Finally feeling festive


Lavender wreathWith so much going on lately I haven't really had time to feel very Christmassy, but that all changed on Tuesday when we went to get our Christmas tree. We got it from a local lavender farm so they also had lots of lavender products, one of which solved Daniel's annual dilemma of what to get my mum, his grandma, for Christmas.

She loves lavender and he's previously bought her soaps, candles or hand cream but this year he has gone for scented reeds… it's OK, I haven't spoilt her surprise as she doesn't have access to the internet!

We also bought a beautiful heart-shaped lavender wreath for the front door that drew me to it with its decoration of purple baubles. So we got the tree home and cleared a space for it in the bay window and then began the annual moment of trepidation as you plug the tree lights in to see if they are working.

Julia's Christmas tree Christmas lights on Julia's yukka plant

I have had this set for about ten years and it's one of the ones that has four separate cables coiled together. Three of the cables were working fine BUT the fourth was not, so every fourth light was out. We had to test each of those lights individually to see which bulbs had blown. It was a laborious process but worth it in the end.

This year we decided to have a tree without tinsel, so just the lights, lots of baubles and strings of beads – what do you think? I also decided to put a set of lights on the yukka to make it more festive in the dining room, and I bought some of those giant glitter-sprayed pine cones to sit in the fireplace.

Julia's wicker 'Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer' housing two primrose plantsWe've also got tinsel in the dining room but we have definitely been more reserved with the decorations this year. One final touch: a wicker 'Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer' housing two primrose plants for the front porch.

I still haven't written any Christmas cards but I'll get onto it this weekend as I'm not working, and then the present buying and wrapping will begin in earnest next week. If you still need some ideas tune in to the three hour finale of the 'Saturday Night Gift Show' which is actually on Sunday (as well as three hours on Saturday). I know a lot of you have been really enjoying it over the last few months.

I won't be able to watch though as Daniel and I are going to the BBC's 'Sports Personality of the Year' show. Daniel really wanted to go as it has been such a fantastic year for British sport. There are so many worthy contenders for the title this year… who do you think will win?

I'm heading in to QVC shortly for our Gift and Give day. All the brands featured on air will be donating to their favourite charities from the products that are sold today. I'm on at 5pm with Kipling whose charity of choice is MacMillan, one of the main cancer charities.

Hope to see you there, much love Julia xx


  1. Steven December 14, 2012 at 8:28 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia
    As promised in another blog – here I am!!
    I bought my Mother Yankee Candles from QVC this year.(Thanks Michaela!) Daniels present sounds ideal for your Mother. I liked the Rudolph plant too! Think My Mum would like that too.
    I think Andy Murray should win the sports personality although his personality sometimes gets a bad press. For sporting acheivement though I think he should get it. Wilfrid Zaha might just miss out lol! Mo Farrah would be another who could easily win it. The Olympics brought out so many ‘home’ heroes
    I’m away for an Indian now. Yum Yum
    Have a lovely weekend xxx

  2. Denise December 14, 2012 at 9:12 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia, Your decs look fab Julia. What an unusual wreath – I love it. Wish I lived near to that Lavendar Farm as I’d definately be having one of those. I decided it was about time I had a new wreath and bought one from a local shop in my village. It has sparkly stars that twinkle in the light – gorgeous when you arrive home at dusk. I also managed to get a very unusual outdoor decoration at Beverley Market a few weeks ago. Its a version of a hanging basket but its actually 2 bells complete with plants and ivy. I added a few bits of my own and voila I’m really pleased with it! Like you I don’t so tinsel any more on my tree.
    Lucky girl getting to the Sports Personality of the Year – it will be a great evening I’m sure. It’s very difficult to predict as there are so many worthy winners. I’ll miss seeing the show as we are going over to the North West for a visit to the in laws and we’re all going out for a Christmas meal so I will watch it on the I-player later. Well Julia I hope you have a wonderful evening – I’m well jel as they say!
    Love Denise

