Wednesday, December 9, 2009

mince pies


I spent last night making mince meat and mince pies. I should have made the mince meat weeks ago but a lack of brandy in the house meant it got deferred to the last possible moment. I prefer it to bought still anyway, even without maturation.


I have honed my mince pie making skills over the years, using my Grandmother's mince meat recipe (with vegetable suet instead of beef suet - there's too many conflicting religious and personal dietary requirements in my acquaintance to make them anything other than vegetarian) and my Mum's short-crust pastry, the way she taught me. Having both of their most used cookbooks out is a warm if slightly emotional feeling. Neither of them are with me anymore. As well as that it's Christmas, so all those associated family memories are at the surface.


The tools of baking are precious to. I always use the tart tin my Mum used to use to make me jam tarts on Sundays (which I ate with top-of-the-milk), because I didn't like apple pie when I was small...


... and my favourite mixing bowl, which was a Christmas present from Dan several years ago now, has also been incorporated into the ritual.


So after my spell of baking I read this post on Milkmoon about the Grandmother memory, so perhaps it's a seasonal thing. Doing things I know they did every year too, makes them feel a bit closer for a little while. These objects are some of the most precious things I own.

December in the garden

It was a relief to know I wasn't the only one battling over-enthusiastic autumn bulb buying in December. I'd had this whole plan for the front garden that involved a barely field with alliums and cow parsley poking through - and then I changed my mind. Really the earth would be better put to vegetables as it was this year, because the patch out the back is not very big at all. I'd already bought the alliums though: 50 drumstick, 10 Christophii, 15 purple sensation and 10 mount everest. Managed to get them in the borders without digging up too many of the tulips I planted two months ago and forgot about.


fushiaOther finds: surprisingly successful fushia's planted last year without much thought

catkinsThe first ever catkins to appear on my contorted hazel (long story...)

peonyAnd most precious of all, some very healthy looking (hibernating) tree peony seedlings

let the yule tide ring


Christmas decs went up round here last weekend. A tad early, but we're going away from the 22nd onwards so we wanted to enjoy the house all pretty-fied for a couple of weeks. I was never allowed to decorate the old family home until at least the 23rd at the earliest when I was little (and not so little) and I can never contain myself to wait that long now I make my own rules. Decorations are a mish mash of handmade, things Dan and I have bought since being together and the odd inherited. The tree is decorated in a true British Imperialist style, but no tinsel. We are not a tinsel household.


This was all achieved with several Gin & Tonics and accompanied by our best Christmas music CD, a bit extravagant perhaps, but I like the Christmas Spirit(s).

I'm sure Kirsty wouldn't agree with our lack of tinsel given last nights episode, but I've always done a homemade christmas and I happen to think mines a lot better than hers. I've been watching her run of shows because they're the only thing craft related on telly at all, but I'm finding her increasingly irritating/patronising with every episode. I spent hours making great bowers of evergreens to hang over the mantelpiece every year, but nobody ever told me how - it was just something I did. Maybe I find this programme patronising because I'm not the target audience, but if I'm not, who is?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Karen O

Needless to say Karen O and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were awesome, visually as well as sonically. Not seen them live before, so was slightly blown away by the Christian Joy costumes. Various head dresses and capes and the famous leather jacket. This all in one PVC catsuit thing kept reminding me of the Faun from Pan's Labyrinth though... not sure why...

The only place you can buy Christian Joy is on etsy - Awesome :) My favourite piece of the night though was this crazy sheet thing. It was three panels, the red/blue zig zags on either side and green jagged bursts on the back panel (which I can't find a shot of anywhere). It basically looked like just a flat sheet of printed fabric with two vertical slits in between the red and green vertical panels for your arms. It looked like such fun to wear though... I want one.

Other interesting things to keep in mind include the V&A pattern references. There's gonna be a whole series of them I think, these are just the first. As much as the whole set is lovely, I especially like the fifties pattern set. Not entirely sure what I'd ever use them for if I had them, not being a designer or anything, but they're still cool...