Hi, thanks for stopping by the blog to see what I'm up to. I've been working on and off for a couple of months on a Christmas story. It's been great during our Melbourne lock down to have a sweet story to retreat to in a setting close to my heart.
If you'd like to read about how it all started and take a peak into my creative process read on.
It all began when I decided to participate in a Melbourne Romance Writers Guild online writing challenge. The first consideration was, what can I realistically commit to? I hadn’t written any new words for a long time because I’d been reworking a book I wrote earlier. To fire up my creative spark, I needed the excitement of a fresh story. Also, I craved writing something unlike anything I had ever done before.
What would give me joy? What would be a pleasure to immerse myself in? Christmas in July came to mind. I love Christmas shops, the ones that are stuffed full with happiness decor. Elves and Santas, fairies and angels, nativity scenes and forest animals, I love them all. Anyone who knows me can tell you how much I love Christmas decorating. I have posts about it on my blog under the Christmas category.
It wasn’t long after I started imagining a cute Christmas shop that Samantha Bell, the shop’s owner, made her appearance behind a counter tucked into a corner. She turned and looked at a staircase that led to a mezzanine area full of boxes crammed to the ancient oak beams. Then she looked out the shop’s front glass door. The street outside was in an English village that was paved in brick and lined with Tudor style shops. I had my heroine and the setting and the beginnings of a Christmas novel.
Samantha Bell has been struggling to keep up Jingle Bells, her father’s Christmas shop, since he passed away five years ago. I wondered, in author style, what is the worst thing that could happen to her? I imagined her arriving at the shop one morning, coffee in hand, ready to open up and start her day. It’s the first of October and the official start to her Christmas season. New stock will start arriving today, and the town’s people will be calling in to see the new displays she’s setting up.
But someone has put a piece of paper on the front door with a big red X on it. On closer inspection, the fine print declares that her building has been condemned. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Jingle Bells. Her life, as she’d always known it, would be finished too. How would she provide for herself without the shop?
Samantha heads straight to the council offices to sort out what must be a terrible mistake. It’s here she meets Nicholas Grant, the super organized and efficient manager of the building department. He excels in administering the department codes. Following the guidelines suits him perfectly. Oh, and he doesn’t do birthdays, anniversaries or Christmas. He spends those days with his model railway, which he’s very proud of.
But there’s something about blond curls and red cheeks and tears in blue eyes that make Nicholas look a little closer into Miss Bell’s situation. It seems a fire report has been the cause, strange that it hadn’t been flagged until now. Then he remembers how her father, always came to the orphanage, where Nicholas lived for six years, dressed up as Santa Clause to give presents to the orphans. Miss Bell had accompanied him, dressed as an elf. She was all grown up now at five feet tall, but she still has blue eyes, bouncing blond curls, and red cheeks.
Before Nicholas knows it he’s up to his armpits in helping Miss Bell to unravel the council’s building codes that apply to her shop. With his help she starts to see that she needs to step up and take responsibility for all that comes with owning a business and he helps her to discover her full creative potential.
What he doesn't know is that Miss Bell is going to be the catalyst for him to face something dark from his past. Something that is keeping joy from his life. It's Samantha's purpose in life to spread joy where ever she can so she's not going to give up easiliy when Nicholas begins to push her away.
I'm working on having it ready for release around this time next year, but if anything changes or when the release is due, I plan on including that kind of information in my newsletter that I'll have up and running soon so if you'd like to be on the list, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll make sure you get an update.
Part of this blog are an extract from my Romancing the Genres post this September. It has been updated with the latest on how the novel is progressing and I added the photos.
Until next time, happy reading.
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I'm so sad for the vibrant, romantic and beautifully full of life country I visited last November. My heart goes out to all who are living a very different life than they could have ever imagined.
I'm posting this to honor our guest nation and as a tribute to the beautiful Italians who made our holiday happy, fun and magical.
In this post I'm sharing some memories made in Romantic Venice, Lombardy and Tuscany.
The most prominent memory of our romantic holiday in Italy was a water taxi ride down Venice's Grand Canal. We arrived at our hotel late in the afternoon and so didn't have long to settle in. The tour director was worried that we'd run out of daylight, so there was a rush to get to the booked taxi's waiting for us. We ended up cruising down the length of the stunning Grand Canal, lit with the hue of the setting sun. Losing the light turned out to be a wonderful gift.
The buildings were shown off to the very best advantage with soft light and shadows enhancing their ornately decorated facades.
