Sunday, 25 December 2011

Happy Christmas Eve! No more days to go!

First this morning...8.30am - Haircut! Seems very early but actually not regretting it as I was out, feeling pampered and smarter by kickstarted my day!

Well it's is delivery day where we jump in the car with our Home Baked Goodies and do the rounds of friends and relatives that we haven't already seen and won't be seeing tomorrow.

It is a day of love, hugs, good wishes and happiness....the sort of day that leaves you with a warm fuzzy feeling.

Today our biggest pleasure will be visiting her New Home.  She moved a few weeks ago but has been having work carried out, so what with upheavel for her and dodging between work, sickness and the rounds of Nativities etc here, we haven't had chance to see her until now.

Thanks to a lovely husband, helpful children, Flylady and, of course, yours truly, our home is clean enough to accept company.  The majority of Christmas cards were sent during the second week of December.  I take responsibility for decorating the tree and hanging paperchains and cards (with the help of our girls).  Do you like our tree?

...and after Baking Day (or two!), even the kitchen looks calm and presentable - look...

I also sort the majority of presents for family and the girls. Lovely Husband does a couple of presents for our sons and writes the cheques for all five children, he also covers most of the little presents they give to each other.

So I had made or purchased gifts and wrapped them and adorned the base of our tree.  Sewing, crocheting, baking and wrapping with love for months ahead.

Our Toddler decorated a Home Made Gingerbread for Santa, made him some Santa Wine (blackcurrant squash) and raided the fridge for carrots for the sweet...look....

BUT after hitting the shops this morning, loosing a bag of presents (which he telephoned all the shops he had visited to see if they had it...) my Lovely Husband returned to the shops to retrieve his lost bag of presents and after dinner asked if I would help him wrap them all! (whilst our daughter was upstairs wrapping mine from him!)

You just gotta laugh!  So not as calm and organised on Christmas Eve as I would have liked because in addition to that there were my eldest daughters presents that I had struggled to buy, hide and wrap as she had been sick from school for 3 weeks before Christmas!!!

So just before Midnight I hope I have finished the last thing and bundle into bed...satisfied and excited about Santa's imminent visit..(and quietly praying that I haven't overlooked something of vital importance!)  Nite nite.

Friday, 23 December 2011

1 day to go!

There are a heap load of things to get done today!  Well at least I'm up!

Dishwasher on, laundry on and Kitchen cleaned down ready to make a mess baking again!  Baking Day has morphed into two days!

But to the butchers to get the Turkey....Done!

Now Chocolate Traybakes.... I find that my 4 egg mixture comfortably fills 3 lakeland Traybake-Moulds or one Lakeland-Non-Stick-Traybake 'tin'

I make this recipe for a small friend of mine (who follows a Gluten-free diet) by substituting ordinary self-raising flour with doves farm gluten-and-wheat-free self-raising flour. Here we go...

275g of self-raising flour
225g of butter or margarine
4 tbs of milk (or soya milk)
1 tsp of baking powder
225g of caster sugar
2 tbs of cocoa powder (or leave this out and add 3 drops of vanilla essence)
4 eggs

Pre-heat the oven to 180, 350 or Gas 4 and grease and line your tins or moulds.

Cream together the butter or margarine and sugar until pale and well combined.

Add the rest of the ingredients and combine well (easy if you have an electric hand whisk or food processor, but if you don't, just add around a quarter ot the dry ingredients and 1 egg and combine before adding in the same proportions until it's all in!)

Pop into your tin or moulds and pop into your oven, the small ones take about 35 mins and the large one about 45 mins.

Once cooked, remove and allow the sponge to cool in the tin for a while...if you try to move it too soon it can crack and break.  The ones in the moulds leave in the moulds. 

To make my sponges look a little more festive I sifter icing (confectioners) sugar over the top through a stencil I made by punching Christmas motifs out of a piece of paper with shaped hole punches.  I packaged mine in a doily and cellophane wrap.

Here's a picture (although it's a bit obscured by some large gingerbread stars bearing the recipients names and threaded with ribbon!) 

Only two days to go!

