I’m afraid I won’t have any photos of our Christmas decorations for you this year. The halls aren’t decked, the tree won’t be put up...but the stockings are being packed into a nice big suitcase, because this year we are spending Christmas with my mother and grandmother in America!
Every year I bake Christmas cookies for friends and neighbours, but because we are leaving soon, I don’t have the time to devote to baking lots and lots and lots of goodies. So in addition to the chutneys and jams I made during the autumn, I’m making mulled wine kits:
This is a super-speedy gift that still has the touch of handmade care. Some sugar cubes, cloves, allspice berries, star anise, a slice of dried orange, a few gratings of nutmeg, a cinnamon stick and half a vanilla pod are all tucked into a little muslin bag and hung on a bottle of red wine.
I bought some muslin bags from ebay, but you can find them in supermarkets, cookware shops or even make your own from muslin fabric. The bottle is adorned with the spice bag and a gift tag, with the instructions written on the back:
Pour the wine into a saucepan, add the spice bag
and simmer for 30 minutes.
I added one of my little crocheted Christmas trees to the gift tag for an extra special touch. I’m giving a bottle to our house sitter, as part of a gift bag for Bunny’s teacher, some bottles for wine-loving friends...
Dried oranges are simple to make. Slice one orange very thinly, place on a baking sheet and sprinkle liberally with icing sugar/powdered sugar, about a tablespoon or so per slice.
Bake in a 100◦C/200◦F oven for 2-½ to 3 hours, until dried and deep orange.
I have a tried-and-true Christmas cookie recipe that I will share soon; I can’t make it through a Christmas season without baking at least one thing! These will be for the postman, the bin men and others who work year round helping us in our daily lives.
I will be taking a few treasured ornaments to the States, and speaking of ornaments, let me show you the sweet toadstool that I received from Carol of Tales from Spring Cottage as part of Ladybird Diaries Decoration Swap:
A pretty little house, and there is some pretty stitching on the back as well
Thank you Carol!
Although I’m a bit sad not to be unwrapping all of our tissue-covered ornaments and stringing fairy lights throughout the house, I am over the moon to be taking Bunny and Little Flower to see their grandma and great-grandma for a super-special Christmas! (And, my crafty friends, I will be packing a full suitcase into an empty one, because I want extra space to fill with goodies I will find at JoAnne Fabrics, various craft stores...I wonder what Martha Stewart has added to her craft range since last I visited? Hmmm...)
Now I must get back to packing and making more last-minute gifts, and I’d better test out one of those spice bags to make sure I have the recipe just right...