Thursday, 17 November 2011

It's starting to look a lot like Christmas!

Yers, I know it's still November but the Christmas shopping is in full swing, not just onboard Zulu but the floaty folks over on facebook are definately hard at it! It's been really exciting to be part of that and know that you gorgeous floaty people love what I'm doing enough to want to watch someone open a parcel containing something I made on Christmas morning. Wow. That just takes my breath away!  My new "liquor cabinet" charm bracelets have been a hit, and I know some my handprinted textiles and other jewellery are being wrapped and sent off to the North pole to go in the Christmas delivery!

You see, for me, Christmas isn't about what I want, what I might get, and about spending loads of money. It's about being able to show someone that I really really thought about them, that I know them, that I care, and that I could find or make something that would let them know all of that without a shadow of a doubt when they tear back the paper.  Watching the family open their presents is my absolute favourite bit!

Maybe that sounds really hard but if you think about the things that make your loved one chuckle, or the stuff they share with you throughout the year there should be a glimmer of something there for you to work from.  Even something silly could mean a lot! It shouldn't be about the money. Some things might take time but cost virtually nothing so try and think outside of the box.

Example: my first real present for Mr LFCC was a framed autographed photo of his favourite rugby player.  I looked up the person who looked after marketing at the club, and wrote her a letter telling her how wonderful Mr LFCC is and how he was always the one looking after people, and how much he loves his team, and she was kind enough to get the player in question to autograph a picture and she popped it right in the post! It cost very little to get it put in a nice frame! All these years on he still keeps it on his office desk!
I got one from his fave footballer before our wedding too!

I did something similar when my daddy was very sick; he had a huge seriously old tatty poster of Kate Bush in a frame in his office and when it became apparant that he wasn't going to get back in his office I didn't want to draw attention to it and bring his poster home but I found the photographer who did all Kate's recent publicity shots and sent him an email explaining that I loved his photos and would dearly like to buy one (I did explain the circumstances) and he immediately emailed back saying he'd see what he could do. Two days later I received a letter from Kate Bush for my dad and a beautiful photo with an enscription just for him. It was amazing.  His favourite group, The Moody Blues, were kind enough to do somethingn similar thanks to another PR person over at their agency who sorted it out even though they were currently touring the US.
People like to help if you give them a chance.

So anyways I digress rather... What I love about handmade is that you can give a person something completely unique. It's gutting to spend ages picking something gorgeous out that you really consider carefully, know the recipient will love, and then see that someone else thought exactly the same thing so the lucky person gets two! I get kind of jealous too when I see someone else with the thing I bought for my friend as well! lol!

There's the other side of the coin though - not everyone is into handmade, and I know this.  I also worry about "inflicting" my creations on to people who might actually prefer something bought from a recognised label... I hate to presume they would want MY creations over those. I love to give my creations to people I really believe genuinly want them though! If you know the person you'll know which way to go! So this years pressies are a mix but I haven't gone to the high street for any of them! I've imported from small overseas shops via their websites, I've had things made by other people, and I've searched small local independant shops.  Everyone will be getting something different that I doubt they'll get duplicates of but that I really believe they'll love!  I wish I could share with you what I've chosen for who but I've passed everything on to Father Christmas for delivery around midnight on December 24th! ;o)

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

National pudding day so the cake's NOT my fault!

I was reliably informed that it's national pudding day so I felt morally obliged to provide something nice for Mr LFCC - it would have been for the teenager too but she went out so missed out and I baked something she wouldn't like! How mean?! She'll sulk about that later!!

So I set to work in the kitchen... want the low down on my gorgeous fruity cake?

  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 3 free range eggs
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 50g soft brown sugar
  • 150g sifted self raising flour
  • 1 level teaspoon baking powder
  • 400g sultanas (you can soak these in booze first if you want!)
  • 50g glace cherries (the natural coloured ones, not the nasty articifical ones!)
  • half a teaspoon gravy browning (yes, really!)
  • half a teaspoon mixed spice (if you fancy it!)

  1. Grease and line a round 6" deep baking tin and preheat the oven to gas mark 5.
  2. Cream the butter and sugars together well in a large bow. Beat them until they get paler in colour and are really soft and smooth. Add the gravey browning and mix in.
  3. Add the eggs (crack from the shells into a separate bowl in case there's an iffy one!) and beat them really well until everything is all light and gorgeous and if you trail the beaters over the liquid you can see a ribbon of mix slowly melting into the surface.
  4. Gently sieve the flour and baking powder into the bowl having dusted your dried fruit in it first.
  5. Fold the flour and fruit in gently.
  6. Turn out into the tin and place in the oven for approximately one hour but keep an eye on it for the last fifteen minutes or so... Prod with a piece of dry spaghetti and if it comes out clean your cakes good to be omnommed!

Enjoy national pudding day! xxx