The festive season has well and truly started. The temperature has dropped, the trees twinkle with fairy lights, we are bombarded with Christmas songs wherever we go and, as of today, my office has become a shrine to gold tinsel. I am quite looking forward to Christmas this year and, for the first time in several years; I actually have the time to prepare for it. So I have started the Christmas shopping, I’m cracking on with the Christmas sewing (although I can’t really show you any pictures yet as this will ruin the surprise for those friends who read my blog), I’ve bought the mincemeat for the mince-pies (I know I should be making it but I’ve got no issue with Sainsbury’s Finest) and I have even bought stamps for the Christmas cards (rather than running down the road at the last minute praying that the post-office is still open and that I haven’t missed the last post).
All this Christmas preparation inspires a certain amount of nostalgia and I remember the feeling of contentment when I arrived home from university for the Christmas holiday. My mum (usually a woman of good taste) would decorate the living room with as many gaudy decorations as she could find (she even bought a singing fairy one year), Carols from Kings would be blaring out of the radio and there would be good smells emanating from the kitchen (as, evidently, I hadn’t eaten for the whole term and needed feeding up). I was very grateful for the independence afforded by university but the one thing I missed a great deal was my mum’s cooking. I still miss it now. My absolute favourite dish was (and, indeed, still is) Pasta Puttanesca.
Mum adapted Delia Smith’s recipe (as, in her eyes, Delia could do no wrong) and added a few extra veggies to give it substance. Its taste always takes me back to evenings spent in the kitchen putting the world to rights. It was always the first dish that mum cooked when I’d been away and it is the dish that I make when I need a pick me up. I am a woman of diminutive stature but I can eat my body weight in puttanesca. It’s just so delicious and I’d encourage you to look up the recipe (I probably can’t reprint Delia’s recipe here). If you want a kick you can add chilli but I tend to make it without. You may also be interested in its origins. They are somewhat racy….
For me, Christmas is about good food, mulled drinks and, of course, visiting Christmas markets. Last weekend, we wrapped up warm and took a trip to Bakewell. The purpose of the trip was ostensibly to take photos of a quintessentially English town at Christmas for a friend’s website but as it was highly likely there would be mulled drinks, I have to say that I didn’t raise any objections. Unfortunately, the weather was a bit dull and the town didn’t look quite as Christmassy as we might have hoped but, nevertheless, we were in Bakewell, home of the Bakewell Pudding (although this is one of the few cakes that I don’t really like), and it was still a very pleasant day. We managed to find a few small presents and we met a couple of reindeer (who just wouldn’t stand still long enough for me to take a decent picture). The husband was happy to have the opportunity to eat an Elk burger (what is it about men and exotic-sounding meat?) and I was happy as Bakewell has more than its fair share of craft and vintage shops. A particular favourite is Mister Bee Vintage and, as ever, I made a beeline for the vintage textiles:
I love the way the various fabrics are displayed and really am looking forward to a project involving bolder prints next year. I would definitely like to attempt a proper quilt project (one that I actually managed to finish) but I’ll keep you posted. I am also aware that this is supposed to be a sewing blog and the last couple of posts have not displayed any evidence of this but I promise to return to all things crafty after Christmas, when all presents will have been delivered and I can put lots of photos on here! I’m also aware that I promised you pictures of my attempts at home-baked gifts but, as these need to be made slightly nearer to Christmas, you’ll have to wait just a little longer…