Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether summer clothe the general earth
With greeness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


I'd intended to do another post long before this but life has been busy and there just hasn't been time. My elder son and his family are moving back to South Africa in the New Year so I'm seeing a good deal of my granddaughters while I can and of course we have Solstice/Yule/Christmas approaching rather more rapidly than many of us expected. The Christmas cake is always the first thing I make and I do it mid November to give it time to mature. I always intend to do it at the end of October but so far haven't actually achieved that ambition! The photo shows this year's effort which is wrapped in clingfilm and foil and sitting on top of a cupboard now. It will be coming down briefly on Wednesday for it's first 'feed' of sherry, I shall do this again around December 10th then a week after that I shall make the marzipan and put that on - in theory anyway:)

Next on the list is the mincemeat,this needs time to mature as well but fortunately there are a couple of jars left from last year to make the couple of dozen mince pies for my WI Christmas event on December 2nd. I can imagine the looks of horror on some of your faces when you read this - don't worry, it is so full of spices and alcohol that it will easily keep for 12 months.

I've been busy knitting too, a hat for George which I forgot to take a photo of and this little sweater for Lucy.

I like knitting dishcloths, they are quick and brilliant to use, I have a stack of them for myself and thought I'd make a few as stocking fillers for my daughter and DILs.

On Wednesday night there's a meeting of my local history group and I'll be reporting on the progress of the War Memorial project, I've been doing quite a bit of research on my two soldiers and usually spend more time than I should on it because I find it so absorbing. This is the folder of information which hopefully will get fatter and fatter as time goes on.

I'm starting to make and freeze things ready for the holiday season and each year I tend to make the same things because if I don't I get into trouble! This is chocolate truffle torte ready to go into the freezer. The part you see will be on the bottom when it is served and underneath is a coating of crushed Amaretti biscuits.

Another old favourite is lemon cream pie, I always make two of these as they disappear in no time. I serve them with sliced kiwi fruit or strawberries on top. I've given this recipe to pretty much everyone who's tried it - it originally came to me from a lady in my WI who brought it as her contribution to one of our Christmas parties about 20 years ago.

It's a good while since I last did any cross-stitch but I've been inspired by seeing some lovely primitive Christmas stitching on a blog that I read and I decided to make some little 'tucks' and bowl fillers for myself. This is nearly finished and I've really enjoyed doing it - hopefully I shall still like it when I've mangled it up trying to turn it into a little pillow!
I really will try to post more often - there's still one of my USA posts to do and some nice photos taken on one of my walks in the woods on a beautiful day at the end of October. I've recently done a workshop on ancient woodland boundaries and trackways which has made me look at the woods in a whole new way - but that's for another time.


Thimbleanna said...

So nice to see a post pop up from you Rowan! Looks like you're happily very busy. I love seeing a peek at your Christmas preparations. I hope you'll show us your little pillow when it's done -- your knitting is gorgeous!

Morning's Minion said...

I look forward to your posts and was delighted to see this pop up. My, you have been productively busy! Your hand sewing and knitting look so nice--I'm far more comfortable at the sewing machine. I think Christmas cake must what is called "fruit cake" here? I haven't made it in years as I'm the only one in the family who really enjoys it. Boughten ones are usually not nice.
Lemon creme pie--how does that differ from lemon meringue?
I will be watching for more posts from New Hampshire--just so I can wallow in nostalgia for New England.

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

Wonderful sounding food - looks like you are prepared. I need to do some baking but almost always do it at the last moment. Maybe some cookies to put in tins in the freezer for when our son and daughter-in-law come for the holidays in mid Dec.

Wanda..... said...

You have been very busy Rowan, I am in the middle of baking for Thanksgiving and planning a dinner for 20...I love the work involved you seem to do also. We are having mincemeat pies too, but I bought the filling! I admire your making it from scratch!

Sal said...

I do admire people who can do so much lovely baking! I love baking but because I do so much teaching and crafting I can never seem to fit it into my day!
Your pics have inspired me though!

