We hope that Santa has treated you well.
Me. He. & Them
We hope that Santa has treated you well.
Me. He. & Them
We have a very sweet picture of Little Miss A at 6 months old, sitting on Santa’s knee.
A year later we go to see Santa again. The Captain and I are both in the picture – the rictus grins and way too casual clothes are a clear give away that we weren’t expecting to be in the shot – and Little Miss A has a slight look of panic on her face, arms stretched out and I’m pretty sure on the verge of tears. But we were pleased to have picture of
her us with Santa to give to her grandparents.
When Little Miss A was 2.5 years old, we went to see Santa again. We made two attempts to get our annual Christmas picture, each time we rolled up to Santa, Little Miss A started to scream. And then cry. What can I say, I am a glutton for punishment. The picture we did finally get has Little Miss A sitting in her buggy armour, one meter away from Santa’s lap and just barely in the picture frame; not exactly smiling but not crying, clutching the stuffed reindeer and snacks that come with the sitting. Result (okay, almost).
This year I could not bear another visit to Santa’s grotto visit and didn’t bother to book, so imagine my surprise when she asks to see Santa at a local Christmas Fair. I must have asked, “Are you sure?! about a hundred times while we patiently waited in a very slow moving queue (some kids must have been talking Santa’s ear off with their lists!). We finally make it to the front:
A: “Mummy, I want to go”.
Me: “Go? Go where? The loo?”.
Seriously?!! Deep breath. Better luck next year.
Me & Little Miss A
Believe me, I’m no chef but I try to bake with Little Miss A at least once a week. She really enjoys being my helper and I was really pleased when she asked if we could make gingerbread men. So I thought it would make a fun for Little Miss A and I to bake the cookies ourselves and then when her friends came over for a Christmas playdate, they would “decorate” their own cookie for snack (Editors note: I would suggest an adult pipe the cookies!!).
Mix: Sift 3 1/2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon each baking soda and salt, 1 tablespoon ground ginger, 2 teaspoons cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon each ground cloves and allspice into a bowl. In another bowl, mix 6 tablespoons melted butter, 1 tablespoon melted butter, 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar and 3/4 cup molasses; beat in 1 egg with a mixer. Beat in the flour mixture in two additions. Divide the dough in half, wrap in plastic and pat to 1/2 inch thick. Chill 2 hours.
Cut: Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. On a floured surface, roll out each piece of dough to 1/4 inch thick, dusting with flour, if needed. Cut into 3-to-5-inch gingerbread men and arrange 1 inch apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Brush off excess flour and chill 15 minutes.
Bake: Bake until the cookies are golden around the edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool, then decorate with Icing.
Icing: Combine in a mixing bowl, 1 1/3 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon milk. Stir in enough of the remaining milk to make the desired consistency. Tint with food coloring, if desired.
To Decorate: Transfer the icing to a resealable plastic bag; snip the tip of one corner. For dots, hold the bag at a 90 degree angle. For outlines, hold it at a 45 degree angle. Pipe onto the cooled cookies. Set out small bowls of mini Smarties or chocolate buttons for the children to decorate.
I have great memories about baking truffles with my family for Christmas and I hope Blondie will have the same in the future. It was fun rolling the chocolate paste into marbles and pouring them in the powder ingredients.
For approx. 50 bites
Prepare the chocolate paste in advance: Break the chocolate in small pieces in a bowl. Heat up the fresh cream in a small saucepan. When it’s almost boiling, pour it over the chocolate, blend them together. When the mixture is smooth, add the diced butter, stir until no lump remains. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge.
Once the chocolate paste has hardened. Use a spoon to scoop out some chocolate paste, and shape it into a ball the size of a big marble with your fingers. Pour the powdered ingredients onto small plates. I think that the best is to roll the truffles in the powdered ingredient of your choice right before serving.
I am planning to give some truffles to Blondie and Bonny’s teachers as Christmas presents. I have bought crystal wrapping paper and ribbon to wrap them in.
Warning: remember to leave the butter at room temperature for a good while before you start. You shouldn’t prepare truffles last minute becasue the chocolate paste needs to be placed in the fridge for a while before you can make the truffles. Make sure that the chocolate is cut into very small pieces otherwise it won’t melt properly once you pour the heated fresh cream on top of it.
There have been some intense debating amongst us at Me. He. & Them on whether we should post suggesting recipes for the perfect Christmas dinner. The answer has finally been yes….so here is our Christmas dinner recipes
While soup cooks, assemble the relish: combine apple, onion, lemon juice, cranberries, chili powder, honey and cinnamon.
Serve soup in shallow bowls with a few spoonfuls of relish.
As the main dish: Stuffed Turkey or Chapon
This year instead of turkey you can try chapon (castrated chicken) it is more juicy than turkey and I guess a bit of a change even though you stay in the poultry sector. The key to succes is slow baking (3 hours at 150 degrees) plus frequent watering (with the baking juice) while baking (don’t skip this part since it is probably the most important one). You can get back the baking juices with boiling water at the end of the baking that will become your sauce for serving.
Stuffing for 3kg chapon
In a salad bowl, mix the bread, milk and egg yolks. Combine the sausage meat with the mushrooms. Mix all together with roughly crushed chestnuts; you can add rosemary, sage, thyme, salt and pepper according to your taste (Last year I did it without any spices and it turned out really good).
