Stuff and Nonsense: Christmas On The Island & Crafting


Christmas On The Island & Crafting

I run a library book club called Book Scents. Every few months we gather to discuss a feel-good novel, eat pastry, drink coffee, and make a craft inspired by the book. For example, in December we read Jenny Colgan's heartwarming holiday novel, Christmas On The Island and made a stove top potpourri simmer inspired by both the novel and the season. It was a simple craft, but everyone enjoyed putting it together and there was excited talk about what other spices or fruits might be added. Apple slices, for example. Or gently bashed cardamom pods.

To make this craft, I purchased bags of dried orange slices, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and freeze-dried cranberries from I also found whole allspice and star anise at a local Asian grocery for an extremely reasonable price. Excluding the cinnamon sticks, the spices were portioned out into plastic shot glasses (leftover from another craft) so everyone received half a shot glass of each. I heaped the orange slices, cinnamon sticks, and cranberries into big bowls and we passed them around, crafting our own individualized potpourri blend as we discussed Christmas On The Island.

Freeze-dried cranberries were used strictly because I knew people would be leaving this out on windowsills or tables and I didn't want anyone to find their potpourri had gone green and fuzzy. As I have not yet simmered mine, I don't know what will happen with the freeze-dried cranberries, but I half expect they will dissolve into goo.

I'd arranged an assortment of season scrapbook papers and washi tape on a separate table and, at the end of our discussion, everyone had a chance to decorate their jars. Then we ate cranberry-chocolate scones (first -- and fab -- attempt by a group member!) and satsumas and wandered well off topic into holiday plans ... which is to be expected at this time of year.

In March we will discuss Abbi Waxman's "quirky, funny, and deeply thoughtful" book The Garden of Small Beginnings. I have not yet decided on the craft. Maybe pots of gardeners hand balm?