Archive for the 'Christmas & Holidays' Category

mtp

Gifts for the Head Gardener

gifts

It’s Chriiiiistmas! My most favourite time of the year. Because I get to put up my snow village, and dust off all my lovely Christmas ornaments, and drink Baileys every night without guilt. And of course snuggle down with my boys infront of a roaring fire and force them to watch The Snowman again, and again.

But also lovely, lovely gardening gifts. I can but dream.

Raffia – for tying all those bunches of Carrots together or gifting some Sunflowers to the neighbours.
Tool Belt – So I can at least like I know what I’m doing.
Orchard ladders – for those of us who are planning to have trees to prune come this time next year!
The New English Garden – A new book by Tim Richardson
Decomposition Notebook – I already have one but they are just lovely.
Pre-lit branches – You can find them just about anywhere really.
Micro Greens Seeds – I’d like to jump on that bandwagon.
Dramm Garden Hose – ooh colourful
Vintage Seed Packets – I could just put new seed in them!
Old Tools – Yard sales and flea markets are the best place for these.
Hunter Wellies – I promise never to get lost in my garden again.
Print of Granchester Orchard – ah, England my England.
Miniature Glass Greenhouse – I know!

mtp

At the Pumpkin Patch

pumpkin patch

At the pumpkin patch. Along with the thousands of other people on this gorgeous day!

mtp

A Neat Little Box of Pears

One of our neighbours gave us this lovely box of Pears for a Christmas gift. Such a simple but beautiful thing, I was a little jealous I hadn’t thought of it first. The red blush on the fruit sets off the green packing nicely and gives it the perfect Christmassy feel.

Fruit is such a decadent thing that it’s the perfect Christmas present. When you think how long it takes to grow this many Pears (three years for a tree to come into fruition at least) and the care and attention that someone put in to produce such blemish-free fruit. They really are a treat and something to be celebrated, boxed up and given to friends and neighbours.

Once my fruit trees are producing enough I’m definitely doing this with my own fruit. I might even have a little photo on the lid that says ‘from the orchard of…’ Love it.

mtp

Father Christmas Mugs

Merry Christmas Eve! We’re spending most of today sitting around the fire, watching Christmas movies and drinking eggnog.

These are my vintage 1950s Santa mugs from Japan. They make the eggnog taste sooo good!

We’re so excited!

You could never buy eggnog in the shops when I lived in the UK so I always made my own. Here is my Eggnog recipe if you feel like giving your relatives a delicious, heartwarming treat!

mtp

Early Morning Christmas

I woke up early this morning. Around six actually. I was woken by a small boy in my bed asking me to, ‘find his blanky’. Well, I couldn’t refuse and so up I got. When we came downstairs the sun was just coming up and the sky was a perfect dark blue. So we did the only thing we could do, we turned on all the Christmas lights snuggled and watched Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas (again). And it was lovely.

The strange light outside made all the decorations look different.

These are my Simpich Dolls which were a gift from my husband’s mum. She had been collecting them for years. They make me think of Dickensian London.

This is some mistletoe that our neighbour gave me. I love the Scandinavian style ribbon on it. And the candle is a Christmas spice that I bought from a friend’s daughter.

mtp

Fresh Christmas Wreaths

As part of a fundraiser for my local pre-school I’ve been selling Christmas wreaths. This kind of thing is fairly new to me but I had so much fun doing it.

As someone who’s new to the neighbourhood it was a great opportunity to get to know people. I knocked on doors around the area and sold beautiful, fresh wreaths and for a good cause too! Most neighbours invited me in, sat me down infront of their cosy fires and offered me tea, or wine or eggnog or both! I got to see inside some homes that I’d never been in and now I feel like I really do know my neighbours better.

When the wreaths arrived I enlisted some help to help me deliver them.

And we took a lovely family walk delivering our Christmas goodies. It almost felt like bringing a gift. And if no-one was home we even hung them on the door for them – now that’s service!

There is something special about fresh greenery on the door at Christmas. It’s so inviting and colourful and smells wonderful too. Christmas is my very favourite time of year!

mtp

Christmas Cookie Time

Christmas cookies don’t last long in our house. I made these little blue ones as a trial run for the cookie exchange that my neighbour is doing next week. I used the Sugar Cookies recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. And they were amazing!

