Snowflake patterned mini bowls

I was bought these little bowls for my birthday- I think they might be dipping bowls for oils and vinegar and I decided they needed a Christmas makeover. I’d seen a few posts on other blogs about decorating ceramics with permanent pen and thought I’d give it a try. The pen I used came from a set I bought from WH Smith that were half price in a sale, they were meant to be fine nib but seem more like thick to me!

Snowflake Mini Bowls

I decided to draw some simple snowflake designs, even though the pens are permanent they rubbed off fairly easily when I made mistakes! To make them properly permanent I saw a tip about drying them in a low oven, so I might try that. At the moment they make perfect bowls for Christmas bits and bobs!

Christmas Snowflake Cross Stitch

This year, I turned my hand to a bit of cross stitch to make a little Christmas decoration. It came about after I finally found some embroidery hoops that I knew I had but couldn’t remember where! They turned up when I was doing a huge clearout of the bedroom cupboard. Anyway, I had a little kit that had been given to me to make a cross stitch card, unfortunately the design for the card wasn’t really my thing so I instead used the Aida from that to make my snowflake.

Christmas Snowflake Cross Stitch Materials

I decided to do a freestyle pattern as snowflakes are symmetrical and so lend themselves to making it up! I had spotted in one of my Christmas magazines the decoration in the picture above and roughly followed this to start off with. However, the snowflake was far to small to stop at that so I kept adding extra until it filled out the hoop. I just have it resting on the mantelpiece for now, maybe next year I shall cross stitch some more to make a proper display!

Christmas Snowflake Cross Stitch

Cranberry, orange and almond loaf

I picked up the free Real Food magazine from Tesco last week and one of the recipes that caught my eye was for this cranberry loaf. I love cranberries and am always trying to find recipes to use them in. As a child the only time we had them was my Mum’s homemade cranberry sauce with the Christmas dinner, to me they will always taste of Christmas. Most years I will buy a packet when they appear in the supermarket to use in some kind of cake/ pudding as the tartness works really well with sugary batter.

Ingredients for cranberry, orange and almond loaf

This recipe also has another favourite ingredient- marzipan. I know a lot of people aren’t a fan but I find the grainy smooth texture and strong taste of almonds really pleasing. The loaf proved easy to make: cream together butter and sugar,whiz in some eggs, then fold in self raising flour and ground almonds, finally adding cranberries, cubed marzipan, orange zest and almond essence. Into a lined loaf tin then into the oven. As usual, the cooking time had to be extended for our gas oven. At the recommended 50 mins the mixture was still liquid in the middle! Another half hour later and it was just perfect!

Cranberry Orange and Almond Loaf

Advent Countdown Ideas

Advent Calendar Envelopes

I know it’s probably a bit late to be posting ideas for advent calendars although I think a couple of days adrift will make no difference! There’s any number of advent calendars out there to buy (chocolate or otherwise) but I particularly love these cute little cards that I bought for my nephews and niece. I started buying them a couple of years ago after seeing them in the window of a shop in Beverley called ‘Something Different’ on Butcher Row. There’s always a really good selection of cards at very reasonable prices. If only I could take a peak at some of the pictures behind the doors before sending them…..

Advent Cards

My crafty idea for an advent calendar started as something I’d seen in a magazine. That was for small, paper advent bags to put gifts in. I thought about making little bags but decided that I wouldn’t have the time (or the patience) to manage 25! I also wasn’t sure how to display them. Instead, I had seen these money envelopes in Wilkinson’s and had been turning over in my mind whether they could be used in a craft. Of course they could- advent envelopes!

Typewriter and Christmas Rubber Stamps

I bought the set of typewriter stamps from Amazon Marketplace (The Pea’s Knees Ltd, £7.99), I already owned the Christmas themed stamps from last year. It turned out pretty quick and easy to stamp up 25 envelopes and then fill them with little treats. My husband is more savoury than sweet(!) which explains the nuts and cheese. Hopefully, some of the chocolates might come my way!

Advent Envelopes and Treats

The noticeboard I used to display the envelopes was from a craft I posted about here. Of course there is any manner of ways to display them- in a Christmas bowl perhaps, or pegged onto a garland.

Advent Calendar Envelopes

Christmas Craft Books

home-made Christmas

I have a couple of craft books that are full of ideas for making Christmas things. The one I’m posting about today is called ‘home-made Christmas’ by Tessa Evelegh. It has some lovely tips on decorating the house and some great things to make. I have followed a couple of the crafts and been inspired by others.

Cranberry heart

One of the crafts that I haven’t yet tried but want to is the cranberry wreath. It looks simple but effective and would fit in perfectly with the red and white theme in the hallway! The only thing is, I’m not sure I can bring myself to use cranberries for anything other than eating! Maybe next year….

