Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Eeek, it's December

Esther has shut down for the festive season. Arabella is doing the most wonderful Advent calendar. VP is busy looking for another Messiah to sing. Helen and Karen have been testing trees and lights. So where are you up to with your Christmas preparations? Let me rephrase that: what have you failed to do so far?

I have not:
Sent cards
Put up the tree
Checked out the Christmas tree lights
Swept the front step (as you can see from the picture below) and put down a fresh mat, which I like to do at Christmas time. Indeed, Christmas and New Year is usually a time of great upheaval and reorganisation in our household. I suppose it's because I have to clear away all the normal clutter in order to display the Christmas clutter. In the course of this, one discovers cobwebby corners and grubby paintwork, which one wishes one had time to clean, but which one usually disguises with strategically positioned furniture.

On the other hand, I have:
Ordered the turkey
Received my first Christmas card, from a friend in Australia
Booked tickets for my daughter's carol concert (but haven't received them, since daughter, who has the attention span of a gnat, is in charge of bringing them home)
Bought the new mat, ready to put down when I get round to sweeping the step (which I am planning to have retiled in the spring)
Made a wreath for the porch
Er, that's it.

Don't be too impressed by the wreath - I cheated. I bought the components at New Covent Garden flower market at dawn last Saturday. I wanted a really big wreath because I always put mine on the bare bit of wall by the door instead of on the door itself, and a small wreath looks a bit forlorn there.
I knew the only place I would get a base big enough (without paying huge amounts of money for it) would be the flower market, and sure enough, they didn't let me down. The actual base is 20 inches, and when you include the foliage it measures about a yard from top to bottom.
I have a lot of variegated or yellow-leaved plants in the front garden, so I also bought some variegated holly to pick up those colours. It seemed like a good idea at the time, because I imagined I would wear gloves, but of course, if you're doing something fiddly, you keep taking your gloves off. My fingers now resemble a pincushion.
The flower market also sells every single thing you can think of to decorate wreaths. Cinnamon sticks, dried orange slices, fresh miniature apples in green, red or yellow (how do they do that?) bows, ribbons, you name it. I decided I wanted something yellow, and was very taken with the mini apples. However, this is the first time I have ever attempted a wreath (even in a cheating sort of way) so I wasn't very sure how I was going to wire them on.
In the end, I saw some fake lemons, which came complete with a long wire on the end. Perfect! They must have been made especially for a wreath cheater.
Like me, you probably have your own family Christmas traditions. Some of ours are rather eccentric - we like to watch the Morecambe and Wise sketch in which they make breakfast to the music of The Stripper. And we like to watch Some Like It Hot. The reasons for this are lost in the mists of time.
I think I will add wreath-cheating to my list of Christmas traditions, however. There was something very nice about wandering around the flower market and smelling that wonderful Christmas-tree smell, then loading the car with greenery as the sun came up.
There are things we squabble over too. The children like to put the tree up the minute December strikes, while I prefer to put it up a bit later. If I had my way, it would go up on Christmas Eve, because I like the idea of Advent being a quiet time of waiting and anticipation. Usually we compromise (in other words, I crack under pressure) around the first weekend of December, but this year we've managed to get to the 8th without the tree going up. I'm hoping to get as far as next weekend.

The Unswept Step. Actually, it doesn't look too bad here, given that I hate it anyway. It's tiled with old-fashioned terracotta quarry tiles, which would be OK, if some idiot hadn't decided to paint them terracotta colour at some point, and the paint has never quite completely come off. They never look really clean, and they don't seem to respond to being polished.
So I'm going to replace them in the spring, when the weather warms up a bit, with black and white quarries. I can't wait.


Jans Gourds said...

yep, it sure is and in our neck of the woods in is so cold Brr......
I have gotten my decorations up and my tree done and like you I cheated a bit on my wreath but who's to know unless we tell them. Yours is lovely and one of these days I would love to visit England. But on the other hand, I would love to visit Vermont in our own country. I will probably never do either but I can dream.
Happy Holidays to you and Yours. Be blessed and be safe and enjoy the love of family and friends during the season.
You can see my tree at my blog. Small but then so is our cottage.

easygardener said...

The wreath looks very good there and the lemons glow like little light bulbs.
My porch tiles are painted with the same stupid paint. Perhaps the first householder used to paint them every few months because the paint doesn't wear well at all -(and I'm too lazy to repaint very often!)

petoskystone said...

lovely wreath! we have our tree up (real as i have a reaction to artificial trees), but no other decorations (yet). christmas cards aren't mailed out yet, but i only have 7 to do & they're all within the states, so eh..this weekend, maybe! presents are done & wrapped though--& my parents in nebraska probably have thiers by now. good luck on getting the concert tickets ;) oh--have taped animated christmas specials for the grands (phineas & ferb is the fave).

emmat said...

I am disgusted with you and will nevr be able to look you in the eye again

Carrie said...

Hmmmm, Christmas you say?! Well oopps, I'm sitting here in a tree-less, decoration-less house. I have sent 4 cards, received 2. Haven't even thought about food or wreath or anything much really. DO HAVE PRESENTS cos like a freak I get that done ahead of time.
I don't think we'll be doing christmas this year, we're in the middle of house selling and solicitors etc. My cousin gets married in the first week of Jan and I'm bridesmaid so that is taking up my mind space too. I'm having to move in with the Mother in law for 6 months while our house is being built, eeekkk!!!!
Cheating = an extremely beautiful one of a kind wreath. Love it, jealous in fact.
Oh Christmas traditions? - Chocolate for breakfast and Muppets Christmas Carol.

