Angelicscalliwags Christmas Traditions # 2: Country Living Magazine

For as long back as I can remember I have craved to live in the countryside, in an old house with wooden beams and lots of history to go with it.  Even as a teenager I would dream big and get myself all excited about the possibilities.  One day…. Until that day came, I contented myself with buying ‘Country Living’ Magazine.  This is, as one would fully expect, a magazine about the ideals of living in the country.  For me it was the eye catching photos of traditional houses, with furniture older than the people who reside there; the muted colour schemes; the home made knickknacks to be found in every corner of the living space.  Every month I faithfully bought the magazine, so that by the time I got married and Gary and I moved into our first home, I had accumulated hundreds of copies.

Our first home was a one bedroom, first floor flat in the village we live in now.  We saved up and decorated it using ideas I had obtained from the magazines.  We had herbs growing in the living room, a tiled (!) floor in the hallway, a wormery (!!) in the kitchen and sisal carpet throughout.  Most of the curtains I made by hand using beautiful Laura Ashley material and flowers were hung drying upside down throughout.  This was quite a newly built flat and I’m fairly certain the country look jarred against its modernity.  I was, however, as happy as the proverbial pig in muck, surrounded by a beauty I could only dream of for years.

Nowadays, we are blessed to live in a two hundred year old cottage in the middle of the same lovely oldy worldy village.  I have my wooden beams and wood burning stove.  We have our wormery in the compost heap outside now in our garden, dried flowers hang from beams instead of curtain rails and my son grows our herb garden just outside the kitchen.  We also own a large bathroom off a tiny kitchen; a chimney breast which goes straight up through the floor of the older three’s bedroom and which one could walk around and through, should one have wished to and we have doors that have to be cut to fit the hole.  Yes, no standard measurements in this house at all.  My mother in law (hi Heather!) says it is quirky, just like me!  And so it is.  I am living my dream.

Anyway, I digress.  When we moved to Ireland I gave my whole collection of magazines away to the local charity shops as it would have cost too much to move them with us.  Because of a change in job, we could not afford for me to buy them anymore, so I made a promise to myself that each Christmas I would buy the December (Christmas) edition of the magazine and take an hour or so on my own, with a latte, and devour it in peace.  This I have done.  I have the Christmas editions going back to 2006.  Each year I buy the new one and peruse the old ones.  They remind me (decoratively speaking) of the Christmas I want to have with its country simplicity, using the loveliness of our home and nature to beautify.

I love this tradition and until this year it was just for me.

The magazine I look forward to all year
The magazine I look forward to all year

Thing is the girls are growing up quickly, and as time slips through my fingers at an astonishing rate, I am once again reminded that I need to be making memories now.  And so I grasp at every opportunity I can to spend time with and nurture my girls, for one day very soon they will be making memories for themselves, with their own families.  Our time is now.

So with that in mind, I invited the girls to join me in my Christmas magazine fest.  This was met with immense excitement and much planning from my twins.  We chose a night when the little ones would be in bed and T11 and Gary would be out fencing.  Whilst I was tucking the little ones up, the older girls lay a blanket out on the floor and made hot chocolate and tea in their Great Granny’s tea set.  Add to that the roaring stove, the magazines and some chocolate Hobnobs Gary had bought especially for the occasion and we had ourselves a very special night (it doesn’t take much in this house!):




After we had flicked through the magazines, chatting about the things we would like to put into action for this Christmas, we drew some ideas together on paper, whilst watching the Christmas special edition of The Good Life.  In this episode Tom and Barbara set out to prove that a simple homegrown Christmas is the best Christmas of all.  We agreed whole heartedly as we tidied away and the girls went up happily to bed.

That night was so special for all of us.  The girls already assume it will happen each year from now on, and enjoyed it so much they are planning something for the same time next week!  And I learnt that something shared, however personal and special it seems alone, is undoubtably better when there are two little enthusiastic, beautiful girls to share it with.  Thank you L11 and C11, you have made a lovely tradition even lovelier, simply by being there.  I love you both so much.

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  1. Hi Claire. I love that I can picture that scene. One thing I`m sure of , it wasn’t a quiet evening. He he. Did you come up with some new ideas for this year?

    1. Hi Claire
      You are such an inspiration and it just shows you that the little things in life count!
      You truly find joy in the ordinary!
      Blessings for you and your beautiful family!


    2. I don’t seem to be able to reply separately so….
      Granny and grandad: Oh, the girls came up with lots and lots of ideas. We would need about six months worth of time to actually be able to do them all though..!
      Zee: Hello! Thank you for the blessings and sending many back your way!

  2. You’re girls seem lovely!
    I too have always wanted to live in the country. There’s something to be said about the simple things in life…
    What a great tradition!

  3. My go-to magazines for Christmas are “Land Love” and “The Simple Things”. It’s often the simple moments that count. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your tradition!

  4. This was such a lovely read – I started off wistfully craving a country home and ended with simply craving cozy time with my girls – it is indeed some of the best! I’m glad to know a little bit more about you Claire, and am sure your girls will always treasure this special time carved out for them.

  5. So special and very precious! Believe it or not, I too used to read the Country Living! The UK edition mind you… dreaming away of England in a very hot South Africa… One day! Hopefully sooner rather than later! x

      1. You actually do get an SA version! Or you use to… I shall scout around and see if it’s still out there! It is very different to the UK one though… I pondered the UK one…. I just love the thought of a Christmas with snow… whilst scorching away in 38 degrees Celsius over here. We always have cold meats and salads for our Christmas lunch, as we can’t really bear the thought of hot food when it is already so hot outside. But I can’t complain… SA is a truly special place. Beauty like nothing on earth! x

  6. What a wonderful tradition to begin with your girls. I am sincere when I say your family is so blessed to have you. In such a fast-paced world, it is nice to just stop and share time together. I know it must have been fun for the three of y’all.
    My husband and I have always wanted to live in a barn in the country. I don’t think it will happen, but it is fun to dream. My favorite country magazine is called Country. We might just pick up a copy of Country Living’s Christmas edition and have a look.
    We love watching The Good Life – known in the U.S. as Good Neighbors. We have the entire show on DVD. I used to watch it and think that it was exactly what I wanted to do. British comedies are very popular in the states. Our PBS station was the first to air British comedies – Monty Python. I never watched that one, but there are others we watch faithfully. Our station manager has had a hand in putting together several programs bringing the folks from the different shows together for reunions.
    Hope all is well with your family. Enjoy your Friday and your weekend. I can’t believe it is here so soon. We are enjoying temps in the 30’s and dropping and cold wind and possibly sleet on Sunday. Brrrr.

    1. I had no idea The Good Life was available in America! It did occur to me that half the people reading this probably wouldn’t have a clue what I was talking about! I used to watch it as a child, when I was convinced I would grow up and marry Tom and we would tend our gardens together!!

  7. Love it! What a fun new tradition!
    I wonder what this tradition will grow into as your girls grow and begin planning for their dream home someday. What a great bonding night for mom and girls!

  8. Awww, I loved this story and how you’re getting to live your dream. Congrats on that!
    I’m with Mary, I’d love to see pictures of your house it always seems so comfy and cozy, and I’d love to live in an old cottage like that with all of its’ character. There’s not really a lot of that in this area, at least not in the amount we can afford…..

  9. I love your new tradition. What a wonderful story. I love the way you unfolded the story of your home and the transformation of your tradition.
    Blessings, Dawn

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