Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Festive Sparkle


Cards have begun landing on the door mat regularly so, along with a planned visit to the Christmas market at the weekend, what better time to get our festive sparkle on.
The weather has been so damp recently that, during the week, I had already brought the tree in from the garden to the back porch, so it could have plenty of time to dry out but by Friday evening, following a very busy week, we were so exhausted we decided to leave any decorating until the following morning. We wanted to take the time to enjoy the occasion, taking out the now familiar baubles from their boxes and hanging them on the tree, then adding to them the newly discovered decorations bought for Lily each Christmas. This year she chose a cute little polar bear.
I say 'we' but, to be honest, I hardly got a look in. And, as for savouring the moment, Lily was so excited that as soon as the lights were on the decorations were hung in no time at all, although I may have needed to adjust her work ever so slightly, to even things out a bit. 😉

Our festive excitement continues to increase and as well as delivering the first of our presents, on Sunday we had great fun visiting the Christmas market in Manchester. There is always such a buzz in the air at these events, everyone enjoying themselves, the enticing aromas coming from the stalls and the wonderful array of Christmas goodies but, oh my, it was busy! Although it would have been lovely to stop and eat some of the delicious treats on offer, we thought it best to take some time  out from the hustle and bustle and ate instead at a nearby restaurant. This proved fortunate for Lily, as our lovely waitress was kind enough to give her a fairy light necklace, which, as it turns out, is just the greatest thing ever when you are five years old.

This coming weekend is the Nativity and, once again, Lily is to be an angel, which is fortunate for me as she still has her costume from last year. All week long she has been practising her one (but VERY important) line, which is 'Hark! This is the first Nowell and we're hailing the Heaven-born Prince of Peace. So come. Let us adore him.' which is better than at the beginning of the week when she thought it read 'So come. Let us order him.' 😊

I've written all my cards now, although I suspect there will be one or two I have forgotten - isn't it always the way? I still haven't made my door wreath but I hope I will get the opportunity this weekend. How are all your preparations coming along? X 

Saturday, 8 December 2018


Here  we are in December, and all I can think is how fast the year has gone. It feels like no time at all since I was getting ready for Christmas last year. It has been a busy week here and I'm relieved we've reached the weekend, so I have the chance to catch my breath. I use this time to get on top of chores and prepare for the week ahead but at this time of year, it is even more important than usual to find a balance, make time for fun and put a bit of magic into the season.

The advent stockings were hung in good time and Lily can't wait to reach inside for her chocolate snowman each morning. She was more than a bit disappointed, however, that she didn't wake up to snow on the 1st of the month and has been looking out for some every day since. So far, December has only brought us wet, windy and gloomy days. The weather has been far from festive and hasn't really lent itself to cheer and joyfulness, so we've been creating our own. We've been baking, doing festive jigsaws, reading Christmas stories and enjoying bit of crafting. Lily has had fun with our new Christmas stamps and I treated myself to some cute reindeer lights which, at the moment are the only decorations we have on display, besides my new Nisse. This is the crafting I mentioned.

Having watched a few tutorials online I decided to have a try at creating one myself. It had been ages since I'd done anything like this but I found it quite straightforward and fairly quick to make up once I'd got the hang of it.  ðŸ˜Š
You need coloured felt, some white embroidery thread, beads and a small amount of wadding and rice  to stuff them with. There are many tutorials to work from and can be adapted to suit your own style.

I enjoyed making it so much, I made two more in  different sizes. They look very sweet on the fireplace and, of course, are perfectly safe for when small hands decide to play with them.

J. X

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Getting Prepared

It finally happened at the weekend, I began to think seriously about Christmas. Not so many years ago it would have all been organised by now. Lists would have been made weeks ago, most gifts would have been bought and wrapped and cards written, ready to be posted. I'm glad to say I have a far more relaxed approach these days and enjoy the season all the more for it. And yet, although I favour the more laid back view, there is still quite a bit of organising to be done, with the build up usually far busier than the day itself.

Whilst thinking about food and drink, my thoughts turned to making a Christmas cake. Not unusual, you might think, but I've never really been a fan of fruit cake (don't even get me started on marzipan) and for that reason it's been years since I made one. Maybe my tastes are beginning to change, but I think it was mainly to do with the whole process of making it. It has kind of got the festive season under way for me and lets not forget the wonderful enticing aroma which wafts around the house while it's baking. I'm really pleased with how it's turned out and I can't wait to decorate it now  but, of course, the proof will be in the eating.

It was a pottering kind of a weekend, catching up with chores, a quick trip into town and making Christmas plans but these fell by the wayside slightly and we just had to get out for a walk. We decided on the nearby deer park and our early arrival meant it was lovely and quiet, save for a handful of dog walkers and, of course, the deer. The trees are mostly bare now and the branches made for some impressive silhouettes against the Wintry looking sky.

Back on track, I set to and made the Christmas chutney. It's simple to make and tastes so delicious with it's festive flavours. I'm really looking forward to enjoying it with my cheese and biscuits.

So, I've done it. I've made a start. This week I really need to turn my thoughts towards gift buying and I mustn't forget to set up the advent stockings - I often get caught out with this and find myself faffing around at the last minute. 

Christmas Chutney 🎄🎄🎄

Olive oil.
150g shallots, finely chopped.
2 pears, peeled and chopped .
1 large red Gala apple, peeled and chopped.
2cm fresh ginger, finely chopped.
175ml apple cider.
35ml white wine vinegar.
2 tablespoons lemon juice.
125g brown sugar.
1 star anise.
1 cinnamon stick.
1 teaspoon mixed spice.

Gently sauté the shallots in the oil. Add the pears, apple and ginger and stir through, cooking for another couple of minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to the boil and then allow to simmer for approximately 50 minutes. Pour into sterilised jars.

J. X