Thursday, 31 December 2009

Festive food part 2

Food forms many of the Traditions of Christmas. Our Christmas pudding is made in November as part of 'stir up sunday' with all my family and we all make wishes as we add a silver coin to the rich fruity mixture. Although there are no pictures it was a really yummy pud this year! Although I love dried fruit I don't actually like mince pies (though I did have one this year made by K back in November which I really enjoyed but didn't get round to trying out the recipe) I did however make a Christmas Cake. This was a Hot Toddy fruitcake and the recipe can be found here. A bit lighter than a traditional Christmas cake but really moist and tasty. I had a problem with the ready rolled icing which cracked and split so I had to disguise it with icing sugar! I didn't actually finish decorating it until Boxing Day and it was finally cut into on Monday! Our friends loved the cake last year, and were keen to have some again, G said of his piece 'this wedge is ledge'!I enjoy making puddings and some are regularly requested, the first is 'Dougal', a recipe I believe was created by my Nan. She was an amazing cook, we always had Christmas Dinner with her and all our cousins and she was so capable of preparing fantastic meals for large numbers of people. Dougal reminds me of her and is the taste of my childhood!

Do you remember eating Dream Topping? Well all you need is 2 packs of Dream Topping, a packet of ginger nut biscuits and some sweets to decorate easy! Make up one packet of Dream Topping as per recipe then use it to sandwich all the biscuits together.
Any excess can be place on the outside of the long sandwich of biscuits, then wrap the whole lot in silver foil or clingfilm. Leave overnight in the fridge.

The next day make up the second packet as per instructions, take the Dougal out the fridge and place on serving dish, cover in the Dream Topping. I have covered the dish in icing sugar to hide the non Christmassy design and to make it more Festive!

Then Molly got some small sweets and just scattered them all over! Normally we take our time and design a face/ears/legs/tail etc etc and DOUGAL is born!

There are rarely any left overs of this pudding and it is menat to be for the children but all the adults always want it as well, although they had Andrew's speciality pud which is Tiramisu!

The other easy pud I regularly make is Key Lime Pie. I use ginger snap biscuits crushed and added to melted butter to form the base in a springform tin. Whilst thie is 'setting' in the fridge I mix the zest of 2 limes with the juice of 4 limes, 300 mls of double cream and a tin of condensed milk. Mix together well, pour/spread over the biscuit base and return to the fridge for a minimum of an hour before eating. Easy peasy and very refreshing after a heavy meal.

We had a very traditional roast turkey with all the trimmings on Christmas Day (cooked by Hubby and it was fantastic). Then on Boxing Day I cooked for 14, we had mash, sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, peas, roasted butternut squash, parnip and celeriac with cold turkey and hot stuffing, sausages and my home baked ham! Every year I lose my recipe for baked/glazed ham, this year I found one involving oranges and it was divine. this is it pre baking, looks good enough to eat!

We have all eaten so well with all this home cooked goodness, plus all the choccies, cookies and other sweet treats. I have forsaken 5 a day and we have become a little bit slap dash about eating at set times! I think this does no harm once a year and I have warned the children that we will be back to regular meal times and more healthy food next week when life returns to normal in the sad post Chrimbo days! I am still hanging onto my Festive spirit for now tho!

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Festive Food part 1

Is it just me or do other people's Christmas activities revolve around Festive Food?? Shopping for it, preparing it, cooking it and then eating it! I do love it though and we all sit down together and plan our family festive food menu for 23rd to 29th December weeks in advance! This includes breakfasts, lunches, dinners and puddings. Snacks and sweets are just bought in for the 'as and when' moments.

Obviously the highlight is Christmas Dinner which is cooked by hubby but enjoyed by everyone Molly the vegetarian (whose veggie alternative to meat was sadly forgotten ) and Elliot (still in hih PJ's) both with the customary paperhats in situ! This year even the cat had a place at the table and a bowl of turkey! This was after he tried to help himself to it as I was carving (see below!)

Still in the festive spirit... just!

We have had such a wonderful Christmas at the house of CCA pig! I think we all just about made it onto the 'nice list' this year as we had so many wonderful gifts. Molly got just one present in her santa sack (after opening her stocking upstairs with us) and it was an Ipod Touch with speakers and she was soooo pleased as she thought it was beyond Father Christmas's reach (she is sadly now a non believer but keeps the secret and the magic for Elliot and Me!). Elliot got numerous things for the Wii which were top of his list in his letter to Santa (we have never ever had a reply to any Santa letters we have sent, shame!) so he was happy too. Hubby had lots of goodies including a new chopping board that came in very handy with the turkey and of course lots of new pairs of socks! What did I get?? Well, several crafty items, including a ticket to the Stitch and Creative Craft Show in January. But the big one was four tickets to the X Factor Live show at the O2 Arena in London!!! Woop woop woop!! Yep how sad am I, as I am excited tho not sure how I feel about seeing Jedward!

