Saturday, 22 December 2012

Christmas crafty Saturday: Almond snowflake cookies

Hi guys,
I love getting crafty, and Christmas is the perfect time to exercise my love of all thing craft with a real purpose. So I thought that every Saturday during December I would share one of my seasonal crafts with you guys.

Well, Christmas is almost upon us (just three more sleeps to go!) So I thought that rather than give you guys another sewing project you won't have the time to complete, I would give you my favourite Christmas biscuit recipe. It's my favourite because they taste delicious and it's so so simple to make: even for a not especially proficient baker like me! (I'm not being modest: you can see how unproficient I am by how messy the icing is!)
250g softened butter
150g caster sugar
300g plain flour
3 tbspoons almond extract
250g icing sugar
Icing pens/embellishment for decoration

-These really are so simple to make that there are surprisingly few instructions! First pre-heat your oven to 180oC
-Using a large mixing bowl mix together the butter, caster sugar, and 2 tablespoons of almond oil
-Gradually add the flour until you have a large ball of pastry with a doughy consistency
-Roll out the biscuit pastry and cut out biscuit shapes with a cookie cutter (I used a simple round one)
- Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the biscuits are starting to turn very lightly brown.
-Leave the biscuits to cool whilst making the icing: mix the icing sugar with the final tablespoon full of almond oil then add water until you have a thick paste consistency.
-Now it's time to decorate! Obviously you can decorate these however you want, but I like this easy to execute snowflake design: I just drew it on using an icing pen.

Mary Berry wouldn't be particularly impressed with my decorating skills, but this plateful of biscuits was so well received that it was munched down by my hubby in just one afternoon! Just three more sleeps to go until Christmas: I hope you all have a wonderful time!

Love Tor

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Christmas crafty Saturday: Make the giftwrap part of the present

Hi guys,
I love getting crafty, and Christmas is the perfect time to exercise my love of all thing craft with a real purpose. So I thought that every Saturday during December I would share one of my seasonal crafts with you guys.

In case you haven't noticed over previous years, I'm going to let you into a little secret. I really really love Christmas. Like I'm obsessed with Christmas! I love decorating our house, buying special presents for everyone I love, I even like writing Christmas cards - I know! I'm crazy! But another one of the things I love (and something I've gotten from my mum) is wrapping my presents, so that they look amazing and leave people excited to open them.

Over the years I've decorated my presents with personalised keyrings, christmas tree ornaments, and candy canes. I've seen gorgeous presents that have been decorated with lollypops, cookie cutters, and even homemade jewellery. When you add something to the top of the present, however small, the wrapping becomes part of the gift.
This year I'm decorating my presents with candy cane mice: felt mice which I'm made by hand and added candy canes to make their tails. You can find the Martha Stewart tutorial on how to make the mice here: note that I stitched mine together rather than using fabric glue recommended by Martha (who knew she was so lazy?!) and they looked much better for it.
For the wrapping paper I've opted for plain metallics or red: I always think if you're going to embellish then the embellishment shows up so much better against the background of plain paper. I also experimented a little with polka dots for that Cath Kidston feel. Other unusual wrapping paper options are to use brown parcel paper and even newspaper: both guaranteed to make your presents stand out when they're underneath the tree!

How do you wrap your Christmas presents? Do you like to make the wrapping into something special, or do you prefer to spend more time on getting the right gift? I wonder if it's part of being a blogger than means I like literally everything I do (even giving a present) to be something that's aesthetically pleasing!

Love Tor xx

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Stylized Christmas home envy!

Hi guys,
I'm a bit of an interiors obsessive: I love checking out other people's home decor, and am forever drooling over interiors blogs (I like to call it house porn!) And if there's one time it's especially nice to see what creative ideas people have for their homes it's Christmas. It's not just interior blogs jumping on this band wagons either: the big department stores are hopping all over it too!

I love checking out the photo shoots that the big department stores put out to promote their Christmas decorations and interior ranges. It used to be that preparing for Christmas meant putting up a Christmas tree. But now you can buy new Christmas throws and cushions, art work, kitchen utensils and even bedding. (Primark have some great Nordic reindeer-print bedding instore, and it's only £15) And I love it!

Here's some decorating inspiration gleamed from the stores you'll find on every highstreet:

Marks and Spencer
House of Fraser
How do you decorate your home for Christmas? Do you take interior inspiration from blogs and press images and go abit over the top (guilty as charged!) or do you think these things are going a bit too far?