They went missing in about five minutes. With only a tiny blurred hand as evidence.

I think I know who did it!

…my snow village is out. When I packed up all the delicate little boxes last year, knowing that they would have to make the long and bumpy ride to America on a container ship, I feared for them. I’ve made one every year for the last few years and while I’m handy with a pair of scissors and some glue I’m no miniature model-maker. So as you can imagine they are pretty but not too sturdy.

When I unpacked them here they were in perfect shape. Like they had never been on a journey at all. I had to buy some more twinkly lights to go underneath the snow, since the old ones had a UK plug on, and I had to re-apply some spray snow here and there to touch up the gaps. But other than that they look very at home on our new book shelf.

Infact… the new bookshelf is so long that the snow village could safely double in size and still fit. So I’m looking forward to a few more years of sticking and gluing and spraying. Last year we made this little snowy cottage. This year I’ve got my sights on something a little grander. Maybe a turret or two? We’ll see.

mtp

A Day at the Pumpkin Patch

Today, we visited a local Pumpkin farm with the pre-school. I was excited because I’ve never visited a Pumpkin farm before. Back in the UK Pumpkin farms are hard to come by. There are some but as the summers are not predictable I’m sure it’s not very stable business for farmers. Here in Portland, however the situation is very different. With the longer summer temperatures and sunshine (although I’ve been assured this is usually sunny for October) Pumpkins do very well here.

The children were here to harvest the Pumpkins sown by the previous class in May. It was a sweet idea – that a child who was a year older than you left you a ‘present’ in the ground and it grew to become a Pumpkin. We soon located the one for us and Jackson held on to it tightly.

The number of different varieties that were grown here was impressive. This knobbly variety is actually called, Red Warty Thing, which is a brilliant name for what can only be described as a red warty thing.

Other varieties included New Moon, Jack Be Little, Swan Neck Gourds, Baby Boo, Apple Gourd and Bat Wing Pumpkins.

This one is called Lil Pump Ke Mon.

The farmers even decorated the hay wagon with corn and dried flowers. It was all lovely.

And best of all it’s made me very excited to grow Pumpkins next year. I’m already thinking about which seed varieties I’ll be buying and where to plant them.

mtp

Camping in a Van

Last week we took a weeks holiday in a campervan. As a family we’ve never done that before and so it was all new. The children were very, very excited about it. I’m not sure what it was about a campervan that piqued their interest so much.

Maybe, it was the fact that it was a ‘house on wheels’ or that the beds were high up, like bunk beds but with little curtains that you could peep out of. But whatever it was, this was the most excited I’d seen them about anything, ever. Including, the time a policeman stopped and said ‘are you alright mate?’ directly to Jackson.

I was excited about our holiday too. I always look forward to camping-style holidays. I like getting all my camping cookware out and using my red kettle! But mostly, and I think this comes from the gardener in me, I like the fact that camping ‘forces’ you to be out of doors.

We BBQ’d every night. Some nights were lovely and sunny and we sipped wine and read magazines while the food cooked. Other nights were cold and we needed layers and blankets and extra coals on the fire to keep warm. But the fact is we were still out there, cooking. You just don’t do that at home.

I also have a teeny weeny obsession with dusk and the light that it creates. Ask my husband, I will stay out longer than anyone else. He’s freezing and I want to stay, ‘just five minutes longer?’. I want to see what it looks like when the candle flame starts to glow, or what my book looks like when we really do need the lantern to see.

The other thing I love about camping holidays is that you just spend time together, with no schedule. Often we would just ride our bikes around and around the campsite. Or sit and watch as the boys got filthy playing in muddy puddles.

Or when it rained we sat around the kitchenette table and talked and drank tea (and beer), and ate cake, and drew pictures, and read books. For hours. I can’t remember the last time I did that.

I’m starting to think that possibly, just possibly, I fill my time with too much stuff. Always coming and going, and thinking of a trip here or an outing there. And maybe what I need to do is spend some more time doing nothing with the people I love.

Next »