Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Merry Christmas!

A very quick note to wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy 2010! Thank you for stopping by over the year. I hope there will be many more posts in the year ahead.

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Apologies, again, for not writing more often. I have been very focused on sewing lately and not had much opportunity to use the computer. I have also been in substantial pain with my back and leg, so have had to limit sitting time. I have new medication to help, but it makes me feel nauseous and very fuzzy in the head, so not a good combination!

Anyway, the market went well. It was good to be doing it on a relatively small scale with a select group of people. We had a really great turnout and saw lots of new faces, as well as some very good friends who came along to support us.

First market set up

I worked really hard to make enough stock to fill the table and offer a variety of items, from aprons, deluxe baby bibs, handbags, crayon rolls, colouring sets (lined book bag and coordinating crayon roll), reversible coffee cozies, tutus, zippered pouches, Grab ‘n’ Go placemats and felt crowns. If we do any markets in the future, we will definitely work on some better display structures!

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Just one more sleep until the big day – the EllaBella Designs’ 1st Annual Christmas Market. This will be my first market and I have been sewing every night to make enough to fill a table. Normally I make items to order, so I don’t usually have much stock on hand. Well, now I do! I will have aprons for children and women, tutus, one of a kind handbags, reversible coffee cup cozies, cosmetic pouches, Grab ‘n’ Go placemats and crayon rolls. I will also be taking orders for custom pieces for Christmas.

If you are in the Nanimo area and are interested in locally made, handmade, high quality pieces, please stop by. Here’s a link to the map. Hope to see you there!


Getting ready for Market

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I know that Halloween is just around the corner and many people will be focused on that, but Christmas is also fast approaching and now is the time to start thinking about gift ideas for your friends and family. Over the next few weeks I will be hunting down some great gift ideas and posting about them here.

This year I will be participating in the first Christmas Gift Market at the EllaBella Designs Studio. The market will feature the work of several local businesswomen. There will be more information available soon about the other vendors, but I know it will be a great event. The Market is being held on Sunday 22nd November, from 1-5pm. This is a perfect opportunity to choose unique, handcrafted gifts for your family and loved ones – perhaps even a special treat for yourself! I am anticipating a great, fun-filled afternoon in a cozy environment with some very talented ladies.

I will be selling a variety of items, including children’s aprons, deluxe food-catcher baby bibs, coffee cup cozies, crayon rolls, colouring bags, tutus, zippered cosmetic pouches, handbags and Grab ‘n’ Go Placemats.

If you are in the Nanaimo area, please stop in and show your support! You’ll be glad you did!

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The new year has begun and so far, so good! We have had more snow, so are not going far. I don’t believe in driving in the snow if you don’t have to. We are not going to starve any time soon and most other things can wait until the roads have cleared a little more. As much as I like a bargain, there is nothing I need enough to struggle through the ice, snow and slush with 2 little ones in tow!

I haven’t been playing with the girls enough, what with the post Christmas clean up and visitors, but I haven’t forgotten that resolution yet! Must try harder…

The evenings, once the girls get to sleep, have been quite productive for me. I had a brief lull in crafting over the Christmas period, while I flicked through some new crafty books, but I am now refreshed and raring to go! I have an order for a deluxe across the body bag, from a repeat customer. I think it is a very good sign that she has bought several different bags for herself, but is now buying one for someone else. And she isn’t even related to me! I ran out of the coordinating lining fabric for her bag, so while I was waiting for a break in the weather so I could get to the fabric store, I worked on a couple of other bags to sell. Not sure I can part with them now! Before Christmas I bought some faux-croc vinyl which is super soft and lovely. I paired it with some red paisley and made two shoulder bags, one with a flap and one without. The interiors are similar and have a zippered pocket and a divided pocket for cellphone, pen and notepad as well as a key clip so there is never again the frantic key hunt. The bags are a great size and will easily carry a large wallet, travel wipes, diaper, first aid kit, tape measure, hankies, keys, phone, notepad, pen and even  a camera. Now you know what I carry with me every day! Bet you feel better for knowing that, don’t you?!

One of the Christmas gifts I made for our youngest was a duvet cover and pillowcase in a lovely pink toile, as seen below. This is not how I intended to put the photos in, but I am having trouble figuring it all out, so this will have to do for tonight.

We have been needing to re-cover our dining chairs for some time and I finally managed it yesterday. Cream/beige is not the best colour with little children and their messy hands, but they have lasted well and they were bought with the intention on re-upholstering when necessary. The store didn’t have enough of the fabric we both loved, so I made an executive decision and chose something a bit dull, but very sensible and hardwearing. We have plenty of time ahead for glamour! By which time we will have grandchildren and we will be back to practical! Anyway, the fabric was very reasonably priced, so it won’t be too irksome if we decide to do it again in a year or two. The first chair is before, the green one is the after shot.

I hope to be back again soon with some new project photos, if I can decide what to do first!

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Merry Christmas one and all! I hope you have a wonderful day. We are all set now and just have to wait a few short hours until the girls wake up and realize what day it is! Should be a lot of fun.

The general plan for the day will be to open the stockings, have breakfast, prepare the veggies for Christmas dinner, then go back upstairs to open presents. There are only 5 of us here this year, so it will be a bit quieter than in the past, but I think the girls will make up the difference in noise level! They are 4 1/2 and nearly 2, so really fantastic ages for experiencing the magic of Christmas.

