Last Five of 2016

December 23rd



I had a crazy notion back in September that wouldn't it be great to make my own cake toppers this year for the Christmas cake.  I mean I usually do make my own cake decorations but what I am alluding to would be in crochet.  A mad idea but I think it worked.  The husband is yet to see it, waiting till Christmas Eve to finally do the big reveal but I can imagine it will have something to do with eye rolling and muttering the words, "Of course you would, why wouldn't you..."

I am not sharing the patterns now at such a late stage in December but if you wish for the patterns let me know.
It all began with the humble mini snowflake

And it wouldn't be a Scandinavian Christmas
without a Nisse now would it?

Ta dah!

I stuck the Nisse on with extra icing so the
wool was not in actual contact with the real cake itself

I realised that I was short on a present so the current Messy bun trend was spot on for me to make one of the quickest gifts I have ever ever made.  Have a spare hour?  Then you too can make that last minute gift for someone who has long hair, fun and genius don't you think?



Do you know how hard it is to take a photo of
the front and back of yourself at the same side, this was
attempt about 15, you're lucky you got anything!

In the dark this was the best shot I could get, but you
get the idea of a messy bun hat now don't you?


For instructions and how to make click on the link:  Messy Bun Hat


For me one of the great joys in my life is the month of Advent when we bake and cook so much in the kitchen.  At the beginning of December my son asked, "You are going to make all those biscuits and things this year aren't you?"  That warmed my heart and makes it all the more worth while.  One of his favourites are:  Almond cookies  He loves anything to do with almonds, but I am sure you could substitute this for any nut you prefer.

Almond cookies



Another bake but not counted as one of the 7 cookies makes of Advent were these rather delicious honey bombs, the best way to describe them is a cross between the texture of bread and ginger bread, spread them with lashings of butter and accompanied by a cup of tea, you won't go far wrong:  Afternoon Scandinavian Treat




And finally I leave you with what has become a tradition for us now over the past few years, our annual trip to see the lights in London and partake in a sing a long in the very splendid Albert Hall: Christmas in London


Christmas sing a long Albert Hall



Joining in with Amy  for the last time in 2016, thank you for hosting Amy, sending love xxx

 Wishing you all a very very jolly Christmas wherever you are and thanking you from the bottom of my heart for your readership and your very valued comments  

Rye and Orange Cookies Christmas Cookies 7

December 22nd

A shot of me taking the photo for the blog
Today I share with you the last of the seven cookies baked during Advent in our house this year.  Today's cookies make the house smell so Christmassy with the addition of orange zest. This dough Cookie 7 needs no kneading or resting so is uber quick and a great one to make with the little people too. Again the recipe comes from the talented Dane, Trine Hahnemann



You will need:

♥  50 g butter
♥  125 g rye flakes
♥  250 g caster sugar
Adding in the sugar, the texture is wonderful
♥  2 eggs, lightly beaten
♥  2 tbsp plain flour
♥  2 tsp baking powder
♥  2 tsp finely grated orange zest
♥  pinch salt

NOTE: If you cannot get hold of rye flakes then use a muesli flake base, it often has some rye flakes in it too. It will taste as good just may have a slightly different texture, but that is OK

Method:

1  Melt butter and mix with rye flakes.
2  Stir in the sugar, beaten eggs in the same bowl.
3  In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, zest and salt.
After adding in the eggs,
it's very gloopy looking
4  Stir the flour mix into the rye mix.
5  Using 2 teaspoons drop small mounds onto a lined baking tray spacing each well apart, these cookies spread. (I suggest a heaped teaspoon worth, not any more, see below photographs)
6  Bake in oven at 180 degrees for approximately 10  minutes.
7  Allow to cool a little first on the baking trays before transferring them, you may need a palette knife to ease them away.
8  When cold store in an air tight container, they can last for up to 3 weeks if you can resist nibbling away at them.






Although not mixed together, I added
this photo to show you how much zest I added




This was equivalent to 1 tablespoon of mixture, this is TOO MUCH

This was equivalent to a heaped teaspoon of mixture, JUST RIGHT

Left: baked teaspoon cookie ~ good size
Right: baked tablespoon cookie ~ way too big
Match box for size comparison

As long as you did not add to much mixture to your mounds for baking the cookies should have come out a great size and add a completely different texture and appearance to the usual Christmas cookies that are on offer at this time of year.





Rye and Orange Cookies

  I hope you have enjoyed seeing the 7 cookies I have baked this year, do let me know if you have made any of them or any from past years.  







Afternoon Scandinavian treat

December 21st

Last year I came across Trine Hahnemann's Honey Bombs and was adamant that they needed to be made again for this Christmas.  These are quick to make and keep in an air tight container for about 2 weeks.  In fact they are so simple to make with very few ingredients with short easy to follow instructions.They are somewhere between a bread and gingerbread consistency and are wonderful sliced in half with a smidgen of butter and a cup of tea.  Take a minute out of these hectic days bake yourself some and then sit down and enjoy, I dare you!

