My Favourite Stores

I’ve decided to leave you with some great ideas for where to get some presents from.  I did a quick glance at the calendar last night and thought that everything was hunky-dorey, only to find that actually, I have a lot of stuff to get done.  Mum and I are off to Brussels on Friday for a long weekend, and there is so much to be done before then.  I’m also taking part in Karen’s Christmas Pledge, which means that I am trying to get everything pretty much finished b the end of November!  Arrgh!

I have already been shopping at a few of my favourite online shops, and I hope you will too, they offer a really good service.

Sweet Auburn

Leigh Ann works for Erika over at Urban Grace Interiors.  She sells such pretty jewellery on her site.  I bought a couple of pairs of earrings from her in the summer and I wear them all the time and continue to receive comments on them all the time too.

Currently I have this bracelet being shipped to me for a friend.

Bits and Pieces by Ashley Delaney

Last year the girls at week each received a calendar.  I printed them, cut them and put little bull-dog clips on the top and then wrapped them in cellophane bags with ribbon and a bauble.  They were cute and cheap.  Already I am thinking about doing this for friends again.  And the calendar has been lovely all year long.

jaC Jewellery

Yep, I love Etsy!  jaC Jewellery has such a great shops.  I’m always keen to find small and light presents to send abroad, and I am so pleased when friends are so happy with their gifts.  I sent these earrings to a friend last year, and she still talks about them now.

There is nothing better than supporting small businesses, and I highly recommend these sites.

See you next week, when I am sure turkey will be mentioned once or twice (wish me luck!)

~ Pru

Inviting More Happiness

Recently I have felt so tired and unhappy. 

I felt like crying on Thursday morning when I realised that it was in fact Thursday and not Friday. 

When unhappiness comes a’calling, and it happens a bit too often for my liking I turn to a new self-help book.  Byron Katie was my last ‘guru’ who had great ideas and I do try to live by the rule that you shouldn’t expect something more than what you have received (except service in restaurants – I still expect better service than I get).  But I am ready to try the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  I have only heard about her recently but she wrote about a year of trying to live more happily and I could certainly do with that.

 

My aim is to feel and be more positive and happier.  Sometimes I am happy, and probably more than I realise.  I have nothing to be sad about.  But I want to reconnect and find the happiness which I am sure is lurking inside of me somewhere. 

Christmas Wishes

 

Wow the month went fast!  I can’t believe that all the things on my list have been ticked off, presents have been wrapped, tagged and ribboned and the house is all decorated for Christmas. 

If all goes to plan we will wake up on Christmas Eve and walk Violet in the park and then grab some last minute things from the supermarket.  I am thinking it would be good to do a decent breakfast so bacon and scrambled eggs is on the menu.  Then a trip up into London for a walk along the Embankment (coffee in hand of course).  I am wondering if I can sneak into The Savoy for a quick look at the tree at the same time.  We will bring the presents down in the afternoon and as always we open one present and our family cards in the evening with a tea of crumpets and cakes.  Midnight mass will end what will hopefully be a perfect day.

With just the three of us, I am hoping for a nice relaxed day.  I can’t wait for present opening time after walking Violet and  a breakfast of fruit and croissants.  Our dinner will be curries (chicken, vegetable and fish) with all the extras.  And then more opening of presents and then hopefully relaxing with a good film. 

As I typed this, I was looking out the window at the snow covered green opposite, hoping for a white Christmas.  But snow or not, I am sure that Christmas will be perfect this year.

Merry Christmas everyone.  Thank you for your wonderful support this year.  I hope you have a great holiday.

Pru xx

All Set For Christmas

It has been three weeks in the works and now the house is finally ready.  The tree is up, lights have been strung and baubles hang from most of the windows in the house. 

The front door looks even better at night time when the red star-shaped lights are turned on. 

The trees were purchased last year from a trip to Brighton.  They are solid wood with beautiful bark on the front.

Large baubles always hang in the living room window.  The new addition this year are the silver glittered acorns.  Whilst the other garlands are decorated with baubles we left the garland on the windowsil just with lights this year.

Before we bought the tree on Friday we had a Christmas tree branch in the living room with some of our special decorations on.  This is a new decoration which we purchased in Cologne earlier this month. 

The kitchen window (the snow was the addition this afternoon – three inches and counting!)

I need a lesson in photographing a Christmas tree as they always come out badly!  This shows the garland over the fire place which has pink and purple baubles and then the tree with pink, purple and gold lights.  The tree is a small one this year and sitting on top of the bookcase.  The purple silk tablecloth underneath was a purchase from Cologne just for this purpose.

And finally the hallway which I think remains elegant but festive.

Paper Snowflakes

Update!

I worked a bit more on this at lunchtime.  By the end of the week the window will no doubt be covered in snowflakes.  I think I’m hooked!

