The Pink Button Tree

The Pink Button Tree: December 2013

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Memory Keeping in 2013 :: Project Life

Today is the final day of 2013 and I can't believe we only have a few hours left of this year. Each New Year's Eve I like to take time to think about the year. I dedicate quite a bit of time to reflection and I really look forward to it. I use a couple of different ways to think about and review the year, and a number of ways of planning for what I hope to achieve in the new year. Over the next few days I'll share these with you.

My New Year's Eve ritual is all about reflecting on what I've done in the year. I really appreciate this time of year when I get to dedicate time to reflect on life, noticing how life changing moments and the decisions I've made determine the year I've experienced, and made me who I am. I think about key events from the year, holidays, projects made, things I've done, blog posts written, and who I've spent time with during the year. I usually go on our computer, click through the photos I've taken, sit and contemplate things over a cup of tea, review my diary, and write a brief summary of the year.

This year I decided to do things differently and take on a few life changing things for myself that have made my end of year reflection a little different. The projects I've taken on are simple but they have had a big impact on this year and have contributed in a very positive way. One of these projects was Project Life.

Project Life is a memory keeping system designed by Becky Higgins. Becky's website,, provides you with plenty of information about memory keeping and describes the system perfectly:

"Project Life provides an ultra-simple solution that helps us get those pictures into albums without draining our time, energy, and wallets. The idea is simple: Photos + memorabilia + journaling together in an album - everything slips into pockets. No requirement to cut or glue or embellish a thing. And yet - the results are stunning. Project Life is back-to-basics scrapbooking at its finest."

I have to agree! I think that the system has changed the way people experience memory keeping and has made scrapbooking less intimidating.

In 2012 I got really interested in scrapbooking and memory keeping. By mid-October that year I decided to invest in a Project Life core kit, binder and page protectors to enable me to have a simple way to scrapbook my memories. I'd love to be one of those very artistic scrapbookers but I'm a busy person and I wanted something simple to keep my memories in during the year. Project Life fitted me well, the easy system of printing photos, writing on journalling cards and slotting them into divided pocket page protectors suited me and my lifestyle perfectly.

I decided to start regular memory keeping using Project Life this year in January. I have a huge passion for photography and anyone who knows me will say that I take a camera where ever I go. I love to capture things that I want to remember or that inspire me. For years I thought about doing photo books but I wanted to include a bit more of 'me' in them. I wanted to add in my ticket stubs, leaflets and things I collected, as well as my thoughts and feelings.

Each week this year I have taken photos and noted down what I have been doing in my diary or on my phone, and have then taken time to assemble my photos and thoughts for the 52 weeks this year. Some weeks I have photos and memories over one page, most are over two, and many weeks involving big events, such as holidays, run over more.

Keeping up-to-date with my album has been a challenge, I will admit that. Sometimes I've managed to sit down at the end of a week, select the photos I want to use, and fill in my journalling cards. Other times I've caught up on the month using my notes. I have a few gaps that I have been trying hard to update this week and there are a few weeks of photos still to print and write about, but I'm nearly there. It has been easy to journal the great times of the year but harder to document the low parts of the year. In my own way I have tried to document these as I don't want to forget about what has happened. I've struggled to add these in full to my Project Life album so have added more details to my diary instead.

What I like about Project life is seeing how truly positive my everyday is. Each week I get to look back and think about how lucky I am...seeing beautiful sunrises, having a fantastic family, spending time with amazing friends, doing fun things at weekends and loving my daily routine. I can see how much the small simple things matter, such as stopping to relax for a cup of tea on our snuggler sofa, taking time to read a book or magazine, pottering in our garden and seeing what is growing, documenting the projects I have made, and trying new things. I love noticing how things change during the year, what our home and garden look like, the changing seasons, our clothes, and seeing what the small things were that I wanted to record at the time. I love that not every photo is perfectly composed or well lit. It's my life in the way I want to record it, it's raw and simple.

