Christmas Countdown

Monday, 31 August 2009

Mincemeat

We've had a busy bank holiday weekend visiting friends, family, getting my hair cut (short for the 1st time in 15 yrs!), having an end of summer barbecue and eating way too much food!

Today we finally got to have a quiet day and after a visit to Ikea for some storage jars I've made my Christmas mincemeat. The recipe was originally posted on Organised Christmas Elves. I tried it last year and it went down very well. It made so much - just under 3 ltrs - I gave two jars away and it lasted us into the New Year.

So this time i've halved the recipe and have just over 1 & 1/2 ltrs.

Prune & Brandy Mincemeat (this is the full recipe - I used half of everything)

Ingredients


500g Ready to eat Pitted Prunes

500g Bramley Apples, peeled & Cored

500g Currants

500g Raisins

500g Sultanas

200g Tub Mixed Peel

1 tsp Cinnamon

2 tsp Mixed Spice

350g Dark Muscavado Sugar

300ml Brandy plus extra for topping up

250g Packet Suet Method

1) Roughly chop the prunes in a processor, tip into a large roasting tin. Chop the apples in the processor and add to the prunes. Add the rest of the fruit, peel, spices and sugar. Pour over 200mls of the brandy and stir well. Cover with tin foil.

2) Sit the tin over a very low heat - use the two smallest burners and leave for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 until the sugar has dissolved and the mix is glossy. Leave to cool completely.

3) Mix in the suet then add the remaining 100ml brandy. Spoon into steralised jars and seal. Can be kept for upto a year.



This doesn't take long at all to do and I think it's definitley worth the effort rather than buying from the shop.

Now I'm looking forward to making (and eating) my mince pies, mince buns & blondies yum!

Monday, 24 August 2009

Rudolph Day


Well Happy Rudolph Day all!

I've been doing little Christmassy bits over the past few days as I don't always have a huge amount of free time on weekdays.

Of course i've been making up Christmas cards when I can and after going through my list I would need to make about 40 to cover everyone. I've made 16 so far so not doing bad at all! I'm also going to get together some bits and pieces for India to make cards for Grandma and Grandad and Daddy too (though she just likes to do big x 's over the cards normally!). I have just received a big bunch of new embellishments from ebay today & will get some more card blanks and i'm set to go.

Last night I spent a while shopping for gifts on the internet, so I now have a few more people sorted out. My gift list is updated and in my folder. I also printed off a planner for December so I can fill in what needs doing and when. Along with a planner for my elf. I need to start checking through our craft stuff for any projects he might bring with him!

Later on this evening i'll be enjoying a nice mug of Hot Chocolate. I keep my Disney Christmas mug out especially for Rudolph Day.


I noticed one of our pound stores had put out Halloween stuff yesterday, the Christmas stuff won't be far behind. Morrisons started putting out their Christmas sweets in September last year, once the kids were back at school so i'll look out for that. Once they do i'll start adding some to the weekly shop to spread the cost, I keep a list of what i've bought so nothing goes astray.

It's a long weekend this weekend for the August bank holiday. Monday I plan to make my mincemeat and will post the recipe later. Hope you all enjoy your day!

Friday, 21 August 2009

Card Update

I'm on a roll with the cards this week and have made another 6. It doesn't sound a lot but I don't have lots of time to spend on doing them and i'm a bit slow too! Most of them have turned out good but i'm not too happy with the star one, not sure if I will use it yet.

I have really enjoyed doing these this week and i'm on the look out on ebay for some more embellishments so hopefully I can make nearly all my cards this year.

We have a Rudolph Day coming up next Tuesday too so a perfect opportunity to go through my card list and see how many i'll need.


Monday, 17 August 2009

Christmas Cards


I have finally got around to making a start on some Christmas Cards, after getting all the chores done and having a night with not much to do! I'm not particularly crafty and got a card making kit from a friend a couple of years ago. It was pretty basic - using outline stickers and gel pens but I made a fair few Birthday, anniversary and wedding cards too.

I've picked up a few bits and pieces over the past few months for card making and scrap booking too. So I've given it a go, I kept them pretty simple seen as these are my first ones but i'm quite pleased how they turned out (they do look a bit warped but they aren't they are on the box lid with a bend!!).

So now i've only got a couple of card blanks left, hopefully i'll be able to pick up some more tomorrow and get some more made. I really enjoyed doing it and i'm hoping to at least make my own cards for family and a couple of friends. I've got plenty of bought cards in the sales just in case!

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Recipes for Easy Living - Curtiss Ann Matlock

I have to say this is not usually my type of book, I like crime and thrillers but I'm trying to broaden my reading! This was on a Christmas reading list which was posted on Magical Holiday Homes Forum. I happened to see it in my local library and decided to give it a go. I'm very glad I did as it is one of the best books I have ever read.

