Bonus post: #treetour

To say thank you for making this year running Tiding of Magpies absolutely amazing, I thought I’d treat you all to a bonus mini-blog with a festive theme. The Goblin and I spent last night making our own Christmas crackers while drinking port, so I’m very much filled with Christmas cheer (and booze; we’ve just made some mulled wine…)

 

Because it’s our first Christmas as husband and wife (and because we used our annual leave up on the honeymoon and don’t have time to travel to our families!), we’re spending it quietly in our flat, which we’ve gone all-out on decorating.

From a quick scroll through Insta/Twitter/etc, it doesn’t seem like tree tours are much of  a thing, so I’ve decided to make them a thing. I absolutely adore Christmas trees; they tell you so much about the people who decorated them. Some are beautiful works of art and some, like ours, are just collections of ornaments that I flung at the tree. I love them all.

 

Lots of our ornaments are holiday souvenirs or were gifts from family and friends, so they mean a lot to us and tell the story of the last few years…

Honeymoon highlights

We picked up three new ornaments as honeymoon souvenirs, and they have pride of place on our tree:

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A traditional Kazakh hat, bought in Almaty
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A delicate glass bauble from Bukhara, Uzbekistan
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A good luck charm given to us by a lovely woman in the Khiva Museum of Musical Instruments (after she asked if I was pregnant, which I’m telling myself was just because of the empire-line wrap dress I was wearing…

Glittery gifts

Friends and family, knowing how much I love sparkly things, have also provided many trinkets for our tree over the years.

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A gift from my friend Sami, bought at the Leeds Christmas Market. The picture doesn’t do justice to its sparkliness!
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A gold glass pineapple from my grandma (who also contributed the excellent pineapple candle holders and lamp we own!)
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Probably my favourite ornament, courtesy of our wonderful friend Bella & the National Museum of Scotland gift shop
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The Christmas season is awash with puns about the second part of our name, so my best pal & bridesmaid, Beth, made it official with a bauble from Kikki K

Assorted oddities

The tree also shares several non-holiday or gift-related memories…

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A find from when I was working with the University of Birmingham and the RSC (also sort of relevant to the census bit of the nativity…maybe?)
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A plush find from the BL’s History of Magic Harry Potter exhibition

 

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A dog we’re calling a Wire Fox Terrier (the type of dog it’s our life goal to own!) from Brum’s very own Christmas Market
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The full tree ft. The Goblin’s presents, which I decorated for him.

Meanwhile, in the rest of the flat… 

 

That’s all for now, folks. Merry Christmas (or happy time-off-work if you don’t celebrate it!). I’ll leave you with this exceptionally great candle my grandma got us for Christmas this year…

 

Colours of Christmas

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Our tree has been up for 2 weeks, and last night The Goblin covered the flat in fairy lights and all of the leftover fake tea lights from the wedding. It’s safe to say we’re excited (even the usually Scrooge-like Goblin is full of Christmas cheer!), so this week’s post had to be a festive one.

Everywhere you look, it’s red and green, and my workshop is no exception, so here are the colours of Christmas in precious and semi-precious formats…

Reds

Currently my favourite red stone is garnet (which is actually the birthstone for January, so I’m a bit early, but never mind that…).

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A deeper blood red than its ruby cousin, garnet is a truly historic stone which has been popular for centuries, featuring heavily in both Roman and early-medieval English design:

Fast facts:

  • Garnet is a member of the silicate family of minerals, which is the largest and most important class of rock-forming minerals, according to Wikipedia. My GCSE Double Science doesn’t give me any more clues on what that actually means, so let’s move on to language, which I’m a bit more familiar with…
  • The word ‘garnet’ comes from the Middle English word ‘gernet’, meaning dark red, although garnets do occasionally come in other colours, including green, purple, and blue.
  • Garnet is the state mineral of Connecticut and Idaho, and the official gemstone of New York. (More on state gemstones in a later post, because I just discovered they exist and I love it… If I ruled a state, the gemstone would be haematite or moonstone, if anyone is interested.)

Other prominent red stones include:

  • Ruby – everyone knows what these are, but did you know they’re part of a group called the ‘cardinal gemstones’ which includes sapphires, diamonds, emeralds and amethysts, and which were traditionally valued above all other stones?
  • Red Topaz (topaz also comes in tons of other colours, most often blue or yellow)
  • Red Spinels (spinels also come in a range of colours, including black, and I’d never heard of them until I bought a couple to try in the design below…)
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Available here

Green

It would be a cardinal sin not to pick emeralds for my favourite stone here (geddit), but I covered them in an earlier post, so I’m going to hone in on my second-favourite: aventurine.

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Available here

It’s a type of quartz that, like lapis lazuli, has gold inclusions, which gives it extra shimmer despite being a translucent stone.

Fast facts:

  • The shimmer the gold inclusions give off is referred to as aventurescence. I aspire one day to be so shiny that my glittering has its own descriptor…
  • It was discovered by chance in the eighteenth century, which is why it’s called aventurine, after the Italian for ‘by chance’: a ventura.
  • As well as jewellery, aventurine is used in landscaping, monuments, and interior design:

Other popular green stones include:

  • Jade – historically significant and highly-prized for centuries
  • Garnet – that’s right, my favourite stone above also comes in green (huzzah!)
  • Sapphire – these usually-blue stones have other varieties, notably pink and green
  • Malachite – pure stripy gorgeousness:

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That’s all for tonight, folks – I’m off to wrap some pressies to put under the tree…

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