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During these cold winter months whilst the days are short and the evenings draw in far quicker than we’d like, the time is ripe for picking up a new skill, or, as I am, rediscovering an old one.

Though it can be tempting to switch on the television at 6pm and leave it blaring away all evening (we do, frequently), for a little serenity, I find there’s nothing lovelier than listening to a favourite soulful album instead, whilst working away at something practical. For me, the focus of my winter evenings will be knitting. I took a course back in summer with Siobhan, and since then let all my newfound knowledge slip away until I was sure I would have to book in for another masterclass! I’ve found though that knitting is a little like riding a bike, in that you never really truly forget how to do it. Especially not when YouTube’s on hand to provide a tutorial or two, anyhow…

I unravelled all my previous efforts (they were looking a little shabby-not to mention dusty- after lingering unfinished for months on end) and now am starting afresh. It’s the loveliest way to pass a cold wintery day- tucked up indoors, layered up with blankets, counting stitches and getting totally absorbed in the task at hand.

If knitting isn’t your thing, why not try mastering the fiddliest but tastiest-looking recipe in your favourite cookery book? Or start to learn vocabulary from a language you’ve always fancied trying out? Or have a go at making bread for the first time, or follow along with a yoga class online? The possibilities are endless! :)

Try this :: festive baking.
Try this :: get lost in the countryside.
Try this :: have a hot chocolate picnic.


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For me, there’s nothing better than a baking day. Sure, it means there’ll be mountains of washing up to do. Sure, you might end up feeling queasy from eating so much sugar. And sure, the mess will inevitably spread across your entire kitchen and maybe into the living room as well. But it’ll be worth it, because the fruits of your labour will make it so.

And if a normal baking day is wonderful, then a festive baking day is most certainly on a whole new level of wonderful-ness. Each year the thing I look forward to most about the lead up to Christmas are baking days like this one. Where pans sit simmering on the hob, full of spicy chutneys and fruity mincemeat. Where the house winds up smelling more festive than if you’d lit a thousand Christmas-themed scented candles, and you begin to feel the first flutterings of Christmas spirit.

Earlier in the week, I had such a day. I made a batch of Nigella’s cranberry and port mincemeat, and then some of her famous mini star-topped mince pies. They turned out sort of rustic (I’ve not yet mastered the art of shortcrust pastry, since I only really make it once or twice each year), but tasted no less delicious because of it. The other thing to come out of the kitchen on Tuesday (other than several clouds of icing sugar dust and a dog who tried to run off with a mouthful of dried cranberries), were these white chocolate + coffee popcorn balls. I didn’t quite catch them in time to roll them up, but they taste just as divine in popcorny-clumps. Jason and I can’t leave the jar I’ve stored it in alone…

More from my seasonal to-do list series ::
Try this :: a hot chocolate picnic.
Try this :: go walking somewhere new.

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