Saturday, December 31, 2011

Packing up Christmas

We arrived home on Wednesday evening, and since Thursday I've been slowly packing away all our Christmassy bits and pieces.

I have quite a few new things this years, thanks to the post-Chrismas sales we were in Denmark for last year! I was especially keen to pick up a few 'nisse' ornaments, since they are hard to come by here - these are two of my new favourites...

As you can see nisser are helpful guys, doing little jobs around the house like peeling potatoes, and are often pictured hanging out with piggies (which are also a symbol of Christmas in Denmark). In any case they are jolly little fellows, and I think I'll have to find an online source so I can pick out a new one each year!

Speaking of Christmassy loveliness, I just wanted to say a huge thanks to Car for hosting the advent blog-a-long, and to everyone else who took part - it was really lovely to see what everyone gets up to in preparation for Christmas, and I just love hearing about other people's traditions, so thank you all for sharing!

And thanks to all of you for stopping by my blog during the year!
See you in the new year!


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Gingerbread house

I hope everyone had a wonderful, safe Christmas!

I gave a little sneak peek of my gingerbread house last week - here's the finished product...

I used Wilton's Gingerbread house mold pan for all the gingerbread pieces, and stuck it together with white chocolate, and decorated with white icing and all kinds of sprinkles.
The pan was really effective - all those details are baked into the pieces, making the decorating very easy.

Let me know if you made a gingerbread house this year too - i would love to see!


Saturday, December 24, 2011

24 :: let it snow

I didn't think it could get any better than Kurt and Blaine's performance of Baby It's Cold Outside last year, but this year's number is pretty adorable

Love the dancing!


Friday, December 23, 2011

23 :: in December I am reading...

I said I would read it last year - but this year I really will!
In December I'm getting Dickens-Christmassy with my reading - A Christmas Carol and Christmas Ghosts are both on my list!

Of course, I've also been reading about a zillion foody/crafty Christmassy magazines, and have some end of year tabloid trash on hand for the road trip too!


Is your reading list festive in December as well? Join in with our bloggy book club by letting us know in the comments. Remember to leave a link if you post your current reads on your blog too!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

22 :: a wrap

Pressies are ALL wrapped - I think we're just about ready for Christmas!


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

21 :: movies

Over the past week or so we've been watching our favourite Christmassy films - we have quite a few things on dvd, but there are three at the top of the list that we just have to watch every year:

Today we popped into the local cinema to see Arthur Christmas.
It was wonderful - very funny and clever!

It will definitely be added to our favourites list!

Is there anything you just can't have Christmas without seeing?


This year I'm advent blog-a-longing - check out what cool things the other blog-a-longers are up to here

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

20 :: gingerbread (part 2)

We had a bit of a gingerbread baking & decorating session here this morning - here are the results...

The houses and the reindeer are my favourites - I think there might be another batch of those in me before the end of the week!


Monday, December 19, 2011

19 :: stencils

I came across this website full of cute Christmassy stencils last week - just the thing for some festive freezer papering!

Today was my last day in the office for the year, so I'm hoping to be able to wrap up a couple more Christmassy bits and pieces this week!


Sunday, December 18, 2011

18 :: stocking

I love these stockings - everyone in my family has one, and I've had mine as long as I can remember.
They're also a lot of fun to make - the perfect excuse to bust out those cute Christmassy prints that I just can't resist buying!

This was the second stocking I've made as a gift for friends (the first was 3 years ago), and I hope their little one will love it too!


Saturday, December 17, 2011

17 :: busy b

I been super busy all over the place today with festive bits and bobs...

like testing out my new gingerbread house pan

prepping strawberries for jam

and playing some more with my Christmassy fabric

Don't forget to check out what the other busy advent blog-a-longers are up to!


Friday, December 16, 2011

16 :: inviting

Tonight a sneak peek at the invites I made for this year's treat swap party, using the dala stamp from this post (which is carved from an eraser based on this free embroidery pattern)

I think they turned out pretty cute - and the dala & hearts fit my Scandi red & white theme nicely! =)


Thursday, December 15, 2011

15 :: treat

It's such a treat to have gorgeous fun friends to celebrate the festive season with...

