Christmas is Coming…

Christmas is a season of tradition- truly delightful for a traditionalist like me! Like surely most families, my family has many Christmastime rituals and traditions; which we look forward to and relish every year. The first of these traditions is our tree-decorating party, which occurs on the Sunday closest to December 10. Once the tree is up, Christmas has truly begun!

Christmas Magazines

Inspiration for our Christmas decor comes from the nostalgic charm of England

Christmas Mess

Preparing for the next day’s decorating party

The starting point for all of our Christmas parties is appropriate music- without it, it’s hard to get into the Christmas spirit. I love the classics like Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole, because they evoke childhood memories and all the delight of the season.

Christmas CDs

Some more of my favourite music- Coldplay’s Viva La Vida is included because it was a gift to my brother on one especially lovely Christmas, and it conjures up happy memories of that year

Christmas CD Bocelli

Andrea Bocelli’s collection of Christmas tunes is wonderful

Every year, my family purchases a real Christmas tree. It is an extra expense and it takes extra work- but we spent several Christmases in an apartment with an artificial tree, and have no desire to revisit those days! It really wouldn’t be Christmas without having to sweep up needles, trying to remember to water the tree, and the smell of pine throughout the entire house!

Christmas Tree Before

This year’s tree, before the ornaments are on

Our annual tree-decorating party is always a delightful affair, full of hors d’oeuvres and eggnog and fun! While the trays of hors d’oeuvres were baking (thank goodness for ready-made dishes on days like this!), I set about decorating the mantelpiece.

Mantel 2

I’m so grateful to have a mantelpiece to decorate at Christmastime!

Mantel 3

Charming strands of lights mixed with greenery create a warm atmosphere

Mantel 4

I chose gold as the mantelpiece’s primary colour, since it is a classic holiday tone that contrasts beautifully with the blues of the coastal painting

Finally, it was time for hors d’oeuvres! We had mini beef Wellingtons, mozzarella sticks, jalapeno bites, and an assortment of cheese hors d’oeuvres. Champagne and eggnog were our beverages- the champagne being leftover from my book launch celebrations!

Christmas Champagne

Champagne- such a classic

Christmas Food

Delicious hors d’oeuvres give us all the energy we need for our tree-decorating festivities

Trawling through our huge collection of Christmas ornaments- accumulated over many years- we began to decorate the tree. There’s never enough room for all our ornaments on the tree! I think we’d need a 15-foot tree in the hall of a country house to fit everything on…

Reindeer Ornament

A part of my collection of reindeer ornaments

Our sweet-tempered dog Crumpet, who is always eager to be a part of the family activities, supervised the decorating. He also tried to help himself to some of the buffet- see what I mean about “eager”?

Crumpet with Wreath

Crumpet in a festive mood

Crumpet on Table

Cheeky…

Once the tree was done and the hors d’oeuvres had settled, it was time for dessert. I enjoyed a mince tart and revelled in the results of our efforts!

Mince Tart

Mince tarts are essential. They are my absolute favourite Christmas treat, and they remind me so much of England

Christmas Tree After

The radiant finished tree

Now that the tree is up, I’ve caught the Christmas bug! With mince tarts, sparkling lights, and a gorgeous tree in the house, the anticipation is high. Christmas is such a lovely time of year, and I’m looking forward to all the rest of the wonderful traditions it brings!

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Living in the Forties

As many of you may have gathered from this blog, I am enamoured with the distinctively stoic and old-fashioned decade of the 1940s. I often feel that my mind lives in the ’40s, and when I’m in my bedroom, I feel like I’m actually in that decade of nostalgia, fortitude, and old-fashioned stoicism. My room used to be a real riot. The walls were a deep shade of hot pink, with tropical-patterned soft furnishings. There were posters all over the walls, and the effect was one of clutter, immaturity, and general unsophistication.

I finally redecorated last summer, eager to honour my love for the ’40s. ’40s style may not be a popular choice in many modern homes, but it’s really a beautiful, eclectic, nostalgic style, and I love it. I had a clear vision of what I wanted, and thanks to my mum’s help this vision was enacted perfectly!

Bedroom

The light in this photo is uninspiring, but the decor is anything but… trust me!

I wanted a golden mustard colour on the walls, which was inspired by two throw cushions in a charming and very ’40s Cambridge cottage I stayed at in 2011. I also wanted one wall to have wallpaper, but not just any wallpaper. It had to be white or off-white to brighten the room, and to have a vintage floral pattern with muted tones and classic style. Wallpaper turned out to be too expensive, but fortunately fabric was another wall-covering option, and I found the perfect fabric at Ikea.

Lamp, Ikea fabric

The fantastic wall of fabric, behind a classic ’40s banker’s lamp and my infinite collection of earrings

Bunting

Union flag bunting reminds me of my favourite place in the world, which is also the tiny island that repulsed Hitler in World War II

1940s interior style needs homey, old-fashioned touches, so lots of antiques and slightly distressed finishes are appropriate. But what I really love about ’40s style in the home is the necessity for personal touches- imagine a 1940s mantelpiece with black and white family portraits, or a settee with hand-embroidered cushions from one’s grandmother. I’ve always treasured family heirlooms and vintage pieces, and it’s wonderful that they now truly agree with my room’s aesthetic.

Clock

A vintage clock from an antique shop, seen beside the base of a lamp made by my grandpa

Flopsy

Flopsy, my companion from the day I was born.

I also love collecting knick-knacks, which thankfully also agrees with my ’40s-styled room. Fueled by my wonderful cousin, second-cousin, and aunt, I have a growing collection of vintage glass dog figurines which inhabit almost every corner of my room.

Radio, figurines

A modern radio- but it looks like it could have broadcast news from the front and speeches from Churchill himself!

One final personal touch is a great source of pride and really brings World War II- the defining feature of the ’40s aesthetic- to mind. Adjacent to my bed, I have two framed illustrations that I did myself; and if my schedule allows, I hope to have a third one to add before too long. They depict fictional (though not unrealistic) scenes from the Eastern Front, and I feel reverent every time I look at them. To me, these scenes are the centerpiece of the whole room, and they remind me why ’40s style and WWII are so important to me.

WWII drawings

The left drawing was completed in 2013 and the right one in late 2011

WWII Stalingrad drawing

This drawing depicts a grim scene from Stalingrad

WWII drawing

My most recent drawing is set during the early days of Operation Barbarossa’s carnage

Whenever I go into my room, I feel calm and truly at home thanks to the decor. It’s vintage, wartime-inspired, cosy, and it reminds me of Britain and my heritage to top it all off. It’s a strange thing to have a ’40s mind in the 21st century, but since redecorating my room, I don’t feel quite so out of place.