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Sunday, 29 December 2013

Snaps from Christmas

 Hello Lovelies,

Christmas Day wouldn't be complete without some smoked Salmon before lunch, this years was from a smokehouse in Lancaster, and was pretty darn good.

We always dress up on Christmas day, all snazzy like!  This year my three little bros all jumped on the check shirt bandwagon, and all looked very dapper.

As much as I love the scrummy food, the prezzies and family time at Christmas I also really enjoy decorating, the house to make it all festive. 

Our table decoration was a cake stand from good old Ikea filled with battery fairy lights and red, white and green baubles from Peter Jones, it was very festive and sparkly.  

I'm a complete candle junkie so this year we filled our dinning room with church candles, the traditional white variety and two very snazzy silver glittery ones, there is something lovely about lots of flickering candles.

Christmas lunch is as usual incredibly scrummy as my Mother is a pretty fab cook, we had turkey this year with all the trimmings.

By the end of lunch everyone was very merry and very full, so the children (can you be classed as a child at age 24) went to sort out the presents, a rather long process in our house as we go a little OTT on the old present front.

It was a present frenzy after lunch, with everyone having a stack in front of them, all the women in my family had a beautiful cream and black bag (you know what that means) yes Jo Malone! 

Hope everyone had a lovely Christmas.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Having Fun with Wrapping

Hello Lovelies,

I don't know if I'm odd, but I love wrapping presents, nearly as much as buying them!  Every year I have a colour scheme and this your I chose brown paper with red accents.  I would have loved to have used really think glossy beautiful ribbon but my budget didn't stretch that far, so replacing the thick ribbon was Christmas tape and thin lengths of ribbon.

I bought my paper and buttons on amazon and my various tapes from Paperchase, you can't beat Paperchase for cute little wrapping accessories.  I love the little stick on tartan and felt stars with little buttons in the middle as well as the various tapes, you ban make a prezzie look pretty snazzy without actually doing that much, which is always a plus if you are strapped for time, which most of us are during the run up to Christmas.     

My Mummy and Grandma both had a collection of small things this year so I popped over to Not On The High Street £7 and got these gorgeous personalised canvas gift bags with a lovely Christmas print pocket.

So all the prezzies are wrapped and under the tree, just a few last minute homemade gifts to pass out tomorrow to friends and lovely people who make me a happy a camper. 

Do you love wrapping, or is it just me?


Friday, 20 December 2013

Decadent Mince Pies

Hello Lovelies,

Tis the season to be jolly, Fa la la la la, la la la la, so on that merry note lets get down to business, and that business is Mince Pies, those yummy little things that all us Brits associate with the yumminess (gluttony) of Christmas.  They are little parcels of goodness that make the festive period just that bit more naughty, especially as you have to eat twelve to make sure you have 12 happy months the following year!

For those of you that live over the pond, mince pies do not contain meat, I was rather taken aback whilst having a natter with an American chum who had 1) never eaten a mince pie and 2) thought they were small meat pies, so to set those straight who aren't in the know, mince pies are a British fruit-based mincemeat sweet pie, that are a Christmas treat they are wonderful when eaten warm and dusted with confectioners sugar.

As my Grandma will confirm I am pretty lazy when it comes to making pastry but, my exception is mince pies, there is always time to knock up some flaky rough puff, however if you are short on time or making it is just not your thing, feel very free to whip out some ready made.


To make 2 dozen pies you'll need:

A mince pie/shallow bun tray

375g plain flour and a good pinch of salt

250g chilled butter cut into 1cm squares

200ml iced water

1 beaten egg

1 jar luxury mincemeat

Splash of brandy

Icing sugar for dusting

Pre-heat your oven to 200C/400F

The most important thing with pastry is to keep it cool, so fling open those doors and windows and chill that kitchen!  Once your kitchen is suitably cool run your hand under the cold tap and make a mixing bowl sized space in your freezer.  Once that is all done sift your flour into your bowl and add your salt.

Next add your butter to the flour.

You then want to add around 12 tablespoons of iced water over the flour while you stir it using a knife, you want to stir it until it all clumps together.

Then get your hands in there, (I like to dip my hands in the ice water to make sure they are cold but remember to dry them) when everything is in a big lump pop it on your floured surface and roll into a long rectangle, if you don't have a a rolling pin in your kitchen you can always use a wine bottle .  The next step is to fold it.

You want to think of it in thirds, fold the first in then the second so they overlap, then pretend you are Jackie Chan and chop your pastry length ways.  Turn it 90 degrees and start again, you want to repeat this 3 times before popping it back in the bowl, covering it with cling film and putting it in the freezer for 10 mins.

While your pastry is in the freezer, you can sort out your mince meat, I could be really snazzy and make it myself, like the legend that is Mary Berry but my family wont be so lucky, this year they are getting it from a jar, saying that I like to add diced apricot and of course a splash of brandy, but remember to use the heap stuff!

Once you have sorted out your mincemeat, beat an egg and remove your pastry from the freezer (it should be nice and chilled, but make sure your hands are cool).  Next chop a third of as this will become the lid you want to roll it out to about 2cm thick then use a cookie cutter (or tumbler) to cut out the bottoms, once they are done repeat with the tops.  I use a smaller size for the top, but you don't have to, I just find it fits better.