The lovely sweet things they brought with them are just an extra bonus!


the other advent blog-a-longers are lovely and sweet too - see what they've been up to here

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

14 :: placemats

I showed a sneak peek of these Christmassy placemats a couple of weeks ago.
They're pretty wonky, but cute still (at least I think so!)

The design is very much inspired by these Halloween placemats made by Nana Company, based on a tutorial from ever kelly.

Right now they are somewhere between here and their new home - I hope they make it soon!


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

13 :: cards

When it came to picking out Christmas cards this year I couldn't go past these gorgeous Belle and Boo cards from Lark

So cute I had to keep one of each for myself!


Monday, December 12, 2011

12 :: gingerbread (part 1)

Tonight I've been cutting and baking and packaging a mini gingerbread house kit for my boss, who is getting her Christmassy treat early this year since it might come in handy for a weekend with her grandkids.

The recipe is from Gourmet Traveller - it is tasty but it had too much spread on baking, I think.
I have a different dough resting in the fridge overnight to try out tomorrow =)


have you been to see the other advent blog-a-longers yet?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

11 :: vanillekranse

When I looked back through my blog archives over the weekend to see which vanillekranse recipe I generally use I was really surprised to see I have never shared one!

Vanillekranse (literally vanilla wreathes) are one of the most typical Danish Christmas biscuits - tins of Danish butter cookies you get at Christmas always have one of these doughnut shaped biscuits.

Here's my favourite (and long overdue!) recipe (from an old copy of Hjemmet magazine):

250g flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 vanilla bean (or you can use 2 tsp of vanilla sugar - I prefer to use the bean though, since I think the tiny black seeds look so nice through the pale vanillekranse!)
75g blanched almonds (chopped pretty finely)
125g butter
125g sugar (I use caster sugar)
1 egg

Combine flour, salt, seeds from the vanilla bean and almonds.
Rub in/cut through butter until mixture looks like breadcrumbs (I made mine in the food processor and just pulsed until it was breadcrumby).
Add sugar and egg and mix to a dough.

At this point the dough would traditionally be chilled overnight and then put through a meat mincer with a star shaped fitting (like a piping bag) into a long thin sausage. The 'sausage' is then cut into smaller lengths which are shaped into wreathes and baked.

Unfortunately, I haven't managed to get my hands on the right kind of mincer (yet), so I leave the dough overnight, then roll it by hand. I'm not sure whether the overnight chilling is really essential - to roll the dough by hand you have to get it out to soften anyway - but I do it just in case it lets the vanilla infuse for more flavour or something.

Bake your vanillekranse at 200 degrees for 7-8 minutes - ideally they should have only the tiniest tinge of colour, but I think they're pretty forgiving if you go a bit over.

Enjoy! =)


Saturday, December 10, 2011

10 :: stamp

Two kinds of stamps hanging about here today as I sent off some handmade cards

Lovely Christmas tree and pressie 'card only' stamps from Australia post, and the new dala eraser stamp I carved last week - I think its pretty cute.


Friday, December 09, 2011

9 :: magazine love

It's no secret I'm a big sucker for a magazine - and at Christmas time all the covers are so gorgeous it's even harder to say no!
Here are some of my favourite...

Mollie Makes
You had me at Scandinavian style!

donna hay
Look at those biscuits! So pretty!

Gourmet Traveller
yes I have gingerbread problem... I'll let you know how the recipe turns out

I'm happy to take suggestions - what else should I be reading?


I'm enjoying being part of the advent-blog-a-long - check out what the other a-longers are up to here!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

8 :: crackhearts

I posted about crackstars last week (and Michelle did today!) - but this week it is all about the crackhearts...


check out more Christmas crack with the other advent-a-longers here!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

7 :: farm animal quilt

It has been a long time in the making, but last week I finally got to give my farm animal baby quilt to my friends' dear little girl (she's only 6 months - so that's not too bad, right?!)

The pattern is the Country Time quilt, from Alicia Paulson's Embroidery Companion. I did swap out two of the animals - I popped in a cat and a dog in place of the pattern's sheep and rooster.

