Sewing a dress on Saturday afternoon, to wear on Saturday night, was something I though nothing of doing when I was seventeen. But other than taking up a hem or resewing a seam that has frayed from wear, it's been years since I've sewn my own clothes. I've bought fabric and patterns on sale but haven't actually jumped in at the deep end and tackled a large sewing project.
When I was a student, I sewed from necessity. Dresses were expensive but fabric was cheap. Now it's the opposite, you can buy a dress cheaper than it costs to make it yourself.
But I long to feel the thrill of wearing something I've created. Some YouTubers I watch have great tutorials on sewing and it's given me the bug to unpack the sewing machine and actually make up a simple dress. For economy purposes, I'm using a cheap craft fabric that I picked up on sale years ago.
I like that it's cotton though, as I think it will be light and cool as the last hot days of Summer stretch into Autumn, here in Melbourne. But my northern hemisphere friends are eagerly awaiting the warmer days of Spring to arrive. I can imaging wearing this romantic dress to pick the first blooms of the season with a basket slung over my arm and a pretty shade hat to guard my complexion.
The first step is to wash, dry and iron the fabric. Cotton is likely to shrink, so make sure this has happened before cutting out the fabric.
Cut out the pattern using a loose fitting dress that only has four seams, the shoulders and side seams. Fold the dress in half with the back facing out. Place the fold on the fold of the fabric. Cut around it leaving a 1cm seam allowance. Add 4 cm to the bottom for hemming. I didn't because I wanted the new dress to be shorter.
Next, fold the dress in half with the front facing out so the v neckline is visible. Place that on the fold of another piece of fabric and tuck the back under at the neckline, revealing the v. Cut around leaving a 1cm seam allowance all around.
If you want the dress to be longer or shorter simply add or subtract that amount when cutting out. If a shorter dress is desired fold the bottom up to where you want it. A tip is to put it on and insert a pin where you want the hem to be.
Because I had a stain on my fabric I decided to add pockets so had to make sure it would sit under a pocket placement before cutting it out.
To make the pockets, measure a square by eye and cut it on the fold so that makes a rectangle. Turn it wrong sides out and stitch around leaving a gap to turn it out. Sew straight stitch about an inch from the fold. This will be the top of the pocket. The double layer of fabric will give it added structure and strengthen it. Last I sewed on a lace embellishment with zig zag stitch. Top stitched the pockets into place on the front panel. I sewed the pockets to the front before sewing up the seams because it was easiest that way.
Also on the front panel I hand stitched a gathering thread under the bust and pulled it in. I sewed a thick panel of lace over it. However, when I tried it on after the dress was made up, it wasn't gathered enough so I put it on the sewing machine and bunched the lace up as I sewed straight stitch at the top and bottom of the lace panel. This gave it the look I was after. You could instead treat the front the same way as the back, sewing a length of elastic on the wrong side, if you don't want lace. Instructions are following.
I sewed a piece of elastic to the back panel to pull it in like the original dress does which gives the dress shape. Work out where to place the start of the elastic by stretching it out and centering it over the back panel. Keep holding the left edge in place and let go of the other end. Pin the left edge to the fabric. This is where you'll begin stitching.
Start sewing the elastic and then stretch it as you sew to create the gathers.
Sewing the front and back panels together can be done in any order but I like to sew the same direction for each seam. Start under the armhole and stitch down to the hem. I don't flick it over and sew up, but start at the other arm hole and sew down so that the dress falls evenly. I used quilting clips to hold the seams together until they were sewn but pins work great too.
As this is a pull over your head style of dress you don't have to worry about buttons or zips however I did add lace for interest and to bind the neckline. I sewed the lace to the wrong side and flipped it over to the right side and top stitched it down. You could sew it to the right side and fold it inward and stitch if you don't want lace to show or use bias binding.
I hemmed the dress turning it over about 2cm and then another 2cm and stitching it down on the machine using straight stitch. The arm holes were hemmed the same way but turning it over half a cm twice and stitching down.
After trying it on it felt too plain at the hem and too long, so I added interest by sewing two bands of folded over fabric, parallel with the hemline. I made them the about the same width as the hem and the top stitching on the pocket so that elements were repeated and made the design cohesive.
Here's the finished dress. I added lace because felt the all over small print needed something to lift it. I also like to accessorize with a strand of pearls.
I've worn this dress quite a bit since I made it a couple of weeks ago. It's so comfortable and roomy. Being cotton, it's cool and breathes in the hot weather. Anyone could make a version of this dress, the lace could be left off. It would be beautiful with a matching bias binding around the neck and sleeves.
