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My Month in Pictures: December 2014

31 Dec

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It has been a lovely December. Yes, very busy and exhausting, but I love all the christmas food preparation; the cooking, the baking, the decorating. The children and I made some gorgeous, smelling-of-christmas gingerbread shapes to go onto the christmas tree. Ok, they never made it as far as the tree but it was a fun afternoon.

The weather has changed from the almost mild December to a freeze-your-face-off temperature. Gorgeous and picturesque – it makes for lovely dog walks. The chickens, however, don’t enjoy it as much as myself and DogFace, so we’ve been giving them extra care to ensure their water isn’t frozen and they have shelter and protection from the cold with straw.

Despite the increase in baking I’ve still managed to read a few books. I loved Katie Fforde’s collection of short stories, A Christmas Feast. It was relaxing to dip into when I retired, exhausted, to bed at night. And Tammy Cohen’s Dying for Christmas was a real treat. I couldn’t read it every day for a while. I felt a bit stressed with the story (not helped by the pre-Christmas stress in real life!). But then, gradually, I was hooked in and as the plot developed and twisted I couldn’t put it down. Brilliant.

Am Cooking: Preparing for Christmas

14 Dec

Get-ahead Christmas gravyEvery year I pre-make my gravy, bread sauce, roast potatoes and pigs in blankets well before the big day. Then freeze them. I love it. I’ve Christmas songs on the radio and the house comes alive with the smells and sounds of Christmas. I’ve learnt from the past that I like to do a lot of the cooking on the day myself. I’m a bit of a control freak – though I’m working on it. So if I pre-prepare it takes the stress off myself, allows me to have a bucks fizz (or two), enjoy the present unwrapping, and not be tied to the kitchen from early on. The get-ahead gravy I make is Jamie Oliver’s minus the star anise (we’re not fans of it in this house), and with three times the amount of ingredients.

This all sounds like I’m terribly organised and domesticated – but believe me I’m not. I may have made my Christmas gravy but have I written any Christmas cards yet or done anything else remotely Christmassy? Nope.

Gorgeous Christmas Novels

24 Nov

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Our house is completely upside down at the moment as we renovate the kitchen, so I’m taking refuge in other worlds, and the fire, to escape the chaos around me.

Last Christmas I intended to read lots of Christmas novels, but I never actually got around to it. The only one I did manage, and thoroughly enjoyed, was Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, you know, the one with that awful Simeon Lee.  

This year, I’ve started earlier. So far, on the kindle, I’ve read Ivy Lane: Winter: Part 4 by Cathy Bramley. Not strictly a Christmas novel as it’s the fourth and final part in the series of mini books around life at Ivy Lane allotments. But it still involves Christmas. I will come back to Cathy’s gorgeous series another time because I adored it and it deserves a whole blog post of its own devoted to it. Needless to say if you fancy checking it out start with Ivy Lane: Spring: Part 1.

After delighting in Rachael Lucas’s debut novel, Sealed with a Kiss, I was excited to read the novella, Sealed with a Christmas Kiss. It was lovely to return back to the Scottish Island of Auchenmor. Far better than dealing with the dust and mess of reality.

Then we have the books pictured above. Carole Matthews always delivers a cracking Christmas novel. The Christmas Party is set over the few days before and on Christmas Day. Tension, emotions running high, love affairs, adultery. It’s got it all.

Then we have The Great Christmas Knit Off by Alexandra Brown. Oh, I adored this book. The story, the characters and the setting. Enhanced beautifully by the map in the front which reminded me of the one in Milly-Molly-Mandy. This was perfect for snuggling down with a glass of white and a roaring fire. I simply adored it and cannot recommend it enough, during this wonderful, yet rather hectic season. Treat yourself. It is a brilliant stress-reliever.

Dying for Christmas, Christmas in the Snow and The Adventures of the Christmas Pudding are next on the to-be-read list. Cannot wait to dive in.

Reading books is what woodburners were made for.