheepskin rugs. We thought it would be magical if we set up the camping stove inside so we could serve hot chocolate and chocolate fondue to our little friends.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Merry Christmas from all of us...

Merry Christmas all! I'm off to transform our treehouse into an alpine lodge ready for Christmas - I'll be over on Instagram as @_emmabradshaw in the meantime. Have a lovely break and don't eat too many mince pies x

Monday, 23 December 2013

The elving has begun...

The 'elving' has begun in our house! I'm making personalised gift tags using some photos taken by the fabulous Anne-Marie Randall last month, that she has printed out so I can add red noses and antlers, after seeing the idea here. It's also fab for the babe who can't read his own name yet but will be able to tell which are his presents by recognising his own face.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Choosing the perfect Christmas Tree

A new family ritual of visiting the Christmas tree farm to choose our tree from a field full of thousands. A difficult task and we race through them, each one better, taller, straighter than the last. The boys eventually choose one for us to cut down and take home to decorate.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

The Winter Solstice

Happy Solstice! We celebrated the shortest day by taking part in an advent spiral at our local Steiner school. A lovely Winter's ritual where the children walk slowly through the spiral, made with pine leaves and other greenery, to a large candle in the middle where they light the flame on their tea light. Whilst lyre music is played in the background they carefully carry the flame and place it around the spiral which becomes more illuminated with all the children's candles. A perfect way to celebrate the shortest day and look forward to the days becoming longer and lighter from now on!

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Children's Christmas gifts

I really struggle each year with buying Christmas gifts for children. With a limited budget, to buy any decent or good quality toy for £10 seems impossible nowadays and I am constantly amazed by how expensive toys such as Lego are! Also after you have a few children you tend to amass a good amount of toys and each Christmas I eye the toy basket with fear as the plastic seems to be spilling over into the whole house and although I hate throwing anything away, there is only so long you can keep broken toys and those whose batteries you've *ahem* not replaced, so I hate giving plastic toys, especially ones with loads of packaging (a huge bugbear of mine!)

I want to buy nice presents that mean something that the child will value and this year my thoughts turned to 'experiences' what could I buy that a child could 'do'? I looked at various tickets for shows or entry to places, which were all quite expensive so after a lightbulb moment in the middle of the night I remembered that a local riding stables did gift vouchers.

Perfect, it means we've shopped local too! I couldn't just give the children a voucher, so I bought these rather beautiful Schleich horses, so the children have something to unwrap. I just hope they like them.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

A Christmas wreath inspired by nature

I love old man's beard, a wild clematis that is abundant in the hedgerows that line the lanes where I live.  The fluffy white 'beards' are illuminated by the low winter's light at this time of year which I find enchanting. I wanted to make a wreath using only old man's beard, but I found it really hard to bend the thick stems, so I used ivy from our garden to wrap around a simple willow hoops, made with four whips. 

I then pushed the old man's beard through the ivy and finished with a partridge feather that Stanley found on one of our nature walks. It looks a little rustic but I love it!

There's more wreath inspiration on my Pinterest winter wonderland board! 

Monday, 9 December 2013

winter spiced pine cone firelighters

Every year I make a huge batch of winter spiced pine cone firelighters, to sell at the school Christmas Fair and to give as gifts when visiting friends and family. 

They are super easy to make too. 

You need:
Pine cones
Paraffin wax
Candle wick 
Essential Oil - I use cinnamon and mandarin from Neal's Yard Remedies
An old saucepan, spoon and non-stick cake trays - I got mine from a car boot sale

I simply melt the paraffin wax in the saucepan on a gentle heat, then spoon it into the cake tray. I wrap a three inch piece of wick around the base of the pine cone before placing into the hot wax and leaving to dry. Once dry I add a few drops of each essential oil to the pine cone (or you can add lots to the melted wax if you prefer) and lift out of the cake tin. 

I always have a big bowl of these next to the fire as they smell so lovely and Christmassy, although I am loathed to use them as they look so nice! 

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Gingerbread House Making

This weekend I had the privilege to have been asked by Prema Arts Centre to run another gingerbread house making workshop. Eight lovely families joined my friend Jenny and I, construct and decorate their gingerbread houses with lots of sweets and icing (I'll share pictures of them with you when I eventually find my camera cable!) What was really special was that three families that came last year joined us again for our annual tradition, including the lovely Laura of Circle of Pines

If you would like to make your own gingerbread house they're really easy to make and I'm selling my tried and tested recipe and gingerbread house template in a printable PDF format for just 99p over in the Bradshaw & Sons store, just add sweets!

Monday, 2 December 2013

Gingerbread Advent Calendar

A simple advent calendar this year, made by the boys with a little help from me with the icing! A star for every day of advent and one with each of their names iced on to enjoy on Christmas Day. I've strung them across the fireplace but not sure how they'll fair above the fire. I am hoping it will encourage a little sharing between brothers, something they're not very good at right now.
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