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HAPPY NEW YEAR


Just a quick note to wish every one of you a happy, healthy, prosperous and creative New Year.


See you in 2010!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Here's a virtual card from me, to wish each and every one of you a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year!




Copyright Susie Jefferson

VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS - TOY THEATRE

Another gem from the BBC programme A Victorian Christmas - how to make a toy theatre.

There are downloadable pdf instructions for this as well: unfortunately this is a direct link, so you'll have to go to the page (link above) to download it.




These theatres are not just for Christmas...

VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS - PAPER ROSES


The BBC have put on a lovely series this Christmas - set in Victorian times, with costumes etc, and also shows authentic Victorian crafts.

Here's how to make realistic paper roses: all you need is paper, scissors, crepe paper and a bit of floristry wire!





Brilliant, huh? And EASY!

PINK SATURDAY - FAVOURITE HOLIDAY TRADITIONS

First, I want to introduce you all to a new blog I found: PAPILLON BLEU UK

Patricia has made this little video herself, and it's one of the most charming little stories I have ever been priviledged to see: I'm sure you will enjoy it as much as I have.



FAVOURITE TRADITIONS - this is a big subject... and in our house, it was FOOD!

There are several favourite family recipes and although I mentioned this one last year (before I joined the Pink Saturdays) I'm giving it to you again in its entirety as it's so good!

May I present my mother's Lethal Sherry Trifle


Images from Tack-O-Rama

This is a family recipe, but it’s me who worked out how to get a quarter to half a bottle of sherry into it!

This a celebration trifle – I only ever make it at Christmas – and usually start it the day before Christmas Eve, so there’s plenty of time for things to set.

Once it’s done, just leave it in the fridge and whip the cream a couple of hours before you want to serve it (I do mine on Christmas morning) then it will sit happily in the fridge until you want it. It will keep for up to 4 days (although mine usually doesn’t last that long – it’s very more-ish…..). This is party size, by the way.

INGREDIENTS:
  • LARGE cut glass or Pyrex bowl - minimum 4 pints (2½ litres) capacity
  • 2 x packets Jelly or jelly crystals (Jello in the US
  • 1 x bottle sweet full cream sherry
  • 1 x pack boudoir biscuits or sponge fingers
  • 2 x tins fruit (fruit cocktail, strawberries, sliced peaches etc)
  • 1 x tin or packet Birds Custard Powder
  • 1 x tablespoon sugar (granulated or caster)
  • 1 x pint (568 ml) milk (semi-skimmed or full cream)
  • 1 x LARGE tub double cream (half pint or even more)
  • GlacĂ© cherries, morello cherries or grated chocolate to decorate (optional)
NOTE: If using a precious cut glass bowl, make sure you never put hot ingredients straight into it – or it will crack.  Rinse in hot water first, then keep the bowl resting on top of a towel to help absorb temperature changes, and let any hot ingredients (jelly, custard) cool down a little first.










Layer the boudoir biscuits or sponge fingers across the bottom of the bowl.  If using Swiss Roll, cut into slices (½ - ¾ inch) and lay on their sides across the bottom of the bowl, and just coming up the sides a little (you can see them through the glass – pretty!)

Take your bottle of sherry, and add by sprinkling over the sponge (if it helps, keep your thumb over the neck of the bottle, so it dribbles out).  Alternatively, pour the sherry into a milk jug or similar, and drizzle over the sponge layer.  (The idea is to get as much sherry into the sponge as it will absorb, and you want the sherry to completely absorb into the sponge, so pouring half a bottle in at one go is not a good idea, as the sponge might disintegrate.  Drizzling it in works best.)

Keep adding the sherry until you have used about one third to one half of the bottle.Meantime, you have opened your tins of fruit and drained the liquid off (RESERVE this liquid – you will use it later).  Add the fruit from one tin on top of the sherry/sponge layer (I usually use about a whole tin of strawberries) and leave whilst you make up the first packet of jelly.  The strawberries will absorb some of the sherry flavour.

The jelly in the UK comes either in a slab or in crystals (sugar free).  Melt in a quarter of a pint of BOILING water, and stir until dissolved.  Allow it to cool down and add the reserved liquid from the tin of fruit  to make up to HALF a pint ONLY – this strong mix of jelly will be just enough to set all the liquid, sponge and fruit in this first layer.  (Any more liquid, and you will end up with soup!).  Set aside and allow to cool completely before putting into the fridge.

