Just before we moved over to Boston, I saw a fair bit of home made coasters on blogs and thought it such a great idea as we have sooo many photos at home. I bought some cork backings, printed out some photos via Mpix’s website (the hardest thing has been to chose which photos to make into coasters) that matched the cork. Or almost matched them, it turned out when we received the photos.

After some cutting of the photos, I glued them on to the cork with some Modge Podge as well as brushed the photo side with the MP to make it more durable. Searching online for a way to make the coasters properly water/heat proof has given me some mixed results so I will investigate further. In the mean time, I will continue to make layers and layers of the MP and to ensure they all dry properly between layers!

Since the summer, I have wanted to re-organise our tiny kitchen to make it easier to use thus easier to keep tidy. As it is quite small (thank God we have a larder for all the baking/food items!), I wanted to put up a peg board on one of the walls à la Emma from Red Velvet/A beautiful mess. So I bought a ordinary peg board from Home Depot, some chalkboard spray paint and painted several layers. And then we leaned it against the wall and never seemed to get around to putting it up. Not out of laziness, well perhaps a bit laziness. You see, the walls in our (rented) apartment all seem to have electricity running through them. Everywhere. It was proving tricky.

But we managed to put it up in the end (right after Christmas!) where I originally wanted it and now the kitchen feels so much more organised, tidy and it’s easier to have an overview of where everything is. And obviously it looks really stylish as well!

The peg board is finally up!

I was glad to have more time this December for Christmas decorations and tidying/cleaning up before people arrived for the holidays.

We actually bought a real tree this year (my husband has always had plastic so he was really excited) and since we already had to go to Target to get a foot for the tree, we also got two packs of decorations. I quite like the tree to be quite simple with lights and single decorations – no tinsel or lengths hanging off it.

Previous years, we have received ornaments from family and the ones that are more precious to us are the glass angel my mother gave me three years ago as well as the pcb Christmas tree my husband was given from his family.

Pcb Christmas tree ornament

I remember as a child that we always had several different ornaments that mum had been given at different stages of her life that she always cherished.  There were several old-fashioned Swedish/Finnish ones made out of hay and linen as well as the fancier (which I absolutely loved) ones made out of glass. She initially had owned a whole set (8) of the glass baubles which all had white frosty dots on the outside, but more and more broke each year (she was always devastated and re-packed them more and more carefully each year) until there was only two or three left.

I hope that in 10 years, our Christmas tree will be filled with many different bauble from different times of our lives and we will cherish them as much as we cherish those memories and experiences now.

These are the decorations from Target that I still quite liked. The green ones remind me of old vintage ones that my grandparents had in their tree.

Green vintage looking bauble

I also crafted two of my own decorations this year with plastic beads/pearls. You know the ones you iron on to fuse together?
I decided that to go with our hipster style, we needed some pixelated/8bit style baubles.

One in red.

And one in green!

The smell of the tree is absolutely amazing and the light from the tree on those dark afternoons and evenings sure makes a difference!

Decorative orange filled with cloves

Every year, we invite our friends over for Lucia celebrations which for us means a bit of food, great conversation and lots of cakes & glogg (mulled wine). As many things this year, it was our first Lucia in Boston and our friends where excited to find out what it all meant.

Among our new friends we had someone vegan which mixed with my wheat free needs made it slightly tricky, but not impossible. I really wanted to make as much as possible edible for everyone so that I wouldn’t limit myself or my friend to what we could eat. It was proving slightly harder than usual as the common lucia treats are usually filled with butter, quark or some kind of dairy.

I was also trying out a new brand of spelt flour as this is what I can usually handle. The spelt I found was from Whole foods but was a lot darker and more coarse than I was used to and it didn’t quite hold up in the same way that I was used to with Dove’s spelt flour in London. For the traditional lucia/saffron buns, I found an interesting vegan recipe from the Green Kitchen Stories – I’m a sucker for their website design!
Instead of traditional individual buns, I rolled out the dough as much as I could (it was hard as the dough kept breaking), dolloped out lots and lots of Earth balance vegan butter along with orange zest and almond paste. Swedes are almost as obsessed with almond paste as they are with dairy products and a lot of baking includes it somehow – I have always loved it!

Once all the filling was on the dough, I carefully rolled it up on the longest side and cut them into 3cm thick slices like one does with cinnamon buns. I greased a pie pan and squeezed in all the buns, let it rise again before I brushed all the buns with vegan butter and shoved it in the oven. They came out great, but as mentioned before – a lot crumblier than usual. Obviously still very edible!

Tasty tasty saffron buns

The ginger bread biscuits/cookies were quickly made by rolling out individual balls that were flattened before the oven, instead of rolling out the dough with our cookie cutters. I also took out some coconut kisses from the freezer to fill up the trays on the table.

Something very English that we always have are mince pies. They do not have any mince meat in them (as I first though) anymore but consist of a small pastry case filled with a thick, syrupy mix of dried fruit, diced apples, candied peels and lots and lots of spices and sugar. I didn’t feel like making so many individual pie cases thought so got some filo/phyllo pastry and made mince pie baklava instead which was a great hit. So great that I actually do not have any pictures at all of the finished product!

Mince pie baklava

Icy on the inside of the window!

Or should I say outside! It was so cold outside and quite warm inside (we had the heaters on max for once!) that the one window that is still original (thus only single glazing) froze on the inside!