Summertime Christmas

 

Season’s Greetings Y’all!

Happy Christmas; Mid-Summer; Mid-Winter; Ramadan; Hanukkah; Kwanzaa ~ 

Whatever you celebrate may your days be blessed with your loved ones around you

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The Christmas Light Catchers were all finally sent off on Monday 7th December.  The nice lady at the post office assured me I was far too late in my posting habits to make the Christmas delivery deadline for those of you across the oceans, but I believe in miracles and it turns out there has been  a number of them – were you one of them?

I feel like my Celebration season got off to an excellent start this year with that communal giveaway and it has caused me to become quite ‘merry and bright’ about the whole thing – which is not something I have utterly given myself up to in the past few years.

I’ve been fortunate to experience Christmas in both hemispheres and have found pleasure and pain in both seasons.  As a child I had a feeling of deep disconnection between the presented pictures and the reality of our global situation – which simply added to my general discombobulation with the family dysfunction which was the reality of my young life.

In the blinding heat of mid summer we were all treated to displays of fake snow scattered about shop window settings and cards featuring pretty women in long gowns trimmed with fur, their hands buried in muffs and snow brushing their pink cheeks; or robins on bare branches white with more snow….  Carols and popular songs tinkled along merrily in the background and we all sang along with them – we were dreaming of a white Christmas, hearing sleigh bells jingling, and decking the halls with boughs of holly.  We lit the lights on the Christmas trees but never got to see their glow because it was always light while we were up.  There was no waiting for the return of the sun because it was always here and always bright.  [Years later my own children, excited out of their trees by the coming event, would wake us up at three o’clock in the morning to tell us Santa had been and the birds were singing.  Stockings were introduced to the end of their beds with enough goodies to keep them quiet for at least another half hour…….]

A heavy, roasted Christmas dinner was often cooked amid faces red and sweating and eaten in the same manner while we kids just wanted to escape the heat and dive back into the ocean or river.

We had few local traditions, everything had been imported from the Northern Hemisphere by the settlers who came to make new and better lives yet continued to adhere faithfully to the way things were done ‘Back Home’ despite all  seasonal disadvantages.

As a young mother I set about making sure my children did not experience the same sense of disconnection with the festival and over the years built up a new set of traditions and displays that met our seasonal and cultural mores and addressed my growing connection with a spiritual reality that had nothing to do with religion or culture and everything to do with the need for me to unleash the ability to understand what unconditional love is and to be able to live in it on a daily and practical basis.

Christmas became the festival where I practised best.

We had wonderful Christmases and in their own lives, my girls have carried on the traditions that were begun in their childhoods.

This year we get to have one of our special Christmases.  Just the three of us make up our small immediate family and we get to spend a week together this year.  We are tight.  We are devoted and adoring and just a little awed by each other.  Not being of a religious bent, but bearing strong spiritual connections with the message of the season we will celebrate our ability to love, to share, to give and to shine.  The summer sun is bright and warm and we let it be our inspiration.

Somewhere the decision was made to make this a Christmas to remember.

So for the first time in this tiny house, a tree arrived.  It got itself decorated with baubles, bells, flowers, birds and butterflies – in our favourite colours of course.

Xmas Tree 2015

And placed stage centre especially for Orlando’s enjoyment and contentment

O under tree Dec 15

I crocheted that tree skirt in one frantic 14 hour period, as big as I could get it in the time allowed and in between my doing of ordinary daily activities ……  After it is finished with this year I shall double it in size in a leisurely fashion.

The tiny courtyard is full of flowers and little bits of bling.  The chairs have comfy cushions and there are places for wine glasses and plates of food

Tiny Courtyard pizap

The front entrance welcomes with bells and bling, cats and a green nodding doggie and even more flowers

front2 dec15

Dec Front pizap

The hand made gifts are [finally] finished and being wrapped – this is the last of them

presents pizap

The Secret Recipe Cold Christmas Pudding is made and maturing

xmaspud1 2015

And Siddy is ready for GO! (His favourite aunty Jo arrives in two more sleeps and our Christmas begins!)

Xmas6

And I have my Christmas hair on

Pink Hair Dec 15

[I’m transitioning people, from coloured hair to cheveux au-naturale – the time has come – as the Walrus once so famously said.  And why not have a little fun along the way?]

This is my last post for the year, thanks for being with me through this fabulous and eventful twelve months.  Thanks for your encouragement and support and friendship.  And thank you for coming by again today, I love that you did!

