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.
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Dora's Blue and Red Christmas
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.
Three Wedding DIYs
When deciding which DIYs to take on, I needed to be strategic and also consider the time I'd have the day before and on the day to get it all done. I wanted to have personal involvement with creating our special day . Making some of the things myself was how I achieved it. Read on to find out what I DIYd and how I did it.
1. Making a bouquet.
I knew I could make the bouquets myself, if I went with simple posies tied with satin ribbon. I found inspiration on Pinterest and watched YouTube videos on how to make them so that when it came time to act, I had a plan in place.
What you'll need
Florist wire on a roll or pre cut lengths of wire.
Rolls of 1 inch wide ribbon in the colors you desire I used one roll per bouquet
Lace of choice
Florist's pins for attaching lace.
Per Bouquet,Three bunches of flowers of choice.
For all three, 1 bunch of greenery
The flowers I used in the bouquets were:
The bridal bouquet
1 branch of eucalyptus, separated into about 5 stems
5 white peonies and 1 pink,
10 white roses
1 multi flowered stem of white chrysanthemums
Each bridesmaids bouquet contained
I branch of eucalyptus separated into about 5 stems
5 pink peonies
10 blush pink rose stems
1 multi flowered stem of white chrysanthemums
Method used for all bouquets
I began with a center flower and kept adding in a circle around it. Holding the bouquet in my left hand and adding flowers with my right, letting the flowers sit at an angle as the bouquet grew. I Alternated the flowers and eucalyptus stems as I went. To make the classic dome shape, I placed the flowers lower near the edge. The stems will make a fan underneath below where you are gripping them. That's okay. Tie them off tightly with florist wire.
Wrap the stems tightly with ribbon starting at the top and leaving a length free. Wind down the stems (this brings them back together) stopping a couple of inches before you get to the bottom and then wind back up to the top. Using the length left free at the beginning, tie it off and make a bow . Using sharp kitchen scissors or secateurs, snip the stems even at the bottom and place in a vase with an inch of water covering the stems but not wetting the ribbon and or lace.
On my bride's bouquet I pinned on lace that matched the lace on my wedding cake and guest book. I made the bouquets the day before and stored them overnight in a cool room (the laundry in my house) with enough water to wet the stems but not come high enough to reach the ribbon.
About an hour before I left for the ceremony I emptied the water from the vase and patted the end of the stems with paper towel. We didn't have any drips and the flowers lasted very well. They were put in water after the reception and kept well in vases for the next week.
2. Decorating the cake.
Although making the cake would have been too big a challenge, I saved money (and got the cake I wanted) by decorating it myself. Cake decorating has been an interest on mine since I was a teenager so I felt confident enough to take this on. Again I got an idea of what I'd like from the DIYers best friend, Pinterest.
The gold acrylic Mr and Mrs sign was purchased cheaply from Ebay. This one was only ten dollars plus postage. I hot glued a bamboo chopstick to the stake for extra height and then wrapped the join with ribbon to make sure it stayed put.
I found the silk faux peonies I wanted at Kaisercraft. I trimmed the green petals away and the darkest pink outer petals then I popped them off their stems and hot glued them to stiff plastic drinking straws that I'd cut in half. This allowed me to push the straws into the cake and keep the flowers secure. I added the hydrangea florets from my stash to fill in the spaces between the peonies using toothpicks to anchor them into the cake.
Some time ago, I bought a length of beautiful cream lace from a vintage fair to use as inspiration for my wedding. I wasn't sure how I'd use it, but I ended up having enough to use on the flowers, the guest book and to wrap around the two tiers of the butter cream cake.
I had toothpicks on hand to secure it at the back with some florets but didn't need them. The lace stuck to the buttercream easily. I added a gold non toxic washi tape to the base of each tier so that it would tie in with the gold sign on top.
3. Blinging up vases.
When we were at the reception tasting night there were samples of decorations for the tables. We were enchanted with a setting that included three small vases set around a central tall crystal candle holder.
The table center pieces we chose were included in our package but the flowers would have been extra. But I had an idea for blinging milk bottles from Kmart to hold our flowers.
