Thursday, 31 December 2009

Winter Walk with friends

Today we woke up to some winter sun, and spent the day with very good friends in their beautiful cottage and village.

We went for an extremely muddy walk, good job we had our walking boots, which you can just see abandoned outside the front door on our return.

It was extremely cold but good to be outside, and we returned to a home-made pasta lunch (making the pasta apparently kept their two children occupied most of yesterday!) and had a great afternoon relaxing in lovely Christmassy-looking rooms while all our children showed each other their latest gadgets!

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Post Christmas Recovery

In the end our Christmas day was a good one, although it could so easily have been extremely sad.

Newton came home on Christmas Eve (with a bill for over £1,000 - covered thankfully by our insurance) after three days at the vets being poked, shaved and tested. We didn't expect him to survive the night as he looked so very poorly and couldn't move, but we found him much brighter on Christmas day and he weakly joined in with some unwrapping. Here he is where he shouldn't be on the table after lunch with the racing santas and reindeer we had in our crackers.

According to the specialist who did an ultrasound, he has quite advanced heart failure - he's eight so we weren't prepared for him to be so very ill. Today he feels much better and is doing all the things he shouldn't be like jumping, playing and trying to escape into the garden. His heart tablets seem to be helping but you can see by the way his chest is moving how hard his poor heart is having to work and he's living on borrowed time a bit.

So we're trying to make the most of each day with him and he's getting spoiled with posh pouches of food that he would never normally be allowed!

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Christmas decorations and a very ill cat

I was more organised than ever this year with my Christmas cleaning and decorating, and was so enjoying the bright sunny days and the light sprinkling of snow that we had here.

I love putting the decorations in their tried-and-tested places - here are just a few.Yesterday just as I was nearly finished and planning to settle down to some festive cooking, Newton decided that this was the perfect time to collapse with severe breathing problems and had to be rushed to the vets, where he is spending his second night tonight. We all miss him and it's been a really worrying time.
I'm ridiculously attached to him as he is my constant companion, so affectionate and full of character, so it's hard to be cheerful, but at least he is being well looked after - we went to see him today and he is in an incubator on oxygen. So we hope he can be home soon, it's not the same without him trying to walk all over the presents under the tree. But I'm thankful of course that it's not one of the boys who is seriously ill.

I hope all of you have a very Happy Christmas and are able to have a rest at some stage!

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Holly Felt Notebook

A friend had asked me to make a present for his wife with some winter leaves on, since she had liked the autumn leaf bag he'd bought for her a few weeks ago. So I of course thought of holly, as you would. I'd saved these Christmas cards from previous years since I liked the design, and so used them as my starting point, minus mice!

Being quite brave and foolish I had a go at cutting holly leaves out of pre-felt and tried wet-felting them onto a background. I never really thought it would work since wet-felting blends all the edges so much, but you never quite know until you try - I thought I might end up with some spiky bits of leaf left, but all I ended up with was oval shapes with fuzzy edges, should have known better really.
So I made another wet-felted flat piece, let it dry, and needle-felted my design onto it. I've not done this before, I've just done 3D birds and a cat, I broke 4 needles (definitely more practise needed) but in the end I was happy with the way it looked. Here is the reverse where you can see all the coloured fibres having been poked through by the needle - when I was finished I lightly wet-felted both sides of the design just to blend everything together.
With the red berries and ribbon to brighten it up I hope it'll be just right for a Christmas present.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Newton Helping

Cats are great at helping wrap presents.
Newton is very hard to remove from a place he is comfortable as he tends to get a bit prickly with his claws, so we didn't try very hard. Every now and then he stretched out further and played with the roll bit of the paper so by the time he eventually moved it had quite a few puncture marks in it.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009


This snowdrop is looking very lonely, all by itself just outside the kitchen door. All the others, which must be different varieties, come out later but this one is always early, though I don't remember it being up before Christmas before.

I'm having a very busy time felting, trying to finish the last few orders and a couple of presents while still leaving myself time to write a few Christmas cards!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

New Ideas for Christmas Decorating

In an ideal world, this is what I would like my room and table to look like this year. The picture is from the new Sarah Raven catalogue (the link is to the house things page), full of beautiful things which I can only take inspiration from, rather than buy. I do have alliums in the garden, so have plans next year to spray paint them silver, and I have a couple of glass tea-light holders, so I might make a start. For a long time now we've had very traditional red and green as our colour scheme, but I liked the bright jewel colours here mixed with the silver and fresh green foliage.

So having seen that picture, I was all ready to attempt aspects of it as I decorated for our church advent meal this evening. We try and make the long run of tables look as pretty as possible for not too much money, so following success last time with free ivy and cheap curling ribbon in red and gold, I waded about in the garden this morning collecting longish lengths of ivy, as did my friend, and we got quite a lot of nice variegated leaves, and here are my ribbons and baubles for this year:

All you do is lay the pieces of ivy end to end in the middle of the table, alternating the way they naturally want to arch if they do, then where they meet tie them together with great long lengths of curling ribbon, threading it through baubles if you have them, curl the ends, and drape the curly bits through the leaves, or across the table.

It's a very simple but effective way of making the tables look attractive- you don't even need baubles really, but they do add a bit of extra sparkle. It did take a while because we had lots of tables, but it will look good when people walk in, and we scattered some tea-lights around too, so it should be welcoming. Shame we couldn't splash out on colour-coordinated chairs and plates too!

Perhaps silver sprayed allium heads next year...
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