I really enjoy writing this round-up post – traditionally my last one before Christmas. I probably say more or less the same thing every year (don’t panic! It’s just a big roast dinner), but as usual, remember that it’s your Christmas too. Grab a few willing helpers to make some Christmas cookies, or whip up some of my perfect frozen whipped cream hot chocolate and have a little prep-party on Christmas Eve (it’s amazing how much you can get done the night before). Need a little inspiration? Read on for my top tips and recipes for Christmas dinner and beyond: fresh ideas, old favourites and more!
You know that friend: she always looks amazing, even just in jeans, and of course she has a lovely, welcoming home, a gorgeous wardrobe and impeccable taste, and that all just makes festive pressie buying a bit – well – difficult! I came across this very dilemma recently when the lovely chaps at John Lewis asked if I’d like to do a pressie swap with the effortlessly stylish Sara, who writes the beautiful lifestyle blog, Notes from a Stylist. I mean, ARGH! Luckily, not only is Sara very lovely and friendly, but it turns out we also have lots in common: teenage kids, yummy food (bring on the roast dinners), a love of interiors, stationery, twinkly things, beautiful flowers and lovely smells. Of course, there are also things we don’t have in common: mostly the fact that I have no style whatsoever, which is why I was reading her blog and following her in the first place – to pick up some tips. So how on earth do you choose festive gifts for a stylish friend? Well…
I adore candles. When I’m writing, I’ll often have a scented candle lit next to me while I type. I find it quite soothing and I love filling the room with delicious scent, although I’ve had to stop leaving them lit around the house (let’s not mention that time I turned the entire downstairs loo black by leaving a Halloween Yankee Candle burning all night – yes, it had to be redecorated). You know I love everything about the autumn, and I always get excited to see beautiful new scented Christmas candles appearing online and in the shops. Here are a few of my favourites:
One year, when the kids were small and we were still living in Ireland, our whole family came over to spend Christmas with us. I remember it as the most magical time: loads of fun and laughter, walks to the pub snuggled up in hats and scarves, the kids opening their presents together on Christmas morning… Years later, we still talk about our lovely family Christmas together, and one of the things we’ve considered is renting a cosy cottage somewhere and decamping as a family for the festive period. I’m thinking The Holiday but with considerably more people. So why am I hankering after getting away from it all? Well, here are five great reasons why we should all be having a cosy cottage Christmas:
So here it is, my very last post before Christmas! I’ve been writing this blog for 10 years now (I know!) and every year, I say the same thing: if you’re cooking the Christmas lunch – and getting stressed about it – remember it’s your Christmas too. I’ve got loads of tips here to make the day as stress free and laid back as possible for you, so you can enjoy your Christmas day with your family and friends. So find a quiet corner, Treat yourself to my perfect frozen whipped cream hot chocolate, grab a notebook, have a read through and take few minutes to make a plan. And remember, it’s basically just a big roast dinner, and this guide will help you do most of the work on Christmas Eve so you can spend as much time as possible with the family, and as little as possible in the kitchen on the big day!
I love a good surprise, so when John Lewis very kindly invited me to team up to choose a surprise gift for a fellow blogger, I was delighted. I was teamed up with the gorgeous Sam Squire, the uber stylish blogger behind mens fashion and lifestyle blog ImSamSquire. My boys are obsessed with Sam and particularly love his cool outfit shoots and I wanted to put together a really stylish mens grooming kit that would impress Sam, as well as give you a few last minute ideas for gifts for the stylish man in your life
Our new kitchen/diner space is finally finished, and I’m absolutely loving having another space to decorate. Let’s face it, the kitchen is where I spend most of my time, and having the tree and decorations in it has made the space even more special. If you saw our simply hygge Christmas dinner party (DO make that slow roasted lamb in sloe gin – it’s delicious), you would have seen some of the decorations. I just wanted to do a bit of a roundup and recommend a few things to you. If you’re doing your decorating this weekend, have a look at the Christmas decorations from Next. Honestly, they’ve got so many lovely quirky things – you won’t be disappointed
Last night, we spent the most magical evening in London. I always love going to London at this time of the year to look at all the lights (my Dad used to drive us to London and drive down Oxford Street when we were little – it was one of the highlights of Christmas!) and we were especially lucky to be treated to a gorgeous sail down the Thames with MBNA Thames Clippers, London’s fabulous riverboat service, alighting at the London Eye to catch the festive production of Peter Pan at the National Theatre. It’s such a lovely, lovely way to travel too.
