Archive of ‘Seasonal’ category

Increasing natural light around your winter home.

City Urban2

Increasing natural light around your winter home.

It’s that dreaded time of year again… The clocks have gone back and we’re frighteningly close to December Solstice and the shortest day of the year!

During the Winter months, the reduction in light can leave you feeling like a vampire, rarely seeing the light of day and living in a cave. It’s easy enough to buy more and more artificial lights to brighten up your home, especially during the festive period. Due to years of hoarding it seems like there is (and never will be) a shortage of fairy lights…

However, there really is no replacement for natural light. Sunlight is proven to release chemicals in our bodies called Serotonin, the more Serotonin we produce – the better it is for our health and wellbeing. Increasing exposure in the home to natural light can result in an increase in energy, less fatigue and dramatically reduce rates of depression.

It’s no secret that Britain is far from one of the sunniest countries on the earth. It’s not only aesthetically pleasing, but essential to our health to maximise the intake of day light around your interiors while we can get it… A good place to start is to watch the light move around your home. This will help you plan where and how you can make adjustments to make the most of the short daylight hours.

The brighter side of life…

One of the most efficient ways is to start with the decoration. Replace dark, absorbing paint shades for a light, reflective hue, such as White, Yellow, Cream, Mushroom, Egg Shell Blue etc.  

Chantilly - Cream (3)

Mirror Mirror on the wall…

Large Mirrors and light shelves can be an extremely effective way of promoting the light and sharing it with shaded areas of the room – especially when facing an open light source, i.e. Windows.

A handy trick for dark rooms would be to place two similar size mirrors directly opposite each other, they will reflect the light off both surfaces and distribute it further around your space. Go one step further and replace solid wood doors with glass designs. Light will travel through the transparent door and boast light into the surroundings

Fitzroy

HANDY TIP: Use frosted or tinted glass for privacy.

Chose glass tabletops or acrylic chairs to reduce the amount of light absorbed by furniture. They can be placed anywhere – and can look really striking!

Fiddler on the roof

Fit roof lights and/or Sun Tunnels! Roof lights are a more expensive solution – but don’t underestimate the difference they can make! They open up any room, and floods all surfaces with light, regardless of whether the room is South or East facing. Sun Tunnels are as effective as windows, if not more so in some cases. Solar tubes can benefit those areas in your home where natural light barely reaches. i.e. Toilets, panties. etc.

The finishing touch…

Palm Frond

Once you’ve experimented with a few of the above tips look at decorating empty walls with lightweight, simplistic artwork. Hang with a simple bulldog clip to reduce the need for heavy rimmed picture frames.

Below are two FREE printables in the design style used in our Palm Frond bedroom set. Space purposely chosen to boast large windows, increase sunlight and enhance creativity.

postDownload Dream BIG – A4 printable here

Download X<3 – A5 printable here

Let us know your handy tips in the comment box below!

 

Make your own #ChristyChristmas Crackers

 

Christmas 08

Make your own #ChristyChristmas Crackers

Looking for some extra festive fun in the lead up to Christmas?
Making your own Christmas crackers is not only easy, but it’s fun to share with the whole family.

The equipment list is as follows:

• Your favourite Wrapping paper
• Scissors
• Ruler
• Ribbon
• Glue
• Cracker Snaps
(these can be bought inexpensively from most craft shops.)
• 3 Empty Toilet Rolls
• Token Gifts, Handwritten Jokes and Christmas Hat

Firstly, roll out your wrapping paper and cut a landscape rectangle measuring 20cm (across) x 30 cm (down). Take your rectangle, turn face down and measure 10cm in from each end. Mark the 10cm point, by drawing a line from bottom to top, firmly with a sharp pencil.

Next, take one of your Cracker Snaps and affix with a dot of glue at either end in a straight line across the top of the rectangle.

You should end up with something like this:

diagram

Using your pencil markings, place 3 used toilet rolls in the columns drawn out. Delicately roll the toilet rolls so the wrapping paper wraps around and covers them. I like to add a dot of glue in the centre to hold the paper together nicely.

You’ll now have a wrapped cylinder. Pull one of the end toilet rolls out very slightly. Gently twist and push the end back inwards to make a crease – this will become your first end. Grab your cut of ribbon and tie in a neat bow around your newly made crease. Once you’ve got it to look exactly how you want, remove the toilet roll altogether.

