Monday, 17 November 2014

Country Living Christmas Fair 2014

Saturday morning saw an early start for me.  I was heading off into London to meet up with Gemma from Musings of a Gem.  We were long overdue a proper catch up and being such huge fans of Christmas, the Country Living Christmas Fair seemed as good a place as any to do it.

The Country Living Fairs are the only ones I'd not yet visited so I was keen to see what they had to offer.  I really enjoy reading their magazines and admiring all the gorgeous images.  Seeing this come to life at the Business Design Centre on the many stands at the fair was a real treat.

As we entered the main hall the sound of Christmas music and the smell of cinnamon and oranges filled the air. I felt as though I'd arrived in heaven.

The stunning sights and smells courtesy of Pollyfields

Myself and Gemma are very similar so we had no problems planning out our day.  We headed straight for the top floor where the lifestyle theatre was located as there was a particular demonstration we were wanting to see.  We were early so took the opportunity to check out the stands on the top floor.  It seemed as though arriving early and heading away from the entrance was the way to go, it was practically empty, giving us space and ease to explore what was on offer.

Gorgeous candles from Bright Ideas

After having a mooch about we made our way back over to the lifestyle theatre, where we could see Cherry Menlove setting up, and in mid conversation with her husband and 2 children.  It felt so surreal seeing them in real life, as opposed to in photos on Cherry's blog and on Instagram.  I was a bit unsure what to expect but she really was so, so lovely.  We had a good chat about blogging, crafts and of course Christmas.  She took a real interest in what we had to say and what I found really nice was how we were able to chat about some of our favourite blogs, hearing her say such sweet things about fellow bloggers really was lovely.

I loved her demonstration.  For me it was the highlight of the day.  It was based on table decoration.  Everything she covered was easy to follow and totally my style.  In fact I made up one of the little trucks with the tree last year but will be doing some more this year.  I shall be giving the other decorations a try this year too.  

The rest of the day was spent wandering round the fair.  There was a real variety of stands from home-wares to fashion to children's toys not forgetting Christmas decorations.       

I will be honest it wasn't as Christmassy as  I had thought it was going to be.  It would have been nice to of been able to hear Christmas music playing throughout the hall, although I understand this wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea and I'm sure would probably send those working at the fair crazy.  I was also expecting more Christmas themed stands, there was only really a handful of these and they were pretty similar.  All in all though it was a good day.  I'm already looking forward to seeing what their Spring fair has to offer.   

But until then, no matter how you feel about it, Christmas is on it's way and I'm ready to embrace it with open arms.  The Country Living Christmas Fair has finished now in London but is yet to be in Harrogate and Glasgow so if you can, do pop along and check out what's on offer for yourself.  

~ Gem x 

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

A Little Piece Of England - Book Review

I was contacted quite some time ago by JJ Books, a small independent press in London, asking if I would be interested in reading a book that they had recently re-published.  A Little Piece of England written by John Jackson, gives his personal perspective of self-sufficiency and country life.

I can see why they thought it may be something of interest to me.  It is most certainly a lifestyle that myself and James are craving.  It's not the type of book I would normally pick up, I'm very much your chick lit kind of girl but I'm always happy to try something new and when reading what JJ Books had to say about it it sounded as though it would be right up my street.

It isn't quite what I was expecting.  I imagined it to be quite a humorous book.  Perhaps it is and just isn't my kind of humour, I'm not sure.  It is certainly an eye opener on how difficult life running a small holding can be and gives you a good insight on the up-hill struggles you will face, as well as the achievements that can be witnessed.  

I like how it doesn't skirt around things.  John hasn't written this to make it sound glamorous.  He tells it as it is, but at times I felt as though it went on a bit.

One thing I did love were the illustrations.  They are so simple, yet so detailed and so effective and the fact that they are just line drawn with a slight bit of shading makes them jump out of the page at you.

I was also quite taken by the titles of each of the chapters.  I really liked how they are related so closely to the chapters, but also because it has taken a bit more imagination than your usual chapter 1, chapter 2, you get where I'm going with this.

