The countdown to Christmas is on…

image via www.marthastewart.com
                                                                  image via http://www.marthastewart.com

It’s just a few days now until Christmas and finally, I feel a little festive!We collected Mum at the airport lastWednesday night/Thursday morning (2am!!!!!!) and we’re planning meals and decorations…I think this part is actually more fun than the actual day… Christmas is really for the kids anyway…

For our family, it’s a chance to get together from opposite ends of the world and spend quality time together. I usually also catch up with friends who, like me, barely have time to breathe let alone socialise during the year…I have a few drinks planned with friends this week and a party on Christmas Eve (before or after Church I haven’t decided yet!!)..then on Christmas day  we will have a quiet dinner at home which will be lovely…my mum’s gammon is legendary so well worth waiting for that’s for sure!

So far, the turkey and the gammon are ordered and the menu planned..I have to come up with a festive starter so Pinterest, here I come!

image via www.marthastewart.com
image via http://www.marthastewart.com

I am working as usual right up to Christmas Eve although I believe that Thursday is a religious holiday here in the UAE so we will have the day off..I am thrilled, as this means a two day weekend for me!! Time to rest and relax and catch up on a movie…the malls and stores are already chaotic so I will be staying far away this year…I have enough stress at the moment!

image via marthastewart.com
                                                    image via marthastewart.com

 

Creative Christmas Ideas…

For a number of reasons, mostly work commitments, I find it very difficult to get into a Festive frame of mind with the lead up to Christmas. Living in a Muslim country (entirely my choice) Christmas as we know it is obviously  not observed in a spiritual sense. The decorations are all up in the malls (yes, its true..they are more festive in Dubai than London!) and the Christmas fairs have started.

Its a much more subtle feeling which to me seems to be lacking…no crisp and cold weather…no natural slowing down of work (I usually work right up to Christmas Eve and then again on the day after Christmas through to New Year) and very little sense of family unless we fly our mum to Dubai to see us. Most often we join friends for a get together and shared meal which is lovely but it’s just not the same!

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image via http://indulgy.com/post/PgjQqdXG72/holiday-decor

I have been scouring Pinterest to try and get some inspiration and infuse some of the Season’s excitement into the next few weeks and my goodness, there are some beautiful ideas around…there are some incredibly clever and inspiring people in the world!!

Look at these beautiful decorative baubles…

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image via http://www.hisugarplumsblog.com/

Oh to have some spare time to make these!! I LOVE them!!

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                   image via http://www.bloglovin.com/blogs/hemtrender

For a natural Christmas, these ideas above are spot on…I particularly love the moss-wrapped shades in the image on the top left.

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images via http://www.tabithaemma.com/christmas-inspiration-candles/

These ideas for displays of candles are just wonderful and so easy to do…even for us in a greenery challenged desert!! I’m seeing a bit of a natural them going on here so what about a bit of sparkle…this wonderful collage below is from this blog

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                            images via http://www.lizmarieblog.com/

These gorgeous images are from this blog...a lovely combination of natural and a bit of glitter.

I must say, just writing this post has literally lifted my spirits..with less than a month to go to Christmas, believe me I need it. The problem is that I have had a few Christmases in England with gorgeous cold weather, a proper Church service in a 300 year old church, real floral wreaths and trees , sparkly lights in cosy cottages…I feel like I am in a movie each time I experience it and a desert Christmas is just so different that it always seems to be a bit of a let down to me! I am fully aware that I sound like a Grinch!!

 

 

Christmas Fever…

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image via http://zeospot.com/

 As we approach Christmas, I am finding myself inspired by the plethora of exquisite festive decorating ideas which are available on the web…what on earth did we do in the days before the internet? I remember being constantly frustrated when I used to live in South Africa, because the best magazines were all imported and most of the Christmas issues would be available in January!! Too late to glean ideas from them…I used to tear the pictures I liked and stick them in a huge scrapbook I kept for future reference….now, my favourite way to waste time is to read the blogs and websites to see the wonderful things people are doing to create festive decorations…so much easier and up to date!

