Saturday, 24 December 2016

What's In My Christmas Eve Box? (2016)

Merry Christmas Eve, everyone!

I hope you're having a magical Christmas Eve, however you're spending it.

I've just been having a quiet day at home with the dog this year, since Marie and Steve are visiting his family in Scotland, my parents have been out at the family gathering in Worcester (and I was in too much pain to go), and my younger sister, Sarah, didn't surface until half five. I'd normally be baking in the kitchen with Marie and tying up loose ends, so I wasn't quite sure what to do with myself this morning! I've watched some Christmas movies, eaten some tasty food, blown up some confetti balloons for my Mum, who turns sixty tomorrow, and have started to enjoy some of the contents of my Christmas Eve box. I can think of far worse ways to spend a Christmas Eve!


A few Christmases ago, I started the tradition of making myself a Christmas Eve Box full of goodies to enjoy on Christmas Eve night as I count down the last few hours until Christmas morning. I always enjoy them, so of course I just had to put one together to pamper myself with this Christmas, too. I had intended to blog about it sooner, but I ran out of time, 'cause  I'm just that useless.


For those of you who don't already know, a Christmas Eve box is basically a hamper of lovely things for the perfect festive night in. Think new pyjamas, Christmas movies, hot chocolate, popcorn, candles, face masks and so on. You can make them for anybody of any age by personalising the contents to suit the person who will receive them and by selecting age appropriate items, so you can make one for yourself, your kids, to enjoy with your partner, or for the whole family. I'm single and don't have kids, so I put one together for myself, and included some stuff to share with my family. 


So, what have I put in my Christmas box this year?

♥ A cosy new pair of pyjamas. This PJ set from Dorothy Perkins with burgundy heart print bottoms, and a peach tee with a cute bunny motif.
♥ Elegant Touch false nails, some Paperchase nail wraps, and a red glitter Ciaté nail polish. I obviously won't be using them all at once, but I like to have options.
♥ Christmas With The Coopers on DVD- a new to me Christmas film. I've watched a few others from my DVD collection, too.
♥ My beautiful copy of A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Stories, to read before bed.
The Body Shop Frosted Cranberry bath and shower gel, in case I was up for a bath or shower, which sadly I wasn't.
♥ Three Yankee Candle votive candles in Christmas Eve, Candy Cane Lane, and Macaron.Treats. Again, I haven't used all three at once, but it's nice to have options.
♥ L'Oreal Pure Clay face mask to give my skin a treat.
♥ A Christmas mug from Cath Kidston. I totally forgot to add in the hot chocolate I had in the cupboard for the photos.
♥ Ferrero Rochers, a box of Cadbury Roses, and some Butterkist Chocolate and Salted Caramel popcorn.

You know, the essentials. 

I've had a lovely lazy Christmas Eve night in thanks to this lovely lot, and I'm just about ready to drift off to dream land ready to find out what Christmas brings.

Merry Christmas! 

Have you put together a Christmas Eve box this year? What did you put in it?

Friday, 23 December 2016

Escape To Christmas Past Adult Colouring Book Review

Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is one of the most well known and beloved Christmas stories of all time. You've probably read the book, you've likely seen at least one of the movie adaptations, and now you can bring the story to life through colouring. Yep, that's right, there's now an A Christmas Carol inspired adult colouring book, called Escape To Christmas Past, and being a fan of the story, I just had to get my hands on a copy to unwind with this Christmas.





Escape To Christmas Past tells the story of A Christmas Carol through beautiful, detailed line-drawing illustrations, so it's basically like a picture-book for adults that you can colour in. The illustrations will lead you through Scrooge's journey of enlightenment and transformation as he returns home to the tormented ghost of Marley on Christmas Eve, learns the lessons from the ghosts of Christmases past, present and future, and finally makes his transformation from a bitter, miserable old money-lender to a kind, generous gentleman on Christmas morning.





The book is filled with a wide variety of Dickensian illustrations, from the ghosts of Christmas and the roof tops of London, to cameos of Scrooge and Victorian typography, to hum-bugs and the graveyard where Scrooge discovers his future fate if he doesn't learn the error of his ways. The book is also filled with dozens of illustrations of all the splendours of a traditional Victorian Christmas, from lanterns and figgy pudding, to decadent desserts and beautiful decorations, carol singers and crackers, to partridges and poinsettias, so you don't have to be a fan of A Christmas Carol to enjoy this colouring book. If you love colouring, Christmas, and the Victorian era, there's a good chance this book will interest you, too!