  3. Mrs Jean Pugh December 15, 2012 at 8:22 am -  Reply

    Hi Julia,
    Love the Lavender decoration on the door, must have been nice to go to the Lavender Farm. I am sure your Mum will love her present. I love the smell of Lavender, have some growing in pots outside, and always run my hand over the plants when I go by.
    Your Christmas Tree looks lovely, I do not like too much tinsel on the tree, it spoils it. Love the idea of the lights on the yukka. Have not got our tree decorated yet, the cat will love it, you come down in the morning and the lounge is scattered with baubles. Will Sophie bring Oscar if she comes to you at Christmas.
    I loved the Charity day, such good causes. I did get some Lola Rose.
    My sister-in-law who I told you about with the cancer like Anika, had her first chemotheraphy treatment a few weeks ago, and then went to get a wig fitting, they said she did not look well, took her temperature and rushed her into Hospital, she had pheumonia, and spent nine days in Hospital, four days in isolation. Back home now with a cold. How is Anika getting on, she looked radiant when I saw her on QVC a couple of days ago.
    Hope you and Daniel have a great time at the BBC ‘Sports Personality of the Year’ show.
    Have a great weekend.
    Love Jean X

  4. steve December 15, 2012 at 5:20 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia
    Great tree!….hope all is well! sounds like you are having a busy fun time, you look amazing!!! hope you have a great christmas with the family. Steve x (Nottingham)

  5. Mrs Susan Wright December 15, 2012 at 9:14 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia – have a good night at the Sports Personality of the Year Awards – as i said before, i am really jealous! My two daughters and i went down to London last Wednesday and spent the day shopping before going to the theatre to see Matilda. I too am finally feeling festive after having had to wait for the results of blood tests and biopsies for the past few weeks – good news thank goodness although i will probably have to have an operation in the New Year. I can finally look forward to Christmas and a short holiday in Florida in January. I hope you received my Christmas card (the one with an exhausted Statue of Liberty with her shopping in a New York taxi)!!
    Our tree is now decorated and i must say, my husband has gone a bit mad with the tinsel and lights around the house which is looking more like Santa ‘s grotto each day!
    Have a happy Christmas and a healthy new year and i will look forward to seeing you on air soon.
    The Championship is still looking very exciting – lets hope results are good for us over the Christmas period.
    Looking forward to reading your book
    Sue, Nottingham

  6. Pete December 19, 2012 at 12:57 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia,
    Has any told you that you are very similar to Nigella Lawson…beautiful, voluptuous and incredibly young looking for your age. From your blogs you seem a good cook too!!
    Hope your book reveals your secrets!!

  7. Annette Roberts December 20, 2012 at 10:29 am -  Reply

    Hi Julia
    Love your lavender wreath, it’s very unusual and typically your colours!
    Hope you had a great night at the Sports Personality bash with Daniel, how lucky are you!
    Your tree looks lovely, Chris put the tree and lights up for me and I dressed it over a couple of days with beads and baubles…I always have a silver and white theme and usually buy something new each year to put on it…cannot believe having looked at the delivery note that the 7ft tree is 10 years old and still looks as good as new thanks to QVC and the selling skills of Mr Christmas ‘Dexter’…I can still remember seeing it on air now!! It looks better than those seen recently in garden centres even though Chris stripped the old lights off to replace them with LED ones!
    Hopefully, you would have received your little package by now, I did send it recorded to make sure it got there.
    I managed to marzipan my cake yesterday, albeit one handed with the rolling pin, but not a bad job considering…made a couple of marzipan snowmen with the leftovers, just need to ice everything now…that will be fun!!!
    Hope you’re ready for the big day!
    Annette x

  8. Marian Bolton December 20, 2012 at 5:45 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia
    Love that lavender wreath. All looking very festive at yours. Does Poppy mess with your decs? My Casper is a little nightmare! He’s already had our little fibre optic tree over three times. Doesn’t bother with the big tree anymore so I guess that’s something! Did you get my ‘butter wouldn’t melt’ photo of him?! Believe me, he’s a right handful! I love him to bits though.
    Have a wonderful Christmas and hope to see you at the Beauty Bash 23rd Jan! YES, that’s right, I’ve had another invite!! I tell ya, I must be one of The Q’s best customers!!
    Lots of Love

  9. Hefina Mitchell December 20, 2012 at 6:09 pm -  Reply

    Merry Christmas Julia to you and your family, and alsow happy new year, I dont send you a card,because we are last minute with our cards,havent even been round the six houses in our cul de sac yet,everything else finished Hooray!!!!
    take care

