Thursday, 23 December 2010


A sad cake story, a stained glass window, and a table runner and napkins...

A sad cake story
I was very proud of my Christmas cake.  Little C helped me make it by eating all the fruit as I stirred it in, and I only stopped him helping once I had added the 6 eggs to the mixture - I thought six raw eggs might be pushing it a bit. 

Anyway, last Friday I iced it and I think it looked beautiful.  It was only as I put on the icing that I remembered that last year, while it tasted very nice, I had thought it a little dry and planned to try a new recipe this year.  Nevermind, too late now.  Big C and I had a slice each in our comfy hour.  It was good.

Saturday morning, amidst showering, getting Little C up, dressed and breakfasted, putting a wash load on and all those other little morning tasks, I thought to myself that I would need to move the cake into the pantry before we went out so it wouldn't be too tempting for the waggy-tailed one.  Needless to say I forgot all about it.  Until, that is, I walked from the car up towards the front door, which Big C had reached before me, to hear an almighty roar from the kitchen.  I knew immediately that it was the Christmas cake.  I was horrified that I had left it  out.  My concern wasn't for the effort that had gone into making it, it was the cost of all the ingredients, and the fact that now I wouldn't be able to eat it.  She hadn't eaten all of it.  Just about an eighth, but what wasn't eaten was well mauled, dragged around the floor and licked. 

On the positive side... the glass cake stand was still in one piece, despite its flight through the air.  And in this wintry snow scene, the birds seem to be thoroughly enjoying the cake.  I have a large plateful on the windowsil outside the sitting room, and even with a toddler peering out at them from only a few inches away, the blackbirds and robins seem to be relishing it.  The remainder was spread around the back garden bird tables, and we had a lot of avian traffic for a couple of days until it was all gone.

Table-runner and napkins
Here's another one of my latest festive creations.  We have a lovely dinner-ware set, and a lovely canteen of cutlery, and also a lovely new set of dining furniture in the conservatory.  Usually we use our mismatch of plates and cutlery and have a heat-proof and easily wipable covering on the table (toddler proof).  For Christmas I wanted something a bit special, and I knew exactly what I wanted.  I wanted a white table cloth, with a dark green runner and napkins with a silver leaf design on them.  Of course, there was no way that I would find these things in the shops.  They aren't in the latest vogue or palette.  Also, napkins and things can be so expensive! 
  • First things first, I got an old white double sheet.  That's the table cloth. 
  • ImageThen I went to our local fabric shop (county fabrics, in Crook of Devon) which mostly sells curtain and upholstery fabrics.  I found the perfect dark green fabric in their sale rack for just £2 per metre and bought 2metres of it.  (£4 spent so far) 
  • I cut it into thirds across-wise (so still 2m long, and each third about 45cm wide.  One third was to make the runner, the other two thirds I cut into three squares each (leaving some fabric left over). 
  • Dylon Fabric Paint 25ml SilverI ordered some Dylon silver fabric paint (£2.85). 
  • I hemmed the runner and six napkins, and ironed the edges.
  • I spent an evening painting my design on to the napkins and runner.  I trialled it first on the spare fabric, to see which brush worked best and how big I wanted the design, and what type of leaves to paint.  Then I just went for it.
  • After I'd finished I pressed the design with a hot iron (with another piece of cloth in between) to fix it, and then put them through the wash so that the design would be soft rather than crispy.  They are drying just now. 
I'll take a picture of the finished articles in place on my Christmas table and post that in a few days.  Total spend, less than £7.  Well worth it.

A stained glass window
This is my latest creation with Little C.  It actually feels a little like a cop-out because it's one of those things where the preparation time is at least four times as long as the time that the toddler spends creating, and in essence it isn't really their creation, it's yours, with a tiny bit of input from them.  I kind of justify it to myself by saying that it isn't all that different than buying special "Christmas craft" kits with ready cut card and stickers and all that - it's just that I did the work.  Also, it might be inspiring for somebody who wants to create something that really looks nice with their toddler - we all know that toddler crafts are rarely aesthetically pleasing to anybody except those who saw the joy that went into the creation.  I'm hoping that as it will be something that comes out  year after year, in future he will be inspired by the construction techniques and want to work out how to do it himself.  Anyway, here goes, this is how to make it:
  • You need 3 A4 sheets of black card, tissue paper (about 1 A4 size piece in total, but made up of lots of colours, torn into bits), craft knife, PVA glue, pencil, ruler and sticky backed plastic.
  • First, lay the 3 sheets of card together on a non-scratchable backing (I used an old packaging envelope on top of a tray).  Use a pencil and ruler to mark out your window and then cut out the panes with the craft knife.
  • Next cut a piece of sticky backed plastic the same size as the outer edge of your window, and stick it to one piece of your cut card.  Take the second piece of your cut card and glue it over the sticky-backed plastic so that you can't see where the plastic edges are.  You now have a double layer of window, with sticky panes.
  • Provide your toddler with the window and plenty of bits of coloured tissue and show them how it is sticky, and how to stick the tissue to the sticky windows.  Once all the sticky backed plastic is covered it will look like this:

  • Now take the final piece of cut card and PVA it into place so that it covers over the tissue edges.  You get a very professional finish which looks gorgeous on your windows and which you will be proud to hang every Christmas for many years.
I'm still feeling a little guilty that it's more my creation than his, but hey, I make stuff for around the house all the time - surely it's nice that he at least got to do some of it!?

Merry Christmas everybody, stay safe and look after yourselves and those around you.  I'll be back after the craziness has finished with some more thoughts and crafty ideas ready for 2011!

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