I really love being with the family at Christmas it is the highlight of the holidays for me. After a busy Chrsitmas Eve with all our friends, we had a quiet Christmas Day just the 4 of us (and the cat of course!). Elliot and I actually stayed in our Christmas PJ's all day, well that was a real treat and it was only us. I didn't even make a phone call and Hubby cooked so it was the most relaxing day for me! We even chilled out in front of the TV and fav family viewing was Dr Who, though I also really enjoyed the Royle Family and Nan's Christmas Carol (Catherine Tate is so talented in my opinion)
We still have all the decorations up, the lights outside, the 3 trees inside, Christmas towels in bathrooms and kitchen, and Christmas knicknacks in every room in the house. We definitely see Chistmas as more than just one day and keep in the festive spirit right up until 12th night if we can. We have watched so many Christmas films together, eaten whatever and hardly left the house (Elliot has had a few more Jammy days!)
Sadly I have to return to work tomorrow and this is going to be really hard for me tearing myself away from the relaxed, happy atmosphere of home but someone's got to do it.

So how is the Festive Spirit in your house? Are your decorations still up? Any presents still under your tree?

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Christmas Eve

Wow just one more sleep to go!! I think I am just about ready tho will go and check a list in a few minutes just to make sure!

I had a great day at work as it was quiet, we all brought in nibbles and we finished early!

Got home and hubby had cooked Jamie Olivers 5 hour lamb and it was fantastic yum yum!
Then we all got ready for our annual and very casual drinks with friends, a kind of 'open house' with 5 families coming over just for a few hours. We had kids tracking santa on Norad, kids playing on the ol' xbox upstairs (amid the empty boxes of Christmas decorations!), kids playing truth or dare in the kitchen whilst the mulled wine slowly simmered and gave off the most Christmassy of aromas mmmm it is a wonderful season! The adults all chatted in the lounge and nibbled on crisps and mince pies. As they left we gave everyone a small bag of Christmas presents and along with a 'real present' this is what each family got....

I got these ideas from other people's blogs and I thought they were really sweet so have used them for my guests in their Christmas Eve 'party bags'!!

Then after everyone had left we gave the children their Christmas eve hamper

choccie coins and santas, candy floss (santas's beard), reindeer food, a christmas book each, a new pair of pyjamas each, some toiletires, some more toiletries, white hot choccy powder (from Whittards and very tasty), marshmallows, a santa key and a santa plate. They were so pleased with everything and so excited. We all had showers and got changed into our Christmas PJ's and put Elf DVD on. The funniest thing was Elliot who said 'I am going to bed now as then it will be tomorrow and tomorrow is Christmas'

Happy Christmas everyone xxx

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Advent day 23

The eve of Christmas Eve! been trying to get through my list as shown here yesterday and I have managed to get several things accomplished thank goodness, though several left for tomorrow still!! Have to go to work first and I am keeping my fingers crossed that it is going to be quiet with everyone being too busy completing their 'to do' lists to come into my clinic!!!
Managed to bake some white chocolate and cranberry cookies so we have something to put on Santa's plate tomorrow night and Molly cooked a batch of fairy cakes completely independantly. She is planning on icing and decorating them tomorrow, hopefully there will be some left when I get home (confession I have hidden the cookies tee hee hee!!)

Got an awesome present from K today (again!)

look what it was....

TQ xxx

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

advent day 21 and 22

I apologise for my slowness at updating on the advent activites but we are just too busy here enjoying the season to get online and write about it!!

I had to work 21st December and Andrew looked after the children and his advent activity with them was to give them a new snowboarding game for the Wii! Now everyone is experiencing life in the mountains except me! Work was actually fairly busy, not sure why people were travelling in to the clinic when there was a severe weather warning in force not to mention Christmas only a few days away!

I only have one present left to open from Oona and it is a real big one so I think I am meant to keep it until Christmas Eve as it has got to be 4 or 5 dyas worth of present there! So the present I got from K was....some fabulous Halloween stickers

then today i got this amazing calendar that K had created with photos I had taken! That snowman was made in the nieghbours garden in february when we had really heavey snow and noone could get to school or work! TQ again xxx

Today the elf brought the children a mini Christmas scrapbook each so we'll have to print off some pictures so they can keep their own memories stored from this Christmas.

To do list

I recently discovered a fabulous blog 'I speak Melsh' and it really is like coming home when I read it! I am so grateful to have found it thanks to kate at Liberty Cottage . I also found ScrappyJacky, they are just great blogs to read go have a look!

Anyway I have blatantly plagiarized this post stright from on 'I speak Melsh' as I realised I was in a similar predicament with things to do!