I cut a single line of bling from the tape and hot glued it to the neck of each bottle.
Then I applied 6 single crystal stickers in a flower shape to the front of each bottle.
My girlfriend did the floral arrangements in the vases I created with Kmart milk bottles, bling ribbon and stickers and hot glue. The bottles cost $5Aus for a pack of six.
Unfortunately, we didn't get a photo of the tables set up but my girlfriend sent me this picture of the vases with flowers arranged ready to be taken to the wedding reception. We chose the flowers together, they included blush pink edged roses, white chrysanthemums and eucalyptus.
It cost a lot less than if we'd paid the price quoted for a florist to do them. I was very fortunate to have a friend who volunteered to set them up and she purchased the flowers for Sam and I as a gift.
Having such beautiful fresh flowers on the table really added elegance to room.
To help out, I've hyperlinked the items I used in my DIY's, where I could find them. But they are Australian sites. For other countries, you should be able to source similar items from your local online retailers.
(I also created a guest book which I posted in an earlier blog. Link to that is here if you'd like to see how I made that.) I used the same lace on this book that I also used on the cake and the bridal bouquet which helped link the ivory lace, navy and pink theme.
Comment and let me know if you're planning DIYs for your wedding or if already married, what you made for your wedding. I'm happy to answer any questions you might have as to how I made any of these DIYs. Thanks for stopping by to read the blog.
My most treasured things are second hand. Even though new things are very nice, there's nothing like the character only a second hand find delivers.
This second hand cane lounge suite is my favorite possie to drink my morning coffee. I looked everywhere to find an affordable romantic looking outdoor setting for this space, without any luck. This second hand suite was given to me after my sister sold her beach house. Her husband originally found it in an op-shop. I find that to get the character I want, second hand is most often where I find it.
When searching for a shabby-chic mirror, I went online to the usual home ware sites, like Ikea. I had no luck at all, but in the second hand Facebook market place, I found the one I adore.
The roses and ribbon that crown this curvy mirror say romantic, shabby-chic to me. Although I love the gold, I need a light and bright color scheme in this room. There are veranda's outside both windows which can make it quite dark. I have plans to paint it white using a little pot Annie Sloan chalk paint. The dark brown lounge is too dominant for the space. I'd really like a new one but I can't afford that. I'll make do with what I have and recover it in a cream or beige fabric.
You can see the chandelier refection in the mirror. This will also get painted white.
I've been visiting op-shops (thrift stores) in search of cardigans for winter. I did find some, but I also found some shabby chic picture frames and some very pretty tall glasses. The picture frames will be painted white and I'm going to get out my paints and create a still life of pink roses from my garden to go in them.
When walking in my garden I love noticing my second hand plants that add character. Plants I've taken from diving clumps of iris in Mum's garden and lambs ears from my sister's garden have taken off very well.
Cuttings of hydrangea, a neighbors gave me, have all grown well this year. A little burnt in our very hot summer, but they are budding up beautifully for next spring.
Dad gave me his grandfather's crown of rhubarb. It makes a lovely show of foliage in the border and I think of Dad every time I see it. Recently, I harvested some for a Rhubarb sponge desert to have for Easter lunch.
I harvested about a dozen stems and washed them well before cutting them into one inch peices. I placed them into a saucepan, covered them with water and added half a cup of sugar. I let this come to the boil and simmer until the Rhubarb was soft. I overcooked it a bit but it still worked out great. I added a little cornflour dissolved in water to thicken the syrup before turning off the gas. I spread it into a greased lasagna dish and then set it aside to cool a bit while I whipped up a packet mix of GF sponge cake.
I tipped a ribbon of cake mix over the top of the Rhubarb, moving the bowl up and down until the top was almost all covered. I lightly filled in the gaps with a spoon.
I baked it for about 40mins on 175C until the top was golden and the sponge bounced back when pressed in the middle. I can't believe how nice it tasted. As I'm writing this I'm sorry to discover that I don't have an after picture to post. It was Easter Sunday and I'd had a few glasses of wine so I'll hope you forgive me.
