Christmas Countdown

Friday, 29 October 2010

Mince Pies

We made some mince pies for the freezer this week with it being half term - India did most of the work and did a pretty good job!

The pastry is made as per the recipe here.

Of course we had to eat some of them but the rest are in the freezer ready for Christmas. We have plenty of mincemeat left too for mince pie buns near the time!

Sunday, 17 October 2010


I haven't posted in a while just with life catching up with me. Though I haven't been neglecting my Christmas planning. I've been picking up Christmas catalogues from all over the place for some ideas for those left on my gift list. In two weeks I have a full day of Christmas shopping planned so I should be able to clear a lot of gifts. We were lucky enough to get £50 vouchers due to a cashback offer to spend in Sainsbury's which will help out a great deal too.

At the moment we are still unsure how many people we will have for Christmas dinner as my brother and his girlfriend now live together and are undecided on where to go for Christmas. I think they will go to her Mums, which of course is fine! I just like to be organised way too far in advance and they just haven't had time to really think about it in October! I must admit though I still haven't decided on dessert or a starter this year, though the squash soup I made last year went down so well I may do that again.

I'm more behind on my cards than i'd like but this is down to a bad back i'm having problems with and I just can't sit and do them right now. Luckily I do have plenty of bought cards just in case.

Mistletoe is waiting in the wardrobe to be checked over and to make sure he isn't missing any bells or eyes! India has been mentioning him a lot recently, she is quite excited that he might be visiting us again. Hopefully next time I post I may have a little more to say!

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Belated Rudolph Day Update!

A little late on this one this month! Though I haven't let the day go by without doing a little something towards Christmas.

I have made my Mincemeat as per the recipe here. I now have 2 1ltr jars in the cupboard ready for mince pies and mince buns, can't wait to make some as the house smelt lovely as I was making it.

On Monday evening I made our Christmas cake - recipe here. Again the house smelt so good it was tough not to eat it there and then. It's wrapped up in a cake tin now and over the next couple of months i'll add the odd spoonful of Brandy to it for a little extra flavour.

Sunday evening was spent making Christmas Cards, I was on a bit of a roll and had to force myself to pack everything away in the end as it was late and way past bedtime! Here are a few of them

I still have a fair few to do and though i'm a bit behind from last year I think I should be ok. Once pay day comes up this week i'll hopefully be ticking a few more gifts of my list too.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010


I've spent this week clearing out our loft. It's been on my to do list for the past three years! With India in full time school now and me having a week off it seemed the perfect time. Now I don't like lofts, not been in any yet and not planning to, so instead my husband and stepsons dragged every box and bag down into their bedroom. The theory being that if it goes in there I don't have any choice but to sort it all or else they won't have an accessible bed the following weekend!

So once I had the house to myself on Monday I dived straight in. Mostly the boxes are filled with my books, I have way too many and unfortunately don't have the space to have them out in the house. I was strict with myself and ended up with around four boxes worth of books to go to our local charity shop at the weekend. Plus a few bags of rubbish, a few bits which have already gone via Freecycle. I also have a few items which we will put on ebay.

As I went along I made sure I took note of what is in each box so it will be easy to find once they go back into the loft. The boxes still look scruffy on the outside but inside they are tidy and that's what counts!

They are lined up now waiting to go neatly back into the loft at the weekend.

The only boxes in the loft that didn't need sorting out where my Christmas ones - those 9 stayed where they were - at least for next 2 and a half months!

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Christmas Cards

I have got around to making a few cards at last. I am seriously lacking in motivation and inspiration at the moment though. Mostly I made a huge mess getting all my craft stuff out all over the floor and sitting in the middle of it looking blankly!

So any suggestions, should I buy a magazine, I don't usually but may have to resort to one or two? Is there a good website anyone can recommend which has some ideas?

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Rudolph Day

The countdown begins, only 3 left after this one, which is a slightly scary thought! I have most of my cards still to make though, i've only made a couple and haven't taken any photos yet. I do take a picture of each card I make - mostly because some of them i'm quite proud of and others I can learn from my mistakes! I have stocked up on quite a few embellishments and have lots stuff from last year too. So my goal between now and September Rudolph Day is to make at least a dozen cards.

I have again gone through my gift list and decided to make up some Cookie in a Jar gifts for some of the people on there. I'll be using this recipe from Little Munchkins blog. I need some more ink for the printer though as my writing isn't good so i'll be printing the recipe tags for them.