Two days to go!  This post is from a happy (beacause I've finished work) but slightly stressed (because work is a FULL time thing with no breaks to do anything else) headless chicken who made a decision many weeks, if not months ago, to do a non-commercial Christmas!  Bravo, I hear you cry!  Hhhhmmm!  Not so sure now!

I got some great traybake cases and cellophane bags from lakeland and lovely cellophane wrap and raffia ribbon from phoenix-trading, with the plan of 22 December becoming my Baking Day!

Ho-hum...OK...go for it!  Gingerbreads first...keep it shapes with holes in for ribbon (just in case people don't like the taste they could hang them on the tree to enjoy!)

My recipe.....well here it is if you'd like to give it a try....

350g of plain flour
2 tsp of ground ginger
1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
100g of butter or margarine
100g of dark brown sugar
75g of caster sugar
1 egg
4 tbsp of honey (or anything runny really like golden or maple syrup)

Pre-heat oven to 190, 375 or Gas 5 and lightly grease your baking trays or line with baking parchment.

Sift the flour into a bowl with the ginger and soda, rub in the butter until it looks like breadcrumbs.

Add the sugars, egg and honey and mix together with a fork.  Once it starts to combine, get your hand in there a bring it together until it forms a ball of dough.

Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth and well combined.

Roll to a thickness of 5mm and using cutters, cut your shapes.  Place on your sheets and bake in the oven for 12mins.

Remove (and if desired make a whole for hanging with the end of a drinking straw), place on racks and allow to cool.

I packaged mine up and they looked like this....

I'm quietly please ...BUT...traybakes will have to wait until tomorrow! EEEkkk! 

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Six days to go!

Oh! Horror of horrors!  I awoke this morning and answered the cries of "What's the date?"  realising that tomorrow I am due to hand in a Scrapbook presentation to a funding body about a kids club that I run!

You know when you're collecting the comments, photos and drawings and putting together the ideas in your mind but don't start?  That's me!

So at 10am I started trimming photos, writing little pieces to explain the photos and my Twelveteen daughter produced A4 page titles for me.

We sat and placed, re-placed and decided on the layout.  I stuck down the basic positions and left her to decorate each page....and has she done me proud!

Take a look at this.....

Each title page looks like this.... and each page is decorated on a theme like this.....

about our fruit, vegetable and flower garden.  Or like this........

a lovely little hand-drawn trainer print representing fitness.

 My lovely husband kept the Tiny One amused most of the day and cooked dinner even though he's a little under the weather.  He had to pop out briefly during which time the Tiny One siezed her opportunity to 'steal' a foil covered chocolate from the tree and eat it!

When I asked her if she was ok?  Her sticky hand, still clutching a small piece of her treasure, dashed under the other armpit and she just grinned at me...she couldn't speak because she had her mouth full!

Everyone has headed up to bed and I'm left here in the peace and quiet to contemplate my day and share it with you.  And only six days to go!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Seven Days to Go!

My children keep asking how many days to go....and what is the date so that they can go and raid the advent calendars!

Yes, seven days to go and today our family will be having Early Christmas with those we won't get to see on Christmas Day as they will have travelled to far flung places to be with my cousins or their partners in-laws.

SO this morning I made a list of To-Do's :: presents for Aunt & Uncle, food, Christmas cards, drinkies(!), toys...oh yes!  Presents for cousin, his wife and two children!!!  No, no presents for them....aaarrgghhh!

OK, calm....look at craft stash, think....light bulb moment!  Cousins wife a knitted phone cozy in Navy Blue & Pale Pink (containing tissues for the moment to pack it out!), and little embroidered heart decorations for the two children.  Cousin wouldn't appreciate anything from my Crafty he gets Lotto Tickets!

Beavered and organised and wrapped and wrote and finally my things to take were assembled and gifts made with an hour to spare!  Want to see do?  OK here is my Ta-Dah moment....

....a mobile phone cozy and..

.... felt decorations for the children.

 I'm a little embarassed to tell you - I was mighty proud of myself.  I admired them with a huge grin...the sort of knowing grin that is satisfied but knows how much work went into them!

So satisfied with my accomplishment off I went to my Family Christmas with seven days to go!