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Christmas

Listography – Top 5 Christmas Songs

This listography is totally unfair as I like far too many Christmas songs to choose just 5!!
I’ve been getting myself lost on YouTube for the last hour trying to decide which songs are my favourite and I finally decided to choose songs by classic singers to make it a little easier!
My mum used to listen to Bing Crosby, Andy Williams & Frank Sinatra, among others (probably still does) while putting up our Christmas decorations when I was younger so all those singers bring back lovely memories for me.

1) Andy Williams – It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

2) Johnny Mathis – It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

3) Dean Martin – Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow

4) Bing Crosby – Winter Wonderland

5) Nat King Cole – The Christmas Song

Oh Christmas Tree….

Oh Christmas Tree,
Thy leaves are so unchanging.

Feel free to carry on singing along in your head…. or out loud if you’re so inclined!

It’s officially Christmas in our house now; the garlands are up,

the tree has been decorated by three very excited children

 

and the trolley has been filled with seasonal goodies.

The children love doing the tree and I never change it from the way they do it. I’m really not bothered about having a ‘magazine perfect’ tree. It doesn’t matter if all the ornaments are on one side or grouped on the bottom branches, making them sag! I just love watching them having fun.

 

Ella’s Ornaments

 

They each have a tin with their own tree decorations that I’ve bought them each Christmas since their birth. They look forward to hanging these the most 🙂

Ella doesn’t understand yet why she’s got less than the other 2 and sometimes gets a bit upset but hopefully it won’t be long before she understands, like KayCee does.

 

KayCee’s Ornaments

 

I’ve finished all my Christmas shopping now, except for their tree decorations. I always look forward to making a special trip (usually to B&Q…..yep, I know it’s not usually the first place you think of for tree decorations but they always have a great selection) to buy their tree decorations. I’m hoping to go next weekend when the kids are at Aiden’s dad’s.

 

Aiden’s ornaments

 

KayCee is very good at organising so I let her sort the trolley out. She really enjoyed serving up peanuts in little bowls and filling the Santa jar with yummy chocolates. Ella helped a bit but all she really wanted to do was eat the peanuts!

Of course, we had to have Christmas music playing in the background and Ant made me my first snowball of the year again; it’s becoming a tradition 🙂 Later I’ll have my first Baileys of the season and all will be right with the world!


I picked this post to add to today’s magic moment (18/03/2013) because when I was looking back through old posts to find one to use, this one was the first to make me feel all warm and happy inside, which is what a magic moment is to me 🙂

Dear So & So – The start of advent edition

Dear December,
thank you for finally getting here. Our girls and me are getting so excited; we love the start of advent 🙂
However, now that you’re here, please don’t rush by too fast.
I’m working on enjoying the whole of advent and not wishing it away so Christmas will get here faster.
I think I’ve finally grown up and realised that Christmas Day is only one small part of the season and I plan to enjoy the whole month and all that the season brings.
Yours, a very excited, Shell.

Dear clothes that need ironing,
stop getting creased, seriously, just stop.
That is all.

Dear sleep,
please stick around. I really enjoyed sleeping the whole night through last night (although quarter to one in the morning until ten to six in the morning can’t really be classed as the whole night!) and would really like to do that again tonight 🙂
Yours, a still very tired, Shell.

Dear Readers,
thanks for dropping by and be sure to check out more letters over at Three Bedroom Bungalow 🙂

Dear So and So...

Advent Activities

Advent activities

We’ve had our Santa advent since the first Christmas I spent here with Ant and the boys before I moved in (his 2 youngest boys were still at school. They’re now adults and moved out a few years ago).
 We used him the first couple of years, just putting Celebration chocolates in his little pockets but then every Christmas since he’s been left in the box. After seeing a few posts about various advent activities other people do with their children, I thought it would be lovely to surprise the children with 🙂

I didn’t decide to do it until yesterday so I’m proof that it can be done in one day! After getting my list of activities together (I love lists) I set about making the scrolls.
Using Paint Shop Pro and a template I downloaded from Design Dazzle I made 24 little scrolls.
I cut them out then rolled them up like a scroll and tied them with red and green ribbon.

We put one in each little pocket and hung our lovely Santa on the door.

The kids loved him when they came down for breakfast this morning and surprisingly didn’t argue when I told them Aiden could open the first one as he’s the eldest!