If you are impatient to get on with the next step, and it isn’t cooling quickly enough (NEVER put hot liquids in the fridge – especially in a cut glass bowl or it will crack) then stand the container in a pan with cold water (and even ice cubes) to bring the temperature down without diluting the liquid further.

Now leave the jelly alone, and put in the fridge until set.

Next step:  The second layer of jelly.

First sprinkle the remainder of the fruit over the first layer of sponge etc.  Make up the other packet of jelly (again, using only a QUARTER PINT of boiling water) and add the liquid from the tin of fruit (and cold water if necessary) only to the HALF pint level. Allow to cool down a little before pouring into your bowl.  Cool for a while longer then put in the fridge to set (overnight if you can).

Adding the custard:
Make up the custard: use 2 heaped tablespoons custard powder, and mix in a bowl with one tablespoon sugar (granulated or caster).  Add a little milk from one pint and mix well. Heat the rest of the milk in a saucepan.

When the milk is fairly hot (but not boiling), pour from the saucepan into the bowl with the custard/sugar mix, and stir in.  Return the whole lot to the saucepan, put back on the heat and keep stirring until it comes to the boil (it will thicken considerably).  Let it boil for up to half a minute, stirring all the time, then remove from the heat to cool.

Whether you like to pour the custard into a jug first, or prefer to let it cool in the pan, put a piece of Clingfilm straight onto the surface of the hot custard and press gently down on top of the custard, working from the middle to the sides.  This gets rid of any air bubbles, and prevents a skin from forming.  Do this immediately you take the custard off the heat. As soon as it has cooled down enough (say 15 minutes) remove the clingfilm and pour the custard over the trifle.  Apply more clingfilm over the top then put in the fridge to set.

And finally, folks: 
Take the double cream (at least half a pint – more if you want) and put in half a teaspoon of sugar.  This helps it when you are beating it.  You don’t want to sweeten (you have enough tastes in there) but you do want it to hold peaks.

Whip with an electric beater, and when it has doubled in volume and holds its peaks, spread carefully over the trifle using a palette knife or fork to make pretty swirls and patterns. Add a little at a time, starting at the centre and working out towards the edges (so you don’t add too much weight at any one spot, and won’t break the surface of the set custard).  Add a little grated chocolate, or cherries cut in half, to decorate.


DISCLAIMER:
You know this is alcoholic, so don't drive or operate machinery, etc etc.Having said that - hope you enjoy it!

And here are some links to some more family favourites you might enjoy:

And here is a great little video on how to wrap really awkward things - just using a twist of cloth! Amazing, and it works. And the cloth could be a pashmina, length of fabric, tablecloth... a present in itself!


Furoshiki gift wrapping from RecycleNow on Vimeo.

I think it could be a lifesaver if someone arrives unexpectedly and forgot to buy a present.

And finally, please visit Beverly's blog How Sweet the Sound to read the rest of the Pink Saturday posts. This week is going to be so special!

Below, you'll find a history of Advent calendars, and below that some new freebie blog backgrounds, headers etc if you'd like to use them.

Don't forget decorations (including Christmassy backgrounds) stay up till 12th Night (January 6th) so it's still not too late to bling up your blog!

THE HISTORY OF THE ADVENT CALENDAR


Calendar copyright  Woodlands Junior School

Have you, like me, always adored Advent Calendars? I picked up this little snippet from the Serif newsletter, and I think it's fascinating, so just had to share:

The origins of the Advent calendar come from German Lutherans who, at least as early as the beginning of the 19th century, would count down the 24 days of Advent by drawing a chalk line on the door each day, beginning on the 1st of December. Some families would light a new candle (perhaps the genesis of today's Advent wreath) or hang a religious picture on the wall each day.


The first known Advent calendar was handmade in 1851 and it's believed that a Swabian parishioner, Gerhard Lang, was responsible for the first printed calendar, in 1908. Lang made 24 little coloured pictures that could be fixed to a piece of cardboard. Several years later, he introduced a calendar with 24 little doors. He created and marketed at least 30 designs before his firm went out of business in the 1930s.