  10. julia roberts December 21, 2012 at 12:05 am -  Reply

    Hi Steven
    Well Andy Murray managed third place so I guess you must be pleased. I think Bradley Wiggins was a deserved winner, although any one of the nominees could have won this year. Mo got the biggest round of applause in the arena.
    Hope you enjoyed your takeaway?
    Palace are on TV on Saturday – you gonna be an honorary Eagles fan and cheer them on?
    Merry Christmas
    Julia x

  11. julia roberts December 21, 2012 at 12:08 am -  Reply

    Hi Denise
    I have my son to thank for his perseverence on the BBC website – he kept pressing the refresh button and a couple of tickets popped up!
    I was thinking about putting some lights on the lavender wreath but I decided I like it as it is and it smells lovely.
    Merry Christmas
    Julia x

  12. julia roberts December 21, 2012 at 12:15 am -  Reply

    Hi Jean
    I hope your sister in law is a bit better now? Amica is coping well – it is all you can do in that situation.
    I love the smell of lavender – very calming at this stressful time of year.
    Daniel and I had a really good evening at SPOTY – we were sitting for over three hours but it seemed to fly by! If you watched it on TV I hope the atmosphere came across – it was electric!
    Merry Christmas
    Julia x

  13. julia roberts December 21, 2012 at 12:17 am -  Reply

    Hi Steve
    Haven’t heard from you for ages!!! …. still giving me compliments though so you are forgiven.
    There has been a lot going on of late so just looking forward to a few days off over Christmas.
    Have a good one
    Julia x

  14. julia roberts December 21, 2012 at 12:23 am -  Reply

    Hi Sue
    Did you see my tweet thanking you for the card? I loved it! I’m sure we can all relate to that exhausted feeling after a day of shopping …. unless it was shopping at QVC – much less stressful, and less tiring!
    I’m sorry to hear you have had an anxious time waiting for test results but pleased to hear it was good news. The break in Florida will do you the world of good.
    I’m hoping that Cardiff will slip up and that we will win on Saturday so we would be top of the Championship for Chrismas. We play Cardiff on Boxing Day … away!
    Not long to wait for the book now – lots about Nottingham in it.
    Merry Christmas
    Julia x
    Julia x

  15. julia roberts December 21, 2012 at 12:25 am -  Reply

    Hi Pete
    I will take that as a fabulous compliment and yes, one other person has said it, the former CEO of QVC UK.
    Not sure what secrets you are expecting in my book? You’ll have to read it to find out LOL
    Merry Christmas
    Julia x

  16. julia roberts December 21, 2012 at 12:30 am -  Reply

    Hi Annette
    Yes I did receive my package – thankyou very much, and I have put a card and a note in the post for you.
    I don’t marzipan the cake until Christmas Eve and then ice it straight afterwards – I think it seems to keep the marzipan more moist, or maybe that is my imagination?
    Done most of the Christmassy stuff now – just as well as I am working up to Sunday inclusive!
    Hope your hand continues to improve
    Merry Christmas
    Julia x

  17. martin forbes bucksburn aberdeen December 21, 2012 at 6:50 pm -  Reply

    hope you got my xmas card julia.merry xmas to you chris sophie and daniel.

  18. Steven December 22, 2012 at 1:24 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia
    Yes I’ll definitely be an eagle today. Hope you have a good weekend. Are you all set for Christmas?
    Hope you have a lovely Christmas
    Take care
    Steven xxxxx

  19. Annette Roberts December 23, 2012 at 11:01 am -  Reply

    Hi Julia
    Received your card the day before yesterday (speedy delivery), thankyou very much.
    Glad to hear you’ve nearly done everything for Christmas, just a couple of little pressies to get and wrap for me. We went out yesterday and had a pub lunch and had my first spritzer in ages!
    OMG, did you manage to see Louis and Flavia’s show dance last night…I was absolutely blown away by it, such control, it was stunning! Voted for the very first time, they had to win!!! Saturday nights will never be the same again, what are we going to watch now?
    Merry Christmas
    Annette x
    Just had to have another look at Louis on youtube!!!