Dinner this year, as every year that I have been in charge (!), will be roast chicken, roast potatoes and parsnips, carrots, sprouts, bacon wrapped sausages, rosemary scented gravy, sage and onion stuffing, Yorkshire Puddings and homemade cranberry sauce. The sage, rosemary etc come from our herb garden, but it is currently under nearly 3 feet of snow, far across the garden, so I am not sure we will be using it this year! For dessert we will be having a Ballard family favourite, banoffee pie. This is utterly divine: a digestive biscuit base, topped with a layer of smooth caramel, then a layer of sliced banana and finished with a layer of espresso cream. It might not sound that great if, like me, you don’t like bananas or coffee, but trust me, it is completely fabulous!

I have also made mince pies and cherry pies, so we will not be going hungry!

I have been “lucky” that I haven’t had to wrap much, partly because we didn’t overdo it, but also because I made fabric gift bags last year and am using them again this year. If you have never tried this approach to gift-wrapping, I heartily recommend it. Not only is it good for the environment, as you don’t end up with piles of rubbish that can’t be recycled due to the high ink content, it saves so much time and money. Any Christmas fabric I see in the sales will be turned into a batch of bags for next year. I even used pillowcases for larger items this year and tied them with a big ribbon bow.

I will have to post pics of my new apron later, as I really must get to bed.

Happy feasting and Merry Christmas!

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Tracking Santa

Just a very quick post to let you know that you can track Santa’s progress at the following link:


A lot of fun for the little ones!

Will be back later with my Christmas Day menu and hopefully a picture of the apron I am working on for myself.

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Christmas cake update

Just wanted to let you know that the Christmas cake was FANTASTIC! To cut a long story short, I didn’t decorate the cake, but I did buy a tub of gloriously soft and tasty marzipan to go with a nice thick slice of cake and a cup of tea. You can definitely taste the alcohol, but it is not overpowering, it just adds to the overall deliciousness.

Christmas cake, marzipan and a cup of tea

Christmas cake, marzipan and a cup of tea

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Apologies in advance for what will no doubt seem like boasting! I am so very pleased with myself for tackling this project when I knew it would be a challenge. We are attending a winter solstice party and I wanted to have something special to wear. We don’t go to any parties normally, so I really don’t have much to wear (honest!). This is a modified McCall’s M4491 – hopefully not modified beyond recognition! It is the first time I have used a pattern to make something for myself. My dressform, affectionately know around here as “Maggie”, was very helpful indeed, as I needed to take the dress in. I changed the sleeves and added a button and ribbon loop at the back so I could hook the skirt up, rather than have it trailing around under people’s feet. I left out the lining and made the back plain. Some parts of the pattern were just too fiddly for me to deal with right now. This was made a little more challenging by having my 4 year old take the scissors to a random piece of fabric laying on the table. Not so random, as it turned out to be a sleeve! Lesson of the day: keep the scissors well out of reach.

I will try to post a picture of me wearing the dress, if I can get said 4 year old to cooperate! I found the perfect belt to wear with it, but have yet to decide on shoes. I have my beautiful gold wedding shoes, so will try those and see how they work.

My grandmother, who is now 94 and lives in Scotland, was a hugely talented seamstress and I am inspired by her. Every item I ever saw of hers was always finished with great attention to detail, down to the under garments on doll clothes. Whenever I make something, I have her in mind and I hope she would be proud of me.

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Today I am attending my first ever cookie exchange with some of the other mums from preschool. I am really looking forward to it and hope no one minds the last minute change of plans for my contribution. I was fully intending to bake gingerbread biscotti, but made a batch of cranberry and white chocolate cookies at the weekend and remembered just how good they are. Fabulous, in fact. It is another recipe from the lovely Nigella, in her “Feast” cookbook. Page 82, in case you have it. I have made these little delights many times and they are always delicious. I once tried cutting down the sugar, but it affected the crispiness, so don’t do it. I am not sure whether I am allowed to post this recipe without permission, but here we go. If she complains, I will take it off!

Cranberry and White Chocolate Cookies

Recipe from “Feast” by Nigella Lawson

At this time of year, I think we all find it difficult to keep going between meals. This is the ideal, unnecessary but so gratifying filler, perfect with a cup of tea or, for those of under tea-drinking age, a glass of milk. The oats make these wonderfully chewy and help convince yourself that they are actually very healthy and good for you. Nothing to feel guilty about at all.
Makes 30

140g flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
75g rolled oats
125g soft unsalted butter
75g dark brown sugar
100g caster sugar (berry sugar)
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
75g dried cranberries
50g pecans, roughly chopped
140 white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Measure out the flour, baking powder, salt and rolled oats into a bowl.
Put the butter and sugars into another bowl and beat together until creamy – this is obviously easier with an electric mixer of some kind, but you just need to put some muscle into it otherwise – then beat in the egg and vanilla.
Beat in the flour, baking powder, salt and oat mixture and then fold in the cranberries, chopped pecans and chocolate chips. Set the bowl of biscuit dough in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.
Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into a ball with your hands, and then place them on a lined or greased baking sheet and squish the balls down with a fork. You may need 2 baking sheets or be prepared to make these in 2 batches.
Cook for 15 minutes; when ready, the cookies will be tinged a pale gold, but be too soft to lift immediately off the tray, so leave the tray on a cool surface and let them harden for about 5 minutes. Remove with a spatula or whatever to cool fully on a wire rack.

I always double the recipe now, as these are so very good!

I will post some pics of the event later. It was quite late last night when I finished packing the cookies in their tins, so I didn’t take any photos.

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