More (improvised) gifts

19 Dec

Good morning! And sorry, sorry, sorry… I know you are biting your nails (hopefully not, there’s cookies!) waiting for more of the homemade gift posts I promised. But the knife of my food processor disintegrated, spraying almond milk all over the kitchen, and the new blades won’t be delivered until January, I fear. But this morning, between decorating, making breakfast and trying to find a kitchen under the dirty dishes and stuff, I improvised.

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Fortunately those last few gifts can be made on the spot, and for what I am bringing you today you don’t even need any equipment except for an electric coffee grinder (unless you have a food processor with grinding equipment with blades that have not disintegrated on you).

Remember that orange peel I told you to put aside to dry? Throw it in the coffee grinder and add sugar. Pulse. Smell. Smile. You have your very own orange sugar. If you want, you can add some (dry!!!) food coloring pigments to give it a nice sunny color, but I was in a hurry this morning and didn’t get around to that, plus the food coloring is buried somewhere…

The picture is not too impressive, I guess, but the jar on the left contains orange sugar, and the one on the right vanilla sugar, which was made the same way, except with half a vanilla bean (I used one I had previously cooked with, dried very will – they still contain a pretty amount of taste. And it really gets on my nervfe that I didn’t put the orange sugar in the jar with the yellow lid. I’ll have to change that tonight. I can’t work like this!

You’ll have to wait a little longer for the last few recipes I promised you, for tonight I’ll be whipping up a storm in the kitchen. My favorite guy in the world is growing – no, not older, but better!!! We have planned a three-course meal and later cocktails with a few of his friends, and I got up an hour early to decorate…

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Anyway, what have we got so far?

Last thing on my list is roasted nuts drenched in honey, which looks pretty, is healthy and made in under half an hour. Not just great for the holidays!

Out with the old

12 Dec

As Yule nears, with the new year on its heels, this is a perfect time to get rid of some of that old stuff you have accumulated over the moons. This includes exes, old mail, bad habits and – yes – clothing.

Last night while Richard was still busy working, I went through my wardrobe, tried on everything and decided what to keep, what to get rid of and what to stash in the basement in the hope it may fit again next summer.

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I got rid of five(!!) garbage bags of clothing.

SchrankAnd this is what my wardrobe looks like now.

On the top we have pants – those that fit on the left, those that are just a number too small on the right. Sad, don’t you think? (I have three pairs of pants in the laundry – one pair of jeans, one pair of burgundy corduroy pants – very nineties, I know – and one pair of cheap pinstriped trousers for the office).

On the second shelf: T-shirts, long-armed shirts and cardigans/jackets.

Below that: Comfy clothes and pajamas and a box of undies.

Last shelf: exercise clothes and a box of socks – most of them knitted by my mother. ^^

The bottom compartment is reserved for shoes and “stuff”. We all have special places for random stuff, right? Right???

Next I hope to convince Richard that he has to do the same with his wardrobe as well. It is overflowing with T-shirts he has not worn even once in the last seven years. Maybe on Sunday. After that I hope to sort through our knicknack drawers and sort our mail from the last year, which I keep piling onto my desk. Not the perfect solution, I’ll admit.

And then we’ll have time to celebrate Yule and enjoy our cookies and stories. Are you preparing for the new year already?

When the gods close a door, they open a cookie jar

3 Dec

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You all know I am kind of a health nut, right?

For two weeks, I did some sort of random detox regime that was supposed to somewhat relieve the stress on my gall bladder (I have a big gallstone called Hans). Basically it said to avoid all sugars and grains and red meats and corn and most dairy. I did it, and my gall bladder felt better.

Something I did not expect was that, once I started reintroducing grains and sugars, my joints started hurting. Or rather, they started hurting again. I had not even noticed the pain being gone – most of the time it is just a minor nuisance kept in check with fish oil capsules. But after a Sunday spent baking (and eating) cookies and going through our holiday snack bag, I sat in the office on Monday and noticed that my fingers were hurting. Again. And when I went up and down the stairs for the umpteenth time, my knees acted up.

