Great & Small Christmas Range 2014

It’s that time of year again… Well, I’ve been working on Christmas since May or June but finally it’s all just about finished (I think I’ve been saying it’s just about finished for a month, but really, it is just about finished.)

Today I hit the publish button on four brand new Christmas products on Not On The High Street and yesterday I added two new lots of festive bunting to Etsy. So, without further ado, here’s the brand new Great & Small items for Christmas 2014…

Personalised Decor 1

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This year I’m offering Personalised Pet Christmas Tree Decorations (sets of 4, 8 or 12), Personalised Paw Print Decorations (in either silver or copper), Personalised Canvas Cards, and Personalised Pet Christmas Cards (sold in packs of 10). The bunting comes in either a Robin or Reindeer design and consists of 7 paper flags set on string.

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At the moment Beat The Christmas Rush packs are also available on both Etsy and Not On The High Street. They include gift wrap, tags, cards, bunting and a Christmas journal, all at a great discounted price. They will be available until the start of November and are a great way to sort something unique and handmade for Christmas before the mad rush starts. 

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I have a few more Christmas items to add and will post these in the next couple of weeks. I’m just waiting for final versions to come back from the printers! If you want a sneak preview make sure you ‘like’ my Facebook page.

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Time For Some New Shoes

Modcloth Shoes For Blog
All the above shoes are available over at the wonderful place that is ModCloth. Which pair do you like best? I’m having to try very hard not to purchase the turquoise ankle boots. They’re just so lovely…

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The Great British Bake Off – Baked Alaska Challenge!

I feel before I even begin this blog I need to say – I didn’t make my own ice cream. I know. Sacrilege, travesty. But before I bin my whole bake, perhaps I should share with you my mini Bake Alaskas & hope you can forgive the shop-bought filling. I’m actually quite pleased with them.

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I decided to do six mini deserts instead of one big one simply because we don’t have the freezer space. & they do look rather more cute, don’t they? They were chocolate and raspberry flavour, which I always think is a tasty combination. 

Baked Alaska
I made little chocolate sponges which I then hollowed out, ready for the ice cream. The meringue was fun to make, (I always find it amazing how much the egg whites fluff up) and I was relieved it went ok as I’ve only made it once before. If I was to give any meringue advice, it would be to add the sugar very gradually, not all in one go, and to not whisk the mixture too fast. I had my whisk on setting 3 instead of the maximum setting 5. 

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I decorated the mini deserts with a magic star. Again, probably wouldn’t be approved of by Mary & Paul but I thought it added a little something. A nice, little chocolate-y something.  

So there we have it. Not quite as traumatic as the Bake Off. Have you been watching? Have you tried any of the recipes?

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The Great British Bake Off – Ciabatta Challenge

For my Bake Off challenge this week I decided to have a go at the ‘Technical’ bake – often the trickiest – as I haven’t attempted one of Mary or Paul’s own recipes yet. To make things even more difficult, I’ve never baked so much as a loaf of bread before, let alone a ciabatta.

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I got the recipe from the Great British Bake Off website and you can find it here. The advice given to the contestants as they prepared to make their ciabatta was ‘be patient’ and this was definitely good advice. I spent a lot more time waiting for my bread to rise than I did actually mixing or baking it. I did my best not to handle the dough too much as this knocks the bubbles out of it, and a well-risen loaf with lots of air bubbles are key to a good ciabatta (I think!)

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It was really lovely to fill the house with the smell of baking bread – there’s nothing quite as appetising as homemade bread, is there? The ciabatta seemed to rise well in the oven, and it had a good, crisp crust when I took it out. I think I would’ve been marked down for the slightly odd shape of my loaves and also because they were slightly denser than you would look for in a ciabatta. But they tasted really great. Especially with some oil and vinegar to dip into. 

