Dressing your windows for Christmas

December 20th, 2014

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Outdoor Christmas decorationsImage credit: Crazy Frankenstein

The way we dress our homes for the holiday season is a big part of the Yuletide fun.

Showing others that you’re taking part in the celebrations is a great way of joining in with the festive spirit – one of the most creative ways you can do this is by dressing your windows for Christmas.

Metallic baubles hanging in a windowImage credit: Harpers Bazaar

Where to start

Whether yours is one of the many luxury new homes around the country or an older period property, there’s nothing more off-putting than dirty or grimy windows at any time of the year. So, the best place to start is to make sure your windows are sparkling clean inside and out.

The next thing is to decide if you want to decorate just the insides or make the most of the outside of your windows as well. Obviously this will come down to practicalities as in many cases it might be difficult to get to outside windows that aren’t on the ground floor.

Fir tree snowflake Christmas window decorationImage credit: Refreshed Designs

Materials

If you can put decorations outside it’s a good idea to let nature help you. You can use holly or other similar classic natural winter greenery which you know can withstand the outdoor conditions.

If you plan to use lights or other electrical equipment outside it is essential to check that they are suited to the purpose and will pose no threat or danger in wet or windy conditions.

Colourful Christmas stockings and decorations hanging in a windowImage credit: Impressionen

Indoors

Whatever the size of your windows, let your imagination run wild!

There are many ways you can decorate the inside of your windows – have some fun with it.

If you have a property with old fashioned windows such as sash windows – you can make them look great with just a little fake snow and glitter. Carefully applied in the right way this can result in a really authentic, classic Dickensian Christmas card look.

More modern windows with large panes of glass can provide a blank canvas for a whole range of ideas. Spraying glitter materials through stencils or other cut-outs can work just as well as using elaborate and potentially expensive lighting set-ups.

Christmas tree in a corner in front of windowsImage credit: Better Homes and Gardens

Tree

One thing that can’t be beaten for maximum effect is simply placing your Christmas tree in front of the window. This not only means you can leave curtains or blinds open to show your neighbours how lovely your tree is, but it also gives you some privacy too.

Christmas is a time of fun and festivity – so get involved this year!

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Quick panna cotta

December 19th, 2014

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Quick panna cotta with blackcurrant preserve | @hisforhome

This panna cotta recipe has a very good effort versus reward ratio – it’s quick, easy and utterly delicious.

Pouring hot liquid mixture into glass bowls

We once read a great quote “panna cotta is just blancmange with a fancy accent”. That’s kind of true, but panna cotta does sound better doesn’t it? It’s the perfect dessert, particularly if you have to make something at short notice – or if you’re super busy with other jobs – Christmas week for example!!

blackcurrant preserve

You can eat it plain – but a quick fruit coulis, caramel sauce or chocolate shavings add a delicious extra dimension. For this batch we made a lovely topping from blackcurrants that we’d preserved in the summer. Honey can also be added to the cream mix which is a classic method in Italy.

Quick panna cotta
Yields 6
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Cook Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 600ml double cream
  2. 1tsp Vege-gel (or any other agar agar powder)
  3. 50g caster sugar
  4. panna cotta ingredients
Instructions
  1. Pour the double cream into a medium-sized saucepan
  2. Before heating, add the Vege-gel/agar agar powder and combine well with a whisk
  3. Add the sugar and heat on a medium flame stirring until the sugar has dissolved
  4. Bring to simmering and pour into heat proof glass coups or bowls
  5. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before covering with cling film/Saran wrap and putting into the fridge for at least 2 hours
  6. Serve cold with fruit compote, preserve or coulis
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Creative Collections: Dowsers

December 18th, 2014

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collection of antique dowsers

This creative collection post is one for the real antique lovers!

detail of a collection of antique dowsers

These conical shaped candle extinguishers are often misnamed snuffers, but they’re more accurately called candle dowsers. Snuffers have a scissor action and are designed to remove burnt wick (or snuff).

underside of an antique dowser

We got the majority of them in one bulk purchase. It was a rather impulsive buy, but we fell in love with them when viewing an auction at Wilkinson’s, a really wonderful saleroom in Doncaster. It’s usually the country furniture and period oak that we make the trip to see, so twenty antique candle dowsers wasn’t really on our list!

ribbed antique dowser

But they made such a lovely display with the variation in style, size & material. There are some exquisite pieces here, dating back hundreds of years – brass, pewter, bronze and silver examples. We love the craftsmanship – and the real connection with history.

Mr Punch antique dowser

Having bought something unusual like this we enjoy the research into styles and dating, but we haven’t found any books or websites dedicated to the subject as yet. We’ll keep looking for reference material – and in the meantime just enjoy looking at them each time we pass!

Maths Class

December 17th, 2014

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'Let's Explore Mathematics' children's book cover

We bet there are quite a few of you out there for whom the words maths class (or double maths!) strikes fear into your hearts.

Number 2 illustration Number 8 illustration

Number 3 illustration Number 6 illustration

Would a gorgeous text book like this have made it any better?

'Let's Explore Mathematics' children's book

How many houses? illustration

We picked it up at the local market recently and were really taken by the interesting exercises set by the author LG Marsh – and even more so by the fabulous illustrations by Chris Hoggett.

Who is the tallest? illustration

How tall? illustration

Let’s Explore Mathematics dates from the 1960s and has a distinctive style from the period.

How much? illustration

Spotting numbers illustration

The graphics are captivating, charming, clever and colourful (how many Cs is that readers?)

Looking for triangles illustration

How many bottles? illustration

 This is Book 1 of 4, so there’s a lovely series to collect. If we have 1 of 4 books, what percentage do we own (stop it now!!)

How many rungs on a ladder? illustration

Eight soldiers illustration

It’s published by A & C Black Ltd; if you’re looking to track down some vintage copies – we noticed that there are a few on eBay & Amazon at the moment.

Gifts for… the Home

December 16th, 2014

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selection of Christmas gifts for the home

We’re all busy buying presents for each other at this time of year. Spare a thought for your home – it has feelings too! :-)

  1. Red Liberty print felt stocking: £39.95, Liberty
  2. FÉE DES NEIGES duvet cover: £35-£75, La Redoute
  3. Macedonia coasters: £8 each, Anthropologie
  4. Stem Jacquard clementine towels: £4-£38, Orla Kiely
  5. Marimekko Kukkuluuruu tin: £15, John Lewis
  6. Country Living – Modern Rustic: £9.99, Hearst Magazines
  7. Zigzag tiles long matchbox: £10, The Conran Shop
  8. Bugatti Vera kettle in orange: £189, Amara
  9. Three white & copper leaf tea light holders: £20, Cox & Cox