I can see why photographers call it the magic hour, it was a magical ride as Sam and I stood in the back of the water taxi taking in the fabulous atmosphere and ornate city on the water. I can still feel his arm around my back as we motored through so much beauty. Alone in the back of the boat we kissed.
We alighted at St Marks square and were ushered aboard gondolas for the classic Venice experience. We were wearing our Trafalgar headsets to keep us in contact with the group however we soon forgot about those and were treated to the drama of the canals as the sun set. Later we were served a fish dinner at a restaurant on the canal near our hotel which was delicious.
Next day our walking tour took us to the piazzas where Venetians live in their city without cars. Under each of the many cobble paved piazzas is an ancient collection system for rain water that would be filtered and accessed via a central well.
Our hotel was close to the station and fronted onto the Grand Canal.
After Venice we headed to the lakes district and on the way we stopped for lunch in Milan. We had time to explore before we traveled to our hotel at the Lake Maggiore. Sam and I opted to do take a tour of Teatro alla Scala. So thrilling to see the stage where Katrina Baxter from 'The Italian Billionaire's Secret Baby' danced. Of course I had to get a photo outside with my Italian hero. Although he's an Australian like me, Sam's parents were born and raised in Italy. It was a major life experience for him to connect with his heritage.
The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele has many cafe's for weary tourists to sit and enjoy the atmosphere. I ordered the Milanese Risotto for lunch which was delicious and Sam claims that had the best lasagna of his life.
I love the architecture of this shopping mall. It reminded me of Melbourne's Block Arcade the first time I saw it. I later learned that it was this Galleria that inspired the Architect who designed The Block Arcade.
When we opened the curtains at our hotel room, we were thrilled to find a view overlooking Lake Maggiore. The next day we had a wonderful time cruising on this lake and visited a rather grand house on one of Borromean Islands in the middle.
The grounds were gorgeous too. I later saw them on the telly and had that, 'I've been there', moment.
After the Lakes we headed south to the Tuscan city of Florence. Sam and I went for a romantic horse and buggy ride around the city center. Our guide was a lovely old gent who chatted to Sam in Italian but would occasionally tell me in English when we were passing an important land mark, like the oldest building or the one thousand year old bridge, or point up at George Clooney's apartment, which still makes me smile.
On the last day of our tour we stopped at a postcard perfect picturesque hillside village called San Gimaniano. After walking through the city gates we climbed a narrow cobblestone street, lined with shops to an open square where we had the self proclaimed best gelati in the world.
In between the shops lane ways gave us enticing peaks of the valley below. I had to detour down one and that is how I got this next photo. This has to be the most beautiful photo of our trip.
Since developing as a writer I’ve done a lot of reflective thinking about stories. I’ve discovered that my personal story, that is my life journey has a lot to do with the books I connected strongly with and resonated with me. More than that, it began in childhood.
I also was born with a medical condition that surfaced around age ten. This meant I had, what seemed to me, very long stays in the hospital. I suffered acutely the separation from family life and started to wonder if I would ever get to go home again. My only link was my mother’s daily visits. During those, she read Johanna Spyri’s ‘Heidi’ out loud to me.
I quickly became enraptured in the story of the Heidi, Grandfather, Peter, and the little goats. Although I was stuck in a hospital bed, while Mum read I was running barefoot on the grassy slopes with my new little friend.
I was so sad for Heidi when she was taken away to live with poor Clara. She had to live in the city away from everything she’d grown to love so dearly. There was a happy ending of course and Mum must have chosen this book with care, because Heidi eventually went home, better equipped for life than she was before.
There were lots of story points that resonated strongly with me and still do. I’ve reread it many times over during the years of my life, always gaining something else or being reminded of something important. After I was divorced and enduring an extreme sense of loss of my home and family, I read it again, taking solace in the message that struggle is often a gift, something hard to be learned or endured so that life can change and evolve. And taking comfort from spending time with my childhood friend, Heidi.
I have a new home and am married again. I have someone to love and I’m loved in return by a kind-hearted man. We’re friendly with my ex and are able to celebrate family occasions altogether. When I got divorced, this was the dream I hung on to and it has come true. During the struggle between happy times, I held it in my heart that difficult times pass. I’ll always be grateful for the story of ‘Heidi’, read to me when I was a little girl who wasn't allowed to go home, because the story showed me I had reason to hope.