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I’m pretty happy with my first attempt at making bread and will definitely have a go at some other types in the future. My next Bake Off challenge is likely to be even trickier. After last night’s dramatic episode there was only one desert I could possibly attempt – the dreaded Baked Alaska! Hopefully mine won’t end up in the bin…

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The Great British Bake Off – 3D Biscuit Challenge

After baking a Swiss Roll last week, my second Bake Off challenge was to make a 3D biscuit structure just like the Great British baker’s in this week’s Show Stopper. I love baking so I thought it would be fun to (try and) have a go at one of the recipes/tasks from Bake Off each week, after watching the latest episode of cake-y, pastel-y goodness. 

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For my 3D structure, I decided to make a biscuit representation of the Lonely Mountain Erebor and the dragon Smaug, in the style of Tolkien’s map at the front of the Hobbit. Naturally. (If this means nothing to you, go and read the book. No really, do. Off you trot.) 

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I chose to make a spicy gingerbread to try and reflect some of the flavour of Middle Earth. I drew and cut out paper templates which I used to cut the biscuit into the right shapes – particularly the mountain, so it would slot together and be free-standing. I’m not sure what Paul & Mary would make of it but I think at least the biscuit was pretty tasty & I had a lot of fun making it. 

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It’s bread week next week. This could prove to be really difficult for me as I’ve never made bread before, but hopefully I’ll rise to the challenge (I can only apologise. The Bake Off tendency to make a bad pun happened.)

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Stocking My Etsy Shop For Christmas

Yes, I know…
It’s far too early for Christmas, but forgive me. As a business owner I have to think about Christmas this early (actually I’d finished most of my range by late June!)

My Not On The High Street Shop and Great & Small range items are completely sorted for the festive season (she says, hopefully). This week my supplies and packaging have been arriving in the post, as I’ve learnt from last year and prepared myself in good time (again, I say this hopefully.) But I’m still finalising what to stock in my Etsy shop.

Stock For Xmas - Bunting?
Obviously my work has moved into a new direction this year, with a focus on my own illustrated work. This will be reflected in Goodnight Boutique’s Etsy with my range of Great & Small jewellery and some brand new geeky-themed items, all hand-drawn by me! But I also want to continue to make and sell some of my kitsch/quirky items this Christmas, that were the initial stock of my shop. And here’s where a bit of help would be greatly appreciated…

Xmas Stock - Cat Brooches?

Would you prefer lots of vintage-inspired paper bunting, or lovely woodcut cat brooches? 

Harry Potter Pocket Mirrors

What about these new Harry Potter and Dr Who illustrations. Would you be more likely to buy them if they were pocket mirrors or bin badges? 

Dr Who Pocket Mirrors

And is there anything else you would like to see more/less of? I’ve been toying with the idea of key rings for a while. (Alice In Wonderland maybe? Or some of the Great & Small gang?) And I think I’ve finally decided to go ahead and add some greetings cards to my Etsy (think geeky themed Christmas cards! All Great & Small cards will remain over on NOTHS)

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The Great British Bake Off – Swiss Roll Challenge

With the ever-fabulous Great British Bake Off back on our screens for a brand new series, I thought it might be fun to test my baking skills and try out some of the challenges the bakers will be facing in the tent each week.
I love cake and I love baking so it’s a bit of a win-win situation really (as long as I don’t burn and mess up each of my offerings!)Swiss Roll 1

This week I decided to try my hand a making a Swiss roll, the contestants very first challenge, and something I’ve never had a go at before.
I opted for a raspberry and white chocolate flavoured Swiss roll and was surprised at how quick it was to make. From start to finish (including presenting it on my best floral plate) it took me 1hr 10mins.

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I rolled my sponge the moment it came out of the oven and allowed it to sit rolled up while I prepared the filling and let it cool. That way, when I unrolled it again, spread the filling, and removed the grease proof paper, it retained the shape and rolled back up again quite easily. I piped some white chocolate hearts to decorate.

Pip Studio Love Birds

Naturally, when it comes to eating cake – along with a nice cup of tea – it requires some seriously pretty china. At the moment I’m really loving the Love Bird range from Pip Studio. I was lucky enough to receive one of the tea cups as a birthday present and I can’t wait to expand my collection. I think one of the gorgeous stripy plates will be next on my shopping list.
Tea cups, mugs, egg cups, plates, tea pot, and milk jug all available from www.pipstudio.com & www.johnlewis.com

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