Wednesday 29 December 2010

They Keep on Coming...

The left overs, that is. This time, ice cream made from a pint of double cream and a tub of custard that never got used, combined with a jar of the clementine curd.

Topped with a wonderful hot sauce made from left over Christmas pud fried in left over brandy butter... another inspired idea from Nigel Slater.

The only slightly worrying thing was the green tinge to the ice cream. I thought it might perk it up a little to add an orange flavoured liqueur to the mix. However in the absence of anything as sophisticated as Grande Marnier or Cointreau in my drinks cupboard, I resorted to some Blue Curacao that was lurking in the back. I hadn't banked on it being quite so luminous. Combined with the soft orange colour of the clementine curd it did produce a strange shade of green. But the lights were low and I don't think anyone else noticed!

Monday 27 December 2010

Left Overs...

Thank you for every one of your kind Christmas wishes and lovely comments on my advent blog posts. I have tried to reply to as many as possible but I'm sure you appreciate life rather takes over at this time of year. Our Christmas was good - a few coughs and sneezes but on the whole, good... just close family, quiet, with plenty of wonderful things to eat. I was helped by Ben in the kitchen, who is probably just as keen a cook as me and together we peeled, chopped and stirred a feast. In seach of something creative to do with the left overs we were inspired by Nigel Slater and for lunch today we made his "Perky Turkey" - worth doing for the name alone!

Left over turkey heated up in a sticky oriental chilli sauce and served on a salad of watercress, oranges, chilli (my addition) and pomegranate seeds.

For those of us who don't eat the turkey... little bubble and squeak patties with a morsel of stilton tucked into the middle served with the same salad.

Although of course the meat eaters had to have that too! It made a refreshing change from turkey curry!

Friday 24 December 2010

Day Twenty Four

At last I have come to the end of my twenty four advent posts and all that remains is for me to wish you all a happy, healthy and peaceful Christmas. I was sent the following message from one of my tutors and I thought it was a lovely one to share:

Let us be protected together and accepted together

Let us not resent each other

Let us be guided to each other and ourselves

Let us achieve strength together

And may our learning ever shine.

(A Sanskrit prayer for harmony in learning.)

I am now going to have a short blogging break to enjoy the holiday with my family. I'll be back soon.

Thursday 23 December 2010

Day Twenty Three

Some last minute stitching on a present...

Cutting it a bit fine, do I hear you say...

Oh yea of little faith... this is not a Christmas present but a birthday present for my sister-in -law...

The only problem is, her birthday was actually in November... Belated birthday wishes Anne!

Wednesday 22 December 2010

Day Twenty Two

In keeping with this weeks rather snowy theme, I've been crocheting snowflakes (following Attic 24's tutorial). Not only do they look good as gift tags, I've also been combining them...

with the felt balls that I made on Friday...

to create a garland for my hallway. A bit like festive bunting really!

Tuesday 21 December 2010

Day Twenty One

On Friday I spent the day with three rather special friends. Ricki, Sandra, Susan and I have worked together over the past five years on a project called Vital Communities. Sadly the project has now come to an end but we thought it would be good to get together and continue to have creative days, sharing skills. Sandra very kindly hosted the day, despite being on tender hooks waiting for her daughter to give birth any moment.

In the morning, Ricki led us in a felt making session. Although the others made small felt bags, I spent the time making these colourful balls for a project I had in mind.

After a delicious shared lunch, Susan then showed us how to make these fabulous lanterns from dogwood sticks, tissue paper and PVA. She had made forty of them last year for her partner's birthday and I thought I might try to make half a dozen to hang in the dining room over Christmas...

but so far this is the only one! It was a lovely relaxed sharing day, far more in keeping with the Christmas spirit than much of the frantic activity that seems to take place this time of year.
And some wonderful news... Sandra became a grandmother for the second time when her daughter gave birth to a little girl on Saturday. Congratulations to all!

Monday 20 December 2010

Day Twenty

The snow was far too powdery to make a snowman yesterday and so I stayed inside and used the snow as inspiration to decorate the Christmas cake...

and remembered a cake I made many years ago, when I combined snowman building with cake decorating!

Sunday 19 December 2010

Day Nineteen

While the rest of the UK ground to a halt with snow two weeks ago we seemed to be one of the few places that escaped with hardly a flutter of a snowflake... but that all changed last night.

This morning we woke to about 7 inches of the stuff and I confess to being just a little excited... it looks so beautiful.

We ventured through the gate in our back garden to a Narnia like world... and I wasn't the only one who was excited. Snow seems to turn dogs back into puppies!

Off now to shovel snow off the drive... and possibly build a snowman. Hope the rest of you are warm and safe.

Saturday 18 December 2010

Day Eighteen

Today the tree has gone up...

There have been one or two new decorations...

which will be added to...

the very many old favourites... such as this one from Texas that has been on our tree for the past twenty four years.