I have since learned that this hope has lasted all my life. I think it's why I'm drawn to writing romance novels, they are about hope which is expressed through finding a person love and who loves in return. It's about the creation of a new family and home filled with love.
This blog was first posted on Romancing the Genres last Thursday where I am a regular contributor.
Dora Bramden writes heart-melting, passionate, romance.
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Sam loves his pasta, but we have to watch our weight so to give him the comfort food he loves I've started cooking soup with pasta in it to keep him happy. Minestrone is his favorite and it only takes about half an hour to cook from start to finish.
To make it gluten free, I used gluten free penne but any pasta will work. To one litre of stock I use one cup of dried pasta. That will make about 4 serves or for hungry people like us around 3.
Ingredients in order of use
1 tablespoon of olive oil
¼ tsp powdered chilli
½ tsp paprika
Small onion diced
Small carrot diced
1 clove garlic chopped
125 gms minced beef (about a tennis ball sized lump.)
2 slices of ham cut into small squares.
1 can cannelline beans (or whatever you have on hand.)
¼ cup red wine (optional)
1 tin of chopped or crushed tomatoes
1 litre beef stock (I used 4 tsp of beef flavored Massel stock powder to 1 litre of boiling water)
2 bay leaves
1 desert spoon of raw sugar
Salt and pepper to taste,( usually about three or 4 shakes. )
Two sprigs of parsley finely chopped(I get this from my garden.)
1 cup pasta of choice. (Whatever you have on hand will be fine.)
Grated Parmesan to serve.
Hot buttered toast on the side.
How to put it together.
In a saucepan, over medium heat, add the olive oil. After half a minute add the spices and let that bloom in the oil. While that's happening chop your next 2 ingredients. Add the onion and carrot, sweat those off until the onion is turning translucent. Chop the garlic and ham while you wait.
Add the garlic to the pan and stir for half a minute before adding the mince. Stir the mince until you can’t see any pink. Then throw in the ham and beans and let that stir fry for a minute. Add the red wine (if you have it) and wait for it to reduce. When you can't smell the alcohol evaporating anymore, add the tin of chopped tomatoes. Let those bubble for a bit then pour in the stock. Add the remaining ingredients and bring it to the boil.
Let it boil until the pasta is cooked. The soup is now done and it can now be ladled into bowls and served topped with a Parmesan cheese and side of toast. Mr Sam likes to have a traditional glass of wine with his meal, I prefer some lemon juice and soda water.
The benefits of this soup is that it fills us up and stops the urge to snack all afternoon, now that we are home all the time. It also gives me something to do and I feel very much like an authentic Italian wife making this one.
Hope you are keeping well and finding lots to do at home. Besides cooking, I'm catching up on Spring cleaning, even though it's Autumn in Australia, and with the mild weather I'm out in the garden working on rejuvenating some areas and planting some Winter Veg, I'll share that in a future blog. I'm also writing and crafting so there'll be blogs about that also.
Stay safe and thanks for stopping by the blog.
Heart-melting, passionate romance.
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Doing the things that give me energy is essential to my creative process but there's an added bonus, that is huge.
After a lifetime of doing what my head said was right, I'm still learning to listen to the subtle messages from my heart. I've been feeling blocked in my writing and have been meditating on what thought patterns are behind it. While at the same time, I wanted to feel productive, so I turned to doing something that has worked for me in the past.
Working with my hands fires up my creativity. I started making this collage from scrap-booking paper and supplies. I made a good start but the final picture didn't come together in one afternoon. I had to let it sit with me and add extra bits and pieces over time. It was the 'Go Your Way' sign that gelled what my subconscious was trying to tell me.
In my meditations, a recurring theme kept cropping up around worthiness. If anyone had asked me if I felt worthy I'd have said yes, but with a quiet mind during meditation, some big doubts came forward from my subconscious. The solution would take time to emerge, I needed to process the difficult feelings, working on my collage helped me sit with them.
I had an idea that I wanted this collage to reflect my true self, as a way of valuing who I am. I began with adding elements that speak about my favorite things. Predominantly, I wanted something tangible to help me take ownership of what I like about being me. Something I could look at that would remind me of my passions at times of distraction or self doubt.
Roses are my favorite flower. These white roses came in a huge sheet which I fussy cut into odd sections. I love the shabby chic style, pale blue background paper with more subtle roses. The scrapbook script paper refers to my love of writing. This sparkly chandelier has been in my stash for ages and I finally had a reason to use it. There are no less than three chandeliers in our house, even the bathrooms have mini chandeliers, if I count them all that makes five.