Cranberry Heart

Strasbourg Christmas Market

Strasbourg Christmas Market

I might of mentioned before that I enjoy going to Christmas markets. So far, we have been to Berlin and Strasbourg on mainland Europe.

Strasbourg Christmas Market

I love the way the whole city of Strasbourg decorate the outside of their houses to make the place feel so Christmassy. In the old town with it’s winding streets and beamed buildings the balconies and streets are decked with amazing festive displays.

Strasbourg Christmas Market

I’m not sure if each year there is a theme to the displays- the year we went seemed to be a lot of cuddly toys!

Strasbourg Christmas Market

The stalls in the different markets are full of such tempting things- almost too much to choose from!

Strasbourg Christmas Market

We didn’t come back with any decorations but we did come back with a big tin of little biscuits. Each one was a different flavour and each was exquisite.

 

Felt Tree Decorations

Felt Tree

Even more tree decorations today! These are ones that I’ve been making myself for a few years now. Felt is a great fabric to work with as it’s so easy to cut and of course doesn’t fray at the edges. The variety of colours you can find are endless! I get my felt from a number of shops: Boyes in Beverley (I think I’ve mentioned them before!), The Range, and Hobbycraft. Boyes even sell it on a roll so you can get it for table-runners or other bigger projects.

Felt Stocking

These decorations came about as I had loads of sequins to use. I cut out the stocking or tree shape (after drawing a simple pattern and tracing around it)- two for each decoration. Then I planned out a pretty design with sequins. I particularly impressed myself with the holly design on one of the stockings! These are sewn on with gold thread and then the whole thing sewn together with an overstitch. Remember to add a loop using ribbon so they can hang from the tree.

Felt Stocking

The stockings can be used to put little gifts in for presents and of course can be scaled up to full-size if you feel so inclined!

 

Santa Christmas Lights

As you’ve probably realised I don’t just put lights round the tree. As well as having them up the stairs and round the banister I have some over the mirror in the lounge. These happy santas were bought in the sales from M&S a couple of years ago. They look great stringed along the mirror spreading a cheerful glow over the mantelpiece.

Santa Lights

 

Santa Lights

Decorating the Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree Decorations

I have to admit I’ve had the tree decorated since the first weekend in December, however I know for some people the weekend before Christmas is still too soon! We do have an artificial tree but that has ended up in the shed and real trees have taken over for the last few years. The smell of pine leaves sends me straight back to my childhood and decorating the family tree with awful rabbits homemade from saltdough and painted purple! My mum always bought some chocolate decorations which usually got eaten when the tree was being packed away….

Tree Decoration

I like the traditional red, green and gold for the tree. Many of the decorations like the funny bearded angel and the snowman were a gift years ago from my mother in law. Every year I try to add some more to the tree, for example last year I bought some mushrooms and this year some apples. I also still use the multipack baubles that I bought from Argos for our very first tree about 10 years ago.

Snowman Tree Decoration

Each year I look through the magazines at new tree themes and each year I can’t bring myself to change! Maybe next year I should have two trees- one for traditional and one for crazy Christmas!

 

Making Mincemeat

I know it’s probably too late to be starting mincemeat for this year (although I’m sure it would still taste lovely in a pie) but I wanted to show you the the big jar of mincemeat (one of a few) that I made in October. I’ve made it for a couple of years now and it still impresses me how easy it is and how good it tastes! I’m not actually the biggest fan of shop bought mince pies- I find them very filling and too sweet- but making my own mincemeat and pastry provides a much better taste! I usually give a jar to my mum and may get in return a jar of her cranberry sauce.

Mincemeat

The recipe I use is from Nigella Lawson’s Domestic Goddess cookbook. It appealed to me as it uses Bramley apples and not suet. I’m not a vegetarian but the funny bits of white suet never look that nice! I also like the big chunks of almonds that give a bite to the mincemeat. The recipe is found on page 264 of the softbound addition of the book and is very simple. Just peel and chop loads of apples, some glace cherries and almonds. Dissolve sugar and cider in a saucepan and add the apples, cherries, almonds, dried fruit, spices and lemon juice. Everything simmers away until the apples have gone mushy- I love squashing the bits of apples with a wooden spoon! Then stir in a bit of rum. While still hot the mincemeat is spooned into jars. I’m a bit lazy and don’t label mine but I wouldn’t advise this. It looks very similar to the chutney I sometimes make and also don’t label: for some reason chutney pies don’t seem to appeal as much!

Mince Pies and Mulled Wine

Also in the pictures are some mini stollen and one of four different mulled wine mugs we have. This one is from when we went to Berlin during December a few years ago. Nothing better than mulled wine to warm the hands!