Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Festive Greetings

Belated festive greetings to one and all! I am now very happy to be back in The Lodge after a hectic week...

We helped my Mum move this van full of stuff from Cornwall to Kent:

We were lucky enough to get a wardrobe that matches ours that couldn't be accommodated (thank you Mum for the wardrobe and Dave for assembling it!)

I was really chuffed to come second in our cake competition at work with my festive yule log:

We had a bit of a disaster with a swollen door on our shed, which now means we can't get in to access our tool box, so the furniture we got today (to store yet more craft stuff!) had to be banged together with a saucepan:

And we spent Christmas with our loved ones, who appreciated their home made gifts:

Cloth bag for Dave's sister, with lovely fabric from Country Threads in Bath

Denim Kindle case, also for Dave's sister (tutorial to follow)

Christmas tree decorations

Flower brooches for my sister

Thanks to everyone for our lovely gifts- one of my personal favourites was this Mr and Mrs Christmas knitted by my Nan, thank you :)

Hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Craft Space Clear Out

We have now put up our Christmas tree, after much debate about where we could fit a 7ft tree in our little lodge (the answer is in the middle of the floor, blocking both the window and the radiator!)

What with the Christmas tree and all of the craft materials strewn around in a last minute gift-making panic, there's barely room for us in the house, so tonight, drastic measures were taken and I began the difficult process of parting with my lecture notes to make room...

Goodbye first year!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Christmas Pudding Truffles

I will start by saying that truffles are sadly not thrifty, but they are delicious and home made ones are certainly a lovely gift and much cheaper than their shop-bought equivalents. I have been making truffles for Christmas for a few years now, but this year I decided to stray into unchartered territory- Christmas pudding truffles (in look, not flavour, although that will definitely be next!)

I was quite pleased with the result, even if they were a bit fiddly and could have done with a flatter base so they didn't keep rolling away for the photos...

250g (8oz) good quality dark chocolate
175ml (6 fl oz) double cream
50g white chocolate
Green roll out icing
Red writing icing
+ A lot of patience

1. Break the chocolate up into a heatproof bowl
2. Heat the cream in a saucepan on a medium heat until its nearly boiling
3. Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate has metled and the two are combined
4 Leave the mixture to cool (at room temperature for the first 15 minutes and then it can go in the fridge to speed it up a bit!)
5. Using a teaspoon or melon baller, scoop out into small balls
6. Chill the truffles in the fridge for an hour. Whilst they are chilling, cut out holly leaves from green icing
7. Gently melt the white chocolate in a bowl over simmering water and carefully spoon over the top of the truffles
8. Stick the holly leaves in
9. Once the white chocolate has cooled, dot on berries with the writing icing

The truffles will keep for a few days in the fridge, or you can freeze them after step 5 if you want to decorate at a later stage.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Strawberry 'Bah Humbug' Sponge

This cake is a bit of a bah humbug to the Christmas puds and mince pies everywhere at the moment, but despite its summery nature, this is the brief for my third entry into the 'Cake of Your Life' competition at work for tomorrow. So if you fancy something a bit different for the cold winter evenings, then here is the recipe:

250g unsalted butter
250g caster sugar
1 and 1/2 tsps vanilla essence
4 large eggs, beaten
250g self-raising flour
200ml double cream
2 tbsp icing sugar
Handful of strawberries to decorate (optional)
3 tbsps strawberry conserve

1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees/gas mark 5. Grease and line three 8" cake tins
2. Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla essence until light and fluffy
3. Gradually beat in the eggs, beating well between each addition
4. Sift half of the flour into the mixture and gently fold in using a metal spoon or rubber spatula. Sift in the remaining flour and fold until just blended
5. Divide the mixture between the cake tins and smooth the top with a knife
6. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and well risen
7. Leave to cool and in the meantime whip the cream with 1 tbsp of icing sugar until it forms soft peaks
8. Spread the bottom two cakes with strawberry conserve and then whipped cream and sandwich together
9. Sift icing sugar over the top layer and decorate with halved strawberries

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

A Lick of Paint

I have set tonight aside for doing all of those things I keep putting off, like sewing buttons back on and filing the paperwork currently strewn over the desk. One of those things is to coat my trusty old Ikea magazine files in cream tester pot paint to make them match our red and cream living room a bit better:

As you can see, this is not their first re-modelling. I am a big fan of wrapping things in wallpaper/wrapping paper to jazz them up a bit (but for now I'm going all sensible and magnolia!)

In their rightful place with the Christmas monkey :)

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Star Cookie Christmas Tree

This weekend saw the first attempt at the cookie Christmas tree, made using these cutters from Lakeland. We were really pleased with it and hope my step uncle, aunt and cousins are too!

Cookie Recipe

225g plain flour
Pinch of salt
100g sugar
125g butter, cubed
1 egg yolk
1-2 tbsps cold water
1. Sift flour and salt into mixing bowl and stir in sugar
2. Work in butter using fingers
3. Stir in the egg yolk and enough water to hold the mixture together, bring into a ball
4. Wrap and chill the dough in the frige for at least 30 minutes
5. Roll out onto a floured surface (to about 3mm thickness) and cut out shapes
6. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 180 degrees/Gas Mark 4

Lakeland use a different recipe on the back of the cookie cutter box, which also looks tasty. We cheated and cut the star icing out from some ready rolled icing for ease, but you could make your own to put on top. We then made a little base from a square of cardboard covered in foil and wrapped it up in cellophane to make it look a bit special: