Monday, 29 November 2010

Happy first Advent- and how to make an Advents-wreath

                    I am a little late, I know,but I wanted to wish you all a wonderful first Advent.
I have my wreath ready and have lit the first candle- as you can see here at the top, so all is well with the world, and I thought to show you how to whizz up a quick and simple advents-wreath.
I wanted to keep it rustic so have baked and iced some biscuits to hang from the wreath as decoration- the recipe is at the bottom of this post. It's mainly butter, sugar, eggs and flour and some icing sugar - see the ingredients here below.
After you have made the dough ( accordig to the recipe that will follow), roll out the whole thing with a rolling pin and cut out the biscuits with a start-shaped cookie cutter.
                                                          Here you see the biscuits cut out .
Then bake according to the recipe at the bottom of this page and cool on a metal grid as below.
After the biscuits are cooled down,  ice them ,  put a small whole through them , and thread some string through , so you can hang them up as here below.This is also a very inexpensive way to decorate your Christmas tree, by the way.

The rest of the biscuits can be displayed on a dish with other Christmassy things like gilded walnuts, clementines and candy-canes so the smaller and bigger members of the family have something to nibble at, in the time leading up to Christmas .In Germany, this tradition is called " Bunte Teller"( colourful plates) because of all the colours .

You are now ready to start your wreath. If you have a garden with evergreen trees, cut some evergreen branches from one of your trees.If you don't , see if you can get some from a nearby forest or from nature- don't take too much, though- you don't want to leave behind a very bare tree as that is not very nice for other people !!
Take three or four small branches - with the greenery and all should be as thick as three or four fingers- and  tie them together with dark green plastic covered metal wire.
Take another three or four small branches, and attach them further up to the first bit of branches, so you get a long garland.Here is the garland:
Continue till the garland is long enough to form a circle of at least 25 inch. Attach the top and the bottom of the garland- when it is long enough- to each other.This will give you your wreath.

Take some sesonal ribbons and cut 4 long ones of the same lenght- these will be the ribbons that the wreath will be hanging from .Attach to the wreath.

Take a long bit of the green plastic covered metal wire and make a hoop that you fasten to the same wire like a big comma- it should be the size so the tealight you are going to use as a candle fits in ,but it sits tight and can't fall out.
Make four of these.Attach these evenly to the wreath like candle holders.

Thread the iced biscuits through with cotton string .



Then hang them from the wreath as decoration.
Attch a hook to the ceiling or in a doorway, and hang the adventswreath from there, and light the first candle.

                                                                Happy first Advent !!
                                                                     *    *    *    *

                                                 Below the recipe for the Christmas biscuits.

85 gr butter
100 gr caster sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla sugar
200 gr flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
300 gr icing sugar

How to make the biscuits:
Pre-heat the oven ( 180 degrees centigrade).Cream the butter and sugar, then beat in the egg and vanilla sugar.Put the flour, salt and baking powder in a separate bowl, then add to the butter mixture.
Sprinkle out some flour on your kitchen table or worktop and roll out the dough. Butter 2 baking trays.Cut out as many stars as you can with a star-shaped cookie cutter, and place on the trays.
 You will have some dough left : sprinkle some more flour on your worktop , roll the remaining dough again into a ball and repeat the cutting out till you have your two trays full of dough stars.
Bake for about 10 minutes or so- keep an eye out: the bisuits should colour aroun the edges and not get too dark.Take the biscuits out and let them cool on a metal grid.

Let the biscuits cool down.Make the icing by adding a couple of hot water to the icng sugar, so it forms a thick paste.Spread the icing on the bisuits with the back of a teaspoon.
                                             Take a very tiny pointed object ( tip of embroidery scissors will do ) and wriggle this in carefully at the top of your biscuit , all the way through, and make a small hole that way.
Thread some cotton string through this and your biscuit is ready for your wreath.
                                                                *  *   *  *  *  *

While we are nice and warm inside, remember that snow and ice are no fun for the birds.. so put some food out if you can !!Mine are having some iced apples and sunflower seeds....
 I am linking this post to  the snow day bake-off  as I think there is nothing more cosy than baking when it's snowing outside !!

