Every year I write a 'lessons learnt' note to myself as a reminder of how to have a smoother running run up to Christmas. Like many hundreds of others I have spent many Christmas Eve's painting, sewing or embroidering and then wrapping and generally getting annoyed at myself for not having tackled some of this sooner.
I store this note to myself, along with this years present list (as a reminder of what i gave) and the Christmas card list , in the box of Halloween stuff in the attic, because if I put it with the Christmas decorations then its just too late.
Things on the list.....
1. Start making cards/presents in November.
2. Wrap fudge as soon as its made so you don't eat it.
3. Wrapping takes half a day - don't leave it all till the last minute.
4. Aldi's version of Baileys is just fine.
For some reason, I have never managed to achieve Christmas preparation completion, and i hope i don't speak too soon, but this year has been the best yet.
Every year i make a wreath for the door. I left it a little late this year, next year, i'd like to have it done even before the tree goes up. No berries on the holly this year so I added the toadstools. I like them.
Mr Thrift Bee insisted I dug up the parsnips to day, to ensure that 'if they looked like the elephant man, we would still have time buy some supermarket ones' Dear God man, even ugly homegrown vegetables taste better than supermarket ones.
I think you'll agree though, that my slim and tall parsnips are the handsomest in the land.
I gathered up bag fulls of pine cones when we felled some trees this year. They have been drying off in the shed for months. I love making something from nothing I was intent on making pinecone and beeswax firestarters. Unfortunatly they are the wrong kind of pine cone, because these little beggers only smoulder and don't catch alight.
So what to do with two large bags of scutty fireproof pinecones.......and came up with this.....
I cut out a large circle of card.
Drew a rough snowflake shape.
Cut it out.
One glue stick was the sum total expense of this project, all other materials free or produced on the ranch.
It took about half an hour in total and.....
Light faded when i got it hung up, so excuse the dark photo.
Another thrift haul that seems to have a bit of theme going on. The first find is two fibreglass rectangular trays on a stand. Anyone know what how this was used? Is it for sandwiches?
Anyway the colours were nice and they just happen to go with my second find
These cannisters with cork lids are in great condititon.
A really heavy solid wood nut dish.
I've recently acquired one of these stove top coffee maker and I've become a bit of an espresso freak. But I've picked up another now to sell. The old Alpen cannister would make a great home for homemade granola. Its also for sale.
This little coffee set has a gold snowflake design and was made in Japan. Perfect condition.
Moving onto cocktails, the ice bucket is very festive.
I posted a while back about a jumble sale find of amongst other things, a really nice pasta maker machine. It was missing a handle to turn and the clamp to keep it steady. I emailed the Italian company who made it and was able to buy the missing pieces from them.
I have always wanted to make my own pasta, I love a ravioli with spinach and ricotta in a sage butter sauce. But I have found it difficult to buy so I plan to make lots of it when I have spinach and sage in abundance in the garden. I may even make my own ricotta!
To start with I tried a faithful carbonara recipe with Jamies method of making pasta which could not be simpler 200grms '00 flour' and two eggs. You just mix it together, knead for 5 - 10 mins, Pass it through the machine 7 times to get the right thickness and then through the tagliatelle cutter.
Bob's your uncle!
Throw it into salted water for 2 mins and its cooked.
My carbonara consists of as many rashers of bacon i have lurking around 3 or 4 normally which
got cooked as I was passing the pasta through the machine.
Into a jug I put an egg, some left over sour cream (from fajitas at the weekend) and handful of parmasan.
I would also love to have a BIG bunch of chopped parsley but my parsley this year has pretty much failed.
(I'm eeking out one poor plant because I flatly refuse to buy something that I should have growing in the garden.) So a few sprigs of parsley has to do.
All chucked in frying pan with a little of the pasta water......Ta-Dah
The homemade fresh egg pasta cost approx 10c per person! I used to buy Lidl egg tagliatelle for €1.69 and use half the box for a meal for three of us. (I would still recommend it) If I make this dish one more time I will have recouped my 'investment' of €1 for the pasta maker!
Easy, Quick, Thrifty and absolutely delicious. Linking to Lakotas Ta-Dah Tuesday
Over the week-end we made our Christmas pudding. Such an easy thing to make, I won't bore you with a tutorial, if you make one, you probably use a family recipe. If you don't make one you either don't like pudding or you are happy to buy one.
I make my Mums recipe, because I love her Christmas pudding and I make brandy butter to go with it, because that what Mum always does.
I worked out last year that making my own is about a quarter of the cost of buying a good one.
It has become a thing Little Bee and me do together, because weighing out the ingredients, juicing fruit, chucking it all in a bowl and stirring are all things Little Bee excels at. If baking involves snaffling handfuls of sultanas and almonds and glace cherries then HappY DaYs !!!
There is less 'snaffling' when it comes to adding the wet ingredients. Home grown eggs are a must, obvs.
Mums recipe calls for Guinness and brandy, but since I have been making my own the only ingredient I substitute is the Brandy.
You are unlikely to have come across Old Monk rum unless you are one of the lucky people to have holidayed or visited India. This bottle of rum is a remnant of the last time I traveled to India which was for our honeymoon in 2005. In a previous career I was fortunate enough to travel there at least twice a year for the best part of about 20 years. It took a while for me to fall in love with the place, but I eventually I did.
750mls of Old Monk cost Rs.175 which is just over 3 quid, and it is so out of date its not funny.
Little Bee said it smells like nail varnish remover but as soon as I opened the bottle....
I was transported........
Which isn't bad for a sniff, in my kitchen, on a stormy afternoon in the Wicklow mountains.