 

 

 

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Double Celebrations and a Holiday Retrospective

I hope everyone is having a wonderful and magical and inspiring holiday!

I certainly am – not only did I have the first holiday break in four years with both my daughters at the same time, closely followed by being extremely spoiled on Christmas Day [hint: I’m writing on it now 🙂 ] but also something really amazingly generous and wonderful and quite magical has happened for me, my readers and The Contented Crafter Blog altogether!

A few days before Christmas I received a sale notification from my Etsy Store and a wee note which said in part  Pauline, please don’t send this to me; I want you to use it for a give-away in the New Year………

You may well imagine, I was totally overwhelmed.  If I hadn’t already been sitting I would have sat – splat!  The donor has asked to remain anonymous and I [reluctantly] respect that.  Here is what is written on the Contented Crafter FB Page 

‘I am donating one of Pauline’s inspiring prints for her to use as a give-away. I’m choosing to remain anonymous because this is about her and her lovely work, not about me. I rarely give money to large institutions, but like to use a wee part of my income to support a variety of efforts that come to my attention. I love supporting people who are artistic, alternative, creative and more. Anyone making a positive change in this world deserves support. I hope all her readers and followers will enter to win this lovely prize. Good luck, everyone!’

Isn’t this the most amazingly unexpected, wonderfully kind and generous and Christmassy Spirited thing?  It’s like we have our very own Christmas Fairy!!

paulinekingblog.wordpress.com

paulinekingblog.wordpress.com

So we get another give-away 🙂  Which makes me happy – and you too I hope and one lucky person will get to choose a print, and I hope they will be happy too!

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And – as I discovered as I began this post – this is my 100th post – so, double celebrations!!  I’ve been blogging for a full 10 months already and so much has happened – not least the amazing people I have stumbled upon, so many of whom have become new friends 🙂

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We went to Queenstown to celebrate YD’s mumbley-mumble birthday.  It has to be said she is now older than I think I am.  Perhaps the Time Lord has been zipping around in his Tardis and completely destroyed linear time in favour of concurrent and eternal time [?]

Any-hoo…. it was a chilly morning when we set off with me as official back seat driver and the two lovelies up front

OnTheRoad1

Our road trip took us through some pretty amazing scenery and some of New Zealand’s early history too.  If you travel this route you will soon become familiar with the beginnings of European Settlement in this country.  Rich with gold, the hills are high and rocky.  Schist is piled precariously atop schist and always makes me think of some wild and ancient god such as Thor, haphazardly throwing rocks about.  The scenery will remind you of Greece, of Tuscany, of England – all in the space of five minutes.  The lakes are huge, one is man-made and a village was drowned to make it – and the colour is spectacular –  aqua waters shine out against stark brown hills..

It’s wild, it’s barren, it’s breathtakingly beautiful!

First stop was at a great favourite of mine, Lawrence where the original gold rush took place in the early 1860’s. Gabriel’s Gully is on the outskirts of town, but it was a bit too cold to do the walk.

We stopped for lunch in a pub garden in Alexandra, then pushed on to Clyde.

Clyde is in the middle of nowhere, high up in the mountain plateau.  A stunningly beautiful, stark, rocky, brown landscape with an aqua lake, a hydro dam and little picturesque villages that  could come straight from the English Cotswalds.

I snapped ED standing and staring

Jo@ClydeDam

Jo@ClydeDam2

What she was entranced with, and you can’t smell is the wild thyme.  Those dead looking clumps in the background are wild thyme.  This part of the high country, where the topsoil is thin and the bedrock is on the surface, grows wild thyme.  It goes from the waters edge up the sides of rocky cliffs, along the road side and over the hills.  It is abundant, it is dried, it is redolent and

I picked me some 🙂

We drove on, past the drowned town of Cromwell, stopped at Roaring Meg for a few moments and on to Queenstown.

We arrived about 4 pm – just in time to see the last of the beautiful warm summer days they had been enjoying.  But we were not concerned.  We settled into our uber posh hotel and enjoyed the view

Hotelview2

Queenstown nestles itself on two sides of the beautiful Lake Wakatipu  It is small, it is hilly and it is entirely a tourist spot.  Sam Neill calls this place home, Shania Twain built a ranch house on several hundred acres on the outskirts and there is scarcely a Hollywood star who has not spent at least two nights nestled up in any of the twenty or more ultra luxurious, inordinately expensive, privacy guaranteed hotels.

