Christmas Countdown

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Christmas Eve Eve!!

Well it's nearly here, just two more sleeps to go! I think I am pretty much on track, I have two Pots of Gold to finish off after I realised I didn't have enough scratch cards. That I will do tomorrow it won't take long.

I have just made cheese straws and Dampers. The Damper recipe is here, I can't find the exact one I use online, I think I copied it from a library book. I use chedder cheese, cooked onions & chives in mine and make them into small balls. We have them with our soup. Cheese straws are something my Mum always made for us at Christmas and I can't not have them!

So if I don't get chance to post tomorrow I shall wish everyone a Merry Christmas and hope you have a happy holiday wherever you are celebrating.


Thursday, 17 December 2009

First Snow of the Winter


We had our first snow today - not a lot but there it's still coming down out there right now. The odds for a white Christmas here in the UK have been slashed and my fingers are crossed!

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Pots of Gold

Just a quick post on these gifts i've put together for a few of my friends and family. I made 7 in total all bar one with Christmas scratchcards in. The other one we spend a little more on so I put in a Next Gift Card. Thats what I like about these you can make them up in so many ways.

I used pots from Ikea and various sweets in gold wrappers - coins, large Quality Street caramels, Werthers Original's, fun size Twix's. I had plenty with those but could have used mini Crunchies or Wispa Golds.
I bought some cellophane with gold swirls from ebay and various gold ribbons from Poundland. They were easy to put together I think (even though I say so myself) they look quite good!

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Everythings Coming Together

I've have been wrapping some of my presents by tree light the past couple of nights. I've also made up my 'pots of gold' which i'll post more on later. We are swapping presents with some of my friends this weekend, then we just have family left. I've made three different lots of cookies today, some for the weekend and some for the freezer. My Squash soup is made and also in the freezer. I have my final list written for the grocery shopping and will be getting a lot of it tomorrow. My cards are posted though I do still have some to deliver by hand too.

India keeps bringing home cards by the bagful, it's my first time having to think about cards for her classmates. Unfortunately she doesn't know all the names so its a bit hit and miss making sure she doesn't miss anyone out. She has her school party next Wednesday and on Thursday I get to see her nativity concert. She tells me she has been singing in the big hall but I don't think she quite realises what it's for yet. I can't wait for that.

On Saturday i've organised a craft day for India and some of her friends. I'm letting them loose with the glue and glitter! I have quite a few simple ideas for them to do and plenty of Christmas stickers and sparkles for them.

I feel pretty much on top of things right now though I'm sure there will be something glaringly obvious that i've missed!

Here are a few more photos of my d├ęcor. The little snowmen in the corner light up pink and purple - I do like my lights!

These guys are hanging from the keyrack in the kitchen.

These India was very excited to help with, dropping baubles in glass is obviously very entertaining for a three year old!

So much so she went and got this vase out of the cupboard to do, causing me to have a 'slight' panic as she appeared with it in her arms - it's half the size she is!



Sunday, 6 December 2009

My Tree is Up!

I made an early start yesterday and got out all my decorations. We bought a new 7ft tree last year as we realised our 5ft was no good in this home - looking like a pea on a drum! I didn't realise at the time that all the branches came separate from the tree and you have to build it from scratch, hence starting early this year.

At first once I'd got everything down I really didn't know where to start.

But once I dug out the tree I soon got in the flow, India kept occupied by watching lots of new Christmas episodes of her favourite shows on Playhouse Disney - it wasn't such bad background noise for me to work to either!

This is the tree with some of the branches in.

Finally an hour later is was all put together - India had been begging to put the first decoration on so she did that. Then I realised that I needed to put the lights on - we have 150 white lights and 80 twinkling coloured lights. They took some doing - could have done with an extra pair of hands.

I have a very large collection of Disney tree ornaments which I have collected over a number of years. Unfortunately Grolier no longer issue any new ornaments so now I make sure I visit the Disney Store every year for new ones. We got a new range of 'forest' coloured ornaments last year as we needed more for the bigger tree, these are in shades of browns and greens. I have to say though I don't really have a theme as such and my tree is filled with ornaments I love including one India has made and her first Christmas ones.

These are some of the ornaments we put on - India was eager to help and put a lot of them on, she did really well at handling them carefully though not so hot on the placement :-). The lights still need a bit of work too.

This is our tree topper (Disney really is a passion of mine - can you tell!).

Finally with the tree done I could put our train underneath, this was a new addition last year and It takes me a while to figure out the track - in the end hubby came home from work and did it for me! It runs right around the bottom of the tree.

Finally finished and started on the other decorations but I'll leave that for another post.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Mistletoe Update

Mistletoe has been a big hit this week, India just loves him. When she got up on Wednesday he was having a tea party with her teddies.

The next night he was tired out after his party and was snuggled up in bed. He did have a video to watch so India could see his home.

