Getting ready for Christmas

A few weeks ago, I imagined – fuelled by dreamworld telly and Pinterest – the run up to Christmas would be a few days of casually draping decorations around while sipping wine and listening to festive music.

Our reality has been fraught: him DIYing before and after work and me painting the living room until late. (It wasn’t anything in particular, just that everything taking longer than you think thing). It’s now the 23rd of December and there are still tools lying around everywhere and barely a bauble to be seen. In 48 hours we’ll be feeding 10 and there’s hardly any food in the house.

But, believe it or not, all is in hand.

Matthew Hilton for Case Ballet Sideboard at John Lewis. Getting home and living room ready for Christmas

At midnight last night we got back from a few days in Belfast when I became godmum to my beloved niece, as you may have seen if you’re following on Instagram.

We’d had the living room carpet fitted while we were away, so while every last job won’t be finished before C-Day – no doors on downstairs, for example – there will, at least, be a room for everyone to sit in and a floor covering for hosting charades and such.

It has been a long old journey since we started renovating the downstairs back in the spring. Frankly, we’re knackered, and although we can see the total transformation we’ve brought about in this house, fatigue is clouding the sense of pride and achievement a little.

We’ve had hardly any time to sit back and enjoy any of it yet, so for us that will be a priority over the Christmas break.

Once guests are gone, we want to spend some time at home, just the two of us, appreciating our fortune and admiring our handiwork. We want to enjoy a proper living space, which is back where it should be – next to the kitchen instead of on a different floor. We’ll pop in and out for snacks and drinks. We’ll get cosy under throws on our sofas, or lie diagonally across the floor if we want – because now, we can.

We’ll get our DVD player and all our favourite films and box sets out of their hiding place in the loft and work through them, starting with the full set of Friends that we bought shortly after being reminded how brilliant it was.

I’ve been dreaming of us spending (at least some of) the Christmas break in this way since the summer, and I’m thankful to John Lewis for helping my vision become a reality. They let me choose a piece from their beautiful furniture range to help me get ready for Christmas, so I picked this oak sideboard designed by Matthew Hilton which is a perfect fit in our new living room and will give us plenty of storage. (Remember this post about living room storage when I talked about being on the lookout for a sideboard?)

So here’s a sneaky peak at the living room, which I’ll show you properly when it’s fully done and I’ve had more than five minutes to think about styling.

Matthew Hilton for Case Ballet Sideboard at John Lewis. Getting home and living room ready for Christmas Matthew Hilton for Case Ballet Sideboard at John Lewis. Getting home and living room ready for Christmas Matthew Hilton for Case Ballet Sideboard at John Lewis. Getting home and living room ready for Christmas Matthew Hilton for Case Ballet Sideboard at John Lewis. Getting home and living room ready for Christmas Matthew Hilton for Case Ballet Sideboard at John Lewis. Getting home and living room ready for Christmas Matthew Hilton for Case Ballet Sideboard at John Lewis. Getting home and living room ready for Christmas

// sideboard, John Lewis / cushions, TK Maxx / ‘Mexican’ lights, Cable and Cotton / letter ‘N’, Fab / hammered copper tray, Homer in Edinburgh / copper container, H&M / sheepskin, old / ‘Good vibes’ print, made by me //

Our Christmas plans might not sound like much to look forward to for many people but we’re so in need of some rest and relaxation – if only to help us reinstate the energy we need to take us on to the next renovation stage. 2015 is the year we overhaul the outside!

How have you been getting ready for Christmas? Have you been ‘last minute’ like me?

Do you like how the living room is looking so far?

DIY origami diamond

Because we’re still decorating our house, it means the Christmas decorating will probably get done on Christmas Eve.

But there are two festive decorations already up. They’re these gold paper origami diamonds I made a few days ago at a workshop at Saltaire design shop Rad Studio.

DIY origami diamond paper Christmas decoration

Rad Studio is a fab little shop that I’ll be sharing more about soon. When I was there, I took the opportunity to take some snaps of their lovely products and I’ll be chatting with owner Ali (whose taste is bang-on-the-money in my opinion).

