fir lady

It’s beginning to feel a lot like…

Fir Lady 2017…Christmas!

So here she is; the Fir Lady returned in from the cold, this year with an old and much-mended sack as her elegant shawl, and a sprinkling of dried limes and pinecones to decorate her skirts.  Oh, and twinkling lights of course, because everyone deserves to sparkle at Christmas.  This year she’s taken up residence in the hallway, where she lights up the entrance and welcomes friends in from the cold.  And also in the hall;

IMG_3039An oversized wire star (from here), threaded with white lights and hung against a wall of logs, catching my eye and making me smile whenever I move about the kitchen.

IMG_3002In the bedroom, a more tranquil nod to the holidays; a simple driftwood wreath on the mantel.

Christmas mantelAnd then in readiness for the weekend …festive baking!

rosemary christmas cakeI decorated this simple jam sponge with thick white icing, a rosemary-sprig forest (topped with tiny pieces of gold leaf) and amaretti biscuits providing a rocky woodland path for the miniature model deer.  And then I took it all off and experimented with something a little different; a felt-mouse snowball fight!  I still haven’t decided which topping to go with…

Fun and festive Christmas cake

Making notes, for the creatively-minded

- The fir lady is an annual creation, made using branches of fir (from my local garden centre) wired around an old shop mannequin.  I secure a length of chicken wire around her waist and then attach the branches one by one, overlapping and occasionally trimming branches which stick out at peculiar angles.  After the first year, I learned to wear rubber gloves to avoid becoming a human pin cushion.

- I used a string of 750 warm white lights to wrap around the hallway star, and then taped the cable to the floor with transparent packaging tape for safety’s sake.  The star is hang on a wooden baton secured between the logs, but for an ordinary wall just use a standard picture hook.

- For the cake, I wired stems of rosemary to cocktail sticks to stop them wilting, and pushed the sticks into the cake.  A light sprinkling of powdered sugar simulates snow.  The paper tape and ribbon wrapped around the cake are previous year’s purchases from Anthropologie and John Lewis.

- for the ‘snowball’ cake, I used felted mouse tree-decorations and snipped off the hanging cord, sticking them into place on the cake top with a dab of icing.  The snowballs are made of fondant paste, and the rosemary makes a reappearance as the forest backdrop.  Felted holiday ornaments are everywhere this year; try White Stuff, Anthropologie, Oka, Pottery Barn and John Lewis.

….and now the weekend is here, and school is at last finished for the year for a jubilant, exhausted Harry.  I have a few more days of work to go, but before then a weekend filled with friends and family, with the making of eucalyptus garlands and stringing of ornaments and mulling of wine, and of log fires and duvets.  And possibly, just possibly……snow!

IMG_7556Have a wonderful weekend wherever you are and whatever you’re doing.

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The Fir Lady returns once again

Christmas Lady

Christmas began to arrive in our home yesterday, as I staggered back from the garden centre with armfuls of pine, eucalyptus and berries.  Now the house is filled with resiny scent, as is my hair, my clothes, my hands… it’s intoxicating.

And the fir lady has once again come in from the cold and taken shelter in a corner of the kitchen; this year she is sporting a bright red military-style jacket (a charity shop find) and standing 9ft tall, thanks to an old chest we dragged in from the back of the shed.  Pine cones are dotted amongst her skirts, and boughs of red berries peek around her hem.

The Fir Lady close up

Fir Lady Skirts

Here’s last year’s Fir Lady, who sported a hessian bodice and a skirt adorned with simple wooden stars..

The Fir Lady 2014

And the original, 2013 Lady who had a rather more risqué skirt and a nipped-in waist..

Fir Lady for Christmas

If you have a spare mannequin lying around (and who doesn’t?) I gave a vague tutorial last year, with tips about how to build up a skirt and thread all the greenery together (tip: chicken wire is your secret weapon).  Mostly though it just requires trial and error, and is aided by a glass of red wine.  Or mulled wine.  Any wine in fact, but probably just the one glass, especially if using a ladder.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend; we’re lighting the fire and curling up for a Christmas movie; Elf and Arthur Christmas are the top contenders; popcorn and hot chocolate will be crucial.

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The Fir Lady Returns…

The Fir Lady 2014

In early December last year I experimented with attaching boughs of fir to chicken wire to craft a wintery skirt for the dress mannequin that sits in our kitchen.  The result was a quirky, 50s-style fir minidress that added a dash of festive sparkle to the room…

Fir Lady 2013

This year I decided on a more decadent and formal, full-skirted look, so the Fir Lady has flowing, floor-length boughs and an elegant hessian shawl, fastened with a red corset-style belt from my wardrobe…

Fir Lady belt

I followed the same steps as before, securing some chicken wire around the dress form and then simply pushing fir branches up into the wire, twisting it tight as I went to hold the boughs in place (excuse the poor photo; my usual moonlight crafting takes place when the rest of the house is asleep.. )

Making a fir dress

Once the skirt was complete, I folded a length of raw hessian fabric in half and just draped it around the top of the mannequin, to cover the tops of the branches and ends of the wire.  A wrap-around belt cinched tight holds it all in place (and it looks far better on her than me, so unfair..)

Fir Lady with hessian Shawl

As a final touch, I scattered birch wood stars randomly over the fir skirt, leaving them where they fell, nestled half-in, half-out of the greenery.

Fir Lady Dress with stars

And here she stands, as if she has swept in from the garden to escape the chill; a little bit majestic, a little bit fun.  The inevitable gentle flurries of pine needles underfoot at breakfast time will probably be less fun, but we’ll manage…

Fir Lady in the kitchen

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