Over the past few weeks I have also picked up a few books for India, some Dora and Diego ones at 39p each from Home Bargains. Hopefully by Christmas she will be having a good go at reading them herself. I have one or two ideas for my stepsons - itunes vouchers - one collects Monopoly's so i'll be getting him a Coronation Street one that i've found (he likes the soaps too!), some books, they have both started reading a bit more over this past year, which is a great help for presents. They are so tough to buy for even knowing their tastes but luckily they seem happy with whatever we do get them.

I really need to start planning for Mistletoe too. I already have plans for some Christmas Lego to add to what she has -i'm thinking Mistletoe will be playing with it one morning. A quick search on ebay and I can see quite a few different pieces. I think Mistletoe will have a post all of his own very soon.

However you celebrate Rudolph day have a good one!

Friday, 20 August 2010

Friday 5 - Meals to Cook

Taking part in another Friday 5 this week, one that is quite close to my heart as it's about food! I have to say though that my favourite's change all the time but i'll go with these as they get made throughout the year.

1. Risotto, this is my favourite dish, I could eat mounds of the stuff! I do a basic recipe - onions, garlic, mushrooms, rice, a handful of frozen peas and lots of good home made chicken stock. Then I add whatever I have to hand - turkey, chicken, a little bacon, leeks, butternut squash. I don't think there is a Risotto i've not liked! I sometimes like to add a little grated cheese and chilli flakes on top!

2. Shepherds Pie, a good comfort food (though technically mine is Cottage pie as it's with beef!) I use beef stock cubes, tomatoes, mince, onion, Worcester sauce, I add peas and carrots and then add mashed potato to the top with sliced tomatoes and cheese on top of that before it goes in the oven - yum!

3. Turkey & Noodles, this one is just a really simple meal, mostly it's a favourite because it's quick and easy! I cook carrots, green beans, baby sweetcorn, frozen peas, pack choi and turkey in chicken stock, soy sauce and Chinese five spice and add medium noodles a few minutes before serving.

4. Sunday Roast, what can I say, can't beat it, roast beef or chicken with stuffing, Yorkshire puddings, mash, roast potatoes, veg and gravey.

5. Soup - any kind, I love to make soup. Our favourite is the squash soup which we had with our Christmas meal last year. Though right now I have some broccoli soup in the freezer and before that white bean.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Friday Five - Christmas Wish List

Thanks to Dawn over at This is Me i'm taking part in the Friday Five this week!Though it's a tough one - only 5 things!! The first two are a little indulgent but then I guess it wouldn't be a wish list otherwise!

1) I think the top of my wish list would be the Kitchenaid Artisan Food mixer. I have wanted one of these for years. Despite not having a huge kitchen, this would be one item that I would be happy to have out on my worktop permanently. Not sure it would be so good for my waistline though as i'd be whipping up a cake every other day!

2) A new laptop - one with plenty of memory and a couple of USB memory sticks for back up. Purely for all the photos I take. I have had to back up (twice) most of my photos and take them off our pc as they take up too much space. I'd love to have them all in one place to browse whenever I like - photos are a bit of a passion, I have thousands!

3) Birds Britannica by Mark Cocker, birds are my secret (not so much now!) passion. I'm a bit of a birder and this book has been on my wish list for a while. It's a bit more than the usual guide and I can't wait to read it.

4) Binoculars - for reasons as mentioned in no. 3! My binoculars are big, bulky and you have to squint to see properly through them!

5) This one is purely for entertainment - CSI box set DVD's any series any season, love them all!

Monday, 9 August 2010

Baking Day

We spent a day trying out some new recipes last week with some good and some not so good results! First up we made an old favourite - flapjack - knowing this always turns out good and we all love it.

India got quite excited!

India received a lovely recipe book from Pip over on OCE and we tried out a couple of recipes from there. We made sweet treat biscuits using cherries in the middle though you can use nuts also. These looked great and were easy for India to do too. They tasted very sweet but very nice too. Big thumbs up for them and they are going on my list for Christmas.

I made up some Honeycomb, now this melted lovely, we added the bicarb and it frothed really well - we were impressed. Tipped it into the really well greased tin (India did it, she used loads!) and it stuck in there! I ended up just bashing it into pieces to get it out of the tin so it was just a mess of broken bits and crumbs in the end. However it tasted just like cinder toffee, which is one of hubby's favourites and he ate the lot! I'm not sure on this, it definitely tasted good but how do I get it to come out of the tray better?

