And in a Jingle, it’s all Done!

It has been ages since I blogged anything – 3 months, WordPress reliably informs me! It’s not because I didn’t want to but circumstances pushed it to the bottom of the pile. You see, our previously wonderful sleeper of a child stopped sleeping. Combine disrupted sleep with work and said child getting ill and suddenly you find that it’s an effort to get anything much done other than the necessities. And then I joined a choir and tried to swim once a week. Some crafting got done but blogging about it was of the lowest priority.

Anyway, with ET no longer ill and once again sleeping through the night, the New Year seemed as good a time as any to get going again. I’ve got some unfinished projects to complete, a number of projects to blog about, a choir performance to prepare for (I’ve missed a few too many rehearsals for my liking) and I might even try the swimming again.

With it having just been Christmas, I thought I’d share some Christmas crafting with you all. I could drip them out one by one but I expect nobody will be interested in Christmas crafts in three weeks time, so I’ll get them all done now! I’ll present them in order of relevance!

First off, the Advent calendar! I’ve wanted to make one for a while and with ET now old enough to understand the concept of opening a door each day (although he’d prefer to open three!) this year seemed like a good time. That was until I left it until the last minute. I decided to try my hand at decoupage. I bought a wooden Advent calendar base from Hobbycraft and some decoupage papers and glue and got started. I enjoyed that this was not a precise art and enjoyed tearing up paper into the right size to fit. Some parts of it turned out well (the large box for example) but overall I wasn’t all that happy with it. The doors stuck terribly, which wasn’t great for a toddler, through a combination of the base not being that well made and the decoupage adding thickness. The shape made it quite tricky to get into the corners and I’m not sure of my choice of papers in the end. However, I gave it a try and it served a purpose for this year but I may try something else next year – and try to finish it on time rather than 6 days into Advent like this year. At least ET had not clue when Advent should begin so I could get away with it!

Next up were the Christmas cards. I’ve made as many Christmas cards as I can most years for a long while now. This year I wanted to get ET to help. So back in November I sat him down with some green paper and finger paint and sort of let him get on with it. Well, we did supervise him of course – what I mean is that I wasn’t prescriptive about what the painting should look like! I cut Christmas tree shapes out of these paintings and made the cards you see below. Simple but effective. And my Little Man gets his first artistic mention.

Preparations of Christmas gifts started a few months back in our house, when we decided to produce homemade gifts for all the adults using produce from our newly acquired garden and from the hedgerows around where we live. I’ll confess that Mr Stepherella was largely responsible for the food production (he’s better at it than me) and I took the lead on the decorative aspects! Anyway, we jointly made spiced redcurrant jelly, bramble jam, sloe gin, port and blackberry truffles, gingerbread, lavender bags and dried rosemary and bay leaves. Some of the gifts got presented in the manner shown below and we were pretty happy with the outcome!

And there you have it! It all worked out quite well in the end although it all took a bit of work. But we enjoyed giving gifts that we’d “chosen” ourselves and that we’d put a bit of work into producing. I expect there are some other lovely homemade gifts out on the blogosphere – I just haven’t had time to check. Along with writing my blog, reading others has also taken rather a back seat!

Anyway, all that remains today is to wish you a Happy New Year! Any New Year’s resolutions? None here – except to try and get back to normal!!

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Monkey Business

It was little ET’s first birthday this weekend. I cannot quite believe how fast the last year has gone!! Anyway, of course we wanted to mark the occasion. His actual birthday was just presents, a trip to buy his first pair of shoes (yep, he’s really walking!) and a visit to the park in the lovely sunshine. On Sunday, both sets of grandparents came to visit and ET found himself very much the centre of attention! Now, I knew he wouldn’t really appreciate a birthday cake but I wanted to make one all the same. Also, I figured that if I start decorating cakes for him now, by the time he’s 5 and knows what he wants I might be a little better at it. Cake decorating, it’s fair to say, is not my forte.