I'm so proud of what I've created this year. For the first time since university I have created a photo album, but this time it includes words, my memories and the memorabilia I want to keep. Oh how I wish I had done this years ago! Project Life has helped me document who I am, my life, and what Mr C and I do each week, I love it.

My review and reflection of this year has been a little different and much more fun. Rather than sitting in front of a computer or looking at my iPad to review my photos, I've flicked through and read my Project Life album. It has brought me so much pleasure. I'm certainly sticking with this project moving forwards and am looking forward to creating a great album for 2014. I know it sounds odd but memory keeping is now part of who I am. I love taking photos and documenting what I do. 

If you are interested in memory keeping you can buy a Project Life core kit and supplies online. If you are in the UK I would highly recommend using a small online supplier, like Sarah's Cards, a super efficient UK business to buy your kit rather than a big retailer.

It is time to wave goodbye to 2013 and look forward to a fresh new year ahead. Wishing you all a very happy new year full of love and happiness. See you in 2014.

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Monday, 30 December 2013

Documenting my Christmas :: December Daily

During the month of December I try to capture the Christmas countdown in detail taking photos each day. Last December I made a big effort to take photos during the month and added them to my Project Life folder along with some of Shimelle's Journal Your Christmas journalling prompts, this worked well and I loved thinking back to memories of Christmas.

This year I decided to join in with Ali Edwards and complete a December Daily album. December Daily is a memory keeping album project that documents every day up until Christmas. I decided to use my Project Life binder and page protectors, rather than create a separate album, and document each day in December. I took photos each day and wrote a daily summary of what I had been doing. I also joined in on a few of Shimelle's Journal Your Christmas prompts to add something a little different to the album.

I thought that I would be using a lot of my Christmas patterned paper and embellishments that I had left over from my Christmas card making, but I found myself using simple products and printing Ali Edward's digital journalling cards to complete the project. I found it easier to keep on top of each day and loved the designs of the digital elements that I added to the photos. It allowed the photos to be the focus rather than patterned paper.

I decided to complete the project in a few small chunks. I took photos each day and I made sure I had noted down what I did each day in my diary. I then sat down every few days to write up the journalling and print the photos, I found this easier than doing it everyday.

I look back at the pages and I am really pleased with the project. I have a few photos left to print and add in and the final few days of December to write up but the project is almost complete. I enjoyed the process of reflecting on the month, tracking my new traditions and the things I managed to fit into the month. It is definitely a project I will complete again. Maybe next year I will embellish a little more and add more elements to the pages or maybe I will keep it the same.

If you want to remember this time of year in more detail I'd definitely recommend trying to capture a photo or two each day, writing down what you did, and then putting them together in an album. It's a great way to see how traditions start and how each December is unique.

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Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Christmas Table Decorations

It's Christmas Eve and I've been busy pulling together a few simple table decorations for tomorrow. I've used empty jars and added a tea light, ribbon and a few star sprinkles in the bottom to provide some low level light on the table. I've made individual place settings using a few Christmas tree off cuts, artificial berries and some red and white gingham ribbon.

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas. I hope you all have a fantastic day.


Sunday, 22 December 2013

Making my own Christmas Cake

This year I decided to start a few new traditions and making a Christmas cake was one of them. At the end of November I told you about the start of the cake making process. I used Delia Smith's Classic Christmas Cake recipe found in one of my Mum's Delia cook books and also online at Delia Online.

I soaked the fruit for a few days in brandy and then made the cake, following Delia's instructions of lining the cake tin correctly and protecting the cake with brown paper. I decided to make the cake on a Monday evening and didn't realise how long it would take to prepare each step, especially the lining of the tin! With four hours cooking time let's just say it was a late night to bed that evening!

But the late night was worth it as this is what came out of the oven. The smell of Christmas!

The cake was then left in its baking parchment and wrapped up carefully in foil for a few weeks. Only being opened to feed the cake each week with brandy and then a little fresh orange juice at the end.

On Friday I unwrapped the cake for the big reveal. During the weeks previously I had collected together everything I needed to finish and ice the cake.

