Friday, 7 December 2012

Christmas is Coming and What 2012 Brought

After a very busy few weeks working on Christmas orders, I am finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and am starting to wind down.  I must say, I'm looking forward to my Christmas preparations enormously; and although we have already trimmed the tree there is still much to be done.  I'm looking forward mostly to sitting and making those decorations I've been dreaming about for the last few months, making a new Christmas table cloth from an old cotton bed sheet, and baking Christmas cookies.

Because it's the simple things that make me happiest.  I like the homely feel these little activities bring and I like the cosiness of my house at this time of year. There's nothing nicer than that time of day when the Christmas lights softly glow as the early evening twilight blankets the sky.

I like sitting in the big armchair with a cup of hot chocolate and a mince pie, and watching films like The Snowman whilst wrapped in a cosy crocheted blanket.  I like looking through my recipe and crafting books ~ at the moment I'm particularly enjoying Granny Chic by Tif Fussell and Rachelle Blondel; it's crammed with page after page of tempting delights to create for yourself and your home.  Like I said, it's the simple things that make me smile.

Last weekend, we decorated our tree and with a few of the tinier leftover baubles I decided to make a table decoration using the twigs I had saved from my Easter Tree.

What do you think?

Using some mini baubles and a felt bead necklace (that sadly proved too itchy to wear but was perfect as a mini garland), along with some tiny crocheted circles we were heartily chuffed with our efforts.  The reindeer was something I treated myself to at the Country Living fair in London, but you can buy them online from here.

I *love* making things from found bits and bobs.  It's very satisfying to know that items which don't really have much of a purpose can be pulled together to create something pretty.

As the year draws to its inevitable close, I find myself looking back and recalling some of its the day I stood on the sand island on Portminster beach and for a few minutes there was nothing but the warmth of the sun, the soothing sound of the waves and the calling of the gulls.  I remember feeling very peaceful and happy, and even now when I remember that day I get the same feeling again.

I remember meeting new friends for the first time, and feeling like I'd met the tribe of chums I'd long been yearning for - savvy, funny and bright, wise, clever and creative.  We are scattered across the UK, but have forged a bond that will endure.

And then there were some more difficult hurdles to overcome.  My partner lost his Mum in October, and I remember that heartbreaking drive to South Wales felt as if something hugely dark and inescapable were looming up behind us and there was a feeling of being at a loss, of grasping at hope although futile, of losing all sense of normality.  We spoke soothing words to each other to try and ease the painful reality of what was to come.

We made it to the hospital in time and we will be forever grateful that he was able to speak to her before she drifted into a sleepy coma.  She died on his birthday in the early hours, and there was a single clap of thunder and flash of lightening around the time of her passing that nobody could really explain.  She was a feisty woman with a heart of gold and a marvellous sense of humour which she has passed on to her son and grand daughter in turn.  She gave so much and was the most generous spirit that will be missed enormously.

It seems in some ways that 2012 was a year of losses, of surmounting hurdles and moving on.  I lost my Literary Agent earlier this year which although at the time was upsetting and disappointing, has left me free to pursue other avenues with my art.  We don't always see the gifts in loss at the time, but when we can accept the loss and start to move on then the blessings are revealed.

A long term friendship also dissolved, and I'm at pains to say that this was a very difficult journey.  There came a point where I felt the friendship was becoming toxic; I felt drained and tired being around this person and I began to realise that this friendship was no longer making me happy.

Despite several attempts to make the friendship work, it soon became clear that this wasn't an option and sadly it ended very sourly.  I experienced fear, intimidation, guilt, sadness and finally apathy.  I'm now much happier without this person in my life but am still grateful for the good times that we shared in the early years of getting to know one another.  I have emerged a much stronger person who now understands personal boundaries a little better.  I have strict rules on what I will and will not tolerate from another human being; perhaps if I hadn't tried so hard to please and to be 100% available to this person in the first place then maybe the friendship would have worked out differently.  Or not.  We are who we are, and sometimes we need to move away from someone in order to find the people who we truly fit with.
And so now I look towards 2013, and I am full of optimism for what's to come.  I have plans to create another Wish List of things to achieve next year - I started doing this in January of this year and it's amazing how when we write down our dreams and our goals we seem to add fuel to them actually becoming  a reality.  They can be large or small, it doesn't matter - but getting them out of our heads and onto paper creates real magic.