The origami diamond workshop was the first class they’ve put on and it was perfectly judged – we were taught something unique, we were served beer, buns and chocolates and for all this and materials we paid just £8.

If you fancy learning a new skill this week, you can learn how to make and take home a Christmas wreath at Rad Studio on Wednesday – for only 20 quid.

Anyway, back to the diamonds.

It was a pretty straight-forward make but I reckon I need a little more practise to get a really neat diamond. You’ll see mine look a little scruffy where some of the corners don’t meet up perfectly.

You just start with a square piece of wrapping paper or similar in a design of your choice. These are the instructions…

DIY origami diamond paper Christmas decoration

One of the most important things to remember is to start with your paper pattern facing up (so the design ends up on the outside) and make your folds as neat and firm as possible.

DIY origami diamond paper Christmas decoration DIY origami diamond paper Christmas decoration DIY origami diamond paper Christmas decoration

You will end up with two of these shapes which I thought looked a bit like Madonna’s iconic conical bra!

DIY origami diamond paper Christmas decoration DIY origami diamond paper Christmas decoration

You then glue them together (UHU glue is the best apparently) and, once dry, you can hang them by sewing a length of cotton into the top point.

I love them! I hope I get chance to make a few more before Christmas.

DIY origami diamond paper Christmas decoration DIY origami diamond paper Christmas decoration DIY origami diamond paper Christmas decoration (4)

What do you think? Have you been doing much crafting for Christmas?

Cabana Brasilian Barbecue, Leeds

After our evening with Jamie, we headed to one of Leeds’ newest restaurants.

It was opening night at Cabana Brasilian Barbecue and while I’d not been able to make the launch the night before, they’d kindly offered to shout me and a friend a meal some other time. So, perfect.

Cabana Brasilian Barbecue, Leeds

As most people round here know, Leeds already has a Brazilian barbecue restaurant, and Fazenda has a good reputation. I went as part of a group a few weeks ago. Now the meat was varied, plentiful, cooked to perfection and served with aplomb, carved straight from the skewer onto your plate. I could have happily eaten from the salad bar alone for a week without getting bored. Read More →

Pandora Wishes launch, Leeds

A few days ago, I was named best friend in the world.

The award-giver was my friend Emma, a pretty huge Jamie Redknapp fan. I’d been invited to an event in Leeds that the Redknapps were attending, and I’d got her along as my plus one.

It was the launch of Pandora‘s winter Pandora Wishes campaign, backed by celebrity pairings Jamie and Louise Redknapp, Marvin and Rochelle Humes, and friends Jameela Jamil and Rick Edwards.

The idea is that you create a Pandora wish list that can be shared with friends and family in the hope that you will get what you want under the Christmas tree.

Making a wish list also puts you in with a chance of winning your favourites, a £500 voucher plus one of the celebrity couples’ ‘ultimate’ wishes – a holiday in the Maldives, VIP tickets to a summer festival or a spa weekend in the south of France. The competition runs until 19 December.

Pandora Wishes launch Leeds with Jamie and Louise Redknapp Pandora Wishes launch Leeds with Jamie and Louise Redknapp Read More →

Kitchen accessories

Earlier in the week I shared our finished kitchen.

Although I had a few reservations about choosing grey – mainly about whether it’s a colour fad – I’m glad I dug my heels in and went for it. It’s a fair responsibility because I knew my husband would be putting in hours and hours of work and I wanted him to like the end result as much as me.

Good news: he loves it. He thinks – and I agree – it’s the best room we’ve ever done, particularly when you consider the big changes that had to come about. I think we make a pretty good renovating team and I’m so proud of what he can do and the care he takes over getting the finish just right.

It’s not completely finished. I’m looking to have a few open, wooden shelves and we’ll have to get a blind up. I’m thinking Laura Ashley Wallace for the fabric, as it has the colours I’d like to bring in, especially red and turquoise blue.