I decided that I wanted to ice the cake using Royal icing on top of a very thin layer of marzipan. To help me I followed this decorate a Christmas cake with royal icing how to video from Waitrose to see how to do it.

After leaving the icing to set a little I sprinkled the cake with pearly hundreds and thousands and some edible silver stardust. I was thinking about adding some silver balls but decided to leave it as it was.

I wanted the top of the cake to look a bit like little snow drifts...

I love how the stardust brings the cake to life, it looks just like twinkling snow!

I then added a thick ribbon I found in a local craft shop to surround the cake to give it more of a Christmassy feel.

I'm looking forward to testing out the cake and tucking in! This is definitely a tradition I want to keep going and perfecting for years to come. Let's hope it tastes good!

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Saturday, 21 December 2013

Handmade Christmas Cards

For a number of years I have made my own Christmas cards for my family and friends. The process of making has become a bit of a tradition in itself.

Last year I made Christmas cards (take a look at my handmade Christmas cards here) and they were quite involved, so with everything going on this year I decided to make things slightly easier for myself and create a set of card designs focusing on the patterned paper rather than Christmas shapes. I made 47 cards in total this year, and luckily I didn't have to post them all! I put them in the post at the start of this week so hopefully they will be making their way through letterboxes about now and will be received before Christmas Day.

I have a few tricks that I've picked up from fellow card makers and online to help speed things up. I buy plain cards and envelopes from Paperchase to form the base in kraft or white card. 

I use scrapbook and cardmaking papers that I buy online at a fantastic UK supplier of US scrap booking products paper called Sarah's Cards. I love the speedy delivery and service from Sarah's Cards. They have a great selection of papercrafting supplies that continues to grow. I've started to get my Project Life supplies here too!

I use a paper trimmer to ensure I get straight lines and to cut the card quickly into rectangles, double sided tape on a dispenser to stick the paper to the card,s and clear stamps and ink to add the Christmas message on the front. The process of making the cards was quite relaxed this year. I made a few on days off, at weekends and wrote them after work, and getting into the Christmas spirit listening to Christmas tunes!

This year I invested in some gorgeous glitter tape made by American Crafts. I have plenty left so I can use it in my December Daily album (I'll tell you about this soon!) and for next year too. I don't normally go for glitter on cards but the tape is such a great way to add a bit of Christmas sparkle and the glitter wont drop off. It is a fine glitter so looks quite glam!

Every year I forgot how long it takes to write each card, message and envelope. I never leave myself enough time to write a letter or longer more special note. Maybe next year I should start them earlier and plan in more time! Some how the month of December seems to fly by and I never get everything sorted. Lucky for Mr C and I we are seeing most of the people we sent cards to over the Christmas period or have managed to catch up with them recently or have plans for the new year with them.

Making the cards using a range of products has inspired me to think about picking up my card making hobby again or experimenting with using a few simple embellishments in my Project Life album. I am currently doing December Daily and plan to add the left over pieces of patterned paper and embellishments to my album this month and will probably have supplies left over for next year too.

Merry Christmas!


Friday, 20 December 2013

Our home at Christmas

During the month of December I have gradually added more Christmas decorations and touches to our home. Mr C and I are going to be at home for the majority of Christmas this year, and rather than being with family on Christmas day, we are spending it with friends. We are waking up on Christmas morning in our own home for the first time so I wanted to make things a little more special for us. I'm so used to seeing my parent's and Mr C's parent's gorgeous decorations and Christmas touches in their homes over Christmas that I wanted to make our home feel a little different. I wanted to start our own new traditions during December, and put a little bit of extra Christmas joy into our home. I've shown you our tree, so here are the other touches of Christmas round our home this year, a mix of old and new.

In early Autumn I bought these NOEL letters from I love the arrangement with my corkscrew hazel twigs that I sprayed white earlier this year. The wooden letters are a real investment piece that I will have forever and will always enjoy displaying. I've waited a long time to get them and they are really worth it.

