Friday, December 19, 2014

The Christmas Kitchen

There is no doubt that we tend to spend allot more time in the kitchen over the festive season! This week I baked 3 dozen Christmas mince pies. Two dozen were destined to spread a bit of Christmas good cheer :). A dozen to our library ladies to share over a cup of tea and a dozen dropped off at our wonderful dentist's practice. They were so accommodating with a dental emergency we had in our home this week, so a little show of appreciation was in order I thought.

Then of course a dozen for my wonderful hubby and family here at home - which are finished already so I will be baking more today!

The gingerbread house....

Isn't just lovely? I love love LOVE this little tradition that we have only recently started, inspired by my beautiful friend Jenny - who makes a gingerbread house with her children every year.

Speaking of all things food, I mentioned last week that I had a few frugal thoughts about Christmas Dinner.

Every year there seems to be far too much food! There is so much left over and the truth is I'm not sure why I cook so much when there is no possible way we can finish it all. Fair enough if you have oodles of people over, but we usually only have a few extra people with us, not enough to justify three different meats, vegetables to feed and army - of which there is always left over, and a selection of deserts to try and fit in on overfilled tummies.

So this year I have decided on a different approach. I have chosen a 4 bird roast with stuffing which is big enough for my family and is currently sitting in my freezer. Veg will be what we usually have with a roast dinner but with a bit of a twist. I'll find different ways of preparing them so that they are a bit special.

Deserts, well, we will make one special desert that we have not tried before and enjoy that much later after our Christmas dinner. We are always too full to have desert straight after. 

Of course we will set a table that is festive and fun, with lots of crackers to pull and glittery stars on the table cloth. So lots of festive fun but trying to not over spend, over eat and over do everything but rather keeping it all real :)

 We are now officially on holiday, all books have been packed away for two weeks and I am going to indulge in a little 'planner play'. My new Filofax arrived this morning and I can't wait to 'move in' :)

I'll be sure to pop in and give all those who share a love for new planners and diary's a little peek soon. Until then, have a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Twas The Week Before Christmas ...

:) and much is going on in the house! 

Yip, Christmas is just around the corner and I'm pretty sure that most of you are busying yourselves finishing up those last few things that need to be done. It is no different in my home right now. We are finishing up our lessons for 2014 and are looking forward to packing away the books for a lovely two week break. Our afternoons are filled with lovely things that we are doing together, right now the girls are busy decorating the gingerbread house. In our home it is a two day process this year. Yesterday we made the dough, cut out the shapes and baked them. Today is decorating and assembly day (please do excuse the rather messy counter-tops in my kitchen today - real life and all that lol.

The tree went up on Saturday...

We have a few new decorations on our tree this year. My clever 16 year old made a set of 8 - each one unique- paper baubles for the tree. I just love them! It makes me think of Victorian times when most decorations were home crafted.

I found these cute little red bell baubles at The Range this year and fell in love with them. I had no option but to pop them into my basket and take them home and I have to say they are VERY happy living on my tree ;)

The mantle was decorated yesterday afternoon, everyone adding a little touch.

Outside my window at the moment the weather is horrible - windy, rainy, cold. The days of hanging my washing outdoors are gone until next year so my house looks a bit like a Chinese Laundry with washing drying over every available radiator.

 I'm loath to use the tumble dryer too much so was thrilled when a friend gave me a whole lot of these nifty radiator drying racks - thanks Ruth!!

With the colder weather setting in, I thought that I would make a whole lot of hand-warmers to slip into our mittens when out and about. Have you seen these before? They are fab. 

Mine are filled with lavender and rice so that they smell good too. I have made mine with a removable outer cover so that I can wash them when need be - it extends the hand-warmers life a bit.

When heating you just pop the inner (must be made from 100% cotton) into the microwave for around 16 seconds and then pop them into their covers. You are sure to have warm hands on your cold winter walks :) The little ribbons slip over the middle finger to prevent the warmer slipping down into your mitten/glove.

If you are keen on making your own you can follow this great little tutorial I found through Pinterest. Of course you could also make bigger ones to warm you up in the evenings or snuggle down into bed with. If you don't have rice in the cupboard you could use barley, beans, wheat or even oatmeal instead.

That's about it from me today. I will be back tomorrow to show you the gingerbread house :)

Have a lovely Thursday all.

Friday, December 12, 2014


I got to see my first bit of 2014/2015 winter snow. It was completely unplanned of course and truthfully if I had known that I would have to drive over the Pennines in snow I would have chickened out for sure. 

But when you are unexpectedly faced with it, what can you do? It was not exactly a blizzard, visibility was good even though it was still snowing.

and it was really pretty :)

Have a lovely weekend all.

Frugal Friday Update

Well, I missed a couple of Friday's there - did you notice ;)

Overall the  Grocery Bill Project was a huge success. I managed to cut my overall grocery bill by £70 for the month. So that means I didn't make my goal of £100 saving but for the first time round I'm happy with the result.

I found it to be a very enlightening experience. For example, I discovered that I really do love shopping at Aldi. They have really good quality food for a fraction of the price. At first I wondered how on earth they could offer foodstuffs at such a low price and still make a profit. Then I noticed that they don't stock any big brands in their stores. So you wouldn't find Heinz tomato sauce in their stores but you would find tomato sauce that is perhaps bottled especially for them under their own brand name.

Most of what I need I can get at Aldi with the exception of a few things which still  has me walking Tesco's isles - which is fine, I know that by changing my shopping habits I am making a difference to my families budget in the long run.

Two other frugal additions, I mentioned on Tuesday that I have hung a door curtain over the kitchen door to keep out the drafts. If you live in a country that has cold winters I would highly recommend doing this. The minute the sun slips under the horizon just before 4 in the afternoon, all the curtains in the house are drawn and candles lit. Curtains keep the cold out and the heat in! It baffles me as I drive along after sunset and see peoples lights on and curtains WIDE open - allowing all that heat to escape. It has to do not-such-good-things to their heating bills!

Secondly, I have a new oven! I'm so happy with this change. My old oven's seal had gone, so although I could still bake and roast to my heart's content - with no flops- there was a considerable amount of heat escaping. I suppose this meant that the oven was having to put out more energy to try and keep the temperature that it was set to. With my new oven I no longer feel like I am wasting unnecessary energy. Sorry energy company, more money in my pocket instead of yours!

The Crockpot - what a HUGE success. I have used my crockpot so much over the last month. We had the most delicious meals with very little stressing and busyness required on my part. With winter making her presence known I am certainly going to keep this new frugal addition going!

So - points that I want to discuss in my next Frugal Friday post - Christmas! There is no doubt that it seems people are thinking a little deeper before maxing out their credit cards for this holiday - and Christmas fare - I have a few thoughts on that too - but more on all that next week.

This weekend we are putting up our Christmas tree! So exciting. I know allot of you have yours up already, but in our home if it is to make Epiphany, it daren't  make it's appearance too soon lol.

Have a fab weekend all. See you back here on Monday.