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Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Wreath encounter

Ok, first of all apologies for the shamelessly cheesy title - I just couldn't help myself. Second of all, where did November go? Surely the proliferation of comedy moustaches should have been a warning in itself.. Oh well, time to get into the Christmas spirit.

And nothing gets me into the Christmas spirit more effectively than a visit to the countryside at this time of year. You may remember last year's wreaths? It was once again time to raid my parents' garden for greenery and get busy with the green wire.

As usual I didn't really have a set idea of what I wanted, but gradually something resembling what I was after was built up:

The finished article:

Of course it not only has to *look* like Christmas, but also *smell* like it. Hence the need to realise this 'pain d'epices' recipe. Mmmmm..

A bit like gingerbread, but the type you can legitimately have for lunch with butter and cheese!
At least a little of the Christmas spirit was spread to London:

I feel slightly more ready for December now.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Invasion of the boxy pouches

Oh yes, the Christmas present production line continues!
This weekend, several more boxy pouches popped into being:

I've tweaked the pattern slightly to make the design more seamless and avoid any raw edges on the inside. I'm just a bit particular like that.
Obviously you'll recognise the Hello Kitty for Liberty fabric, but I also recently fell for some wonderfully quirky and colourful whale print fabric from Saints and Pinners.

I might have to keep at least one of these for myself..

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Christmas chutney production - Batch 1

Apart from my brief introduction at The Make Lounge, I have never actually made chutney. I never before saw the point of putting stuff on cheese, which in my opinion was already rather tasty. In recent years though, probably due to my more regular visits to various London wine and cheese establishments, I have warmed to the idea.

After one such visit the other evening, I decided it was time to have a go myself (and perhaps some home made chutney could make good Christmas presents too?).

Ok, the first thing about chutney is that it seems to involve a lot of chopping. This lovely recipe for pear, date and cinnamon chutney really put me through my paces. Chopping up 450g of shallots resulted in a little breathing difficulty, although the veggies themselves were very pretty (perhaps I was a little high on onion fumes by then):

Bubbling away on the stove, the chutney smelled a lot like Christmas shot through with vinegary tones. It struck me that I wouldn't really know if the chutney was a 'success' or not straight away as I'm told that the jars need to 'mature' for a month or two before being eaten. Oh the stress of potentially giving away something rank for Christmas! I guess it's a possibility I'll have to live with..

After sterilising the jars in the oven, it was simply a matter of ladling away until all the little containers were full up. Nine jars in all - not bad for an evening's work.

Now all I need is one of those fancy chalk pens from Ryman's and a little fabric for prettifying. Oh and a month of 'maturation' time..

Sunday, 6 November 2011


Cinnamon has to be one of my absolute favourite spices, both for sweet and savoury dishes. Hence I have been carrying this recipe for Cinnamon Roll Cheesecake around in my bag for a couple of weeks. *Finally* this weekend I got my behind in gear to make it. I mean, does it get much better than a fusion between cinnamon rolls and cheesecake?

The faff of three different mixtures was intriguing enough to spur me through the seemingly endless washing up of bowls, and soon the cheesy, vanillary, cinnamony creation was puffing itself up in the oven.

The end result was satisfyingly golden brown and fragrant:

After four (excruciating) hours of cooling off in the fridge, it was time for the cream cheese frosting:

I think I made the frosting a touch too runny, so shoved the whole thing back in the fridge pronto, before the topping could make a dash over the edge of the cake..

Final result? An interesting mixture of cakey cinnamon roll and gooey vanilla cheese cake - yes it's as good as it sounds! I'm off to have my second slice of the evening.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Kitty Christmas

Time for a small celebration: my first Christmas present has been created. Out of the fabled Hello Kitty for Liberty fabric, no less.

So that's one down and ... how many to go?!

Probably *this* many:

At least I had the presence of mind to cut out a load of fabric to the correct sizes while I was at it:

So now all I have to do is find a free weekend.. *slightly hysterical laughter*