Penny said...

love the photos of your industry, I fall way behind I am afraid, but are we going to get any of the recipes? Especially of the last two.
No one eats fruit cake and it is usually so hot here no one wants much in the way of 'proper' Christmas food.

Anonymous said...

The cake looks really nice Rowan. What about the Christmas puddings.?

Rosie said...

Rowan you have been busy no wonder you don't have time to write blog posts! Your Christmas cake looks wonderful as do the other goodies for your freezer. The War Memorial Project looks fascinating and I think I'd spend a lot of time researching on something like that too when I should be doing other things:)

Anonymous said...

You certainly have been busy, and on lots of good things too! Like the idea of knitted dishcloths - I need to try some of those!

laoi gaul~williams said...

hello! glad you have squeezed in a post :)
you ahve been very busy, no wonder you have not been here...same here really! although my being busy has nothing to do with yule/solstice/christmas~i have been busy keeping up with my studies, making curtains and seat covers for our new camper and what seems like weekly appointments with doctors, hospitals and opticians!

Susie's country cottage said...

You have been busy. I'm always very impressed with people that make their own Christmas cake and minced meat! That little jumper you've knitted is really cute.
Hope you have a good week.

Bovey Belle said...

I often have year old mincemeat too, but as you say, the alcyhole preserves it! Mine gets made in August, and added to, and lives in one of my big earthenware jars in the kitchen. It smells DELISH!

You've certainly been keeping busy (ditto) and it's lovely to catch up with your news. I haven't forgotten I need to reply to your last letter btw!

Pomona said...

It looks like you are very organized! I have been knitting dishcloths, too - there is something very satisfying about it.

Pomona x

Julie said...

Your goodies look absolutely yummy, especially the chocolate torte. I've never had mincemeat but of course I have read about it a lot in English books.

Granny Sue said...

No wonder you've been a bit quiet online! The cakes and tortes and pies and sweaters and dishcloths's all so beautiful, Rowan. You're a very talented lady. I have not even begun on holiday things but it's time to get moving. You've inspired me!

thesnailgarden said...

Hi Rowan, I see what you mean about our having spent the week on similar activities :)Cake, mincemeat and knitting here too. Best wishes, Pj x

Gracie said...

You seem really busy my lady! All of your projects are interesting and.....yummy, if I can say that! Can't wait to see more.
Gracie at

Anonymous said...

I am full of awe and admiration! I am also now incredibly hungry after reading this blog...

Lynda (Granny K) said...

Lovely Rowan! I especially like the neckline on the jumper you have knitted. My cake is in the freezer! Well dosed with brandy, it will have another dose when it comes out. I always take mine into work for the week leading up to Christmas, then I bring what is left (about a third) home.
Alcohol is a wonderful preservative - that's my excuse for drinking it!
Have you tried mixing mincemeat with sherry, hotting it up in a pan and pouring it over ice cream? Very moreish and so quick!

Unknown said...

Hello Rowan,

It's a wonder you had time to photograph and write up about all your doings! At least you have a valid reason for not posting. My mind simply tends to be blank most of the time, lately!

Glad you enjoyed the Bardo mosaics and Budapest prints. Budapest does have beautiful parts but interspersed with awful post war blocks too!

FireLight said...

Rowan, you always present the most beautifully prepared articles here.
I am fascinated by your Christmas cake and the process. It sounds so delicious!

Thank you for your kind comments at my site. I value your presence here very much. Each expression from my blogging community has been like a warm blanket against the cold.

Unknown said...

How I loved reading your post Rowan. I check in from time to time and always love hearing about what you are up to.

I love seeing the Christmas cake and mince meat in the jars. You may think you are a little behind in your holiday preparations but I get inspired by how well organized you are.

Your knitted dish clothes look amazing and I am tempted to try knitting them as I cannot find any dish clothes with any heft or grit to them. I know there are many patterns to choose from on the different blogs.

Hope your presentation for your historical group goes well. You certainly keep yourself very busy.

Soon, tonight, I will begin preparing for our Thanksgiving dinner. I am making a small one for my family tomorrow and we are going out to a restaurant on Thursday, the actual day. I love both the cooking and being treated to a great meal at one of my favorite restaurants. This holiday, for me in America, is a joyful time because the meaning for this holiday is easier to remember than than it is at Christmas time.