The beauty of grey is that – while it looks great with crisp white and natural wood – it also sits comfortably with bright colour. In fact, I think grey needs splashes of colour around it to make it looks its best.

So that’s what I’ve been thinking with the accessories I’ve added to the kitchen so far.

Kitchen accessories Read More →

Kitchen reveal!

Renovating our kitchen has definitely been a labour of love. It’s been seven months of labour, but we’re completely in love with the outcome.

As is invariably the case with DIY and renovation projects, it’s all taken longer than anticipated. Our original estimated finish time was about two months ago, and although I’m calling this a ‘reveal’ there are still some tiny finishing off jobs to do in the kitchen. The dining area bit (behind the camera) is still a chaotic dumping ground and we’ve only just started on the living room this weekend.

But I didn’t want to wait any longer to show you this bit.

Kitchen renovation reveal. Ikea Veddinge grey kitchen with wood worktop and white subway tiles

Let’s remind ourselves of where we’ve come from. Read More →

Blogger lunch at Mill Kitchen

After enjoying the blogger walk around Bingley, we decided to make meet-ups a regular thing.

So it was a sunny Sunday that Jen, Fran, Natalie and I got together again, at the Mill Kitchen in Farsley, Leeds. This time we were also joined by Nadine, another Fran and Daisy.

The venue was Jen’s recommendation, and what a good one it was.

Blogger lunch at Mill Kitchen, Farsley, Leeds, West Yorkshire Blogger lunch at Mill Kitchen, Farsley, Leeds, West Yorkshire

Read More →

Weekend in the Lake District

Last week there was bad news again.

The kind that makes you cry, gasp for breath and feel scared and bewildered. The kind that makes you want to run for the hills and hide out for a bit.

Coincidentally, we were due a weekend in the Lake District for the Mr’s birthday (and mine which was a couple of weeks ago), though we felt little like celebrating.

But we talked and walked, wrapped up warm, arm in arm. We took in deep clean breaths. We raced in the hotel pool, whooping like kids.

I stood at the edge of vast expanses of water, feeling tiny, letting the enormity of the world shrink my problems and the stillness of the water calm my soul. I gazed in awe at nature, its huge hills and endless beauty, and reminded myself how miraculous life is.

Coniston, Lake District, Cumbria, England, UK Read More →

Trinity Kitchen 1st birthday

You may recall how gushing I was when Trinity Kitchen first opened.

Last month Trinity Leeds’ street food hall celebrated its first birthday and it seemed only right to show up and wish it many happy returns.

Oh, if I must also eat while there and listen to singer and ‘show-woman extraordinaire’ Em Brulée, so be it :)

Street food and music at Trinity Kitchen first birthday, Trinity Leeds Read More →

Deck the Halls with Matalan

For the first time in a long time, this year I’m feeling festive long before the 23rd of December.

I think it must be because, for the first time in ages, we’re having Christmas at home and cooking for 10.

So Christmas has become our absolute deadline for making sure the downstairs renovation is done. Our schedule is slipping slightly (still finishing the dining kitchen, when we should be on to the living room) but my husband reassures me it’s all in hand.

With no presents bought and half the house a building site, I should probably feel mild panic with six-and-a-half weeks to go until the 25th and several weekends accounted for between now and then. But I seem to be still in that blissful, it-will-all-work-out-perfectly-and-look-pretty phase.

If you are too, you might fancy joining in with Matalan‘s #DecktheHalls competition. I always think Matalan is pretty good for well-priced homewares, and Christmas decorations especially. (Not averse to their clothes either, as you’ll have seen in this recent outfit post).

For the competition, you have to create a Pinterest board with your favourite Matalan Christmas items and you can win some of the products you have picked. When your board is done, tweet @Matalan with your board link using the hashtag #DecktheHalls to be entered. There are ways of joining in on Facebook and Twitter too.

My living room is yet to be decorated at all, so I have a completely blank canvas upon which to plan my Christmas style.

Scandi-style red and white Christmas living room Read More →

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