Mince Pies and Fairy Lights

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I still can’t quite believe I’ve had nearly a whole year off from writing. Writing in almost any form, at the minute completing a shopping list is about my level! But there is something extremely therapeutic and rewarding about capturing these thoughts and adventures on this little ‘ole blog, even if most of the time we are too busy enjoying them to worry about documenting any of it. And that’s ok, that’s the way it supposed to be.

Surprisingly the sleep fairies aligned this morning giving me a short window of time that didn’t need to be filled with anything immediate, and I’ve already showered and had breakfast. Life goals right there.

At some point I’ll do a bit of a wrap up of 2016, as its been quite a year! But for something a little lighter today. We recently went back to the UK and indulged in countless roast dinners with many trimmings, spending lots of time with family and friends, leaving us feeling like we have already half done Christmas. Whilst for some the holidays may not be a joyous occasion, especially as there are so many ‘should’s’ wrapped up in these few days. In a bid to not treat Christmas as something to be done, or checked off the list, and ignoring all the should’s, here are the top 5 things I have and am doing to enjoy these holidays.

  1. Holiday baking. At a recent yoga class we all discussed what our favourite part of the holidays are, and tried to narrow it down to one thing. This was pretty tricky. For me it has to be the food. When else do you get to eat so many delicious treats. I love baking, all year round, so having time to make and decorate cookies, make eggnog – delicious by the way! and my favourite every year, mince pies, is a real treat (have you seen all the puns so far *smug face*).
  2. Fairy lights. You cant have too many. Which is good, because the fairy light monster sneezed all over our house. But they are amazing, I might just leave them up all year.
  3. PJ’s. Be it pj’s (matching!), lounge wear, sweats or whatever, I’m fully embracing the chance to have a few lazy days. I’ve stocked up on popcorn and am choosing some movies. Anyone got any favourite must see Christmas movies?
  4. Snow. Our Christmas plans aside from the above are to make a snowman. We will be in Utah where it is looking very much like we will be having another white Christmas. 10 inches of the white stuff in fact! Whilst kiwi will be hankering after a beach and bbq, I love going for a walk in the snow, and this year being a big kid and making a snowman. It’s been so long I’m not even sure I know how!
  5. Go on an adventure. Once the turkey is finished – we are forgoing it this year, pigs in blankets as a main? followed by cheese. Sure why not! But after lazing around eating all the chocolate, get outside, go somewhere, do something. We plan on walking,  skiing and visiting a state park, then after all of that, playing some new board games!

 

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Happy holidays

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Its a little quiet over here on the blog, although I’ve had some time to sit at my computer and catch up on some posts, for us holidays are about switching off, spending time together and snuggling the cats.

Christmas is the holiday we especially give ourselves time to recharge, enjoy wintry walks, delicious food and quality time together.

I hope your holidays are bright and merry and you have chance to refresh, catch up with loved ones and reflect on the past year.

We’ve already enjoyed some snowy walks, an English roast with new Zealand lamb, Christmas tunes and lots of chocolate!!

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Christmas traditions

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Where has 2015 gone? It’s December and Christmas is fast approaching. I’m a big fan of Christmas, I love the festivities and pretty lights, mince pies and Christmas music. There are a couple of festive traditions I usually follow and this year has been no exception.

  1. A real tree, Christmas wouldn’t be the same without a tree to decorate, and each year Kiwi and I go and buy a real one. It smells great, the kitties love climbing in it and its a tradition that we like to keep up. This year we struggled to find where to buy one from – where are all the tree farms?
  2. Decorations, we now tend to buy a few decorations when we visit places, so then each year when we decorate the tree we also get a whole box of memories and places we have been to. My favourites are some pretty glass ones we brought when visiting the Christmas markets in Cologne. The only downside is that none of our ornaments match or follow a colour scheme.
  3. Mince pies, mulled wine, chocolate, and all the foods. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without weeks of feasting. Whilst we tend to actually eat healthier and stock up on veggies for most of December to counteract all the extra yummy foods we have. I usually make some mince pies, this year I again made my own mincemeat and have been experimenting with different types of pastry to see what works best. I’ll be making a batch of mulled wine or even apple cider next week and I’m currently on the lookout for a great ‘holiday cookie’ aka biscuit recipe.
  4. Advent calendar. I don’t care that these are for children and they aren’t a good breakfast alternative but I still have an advent calendar each year. Next year I’m thinking I may even be organised and make a mini personalised one instead of the chocolate variety!
  5. Tree chocolates. I’m not sure how these haven’t caught on this side of the pond because they are marvellous, but not to be defeated I’ve made my own. A few pieces of string and a gianormous multi-bag of Lindt balls. and voila!! tree chocolates, the best kind! mmm admittedly some didn’t make it to the tree!