  20. Graeme December 23, 2012 at 1:31 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia
    Hope you and your family have a great Xmas and a happy healthy new year. I always look out for the Palace score and think of you! Hope to see you in The Premiership this year.
    Lots of love
    Graeme xxxxxx

  21. GINNY PAARZ December 23, 2012 at 3:55 pm -  Reply

    HELLO MY FAVORITE JULIA!!! We are SOOO still unpacking & soon it will be Christmas!! I have to say living here all the time now this past month is ABSOLUTELY to die for!! I SOOO wish you and Chris would come to visit Naples and stay here!! WE ARE RIGHT ON THE BEACH! BAREFOOT!!!! IT IS AS MALLY SAYS & SOOO DO I GORGOIS!!!!! IF you would just EMAIL MEEE, YOU HAVE IT, I could send ypu PICS!!! ANYway enough of MEE!! I LUV your new PICS!! Purple for me!! YOU LOOK BEAUTIFUL!!! BUT I still LUV you all curly the best!!! LIKE MINE!! By the way it has really grown as well!! AVEDA is and always will be the best! It is nice now for me to go to my Naples Salon every six weeks as my Girl DRE is there and she has organized my head for years!
    I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and very healthy New year!! I know you will enjoy your time with your Mom and family soooo much!! I my using all of my lovely QVC UK products for my sun care! BE SURE and tell both ALI and ALISON that their USA FRIEND sends her best!!! THEY are great GALS!!! LUV TO U!! XXXX

  22. julia roberts December 24, 2012 at 11:50 am -  Reply

    Hi Marian
    Thanks for the card and the photo of Casper – he’s gorgeous and I can’t believe he’s naughty at all! No Poppy is no trouble at all with the decorations and to be honest Sophie’s kitten Oskar has been quite good too.
    I think I am at the Beauty Bash on the 23rd Jan – hasn’t been confirmed yet though.
    Have a lovely Christmas and happy and healthy 2013
    Julia x

  23. julia roberts December 24, 2012 at 11:52 am -  Reply

    Hi Hefina
    Don’t worry about not sending a card, it’s the thought that counts.
    Have a lovely Christmas
    Julia x

  24. julia roberts December 24, 2012 at 11:54 am -  Reply

    Hi Martin
    Yes we got your card, thank you very much, and hope you got mine?Merry Christmas and happy and healthy 2013
    Julia, Chris, Dan and Sophie x

  25. julia roberts December 24, 2012 at 11:58 am -  Reply

    Hi Steven
    What a shame about the sending off it kind of spoilt the game. I think it was definitely a yellow but I’ve seen worse with both feet off the ground go unpunished. Ref was wrong with the other sending off too!
    Shame we didn’t win we could have gone top and now we have Cardiff Boxing Day – hope it’s a better game.
    Have a lovely Christmas
    Julia x

  26. julia roberts December 24, 2012 at 12:05 pm -  Reply

    Hi Annette
    I didn’t see all the performances as I was watching Crystal Palace live on Sky …. I got home just in time to see our young prodigy Wilfred Zaha score a wonder goal. Unfortunately we only managed a draw.
    I saw Louis’s second performance where he lifted Flavia above his head and rotated her … incredible! I’m not sure he was the best ‘dancer’ but I think he certainly made a huge improvement during the course of the show and was very entertaining.
    Hope you and Chris have a great christmas and wishing you better health for 2013
    julia x

  27. julia roberts December 24, 2012 at 12:08 pm -  Reply

    Hi Graeme
    Thanks for your good wishes for Crystal Palace – we have been out of the top flight for too long now. We genuinely have a good chance of making it this season with the most talented and balanced team I have seen in years …. just hope we will keep them all in the January transfer window!
    Merry Christmas and happy and healthy 2013
    Julia x

  28. julia roberts December 24, 2012 at 12:13 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ginny
    I must confess to feeling a little envious at your wonderful location! I love the Gulf Coast, Sanibel and Captiva, so be careful what you wish for , you may just end up with house guests!!! I am a beach bum at heart … always have been.
    Have you had the moisturising treatment at Aveda that they spray on to your hair after shampooing and leave for ten minutes? It is fabulous and seems to last three or four washes.
    Hope you manage to get unpacked soon.
    Merry Christmas and happy and healthy 2013
    Julia x

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