Thursday, 3 January 2013

Random retrospective thought, Truffles and Gingerbread Houses, Fabric and Themes, New Year Goals

So I was transferring some pictures into a folder on my computer, and I happened to flick through the old ones in there and I came across this particular image:

It feels crazy now to think that this was a part of my life for an entire year - and to think that I've been without it for 9 months. Looking at it now, it seems almost sort of grotesque. Yet at the time it was a part of me, much in the same way that my glasses or contact lenses are. I need them and so they feel like a part of my body, yet I can remove them. I think back over that year and I don't know how I did it. And I know that I did it because there was no choice, there was no option about it. You deal with what you have to in life. But, now that I don't have to deal with that, I don't know how I managed to do it. it feels... foreign, somehow.

Anyway, randomness aside, I thought I'd show you some pictures of the gingerbread house I made, and the truffles I made just before Christmas!

 These are the truffles - aren't they beautiful! I think so, anyway. I love how smooth the white chocolate turned out on the outside, albeit for the little lump on top of each of them. That's where they were speared on a cocktail stick for dipping.

 And dark on the inside! I love the contrast of the outside shell against the dark inside. The filling was rich with almond liqueur and dark chocolate, so the white chocolate coating balanced it really nicely. I gave some of these as Christmas gifts, and the rest were gobbled up by family!

 And the gingerbread house:

Not bad for a first attempt, huh?! I've never made one before, so it was all new to me. I used this recipe - I've got to be honest, it didn't really work so well for me personally. But it did work in the end, it's just I got a soft gingerbread rather than the biscuity, crunchy affair I'd been expecting! And it turned out alright, I think. It was really fun thinking of quirky twists to make to the house, like:

The cat-flap - can you see it? That way a gingerbread cat can come and go as he may please! Also a shed on the back, which was decorated in the same way as the front door and shutters:

I used a pastry brush to brush the melted chocolate on. It gives it a bit of a texture which I think looks quite like wood.

The last thing I did was to make these Christmas trees for the garden. This is done by cutting out 2 trees from the dough; then, once they're cooked you cut one of them in half whilst it's still hot. Once they're all cool, you glue the 2 halves to the other tree at right angles so it has four branchy bits. I used caramel as the glue for both the trees and the house. Then I sifted icing sugar over everything to make it look like snow.

I went shopping today with my mum. We went fabric shopping for Nanny College first. Our next sewing project is a play mat which is both double-sided, and doubles up as a bag for carrying the treasure baskets we make. Since I'm theming all my work under the theme 'Once Upon a Fairytale', I chose fabrics which look like The Little Mermaid:

See, they're all shades of turquoise. The one on the far left is mottled to look like the sea, and that will back-to-back with the one with spirals on. The other I got a scrap of, as I figured it would come in useful somewhere in this project.

I also bought this fish appliqué, as I felt that some appliqué and extra bits like that would look really good on this. Technically, students don't normally do things like this on the project. But the projects that we do are designed to ensure that all students learn basic sewing skills. Since I've been sewing all my life, the majority of what we do and learn is just reinforcement for me. I like to be stretched; I don't like things to be too easy. So I've been doing a few little extra bits like this here and there to maintain my interest and focus. I think that brushing up on my appliqué skills will do this - it is something I've done before, in a couple of different ways, but I know there's room for improvement, and the practise will help.

I bought one other fabric whilst i was out with mum. I didn't need it really, but when I saw it, I knew I just couldn't leave it behind:

 See what I mean?! It's so bright and cheerful, and the bobbins and needles are just so darn cute! I don't have a use for it right now, but I'm sure I will find one at some point. For now it will join the stash.

I also went clothes shopping with mum, and I bought some boots and a winter coat. and then I came home and made broccoli soup for supper. Yum!

This leads into my wacky New Year Goal for January: go unprocessed. By this, I mean that I plan to eat foods which contain natural ingredients only, and have not been processed so much that they are unrecognisable compared to what they started out as. I know, this sounds a little confusing. But basically it means that I'm going to aim to eat foods in their original, natural state. And for anything that isn't, like cheese, or butter, or pasta, I want to be able to read the ingredients list and recognise and understand what every ingredient is on there. And I want there to be no more than about 5 ingredients on the list, too. If there are too many then I will consider it processed. Obviously, I'm on the second day of this. I've not got into it quite yet, but that's because I'm still at my parents' house. I can't expect them to be okay with all my weird things that I like to try out and experiment with. So instead, I'm trying to use these few days to wind myself down to this goal; starting by reducing the amount of processed foods I eat and increasing the amount of natural foods I eat. So I'm not worrying about it too much until Saturday, and that's when I will get serious about it. We'll see how it goes!

Other than January, I've written down an initial plan for my wacky goals for most of the months - a couple are still empty. None of them are set in stone. A lot of them are things I've always wanted to try, like learning the piano or fasting or running. Some of them are challenges for me, which I think I will enjoy tackling, like no Internet for a month, or taking a photo everyday for a month. I expect the order I do them in will change, and some of them will be changed for new ones as I come up with things that I want to do more. The idea is to strive for things that I would otherwise think of doing but never actually do. That's why they're wacky!

With regards to my other goals, I have the new book I'm going to read for January already. It's my Christmas Present from the wife: The Shack Revisited. She was the one who originally lent The Shack to me, and I loved it. It gives understanding to some of the harder questions surrounding faith, and I've found ever since that if I'm struggling in life, I can often relate my problems to some part of The Shack, and see where my understanding is missing. This in itself can allow me to see how to solve my problems. Plus, I find it's always a great book for reminding me of what an amazing God I love. So the follow-up story was a brilliant gift to receive from the wife, and I'm really looking forward to reading it! I started it straightaway, but then I stopped myself, as I remembered that I have a 5-hour coach journey back to Bath on Saturday, which will be ideal for reading.

I will also be doing my January craft project tomorrow - I will be making as many of the QATWII squares as I can, whilst I have access to my mum's sewing machine. I've been really neglectful of the group since I went to Nanny College. But my aim is to get back into it! It's being able to access a sewing machine that is the challenge. so now is a great time to do as many as possible. This is also my second post on here for January, so hitting that goal pretty easily. that one's mainly about the stamina to maintain it all year, so we'll see. My letter writing and responding will have to wait until I'm back in Bath, but I'm confident about it. I really like my miscellaneous category - it's full of those things that I always want to do but never get round to. So hopefully they will happen at some point throughout the year.

I'm going to go to bed now! Tomorrow I want to be up early to tidy and sort my room; pack a few bits and pieces; and do lots and lots of sewing!

Love love xx

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