I'm annoyed that I didn't enjoy the book more, but that is just my opinion.  James has read it and he really enjoyed it.  In his words when I asked him what he made of it "very good, very, very good"  He found it comical at times, for the right reasons.  He also found it a useful guide for our future, giving more of an idea of what to expect.    

The book was published on the 1st April this year and is available in hardback as well as Kindle and iBook versions.

Gem x x

N.B Although this book was sent to me, these opinions are solely my own.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Christmas Adverts

Well now that Halloween and Bonfire Night are over with it my thoughts are 100% focused on Christmas.

It seems that John Lewis have done it again.  Have you seen this years Christmas advert?

Image sourced from Google images

Every year their adverts get people talking and this year is no exception.  I wasn't too keen when I first saw it but having watched it  a few times more on YouTube it has definitely grown on me.  It gives you that little flutter in your tummy.  I love the way that Christmas adverts can do that to you.

Another favourite this year belongs to the Found It teasers we have been getting.  Where the little girl peeks through the cardboard box or under the covers.  The suspense almost killed me with these.  Have you seen them yet?  I won't ruin it for you just in case you are more patient then I am (I have cheated and looked it up on YouTube) I must say I'm glad I did though because I like them even more now I know what is soon to follow.

Image sourced from Google images

I can't help but get excited for Christmas.  I am quite literally just like a kid.  I love it.  And these amazing adverts definitely help to get you in the mood.

What are your favourite Christmas adverts?

Gem x x

Monday, 3 November 2014

Our Handmade Reception

We wanted a venue that would allow us to do what we wanted.  I knew that I wanted to do as much of the decoration as I could myself, so by hiring a hall it ticked all the boxes.  Don't get me wrong, there were times I had my doubts.  A few tears were shed as I contemplated where we would be going with it all, but I'm so pleased that we stuck with it because I loved how it turned out.  All of the hours of hard work put in to get it how we wanted it paid off.  The emails backwards and forwards sorting out the table and chair hire, the crockery, cutlery and linen plus all the handmade elements were all worth it for this.

I had scoured Pinterest for hours and hours, sourcing ideas and inspiration.  That proved to be my biggest help in all of the planning.  You can check out my Pinterest wedding board here.

I had sewn up metres and metres of bunting which was used to decorate shelves, railings and even some mini bunting to decorate the picnic basket we used for our cards.

Marie is very artistic so I used her skills quite a bit to make up various signs for us.  I really liked the Instagram sign she did for us, but I think my favourite had to be the one at the main entrance, which I just loved.

There was also the table plan that she wrote out for us.  My Dad is a window fitter so when I spotted this idea I just knew that it is what we would be having.  It didn't take long for him to source these.  I was so chuffed with them.  With James being a brewer we wanted beer to be a running theme throughout the day, so our table names were pub names, and were displayed on tags hung from beer bottles.

On the subject of the beer theme, we had some of our flowers in beer bottles and also bought some hop garlands that we hung from the ceiling and above the bar, as well as laid across the top table.

As the ceremony was quite late in the day and with the hall not having amazing kitchen facilities we decided to opt for afternoon tea as our wedding breakfast.  Now I know what you are thinking, afternoon tea is very unlike me ha-ha.  I love a bit of tea and cake.  With James' jam making expertise it only seemed right that he made all the jam.  We picked the fruit together with some help from our niece, he made the jam and I decorated the jars.  Team work at it's finest.

I was really happy with our centrepieces.  We both love the outdoors and that rustic country feel.  I knew I wanted this to be represented in the flowers and our centrepieces, our florist got that from the first time I met with her to discuss my ideas.  What was even better was that she already had the logs that I had wanted (result).  I started collecting various jars and over a couple of evenings with Marie decorated them with hessian, lace, ribbon and my trusty glue gun.  It pulled everything else we had used on the day together and worked really well with that rustic feel.  I couldn't have been happier with how it all turned out on the day, it all looked stunning.  We worked together setting out the tables that morning, it felt amazing seeing all of my ideas and all the hard work coming together, even if I was feeling sick from nerves.

