Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Christmas present / Christmas past

A while back, my dad (an only child) gave me an enormous box of old family photographs. We spent a morning looking through them while he reminisced and told me who was who.

For Christmas this year, I decided to make him a Blurb book of these snaps, documenting life from both sides of his family.

The photographs begin when my grandmother was a girl, so 1920s onwards, and end with a photo booth picture of me and my old pa. I think I must've been around 3 years old when this was taken.

Dad loved his present and I'd recommend making photo books as they're so easy and look amazingly professional.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Pre Christmas binge eating

I have spent December unashamedly feasting. I have eaten, drunk, and made merry a little too much, and the resulting half a stone I've acquired will need to be dealt with strictly in 2012.

Here's what's to blame (and could almost be sung to the tune of 'The 12 Days of Christmas'):

3 curries
2 visits to Hyde & Co for fabulous cocktails (Spitfires, my god)
A box of cheese straws
Cava and Chambord black raspberry liqueur
Cava and Violette liqueur
1 Gingerbread house, decorated with £8 worth of pic n mix
  by oysterpots
Delicious mince pies from all sources, the best being the homemade ones filled with Lahloo Earl Grey and citrus mincemeat, encased in Nigella's clementine juice shortcrust
Much mulled wine, both red (classic) and white (saffron, Ikea)
Countless nets of chocolate coins, bought for the children, eaten by the grown ups

Delia's Christmas cake
Christmas cake by oysterpots

Label Anglais chicken for Christmas Day lunch, without exception the most incredible chicken I've ever eaten
A Chateau Beaucastel bought by my father in law years ago, brought out on Christmas Day. I think we were very honoured to try it and I doubt we'll drink anything so impressive again

The only culinary disappointment so far has been Christmas morning breakfast. In previous years we've baked Nigella's Christmas muffins, last year was 101 Cookbooks cinnamon rolls (faffy but well worth it), and this year I'd planned to make toasted pannetone with Carluccio's fig jam and Jamie's hot chocolate. But it just didn't happen, and we ended up eating some very mediocre pancakes.

So, January looms and it'll be healthy eating all the way. I'd planned to give up the booze for a month, along with dairy, but as I received both an ice cream machine and a yoghurt maker for Christmas giving up dairy seems a little foolish. Fro-yo, anyone?


Sunday, 25 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

I was right - a very different scene this morning.


Christmas Eve

My very favourite day of the year - so full of promise and excitement and anticipation.

We decided to try to make it amazing for the kids, and so we were up and out early. The morning was spent ice skating, followed by hot chocolate at Carluccio's and then a very small amount of last-minute Christmas shopping (I am normally very strict about present-buying - I hate the panic of leaving it late). It was a magical morning, and could well form the basis of a new tradition. T was just too small to navigate the ice, but was eager to try which led to some frustration. This time next year he'll be that bit more capable, although he did enjoy his hot chocolate and ended up covered.

This evening was spent wrapping the last few presents, until the massive present mountain was complete. It all looks so perfect, the house is quiet, we're a little tiddly and should really go to bed now. It's a big day tomorrow, and the scene will be very different indeed.

Oh, and I could not love A's letter to Santa any more - he wrote it in his best handwriting.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Toddler-friendly Christmas Decorations

Toddlers are really not compatible with breakable Christmas decorations, and baby T is no exception. Quite the reverse, in fact - there's a reason we call him Tedzilla. So this year I'd been contemplating alternatives to a big tree in the living room, but when it came to it I could go through with a small tree on a table or a fake one.

So instead, we went with our usual 6-footer but without any of the glass decorations - just wood and wool. I couldn't bear to pack the baubles away though, and decided to create some out-of-reach decorations up high.

Above the mantlepiece hangs a real fir wreath with plenty of glass baubles tied with different coloured ribbons, and in the hallway more baubles/ribbons but this time with an added sprinkling of mistletoe.

That's not to say T won't do his usual damage, but fingers crossed it won't be anything too dangerous.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Chocolate & Bling Cake

Oh my poor neglected blog. I could tell you all sorts of excuses, like how the dog ate my recipe books, but instead I will attempt to win you round with a rather delicious chocolate cake.

I've recently started a new job and one of my colleagues is as potty about baking cakes as I am. Rare in a 44-year-old facilities manager, I think, but who am I to judge? He told me of a gold cake he'd admired in a cook book and, seeing as it was his birthday last week, I thought I'd go to town for someone who'd appreciate it. I need no excuse, really.

So here it is - a beautiful spangly cake, fit for a wise man to take to a new-born king if you want to get festive.

It is simply Nigella's Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake, liberally coated with gold cake glitter. I like the juxtaposition of the plain, rather dull icing brought to life with a sprinkling of magic dust.

Saturday, 3 December 2011


Reassuring by oysterpots
Today was my birthday. Something about this one feels quite monumental (it's not a biggie, but I've entered a new grouping when filling out forms) - this card helped.

  by oysterpots

The boys brought me an amazing breakfast in bed - croissants, fresh figs and yoghurt, and hot, hot tea - along with a stash of exciting presents.

  by oysterpots

The fox scarf is by Donna Wilson and comes from Soma Gallery in Clifton, the dark cloud brooch is from Tate, and the heart hold punch from Clare Pirie. I'm a lucky girl.

  by oysterpots

When I finally came down after my lie-in and breakfast in bed, I found a bright birthday banner, handwritten by A. I'm a lucky, lucky girl.

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