Monday, 18 December 2017

Advent 2017 :: Day 18

Well the Christmas cards are written and posted. 
I often think that I won't send cards, with all the waste and cost etc but then I weigh up how much I like receiving cards, the joy of actually getting something in the post and connecting with family and friends and it seems worthwhile. And while I was writing them I got to thinking about the lovely Christmas stamps that appear each year, like little miniature artworks

There seems to be a trend in recent years to offer both religious and secular stamps both beautiful in their own right.

And a quick google search turned up lots of beautiful stamps from previous years.

 It is too late and I'm too tired (writing this post late yesterday and scheduling it for the morning) to write much more about them...

But I loved seeing this image of King Wenseslas pop up from 1966 because I remember it so vividly... it was the result of a competition I believe and designed by a child but it was also the first year that commemorative Christmas srtamps were issued in the UK.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Advent 2017 :: Day 17

Please tell me I am not the only one...
There I am looking at one thing, I get distracted by something else, click on a link and before I know it I've crocheted a mistletoe garland!

Well, it wasn't quite so quick as that and I really should have been writing the Christmas cards but it is rather lovely and it used up lots of scraps of green yarn. And if you are as easily distracted as me you can find the pattern here on the Loop Lounge, only I opted to stitch on some pearl berries rather than crochet them... I couldn't face sewing in any more ends!

Totally impossible to photograph well...

and I've not decided where to hang it yet either.

Now if you'll excuse me I must finish writing those cards!

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Advent 2017 :: Day 16

Just over a year ago I joined an organisation called "Free Cakes for Kids" where volunteer bakers make birthday cakes etc for children, and sometimes adults, who might otherwise not have a cake on their birthday. Since then I've baked quite a few cakes and it is always a delight to see the smiles on faces and how much they are apppreciated. Baking a cake seems like such a small gesture but it can make a difference when life is hard.

This month a big cake was needed for a Christmas party at a children's centre in Cambridge, so I put my hand up and volunteered.

And this is what I came up with... well I still had lots of that navy icing to use up!

Friday, 15 December 2017

Advent 2017 :: Day 15

Present giving at Christmas is a pretty low key affair in our house. We don't go in for expensive gifts or lots of parcels but more for the small, useful, inexpensive, consumable or homemade. We figure that we all have far too much stuff already and definitely don't need anything more, so a small homemade gift is appreciated just as much as anything showy.

So I thought a batch of chilli jam would be useful to tuck into homemade hampers this year. I deviated from my usual recipe that is tomato based and not too hot and decided to try Nigella's Chilli Jam, mosty because it has only four ingredients and couldn't be simpler.

It has turned out rather hotter than expected though... a small taste on a teaspoon nearly blew my socks off! This is definitely industrial strength Chilli jam. Perhaps I should be giving it to my enemies, not friends this Christmas (except I don't really think I have enemies!)

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Advent 2017 :: Day 14

Well that was a lovely way to spend a day in the middle of December...

There were presents to open and boxes to explore...

Lunch out with two sets of grandparents...

and a special banana birthday cake made by Daddy.

Happy 1st birthday Logan.
It doesn't seem a whole year since you arrived in our lives.

p.s. a little note for the very observant among you... Stewart does own other shirts and sweaters!

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Advent 2017 :: Day 13

A couple of Christmas stockings finished... one for a friend's new grandson and the other for our grandson

Although after seeing the exquisite embroidery of May Morris I feel my hand embroidery skills leave a lot to be desired!

But it was a good excuse to make more pom poms!

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Advent 2017 :: Day 12

It has become something of a tradition each December that I make time for a day out to visit an exhibition... a day when I'm not thinking about Christmas making and baking. This year I visited a museum that I have never visited before (cue sixty x sixty) despite having grown up and gone to school not a million miles away. In fact it took a friend from New York to introduce this North London girl to the delights of the William Morris Gallery

Orange Tree - embroidery by May Morris

On Friday I met up with my blogging friend Frances and we went to see May Morris: Art and Life, a wonderful exhibition exploring the life and work of William Morris's youngest daughter, one of the most significant artists of the Arts and Crafts movement. The exhibition covers the whole breadth of her creative pursuits from embroidery to wallpaper design, costume to jewellery as well as the most delightful sketches and watercolours. And all this is set against the story of her life and her role in the Socialist and Feminist movements. It is beautifully curated and quite fascinating.

"I am a remarkable woman - always was, though none of you seemed to think so" May Morris 1936

After a lovely lunch in the cafe, (I can recommend the smoked mackerel sandwich) we took some time to explore the rest of the museum which has rooms dedicated to intoducing William Morris and his childhood, his early influences, the rise of Morris & Co., plus an insight into both his workshop and the company showroom. There are also rooms dedicated to his love of literature and typography, his efforts to create a free and fair world and his far reaching influence and enthusiasm for quality materials and craftsmanship. There really is masses to see and plenty of interactive exhibitions for the younger members of the family... I couldn't resist a bit of brass rubbing but I reluctantly passed by the dressing up clothes!

The house itself is a gem in the heart of Walthamstow, a beautiful Georgian house that was Morris's childhood home, set within Lloyd Park which is now a public recreation ground. The staircase is tastfully decorated for Christmas and the May Morris exhibition, which is free just like entry to the rest of the house, is open until 28th January. It may have taken me sixty years to discovery this beautiful Gallery but I have no doubt I will return.

It was a fabulous day out and wonderful to catch up with Frances again.