Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thoughts on the the festive season...

Christmas in the Humble Bungalow is a treasured and much anticipated time of year.
I have come to terms with my expectations and abilities and do not try to create the "picture perfect Christmas"
I prefer a balance of relaxation and activity with gaps of time for reflection, mugs of tea, book reading, an opportunity to savour and notice the small things that enrich life for me.

I have simplified my life by shopping ahead for gifts. I attempt to find appropriate and useful gifts that the person I am gifting to would appreciate.
I often find thrift shops have lovely glass containers and cookie tins which I can fill with cookies, shortbread and homemade bath salts.

Pretty vintage cookie tins need little more than an ribbon and a simple tag.
I also find tea towels are invaluable as gift wrap.

I do not over decorate...
other than a few touches our tree is the focus and we do not put that up until 2 weeks before Christmas.

Family, friends and entertaining are the focus.
(as well as my sanity!)

I do not "do stress well" so the weeks before Christmas I am purposely enjoying life at a slower pace.

I bake time honoured family recipes for shortbread and rum balls.
I stumbled upon a Christmas cake recipe from Bon Appetit magazine which I have made for the past few years. It is much lighter than my mothers' cake recipe and can be made and served the same day if desired...these make great gifts for my uncle and other elders who no longer take the time to bake for themselves and it marries well with a fortifying glass of sherry!
(Harvey's Bristol Cream is a Humble Bungalow Basic)

Mother's cake recipe is very tasty, it is dark and heavy with fruit plus it makes and enormous amount and needs to be baked and stored for at least a month before serving.
(It also needs to be liberally doused with brandy or rum  every week!)

I have put a few simple things about the Bungalow to get ready for the season...

Mr. HB's mother had this vintage wreath for many years
when she gave it to us 
I was thrilled
it is one of my favourites...
made with
glass balls and Sherman rhinestone brooches !

Mr. HB strings up white mini lights throughout the Bungalow

The Ojibwa duck decoys which reside year round have some "greenery" now!

wire card holder waiting for cards
I send Christmas cards but my list is not as large as it once was...

I have purchased the cards
Mr. HB usually writes the cards
sometimes he adds a newsy letter.

My weekend has seen some busy moments and some quiet time.
I wrapped presents until I got a severe cramp in my hand
that made me cry out in pain.
I had only wrapped a few
and had to stop
I was in pain for 2 days and only now is starting to feel better
I am quite mystified

My son suggested it was something pinched in my neck
he has had this happen
and has had to go for massage to fix the problem.

So it appears that I am in need of a massage
 I have tight shoulders
maybe it was too much typing at work or 
 a build up of tension

I have been stressed about driving during the recent snowfall.
so it's time for some
Yoga in the Bungalow
it usually

what are your strategies for a relaxed and joyful festive season?


  1. thank you for the wonderful it possible to post a few recipes[cake,rumballs,cookies]?

  2. This is a lovely post Hostess. I particularly love your words on enjoying the season by being prepared ahead and relaxing. Your family hierloom vintage wreath is beautiful!

  3. Dear Ms Leslie, I struggle to get this time of year right. While I pretty well have the rellies sorted, I spend quite a bit of time trying to work out what is best to get my 8 and 11 year old. I don't want to 'keep up with the other kids' so no iPhones or such silliness but I do want to get them nice things that they will like and which are not wastes of money - there have to be some fripperies in their stockings. We are going home to Australia so my mission will be to be an excellent kitchen hand for my lovely stepmum and the maker of many cups of coffee so we can spend our early mornings chatting while watching the kangaroos and cockatoos out the back until sleepy little people climb into our laps.

  4. hi leslie,

    the wreath is stunning!

    i want to come live with you during the month of december.


  5. This is a lovely post with good things to think about during this season...yes! with all the decorating, cooking and gift giving we all tend to obcess a bit and it is not really what the holiday it about. My stragedy is to get the decorating done and then I can relax and enjoy the rest.(-: The bungalow looks lovely - beautiful wreath. The cake sounds deliciious!

  6. anonymous- With pleasure...stay tuned!

    Fiona- I think that you and I share the same philosophy :)

    Linda in Chile- In this day and age it's a challenge to find "non tech toys" and gifts for tweens. I am old school and like games and books...
    Stockings are such fun to fill...and your MIL will be a very lucky lady to have you by her side at Christmas...and your sleepy little ones crawling into your laps while watching the local wildlife sounds blissfull to me.

    The Gardener's cottage- The guest room is free until Christmas Eve when our daughter comes to stay'll need to bring warm clothing our winter has come in like a lion.

    LaVieQuotidienne- I noticed that you have your home decorated and you are many steps for some leisure time :)

  7. Oh hostess, this is the most beautiful of posts! I love the way the bungalow looks, and somehow your words spread a feeling of calm right through me. Thank you very much.

  8. Oh my, you are ready in good time. My Christmas decorating is w a y less than your´s. Having grownup children lessens the Xmas stress. All I really wish to do, is to spend the time without a schedule, meet the people I want to meet. If it is cold, I´d like to stay under the blankets ; )

  9. LPC- I love it when you pop inspire me to my very core.

    metscan- snuggling under the blankets, and the gift of time and freedom to choose your activity does = comfort and joy :)

  10. Dear Hostess, You are so right. One must be sure to take things at a pace which enables one to enjoy the festive season rather than be stressed to a point of exhaustion. Simple is best and the opportunity to spend more time with family and friends and to have space to reflect upon the true meaning of Christmas is all that really matters I think.

  11. Our Christmas is fairly relaxed now that our children and most nieces & nephews are grown.
    Plus having no more end of term school events to attend makes life much easier (in Aus school finishes mid Dec for a 6 week break).
    Take care and look after your neck Hostess.

  12. I love the idea of homemade bath salts- what a great gift!

  13. Edith Hope- I have come to realize this after many years!
    Wisdom does come with age :)

    Anne-Marie-My neck seems better thank massage yet though!
    A 6 week break would be lovely...we only have 2 weeks off.

    The Daily Connoisseur- I hope you'll make some and have the opportunity to try some yourself !

  14. Oh terribly excited about the thought of your home made rum balls!
    I don't have many friends now, two of my best friends have died and my other chum lives abroad, so there's not that much for me to do.

  15. Oops. Cut myself off there. Add over the festive season to that!

  16. Tabitha-I'll get those recipes online asap...
    I've have had a few close friends pass away, and far too young.
    You could choose to substitute "bourbon instead of the rum :)

  17. Dear Hostess,how delightful your white lights are against the panelling.I do not decorate until the week before Christmas,we have still to dig up our Christmas tree from the forest,and with this feezing,snowing weather hb is not sure we will be able to!! Beautiful photos. Ida

  18. Dear Hostess,how delightful your white lights look against the panelling.I do not decorate until the week before Christmas,we still have to dig up our Christmas tree from the forest!!
    Thank you for the beautiful photos.Ida

  19. ida- It must be fun to go outdoors and walk the forest to find a tree...
    there are Christmas tree farms here and the local garden centres sell cut ones.
    We also have a potted fir that we bring up on the front porch which we illuminate with white mini lights.

  20. I know I shall return to this particular post several weeks. I left it relaxed and at peace.

    White mini lights bring just the right amount of ambiance to our surroundings. White candles and monotoned bulbs/ornaments add just enough "flavor" for me to enjoy the morning and evening darkness that bookends my day. Instrumental Christmas music soothes me.

    By the way, I'd REALLY enjoy seeing an even larger or up-close photo of your beautiful vintage wreath!