Christmas and homemade

Hope you all had a lovely Christmas and New Year.

Big news first: as if the usual pre-Christmas mayhem wasn't enough we thought we'd add to it by adopting another rescue dog. Hiccup the deerhound X didn't work out (think he would have been far too interested in our cats), so meet Zak, a handsome Setter X lurcher from Zante (Zakynthos).

The lovely Zak

He made it to the UK via a dog behaviourist who is involved with a stray dog sterilisation programme on the island and who also brings back dogs from their rescue centre who are overly timid or stressed and so won't get chosen for rehoming. Poor Zak (was Garry) was being bullied by the other dogs so he's now residing in rural Oxfordshire and looking a bit baffled...

It's all a bit much...

Mabel likes him and she's calm to a fault so hopefully she'll be a good influence. He's ignored the cats and after an initial glare at him they've decided to ignore him too.
There is the slight issue of a language barrier, so we have a couple of Greek commands to use while he works us out.

He's rather skinny and a British winter is a bit different to the Ionian climate so I'm knitting him a jumper. And feeding him up. He's on a raw food diet which I have looked into before. I'm impressed so far and if we make our own it's affordable and it means we can use much less intensively farmed meat than the stuff  in the commercial dry biscuit so I think Mabel will be joining him.

Usual festive planning went on. I was determined to use things that I had as much as possible when making presents. And of course decorating; it's the old favourites plus greenery from the garden. I was shocked to discover that people throw away one year's decorations and buy new the next year. Why would you do that? I thought part of the joy was remembering the ornaments as you pulled them out of the box? Some we've bought on holiday and it's nice to recollect as we decorate the tree.

Doily angels that come out every year

Presents have been made- mostly hampers of one type or another. For my work Secret Santa I pulled out the friend who painted one of my chickens for last year's gift so I wanted to do something really nice. My son helped me make a cheese board from a reclaimed piece of London plane and I made some board conditioner for it and wrapped it up with some chutneys and jellies.

The contents...
And ready to wrap. 

She was thrilled as one of her traditions is to eat baked Camembert with chutneys on Christmas Eve and she hadn't yet bought any chutney. I was also thrilled as she picked me again and so I now have a painting of Mabel too. I also have 3 children with very unrealistic expectations when they start joining in workplace gift exchanges!

My son also made some nice silver birch branches I'd saved from the wood pile into candle holders for some beeswax candles I made from some sheets of beeswax I had. With various combinations of cakes, homepressed apple juice, cider, jams, jellies, chutneys, giant chocolate buttons, liqueurs and hot chocolate stirrers they made really nice presents that hopefully people will enjoy and use (almost) up. And with the exception of the chocolate wrappers, plastic-free.

Christmas we spent at home with family and for New Year we had our usual get together with two neighbouring families. We take it in turn to host and this year we all brought the makings of a cocktail and a complimentary dinner course, so we had Charlie Chaplin cocktails (mine because I had lots of damson gin to use up and some homemade homegrown apricot brandy and they were delicious!) with 1920's cream of vegetable soups, Caipirinhas with feijoada, and Dark and Stormies with tropical fruit pavlova. All in all, delicious and still managed to get up the next morning for the village New Year's Day Walk!


  1. Oh, you are my Christmas hero! Such beautiful presents. The girls and I managed Christmas baking for gifts, but that was about the height of our enthusiasm for homemade. Mind you, our Christmas list is mercifully tiny, as we mostly agree not to do presents:)
    I LOVE the doily angels. My mum still gets out the one I made when I was six:) :)

    1. Ah, thank you! Having the power tool loving son has it's advantages sometimes :-)
      We don't have a massive gift list either, especially now all the children are older. And some of those I think we need to reassess- I basically swapped boxes of shortbread with an old family friend which seems a bit daft...


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