Happy New Years Eve from all of us "Down Under"
Happy New Years Eve from all of us "Down Under"
We had fun saying goodbye to 2010. The kids thought they were very witty as they counted down the list of "last things" they did in 2010. It started with a last trip to Hunter Valley. A last visit to the British Lolly shop. A last sit on the bench outside to chat and eat their sweets!
And finally, the hilarity as they announced that they were eating for the last time until next year, going to the toilet for the last time until next year!
Their wit knew no bounds... until I threatened to ground them until next year!
Christmas eve is always very exciting. Every year we mix up porridge oats with glitter and sprinkle it on our front lawn as a tempting snack for the reindeer to help guide them to our house.
There is nothing so good as watching them fling handfuls of this magic reindeer food high into the air with the excitement of childhood. A time where you can be tucked into bed by Mum and Dad knowing you are safe and loved and know that tomorrow brings so much excitement...
I think you are going to have to use your imagination here...
Sian opened the final window on the Advent Calendar today during another web-chat with my parents. I thought I was being really clever pressing a "snapshot" button on my laptop thinking it was taking an image of Sian as she opened and ate her chocolate. Unfortunately the image that was being saved was the incoming image from Ireland. On this particular day we were having problems seeing Mum and Dad and were just looking at a blank dark screen so you can imagine how exciting my snapshot images were!
Another year down. I hope that you have enjoyed seeing our countdown to Christmas as much as we have.
A very peaceful and happy Christmas to you.
I hope you have a day of fun away from the stresses of normal day to day life.
Christmas Eve Eve...
...and Rhiannon's final Advent window of the year!
Christmas is about anticipation, waiting, patience...
- 325g (2 cups + 2 tablespoons) self raising flour
- 167 ml (2/3 cup) cold lemonade
- 167 ml (2/3 cup) thickened cream
Combine lemonade and cream in small bowl.
Into another bowl sift 2 cups of flour.
Add lemonade and cream mixture to flour and gently fold in ingredients until just combined (don't overmix the dough as this will produce tough scones). The dough should be fairly soft and sticky.
Place dough on lightly floured bench, form into a round and press out to about 3.5cm (1 1/2 inch) thickness. cut scones using 5cm (2 inch) cutter.
Makes 12 scones
Place scones close together on the tray, so they are just touching. Bake for about 12 - 15 minutes, or until pale golden and cooked through.
Serve with jam and cream. Enjoy.
Christmas for me is all about the food. The nuts, the port, the baking and eating together...
Many of the things that make our own perfect Christmas begin in childhood. What foods and treats were in our family homes as we grew up. One favourite of mine that my Mum made was Dundee Cake. A lighter fruit cake than the traditional Christmas one.
We went shopping for the ingredients yesterday, weighed, beat, mixed and got it in the oven for its slow bake just in time to leave the house for mass, and back just in time to smell the last half hour of it cooking! I have read that it tastes better if you can keep it a while before eating. I thought we might last the week but within half an hour of it being on the cooling rack we were tucking in to the hot slices and big glasses of cold milk!
Here is the recipe:
|5 oz (150 g) butter, at room temperature|
|5 oz (150 g) caster sugar|
|3 large eggs|
|8 oz (225 g) plain flour, sifted|
|1 level teaspoon baking powder|
|milk, if necessary|
|6 oz (175 g) currants|
|6 oz (175 g) sultanas|
|2 oz (50 g) glacé cherries, rinsed, dried and cut into halves|
|2 oz (50 g) mixed whole candied peel, finely chopped|
|2 level tablespoons ground almonds|
|grated zest 1 small orange|
|grated zest 1 small lemon|
|2 oz (50 g) whole blanched almonds|
|Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 3, 325°F (170°C).|
Whisk the eggs separately then, a little at a time, beat them into the creamed butter and sugar.
Next, using a large tablespoon, carefully fold in the flour and baking powder. Your mixture needs to be of a good, soft, dropping consistency so, if it seems too dry, add a dessertspoon of milk. Now carefully fold in the currants, sultanas, cherries, mixed peel, ground almonds and orange and lemon zests.