The lace I used was also the inspiration for Sam's and my wedding, being traditional and elegant. I've always been enraptured with lace. I love the way the formality of the lace is contrasted with the scrappy paper and how that says so much about my eclectic tastes. I decorate with the odd luxury item and home made sitting side by side. The once gold frame was a cheap thrift store find that I painted white with chalk paint.
I arranged all the mix and match elements and hot glued them down. Next came the dark blue/grey paper butterflys. I always loved them for the promise that one day I'd grow wings. I really feel I'm there, my life is sorted. I've found a loving life partner and established a home for us. Regarding my writing, I have and self published two books and two short stories. These Butterflys now remind me to look for the light. That's what butterflys do, they look for rays of light to dance in.
The little sign, 'Go Your Own Way' summed up both what I needed to acknowledge, and what this work had been leading me to. Going my own way is the how I resolve being worthy. It doesn't matter if I'm good enough, or if I deserve success. I only need to live authentically to be getting it right,and that seems to make the question of being worthy or not irrelevant. Of course I'm worthy of being myself. It's embracing all that is me that makes me feel whole.
I'm very happy to say that I have started working on a new story. The characters are currently making themselves known to me. It exciting to be at the beginning of a new journey but I also have a finished book that needs significant rewrites. The heroine has been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, but I've been holding back from really exploring how deeply this affected her. I think I was afraid of upsetting myself or the reader. But I think every voice that adds to women being deserving of respect and a romantic hero that shows it is a good thing.
There's only one thing to do, and that is to go my own way with this. I need to stop holding back or pulling my punches. This story deserves to be told to the best of my ability and I'm going to do my best for it.
If you've ever felt not good enough or hopeless about achieving something, I totally understand how you feel. Its terrible in the way it cripples creativity. Mt advice is to make a start on something and do it just for yourself. Turn off your inner critic that says it's no good and focus on the fun you're having while you're doing it. Nothing ever has to be perfect, even nature is imperfect.
Thanks for stopping by my blog.
You can find my published books at my Amazon page and you can follow me on Instagram, and my Facebook Page.
Heart-melting, passionate romance.
Recently I was taking part in a discussion in a FB group about why a single person would bother to celebrate Valentine’s Day. It was sparked from a comment from a person who said as they were single they wouldn’t be bothering to craft things or decorate this year. I had to admit that I too had been wondering if I would take much notice of it this year. I’ve just put the house back to order after all the Christmas decorating, did I have the energy? Did I want a lot of hearts everywhere?
But when I thought about what I wanted to say to this lady, that she deserved hearts and flowers and to give them to herself, I had my answer.
It’s sad when someone feels Valentine’s day is just a reminder of their loneliness so I wanted to turn that around. I posted a comment that suggested they make it all about self love. Doing it for themselves. Hearts and flowers for her to enjoy basically. I also needed to remember this applies to me as well. I’m not single now but I was for a long time before Sam came into my life.
To generate love in your life it helps enormously to start with yourself. Filling your well with self appreciation and beautiful things can be done on a very small budget.
I suggested she frame photo’s of her enjoying life, doing things she loves and making some new floral displays. I also suggested she make or buy a Valentine’s day card for herself and write words of all the things she loves about herself in it.
Most crafters have a stash of supplies they can dive into to put some charming vignettes together with a romantic theme. But if you can’t afford flowers a cheap card from the dollar shop can be put in a frame you already have. Displaying some pretty china from your cupboard on the kitchen sink draining rack is so charming. Using cheap gift wrap paper, cut out hearts to either put on the table or glue to a string for a cheap banner. A pink candle in a jar from Kmart is only 75 cents. Tea light candles look pretty in old jam jars that are tied around with ribbon or lace.
I’ve re-purposed a Christmas wreath to make a romantic floral one for my kitchen.
For Christmas, I’d hung a wreath on the range hood flue using a command hook. I liked it there so much that I decided to keep it there but make it over. I pulled off all the red berries and wound some jute twine around the branches pulling them in tight to the wire base. This gave it the look of a mossy base.
