Monday, December 29, 2008

christmas 2008

Christmas Scottie dog jammies

The official gift unwrappers in their Christmas outfits!

Christmas morning strawberries
cranberry table arrangement

a Christmas table

with lovely ornaments, candles,

sweets, chocolates and clove studded oranges

the Christmas dinners, looking lovely in our crowns!

Merry Christmas to all!
I hope yours was filled with love, happiness, friends and family.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

butter tarts

Here's my recipe for butter tarts. I use frozen pastry shells for the pastry because frankly I haven't got the time to start making pastry from scratch during the holiday season. Feel free to make pastry for these if you so desire and just line some muffin tins with the pastry and bake as follows.


2" frozen pastry shells( you can use large ones I just find that the 2" is the perfect pastry to filling ratio)
1-2 cups of Currants
3/4 cup of melted butter
1 1/4 cup of brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tbsp of vanilla extract
3 tbsp of cream
Preheat oven to 350f/180C
Put Frozen 2" pastry shells on a baking sheet, my package came with 40 shells and put 20 per baking sheet.

Take currants and sprinkle in pastry shells, approx 15 currants per shell or filled half way but with room with some breathing room around the currants

Melt butter and poor into a bowl whisk in brown sugar, egg, vanilla and cream.

Whisk until everything is well combined.

Poor filling into tarts till 3/4 full ( I used a tablespoon for this)

Bake for 10min or until the pastry is golden and the filling is hot and bubbling.

Place on cooling rack, until cool and as tempting as it is to pop one of these hot babies in your mouth you really must wait till they are cool! The middle is molten lava when it comes out of the oven, just a little tip from experience.
Finally enjoy, they won't last long!
Some wintery pics from our tree hunt.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The merriment has arrived

Coffee and croissants to keep me going! I'm feeling much merrier this week, things are getting done and I'm pretty sure they will all be ready for Christmas. A few more late nights and I will be done. Just trying to decided if I'm going to bake a gingerbread house on Sunday.
Will see if I have the time!
Lovely reindeer candles that I got in the sale last year.

The tree is up! A bit charlie brownish but glorious all the same.

Cute Japanese Santa head.

Just got this the other day, love the vintage feel to this Santa head, even thought it's new.

The wreath, natural look with large jingle bells.

I got some Christmas baking done, this is Christmas biscotti( dried cranberry and walnut).

A extremely chocolaty cake baked for dinner with friends.

Butter tarts, they were so delicious they have all been eaten!
Will have to bake some more!

And finally star cookies with elderflower icing.
The elderflower icing really jazzes up plain vanilla cookies!
And so simple to do! just add elderflower cordial to icing sugar and hey presto!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

ready or not

This is exactly how I'm feeling toward Christmas right now. It has not been a great week, I'm feeling behind on all fronts and frankly a little depressed. I decided in October that making all the Christmas gifts would be a fun and creative way to give presents this year. And I think I was wrong, not that I haven't enjoyed what I have produced so far, it just that I feel the deadline looming and I'm not sure it will all get done! Secondly I'm not sure some of the recipients will really appreciate all the effort and thought that went into the gifts. Which makes me wonder why am I putting myself through this undo stress, when I could have just gone to the mall one evening and just got it done in one swoop! Maybe it is the others who I know will love what I have made them and appreciate the effort that went into them. I did make a sort conscious decision to avoid the mall with it millions of cranky shoppers and screaming unhappy children this year and have a less stressful Christmas but it appears that as not happened. I think I may have been spoiled in past years with my time in England with it's lovely shops and outdoor Christmas markets, sure it was still busy but some how had more magic than the mall. We do have a lovely downtown but it is limited, only a few nice shops but mostly lots of coffee shops and restaurants.
It isn't just the gift making that has got me down, the Christmas spirit just doesn't seem to be in the air. The bit of snow that has fallen keeps melting away. The state of the world with all the wars, credit crunching, market crashing, proroguing of Parliament and the list goes on, it doesn't really lift ones spirits. Not to mention that we went on a fruitless Christmas tree hunt today, the tree we cut down and brought back is clearly diseased( some of the needles are brown and falling off)now that all the snow has melted off it. So now I'm feeling incredibly guilty about having to go on Sunday and chop another one down.
We are also behind at work and it just seems like an impossible task to get all of those arrangements done. As well two of the ladies I work with have decided they are not doing Christmas this year. Which I just can get my head around, NO GIFTS, they are doing the whole dinner thing but both of their families have decided to not give gifts.
It brings up an interesting question do we need gifts at Christmas?
Is all this rushing around and driving ourselves crazy worth it?
I have been thinking about this all day, as I knit an sew and work my little hands to the bone. I have come to the conclusion that I personally need gifts, I need gifts at Christmas, at Birthdays, at Valentines, at Easter and just because gifts. I love gifts, I love giving gifts and love receiving gifts. I think for me it's a way of showing love, that you care for someone and that you put love and thought into what your giving. And the same on the receiving front that someone thought and cared to pick out something just for you. For me Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas without gifts, the excitement and anticipation.
The shaking and feeling of wrapped presents(yes, I'm one on those) and the look on the recipient's face when you have given them something just them! With that I'm going back to work to finish all the lovely things I decided to make and was so excited to get stuck into in October. The final push is on and I'm sure I will finish on time and with maybe with only one trip to the mall for a few last minute bits. All the arrangements will be made and delivered with care. The presents will be wrapped and under the tree and on Christmas eve when it's all over I will sit back with a glass of mulled wine and think well that wasn't so bad!
P.S. yes I'm also one those people who dresses their dogs up on holidays and as you can see she is really enjoying it!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

