7 things for a slightly greener Christmas

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So Black Friday is upon us; how this phenomena even made it to these shores is unclear (no it’s not; Swedes love everything American, that is just the way it is sadly). And the whole point of it to kick of the shopping frenzy that can be Christmas. We don’t needs this, not really*.

As noted, I love Christmas. The stressed out people spending crazy money on stuff they’ll never use? Not so much. It doesn’t have to be like that, overspending and overeating all December, leaving you felling heavier and the wallet a lot lighter in January.  There is another way.

Why not slow down the pace, think about the important things that really matter and make a few but good choices this year? For everyone, including Mother Nature that might the greatest gift of all.

  1. Choose wrapping paper with care. I love wrapping all sorts of presents in newspaper which, unlike conventional wrapping paper, can be recycled. In my family we also have a few really nice boxes and gift bags that go round and around, they get re-used every year.
  2. Buy gifts second-hand. Lovely old books, cool accessories from the a flea market maybe, look in charity shops for old cool maps and the like to frame. If you start looking now you might find great things, for less money, that use up fewer resources (as they have already been made) and that are unique.
  3. Make gifts yourself. If I’m a huge fan of both giving and receiving home-made marmalade, infused spirits and spice blends. A trip to the local grocery store is all that is needed, and some time. (But seriously though; marmalade and jam is so easy to make it’s silly).
  4. Only make food you actually like for Christmas dinner. There is a growing realisation in Sweden that ye’ old Christmas ham isn’t all that special in the end. The “traditional Christmas buffé” is a myth, traditions change slowly but they change. I’m all for vegetarian Christmas food. Honestly I can tell the difference between turkey and tofurkey anyway. It’s a tasteless protein that no one knows how to cock properly so whatever. And don’t let food go to waste, that goes without saying.
  5. Treat yourself to some nice linen napkins to improve the look of the table and the carbon footprint. Paper napkins have a time and a place I agree but proper napkins are so much nicer, washing isn’t that big of a deal honestly and in a few  years you’ll have saved money.
  6. Use decorations that have less impact. Think about what flowers you buy (can they bloom again, be planted outside, go on the compost heap?), try to avoid plastic as much as you can, make them yourself by old stuff around the house (blog post might come on that), buy ornaments second-hand ( some of the loveliest baubles I have ever seen have been in antique shops) and I have to say eatable decorations (peppermint canes, gingerbread snaps, oranges, that sort of thing) is brilliant. Takes up less space to as you eat them during the holidays and don’t have to pack them away. And often fun to make too.
  7. Instead of buying new decoration; swap with friends and family. Some things you have an attachment too, but not everything. Why not mix up the stuff you love with a few things borrowed or swapped? Just make sure you are not all going for the same theme, because then it could get awkward.

-Suss

*and don’t give me that whole “It’s good for the economy argument. It isn’t. Buying fewer and better things is what’s good for the economy because all these cheap electronics,toys and clothes come with a hidden cost that is environmental degradation and at this point mitigation is gonna be so expensive. I hate to be a kill joy but truth hurts, what can I say).

 

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Saturday&Spirits

IMG_5476I had plans to make sloe gin but my excursions have come up short of berries; there aren’t that much sloes on the bushes because the spring was so cold, and what little is  I’ll leave for the birds. Instead I decided to go all in with the quince liqueur this autumn.

Quinces I bought at the market, I went with a less expensive cognac but not the cheapest because in my experience that’s just nasty. It’s worth spending a little extra on this, especially since I’m thinking about giving some away as Christmas presents.

I’ve made this before with light rum and spices, with cognac and spices and this time it’s just fruit and booze. And a little sugar. The real sweetening however is done in six weeks time, and then it can be adjust to taste. The first recipe I used was from the web, this is a pared down version of that from The wonderful weekend book by Elspeth Thompson.

Quince brandy-based liqueur; yields almost 1 liter in the end

750 ml cognac/brandy (spend as much as you feel you can afford)

1 large quince

4 tablespoons of castersugar

  1. Rinse and dry the fruit. Then spilt it in quarters.
  2. Put the fruit pieces in a clean 1 liter jar, add the sugar and the pour the cognac/brandy over it. Closer the lid.
  3. Let infuse for at least six weeks.
  4. After six weeks; pour through a sieve and add around 2 dl of freshly made sugar syrup to the cognac/brandy, stir so it blends and put into clean bottles.

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This is so easy to make, and such a great thing to have. Impossible to buy something similar in the shops. I’ve made several cocktails with it but just mixed with some champagne it’s wonderful.

-Suss