Decorating for Christmas (while also redecorating the living room…)

When do you feel the urge to deck the halls in your home? As an unspoken rule, the Christmas decorations make an appearance in our house on the last weekend in November. My husband and I have generally found ourselves unable to resist sneaking them out at that point most years even pre-kids, but in recent years we inevitably resign ourselves to an early date to end the incessant tree requests from our three young, seasonally excited children!

This year, something has got a little in the way of festive trimming feeling like the carefree and straightforward event it usually is, though. On a whim, my husband and I decided to redecorate our living room a few weeks ago. I know, I know: who would make such a crazy decision at the end of November?!

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The living room is the main space that gets prettied up for Christmas in our house. Our six-foot tall tree is always positioned in the corner living room (as this is about the only space it will fit). As the decorating won’t be completed for another couple of weeks, we mulled over the options before deciding to buy a second tree, (just a small 3 foot one) to rest on a coffee table in our family snug in the extension. As you can see in the pic, it is one of those snowy branch effect trees, which I have always hankered after. We soon faced a hurdle: to figure out how to wind the cumbersome lights around it. Ok, I should admit that they were only cumbersome because I accidentally ordered the twenty-metre light string instead of the two-metre string, oops. Still, once we (well in truth, it was mostly my husband) sorted it, the lights looked great switched on.

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Obviously, there is limited space to hang ornaments on a little three foot tall tree. So we just selected a few favourites and I indulged in buying a few new ones this year. There is a set of four whitewashed Scandi style woodland animals (a fox, rabbit, squirrel and hedgehog). I couldn’t resist the two fluffy penguins which were a steal at 69p each. Then when I returned some library books at the weekend, it just so happened that a Christmas fair was in full swing and I spotted these adorable knitted characters, a toy soldier and a Santa. Only a pound each for something handmade is a bargain in my book.

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All in all, I’m pretty happy with the way our tiny tree is bringing plenty of Christmas cheer to the room we are spending the most time in at the moment.

We also have our traditional musical animated fairground set on display. The kids are all mesmerised by this, even though it is the third Christmas running that we have had it. They sit and watch the coloured lights and moving rides for ages.

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We have two rustic wreaths hung up inside, too. They look great in place of our usual pictures and the more traditional feel of them holds huge appeal for me at the moment. I don’t change our Christmas colour scheme or style much from year to year, as fast trends just don’t hold much appeal. There is a real nostalgic value in unpacking old favourite ornaments that haven’t been seen for almost a year and I would miss that if we simply bought all new decorations each year. Not to mention the wasteful aspect of doing so.

I will post pics of our refreshed living room as soon as it is completed. I can’t wait to get the full-size tree up in there, too.

Do please share pics of your Christmas decorations or tell me about them by adding a comment below. What sort of colour scheme and style do you favour? How early (or late!) do you tend to decorate. I would love to hear about it.

Bringing Paris into my life (without actually visiting…)

One of the things I love best about living in England is the close proximity to mainland Europe and the diverse range of cultures on offer. The option of hopping onto the Eurostar train under the English Channel (thus avoiding the hassle of airports) further increases the appeal of nearby nations such as France, Belgium and the Netherlands as potential destinations. Major cities such as Brussels, Bruges and Amsterdam have proven to make ideal minibreak locations.

Yet as far as cities go, Paris calls me back more than anywhere else. She will always hold a special charm and magnetism all of its own for me, and I know scores of others feel the same way. My first visit was in my early teens and even then I recall feeling wowed by iconic sights such as the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe that until then had only been theoretical places featuring in textbooks in French classes at school.

Since then, I have been drawn back several times. Anyone who has been will know that the beauty of Paris extends way beyond the architectural feats of the main tourist attractions. The authentic spirit of the middle ages lives on in her medieval streets, the whole city steeped in history and I can just imagine Bastille day and other events taking place in days gone by…

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Photo by Adrienn on Pexels.com

We prefer to stay in the 11th- by Canal St Martin. Popularised after being featured as a filming location in the hit movie Amelie, it feels like a real residential neighbourhood with Parisians going about their everyday lives rather than simply swarming with tourists in the way that some of the central areas tend to be. Bustling local markets abound with discerning shoppers examining the profusion of fresh produce and interacting with loud, enthusiastic stall holders. Previously working-class neighbourhoods on the banks of the canal have been transformed into more bohemian areas, yet maintaining its status as a home for people of many races, religions and different types of employment.

On our last visit, I loved to idle away time sitting on a bench on the bank of the canal, or standing on one of the pretty green Venetian metal bridges, just people-watching and admiring the oh-so-chic French dames as they purposefully stride along the pavements, heels click-clacking away.

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Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com

Ah, yes. There is so much j’adore about Paris and France in general. My husband and I had begun making tentative plans to revisit Paris next Spring. For various reasons, the trip is not looking likely any more, le sigh. Yet rather than get downcast about the change of plans, I’ve chosen instead to fix my focus on weaving the essence of Paris into my everyday life. After all, a mini break, although wonderful, lasts a fleeting few days. But if I can successfully spritz my lifestyle with a Parisian influence then I can savour the pleasures as often as I wish.

Here are a few of the ways I intend to infuse my life a la Francais:

  • Browse through my ‘Paris 1001 photos’ book- this is kept permanently on my windowsill to pore over when the mood takes me.
  • Play my French cafe music CD and the Amelie soundtrack in my car.
  • Watch French-language films from the library especially ones that were filmed in Paris.
  • Wear scarves tied in different ways and my Breton striped top.
  • Eat French food- There is so much delicious French food. Baguettes are one of my favourites, with the crusty bread paired with Brie and a salad making a tasty lunchtime meal.

Do you aim to infuse your own life with a particular influence in a similar way? If so, I would love to hear about it. Make my day and leave a comment below 😊