november skies and peach pies

November darkness has descended upon us and I am now walking home from work in the dark. This certainly makes feel like hibernating, crawling into bed and not coming out till spring. But like with any season change there are new things to discover. On my walk home from work, I have discovered that houses really come into their own at night. Their occupants cooking dinner with windows open to release kitchen steam. These smells permeate into the quite streets, filling the cool air with the aromas of mashed potatoes, roasting chicken and warm cinnamon. The scents of autumn kitchens. Christmas lights have started to come on, giving a lovely ambiance to the streets, letting me drift into lovely thoughts of the upcoming Christmas season.

After all these inviting smells filling my head, I had strong desires to bake. But I was lacking energy and ingredients, so this is what I came up with. Easy peasy peach pie! I used a frozen pie crust witch I baked blind for 10 min. Then filled the crust with canned peaches and then made a custard filling. Poured that over the peaches and baked for 10 min at 400F and then turned it down to 300F for an hour. For the custard filling I combined in a bowl 2 large eggs, 1/3 cup of sugar, 6 tablespoons of butter, melted, 3 tablespoons of plain flour, 1 tablespoon vanilla and
1/4 teaspoon salt. Whisk together and pour over peaches. Easy peasy!

I have planted some paper whites with the anticipation of Christmas. It will be nice to have something blooming, fragrant and white on the window sill to see me over the holiday season. It's nice to watch their progression.

My new rocking chair, lovely for reading and knitting, tried to rock our 70lbs dogs in the chair but they were not amused.

Christmas magazines and books are a bit of a bad habit of mine, I just can't resist them!And finally Christmas sweeties! I can't wait for Christmas!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

pumpkin carvage and quite night in

It's that time of year again, Halloween is upon us. Pumpkin carving is great childhood memory of mine. We would carve one every year, all of us gathered around the table, scooping out the pumpkin guts. I still love the feel of the slimy, stringy pumpkin guts squishing between my fingers. This year I found a ghost pumpkin, with its lovely white skin, I was expecting it's innards to be white but they are in fact orange. I placed some newspaper down for "easy" clean up but as you can see the carnage spilled over the newspaper, as well as on the floor. Oh well, I had the right idea, I just can't help making a mess!

I used hubby's drill to make holes in my white pumpkin. It worked really well, I used 3 different sizes and drilled the holes fairly randomly. I want to get more pumpkins now to do more drilling! I have to say I love drilling, and I wish I had some girly tools of my own, I'm thinking hot pink! But I guess the orange is suitable for the job at hand, still girly tools would be nice.

The finished products, as you can see hubby went for the more traditional styling on his orange pumpkin. When we where kids after we carved the pumpkins, my dad would take a pumpkin outside, light it and do the "pumpkin dance" in front of the dining room window. The lights would all be out and then dad would move the pumpkin around in front of the window and we would all make ooooing sounds! oooooooooooooooooo

The winter blankets are out! The 2 middle ones are vintage wool that I recently found. So lovely for curling up on the couch with!

A lovely dinner for one by candle light, who says you can't have a little romance on your own! Homemade stew, a bread roll and a lovely glass of milk! A magazine and the tv, sometimes it just nice to have a quite evening on ones own.

And a sweet ending, the last of my chocolate vintage buttons and a cup of tea! ah bliss!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Bread and Yarn

Bread was on the agenda today. I love baking bread, it is the perfect thing to do on a blustery October day, and dough hook on the mixer makes it effortless. I'm in love with my kitchen aid mixer, not only do I love using it, I love the way it looks on my counter and it certainly has made my baking life easier. I made a loaf of bread and some tray buns with just a simple white bread recipe. Now the house smells great. Nothing beats the smell of freshly baked bread, it is the perfect essences of home. And they taste pretty good too!

Yarn that I have recently inherited from my mom.
I think all of these colours look great together in the October light. Just looking a these fills me excitement of things to come. I can't wait to start some projects with these little bundles of joy! I'm looking forward to a winter evenings of needles in my hands, yarn on my lap and dogs sleeping in front on the fire. I'm looking forward to the snow already! Shocking I know!

Can't wait to do some carving either, another great autumn feature!