Blog posts with the tag: "Christmas"

Nov
26

I’ve pretty much taken to spending my days drinking americanos, wearing thick jumpers and basking in the glow of scented candles while I study/write. Everything always seems a bit manic in the run up to Christmas, especially as I have looming deadlines.

 

So, for this post, I thought I’d something fun, and post some of my favourite things from the past month.

 

Favourite Shops:

 

I try to avoid shops as much as possible but I always have to go into Liberty, especially at Christmas. It is one of the most beautiful shops and great for buying gifts.

 

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Anthropologie is another favourite, especially for their home goods. Last time I visited I bought this Oatmeal cookie candle. It smells sooo good, but gives me a serious craving for cookies, cakes and chocolate.

 

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Favourite Foods:

 

Tis’ the season for warming comfort food and this recipe for soup is delicious and easy to make. I add butter beans, whizz in my soup maker and add chopped up Linda McCartney vegetarian sausages. Oh and yes, I’m one of those people who watches Youtube girls talk about make-up and stuff. I love Essie Button.

 

 

To satisfy my aforementioned sweet tooth I like to make a batch of apple pie crescent bites. They are so easy to make.  I used Natvia instead of brown sugar. Recipe here. Here is a pic of mine.

 

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Favourite TV:

 

The BBC are making great television at the moment. The Fall is back on BBC 2, so I’m glued to that every Thursday (or whenever I can catch up on iPlayer). This isn’t easy viewing, but it’s fantastic.

 

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Remember Me is a three-part contemporary ghost story set in Yorkshire. Just my cup of tea. I haven’t watched this yet but I’m definitely going to. It stars Michael Palin and has garnered great reviews. Catch it on BBC One and iPlayer.

 

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Favourite Reads:

 

In between the pile of Gothic classics and text books I’m currently battling through, I’ve managed somehow to squeeze in a few cheeky novels.  I’ve started reading Essie Fox’s The Somnambulist, a book I’ve been meaning to read for a while. I’m only a few chapters in but thoroughly enjoying it so far. And I haven’t strayed too far from my course as this is a Gothic Victorian novel. Also, I saw the lovely Essie speaking about her latest novel The Goddess and the Thief at the Richmond Literary Festival, so will no doubt buy that once I’ve finished with this one.

 

the-somnambulist

 

Magazines. As many as I can possibly read. I have an addiction. Especially home interiors magazines. Especially home interiors magazines with Christmassy decorations. Drool.

 

Favourite Music:

 

I’ve been listening to Taylor Swift’s new album 1989 a lot since it’s release. I’m not the biggest ‘pop’ music fan but Taylor knows how to write a great, catchy song.

 

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On Sunday I went to see Linkin Park at the O2 arena. This is the second time I’ve seen them live this year, after the Download Festival in June, and they didn’t disappoint. Their energy is amazing.

 

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Dreaming of:

 

Fingers crossed I’ll be visiting my beloved Highlands sometime in January for my birthday. I really want some vegetarian haggis. I ordered some from Amazon recently and I think it was supposed to be frozen because it smelled of bad dog food and made me feel sick.

 

I like to buy the chocolate panettone from Carluccio’s at Christmas, and make bread and butter pudding with it. It tastes deliciously decadent.

 

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I’ve had a busy week or so finishing the first draft of my novel and visiting Rome. This week I also went to see The Nutcracker and went ice skating at Somerset House, two Christmas activities that I’d like to make a yearly tradition. So I’m in fully-fledged festive mode now, wearing my Christmas jumper and listening to the Xmas playlist that I compiled on Spotify (I’m still a kid at heart).

I thought I’d list some things that make Christmas for me. In my previous post, I listed my favourite Christmas movies, and shockingly I left It’s a Wonderful Life off the list. I don’t know what I was thinking! It’s such a traditional Xmas film for me! I have it on dvd but plenty of cinemas show it at Christmas time, so if you can watch it on the big screen, preferably with a glass of mulled wine, all the better!

 

 

 

I also left off a film I love called The Curse of the Cat People – it is the sequel to the equally wonderful Cat People (the 1942 original which I also first saw one Christmas late one night on BBC 2 in a cosy lodge in the Scottish Highlands) although is very different and is set at Christmas time and has an otherworldly fairy tale like quality to it. I saw it a couple of years ago in a double bill with Tales from the Crypt (1972) at the Roxy in Borough. Annoyingly I can’t find it on dvd here in the UK.

 

 

 

 

Make your home look festive: I don’t have an advent calendar this year but usually I like to, as well as a tree, decorations and plenty of fairy lights and twinkle. I also like to have a scented candle burning. I was going to buy a Xmas Yankee candle but I smelt some in Rome and they are far too sickly for my liking. I was also going to get one of the Diptyque Christmas edition candles but I wasn’t really taken with the scent of any of them so when I opted for the Baies candle instead because it smells divine; roses and blackcurrent leaves which goes nicely with my current perfume, Jo Malone’s Blackcurrent and Bay. Ideally I wanted a candle that smelt of woodland but it’s difficult to find one that doesn’t smell like pine toilet freshener!