The print blocks are all cottons from my stash, and I used bamboo batting. I did some hand quilting on it - there are 6 blocks that are quilted with an embroidery floss running stitch around the edge.

I think it turned out pretty cute!
The embroidery patterns were really fun to stitch up, and it is always nice to play with pretty fabrics from the stash!

I really hope little miss will love it as much as I loved putting it together for her!


Tuesday, December 06, 2011

6 :: Sinterklaas

Ever since the year I spent in the Netherlands, December 5/6 are for Sinterklaas and pepernoten!

The pepernoten recipe I use is a Dutch one - it is a super cute handout that a toy shop was giving away, and I love it!
I have blogged the recipe before - you can find it here.

I have a colleague of Dutch decent, and since I had it on good authority that she's been mostly well behaved this past year I gave Sinterklaas a hand to make sure a package of pepernoten was waiting on her desk when she arrived this morning =)


Monday, December 05, 2011

5 :: hand stitching

I'm racing to finish up a couple of projects I want to pop in the post (although I'm about 97% sure I'm too late!).

I was going to applique felt letters on, but I think I like the much embroidery better.


Sunday, December 04, 2011

4 :: adventskranse

I guess since I've already confessed that stir-up Sunday snuck up on me this year (I finally made my puddings today!) it would be no surprise that the first Sunday of Advent also saw me not quite ready with one of my favourite (non-food!) Scandi Christmas traditions - the adventskrans!

Adventskrans literally means Advent wreath, and is a decoration with 4 candles - one for each Sunday in Advent.

don't mind that wonky candle at the back there - I found the trusty blu-tack right after I took this!

This year is the first year that my adventskrans has been in the shape of a 'krans' - I picked up this pretty star candle holder at Bed Bath and Table a few weeks ago, and it is just perfect. Previously I've used the tealight candles in jars like in the picture in this post - which I still love.

There are some really lovely ideas for adventskranse around - some of the ones in this blog post are super pretty, and the one Suzy had last year is one of my favourites ever!
If you've made an adventskrans let me know in the comments I'd love to see (it's never to early to collect inspiration for next year ;o))!


don't forget to pop over here if you'd like to check out what the other advent blog-a-longers are up to!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

3 :: can't talk...

...busy cutting fabric =)


Friday, December 02, 2011

2 :: crackstars

I'm not really sure what these are called - around the internets I've seen them called moravian stars, froebel stars or German stars, and I like the Danish flettede stjerner (natch) - but here we've taken to calling them crackstars as they seem to be just a touch addictive to make.

Tonight I had a friend over for a gingerbread fuelled folding session.

I'm going with mostly traditional red and white, but I also cracked open some of the special papers I bought in Denmark last year - lovely foily silver strips and also these pretty ones with text and patterns printed on them.

If you're interested in making some crackstars of your own there is a great pdf instruction sheet here, and also lots of videos like the ones on this page to help you out.
I bought star paper (you need four long strips of paper for each star) from Starcrosses on Etsy, and whilst I haven't shopped there I have also noticed the Starcraft also has a good range of colours of paper, in a couple of different sizes.

If you do try your hand at star folding I'd love to hear how youu go!


Thursday, December 01, 2011

1 :: advent

Still no Christmas pudding around these parts (totes missed stir-up Sunday this year!) but I am ready for advent with a calendar (or two!)

I have bought some beautiful calendars from the advent calendar lady (not her real name) at the Scandi Christmas Bazaar over the past few years, and the one I picked up last weekend (I went along with Suzy - we had a lovely time!) is no exception! I just adore these old fashioned glittered wintry Christmas market scenes - much nicer than the chocolatey ones in most of the shops I think!

I also picked up an advent Christmas card for one of my sisters - spookily enough the day after I posted hers off one arrived for me from her! (Is that not some impressive sisterly psychic connection?)

In case that isn't enough adventy-goodness, after seeing some of my friends are playing along, I've also signed up for Car's Advent Blog-A-Long! I'll be trying to blog a little something (probably mostly Christmassy, but sometimes not) each day in the lead up to Christmas. I think this could be a fun way of recording for myself what we do here across busy December, as well as sharing Christmassy goings on with my bloggy friends. I can't wait to see what everyone else gets up to - I love to hear about others' traditions for celebrating - if you're interested you can see the list of participants, or even sign up to play along too - here.

