Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Join Me?

Before you start to read this post, do put down your tea cup, as I don't want to cause anybody to sputter tea down their nose! Now, with my somewhat spasmodic posting last year, I never got to tell you what I did for Christmas Gifts...not properly! So here is a little roundup, from a crafting point of view.

I made all my Christmas cards again...several different designs. Funnily enough, the first design was very elaborate (baubles cut out and trimmed with ribbon and sequins, stuck on card embellished with more ribbon, sequins and beads!) and each design became slightly more simple! The next design was several tree shapes cut out green card in varying shades. Then each tree was folded in half, and glued to half of another tree, so they ended up almost like a fan of trees. Hard to explain, tricky to make, but pretty to look at! Then I got some teeny doillies, and folded them and snipped them into snowflakes, glued to cream card and embellished with some sparkles. My favourite cards were the easiest, and the last I made. I photocopied some vintage Christmas cards from my collection, and punched circles a bit smaller than a Jammy Dodger biscuit from them. I stuck these into the middle of my little doillies, then I decorated them with glitter, stick on bows, tiny stick on reindeer...all manner of sparkles!

For the girls at work, I made Rose Bath Melts. Where I went wrong, I think, was not labelling them as poor lady bit into hers thinking it was some kind of truffle! I made them by melting cocoa butter, and then stirring in bicarbonate of soda for fizz, cream of tartar, baking powder, oatmeal, rose oil and dried rose petals. I rolled it into balls, then rolled these in rose petals, and tied them in little cellophane bags with pretty ribbons.

I made all manner of other little bits...a notebook cover for a special friend...rum and raising fudge...Black Forest was all such fun. I wanted to make those Snuggle Blankets which have arms so you can be really warm and toasty, but alas, it turns out that the fabric cost much more than the ready made thing. Normally that would not stop me, but I was giving them to ten people, so it would have been unaffordable for me. I bundled up a snuggle blanket with extra goodies...for one person, an Agatha Christie novel and some shortbread in the shape of Scottie Dogs. For another, the Christmas issues of American Country Living, Better Homes and Gardens and Selvedge. Oh, and I gave sets of Marmalade, Strawberry Jam, and Chutney.

I was actually inspired by an issue of Selvedge magazine from a year or so ago. It had a section called 'The Handmade's Tale' and it featured women who make their Christmas Gifts, with some patterns, recipes and ideas. One made jam, another crocheted covered coathangers. One made covered notebooks, another little dolls. It made me really want to have a go at a handmade Christmas. I didn't give exclusively handmade things, but the majority of my gifts were...and I loved making them. Happily, most people seemed pleased to receive them. I always have a little bit of self doubt!

The key to enjoying the making was definitely starting early, and making things that were not obvioulsy Christmassy. Setting strawberries, cherries, redcurrants and blackberries to macerate in jars of rum in August didn't make me feel out of season! So, and this is the part I do not wish you to snort tea at, I plan to start early again this year. It is the Squirrel Approach to the festive do a little bit every now and again, and hide it away, ready. One thing I am going to do is to put away £10 or so in a little jar each month on the 25th, so I have a lovely little nest-egg to spend when it comes to December (or should that be Robins-egg?!). Now, I don't intend on turning my blog into Christmas-All-Year-Round, and indeed, nobody complains more than me when the shops start to sell Mince Pies in September....but I might from time to time write a little post about my adventures in getting ready for Christmas this year. Perhaps a reminder to tuck away a little money...perhaps my recipe for Sloe Gin....nothing too Christmassy too soon, I promise!

Would you like to join me? To start December this year with a treasure chest of little lovelies tucked away, ready to enjoy? If so, just read the posts titled 'Mimi's Jingle Belles' and we can play along together. If you want nothing to do with the thought of Christmas in January, then please ignore such posts!

Before I go, I must tell you about the bargain that I found today, and some plans I have for gifts! Now my gift list is rather long, partly because I have 2 jobs in 2 different places, and partly because I have a great many colleagues and friends at one of those jobs! While it is lovely to have a long list of people I want to give gifts too, there is no getting away from it being an expensive business. So imagine how thrilled I was today, when I came across a shop selling tiny hot water bottles, (about the size of a sheet of A5 paper!) for £1 each! I can buy some lengths of thick wool felt in different colours, and make each person their own hot water bottle and cover! I designed a pattern for one a year or so ago, so will use that. I can decorate them with applique initials or button flowers....I don't plan to start those until the autumn, but they were much too good a bargain to pass up! Because they are so small, they shouldn't take much fabric to make the covers.

So if you are joining me on my Jingle Belle Mission, then the task for today is just to think about what you could make, Christmassy or not, and tuck away for gifts. Here are a few ideas to get the ball rolling! Using scraps of fabric to make bunting...gathering flowers for pot pourri...crocheting or knitting sprigs of holly and misteltoe...making candles in vintage tea cups...painting mugs...knitting scarves...crocheting snowflakes...cutting silhouettes...

Here is to a wonderful, creative year!


Yvonne said...

Mimi, So glad to see you are back. I missed you so much. Love your writing. I'd love to join you in crafting for Christmas 2011. Great Ideas!

Moey said...


I'll read all of the Jingle Bell posts, please post pics of your creations!

Dinahsoar said...

Love love--the home made Christmas cards...would love to see them...your last ones, with the stick on reindeer...sound adorable...and shortbread cut out like Scottie Dogs?...I'd love to be one of your friends, on the receiving end of all your goodies...rum and raisin fudge?..I love rum raisin ice cream and I love fudge..two in one..what's not to like?..

your gifts may not have all been hand made but you put so much thought into for how they were received--well I know I'd love any of them...I'm sure your friends treasure them.

tiny hot water bottles--those have to be cute because anything miniature is cute-- covered in some wonderful fabric--perfect...

I was going to ask where you find the time...planning ahead like you do makes it more pleasurable and doable.

Last Christmas I managed to embroider one tea towel--btw I got the idea from you. I meant to do several--one for myself, my daughter and a couple of friends, but I ran out of time. The finished one went to my daughter and it was really cute...white tea towel with red floss--candy cane and peppermints motif...found the pattern online.

This Christmas (2010) I'd intended to do up Hot Chocolate Cobbler mix in a cute bag I'd decorate (I'm a paper crafter)...but ran out of time before I got round to maybe next year that will be part of my repertoire of homemade gifts.

I did find the time this year to do some cute packaging for gifts for my daughter who gifts several friends at work.

And I made a lot of 3D paper stars...and a cute pink glitter house and some small pink and silver glitter paper cone trees. I have a couple of snowflake punches and those make decorating handy.

whew--I am more long winded than sorry...but you creativity and zeal is quite inspiring!

Jackie said...

This sounds like a lovely idea.

Could you print the recipe for the bath melts to start us off?

I like to try out homemade gifts before i give them to others, which often leaves me in a state of panic come December!

So glad you've starting posting again.