We settled for a very nice 5 Star and had a thoroughly enjoyable time with our discount vouchers and savings coupons and lets not forget the trusty credit cards!

HotelView4

It has to be admitted up front that we spent the better part of the next two days eating and drinking.  We wanted to stick with the theme – so it was mostly an endless array of delicious and extraordinarily fresh seafood and fine Otago wines.

We did make the trek half way up the mountain to catch the gondola that took us all the way to the top – vertically!  YD and I are okay with being in tiny little orbs that look alarmingly like a storm troopers helmet that sway about in the breeze and travel in a series of jerks and rushes.  Not so much ED, who began to sing ‘Soft Kitty, warm kitty’ in a tremulous voice – which just made us laugh even more.

The view was worth it.  This is what you see immediately below the space age viewing deck

Gondola wildflowers

The wilding pines and wildflowers are found all over the mountain sides around Queenstown and were looking particularly pretty.  [Wilding pines are self seeded and unwanted invaders in National Parks.  There is a huge push to handle them properly so that the native forest can regenerate and the wildings be stopped in their tracks.  When I first came to Queenstown 28 years ago, there were few pines growing up the mountain sides – now they cover them.]

Gondola View2

This is a panoramic shot taken by one of the daughters clever phones. [ 🙂 ]

Gondola View1

The view is quite stunning and we repaired to a small wine bar to admire it some more.

We chose a spot where we could see the storm troopers whizzing past and I amused myself by trying to take an arty shot.  You had to be really quick!Gondola wine2

Eventually I got this one and had to be happy with it or I couldn’t enjoy my chardonnay!

gondola wine3

That evening we celebrated YD’s birthday at a very fine lakeside restaurant where we ate copious amounts of fish, drank not quite copious amounts of white wine and took silly photos with ED’s new iphone to the amusement of the servers and several other tables of diners.

D's birthday dinner w PD&P @ dinner

The next day, Christmas Eve, we reluctantly packed up and headed back across the thyme covered mountain plateau to a cold, wet and windy home city and readied ourselves for an exciting Christmas Day.

Meet Esmeralda, my new, silver, ultra sleek, super fast Personal Computer.

Esmerelda

She has just finished her first successful  and very happy blog post 🙂

Thanks for coming by today and taking the time to read – I’m so happy that you did!  🙂

Seasons Greetings One and All!

We got home from our road trip last night – utterly exhausted, but very happy!

We celebrated YD’s birthday in style

D13 2

D13 5

D13 2

……with copious amounts of seafood and chardonnay and silly picture taking

D&P @ dinner

And now it is Christmas morning and there is Champagne to be drunk and presents to open and more family time to be indulged in.  The full story of our adventures must wait for another post.

Merry Christmas my friends, thanks for making these past nine months so much fun!

I love you all xoxo

Beach Santa

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!   🙂

An Outdoor Entertainment Area

What a week or two it has been!

The ‘silly season’ has kicked off with a bang – the weather has been hot – too hot for me – the traffic has doubled and just when I was feeling quite smug because I had everything in hand YD decided she was going to create an Outdoor Entertainment Area [note the capitalisation folks]  and I was designated the position of chief adviser and consultant.

The down-side of having an unexpectedly Good Idea for an event that is alarmingly close is there is no budget for it.  There are other Good Ideas that were thought of a reasonable amount of time prior to the coming event and all spare monies have been allocated to them.

The event in question is something that occurs two days before Christmas and is down purely to very poor planning on my part, more years ago than any one cares to mention now.

It is YD’s birthday.

A plan had already been hatched for this momentous event, for the first time in over four years my daughters and I are having a girls weekend away.  [The last one was the celebration of my 60th and we went to Melbourne for 10 days – that was the most fabulous holiday of my life!]  This time we are staying quite close to home.  We are off to Queenstown [the stunningly beautiful tourist capital of New Zealand] for three days to stay in a posh hotel, undertake a few of the more sedate adventures on offer and to over indulge in good food and wine.

So, you may well understand how the latest Good Idea, whilst a very good Good Idea, raises a few issues around budget.

How do you turn a three-quarter enclosed carport into a stunning outdoor entertainment area in double quick time and with very little money?  YD had four days off in which to accomplish her Good Idea and my promotion was intended to ensure that she achieved her aim.

