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Monday, 25 November 2013

christmas gifts - the story so far...

For a couple of years now we've chosen to avoid a bit of the commercial christmas gifting nonsense by making our gifts for extended family and friends.  I'm pretty sure none of them read this, so I think it's safe to show off share how we're doing so far...
  • Fig chutney * six jars
  • Roasted pepper pickle * four jars
  • Roasted plum chutney * five jars
  • Pear cider chutney * three jars
  • Mincemeat * six big jars!
  • Sweet chili jam * three big jars - doubles as sweet chilli dip for Chinese snacks or even sauce to use in a stirfry, and tips on dealing with chillies over here
  • Apple sauce * three jars
  • Blackberry jam * thirteen  jars - a very good year for blackberry picking!
  • Blueberry apple jam * two jars
  • Thin cut marmalade * two little jars
  • Thick cut marmalade * two little jars
  • Mango strawberry jam * four jars - very yummy and very very easy recipe that I keep meaning to blog (sorry!)
  • Tropical fruit jam * three big jars
  • Blackberry apple jam * two jars


We make the mincemeat each January, and the chutneys/pickles are done by the end of August, so they can mature - jams get done as and when I have the time and the energy and the fruit.  I took cuttings of the succulents back in the summer, which was amazingly cost effective too - I've now got fourteen baby plants, and the parent succulent is still going strong.  All the jars you can see in the picture above are reused - much better for my bank balance than buying jars (bloody expensive!), and more environmentally aware.

Still to do :


Make last batch of jam (or jam-ish anyway...) Lemon Ginger Preserve
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Prepare jars - soak off all remaining labels, cover with brown paper, string, and cut out/hole punched labels written by Noah and Petal, decorated by Smiler
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Decant sloe gin, cover/label as above (Mr Manley is in charge of the gin)
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Repot succulents into clean/not cracked pots
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Smiler, Noah and Petal to make Extra Special Rocky Road Bars (will be blogged!)
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Finally, I'll use my faithful easy peasy biscuits recipe to make christmas star christmas trees for class parties

Ta da!


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It goes completely against my nature to be so organised, but the last few years Smiler had not been 100% approaching the end of that school term, so I try to get things sorted so a few nights in a+e or a few nights on the neuro ward for me will not throw everything into complete chaos!

How are your Christmas preparations going?  Are you an organiser or a fly by the seat of your pants type?  Do you like the way you do it, or do you look longingly at those in the other camp and wish you were more like them?

13 comments:

  1. Sounds good what you made! Yum yum!

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    1. Thanks Joy - you know how hectic things can get! Hope everything is good with you, take care
      L x

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  2. I'm all for being organised and usually have most of the gifts before December as I hate shopping when it's crowded. And yay to all the home-made goodies!

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    1. Thank you Izzie - I completely agree - the shops get so busy, and we've had such great reactions from people about the jam and chutney! I think people can end up spending just for the sake of it, but some yummy jam to spread on toast seems more friendly and personal than shower gel or socks!
      Hope your shopping is on track so far - the calendar countdown starts this weekend!
      Take care
      Lucas

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  3. You inspiring lady you! I did make little jars with Maroccan spices as gifts one year but never on this fabulous scale. I too agree that a home crafted gift made with love is the very best kind. Off to pickle some eggs my ladies have just laid...
    H x

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    1. I miss our chickens! Fantastic for lemon curd by the way! I think one of the loveliest compliments we had was a family friend telling us that she and her husband (who run a business from home) spent January through to the end of March popping out to get fresh bread and cheese and ham to have for lunch with the chutney! Biscuits always go down nicely too - specially genuinely children-made ones!
      Thank you for popping by Hayley, take care.
      L x

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  4. Wow I'm so impressed, Lucas! I thought we were doing quite well by making our little neighbour gifts in the week before Christmas (me and the kids normally make biscuits, or last year it was delicious raw sweeties (coconut snowballs, and date and chocolate reindeer poo...!). But I've never attempted jam in my life, I'll have to keep track of your progress next year and see if I can make some too!

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    1. Thank you Pippa, that's so kind! Jam is as simple or complicated as you want to make it - I've done a few posts with jam recipes (and jam jar etiquette), take a peek - I'm a big believer in photos when it comes to food, I always worry whether mine looks like it is supposed to, so I figure other people must be the same.
      I'll be posting a very very easy but very impressive biscuit-y recipe next week - I'll let you know when the post is up - I do it every year for each child to take in to share with their class at school. (The reindeer poo does sound intriguing though...!)
      I'm happy to co-cook an easy jam at some point if you'd like, we could chat and tweet pics as we went, if you think it would be fun - just let me know.
      Take care Pippa
      L x

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  5. Think its a lovely idea, I would much rather receive something like this, very inspiring.....I am usually done with xmas shopping by September, I do most of it online, (ETSY and notonthehighstreet are firm favs). Luckily as there are more and more children in the family, we only bother with the kids now and not adults (except hubby of course:-) Look forward to seing the biscuit recipes (although currently on a pre-detox xmas diet so wont be able to enjoy them just yet!)
    x Jacquie

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  6. Hi Jacquie, Etsy is great - I used to sell a lot of fused glass art there before I got sick, I'm not sure if you're US or UK based, but if you're in the UK then I'd recommend Folksy too - but far too much temption on either for me! I think switching the presents to the children is often the way it works, and fortunately chocolate always seems to go down well - of course we make those too! By making the jams and chutneys through the year the minimal cost is spread out, and we can make the most of any and all seasonal gluts. Then the christmas rush is focused on presentation and not shops!
    The biscuits are one of those impressive looks for disproportionally little effort - definitely my kinda thing! You might have to do a little version, just for you and your hubby - it's just so pretty...
    Take care
    L x

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  7. Sounds like a great idea, he will love it, he has the biggest sweet tooth ever....I am actually living in the netherlands but am British (originally from Canterbury), have lived here since 1996, moved here when i was 23 and was only supposed to stay a couple of years, but we are still here:-) I have never heard of Folksy will definitely check it out, i love etsy and am addicted to browsing their vintage stuff, might have to take the app off my phone though as its too tempting....x

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  8. sorry i published this as anonymous, still getting used to this:-)

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    1. I know what you mean about the temptation - there is an awful lot of gorgeous stuff on there! I came to Bristol at 19 for uni, then somehow gained three children and a husband!
      x

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