Imagine the sponge puffed and golden with the sweet and tart stewed rhubarb base steaming hot. I served it with whipped cream and it was very popular.
Because I feel bad, I'm posting this pic of some Easter eggs instead. By the way, they are sitting on a marble table that I bought second hand.
Creating a romantic home and garden doesn't have to be prohibitively expensive. Not only do I get to have fun seeing how far I can make my money stretch, decorating and creating a garden in my romantic style, but I also find the character filled pieces that bring my home and garden to life.
It's not something you can achieve quickly. A romantic home and garden is curated over time, but it's absolutely worth it and you always have a reason to drift through your local thrift store and see what treasures you might find for a song.
I hope you all had a lovely Easter and I wish you happy thrifting for items that will add character to your romantic home.
Dora Bramden writes heart-melting, passionate romance.
I’m amazed how well this wreath turned out using recycled Christmas decorations, a curtain scrap and ribbons I had on hand. The roses mixed with tulle and lace rosettes lift this wreath out of the ordinary. It’s one of a kind which is the best thing about crafting your own home decor.
I was inspired by a wreath made by Olivia from Olivia's Romantic Home to create this romantic themed wreath. Hers is so beautiful, but I think I got a little daunted at how fabulous it looked. Could I recreate the effect with the supplies I have on hand.
Now it’s finished I love how it came out. I had a couple of dry runs before settling on the method I used. I encourage you to have a play with your supplies and see what you come up with.
The wire base is from a Christmas wreath. I removed the garland of greenery and stored that away for next Christmas. Next I lay an old curtain scrap around it. Enough to go about twice around the frame . I found the center and put that at the top of the wreath and then gathered the fabric loosely around the rest.
Once I had the placement how I wanted it I tied it on with a ribbon at the top and then wound the ribbon around the wreath down each side catching the curtain at the struts of the wreath and tied it off at the bottom.
I looped a Pink glitter Ribbon around the wreath securing it at the struts by folding the wire edged ribbon over the frame at these points. I hot glued the curtain to the inner wire support and also where I’d attached the pink ribbon to secure it.
Then came the fun part, adding the embellishments.
At the very top of the wreath, I tried on a funky bow that had been used on top of a Christmas lantern. Follow this link to Arlynn's Country Craft Youtube video for how to make one. I hot glued two small roses to the center of the bow.
Rosettes from the Christmas tree were placed around and hot glued where the pink ribbon was secured to the frame. YouTube tutorial for how the rosettes are made is on Olivia's Romantic Home. Roses were added, alternating the pink and cream, in between,with hot glue.
Scraps of ribbon were looped or tied into bows and glued on to add dimension and whimsy.
And here is how it looks above the hall table all decorated for Valentines Day.
I have used a scrap of lace curtain as a runner and brought out my romantic trinkets that I've collected over the years.
The picture of Sam in a heart frame sat next to my bed before we moved in together, so I could kiss him goodnight.
A very young Dora with my baby girl is in a sweet rose embellished frame.
The picture of Sam and I was taken at our engagement dinner. The printer ran out of yellow ink and so we're very rosy hued but I love it, a happy accident.
The heart frame has the picture that it came with. It's a lovely image and it was my hope for the future that Sam and I would one day get married, and now we planning our wedding!
The centerpiece is the love sign I've had in my office for years. It lives there because I like to have romantic things around me when I'm writing romance.
Hearts, flowers and a candle say romance added to that is the pictures that remind me of all things loving.
Last year I decorated the hall as a surprise for Sam, this year he watched me do it and enjoyed the process of it coming together. I'm going to keep it up from now on because I enjoy so much coming home to our sanctuary and being greeted with this pretty festival of love.
Published last Saturday on Romancing the Genres,
A Detailed Account of Where I Got the Inspiration to Write my Novel by Dora Bramden
Check out the Romancing the Genres blog next Thursday for my post on why I chose to celebrate Valentine's day.
Dora Bramden writes heart-melting, passionate romance.
Setting the scene for a romantic dinner is important. The must haves include candlelight, heart shaped decorations and flowers.
