Wednesday, 10 December 2008

An afternoon full of surprises . . .

*Christmas Long Ago*

Frosty days and ice-still nights,
Fir trees trimmed with tiny lights,
Sound of sleigh bells in the snow,
That was Christmas long ago.

Tykes on sleds and shouts of glee,
Icy-window filigree,
Sugarplums and candle glow,
Part of Christmas long ago.

Footsteps stealthy on the stair,
Sweet-voiced carols in the air,
Stocking hanging in a row,
Tell of Christmas long ago.

Starry nights so still and blue,
Good friends calling out to you,
Life, so fact, will always slow...
For dreams of Christmas long ago.
~Jo Geis

We never had stockings when I was a girl, although I always did long to have one, just like the ones we saw the little children on the television had . . . We had little coloured melmac bowls. They sat at each of our places at the dining room table and on Christmas morning they would be filled with an assortment of sweeties . . . a few chocolates, some nuts, some ribbon candy, hard candies and Sugar Barley Candy shapes . . . and maybe a tangerine. There were no toys and trinkets.

My children each had a stocking to put out on Christmas Eve. Lovely felt ones that I had hand stitched from kits, each one quite different from the other, all adorned with sequins and beads. They were pretty little things. I hope that they still have them somewhere and that they have not disappeared . . .

Todd and I do not have stockings, although our first year together as a married couple I did take one of his socks and fill it up with lots of little things. I wanted to make up for all the Christmas's he had spent on his own, all fourteen of them. Nobody should be alone at Christmas, and so each year we make an effort to find someone that we can invite over to share our Christmas with us. Christmas is for sharing . . .

I have heard of people popping off to the shops for milk and bread and coming back with a cartload of goodies, and in fact I often do just that, only it gets much worse as I often come home without either the milk or the bread or both!!! What happens when you send your husband off to PC World to return an item for exchange? Well . . . he comes home with a metal incinerator for the garden, which to be fair we had been talking about getting for a time now . . . and a white leather two seater sofa. (Just a tad bit larger than a loaf of bread!)

I sent Todd out yesterday afternoon, and thought he had been gone an awfully long time. I was beginning to get quite worried about him when he finally arrived back home. A few minutes after he came in, he said to me, you're going to be getting something very soon . . . I am thinking hmmm . . . what could it possibly be??? My mind went completely blank, and then he told me that in about 12 weeks time, a white leather two seater sofa would be arriving!

Apparently DFS was having a half of a half price sale, and so he got it for a very good price. Hmmm . . . funny that. Several weeks ago we had been up there and I had dragged him into DFS to look. He had balked at the idea at the time, and kept repeating, we're not buying anything the whole time we were in the shop. I had to reassure him the whole time that we were only looking. (Men and furniture stores are like oil and water . . . they just don't mix!!!)

I'm not quite sure white would have been my first choice of colour . . . but I am not one to look a gift horse in the mouth either! (My blue andwhite quilt will look rather nice draped over it I am thinking!)

I finally finished a little painting yesterday that had been sitting as a sketch for several months, a wedding gift for a young couple. Quite late now as well, but you know what they say . . . better late then never!!! I really love how it turned out! What do you think? I hope that they like it.

Yesterday afternoon was actually quite full of surprises. I set off to make some Mince Pie Christmas Tree thingies, a recipe from this month's Good Food magazine. They looked really cute in the magazine and I thought Todd would really love them. He loves pies and anything with mincemeat in them, and it is Christmas! I got out the puff pastry that I had especially bought just for this recipe and my jar of mincemeat. I lay out the pastry, spread it with the filling, topped it with another piece of pastry and then . . . what the heck . . . the instructions made no sense to me whatsoever! I must have read them half a dozen times and moved the pastry around here and there on the counter top, but I could still not figure the instructions out.

So, what you see here this morning is not pretty little Puff Pastry Mincemeat Christmas Trees . . . but lovely little square puffs filled with Mincemeat! I shall give you the recipe for the trees, and perhaps you can figure it out, but if not you can do what I did and just cut it into squares. They taste very delicious nonetheless, whether in a tree shape or in squares! (These will not be eaten on the White Leather Sofa . . . )

*Mince Pie Trees*
Makes 24

Make sure your pastry is well chilled for this. Puffy little cloud like bites, filled full of delicious gooey and spicy mincemeat.

Plain flour for dusting
425g pack of ready rolled puff pastry
(the one with 2 sheets in the pack)
350g jar of mincemeat
1 egg, beaten
icing sugar for dusting

Pre-heat the oven to 200*C/400*F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Lightly dust the counter top with some flour. Lay out one of the pastry sheets, with the long edge nearest to you. Spread with mincemeat. Top with the second sheet of pastry, then cut it in half width ways, down the middle.

(Now here's where it lost me)

For each piece, cut into 4 strips down, measuring 6 cm, 4 cm, 2 cm and 2 cm in width. Next, cut across evenly to make 12 *ladders* of pastry. Dip the knife in flour if it sticks. Brush with egg and then chill for 10 minutes.

Build the trees on the baking sheets. Stack the strips, mincemeat middles facing up, starting with the longest and finishing with the smallest.

Once stacked, squash with your hand to flatten into a tree shape. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and the mincemeat is bubbling. Leave to cool on the tray for five minutes, before lifting off onto a wire rack with a palette knife to finish cooling. Dust with icing sugar to serve.

