New Arrivals!

My Christmas present this year has been these two little lovelies! Since we lost Stella and Guinness earlier in the year, I’ve been coming to terms with the emptiness in the house, but I knew I would want to bring some more cats into the house at some point. Well we had our fabulous holiday and I have (hopefully) got over all my hospital admissions for the foreseeable future, so I decided a few weeks ago that I was ready to look for a couple of kittens.

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A friend of mine is a vet and she had a mother cat with five kittens abandoned at the practice, so we have now become the owners of two of the little kittens. So meet, Lily (tabby) and George (tabby and white). They are both quite shy, but I am sure that they will settle in soon and we are all looking forward to them playing around the house. I can’t wait for them to fall asleep on my knee too!

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Boxing Day Floods

Having spent Christmas in the South West with my inlaws, I missed being part of the floods at home. It was rather upsetting watching it from a distance, trying to keep up with exactly which parts of Bury were flooded or were going to flood. I spent most of Boxing Day glued to facebook and the bbc news. Several friends and family members lost power for a time, and I was dreading what we would return home too.

We arrived home last night and couldn’t see very much in the dark, I was expecting the worst though! So I’ve just been out to feed the birds, and this is my back garden!

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More like a lake, and this is almost 48 hours after the rain subsided! It much have been awful on Boxing Day itself. Fortunately, the house is several feet above the garden level, but I’m really glad I hadn’t followed through with my wish to have a shed / studio space at the bottom of the garden, I don’t think there would have been much left to salvage! I think I shall persevere with my little craft space in the spare room for the time being.

But we got off quite lightly compared to many in the local area. There is a road bridge out of action because of the pub collapsing in Summerseat, and a couple of footbridges are having to be demolished. And we’re set for more rain to come. I hope 2016 brings a drier Summer!

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Christmas Cake

This year I tried to be really organised and managed to make my Christmas cake in early October. And as I should I have been feeding it with some brandy every week since, that is until I ran out last week! So today was the day to take the plunge and decorate it.

I haven’t had much time between finishing Christmas orders and Alice’s dance classes and shows to really even think about a design this year, so it was a bit of let’s see what we’ve got and do something spontaneous! I cheated and used some ready-to-roll icing and I used some strawberry jam to stick the marzipan to the cake. I didn’t have a great deal of the icing, so I rolled it quite thinly – my husband isn’t a big fan of icing anyway so that’s a bonus. Having a root round by baking cupboard I found some little roses and silver balls, so I decided to have a red / white theme on the cake, with some little silver balls between each rose.

Alice then found my little snowman and Christmas tree so they were also added before we finished off the little scene with some sifted icing sugar ‘snow’ and a large handtied ribbon bow.

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I normally don’t get round to eating the cake until mid-January, but in the meantime it looks nice on the pre-Christmas table!

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Early Christmas Baking

Now that the Christmas holidays have started it’s time to get into the spirit of things and do a spot of festive baking. It’s very therapeutic to get out the mincemeat and make up some tasty treats. I decided to begin with a batch of my mincemeat parcels. They are so tasty and make a lovely alternative to a mince pie. I have a number of packs of frozen filo pastry in the freezer that need to be used, so this was an ideal quick bake.

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After the parcels were finished, I enlisted Alice to make some festive ginger biscuits that we could share with friends and family over the holidays. The recipe we have is in a little Hello Kitty Christmas book that we bought for Alice a few years ago. It’s a really simple recipe and makes absolutely loads of biscuit dough. We chose some different Christmassy cutters and set about making the biscuits.

It was a good job there was loads of dough because I had a minor moment with my oven and completely burned the first two batches! I forgot just how fast my oven is when I’m baking. Anyway, we still managed to make about 60 or so biscuits for sharing. Alice’s favourite part of the baking process is the decorating, and we used plenty of icing pens, hundreds and thousands, and other little Christmassy bits from my cupboard.

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Once finished we took some round to the neighbours, wishing everyone a Merry Christmas!

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The snowmen have landed

I was amazed how popular my little crochet snowman was when I took it to the dance school waiting room recently.

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So popular in fact that I was asked to make some more for Christmas decorations and keepsakes. These are my last Christmas orders for this year so I hit the hooks with some lovely soft white baby yarn and a raid on my stash for the accent colours. I was asked for pink and blue, as one was for a girl and the other for a boy! These have taken a little while to finish as I wanted them to be perfect, so the faces have had several changes. I’ve found that the best eyes have been made with black beads, sewn in tightly. I love the little crochet carrot nose too, and the earmuffs (or headphones depending on how cool you are) are very cute additions. The pattern was in an old issue of LGC Knitting and Crochet magazine and can hopefully still be found in their free patterns.

I’ve named these two Sid and Sally and they fancied having their photos taken before they got ready to go out in the cold. It was difficult choosing which buttons they would wear.

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After they had decided on their outdoor attire, they were ready to go to their new homes. I hope they have a lovely Christmas and get to see some snow!

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