Posts tagged Christmas
Christmas Traditions and Minestrone? Soup

Even though Kevin and I have been married for 10 years, in many ways I still feel like we are figuring out what 'our' Christmas traditions are.  Maybe its that the kids are still so young, so we've not had much time to renegotiate what family means to our little family unit, or maybe its that we have spent every other year in America since we were married...I don't know.



We go back and forth on family opens presents on Christmas Eve, the other on Christmas day.  The big man in the red suit is "Santa" to some of us and "Father Christmas" to others.  Some people eat the vile blob of eewy-gooeyness that is Christmas Pudding, while others go for delicious perfection in a pie plate that is pumpkin pie.

One thing we can agree on, this soup is eaten every year on Christmas Eve.  It is absolutely not Christmas without it. 

Now, in my family we call this Minestrone. In looking online *gasp* I don't think it actually IS minestrone.  I think this is just what we call it, in the same way my mother pronounces Fajitas as "fruh-heet-ahs"and Georgia calls dogs "kitty"...not really right, but everyone understands what is meant.


And so, I give you Minestrone? Soup.  Amounts are totally made up, because I just make it to whatever size I need to, based on the number of people I'm cooking for. The quantities below feed 6-8.  If you are going to make it smaller, then reduce the meat and veg accordingly, but I'd still be heavy on the olives, I'd just let Georgia eat more of them before they went in the soup.  

500g or 2lbs of stewing/casserole beef

1 onion

2 smallish courgettes

1-2 carrots

1 can of chopped tomatoes

1 can of pitted green olives (no pimentos)

1 can of black olives

1 can of kidney beans

a lot of beef stock (at least 1 litre)


a handful of short pasta


Chop the onions and cook until translucent. Chop and add the carrots. Brown the beef and then add the stock, tomatoes and some garlic, let this cook for a couple of hours on low on the stove until the meat is very very soft.

Drain the kidney beans and add them to the soup.  For the olives, you can just dump them in, brine and all or you can drain them.  I like the soup with the briney saltiness, but then the stock I use doesn't have added salt in it.

Chop up the courgettes and add them and the pasta about 15 minutes before you serve. 

Serve with bread and a sprinkling of cheese...and Pumpkin Pie (but NEVER Christmas pudding)


When Good Craft, Goes Bad.

IMG_8622.jpg IMG_8625.jpg IMG_8635.jpg IMG_8638.jpg not pictured:

- the 3 vials of glitter spilled all over the floor

- the empty packet of sequins, the contents of which I have yet to find

- the red stained arms, shirt, highchair, table cloth, bath, toilet, wall, tights

- the empty bottle of glue, squeezed into the craft box

Like Buddy the Elf

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We are trying to reinact the scene in Elf where Buddy redecorates the department store. We are getting close, helped by a multitude of tutorials on pinterest and blogs all the while being serenaded by Kevin and his new guitar. He can now play Jingle Bells and has had the thing less than 24 hours. Awesome.

Snow Globes A Go-Go


I know I say this about EVERYTHING, but seriously this has to be THE BEST CRAFT EVER.



We saw someone making these on the telly the other night, so it was moved to the top of our massive Christmas to-make list.



And SO SO worth it.  Ellis slept with his last night.  He wants to make more today.  They are just so fun, easy and impressive.



There are lots of tutorials out there on how to make these, but here  through trial and error here is what we found worked best: 




Glitter and confetti (confetti worked MUCH better and didn't get EVERYWHERE.  Plus glitter sticks to the figures and the sides of the jar)

Little Christmas figures from the thrift shop and plastic cake toppers from the party store

Mince pie casings or other items to act as bases to raise the figures off the bottom of the globe a bit

Glycerine (home baking aisle of the supermarket)

Hot Glue gun (we went through 6 sticks in an hour!) - when we do it again, I am going to try superglue as the hot glue had a tendancy to give on some of the ceramic figurines


-We just basically glued the figues to the bases or raised them on upturned mince pie casings.  We filled the casings with wet cotton balls or foil so that there wouldn't be big air bubbles in the globes.

- wide mouth jars worked best for a 'scene'

- Once glue sets, fill jar to the top with water, add a goodly squidge of gylcerine to thicken the water and some glitter/confetti.

- Hold over a sink or pan to catch overflow and screw on lid. 

- You can glue the lids shut, but we found it was better not to as inevitably something comes unglued from so much shaking and there are tears and it needs to be fixed.  Just screw on really tightly so small hands can't open it. 

Be prepared to make LOTS.


Tantalisingly Close

Its 12:30am 1:00am and I am the sewing up of a stegosaurus and an aviator hat away from having all of  my North American orders finished, packed and ready to post tomorrow. I am giddy with excitement about the achievement (3 days early!!!). 45 hats to North America in 2 months, with an additional 15 to the UK, 9 sets of wings, 85 patterns sold and another 17 hats to make for the UK before Christmas...whew!  I am tired just thinking about it. 



But my house is freezing and my eyes are heavy, so I am heading to bed.  I can only hope that aviator hats don't appear in my dreams.

As you can see from the above, my paper doily obsession is reaching obscene levels.  This picture was taken before I replaced the cotton string with red and white bakers twine.  So Christmassy.

The printable is from here, just printed on A4 paper from the computer printer and placed in a spare frame. I am developing another obsession with printables... 

...well really, anything that isn't a hat ;)

What You Make Of It


The last few days have been so very challenging.  It seems everything we look at breaks, dies or just goes wrong. My patience has all but disappeared as we leap from one catastrophe to the next.



