Every year, at the beginning of December I start thinking about Christmas cards. Actually that’s not quite true, I start thinking about Christmas cards right after Christmas the year before, when all the Christmas stationery goes on sale! Every year, I go through the cards after the holidays, and pick out my favourite one for the next year. (That might be a bad habit to have. . . I’m a stationery hoarder. . . ) And then, fast forward to the first week (or second if I’m late) of December of the next year, I go through my address book and write greetings, and put a Christmas postage stamp on the envelopes and off they go, winging their way across the country!
In this era of texting and technology, sending Christmas greetings has become somewhat of a “lost art”, as has all mail, and it’s really too bad, because there is nothing quite like receiving a handwritten note in the mail, is there? One of my favourite parts of my day is stopping at the mailbox to see if there is anything in it. More often than not, I am like Charlie Brown, calling “hello in there” with no response, but nevertheless, I do still love it! I guess I’m a Victorian girl at heart. This might be because I read Mrs. Sharp’s Traditions at an impressionable age and ever since then, I’ve adored all of the old fashioned holiday traditions.
But, this year I started thinking, when did Christmas cards come into popularity? The Victorians “invented” Christmas as we know it today. Many of the traditions that surround Christmas came into popularity in the 1800’s, such as Christmas trees, which had before then been found mainly in Germany. And Christmas cards are another one of those traditions that became popularized in the Victorian era.
So, after a bit of reading, I discovered that what started the tradition of Christmas cards was actually one man’s laziness, and ingenuity. Traditionally, at Christmas, people used to send Christmas and New Year’s letters. In the 1840’s with the advent of an economical postal system (the “Penny Post”) people started taking advantage of the mail system, and sending out their Christmas and New Years letters with abandon. This was great, but in Victorian England it was rude to not reply to a letter you had received. In 1843, Sir Henry Cole started receiving tons of letters- he was apparently very popular and was in the position of having too many friends. Feeling overwhelmed by the pile of letters stacking up, he devised a way to reply to the senders, with the first ever “Christmas Card”. He commissioned an artist to create a card for him, with the message “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you” written on it, and then, he simply wrote each person’s name on it and sent it out. It took a while for Christmas Cards to catch on, but once they did, they skyrocketed in popularity and today we can’t imagine Christmas without cards. Although the popularity is waning these days, I do still see plenty of stationery and cards this time of year, so many people must still enjoy this tradition. If you want to see the first card and history, you can read more here.
So, all that to say; I love Christmas cards, and any kinds of cards really, so I decided that it would be fun to do a free Christmas card printable! This is an illustration I did last year, which I have made into Christmas cards and present tags, since I know that many of you don’t need cards. Print these out on some nice cardstock, and voila!
And, while I’ve got you here, I’ve not found Christmas cards to do very well at sales in the past, but is that something you would be interested in me adding to my shop for next year? If so, let me know!
Do you enjoy sending and receiving Christmas cards?
I am beginning to think that the second weekend of June is marked for rain. For the second year in a row now, I have planned to host a Ladies Garden Tea, in our backyard, and though we have had sun in the days leading up to, and sun in the hours and days that follow, during the hours of the party itself, it has rained. We have decided that it will now be called simply, “The Ladies Tea”, and have given up on hoping that gardens will have anything to do with it at all!