Here’s our list:

  1. Sing Christmas songs
  2. Write a letter to Santa
  3. Put up the garlands and decorate the tree
  4. Have dinner by candlelight
  5. Paint the salt dough decorations
  6. Find Christmas games on the PC
  7. Read a Christmas story by candlelight
  8. Find Santa in the ‘Where’s Santa?’ book
  9. Make ice cream sundaes
  10. Do puzzles from the Christmas annual
  11. Light candles and listen to Christmas carols
  12. Make a special gift for Daddy
  13. Wrap Christmas presents
  14. Make marshmallow candy cane Twizzlers
  15. List some things you’re thankful for
  16. Make paper snowflakes and hang them up
  17. Go for a drive to see the Christmas lights
  18. Play ‘Beat the Parents’
  19. Christmas face painting
  20. Have a takeaway for dinner
  21. Bake Christmas cookies
  22. Make chocolate mallow crunch
  23. Popcorn and watch a Christmas movie
  24. Have hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows

I’m linking up with Festive Friday over at Thinly Spread 🙂

Christmas Cake recipe

I made 3 fruit cakes on Sunday; one was a birthday cake for Granddad and the other 2 were Christmas cakes for Aiden’s scouts Christmas fair and the girl’s school Christmas fair.
I found this Quick and Easy Fruit Cake recipe and it’s the one that people seem to like the most out of the few recipes I’ve tried so we’re sticking with this one from now on 🙂

Ingredients

120g/4oz Margarine
170g/6oz Sugar
340g/14oz Dried Fruit – I buy the mixed fruit bags as it works out cheaper. We also add a full tub of cherries because Ant likes whole cherries and lots of them in a fruit cake!
225ml/8floz Water
1 teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda
1 half teaspoon Mixed Spice
2 Beaten Eggs
120g/4oz Plain Flour
120g/4oz Self Raising Flour
Pinch of Salt

You will need a 7″/18ch square cake tin or a 8″/20cm round cake tin. The ones with the removable bottoms are easiest.
Coat the inside of the tin with margarine then line with 2 layers of greaseproof paper.

 

Pre-heat the oven to 350°F/180°C/Gas Mark 4

Ok, if all your prep work is done, we’ll make a start 🙂

Put the margarine, sugar, fruit, water, bicarb and mixed spice in a saucepan and heat gently. Bring to the boil then simmer for one minute.

Pour the batter into a mixing bowl and allow to cool. Make sure it’s cool before you add the eggs….we don’t want them cooking in the batter.
Once you’ve mixed the eggs into the batter, add the flour and salt and mix well.

Pour into your tin and cover the top of the cake with another piece of greaseproof paper. This helps stop the top from burning.

Cook in the middle of the oven for about an hour and a quarter. Check it’s cooked through by inserting a skewer into the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean, your cake is ready.

Allow to cool on a wire rack before covering with marzipan and icing.

I’ve used a Christmas cake frill from the supplies my Nan-nan gave me when she gave up cake making. I’ve recently seen them on sale in either Tesco or Asda, or perhaps both (I’ve been doing lots of browsing on both stores what with Christmas coming up and I’m starting to get confused as to which shop has the items I need!) and the price is quite good.

I bought the centre decoration from Asda. It came with ribbon but I wanted an old-fashioned frill! These kind of frills were always on Christmas cakes when I was younger 🙂
If you need some decorating inspiration, I have a couple of ideas on my Christmas Pinterest board.

I’m linking my post up to Festive Friday over at Thinly Spread.

34 Days till Christmas

I spent a lovely afternoon yesterday watching Christmas movies upstairs and wrapping presents. Before wrapping could commence though, I had to do a stock check! It took me a couple of hours to gather all the gifts together, make a list of every item then update my excel sheet.
I feel so much better now it’s all organised again. It was worth doing because I discovered gifts for a niece that I’d forgotten I’d already bought and I’d got more on order for delivery on Wednesday.
That saved me some money!

The day started off Christmassy… I watched 2 movies in the morning, one was at 5am because I couldn’t sleep. It was called Twice upon a Christmas

and was a follow on from the movie I watched yesterday, called, unsurprisingly, Once upon a Christmas!

I watched A Christmas Kiss before Ant and I had lunch then I went upstairs while he went into work.

I took my laptop upstairs and used it to watch Christmas movies that we have stored on the server. I watched Kelsey Grammer in the musical version of A Christmas Carol. Well, I say watched, I mainly listened seeing as I was knee deep in presents/wrap/ribbon/tape etc!

After that, I watched A Christmas Romance starring Olivia Newton-John…..

followed by (and the last one for the day!) The 12 days of Christmas Eve.

I wrapped just under 50 gifts and still have more to wrap today. The good news is, I only need to buy about another 10 presents and I’ll be done…..before December even starts!
I do like this wonderful feeling of being totally organised as opposed to the brain scribbling incident I went through the other day.
I do need to crack on with making my Christmas cards though. I still have about 40 to make so that’ll be my task for Monday when the kids are at school.

I must admit to feeling very Christmassy and in a really good mood tonight! Mind you, after all those movies, it would be hard not to feel Christmassy!

I’ve just remembered that I should have made a fruit cake for Granddad’s birthday so the girls could decorate it when they get home. I’m going to have to make it first thing in the morning so it has time to cool.
I’m also going to make 2 more fruit cakes, one for Aiden’s scouts Christmas fair and one for the girls school Christmas fair.
I’ve ordered some decorations from Asda. They’re being delivered Wednesday which gives me plenty of time to decorate it before Saturday.
We haven’t had the date for the school Christmas fair yet but when we do, we’ve decided to make some ‘I’m melting, melting….‘ cookies as well as the Christmas cake 🙂

Now I’d best get some sleep in case I’m awake at 5am again!

