Day 7 – Twelve Days of Christmas Challenge

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As the numbers increase I’ve resorted to cooking again!

Until I discovered The Biscuiteers my previous efforts were rarely more than a simple shape with a bit of water icing splodged on top. I can’t remember at what point I upped my game but I made the classic mistake of doing it in front of the children which means that now they have very high expectations whenever I mention making biscuits (as opposed to cookies which are a whole different ball game).

The two things which I now do differently to ensure a complete batch of consistently good looking biscuits are: 1) to roll the dough out between two sheets of baking parchment using a couple of placemats to guarantee it is the same thickness; 2) to put the iced biscuits back into the oven to harden off. Both of these steps do mean that they take longer to make, can’t say the same about the length of time they take to get eaten.

Cat x

Day 6 – Twelve Days of Christmas Challenge

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When I first thought up this challenge I spent ages looking for a book I knew I had in my possession called A Christmas Story by Anni Downs of hatchedandpatched.com.au. It didn’t matter which ‘pile’ I looked in (there are many) I couldn’t find it so consequently this challenge has been a little more complex than it probably could have been.

Well guess what. I only went and found it didn’t i? And in the first place I looked for goodness sake. I can’t exactly go back and do the Twelve Days of Christmas stitchery which was my original plan so I’ll just have to leave that for next year. However I have used some of the little stitchery patterns from the book to create these little gift tags all ready for next year. Oh it is nice to be prepared.

Cat x

Piece wrestling

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While I contemplate Day 6 (Day 5 part 2 is finished by the way, just waiting for some reasonable daylight in which to take a photo) I thought I would get on with my Christmas present to myself.

I taught myself paper-pieced patchwork when I was about 11 in a fit of older cousin envy. She was making this wonderful navy blue silk and patterned construction and I’d never seen anything like it so my grandmother showed me how. I’ve only come to machine pieced patchwork relatively recently and to be perfectly frank I know why!

However, I love the whole concept of Jelly Rolls. (Actually why is it that almost all precuts have culinary names? Is this to disguise our sneaky fabric shopping on the weekly grocery bill?!) the idea of being able to buy a whole selection of one designers range in relatively well coordinated colours takes some of that endless choosing process away and that means you can ‘get to it’ much quicker.

Having tried the friendship braid I thought I’d branch out and do something new this time, so I picked the garden trellis design. Now my biggest problem is that I’m pernickety. So I can’t ignore wonky points and I have to ensure that the same fabrics don’t lie in the same line or column (can you tell I like Suduko?) which means I spend hours putting stuff together.

I think I’ve just about cracked this one, you’ll just have to watch this space to find out!

Cat x

Day 5 – Twelve Days of Christmas Challenge

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Tempting though it was I have not used my ‘five vegetables at Christmas dinner’ as the items for today’s challenge. I do have a sewing project all set up for this particular day, but despite being tempted I didn’t get my machine out on Christmas Day so this still isn’t finished. That will have to be my Christmas Challenge Day5 Part 2.

As with the previous 40 days challenge I have relaxed the rules to include anything creative so here are 5 miniature Christmas biscuits. You’ll have to ignore the dodgy photography I’m afraid, this was a rush job as I was trying to get them on camera before the five children at our house yesterday could scoff the lot!

Cat x

Day 4 – Twelve Days of Christmas challenge

I’m sorry to report that the Christmas cards remain unwritten. There are many and multiple reasons, all directly related to an ability to ‘get on with it’. There is an upside of this however. It means that I won’t have to buy very many next year. Again…

Santa’s chief elf is happy to report that all sello has been taped, all paper wrapped and all packaging recycled, so barring any unforeseen circumstances I AM READY! So there are no more excuses for not getting on with the challenge (unless you count the fact that Mrs Cat snr has arrived and my lackadaisical approach to family mealtimes has to be abandoned).

Today I present to you Four Floral Fancies in the guise of four little toiletry bags. Lined with satin and sporting some very pretty ribbon they are an unusually girly addition to my usual range but I’m pretty fond of these. We’ve been trying to work out how much stuff you can actually get in one and the answer is ‘quite a lot’!

Cat x

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Day 3 – Twelve Days of Christmas Challenge

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Thank goodness I set the parameters of the challenge so wide or I would be very stressed right now! Given my determinedly relaxed approach to Christmas this would be very problematic.

So, let me introduce you to Day 3 and my very smart reindeer friends Fred, Bob and Bert. These are the ‘reserves’ just in case Dasher and co. can’t do their stuff on the night. They are a design by Lucy Blair who writes a great blog called eastcamphome.com. Even Mr Cat thought they were pretty cool.

Cat x

Harnessing some house envy…

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We are very lucky to live in a part of the UK where there are great State primary schools and plenty of them. This means we have a wonderfully wide range of people, many of whom we can now count as good, if not great, friends.

Recently we have had a new family arrive from Russia. Pretty cosmopolitan even by our local standards. Even more so because they are from Texas (I think, because of the whole hat thing!) and this week a lucky group of us got our first taste of some fabulous US hospitality.

It wasn’t the food that was jaw-dropping (though that was pretty marvellous and prepared by another Mum from our school) it was the truly wonderful Christmas decorations which festooned and adorned every room of the house. There were wreaths, decoupage letters and a pretty cool reindeer. Decorative garlands aplenty adorned the halway and the most magnificent collection of Russian St Nikolai including a gorgeously round Baboushka had pride of place in their very own display shelving. With six trees resplendent in baubles of every hue and shape it was just the thing to get you immersed completely in the Christmas spirit.

Most impressive was the fact that the Mum concerned had made it all herself and was more than happy to show off her tricks of the trade, in particular this wonderful wreath.

Well, my tasteful Christmas decorations now looked frankly a bit substandard, so off I hopped this afternoon to get supplies when I should have either been helping Kitty to decorate the tree or making my items for Day 3 of the Twelve Days Challenge. I parked myself at the kitchen table armed with my roll of insulating tubing and glue gun to create this rather lovely item for my hallway. I’m very pleased with the result, though my top tip would be to put the string you are going to hang it up with on before you start gluing!

Cat x

Day 2 – Twelve Days of Christmas Challenge

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Day 2 and our thoughts turn to little stocking fillers for friends and family.  For little children especially, finding something nice and unique for Mum, granny or your favourite teacher can be pretty tricky if you only have a few pounds to spend.

With this in mind I have made these little brooches which I’ll be selling at the school fair on Friday for £2.50 each – they are in very Christmassy red and gold fabric (previously seen on these pages in the guise of a lampshade).

Cat x

 

Day 1 – Twelve Days of Christmas Challenge

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December already… How did that happen!

As Kitty, aka Santa’s most enthusiastic elf, will tell you I like to leave Christmas until the very last minute. In my book there is nothing like that frisson of fear that the stuff you ordered online might not materialise. This year will be doubly exciting as I will be talking full advantage of the up to the wire opportunities offered by the John Lewis click and collect service.

One mystery of Christmas that I still haven’t cracked is exactly when the Twelve days start. Is it the first of December or the 25th given that Twelfth Night is 6th January? Since I have set myself a Twelve Days of Christmas Challenge I’m going to take the view that they start on the 1st and end at some point before the decorations come down.

So today may I present you with Day 1. Kitty, KC and I went to the wonderful Treebarn in the aptly named Christmas Common for some retail therapy. The little fabric Holly was bought with this wooden ring in mind. When we got back I constructed a decoration for Kitty to hang in her bedroom, the first one to go up in the house.

So…

…on the First Day of Christmas, my mummy made for me, a little Holly themed decoration.

Cat x