Because you make it from a dress you already own, it will fit any size. Use a shift or caftan style dress already in your wardrobe that you can pull on over your head. If you'd like it more fitted, elastic can be added all the way around under the bust line or at the waistline, whichever suits you best. The hemline detail required measuring and careful pinning to keep the lines accurate but this feature and for that matter, the lace wouldn't be needed on a larger print.
A short stint working in the office of a fashion house was part of the inspiration for the book I have recently finished revising. Ruby is a fashion designer and, like me, grew up making her own clothes. I hope to have her story for sale this year.
If you haven't read the Katrina or Natalie's stories you can find them here.
Heart melting, passionate romance.
My current work in progress is set in the music industry. It's a story that is partly inspired by my time working in administration for a rock music venue. I met some famous people, which was wonderful but most interesting was learning what when on behind the glamour. I've always loved being where music is playing, so it seemed a good fit when I was invited to work there.
I'm not surprised that I was drawn to work in the music industry, having grown up with music playing much of the time. Besides my father playing classical records on Sunday mornings, my older sister played records like the Bee Gees and the Beatles every day. But live music was also a huge part of my early life, performed by friends and family on our heirloom piano in our modest lounge room.
I can still smell the Mr Sheen as I polished my great grandmother’s piano. The carved scrolls enchanted me with their fairyland quality, as I revealed warm glossy hued timber swirls from beneath their coat of dust. For me it was the magical center of our house. Not only did it look majestic and beautiful, from it came sounds that transported me to another world.
Aunty Bev, Dad's sister, played by ear. She would say, "Sing the tune for me," and then she could play it straight away. Family gatherings were common, a highlight would be when she'd sit at the piano and begin playing the songs we all loved. Her brothers would gather around with their wives and all my cousins and we'd sing together. I was aware of belonging to a warm and loving family and felt happy, oh so happy.
I also loved it when my sister played for me. Mostly she had to practice her lessons but sometimes she play for fun and I’d sing along standing next to her. I wanted to learn but couldn’t make my hands work independently of each other. I learned guitar instead and could play and sing as often as I wanted.
As time went by, I developed thick calluses on the end of my fingers from playing so much, but I didn’t mind. I did very well at playing beginner chords and even achieved a first place certificate for best in the class. However as soon as I needed to play the more advanced bar chords it got too hard for me. My wrists weren’t strong and they didn’t toughen up. But I continued to play adapting songs and fudging the chords a bit. I enjoy the guitar sound so much, because like the piano, it is the strings vibrating that makes the sound.
Dad’s best friend loved creating beauty around him, gardening and painting, but particularly music. He was a concert pianist during the second world war and played many famous classical pieces on that old piano in our lounge room. His music somehow became a part of my soul. I can recall, all these years later, how it felt, how it sounded as if it were yesterday.
I’d stand at the end of the keyboard and watch his fingers move incredibly fast across the ebony and ivory. How was he able to strike so many correct notes in perfectly timed succession? The sound waves vibrated inside my lungs as I breathed the music in, closing my eyes. I’d think only of the sound and let it become a tangible living thing inside, transporting me to another dimension where only beauty exists.
I hear those tunes now when my father plays his recordings, and it uplifts me as only something loved and familiar from childhood can do. It can’t be the same experience I had as small child, standing beside Uncle Keith, with the sound waves of uplifting beauty reverberating through my body and flooding my senses. But music still transports me to a world of magic and beauty.
I'm so fortunate to have had that experience at a young age, and while we lacked some things, in regards to music our family had an abundance. It had a healing effect, soothing worries away and bringing joy. In the novel I'm currently writing, music is the hero. Helping to bring a woman home to where she remembers the joy music brought her in childhood and into the arms of a Country/Rock-star that needs her to love him.
While I write I'm drawing on the memories of my child self, listening in wonder to the magic of music and the strong family connection it holds for me.
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.
Sam and I met on the 30th of December five years ago. It’s a day we like to mark on our calendar because we still remember vividly the afternoon coffee date that turned into dinner. It’s fondly remembered as the beginning of something very special in our lives.
We have always gone out to celebrate. This year we went to a place situated in the hills of Warrandyte, Victoria. The Pietro Gallo Estate restaurant, Olivigna. My sister had recommended it as a place she wanted us to try because she thought it would appeal to our taste.
She wasn’t wrong. The views are amazing as was the Italian food, even reading the menu made me feel as though I was back in Tuscany. It was the perfect place for Sam and I to celebrate our fifth anniversary. My Dad and sister and brother-in-law made it a real party.
What struck me most on arrival was the staircase to an alfresco area.