Seems like I have some kind of inflammation going on in my body. I am a 32-year-old halfway busy female. Guess that number is the calculated average of my mental age (4) and my miraculously older body. ^^

Anyway, now I probably have to stay away from grains and sugars for longer. Which does not bother me too much, except for the fact that it is marchpane-and-cookies-and-chocolate season. Couldn’t that have waited until after the holidays? But I prefer not hurting while I sit at the computer typing for sometimes more than ten hours per day. Just have to find a balance between mental satisfaction and physical well-being, and maybe dive into more household remedies for aging bodies.

The physical stuff is the only thing so far that sucks about growing older.

And I still have baking orgies planned for the coming weekends. If I can’t eat everything myself, I’ll just have to share.

More on early gift-making – Spiced coffee!

24 Nov

Finally. I have heard all of you holding your breath.

Although this is a gift that is made in seconds and ready to be given away, I highly encourage you to make your first batch now to experiment with your spice mix of choice. There are several options: Vanilla coffee, Oriental coffee or the Full Metal Winter Mix with all three spices.

Of course I made the last option, but the process is always similar.

I used:

  • 100g coffee beans
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom

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  1. Cut the vanilla bean in four to five equal pieces.
  2. Grind part of the coffee beans with a piece of vanilla bean. Proceed until all coffee and vanilla have been used. Collect in a bowl.
  3. Add spices and stir.

IMG_0450Pre-stirring. ^^

The ground coffee is best kept in a tightly closed jar in the fridge and not stored too long, for ground coffee will indeed go rancid. I have a collection of jars telling an interesting story about my addiction to peanut butter, which I use for this.

IMG_0451See? 100g coffee beans makes about 12-18 cups of coffee, depending on how strong you want your black magic.

Tips and tricks:

  • If I was making a vanilla-only mixture, I would probably use one whole vanilla bean.
  • Keep in mind how the person you are making this for likes his or her coffee. For French-press lovers, the grounds should be not too fine. For those who make their coffee Oriental style, in a small pot on the stove, fine grounds are best.
  • I prefer storing coffee in glass jars, but you could also try to find pretty bags. And don’t use metal containers, they change the taste!!!

Oh, by the way… while you are at it, here is one preparation for the next kitchen witch gift:

IMG_0446Take one of your organic oranges and slice off as much of the orange part of the peel as possible. Set aside to dry. We’ll use this in a few days to make orange (and maybe lavender) scented sugar.

Monster Movie Magic (no words.)

24 Nov

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Dress-up ghosts

19 Nov

Yeah, do you remember that post? Good, for I’ve got news for you!

At the beginning of the year I found strange pajama pants in our laundry. Back then I didn’t think much about it. Our bedroom has a built-in wardrobe, and I thought maybe the previous occupants had just forgotten one piece in a dark corner. It happens, right? We went through every drawer and cleaned everything out while we were at it.

Now, two days ago I was looking for our cats. They like to hide in my shoe compartment and sniff my worn ballerinas. Down on my knees I went, switched on the flashlight, et voilà:

IMG_0431White tennis socks. I thought the government had banned those in the eighties?

Anyway, none of us have white socks. (I don’t like cleaning floors.)

IMG_0433Unwrapped mystery. Socks, with tennis.

Right away I called Richard and told him of my discovery. I mean, what would the average guy think when he comes home and find’s a stranger’s socks in the bedroom? We discussed the matter a while and came up with the following theories as to how they might have gotten here:

  1. Someone is living on the roof, entering our flat while we’re at work, eating through our fridge and washing their socks.
  2. A stalker got a second set of keys and comes into our flat during the day to rub himself all over our shoes. Don’t ask me why he takes his socks off for that.
  3. Ghosts are playing dress-up in our wardrobe.

Well, okay, maybe we simply didn’t clean the wardrobe as thoroughly, and those are still from the previous inhabitant. But I like my stories better. Although admittedly it feels a little weird at night being all alone right now. ^^

Extract and oil pictures

14 Nov

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Very exciting, right? But a promise is a promise.

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