Category Archives: Christmas

Our Christmas, in photos

Christmas 2016

I know it’s all done and dusted now, but I can’t resist sharing some of my photos from the last few weeks. We forgot to take lots of photos on Christmas Day – mainly because we were too busy having fun! Which is how it should be, don’t you think?

Here are my favourites – from playing Kerplunk to brisk walks at Wicken Fen…

Christmas 2015

Sloe Gin

Christmas Tree

Bauble

Sleepy angel

Wicken Fen

Wicken Fen

Christmas Cake

Christmas cake

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas too. Now, back to January!

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Merry Christmas!

Christmas Tree

The tree is up, the lights are twinkling and the house is wearing all its festive finery. There’s plenty of sherry, a good supply of mince pies and just a few last-minute jobs left to do.

I’m taking a break from blogging and social media over the holidays, but will be back in early January. Thank you all for your support during 2015 and I’d like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas! 

Gingerbread: the perfect last-minute Christmas present

Christmas Gingerbread

I’ve just finished putting together a big batch of gingerbread for the children to give to their teachers this Christmas. If you’re looking for an inexpensive, simple homemade gift then it doesn’t get much better than this!

Christmas gingerbread

Bake your gingerbread (I used my usual recipe) and then ice with royal icing and an assortment of festive sprinkles. This year we made snowflakes and wreaths, decorated with holly sprinkles and glimmering dust from Waitrose.

Christmas gingerbread

DSCF5487

Once the icing is dry (leave overnight), you can wrap these up prettily with cellophane, ribbons and labels. I bought a large sheet of cellophane from Wilkinson’s and cut it to size, but you could buy bags.

Christmas Gingerbread

Christmas Gingerbread

Three simple ideas for homemade Christmas cards

Three ideas for simple homemade christmas cards

I spend a lot of time coming up with craft projects for children, but these ones are for the grown-ups. Take a few moments out from the madness and do a little simple crafting. I promise you they’re really easy, and very satisfying.

All of the designs use a simple pack of plain brown cards and envelopes. I bought mine from Wilkinson’s, but you could buy something similar from any craft shop.

Snowy Christmas Tree

Snowy fir tree Christmas card

Draw a tree-shaped triangle on your card in pencil to use as a guide. Use two slightly different shades of dark green (I used tubes of watercolour paints which create bright, vivid colours, but you could use children’s ready-mixed paint) and gradually build up your trees using lots of feathery brushstrokes, moving across the tree in rows. Alternate your two greens to create a bit of texture.  Add a trunk, then allow to dry before applying your white paint. Dab the white paint on to the tree with feathery motions – keep your brush quite dry and it will look more snowy. These are so quick and easy to make, I had a whole forest in no time!

Snowy Christmas tree card

Paper bauble card

Paper bauble Christmas card

Anyone remember making one of these at primary school? It really couldn’t be simpler. Draw around something round (I used an espresso cup)  on some pretty paper, adding on a little square bauble-like bit on top. Cut out carefully and glue to your card. Using a thick needle, make two small holes right though the card at the top of the bauble. Thread through a little sparkly thread and tie in a bow. Another great variation on this theme is to ask a small person to make some glittery, paint-splattered paper for you to carefully cut out into a bauble or stocking shape.

Sparkly fabric star

sparkly fabric star christmas card idea

This one is another one which reminds me of primary school days. Cut out a simple fabric star and secure it to your card using a little glue (this is really just to hold it in place while you sew it onto the card). Using gold thread and a thick needle, sew round the outline of your star with a simple running stitch. Tie a knot at the beginning and end to secure your stitches. You’ll have to push quite hard to get it through the cardboard, but it’s a really satisfying thing to do. Glue on a few extra sequins. You can cover up your stitches on the reverse side (inside the card) with some extra cardboard or brown paper, but I think it looks rather nice as it is.

Three ideas for homemade Christmas cards

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Stir-up Sunday

Stir-up Sunday

This Sunday is Stir-up Sunday!

This day, which is always the last Sunday before Advent, is the traditional time to make your Christmas pudding and cake. Everyone in the house stirs the mixture and makes a wish.

Stir-up Sunday

In common with most children, my boys are not particularly keen on Christmas cake or pudding. They do, however, still enjoy joining in with the rituals of making the cake: putting the fruit on to soak, stirring the mixture and – of course – icing it when the time comes.

Every November I consult my recipe books and try to decide which cake to make this year. I’m a big fan of Mary Berry, Delia Smith and Nigella Lawson, and tend to rotate the recipes each year. Make your cake now and it will have plenty of time to mature in time for Christmas.

I have decided to make a small cake this year, so I’m going to follow Nigella’s traditional classic recipe, which gives you three different size options. I can’t find this recipe online, but it features in her Christmas book. Mary Berry’s recipe for a Victorian Christmas cake is also excellent. And you can’t go wrong with Delia’s Classic cake either.

I made the Mary Berry one last year and it was a winner!

Christmas cake

This year, I’m considering making my own Christmas pudding too. Sixpences, or other small tokens, were often traditionally added to puddings. Our family has never done this, but this year the Royal Mint are giving away 2,015 free sixpences to encourage people to revive the old tradition. I’ve signed up for one and I’m crossing my fingers that I get it in time. If I do, then it’ll be just the excuse I need to made a traditional pudding this Sunday. I’ll almost certainly turn to this recipe from Delia.

What will you be stirring up this Sunday?

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