He also brought India some nice cosy Christmas socks but had to try them out first.

We caught Mistletoe making a crumby mess finishing off his breakfast.


Whilst Mistletoe wasn't looking Christmas Mickey had a snooze in sleeping bag!

This morning India discovered he had put a small pink tree in her room and decorated in himself. He also left a book for us to read - Mr Willoughby's Christmas Tree (I saw it recommended on another blog I read!) - he must have know we were decorating our tree today!

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Mistletoe Merryweather Jingles

Our little Elf arrived overnight and was found by India snuggled up in his sleeping bag on the sofa this morning when she got up!

She was very excited to see him and after i'd read her his letter she tried to read it too but mostly just said 'I love you' a lot :-) Of course as it's the 1st December he also brought an Advent Calendar too and India was pretty happy to be having chocolate before we even had breakfast.

Sat next to MMJ was a little doggy in a Santa suit that has gone to the childminders with her today. Of course she wanted to take the elf but I said he probably needed some extra sleep after travelling all night!

We can't wait to see what he will be getting up to over the next few weeks.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Rudolph Day


Well, here it is the last Rudolph Day before Christmas Day. So are everyones plans going well?

I have a big shopping trip planned for Saturday and have printed out a couple of lists of what I have left to buy and who for. I have a rough list for the food and drinks shopping. I have been buying Morrisons saver stamps through the year and will also be making use of their £25 voucher offer too. Last year the stamps and voucher paid for my Christmas food shop with about £1.40 for us to pay on top so it worked out very well!

Mistle Merryweather Jingles arrives on the 1st and I have been collecting bits and pieces for him to suprise India with including a Elf video, a Unicorn sticker book (she wants to be a unicorn when she grows up!) and some craft stuff too. No doubt he will be getting up to all sorts of mischief which i'll post about through December.

We are posting India's letter to Santa tomorrow. The Royal Mail offer a special service for Santa letters - details are here - it's not something i've used before so we will see if we get a reply!

Next week we are having our carpet cleaned and then on the Saturday i'll be decorating the house - I can't wait!!

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Mince Pies

Today I made a just over two dozen Mince Pies to go in my freezer for Christmas. I have to say not all of them made it to the freezer. We just had to try one each to make sure they were ok, India told me they were yummy so she got to have another one!

I used the following pastry recipe, which is the one we all like best. It originally came from the recipe section on Organised Christmas Elves.

1lb Self Raising Flour
1/2 lb Butter/Margarine
4oz Caster Sugar
1 Egg lightly beaten
A little Water

1) Rub the fat into the flour until it looks like breadcrumbs, then mix in the sugar
2) Pour the egg in and a tiny amount of water to form a dough, add a little flour if it's too sticky
3) Roll out quite thin as the SR flour causes it to rise more than normal
4) Cut out rounds for the base, fill with mincemeat (as detailed here), put tops on if required, brush with a little egg
5) Bake for around 15-18 mins at gas 180

Here are some of the finished pies, which are now safely frozen so we can't eat them all before it even gets to December!


Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Holidays are Coming....

I had a nice surprise on the way to work a few days ago seeing a giant Billboard with the Coca Cola holidays truck and Santa fixing it with the words Holidays are Coming next to it. I love this advert and I got quite excited to see it, just watching out for the TV advert now which is rumoured to run this weekend!

My Christmas Cards are now all written, bar my cousin who is expecting a baby this week so I need to wait to hear from her! Stamps are bought for the ones I need to post. I'll be posting my overseas cards tomorrow, which is in plenty of time to meet the Royal Mail last posting dates.

At the weekend I defrosted my freezer and got my smaller freezer up and running so I can stock up. I'll make some cookie dough and mince pies tomorrow to go in there. Doing the mince pies and keeping them in the freezer worked great for me last year, saved a lot of time especially as I like to make the pastry from scratch, during December and I always had some to hand. I've decided to order my turkey from Morrisons this year instead of buying a frozen one. I'll do that tomorrow also. It will be the first time in a while i've ordered fresh instead of frozen.

My Christmas list is updated and I have a new 'to buy' list. My Elf letter is printed and ready for Mistletoe to arrive on the 1st. India has been wondering if he'll come again this year already. I have a shopping trip planned for the 28th and I should be able to finish just about everything on my list - fingers crossed.

I found a great idea on the Money Saving Expert forum on this thread for Pots of Gold which I am going to be doing for some of the people on my list. The idea is for a little pot filled with gold chocolates ie gold coins, Wispa Gold, Ferrero Roche and Scratch cards - gold if possible. For my husbands step daughter I am going to put in a Gift card instead of a scratch card. I have a lot of the chocolates, the cellophane to wrap the pots up is ordered from ebay, i'm going to try Ikea for the pots next week and the scratch cards I will get a few when I put my own lottery on over the next couple of weeks.

