How to add a little farmhouse flair this Christmas. Using black & white plaid, natural wood and whimsical elements to create a laid back festive style.

“And you need more ribbon why?” my husband groans as he struggles with the giant Rubbermaid containers that hold my relics of Christmases past. I will admit it, I am fickle when it comes to my Christmas decor. I love the thrill of heading to Michaels and looking at the abundance of ribbons and trimmings […]

“And you need more ribbon why?” my husband groans as he struggles with the giant Rubbermaid containers that hold my relics of Christmases past. I will admit it, I am fickle when it comes to my Christmas decor. I love the thrill of heading to Michaels and looking at the abundance of ribbons and trimmings and needlessly spending my hard earned cash on things I don’t need   picturing my family smiling around the tree. I can’t help myself. Surely there must be a support group for people who hoard decorations?

Trees of Christmas past

Growing up we had a very classical Christmas tree. My mum always decked it out in beautiful shades of gold. I remember BEGGING her to buy tacky trinkets and red decorations but she was steadfast in her Christmas decorating ideals. At the time I didn’t understand her and I promised myself that I would allow my children to go nuts with the tree and decorate it however they wish. I wasn’t going to be that Christmas mum. I was going to let me kids adorn the tree in all the tack they wanted.

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via Giphy

Trees of Christmas present

Flash forward 20 years or so and what do you know, I am that mum. I like my tree how I like it but I’ve come up with some compromises along the way that fit in with my control freak tendencies my aesthetic whilst speaking to the 10 year old child inside me who wants ALL THE THINGS on the tree. Living on the farm, I was inspired by the rustic Christmas decor I found at the local country stores. Think metal stars, checked ribbon and mismatched whimsical ornaments.  Over the years I’ve refined my style into one that I would call put together rustic. This year, I experimented with buffalo plaid and wood to create a chic farmhouse feel.

My Farmhouse style Christmas tips

It doesn’t just have to be red, green and gold

Think outside of the box when  it comes to your colour scheme. Black and white plaid adds a classic touch to your decor theme and mixes well with a white farmhouse pallette.

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Get a little touchy feely

Mix textures. Fuzzy, soft ribbon mixed with weathered wood gives laid back feel to your tree

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Showcase international finds

Add little nods to family with cute ornaments that you have collected from your travels. Don’t be afraid to add things you might consider tacky. You’re dressing your tree for your family and it should reflect who you are. Not everyone needs an instagram perfect tree!

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Bring the outside in with touches of green 

I am obsessed with my white kitchen but it can look a little clinical sometimes. Christmas is all about warmth to me. I create this in my kitchen with twinkling fairy lights and greenery. Honestly, I wish I could leave the wreath up all year but I think it looks a little too festive for the 30 plus degree days of summer.

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Add a little kitsch fun to your apothecary jars

If you follow any farmhouse decor blog you know that these bad boys are everywhere. Usually filled with grains that no one eats or faux fruit, they look polished but for Christmas it’s nice to try something a little different.

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So there you have it friends. My farmhouse decor tips for Christmas. So how do you decorate for the holidays? Are you a full on festive control freak, Clark Griswold (BIGGER IS BETTER) or a go with the flow kind of person?

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Create a personalized Santa Gift Sack (like the ones you see on Etsy) On A Budget.

Easy craft tutorials are my jam

Full disclosure I SUCK at sewing and anything to do with textiles. I honestly CANNOT cut a straight line (it bodes well for rustic look crafts but not for things that I would actually want to see the light of day). I’m sure there are hacks and tips on Pinterest that promise to help even the most remedial of cutters but I fear I am past saving and more to the point, I just don’t have the time. I did start out an ill-fated at home business during my last mat leave making headbands after complaints of cutting off the circulation to children’s brains (OK that might be a slight exaggeration from me) I put my Singer into the basement where it has not seen the light of day since.

Despite my ineptitude, I do love a good craft. I’m actually a semi-decent artist and I really enjoy tapping into that creative side that yearns to wear a beret and walk around in dungarees with paint artfully smudged on my cheek. I usually stick to wood and painting activities but for whatever reason, I sometimes like to take on a challenge. Maybe there is a part of me that desires to be on a Pinterest fail website.

You don’t have to spend a lot to create a personalized gift sack

A few years ago I got a personalized Santa gift sack for my eldest daughter and I paid a small fortune for it (much to my husband’s lament). I thought it was the cutest sack I’d ever seen and I was waxing lyrical to anyone who would listen about this mom’s skills with the silk screen printer. I loved my little Santa sack and it looked just PERFECT under our tree. Fast forward 3 years later and it is my second daughter’s first Christmas. Always weary to avoid second child syndrome, I want to make sure sweet Aria has everything her sister has. I couldn’t remember the name of the place where I got my first beloved sack so I did a quick Google search and lo and behold a PLETHORA of the same sacks came up. “Wow, she’s done well with her little print press” I thought to myself and then I looked closer and noticed multiple sellers offering the same sacks. Well knock me down with a feather, I paid for handmade when I could easily have made it myself. I am an Etsy mug (non-Brits I don’t mean the type you drink out of, I mean someone who has been fooled). Now I’m not knocking Etsy sellers AT ALL. I just wanted to share with you a cheaper way if you’re on a budget like most of us are. With a cheap sack ofF Amazon, my hardly used iron (another relic of my business past) and some heat transfer letters I set about making my very own Santa sack.  Just because I like you so much, here are the instructions so you can too!

