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.