Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Merry Christmas, Everybody!

Well, as we are all aware, things are about to get pretty busy for us homemakers and purveyors of Christmas Spirit (and I'm not talking about alcohol!). The food is all now bought, and anything that has been forgotten, we'll have to do without, as time has run out for me to be driving all over the place looking for that elusive ingredient or food item.

Oh my goodness - it's Christmas eve, everyone!! How did that happen?? I had weeks left a moment ago!! Argh! I feel like we're at the very top of a roller coaster, teetering just before the big drop that you can't control and just have to enjoy. And we will enjoy it. The Moomin is now old enough to get excited at the mention of presents and Father Christmas - or, as she calls him, "Vawer Grizmaz".

As I am quite a slow knitter (having a very energetic two year old doesn't help speed the process any!), I am ashamed to say that I didn't manage to complete my Christmas Knit List this year, but the most important things got completed, and are wrapped and under the tree, so that's the main thing! I am knitting Mr Deravelled a stripey blanket in manly shades (blues, browns and creams) that I was hoping to have had finished by now, but, as with everything, life got in the way, and so I'm four panels down (I have completed two). Luckily, that was not his only present, so I don't think he'll be too disappointed tomorrow!! I just need to learn some speed knitting techniques, methinks.

We went food shopping last night, and, as is the tradition, forgot a food item. This year it was the chocolate yule log. Never fear, thought I - I will make one, no problem! It was only when I got home that I realised that I don't have a big rectangular baking tray for baking the pre-rolled log on. Argh!!! So instead, we are having Chocolate Orange Cake, as featured in Nigella Lawson's classic culinary tome, How to be a Domestic Goddess. And for all of you lovely ladies who may be in a similar predicament, or just fancy a good quick standby recipe (because, lets face it, that makes us all feel a little more secure), here is the recipe for you. :)

Chocolate Orange Cake

125g unsalted butter
100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
300g good, thin-cut marmalade
150g caster sugar
pinch of salt
2 large eggs, beaten
150g self raising flour

20cm Springform tin, buttered and floured.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/ Gas Mark 4.

Put the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and put over a low heat to melt. When it's nearly completely melted, stir in the chocolate. Leave for a moment to begin softening, then take the pan off the heat and stir with a wooden spoon until the butter and chocolate are smooth and melted. Resist temptation to dip finger in.

Now add the marmalade, sugar, salt and eggs. Stir with your wooden spoon and when all is pretty well amalgamated, beat in the flour bit by bit. Put into your prepared tin and bake for about 50 minutes or until a skewer comesout clean.

Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes before turning out.

Decorate however you wish (a snowy dusting of icing sugar looks nice). Can be eaten warm with a good dollop of creme fraiche (or ice cream), or cold.

Serves 6.

And here is something for the children - you can track Father Christmas live as he flies his sleigh around the world. That should get you in the mood!

Merry Christmas, Everyone!! May your day be filled with joy and goodwill to all, and hardly any bickering!! x x

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Happy Yule, everyone!!

Just wanted to say Happy Yule to all those who observe the sacred festival. Although I love winter and everything that goes with it, it is also wonderful to be able to now say that from today, we know that the sun is slowly returning, and it will not be long before we see the evidence of new life appearing, in the form of snowdrops in the countryside, and new baby lambs on the hills. It is a festival of optimism and light in the depths of winter, and reminds us that death (or darkness) is a part of life (or light) and is not to be feared.

We will be spending the evening with friends, celebrating with food and drink like our ancestors always have, and marking the passage of time and the light that remains even in the darkest of days.

Happy Yule, everyone!! :)

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Busy busy busy!!