This week I bought a small poinsettia to add a traditional Christmas plant to our home. I've never had one before, I've only seen large poinsettia plants and we don't have any where to display it in all it's glory. This small one from Waitrose is perfect and looks really pretty on our blanket box. I love the delicate leaves and elegant shapes they create.

I normally add this red snowflake decoration to our tree but this year I wanted to make more of a feature of it and remind myself of a project I wanted to make. One of my earliest memories of primary school was making paper snowflakes. I love the intricate shapes that you can cut from paper. This year I was planning to create white crochet snowflakes for our home that I could display every year in our window. However time has run away with itself and the project hasn't started. Hopefully by next Christmas I will have the crochet skills and confidence to tackle the project.   

This year I was kindly given some holly from a friend's garden that I have added to the top of our mirror. I love the natural textures from the wood and holly with the pretty white cotton lights.

This year I decided to invest in a wreath for our front door. I have always admired wreaths on doors, it sets the scene and welcomes you in from the cold. For a number of years I have wanted to make my own wreath but I decided to take the pressure off and invest in a beautiful Gisela Graham berry wreath with a reindeer wreath hook. I added the gingham bow myself. I love it and it makes me smile every time I enter and leave the flat. Next year I may add some little bits of ivy and a few sprigs of holly to make it a little different. It is something I will always display in our home, even if in a couple of years I decide to make my own.. 

This week I added my Christmas cross stitch to the wall above our tree. I finished stitching it last December and wrote about it in a blog post. I followed a pattern from CrossStitcher magazine (issue 244) and this is the second year I have displayed it in our home. I always had the intention to frame it in a white frame and mount, however have grown to love it being displayed in a plain embroidery hoop. This year I added a gingham ribbon bow to the top of the embroidery hoop. I love this handmade decoration, it reminds me that these special handmade projects really add an individual touch to our home.

This week I'm decorating my Christmas cake and have spent quite a bit of time this month looking for cake tins that will suitable to store and transport it in. I treated myself to these gorgeous Emma Bridgewater tins in the Starry Skies pattern, which is one of my favourite patterns (along with the Pink Hearts!). I wanted storage that I loved, that would match our home, and be really practical to store the cake, my home made mince pies and future baking projects for many years to come.

When I lived at home one of the traditions my Mum and Dad started was to use Christmas patterned plates. I decided earlier in the Autumn that I wanted Mr C and I to have some special Christmas themed plates of our own to start our own tradition for December. I wanted to have something that we could use throughout December and so after putting away money each month I invested in some more Emma Bridgewater pottery (I'm a little bit addicted!). I bought us two mugs, two plates and a Christmas tea towel in the Christmas Town pattern. I love them and use them everyday.

I love all of our touches that we have gradually added to our home over the past month. This year is a different Christmas for us so I wanted us to use this time to start making our own traditions and make even more of an effort around our home.

I've used my week off before Christmas to get organised. The cards are posted, the gifts are wrapped, mince pieces are made and the house is tidy. I'm planning to ice our Christmas cake today and thi is the last big job to complete. I hope to spend the run up to Christmas making a few handmade things for our home, preparing a few things for Christmas day and continuing with my December Daily album that I started as a new tradition this year.

I hope that you are having a good December and are enjoying your Christmas decorations and Christmas touches around your home.


Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Our Christmas Tree

Putting up the Christmas tree and decorating our home is one of my favourite moments on the run up to Christmas. For 9 years I have decorated my tree in red and white, and this year is no different. I love the traditional colours and the simplicity of the red and white theme.

In 2003 I bought the tree and started my own collection of decorations. Back then I was a student living in a huge basement bedroom and I had lots of space to fill! Being at university meant that I was away when my Mum and Dad would decorate their tree and prepare the house for Christmas. I missed the run up to Christmas so I decided to start my own tradition of putting up my own Christmas tree. I bought a tree from good old Wilkinsons, a pot of gold and red baubles and some lights, at a tiny expense when I look at it now. It meant the world to me to have my own tree, I felt so grown up and took so much pleasure and care decorating the tree. For the years following I gradually added to my tree decoration collection where I seemed to gravitate towards the red and white colour scheme, leaving the gold baubles at the bottom of the box.

