Festive Thursday: An Easy Christmas Craft & Recipe Ideas… #FestiveThursday

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Welcome to Festive Thursday where I’m going to be sharing with you all my Christmas endeavours, including the books I’m reading, the films I’ve watched, gift ideas I’ve found, and any festive events I’ve attended. Because, well, I LOVE CHRISTMAS SO HARD.

I’m not really a crafty person and get bored easily, but there is something about Christmas which compels me to make things. Or try to, at least. Here’s what I’ve been making in the last few weeks. They are both easy, and don’t require anything too complicated so if your Christmas spirit is waning, why not give one a go!?

Glitter Tree Decorations

I’ve made these a few times now, and they always come out great – and different every time. They are very simply glitter pony beads placed in cookie cutters and melted down n the oven for around 30-45 minutes, depending on the quality of the beads and how many you use. This year I used little zinc-plated nuts so you can thread them and hang them on your tree. Or in your window. Once cooled they pop out of the moulds pretty easily.

The beads do give off some fumes, so perhaps not suitable if small children are around. Simply use an extractor fan or open the back door for a while. And once your beads are melted, keep the oven on with the door open for a short while and bob’s yer uncle.

Cinnamon Shortbread

I’d never made shortbread before and didn’t realise how easy it is! Like ridiculously. And dangerously. I followed this traditional recipe but added some ginger too. And I made a cinnamon sugar to sprinkle on top (simply mix brown sugar with ground cinnamon).

They were seriously delicious and they will be the first thing a make when I get to my parents house tomorrow, too. I think this time I’ll decorate with icing instead.

 Currently Reading

I was really looking forward to Georgette Heyer’s A Christmas Party, but I couldn’t for the life on me get into it so I replaced it with this one, which I’m enjoying and almost finished.

christmasatrosieRosie Hopkins is looking forward to Christmas in the little Derbyshire village of Lipton, buried under a thick blanket of snow. Her sweetshop is festooned with striped candy canes, large tempting piles of Turkish Delight, crinkling selection boxes and happy, sticky children. She’s going to be spending it with her boyfriend, Stephen, and her family, flying in from Australia. She can’t wait.

But when a tragedy strikes at the heart of their little community, all of Rosie’s plans for the future seem to be blown apart. Can she build a life in Lipton? And is what’s best for the sweetshop also what’s best for Rosie?

 

Recently Watched

I finally gave in and watched Elf…it’s got to be one of the best. I can’t stand Will Ferrell in anything else but he’s great in this! I also watched Gremlins and Home Alone. Christmas films are the best. I’m saving A Muppet’s Christmas Carol, Frozen and Santa Claus -the Movie though. They definitely need to be watched with the family. 🙂

Blog Break

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post I’ll be taking a break over Christmas and into the New Year. I’ll still be posting & hosting This Week in Books, and will probably do some yearly round-up posts because they’re always fun, but my usual schedule won’t be back in action until January sometime. Thanks for all the comments, shares on Social media and for generally being awesome. 

All that’s left to say is Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays…etc. I hope you all have a lovely time. And if that’s not possible, at least get through it unscathed 😉 

xmas

 

Festive Thursday #2: The Christmas lights switch on & Winter Wonderland

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Welcome to Festive Thursday where I’m going to be sharing with you all my Christmas endeavours, including the books I’m reading, the films I’ve watched, gift ideas I’ve found, and any festive events I’ve attended. Because, well, I LOVE CHRISTMAS SO HARD.

The Funtimes

I missed last week’s post because, well, I was just being too festive and didn’t get time to write it. Soz. But on the plus side –  Happy 1st of December!!!

Last week the festivities really started. On Thursday I went to my old town (I moved but it’s still my town, OK) for the Christmas lights switch-on/ opening of the Christmas market. I donned my favourite Christmas jumper, had my first mulled beverage of the year and tried on silly hats – it’s tradition – and it was glorious.

The mulled wine was good, the hog roast was spectacular, but the entertainment was sorely lacking. Unless we somehow missed it all. There were too many people to even see who was turning the lights on but it was certainly someone no one has ever heard of. The giant nutcrackers were a welcome addition to the decorations this year, however.

Despite the wetness of weather, fun was had. Christmas has begun my friends.

Then on Saturday my parents came to visit and we went to Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park. I LOVE WW! Sure, it can get really busy and annoying, but the atmosphere is always great. And I love that they have so many bands and artists playing for free. Most of them are so-bad-they’re-good, but that just adds to the fun.

icekingdom

This year I actually booked tickets for things for the first time. The Magical Ice Kingdom was definitely impressive and beautiful, but it was a lot smaller/quicker than I expected. The Cirque Berserk modern circus was great though. I went all out and booked us a VIP box which came with champagne and chocolates and my parents loved it. It was a welcome break from sitting in the cold too. Highly recommended.

The Books

Last week I finished two festive reads.

thegirlwhosavedxmasJOURNEY TO THE EDGE OF MAGIC

If magic has a beginning, can it also have an end?

When Amelia wants a wish to come true she knows just the man to ask – Father Christmas.

But the magic she wants to believe in is starting to fade, and Father Christmas has more than impossible wishes to worry about. Upset elves, reindeers dropping out of the sky, angry trolls and the chance that Christmas might be cancelled.

But Amelia isn’t just any ordinary girl. And – as Father Christmas is going to find out – if Christmas is going to be saved, he might not be able to do it alone . . .