I read a fabulous post by one of my favourite bloggers, Frugal Queen recently….she draws attention to the excesses of the season , not only with gift-giving but also with the excess food we all consume and waste. It is astounding how much food gets wasted by people all over the world…given the plight of people in the Phiilipines, this year I plan to be really conscious of wastage and over -eating.  Although Christmas here in the Middle east is usually played down a bit, in the past few years, the Malls and stores have gone all out with decorations and displays. They reap the benefits in hugely inflated sales and record footfall….everybody, of all religions falls for the hype , the glitz and the glamour.

image via http://betterdecoratingbible.com
image via http://betterdecoratingbible.com

I  try to stay out of the malls and shops and aside from my immediate family, I tend not to spend money on gifts. I do decorate with a wreath and a tree, but my apartment is really tiny so I can’t really do any more than that even if I wanted to.

image via themaisonette.net
image via themaisonette.net

I do however, lust after the gorgeous houses featured in international magazines from the US and the UK with snow covered gardens, crackling fires and meters and meters of natural pine garlands, liberally covered in cranberries and pine cones….oh how I would love to be curled up in front of the fire in my cozy sweater, sipping a cup of eggnog! The reality is a rather stark one  I am afraid! While December is our coldest month, the temperature rarely drops below 18 degrees during the day, so a light sweater and a pair of jeans is quite sufficient and a fire would just be too warm I would imagine….last year my sister and I spent Christmas with our mother in England and I loved being really cold …bundled up in scarves and coats …at the appropriate time of the year. Unfortunately it did not snow, despite my wishing for it, but it was a great experience anyway. I walked in the chilly, crisp air every day and felt so alive!I know most people would think I am insane, but after 14 years of constant sunshine and heat, I loved the heavy skies and drizzle.

The Festive Season….

Where has the year gone? I cannot believe how fast this year has sped by…in about 22 days we will be celebrating Christmas!! Scary to think that 2013 is a few weeks away!!

In the Festive mood, I discovered these amazing images of store windows in London…Tiffany’s always has the most spectacular windows and usually a wonderful holiday campaign with incredible visuals and this year was no exception!

all images via http://www.marieclaire.co.uk
all images via http://www.marieclaire.co.uk

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A couple silhouetted in a snow covered window…..

 

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I LOVE this tree from Chritian Louboutin….what a great idea!!!

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Gorgeous door from Tiffany & Co-I can just hear the sleigh bells ringing !

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Selfridges featured a window filled with ponies puling a cart filled with Christmas trees and gifts…just wonderful!

I would love to see these “in the flesh”so to speak…..they really put one in the festive mood..something I need at the moment, being slammed with work right now!!

 

Deck the halls with boughs of holly….and some baubles too!

I cannot believe that it is only 9 days until Christmas……I love Christmas and who doesn’t love decorating the tree?I have finally unpacked my Christmas decorations and I plan to put up my tree which will be installed  at my sister’s house, where we will be having Christmas lunch. This will have to be done this weekend – my mum is arriving from the UK next week and I need to have it all decorated by then…I am also trying to finish up my painted ceiling project in time for Christmas so that I can at least take a couple of weeks off to spend with my family……so this weekend is going to be really really busy! I have been searching online for some decorating inspiration and there are some spectacular Holiday decorations out there…..look at what I found………

image via french garden house

The charm of simple red and green against white is wonderful….

image source unknown
image via martha stewart living

These wreaths are amazing and the little velvet dress is just perfect!

image via martha stewart living

Somehow Martha always gets it right…

image via southern accents

Chartreuse and turquoise…..what an unusual combination and it works beautifully.

image via traditional home

Glamour and sparkle….it wouldn’t be Festive without candles and flowers..

image via better homes and gardens

How fabulous to come downstairs to these presents on Christmas morning….

image source unknown

Although this tree looks almost sparse in comparison to the tree above, I love the simplicity and lack of colour.

I actually have never experienced a true white Christmas and even though the Middle East is relatively chilly during December, the chances of snow are minimal to non existent, so I plan to aim for a white Christmas next year…wherever that needs to be…..possibly the UK or the US…who knows? Something to add to my list of New Years Resolutions for 2012. I would love to experience the sights and sounds of Christmas with snow…I am sure it would be incredible and I am so envious of all the lucky people who will be sitting in front of a fire, opening presents while snow falls outside!! Yes, I am sure I would not be quite so convinced once I lived through a snow storm with no power……I have read some of the posts which other bloggers have written about being stranded without power for days and having to dig their way out of their snow covered properties! Probably not so much fun! Maybe a Christmas in the sand is not too bad after all………..as long as you are with family and friends, does it really matter where we celebrate?