Friday, December 31, 2010

Year of the tops...

Just what have I been up to in 2010?  I'm just a little miffed with myself!  I'm absolutely shocked to see how few things I completed in 2010..though I know I've been sewing up a storm?!  This is it... 8 things..not even 8 quilts..just 8 things completed in 2010!

Well I know I'll do better next fact I suspect I'll even beat that record by February! You know why?! Because 2010 has been the year of the tops. I have been sewing up a storm of tops and flimsies and as it stands I have 8 quilts ready to be basted and quilted for Project Linus... 2011 should fair better for finishes!

Shame on me!

(Rant and pep talk to myself over) :o)

Until next time...

Saturday, December 25, 2010

'Twas the Night Before Christmas Poem (A Quilters' Version)

'Twas the Night Before Christmas Poem
(A Quilters' Version)

T'was the night before Christmas and all through the house,
The only one sleeping was a Quilter's dear spouse.
The Log Cabin stockings were almost completed,
"Just a few stitches left," our sweet quilter repeated.

"Then I can hang them and head off to finish
the pillows I'm making, fulfilling Mom's wish
For something quilted to put on her couch and spoke,
as she pricked her poor finger, our quilter said, "Ouch!"

When from out in the kitchen there arose such a crashing,
she sprang from her work, and she dropped all her sashing.
Away to the doorway she flew like a plane,
wondering just what was happening and who she would blame.

When what to her wondering eyes should appear,
but Old Mrs. Claus and her bag of quilt-gear...
With her elves bearing gifts, through the kitchen she came,
she directed and pointed and called them by name.

"Now Elna, now Pfaff, now Bernina and Viking,
the Hoffman and Mumm should be just to her liking.
To the sewing room - there, it's just back of the hall,
now dash away, dash away, dash away all!"

"My Dear," said The Claus (as she liked to be called),
"There really is no need to worry at all.
Your projects will all be completed this night,
I'm terribly sorry we gave you a fright."

"Sit down. Have some tea. It's relaxing, you'll see.
My friends and I've come a long way to help Thee."
She thought she was dreaming, our dear Quilter did,
In fact she quite feared that she near flipped her lid!

But the flash of the needles and twist of the thread
soon gave her to know she had nothing to dread.
They spoke no more words, but went straight to their sewing.
How the work went so quickly she had no way way of knowing.

The stitches, how fine! The corners, how straight!
This Claus-woman's talent was awfully great.
They finished the pillows, then started to quilt.
Before they all knew it, the whole thing was built!

Now old Mrs. Claus, she knew quilters real well,
and she knew they'd need help on this night most of all
So she said to our quilter, "Just move over dear,
I've brought my own needle. We'll get done, never fear.

I told dear old Santa about what quilters do.
How they plan all these projects but have other work too.
So he taught me his magic for doing things fast.
There, that pillows done. Now this is the last.

They tidied their thread snips, and picked up the scraps
and chased our dear quilter's six cats from their laps.
As they scurried away with their thimbles still gleaming
dear Mrs. Claus paused, her cap ribbons streaming.
"Merry Christmas, my dear, now just have a ball!"

{Poem by: Brenda Groelz, Kathy Rockbugs, Marilyn Root, Cindy Swafford}

Merry Christmas!!

Until next time...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A story from Christmas past...

There are certain foods that just say "Christmas" and in our family that is Buche de Noël... or Christmas Log.  Many years ago when I was a teenager I made this recipe which was included at the bottom of an ad for Fry's Cocoa.  It was such a hit that forever after I was asked by my family to make it on a yearly basis.  One Christmas, 20 years ago in fact, I had a rather unfortunate series of events take place and the cake almost didn't get made.  It is a rather funny tale, so grab a cup of tea or some eggnog and come for a stroll down memory lane.

It was the first year that I was in my own place and I suppose in an effort to be organized and to keep a good home, I decided that I would keep my dry ingredients in mason jars.  All lined up on the counter they stood... flour, sugar, salt, oats...  I felt organized and prepared to make the annual Buche de Noël.  I preheated the oven, combined the ingredients to make the cake, and while the cake was being baked I prepared the whipped cream based frosting... I took the cake from the oven, and rolled it in a tea towel as instructed.  I was so excited to be making this Christmas dessert in my place... and I think in my excitement I rushed the process slightly and forged on to ice the cake... only the cake wasn't quite cool enough and as I iced the cake, the whipped cream melted!  There in front of my eyes was a disaster in the form of a chocolate melted mound!

