Saturday, 19 November 2011

Wow Christmas is coming.....

I can't believe Christmas is nearly here. Where has the year gone again..... We spend so much time being busy and concentrating on the children, our home, work and life around us that time just goes by so quickly.  Its crazy we plan some times so far ahead that as it starts to arrive sometimes it comes as a shock.

We start Christmas Lunches on Tuesday, so lots of preparations to do and time to get into the festive season with a smile. Christmas trees, lights, baubles, candles, and of course Christmas music. I love this time of year, and quietly start to get a bit excited, I get that feeling in my tummy and just love to see people out enjoying themselves. For me its always about being with family and friends.  I just love to buy gifts, but not just any thing will do. It has to be the right gift for the right person, not always costing a lot, but with love and thought behind each present - then all wrapped beautifully making it really special. 

For nearly twenty years we have been making Christmas cakes and party foods ready to be collected for Christmas (in fact all year round but Christmas is the busiest time).

The fruit now is soaking with brandy and sherry, fresh orange zest and a dash of cold tea... this makes the fruit all juicy and plump for the cakes. Once the cakes are baked they will sit and mature for a time before being marzipaned and iced.  Christmas cake is a tradition that always puzzles me, at home we never cut the cake until Christmas day late in the afternoon - but really we never had any room for anything else to eat, so gradually it gets eaten over the next few days and weeks. However the thought of cutting it before Christmas simply seems very wrong, but I think we would all have more room in our tummies at this point - before all the extra goodies come out.

Always popular are the cheesecakes, gateaux, chocolate fudge cakes and mince pies deep filled, not to mention the quiche and sausage rolls that are a huge hit. As Christmas draws closer we start to work late and bake all these goodies that are ordered ready to collect - usually just a few days before the big day.

We have rum sauce to make, and Turkey to roast, chipolatas to wrap in bacon, stuffing to prepare and all the great bits that go together to make a Christmas meal special. Tuesday really will be a busy day, but a good day. Our cranberry sauce was made this week, full of fresh orange, onions and a little red wine, its a recipe we have used for many years and it really is delicious.

Sunday evening we will be decorating the restaurant. For me its the tree that has to be perfect. Lots of twinkling lights, baubles, stars and glittery decorations. Its the centre piece to the decorations and makes everything else look special. The  rest of the centre will be worked on Tuesday morning , with fantastic garlands to fill the corridor and a tree to place in the entrance with lights. Christmas here is special, magical and inviting.

If you notice so far my image of Christmas does not include the words, stressful, hustle and bustle or exhausting.... that is really not the Christmas we try to create.  Hustle and bustle? maybe but not in a pushing, rushing way, just bustle with with noise of happy people shopping. Stress - No, you can get that somewhere else, and exhausting - well take your time, think about your gifts and maybe have a break half way through the shopping with lunch or coffee and a gorgeous cake to revive you. Life is stressful at times and we are all too busy, but at least I can live in hope that we here can make it a little easier and maybe a lot for fun.

one of my favourite cakes - carrot and orange cake (no fat and less sugar in the sponge) yummy...

I will post pictures of our festive decorations as soon as we are ready.... Thank you again for reading.

Hugs from Janet, Adrian and all the team xxx 

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Styling your Home

Today I think anything goes, in both fashion and dressing your home. The best style is one that shows off your personality, your love for life and makes you feel happy.

We have seen so many influences through the years, many of which return and become trendy again. We are very lucky at the centre to be able to hand pick a wide selection of furniture from many eras.  I have to say I am definitely drawn to the Art deco period and funnily the 60's and 70's have some really interesting pieces. Retro is another one that is quite quirky and has found its way back today.  For me its usually the shape of something that appeals and the feel of it.

Retro style dressing table with a clever draw to hide away your make up

Not many of us can completely restyle our homes as our tastes change, but maybe by adding  pieces as they take our fancy is the answer. I love to mix and match, vintage, antique and modern all together, lots of woods, add in some glass and something shiny, blending colours - just make it yours. Mix and match doesn't just stop at furniture but crockery is a classic example. Mixing vintage/ antique cups and saucers is very much "in" today in fact at times seems even perfect. The trend in lots of magazines is homely, pretty and when using vintage not to match the crockery. Add in beautiful plates that co-ordinate and you have a perfect style.  Of course there are always people who like to match and everything must follow a theme - this is just fine, it comes right back to if it suits you, your personality and your life then its got to be right.   

Some gorgeous crockery not just for special occasions
                                              A fabulous pine settle with sleeping wooden cat...

Wall art is a real hit this year.

Mirrors just brighten up any room and can add a little glamour or even dress it down.

And something for the boys, Wall art for the little boys and the big boys
Just be brave, have fun and enjoy all the things you have in your home.

We have a really busy week this week with our wonderful visiting crafts people, Tuesday and Wednesday we have Julia Hobbs a fantastic jeweller with us using semi precious stones to create wonderful pieces. Patchwork nook is with us Thursday with their gorgeous crafts
Friday Murray Taylor will be hand carving love spoons. Please keep looking at our facebook for up dates as we have lots going on until Christmas for you to enjoy.

                                            Well that's all for now, thank you for reading.

                                                       Janet, Adrian and all the team xxx