Take your gifts, hand written joke, Christmas hat (… and anything else you want to throw in for that matter)  through the opposite end, then repeat the last step (ensuring none of your inner items fall out in the process!)

You should now be looking at your final cracker! You may want to decorate further using name plates or co-ordinating bows.

Kids may choose to decorate further using pens, stickers or bows too!

Share your crackers with us @christy_home. Hope you enjoy!

 

Cranberry Mulled Wine Recipe

Mulled wine, a classic warming drink that is a favourite of anyone who loves the Christmas season. Every year, we wait for the right time of year to add those much loved spices to our favourite red wine to create the perfect accompaniment to our favourite festive film and the roaring fire.

Luckily, our friend Fritha Strickland from Tigerlilly Quinn  is here to give us a fun twist on an old classic with her recipe for cranberry mulled wine from the Christy 2014 Christmas guide. Simply follow her simple recipe, and you’ll be onto a winner with this crowd pleasing Christmas tipple.

mulled_wine_2

To make your own cranberry mulled wine, all you need is:

  • 50g caster sugar
  • 2 x cinnamon sticks
  • 10 x whole cloves
  • 2 x star anise
  • 5 x allspice berries (optional extra, not essential)
  • 2 x oranges (peel and juice from one, the other sliced to serve)
  • 100g dried cranberries
  • 500ml cranberry juice
  • 250ml ruby port
  • 500ml red wine
  • Fresh cranberries to serve (optional)

Once you’ve gathered all your ingredients together, simply follow the instructions below:

  1. In a medium/ large saucepan combine your sugar, cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise, allspice berries and orange peel and juice from one orange. Pour over enough of the cranberry juice to just cover the ingredients. Heat, stirring frequently over a medium to high heat until all the sugar has dissolved and you get a slightly thicker looking ‘syrup’. Add the remaining cranberry juice and the dried cranberries and continue to cook over a medium heat for a few minutes.
  1. Add your port and red wine and warm through for 5-10 minutes. Be careful to not let the mixture boil and when warmed through, carefully ladle into glasses taking care not to include any cloves etc! Garnish with an orange slice and some fresh cranberries before serving.
  1. Most importantly, enjoy!

mulled_wine_1

Have you tried out this recipe for yourself? Tell us how it went over on Facebook or Twitter. Even better, send us a picture of your finished creation, we’d love to see how you got on!

 

Gift Wrapping Made Easy with Jane Means & 3M

Gift Wrapping Made Easy with Jane Means & 3M

Whether you like to cosy up with a festive drink in front of the fire or if you restrict the use of the dining room (Read: downstairs) while you run around like an elf, gift wrapping at Christmas is essential.

The art of wrapping is certainly an acquired skill, and everybody knows someone with all of the tips and tricks up their sleeves to make their wrapping as spectacular as the gift itself.

National Wrapping Day is Sunday 20th December this year, so embrace the task of wrapping and learn some handy hacks as we team up with 3M and professional gift wrapper and widely acclaimed gift wrapping guru, Jane Means.

Beautifully wrapped present stack

If you’re giving a collection of gifts this Christmas (how lovely of you), this beautifully wrapped present stack may serve as inspiration. A lovely idea for families or favourite people, the gift stack looks great under the tree or even as a table centrepiece – and that’s before you’ve seen their faces after opening. Collect your supplies and gifts around you, and prepare to create a stunning gift stack.

final giftYou will need:

  • Gifts!
  • A selection of complimentary seasonal wrapping papers
  • A selection of ribbons
  • A Christmas decoration or two – such as some glass baubles
  • Scotch Pop-up Tape Handband Dispenser

what you will need

How to:

  1. Select your papers

Papers in the same colourway such as monochrome work well, as do a variation of patterns and colours. You could also use a selection of wallpaper remnants.

1

 

  1. Each item should be wrapped in a different paper.

3

 

  1. Place the parcels on top of each other, beginning with the largest wrapped gift first.

4

  1. To add extra strength, loop over a strip of Scotch Pop-Up Tape and place the ‘double sided’ tab on the bottom of each parcel.

2

  1. Tie the stack together firmly with a ribbon.

5

  1. Add the finishing touch – tie in several loops of a different ribbon and add glass baubles.

6

Tackle tricky-to-wrap chocolate tins this Christmas 

final gift

If you’re anything like us, you’ve never quite finished the Christmas shopping and there’s always something else that someone you know would love. We often like to pick up some last minute biscuit or chocolate tins, but the circular tin is often a difficult shape to wrap elegantly. This next guide from Jane Means illustrates the best approach to wrapping tins this Christmas.

