I’m not sure where we’re heading with Christmas. At the moment, it looks as if it will just be four of us, partner and two sons, with an outdoor visit to see my parents and brother on the day (they’re only seven miles away). But advice is changing all the time, so we shall see.
We are already in tier 3, and I have not been anywhere, so all my shopping has been done in my small town of Stamford and online. This year, the hand made theme continues and I am also shopping second hand. That’s not difficult where we live. The charity shops are pretty amazing, and so far I have found some beautiful things: soft brown leather gloves, a handmade suede Osprey clutch bag, brand new J Crew tee shirts, a colourful M&S scarf, a cashmere sweater in azure blue (exactly the kind of Mediterranean sea blue that we couldn’t swim in this year) and some wonderful books. I have also chosen some brass candlesticks from the antiques centre, and lots and lots of greenery and bulbs from our market. I have made fudge, orange mince pies and lemon marmalade, and Perry has made his first ever preserve, a hot chilli pepper dipping sauce, which is absolutely delicious and such a brilliant bright red. It looks so festive!
I’ve been printing plain brown parcel wrapping paper and terracotta plant pots with potatoes, and then potting them up with paper whites, hyacinths and narcissi. All very easy to do, especially with more time on my hands. Usually I would have been going to London to see friends, going shopping with my mum, visiting my son in Cambridge and having an open house party here. I am really missing my usual hectic run up to Christmas, as I am sure many of us are.
The recipe for these mince pies is from Josceline Dimbleby’s Christmas Book. The pastry contains orange juice and rind, and two fresh cranberries are tucked under the lid of each pie. Not too sweet, and just delicious. I pimp up my bought mincemeat with grated apple, walnuts, a tot of rum and glacé cherries.
Lemon marmalade feels special and it really glows. The labels are printed using the eraser on the end of a pencil dipped in acrylic paint to create the circles.
Potato printed wrap. Again, I used acrylic paint for this, as it’s so bright and won’t soak into the paper.
My making station!
We are so glad of our open fire. I was recently gifted the delicious The Outdoor Guide gin, and it has a crisp, light, herby taste. I served it with loads of ice and some redcurrants saved from last summer in the freezer.
The tree is up and gifts almost all wrapped. Just another couple to buy, I do a little bit each day. The tree was originally going to be silver and white, but then I saw some pink baubles in Oxfam, and I decided that it needed a flush of colour. The rainbow candles came from our local hardware store, and they were a great find. They’ll be good bundled up as stocking fillers, too.
Finally, I painted a Christmas card, maybe one day I’ll turn this into a proper printed version, but for now it’s virtual only. A magical, child-like scene, inspired by the village where I grew up. I have put gold leaf on the Christmas trees so it shines in the light.
I hope you are getting some joy from your Christmas preparations, even if they are scaled back this year.