Rob said...

Hi Victoria,

Nice wreath (though I do agree with Emma on the lemons). It ties in with the scheme perfectly!

As an aside, I heard recently from Mark Diacono, that your bamboo (Phyllostachys vivax) produces edible shoots! I don't know if you knew already, but it could be an interesting addition to next year's open day cakes...

Anna said...

It sounds as if you have made more inroads into your preparations than I have :) A few presents purchased and the outdoor lights up is the sum total at the moment. Your wreath is most attractive - well worth all the temporary damage to the fingers.

Victoria said...

Jans Gourds: Thank you for visiting and welcome to the backyard. Strangely enough, I visited Vermont a few years ago, although during the fall, not at Christmas. It's a wonderful place - I was writing a travel piece about it, which you can read at http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/americas/vermont-leaf-peeping-747861.html
Thank you for the Christmas blessing. Peace and happiness to you and yours.

easygardener: They do light up the porch, don't they? As for the tiles, all I can say is thank goodness they didn't paint the bricks!

petoskystone: You've wrapped your presents? I haven't even bought mine...

Emmat: Yup, fake and proud of it. If I hadn't told you, I bet you wouldn't have been able to tell the difference.

Carrrie: Whoa, that sounds like a lot going on in your life. Have LOADS of chocolate for breakfast on Christmas Day, it sounds as if you'll need it.

Rob: You're as bad as Emma. Tell you what, next year you can come and tie some real lemons on to the holly and I will bake you a bamboo cake to say thank you.

Anna: Thanks. I think it's a sign of getting older that Christmas suddenly creeps up on you. Thank goodness for the internet, and the end of the postal strike.

emmat said...

Oh god, I hope everyone realises I am just joking. I'm pretty sure you will have. One of my favourite possessions is a bunch of silk pom pom dahlias, which my boyfriend hates, but, you know, fake stuff just has so much going for it.

Victoria said...

Emmat: Actually, I assumed you were joking initially, but then I thought you might be teasing me about ranting on about fake grass one minute and buying fake lemons the next. Now I come to think of it, it does demonstrate a soupçon of inconsistency...
The lemons are very lifelike. And the built-in wire was a clincher. They had bananas as well - I was very tempted.

Karen - An Artist's Garden said...

Lovely post and I like your wreath -

Ummm about Christmas - the outdoor lights is all I have done - I don't understand why December is whizzing along so fast and I cannot opt out this year as all the kids are coming here.

"Eeek" indeed Victoria

Rob said...

Hehe! You know I might *just* have approved of fake bananas..

Angie said...

The Christmas spirit hasn't got to me yet, mmmm that reminds me must get some booze in. Hoe you all have a good one!
Thanks for the comment about Black Tomatoes, I cut out the bad bits & had the rest last night with salad.
BTW my Mum & Dad were married in Wandsworth & a couple of way back rellies lived at Wiston Rd & Tonsley Hill.

Darla said...

Wreath cheater, now that's good! It turned out quite nicely though...our tree is not up yet either..

Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

Good grief, I haven't done any of it ..... yet. But I did sweep the porch, repeatedly, does that count?

Love the wreath!

patientgardener said...

I am impressed with the wreath - I havent had time to do one yet but do like the idea of putting it on the wall to the side of the door - been having problems attaching them in previous years. We have negotiations about putting the tree up as well - think I have given in to this Sunday. Done my cards and majority of shopping but I have relied heavily on the internet so not much effort from me.

VP said...

Apart from testing a tree which doesn't work, my sole contribution to Christmas so far is buying one present. About 5 minutes ago.

NAH is doing rather better - 1 present + a year's supply of booze for me because all the things I like are on special offer at the moment.

It's rather pleasing to see someone with a to do list about as long as mine.

jodi (bloomingwriter) said...

Ah, yes it's indeed December. We don't have lights up outside or our tree, but we have two wreaths up (I too cheated--just not crafty at all) and all our Christmas shopping handled. No baking, no wrapping, no cleaning or any of that, but somehow, It all gets done! I don't stress over it, because it's all about the love of family and friends to me. My son is in Ottawa with his father and stepmother, as he got a job up there and can't come down for Christmas, but it'll be okay.
Thank you for the supportive comments on Bloomingwriter, Victoria. I love what I do, just feel badly when I don't do it as often as I think I ought. Gonna make a few changes but it'll all work out too.

debsgarden said...

I love your wreath - you did a good job. My tree, a frasier fir, is up but undecorated. That will happen this weekend. Meanwhile, it smells wonderful.

Nell Jean said...

Your wreath is lovely.

I have received a Christmas card, and a message from someone who tried to send me a package which was returned.

Sweeping was necessary on the side steps, where DH laid a bundle of green onions which left a little pile of sandy dirt.

Lucy Corrander said...

Even people who have packed up for Christmas take peeks at what's going on from time to time. I know!

As for lemons - fake ones sound better than mouldy ones. Bananas! Christmas bananas?

I'm wrapping presents and writing Christmas cards. (That's code for sitting up in bed reading blogs.)

I'm just about to distribute white sugar mice to my nearest and dearest. I'm anticipating a swift rise in popularity as a consequence and am doing some advance basking in the warm glow it will bring. I have to do this in case, in the event, people say they don't like them or don't want them or are frightened by mice or don't like white and would prefer pink. In other words, I like to eat my cake in case keeping it doesn't work out. Or something!