You can create a personalized Santa gift sack that looks like this…

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In the amount of time that your baby will nap (about 20 minutes max if your kid is anything like mine). If you click on the pictures it will link you to where I bought my materials.

What you need

    1. Santa sack – here is the one I got off amazon
    1. Iron transfer letters – You can be as creative as you want but here are some suggestions of ones that I found on Amazon (click to shop). Please think carefully about what size you want to use. Emerson’s sack uses 3 inch letters and Aria’s uses 1.5 inch.


    1. An Iron
    1. Ironing board
    1. Pressing cloth (I used an old napkin
    1. Thick carboard
    1. Glass of wine (optional but it really does add to the experience)

Instructions to make a personalized Santa Gift Sack

  1. This goes without saying but order the sack you want off Amazon. If you have Prime it will be with you in a couple of days!
  2. Once the sack arrives you’ll want to press it. I didn’t wash it like the instructions said on the heat transfer paper (whoops, but it worked perfectly) but if more laundry is your thing, go ahead!
  3. Put the thick cardboard in the sack to separate the front and back.
  4. Cut out the letters you want and place them on your fabric. Follow the pressing times for the brand that you use (it’s usually a few minutes front and back of each letter – MAKE SURE YOU USE A PRESSING CLOTH UNLESS YOU WANT A HOT MESS ON YOUR IRON).
  5. Bask in the glory that you have crafted. Sip your wine and admire your work.
  6. Tell your husband all about how much money you saved.

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Happy crafting!

Joanna-international-farm-wife (1)

Disclosure – This post contains affiliate links. While you wont pay a penny more, it helps me keep the lights on (and keeps me in wine).

Top 5 things that only a British Expat misses at Christmas

Does the sound of Noddy Holder yelling “It’s CHRRRIIIISTMAAASSSS” ring in your ears every time you think of the festive season? Do coloured Christmas lights and tinsel (the proper kind, not that lamenta shite. If you know what lamenta is extra points) adorn your tree? Are your cupboards stocked with minced pies? Is Christmas Eve best spent in the pub with your mates resulting in the cruel and unusual punishment of having a hangover with young children on Christmas morning? Do you like sprouts? Does your mother shout “not a sausage pricked, not a pot washed?” If you answered yes to many or all of these, you are indeed British. If you spend a lot of your Christmas explaining these things to others, you are probably a British expat.

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Top 5 things a British Expat misses at Christmas

  1. Truly British Christmas songs.
    Cliff, Slade, Wizard, The Darkness to name a few. I just don’t hear these festive classics in Canada and they are one of my favourite things about going home for the holidays. Turning BBC radio 2 on in the car and belting these bad boys out. British festive culture 101.
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  2. The food.
    Good minced pies are hard to come by in Canada and I wont even try to make them after the penis  unicorn cake debacle at my daughter’s second birthday (that’s another blog post).
    Pickled onions. They cost an arm and a bloody leg here ($8.99 for a jar of sweet skins? Pisstake) and they’re quite hard to find.
    Selection boxes don’t exist and that my friends is a SHAME. Remember the joy of a selection box for breakfast followed by lamenting the cost of a freddo?
    Brandy cream is something I’ve never seen here. I’m beginning to think Canadian’s don’t douse everything in booze the same way we do.
    Cadbury’s minature heros. Enough said on that matter.
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  3. The pub on Christmas Eve. Now maybe this is just a Swansea thing but we go to the pub every Christmas Eve, drink too much and then go home for my parents’ annual Christmas gathering. I know at least several other people who silent sob into their stockings and knock back the buckfizz hair of the dog on a Christmas morning while putting on a brave face as their kids push screaming toys into their faces.
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  4. The anticipation of a white Christmas. If you’re from most of the UK, Wales in particular, the papers go into a frenzy leading up to Christmas about “Snowmaggedon” and the chances of a “white Christmas”. It never happens but we don’t give up hope each year. That my friends is the British optimism that I love so much.
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  5. British Christmas TV specials.
    -The Vicar of Dibley when she eats all those dinners. Still laugh every time.
    – The Royle Family – Classic.
    – Nigella. She’s just so saucy in her black nightie scoffing food from her fridge with her plummy accent.
    – Bo’selecta. Now I might be dating myself here but who remembers that show. HILARITY!
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I go back home soon and I am SOOOOO excited for a British Christmas.

So fellow Brits, what am I missing? What do you yearn for the most at Christmas? Other expats join in, what do you miss?

Love,

Jo xxx

P.s I’m holding out for a white Christmas in Wales this year!