Peppermint Creams - now these I have also made before but not for a few years. I added some red food colouring once the dough was nearly done so the colouring was streaky rather that a solid colour - thought it may look a little more festive? This was something India could easily help with - which is why most of the creams are different shapes and sizes!!

Last of all we tried an Easy Fruit Cake from the Bero recipe book, which as most people in the UK will be aware is a bit of an institution here. It involved simmering the fruit first on the hob, which i've never done before.

It wasn't as nice as my normal fruit cake recipe and was really crumbly but it was certainly easy to do and didn't taste too bad. I don't think I will make it again.

Sweet Treats

200g Ground Almonds
100g Icing Sugar
100g Golden Caster Sugar
Grated Lemon Rind
1 Egg

1. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven to 160C
2. Mix all the dry ingredients
3. Add the egg and mix to form into a ball
4. Divide into about 12 small balls
5. Push a hole in the middle and place a glace cherry, a nut of choice or jam
6. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Christmas in the Kitchen

After receiving this cute ornament in my Christmas swap last week I have decided to think about what sort of theme I can have in my kitchen this year.

I don't have a huge amount of space for decorations but always have some. I normally use silver baubles in vases, a silver star with baubles on ribbon for the door, then some wooden ornaments that hang from the handles on the cupboards.

What I'm really wanting is items that are kitchen based for decor rather than leftover baubles and beads, which is what I use right now (if you know what I mean!).

So I have already picked up a Christmas salt and pepper pot that I think I will just use as decor rather than for actual salt and pepper.

Then i'm thinking maybe using some cookie cutters to hang from the handles - I already have some large ones but I'm sure I remember seeing all sorts of different shapes and sizes in the pound shops or bargain shops we have around here. Of course i'll have to wait for the stock to come out - which is usually after the kids are back at school in September. I should mention I can't afford to be buying lots of new ornaments so I am looking for the cheap or home made options!!

Over the pantry doorway we have a curtain that is mostly just for show (we never close it) and i'm wondering if I can get some material from ebay to make a Christmas curtain. I'm not the best sewer but I could do a curtain if I can find some nice (and cheap) material.

My next step is to browse the net for some ideas, see what I can come up with - of course if you have any suggestions they would be welcome too!

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Christmas in July

Happy Rudolph Day (Christmas in July!).

We are having a great day so far. We just finished watching Christmas in Wonderland on the Movies 24 channel, we had cinnamon and sultana muffins followed by popcorn. Not the healthiest breakfast but a fun one. The film was a bit silly but still had a magical ending, which brought a tear to my eye (especially with Patrick Swayze in it), but i'm a softy!

I may be able to watch another later if I can finish my gardening (not very Christmassy but needs doing). Later on this evening I will be making some cards, all my stuff is piled up in the dining room ready. I'm looking forward to that.

I also took part in a Christmas in July swap over on Organised Christmas Elves. I had a lovely parcel to open this morning (thank you DelveD) and had some very cute Christmas things. I think my favourites are the Christmas Album, all set up scrapbook style ready for photos and a Gooseberry patch recipe book. I love Gooseberry Patch and have a few of their Christmas Cookbooks.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Sneaking up fast!

Well I can't quite believe it's almost the end of July. I don't know where this year has gone? Luckily despite it flying by I haven't done bad with keeping up with the Christmas planning though.

Thanks to a poker win my Husband had I have bought a few Christmas presents over the past month and have pretty much got India covered now apart from a Kidzoom camera that she has been asking for. I've got some pots to make pots of gold again for people who didn't get them last year as they went down so well. Again we are going with the vouchers for the boys for the local shopping centre, they have done well with the ones we got them last year and have saved them for books or games that have come out during the year and didn't just waste them on stuff straight away.

I have started stocking up on fruit to make my mincemeat, which i'll be doing towards the end of next month. I will have a look through my Christmas dessert recipes and pick out what i'll be trying this year and write a shopping list for that too so I can pick up something each time I shop.

So we have on Sunday, Rudolph Day, which for many is known as Christmas in July, even QVC and one of the movie channels has picked up on this now in the UK and we have a month of (mostly made for TV) Christmas movies. I already have plans with India to watch Christmas in Wonderland when we get up and hopefully be sat down in time to watch another in the evening!