I have some easy, cheap but big impact DIY's and meal suggestions for making your Valentine's day romantic and memorable.
First start with your best lace table cloth then add a statement centerpiece. I DIY'd this one using faux flowers from Kmart. A frame from the Reject shop fitted with a draw liner serves as a tray.
Starting with the taller stems I made a fan shape and then filled in the sides with the large rose blooms. I sat the vase in a pink sparkly wreath.
I shopped my home for decor pieces that add romantic touches.
At the base I added two mirror heart boxes and two love birds. A white rose and a gorgeous sparkle votive holder from Dusk. It was a Christmas gift from a very sweet girlfriend.
I placed candle sticks, that I found on FB market place for $20, at each end of the centerpiece.
I hung heart bunting on the mirror over the sideboard. I made this from paper heart doilies last year. A single romantic rose adds splash of pink.
I'm serving Sam's favorite, gluten free lasagna from the freezer section of my supermarket, topped with Parmesan cheese and garnished with lettuce and tomato. Desert is Connoisseur Ice-cream and fruit drizzled with Kahlua.
These basic ingredients save me time and considerable effort.
I've resisted the temptation to overthink this meal. I'm keeping it easy to prepare because it's my Valentine's day too. I don't have to impress anyone just ensure we enjoy each others company.
Creating something sweet for Christmas while not spending money is this year's challenge because I have our wedding next year to save for. All romance heroines know, that not having a lot of money to spend doesn't mean you can't do things. It requires being more resourceful, which is a good skill to cultivate. For me that means an appreciation for whatever resources you have available and making the most of them.
One of the lovely things about using what you have is that you can include items that are sentimental to you. I have a broken bead bracelet that Mum gave me which I couldn't throw away, so I used it as a garland on this tree. Many of the buttons were my great aunts and came to me through Mum.
If you don't have a craft stash like mine, go to second hand shops. It's much cheaper to shop the craft section of your thrift store and women's or girl's second hand dresses or shirts in pretty fabric with sweet buttons can help bolster your supplies. The Reject Shop or dollar stores sell bling for only a couple of dollars. My button and bling tree is hot glued to fabric but a sheet of scrap booking or other craft weight paper would be lovely also.
I used an old framed picture that I had stored in the garage. Again if you don't have an existing one crying out for a makeover, thrift one. I painted my frame white with craft paint and covered the mount and backing picture with fat quarter quilt fabric. I added a layer of thin batting under the fabric but I don't think this is really necessary.
The color palette was chosen to go with my Romantic Christmas theme. Romantic for me has a shabby chic feeling. so the colors are soft with pops of pink however it would look wonderful done in traditional red and green or whatever your decorating pallet is this year.
I made an arrangement that I liked without gluing first. I recommend taking a photo of it. I didn't however it still came out okay. I used the big white buttons to create a form work, then I draped the garland down between those. I used three of each brass and green rose buttons arranged in a zig zag shape down the tree. The green ones point left and the brass ones point right. I glued all of that down first.
After that I glued the single feature buttons around the tree to draw the eye over the whole picture. Next I filled in with the random smaller buttons and bling. I layered bling onto buttons to add dimension.
Some of the blingy bits were self stick and I made the mistake of just adding them without hot glue. One has shifted in the picture above so I recommend a small dab of hot glue on the self stick ones also.
I crowned the tree with a vintage gold filigree buckle. Again this was from my great aunts stash. A vintage broach or a sparkly one from a thrift store would be gorgeous also.
If you need inspiration, Pinterest has lots of very beautiful examples of these trees. You don't have to make an arrangement the same as mine. This was inspired by the buttons I had. If you don't have more than one of each kind of button you can group similar ones together and use some of my principles to help get you going. But really it's got to be what you like. Everyone's tree is destined to be unique and special because you created it.
I've hung mine in the hall leading to the bedrooms and bathroom. Each time I pass I enjoy seeing it. When the hall door is open, which is most of the time, I can see it from the kitchen and family room too.