Rows of pencil pine trees march down the hillside leading the eye out to gorgeous hills planted with rows of grapevines and olive trees.
The view from the alfresco area was spectacular. Inside we were out of the weather but this picture, which I found on their website, shows how much character the restaurant has. Also not shown here is that there are still great views of the countryside.
As regular readers of my blog know, I’m a Coeliac so the abundant GF choices was fantastic. I even got to have hot bread, baked on the premises. The seafood and antipasto was delicious. So were the deserts. Everyone was super impressed.
As we walked back to the car we stopped for photo’s to mark the occasion. Another year together with my Italian hero was celebrated in a very Italian style.
If you live in Melbourne or are visiting and would like to go to Olivigna it’s located at 54-56 Brumbys Rd, Warrandyte South VIC 3134
A Little Christmas Romance, a blog on how Sam and I met.
I was also blogging yesterday at Romancing the Genres with the In Depth Details of How I Got Inspiration for the story The Italian Billionaire’s Secret Baby
Check out my books here.
I write 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.
The garden this Summer was gorgeous, spring like temperatures and plenty of rain to keep the soil moist. The roses were stunning and my fuchsia was festooned in dancing red bells for Christmas day. Then shortly after it was scorched by a 44C day. For my Fahrenheit friends that is 111.2F.
The flowers dried on the stem and fell. Now it has recovered somewhat and I’m sharing my Summer garden so you can see how my favorites are faring. I’ve also made a tentative start on a veggie garden now that the liquid amber has been removed.
This view from the garage is one of my favorites. It shows the variety of leaf shapes, how much everything has grown and pretty waisted shape of the ornamental border.
The roses are valiantly putting on new blooms although smaller and less abundant than the first flush .The pansies in the crates were hit very severely by the hot day and will need replacing. I'm hoping I'll have time for some pink and white petunias.
Over the winter my sister divided her lambs ears and gave me several clumps. They've settled in and spread to form an impressive display of towering spires. I love the way they create a light resting place for the eye as it travels along the border.
The food production side of the garden has been doing well also. The fig is responding very well to the pruning to lift the canopy and repair the damage done to the center of the tree by the children who lived here previously. I can't blame them for climbing such a gorgeous tree but it suffered a lot of breakage in the center from it.
It's fruits extremely well. I suspect It likes having another fig so close on the other side of fence in the neighbour's yard. Next to the fig is a patch of potatoes, my first ever time growing them in a vegie garden. I saw a bags of seed potatoes in Aldi and decided to give it a go. I chose the Dutch Cream variety because I love to eat them.
I have planted a punnet of mixed tomatoes varieties, that nearly died on the hot day, they seem to be giving it a go. Only lost one.
This is a bit of a cheat, I've planted this rhubarb in the ornamental border because when Dad gave it to me, I didn't have a space for it yet. As you can see it's doing really well. But as an older variety, having been my grandfather's first and then going to Dad it has shorter stems. But that's fine, I love it for it's heritage. Once the vegetable garden is fully composted and ready for serious planting, I'll move it across.
I'm looking forward to some apple and rhubarb crumble this Autumn, after a meal of delicious dutch cream potatoes with fresh tomato sauce. I'm also going to start saving jars for making fig jam.
If you have any recipes for figs I'd be grateful, It looks like were going to have lots and I don't want to let them be wasted.
I was lucky to be given a wicker outdoor setting by my sister. Her partner thrift-ed them for their beach house, but they sold that just before Summer. I put my hand up for them when they were asking family if anyone wanted them. I think they fit perfectly with the romantic garden theme I love.
It's not hard to find posts on making a new life in the new year and I certainly am enjoying those, but it can become a little negative when focusing only on what needs changing. So, I want to take a minute to remember to love myself as I am and embrace the enduring goodness that resides in all of us.
Happy New Year everyone. I hope you are all looking forward to happy times in 2019.
As a blogger and romance writer, I want to serve others through sharing my experiences. It's an act of generosity to share yourself and I plan to continue to do that for as long as I'm able. I'm very proud of the blog posts from 2018 because I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and revealed my life in the spirit of giving.
Some of the personal-journey posts that I'm proud of include Three Things I Do To Cheer Myself Up, Remembering Easter and Our Romantic Proposal Story. It's always a little challenging to decide how much to share but honesty and what might help others has been my guide. There's my wedding later in the year and as a mature aged bride, I'll be sharing what that's like. Romance is for anybody at any age but it can have it's challenges.
