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Monday, 16 December 2013

Christmas mash up

Slowly, slowly I am getting things done. The tree is up and decorated, and home made decorations are finished. I'm trying not to go overboard, work is very busy and I'm feeling the strain. So just trying to keep it low key....

I've used my Wilko's burlap ribbon on the dresser. I just stapled on the stars. The washing line at the top was inspired by a photo on a Facebook page called The Reed Warbler, which is very beautiful. I pegged on oak leaves sprayed white, ribbon, brown labels, and Christmas cards of course. My collection of jars with writing on is nudging out the floral china, which is safely stored away for when I change my mind again.

Willow wreath with acorns and leaves.

Sparkly twigs from Next (sorry about the wires and plugs!).

Oh dear, I now have five horses on wheels of varying sizes. I think that may be termed an addiction! A couple will  have to go to new homes next year. This chap is full of woodworm, so his days may be numbered anyway.

We've gone for a white tree this year. I say "we..." The family are happy to let me decorate. 
Eldest son is home from uni now, so we're a full house again.
See you again soon. I've really been enjoying my comments lately. Thank you for leaving them. There are some lovely people out there x

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Let there be light

I spotted this really simple idea in this month's Country Living magazine. Tea lights in jam jars, but embedded in rock salt to give them a snowy/Christmassy look. I rounded up some stray jam jars from the cupboard and tied some fabric and old lace around the top.

The old enamel tray came from a small antiques fair in the autumn. I was saving it for a Christmas arrangement. It's so simple but I love it with the greenery, ivy and rosemary.

Little white Christmas tree candle was from Asda. I've been amassing these old chocolate moulds and tart tins over time as well, I buy them at boot sales usually, although I did find a little stash on Ebay too.

I like to light candles as the afternoon draws in.

Tea light idea was from this Country Living, a lovely issue. 

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Seasons eatings

We've just had a delightful mooch around a Christmas food market in nearby Oundle. This is a small market town that is fighting to keep its centre alive after a supermarket opened just outside town. Today's initiative was a huge success: it was a genuinely local market, with (mainly) regional producers selling their wares. 

 Produce markets such as these are never cheap, but if you choose carefully, it's possible to find some good buys. This cheese is so rich and mature, a little goes a long way.

A big box of shiny orange clementines: nothing says Christmas like these.

Crisp Fenland celery. A properly local delicacy. I bought some Stichelton cheese to eat with it.
In this month's local magazine, we have a recipe for some little parsnip blinis with blue cheese and walnuts. I made them last weekend, and they're delicious.

If you want to have a go, here's how. The recipe is courtesy of Riverford Organic Farms, the veg box people. They are gluten free.

3 large parsnips
2 large eggs, separated into yolks and whites
Dessert spoon of rice flour
30 ml creme fraiche (I used natural yogurt)
30ml milk
Butter and olive oil
100g Cropwell Bishop or another good quality blue cheese
Handful of toasted walnut halves
1 tablespoon honey (to mix with walnuts, if liked. I didn't!)

Chop the parsnips into half inch chunks, removing any woody bits. Saute gently in a pan of butter and olive oil until soft. Puree in a food processor, season with salt and pepper and leave to cool in the fridge. Mix the egg yolks, rice flour, cream and milk with the parsnip puree. Whip the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold these gently into the parsnip mixture, taking care to maintain as much air as you can. Heat a frying pan and melt butter with olive oil until it starts to foam. Drop a few spoonfuls of the mix into the pan, shaping into circles as you go. It is quite a thick mixture. Cook until golden brown on one side and flip over to finish the other. Cook in batches. To serve, top with some blue cheese, and a walnut half (coated in honey if preferred). You can freeze the blinis, just defrost and warm though to refresh.

I topped them with walnuts from our tree. I'll definitely be serving these at Christmas with some mulled wine or cider.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Work and stitch

The pre-Christmas work deadlines and seasonal preps are ramping up a bit around here, but it's time to stop by and say hello.
Busy days, and lots of this going on in the evening (phone pics at night so apologies for quality):

The top of the quilt is now complete! It is quite fragile, owing to my bad stitching, so I just need to go over a few places and mend any small holes that may have appeared (not helped by the fact that I've been watching the sub-titled Borgen on BBC4 while I'm working. Not a good combination, Sub-titles and stitching). 
But the paper templates are out and it feels as if I am one step further on the quilty road.

I have new glasses. Proper prescription glasses for the first time in my life. They feel quite strange. I have a double use lens, and it makes them very thick and heavy, like bottle-tops. I expect I'll get used to them and they do help when I am sewing.
I went on a short trip to a pretty market town called Uppingham, and visited the second hand bookshop to buy some Christmas presents. This has to be the best bookshop ever.

I found some beautiful things in here.

The Rutland Bookshop, if you're ever passing that way.