Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Christmas Past and Christmas Present .

I think this will be the last post until after Christmas - everything is now on the slow grind down to a halt . My bear making has been packed up even though I miss having something to work on - now is the time to sit back and admire things already made !!
To that end I've been thinking about some of the objects I've made over the years , which really only came in to being because of the Festive Season . Some posts ago I mentioned the felt reindeer I made when I was 13 , as a school project . Out they come , every Christmas at my parents' house , regular as the turning of the seasons , ... I've just realised they're 31 years old !!! The fawn is a perpetual baby ; with pipe cleaners in his twiglet legs . The adult has a wire coat hanger armature . I well remember "adding" to the original pattern in that faded grey and white book to give the mother (father ? as it has large antlers ??)a kindly face , and embellished eyes ... expression being so important ! Of course I'd do them better now - no red gaps between the appliqued white leg socks for a start - but they're part of the heart and soul of tradition in our family . Just as they are !

As I brought down the children's sacks and stockings from my big (mysterious) box in the wardrobe it turned my mind to the huge pleasure I had in creating them . Each of
my sons' had a little felt Christmas stocking made for their first Christmas .My husband and I also have one each ; they're decorated with a "Mr.Men" theme as that was popular back 17 years ago !! Hubby is "Mr.Strong" , I'm "Mr. Happy", then we have a "Mr. Nosy" , "Mr.Daydream" and "Mr.Chatterbox" .... they know who they are ! I thought the buttons were cute to add with the felt decoration . On the back are their names picked out with silver thread . These tiny stockings are just for edible surprises , and are always set upon after The Big Meal !

I made the small sacks from cheap lining material and decorated them with ribbon snippets and felt ,and also the silver name panels on the back again .These go on the end of the bed year after year , and were always the cause of that early morning ripping sound !!

My husband also took a photo of the Christmas cake wreath which I made about 7 or 8 years ago . I carefully wrestled it out of its box and wondered (again) that I'd actually made it ! It's very odd but at the time I was "in to" sugar craft work I seemed to be able to create flowers and foliage out of thin air (couldn't be bothered with directions etc) , then elaborately wire them together surprising myself most of the time with the result of my efforts . This wreath rather takes the form of a crown , and includes holly berries and tiny cones . The roses are dusted over with a gold lustre . It used to look quite majestic atop the 14" rich fruit cakes I would make at Christmas , but sadly for the last few years we all make do with a tiny bought cake as a concession to both my parents' Type 2 diabetes , drat to it (Pantomime Boo !)

Now for "Christmas Present". My last picture (under electric light I'm afraid ) is a plate of the mince pies I was talking of , although I haven't made any with meringue this time . If you'd like to try a macaroon topping here is a quick recipe that will make enough scrumptiousness to go over 24 open tarts :

6oz golden caster sugar
6oz ground almonds
2oz flaked almonds
3 egg whites
1tsp almond essence
A few flaked almonds to finish

Whisk the egg whites until very stiff , fold in the caster sugar and ground almond , then the flaked almonds and essence . Dollop on to the pies and sprinkle a few flaked almonds over the top of each before baking .
Mmmmmm , what could be nicer than handing these round ?

As I'm a sentimental type may I extend warm Season's Greetings to all my beary friends , past customers , and anyone else who has happened to find this blog and pop in from time to time - see you all in the New Year !!

Ta Ta For Now , Ruth XX

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Deck The Halls ..

Well , actually I haven't got any holly - but I have put up all the rest of my Christmas bling ! It's one time in the year when I can surround myself with pretty / glittery / glossy / sparkley things and no males in the house complain !! We usually have at least 3 trees (amount of decoration is in inverse proportions to size of house , as a good rule of thumb) and as many pieces with glitter on as I can reasonably get away with . Whilst avoiding the dreaded "tacky" comments .

This year I chose a lovely new white tree , which is livening up the dining room . So it's lucky no one will be "dining" in there , as (obviously) there wouldn't be room now! Usually we all sit together in the kitchen (which is generally the hub of our universe!)

I can't get away from the fact that Christmas lights are so bewitching , not to mention beguiling - I wonder if my children feel the same ? I remember so vividly the magical excitement of coming sleepily down the stairs to find my father testing the fairy lights - with them strung across the floor ; the tiny , bright pools of impossibly enchanting light dancing across the carpet .The wonderment that would then suffuse my whole being - I then believed that Christmas was nearly here !

A huge part of Christmas to me is that special aroma , evoking more childhood memories of the days when mince pies were made on Christmas Eve . It should be 1 part cinnamon , 1 part clove and 2 parts orange !! Every year I go on a quest round the shops to find this extra special "essence of Christmas" in a can or bottle . Every morning when I come downstairs I liberally squirt the air and inhale .... aahhh !
My sons have told me this is how they know the festive season is well and truly upon them ! Mind you , there's absolutely no substitute for the real thing , and to that end several batches of mince pies will shortly be made . I always make star-topped , macaroon , and meringue . Also last year I first made puff pastry pin-wheels with mincemeat and flaked almonds (a complete doddle) Making shortcrust pastry is so relaxing , I love popping the batches of spicy little tarts in to the oven - and always sneak one or two "to try them out" when they're cool .

These new little bearies, sitting under the tiny rustic tree on my dining room dresser, look like they're enjoying themselves. I must say a big "Thank You" to (L to R) Samantha Potter, Tina Jenson and Clare Davis-Tedd for allowing me to adopt them - what a delightful little group!

T.T.F.N Ruth xx