Even though Christmas is nearly here. Just a couple of sleeps away and it's exciting and wonderful, my heart is calling to love ones who've gone ahead of me to spirit. If you are also experiencing sadness at Christmas, I understand how you feel.
I love the memories that this tree helped bring back. They are mine forever. But the greater the love the greater the loss, so at Christmas I have to focus on being grateful for their many gifts over the time I had them for. However, I know it's my turn to carry on and make the most of this festive time of year with the family and friends who bless my life and fill me with gratitude.
So dear readers of my weekly blog, thank you for stopping by to see what I've been writing about each week over the last year. It means so much to me and I'm truly grateful for your support. I hope you have a lovely Christmas day planned for yourself and wish you and your loved ones a very happy Christmas. Sending you all a big hug.
Love Dora xoxo
Three weeks before Christmas I stop thinking about it and pick up a pen and start making a record of my plans.
I work out how many I have coming for lunch this year and put that number at the top of my menu.
Now I move forward with listing the menu items.
Next to each item, I write who is doing what. Lunch is a community affair so the guests are contributing some of the dishes.
Mine looks like this.
anti-pasto platter Dora
prawns and crayfish My dad and Sam’s sister
homemade seafood cocktail sauce Dora
roast turkey with seasoning Dora
roast pork with crackling My brother in-law
roast potatoes and pumpkin Dora
stuffed tomatoes My sister
peas and carrots Dora
cauliflower cheese My daughter
also gravy, apple sauce and cranberry sauce Dora
plum pudding with cream and custard for dessert. Dora
Cadbury Roses chocolates My son
flavored mineral water, soda water, sparkling white wine, red wine, port, other liqueur Sam and my son
tea and Coffee Dora
I feel full just reading this list. But it will take us a few hours to get through all the courses.
I then make a shopping list of items I need and three weeks before Christmas I start shopping for what I need to provide. I’ll start stocking up on things like tea bags, instant coffee and long life milk.
I get my turkey at least two weeks before Christmas to make sure I have the size I want. This year I decided not to make a plum pudding. It was a difficult decision but being a Coeliac I can’t make the one Mum used to. I had a pre-made gluten free one from Safeway last year, which I enjoyed, so I bought two of those and a litre (about 2 pints) of brandy custard too.
It’s 10 days before Christmas when I’m writing this blog and it’s time I know what I’m doing with the table setting so I’ve created a sample table-scape that I’m happy with. On Christmas day, I’ll translate it into two trestle tables that will run the other way in the family room so that I can seat thirteen people. I’ll bring the dining chairs in from the formal lounge room and other chairs scattered through the house. I can put eleven together so I still need to source another two chairs. My sister will lend me those.
As this year’s theme is Romantic Christmas featuring pink and lace so as a table cloth, I used some pink quilting fabric that was bought to back a quilt which I haven’t gotten round to making. I layered my Mother’s lace tablecloth over it. Down the center of the table, I have a garland that I’ve used in various places throughout the years to which I added lace strips. Fresh batteries for the star lights and it’s done. In the middle of the table is a candelabra for a centerpiece with a little bit of height. Instead of candles, it holds berry picks and a bauble.
I found a vintage dinner set this year and decided it would go very well with the pink theme. I’ve put out a dinner plate for the main and a smaller plate for the seafood entree. These will be passed around on platters and people will serve themselves. Wine glasses are a must. Even if some of the guests only have soda water in theirs. I think stem glasses are more elegant and create the party atmosphere I want.
Make sure all your cutlery is the same distance from the plate and the table edge. The serviettes need to be thought about as decorative but also easily accessible for functionality. To be added is some bon bon crackers. I need a trip to Kmart for those over the weekend. I'll put one next to each fork on top of the serviette.
I still need to buy all the perishable items like pumpkin and cream
Buy the drinks we want.
Here’s my schedule for hosting Christmas lunch
Three weeks before Christmas
Make a list of the guests
Plan your menu
Two Weeks before Christmas
Shop for key ingredients that can sell out
Plan your tablescape
Defrost the turkey if yours is frozen like mine. Instructions on the packaging will tell you how many days it needs in the fridge section per kilo.