I’m not too worried about it though, because this year we planned to host it indoors, and made our preparations accordingly, so there was no last minute scramble to move the party indoors when the day dawned with grey clouds. An added benefit of holding the party indoors, is that even if it doesn’t rain, you sometimes must contend with wind, sun in your eyes, sunburn, flies in the lemonade and mosquitoes that refuse to leave you alone. By setting up the party indoors, you avoid all these problems, and you can always open the windows to let the fresh air in (and the bugs out) 🙂
We changed things around this year, (because we were thinking ahead for once) and set up the sideboard and a table along the side of the living room, so the food and drinks would be close at hand. It worked so much better, rather than having the food in the kitchen like we did last year, as people didn’t have to break up the party in order to go in search of sweets. Last year we had so many leftovers of desserts that hardly even got touched, and this year we had very few leftovers. On second thought, maybe we should have the food in the kitchen again next year; I wouldn’t have minded a few leftovers. . . 😉
Since the party was supposed to be a Garden Tea, it had to have a summery and “gardeny” feeling to it. So, the morning of the party we went in search of flowers for bouquets. Last year we had peonies, but this year the season is late and so the peonies had not started to bloom. However, we managed to catch the very last of the dark purple lilacs. Two days before the party, I thought to myself, “The lilacs are still in bloom, and should stay so until the party”, but the very next day when I looked at them again, they had started to wilt, turn brown and fall off the hedges. Only one day before the party!!! We thought that we wouldn’t be able to get any for a bouquet, but fortunately the dark purple ones still had flowers. They were falling fast though, and if you even looked at the bouquet, I think that petals were dropping off. We got two lovely bouquets though, and paired the purple flowers with Caragana branches. Caragana is a rather strange bouquet material, but I love how sculptural and fluid the bouquets turned out to be, and yellow and purple is such a lovely colour combination. For the rest of the smaller bouquets, which we placed on the tables, we gathered wildflowers and weeds, and came up with enough material to make several miniature bouquets. All in all, the room did have a rather summery and festive feeling to it, despite the rain.
And of course, the rain didn’t dampen the spirits of those who attended the party! There were sixteen of us, some of whom were new acquaintances who came with friends, and we all had a lovely afternoon of tea and sweets and conversation. I can’t wait for next year!
Do you enjoy tea parties? Have you ever hosted an event? And have you ever been rained out?
I saw a while ago that Victoria from Ruffles and Grace took part in a “Book Lover’s Tag”, and though I wasn’t personally tagged in it, it sounded like a lot of fun, so I decided to join in as well. So read on, to find out some of my favourite books, reading habits, and what’s on my reading list.
1. Name a book you’re embarrassed to say you haven’t read yet.
Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens. This one is a hefty piece of literature, at 826 pages and 2.5″ thick. I bought it two years ago, and had originally planned to read it aloud, (we started last summer, but then stopped only a few chapters in). I really do need to just start reading it again. I don’t particularly enjoy reading Dickens, as it’s so wordy, but I do always enjoy his stories. (And I really want to watch the movie, but I have to read the book first! I don’t know why, I just do.)
2. What is the strangest thing you’ve ever used as a bookmark?
I often don’t use bookmarks- as I never seem to have one around when I need it, and sometimes I don’t even have a scrap of paper or other item that will serve as one. I never commit the grievous crime of dog-earing pages (never!!!) but I do often commit the less terrible crime of placing books upside down- though I promise it is only temporarily! I don’t leave books like that for days on end- only until I find something to mark my page. Often I simply take a mental note of which page or chapter I’m in. This sometimes has dubious results, because I can’t remember what page I was on, and I end up flipping pages to find my spot.
3. Look at your bookshelf. What’s the first book you see with a yellow spine?
A biography of Jane Austen by David Cecil, called A Portrait of Jane Austen.
4. If you could have one new book from a deceased author, who would it be?
Jane Austen’s unfinished novel Sanditon. I have read the few chapters that she wrote of it, and I really wish that she had been able to finish it, as her works are always so witty and entertaining.
5. Name an author who deserves more readership.
Lynn Austin. I just reread her book Hidden Places and I loved it all over again. Her stories have such great depth, and are woven with themes such as secrets and misunderstandings, and haunted pasts, which her characters are confronted with and brought forward into forgiveness and reconciliation.
6. Bookmark or random piece of paper?
As outlined in #2- a piece of random anything. . . . or not 🙂
7. Can you stop anywhere in a book or do you have to finish the chapter?
I can stop anywhere, though I prefer to not stop at all and just read the entire book through. This doesn’t usually work though, because you know, life. . .
