26 January 2017

Last Christmas

No, I’m not going to talk about Wham’s song. I just borrowed the title, because this will be my last blogpost about Christmas. It’s taken me some time to go through the many photos I’ve made during the Holiday season, but now I’m done and I’m a happy chappy. The photos are ready to get printed, so I can finally make my December Memories album. Knowing myself, that won’t be ready before next Christmas, so when it’s finished, I’ll be right in time for the new Holiday season and you’ll be happy to see my post (assuming you are all quite done with anything Christmas by now).

So, I have been quite busy trying to feel Christmassy. The fun thing about Christmas there are so many crafts and things that are Christmas only. This year I joined an online photo workshop that was a Pay It Forward kind of thing. You could join the workshop for free and get a new prompt every day until Christmas. The only thing asked from you, was to do something nice for someone else. It was up to you how far you wanted to go. Everything was shared in a private Facebook Group, so we could celebrate the joy of giving together. It was so much fun to do! And of course we shared the photos we made for the workshop. Very inspiring to work on the same project with other people and share results. So much to learn.

Light-swirl-collage

This is a photo collage which is the result of one of the prompts we got. Looks fun, right? Can you see what it is? I’ll tell you. It’s a Christmas tree. When I took the photo, I moved my camera. The coloured lights make cool patterns. It’s really fun. You should give it a try. Make sure your camera’s shutter is set to about 2 seconds. There are apps for your phone too, if you don’t have a fancy camera. Making photos in the dark of some lights with you phone, will be the easiest, as your phone camera will automatically take more time for a photo. That’s why it’s so hard to take sharp pictures in the dark without a strobe. Play with it and think creative. We live in a digital world, so wasted photos won’t cost you a thing!

As mentioned, we were asked to do something nice for someone else too. There were great projects and of course we all donated a little to several charities. If you all give a little, together you can still give a lot. There was also a spontanious crowd funding action that just happened, because some people offered to share things they didn’t use anymore. Someone in the group made friends with a young refugee from Iran, who was a photographer in his own country before he had to escape. He had to leave all his equipment behind. So somebody offered to donate her old camera, which she didn’t use anymore. Somebody else had a matching lens. Then people were asking if they could just donate a small amount of money. On Christmas Day, the young refugee got a box with all kinds of photo gear, which made him intensely happy and eternally thankful. Making another person happy feels so good. We all should do that more often. Just a kind smile and a hello to a stranger goes a long way.

One of the things I’ve done, became a nice creative project on it’s own. I made 30 sets of clay ornaments, which I put in little gift bags. To make it look even more festive, I added a homemade tag to each bag. Every day I went outside, I took a couple of bags with me and left them in public spaces for someone to find. It was so much fun, trying to hide a present in a crowded area, without being noticed. I have no idea who the people were that found one of the gifts, but I hope it made them happy.

Clay_Ornaments_01

Clay_Ornaments_02

It’s only Christmas once a year and this year there were so many things I wanted to do, see or make. Like baking gingerbread man cookies. It’s not traditional here in the Netherlands, so I never tasted one before, but I have seen pictures of beautifully decorated gingerbread men for so many years, I really wanted to try making some. Getting the grocaries was a project itself. I needed all kinds of ingredients I’ve never even heard of before. So thanks to the internet, I was able to determine if and where I could get all these things. It took me a couple of days to get everything I needed, but at least I was able to get all of it eventually. Making the dough wasn’t too difficult, but I had no reference, so I had no idea if what I had, looked right. And I was in doubt a little here, as it was so extremely sticky. That’s no surprise of course, considering the large amount of molasses and brown sugar. I made two discs of dough, carefully wrapped them in cling film and put them in the fridge for 24 hours.

Dough_01Dough_02Dough_03Sticky_dough

Sticky, but it should be okay, right?

Dough_brayerGingerbreadman_cookie_cuttergingerbreadmen_02

Next day, baking the cookies. It was harder than I thought it would be. The dough was so sticky, it was impossible to cut the dough with the cookie cutter. So, I added some additional flour. Tried again. Better, but still a lot of trouble. By the time I did my last batch of cookies, I finally discovered what worked for me.

One_man_down

Uh-oh…one man down

Gingerbreadman_03Gingerbread_man_05Gingerbreadman_04

Since I only have a small oven, I was limited to baking no more than six cookies at a time. I thought I was clever to buy a second cookie tray, but it was too big to fit imy oven. So I had to transfer every sheet of baken cookies to a cooling rack (not an official one, I had to improvised a little) and then transfer a new sheet of cut out dough onto the hot (!!!) cookie tray and put that back into the oven. Of course no baking without getting burned. It seems this is a thing that I can’t avoid. The burns weren’t very serious though and I took good care of myself.

Hungry_kitty

Meanwhile Teddy really wanted to know what was going on in the kitchen. It smelled so delicious. He knew for sure there was something edible and it was gonna taste so good! Sorry, mister. This is no kitty food.

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Third day, decorating the cookies. This part was the most fun. I never ever done anything like this before, but being a creative person, I quickly picked up on how to do this.I don’t have any fancy tools and the tip of the bottle I used for the Royal Icing was a bit too wide for my liking, so I had to keep things a bit more simple than I had desired, but in the end I thought they looked very cute.

Gingerbread-man_04-2

They even have rosy cheeks. And I have to admit something I have been afraid of for years. I want to do this more often and try to perfect my skills. Ever since cupcake decorating became a serious thing, I said I never wanted to try, because what would I do if I liked it? And that’s exactly what happened. Cookie decorating is super duper fun!

Gingerbread-man_01

Don’t they look adorable? It’s like the cookie jar was made for them. This was about half the crowd of gingerbread men. There were so many!

Gingerbread_treat

Packed in a treat bag, embellished with cute washi tape and a simple handmade tag, they were the perfect Christmas present for my caregivers.

I’ll definitely make more gingerbread men next Christmas. And I’ll probably do some more cookie decorating as well. So on this subject I will say: “to be continued…” (don’t you hate it when that line pops up at the end of an exciting episode of your favourite show?)

You, of course, don’t have to wait untill next Christmas for me to come back to you with a new blogpost. I have a lot of projects in the pipeline and some photography to share too. Hope to see you back soon!

3 krabbel(s) / comment(s):

Céline said...

Ik kom deze kerst maar eens op visite. Je koekjes zien er lekker uit 😊

McMGrad89 said...

Great job. It's fun to try something new.

Anonymous said...

Try my gingerbread recipe. It is very easy. Can I have your email address to send it?
Ik zou vroeger ook speculaas maken maar nu zijn de kinderen weg en ik moet eigelijk koekjes niet eeten. Wij kunnen speculatius kopen hier in Australie.