Thursday, December 23, 2010

cookies, tea towels and lights

Yay! I made some Christmas Cookies! I don't know when was the last time I made some. J. isn't that big on sweets and I usually go straight for pure chocolate ...

These are the Christmas Chocolate biscuits from Nigella Christmas and I used Dr. Oetker sprinkles. The look really pretty in their clumsy way and taste great!

I also did some last-minute sewing. This is another tea towel with machine-appliquéd hearts. The idea and heart pattern comes from Cath Kidston's Sew! (I just looked at the Cath Kidston homepage and how cute are these candles?!)

I like the combination of the plaid and the two prints. Really pretty! Christmassy, but not too much so, so it can be used all year round - I hope.

It's been quite busy around here, but as you can see, I'm trying to cram in all I can before the Season is over!!! Yesterday we finally got around to decorating the tree.

I wish you all a very festive Season, Happy Holidays and all the best for you and your loved ones!

Friday, December 17, 2010

More kitchen-themed gifts

Remember these? I decided to embroider some tea towels to go with the spices to make a nice kitchen-themed set. As to other things to possibly go in such a set, I was thinking along the lines of these and this.

For the first two towels here I used Pleasant Kitchen Dishtowels designs by Alicia Paulson. The towels are from Ikea.

For this one I used a design from Decorative Embroidery which I borrowed from the library. It's a really good book for beginners, I think, and contains lots of pretty but simple patterns and ideas.

Love this central heart! I want to make more of these, they are so beautiful and fun. Also, the heart design gives many opportunities to try different colour combinations. Maybe some pillow covers with this design?

Since the jars of spices are a bit difficult to pack as presents, I covered a paper bag from one of my favourite little shops here in Helsinki with a page torn out of Kotiliesi magazine. Kotiliesi dates back to 1922 and the website claims that it was Finland's first women's and home magazine. The name means something like "hearth of the home" and I wasn't really attracted by the name. Luckily, my mother-in-law always gives me her old magazines and I now I really think that Kotiliesi is the best Finnish magazine in this category. There are always beautiful food spreads and table setting suggestions. Also, there are nice home stories and interviews. It's the perfect magazine the relax with, especially in winter.

There are still so many things I'd like to make before Christmas, but so little time. I guess I'll have to shorten my list ...

Have a great weekend!!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

10 Favourite Christmastime Movies

The Christmas mood is going on strong around here. Yesterday I went to see The Nutcracker at the Helsinki Opera House and it was a really beautiful production. I'd never seen this ballet before and I liked it a lot. In addition to that, it snowed so much here that today the roofs have to be cleared from snow to avoid any structural damage or accidents. So you can imagine, that I'm in a cozy mood and all I'd like to do is watch movies, drink hot beverages and do some crafting (a little work in progress sneak peek up there ...) Alas, I have to go to work in the afternoon, but that didn't stop me from making a list of movies I like to watch during this time:

Elf (Will Ferrell at his best!)

The Muppet Christmas Carol (A classic!)

The Ref (funny and mean family comedy with a brilliant Kevin Spacey ...)

Groundhog Day (this cheers me up whatever the season ...)

Three Wishes for Cinderella
(this is always shown on German TV at Christmastime, such a beautiful fairy tale movie!)

Ronja Robbersdaughter (a beautiful film based on a book by one of my favourite writers ...)

Pride & Prejudice
(Jane Austen starring Colin Firth, what more do you need ...)

Die Hard (the perfect action film for Christmastime ... Bruce Willis + Alan Rickman = great!)

The Nightmare Before Christmas (love the animation, love the songs)

Mary Poppins (great songs and my childhood crush Dick Van Dyke)

What are your favourite Christmastime movies?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sugar & Spice

Since moving to Finland, I think I understand the importance of Christmas much better. I'm not talking about religious references and meaning now, rather about the fact, that in the midst of this dark and cold wintertime we all need something to look forward to. At least for me, it's energizing and motivating to plan for Christmas, or even just dream about what kind of food we could have, how to decorate the apartment and what kinds of crafts to make and Christmas cards to send.

One of my favourite companions during these daydreams has been this:

(picture via

It really is a great book packed full of food, Nigella's cooking philosophy, decorating ideas and beautiful pictures. I'm aware that not every body is a great fan of Nigella's, but I am and I think this book is one of her best. Although I love the sparseness and simple photography of Feast, this one is just perfect for Christmas with all its eye candy. (The cover shown above makes me wonder if its digitally remastered, though ... On my version Nigella is holding a tray of oven potatoes, much more fitting, I think ...)

One of my favourite sections of the book is the one about edible presents. So this year I decided to follow some of the instructions. First, I made the Christmas-Spiced Salt, because it is easy to prepare, looks pretty and will last long.

I added some ribbon and some cute Cath Kidston stickers and it looks really cute, I think. I made five jars of this. The great thing about this is also, that one could easily come up with recipes of one's own and mix in spices according to one's own taste (or cupboard contents ...).

I also made the Vanilla Sugar, for the same reasons as above.

These jars are a bit bigger, I made three of them and because they are so pretty already, kept the decoration to a minimum. Now I'm thinking about what I could make next. I'd like to try some steeped fruits and also spiced olive oil. Some biscotti presented with a bottle of dessert wine would also be a nice present, I think. What I like about these presents is that I can prepare them in advance at my own pace at home. I think the preparation for Christmas is more than half the fun and this year these presents are part of it.

Another part, of course, is decorating. In our house the rule is that the Christmas decorations can come out on the first Advent Sunday, so this Sunday we started to decorate and will add the rest of our ornaments little by little.

I'm also working on adding to our inventory by making these. So much fun, but really slow going!

The village above was a present to us by my father-in-law some years ago. I think it's this one. Anyway, the manufacturer is Konstsmide. It has two light settings, one is a dim glow and the other a technicolor blinking riot. It rocks!