Happy baking !!                                                 



Sunday, 28 November 2010

November Challenge : the most important trends for 2011. is running a November Challenge : to do a trend forecast for 2011 .
I thought that would be  is great fun as one is always sooo bound to get it wrong - so here is my trend forecast- Enjoy !!

I think there will be three  important trends for 2011 : 


                                                                      quirky papercut products 

                                                       and a continuation of the rustic and  neutrals .

                                                                 - at least that is what I love !! !


                                                           Black and Spiro Christmas Tree                     


 Jonathan Berger's pink living-room

                                                            Hawaian cushions from Purl Soho                                                                                                                                                          

                                                              Headboard from Designsponge

                                                     QUIRKY PAPERCUT PRODUCTS:

                                                       Paperbag design for Tiffany's


                                CONTINUATION OF THE RUSTIC and NEUTRALS:


                                                            Paper and Straw stars from Granit

                                                               Roger Davies Hallway.                                                                                       

                                                 Now that you have looked at my forecast- what is yours ?
                                                               I look forward to your comments!!


Friday, 26 November 2010

Autumn colour- and a "before" and " after"

I love Autumn , with it's colours and it's smells, and although there is a threat of snow in the air, the trees are still full of wonderfully coloured leaves.Enjoy it while it lasts and before everything will be white !!
So I stopped my car on the way back home through the forest, and picked armfulls of branches of orange and yellow oak leaves, and then stopped by the shops and bought some chrysanthemums- I love the smell, and the pompom-ones are so great looking ( just like pompom Dahlia's in late summer ) - and some roses, to make an Autumn table setting  before we start with all the Christmassy things...
I still had a few pumpkins left, which went very well together with the other autumnal colours.
This is what I had to start with- see below:( o, yes, I did have a cup of tea as well )..
                                                  The autumn colour "before"

I sliced the top of the pumkins off, scraped out the pumpkin flesh and put it aside for later (- pumpkin soup ! mmmm !! ) then put within both the pumpkins a bowl with water so it could work as a vase.
A bit of arranging of the leaves, some fuchsia-couloured  accents with place mats, ribbon and roses, and below you see                           the Autumn colour " after".
and a detail here below:

and another detail below:               

And no guesses what I will be eating tonight : pumpkin soup!
Have a lovely weekend!!


The Lettered Cottage

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Fabulous felt-applique- before and after

I love felt -applique: it's quick and easy ,  and it has a naive charm all of it's own.
So when I came across a very down- and out small barstool  , I decided to go for some quick applique to cheer it up a bit.
Here is the "before " :

I looked in "The Vogue Sewing Book " (1970's) in which you can find all kind of vintage designs as inspiration and came up with this below .
The stool had a sunk- in seatpad, but I wanted to change this.So for the first phase of the make-over, I covered the sunk-in pad in linnen, as in here below.( Neat but boring...)

The back of the seat-pad I made like this:                                                   


Then I used the finished applique embroidery to upholster like this:  
                                                               and the top of the stool is now like this:

 I am pleased I saved the little barstool from life in the Siberia of my garage....and hope to do some more felt applique soon as it's really fun and enjoyable.No frayed edges for a start!!
Do you like felt applique ? Or is it too " folksy" for you ??
I look foward to your comments!!!

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Completely gorgeous Christmas Cake - preparations

If you have the time this weekend, consider cutting down on stress in the build-up for Christmas, and start making your Christmas cake and Christmas pudding.You still have all the time in the world to do this at the moment , and a weekend will give you time so you can bake at leisure.
I know I have heard people often say "I don't like Christmas cake " and , it is quite true, if you buy them ready made , they very often disappoint,  as they can be stodgy, heavy and quite sharp-tasting.
The contrast with a home made cake and pudding is surprising, and it is really worthwhile to make your own.
Make your own or don't eat them at all, that's what I say !!
Below a recipes that I can assure you are delicious.Get baking - you will never regret it!
By the time it's Christmas you can whip it out and suprise everyone with a stunner of a Christmas cake.This cake improves with age so it's a win-win situation !!
                                                                  Christmas cake                      
Mmmmmm- you can eat this till deep into January as it keeps very well- but you might have finished the last crumbs the week after Christmas, it's that tasty ....