Things I have to do before bedtime on Christmas Eve
Buy a turkey (yep how bad is that I don't even have one yet whoops!)
Buy some fresh sprouts (I accidentaly ordered just 3 sprouts in my online shop!)
Make Christmas Cookies
Tidy up
Remove all craft stuff from Dining Room table as we need to eat there!
Clean Bathrooms
Change Bedding
Make mulled wine
Entertain 6 families on Christmas Eve
Give the Children their Christmas Eve hamper
Defrost stuffing
Make Reindeer food for my Children and for Christmas Eve guests
Sort Christmas eve gifts for guests
leave out reindeer food and Santa's snacks
Make pot of gold for neice
Marzipan and Ice Christmas cake
Hang childrens stockings
Fill Stockings
Organise Santa presents downstairs (just like Mel!)

And there was I getting smug that I didn't have too much to do... HO ho ho!!!

How are you doing?? Go on show me your list I dare you even if it is just to make me feel better!

Sunday, 20 December 2009

advent day 20

Only 5 sleeps until Christmas day now!! We are getting very excited in our house! We are trying to complete a rather difficult 500 piece puzzle of 'the Snowman' that the Elf gave us yesterday for our advent activity, it is a lot harder than it looks! Our advent activity today is going to be carol singing in Church! That is if we can get here as there is black ice in our Close!

Today's advent swop was a real sweet one as you can see ......

with candy canes and a snowman stirrer from Oonie and a set of baubles, gold twine and smarties from K YUMMY!!! TQ xxx

Wintershall Nativity Play 2009

The Wintershall estate runs an organic farm in the beautiful Surrey countryside and it is only a few miles outside Guildford. I was actually unaware that there were plays here but was invited by a couple of friends to go with them and their children. It was absolutely stunning when we arrived as it is in a really rural position and we parked in a snow covered field and walked up a steep snowy path to the top fields/barn area.

The Nativity Plays occur for just a few days in December and it is a very professional production, the lighting, acting, singing and setting are fantastic. To see more about it have a look at the website here.

On the downside it was really, really cold but we all came prepared with multiple layers, warm coats, scarfs and gloves. The production starts outside with Joseph leading Mary on a donkey across the field and seeking a room at the inn (the back of the barn!). Then there were shepherds in the fields standing around bonfires when the angel appears to them and they follow the star to the barn (and we follow them inside to defrost a bit!). The choir and soloists were brilliant and although I was sat at the very back the play was clear and visually stunning, The children sat at the front and the actors really engaged them in the different scenes, they were very impressed that there was a 'real' baby playing the role of Jesus!

It really got us into the real spirit of Christmas and I would recommend it, although I think children probably need to be about age 6 or above to really appreciate/enjoy it.

The real fun started when we tried to get out the carpark, as I said earlier the car park was a field and it was a sloping field. There were numerous cars, the ground was getting slippery, we witnessed a few skids and an accident and half an hour later we had hardly moved! They were only allowing one car at a time down the steep slope to the gravel track at the bottom, it was a bit nerve wracking but after a long wait we finally made it out of the estate and onto proper gritted roads!! What an adventure!

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Christmas Cards for Crafty Chums and Family

I finally completed the few homemade Christmas cards I was making for this year. I previously made cards for Challenges and these have all been sent this week too. I mostly sent bought cards to be honest left over from January sales, but felt I had to send some of 'my' cards to family and crafting friends. So here are a selection of the cards created this week...

Some are more simple than others , with basic images embellished with glossy accents. Others have 3 or 4 stamped images, some embossed, some sparkling with Stickles.
I have used the cuttlebug and gems on dry embossed Christmas trees and I have even gone out of my comfort zone and used peel offs as borders! Overall I stuck to the easy designs as I made most of these in one night!! I was up until 2am so if you get one please ignore the crooked matting and layering and the wobbly peel offs!!!

Coaster Calendars, Diaries and Pegs!

There has been much excitement over on the MSE forum regarding Coaster Calendars and several people have made them and I have been lucky enough to receive two! Back in October I decided to make a couple as part of Choccie and Sylphravens' advent swop presents.
I also did a mini advent hamper bag for my parents and I made my mum one too!The chocolate themed set is for Choccy Orange (I think I changed the flower on the peg in the end!) and the spooky set was made with K in mind, complete with bats and a spider (I love that set to emboss and die cut on the cuttlebug!)

I also covered a diary and matching peg for my mum
My dad got a peg holding some packets of seeds together, all the others pegs are magnetic ones but did not think my dad would use one like that

The other 'trendy' crafting items to make this season have included covered pegs and covered diaries and as you can see, these all featured in my advent bags too!

advent day 16,17, 18 & 19 the swops!

I have failed in blogging my advent activites and swops daily as planned! So here is a huge combination of all the presents for the past few days! Thanks so much for all these gifts xxx

day 16
wonderful rub ons and a handy heart hand warmer

day 17
a little stitch and scrap kit for a baby and a fabby brown (my fav colour!) coaster calendar
day 18

a cute handmade pig badge (K) and a calendar/wipe board from Oonie
and day 19

a brown Mug and a glass box of bath bombs (thought these were marshmallows/something edible but luckily read the label before I ate one!!)