You will need:

  • Circular tin containing gifts
  • A sheet of seasonal wrapping paper (Strong works best)
  • Christmas decorations including a bauble and ribbons
  • Scotch Pop-up Tape Handband Dispenser

what you will need

How to:

  1. Ensure that you have enough paper to go around the tin and include a small overlap. Measuring both sides so that they are just over the centre point will ensure you have enough fabric to work with.

1

  1. Wrap the paper around the tin, securing with Scotch Pop-Up Tape.

2

  1. Lightly fold one of the ends inward and gently sit the tin up on a flat surface.

3

  1. On the other side of the tin, begin to pull one edge of the paper into the centre with a little tension so it forms a small neat pleat. Repeating this process numerous times the whole way around the tin will create a stunning folded effect.

Christy top tip: The folding stage is tricky, so make sure you dedicate the time to create a neat fold, it’ll pay off in the end.

5

  1. Cut away excess paper and secure with Scotch Pop-Up Tape.

6

  1. Now turn the tin over and repeat the same process on the other side.
  1. Finish your gift wrapping by tying a ribbon around the tin.

7

  1. To add a flourish, add decorations such as a Christmas bauble and decorative tubing.

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What is the trickiest gift you’ve ever wrapped? Share your wrapping wins or nightmares with us on Twitter and Facebook!

 

#ChristyChristmas: Time to… Bake the Perfect Christmas Cake

#ChristyChristmas: Time to… Bake the Perfect Christmas Cake

By Nohreen Sloan, Spa Sweethearts WI Committee Member and food blogger at http://www.mrssloanqueenofscones.wordpress.com

Christmas has to be my favourite time of year. It’s not because of all of the presents (although that does help) but because it gives me an excuse to make. I get my Christmas craft on well in advance of December, making anything and everything from decorations, gifts, baked goods and pretty much anything else I can add glitter or tinsel to!

There’s a tremendous sense of gratification that comes from making, whether it’s for yourself or someone else, even more so when the item is edible! There are two food items that I think everyone should make at Christmas time; mince pies and fruit cake.

mince_pies

Whilst mince pies can be quite easily done with pre-rolled pastry and jarred mincemeat, making a fruit cake from scratch can be a little more daunting. Here are a few tricks that will help you to get it just right:

– Tie a thick layer of newspaper around the outside of your cake tin. Put another thick layer of newspaper on a baking tray, and place the cake tin on top. This will prevent the edges of the cake from the heat of the oven and cooking too quickly.

– An electric whisk will make the process of creaming the fat and sugar easier, but using a wooden spoon will do the same job-it just takes a little longer. You can check if your mixture has been creamed enough by placing a little blob of mixture into a bowl of cold water. If the mixture floats, it has been sufficiently creamed (the process of creaming adds air to the mixture).

– Eggs at room temperature are best to use, as they will be less likely to curdle the mixture. However, if it looks as though it is beginning to curdle, add a tablespoon of the flour.

– Make sure that your cake mixture is level when putting it in the cake tin. Make indentations all over the surface of the cake mixture – this will prevent the cake from rising in the middle, and give a nice flat top instead.

– Before placing in the oven, fold a large piece of greaseproof paper (larger than the top of the cake tin), fold in half and cut a small circle out of the middle (about 2cm diameter). Placing this sheet carefully over the top of the cake tin will prevent the top of the cake from cooking too quickly, also helping to retain the moisture of the cake.

Amaretto and Orange Christmas Cake, with Cranberries and Cherries

xmas_cake

The recipe below is for a 9″(23cm) cake tin

Ingredients (stage one):

500g currants

225g dried cranberries

200g candied peel

200g dried apricots

150g raisins

100g glace cherries

75g sour cherries

150ml amaretto

zest and juice of 2 oranges

zest of 2 lemons

juice of 1 lemon

Method (stage one):

Wash, dry and quarter the glace cherries. Chop the apricots and sour cherries to the same size. Place all the dried fruit, amaretto, zest and juice into a pan. Bring to the boil, stir, cover and simmer for 5 mins. Pour into a bowl, cover and leave overnight.