8. One book at a time or several?
I often dedicate myself to reading one novel at a time, as I don’t like interrupting the storyline, but I will have several non-fiction books going on at the same time. For example, right now I am reading The Greco-Roman World but, as it is a bit dry, I am breaking it up with other books. Since it is a history textbook, it doesn’t really matter if I read it through without interruption or not.
9. Do you read ahead or skip pages?
I’ve never understood why people skip ahead, because it wouldn’t make any sense- you would have isolated scenes with no context, wouldn’t you? You wouldn’t know what had built up to that moment, and it would be confusing, I think. So definitely reading as I go along.
10. Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?
I don’t purposely break the spine, but I don’t try to perfectly preserve the book either. My main concern is in reading it!
11. What books do you regret reading?
There are a couple of books I do regret reading, because I didn’t realize there would be inappropriate content, until suddenly I was right in the middle of those scenes. As it stands now, I read very few secular fiction books, because I don’t want to have to worry about what I might come across. Or I try to find reviews on the books before I read them.
12. On average, how many books do you read per year?
When I was in my teens. I used to read 50-70 books each year and I kept track of each book, but in the last few years I have slowed down a lot. Things get in the way- hobbies, the internet, being a grown up. . . So I would say that I probably read somewhere around 20-30 books a year now? Probably somewhere around two books each month- although this month I have already read or re-read five books, so maybe I’m picking up the pace again!
13. What book can you read hundreds of times and never get tired of?
The Bible, because you can actually read it hundreds of times and never get tired of it. But, for books written by man, and not the Scriptures, which is what I’m sure this question is actually referring to, well there are just too many to choose from.
I have read Jane Eyre several times now, and there is just so much depth to that story. It is one of my all time favourite books; I admire the character of Jane, and I love the sections where she and Rochester have their discussions. I will definitely read it again.
Really, there are a lot of books that I read every few years, and the greatest thing about having poor reading comprehension (I’ve got to find the silver lining here) is that I can actually read a book several years later, and it’s all new to me. Seriously. I read Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie and I couldn’t remember if I had read it before or not- until I got the end!
14. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from a book?
I don’t tend to really learn lessons, as in “the moral of the story” from books, so for this I will choose a non-fiction book, which actually taught me something and that would be Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, by Elizabeth Cline. I recommend this book to everyone.
15. What is the most recent book you’ve read?
I just finished re-reading Anna and Her Daughters by D.E Stevenson. I love this book, and have read it a few times now. It is such a lovely old novel from 1958 that we inherited from my Grandma, and it’s not really about Anna and her daughters, so much as it is about one particular daughter Jane, who is narrating the story. . . anyways it’s just a nice story, and it features an attic bedroom wallpapered with a pattern of birds, so really what’s not to love?
16. What quote from any book will you never forget? Why is it significant?
‘”There was a real railway accident,” said Aslan softly. “Your father and mother and all of the you are- as you used to call it in the Shadowlands- dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.”
And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.’
These are the final paragraphs of The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis from the Chronicles of Narnia. I read this book when I was a child, and this description of Heaven really just touched me, and I have never forgotten it all these years. (Though, yes, I did have to go look it up, as I am not able to quote it verbatim!)
17. How many books do you own?
Yikes, an estimate would be somewhere probably around 200? If I counted all of my sewing books, novels, fashion books, and my L.M Montgomery and Agatha Christie collections. . . And let’s not start on how many books my entire family owns, or we’ll be here all day. . .
18. In the past year, what is the greatest book you’ve read?
I can’t remember all of the books I’ve read in the past year. I did finally, after fours years on my list, get around to reading The Blue Castle by L.M Montgomery for the first time though. What was I waiting for!? This was a very good book. I always enjoy her books, and the soft and romantic world in which they abide.
So there you go. This was a fun post, and, if you want to take part in this book lover’s tag, consider yourself tagged!
What’s on your reading list right now? Have you read any of these books before? What are your favourite books? (if you can narrow it down!)
