19 December 2014

'Sorry we are Closed'

The last pre-Christmas order is wrapped and packed, and I have just put a 'Closed' notice on my little Esty shop, so I can take a well earned break and enjoy the festive period with my nearest and dearest.

You can still place orders, which will be delivered in the new year. Thank you to each and everyone of you who ordered something this Christmas. I do hope all the things I have made you are well received on Christmas day.

14 December 2014

The best shortbread recipe

It's always nice to take something with you when when visiting friends, and I often make these little bite sized all butter shortbread biscuits. I cooked up a batch today, which filled the house with a gorgeous smell of baking. They were sprinkled with castor sugar as soon as they came out of the oven, and many were munched by my kids while still warm.

4oz 110g butter
2oz 50g castor sugar
6oz 175g plain flour
extra castor sugar for dusting

Oven 300 F, 150 C, (130 fan), Gas mark 2

Cream together the butter and sugar.
Add the flour - the mixture will be very dry and crumbly.
Roll out to 5 or 6mm thick, and cut out biscuit shapes. 
(At this time of the year, I often do little Christmas tree shaped ones.)
Bake for 30 mins.
Sprinkle with castor sugar while warm.
Place on a wire rack to cool.

The biscuits are quite soft while they are warm, and develop their crunch as they cool.

9 December 2014

Sunbury Antiques Fair

It must have been a chilly night for the traders at Sunbury Antiques Fair who park up about midnight for the early morning start. There was a thick frost here last night. It was the last Fair of the year, and as I have avoided it for ages, I decided to have a quick dash round after I dropped the kids at school.

As always, gorgeous haberdashery was calling me. (I resisted.) 
Look at the little striped reels of thread.

You could buy stacks of old books for a bit of instant styling.

If you had a vintage bauble, this was the day to sell it.

The place was rife with whiffs of mulled wine and I spotted lots of mince pies and chocolates. There was an abundance of mistletoe being sold, and people walking out with huge bunches. As I came away, I wished I had stayed a little longer to take a few more snaps. I could have done a lovely Christmas set.

In case you wondered, I came away with a galvanised two handle bucket, some teeny and ancient sports trophy cups to make in to pin cushions, a very small old Asian shrine (?), and my mum came away with an old sack to use for Secret Santa.

4 December 2014

Christmas Advent Calendar

One year, when I was small, a creative family friend presented my brother and I with the most magical advent calendar. She had appliquéd a tree, and stitched 25 brass loops onto it's branches. From every loop, hung a little wrapped gift. We were open mouthed in admiration. Nearly 35 years ago, things like this just didn't exist, it was more your cardboard nativity scene, open a window type. They didn't even have chocolates in them back in those days. My mum carried on the tradition for a few years, (and it was just as magical every year mum!) Now I do the same for my boys, but instead of an appliquéd tree, they are hung on a stick, or branch, what ever takes my fancy year on year.

The little gifts are collected over the year, you don't notice 50p or a £1 here and there, and it's a nice surprise for me when I add to the box that I store them in and remember what I have bought. I do love wrapping (which is why all of my jewellery goes out gift wrapped), and I had a lovely evening in front of the fire, Christmas music on, glass of fizz, getting things ready for this year's twig. 

It involved tissue paper, some of my collection of washi tapes, glassine bags, ribbons, string, and little numbers and words I printed out on the computer.

People always ask what I put inside. It gets trickier now the boys are getting older (9 and 11), but it includes: chocolate snowmen, stickers that are bookmarks, a polystyrene plane to make, a shark tooth necklace, chocolate Father Christmas, gel pen, sharpener. (Good job they like stationery.) The glassine bag is a bit of a tease with the chocolate on show.

I thought they all looked rather lovely, and the boys were thrilled to see it. It's quite funny how excited they are every day, as they take turns to open one. As my biggest is now 11, I wonder how many more years he will be as interested.

Christmas has arrived!

(Sorry about the photos, it is very grey here in London today.)