——–

This is certainly work in progress.  Crafting (and as it turns out, cutting pieces of paper) is not my strong point!

My office at work with my three attempts (so far).

Lyndsey chose Paper Snowflakes for this week’s Martha Monday’s Project.  The office seemed the ideal place to put these, as I sit right next to the window and also have a pair of scissors always to hand.  I always like paper snowflakes (although haven’t made them for years).  My snowflakes are very random and I think I will have to check out some snowflake guidelines to help me cut better. 

 

 

Afternoon Tea at Claridges

Main image

Photo from Claridges website.

This past Thursday saw mum and I put on our finest clothes (sort of) and visit Claridges for afternoon tea.  Claridges Hotel is located in Mayfair and on our way we took a trip into Fortnum & Mason and then walked though Mayfair to the hotel. 

Piccadilly Arcade and Burlington Arcade are decorated nicely for the holidays.

The windows of Tiffany made me want to fall in love.

Claridges is decorated for Christmas with trees outside and inside the entrance.  Afternoon tea is served in The Foyer, a beautiful room which had a huge Christmas tree decked out in white and silver baubles.  This place is so elegant.  I felt right at home!

Champagne was served and a selection of sandwiches were brought out.  From left to right: smoked salmon, cucumber and cream cheese, egg and tomato, turkey with stuffing and ham and salad sandwiches.  Mum and I enjoyed them all but we loved the turkey and stuffing sandwich the most.  We were very grateful when we were offered another tray of sandwiches which made the experience even better. 

There are 30 teas to be chosen from at Claridges.  We chose the Claridges Gold Tea which was a rich and strong Assam.  This was the perfect tea to go with the scones – plain ones and apple and sultana scones served with cream and jam. 

The highlight (of course) was the pastries.  A fruit tart, pistachio cake with pistachio cream and strawberries, a chocolate macaroon with chestnut cream and a disk of chocolate and a passionfruit jelly with a raspberry in the middle and cream.  All of which were delicious. 

Completely full after eating so much but very, very happy!

Claridges gets booked up so early and we booked this back in September.  It was well worth the wait.  A great way to spend a cold afternoon in December.

Cologne

This time last week mum and I were all packed for our overnight stay in Cologne.  Our mission: to visit the Christmas markets.  Cologne has four markets within the small city and I am pleased to say that we visited them all – one of them twice. 

It was a first for us to fly out with British Airways from the new terminal five building at Heathrow.  We treated ourselves to lunch of coffees and pastries at Gordon Ramsey, which was good fun but in all honesty not worth the £14 it cost.

Our flight took us to Dusseldorf and we then caught the train to Cologne.  The train was quick and efficient and drops you right into the centre of Cologne.  If the tickets are cheaper to fly into Dusseldorf (like it was for us) then I certainly recommend this way of travelling.  And it was only €9.80 for a single ticket which was incredibly cheap.

Cologne was cold but thankfully without snow and we were well prepared and wrapped up warmly for this weather. 

Our hotel was great.  10 minutes from the cathedral meant that we were far enough out not to be with all the other tourists but close enough to walk back in the evening.  The streets were clean and we both felt safe all of the time.  We stayed at the Renaissance Koln which is part of the Marriot group and were drawn to it due to the good Expedia offer but I would stay here again most certainly.

Cologne was decked out ready for Christmas but in more of a cosy and individual way than London or New York are.  I was in love.  And the markets were wonderful, very busy and they all had a good mixture of German speaking and English speaking people which made things a lot easier (my high school German lessons fail me now).  I was less keen on the market next to the cathedral and instead I preferred the others, as they were less touristy.  The market stalls sold beautiful decorations, fantastic hot food, Gluhwein (mulled wine),  and the best biscuits ever.  We did lots of shopping including a pretty purple silk tablecloth which I will be using at Christmas, wooden salad servers and of course, plenty of biscuits. 

Our time went quickly in Cologne but we were up early to cross the bridge to get a good view of the cathedral.  We had come over this bridge on the way into Cologne and I had been mesmerised by the padlocks attached to the metal bridge.  According to staff at the hotel, the padlocks started a few years ago when a couple would write their name on the padlock and then lock it and throw the key into the Rhein.  There were so many padlocks on the bridge and I loved looking at some of them and their names and dates of love. 

I’m not usually one for Cathedrals but the Dom was spectacular.  Make sure you visit the Treasury if you visit.  The treasures are breathtaking.  And no visit would be complete without viewing the remains of the Three Magi (the Three Wise Men!)

Food was a big part of this holiday.  Don’t go if you are dieting – it would be a waste!

Cologne will stay in my heart along time.  This is the best trip that I have made in Europe in quite a while and sits up at the top with Florence.