So far so good with my Christmas planning, i'm feeling quite happy with what i've done and what's left to do!

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Shopping

I spent yesterday shopping for Christmas presents and managed to get just about everything on my list and a little bit more besides. We shopped at the White Rose Shopping centre, which is decorated beautifully and all the shops have their Christmas stuff out now of course. The Disney Store (my favourite) had a special offer on their large soft Christmas Mickey's, which I just had to buy, he will look lovely sat on my fireplace - if India ever lets go of him!

So now I'll have to update my list and see who I have left to buy for. The list should now be fairly short. Plus my cards are all made and I will start to write them over the next couple of days and get stamps I need for them ready to be posted.

I hope everyone had a lovely Halloween yesterday we had lots of fun here!





Monday, 26 October 2009

Belated Happy Rudy Day!

I'm a day late I know but I was just didn't get the chance to post yesterday. I hope everyone enjoyed their day and managed to get some Christmas plans/gifts completed!

With a shopping trip planned later this week I have been working on a gift list and have quite a few things on it, which should clear the majority of my gift buying if I can get everything on the list. I cleared out my 'Christmas' shelf in my wardrobe and updated my list with the gifts I already have and all the extra decorations I've picked up this year. So now I know exactly what I have in there. I keep my wrap bag in there too and know that all I need is some wrap for India's presents but I have more than enough for all the other wrapping I'll need to do.

Also been doing a few more cards as well and only have a few left to do to cover this Christmas. I might take a look at the birthday's I still have in the run up to Christmas now.

I tried out the Mars Bar Mousse recipe this afternoon. It was very easy to do and turned out looking like the picture - which doesn't often happen when I cook!


It is minus the chocolate shavings though as I didn't have any other chocolate. The mousse has gone down very well, very very nice and not too rich with it not being dark chocolate. So this is what I will do for dessert on Christmas Day. I can make them the day before and they can stay in the fridge till we need them.

I'm feeling quite organised at the moment, a lot of planning is done and I know pretty much what gifts I have to buy for people - I'm just waiting for pay day now!



Monday, 12 October 2009

Christmas Planning

I thought i'd give an update on my card making - i've made about 38 of the 50 I need to do. I am really loving making them and wish i'd started doing them before!

A lovely friend I made through the Organised Christmas Elves website visited a couple of weeks ago and very kindly brought me a very large box of craft things, which she doesn't get time to use herself. We spent the afternoon making cards (and chatting non stop!).

This was my dining table after we'd finished!!

Unfortunately I don't have any space to create my own craft area so I have most of my craft supplies in a large drawer in my bed and the rest in a large plastic tub. I just get out what I need then, though my dining table is still a huge mess by the time i've made a few cards as I never know quite what I need and bring almost everything!


I really need to remember to start stocking up on stamps now too, i'll try and get a book each time I go to the shops.

Lots of the stores have their Christmas stock out now and I really do have to restrain myself from buying more decorations - I have so many! Some of the items are such bargains though it's hard to resist - such as this cute wooden sign I got for 59p.

Of course it's not just decor that's in the shops now but gifts too. I bought a few more stocking stuffers for various people. A friend has arranged for us to go shopping at the end of the month so I have a list prepared of things I'd like to buy. I've been going through some gift catalogues for ideas for some of the tougher to buy for people on my list.

Also we shall purchase our turkey at the end of this month. I usually get a frozen one and bought a small freezer a few years back that we use just around Christmas for the turkey, cookie dough and just to stock up on food we'll need. It comes in very handy.

So far i'm quite pleased with what i've got prepared for Christmas, i'd like to have a few more presents finished but hopefully I should do that by the beginning of November.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Christmas Cake

I spent Sunday afternoon making my Christmas cake with a little help from India. She likes to help so she can lick the spoon at the end!

I use this recipe - Golden Christmas Cake - that I originally saved from their instore magazine several years ago and have used it every year. Everybody loves it especially my hubby who wanted me to make an extra one to eat right away! I didn't as I think a fruit cake matures over time plus you need time to add a little extra brandy too.

So I prepared my fruit on Saturday and the house just smelt gorgeous with the oranges, I left it to soak overnight. On Sunday I got the rest of the ingredients together and had the cake in the oven in no time. It's very easy to put together and the smell was just so Christmassy.

It's wrapped up now and in my Christmas cake tin. I'll open it up a couple of times to add a spoonful of Brandy but that's another thing ticked off my list. I don't usually decorate my cake as we just like to eat it with cheese and we prefer it without the icing.

Not the greatest photo but i'd already put the cake away when I uploaded the photos! It's not burnt it's just a dark photo!

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Soup!