I have been busily washing and cleaning in preparation for a couple of days off from the drudgery of household chores once we hit Christmas eve evening. I am aiming to get on top of the hamper of clothes at the top of the stairs (I have already vanquished the basket in the kitchen - woo hoo!!), but this means I'm pretty much non stop at the moment. I need to hoover the whole house (and remember to empty the hoover first this time!!), wash the windows, clean the bathroom, put away the worryingly teetering tower of clean clothes that were not long ago in that basket in the kitchen, take the rubbish out, get stamps from the post office to post the christmas cards that are STILL on the table in the living room (yes, I KNOW that I've left it really late - but they're cards for Mr Deravelled's friends, and he's not exactly seeing the posting of them as an urgent priority, so it's left to me, again!!), and convince the Moomin that her toys would look much better tidied away in her bedroom rather than scattered liberally around the living room. Phew! Now it's all written down, I don't think I have the energy to do any of it!!

To finish off, here's a little photo of the Moomin that I took the other night. She hadn't had a nap all day, and it got to 8pm and she just dropped!! How sweet! :)

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

The Christmas Day Menu

Ok, so after much pondering and flicking through of my recipe books and magazines, here is the planned christmas day menu (obviously dependent on actually being able to get hold of some kind of turkey!!)

Christmas Day 2008

Turkey Crown
Roast Potatoes
Mashed Potatoes
Yorkshire puddings
Brussel Sprouts
Stuffing balls
Bacon-wrapped chipolatas
Cranberry sauce

Yummy yummy yummy!!!

And for dessert, we are having chocolate yule log, hot chocolate sauce and clotted cream ice cream. Mmmmm. I love christmas!!!

And here is a little piccy of some of the decorations adorning our hallway tree. I can't show you a photo of the whole tree, as our hallway isn't big enough for me to get far enough back with my camera!!

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Photos of our tree

As requested (and promised!!), here are a few photos of the tree that stands in our living room. It is a collection of vintage, new(ish) and handmade decorations - and we tend to add to it every year. Anyway, enough of me jabbering on! Here are the photos!! :D

My parents brought us back the red velvet ribbon for the top of the tree from one of their frequent trips over to America, a few years back. I really like it because it's not the usual star or fairy.

I made the gingham heart myself. There are currently two on the tree, as well as several in different fabrics dotted around the house (although they are constantly being moved around as the Moomin likes to play with them!!). I bought the brass sun ornament (there are a few of them on the tree) when I worked at Culpeper.

And here is one of the robins made from feathers that we have. It is perched precariously on a branch, as the Moomin has somehow managed to pull it off its thread!! You can also see a brass sun disc (again from Culpeper). They are so deliciously Pagan, and remind us that even though it's cold and dark outside, the warming sun of spring is not too far away. Don't you just love that symbolism?!

Thursday, 11 December 2008

The tree!!

The tree is up!! After much searching and head scratching, we finally found our trusty christmas tree, hidden under several hundred boxes of junk in the attic. I was hoping that the Moomin would be eager to help decorate it, but she seemed more interested in taking the baubles back off it, which I thought was very unfestive of her. I even managed to rope Mr Deravelled into putting three or four baubles on it for once (he usually takes a back seat in the annual decking of the halls fiasco). This year our theme is red and gold, with much more emphasis on gold than red, although that is mainly down to us having many more gold decorations than red!!

We also have a mini tree up in the hallway (which is truly an achievement of epic proportions, considering the matchbox dimensions of our hallway) and no one has (yet) tripped over it or knocked it over etc. Its colours are red and gold also, with slightly more emphasis on the red, just to balance things out a bit!! It is also sporting three rather realistic looking robins, which the Moomin thinks is wonderful. However, it has no lights, as we couldn't find them. And come to mention it, the big tree in the living room is without twinkly lights, as one of the bulbs has gone, and in my haste to swap it with a working one that was currently at the back of the tree, I broke it, and so now none of them are working. Grrr. Mr Deravelled brought home a replacement string of lights that his sister has given us, but the thought of having to take all those decorations off to get to the original string of lights and replace them with the new ones, then put all the decorations back on, fills me with dread. Mr Deravelled doesn't understand this, as he usually has little to no involvement with the decorating side of things, and so has no idea what a pain it will be to replace them. That can be his task for the year, then!!!

I will post photos when I can find my camera. :)