I've mentioned before that I love to wallow.  Oh yes, give me the hint of excuse and I will whine and moan and sulk with the best of them.  My particular talents - throwing things in a rage and sobbing on the floor.

And so yesterday, as the destruction reached comedy levels, I wanted to shut the children in the lounge in front of a DVD and mope.  Fighting against that primal urge, I grouped us un the kitchen where we spent the afternoon listening to Michael Buble's Christmas album at full blast, making salt dough ornaments and peppermint crisp.



And yes, it was 800g of the cheapest chocolate I could find at Lidl. No I didn't have any peppermint extract. And so what if the candy canes were from the Pound Store and obviously very close to their use by date. And no, the salt dough did not set at all. But actually, the ingredients matter very little on days like yesterday.



Because, in the end, its what you make of them.



Its Beginning to Look A Lot Like


Winter is upon us. The mild excitement that had surrounded us about Christmas has reached a sort of frenzy. 


 It was the snow that tipped us over the edge.  For a 4 year old that thinks that tomorrow is a life time away - 3 weeks until Christmas is just too far.


The Christmas tree had been put up the night before and when this lightest of white slushy wetness stuck to the hills, that was it.  In his mind, Christmas must be if the frosting on the hills was the final puzzle piece to fit into place. 


The waiting is hard, but we fill our days with lots of Christmassy activities. On order today - salt dough ornaments and maybe popcorn strings.  Keeping him occupied until the day arrives, all the while proceeding with our own preparations: hats and photos and gifts and orders. 

And for now, we have snow. And deadlines and preparations and snow.



And doesn't Richard the Behaviour Modification Elf seems very pleased with it as well...

At A Sprint
Festive Cappuccino

That is what life is at the minute.  I catch myself running everwhere - up the stairs, to the school, to the post office.  Running through the days at a pace that leavess my body aching and my head spinning.

There is just so much to do, to plan, to think about. Normal Christmas busyness combined with a looming deadline for last posting date to the US means I ache for just a few more hours in the day.  The smallest hiccup - a clingy child, a late delivery of supplies, a missing hook - and I am over the edge in a panic, tears welling up in frustration. I love making things, its the deadline...the ever looming deadline that chases me around the day.

But I try to walk when I want to run.  I try to slow down just a little amongst the chaos.  Ellis is beyond excited about Christmas.  There were actual tears of joy at the return of Richard the Elf, the behaviour modification tool the Elf on a Shelf who is spending his days with us and his nights reporting back to Santa about the day's events. Advent calendars are out (we have 4) - 2 chocolate ones, one decorative one and one with a Christmas actvity for every day.  Today we are writing a letter to Santa for Richard the Elf to take up to the North Pole tonight.

But really, mostly it is about making things.  Making hat after hat until my hands ache at the end of the day.  Making dinner.  Making sure we have clean laundry and the house is semi-presentable. Making lists of all the OTHER things I want to make...peppermint creams, knitted, sewn and crocheted gifts. Making messes.

And running towards the finish line.


Red Friday

The day after Thanksgiving only means one thing...Christmas can begin.



It was the day of the year we traditionally spent decorating the house.  Out would come the tree, the garland, the decorations, the strings upon strings on lights that were always missing just one bulb, the Christmas dishes and the hundreds of Nutcrackers.  


Christmas music would play merrily in the background and leftover Turkey sandwhiches as we would fill our bellies as we transformed our house into a Winter Wonderland. It was soooo exciting...for the first half hour, then it just became hard work.  We always had 2 trees.  One enormous fancy one in the front of the house (my favourite was an all white one she did) and then one in the basement with all of our old ornaments - the clothespeg raindeers, the salt dough snowmen, the paper mache snowballs. 


I love carrying over traditions from my childhood.  And so today, out will come the Ella Fitzgerald Christmas album and we will *start* on our Christmas preparations.  It would be a massive understatement to say that I am beyond excited to decorate my house this year!!  My head  is just full of the possibilites. So, let the Christmas spirit spread and lets kick off this holiday season with a bit of celebration.

First of all, I am so happy to announce the release of the "Quixie" Hat pattern on etsy and ravelry.  Its a little "quick pixie"/elf/ gnome hat with a chin strap and a button.  I has actually become my favourite hat for when Theo is in the sling - its nice and snug and its cute little point makes him even more adorable.  It *would* be my favourite hat for Georgia, but she threw hers out of the pushchair along with her left welly and her sweatshirt and I can not find them. This is the "Christmas Edition" - only in that the pictures for the pattern are Christmassy.  ( I am picturing a gnome- themed revamp in the spring with WILL involve the purchase of a garden gnome).

Thank you so much to all of my testers! Especially, Riotflower who sorted out the adult sizing. And special thanks to Laura for the name (she also named the Snugosaurus)!!  

But that's not all...

As a thank you for all of the awesome support in this new venture, I am offering a 10% discount on everything in my etsy shop.  All you have to do is 'like' my facebook page to get the code (it seemed like a good way of rewarding fans and readers). Oh and you can totally unlike it later. If you already like it, go to the 'Welcome' page on the left hand column. And if you hate Facebook and think that Mark Zuckerberg is public enemy number 1 - leave a comment and I'll email you the code.




But wait, there's more!  All of my patterns on ravelry are also 10% off this weekend!  Discount applied at checkout, so go forth and download!

I hope you all have a lovely weekend!!