The lofty elevation in my status therefore involved three days of investigating what we might possibly get for as close to $0 as possible for lighting, covering the floor, how best to enclose the car-port that is being utilised for said Outdoor Entertainment Area – also for nothing – and the most cost efficient manner in which to decorate the enclosed space.

The starting place was lighting.  YD wanted to get some solar powered Christmas lights and we trekked around all the stores being shocked silly at the prices – then we happened upon Bunnings.  Bunnings had just the best and cheapest array of lights imaginable.  We got all kinds of lights, multi colours and white, balls, drops, dragonflies and stars and…..

We blew the budget.

Closing of all or part of the front of the carport became a big issue, we trekked, we talked, we thought, we debated – but everything cost dollars that we did not have.  Creative thinking to the rescue and a hunt through my fabric storage cupboard found a solution.  A huge piece of white cretonne once used as a couch cover was the perfect size for a fabric ‘wall’.

Flooring was the next issue – outdoor carpets, plastic grass [yech!] We considered fencing panels, laying them down would certainly be easy, but not that pleasant on the feet.  

We trekked and searched second hand shops for carpet off-cuts, old floor rugs – but there was nothing that we could even consider.

We were down to wondering could we get cardboard boxes, open them flat out, paint them and tape them down.  It seemed like a lot of work for something that would attract damp should it rain and become a home for a myriad insects and spiders over the course of the summer.  

Then we stumbled purely by accident on the Barbeque Mats.  Designed to stop the barbeque splattering and dripping fats over your lovely wooden deck and staining it – soft, latex backed and a nice big size.  Less than $10 each.  We purchased three with looks of triumph and raced back to the Outdoor Entertainment Area – Huzzah!  Perfect fit.  The latex grips the concrete and won’t move.  We taped the three mats together with duct tape to keep them tight and the floor was done.

A couple of tables were swiped  borrowed from my place, my spare art table has been called from retirement to became a side board and various plants, sundry paintings [all done by the clever YD], ornamental bits and bobs have been re-located to add beauty to the Outdoor Entertainment Area par excellance!

At this point in the post I was supposed to have a roll of photos showing before and after – but somehow that plan went awry and it appears a whole run of photos have gotten lost somewhere – there are only these which may give a bit of a hint, but nothing of the stunning ambiance…..

This is the early set up phase, YD has begun to hang the lights, moved a side table in and a pot plant……  look at that floor!

DR4

The old couch cover has been called from retirement and hung across the front of the car port, a second table, a vase of flowers and a long neglected bundle of curled twigs begin to fill the empty spaces

DR1

Coloured bottles, a couple of sandstone blocks and the BBQ mats complete the cosy corner

DR2

The lights on

DR5

DR6

This is where we will be partying celebrating the lovely Summer evenings of Christmas 🙂

I’ll post some photos later of the stunning Outdoor Entertainment Area when it is in full use.

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!   🙂

Christmas Giveaway – Winners

Thank you for your support of this give away – it is such fun for me when you all enter into the spirit of it!

I didn’t photograph the draw process this time, but did it exactly the same as the last time, [you can see it here if you wish.]

The person who gets to choose a whimsy girl print is

Christi over at Farmlet – Come on down Christi and name your print!  🙂

The person who gets a 5 pack of [A5] greeting cards of their choice is

Wendy over at Quarter Acre Lifestyle – come on down Wendy!!

What made me laugh at these two names is that from the comments we all think we know what Christi will choose and we all know that Wendy has no idea and may take until next Christmas to make up her mind!!

Do you think the gods of random choice are having a laugh?

To those of you whose names were not the ones that leapt into my searching fingers, there will be more chances, I’m sure I will find an excuse early next year to do this again ………stay tuned!

Christi and Wendy, please email me with your choices and addresses.

No rush Wendy!  🙂  You know you can have all the same or all different, right?

I’m adding an addendum to this post – I forgot to say this earlier but was reminded when Christi offered to pay the postage on her prize – not necessary, but aren’t people amazing!!  🙂

A contribution towards the cost of postage for this giveaway was made by Linne over at A Random Harvest when she purchased some of my cards – I repeat – aren’t people amazing!!   🙂

Thank you Linne, thank you Christi, thank you everyone – sometimes I just feel like I know the best people in the entire world 🙂

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did 🙂

Christmas Giveaway

Hello there, my Bloggie Friends!