It's set through the month of December in a small town in America called Valentine. Centred on a young girl called Corrine who lives with her Aunt and extended family. Her mother whom she hasn't seen in a while comes to stay bringing up many emotions. It is very beautifully written and I just wanted to climb through the pages into the town - it's how I imagine Christmas to be! It even has the odd Christmas recipe in and secret Santa too. I won't say too much else as I don't want to give anything away.

It made me laugh and cry and I didn't want it to end. It is part of a series all set in the same town, which I'll be getting hold of as soon as I can. It was that good I had to post and suggest that for everyone with a love of Christmas you must read this book!


Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Magical Elves

Elves as we all know are Santa's little helpers. Santa has been sending out these little helpers to stay with family's in the run up to Christmas to keep an eye on the children. Now elves are quite mischievous and cause quite a lot of mayhem - ours certainly did last year!

To let you in on the secret I had a hand in the elf antics!! Elves are very difficult to get hold of in the UK and eventually I enlisted my Mum's help with making an elf from scratch from this website Canadian Living. My Mum did a brilliant job and Mistletoe Merryweather Jingles was born. There is some more information on Elves on this site too Elf Magic

Mistletoe Merryweather Jingles (MMJ)


He arrived with a letter from Santa and a chocolate advent calander for my daughter, India on the 1st December. My daughter was almost 3 and was quite excited to see him. Not sure quite how much she got it but we had fun.


I made him a sleeping bag and pillow out of Christmas material (bought from ebay) and a sponge (for the pillow!). We tucked him up in bed each evening. He didn't always stay in bed though during the night. We found him one morning watching some of the Christmas videos that he bought for India with popcorn scattered about him, another time he hung her socks all over the Christmas tree. I found a Santa set for the Little People so one morning he was found playing with those, India was so excited to see the Little People Santa and still plays with it now. The best thing MMJ did was set up a small pink Christmas tree in India's room while she slept one night - she loves pink.





MMJ having a snowball fight with the teddies



















MMJ 'decorating' the tree!







Playing games with Christmas Minnie & Mickey!


This year I have just started elf planning and found some lovely little Christmas storybooks - Care Bears, Mr Men and Little Miss for MMJ to bring with him, now and again India finds these hidden in his sleeping bag! I've also found a Mr Potato Head Santa outfit so one morning we will find the elf playing with this when we get up. I'll post more when I have a few more ideas.

Monday, 10 August 2009

My Christmas Notebook



I cannot live without my Notebook, it has everything I need for our Christmas to (hopefully) run as smoothly as it can. Mine is in a two ring binder, I decided not to put anything on the outside to help prevent prying eyes and it's functional rather than creative! I have so many sections in there and i'll list them below. The idea for this came originally from Organized Christmas and the site has many printable forms which can help out with your notebook.

So the sections I have

Gift Ideas


Gift Lists for Previous Years
Magical Elf
Christmas Card List & Address List
Decorating Ideas


D├ęcor Inventory
Christmas Movies
Christmas Reading
Carols
Christmas Traditions
General Info - eg. local Christmas Craft Fairs & Markets
Holiday Grand Plan & Houseworks Plan - see Organized Christmas
To Do Lists & Planners
Swaps
I keep some pockets at the back for receipts for gifts

I have another folder for Christmas Recipes & Crafts.

I do keep lists on my PC and update those regularly and then print them off to go into the folder every so often. I also keep a copy of my gift list in my notebook I carry round with me. (You can see why my friends call me Monica!!).

Organising is a big part of my life, I write lists about lists and am not happy unless i'm planning for something!

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Rudolph Days

For anyone who has not heard of them these fall on the 25th of each month through the year. It's a day to try and do some planning for the coming Christmas. Things like making gift lists, checking addresses for Christmas Cards, making any Christmas crafts or cards that you have planned. Even watching a Christmas movie or listening to Christmas music for a bit of inspiration.

July 25th is extra fun with a 'Christmas in July'. This is quite a big deal across the pond and is very slowly taking off here too, with even QVC having CIJ sales of decor! It's the half way point of the year and the where some people concentrate more on their Christmas plans.

The lovely Christmas forum I'm a member of - Organised Christmas Elves - hosts as CIJ swap which gives us fanatics a extra Christmas boost! It involves swapping a box of Christmas related gifts with another forum member and opening on the 25th. Just like a mini Christmas!


So the upcoming 'Rudy Day' will involve updating my Christmas Notebook (something i'll post more on later), drinking hot chocolate in my Christmas Mickey Mouse mug and hopefully making a few cards!


Saturday, 8 August 2009

Intro


This is my first post and just a bit about why I decided to do this blog. For as long as I can remember I have loved Christmas. I know when you are a kid it goes without saying you love Christmas, but my love of it has carried on through my adult life. It is now bordering on an obsession! I plan for Christmas most of the year and have lists and notes galore. I carry a notebook in my bag permanently to jot down gift ideas, recipe ingredients, shopping lists and all things Christmas.

So I thought i'd share and maybe I might just be able to inspire someone out there towards a more fun filled and less stressful Christmas!

Over the next few days i'll post a little more on what i've already planned for this year.