It's the final countdown! Winter solstice has arrived, we're about to see out the shortest day of the year and Christmas is almost here! Today I made snow sprinkled marzipan berries, a clove pomander and a cinnamon & berry horseshoe garland.

snow cat

Anyone remember the great snow of March 2013 when we were snowed in with no power for several days? I do, because we went out and decorated around our lane with snow animals, snowmen and snow-writing. This was our smiling snowcat. I hadn't thought much more about it since then until this arrived through the postbox of Thrift Cottage:

snow cat card

One of my neighbours, who does not know that we made the snow creatures, had been and taken photos. Low and behold, my snow cat has gone down in history on the front of a charity Christmas card! smiley

crocheted snowflake

This beautifully crocheted snowflake also arrived in the post, a gift from a lovely member of our frugal forums who was kind enough to make several of us these lovely gifts. This was much appreciated and is now hanging on the tree here.

Mini hot chocolate pots

I managed to get a hold of a few baby food jars, thanks to my daughter resorting to shop bought meals for youngest grandchild, who has just cut his first tooth in time for Christmas. Daughter usually makes and purees her own baby food but Christmas preparations, three young children and a business to run means time is short, so short cuts are sometimes essential. But the outcome is that frugal gran gets a few tiny jars that are just big enough to hold two servings of instant chocolate and mini marshmallows - gifts for a couple of friends and neighbours.

The wee room at Christmas

I found this really great, metre high Santa Claus for 99p and decided that it would be fun to hang him on a door. I think it's easy to guess which room lies behind this particular door that has Santa hanging around cross-legged.

HOW TO MAKE MARZIPAN FRUITS

I usually make an assortment of marzipan fruits - oranges, apples, bananas - but this year I decided to make snowy berries. I used one pack of marzipan, a little red food colouring, cloves and a sprinkle of icing sugar.

marzipan fruit

I used a 400g pack that had been reduced to 99p and got 30 individual cherry-sized Christmas berries out of it. I tore it into strips then broke off enough to roll into marble-sizes balls.

home made marzipan fruits

OK, so two of them accidentally vanished during the rolling of the balls but that's what happens when you push back lunchtime to fit in a few more jobs.

homemade marzipan fruits

Usually, I would use several colours of food dye here to create rosy apples, oranges and bananas but I was really short of time and had run out of quite a few food dyes, so I used red and made cherries, or berries, whichever you prefer to call them. I just rolled the marzipan balls around in a dish with some food colouring then stuck a clove into each to represent the stem. Leave then to dry off on a piece of kitchen paper.

homemade marzipan fruits

Once dried, I sprinkled them with sifted icing sugar to give them a snowy effect. These make lovely little gifts packaged up in fours or else left out for guests at Christmas or new year.

My cloves were getting very dry and brittle, so I thought I'd use some more of them up before they began crumbling. Being traditionalists here, we always have a tangerine at the bottom of the Christmas stockings, so it's the one time of year I have these in - except this year it is satsumas, so I used one of them and made a mini pomander.

citrus clove pomander

I started it off with a criss-cross pattern but then ended up filling in all the gaps to use up more of the cloves. It smells very Christmasy and festive. Next to add some cinnamon to the festive aroma that is now wafting through the house.

festive lucky horseshoe

I cut some berries from one of the shrubs at Frugaldom last time I was over and have had them hanging up to dry. I have now snipped off a small bunch and added, along with some small cinnamon sticks to an old horse shoe and tied it up using garden wire and recycled string. I just need to cut a little piece of holly and ivy to complete this but it was too dark by the time I'd finished all my tonight's jobs.

That's my day done - I am off to have my hot chocolate and marshmallows, grab my knitting and plonk myself in front of tonight's comedy film. Tomorrow the Christmas guests begin arriving and I still have a huge list of things needing ticked off my never-ending list. At least when we are this busy, we have no time to spend!

Frugally festive best wishes to you all! Don't forget our 2016 frugal living challenge thread has been opened at www.frugalforums.co.uk and you can now join us as an official 'Friend of Frugaldom' at www.frugalshop.co.uk if you would like to take advantage of our frugal holiday accommodation in the future.

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