**If you are like me and cannot for the life of you figure out what exactly they want you to do, just cut it into 24 equally sized squares, pop them onto the prepared baking sheets, and bake as noted.


  1. Gosh a white sofa ,endless possibilities... coloured cushions and throws .I love your painting and know they will Jan xx

  2. A WHITE LEATHER SOFA??!! Swanky...will it come with those luxurious lilac-color cushions too?! What an exciting gift...That dear Todd! :o) Where are you going to put it though? LOL! LOVE, love the new sweet painting...the tenderness and charm are huge in this one, just splendid! It will be loved! The mince trees look so tasty...I feel hungry now--LOL! Hope you're having a grand day, dear friend. LOVE YOU! ((HUGS))

  3. I didn't get a stocking until I was married -- now it's my favorite part of Christmas morning. But something about a little bowl at the dining table appeals to me very much.

    The painting is so charming. Any chance you could adapt that idea for a card -- I've got some weddings on the "social calendar" next year.

  4. 1) Love the puff pastry pies.
    2) That was so cute he bought you a new sofa! I'm so glad you didn't fuss over the color. (I'll e-mail you a story about this.)
    3) That's so sweet you filled up Todd's sock to make up for all those lonley Christmases! I'm always trying to rescue lonley people at Christmas as well...

  5. I love the stocking picture! Christmas stocking surprises are always fun around here. Last year I did 14 of them for our family, our missionary, and my new daughters and son in fun to find cute things.
    My mother is a fan of mincemeat, she would love these.
    The sweet look on the grooms face is soooo perfect you captured that sweet glow so well. Her dress, lovely and beautiful!

  6. What a sweet story! I'm sure Todd was very happy to surprise you! And he got it half price-all the better. I just love love love your painting. YOu captured that youthful innocence and hope of a young married couple. That's just how I felt on my wedding day.

  7. I have two white leather sofas and I must say, so easy to accessorize and so easy to clean - I just wipe them down weekly.
    I love mincemeat. If I saw a picture of the trees I could probably figure it out, I'm a totally visual thinker.
    I love that you filled Todd's sock. My Mom comes to stay with us on Christmas Eve now and I always fill a stocking for her too. The little bowls sound sweet though.

  8. That sofa looks fab!!! Todd is a dear, isn't he? Love the painting and like you, cannot make heads or tails of those instructions. I would have made squares, too! Much love, Raquel XO

  9. Goodness! They need to provide a diagram for a recipe like that! I tried to piece it together with paper strips, but came up with a complete mess. LOL!

    It reminds me of my first attempt to make Swedish Christmas Stars, which are also made from puff pastry and plum jam filling. I was at a total loss as to what on earth they meant, until I asked my sister-in-law, who demonstrated the method to me. When I wrote out the recipe, I provided a how to cut illustration.

    Wow, your man can surprise you, sometimes, can't he? It shows that he IS listening to you, even when you may think he isn't. I hope you will love your new sofa when it arrives. Perhaps he is an inspiration for the love in your new painting. How lovely that both of us have found a soulmate, albeit late in life and at the other side of the globe.

    I love stockings! They were not part of my childhood as I come from a Dutch heritage and they kept to the St Nicholas Day traditions - we put out a clog :)

  10. How nice Marie!! The white sofa will give you lots of decorating options!! The mincemeat puff pastry looks great! I think the bowls on the table is a very nice idea!

  11. A new leather sofa...what a surprise. Husbands are amazing people. I often marvel at how they think and the things they do. I hope that you will love the new sofa..and as you say...your blue and white quilt will look lovely on it....In fact, you can change the accessories to match each season if you wish. fun fun

    I LOVE your darling bride and groom.You are so talented my friend.
    Have a good day.
    I send love, Lura

  12. Hello Marie!

    I found your beautiful blog via Tracy at Pink Purl and I am so happy I did! I get so excited when I find a new and wonderful place to visit! What a lovely artist you are! Your pieces are just beautiful! I must visit your Etsy shop! I hope you drop in for a visit sometimes, and I will surely be back to visit here soon. By the way, I will be adding you to my list of blogs to visit. I sure hope that is ok!:o)



  13. i LOVE that sofa. its totally classic looking and since its a neutral color you can change the pillows, curtains, to whatever you feel like. you aren't stuck with a certain set of colors. so easy to accesorize(like others have said!)

    and that is such a cute painting. the couple who will be receiving it are so lucky!

  14. I'd probably faint dead away if my husband bought a piece of furniture all by himself! Since he loves mincemeat and no one else in the family does he gets to eat the whole Christmas pie by himself. :) blessings, marlene

  15. Marie --

    Your Todd is so sweet! I think your sofa looks wonderful and will be so easy to clean. We had leather ones in our family room for many years and they were so easy to take care of! I LOVE the picture of the just married couple. So sweet!

    Have a great day!
    PS -- I've always wondered -- what is mincemeat?


  17. How lovely of Todd to surprise you with your new white sofa. It looks like a real bargain. I like those. And.. I love it!
    Your painting is beautiful and full of love. You are such a talented lady Marie.
    As for following the instructions I was all right until half way through. Where does the ladders come into it and what should they look like. Were you meant to cut them out like square lidded vol-au-vents? I'm stumped too.
    I would love to see the pictorial instructions.
    puzzled and perplexed ...
    Jeanie xxxx


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