Friday, 30 December 2011

Foodie Gifts

I am the sort of person who likes to make gifts of the edible sort, so this year I thought I'd make Homemade Peppermint Creams to give out as presents. I had wanted to try making these for a while, as the recipe seemed so simple and easy, and luckily, it was!

The recipe I used:

450g icing sugar
2 egg whites
peppermint flavouring
food colouring & dark chocolate optional.

Basically you whisk the egg white til it forms soft peaks, then sift in the icing sugar and mix til you have a dough that is kneadable. Then you can add your flavouring and colouring if you wish to do so. Then roll out the dough, cut out into shapes and leave to set on a lined baking tray for 24 hours. Then I added melted dark chocolate to them.

I made one batch and added a few drops of blue food colouring to half of it. I left the other half of the batch white. I used four different shaped cutters :
star :: heart :: circle :: flower

The chocolate part was the most fun, although I ended up ruining a few (so they had to be eaten, of course) I put them in the fridge for a couple of hours after doing the chocolate to help it set.

Then I packaged them up in these cute little celophane bags with a label. These went down really well as they taste exactly like shop bought peppermint creams, only they looked sooo much prettier!

I did a little handmade/homemade hamper for my aunt - some homemade strawberry jam, handmade heart, some chocolates, a pretty teatowel, crackers, cheese, homemade chutney and some homemade peppermint creams. The hamper basket was £2 from Tiger and I wrapped it all in celophane. It cost hardly anything to make but it was made with lots of love!

The chutney was made by me in November but I didn't get around to prettifying it up until last week. I picked polka dot red for the men and floral print for the ladies. Its Delia Smiths Christmas chutney recipe and the little jars are in fact spice jars from IKEA, which are the perfect size for gift giving.

I am so chuffed that I made this chutney, it was one of those things that I really wanted to make, but I thought I would never get around to doing. I ended up making it with two lovely friends, so we split the cost of the ingredients, the jars, and shared all the chopping and cleaning up! It turned out to be so much fun and worked out a lot cheaper than if I had made it on my own at home.

It also meant that the girls got to use up some of my extensive fabric stash for their toppers, which I was pleased about too, as its far too big and I'll never manage to use it all.

Now not a gift as such, but I made a couple of deserts to take round to my brothers on Boxing Day, and this one especially was soo delicious! Its a Raspberry and Chocolate Tart, made with shortcrust pastry.

I lined my dish and blind baked the pastry. Then added a layer of delicious raspberries.

The rest was 250ml double cream and 250g dark chocolate poured over the top of the raspberries and decorated rather messily with some chocolate curls!

The best way to do the curls is to warm the chocolate by leaving it somewhere warm, then use a vegetable peeler to shave the curls off!

Lastly, my blueberry baked cheesecake. Sooo yummy and went down a storm.

I must experiment with other fruits and flavours too, I like the idea of some sort of compote on top. I think that would be even yummier!

Hope you enjoyed my foodie treats!

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Christmas At The BFs

Hello All!
Hope you had a wonderful Christmas and are enjoying that little slump between Christmas and New Years. As I usually spend Christmas day at home, I tend to spend that "slump time" at the BFs. 
We opened our gifts to each other on Christmas night which was lovely as it means its not all over so soon in terms of receiving gifts!

To make it feel lovely and festive we lit our Mistletoe and Wine candle, and I bought these gorgeous multi coloured vintage style baubles from Tiger to go on the glass cake stand (as planned!) I love vintage style baubles but never find any genuine vintage ones anywhere!

The candle smells of those ones that really fills the room with scent instead of just claiming to smell but not really smelling once its burning. The little 5 foot tree was decorated (mainly by me!) and we stashed the pressies underneath.

I'd say about 80% of the decorations on this tree were made by me the first year we got it as I wanted to make it as handmade and homemade as possible. There were a few simple baubles and bits added over the years, but its predominantly handmade which I like :)

There has always got to be a mini Christmas pudding...

IKEA lights were strung up over this shelf and it all felt very festive and cosy.

I was very lucky and received some lovely lovely bits, which I shall post about. The BF did good!

We'll keep the tree up until New Years Eve is over and will probably take it down on Monday. I hate taking it down as everywhere always looks so bare. When do you take all of your decorations down?
Taking the decorations down will only remind me that we still need to finish the decorating throughout the flat and hang the collection of vintage mirrors we have accumulated!

Well, its something to blog about in 2012 at least!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Christmas At Home

I love being at home during the festive season. I love being cosy and doing all those traditional things that you come to do every year. Wrapping presents, writing cards, making mince pies, eating mince pies!

 I love opening each door of my advent calendar and feeling the anticipation of what is to come!

I also really love to see the house looking lovely and Christmassy with decorations that come out time and time again. The gingerbread house is a newer addition, by Gisela Graham. It has quickly become one of my favourites - although I also really love this little old fashioned Santa which has been on the tree for as long as I can remember. 

The spotty and stripey decorations have replaced the gold stuff that we had years ago.
 Now we tend to go for a scandinavian style colour scheme, thank you IKEA! 

For my own tree one day I'd like a mix of vintage and handmade baubles and decorations, I love the brightly coloured glass ones you see on some beautiful blogs, I also rather like coloured lights too, as we've never had any I think I'd like to have some. Ooh and of course each year we would add one or two special decorations to build a special collection with lots of memories.

I found it really hard to take a nice photo of the tree, but I found a tutorial via Pinterest that helped me produce this image. There is a lot of 'noise' going on in the photo, but shows the lights rather lovely I thought. If anyone wants help finding the Pinterest tutorial just ask and I shall direct!