Rub the chapon’s skin with onion; and salt and pepper. Coat the chapon’s insides with the stuffing.
You can serve simply with green beans, chestnuts and mushrooms aside or with the next recipe.
As a side dish: Creamy Parsnip Mash
Place the parsnips in a saucepan with water to cover. Add the bouillon and lemon juice. Simmer for 20 minutes or until very tender; drain. Mash, adding the butter and cream. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, garnished with snipped chives.
As a light and easy desert: Bananas Roties au Rhum
In a pan heat the sugar, deglaze with rum and orange juice. Add the vanilla pod (split into 2), cinammon stick, star anise and raisins. Cut a banana into 2 with the skin on, put it in the pan and heat skin up in the pan until the flesh becomes melty. Serve on a warm plate, with the banana covered with the juice and the spices with the ice cream on the side.
Finally it’s December!
Our Christmas tree is up and decorated, the stockings are hung, Christmas hats on and the Christmas CD has been on full volume since the week-end.
Tonight, we’re writing our letter to Santa. I think it’s going to be: I want this and this and this and this……and hopefully it’s going to be what’s on my shopping lists, because I’m not changing my list! You can also check Mum Of All Trades ‘ post on Writing to Santa .
You can also get a personalised letter back from Santa, try Lapland letters for example, but you can also do a Google search.
And then we are following Mum Of All Trades‘ idea of doing something Christmassy every day until the 24th. I still have to do my list but tomorrow we’ll start with Christmas colouring which should be easy enough and then we’ll see!
We have our ugly advent calendars. You know the ones with the crappy chocolates from the grocery stores. Yuk! I would not recommend that. But we have them and the kids love them, so….
Me & the Girls has bought hers as well, but all the windows have already been opened by Blondie who just had to know what was behind each one…well she was a bit disappointed as there was no chocolate hiding – not even behind number 24!
And then finally, we’re going to start reading Christmas stories. My favorite book is Secret letters to Santa’s special letter , but also Snowman By Raymond Briggs and Mogs’s Christmas from Judith Kerr.
Me & The Boys
December is going to be here in a few days and well, I’m not done with my Christmas shopping!! Some people have told me they are done already. Really? How is this possible? One colleague said all his presents were already wrapped up!!! Crazy, right?
Well I’ve started last night :
-I’ve made some photo diaries at photobox for my mum and my mother in law. The diaries are personalised with very nice photos of Mellow, Jed and Little T. Once you have selected the photos and downloaded them, it is very quick to do.
Last year, I did a photo calendars, but you can also do mouse pads, Christmas cards and of course photo albums (although that takes quite a long time to do).
You can also try snapfish, pixum and snappy snaps . I have used all 3 of them in the past and they were all very good. They all have different size photo albums and calendars, and different offers at different times of the year. You can subscribe to their e-newsletters to get all their latest offers.
-Christmas stockings – great for the children. I bought mine at Not on the High Street . They are very good quality and beautifully made. This year I bought another 3, one for Little T, one for my sister’s daughter, born one week go, and my sister in laws’s son. You can personalise them if you want.
– I also love to buy Christmas decorations and nice wrapping items. Try Not on the High Street as well as Cox & Cox . They have really nice stuff. Not cheap though but it also gives you little ideas of what to do.
-If you need to buy little presents, head to Pylones, Design Gift Maker (or sometimes called Octopus). If you are desperate to find ideas for presents, you will find them here. There are 5 branches in London and quite a few locations across the UK.
So get yourself ready now and enjoy the month of December a bit more!
Me & The Boys
The Oxford Street Christmas Lights have been switched on and so the countdown begins – it’s time to get ready for Christmas!
I get so exciting about Christmas. I love seeing the children getting more and more excited each day with the anticipation of it all. I feel I go back to my own childhood: picking out the tree, getting all my decorations down from the attic, buying presents and wrapping them (and unwrapping them) and also seeing all the presents under the tree when I wake up on the 25th.
So I’m already planning my next few weeks, to make sure we take full advantage of the festive season.
I’ve booked my tickets to see Snowman at Peacock Theatre in London. I’ve never seen it but we have the book and the DVD. It’s Mellow and Jed’s favorite kids DVD: the music is fantastic of course, but also the landscape and colours is so Christmassy!
For adults, Me & The Girls has recommended the Christmas Carols of the the Royal Albert Hall. She bought tickets for when her family visited London last year and said that they all loved it.
I’m also going to take my boys to the ice rink…because I also want to skate!!! I think I will try Alexandra Palace in North London.
And of course we have to go and see Santa Claus. I go every year to Selfridges Santa’s Grotto (booking essential). You board a little train to takes you through a winter wonderland journey to Santa’s Grotto. You can have your picture taken with Santa (there is no obligation to buy), and children receive a complimentary age appropriate book (when Mellow was 1 year old he received the “Snowman”). You can also try Willows Farm (see prior post) where there will be an ice rink and the highlight: meeting Santa Claus. Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park has a Christmas Market with a selection of food, drink and gifts; an ice rink, Santa’s Grotto and a circus. I went a couple of years ago when Mellow was 3 but I actually think that the circus is more suited to older kids.
For Christmas markets, I think the best one is the Southbank Christmas Market (from November 18th). It’s a nice walk along the river and has very cute little wooden chalets. Great place to do some shopping or just get into the Christmas spirit.
So start planning and get Christmassy!
Me & The Boys