Thursday, 30 November 2017

Getting Ready for the last Month of the Year

Being the 30th of the month, this is my last chance to write a blog entry for November. I've been busy trying to get organised for Christmas in the last few weeks, shopping for presents, knitting, crocheting and sewing as well. And baking. The only thing I haven't done yet is decorating the house which I will start this evening. This is probably the first year that I have all the Christmas shopping done before the start of December but as I'm going to have a baby just before Christmas I have no other choice. It feels good to have everything done early. There are still a few things that I need to finish off but even if don't get time to do them, I will be alright with what I have.

My sewing machine finally gave up just after finishing Aidan's Advent calendar. I'm glad that I got that done as hand sewing would have slowed me down a lot and tomorrow is the first of December.

I got the inspiration for the calendar here. It's pretty straight-forward to make: just a piece of cloth with 24 pockets stitched on (German calendars only have 24 days as we get our presents on Christmas Eve). I used paper templates before I cut out the pockets as I didn't want to end up with too little space.

I'm still planning to do some Christmas ornaments that I need to hand sew now that my machine is broken.

But I'm actually happy with how they turned out, especially the birds. Hand sewing gives you a bit more control and you achieve a softer look with stuffed ornaments. It's slower of course, but at least it's easier to undo when you make a mistake.

Aidan and I already started baking. We did some ginger bread and some traditional German "Plaetzchen". We're going to do more today.

Regarding baking: I'm happy to say that my sourdough bread has improved a lot over the last weeks. It's probably one of those things that need some time and practice to get right. After my first two loaves rose really high with proving but totally deflated in the oven I did some internet research and guessed that I might have let the loaves rise too long and in too warm conditions. I let them rise eight to twelve hours. The next time I reduced it to four hours and just room temperature (with radiators on). The outcome was perfect: the loaves didn't rise that high when proofing, but rose again in the oven.

I also discovered this recipe which makes a lovely mild tasting bread. The dough hardly rises at all when proofing but all the more during baking. I've made it at least four times and it always turned out really well.