Shop for perishables items like vegetables or antipasto
Do an on line click and collect from the bottle shop. It will save time and be boxed up ready for you to take home.
Make sure you're up an hour before the turkey needs to go on.
Make the seasoning.
Stuff the turkey and put in the oven to begin cooking.
Peel and chop the potatoes and pumpkin.
Put the potatoes in a pot of water until it's time to par boil them and put in the oven to bake.
Peel and slice the carrots.
Set the table.
Make up the antipasto platters.
Don’t try and do too much.
I’ve called it regarding the plum pudding. I want to do it but can't see how I can personally manage it. Wheat flour is toxic to me, and besides that, I have a limited amount of energy so I have to spend it wisely.
Enlist the help of your guests.
It’s an inclusive thing to do and allows everyone to feel they have made a contribution that is valued.
Don't aim for perfection.
Remember that this is about giving a Christmas experience to your guests. The food is a part of that but it’s not a big deal if something gets overcooked or overlooked. We forgot to put the tomatoes out one year and found them in the oven later in the day. Everyone had a great time just being with each other and giving our modest gifts after lunch.
The bedroom is one of the most romantic rooms in the house. There's no TV to distract us from being present with each other. We usually have our heart to heart talks in here. It's very much a place that we live and I wanted to include the coziness of Christmas romance in here too. Lace is an important part of this year's theme but I've learned to use it sparingly. If you follow my Facebook page or Instagram you'll see the first version of this room which was just a tad over the top with lace. This is a more restrained, elegant arrangement that highlights the lace without letting it over power the room.
Paper lace doilies are cheap but add romantic texture. I found these in the bottom draw with the casserole and serving dishes. The ring box with a bow is the one that Sam gave me when he proposed.
The little clock belonged to my mother. There are memories of her in each room of the house because I need to feel her presence at Christmas time. The little leaf dishes belonged to Sam's mum. I want him to feel her close by at Christmas also.
The en-suite has been prettied up with festive trinkets. The gold tone lantern had been outside and was very dirty but it cleaned up like new with dish-soap and warm water. I placed it on a cake stand and sat that on the gold tray which lives in the en-suite year round.
I made a lace bow and attached some ornaments. Inside the lantern is a battery candle, some more of the gold swirls from a broken decoration and a necklace of pink quartz beads. On the tray below is a faux pearl necklace some pink things, washi tape in silver and a crystal. It feels romantically glamorous to me.
The perfume was a gift I gave Mum so it came back to me. I bought the trinket box when I toured Windsor Castle. That's a bit glamorous too.
Fluffy towels speak luxury to me. I chose my very best to display. Mum gave me the embroidered hand towel for Christmas about seven years ago. The grey with white polka dot towel is cute but Christmassy because it reminds me of falling snow. I scrounged a fat quarter from my quilt stash to add pink and gold tones.
This room took on a romantic glam theme as I began to decorate with what I had left after doing the rest of the house. I confess to spending $4.50 on ribbon to help this room have some softness and romance and $10 on this lantern from spotlight on sale.
Thanks to Arlynn's Country Craft Corner, I learned to make a funky bow. It takes a lot of ribbon but the effect is charming. This is nothing compared to what Arlynn creates but I'm grateful to her for all the inspiration her YouTube channel provides. She's such a sweet warm hearted person too.
Oh dear, the reindeer fell over. Didn't notice it when I took this shot. But never mind, I'll stand him up again. Being hopeful at Christmas is always a good idea.
Christmas at my desk includes little gift cards I gave my mother when I was at primary school. One hangs from the candle and the other, with the mini perfume bottle still attached, sits on some note pads.
When decorating my home for Christmas, I'm using my heart. I want to create a cozy retreat full of warm memories and a lovely space to create new ones. I'm thinking ,how does this make me feel?, when I finish and look at what I've put together. If I don't feel what I want to it gets changed. Several attempts are required for every vignette before I feel warm and want to smile but I know it's worth all the effort.