What Christmas traditions do you follow to feel all festive? This year I might expand on these traditions and have a Christmas move day – all the old classics that I’m sad to admit I’ve never watched! Carols, and a cheese and mulled wine night.

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Sloe Gin & Hot chocolate

Around this time of year there are only two drinks that are in my mind. A hot chocolate or three and homemade sloe gin. There’s almost nothing better when its cold that a nice hot chocolate to warm you up. Shockingly despite my Englishness I’m not really a tea drinker. I know its mildly upsetting that I am failing in my Britishness. I like peppermint and a builders tea about twice a year. I dislike coffee so its all about the hot chocolate!

I now tend to make my own with cocoa powder,a  dash of sugar or honey, milk and water. Occasionally I add a bit of almond milk as its creamier. If I want to be really indulgent then Honestly Healthy’s coconut milk hot chocolate is the best thing ever!!! Coconut milk, cocoa powder, something sweet, heat up, Boom- chocolate coma!

The only other Christmas drink that will do is sloe gin! Now you cant really buy good sloe gin unless you can find a little country market selling home made goods, store brought is syrupy and horrid. Home made sloe gin is possibly the best thing ever!!! As is damson gin too.

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I spent a good five weeks scouring the landscape around me hunting for sloes. They do grow in North America, however the problem is there aren’t really native hedgerows here – there aren’t really any hedges at all. We even visited an arboretum in the hope a blackthorn bush or three might have been planted. Alas it wasn’t to be so. Not to be deterred by a little thing like missing the key ingredient I had to think outside the box. And ta dah….. the internet is an amazing place. I managed to find some freeze dried sloes that could be shipped to the states. Hurrah Christmas is saved. Ok so this maybe a little extreme but I couldn’t not make sloe gin just because I’m the other side of the world now could I!

Any way a week later the sloes arrived, I rehydrated them and bottled up some home made slow gin, I’m pleased to say its working well so far! It needs to be left a few weeks but it was ready just in time for a Christmas tipple over a game of monopoly!

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The good bits #4

wpid-eg_20150323125026927.jpgAnd a monthly round up of all things great and small. Well the month of December is pretty festive related! We’ve had a ball finding our own Christmas tree and decorating with decorations found at last years German Christmas markets, as well as enjoying the elaborate light displays all over town.

Finding and sending parcels home

We embraced winter activities with a spot of ice skating and a ski-ing weekend for our first thanksgiving!

Playing a new game – Dutch Blitz…. Amazing!

We made our own sloe gin and a few festive treats for the beginnings of our own traditions

Having some time off for Christmas holidays and celebrating the end of another year whilst reflecting on what’s next

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San Francisco for the holidays

Very shortly we shall be making our way to the airport! This Christmas we are off to San Fran to visit this gorgeous city and some amazing friends who have just moved out there. After an evening of watching the John Bishop Christmas special and part 1 of wrong man’s, after the last instalment of he Hobbit last week – its the end of an era! We are finally feeling like its Christmas. As its been uncharacteristic warm* it hasn’t quite felt like its been tat festive yet.

I’ve never visited the west coast – aside from an LA stop other which I wasn’t allowed to leave one room for several hours. I’m really looking forward to seeing a famous bridge, eating cheese, basking in the sunshine and caching up with peeps Obviously we shall also be eating lots, playing board games and watching festive movies. I think once we are back we will be out running to remember how to move again!

We are all packed – sharing an 18kg weight allowance is interesting! thankfuly all my clothes are in 3 colours so coordiante nicely! The kitty also wants to coe with us, she has gotten in and out the suitcase more times than I can count – she’s trying to find a good hiding place! If anyone has some San Fran recomenations please comment and let us know!

* its a good few degrees above freezing – its basicly spring!