Trine suggests you bake them in mini tart tines 8-9 cm in diameter.  I tried that and normal cake tine sizes.  both work equally as well but I must agree with her that the mini tart tines were better in appearance and size.  But don't go out especially to buy them, use what you have I say.

Honey Bombs
Add the candied peel last.


You will need: (makes about 16)    

♥  150 g honey
♥  150 g soft brown sugar
♥  150 g butter
♥  4 eggs
♥  400 g plain flour
♥  2 tsp bicarbonate of soda


Spoon mixture into tins so they are 1 cm deep
♥  4 tsp ground cinnamon
♥  3 tsp ground cloves
♥  200 g candied peel


Method:

1  On a low heat melt the honey, sugar and butter.  Set aside to cool a little.
2  Once cooled add the 4 beaten eggs in gradually.
3  Sift the flour, bicarbonate and spices together and mix well.  Add to the honey mixture.
4  Add the mix peel.
5  Spoon the mixture into greased tins so that they are about 1 cm deep.
6  Bake for 20 mins at 180 degrees and cool on a wire rack.


These are great straight from the oven or toasted with lashings of butter and a good cup of tea.


A jar full of honey bombs all ready for afternoon treats


Enjoy and take a breather if you can 


  Take some time out of the hustle and bustle if you can  

Christmas traditions new and old

December 20th

Yesterday I posted about a new Christmas tradition and today again the same.  It would seem my enthusiasm and love for Christmas has passed down to my daughter and a few years ago she told me of a friend of hers whose mother bought her a glass bauble every Christmas since her birth and that her collection was now quite stunning.  Both Ella's eyes and mine lit up as we thought it a lovely tradition to begin too.

Unlike Ella's friend, Ella receives one every year on Christmas Eve but also the odd one or two in her Advent calendar and friends and family have also been on the look out and have gifted her a glass bauble.  The only stipulation is that the bauble must be made of real glass and be clear, other than that anything goes.
There are so many glass bauble designs to be had

Until last year my Christmas tree was only ever decorated in home made red painted troll deig (salt dough) shapes.  In the 23 years that I have had a tree together with my husband we are still only on the second home made set of troll deig.  Make it well and it lasts at least a decade!  For recipe for troll deig scroll to the end of the post here ~ Troll deig recipe

However last year Ella was keen to see her bauble collection on the tree and again this year, they take pride of place.  I quite like the look of our home made hearts and these very decadent elegant baubles.

Below I share with you some of her favourites.  Do you have Christmas tree bauble traditions or stories to share?  We agreed one could never be able to afford such luxurious baubles all in one hit but gradually each year adding just one or two, the collection grows steadily...



Even a bird shape bauble


This bauble is huge and not spherical
it's diameter is 10 cm


One's to mark the year baubles


Lots of glittery lines adorn this bauble


The glass on this bauble has an oily rainbow sheen


The Penny Farthing design is one of Ella's favourite baubles


Bauble with a tear drop end


White painted design on the baubles are very effective


This bauble has a glass tree inside


And Ella's latest bauble bought in D.C earlier
this month has a scroll inside laid on golden glitter


  Do you decorate the tree the same every year or do 
you change the scheme?     

Christmas in London

December 19th

I'm all for Christmas traditions both old and new and a new one for us as a family began 6 years ago when we first trekked into London dressed up to the nines and partook in the Christmas Sing a Long at the Royal Albert Hall.  It was magical and fun and mad the four of us feel very Christmassy.  Every year since then and despite the fact the children are teenagers they insist we must go each year.  If anything we all enjoy it more and more.  Christmas hat wearing is a must!

Emerging from the underground to see people
enjoying themselves at the outdoor skating
by the Naturals History museum

Arriving at the Albert Hall
Such an iconic building in London the Albert Hall began construction in 1967 and was completed in 1871.  Originally it was to be named Central Hall and was the brain child of Prince Albert who wished to promote the arts and sciences.  Unfortunately Albert dies of typhoid fever in 1861 and did not even see the beginning of it's construction.  Everything was put on hold until his fiend resurrected the idea and it became renamed  the Albert Hall.  Queen Victoria was so overcome with emotion she was unable at the opening to speak, instead stepping in her place her son, Price of Wales spoke.

The building itself never ceases to amaze me but it is at Christmas that I think it is at it's most spectacular with light adornments hung from the boxes and the joyous feeling that can be felt within.  should you ever get the chance to visit, jump at it.  The exterior of the building which you see a glimpse of here is built from over 6 million red bricks and some 80 thousand blocks of terracotta, which includes a continuous 800 foot long frieze.
History of the Albert Hall



Song sheet all ready, the concert is a mix of
listening to the professional singers
and choristers and we singing a long too.

A tipple helps the singing voice don't you know...