It looks like I've already found my soup for our first course on Christmas Day! I made a version of this Butternut Squash & Apple Harvest Soup. I did just use this as a guide though. I didn't use Leeks or nutmeg only because I didn't have any. I added extra carrot and used 2 apples - I used Royal Gala not Granny Smiths. Oh and I used mini pumpkins instead of Butternut Squash though we like that too.

The mini Pumpkins were too cute and I couldn't resist using them.

Missed the cream out too partly because my husband isn't too keen on cream but also I thought it might be a bit rich alongside a full Christmas dinner.

Anyway with all the tweaks it turned out great, we all loved it. Hubby said it was just liked 'proper soup out of a can' - he meant it as a compliment in a round about way! It's something that all my family should enjoy so that's my first course sorted.

Now I think I've already found a perfect dessert - mars bar mousses! I'll have a trial run and let you know how they go!



Friday, 25 September 2009

Rudolph Day

Happy Rudolph Day!

I hope everyone is enjoying their day and managing some time out to catch up on their Christmas Planning. I'm working today so i've already been printing off my updated lists to go in my folder. I have a shopping list for various shops both online and local stores for gifts. I have got a list prepared for ingredients for my Christmas Cake and various other baking i'll be doing so I can start stocking up now.

My planner for December has been updated and tentatively has a craft day planned for India and my friends children so i'm hunting out easy crafts for them and making sure i'm stocked up on supplies. I'm really looking forward to this one!

I've also had a look at my menu for Christmas Day and am trying to find a soup to suit all tastes as our starter. We've had tomato in the past - not homemade and potato & leek - homemade. So I'm going to search through my recipes this evening and see what I can come up with, then a trial run will be in order.

I'm looking forward to cosying up on the sofa with a big mug of chocolate and my folder and lists tonight, i've had a cold the past week or so and i'm counting down the hours till 8 tonight when the house will be quiet!

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Autumn Decor

Well it's now officially autumn and last year I decided to try and decorate for autumn after seeing so many beautiful photos via Magical Holiday Homes fall tour. A lot of the decor here though is more for Halloween than Autumn so it's not easy to find.

I did find these cute scarecrows at a local Charity shop and they are now sat on my mantelpiece.



We have been collecting lots and lots of pine cones for to make into Christmas decorations. We have so many I decided to use them right now too.



I'll be replacing the cones with baubles once it gets to December. In the meantime I'm on the look out for other items I can decorate with so if anybody has any suggestions or has seen any autumny things in the shops let me know!



Thursday, 17 September 2009

Autumn is on its Way!

So the temperatures have dropped a little this week and the feel of Autumn is in the air. Some of the leaves are already turning red and yellow. I spotted this small one this morning, nearly all the leaves were red - it's only a mobile phone photo so not the best but you can see how gorgeous the leaves are.


I love this time of year for so many reasons - the colours, the brisk nature walks with India, the activity from the birds in my garden - always great to watch from a cosy house. Of course it also means Christmas is just around the corner. We are under 100 days to go now!

Just today I have picked up a few stocking stuffers for my daughter and a friends daughter. Plus some bits and pieces for our Christmassy swaps over at Organised Christmas Elves. Lots of the stores are getting their Christmas stock in now and it's fun to browse through it all.

Of course before Christmas we have Halloween to celebrate too. We were checking out Halloween stuff today and picked up a couple of cute items that I can't wait to put out. Halloween is becoming bigger here each year and the stores are stocking more and more decor for the house rather than just costumes and sweets. I love this and have started to build a little collection of things.

Here are the latest items. Four spice scented pumpkin candles for just a £1, they smell gorgeous.


A very cute sign which cost just 89p, a real bargain.


99 days to go folks, I hope your plans are going well! Oh and Hi and thanks to my first followers, hope you enjoy!



Thursday, 10 September 2009

Chocolate & Beetroot Cake

I know a strange combination, not two things you would normally put together! I like to have a cake on Christmas day, some dessert other than the traditional mince pie and fruit cake, which not everyone likes. The past couple of years we have had apple cake and carrot cake. I wanted to try a few new ideas in the run up to Christmas to see if I could find something different. I saw the recipe in the latest Morrisons magazine Beetroot Chocolate Cake and had the beetroot from my parents garden, was wondering what to do with it so I gave it a go.

It was very easy - apart from the beetroot, which I think is the worst food ever to prepare! Thank goodness for aprons, glass chopping boards, rubber gloves and dark worktops! I think I did pretty well not to stain everything in a five foot radius!

It smelt gorgeous as it cooked and only took about 35 minutes.


India 'helped' with the frosting once it had cooled down. I got a Galaxy chocolate bar to grate on the top (meant I could have the rest of the bar to myself).


So the verdict. We all liked it, you couldn't tell there was beetroot in it, just like you can't tell there is carrot in a carrot cake. It is quite moist and the frosting is gorgeous. So it is on my short list for Christmas for now but i'm still undecided as it may be a bit too heavy and rich for Christmas Day.