Because the Christmas season is upon us, the lights are up and just because I can – there is another giveaway on offer.  This time there will be two winners.  …Happy, happy dances and big smiley faces!!  🙂

  • A signed print of your choice from one of these:

I'mtheOne

Listen1

BeAButterflyCopyrightSmallest Things1a

Didyouremember4best

A Gardener [c]

  • A 5 pack of cards of your choice from my Etsy shop

Go to my shop to view the full range and make your choice, this is just one example.

Chair @11

[and yes, you can choose 5 different cards if you want]

Of course, you have to do something to enter – well, two things actually, here are ‘The Rules’:

1]    ‘Like’ The Contented Crafter Page on Facebook.*

2]    Leave a comment on this post.

*If you have already ‘Liked’ on Facebook, just mention that fact in your comment here.

If you don’t participate in or on Facebook, please let me know that too.

This giveaway is open to all followers old and new – please don’t be shy, make it fun and interesting and exciting for us all – tell me what you think  🙂

The Giveaway Closes on 8th December 2013 at 8pm [my time]

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did and I hope you will take part!  🙂

Gift Bags from Newspaper

I love to recycle and re-purpose – if I can figure out a way to make something that would normally be trashed into something useful or beautiful – or both – I’m up for the challenge.

I’ve been thinking about this project for a while now and finally committed myself to actually having a go.  It came about this way…..

Do you remember I made a bunch of small gift bags a while back.  I wanted to make some really big ones, you know, the size of a good shopping bag and I had figured I would need six 12 x 12 sheets per bag.  Using quality specialist paper would have made the cost prohibitive – I mean $24 just for the paper and I haven’t even put the time in yet …. you can buy big gift bags at the moment for $2.50…..

With my creative mojo firing on all cylinders I had the genius idea I could make them from newspaper – the big giant ones.

I used the Otago Daily Times that I stole from YD’s place when I was cat-sitting the lovely Stanley.  [I stole it for this purpose, I don’t read papers – they rarely have anything good or uplifting in them and I don’t want to live with images of all the horrible stuff that the media calls ‘news’]

An open double page measures 80 x 57 cm – I’m sorry I can’t convert that off the top of my head for you non-metric folk…… perhaps someone else might in the comments 🙂  Anyhow, it’s big!

So a couple of evenings back, I covered the floor with more bits of newspaper and hunkered down with a container full of blood red poster paint, a brush and a water jar:

XmasBag1

I painted two double page spreads with a thick layer of paint and left them to dry overnight.

The next day I turned the paper over and ran wrestled a length of contact paper over the page.  [Contact paper is used to cover books and shelves – sticky on one side and a plasticky / wipeable finish on the other.]  I used this to give the newspaper some strength and durability.

XmasBag2

I worked out my score lines for width and depth and top and bottom ……. ooooh headaches!!

And made a pair of bags:

XmasBag3

I like that you can still see the newsprint showing through – but the photo is not true to the red I used – think blood red and you’ll be closer to the truth of it.

With the basic bag hanging together quite well it is embellishment time – Hurrah!!

I rummaged through my paper stash and found a 12 x 12 vintage collection that I purchased in a sale a year or two back and have never known what to do with – I chose two different pictures and roughly cut out around the images and stuck one on each bag.

XmasBag5

Using white, black and gold pens I highlighted the edges of the cut outs, faux stitched outside the edges and outlined different aspects of the woman.

Lace was hot glued all around the top edges and red organza ribbon employed for the handles

XmasBag6

Next I punched out some hearts using off-cuts from the vintage girl paper and shiny metallic gold and layered some:

XmasBags4

And stuck ’em on both the front XmasBag5a

and the back of the bags

XmasBag7

The hearts were given faux stitching in black pen.

So, looking good you say – finished?

Nope.  Remember, if a little embellishment is good, a lot is better…

XmasBagDetail

The fabric flowers are made from organza and curtain netting – great fun to make as it involves a lighted candle and charring melting ….. 🙂

The beaded flowers I learnt to make from someone on the internet two or three years ago and I’ve completely forgotten who it was – but they too are fun to make.  It’s just beads and twisted wire and they hang freely and move about which adds another layer to the whole thing.

I think they are finished – but there is still three weeks til Christmas, you never know what might happen to them between now and then…..

GiftBag Finished

I think they came out quite well for a first try  – I learned lots and know how to do it now….

Thanks for coming by today – I love that you did 🙂