And:

thechristmastownDonna VanLiere, New York Times bestselling author of the timeless The Christmas Shoes and The Christmas Hope, is back with this moving and uplifting story about finding love, hope, and family in unexpected places.

Lauren Gabriel spent many years of her childhood in foster homes, wishing her mother would come back for her and be the family she needs. Now twenty-years-old, she still longs for a place that she can truly call home. Her work as a cashier is unfulfilling, and at Christmas it’s unbearable with the songs and carols and chatter of Christmas that she hears throughout the day.

When Lauren ends her shift one night, she finds herself driving aimlessly in order to avoid returning to her lonely apartment. And when she witnesses a car accident she is suddenly pulled into the small town of Grandon, first as a witness but then as a volunteer for the annual fundraiser for Glory’s Place, a center for single mothers and families who need assistance. Could this town and its people be the home she has always longed for?

My review of the Matt Haig book is here, and the other one will be up on Monday.

The Films

I think it’s important to save certain Christmas films until closer to the time itself, but there are SO many that are good, but wouldn’t be too sacrilege to watch before December.

The ones well and truly off my before December list are Elf, Home Alone, Muppets Christmas Carol & Santa Claus the movie. I’m sure there are more but they are the most important.

Last week I watched Krampus: The Christmas Devil (not the recent one) which was truly terrible, and then The Santa Clause – the one with Tim Allen. I love this film and totally think it gets overlooked! Go watch it and feel the festive wash over you.

In other news, I have done about 60% of my shopping and made a start on the Christmas booze cabinet, but more on that next time. Winning all round.

How have you been preparing for Christmas this week?

Next week – more Christmas market fun, I get crafty…and my attention will turn to FOOD!

Festive Thursday #1: Shopping, Reading, Watching, Waiting… #BloggingThroughChristmas #FestiveReads

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Welcome to Festive Thursday where I’m going to be sharing with you all my Christmas endeavours, including the books I’m reading, the films I’ve watched, gift ideas I’ve found, and any festive events I’ve attended. Because, well, I LOVE CHRISTMAS SO HARD.

I’ve decided to start my festive posts early this year because I always run out of time. And yes, I have started celebrating and preparing already! 

Last year, December crept up on me and I didn’t feel like I did enough fun, Christmassy things before Christmas itself. It didn’t help that I also took hardly any time off work. Well not this year my friends. This year I am starting early for MAXIMUM CHRISTMAS FEELS. Any ‘it’s too early’ naysayers can leave now. 

The shops are alive with the sound of Christmas music…

I have made a tentative start on my Christmas shopping, mainly spurred on by finding the most beautiful wrapping paper in TK Max that I ever did see. My friends did laugh at me when I met them in the pub in early November and made them repeatedly look at my amazing Christmas paper (which cost me £4 a roll). But it’s so pretty (the photos don’t do it justice, trust me). 

I love picking out wrapping paper and deciding how to dress up my presents each year. I’m not the best wrapper, but I make up for it in effort. I’m now on the hunt for the perfect purple ribbon/bows to go with this paper…any ideas?

Curling up with a good book or a movie…

I have, of course, already started hankering for some trashy, festive reads and terrible made-for-TV movies. Let’s face it, that began in September but I managed to hold off until we hit November (see, I have my boundaries).

On the book front, things got off to a great start with Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky by Holly Martin and a stunning children’s book called The Book of Kringle, which I now really want a physical copy of because it looked so beautiful, but I can’t find it anywhere where it isn’t extortionate. Damn you, Modern World. 

The movie front hasn’t gone quite as well but I have enjoyed it all the same. I started with Arthur Christmas which I remember enjoying at the cinema but I wasn’t as impressed the second time round. I also caught Once Upon a Holiday on TV which was much more my style (r.e Trash with a capital T). 

Christmas Pudding Vodka & Christmas Breakfast Muffins

For the past few years I’ve made a batch of Christmas Pudding Vodka to give as presents as well as to drink myself/take to parties etc. I’ve decided not to make it this year (I will be trying different things instead, do not fret), but I wrote this post last year and never got round to publishing it (I told you I always run out of time)!

As you need to soak the fruit for a while, I thought now would be a better time to post it. 

Christmas Pudding Vodka is really easy, and really yummy. The only slightly specialist bit of equipment you need is a muslin cloth/jam strainer, but you could always use a thin cotton tea towel. All you need is a pack of the traditional festive dried fruits you use for Christmas cake/pudding, sugar, cinnamon sticks, spices, oranges & lemons, a bottle of good vodka, and some time. 

After the Vodka has been soaking in the fruits and spices for about a week it’s all lovely and syrupy and tastes like the epitome of festive, yet still has a good kick.

It’s perfect for shots (even my Nan went back for a second shot last year), or with lemonade or tonic if you don’t like it too sweet.

The full recipe I follow is here.

I’ve never bothered with the vanilla, and I leave mine for at least two weeks, stirring at least once a day. Once you’ve bottled your vodka, you’re left with delicious boozy fruit that you can do lots with instead of throwing away.

Last year I just had it as a dessert, warmed up with custard. But this year, I thought – MUFFINS. Breakfast muffins, but boozy ones – WHY THE HELL NOT, IT’S CHRISTMAS!

I used a standard breakfast muffin recipe like this one, and just tweaked it. They turned out delicious, especially warm and topped with jam, as they’re not that sweet alone. 

So there you have it. As you can see, I’m easing myself in gently this year 😉

If you’re not feeling Christmassy after that lot, there is no hope for you. 

Next Week: The Christmas lights switch-on, Winter Wonderland and more festive reads!