Not to be put off, I went to the shop to buy another set of ingredients for a second cake.  This time I would be careful... take my time and not rush the process.  The second cake was made, rolled and cooling.  The second batch of frosting was made and waiting for the cake to cool... this time it would be perfection.  With the cake completely cooled I iced the cake.  The lush whipped cream frosting made with sugar and Tia Maria was probably the best part of the cake!  As I poured the frosting over and carefully spread the last of the icing into place I left a dollop in the bowl as a treat.  There the cake was made and as I took my finger to lick the last of the delicious frosting from the bowl.....ACKKK!  Yuk! Whoooa... that tastes terrible!  What did I do wrong?  How can it be?  Oh no, I had put salt instead of sugar in the frosting!  ...and thus cake #2 was placed in the bin and once again I was faced with disaster and another trip to the store.

Most people would have given up... thrown the towel in... called it quits, but determined I was not to be beaten by the Fry's Cocoa cake, I proceeded to try again!  A third batch of frosting and a third cake in the oven... surely this would be the end of the disaster streak... right?! ....Wrong!  Can you guess what happened?  No, I couldn't believe it either, but the element in my oven decided it could go on no more and blew.  There in the oven stood a half burnt / half raw cake...and thus cake #3 went in the bin.

So with frosting #3 in the fridge, and no cake to frost, I figured I might as well carry on.  After the repair man fixed the oven, a fourth cake was made and cooled.  The frosting was ready and tested for salt content.  Finally the Buche de Noël was complete! 

I haven't made the Buche de Noël many times since that fateful Christmas... in fact I've probably told my story more!  But this year, I geared up the courage to dust off the recipe and I'm very pleased to say I got it right the first time!

If you fancy a go yourself... here is the recipe (courtesy of Fry's Cocoa)

Fry's Swiss Roll

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup water
1 tsp vanilla

Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.  Beat eggs in a small bowl until thick and lemon coloured.  Gradually beat in the sugar.  Stir in water and vanilla.  Blend in sifted dry ingredients at lowest speed on mixer.  Spread batter in a greased and waxed paper lined 15" x 10" x 3/4" jelly roll pan.  Bake in preheated 375ºF oven for 12 minutes.  Invert cake immediately onto tea towel dusted with cocoa.  Peel off paper.  Roll up cake and towel together, starting at short end.  Cool on wire rack seam side down.  Makes one cake.


Combine 2 cups of whipping cream, 1/2 cup of cocoa, 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of coffee or chocolate liqueur.  Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.  Whip cream until softly stiff.  Unroll cake, and spread 1/2 the whipped cream over cake.  Re-roll cake and frost with remaining whipped cream. Garnish as desired.

Until next time...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It's beginning to smell a lot like Christmas...

Fresh from the oven...mince pies!  I sure wish there was a way you could smell these mince pies... the cinnamon, cloves and that lovely baked goodies smell!

But better than that...there is only one way I could be baking...and that's in a functioning kitchen!  Woo Hoo!  Last weekend my very sweet DH put the last of the counter tops in and on Monday I was able to move the food and dishes into their new home.  We still have tiling and wallpapering to do, but that can all wait until January.  For now we are going to focus on the children and the holiday season.

Until next time...

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Walking in a Winter Wonderland....

The United Kingdom has been experiencing a deep freeze for the last week or so..not great for driving, but fabulous for pictures... 
The place looks straight out of Narnia.

By this morning there was over 24 hours of crystallised frost on the tree branches and as the sun came out they sparkled!

Even the most delicate spider webs had a special coating of "icing sugar"

And like lethal spikes, the trees had thorns of ice!  (This is a lilac tree!)

It made for stunning views!

I went to Christmas lunch with the laaadddies (said in your poshist voice!)..and this was the view from the golf house.  We couldn't have asked for more perfect seasonal views!

(BTW, in other news..I came home from my lunch to see that the kitchen counter has been installed!  Yeah!...this kitchen might not be finished for Christmas, but it will be functional!)

Until next time...

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Almost Wordless Wednesday on a cold December morning...

We've been stringing cranberries and popcorn to decorate the evergreens in the garden....It's beginning to look a lot like....


Until next time...