 

 

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Christmas books: Here is where I really act like a big kid. I love children’s books, and if they have beautiful illustrations then all the better. I have the Penguin Classics edition of Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings as my ‘grown up’ book, but then I also have The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore and illustrated by Christian Birmingham, Raymond Brigg’s Xmas books, Beatrix Potter books and the newer ones written by Emma Thompson and the Belle and Boo Christmas book which is adorable. I also have the Nigella Lawson Christmas book to drool over and an old Ladybird book from my childhood called Christmas Customs, which is actually interesting because it explains where all our Christmas traditions come from and how other countries celebrate.

 

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Department stores: I love seeing the Christmas windows all decorated. The best department stores in London are Liberty and Selfridges in my opinion. I also adore Fortnum & Mason’s which always has the best window decorations and amazing hampers. I bought their Strawberry Stardust jam this year. It has glitter in it. I also have the limited edition glittery Marmite, because I’m odd.

 

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Family: The most important thing about Christmas is being close to family. All of my family live up in Yorkshire so my husband and I usually go up there for Christmas – it’s wonderful with the rugged Wuthering Heights moors and York city centre with it’s charming old streets. We are renting a holiday cottage in the countryside that has a wood burning fire and a huge bath tub and looks so cosy.

 

Christmas TV: I’m not really a big watcher of television. There are a few series that I try and keep up with but I don’t channel surf. British TV is always superb at Christmas though. There are always grand period dramas on, films, nostalgic TV shows, and BBC 2 are showing some good late night Hammer Horror films. Christmas wouldn’t be complete without some creepy tales.

 

Christmas music: I mentioned earlier that I made a Christmas compilation. I actually prefer the old fashioned Xmas songs as sung by the Rat Pack, Judy Garland, Eartha Kitt, Connie Francis etc, but I love the She & Him Christmas album (it does sound retro) and the Phil Spector Christmas Gift to You one. I love the music from The Nutcracker, I listen to the versions from Disney’s Fantasia soundtrack, as well as loving The Snowman and Edward Scissorhands soundtracks because they are simply magical. I’ll inevitably end up listening to cheesy 80s Xmas songs too at some point.

 

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Presents: I want to be one of those people who have all their Christmas shopping by November but it never happens and this year I’ve kind of left it until the last minute, although I know exactly what I need to buy. I stress out about presents because I like to know that whatever the gift, the receiver will love it. Some people are just so difficult to buy for, especially my husband! I like to go to a department store and get it done all under one roof, then put on a Christmas film, make a cup of tear hot chocolate and sit on the floor wrapping presents.

 

I love getting presents but it is never as exciting as when I was a child. I’d leave out a mince pie and some sherry for Father Christmas, and carrots for the reindeer. My mum used to leave a pillow case stuffed with stocking fillers by my bed. I’d always get those gold chocolate coins and a clementine. Then when I had finished opening those, I would tip toe downstairs ridiculously early in the morning (I’m talking 4am!) and open all my presents, eat chocolate for breakfast and watch the Disney video cassettes that I had received. I’d always open the smallest presents first and work up the largest.

 

Christmas dinner: Ah Christmas dinner. Turkey, stuffing, roast potatoes, peas and carrots and gravy. That was my typical Christmas dinner as a child. For the past few years I’ve either been vegetarian or vegan so I have substituted the turkey for Tofurkey and added more veg such as broccoli and cabbage (brussel sprouts are evil). I still eat so much that I can’t move for an hour afterwards, but it’s worth it. I’m not so bothered by puddings at Xmas. I don’t like Christmas pudding or fruit cake. One year I made bread and butter pudding with chocolate panettone and Baileys. Mmmmmmmmm. Cheese plates too – I get really crazy dreams after eating a cheese plate, it’s great, but cheese makes my skin yucky and this year I’m trying not to eat dairy so I might have to give it a miss.

 

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I hope everyone has a brilliant and relaxing Christmas! xxx

 

 

 

radio times

 

When I was a child, one of the most exciting things about Christmas (apart from the food and presents) was getting my hands on a copy of the Christmas edition of Radio Times magazine. I’d  go through it cover to cover, highlighting all the TV shows and films that I was going to watch, and probably record, because I was one of those kids who could rewatch something for days until I could practically recite it word for word. It was all the more exciting then because I didn’t live particularly near a cinema and we didn’t have Sky TV and all those movie channels at my disposal. Of course I was always excited to watch the new films that the British TV channels (all 4 of them at the time) premiered, but I also had those films that I just HAD to watch every year, because it was tradition. So, without further ado, here is my list of my favourite Christmas films ever.

 

P.S. I grew up in the 80s and 90s, so don’t expect many new ones here!