Ahh, Miss Lyra. What would I do without her? She’s such a constant in my life, getting me up and about every day (I can usually get to about 9am before the first moaning starts, nagging at me to go walkies), keeping me company all day while I’m working, listening patiently while I chat to her about work issues and complain about unpaid invoices, hiding behind the sofa when we argue, and generally making my life a lot happier (there’s the rolling in fox poo and getting the bin out all over the kitchen floor, but we’ll skim over those bits). So what better way to show your appreciation for your four legged friend than a little gift or two? Here are a few suggestions on what to buy your dog for Christmas.
This weekend is one of my favourites of the whole year. The first weekend in December (or possibly the second, depending on timing) is tree decorating day. The men of the house go out and forage (okay, not exactly forage) for a Christmas tree, and we spend a lovely day with Christmas songs blasting, digging through all the decorations from the loft (they always bring back memories, don’t they?) and decorating the house. This year, as it’s the first year we’ve got our lovely new open kitchen/diner, I really wanted a kitchen Christmas tree and the boys did a fabulous job finding me the perfect one. To celebrate all this hygge activity (remember hygge? The Danish concept of warmth and family and cosiness), we decided to invite some lovely friends and – with a little help from Simply Beef and Lamb – found the perfect festive recipe: slow roasted lamb in sloe gin.
It’s finally December! Which means everywhere you click there are Christmas gift guides. I LOVE a gift guide – people always hunt out the best pressie ideas while I’m sitting here scratching my head for things to add to my Christmas wishlist. This year, I did start a little list on my phone whenever I saw something nice that I couldn’t really justify buying for myself. I think Christmas is totally the season where you can ask for luxury things and little treats! I’m not expecting them all, but if Santa’s reading, I promise I’ve been a really good girl!
So it’s Stir-up Sunday this weekend, the day when families traditionally make their Christmas puddings. This is a two-day kind of Christmas pudding recipe so I tend to start it on the Saturday then finish on Stir-up Sunday. Whenever you start this recipe, bear in mind that the finished pudding takes 5 hours to steam, so don’t start it too late in the day! This one is a vaguely orange and cranberry Christmas pudding, as I like the colour and flavour combo, but feel free to use whatever ingredients you fancy.
I know I say it every year, but if you’re cooking the Christmas lunch/dinner this year, it’s really important to remember that it’s YOUR Christmas too. I’ve got loads of tips here to make it as stress free as possible, so grab a drink, have a read through, and get your plan in order. At the end of the day, it’s just a big roast dinner, and this guide will help you spend as much time as possible with the family, and as little as possible in the kitchen!
Every year when it’s coming up to Christmas, we have the same old conversation about whether we’d go away and spend it somewhere else. We’re generally divided. The boys aren’t so keen, but I’d love to spend Christmas somewhere cool (sometimes we just need to break out and do something a bit different). Here’s my pick of five AMAZING destinations I’d love to visit over the festive period. So, pack your bags, book your flight cheaper with Hotels.com deals, and give your family something unique this Christmas – the whole wide world!
If you’re a ‘last minute Larry’ like me, there are still plenty of wonderful things to buy, and often, if you hang around for a bit before ordering, you’ll find there are quite a few deals to be had. First things first, though, you need a mince pie and a glass of fizz….
I’m not a huge fan of the Christmas jumper. Not in a ‘bah humbug’ way, really, but there’s just something about a bulky, colourful jumper that doesn’t really suit me. Every year, though, I see everyone else wearing them and want to join in. So is there such a thing as a stylish Christmas jumper? I went on a little hunt, and I found some proper Christmas crackers!
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