Christmas cards, cake and dinner set.

I made some more Christmas cards yesterday and started writing in the ones I’d already made.

Christmas Cards

Christmas cards

 

Christmas card fireplace scene

 

Christmas card featuring a Christmas udding and a teddy bear

Christmas Cake

The girls wanted to bake when they got home from school so we made a fruitcake. We used this recipe and I have to say, I’ve never cooked the ingredients before the finished batter goes in the oven!

Christmas cake mix

 

kaycee licking her fingers after making cake
KayCee and Ella both got sticky fingers from the glace cherry syrup.
Ella with her face in a sieve
It’s probably a good job this cake is for the immediate family seeing as Ella is using the sieve as a mask!

We’ll be decorating the cake on Friday night after dinner and we’re all looking forward to it. KayCee wants to roll out the marzipan (and no doubt have a sneaky taste at some point!). Ella wants to roll out the icing.
I bought some ready coloured piping icing and various decorations for the top. I’m sure the girls will make a great job 🙂

Christmas Dinner Set

I got a new Christmas dinner set on Sunday. Every year for the last few years, at our local B&M, they’ve had a lovely Christmas dinner set in. Every year I’ve wanted to buy a set but have ummed and arred about it, until last year.
I made the decision to get a set the next time I went and of course, it had sold out.
I didn’t expect it to be in again this year but I was really pleased to see the shelf being stacked on Saturday.
The salt and pepper pot and gravy boat were in the sales in January this year and as soon as I saw the plates and bowls back in stock, I knew I had to have it.
Ant fetched it for me on Sunday and now I’m looking forward to Christmas dinner even more!

Christmas dinner plate and bowls from B&M featuring a cartoon Santa

 

Christmas dinner plate from B&M featuring a cartoon Santa and robin

 

Christmas dinner plate from B&M featuring a cartoon snowman

 

Christmas dinner plate from B&M featuring a cartoon reindeer

I’m getting more and more organised by the day 🙂

 

Christmas Movies

Hot chocolate, a warm snuggly cardigan, fur lined slipper boots and a Christmas movie on the tv. These are my must have have items when settling down to wrap Christmas presents on a chilly November morning.

I must admit to being something of a Christmas movie addict and one day I plan to have every Christmas movie I’ve ever seen, on DVD. (I’ll be listening for Ant’s groan as he reads this!!)
For now I take my pick of Christmas movies that we have stored on the server or ones I’ve recorded on TiVo recently. Over the last couple of years I used the Virgin + to record every Christmas movie I could find then recorded them onto DVD and then onto the server.

I went through a phase about 3 winters ago, of waking up between 4-5am and not  being able to get back to sleep. I’d come downstairs, make a cup of hot chocolate and snuggle under the throw over on the sofa and watch a Christmas movie. Although I have no wish to be up at silly o’clock in the morning now, I must say I really enjoyed that quiet time before everyone woke up and the hustle and bustle of the morning routine began.

This morning, while waiting for some Christmas presents to be delivered, I watched The Christmas Gift starring John Denver.

I was sure I’d already seen it but I was very surprised to find it I hadn’t….Ant would probably say, once you’ve seen one Christmas movie, you’ve seen them all!

This basic story line of The Christmas Gift is….
man gets sent to town by big nasty development company
mans ends up liking town and falling love with pretty woman
woman gets angry because man lied
man + townspeople come together to win over the big developer
man and woman make up
everyone except big nasty developer lives happily ever after!

I enjoyed my relaxing morning and I’m off to check out the tv guide now to see what Christmas movies are on tomorrow 🙂

KayCee & Ella – Christmas cards

The piles of goodies are growing, the wish lists are getting longer and the excitement is building. Anyone would think Christmas is the on the way!

The girls wanted to make a start on writing their Christmas cards last night and I knew it would keep them quiet amused for ages so I happily agreed!

KayCee made a list and they both sat on the floor working their way through it.
Ella just wrote her name in her cards, put them in the envelopes and put a Christmas sticker on the back of each one. KayCee wrote on the front of the envelopes and added them to the pile.
They worked really well together.

When they got in from school tonight, the first thing they asked, after they’d got changed, was whether they could write more of their cards.
We have a huge family and they have loads of school friends so I can see this activity taking the next few nights!

We have a few more Christmas activities in the pipeline when they’ve finished their Christmas cards.
We have to make the Christmas cake, some salt dough tree ornaments and we’re going to have a go at making some cake pops. We’ve never made them before and we need to practice before we take some to my mum’s on Boxing Day. We go for a buffet tea every year so I can see all my family 🙂

You can be sure I’ll be back with photos from each activity!

Forever friends handmade cards

I’ve been slowly making some Christmas cards using the kit I bought from Argos.
I love it. The cards are turning out really nice and I’m pleased I decided to handmake the Christmas cards this year 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

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