And a collection of these little Santas that I stitched when the eldest boys were just babies.

And of course my faithful old fairy (who has appeared on the blog before) Every year I think this will be the year for her to retire what with her poorly broken wing...

But every year she valiantly continues to grace the top of the tree. That's what I love about Christmas... all those little familiar traditions.

Friday 17 December 2010

Day Seventeen

When I was researching paper cutting for my recent degree module, I became fascinated by the work of Sarah Morpeth, especially by some of her pop up style books. Following some photographs of her work I made some simple cuts on white card to work out the structure.

I make no claims of originality here, as these are copies of Sarah's ideas, but I enjoyed the process and decided to try out a colour version as a stand up Christmas card.

And this was the result...

Quite simple cuts, combining holly, ivy and some robins...

but quite effective too. This is certainly something I would like to try more... when I've got the time!

I rather like the shadows it created too.

Thursday 16 December 2010

Day Sixteen

Yesterday Gill and I had a day away from all the Christmas preparations (something I can wholeheartedly recommend) and spent the day at the Barbican where we saw the most amazing exhibition: Future Beauty 30 Years of Japanese Fashion. It is a comprehensive survey of Japanese Fashion from the early 1980s to the present day. With work from Issey Miyake, Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto it is innovative, avante garde, cutting edge... and so exciting! We spent four hours just looking around the exhibition and I still feel I could go back again. There was so much to see it's hard to know what to show you but these are just a couple of our favourites...

The fabulous ruff on this Comme des Garcons knitted dress is actually made from thirty three little dolls - fun, witty yet still beautiful.

Tao Kurihara's take on classic underwear shapes turning them into knitted outerwear also made us smile. There were dresses made from origami folded fabrics, shredded paper and stitched plastic... pieced, twisted, pleated and quilted. And there was plenty to see from one of my favourite designers, Junya Watanabe, like this gorgeous denim dress...

and of course his amazing sculptural honeycomb dresses...

which were the inspiration for my very own carrier bag dress. It made me want to do my fashion module all over again!

We came home full of ideas and inspiration and I can't recommend this exhibition enough... it is on until 6th February so plenty of time to see it. We also came home full of cake... but that's another story!

Wednesday 15 December 2010

Day Fifteen

When I put up this post, about all the lovely images in magazines, a certain someone left me a comment saying "Wow! Clementine curd - sounds fabulous. Save a little tiny pincushion sized jarful for me." An email discussion ensued where I pointed out it was just a magazine picture and I hadn't actually made any. "Well, I think you should." came the reply! The gauntlet was thrown...

Luckily our girls are still laying the occasional egg and so I gathered together my ingredients...

and the result is some rather tasty clementine curd!

I'm seeing Gill today, so she will get her jar of curd... but of course now she has to make a cake in which to put her clementine curd. Unless of course she eats it straight from the jar!

Tuesday 14 December 2010

Day Fourteen

I was lucky enough to receive another sparkly gift last week - some freshwater pearls and glass peardrop beads from anther generous and talented blogging friend.

And armed with her excellent tutorial, I dug out some tools and got beading...

and this is the result! It may not be quite as polished and professional as Emma's jewelled wreath...
but it makes me happy!

Monday 13 December 2010

Day Thirteen

I have been reading:

Bilgewater - I thoroughly enjoyed this light hearted yet keenly told story of the eccentric goings on in the life of Marigold Green, daughter of a housemaster in an all boys school. Amusing, entertaining and at times quite moving.

The Lovely Bones - I found this an interesting story, especially the observations of the breakdown in relationships between the members of the murdered girl's family. Yet it never really pulled me in and made believe it was in any way credible. Certainly by the end I felt it had lost me completely (and I didn't like the film at all)

and currently - The Diary of a Provincial Lady - This has sat on my booksheves for years and I have only just got around to reading it. It is brilliant and makes me laugh out loud on a regular basis with witty little quips and astute observations. It is so very English with its dry humour as it recounts the daily life in a Devonshire village between the wars. Despite being written 80 years ago, it is as up to date and modern as any contemporary novel. This morning's laugh out loud moment:
Pamela declares...that nothing in the world matters except Love. Stifle strong inclination to reply that banking account, sound teeth and adequate servants matter a great deal more...

Sunday 12 December 2010

Day Twelve

I've bought myself an early Christmas present. For a long time I've fancied a set of alphabet stamps so when I saw these in the Cox & Cox catalogue I couldn't resist them.

And I'm not disappointed... I think they are wonderful and I'm now stamping words onto everything!
And they come in such a beautiful box too... totally irresistible.

Saturday 11 December 2010

Day Eleven

Isn't this just the most beautiful sparkly snowflake decoration?

And aren't these just the prettiest little snowflake earrings?

I am very lucky to have such clever and generous friends. Thank you Carolyn and Val