Using florals that I’d put away for Christmas, I trimmed the stems short. This mean't trimming the lavender florets away from the lower leaves and using the foliage and blooms seperately. The rose leaves were pushed up the stem to sit directly under the bloom before trimming. Then I pushed them into the wreath going in a clockwise direction. I spaced the roses and lavender and foliage evenly to create a balanced circle. After i'd finished I needed to adjust the stems by bending them so that the flowers faced the way I wanted.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I love crafting for the joyful feelings it creates. It’s an act of self love and so perfect for creating a Valentine's Day atmosphere. Because I’m now married I’m doing it not just for me but for both of us. Sam enjoys all my home made creations and decorating and celebrating our love is a big reason for both of us.
While I’d been wondering if I would bother to decorate for Valentine’s day, this lady’s post helped me clarify what I’d be missing if I didn’t.
Everyone loves someone or is loved by someone. Life these days seems to be full of distractions and pressures. When we distance ourselves from the commercialization of the day, shops pushing expensive roses and jewelry, and keep it simple and personal the true meaning emerges.
Carving out a small amount of time on one day each year to notice all the love in our life, in all its forms can’t be wrong. Making handcrafted decorations and displays for Valentine’s day helps to shift the focus to what really matters for you and your loved ones.
Dora Bramden writes heart-melting, passionate romance.
The Scottish Billionaire’s Secret Lover
The Italian Billionaire’s Secret Baby
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Crafting with pretty paper gives me so much pleasure. Cutting and pasting was a favorite activity when I was young. My thrifty grandmother would make glue on the stove from flour and water and give me magazines to cut out the pictures. These would then be pasted into an old Readers Digest. I didn't mind the writing behind the pictures, I liked the contrasting pattern it made.
When scrap booking became popular I couldn't resist stocking up on supplies. Apart from making pretty photo albums, I enjoy using them for general crafting too. These little notebook covers don't use up a lot of paper but are a treat to put notes in and small enough to pop in my handbag. What writer doesn't have a notebook and pen handy?
I chose papers that have an interesting or beautiful background. I cut them to the size of the notebook plus extra at the top to fold over and glue at the back. I used a double sided tape runner for this but you can use any glue that you have on hand. I then layered embellishments on using hot glue. The notebook above has a fussy cut strip of stripped paper layered with strips of crystal stickers. A raffia bow is layered with a blue organza ribbon bow and a couple of crystal stickers hot glued keep the tails in place.
This shabby chic inspired notebook cover was inspired by the backing paper. It helps to work with a theme if you can.
A cream organza ribbon was layered with a strip of silver sequence. Overlapping that are some raffia strips and a fabric flower.
I found that pulling the petals apart in a small flower and removing the plastic center allowed me to stack them flat with hot glue. I fussy cut a rose from the lace strip that I also used at the top and hot glued a small heart embellishment. A metal embellishments from my stash was glued behind the rose to add texture and interest but also to tie in the small flowers from backing paper.
The lace at the top was added using a fabric glue, which is still a little opaque in this photo as it's not completely dry yet. I used this type of glue because I wanted the lace to wrap around to the back and needed the ability to adjust the lace before the glue dries.
By now you'll be getting the idea that this is a time theme. The butterfly reminds me that time is fleeting and that it takes time for something beautiful to emerge. The hearts are for love. There should always be love in the time we have here.
The embellishments were adding in order of how they appear. the paper strips at the top and bottom were layered onto the backing paper first then the raffia strips.
I like using hot glue because it grabs the embellishment and secures it in place quickly, but do be careful with hot glue, it's easy to burn your fingers. The blue organza ribbon bow echos the shape of the little butterflys, and of course it's pretty.
This last notebook is about the garden and how nature is a gift to us all. The only embellishment I wanted to add was the little metal bee and the strip of text. This sheet of scrapbook paper is so gorgeously detailed it didn't need a lot.
I added the bee because gardens need bees to fertilize the seeds and they give the gift of honey to us. The text 'A GIFT FROM ABOVE' was the closest quote in my stash to express the value of nature. For me it is a gift from God that we need to take care of and be grateful for.
It's lovely creating something beautiful, but as in my writing I like it to say something or express something I feel, mainly joy. The wonderful thing about paper crafting is that there are so many different combinations you can make you'll never run out of inspiration. I included several different styles and color combinations as an example of what can be done.
I hope you enjoyed this paper crafting post, I will be doing more of these in the future with larger projects. I think starting small gives us the confidence to move on to bigger projects.
If you're still with me at the end of this post, thanks so much for stopping by to see what I've up to in my romantic life.
Happy crafting, Dora.
Dora Bramden writes heart-melting, passionate romance.
