Handmade Wreaths (for Hanging, Burning, or Slinging Out the Window!)

2014 12 17 christmas wreath susie 01

I thought it would be really nice to make rag wreaths for some of my lovely friends this Christmas. It wasn’t really nice, not at all, I hated tying stuff to stuff, night after night. I tried to personalise them, and I thought I’d chosen well, until I got a text from Lisa who’d opened hers early! Haaaaa! So, anyway, whether they hang them, burn them, or sling them out the window, here are the results of my hard work, the fruits of my labour,  the salt of my tears!

The Susie – Filling life with all of the colours, all of the time. It’s all good!

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The Anna – Cheeky chirpy little vintage beauty.

2014 12 17 christmas wreath anna 01

2014 12 17 christmas wreath anna 02

The Clare – Lover of simplicity and timeless style.

2014 12 17 christmas wreath clare 01

2014 12 17 christmas wreath clare 02

The Isobel – Birdwatching, star gazing, owl loving, sweetpea.

2014 12 17 christmas wreath isobel 01

2014 12 17 christmas wreath isobel 02

The Janey – Salt of the earth with a touch of sparkle!

2014 12 17 christmas wreath jane 01

2014 12 17 christmas wreath jane 02

The Kaelah – Full of the joys of spring, every day, whatever the weather!

2014 12 17 christmas wreath kaelah 01

2014 12 17 christmas wreath kaelah 02

The Kristiana – dragged from the archives of floral glory this vintage Liberty print should be right up bookshop girls street!

2014 12 17 christmas wreath kristiana 01

2014 12 17 christmas wreath kristiana 02

The Lisa – Delicate, timeless beauty. (Or not! Haaaaa!)

2014 12 17 christmas wreath lisa 01

2014 12 17 christmas wreath lisa 03

The Liz – Eclectic magpie with a penchant for the term ‘waste not want not!’

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(I used most of the Christmas ribbon to make this jolly mess!)

2014 12 17 christmas wreath liz 02

The Madeleine – Arty, crafty, plaid wearing, hill walking, autumn leaf kicker.

2014 12 17 christmas wreath madeleine 01

2014 12 17 christmas wreath madeleine 02

The Natasha – Vintage loving, baby juggling, retro diner dweller. (Where’s the meat?!)

2014 12 17 christmas wreath natasha 01

2014 12 17 christmas wreath natasha 02

The Philippa – stitcher of supremeness, super crafty aunty and best ‘rubbish’ giver!

2014 12 17 christmas wreath philippa 01

2014 12 17 christmas wreath philippa 03

The Rocky – Dude! If it doesn’t look like halloween or have cats on it, it’s not good enough!

2014 12 17 christmas wreath rocky 01

2014 12 17 christmas wreath rocky 02

The Rosemary – Ta da! Lover of the classical and the opulent. Pretty like a peacock – small head big body… no no no! (sorry Mum!)

2014 12 17 christmas wreath rosemary 01

2014 12 17 christmas wreath rosemary 02

The April (& Tim!) – Reliable design classic with a quirky  twist.

2014 12 17 christmas wreath tim 01

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The end!

Which one would you hang, burn or sling? (Oh, it’s a bit like Snog Marry Avoid, but not).

Arnold’s Lane Lights & St Peters Tree Festival

2014 12 22 arnolds lane christmas lights 02

If you aren’t already feeling the Christmas spirit, maybe this will help. If you don’t want to feel the Christmas spirit, I suggest you look away now… uh oh! Too late!

2014 12 22 arnolds lane christmas lights 01

We went to see the Arnold’s Lane Christmas lights in Whittlesey last night. It’s so lovely. John and Gina have been decorating their historic thatched cottage for years, and have raised over £26000 for children with cancer.

It’s well worth a visit – it’s beautiful, Christmassy and makes you realise how selfless and kind some people can be.

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2014 12 22 arnolds lane christmas lights 03

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2014 12 22 arnolds lane christmas lights 07

Looks like an LED king is placing a burger on the head of an angel here. Maybe he’s the burger king? (So sorry!)

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If that’s not enough Christmasness, I also popped along to a Christmas Tree Festival with my friend Liz. I have never done so many Christmas things in my entire life, and I didn’t mind at all!

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I found it all rather fun, but apparently its a very serious thing and I wasn’t allowed to leave until I had voted for not one, but two, Christmas trees!

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First I chose the Westwood School tree, made of recycled cardboard, most of all because I liked it, but also because I did an artist’s residency with them many years ago and felt some kind of strange loyalty!

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My second choice (for the ‘adult’ category) was this red light tree made by a local craft group. Perfect.

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Too. Much. Christmas! We’re off now to do all the eating and present sharing that is required at this time of year. It’s a task, I tell you!

If you are reading this, (thanks!) I’d like to wish you a wonderful Christmas full of joy and warmth. Yo ho ho!

Decorating The Tree & Meeting Father Christmas

2014 12 24 foxley lodge christmas tree 11

I’m really not the best Christmas decorator, I’m too lazy and I don’t like to have the decorations up for too long, but I do like a good bauble. Everyone likes a good bauble, so I thought I’d share some of my favourites with you. What a treat!

2014 12 24 foxley lodge christmas chandelier

I’m very pleased with the light in our dining room, it was dead quick to sling some fishing line and glass baubles over the chandelier arms, and I think it looks rather pretty. I hope they don’t fall in our my Christmas dinner.

2014 12 24 foxley lodge christmas tree 01

Last Christmas I made some decorations from vintage camera flash bulbs and wild swan feathers.