Last month, when Spring had not yet arrived, (who am I kidding- Spring still hasn’t really arrived!!!) but we were aching for some sign of life, my mom splurged and bought a bouquet of roses. Although cut flowers don’t last for long, and can be expensive to buy regularly, they are such a nice treat during the long long days of Winter and the early days of Spring when there is nary a sign of green to be seen anywhere out of doors. It is amazing what a pretty bouquet of flowers can do to lift the spirits! And a bunch of beautiful cream coloured roses, with just a hint of blush pink in the centre, paired with a cup of afternoon tea- what a perfect combination.
You might think, judging by the photographs I often take, that all I do is drink tea. And yes- you would be correct. 😉 At any given moment of any day, you will most likely find me with teacup in hand, sipping away. The most often answered question in the house is, “Shall I put the kettle on?” And the answer is almost always a resounding, “Yes!”
For me, it must always be black tea (Earl Grey, English Breakfast, Ceylon or Orange Pekoe are my favourites), lightly steeped and without anything else added to it. (Although, yes I do occasionally enjoy a cup of green as well) I used to drink my tea strictly the English way- with milk and sugar, if you please, but now I enjoy drinking it plain. I once read that tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world, after water- and I don’t doubt it! For me, it is most definitely the second most consumed- and some days I have to remind myself that water should come first, not tea 🙂
What better way is there to spend an afternoon, than enjoying a pretty bouquet of roses, and a small tea party for one?
Do you enjoy drinking tea, and how do you take it? Do you do “afternoon tea” or do you just drink it whenever you feel like it? And do you like to get bouquets of cut flowers?
For the majority of history, women have not carried purses or handbags wherever they have gone. In fact it’s only been the last hundred years or so, that women have done so and yet, for many of us, we can’t imagine leaving the house without our purse. I’m always curious as to what different people consider to be the “essentials”. I personally don’t like carrying too much around with me, as it is too heavy and cumbersome, but if I don’t bring some things with me, I always end up needing them. (Like bandages. Always bandages. . .)
This little purse I bought last year in England is small, yet mighty. It doesn’t look like it would be able to hold much, but it is actually like Mary Poppins’ bag. 😉 So here is what’s in my bag.
I find it hard to apply lipstick without a mirror as I always end up getting it crooked, so I like to carry around a neutral/tawny shade. I like it as it is light enough in colour to apply easily without being too obvious if I get it crooked, but it dresses up my look just a bit. 🙂
In a dry climate (hello, Alberta!) lotion is an absolute must! I always just grab some random lotion samples from hotels whenever I stay at one.
I got this cute little pill box at a vintage sale, and it is a pretty way to hold some painkillers.
Nail clippers, because NOTHING is worse than getting a snagged nail when you don’t have clippers with you.
I like to keep all these loose little items in a bag (and even better if it is a sparkly beaded fair trade bag), so they don’t get lost in the depths of my purse. Also, I switch purses with each outfit, and it is so much easier to just grab the bag and toss it into my new purse, rather than trying to rummage around and find each individual item.
I got this lipstick case many years ago from my aunt and I love it. I don’t carry lipstick in it, but rather my lip balm, since I started wearing it long before I wore lipstick. 😉 Also, it makes finding my lip balm easier. Because again, Alberta is dry. And lip balm is a necessary part of life.
A little compact mirror. Because apparently I need to see what I look like at all times. 😉
A little notebook made out of a greeting card with my initial on it, and a pen. Because even though my phone is great, sometimes you just need to write things down.
A cute little vintage mending kit. Yes, I have definitely used this before to save the day! And the scissors are invaluable.
Not pictured, because I found it afterwards, is a bandage. Because I am prone to getting inexplicable cuts and wounds, and always seem to need one. . .
Also not pictured, because it is ugly and broken, is my phone.
What essentials do you carry with you in your bag? Do you switch purses with each outfit, or do you have one purse that you always use? And have you ever been out and about and wished you had remembered to bring something with you?