A snippet of the signing...


video


Just magical

The whole event is so well thought out

People really do make an effort to 'get into' the festive spirit

Once the concert is over we are always reluctant to traipse straight home so it has also now become tradition to head over to Carnaby Street and eat at one of the best burger places we know.  This is doubly good as we then have a feel of the London Christmas spirit.  Life here in the city is so buzzy and busy, love it.

Carnaby Street lights

Oxford Street lights

Oxford Street


  Have you begun any new traditions in your family?  

Scandinavian Hanging Christmas Hearts Garland

December 18th

I am definitely a starter and not a finisher.  If left to my own devices and not spurred on by this blog it's true to say my house could have become overloaded with WIPs, (works in progress) there's enough of them now if I'm honest.

In the summer when I return home to mamma I always chill and craft more than at any other time of the year.  It's my haven and my guilty pleasure, though not so very secret.

Each summer I choose to learn a new craft, until that was this year, when I knew I had to get a move on with Christmas makes.  Knowing that the first 10 days in December I would be away from home and so I needed to be organised.

Knitting Christmas makes in the middle of a Norwegian warm summer was odd but strangely satisfying.  When visiting the local library and asking for their Christmas craft books I had to wait a while as they dug them out of storage for me!  What fool would want Christmas books in July?  Me of course...

Initially fiddly to begin, but once you are past
about row 5 it becomes quick and enjoyable to knit
But back to being a starter and not a finisher. Neither the wine box cover [Wine box cover post ] nor these hearts were completely finished in Norway and so these past few days I have been frantically 'finishing up'.  And just in time too, phew.  It's never a good idea to leave something for a few months and come back to it as the flow has gone and it takes a while to get back into the swing.  But I must say I am delighted with the makes.

I will not share the pattern here now unless someone wants me to as I suspect it is too late for this Christmas, but ping me a message in the comments if you want it and I'll post it up in all it's glory for you in the New Year.  I'm actually thinking of making more in Spring like colours to hang on the door.




The hearts knit up quickly

A Norwegian summer and crafting always takes place


They even feel Christmassy here despite it being July


Finally having stuffed them and woven in the ends, joined them together and crocheted the hanging top loop, my vertical heart garland is ready for Christmas.  
What do you think?  Full of Scandinavian feel I think.




Vertical hanging heart garland

  Are you almost ready for Christmas yet?  




Almond cookies Christmas Cookies 6

December 17th


Almond cookies and mulled wine
Christmas must literally be around the corner as somehow we are already on Cookie making number 6 during Advent.  By now you may have realised that Scandinavians love there ground spices in their Kransekake
cookies and they also love using nuts most especially almonds.  The below cookie is actually variation of the Norwegian Celebration cake made for special occasions, Christmas included.  I shall be making mine next week, for a peep at what a Kransekake is, click here ~

Almond Cookies

MAKES ABOUT 24 ~ begin the day before you want to make the cookies

blanched almonds 100g 
caster sugar 200g 
After adding egg whites the mixture is quite runny
egg whites 2
homemade marzipan (see below) 500g
walnut halves 24
dried apricots 6
tempered dark chocolate 200g

For the homemade marzipan: [or you can buy good quality ready made]
blanched almonds 500g 
icing sugar 100g, plus extra for kneading 
water 50ml



If making marzipan:
Whizz the blanched almonds in a food processor until they are finely ground.  Add in sifted icing sugar and a small amount of the water a bit at a time. You do not want the mixture to be sticky.  Place the marzipan in the fridge for about an hour or alternatively in the freezer for 15 minutes.  



Grate the marzipan
To make the almond cookies, whizz the almonds and sugar together in a food processor until finely ground. Add the egg whites and whizz again until you have a smooth, white mixture. Make sure the mixture does not get too hot in the processor, otherwise the egg whites start clotting.  

Now grate the marzipan and then blend it into the almond mixture  If the marzipan is soft
this becomes a nightmare of stickiness so do make sure it is good and hard before beginning. 


Transfer the mixture to a bowl, cover tightly and leave to rest in the fridge for a couple of hours or until the next day.

Shape the mixture into 24 rectangular cakes about 2cm wide and 6cm long, like shortbread fingers. 
Divide the dough into quarters and roll
each one into a log shape

Slice each log/quarter into six

Photo for size purposes

Press a walnut half on to one end of each almond finger, and two strips of dried apricot on to the other end.

Add walnut and apricot before baking

Preheat the oven to 190C. Place the shortbread fingers on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake for 15-18 minutes. In my oven they took about 12 minutes.

Leave to cool on a wire rack.  
Melt the chocolate gently in a double boiler, then dip the bottom of each almond cake in the chocolate and leave to set on a piece of baking paper.  Eat and enjoy.

Adding the chocolate to the ends just adds the finishing touch


Eat & Enjoy



 Hope life is not too stressful
 and you can enjoy the season too