I wanted to decorate the cake with something that ET would recognise…so I chose monkeys! He has a soft toy monkey that he loves and he has always got very excited by the monkey in his zoo book. So…I decided on monkeys. I followed this You Tube video:

I didn’t have all the little cutters and tools and so I had to make do with knives, fingers and cocktail sticks. I bought the fondant ready flavoured and coloured – I tried colouring it myself at Christmas and got in a right old mess without actually achieving the colour I wanted. Ready made is the way forward!! My monkeys are a little rough around the edges and Mr Stepherella questioned whether they were monkeys or bears half way through the construction process. But all in all I was pretty happy with the result.

The trees were to make it look like a jungle and I think it kind of worked. The sponge was a basic Victoria Sponge made with Spelt flour. I’m not the World’s best baker and this cake didn’t rise as it should but Mr Stepherella (who does the bulk of the baking in our household) assures me it is probably the fault of the oven in our rental house and I like that explanation!!

Anyway, here is the cake in all it’s glory. ET made his generic animal noise (all animals say the same thing in his little language) and grinned when he saw it! I see that as a success.

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In other news, we’ve exchanged contracts on our new house and we’re due to move in early June!! New craft room here I come!!

 

Our Homemade Wedding – the Food

Things have been a bit quiet on the Stepherella blog of late – we’ve been away for a week and prior to that I had two weeks of night shifts, which are not generally conducive to any crafting fun or blogging about it! However, there are still a couple of aspects of our wedding to share so I thought today I would talk food!

As I mentioned in previous posts, our wedding budget was not huge and from the start it became clear to us that catering was going to our biggest outgoing. Being a winter wedding, we decided that we wanted hearty food for the main course. This was something we didn’t feel that we could do ourselves, or expect any of our friends and family do. So we searched around online and came across Green Fig Catering in Essex, who cooked the most wonderful sausages and pies along with green veg and mash for us. Certainly, nobody went home hungry! Green Fig provided great service, assisting with the construction of our canapes, serving everything efficiently and even providing some first aid skills! We can’t recommend them highly enough.

The rest of the food was either provided by ourselves or family and friends – which of course is where the handmade bit comes in! The canape menu was the domain of my husband (he’s the cook in our household!) – mozzarella with tomato and basil; chorizo and manchego cheese; and, fruitcake with Wensleydale cheese (which the caterers kindly added a jam too to make them even better!). My boy spent  a couple of months perfecting his fruitcake recipe and made the ones for the wedding in the few days beforehand. Unfortunately, no one seems to have taken any photos of the canapes although they were beautiful, when finished!

Desserts were made by friends and families. On the morning of the wedding, I was a bit concerned there wouldn’t be enough dessert but how wrong was I – everyone who contributed made massive desserts and there was still some left for our evening guests. I made the labels for each dessert as I wanted to acknowledge everyone who had contributed. I added some wine glasses with yellow and orange stems (hand painted for me as a birthday gift some years back by friends) and filled them with yellow and orange sweets – there was a lot of yellow at our wedding!!

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The dessert table – photograph taken by friends, Mr and Mrs R
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A wedding “Tower of Brownies” made by one of our university friends. Photograph taken by friends, Mr and Mrs R.
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The dessert table – photograph taken by friends, Mr and Mrs R

We kind of had two wedding cakes. My husband LOVES cheese – maybe you got that idea from the canape menu! Anyway, he decided he wanted a “cheese cake.” We contacted Gunton’s in Colchester, who advised on types of cheese and provided it for us and Mr Stepherella arranged the cheeses and the first of our wedding cakes was formed. It looked pretty beautiful when finished.

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The Wedding “Cheese Cake” – Photograph taken by friends, Mr and Mrs R

The actual wedding cake was made by one of our oldest friends, J (who also took the photos for this blog post). The cake had four different layers and two of them were wheat free as I am gluten intolerant. The yellow icing beautifully matched our wedding theme and the pattern was simple but beautiful (although, I fear it wasn’t quite as simple in the construction). It was brilliant – we hope J knows just how much we loved it!

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Wedding cake made by one of our oldest mutual friends, J. Photograph taken by her and Mr R

Just one last photo of the Wedding Cake Table because it looked so lovely once it was all set up. The next wedding post will be about the table settings but this is a little sneak preview!

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The Cake Table – Photograph taken by Mr and Mrs R