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Merry Christmas!

Well I’m all accessorised out after recent daily blogs, and have just one Christmas accessory left to mention …

the Christmas tree, which went from this …

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to this …

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Festooned with foliage at the garden centre, a thought did cross my mind …

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However, whilst writing the Christmas accessory blogs I was reminded that “it’s not what we have in life, but who we have in our life that matters”

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Also, take a moment to fondly remember those who are no longer with us …

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Make time for yourself … kick off your shoes, crack open some fine wine …

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and enjoy some tasty titbits …

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Ensure man’s best friend is included in the festivities too …

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Make time for friends also … 

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and acknowledge a Christmas miracle is not an option …

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Finally, remember that “A warm smile is the universal language of kindness.” (William Arthur Ward)

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Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Jingle Bells – Christmas accessory blog no. 8

A bell’s not a bell ’til you ring it; a song’s not a song ’til you sing it. Love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay; love isn’t love ’til you give it away.  Oscar Hammerstein II

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This is such a jolly sign and is quite substantial.  Made from wood with a metal rustic-style hanger, the sign is adorned with glittering bells and a bow. The words are written in red glitter, and the sign is bordered in the same too. Measuring 28 cm wide, it is just the right size to be eye-catching, adding a fabulous splash of festive colour.

Purchased: local flower shop

Price: £7.99

May our home be warm and our friends be many.  Unknown

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Love my daughter’s Christmas themed bedroom – and so does the cat! I particularly like the deer throw and matching cushion. The throw is big enough to cover the whole bed. Made from an easy washable fabric, both items are incredibly soft – perfect for cosying up by the fire on a cold winter’s night. The design is such that the throw and cushion are year-round accessories.

Purchased: Next

Price: £28 for both

‘Rockin’ Robin …’ – Christmas accessory blog no. 7

To relish a love-song, like a robin-redbreast. Unknown

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The photos of these exquisite robin candle holders really don’t do them justice. These were an ‘accidental’ find on Ebay, and are quite unusual. Made from glass, the holders have been hand painted and given a textured effect. Each robin is slightly different and they appear to be perched in a tree. Painted in festive colours, the holders give out a warm glow when the tea lights inside them are lit. Not just for Christmas, these will look lovely all year round. Ebay is a great place to find something that may have been used, but nevertheless is in good condition and totally unique.

Purchased: Ebay – search second hand shops and car boot sales for similar quirky items.

Price: £21.00

There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.  Charles Dickens

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I couldn’t resist these cool, minty penguin chocolates. Made from a minimum of 60% cocoa, these dark chocolates are infused with peppermint and hand decorated. They taste absolutely delicious. I also happened to come across some tiny organza gift bags, and thought of popping a penguin into each one to put on the table on Christmas Day. They will look pretty alongside the crackers and will make a festive after-dinner mint treat.

Penguin chocolates purchased: local department store – http://www.jameschocolates.co.uk

Price £4.50 for 8

Organza bags purchased: local craft shop (also available to buy on Amazon)

Price: £1 for 10

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‘Mistletoe And Wine’ – Christmas accessory blog no. 6

‘Nutkin danced up and down like a sunbeam; but still Old Brown said nothing at all … ‘   Squirrel Nutkin by Beatrix Potter

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This wooden set of six Scandi squirrel place card holders is from Next. If you are looking for something different and are not afraid of sticking to a set theme, these name holders will give a quirky edge to the ‘Christmas table’. I think they complement the Nutcracker Christmas crackers beautifully. The set of holders comes complete with blank name cards which slot easily into the squirrels’ tails. They come in two colours – red and grey.

Purchased: Next

Price: £6

Let us celebrate with wine and sweet words.  Plautus

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This wine box with a musical theme is a refreshing change from the usual wine bags, and is a more secure way of transporting a bottle of wine. Many a time have I bashed a gift of wine against the car or a wall, and have prayed that there was not a trail of wine behind me and that my gift would be intact when I handed it over to the recipient. The box is covered in some challenging looking sheet music. There is a co-ordinating gift tag of decent size attached, and a glitzy gold lid with handle.

Purchased: Dunelm Mill

Price: £2.99

Thank you for reading my blog – back tomorrow

‘The Nutcracker’ – Christmas accessory blog no. 5

The nutcracker sits under the holiday tree, a guardian of childhood stories, feed him walnuts and he will crack open a tale …    Vera Nazarian

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Here is a fun set of six Christmas crackers with a Nutcracker theme. Colourful, and made from quality card, each of these crackers contains a stick-on moustache – we’re going to have a giggle with these on Christmas Day; there’s The Casanova, The Rogue, The Smarty, The Partyboy, The Bandit and The Scoundrel!

