Handmade Christmas 3

It’s nice to make a few edibles for Christmas. I didn’t make a cake this year, because I don’t really like Christmas cake, if I’m honest. But I did make mince pies-these are a new recipe with a frangipane topping full of ground almonds

imageThey were delicious! This is the recipe I used

I also made my own mincemeat – it has rhubarb and vanilla in it and is very good (a tried, tested and loved Nigella Lawson recipe which I tweak by adding cherries and omitting currants)

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This went into the aforementioned mince pies!

I made my own fruit liqueur, a variation on sloe or damson gin. I made raspberry flavoured gin. It’s very easy to do, just wash and dry your fruit, put it into sterilised jars with sugar, fill the jar with gin(or vodka), pop the lid on and put in a dark place for about a month, giving the jar a shake for the first few days to dissolve the sugar. Then strain it through a sieve lined with kitchen paper(as in the second photo below and pour into sterilised bottles, seal and then enjoy at your leisure. Nice in a shot glass or diluted with lemonade or soda water!

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Homemade Christmas 1

I like to make as much as I can for Christmas – it’s fun to do, is invariably cheaper than buying and means one ends up with a unique gift or decoration.

Instead of a tree which sits in the room, this year I wanted a wall mounted one. I’ve seen pictures of trees made from wood and thought I’d attempt to make one using branches from the garden. I cut these a couple of weeks ago, cleaned them and let them dry out and finally tied them using some sisal string into a Christmas tree. Simple decorations, just some stars,warm white lights and a fairy on top – et voila! My homemade tree!

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27: Christmas cat

Not just for Christmas, but for always, a new cat in residence! Its been 6 months since my beloved Oliver died. I knew I would get another cat at some point, but I needed a little time to get used to Oliver not being here. A couple of weeks ago, a friend posted some photos on Facebook of a gorgeous little lady cat who needed a home, I was smitten and she came to live with me a week ago.

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Her name is Tara and she has made herself completely at home 🙂

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She has been an indoor cat up till now, but she is fascinated by the garden and sits for ages looking out especially when there are birds or other cats to stare at – once spring is here, I’m certain she will venture outside;even though she is timid, she’s also very inquisitive!

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Here she is giving the kitchen and the strange and wonderful gadgets in it her full examination! Tara will make an appearance on this blog from time to time of course, maybe she will show a flair for writing posts herself like Oliver did 🙂 Wait and see!

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26: Angel

A beautiful painting for Boxing Day. Angels are part of Christmas legend, and I love Pre-Raphaelite art, so for me, this painting combines these two thoughts perfectly. It is called ‘Angel playing a Flageolet” and was painted by Edward Burne-Jones.

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If you happen to be in Liverpool, you can go and see this painting at Sudley House, one of the city’s many art galleries. If you love Pre-Raphaelite art, then you should visit the Lady Lever Art Gallery on the Wirral, which is full of some wonderful examples of painting of this era.

25: Christmas Day!

Happy Christmas! I hope everyone who reads and follows this blog has a wonderful day –  it has to be a musical offering on Christmas Day, enjoy this energetic interpretation of this splendid chorus from Handel’s Messiah 🙂

18: Christmas song

 

Time for a lovely Christmas ditty, only a week to go! I know this is a bit cheesy but it makes me feel happy, so there!

13: Christmas Oratorio

Bach’s Christmas Oratorio was written in 1734 when Bach was the Cantor of the Thomasschule at Thomaskirche in Leipzig. The piece was written with 6 sections, each to be performed on the major feast days during the 12 days of Christmas. This clip is the opening chorus, which would have been performed on Christmas morning. How wonderful it must have been to be in the congregation and hear this rousing, joyful music at its first playing – truly inspirational and celebrational.

9: Winter poem 2

Another poem today, celebrating the beauty of winter. Approaching storms, the brightness of frost and fallen snow, and the juxtaposition of dark and light; wonderful imagery and celebration of the season, all contained in this special poem.

The Winter’s Spring

The winter comes; I walk alone,
I want no bird to sing;
To those who keep their hearts their own
The winter is the spring.
No flowers to please-no bees to hum-
The coming spring’s already come.
I never want the Christmas rose
To come before its time;
The seasons, each as God bestows,
Are simple and sublime.
I love to see the snowstorm hing;
‘Tis but the winter garb of spring.
I never want the grass to bloom:
The snowstorm’s best in white.
I love to see the tempest come
And love its piercing light.
The dazzled eyes that love to cling
O’er snow-white meadows sees the spring.
I love the snow, the crumpling snow
That hangs on everything,
It covers everything below
Like white dove’s brooding wing,
A landscape to the aching sight,
A vast expanse of dazzling light.
It is the foliage of the woods
That winters bring-the dress,
White Easter of the year in bud,
That makes the winter Spring.
The frost and snow his posies bring,
Nature’s white spurts of the spring.

John Clare

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6: Troika

Some Christmas music today, the Troika from the Suite from Lieutenant Kije by Prokofiev. A troika is a sleigh drawn by 3 horses and I think the piece captures the idea of being pulled along at full speed in a snowy landscape so vividly. ( I also like all the photos of Prokofiev in this clip – he was a smart chap!)

2: Winter poem 1

Poetry today – I thought this poem was apt for the time of year and the changing of season from autumn to winter.

Winter Trees

All the complicated details
of the attiring and
the disattiring are completed!
A liquid moon
moves gently among
the long branches.
Thus having prepared their buds
against a sure winter
the wise trees
stand sleeping in the cold.

William Carlos Williams

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