Wednesday 19 December 2012

Project 57: Christmas brownie bites

Every year the highlight of our social calendar is our own mini university-reunion Christmas party. A core group of  about 12 of us get together and eat and drink our collective body weight in Christmas fare.

It is excellent. It is our way of reliving our college years without the embarassment of outsiders seeing/judging us.

This year I was delegated the "sweet treats" task and as the party is on a Friday night (and thus requires mid-week prep) I needed something that would keep for a few days and travel well on the day.

I found this recipe in Good Housekeeping. Perfect for advance prep and traveling in a tin.  Brownies always keep well as they are so wonderfully sweet and least when I make them from scratch and don't use a horrible pre-made mix they do!

Do mine look as good as their version? Not even close.

I could have carefully spread icing. I could have placed sprinkles more deliberately. I could have generally taken more care. But I think mine are awesome. Sweet treats are brought out no sooner than when everyone is about 3 bottles of wine (each) in and knowing my audience won't care about the precision, I abandoned the effort and let white chocolate clump together and sugar stick to every surface.

I aim to get back on here just before New Years as I anticipate getting a bit of kit over Christmas (ahem last minute shoppers looking for inspiration) and will want to try some new tricks. And if there is no posting before Christmas (it looks unlikely...) then I hope you have a great holiday!

Tuesday 11 December 2012

Project 56: Christmas jam and candles

What a weekend of crafting has passed!

Firstly: spiced fig and plum jam. I love making jam and last year I trialled this one as a Christmas gift for a few family members. It proved a success so I’ve made it again. Largely for the same people. If you are reading this and you are on the Tracy side of the family: apologies. If you don’t want this please let me know and I will find it a good home!

My mother in law gave me this beautiful jam pan for my birthday one year and it has really been a fine friend.  

This year I did a little trick with my craft kit, using a punch to cut my wax discs to size. Clever me! 

And finally, after what felt like 3 days of watching it boil, all potted up. Even though the recipe is from GH, my companion in preserves is neatly on the side there, a handbook on preserving published through River Cottage.  If you’re even curious about preserving this is a great investment.

Next up: candle making.

I have a problem when it comes to hoarding. I’m not a tragic case yet but we have amassed a large collection of useless little things. One collection is little glass ramekins that come free with our favourite pre-made refrigerated desserts. Mmmm Gu puddings…

So with this collection I did some research and realised it would be very easy to turn them into candles. Quick bit of online purchasing and I had myself a beginners’ kit to make some container candles.

This process was a bit more involved but not overly labour intensive. You have to get the wick perfectly straight so you blue-tack it to a pencil lying across the top. (This is the tip in the instructions, not a fun fact from me. I used my clever innovative idea on the punch-cut-discs above.) 

Then you melt the wax in a double-boiler, adding dye and fragrance along the way. Pour it in and wait for it to set.

To dress them up as gifts (going into a gift set with the jam and these wreaths) I added some festive Christmas ribbon.

Wrapping things up: a bit of festive d├ęcor for the office. I decorated stockings for everyone in our office, bought some lights and little decorations and then wrangled the studio design team into carrying a tree home from town for me. Pure delight that I got all of this up with all the bah-humbugging in the office.

American friends – a note on spelling. I’m using my work computer and the spell-check is aggressive. I still think in American though.

Sunday 2 December 2012

Project 55: Owl Chrristmas Cards

I know I haven't written in 2 weeks but I can assure you I have been crafting!

With Thanksgiving and a craft fair it has been manic. But happily we are back on track.

I wanted to do a post around my personal Christmas cards because now they have shipped I'm eager to share them with the world.

I bought the stamp in August at the craft fair I went to with Claire. I then waited about 3 months before trying any designs. I've been busy...don't judge me. All of the cards use a shimmery white card stock and a silver and white banner for the greeting.

Starting with the headline, this was the one I felt was most creative. I used three different blue inks on the stamp (yes, every single design was hand-stamped rather than scanned and printed) and then embellished it with buttons, glitter glue and gem stones.

The next one is the most traditional, using solid black ink and green and blue buttons and gems. I glittered the owl's wings and bellies as well to add some jazz. Claire likes these the most. They should be my faves too as they are the least fussy.

Finally these are the ones that I set out to create. Originally I wanted to do them all with tiny ProMarkers colored in. I did about 12 like this, all with a self-contained theme (70s yellow and red, all blue, girly purple and pink or as above, a mix of fairly neutral ones) and when they were taking me about 20 minutes to color a piece I had to get a grip and change plans. Which is how the other twctuo happened.

Hopefully you'll be receiving your card in the post shortly...

This weekend I will be posting a few more crafts, I have so many things to make as it's my only free weekend before the holiday. Candles, jam and maybe some candy and biscuits so watch this space and keep me honest!

PS Claire and I had a wicked time at the Berko craft fair this weekend. She took some pictures of our stand so I'll post them when they are available.