The Scottish Billionaire’s Secret Lover
The Italian Billionaire’s Secret Baby
For updates on what's happening in my life and book releases, follow me on on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest
Last weekend I went to the Melbourne Romance Writers annual Christmas party. Along with a Kris Kringle Present we each bring a plate to share. It's always an uplifting meeting, we look back on the year and celebrate our highlights. Afterward we have lunch together, As a Coeliac I always take something that is gluten free.
I opted for this vegetable frittata this year. The combination of red onion, red and green capsicum, sweet potato and zucchini and one other secret ingredient tasted great together.
It baked to a nice firm texture that wasn't heavy but traveled well. It could be eaten comfortably using either fingers or a fork.
Nearly all of it was eaten and I was asked for the recipe, which made me think it might be useful to post it here.
One small red onion (diced)
One medium green capsicum (diced)
One medium red capsicum (diced)
Half a medium sweet potato (peeled and sliced thinly)
One medium zucchini (sliced thinly)
half a small head of broccoli (chopped into small pieces)
100 gms tasty cheese (grated)
50 gms melted butter (or margerine or oil)
quarter cup milk (I use lowfat)
one doz eggs (beaten)
Preheat a fan forced oven to 160C. Or without a fan 180C.
Line a rectangle casserole or slice tray with baking paper and begin to layer the vegetables. First the onion and green capsicum, next is the sweet potato, then the zucchini. The last two layers consist of the red capsicum and the broccoli. Top this with the grated cheese.
Add the butter and milk to the beaten eggs and combine. Pour this mix evenly over the vegetables and cheese.
Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes, remove the foil and bake a further 15 minutes until gold brown and set in the middle.
Let stand for five minutes and then cut into serving size pieces.
It tastes very nice at room temperature or reheated and is quite filling. when cut into 12 pieces each person will have one egg in a serve. I cut it into smaller pieces and got about 18 serves.
I wanted to incorporate blue into my Christmas colours this year because I have a lot of blue in my decor already. The rug and cushions have shades of blue which I really love as it's timeless. Think of Willow Pattern China. But to make it Christmasy I also wanted to bring in some red and even touches oflight pink from last year.
As I played with decorations in Kmart, trying them against each other to see how they'd go I discovered a sign that incorportated these colors. All I had to do was copy the combination and ratios of colour for an effect that looks pleasing.
I noticed that there two both light and royal blue mixed with red and pink. The two shades of each color made the combination interesting. I found some wrapping paper with shades of blue Christmas trees and a pink star on top. I grabbed it, planning to wrap presents to put beneath the tree but also had a DIY in mind.
I was inspired to use it to make these pictures similar to ones I'd seen on Olivia's Romantic Home. She framed pink stripped wrapping paper from a roll and hung a wreath in front.
My version in Blues and Red combined with a wreath turned out better that I expected. I like the way it evokes a Hallmark Christmas feeling. I then decided to do another smaller one using some scrap booking supplies and a pick that I had on hand. Again it compliments the wreath and adds a traditional quality.
I used blue and pink baubles on the tree and adding pops of red with berries. I took large berry picks apart and got about three bunches from each one.
Pretty light blue tinsel to remind me of my childhood. We always had a small tree when I was growing up, about the size of the one on the left. I always wished for a big tree and love having one now that I have a home of my own. But I've set that up in the dining room because I've moved the television to the corner where I used to set it up.
To add extra greenery and Christmas abundance, I set up two smaller trees as well. To make it feel like a forest I hung the peg stars that I made last year above the scene. I screwed a round hanger into the back of each one and hung them on the small clear Command Hooks.
When shopping I found the tiny house in front. Blue and white it fitted my theme perfectly however my existing houses, Toy Land and Book Shop had a lot of yellow and light green so I painted over those bits with Warm White artists acrylic. I left the little pops of red on the awnings. As a base I utilized a large white and gold rimmed platter.
Loving the blue on this tree and the complimentary presents wrapped below. I wanted the lights to be the same on all three trees so I used battery wire light strands. I've hidden the battery pack on top of one of the presents for easy switching on and off.
Working with the blue cushions, throw and floor rug I added the village, DIY pictures, and decorated the chandelier with blue ribbon and baubles. The tartan mohair throw on the couch was a 21st birthday present that I've kept for all these years.
Just a quick tip I wanted to share. When I fluffed the tree it looked very sparse and fake so I tried curving the wired branches up and seeing what would happen. I think the finished tree on the right looks heaps more natural.