I'll be posting again on Sunday and hopefully a bit more frequently after that as we move into the second half of the year.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

May Rudolph Day

Well this poor blog is being neglected, luckily my Christmas planning isn't! My gift list is up to date and I have a lot of ideas for the people on it. I've even bought a few more stocking stuffers for my little one.

The boys are going to be the hardest to buy for as usual and I think we may just be going with vouchers for our local shopping centre again as they went down very well last year. They can be used in all the shops in there and they have spent them well. Even getting stocking stuffers for them is hard now, at 14, 16 and 20 with no hobbies as such i'm thinking very hard!

My Christmas notebook is all up to date and I would highly recommend this site Christmas Planner to help out with printables and ideas for making your own - I wouldn't be without mine! It even has a section where you can browse other peoples notebooks for inspiration.

I've even had the time to make a couple of Christmas cards too though i've cut my list down this year after checking who was sending them back and who wasn't!

Food wise I am already thinking that I may do something different this year instead of rolling out the turkey but i'm not sure how well it will go down with the rest of the family if I don't stick to the traditions! I'll be digging out my recipe books to look for starters and desserts to try out over the next few months.

I hope you all enjoy your Rudolph day (only 6 to go before the real one!).

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Easter Fun

In case you hadn't noticed the abundance of chocolate eggs and Easter bunnies around the shops by now I just thought i'd let you know Easter is just days away!

I found these pretty little eggs in our local Poundland. I'm going to use them in an egg hunt for India on Sunday morning.

She always gets loads of chocolate from familyt and friends so I try to get her something she can keep. This year I found a lovely little bucket which i've filled with little eggs and small toys. She loves things she can carry - bags, baskets and hopefully buckets!

In the meantime we have these books to keep us occupied over the next couple of days!

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Rudolph Day

Well i've been a little lax in my postings the past couple of months and am vowing to do better! My Christmas thinking has been non existent.

I save stamps with Morrisons every year for my Christmas food shopping and have only got £2 right now - I cannot get into the routine of asking for them at the till and staff appear to have stopped checking if you need them. I'm determined to get back into this habit as these stamps come in very handy and have in the past paid for our food over the Christmas holiday.

My folder has been buried away in the wardrobe and I've dug it out and placed it in the way in the living room so I can't avoid it. I've updated my Christmas card list and address list, they are printed off and read to put in. I also printed a new gift list for 2010 and have put on the bits and pieces I got in the sales, which doesn't amount to much.

So today I am going to be making some Mince Pie Buns to use up my leftover mincemeat and i'll be drinking my Christmas tea to get me into the spirit of things. I really need to start picking up some more gifts and try and fill out the list a bit more.

Thought i'd add this picture from Christmas last year for inspiration!

Next thing I need to do is check on my supplies for my card making, I don't think i'll have as many to make this year after redoing my list and I did pick up some embellishments in the sales, I think an ebay shop may be in order!

Lots to think about and hopefully by the next Rudy Day i'll be adding to my gift list!

Hope you all have a good Rudolph Day.

Monday, 25 January 2010

First Rudolph Day of 2010

Happy Rudolph Day to all.

I have to say I am not organised at all for Rudolph Day. I was planning on printing of various lists to update my folder including a final gift list for last year and an updated Christmas card list. Unfortunately life has taken over and i've not managed to even get the folder out of it's hiding place in the wardrobe!

We did however have a lovely family party yesterday to celebrate India's fourth birthday, which is tomorrow. So planning and preparing for that took up a lot of my time this weekend. So I think I will have a belated Rudolph Day this week and hopefully I can sit down and sort through some paperwork on Wednesday.

In the sales just after Christmas I managed to pick up a few small bits and pieces for Christmas 2010 so I need to make sure I make a note of them so I don't forget what I have. I kept out my Christmas Mickey Mouse mug just for Rudy Day and have some lovely hot chocolate to try too.

I'll try and update again later in the week.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Snowed In

Well the snow never ends here, I can't remember the last time we had this much snow! Here are a few photos out and about this morning.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Back to Reality

Well today is back to 'normal' for us - work and school. Over the holidays I have not been on the internet often hence not posting on here but I hope everyone had a wonderful time and would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year.

Our Christmas went quite smoothly and all the planning and preperation helped a great deal. We also officially had a white Christmas here too, which is a first in a long while. Once i've got back into the swing of things i'll post some more on how our Christmas went.