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.
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.
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.