Ingredients (stage two):

soaked fruit mixture (above)

275g dark muscovado sugar

275g soft margarine

5 medium eggs – beaten

275g plain flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp mixed spice

50g ground almonds

150g chopped almonds

1 tbsp black treacle

1tbsp marmalade

METHOD stage two

Preheat your oven to 140c/120c(fan)/gas 1.

Grease and line a 9″ cake tin (see above)

Cream the fat and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the beaten eggs little by little, beating in well each time.

Fold in the sifted flour, salt, spices, soaked fruit mixture, chopped and ground almonds, treacle and marmalade until combined.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, levelling then indenting on the top.

Place your large piece of greaseproof paper with the hole over the top of the tin.

Bake on a low shelf for about 4-5 hours, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Mine took about 5 and a half hours, but I checked at regular intervals after 4 hours of cooking.

Take the cake out of the oven and let it cool before removing from the tin. Carefully remove the lining paper and wrap up in some clean greaseproof paper, and then foil. Store in this way until you are ready to decorate.

If you wish to make the cake a little more boozy, insert a skewer into the base of the cake several times, and drizzle over (or brush with a pastry brush) a tablespoonful of your chosen liqueur once a week prior to decorating.

 

Looking after guests this Christmas

Looking after guests this Christmas

One of the best things about Christmas is the time spent with family and friends. We teamed up with AeroBed and asked Kate from My Family Fever to share the best ways to make your guests feel comfortable while they’re at your house. Here’s what Kate suggests:

It is imperative that guests get a sufficient and quality night’s sleep – sleeping on uncomfortable surfaces such as the floor or sofa or even a poor mattress can lead to pain and discomfort. In a recent survey by AeroBed , 55% of people said they would be happier to stay at a friend or relative’s house if the bed were comfier, with 73% of people saying that comfort is the most important factor for a guest bed.

An AeroBed, when inflated, provides a medium to hard sleeping surface that is constant and sturdy. It does not collapse like other air beds when you place your weight in a particular area and is therefore very consistent. In testing the bed it provided a comfortable and supportive sleeping surface, which is therefore likely to provide good reinforcement to the structures of the body. It was also useful that the particular bed tested was raised off the ground when fully inflated. This allowed very easy access on and off of the bed without putting any undue pressure on the low back or knees, which could occur if the height of the bed were lower.

It can often be difficult to get a quality night’s sleep when staying away from home, therefore here are a few tips for your guests that could potentially help:

  • Try to avoid sleeping on your front. The spine will never be in alignment in this position as one has to severely turn the head in order to breathe and usually the pelvis is in torsion with one leg lifted up.
  • Always have a pillow – or something that can be shaped into a pillow to support the neck. Even if sleeping directly on the floor, having a supportive headrest will immediately relieve the pressure placed upon the upper region of your spine – and where possible travel with your own pillow from home.
  • If suffering from any discomfort in the low back, place a spare pillow or cushion between your knees (if sleeping on your side) or under your knees (if sleeping on your back) to relieve the pressure on the lumbar spine area.

As well as providing a comfortable sleeping area, there are other things you can do to make your guests feel comfortable. Make sure you provide them with everything they might need during their stay, from soap and shampoo, to jugs of water and soft fluffy towels. Make the guest room as home-like as possible, and add in little touches to make your guests feel welcome, such as books to read, pictures on the wall, thick blackout curtains and clean fresh bedding.

Is there anything else you do to make sure your guests have a happy stay? We’d would love to hear your ideas!

For a chance to win a Comfort Classic AeroBed a set of luxury bed linen worth £300 enter our competition here. Ends 9am 31st December 2015.

areobed_blog

 

#ChristyChristmas: Time to… Prepare for guests

#ChristyChristmas: Time to… Prepare for guests

It’s never too early to start planning for your Christmas guests; in fact, the earlier you begin the smoother the whole process will be. One of our Christy ambassadors, Love Audrey, seems to have got the knack of hosting down to a tee, and here are some of her top tips. If you have any words of wisdom to add please share them on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Love_Audrey_Guest_Post_Image_

  1. After what will no doubt have been a long and hectic journey, your guests will be grateful for the offer of a warm bath followed by a restorative snooze. Make sure their surroundings are soft and sumptuous with fresh linen and clean towels, the fluffier the better! Remember, everyone feels the cold differently, so give guests the option of extra blankets and additional pillows to ensure they get a good night’s sleep.

