Tag Archives: Christmas

Have baby, will travel.

The first photo challenge of the year: New.  It had to be the new love of my daughter’s life – her ‘baby’.  A gift from her Grandma and Grandpa which she unwrapped on Christmas day morning, and which she is now rarely seen without.

When she wakes each morning, the cry of ‘Mummy?!…Daddy?!…Baby?!’ now goes up. Baby goes with her at bedtime, sits at the table, is cuddled and fussed over, and is fed tasty morsels of whatever snack is to hand.  Raisins in this case, which shows how deep the love runs. Raisins are not shared lightly!

So, New Year, new favourite toy, and I think she may be a favourite for some time to come.  I wonder what new toy will be the big hit of Christmas 2015?

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Word for Wednesday: V is for velveteen.

I can’t believe I am now in the last few letters of the alphabet for my weekly Word for Wednesday.  How has that happened?!  This week I’ve not gone for anything particularly complicated or unusual, but I love the word, and it is a well timed choice for Christmas Eve.

Call me weird if you like (I will understand!) but I do also happen to love that there are hundreds of different names for fabric types. Boucle, brocade, calico, cambric, georgette, merino, organdy, poplin, seersucker.  Just a tiny handful of some of my favourite examples from the world of fabric.  The words are just so textured and expressive.  I love the extravagance of our language, that fabrics of even the slightest variations have their own name and description.

But anyway, moving on and back on topic!  When our little girl was born she was given a soft blue comforter blanket with a rabbit on. The first time she chose a toy for herself it was a cuddly rabbit toy. Now for her second Christmas we have put a copy of Margery Williams’ children’s classic Velveteen Rabbit in her stocking.

Written in the early 1920s, it is a beautiful story.  The relationship between a little boy and his toy rabbit starts on Christmas day, and the book has a lovely message at its heart about the transformative power of love and friendship.

“And so time went on, and the little Rabbit was very happy – so happy that he never noticed how his beautiful velveteen fur was getting shabbier and shabbier, and his tail came unseen, and all the pink rubbed off his nose where the Boy had kissed him.”

(Margery Williams, Velveteen Rabbit).

It also has gorgeous vintage illustrations by William Nicholson which are just so wonderfully of their time.

 

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Velveteen (noun).

  • A cotton pile fabric resembling velvet.
  • a clothing fabric usually of cotton in twill or plain weaves made with a short close weft pile in imitation of velvet.

Derivation:  from velvet + commercial suffix -een (variant of –ine). First known use: 1776.

 

I love the joy that books give to our girly and I am so looking forward to the bedtime routine on Christmas day.  Both her rabbits are bedtime essentials and go everywhere with us.  They are already beginning to look rather scuffed and frayed, in the way that only well-loved toys can.  It is so adorable at the end of the day, when she snuggles into my lap, pyjamas on, clutching her bunnies and drinking her milk whilst we read her a bed time story.  Tomorrow it will be the first few pages of the Velveteen Rabbit.  The perfect book to start on Christmas day.

“There was once a velveteen rabbit, and in the beginning he was really splendid.  He was fat and bunchy, as a rabbit should be; his coat was spotted brown and white, he had real thread whiskers, and his ears were lined with pink sateen.  On Christmas morning, when he sat wedged in the top of the Boy’s stocking, with a sprig of holly between his paws, the effect was charming.”

(Margery Williams, Velveteen Rabbit).

Christmas herbs and dew drops.

Did you know that the name for the herb Rosemary comes from Latin and literally means ‘rose or dew of the sea’? What a whimsically beautiful translation.

I read the other day that rosemary is a very Christmassy herb, which I was quite surprised by.  I have never really thought of it as such.  Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, yes, but I don’t think there is a single herb that I would instinctively think of as being particularly linked to the seasonal festivities of Christmas.

So I started to do a little investigating into rosemary.  I know it well as a culinary herb and a very useful essential oil, but why a Christmas herb? Well, it turns out there is a huge amount written about the traditions, customs, folklore and superstitions attached to rosemary.  It may well have Christmas associations, but this herb has so many other meanings attached to it besides.

Rosemary has been used since ancient times in marking the key moments in a lifetime – birth, marriage and death. Mythology links it to memory, so it has become symbolic for remembrance and fidelity.  Stems of rosemary were often placed in or near the cribs of young infants to ward off evil and nightmares.

A native plant of the Mediterranean and Asia, rosemary is a member of the mint family.  The essential oil it provides is used in aromatherapy for its uplifting and stimulating properties.  As well as giving us a quick lift when we need to stay alert and fight mental fatigue, it is also great for hair and skin care.  It is used in massage to provide pain relief for headaches and sore muscles, and it can also help with chesty colds and respiratory problems when inhaled.

One really significant reason to think of rosemary as an essential Christmas herb is its powerful stress relief potential.  Like lavender (another relative from the mint family), it has great relaxation properties.  Studies have even shown that inhaling rosemary essential oil can actually decrease our cortisol levels.  Cortisol is the stress hormone found in our saliva.

For many people the pressures of Christmas, the change in routine, and the demands of managing sustained periods of family politics can cause stress and cortisol levels to sky rocket. If this sounds familiar, then rosemary may just be your secret weapon.

Small pre-potted rosemary bushes would make great mini Christmas trees once adorned.   Keep one in the kitchen for that marathon cooking session on Christmas day, decorate the dining table with them, put one in the bathroom for when you just need to escape above all else (we’ve all been there haven’t we?)!  Just rub the leaves to release the oils, close your eyes and inhale deeply for a few minutes.  You’ll feel refreshed and ready to face the next round in no time!

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The antibacterial and health giving properties have long been believed in, and science is increasingly catching up with folkloric beliefs.  According to one website I read, rosemary was highly coveted as a form of protection against bubonic plague, which swept through England at the start of the 17th Century.  Against plague, rosemary sadly didn’t stand a chance, but desperate Londoners quite literally turned it into green gold for a temporary period in time:

“In 1603, when bubonic plague killed 38,000 Londoners, the demand was so high that the price increased from one shilling for an armful of branches to six shillings for a handful. To put that price increase in perspective, one price list from 1625 indicated that one could obtain 18 gallons of good ale or double beer with carriage (delivery?) for only 3 shillings or an entire ‘fat pig’ for 1 shilling.”

I did also find some very particular folklore, linking rosemary to Christmas, at this website. You may need a pinch of salt on the side, but they are quite fascinating nonetheless:

  • A rosemary plant with grow upwards for up to thirty years, until it reaches the height of Jesus Christ at his tallest.  After that time the plant will grow no taller.
  • Rosemary flowers were originally white.  They turned blue when Mary sought temporary comfort and shelter during their flight to Egypt, draping her blue cloak over a rosemary bush. The aromatic scent of Mary’s cloak also transferred to the bush.
  • Mary dried the baby Jesus’ freshly washed clothes on a fragrant rosemary bush.  The plant’s name, rosemary (the Rose of Mary), and its blue flowers are in remembrance of its humble service to the Holy family.
  • Anyone who smells rosemary on Christmas Eve will have happiness for the coming year.
  • I also read on this brilliantly named site that rosemary was used along with holly and mistletoe for yule decorations, and was given as a New Years Day gift, along with a clove-studded orange.

So there you have it, whether you are using rosemary for its therapeutic and de-stressing powers, its culinary magic with lamb or potatoes, or just for decorative purposes, rosemary definitely deserves a place in your home this Christmas!  Perhaps it has one already?