The majority of the illustrations are drawn in thinly-lined black ink on cream-coloured paper with generous detail, although there are a handful on a black background which helps to keep the book fresh and interesting. The pages are made of reasonably thick paper, so I'd recommend sticking to colouring pencils as the illustrations are printed back to back, and some ink does bleed through, ruining the picture on the other side.

The book is a medium-sized colouring book, about the height of a paperback novel in length and width, so each picture won't take weeks to complete, but should keep you busy for a at least a few hours at a time. It would be perfect for enjoying while travelling to visit family and friends this Christmas, winding down with in front of the TV after a busy day, and for destressing with if Christmas doesn't go quite as perfectly as you hoped for.

I personally think it's a beautiful Christmas colouring book, and I'm gutted that I've been suffering from a bad arthritic flare in my hands all month, as I had hoped to colour my way through it this December, but hopefully I'll do better next year.



Escape To Christmas Past retails for £6.99, and should be available from all good book shops now. I bought my copy from Amazon here.

Have you picked up a Christmas colouring book to enjoy this Christmas?

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My Handmade Christmas Crackers 2016

I've lost count of how many years I've been making my own Christmas crackers for my family to enjoy during Christmas dinner, but it must be at least seven or eight years by now. I don't make the crackers entirely from scratch; I always buy a kit from Hobbycraft with pre-cut flat-pack crackers included, so I actually only construct and fill / personalise them, but potato, patato.



I finally found the time to make this year's crackers yesterday afternoon, while watching Kirstie's Handmade Christmas which always leaves me wanting to make all the things. It took me less than half an hour to make all six, but if I hadn't also been watching the TV, I would've been done in ten. They're so, so easy to make, and you don't even have to be particularly crafty to be able to make them. You roll the card in to a cylinder-shape, slot the three tabs in to the slots, tie one end with ribbon to cinch the card in to the cracker shape, fill with goodies, cinch in the other end, and voila, you're done!


This year I've kept it simple, and just filled the crackers with chocolate. In the past I've also filled crackers with scratch cards, nail polishes, and I think even some mini beauty products at one point, but I had to watch the pennies this year, and chocolate is always a winner. I went for Guylian Temptations chocolates as I remember everybody went mad for these chocolate truffles last Christmas. They were only a fiver for a big bag full, and since each cracker only had room for four each, there are plenty left over to enjoy over the festive season! Yay! The praline seahorses have my name on them!



I think the crackers are going to go down a treat with my family on Christmas Day. If they don't, well, then all the more for me!

Have you ever made / filled your own Christmas crackers before or do you prefer to stick to store-bought sets?

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Getting Ready For Christmas

I'm sorry it's been a little quiet on the blog over the last few days. I had hoped to blog every day this month and had so many posts planned, but I've been completely out of action for over a week (so far), struck down by some of the most unbearable chronic pain I've ever had. I haven't been able to take blog photos for the rest of my Christmas blog posts yet or felt up to typing, so a lot of posts have had to go out the window. It totally sucks, but there isn't anything I can do about it, and I (reluctantly) have to put my health first.



I basically started getting severe pain tingling electrically like pins and needles in my back after wrapping up some presents last week, which spread from a small area to my entire back over night. Over the weekend it finally died down but quickly evolved in to scalding hot pain in my lower back that literally feels like I'm being scalded with boiling water or being burnt with an iron. On top of that, my sciatica has began raging in both legs from hip to toe, and I'm having similar electric tender pain in my arms now, too, which began a couple of days ago. The pain hasn't been this bad in years. I've been living in extreme pain for over five years, but even as a chronic pain sufferer, I'm finding the pain unbearable. I am beginning to worry that something is wrong, but it's hard to know whether it is, or if I'm just having a particularly bad flare or just over did it trying to get organised for Christmas. I probably should go see a doctor, but I'm going to see how it goes over the next few days before I consider it, as I don't particularly want to spend Christmas waiting around for hours in a hospital waiting room, or worse, getting scanned or finding myself hospitalised. I'm hoping it will just magically improve on its own so I can enjoy Christmas and life can get back to normal, but I guess we shall see.

Anyway, thanks to my health, I haven't really been able to enjoy the festivities, or do an awful lot, but I have managed to do a few bits and pieces from my sick bed, mostly lots of crafting, so I thought I'd share some photos of how I've been preparing for Christmas this year.



I've not been able to decorate the house for Christmas this year- for the first time ever, which I'm so sad about- but I was determined to put decorations up in my bedroom so I could still enjoy a little festive cheer from bed. It did take me almost a fortnight to get all of my decorations up, and apparently my bedroom looks like Christmas has thrown up on it, but it looks so festive, and I'm loving it, so who cares? I'll try to blog a little Christmas bedroom tour in the next couple of days so you can see it for yourselves.










