December is here already and in the village the Christmas lights are going up. It feels a bit early but I’m still making and packing up other people’s Christmas presents, so my own preparation is only just getting going. We celebrated our village Christmas Tree Festival last weekend and that was probably the first time I’ve felt properly festive this year. Lots of village groups took part and by voting for their favourite tree visitors raised money for the church. I made paper animal decorations for my display. After putting the tree up I had a wander around, enjoying the panelling and the stained glass and all the little details I miss when I’m in the church doing something. Every year at Christingle or the school’s Nativity service I make a mental note to go into the church when its empty to take photographs and explore but I never do. This year is my last as a primary school parent so I enjoyed taking ten minutes to just have a look around.
We had a good frost today for only the second time this winter. I know I keep going on about the mild weather but it has been unseasonably warm this year. Now Advent has begun and for me that is a good way to begin my Christmas. In the UK that isn’t much of a big deal. But in Sweden, which I never find very outwardly religious, it remains a big date in the calendar, a time to prepare advent candles, make tasty cakes and encourage your friends and family to come over and drink mulled wine or glögg. I am all in favour of those sorts of celebrations! Something nice to get us through these dark months.
This year rather than buying a candle I made a really simple Advent candle set, using just four plain candles, some oasis and foliage I found in my garden. I cut the oasis to fit between my candles then soaked it in water for a few minutes. Then starting at the base I filled in the four sides and then worked up, trying to avoid leaving any gaps where you can see the oasis base. If I can do it then anyone can.
Its important obviously to not have any foliage too near the flames although you do want some height in the middle and at the sides. The key thing too if you’re using oasis is to strip away the bottom of the foliage around the stem before you push it into position. If you don’t it can rot and go mushy, which isn’t a good look and will halve the life of your arrangements. Once you’re finished you light one candle every Sunday until Christmas. Much easier for me than a regular advent candle – with those I always go out of the room and leave them burning – ten minutes later a whole week has disappeared!
As well as the advent candle I made my cake this week, a bit late for some I know but I soak my fruit for weeks beforehand so its nice and boozy and doesn’t need much feeding. And once again I managed not to leave it burning to charcoal in the Aga! Cheers and handclaps all round.
Work has been nicely hectic. I’ve been trying to find time to fit in drawing and making new handcuts. They have been flying out recently but it takes time and care to make designs I really love and because I enjoy it it feels a bit indulgent to sit down and draw for a few hours. I think lots of people feel that way about doing a job they love. Customers have been busy buying lanterns and also bookplates. I’m a real bookworm and so I make seven or eight designs and lots of people like to my them as stocking fillers or for friends at their book club. I’ve been doing some research on antique designs and in the new year hope to use that inspiration to design some new ones ready for 2019. Ideally I should look for more stockists that sell books – another job for January I think.
On that note it is back to the drawing board for me. Three weeks today is Christmas Eve. Try and enjoy the run up if you can and I’ll try to do the same.