Then spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin, smoothing it out evenly with the back of the spoon.
Next arrange the whole almonds in circles on top of the mixture, but do this carefully and lightly; if they are pressed in they will sink during the baking. Place the cake in the centre of the oven and bake for 2-2½ hours or until the centre is firm and springy to the touch. Let it cool before taking it out of the tin.
This cake keeps very well in an airtight tin and tastes all the better if kept for a few days before cutting.
The kids were quiet this morning and we found ourselves sleeping in until 9am! No chance of that next Saturday...
It feels good to be all done with the Christmas shopping. We have no intention of going into any big shopping centres this weekend. Hopefully with the warm weather we will be chilling out at home watching Mr B cut the ever growing grass and passing him out the odd glass of cold water if he looks like he is passing out!
I hope your weekend will have some chill out time too...
Gar and Rhiannon are on holidays too!
The house has disintegrated over just a few hours into looking like we have been burgled!
It's going to be a long 6 weeks...!
Today is the first day of Sians School Holidays.
She breaks up one day earlier than Gar and Rhiannon and made the most of the peace and quiet!
14 down. 11 to go!
It's a hard life when you are 8 and all you have to do in the morning is veg in your jammies on the sofa looking for where today's window is....
Advent on the run!
It is a mobile blog today as Sian brings the calendar in the car on the way to tennis!
It's the weekend. We are steering clear of the shops between now and Christmas. I will go shopping one more time on Monday while the kids are in school and hopefully get the last few gifts home and wrapped before the kids finish up in school later in the week.
Today we stayed home and the kids swam and played. Our neighbours Hibiscus tree has gone into bloom and many of the gorgeous red blossoms are dangling over the fence. Big temptation for a pretty girl! I'm sure they won't miss just one!
Day 11's window had a chocolate snowman. A melting chocolate snowman in this heat. He didn't last long!
The end of another school week and everyone is getting tired. We are looking forward to end of term and morning lie-ins. No more school uniforms. No more ironing 20+ blue shirts every Sunday night!
The weather is getting hot too.
Gareth got off the school bus today and went straight for the Christmas tree where he sat in a cool spot out of the sun and opened window number 10...
This one's for you Anne!
This is not our piano. It's a piano that we are babysitting. It belonged to our friend Anne's Mother, or maybe Grandmother.... I'm not sure and Anne is in Japan so I can't check with her. The piano stool was made by her Grandfather. We are borrowing them both so that the kids can enjoy them. Byron is threatening that one day he will chop it up for firewood and put a bookcase in its place. It's not his favourite piece of furniture in the house but for now he is outnumbered!
Today Gareth opened his Advent calendar window and played random (VERY) loud notes in the spirit of Christmas using one finger over and over while Byron was trying to work in the next room. He didn't help the situation much!
Now Gareth's gone to bed and I'm off into the garage to hide the axe....!
.... is getting to lick the bowl!
We got home late tonight and Sian was in her pj's when she remembered her advent chocolate. By the time I grabbed the camera she had already got it in her mouth.
Cant you just see the sugar rush twinkling in her eyes!
Gareths obsession right now is magnets.
Granny and Grandad Joe added to his magnet collection for his birthday and he is pretty excited at the new creations he is inventing daily!
I was in work this morning before all the kids were up so Byron took a photo of Rhiannon opening her window and emailed it to me. I got it on my phone as I was just starting my drug round. It made me smile, both because Rhiannon is grinning and also because I was really glad Byron had thought to take the photo for me.
Thanks Mr B!
Every year my parents send an Advent calendar to the kids. Every year we take a daily photo and send it to them. If I'm organised I try to post them here too!
This years one arrived on December the first all the way from snowy Ireland. It had a customs warning on it stating that the parcel had been opened and inspected by customs. The kids were worried that the customs man may have eaten all the chocolates! Luckily the note inside said that nothing had been removed!
Here is the first window being opened by Gareth...