Keep up the great work in all of your preparations for the Yule time! Janice (NY)

Mary said...

Oh Rowan, you just have no idea how homesick your post has made me!
Your cake looks just the ones mum made - I can never get them to turn out the same over here. Mincemeat, real homemade stuff of the gods, and mince pies to die for, I can make pretty good ones but I always end up eating far too many!
Everything looks delicious - and when the 'feeding' and the marzipan is completed I just know the royal icing with perhaps a sprig of holly, will make all perfect. Can I fly over for just a wee slice? Please!!!!

Now for the dishcloths. How absolutely elegant and pretty. Do you make them with 100% cotton yarn? Such a lovely pattern too - makes a dishcloth gift highly acceptable, perhaps with a bottle of special dish soap - I found some lovely holiday pine scented liquid soap just last week so better start knitting!

Lovely post which brought England close. Sad to hear your family are moving next year - enjoy those little ones over the holidays.


Terra said...

You are creating great dishes for upcoming feasts and I especially admire your homemade mincemeat for pies.
Ancient woodland boundaries workshop sounds important, I will visit again.

Sarah Head said...

Lovely post, Rowan. I've been busy cooking as well these past few weekends - 3 sweet potato pies and 3 nut pies (aka Keith Floyd). This weekend will be Christmas cake as I want to make several small ones to give away. I'm looking forward to your posting about the ancient woodland course - where did you do it? Would you like me to send you the articles I wrote following my day's course in Bristol?

Colette said...

What a lovely post. Sounds like you are really prepared for Christmas. Thank you for such lovely words on my blog. My daughter had the thought that we could actually have Christmas day a couple of days before hand. I think I will see what my sisters think, but that actually might really work!!

Take care


Jo Potter said...

Hi Rowen,
Lovely to see you again. Wow... You have been really busy. Your home cooking looks delicious. I would like to make a cake... There is nothing like the smell of cakes, cooking in the kitchen!!:)
Your knitting is truly beautiful and so neat. The little sweater for George is really cute. I bet he will look adorable wearing it!;)
Thank you for your visit and kind words. Sorry I have not seen you for a while. I get round to visiting all blogs eventually and leave comments!:)
Have a good weekend.

Diane said...

I never make a Christmas cake as there is only me who eats it - and to my horror I discovered I need to lose yet another stone!! Do you think you will manage many trips to South Africa? zz

VintagePretty said...

Hello Rowan!

It's been a while - sorry about that :) Your cooking looks lovely - the lemon cream pie sounds scrummy too.

I made my Christmas cake much later this year than usual - I think it was because of all the overtime I was doing in September and October. At least it's made and has been maturing for the last month or so.

I don't know where the time goes anymore. Perhaps it's because I'm working so much more than I was, but I don't know where 2009 has disappeared-to. I have a Christmas tree, yet it was only a while ago since Spring. Time flies!

Janet said...

Oh, always seem to be so organized and have everything under control. I wish I could be more like that but sadly I'm not. Your cake, the torte, and the lemon cream pie all look and sound so delicious. And your knitting is beautiful.

I hope your holidays are wonderful!

Ragged Roses said...

Hello! Gosh you make me feel very disorganised! Hate to say it but I haven't made a cake this year or even thought about any festive food. Hopefully I shall have some time this week to get on with things. Your cooking looks delicious by the way. I think the dishcloths are a wonderful idea and make great gifts. Good luck with it all. Lovely to read some of your posts again

Elizabeth Rhiannon said...

Must be that Aries in in the world do you do all of that? :) All that baking looks mighty good, I'm off to eat something, anything! Hope you're enjoying this beautiful season! Stay well...

Sheila said...

Rowan I love your Christmas template, and your new banner. Both very festive and seasonal.
You have been very busy, and with great results too.
You will miss your son and his family, but I am sure it won't be for long. I see trips ahead...
and more interesting posts for us to read.

Von said...

Love your goose on top of the fridge, so pleased mine don't want to sit there!