At a time when I'm thinking about spending time with my family and friends I'm also feeling the loss of those who won't be here this year. Decorating helps me cope with painful emotions. Doing what gives me joy helps to create a scale that is balanced. There's sadness and happiness. That's how life can be but it's okay.
I'm hosting Christmas lunch this year for Sam's and my families. I'm really looking forward to that and am currently planning the menu. Next week I'll be blogging about how I prepare for a traditional Christmas lunch for thirteen. I'll be including the menu, the shopping, baking and preparation schedules and my Christmas tablescape.
I hope you'll join me next week.
Romantic Christmas - Family Room and Kitchen
This last week I've been working on creating a romantic Christmas theme for the family room and kitchen. I told my girlfriend that I'd done a pink color scheme and she said, 'Oh so you've been out and bought a whole new lot of Christmas decorations.' I told her I didn't. The catch was I mustn't buy anything new. I had to make do with what I already have from previous years and make new decoration from my craft stash. I found a way to do it even though it was quite a time commitment. She's coming over next week to see it in person.
This is the corner below the TV. I painted the roses on the remote control box about fifteen years ago, but they still look fresh. I added my favorite Father Christmas. The nutcracker used to have a green coat and black boots but he was given a touch of romance and brought into line with this year's pink palette with folk art paint. I also painted the picture frame I found in the garage and put a piece of lace from an old curtain inside. That lace curtain certainly came in handy.
I dug around in my linen press to find some pink pillow covers. I also discovered a pretty rose patterned throw which I put over the back of the couch.
I made the wreath using baubles that I painted using folk art paint. I mixed shades of red and burgundy with a pearl white to get varying shades of pink. I made lace ribbon by cutting strips from the before mentioned, the old lace curtain which I also discovered when exploring the linen press. I used hot glue to stick all the ornaments and lace in place.
The gold scrolls came from a broken Christmas tree that was made up of them. I broke them all apart and wove them in. I like the lux effect they add.
Last year I spent ages hot gluing wooden pegs together to make stars. This year I painted them and made mini lace rosettes from the curtain strips, scrap ribbon and glued faux jewels in the middle. I tied the stars onto a strip of bias binding from my quilting supplies to make a garland for the wall behind the couch.
That curtain came in handy when I looked around for a lace cloth for the coffee table. I folded it into a triangle and then halved it and cut it to size making a round piece of fabric, much like cutting paper for the bottom of a round cake pan.
Santa in his sleigh was given a makeover too. I used the same paint as for the baubles to lighten his coat and make him a pink Santa.
Fiddler Santa was given a pink coat also. I sat him next to framed card from last year and a hunk of pink quartz which is meant to give off love energy. Well, it is romantic Christmas after all. The lace cloth is one of my mother's special handkerchiefs.
The kitchen only has a few decorations as there isn't a huge amount of bench space. I added poinsettia picks to the pots of faux sage that sit next to the stove and hung pink check and pink and red striped tea towels over the oven handle.
On the window sill above the kettle, I placed a reindeer that I dressed up with a bow and painted bauble. On the other side is a sign with some ribbons, lace and a pink holly pick to make it more romantic.
I always have roses next to the sink. For Christmas I used a bunch in shades of pink and added some berries and a Noel sign. I teamed it with a Christmas dome and bowl with a pink candle. The water bottles are mine and Sams. I thought they looked cute standing there so I didn't put them away.
The lights over the island bench got some festive attention this year. I added picks that I found at Savers a couple of years ago. I added white paint to give them a frosted look and painted the deep red berries and fruit a lighter shade of blush pink.
I'm hosting Sam's and my family for lunch this year. I wonder what they'll think of our romantic pink Christmas theme? The good news is the decorating is done for this part of the house and I haven't spent any money. That's right, zero dollars. I'm feeling proud of that. I only need to think about making a plum pudding and buying a huge turkey.
Next week will be the last in the Romantic Christmas series when I show you the master bedroom, en-suite and my study/guest bedroom. Again, without spending any money so there will be more home made decorations being used.
Thanks for dropping by to see what I've been doing to get ready for Christmas.
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.