I created a lot last year, writing behind the scenes was taking place slowly but besides that, I made a garden and did a lot of decorating in Sam's and my new home. Some of those posts that came from that include, Backyard Makeover on a Budget, Faux Plants in My Romantic Home and Vintage China Collection. I'm moving from Farmhouse to more of a Shabby Chic style so stay tuned for how I bring that about this year.
Cooking was another creative outlet for me, I had some wins with my Gluten Free recipe experimentation and I shared those in blog posts too. GF Scones, GF Choy Suey and an amazing Pancake Parlour style GF Banana and Walnut pancake in the blog called Something Sweet in the Morning. I will be posting a recipe each month in 2019, I'm working on some new ones for summer.
I've also been a regular contributor on the Romancing the Genres Blog Site in 2018. As a romance author who enjoys reading I posted a blog this week over at Romancing the Genres on the book I enjoyed reading most in 2018. It was a novel from Anne Gracie called 'Marry in Scandal'. It's an absolutely brilliant book so pop on over to my RTG post and have a read when you finish here.
In the spirit of sharing, Anne was so thrilled when she saw my post about her books that she decided to give one of the books I mention in the blog away to one of my readers. All you need to do is leave a comment below saying which one you'd like to win and a winner will be randomly chosen next Thursday.
Thank you Anne, for this gift for one of my lucky readers.
Don't for get to leave a comment saying which of the above book's you'd like most, for your chance to win it. The winner will be notified by email.
I'll be back next week to sharing more from my romantic lifestyle.
It's the boxing day sales and I'm wanting to go and see what I can buy but, this year, I'm not going to. It's hard but I've made a decision and I want to stick to it. What is it about not shopping that is so challenging?
There's a lovely little craft site that I've been watching on YouTube. While creating a gorgeous shabby chic tea cup bouquet in a live stream video, Olivia, from Olivia's Romantic Home, chatted with the viewers about all sorts of things. A comment came through which she repeated, 'Sometimes it's hard not to shop.' It woke me from my relaxed, dreamy state and sat me up. I totally feel that way.
Since a little girl I've enjoyed spending money. Dad said that when I was little, if I went into Coles with 20 cents, I always come out without it. I'm adult about money now, and don't bankrupt myself with overspending but I do love to buy the odd sweet little thing.
I love to snag a bargain on the internet but Kmart is the place I enjoy shopping at most. Once in the door I head straight to the home decor. At only $5 for a posy of roses or a $3 candle, it's easy to part with the cash. I gaze at the more expensive items that are around $20 and sometimes bring something home.
But now, I've stopped all those pick me up purchases because it can add up over time. Wouldn't it be healthier to spend less time in the home Decor section of Kmart? What if I used that time creating something. I could be writing, also I love to craft and I've let that fall by the wayside until recently.
I'm getting married late next year, and we have a lot to pay for. I want to save every spare dollar so that I can have a lovely romantic themed wedding with roses on the tables and pretty gifts for our guests. I'm hoping to craft some of the decor for our wedding but supplies cost money too.
I've deleted the Wish and Amazon apps from my phone and have curtailed my saunters around Kmart. But not spending was doing my head in.
This Christmas I spent a little on decorating but made nearly everything using only what I have. What is it about your own stuff that is so boring? I look at my fabrics and think but it's not the color I really want, or it's dated. But forcing myself to use what I had made me try to make it work and that stretched me creatively.
Even though my heart was calling for this season's decorations, I resisted and got out my paints. I turned burgundy Santas and a bright red and green nutcracker into pink ones. Baubles got the pink paint treatment to. An old lace curtain became a table cloth, decorations for the tree, garland for a wreath and a table topper. (Click on the Christmas category in the side bar to find the blog posts on how I did it)
I found that not shopping was hard because I wanted that bright new shiny thing for the pick me up it gave me. Nothing is easier or quicker than popping into your favorite shop and buying a little treat to make you happy, but making things gave me a much longer lasting feeling of satisfaction. I still feel a glow as I write about what I made.
The boxing day sales are on, and O BOY I really want to go and live it up but I'm resisting. I really don't need anything. I want new dresses, and shoes, and jewelry, and makeup. But what I have isn't worn out and is just as pretty now as when I bought them. So I'm sticking to my plan and leaving all the tantalizing, new things in the shops.
I believe buying little presents for myself has been a way of expressing self love which is why I feel happy doing it. I now realize that self love can also be the gift of time to do what you love. For me that it craft, writing, cooking, going for a walk to look at the gardens or looking after my own garden.
Shopping in itself isn't a bad thing when you can afford to. Yes, it's hard not to shop when you don't have the money, but either way it's good to think about why that is. What does shopping do for you that could be achieved in a more self affirming way?
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.
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, recusing roses and planting new ones.