Friday, 30 December 2011

Après Christmas

 My beautiful new camera, courtesy of my exceedingly kind Mother. Just need to work out how to use it now...

I hope you all had wonderful Christmases and haven't had to go back to work yet. I've got Hubby until the 3rd (too soon!) but I'm still off until the 9th! The ultimate perk of working in education is the divine number of holidays you get. We have been taking it super easy since we got back from visiting family, partially because it's the holidays, and partially because I somehow managed to hurt my back (again) and so haven't been very mobile. It's feeling much better now, so much so that we actually considered leaving the house today (we've been holed up playing Lego Harry Potter - our post-Christmas present to ourselves), but just as we started to get ready, it started to throw it down with rain and continued to all day! Alas, another afternoon spent curled up on the sofa, in front of the fire, playing our favourite video games and drinking endless cups of tea...

It's a hard life isn't it?!

When we've not been on the xbox, we've been playing with our new Christmas presents - we were spoilt rotten by our families (and each other, naturally) this year, and our presents went down well (I think/hope).

Now that everyone's received them, I can safely reveal what we (well, mostly I, but Hubby did help too) made. The presents were mostly food and drink based, tailored to people's tastes and allergies (although I did forget my sister-in-law's gluten allergy, oops). We made blackberry liquor (using this blackcurrant recipe) and mulled wine for the drinkers amongst the grown-ups, and put them in pretty bottles we found at Ikea (I hinted a peak at them here). Special "festive" rocky road (thanks Nigella!) and peanut butter fudge  for those with a sweet tooth - the RR came out excellently, with the cherries and amaretti biscuits making it feel more decadent and christmas-sy, and the fudge worked well when it was fresh, but went a little squishy once it was out of the fridge unfortunately :( Since my Mum's neither much for alcohol or sweets, I made her some mincemeat, with the promise of a baking session we didn't have time for in the end - maybe next year? and some blackberry jam - made with the pulp from the liquor - no waste here.

I also made a candle for each person, in a chintzy vintage (read: charity shop) cup using wax and dyes I bought off eBay. This all seemed just that little bit too easy to do, and of course, it was - they all came out in terribly delicate pastel colours- pretty, but not so good for the boys in my family, and because I poured the wax too early, they all cracked all over the tops.

 Not to be beaten, and luckily not out of wax, I whipped up a drop more, in slightly bolder colours, and added a tiny extra layer to the candles to sort out both problems in one go.

Since I was on a handmade present kick at this point, I made crunchy granola and brandied cherries for my Mum's birthday too, and my eldest brother (who's birthday is today actually, Happy Birthday G!) got homemade basil and chili oil. We sneaked a nip out of the pan with a crust of bread and I can safely say, the basil oil is divine! Now can you see why I've blogged so little this month? I've been rushed off my feet!

You might think I'm crazy but I've already started thinking about next Christmas too. Hubby came up with a decidedly bold, but brilliant, suggestion which would involve some growing, so we'd have to plan it early, if it were even possible! And we've been snapping up a few more Christmas decorations to add to our eclectic collection - we've been buying a few each year so that by the time we are Old we will have hundreds!

One thing that Hubby MUST NOT READ is a truly incredible present idea I have found for him which will need to be started ASAP. Very excited by this one. If you have a loved one in your life, you might want to consider clicking this link here (No spoilers please!). I think it's such a fab idea.

Are you doing anything nice for New Year's? We'll probably do our usual thing of curling up with a film - maybe having a cheeky glass of fizz, but that's all. I love the hope and promise of a new year and a fresh start, but I'm not much one for fireworks and all the pomp surrounding this holiday. Have fun if you're celebrating and stay safe.

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