I'll be showing you how we decorate our house for Christmas later in the month. But in the meantime, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Love Tor xx

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Christmas crafty Saturday: How to make Christmas stockings

Hi guys,
I love getting crafty, and Christmas is the perfect time to exercise my love of all thing craft with a real purpose. So I thought that every Saturday during December I would share one of my seasonal crafts with you guys.

I like to create my own little presents for people, as well as decorations for the house: this year, for the first time, I tried my hand at making a Christmas stocking. It turned out so well that I'm going to show you how I made it so that, if you're feeling so inclined, you can try your hand at making your own:
I kept this really simple and used just two different cotton fabrics, cut out a felt letter, and then ribbons and buttons for the trim. But obviously the only limit to what you can make is your imagination: use velvet, add flowers, diamante, write your name on it with fabric paint. It really is up to you!

You will need:
2 sheets A4 paper to cut the pattern
1/2 meter patterned fabric
1/2 meter plain coloured fabric
Coordinating cotton
Embellishments (I used felt, ribbon, and buttons)
1. Cut out a stocking template pattern onto your sheets of A4 paper: this will be the template you use to cut your fabric. I drew and redrew mine by hand until I had the shape I wanted.
2. Cut the template 4 times; twice on each of your fabrics. Remember to turn the template around when doing the back panel of the patterned fabric, so the pattern will still show when the stocking is assembled.
3. Place the fabric with the patttern to the inside and the lining to the outside and then stitch the four pieces of fabric together: I used a simple running stitch. If you want to create this even quicker, you could use a sewing machine. Turn inside out and voila: you have your very own simple-to-sew Christmas stocking!
4. Embellish away to your hearts content! And don't forget that if you want to hang your stocking you'll need to add a ribbon loop to the corner.
PhotobucketObviously this one is entirely for my own satisfaction, as the baby will be far too young to appreciate Christmas or stockings. But he'll only get one first Christmas, and I intend to suck as much joy and fun out of it as possible!

So what do you think? Do you think you'll have a go at making your own? If you do, I would LOVE to see how it turns out; email me a picture!

Love Tor x

PS - Don't forget to enter my Christmas giveaway: there is a great selection of little prizes to be won!! 

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Our house: All decorated for Christmas

Hi guys,
I love Christmas. Actually that's an understatement: I LOVE Christmas! So as soon as December 1st rolls around, I want my house decorated immediately. Because of course, why not maximise the amount of time you can spend looking at glittery decorations and twinkly lights, right? True to form, yesterday we built our grotto whilst listening to our specially crafted Christmas playlist. Here's how it looks:
-Nothing on my tree matches! It's a mish-mash of colours and styles: but that's because each bauble is special. My mum started it, buying my sisters and I special Christmas baubles to remember every year starting from when we were born. And now Mike and I pick up ornaments on our travels together: we have one to remind us of our wedding day, our honeymoon, even one that says "Our first Christmas together". I think it's a great tradition and makes putting up the tree even more special.

- I love poinsettias: they're so festive, and cheap too! This one cost me just £2.50 from Asda. It has pride of place in our fireplace, and the great thing is (if I remember to water it!) it will last for the whole of December!

- We picked up the nutcracker in Berlin last December. The 70s-style angel was a gift from my mum: something she and my dad have had since they got married. And it just wouldn't be Christmas without a plate full of candy canes to nibble on every time you walk past it!

-Our non-traditional Christmas wreath. I saw one just like this in a fancy design shop, but it was soo expensive. Luckily, my mum is a craft monster and a genius with a glue gun: she managed to replicate it completely for me. I think it looks amazing!

- This is our first year of having a proper fireplace for Christmas, and I love it! Our stockings are all hung up and ready in anticipation. Mike and I have Mickey and Minnie ones, brought in Florida. The baby has his own which I made myself: tutorial on how to make one to follow next weekend!

- Finally the focal point of any home at Christmas: the dining table. My centrepiece is an advent ring. The sweet cones are from Ikea: it's hard to fill them fast enough when Mike is around! We also have a full Christmas dinner service: you really can't avoid the fact that it's December in this house!

Have you put your Christmas tree up yet? How do you like to decorate for Christmas?

Love Tor x