I made a start on wrapping up Christmas presents just over a week ago, using the loveliest Cath Kidston mid-century style wrapping paper, ribbons, and jingle bells. I powered through and did some more yesterday, but I still have more to wrap before the weekend.


I wrote all of my Christmas cards last week, using the cutest fifties-style Christmas cards I picked up on sale from Cath Kidston earlier in the year. They're actually from a few Christmases ago but I don't mind because they're lovely. I couldn't resist stamping the envelopes with a Christmas stamp and gold ink.

Last weekend, I spent a relaxing half an hour linking colourful polka dot paper chains, which, shock horror, were also from Cath Kidston. What can I say? I may have a slight Cath Kidston addiction. The paper chains are now hanging up across the beam in the kitchen, as I felt it needed brightening up with some colour.

I spent almost every night during the first half of the month cross stitching dozens of tiny Christmas trees and snowflakes on to my Christmas sampler, and finally finished it last week. I didn't think I'd have enough time to finish it before Christmas, so I'm feeling really pleased and productive right now. I'll blog the finished project as soon as there's some decent daylight to show it off properly.


I've also found time to stitch another one of my Riverdrift House Christmas cross stitch cards, and have made a start on a second. I'm hoping I can finish it and the last two I have to make before Christmas, but with so many other things to do, I don't know if I'll find the time to make all three. I have done a little more since I took this photo yesterday afternoon, though, so who knows.

I also got started on making some festive hoop art over the weekend, using embroidery hoops, felt, and the adorable fifties-style Christmas fat quarters I bought from Hobbycraft a few months ago. I feel like I'm on a roll with crafting at the moment! I still have a few more to make and need to add ribbons and some kind of embellishments to finish them off, and I need to re-do the large blue hoop as the fabric has loosened, but I'm really pleased with what I've done so far. I impress myself sometimes with what I can do when I set my mind to it! I've never made hoop art before nor have I ever tried to blanket stitch (to finish the backs), so they're not bad for a first attempt! 

And that is how I've kept myself busy over the last few weeks. I still have presents to finish wrapping, Christmas crackers and table favours to make, and a couple of parcels to post, but apart from that, I'm just about organised for Christmas now. Just as well, really, as I haven't got the energy for anything else!

How have you spent your free time so far this Christmas? Are you organised for it yet?

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Sunday Favourites: Christmas Special #217

With just a week to go 'til Christmas Day, I'm sure you're busy running around like a headless chicken getting ready for the big day, so take a load off for five minutes, grab yourself a cuppa, and unwind with this week's Sunday Favourites. 

This week's post is another Christmas special, and I've packed it full of the most colourful Christmas inspiration I could find. I hope you enjoy it.


This DIY retro camper van gingerbread house is the coolest food creation I've ever seen.




I'm loving all of these gift wrap ideas from Studio DIY.

How cute are these Christmas tree name cards?!


Some wonderful bright and colourful gift wrapping inspiration for those of you who want to steer away from traditional Christmas colours and prints.

These DIY Christmas tree confetti cones are so eye-catching.


These DIY glitter scallop ornaments are super cute.



It  might be a little late for Advent calendar inspiration, but I just had to include this one anyway because it looks so lovely.





Oh  Happy Day have some of the cutest party wear in the land, and they sure know how to put together pretty flatlays to show them off.


I want to make this amazing DIY Christmas lights sweater! It looks awesome!




These nail decals from Sokay Designs are pretty darn cute. (Christmas presents // Frosty the Snowman // Snowman).


This DIY holly banner is adorable. 



These reindeer pinatas are quite possibly the cutest decorations I've ever seen.



I'm drawing lots of decorating and display inspiration from this studio tour from Studio DIY






These Christmas cookies from Holly Fox Design are almost too cute for words. (Light Bulbs // Mini Mittens // Snowflakes // Presents and Trees).

These DIY present balloons are a fun way to brighten up a party of gathering this Christmas.


I love these mismatched DIY Christmas crackers.



I'm crazy about this DIY pom pom Christmas tree. I don't know what it is about paper honeycomb decorations, but I bloody love them!


This tie-dye yule log is all kinds of amazing! Only problem is it looks far too good to eat.


I can't find the link for the actual post, but this colourful Christmas tree cake topper / decoration looks fantastic.

Looking for some crafting inspo? How about these three fun ways to decorate your Christmas baubles?




This Christmas tree skirt is wonderful.




And last but by no means least, if you're looking for a unique way to decorate your tree this Christmas, what about going for a floral theme, like this beautiful floral tree DIY?

For more Christmas inspiration, check out my Christmas boards on Pinterest. 

Thanks for reading! Have a great day!
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