The First of the 2011 Christmas Decorations

In the lead up to Christmas last year I made a lot of Christmas Decorations.  This year I don’t plan to make quite so many, but I would like to make some as gifts and today I had the chance to get started with this little cutey.

This was one of my favourite designs last year from the book ‘Fa La La La Felt’ by Amanda Carestio. I’m planning to try this design in a few different colour-ways this year.

Day 25: Overindulge

Five ways to tell that you’ve overindulged:

  1. You are genuinely surprised when you see one of your children’s presents – you simply forgot that you had purchased that!
  2. The rubbish bag full of wrapping paper is bigger than the presents you intended to buy.
  3. You have four seperate desserts after nibblies, an entree and a very full main course plate.
  4. You have to unzip your skirt (or pants) just a little during the drive home.
  5. (the drum roll please…) You take your remaining Wirra Wirra Church Block Shiraz home in a sippy cup so you can finish it off on the drive home!

Merry Christmas everyone – I hope your day was full of love and happiness and too much of all good things!

Day 24: Hang the Christmas Stockings

Christmas is getting very close now! It’s time to get ready to receive gifts!

Last night I stayed up late and made Christmas stockings for John & I. The boys have had their own homemade Christmas stockings for a couple of years now but I have never had the time to make one for John or I. I chose a gorgeous design from Martha Stewart inspired by the Nutcracker.  As an ex-ballet dancer I just couldn’t resist.

Here’s mine…

And John’s…

And Hamish’s (not inspired by the Nutcracker!)…

And Will’s…

I wonder what will be in my Christmas stocking tomorrow morning!

Day 23: Baby Christmas Cakes

In our house we all love Fruit Cake, especially when it’s homemade with all our favourite dried fruits.  There’s always glace cherries and sultanas, and sometimes dried pineapple and almonds, and at Christmas craisins as well.

Usually I make one big cake but during the year I tried Jill Dupleix’s recipe for Baby Fruit cakes and loved it so much that we decided to make these instead. I’m sure the reason my husband and the boys voted this way was because you can get so much more in one whole baby fruit cake than in a standard slice, without looking greedy!

The key to making your Christmas Cake taste sensational is for everyone in the family (or at least everyone who is at home) to have a turn stirring it. They must stir the love into it to make it taste truly magical.

It works every time!

We made a double batch but I’m still not sure that these will last until Christmas day…they just taste soooooo good! Here’s the recipe, available in Jill Dupleix’s ‘Totally Simple Food’. I hope you’ve asked Santa for a copy if I haven’t already convinced you to go out and buy one with all my posts on Totally Simple Food this year!

Baby Fruit Cakes from Jill Dupleix’s Totally Simple Food

150 g butter
300 g sultanas
300 g currants (I actually used craisins, glace cherries and blanched almonds)
180 g soft brown sugar
1 tsp ground mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
250 ml water
2 eggs, well beaten
150 g plain flour
150 g self-raising flour

  1. Heat the oven to 180 C/Gas 4. Combine the butter, sultanas, currants, sugar, mixed spice, cinnamon, ginger, bicarbonate of soda and water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, stirring, then remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  2. Add the eggs and beat well. Sift the two flours together, add to the mixture, and beat thoroughly.
  3. Pour into lightly buttered or oiled muffin tin moulds or muffin tray lined with muffin paper cases. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes our clean.
  4. Allow to cool before removing from the moulds. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Day 22: Personalised Christmas Gift Labels

In our house Christmas gifts are labelled with a photo of the person that they are for. This is a tradition that started when the boys were very little and couldn’t read or recognise their written name.  It made it so much easier for them to  know who each present was for when they could see a photo of the person on it.  Whilst both the boys can read now this is a tradition that lives on. 

We all chose our favourite photos from this year for our gift labels and stuck them on to a Tag.  I picked these Avery Shipping Tags up at Officeworks. We then glued some Christmas ribbon from IKEA to the left edge of the photo – an idea I got from my best friend, Amanda.  And lastly, added some twine.

We always leave a couple of extra personalised gift labels beside Santa’s milk & cookies so he can join in the fun and label the presents he leaves too!

Day 18: A Christmas Playlist for 2010

Every year my sister creates a collection of favourite Christmas songs.  Now that the boys are getting older and clearly have a taste for music I thought it would be fun to create a Christmas Playlist on iTunes.  But, it seems the 30 second preview is just not enough time for them to decide if they like the tune so this fun kids activity turned into a bit of a fizzer, but not before we had bought the whole Glee Christmas album!

I wasn’t deterred and stuck with it to create a playlist just for you with my favourite 15 (of the 40 songs I purchased). It is available for you to look at and purchase on iTunes. You will need to have iTunes loaded to your PC to view this, but in case you don’t here is the list of my favourite Christmas songs for 2010.

The Christmas Song - Catherine Feeny
O Holy Night - Jewel
River - James Taylor
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – Sarah McLachlan
Silent Night – The Blenders
I’ll Be Home for Christmas – Sarah McLachlan
Baby, It’s Cold Outside – James Taylor & Natalie Cole
Winter Song – Sara Bareilles & Ingrid Michaelson
Pure Imagination – Mark Tuner
Jingle Bells – Glee Cast
Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow – Michael Buble
You’re a Mean One, Mr Grinch – Glee Cast
Here Comes Santa Claus – Doris Day
Deck the Rooftop – Glee Cast
Mele Kalikimaka - Bette Midler.

So what’s your favourite Christmas song?

(PS – let me know if you have problems with iTune…I’ve never shared a playlist before!)

Day 17: Collect the Christmas Ham

OK, so this doesn’t sound like the most exciting Christmas activity, but is Christmas really Christmas without a fresh leg of ham in the fridge?

Today we went to our local smallgoods company, Borgo’s, to collect our ham.  We found this little business last year on the search for the best ham in Brisbane. Borgo’s is Queensland’s oldest Italian-style smallgoods manufacturer, established in 1966.  And…the hams are amazing!  You’ll never want to eat supermarket ham again.

Can’t wait to crack this one open and start the weeks and weeks of creative ham recipes.

Day 16: Favourite Christmas Books

My children have a huge collection of books, including a number of Christmas books. Today we took a vote on our favourite and the winner is…

 

This book is truly gorgeous and makes lovely references to the reality of a hot Aussie Christmas: Santa wears stubby shorts, a poinciana floral shirt, a bright red Akubra with a sprig of wattle and thongs on his feet (flip flops for those non-Aussies).  The book is filled with other Australian references including possums, pavlova, utes and ‘roos.

I know this isn’t a latest release but it is a favourite in our house and the boys nearly know it by heart.  I think Oprah should add it to her ‘Favourite Things’ show for next Christmas, don’t you? I’m sure once Oprah read this great Australian Christmas story it would be a favourite for her too.

Day 13: The Official 2010 Santa Photo

To mark the first (non-weekend) day of the school holidays, I took the boys to get their official Santa photo. As you may know I took Will in early December and was allowed to take a photo of him talking to Santa (at no charge – unbelievable!). But – I couldn’t let a Christmas by without a photo of both boys with Santa.  So here, it is:

Now it’s going straight into the envelope with the other seven Santa photos.