Some of the things on my Wish List that I achieved this year were:

1:  Spend Summer Solstice at the beach - we did, we were in Cornwall and it was beautiful!

2: Get an Indian Head Massage - done, and it was terrific and even more than I could have hoped for - more Indian Head Massages in 2013!!

3: Go to the Country Living Spring Fair - I had looonnnnng wished to go to this and this year I did!! And I went to the Christmas one too!

4:  Get an eye test - a pretty ordinary thing I know, but oh so necessary and something I'd put off for eons!! I booked myself in and huzzah, the eyes are top bonza!!

5:  Get a Kindle - I got one for my birthday, and although I'm very much a paper book person and still have a vast collection of books, I find my Kindle to be one of the best inventions in the world ever and wouldn't dream of being without it.

6:  Go to the Brudenell Hotel in Aldebrough for coffee and sit and watch the sea through the windows - done.

7:  See my friend Kirsty, who lives in Cornwall and whom I haven't seen in TEN YEARS!! - Done!! We went to the zoo with my daughter, it rained most of the day but we didn't care and it was the loveliest feeling in the world to see her again, the nicest thing being that it felt like yesterday that we had last seen one another.

Some of the things I didn't get around to...

1:  Sea swimming.  It was just tooooo cold this year.

2:  Kayak on a lake - my dream was to go up to the Lake District and do this, but the right time never presented itself.  Maybe next year...

3:  Make a proper Chilli Hot Chocolate.  Actually I plan to do this later on today :)


I think I'm going to love you and leave you now, finish up on my orders and sneak in a little Christmas Hooky time by the tree.

Have a lovely weekend, wherever you are in the world.


  1. Your decorations are gorgeous Julia! I like the idea of the table display I might even do one myself if you don't mind me copying your idea! ;)
    Thankyou for sharing your list of year happenings. I hope this christmas is a good one, even though you're going to miss your mum in law. I'm sure her spirit will be there with you all. :)
    Jess x

  2. Thanks Jess! I think it would be marvellous if you made a twiggy Christmas display - I'm really happy if I've inspired you a teeny bit! :) Thanks for your Christmas wishes, Merry Christmas to you and your family and lots of love. J x x x

  3. Just read your blog for the first time. Think your wish list is a great idea. Have a great Christmas x

  4. Hi Annie, thank you for your visit - I wish you a lovely Christmas and hope you'll stop by again :) J x x x

  5. I love your full to bursting point tree, and had plans to do the same myself, then wondered about it as I have usually stuck to a single colour, or maybe two, and never over-egged it. But now having seen yours, will go full steam ahead, using a real eclectic mix of baubles and so on, some of them going back over 50 years to my childhood. I also use twigs each year, this time they have hearts on them, sometimes tiny baubles, or just lights. Like to ring the changes.
    Merry Christmas Julia x

  6. And a Merry Christmas to you too Maggie!! I cannot believe what we actually managed to cram on there to be honest; it's bulging with years and years of accumulated decorations and it's ever so slightly tipsy too which I think just adds to the effect lol! Enjoy trimming up, lots of love J x x x

  7. An interesting post. It's true friendships change and move on. I'm trying to learn to let the door close gently instead of slamming it! more of a natural ending, but it's hard and probably a bit unrealistic. Your christmas tree looks magical, and your hot chocolate looks amazing! happy making, Heather x

  8. Thanks Heather, I hear you on the friendship thing, not always an easy ship to sail ~ Merry Christmas to you too x x x

  9. I really enjoyed reading your post x

  10. Thank you Julia for such a wonderfully written blog. I too had a year of losses (2010) and it's only now that I can start to see the gains that I have made since that time. Moving forward can seem such a slow process at times, but as you have shown, when it is written down it is a amazing of what we can achieve. I will take your idea of writing down what I want to achieve in 2013, not as a rule to work by but as a reason to grow.
    P.s. I will pinch your twig tree idea ;)
    (looking at my "kiss" heart as I write this)

  11. Sorry to hear about your mother-in-law. It's always hard to lose someone but on your partners birthday must have been really rough.
    Your Christmas tree looks awesome and congrats on all the fun things you completed from your wish list. I might have to come up with something similar myself :-)

  12. Is that a St Ives picture I spy behind your tree?

  13. It's Lyme Regis! But good guess ;)


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