Thursday, 23 November 2017


I've been busy here, these last few weeks. Not the usual school/work/life kind of busy, but a pleasant weekend pottering sort of busy. I've been baking and preserving, stamping and crocheting - trying to get ahead of myself for what is coming over the next few weeks.

I made our Christmas cake. It's only John and I who eat it, and I make a much smaller one than I used to, but it's a tradition that I really cherish and enjoy. I also made one for my mother and father in law and nine mini ones, cooked in little 200g baked bean tins.  I baked them for one hour at 150°c using my usual recipe (from Nigella Christmas - I'm sure it's available online somewhere) and they came out better than I could have hoped. The only tedious part was lining nine individual tins. They will all be individually iced and wrapped in cellophane closer to Christmas to be given as gifts.

And, another tradition in which I like to indulge - making preserves for Christmas. I usually make cranberry chutney but this year I fancied trying something else, so I made chilli jam

Compared to chutney is was wonderfully simple; no mounds of fruit and vegetables to peel and chop, just chillies and red bell peppers blitzed in the food processor before being cooked in sugar and cider vinegar.

It's so good, like sweet chilli sauce but not quite so sweet and a lot thicker. Jammier, you might say. And then I thought it would be fun to buy a little chilli stamp and got rather carried away stamping fabric jar toppers and labels. 

I used a white tea towel and heat sealed the ink with an iron. 

The end result is rather pleasing though. The only problem I foresee with this gift is that I do not want to give it away, and may have to make more for myself.

And the crochet. The first gift isn't for Christmas, but for my goddaughter who turns five tomorrow, but her birthday is close enough to December to feel like festive present making and I was on a tight deadline this week, frantically hooking this up at the last possible moment. What can I say, I work well under pressure.

This beauty is from the brilliant Edward's Menagerie: Birds, a book I know I've mentioned here before lots and cannot recommend highly enough, or it's predecessor Edward's Menagerie.

I also bought some delightfully squishy balls of Drops Andes yarn to make some chunky colour block cowls for gifts. I am thinking about this pattern, or this one, or I may just make up something of my own. 

Please don't be fooled into thinking that all this industry equates to any kind of organisation. In fact I am behind in just about everything else in life; housework, emails, washing, Christmas shopping, buying and posting gifts, blog reading. But hey, I crocheted a flamingo!

Happy thanksgiving to my American and Canadian friends and readers - I hope you all enjoy a calm and happy day with your favourite people.  


  1. It all looks lovely Gillian. I really ought to get cracking with my cake. Love the flamingo, brilliant! I'm sure he'll be well loved. Cathy x

  2. Love the chili jams jars with the stamps - it just takes it to another level! The flamingo is co cute - and so pink it can only be loved by a five year old.

  3. ‘What a nice post, it all looks great, I specially love your chili stamps..

  4. Mini Christmas cakes in baked bean tins - genius! Your Goddaughter will love that cute flamingo and your chilli jam looks wonderful. All that and cowls too - what lucky friends you have. xx

  5. The chilli jam sounds delicious and I love your jar toppers!

  6. Oh, & what is coming? Aha, the 'silly season', I guess. You are way ahead of me, & I'm still trying to work out what on earth we are doing at all, but do know a few bits leading up to the day. We've our nephew & partner visiting from UK & they've given me a small itinerary of things they want to see, so more of a sightseeing few weeks for us, with the festivities thrown in too. Have a lovely weekend & take care.

  7. LOVE the flamingo, he is absolutely excellent. And a great idea to make little Christmas cakes in bean tins, clever. You have been busy. No such industry here, I am letting it all wash over me this year. CJ xx

  8. love the print material lids...great idea!, i always enjoy your foody posts~ the chilli jam sounds lovely. At christmas i love all the chutneys and sauces with cheese and crackers! yum! ;)

  9. I love the chilli jam suggestion and the print materials lids!

  10. I love that you give food gifts away to people. I wish it were more of an appreciated custom here. It's also true that I know a lot of unappreciative people. The flamingo is awesome! Beautiful work. I'm sure your goddaughter will be thrilled. Enjoy your preparations. :)

  11. Hi Jillian, I have an fyi for you - Canadian thanksgiving is always celebrated in October much like your UK harvest thanksgivings, this year on October 9th. It was only in the US that thanksgiving was celebrated yesterday, November 23rd.
    Love reading your blog, but have never commented before.
    Adrienne in Toronto

    1. Hi Adrienne,

      Thanks so much for leaving a comment, and for correcting me so nicely on my Canadian Thanksgiving error!

      Warmest wishes,

  12. You have inspired me to buy the Edwards Menagerie book in the hope I can make some animals for my Grandsons. I just love hearing about your life, the children and the dog. Thank you for sharing.

  13. I would love to have that answer to my disorganised ways, "but hey, I crochet a flamingo"! Which also happen to be the sweetest flamingo...

  14. Nothing wrong with crocheting a flamingo! I love that new yarn. Drops is a great yarn at a super duper price. Look forward to seeing those tangled up into something beautiful. Jo xx

  15. I like your last comment about having to catch up on all the usual household jobs - this is always my dilema crafting versus keeping up with the housework - you made me feel instantly better by confessing!
    Love the flamingo and pots of jam. I used to make those baked bean tin cakes when I had my gas cooker - this electric one would just dry them out - shame because they make nice little gifts don't they.


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