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2014 12 24 foxley lodge christmas tree 08

2014 12 24 foxley lodge christmas tree 02

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2014 12 24 foxley lodge christmas tree 03

2014 12 24 foxley lodge christmas tree 05

2014 12 24 foxley lodge christmas tree 06

2014 12 24 foxley lodge christmas tree 10

I love all the random things on the Christmas tree! Usually we can’t fit my entire bauble collection on a single tree, but this year we did really well, it’s a big tree!

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By the way, I met Father Christmas yesterday. He was not what I expected. He’d left his full-sized sleigh at home (apparently built on a caravan chassis) and had a portable one on loan. Some bigger boys had ridden their bicycles at his sleigh and his hat kept falling off, so he wasn’t in particularly high spirits.

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Happy Christmas!

Christmas Tree… Whoa, Christmas Tree!

2014 12 13 getting the christmas tree 02

The other weekend our friend Isi invited us over to her farm to choose a tree for Christmas. It was a beautiful sunny day. Bright, frosty, crisp, and just perfect.

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2014 12 13 getting the christmas tree 15

Isi spotted a tree that she wanted for her home, a little chubby six-footer, and Adam swiftly cut it down. Then she said, with a cheeky glint in her eye, ‘take your pick!’ and we looked to the skies.

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In the end we chose a rather large tree to fell, turned three quarters of it into logs, and came home with eight feet of tree top glory!

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It might seem wrong to cut down such a large tree, and I would have once thought the same, but in order for all the trees to grow successfully and healthily the woodland needs to be managed and maintained. With a chain saw, obviously!

2014 12 13 getting the christmas tree 09

2014 12 13 getting the christmas tree 10

It was a lovely day, the Winter sunlight was gratefully soaked up, and it felt proper Christmassy to go foraging for our own tree!

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The only downside was that Jackson (that magnificent beast there!) smeared his filthy dog stink on me and my favourite Jaeger coat. I would have preferred to just abandon it in the woods and replace it with this one, but the grown-up in me knew I had to stick with it and send it to the cleaners!

Unlucky 13 at the Bluebell Hotel

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I arrived at the Bluebell Hotel in Middlesbrough. I was confused by the building, there was a lot of ‘hotel’ stuck on the side of it. To be honest, I first thought it was 1960’s social housing and I wasn’t sure if I was in the right car park.

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2014 12 04 the blue bell hotel middlesbrough 15

I checked in and was given the key to my room. Room 13. Unlucky. I walked down the corridor of doom and was reminded, especially because of some of the signage, of the nuclear bunker we visited in the summer.

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I text Adam, ‘I’ve arrived in 1960’s Warsaw. I’m going to go and queue for some bread now.’

Down in the bar a couple in their 50’s (late 40’s? Hard life?) were making out/ getting it on – full on! I circumnavigated them and made my way to a cubbyhole where I perused the menu and counted the number of different patterns used in the furnishing and decor. Fourteen.

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I also kept an eye on the man in the hunting jacket with the ‘God of Vengeance’ book. Just as I was tucking into my burger and curly fries a man went by and said, ‘Eating alone love?!’ followed by a loud sniggery laugh.

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My burger was alright really, and the staff we all very nice, but I felt quite uncomfortable so I hurried off back to room 13.

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There was something slightly ‘holiday prefab’ about the place, but a bit (lot) more prison or institution-like. I locked the door and piled my bags against it.

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I was treated to loud snoring and mild flatulence from my neighbour, and then silence. It was a very quiet night. The mattress was lumpy and clunky, I rolled into the middle (where the two singles joined) and managed to get wedged there, fairly comfortably, for the duration.

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The only real problem (considering the price!) I had was the damp and the mould. I woke up quite wheezy with red swollen eyes, a runny nose and a swollen mouth.

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The lady on reception was either used to this effect on guests, or so shocked by the state of my face that she immediately offered to move me upstairs for my second nights stay. I thought about it, and then I cried.

The staff were very lovely to me, and they didn’t charge me a pip, but I felt so poorly I just wanted to get out of there. I checked out, got it the car, took an antihistamine and ate my oversized chocolate coin.

2014 12 05 karen leaving middlesbrough bettys chocolate coin
I drove to Hartlepool, put on my big old army coat and went for a walk by the sea.

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2014 13 05 hartlepool beach 04

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All things made much better by the cold air, bright sun and glistening sand, I headed over to Cleveland College of Art and Design to talk (more on that here) to a really friendly bunch of Photography students in a most awesome Victorian building.

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2014 13 05 CCAD hartlepool SH talk visit 06

I looked like I’d had a really heavy night on the Whiskey and had to explain to the students that this was most definitely not the case. Probably affirming their beliefs that this really was most definitely the case! They were very kind to me, everyone was lovely, and I left feeling that all the mouldy-tramp-face had been worth it.

2014 13 05 CCAD hartlepool SH talk visit 01

2014 13 05 CCAD hartlepool SH talk visit 05

Over to Rachel’s house for a lovely dinner with her parents, then on to Hardwick Hall Hotel (where I would have stayed had it not been fully booked) to a ‘party night’ where Rachel was representing the charity she works for, Daisy Chain.

2014 13 05 daisy chain fundraising rachel hardwick hall middlesbrough 04

2014 13 05 daisy chain fundraising rachel hardwick hall middlesbrough 01

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By pimping raffle tickets we managed to raise £230. Then we judged a dance competition, (won by a man who did the worm, obviously!) watched a bit of an embarrassing Fake That band, and went home, after spotting these shoes on The Spice Girls biggest fan!

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I left Rachel’s at 10.30pm and drove home. Much of the A1 was closed and it took me 4 hours, but it was so much better than staying in a bad hotel, and although Rachel’s family would have kindly put me up, I needed to get home – two fat cats were waiting for me, one happy to see me, and one still angry I’d left!

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