Ingredients cake:
225 gr butter
250 gr candied fruits
250 gr raisins
225 gr currants
110 gr glaceed cherries
225 gr flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
225 gr brown sugar
150 gr ground almonds
4 eggs

1st Stage :the making & baking of the cake
Pre-heat the oven to 165 degrees Centigrade.
Butter a tin with a removable base with a diameter of 30 cm.
Take a piece of baking paper of about 50 cm long and 8 cm high and butter this, and put it, buttered side towards the tin-side, inside the tin so it forms an extra inside within the cake tin.
Mix the raisins, currants, and the cherries .
Sprinkle about 50 gr of flour over this and mix well so all the fruit is covered with a layer of the flour.Add the rest of the flour and the baking soda.
In a second bowl, mix the butter and the brown sugar to a creamy soft mixture.Add the ground almonds, then the eggs, one by one. Then add the flour and fruit mixture.
Mix well, then pour the mixture in the baking tin.Bake 1 hour and 45 minutes in the middle of the oven on 165 degrees Centigrade.Check if the cake is done, by putting a knitting needle in the middle- this should come out dry .
Let the cake cool down in the tin, then remove it from the tin and take off the baking paper from the side.

2nd stage: 
The decoration.

Red-currant jelly.
Roll of ready-to use white marzipan
Tubes of ready-to-use icing in various colours ( red, green, yellow)
A stencil if you are not good with icing for a seasonal message
Readymade edible Christmas cake ornaments like Christmas trees, ice-bears or whatever takes your fancy.

Warm  4 table spoons of red-currant jelly , and spoon this on the top and the sides of the cake.
Even this with a spatula so you have a thin layer of jelly all over the top and side of the cake. 
Roll out the marzipan and drape it over the cake and press slightly so the sticky red-currant jelly acts as a glue to attach it to the cake.Cut off the bits that are too much so the cake is nicely covered with the marzipan.
Now it's time for the fun bit of decorating the cake.A classic is always to go for a symetrical design- see what kind of sweet edible Christams decorations you can get and decorate to your hearts content.
If you are not too good with the whole icing thing, use a stencil to write a Christmassy message- that's what I did !!
Start baking and start decorating !!! Enjoy!!This cake is delicious with a nice cup of tea!!!

                                                           Get into the Christmas spirit!!!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Manuel Canovas decoupage Christmas bauble - Tutorial

Like the Manuel Canovas Christmas wreath and decoupage baubles ?
I would like to show you a quick "how to make your decoupage Christmas baubles " here below.
First step :
Go check out those interior decorating magazines you love till you find some pages with fabrics or wall papers you absolutely adore. I picked the ones here below. Now you have your decoupage material.

Step 2 :
Take 1 of these A4 size sheets and fold it lenghtwise , like below.
Step 3 :
Then fold that double like below.
Step 4:
Take a pair of scissors and cut a quarter-circle out of the paper, cutting from the bottom right to the top left of the double folded square, like below.
Step 5 :
Unfold.You will now have a symmetrical circle.
Step 6 :
Make triangular shaped cuts all around the circle till you end up with an 8-pointed star shape.

Step 7:
Turn the paper star around on your worktop so the good side ( with the decorated paper you want to display )  is lying face down .
You should now be looking at the side of the paper star you don't want to have on the outside of the bauble.Take some glue/ gluestick and spread this thinly on this wrong side of the paper star.
Take a plain white or silver bauble. Put the bauble in the middle of the glued paper star. Fold the 8 arms of the star carefully around the bauble and press around the bauble and hold till it sticks to it.
Attach a colourful ribbon around the bauble that matches / contrasts ( whatever you like ).
Enjoy crafting and enjoy making your Christmas baubles !!!!!