Lay them into your tray and add a heaped teaspoon of filling.  Once your bases are filled wet the edges and press the tops onhe tops on.  Use a sharp knife to cut two little air ho;es then brush them with the beaten egg.

You want to pop them on the middle shelf of your oven for 10 mins, but do keep an eye on them as they are pesky little things!

Once out of the oven, put on a cooling rack while you hunt for your favourite plate in the back of the kitchen cupboard, then pile high and dust with snow (icing sugar).  They are then fair game, so dig in while they are still there and enjoy their Christmassy flakey goodness..

What is your favourite treat to make at Christmas?

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Christmassy Cinnamon Popcorn

Hello Lovelies,

This is the food of the Gods, not baby Jesus and The Heavenly Father (although I'm sure they would love it), but the food Gods, it is food porn in its highest form, I know this is a lot of praise for popcorn, but this stuff is not just your normal popcorn, it is Christmassy Cinnamon popcorn, that is buttery, salty, sweet and spiced, the perfect treat.

I pop my popcorn with a nifty little are popper, which I got for my birthday, but if you don't have one of these gadgets then you can but your kernels in a pan with a glug of oil and move it around the hob until the popping slows.

Once you have your popcorn, I normally use half a cup, but this is one of those recipes that it is pretty much personal preference as to quantity. 

Once your popcorn has finished popping, put a large knob of butter and a generous pinch of rock salt into a pan, and let it melt, so it covers the pan.  Then add your sugar and spice to the lovely mix, I normally add 1 heaped teaspoon of cinnamon and two teaspoons of sugar, at this stage you may need to add a little more butter so your able to mix everything up.

Once you have that lovely mix tip in you popcorn and use a wooden spoon, and try and coat all your popcorn in the Christmas goodness!  Once you are satisfied that you have the right quantities, it tastes scrummy and is all coated then pop it into a bowl. 

This popcorn makes a hell of a lot more than is shown above, but it is so moreish that lots of little hands had grabbed and munched it all down before I had a chance to get snappy.

As well as popping it in a pretty bowl and letting people eat it, it can be a great gift, put it in a lovely airtight jar then wrap a big bow around the top.  It is a great present for those people who you want to give them a little something but don't necessarily want to go all out.  

This one didn't have a bow as it was going with my Mother to work as a snack.


Sparkly Nails for Christmas from Essie

Hello Lovelies,

I am a massive Essie fan, I love the colours, the names and the fab quality (not necessarily in that order) so while I was in Boot's doing a little Christmas shopping I took a peek at their Holiday Luxeffects Collection 2013, out of all the Christmas sparkle, it was A Cut Above that caught my eye.  Although not your stereotypical Christmas colour, I fell in love with its prettiness and I found the perfect excuse to buy it, as my Christmas dress is black velvet and seriously needed something jazzy to make it into the perfect Christmas Day outfit!  

So after justifying my purchase to myself and my wallet, I decided to give it a cheeky try, I'm not a fan of just pure glitter on nails I like it to have a coloured base, and for this job Mavala Viaveneto £4.00 was perfect.  A Cut Above is a clear base filled with light pink, small medium and hexagonal glitter pieces, it kind of reminds me of Deborah Lippmann's Some Enchanted Evening.  The glitter spread really easily over my nails, and didn't do that awkward thing where you have to smush it around to get an even coverage.  I have to say I am pretty in love with this little pot of pink glitter and it will definitely be adorning my nails over the Christmas period.

What is you Christmas nail varnish of choice going to be this year?

Monday, 16 December 2013

Christmas Tree Decorating

Hello Lovelies,

Getting and decorating the tree with my family is one of my favourite parts of Christmas.  So on Sunday we all bundled into two cars and drove to choose the perfect tree. 

My step-brothers are both much younger than my brother and I, so they keep the Christmas magic alive which is fun, I didn't think I would still be having in depth chats about Father Christmas and how the garden center ones obviously aren't real as the real Father Christmas is far to busy this time of year making toys (what a cutie!)

After picking the perfect tree, it's a precise science do you know, as you need the perfect height and nice and full, we don't like short or scrawny trees.

After finding the perfect tree, the smallest of the family helped the Christmas tree man wrap it (I was only a tiny bit jealous).  After driving it home and plonking it in its base and giving it something to drink, we all went out on a mammoth Christmas shopping spree in the pouring rain, it really wasn't fun. 

When we finally got home we dried off and got into some dry warm clothes, then after a hot drink and a gluten free crumpet we got cracking on the decorating, with my little step-brother taking artistic licence.  

Everyone else seemed to disappear off to do various other Christmassy things so we were left finishing the tree, and I think we did a rather snazzy job.  It was covered in twinkle lights (as I called them when I was little), gold, silver and red baubles and sparkly silver pears, could you get a better combo!  

It is now the countdown to Christmas and things are getting all exciting, the house is all decorated, cards have been written and Christmas snacks are being made. 

What is your favourite Christmas activity?
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