In this same time period, the Sankt Johannis Printing Company started producing religious Advent calendars, with Bible verses instead of pictures behind the doors.


Advent Calendars disappeared during World War II, in order to save paper. After the war, Richard Sellmer of Stuttgart resurrected the commercial Advent calendar and is responsible for its widespread popularity. His company, Richard Sellmer Verlag, today supplies a stock of over 1,000,000 calendars worldwide. 
Here's a link to the Richard Sellmer Advent Calendar Museum.

Here are some great fun links, whilst we're on the subject...


Chesnuts roasting on an open fire...
Jack Frost nipping at your nose....

I'm really beginning to feel Christmassy as last!

NEW CHRISTMAS HEADERS & BACKGROUNDS












I've just designed some new headers and backgrounds with Christmassy & winter themes, if you'd like to look!
Here are the backgrounds
Here are the headers, plus an email button etc










I know some of you love my freebie headers, but aren't all that with the graphics packages - so I'm offering a custom header service for you. This means I'll add your blog name and one line of text to one of my premade freebie headers for a flat fee of $5.00 (I take PayPal) . This is a new idea I'm trying out, to see if there's any demand. Full details here in my sidebar.

Otherwise, check out my Etsy shop for details of my custom blog makeover packages.

Also new on Etsy: my tutorials for Japanese Stab-bound albums (6 variations) and Single Needle Coptic stitch books. End of advert, lol.

THE WINNERS OF 200th POST BLOG-VERSARY & GIVEAWAY


Copyright-free image from Art Freebies

I have used the Random Generator to draw two winners of my Blog-versary Giveaway, and here are the results:


No 54: Ann Huskey-Lockard, El Milagro Studio


No 23 - Spencer at Bellamere Cottage

So congratulations to both of you - I'll be emailing you later today to find out exactly how you'd like me to tailor your prizes (style, colour etc). I'll be making these especially for you!

PINK SATURDAY - FAVOURITE DECORATIONS


This week's post is a difficult one for me - I haven't had time to put our decorations up yet! And last year's photos were a disaster, really.

So here are some sweet nostalgic images I found on the web. My favourite decorations are strings of lights (we usually have around 5 sets on the tree - 5ft, artifical as I felt so guilty the last time we had a real one, I never bought a real tree again).

 






And the immortal Judy Garland...

I've also made some new seasonal freebie backgrounds on Blog-ology , if anyone would like to use them:






 Now go to Beverly's site - How Sweet the Sound - to see the rest of the Pink Saturday post and read all about their Christmas memories. 

STAMPINGTON - HOW TO SOLDER VIDEO

Bless Stampington - they are now doing instructional videos on YouTube! So for all you soldering fans who are a little unsure of what to do... here you are!





Blade Rubber has lots of soldering supplies: the glass slides, frames, copper tape, alchohol inks, collage materials. For the actual solder and a soldering iron, try DIY stores and computer/electronic shops like Maplins.

Copyright Susie Jefferson
Here are my tips on how to solder safely:

Glass (depending on thickness) can resist a certain amount of shock, but is susceptible to heat changes.

Metal is very efficient in transmitting heat - so let soldered pieces cool down periodically. Overheating can damage your piece irreversibly (scorching paper and causing the glass to crack).
  • Glass will also show every little mark: fingerprints, smudges of glue or paint – so clean any glass you wish to use with a proprietary glass cleaner and kitchen roll on BOTH sides. Where possible, handle at the edges.
  • Wash your hands in soap and water – to work successfully with glass, your hands need to be absolutely grease-free.
  • Work on a heat-proof surface to protect work tops from any solder drips.
  • If you don’t wear glasses and are cutting glass, you need to wear safety glasses or goggles. (If not cutting glass, sensible working practices should suffice.)
  • Always use a proper glass cutter, not a tile cutter.
  • Always work in a well lighted and well ventilated area.
  • If you are susceptible to fumes, have a respiratory infection or are suffering from a cold or cough, you might wish to wear a dust mask.
  • Always use LEAD-FREE solder. Any fumes you might notice will not be harmful.
  • DON’T buy a soldering iron from your local discount store and also don’t buy one from a stained glass store (neither has a temperature control, and too high a temperature will crack your project).
  • Always unplug your soldering iron if you step away from your work station (even if only for a minute to answer the phone etc). It’s a good idea to let it cool down anyway – too much heat is bad for your glass.
Having said all that - go for it! It's a lot of fun!

