Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Wishes

Well, only one more sleep to go and aside from another layer on my ice cream cake for tomorrow's lunch, I'm all set to go. Even though many of you have already signed off for the year, I wanted to wish you all a lovely Christmas - I hope you all have a wonderful time celebrating with your family and friends, enjoy all the delicious food and receive a nice prezzie or two.

Through blogging, I have connected with so many supportive, kind hearted, beautiful individuals and made some truly wonderful friends who inspire me through blogs of their own each and every day. I appreciate the time you all take to read my posts and leave me comments and would like to say thank you to all who follow and read Homely One.

Warm wishes and big hugs to you all and I'll see you back here soon...

I've been flicking through Christmas photos from the past few years - it's been so nice remembering all the special times spent celebrating. I can't believe how little Grace looked in her Christmas photo from last year and how much she's changed in 12 months!

I've just noticed that this is my 200th post - how lovely it fell on Christmas Eve.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Pretty Christmas Presents

What a busy few days we've had recently! On Friday night, we had the cousin's get-together at our house where lots of fond memories of Gran Ivy were shared. On Saturday morning we organised a last minute catch-up with friends of ours from Boston who are in Western Australia over Christmas. Luckily our house was nice and tidy after my big clean up on Friday but I did spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking sausage rolls, whipping up some chicken and aioli sandwiches and baking a chocolate slice. Sunday morning we visited my Mum to swap Christmas presents (she has since left on her trip to the UK and contacted me last night to say they had landed safely in Manchester). Sunday afternoon was a Christmas party with extended family at Paul's uncle's beautiful home overlooking the river. Finally, yesterday was Paul's Gran's funeral which was a lovely service and fortunately, I managed to keep Grace occupied with bits and bobs from my handbag and she was very well behaved all day.

As for Christmas preparations, I've finally wrapped all our presents. I went with a red and white colour theme and used red and white printed gift wrap and a roll of polka dot paper too. With some gifts, I wrapped a band of contrasting paper around before tying on a ribbon. I didn't wrap all our presents prettily (especially not the children's presents!!) I just focused on the gifts for friends and family who I knew would appreciate a carefully wrapped gift. It was wonderful that the ribbons and bakers' twine Catherine included in the little package she sent me were all red and white colours too as they fit in perfectly.

As for gift tags, I used a combination of the lovely ones Catherine made and sent to me (you can see her kraft paper ones in the photo above) and then, the other day I spotted a roll of packaging tape which matched the one she had used on her tags so I bought some and used it to make some more simple tags of my own. I also used the tape on a few presents which you can see below.

I truly do enjoy giving gifts more than receiving them. I like to think I've carefully chosen a gift that will be appreciated and enjoyed and even more, my favourite part of Christmas preparations is wrapping all the presents. I do still have half of one gift to buy (although I'm hoping Paul will sort that one out for me) and I need to get something small for Grace but apart from that, all I need to do before Christmas is make two desserts and I'm all set!!

How are all your Christmas preparations going?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday Flower

Today I thought I'd follow Laura from A Place For Tea's lead and write a Friday Flower post. The pretty bloom above is from the potted hydrangea on our patio. I'd like to dedicate this flower to a few special ladies...

Firstly to Paul's Gran Ivy who passed away this week. She reached the amazing age of 90 and I am hoping that the funeral next Tuesday will be a real celebration of her life. She was a sweet old lady and I know Paul has many happy memories of her from his childhood.

Secondly to Nicole and Mirela who passed on some lovely awards to me this week and to my good friend Janette who gave me the 'You Are Gifted Award' she received from Nicole too.

And lastly, to Jane of My Pear Tree House who has a tough road ahead of her - she needs all the prayers and positive thoughts she can at this difficult time.

Now I'm off to tidy up as we have all Paul's cousins coming around to our house tonight to work on writing a tribute to be read out on Tuesday. Our house is a mess so I need to do a quick tidy up. The Christmas present wrapping I had planned will have to wait until tomorrow - I'm going with a red and white theme and will share some photos on the weekend. Enjoy your Friday evening...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Two Lovely Awards

I had a lovely end to my day last night after discovering I was the recipient of two blogging awards from two lovely blogging friends…

Mirela from Melli’s Designs has passed on the ‘A Blog With Substance’ award to me. Mirela is so sweet and such an encouraging friend and I am honoured to receive this award from her. Now I would like to pass it on to two bloggers whose blogs I feel make for great reading and provide lots of inspiration:

Jane of Life On Planet Baby
Abby of Two Little Dicky Birds

Also, Nicole from Bubby Makes Three passed on the ‘You Are Gifted’ award which she’s started up to celebrate the Christmas season and to recognise the gifts of fellow bloggers. Nicole’s posts are always entertaining – I love her wit and her humorous style of writing and I relate to so much of what she shares. I was so happy to be included in her list of bloggers.

