Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Family Christmas cards 2010

This week I have made my Christmas cards! It is only November and you cannot imagine how happy I am that this task is already behind me. Whilst I love making and sending my own cards, it can sometimes become a chore as the days get busy and creative time becomes scarce. I have made my own Christmas cards for as long as I can remember - never lacking the inspiration I have to confess that on occasion my artistic talent has lagged behind! However, this year, they are done and I am ahead of the game.

How have I achieved this timely advantage? Well, this year I have chosen a very simple yet (I think) poignant design - a red silhouette of a reindeer in a forest surrounded by festive symbols on crisp white square cards. My choice of colours is not accidental; I chose red and white as they are seasonal but they also represent our impending move to Denmark where the national flag is a white cross on a red background. (I should add that red also happens to be my favourite colour and one day I will blog about the predominance of red in my life!!).

The design of the silhouette is also reminiscent of the paper cut outs that are so popular in Denmark and the rest of Scandinavia. The cut outs are hung from mobiles and in windows all year around but at Christmas time ('Jul') the designs are more festive and are made in seasonal colours. The characters and symbols are not only beautiful to look at but they come from folklore and within the details lie cherished folk tales.

Together with a simple design, the other secret to my speedy success in getting these cards ready is that I've used a stamp. This one is hand carved and from Noolibird. This was my first experience with 'stamping' and it was simple, clean and very quick. To all the crafty die-hards out there, yes, it did feel a bit like cheating to use a stamp rather than making one myself. But with two small children and limited time, this year it is all about doing what works. I'm thrilled with the results and I can't wait to start sending my christmas greetings...

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Christmas footprints...

This Christmas will be my daughter's first and I have been on the same creative pottery jaunt as I did with her older brother 3 years ago: a pilgrimage to the Pottery Cafe on Fulham Road to paint Emma Bridgewater pottery with my little girl's footprints. Of course, the success of the venture depended entirely upon my baby's cooperation and the delicate timing of feeds and naps (and not on my own artistic talents). I am pleased to report that my 7 month old treasure came up trumps and after having patiently indulged me while the soles of her feet were painted pink and pressed onto plates, cups and a milk jug, she slept soundly in the buggy as I embarked upon a pottery painting extravaganza. It was such fun.

These are the keepsakes that will be given to a great grandma living in Winnipeg, Canada, grandparents in (less exotic sounding) Middlesbrough in North East England and her 'Nonny' (my mother in law) in Ottawa, also Canada.

To me, capturing my baby daughter's footprints on pottery is a beautiful way for relatives far away to share a moment in her young life and, of course, I cannot deny that it is a real treat to take time out to sit in the pottery cafe and indulge my cravings for creativity, sip cappuccino and chat with mum friends.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Sublime sunshine

This week we were away on holiday. Our first family holiday for over a year and certainly the first time (since having children) that I have felt fully re-charged and ready to face the grind again. We treated ourselves to a week at the Abama resort and it was the perfect spot for a real break.

My husband and I have indulged in luxury hotel stays in the past, when there was just the two of us, when every day was spent by the pool, reading books and sleeping on the sun loungers. That was before I fully embraced the mayhem and chaos involved in running a household. What was I really taking a break from, I wonder, in that lifetime BC (before children)?

 I worked hard, yes, but we ate out regularly and slept in at the weekends. On holiday I always took for granted that someone else was doing the cooking, tidying and cleaning as I rarely engaged in those pastimes at home during the rest of the year. Oh, how things have changed....

As a mum of two little people, I genuinely relished every moment of not having to 'plan, organise, do and clear up' that is the daily mantra by which I now live. The biggest decisions I had to make was whether to make another trip back to the breakfast buffet and whether to hit the pool or the beach to soak up the sunshine. It was bliss.

In that other lifetime, BC, I would have wandered past the pool of koi and thought, 'how quaint', indeed, 'what a lovely touch.' But with a toddler in tow, I checked out the schedule of resort activities to make sure that we didn't miss feeding time and at the designated hour we were back at the pool watching for the feeding frenzy...

Perhaps the biggest treat from not having to organise and manage the chores for the week was being able to spend 'quality' time with my family: chatting to my husband about things other than the management of our daily timetables, digging a fort and making sandcastles on the beach, playing 'mummy and baby shark' (complete with Jaws the movie inspired sound effects) in the pool or relaxing over breakfast knowing that the buffet would be open for the next couple of hours and we didn't need to shovel the food down our necks to get out the door in time for nursery.

These were truly sublime days.