Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas baking

All the shopping is done, presents bought, wrapped, and under the tree. All that is left to do is some Christmas baking.  I love baking at this time of the year as I love leafing through all my Christmas books and deciding what to make.  One of my fav books is Nigella's Christmas Kitchen, so I whipped up these Chocolate Christmas Cookies and Cranberry and White Chocolate Cookies yesterday from her book.

Cranberry and White Chocolate Cookies

150g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
75g rolled oats (not instant)
125g soft butter
75g dark brown sugar
100g caster sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
75g dried cranberries
50g pecans, roughly chopped
150g white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 180oC/ 350°F/gas mark 4.

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 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.
Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into a ball with your hands, and then place them on a lined or greased baking sheet and squish the dough balls down with a fork. You may need two baking sheets or be prepared to make these in two 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 to cool fully on a wire rack.

Chocolate Christmas Cookies

1 1/8 cups soft butter ( 2 1/4 sticks, 18 tbsp)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
candy sprinkles or sanding sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F Line a cookie sheet with parchment or Silpat.
Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Sift 1/3 c cocoa powder into the mixture and beat well. Sift together flour, baking soda and baking powder, and add to mixture. (Optionally, combine everything in a food processor and mix until combined.).
Form 1 tbsp sized balls. Place on cookie sheet at least 2" apart, pressing down into fat discs. (The dough will be very sticky; gloves may be a good idea.).
Bake 15 minutes. The tops will develop a cracked appearance. Cool 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack until completely cooled. (Placing a sheet of newspaper under the rack will help catch drips in the next step.).
For the topping, combine 2 tbsp cocoa powder with confectioner's sugar, boiling water and vanilla in a small saucepan. Heat over low heat and whisk until smooth. Cool 10 minutes.
Drizzle 1 tbsp of glaze on each cookie, spreading lightly with the back of the spoon, then sprinkle with sprinkles or sanding sugar. Work with 6 cookies at a time so the glaze doesn't dry out before applying the sprinkles.

I also went blueberry picking the other day and with the help of 2 willing  bribed teenagers, we scored ourselves loads of fresh blueberries. I think they ate more than they picked but not to worry. then whipped this Blueberry Cheesecake up for dessert.  

Sunday, December 18, 2011

SMS Giveaway Winner

Wow, whose fingers are numb from all the blog hopping this week? I have had so much fun and found lots of new blogs to follow.  There is so much talent out there in blogland!

I loved reading all your answers. I tried to reply to all comments, but some people are still no-reply bloggers which means I have no way of getting in touch with them.  It was fun reading about all the places that are special to people for whatever reason.  I now have a few more places to add to my list that I hadn't even considered....who knew Oregon would be so popular! The favourites that kept popping up time and time again were Italy, Paris, NYC, San Francisco, Canada, Hawaii and Oregon. Lots of you had many happy memories of those places.

So without further ado, the winner of the Bliss fabrics is Kath who was lucky number 47

Will send you an email Kath...Congratulations and I hope you have fun with the fabrics.  Thanks for entering my giveaway. I am planning to have another one in the New Year, as I had so much fun with this one.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day

Yay, it's here. I love  Giveaway Day.  I have met so many amazing people through Giveaway Day in the past and found so many new blogs.  If you are new to my blog Welcome, and I hope you stay around for a while.

I am giving away some of the leftovers from my Bliss quilt.  There are 7 pieces of fabric with most of them measuring about 11" x 22". I just adore this range and it is probably one of my fav ranges of all time. There is also a limited edition pack of silk thread from Dinky Dyes, an Australian hand dyed thread designer.

All you have to do to have a chance at winning this is to tell me
where one of your favourite places is and why? 
I love travelling and am always on the lookout for new places to go. We try to go overseas every year...sometimes twice a year!

If you are a new or regular follower you get an extra chance, so be sure to leave a second comment, letting me know if you are. I will post internationally as well.

Have fun blog hopping!

Monday, December 05, 2011

Christmas Wallhanging completed

I started this wallhanging last year and ran out of metallic thread, so put it to one side until I could get some more thread.  It was after Christmas when I finally got more thread and I really didn't feel like making Christmas themed  things after Christmas had been and gone, so put it to one side and completely forgot about it.  With the silly season upon us now, I thought it was time to drag it out and complete it.

This was my first attempt at FMQ, so please don't look too hard at the background! I then quilted stars on the gold speckly border. Once I got into the FMQ, I really enjoyed it. Got caught a couple of times losing my train of thought and it got a bit pointy or strange shaped!! I didn't want to quilt over the tree so it probably would be a lot easier if I had picked a quilt to just go wild over without having to worry about avoiding bits of fabric.

I have put little Christmas lights and gold stars over the tree, which don't show up that well in the photo, but actually look really cool on the actual wall hanging.

Christmas Wallhanging

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Christmas is here a little earlier...

With the price of fabric in NZ, I try to take advantage of the US online sales and nearly always buy from Hancocks of Paducah when they have their free shipping sales. The postman dropped off a package today that was postmarked Nov 25, so how is that for fast service!! I only received notifcation from Hancocks on the 27th, so wasn't expecting anything for another few days.

So much loveliness....Terrain by Kate Spain,  some Tula Pink and some Joel Dewberry. And a non-stick ruler.  It was all on sale so with the free shipping it was an absolute bargain.  With fabric here at NZD$28 a metre (USD$22), I paid about a quarter of what I would in New Zealand for the fabric. 

I have been wanting an extension table for my sewing machine, so my wonderful hubby decided to make me one. He is an engineer, so has lots of odd things left over from jobs. He just happened to have some plexiglass and some feet so whipped up this table for me. 

I am about to quilt my Christmas wall hanging I started last year so will give it a test run (once I have cleaned his grubby fingerprints off it!!).  He is one of those guys that if you happen to just mention something, consider it done. I have learnt never to say, "I wonder what it would look like without that fence there" or "I wonder if I should chop out that tree".  It can be handy, but I have lost many a lovely tree as a result!! I turn my back for a minute and it's gone! 

It does have its good points though..."I wonder how difficult it would be to make a light box" and he had it done in a few hours. " I wonder if I should dig over my garden" and its done. "I think I might wash my car" and its done!!!


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