Thursday, 3 December 2020

Pre-Christmas



Have you put your tree up yet? Maybe a wreath on the door? No, me neither. Nor have I written a single Christmas card. Not because I don't want to, but I just haven't had time yet. Christmas is entering this house quietly so far this year: baking mince pies at the weekend, making a few decorations, doing a little easy pre-Christmas crafting. It's very soothing. 


I have been drying oranges. Slice them approximately 1.5 cm thick then bake for 3 hours at around 120 degrees C, turning once halfway through. You can put them on a rack or on greaseproof paper, both work. Low and slow is key though, otherwise they catch a little. The house smells amazing while they bake - like marmalade.



I will turn most of these into garlands, but I used one to make a little hanging star decoration. I can't remember where I bought the metal star, but I wanted to turn it into something a little more decorative. 

I sawed off a couple of sprigs of greenery from the artificial tree in the loft, added some fake red berries from an old door wreath, then a dried orange slice and I much prefer it now.


I spent a lovely afternoon making paper stars with Bella last weekend. She doesn't usually want to do stuff like this with me anymore, so when she seemed keen I jumped at the chance. This video shows you what to do. You can use paper bags for large stars or those small money envelopes for smaller ones. You layer them on top of each other, glueing as you go, then cut the top into a point, open it out, and.....



...hey presto! Aren't they beautiful. Probably some of the easiest and most effective crafting I have ever done.



I've just made a quick crochet star garland (it's blocking at the moment) and a very easy piece of embroidery hoop art to hang in the hall temporarily. I find that Christmas always brings out an urge to get creative and do some crafting. I think it's to do with trying to carve out small moments of calm in such a busy time of year. I know that this Christmas isn't busy with the usual socialising and packed calendar, but I still feel pressured with work and my course.

We are planning to buy our tree this weekend but I have been up in the loft, bringing down little decorations like the advent calendar and nativity scene.


I bought it when Bella was a baby and we get it out every year. The children used to love playing house with it when they were small, and I'd regularly find Playmobil figures and toy cars in the manger. When I brought it down, they both really wanted to unpack and arrange it. I thought it was quite sweet.


I made more mince pies from this recipe, and will be making them every weekend between now and Christmas. The recipe gives the most biscuity, sweet pastry and, since they are baked in a muffin tin, they don't overflow everywhere when they bake so you don't have to chisel them out of the baking tray.


We lit the advent candle on Sunday night. This is another one of my favourite, quiet, pre-Christmas things to do. We always light it when we sit down for our Sunday night dinner.


Crochet socks are almost finished. I am taking so much pleasure in using up every last scrap of wool. I divide my leftovers into two, and crochet both socks simultaneously. This way I know I have enough yarn for matching socks, and I don't get bored by the thought of crocheting a second sock.


This one is suddenly obsessed with draughts and the board game Othello. We have had quite a few games on the coffee table in front of the fire. He always beats me.


The weather has taken a distinctly wintry turn this week.


The drop in temperatures seems fitting though, given how wintry the local countryside is looking at the moment.


This was taken on walk last Sunday afternoon. Happiness, apparently, is swinging on a dodgy looking rope swing out over a really large crater in the woods while your mother looks on, horrified. 


14 comments:

  1. I have just discovered your blog, and I’m so glad I did! Your photos are lovely, I especially loved the luminescent sky. And the sheep. And the mince pies....oh, they’re all wonderful!

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  2. your paper stars are spectacular I would love to have a go - thanks for the link. Those mince pies look delicious and the sliced oranges such a simple thing but makes your star look really special.

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  3. Gillian, this was a wonderful pre-Christmas morning coffee and muesli read for me, thank you!
    The paper starts are great, I want to give them a try, too.
    Like you, I have not yet written a single Christmas card except for those I send to my clients. This weekend is forecast to be rather wet and not very walk-friendly, so I guess I shall make a start on my pile of cards.
    My tree - the first time in my life that I will have my own tree! - will only come up shortly before Christmas, in my family we have never had it up until the 24th, as real trees tend to lose more needles the longer they stay indoors. (My tree is an artificial one, my parents' discarded one.)
    Yes, we do not have all the usual activities, meetings, socialising, visits to the Christmas Market, but somehow I am still hard-pressed for time.

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  4. I suddenly had the urge to put up lights, and with the lights my wooden tree came down. It's quit in the COVID times, a bit early Xmas decoration makes happiness come to my house. It's so dark here, light at 10 and dark at 3 o clock. My cats put their faces in real candle light so I put a kazilion electric lights throughout my living room and in the tree. The predicted snow still didn't came. Snow reflects light, the darkness that covers my house and garden is going to be light up too, I found the garlands of outside lightning. I've boys, mine love to live dangerous.I try to encourage them, better than my heart skip beats. Try to enjoy it. They're your kids, they are well aware of the danger. I trust mine and yours not to fall ;>D

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  5. I love the brown bag stars, so effective ... and very worthy of staying up even after Christmas.

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  6. You are such a clever crafter! I may try the stars - I cannot believe how easy they are to make. Thanks for this inspiring post!

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  7. Lovely post & some great ideas for Christmas. Your decorations look so festive without being twee & I may pinch an idea or two. Boys will be boys & you do sort of wear your heart in your mouth with them & I know as we have 2, though now grown up. Take care, stay safe & huggles.

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  8. I've recently found your blog and have been especially enjoying your photos. Love the pic of your daredevil son! I've found the best way to survive (3!) boys and their crazy ideas of having fun, is to turn away.. if you can't see it, it's not happening, right?

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  9. it is good article thanks for sharing this blog it give lots of information
    clipping path

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  10. Lovely blog post as usual Gillian, haven't commented for a while though - soz. Particularly good pic of Angus with the Othello. Get such a homey glow reading your blog. Do you have a link you can share for those crochet socks pls? Merry Christmas to you all x

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  11. Simply lovely photos as always, Gillian. I've not made the cake yet, or written the cards, or put up the tree. But it would do us all good to remember this is all just for one day. We will put up the tree before Christmas and the cards will be written and I will bake a cake, but I'm not busting a gut to do more than that. We must all learn to relax, it's been a tough year for so many. The socks looks lovely, as do those brown decorations over the fireplace.
    Margaret P
    www.margaretpowling.com

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  12. It looks like such a lovely calm start to Christmas. Adding a little bit by bit rather than jumping straight in. That sounds like my sort of festivities. Take it easy and enjoy the peace that a bit of crafting can bring x

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  13. We have a nativity 'shed' too, the children still love it and it looks fab in our new house. Have a lovely weekend. Jo xx

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