I haven't bought anything new for my tree this year. I've made the most of all the lovely wooden ornaments I own, the gingham ribbon bows I made myself a few years ago, and the red baubles I bought when I was a student. I especially love the red disco ball and glittery red baubles that add extra twinkle to the tree.

My favourites are the red and white spotted wooden decorations, and the white and red hearts and reindeer. I love the gingham ribbons too. I adore fairy lights, I have two sets on the tree each year.

I had planned this year to make some handmade decorations for the tree, I dreamed of being able to crochet stars and white snowflakes and to create pretty embroidered felt decorations too but time is running out and it will probably be a project for next year. I also hope to make tree skirt too, probably a patchwork of stars.

I really do love my tree. There is something so traditional but also retro about it. It makes me smile when I think back to buying it, and starting what is now one of my favourite traditions of the festive season. The sight of the fairy lights brings a sparkly and magical warmth to our lounge each evening which I get to admire from our snuggler seat whilst I read magazines and crochet.

I would absolutely love to have a real tree and bring the natural scent of pine into our home. Maybe one day we'll start a new tradition when my artificial tree gives up and we have a slightly bigger home.

I hope you are enjoying your tree and had fun decorating it. Don't forget to make the time to take photos of your tree so you can remember what it looks like and track how it changes or stays the same year on year.


Monday, 16 December 2013

Christmas Preparations

It really is beginning to feel like Christmas is almost here. Work is now finished for the year for me, I don't have to go back to the office until 2nd January! It will be the longest holiday I have had from work for some time so I'm hoping to make the most of it. I haven't had a week off since May so I really need the time to catch up on things, relax and reflect.

It has been a very busy December with lots of good, and sadly many not so good things happening. I've been trying to keep myself extra busy to take my mind off things and I am trying to stay positive and be my normal happy self. Being creative and having projects to focus on has been a great way to escape.

I started planning things a little earlier this year and have achieved almost everything I wanted to do. However there are a few projects that are not started or finished but I'm not going to get stressed about them. I have lots of lovely things planned for my time off to keep me occupied and busy. I'm hoping to dedicate some time to being creative, seeing friends and family, catching up on the blog posts I've been planning to share with you and planning for the new year.

I wanted to start some new traditions or bring back old traditions this year to make things a little different. Over the next week or so I will reveal these traditions for this years Christmas period including my advent calender, Christmas decorations, Christmas cards, how I'm documenting my Christmas, my Christmas cake and Christmas makes. I hope you'll join me on the run up to Christmas.


Saturday, 14 December 2013

Making a Roman blind

December has flown by and I have so much to update you on. For starters I managed to finish the Roman blind for our back door!On the 1st December I decided to dedicate the day to finishing the blind and putting the blind up.

Since then I have spent some time reflecting on the process of making the Roman blind, it really was one of the most challenging things I've ever attempted. The size of the project was huge and I dealt with three pieces of fabric measuring over 1m wide and almost 3m long. This meant rearranging the furniture in our lounge so I had a flat surface to work on. Luckily our floor is wooden so I managed to do the majority of the fabric pressing on the floor. I think the hardest thing was ensuring all of the measurements were accurate and the fabric remained straight and the seams were in line with the blue ticking stripes. I spent the majority of the time measuring, pressing and pinning and not much time sewing, that was the easy bit!

I do plan to share with you how I made my own Roman blind in another blog post in the next month or so, I just want to test out my instructions again when I make the second blind.

Here is my ta dah first Roman blind!

I love the fabric, the blue and white stripes go so well with our terracotta walls and other blue and white parts of our lounge and our teal sofa. I'm going to buy a pretty cord drop and a nicer looking cleat than came in the Roman blind kit to finish off the project properly. I'm really proud that I stuck with the project and completed it before the new year.

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