Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Fifty days 'til Christmas!

Well, at the weekend we ended up going (once again) to one of my favourite garden centres!  For somebody who is not at all green fingered, you might wonder why!  I have a few very easy care house plants, and a few garden herbs which I use in cooking but that is my limit.  Even those are a bit hit and miss as I tend to forget to water them!  The reason I love the garden centres over here is that they have the most wonderful home decorations.  Driftwood, natural potpourri thingies, wall hangings....and all either handmade or hand finished (obviously kind of massed produced, but still all unique).  They also change their stock regularly so you can get some beautiful and unusual things.  Of course I like looking at the plants too, but Theo won't let me buy any because he says I kill them!  His green fingers are even more non existent than mine are, so I blame him!  Anyway, most garden centres have their Christmas displays now, or are working on them.  Last year we bought a new tree and decorations after Christmas in the sale.  It's a 7 ft tree, which if I recall was half price - still quite pricey to be honest, but it's a beautiful tree, nice and bushy unlike so many of them nowadays.  We bought enough baubles to decorate probably 3 trees - but you can never have enough, right?!  At least, I don't think so.  We also have a village scene which we're adding to each year.

It wasn't our intention to go to the garden centre.  We were actually going to a big pet supermarket out of town, to buy some replacement toys for the dog.  These toys, we were going to keep back for Christmas (yes, our pets have their own Christmas prezzies too!), but they didn't have any that were suitable for larger dogs.  We were looking specifically for the real big tug ropes and the kong wubba toys, but the large ones.  He absolutely loves those toys.  They don't last him that long, as he chews them up pretty quickly, but the actual fabric lasts forever and he proudly fetches them to play tug with us once he's got the squeaky inners out.  It's almost impossible to buy tough dog toys here as most Dutchies have little fluffy Shih tzu kind of dogs, not REAL ones! :P  So, Kong Wubbas are about the best we can find.  If we take a trip to England, unlike most Brits travelling abroad, I don't stock up on duty frees.  Oh no!  I fill the car with sausages, bacon, Cadburys creme eggs and dog toys!  So, as the pet shop didn't have anything we wanted, we decided to go to the garden centre as they have quite a good pet section.  Good choice, as we not only got his toys there, but also a few MORE Christmas decorations!

We got a little tiny cat and dog on a swinging hammock for our village scene, and some fake snow covered orchids which look perfect in my hand blown glass vase.  We bought that in Kaysersberg, France last year on holiday.  We went to the glass artisans, watching them at work.  It was fascinating to see!  We had to buy a souvenir!  They had little novelty glass animals which weren't really to my taste, and although each one was hand made, they were made in mass as it were, and I wanted something truly unique, and then the real artisan vases and things.  So I chose an unusual shaped vase.  They had a few in the same shape, but all in different colours/patterns, so all completely unique.  Until now, that vase has sat empty, as I didn't have and couldn't find anything that would look nice in it.  But now I have!  The artificial flowers are so pretty, I'm just going to leave them up all year!  I don't care that they're covered in snow, as I love snow anyway!

Yes, our window frames need re-painting.  It's just one of the many little jobs we haven't got around to doing yet!  For those who are intrigued by what special Christmas things attract me to the garden centre, here are a few piccies!  I didn't often go to garden centres in England, so perhaps they have equally good ones there, I don't know, but it's becoming almost an addiction here, and I'm sure you can see why.  The pics aren't the best as I didn't play around with the camera settings.  I already felt a bit daft in the middle of a store taking photos, but I'm sure you'll get the gist of my addiction....

All taken at Intratuin garden centre on the outskirts of Hilversum

Whilst taking those snaps, a lady walked right in front of me, not noticing the camera until the last moment.  So of course she ducked, and very apologetically said 'sorry'.  She didn't roll her r's in 'sorry' either, so if I'm not mistaken, that was a fellow Brit!  Dutchies don't say sorry anyway.  Most will just carry on as normal regardless of whether you're taking a photo or not!

Just after taking those pics, we got to the Christmas lights section!  By then, Theo had had enough shopping and was trying every trick in the book to plan his escape, but I was like a kiddie in a toy shop!  We have enough lights (I think) for indoors, but I would like some kind of icicle lights to go around the top of our balcony.  When I first said it, Theo looked at me as if I'd escaped from somewhere, but I think he's coming round to the idea now and knows once I get an idea in my head that not much will stop me.  We didn't get lights, but we will be next time as I've successfully persuaded him now!  I just lurrrve Christmas!  Anyone else feeling festive yet?!  Only 50 days to go!

Also, on a Christmas note, and I can't say too much here, but I need to work on a secret santa present.  I belong to a Craft Forum, a UK based one, and we're doing a Secret Santa exchange  Of course, my receipient is going to know who his/hers is from purely from the Dutch post mark, but I still don't want to give it away as to who it is yet.  I am quite stumped as to what to do for it though.  To say I have a tricky recipient is an understatement!  A lot of members either have personal blogs, so you can get an insight into things they like, or do varied crafts/styles in their work, but this one doesn't give much away!  I do have an idea, but whether I can pull it off or not, I'm not sure.  I am pleased actually because it's a good challenge.  Had I got someone who I know better, or has a detailed personal blog or forum profile, that would be too easy!  If the person is in fact reading this, that doesn't say much anyway, as many don't have websites/blogs or detailed forum profiles, so it could be anyone! :P So I have to make a gift for somebody I know very little about!  The rules are pretty simple in that the gift must be hand made by yourself, nicely wrapped etc, and that you can't disclose who it's from on the packaging, but can put your name inside if you wish.....ok, everybody knows that if they get me, they'll probably figure it out from the foreign post mark.  So I have about a week to come up with an idea before I need to actually make it and send it out.  We have a date deadline too, but obviously I need to allow slightly longer for the actual post.  So, I have time to think about it, but not too long!  So, those of us taking part will all receive a handmade item.  There are many different artisans taking part, from needle workers to wood turners, paper crafters, jewellers and even cake makers.  So as well enjoying the task of making something I think my recipient will like, I'm also looking forward to receiving a hand made gift from somebody else too.  Oh, I forgot to mention the other rule....upon receiving our gift, we must place it under our tree and NOT OPEN IT UNTIL CHRISTMAS DAY.....that's going to kill me!  I think I will have to tell Theo when it arrives, to hide it from me, as I always have to peek/snoop at prezzies!  When I have peeked at a prezzie, I've always been so annoyed at myself for doing it, as I've spoilt my surprise then, but I just can't help it.  It's like my inner child just escapes and is uncontrollable!

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