 

Love Actually

 

 

This shouldn’t be a film that I like. I pretty much hate cheesy rom-coms, and anything starring Hugh Grant. So why do I? Well I like the different tales and the different ways that they represent love, an even though there are characters that I dislike, they are not hogging the screen all the time. Also there are actors that I adore in it. If I had to choose famous people to adopt me, then I think the delightful Emma Thompson and Colin Firth would be top of the list. I also love the segments starring them. Oh my god, when Emma’s character thinks that she is getting the jewellery from Alan Rickman for Christmas, and instead she gets the Joni Mitchell CD, and she just KNOWS that he has given said jewellery to another woman, my heart breaks for her and I want to cry and drink lots of mulled wine to buck me up. And Colin’s writer  character and his cleaner, how they can’t communicate to each other, but their expressions give away everything that they feel about one another. It is so cute how he then learns Portuguese and she learns English and he goes to find her. Again I want to cry at how perfect it is.

 

The Long Kiss Goodnight

 

 

Is this a Christmas film? I would argue yes. Not all Xmas films need to be all mushy and full of joy. Instead Geena Davis gets a make over and kicks some serious ass (or arse if you’re a Brit like me) and the whole thing is exhausting in an enjoyable way.

 

Edward Scissorhands

 

 

Well Tim Burton is obviously a god (for the most part, ahem, some recent duds not taken into account) and Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder were that magical couple to me as a child that some people probably think of as William and Catherine now (er…no). Edward Scissorhands is like an adorable puppy that you want to love and look after but he has hands like Freddy Krueger’s glove. Oh and Dianne Wiest is in it. I’d like her as an aunt in my imaginary celebrity adoptive family. I love the candy coloured houses juxtaposed with the gothic castle up on the hill, and the music; Danny Elfman’s score is the best Christmas/Fairy tale music ever written. It makes me feel all tingly.

 

Little Women

 

 

Yes, I’m a little bit obsessed with 90s era Winona. And I think this is probably one of the only films where Christian Bale doesn’t scare me, although he is a bit of a dick in it, and a tad creepy for ending with Amy even though he knew her as a kid. And Claire Danes circa My So-Called Life is in it, and when she cries and her chin wobbles, it is the saddest, most convincing cry ever.

 

8 Women

 

 

Well it’s French, and their films are usually good. It’s directed by François Ozon and he did Swimming Pool and In the House, both of which rock. The cast is fantastic and all très sexy and there is singing and amazing clothes and Catherine Deneuve is in it and she is a style icon as well as a bloody good actress and all-round classy lady.

 

While You Were Sleeping

 

 

Cheese fest take 2. I saw this when I was a kid and more susceptible to slushy romance films. Plus Sandra Bullock seems like the nicest person in the whole world. I can’t even imagine her killing a spider or laughing if someone tripped over.

 

Muppets Christmas Carol

 

 

How could anyone not watch this film at Christmas? It’s bloody brilliant. Apart from the muppets and memorable songs and Michael Caine, I can’t remember why, but how much more do you need? Greedy.

 

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

 

 

Confession. I haven’t seen this film. But it’s foreign and creepy so it probably works.

 

Bad Santa

 

 

Let’s count the ways that Billy Bob Thornton is amazing. First off, he is called Billy Bob, which deserves an award in itself, and he’s afraid of antique furniture and silverware (which is not that weird if you’ve seen various Amityville sequels that feature haunted antiques), he bagged Angelina when she was all witchy and mysterious and he starred in this film. If you are sensitive to crude humour then don’t watch. If you live for crude humour then this will please you immensely.

 

Scrooged

 

 

Ah Bill Murray. What a legend. I’d like him as an uncle – you know – the bad one that swears and shares his booze with you and has Roger’s Profanisaurus on his bedside table for the LOLs.

 

The Nightmare Before Christmas

 

 

Halloween and Christmas; the two best holidays become one and Tim Burton and Danny Elfman are amazing again.

 

Gremlins

 

 

I remember when I was seven my mum and nana deemed me too young to watch this and Dirty Dancing. So I went round to a friend’s house and watched them there instead. The actual gremlins are awesome and Gizmo is possibly the cutest made-up creature ever, except if given water, fed after midnight or exposed to bright light. Simples.

 

The Snowman and Father Christmas

 

 

 

I don’t think I’ve ever NOT watched these at Christmas. The Snowman is exhilarating, beautiful and heart-crushing and Father Christmas is a bit rude and funny. Plus I always get hungry when he orders the food in the French restaurant, but it’s ok because it’s Christmas and there is usually an abundance of food around. I can’t believe I missed the book signing by Raymond briggs at my local Waterstone’s last year. Grrrrrrr.

 

Elf

 

 

Um, yeah, I haven’t seen this one either. But with Will Ferrall’s face and Zooey Deschanel being one of my girl crushes, what could go wrong? I will watch it this year! Oh and without this, surely there’d be no Elf Yourself.

Hello!
Heather Blanchard

Welcome. Are you a writer, a bookworm, a daydreamer? Are you still clinging on to that magic that pervaded childhood? Pull up an armchair and get cosy. This blog is my dreamscape through an enchanted forest to a world of stories and the little things that make me happy; a chance to add a dash of sparkle to the daily grind. Here you will find the whimsical, the coveted, the Gothic and the romantic. Happy exploring!

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