I couldn't resist including this vignette on the hall table. I adore these little elves and it inspired a toy room theme for the entry way.
Tinsel! This how my mother always decorated the windows for Christmas and I'm bringing it back this year.
The dining table has pops of blue and red that were easily added. I put this together in about ten minutes. I used my everyday marble print place mats (from Kmart) and white plates. I had the these crackers left over from last year and popped a red bauble next to each one. The blue glasses were handed down to me through family. The blue and red fabric is from my quilting stash and the white lace table runner was a gift from a dear lady in Cyprus.
The big tree is in the dinning room and it's festooned with red and blue ribbon and decorations, spare baubles dotted through the room are an easy way to bring the eye around the the scene.
I'll have the fabric hemmed nicely before Christmas night, when my guests will arrive.
I love lace at Christmas. This runner is here all year round so I don't have to change it.
An easy DIY is to take a hand made Christmas card and stick it to stiff cardstock with a string hanger attached. This was a gift I received several years ago from a writer friend. I added the blue striped paper to fit in with my theme.
Christmas cuteness makes being in the kitchen so much more fun. Loving this cheeky elf.
Red and blue continues in the kitchen. This year I used a command hook to hang a wreath over the stove. Simple red stripe and blue tea towels complement the look.
I hope you've enjoyed this Christmas tour and have fun decorating your home like I did. I really enjoy being at home at this time of year because, for me, my home feels like a warm hug.
Wishing you all a festive and happy Christmas.
Dora writes heart-melting, passionate romance.
I've updated this post after arriving home. For some reason the app on my phone wouldn't function properly which limited my ability to say much or to include the appropriate title. This update contains more picture and more about our experiences on our tour.
A day or two in Rome before our Trafalgar Best of Italy your gave us time to settle in after our long journey.
We explored the high street shops and little laneway pizzarias near our hotel. Right across the road was the ancient Roman city wall.
After joining the Trafalgar Best of Italy tour, which started in Rome, we got to see a lot of the city. We went to the Vatican and toured the museum which is beautiful but the highlight was Michelangelo's masterpiece, Sistine Chapel ceiling. No photos allowed so I've linked it for you. We didn't think we'd be able to see St Peter's Basilica because the Pope was taking a service but our tour guide dawdled and stretched out our time so we got to go in. I'd seen it before and I really wanted Sam to see it so I was very happy when we were allowed inside.
From the Vatican we had a short break before touring the Colosseum. After walking all morning I really needed a the afternoon off but I kept going. Sam was excited to see where the gladiators fought. It's an awesome place.
After all of this time on my feet I was really suffering but, I still had a walking tour of the treasures of Rome to complete. I took some pain killers and struggled on. It was worth it to see the wonderful Trevi fountain with Sam. Way more crowded than it was eight years ago, we didn't stay long and opted for a gelati from a nearby cafe.
The last time I was there I threw in two coins, one to come back and the other to find love again. They worked. But I also heard on the tour bus that two coins is to get married! and that worked too, Sam and I having been married in July. Very funny.
When we got back to the hotel I fell on the bed and didn't move until it was time for breakfast the next morning. That day we drove south to the Amalfi coast, stopping at Pompeii for a walking tour. Lot's of people, even though it was past the high season, but I got this shot of an ancient roman road and shop walls on the left. It was a large town and most of it is still uncovered.
We stayed the night at Sorrento, the next day we took a ferry to Capri and did a small boat tour around part of the island. This rock is called the tunnel of love. Those who kiss while passing under it are supposed to love each other forever. You can guess who took that opportunity.
In the evening we drove along the Amalfi coast from Sorrento to Positano. The view was magic.
We had some free time at picturesque Positano. We bought presents to take home and had afternoon tea.
Back at our hotel in Sorrento, we had dinner overlooking the lights of Capri.
We didn't stay in the town of Sorrento but up on hill, so there wasn't an after dinner stroll, but there's always next time. We had a wonderful time in the south of Italy, the next day we headed north.
The next post will have part 2 of our time in Italy, Venice, The Lakes and Tuscany.
Thanks for stopping by.
Dora Bramden writes heart melting, passionate romance.
Romance author and lifestyle blogger
My whole life is inspired by romance. I write romance novels of course but also love creating DIY's and decorating in a romantic style. I'm rejuvenating an old garden, including rescuing a couple of old rose bushes and planting new ones.