What I was even more impressed with, was the cake.  One of the guys I work with makes cakes so I had known it was him that I would be asking to make ours.  I gave him a small piece of the ribbon I had used on the jars (and our invites) and also a piece of the bridesmaid dress, so that he would have an idea of colours for the flowers he was going to be making for the topper.  The colour match was spot on, and the flowers were mistaken for real ones.  I loved the lace detailing, all edible and the whole thing tasted delicious.  I guess it's true when they say it isn't what you know but who.  The cake was also displayed on one of the tree trunks, again pulling everything in together and instead of a table we used an old barrel, keeping it in with the theme.  And of course I had to use some bunting to decorate.

I managed to pull in everything we had wanted, bunting, pom poms, flowers, a piece of the country and James' love of beer.  Even my sewing machine made an appearance.  I'd happily do it all over again.  I loved our wedding day so much.  It felt so personal to me and James, which is exactly what we had wanted.  If I could do it all again, I don't think there is a thing that I would change, that can't be bad hey.

~ Gem x   

Sunday, 2 November 2014

The Autumn Tag

I'm taking a short break from the wedding posts tonight.  As the nights are drawing in, this feels a good a time as ever to share with you my Autumn tag post.  I spotted this post on Gemma's blog Musings of a Gem last year but with one thing and another never got round to doing my own.  I decided to save the link in my emails and thought I would join in this year instead, better late than never hey!  You can read Gemma's version of it here.  So here are my answers:

1. Favourite thing about it?  I love the cosy feeling you get with autumn.  As the nights begin to draw in and the leaves on the trees turn that warm golden brown.  Lit candles become an essential in our household and cosying up with a blanket on the sofa of an evening is always a welcome treat.  It is also exciting to know that Halloween, Fireworks night and Christmas are not too far away too.

2. Favourite drink?    It has got to be a hot chocolate, if possible with marshmallows but it is just as good without.

3. Favourite scent / candle?  This question is a tricky one for me.  I want to say cinnamon or apple spice but if I'm being completely honest they are definitely more a Christmas scent.  I don't think I really have an autumn favourite but I'd be happy to hear your, it is always nice to discover new things.

4. Favourite thing to eat?  A good hearty meal, something like a sausage casserole with lots of veg.  Perfect after all the summer BBQ's.

5. Go to moisturiser?  I'm not brilliant when it comes to beauty products.  I tend to use what ever really.  I don't have a preference but tend to use either Olay or Clinique.

6. Go to make-up / nail polish colours?  Again as above, I'm not really into my beauty products and tend to pick whichever colour takes my fancy at that particular time but if I had to pick one I would say a light brown or dark red / burgundy.

7. Favourite music / band / singer to listen to?  I tend to listen to the same kind of music all year round.  Except for Christmas of course.  My favourite artist is Usher.  I am in love with the man and his music and have followed him religiously for about the last 15 years.  I'm looking forward to seeing him live again in March.

8. Favourite outfit to wear (i.e. boots & scarf combo)?  I'm very much a jeans and jumper kind of girl.  I love big chunky knits, something to snuggle up into.

9. Autumn treat (i.e. a new bag or scarf you have got your eye on)?  Hmm, nothing springs to mind, probably a new chunky jumper, or a nice looking magazine. I'm sure something will fall into my basket at some point.

10. Favourite place to be?  At this time of year I always enjoy the odd country walk, watching nature do it's thing, seeing how the hedgerows change in colour and texture.  I find it quite magical, the air always smells so fresh too.  Of course it is always great to get home, pop the kettle on and enjoy a nice hot brew as you warm up under a blanket on the sofa.  I'm quite a homebody so spending time all snug and warm indoors is always welcomed. 

Hope you've enjoyed my autumn tag, feel free to join in if you want to but don't forget to let me know so I can check it out :)

Gem x x x