THE ART SHOW


All artwork copyright Susie Jefferson

I bet some of you are wondering how it went at my first art show. 

Pretty good actually - I had no idea what to expect so only took around a dozen pieces.

I sold 4, including the little shadow box "Lost in a Good Book" on the left.

You can just see it hanging on the wall, about halfway down, next to my other shadow box.



























Closeup of decoupaged jewellery casket - this was recycled teak, with vintage Provencale china handles. It wasn't easy doing the insides!












The gallery owner is signing me up and has already asked me to leave some pieces and make a few more things for the gallery. Result!

You might recognise some of the albums...


You can just see two of my canvases up the top of the wall.


Closeup of "Coffee Time".

PINK SATURDAY - CHRISTMAS CHILDHOOD MEMORIES


This week there's a theme to the Pink Saturday meme (hey, it rhymes!)






Beverly has asked us to write about our favourite childhood memories of Christmas - so here's mine.

Being an only child and pretty lively with it, my parents were desperate to keep me quiet first thing in the morning - as we were living in Singapore at the time, Dad being in the Army  (I was around 8 years old at the time) needless to say, it was daylight early and I'd be awake around 5.00am.

My parents knew me well: I loved to read, and draw and paint - so out of self defence, I'm sure - Santa would always leave a pillowcase at the end of my bed.

And in that pillowcase would be every single annual going: Bunty, The Dandy, Girl, Princess, The Beano, Judy... and just to make sure I'd stay quiet until I'd read every single one from cover to cover, there'd be at least half a dozen comics, a new sketch pad and ordinary and colouring pencils. My mother must have prepared for ages - the pencils always had my name printed on them in gold leaf - everything like this had to be ordered and then posted out from the UK.

There would also be a few pieces of fruit, nuts, chocolate - to keep my strength up until breakfast and hopefully keep me occupied until breakfast time (at a decent hour, probably around 8.00am).

This particular year was a bonanza - my mother had bought me my first "teenage" doll, and had made all the clothes for it - BY HAND as she didn't have a sewing machine. There was a brocade evening dress, with diamante sewn all round the bodice, and a ski outfit (I remember it was bright red, with white fake fur nylon trim around the hood) and knitted sweaters, real underwear... All sewn by hand in tropical heat.

She also made a complete new outfit for my Tessie Bear, with a knitted hat (with holes for the ears) with matching cardigan, a new dress, petticoat and pantaloons. And knitted booties, because Teddies can't wear shoes with heels, as we all know.

My mother was great at embroidery and a wonderful knitter - it was always a family legend that when I was born, she embroidered everything in existence. I think the only items she left alone were the terry nappies - even then, she tried to monogram them!

My aunt had sent out the patterns and the fake fur and diamante trim - and little shoes to fit the doll. My Great Aunt Annie sent little plastic curlers. My other aunt (who had weird ideas about presents) had sent my mother a set of pudding basin covers, plastic with elasticated edges. She was very taken aback to get a very enthusiastic thank-you letter from me, thanking her for the dollies' shower caps!

So that's my childhood memory. Now go to Beverly's site - How Sweet the Sound - to see the rest of the Pink Saturday post and read all about their Christmas memories. 

And don't forget to leave a comment in the post below if you want to enter my 200th Post Giveaway!

200th POST BLOG-VERSARY & GIVEAWAY


I can't believe it! This is my 200th post!  

Me - who never managed a diary beyond Day 4!

So there has to be a giveaway! 

In fact, I'll make it 2 giveaways.


1) I will design a blog header especially for you - exactly as you want.

OR

2) One of my handmade journals or a coptic book or Japanese stab-bound album (your choice)

State which item you'd like to win if you have a preference.

All you have to do is leave a comment, and I will pick out the winners using the Random Number thingie  the night of Friday 11th December and post the winner on Saturday 12th December,  (Option 2 should arrive nicely in time for Christmas)!