Cosy festive corners in the living room....

Bringing out the Christmas biscuit tin and a just a few more red coloured things into the kitchen. The flowers are not very festive are they? We need to bring in some holly or something!!

Indulging in a little warmed mince pie courtesy of Mr.Kipling! I will get around to making my own hopefully (as I still have loads of mincemeat left over from last years pies!) but I have to say Mr.Kiplings are rather lovely though.

I have just started writing out some Christmas cards, I've decided not to send too many this year as they can be so wasteful. I picked two packets from John Lewis, both of the designs are really lovely. The christmas pudding one is my favourite I think, very retro looking. The others are a sweet little design by Cath Kidston. Both of them are charity cards, which I am pleased about as its good to know the money goes somewhere important. 

Oh, the pastel spotty jug... my mum spotted it at a Vintage Fair a few weeks ago, its rather sweet isn't it?
How are you getting on with your cards and presents? Any Christmas baking going on yet?

Monday, 12 December 2011

My Festive Touches

I don't know about you, but I am love love loving Christmas time in blogland. So much inspiration, so many beautiful houses decorated, gorgeous gifts and lovely traditions. It really gives me a lot of ideas of what I'd like my Christmasses to be like once I have a family. A real tree is definately a must for me as we've never ever had one, and they are sooo pretty. And fairy light in abundance, you can never have too many!

Something festive that I've been up to this week is organising my Secret Santa present. The budget was £10, and I cheated a little as I spent £10 on these lovely Soap and Glory products (they are my fave, so I thought they would be a good gift idea!) I already had the pretty little green and red gingham IKEA box which came in a set of three, the idea is to do Christmas hampers in them, but we'll see how it goes! I also thought it would be nice to add a little handmade touch, so I popped in one of the mini jars of strawberry jam I made in the summer, they are a perfect size for gifting. I shredded up some old tissue paper and wrapped it in celophane and it was complete! I think my Secret Santa partner was pleased!

In Tesco I picked up this set of Candy Cane decorations for the tree, although I decided to put them in a jug instead as they looked cute! I think I will have to get some real candy canes though, as the tree could do with more decorations in my humble opinion....

Pretty, no?

On the sideboard in the living room I have set up a little festive display, some sweet red tealight holders - from Tiger - and the gorgeous Dots and Spots advent calendar in the background and some of my favourite cards too... the ones I love are the painted old fashioned style. Anything with a post box and a festive red robin and it stays here!

I really love to light candles when I get in, and turn on the Christmas tree lights. We try to keep all of the bigger lights off so as not to waste electricity. Candle-light is so much cosier and prettier anyway, don't you think?

One of my favourite decorations is this minature tree, which comes decorated with such sweet little decorations in red and white (those are our colours, and have been for several years, red and white with gingham, spots and stripes thrown in). This also sits on the sideboard looking very festive.

As I have been poorly today I thought I'd make a start on some wrapping, as I am so behind with it all. I have still got lots of people to buy for, and two items to return already as I've ended up buying something they already have!! Not my smartest move I must say! How are you getting on with your shopping? Please don't tell me you are all done and dusted!!!

Its hard to get a good photo of a lit tree isn't it? You can't really see any of the decorations, but I have blogged about them all in the past, and we hardly add to them, unless I have some handmade ones leftover from crafty fairs! So at the moment I am sitting in my PJs beside the tree watching the twinkling lights and blowing into a pile of tissues! Festive!!

Ooh, lastly, this MERRY CHRISTMAS banner, also from Tesco was reduced (as were the candy canes, and by the looks of it, all of their Christmas decorations) is up over the mirror in the living room, all we need now are some paper chains!

Merry Christmas Folks!

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Loving The Lights

One of my favourite things about this time of year is how beautiful everywhere looks at night, I love fairy lights, christmas trees and the fact that everyone makes an effort. We went to Covent Garden at the weekend and as gorgeous as it is, it never looks better than it does at Christmas time. This huge sparkly reindeer greets you as you walk down from the station, and there are lights absolutely everywhere!

Inside the old market was completely, huge baubles, holographic moving sparkling lights, bunting and lots of Christmas cheer!

Its rather lovely isn't it? I definately recommend a visit to Covent Garden at this time of year, you can't beat it for full on Christmassy-ness! 
Yes, thats a word.

There is also this huge huge tree outside the market, decorated in red and white and after around ten attempts this is the best photo I could get of it!

This one - not so in focus, but still pretty none the less!

I had a problem with this all day, and have a lot of photos on my camera that look like this:

Well, any light is good light!

This beautiful building is the Covent Garden Opera House, which we admired as we walked past on our way to this sweet little sweet shop!

Hope and Greenwood is just the cutest little sweet shop I've ever been to. If you've never been or heard of it, I'd describe it as...
If Cath Kidston had a sweet shop, it would be like this.

The displays are gorgeous, the sweets are nostalgic and retro and beautifully packaged, and I made a little purchase for Christmas for the BF...

A jar of Frothy Blue Cherry sweeties!

On the way home I took a few more photos, as I just love this area...

These gorgeous lights are in Camden Passage in Islington, which is about five minutes away from where the BF lives, I drag him down here frequently in the winter, just to see the lights! Lovely aren't they?

I've been so late in blogging a thank you to Becky at the wonderful Dots and Spots for this beautiful advent calendar that I won in her giveaway. I had been wanting a keepsake calender and am so so pleased with it, I love opening up the windows to see what cute little picture is inside and I'm not even missing the chocolate!

More Christmassy-ness coming your way soon!
Ho Ho Ho!