Purchased: notonthehighstreet.com

Price: £16 for six

To be a star you must shine your own light, follow your own path, and don’t worry about the darkness for that is when the stars shine brightest.  Unknown

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This stunning set of four star tea light holders is from Parlane. The holders are made of glass and have a sparkly look to them. They can certainly be used all year round, but will look especially elegant gracing the ‘Christmas table’. I came across some pretty snowflake tea light candles which complement the star holders perfectly. The tea lights look as if they have been sprinkled with a dusting of snow. Although a little more expensive than ordinary tea lights, it would be nice that these were available to purchase all year round, as they are whiter and prettier than standard tea lights.

Star Tea Light Holders purchased: local department store. Parlane products can usually be found in most department stores.

Price: £12.50 for set of six

Snowflake Tea Lights purchased: Dunelm Mill

Price: £3.99 for set of six

Thank you for reading my blog – back tomorrow

‘Frosty The Snowman …’ – Christmas accessory blog no. 4

The hawk unto the open sky, the red deer to the wold; the romany lass for the romany lad, as in the days of old. Unknown

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This cream and pink cushion featuring a deer is quite striking. It will look good all year round as well as adding something special to the Christmas theme. It is a standard size cushion cover with a flap-over back for ease of cushion insertion – no fear of a zip breaking or popping open. The deer itself has a soft velvet like feel, whilst the rest of the cushion has a linen look to it. The cushion looks particularly handsome set upon plain furniture.

Purchased: Ebay

Price: £10.50

Some people are worth melting for.  Olaf from the film Frozen

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Well my daughter is, especially wearing this cute snowman sweatshirt! There are some fabulous Christmas jumpers around, with more choice than ever before. This cropped sweatshirt is a more trendy take on the traditional Christmas jumper and will appeal to the younger generation. Made from polyester for easy washing, the inside of the top has a soft, fleecy lining. Looks good with jeans or leggings. Wearing this Christmas top, you will stand out for all the right reasons!

Purchased: Bank Fashion (Blonde and Blonde)

Price: £10 in the sale

‘Baby It’s Cold Outside …’ – Christmas Accessory Blog No. 3

If kisses were snowflakes I’d send you a blizzard.  Unknown

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Couldn’t resist this little sign. I can hear the song being sang each time I catch sight of it. This wooden sign is just 16 cm wide, and is smattered with snowflakes. As well as being able to hang the sign, it could be propped up on a shelf or mantelpiece. Not just for Christmas but for the whole of winter.

Purchased: local shabby chic shop but Matalan stock similar signs.

Price: £1.99

Happiness is mulled wine in winter.  Unknown

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This set of four exquisite glasses were purchased very recently on Ebay. They are from France. I have never before seen glasses remotely like these. The glass is encased in a delicate silver filigree design. When sipping from them there is just sufficient space to avoid making lip contact with this. These beautiful glasses would be perfect for serving mulled wine in over the festive period. I came across this great recipe from Nigella which is super easy and tastes like Christmas in a glass.

2 bottles of red wine, 1 orange (in slices), 2 cinnamon sticks, 4 cloves

Warm the wine in a large pan, but don’t let it boil; add the other ingredients and simmer for 5-10 mins; Pour and enjoy!

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Purchased: Ebay

Price: £25 for four

Deck The Halls With Dachshunds – Christmas accessory blog no. 2

Whoever said that diamonds are a girl’s best friend never owned a dog

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I adore this quirky Dachshund candle. Although not your usual traditional Christmas decoration, there is something reminiscent of the festive season here. May be it’s the gold crown – the three wise men spring to mind. This white ceramic Dachshund measures 20 cm in length. Felt pads adorn the bottom of its paws making it a suitable piece to be placed on any surface. I think it would look especially effective standing on a glass table. The Daxie is filled with a delicately scented lemon grass candle – a light, fresh scent, unlike many so-called Christmas candles which are often overpowering and nauseating. A red bow could be added around the Dachshund’s neck to evoke a more Christmassy look. This will be displayed in my home all year round.

Purchased: M&S

Price: £8 (reduced from £16)

Sit with someone special in a room lit only by Christmas tree lights and remember that our blessings outnumber the lights. Unknown

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Two white wooden trees with twinkly lights – very pretty. These have a slight distressed finish. The edges of the trees have a soft snowy look to them, as do the bases. Tiny holes have been made in the wood and battery operated fairy lights have been pushed through, creating an aesthetically pleasing lighting effect. The trees are 60 cm in height. They would particularly suit a contemporary setting, where less is more and clean lines take precedence.

Purchased: at a local garden centre

Price: £9.99 each

Thank you for reading my blog – back tomorrow

‘It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas …’

After a rather scary and not-so-stylish house move (you may have noticed from previous blogs that I was ‘moving with style …’ – hmmm), I have chosen to write a Christmas themed blog. Today the Christmas tree takes pride of place in the new home, and so over the next nine days I will be featuring two different festive accessories each day.

Everyone is a star and deserves a chance to shine – Marilyn Monroe

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This wooden star has to be one of my favourite decorations. Standing 30 cms tall and with a distressed shabby chic finish, it is simply stunning. It would look equally good placed in a traditional or modern setting, and would surely complement any decor in any room. In fact this star will remain in situ on my mantelpiece all year round.

Purchased – Matalan

Price – £10

Paris is always a good idea – Audrey Hepburn

… and who could disagree with that. Indeed I am still waiting to be whisked away to La Ville-Lumiere – the city of lights. Did you know there are over 2.4 km of lights from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe, including 450 decorated trees. The Eiffel Tower alone is decorated with 40 km of illuminated garlands, which brings me to this pretty pair of dazzling Eiffel Towers in miniature.

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These were bought for me by my daughter who understands only too well my love affair with France. In glittering gold and sparkling silver, these came with ribbon attached to hang on a tree. I like these free standing, gracing the fireplace. Vive la France!

Purchased from a local garden centre

Price – 99p each

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Thank you for taking the time to read my blog – back tomorrow

Moving with Style – In the Pink

Monday, 24th March, 2014.

Well not a lot of action on the house sale for the last few weeks. Oh apart from the housework having been amplified tenfold due to the sheer number of viewers we’ve had through the door; though no offers to buy. Being my usual optimistic self I had envisaged the house selling instantly, but seemingly I was lacking a magic wand.

I have this house showing lark off to a tee now. After hours of toiling – on all fours scrubbing kitchen and bathroom floors; laying and lighting two coal fires; vacuuming and dusting the entire house; mowing the lawns; turning the house into a florist’s shop with copious bunches of lilies and tulips to fiddle with – ten minutes before a viewer is due I vacate the house. No longer do the dogs and I head for the beach; but Costa.

Costa does make it better
Costa does make it better
Coffee love
Coffee love
My Costa clubcard is laden with points
My Costa clubcard is laden with points

The dogs are okay with it. They receive a mini muffin each. As well as a bag of mini muffins, I order a regular Cappuccino-to-go. Parked on the promenade – just a stone’s throw from the house – we enjoy a fabulous view of the beach we should be walking on. After thirty minutes we return home. But re-energised and feeling like the pink bunny  from the Duracell battery advert – all fluffed up and powered by caffeine – I head straight back out and onto the beach. How the dogs love house showing days.

The Duracell bunny

‘To the beach —>’

With the switch in my head flicked into overdrive, this is when positive house moving decisions are made. Hmmm.

Firstly, there was the cave house in Calitri, Italy. (Cave photos via Rightmove)

Entrance to the Cave
Entrance to the Cave
The living room
The living room

Maybe initially it appealed to the primitive side of me – or was it the price? At £21,000 the price is primitive. Either way I could see myself as a modern day Wilma Flintstone. My leopard print heels and a pair of chopsticks stuck in my hair would look great! Ahem. And Betty and Barney  Rubble might be neighbours.

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Wilma

When I began reading about Calitri, I was hooked. Calitri is a town in the province of Avellino in southern Italy. It is about one hour’s drive from Naples. Calitri sounds like a magical place, as locals liken it to Positano – the stunning village on the Amalfi Coast which is revered for its vibrant colours and year-round sunshine. Calitri itself is a medieval village, and the surrounding countryside is steeped in history, with castles and aristocratic palazzos in abundance. Apparently Calitri is world-known for its artistic ceramics. There are thermal baths to luxuriate in, exceptional cuisine on offer, and wine tastings galore. The cave would make a gem of a holiday home, and half the fun would be the journey getting there. Bello. (Photo via Rightmove)

A street in Calitri. The Cave can only be accessed on foot or by a three wheel vehicle.
A street in Calitri. The Cave can only be accessed on foot or by a three wheel vehicle.

Secondly, there was the cider farm in Brittany, France. I had always associated cider – or scrumpy – with southern England.

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The traditional Breton cottage in France is situated in rolling countryside. Accessed by a little footbridge across a river, the apple orchard of 200 trees produced 2,000 litres of award winning cider last year. (Photo via Rightmove)

The Orchard
The Orchard

The cottage even housed a bread oven. Food and drink costs could be kept to a minimum. And not a bad diet either – bread and cider – carbohydrates from the bread and vitamin C from the apples. May need a few chickens running around – for protein of course. But then I thought of the neighbours I might encounter … The Wurzels – Combine Harvester

And I remembered I do not like cider.

Now if the apple orchard were a vineyard, there would have been a sale on the cottage. Tasting the wine would be pure pleasure … Absolutely Fabulous

My head is now back in the land of Blighty, and this week I view a quaint looking cottage a few miles down the road. Judging from the photos in the brochure, there appear to be some interesting artefacts lying around the living room, including a crystal ball! I wonder if a ‘sold’ sign will be slapped on the ‘for sale’ board when I arrive … the vendor may have seen in her crystal ball that the new owner is me. Hmmm.

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SOLD

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog :-) Have a magical week.