I would like to pass on this award to the following lovely ladies:

Anna from Lona de Anna – Anna's blog is full of inspiration for all things interiors and she is such a supportive blogging friend. The comments she leaves on my blog are always so honest and wise and for this I am very grateful. Her gift is the way she encourages others through her kind comments.

Sarah from One Perfect Day – Through her blog, Sarah shares the special day to day moments with her precious little boy. Her gift is the way she encourages others to appreciate the simple pleasures in life and for being such an inspirational mummy to me.

Tina from Rubies Place – Aside from being one of the loveliest bloggers I have encountered here in blogland, Tina is extremely creative and shares the most wonderful ideas and tutorials on her blog. Her gift is the way she inspires us all with her DIY projects and for the generous way she encourages us to give such projects a go ourselves.

There are so many bloggers I could have passed the above awards on to – so many of you inspire me every day with the posts you share and are such wonderful supporters of my blog – I appreciate each and every one of you.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Forgotten Photos

I love that feeling of discovering something you'd forgotten about - money hidden in a coat pocket, a chocolate bar stashed at the back of the pantry or as was the case for me on the weekend, photos I'd forgotten I'd snapped. Since getting our new DSLR, our poor point and shoot hasn't had as much use. However, yesterday when I went to bring it to a Christmas party, I discovered some snaps I hadn't yet downloaded. Here are my two favourite ones...

Yesterday's function was an extended family lunch with cousins and aunts and uncles. We had a great time catching up and enjoying all the delicious food. This coming weekend we have Paul's work party on Saturday night and a family get together with Paul's side on Sunday afternoon. Such a busy time of year but so lovely spending time with family and friends.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Progress

I have really enjoyed browsing through posts this week about how others are decorating their homes for Christmas - there is so much inspiration to be found. I initially had visions this year of making lots of Christmas bits and pieces but the last few weeks have left little time for anything but looking after Grace and so my grand plans will have to wait until next year unfortunately. Being a bit older Grace will be able to join in with the crafty fun a bit more then too.

At least our Christmas tree is up and decorated (although it does look a little bare. It is proving to be a bit too tempting for Grace though and has been pulled over twice (luckily I hadn't hung any fragile ornaments this year). I think presents under the tree will definitely have to wait until Christmas Eve!

Yesterday, I received my first gift of the Christmas season. I arrived home after being out present shopping (am halfway through thankfully) to find a parcel on my front door step from Catherine of A Time To Create. Through our blogs, Catherine and I have become good friends. She is one of those bloggers I 'click with', who thinks similarly, has common interests and hobbies and who inspires me so much. So many of Catherine's posts are saved under my 'to make' and 'to cook' folders. When I opened the box, there was such a beautifully wrapped gift inside. I was so overwhelmed that little tears sprang to my eyes. Knowing how much I admire Catherine's crochet and crafting which she shares on her blog, she sent me a book called 'Learn To Crochet', some crochet wool, a crochet hook, a package of her beautiful handmade Christmas tags and a beautiful star garland. I was so touched by Catherine's kind gesture and feel so grateful to have made such a wonderful blogging friend. When I hang my garland and wrap my presents using the gorgeous tags I have received, I'll share some more photos.

Wishing you all a lovely weekend ahead. What do you all have planned?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bedroom Colour

A little while back, my sister and I went for morning tea with my Mum. On our way home, we stopped at the flower sellers along Beaufort Street where Mum bought each of us a bunch. The yellow blooms I chose added a nice bright pop of colour to our bedroom where I placed them. I'd never considered using yellow in our bedroom but having these flowers beside my bed made me rather like the sunny touch it added, especially when teemed with the aqua hints already in our room.

I have also been thinking of ideas for something to hang from the ceiling hook in our room to fill in that corner and provide some visual interest. One afternoon, I was playing around with options and strung up the polka dot bunting from Grace's party to get the idea of the possible length I could work with. While the polka dots are the wrong colour for our room, I've decided to try making a new polka dot garland in more suitable colours or perhaps from something like old maps of meaningful places we've visited.