xmas_blog_guest

  1. When you’re hauling countless gifts across country, it can be easy to forget the essentials, so consider leaving a stash of toiletries in the guest bedroom. Sample sizes of everything from toothpaste to deodorant could come in handy, but if you really want guests to feel cared for, a spare robe and some slipper socks would be perfect too.
  1. A well stocked bedside table adds another element of comfort to your guests’ surroundings. Fresh flowers, a pile of books or magazines and a box of tissues is a good start. A scented candle (don’t forget the matches) and easy access to a pen and paper might also be appreciated.

xmas_bedside

  1. Keeping a few refreshments within easy reach is a good idea. Not only will it help alleviate any potential guilt if a guest feels peckish between meals, it also takes some of the pressure off you having to fix countless drinks and snacks on top of the usual Christmas catering. Try filling a tray with bottles of soft drink, biscuits, snack bars and maybe even the odd mince pie!

xmas_breakfast xmas_mince_pies

  1. Nowadays, no one travels without their tech, so be sure to leave the Wi-Fi password somewhere visible. You could also invest in a universal charger, just in case someone forgets that vital bit of kit.
 

#ChristyChristmas: Time to… make your own Christmas cards

#ChristyChristmas: Time to… make your own Christmas cards

xmas_cards

Handmade Christmas cards are the perfect opportunity to show your loved ones that you care and can really help you get in the festive spirit. Many people are put off the idea because the idea of crafts seems time consuming and tricky, but these simple cards from our lovely blogger friend at Mathilde Heart Manech can be made in a flash. Despite their simplicity, the end result looks like you spent hours labouring, leaving all the more time for a cheeky glass of mulled wine and a mince pie (or two!).

You will need:

Washi tape in a variety of designs
Scissors
Card stock
Letter stamps and ink

Instructions

  • You’ll need five pieces of washi tape cut to your desired size (depends on the shape of tree you would like). Tip! Make a sample tree on a piece of paper to use as a template.
  • Stick to your card stock, starting with the base, leaving two spaces for your Christmas message.
  • Stamp your Christmas message inside the two gaps. Leave to dry.
  • Fill your card with lovely messages for loved ones!

For this and more crafty tips, check out our guide to a classic Christmas, and make sure you post the results on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

 

Christy’s Top Tips for a Cracking Christmas Celebration

Christy’s Top Tips for a Cracking Christmas Celebration 

Browns

With the Christmas party season approaching faster than Santa’s sleigh, it’s likely that you’re preparing to celebrate Christmas by organising a merry party for your friends, colleagues or family.

According to Browns Brasserie & Bar, 72% of people find that their biggest worry over the Christmas period is the fear of their festive celebrations flopping. To help ease your party planning woes, we gained some Christmas party advice from Laura Richardson, Chief Host of Browns (pictured).

In this post, we’ll give you insider tips and tricks on how to throw a rockin’ Christmas do that will have people queuing at the doors for their festive fix.

It’s Never Too Early To Plan

When it comes to planning your Christmas party, the sooner you start, the better. Laura says, “almost 7% of people start thinking about booking their table in January”, whilst this may seem too eager to some, you don’t want to miss out on your favourite venue through leaving it last minute.

Keep It Out of Office

If you’re arranging a party for your colleagues, steer clear of an office party location. Laura advises, “It’s increasingly difficult for people to let go of their ‘in-work’ mentality when they’re outside the office let alone in the same building”. To combat those office blues, choose a venue in a restaurant, bar or function room away from work.

Plan the After Party

For those who like to go hard or go home, pre-arrange a location, such as a bar, to head to after the party has finished. This will prevent your party goers from umming and arring on the night and keep everyone from going their separate ways.

Inform the Troops

Once you have planned the event, invite your attendees and ask them to RSVP. Your invite should list all the small details of the party including dates, times, locations, dress codes, menus, etc. If people can see you are organised, they are more likely to respond to your invitation, and you can gain a realistic number of attendees.

The Most Important Part… Have Fun!

“Setting out a couple of hours each week/month to focus just on planning, and when it comes to the actual night, you’ll have nothing more to do but grab a glass of bubbly and relax!” With those lasting wise words from Laura, go ahead and start planning the Christmas party that’ll blow last years out of the – albeit icy – water. And remember…have fun!

Do you have any tips or tricks when it comes to planning your Christmas party? Share your festive celebration ideas with us on Facebook and Twitter, we’d love to hear from you!

Christmas 03

 

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