Happy advent peeps!


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

more baprons

I made some of these baprons for a friend's baby shower a little while ago, and they are just so cute, and the pattern is so clever, that when I needed another baby pressie this week it was the first pattern I thought of!

The tutorial, including the free pattern, is from Craftyness is not Optional.

I think I might have to make some Christmassy ones next.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

bun bo xao

Vietnamese 'bun' (vermicelli noodle salad) is one of my favourite meals - I go to my favourite Vietnamese cafe at least twice a week for a lunch time hit.
With the cool noodles, and loads of fresh herbs, it's just the kind of refreshing dish that is perfect for summertime dinner.
Tonight I finally got around to trying my hand at whipping it up at home.

I used this recipe, which Luke Nguyen shared on SBS' Food Safari.


We'll use the leftovers for making rice paper rolls tomorrow.


Monday, November 28, 2011

i heart gingerbread!

There's been a lot of gingerbreading around these parts lately, and the latest recipe I tried out was a cracker so I had to share!

I've got LOADS of recipes squirrelled away to try out - the key criteria when I was picking one out last weekend was that it had to be melt and mix since my hand mixers are out of action (!) so there was no chance of a proper butter/sugar creaming.

The recipe is based on this one, but I changed it up a bit with spices and molasses (which I found tricky to get my hands on, but SO worth it!).

The biscuits are lovely and crisp, and taste a lot like traditional Danish brunkager (which makes sense, since now I look at the brunkager recipe they are really very similar.)

Here's the recipe =)

1. Set your oven to 170C

2. In a saucepan melt:
  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 100g dark brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp molasses

3. In a largish bowl mix together:
  • 325g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp salt
And maybe a teeny sprinkling of allspice and nutmeg, just if it's handy - (I should be more careful to write down what I do when I'm sprinkling willy-nilly!)

4. Let the butter/sugar/molasses mix cool, then add to the dry ingredients and mix into a dough. I found the dough quite oily - maybe the butter and molasses didn't mix or something?

5. Roll thinish (don't worry too much - mine varied between probably about 3mm and 6mm, and all of them worked out fine - just roll them as thinly as you think you'd like) and cut out.

6. Bake, in batches, for 9-10 minutes until light golden brown.

7. Enjoy! =)


Sunday, November 20, 2011

sunday crafternoon

It was a lovely rainy cool day here - perfect for



and a spot of embroidery/hand quilting
Hi blogger - why so sideways?

My Country Time quilt is now really ever so very close to being finished!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

creative space :: brown owls prep

This week I've been practising in preparation for this month's Brown Owls meeting - we're making Christmassy decos - including

paper stars (sometimes called german or moravian stars)

And woven paper hearts (flettede julehjerter)

These are so simple and pretty (and scandi!) - I can't wait for Brown Owls on Saturday - I hope all my Canberra Owls friends will be able to make it!! =)

Check out more creative spaces here!


Thursday, November 10, 2011

creative spaces :: this and that

Trying to squeeze as much craftyness as I can out of November, so I have a couple of things on the go this week!
Like more of this

And these - for reals this time (I know, I've said it before - this time I really mean it!!)

More of this week's creative spaces over here!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

In November I am reading...

A bus trip to Sydney is the perfect opportunity to get some serious reading done, so you can imagine how impressed I was on Saturday morning to discover I had left my current novel on my desk at work! Whilst we seem to have about eleventy billion books here it was super hard find something to take in it's place - it had to be soft cover, long enough to last the trip in both directions, not too long so I can get back to my other book soon, not scary, and so on.

Eventually, under the advice of the guy, I decided on Truth - a crime novel set in Melbourne by Australian author Peter Temple. I'm finding it fairly blokey, but compelling - I'll definitely be reading it all the way through, and probably checking out some of Temple's other books too!


What are you reading this month? Let us know in the comments, or leave a link if you post on your blog, to let every one know what you're up to and join our bloggy book club for November!!

Enjoy your reading!