After the busy Christmas season, I'd like to look for two new wall lamps for above our bed and to decide on some new curtains. I have no idea what colour to go with to complement the white, stony greys and dark wood in our room, all I know is we need something fresh. I'm looking forward to adding the finishing touches on this room in the New Year... makeovers in our home seem to take forever!

P.S Thank you all for your comments and recommendations on my kitchen mixer post - I will read them again carefully before I decide to make a purchase...

Monday, December 6, 2010

Kitchen Mixer

I am in desperate need of a kitchen mixer. As you all know, I love to bake and for the five and a half years we've been in our house, I've made do with a pair of handheld electric beaters. This hasn't been too much of an issue, except on the occasion that a recipe has stated 'beat for ten minutes'. However, seeing as I enjoy cooking so much, I've decided that it's time to buy myself an actual mixer.

As much as I love the look of a Kitchen Aid, I don't know if I can justify the huge price tage that accompanies it when it would spend most of its time hidden away in a cupboard. I also love the old vintage Sunbeam mixmasters like the one above. I remember reading a post of Simone's at Beach Vintage and admiring her lucky thrift shop find when she scored one. Sunbeam still do a retro looking mixer which I was all set to buy recently until I read a few product reviews online which were definitely not 'glowing reports'.

So I'm turning to all of you for advice. Which mixer do you have? What do you like or dislike about it? Is there anything I should consider when making a purchase? Hopefully there will be some good deals in the post-Christmas sales so I can make a purchase then but in the meantime, I'd love to hear your recommendations.

Source of image above unknown

Friday, December 3, 2010

This Week...

...I've finally made a small start in getting ready for Christmas. Yesterday, Grace and I put up the Christmas tree. The fairy lights are on but I have yet to add the decorations. I'm debating whether to put them on the higher branches out of Grace's reach or whether to buy or make some simple ones that will be safe for little hands. This weekend's job is to write out our Christmas cards ready to be posted.

...I have found some time to enjoy reading. I have just finished the novel 'Homecoming' and am now a few chapters into 'What We Have'. I forgot how much I love getting stuck into a good story and as much flicking through a magazine is one of my favourite ways to relax, becoming engaged in a good plot with interesting characters is fun too.

...I've become very well aquainted with the 'nursing' chair in Grace's room. Grace has had a week of very unsettled nights due to two nasty teeth that are beginning to appear. This has meant cuddles have been needed in the early hours of the morning and I have since reached the conclusion that although I like our Ikea Poang chair, it is definitely not a chair I would use in a nursery in the future.

...I have appreciated the supportive comments from my readers. After a week of feeling frazzled and sleep deprived, it has truly made my day to see a comment has been left on a post I've written. I feel so lucky to be part of such a supportive blogging community.

Source of image above unknown

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

New Kitchen Touches

I was flicking through some photos I’d taken recently with our new camera and realised I hadn’t yet shared a few small additions to our kitchen. Back in February when I posted some kitchen snaps as part of my Homely One House Tour, things were looking rather bare. Our kitchen is relatively new following a big renovation (see here for before and after shots) and I had mentioned it was lacking those finishing off touches that add warmth and character to a room. I am slowly making progress in this area.

One of the additions we’ve made is a little shelf above our bench. I wanted a ‘tea and coffee making station’ close to the kettle as walking back and forth from the pantry wasn’t practical, especially with me who enjoys several cuppas each day. After searching and searching, I eventually found the perfect canisters to put on top of the floating Ikea shelf I had Paul install. Not only does this make things more easily accessible, it adds something to the previously bare wall.

Also, I have found a better ‘home’ for my recipe books and folders which were previously hidden down the bottom of one of the kitchen cupboards making them very difficult to use. With some inspiration from Nicole’s kitchen, I now have them positioned neatly above the fridge. My recipe folders (which I talked about in a previous post) are separated into two Kikki K magazine holders (one for savoury things like meat and pasta and one for sweet things like cakes and desserts). Any ‘not so attractive’ books are kept in the third holder. Inspired by a post on Nina’s blog, I made some ‘Dymo’ looking labels using a free font found online.

There are still several bits and pieces needed to finish off our kitchen but I’m liking the way things are headed and now have a clearer picture in mind of the look I’m aiming for.