Friday, 9 December 2016

Advent 2016 - nine

On Tuesday I had a day out from the relentless lists and checking them twice and instead took myself off to Cambridge for the day. None of braving the crowds and the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping for me. Instead I went to the relative calm of the Fitzwilliam museum to see a glorious exhibition of illustrated manuscripts all about Colour.

And if that wasn't special enough on its own, I had the pleasure of meeting up with a dear friend whom I've meet through blogging, who was here all the way from New York. It's a couple of years since we last met so it was lovely to catch up and see the exhibition together.

After the exhibition we met with another mutual friend, also originally made through blogging and the three of us enjoyed a leisurely lunch and a stroll around Cambridge.

And I came home inspired to try my hand at egg tempera painting again... Which of course I haven't touched since my course two years ago.

Maybe next year?

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Advent 2016 - eight

I love wrapping presents. Everything from making a neatly wrapped parcel (the trick is to use the right sized piece of paper) to decorating them with ribbons and trimmings gives me great pleasure. I have a box where I collect papers, tissue, ribbons and trims just for wrapping. And I also love stickers, so when I spotted these beautiful little stickers in the Bottle Branch Etsy shop I knew I could satisfy both my love for stickers and present wrapping in one fell swoop.

Elizabeth takes beautiful photographs of plant material and then uses them to make exquisite prints, cards and stickers. Perfect for beautifully wrapped presents.

Although if I don't clear up my desk soon I'm not going to have beautifully wrapped anything!

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Advent 2016 - seven

I've been making these little felt tree decorations in the evenings when I sit and watch TV. I've really enjoyed decorating them with odd scraps of felt, buttons and trims and simple embroidery stitches.
 No plan, just seeing how they turn out.

We did them a few years ago with our Young Embroiderers too.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Advent 2016 - six

At our last machine embroidery class this term I showed the ladies how to make the components to construct one of these fabric garlands. There wasn't time in one class to finish a full sized garland so I made a mini one... about 8" in diameter.

I then thought they would be fun to make to sell at the market at the weekend... except with one thing and another I didn't get around to it. Which was why I was up late sewing last Friday evening so that I had a small critical mass of garlands to display. Okay... three garlands, not quite a critical mass!

Of course I didn't sell them so I now have three little garlands. They are ten pounds each plus p & p should you be remotely interested... just email me!

Monday, 5 December 2016

Advent 2016 - five

It has been a busy weekend... yes, what's new I hear you say. But it has felt busy even for me. I baked all day Thursday and all day Friday and then when I couldn't stand up any longer I sat stitching on Friday evening. And it was all to make sure I had enough to fill my stall at the annual Christmas Market in our neighbouring Church.

I'm not always keen on craft markets or fairs as they can be such unpredictable beasts but this one is always lovely. I sell enough to make it feel worthwhile and the atmosphere is so warm and friendly. It feels like all the good things about Christmas rolled into one fabulous event. It is a chance to catch up with friends, have a glass of mulled wine and maybe pick up a present or two with a background of carols... and munch on a turkey roll should that be your thing! In the afternoon it was back home to more baking as I had a birthday cake to make plus stocks to replenish...

Because on Sunday I had an Open Day at home selling more of the same and taking orders for Christmas. I did this last year to launch my new business and it was such a huge success I had high hopes for this year. But despite a small but steady stream of loyal friends popping in for a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie it was nothing like 2015.

And I'm now wondering what I'm going to do with all the left over stock, (fifty odd jars of jam for starters) not to mention all the mince pie boxes and mini Christmas cake boards I ordered in. Except I'm too tired to really care!

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Advent 2016 - four

I enjoyed painting the gift tags so much that I decided to design some of my own. I had just as much fun painting these ones, although my calligraphy skills leave a lot to be desired. I'm tempted to sign up to Lindsey's online workshops in an attempt to improve my skills.

But I think the labels look okay and serve their purpose adorning these bottles of very Christmassy flavoured vodka.

I missed out on picking sloes or damsons for gin this year but this liqueur is just as good and only takes a few days before it's ready... Which means there is still time to make some for Christmas:

Christmas Pudding Vodka
Mix together 2 teaspoons mixed spice, 1 teaspoon mace and two cinnamon sticks and warm together in a dry pan over a low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring so they don't catch.  In a large bowl combine the zest from  an orange and a lemon plus 2 tablespoons each of freshly squeezed lemon and orange juice, together with 300g currants and 750g of light soft brown sugar. Stir in the warm spices and then pour in 1 litre of vodka. Give it all a good stir and then keep in the fridge for about five days. Stir it every day to dissolve the sugar. When the five days is up, strain through a muslin cloth or a jelly bag and decant into sterilised bottles.
I found it filled five 250ml bottles and left a small glass over for sampling... well I wouldn't want to give it away without making sure it was okay first!

Plus the left over currants got mixed into the fruit for the Christmas cakes.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Advent 2016 - three

Using an excellent tutorial from calligrapher Lindsey Bugbee of The Postmans Knock, I made some gift tags

I had completely forgotten the pleasure in losing myself for a couple of hours painting and hereby resolve that 2017 will be the year of more painting. You heard it here first folks!