Festive Thursdays are back!

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For the next couple of Thursdays I’m going to be sharing with you all of my Christmas preparation, the books I’m reading, the films I’ve watched, gift ideas I’ve found, and the festive events I’ve attended. Because, well, I LOVE CHRISTMAS SO HARD.

I know I say it all the time, and so does everyone else, but WHERE THE HELL HAS THIS YEAR GONE? I’ve been so busy with work and RL that even December crept up on me this year. I’m usually cracking out the Christmas films as soon as Halloween is over, but this year has been a bit more slow on the up take.

I have however, finally made a start, and managed to do quite a lot of Christmassy things in the last week or so.

Christmas Markets: 
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The first time I feel festive usually coincides with the start of the Christmas market in my town and on the Southbank. I didn’t manage to make it to the lights switch-on this year, but I have already sampled the mulled wine (much better this year), and devoured a hog roast from the local market and it was gooooooood.

Festive Reads:

I had a really hard time deciding which seasonal reads to add to my shelves this year. I bought a couple from a charity shop a couple of weeks ago, and I was approved for the following book on Netgalley which I’ve just finished.

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Decorations:
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Yes, my decorations are up and I love them! I went all out this year and bought some new items which I hope I’ll keep for a long time.

I also made some of my own decorations this year, from melting glitter beads in the oven, in cookie cutters. They were so much fun and easy to make and they look amazing hanging in front of fairy lights on the tree. I sold a set on Etsy, and there is still one set of 6 up for grabs. You can see them here.

Gremlins: 

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I went to see a special screening of Gremlins at my favourite cinema in London, in which BILLY did a Q&A, and brought Gizmo with him, of course. It was great! It’s one of my favourite Christmas Films!

Christmas Cake:
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I’ve had my fruit and spices soaking in brandy for around six weeks now. I was only planning on around 3 weeks but I just never made the time to bake the cake. I did finally bake it last Sunday though….it better be good! All that’s left to do is feed it more brandy syrup (of course) and ice it. I use this recipe here, which has great results even without soaking your fruit – so there’s still time!

Next week: Winter Wonderland @ Hyde Park, Christmas Pudding Vodka and Christmas muffins, and what I’m reading and watching!

Festive Thursdays: So much festive!

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Every Thursday I’m going to be sharing with you all of my Christmas preparation, the books I’m reading, the films I’ve watched, gift ideas I’ve found, and the festive events I’ve attended. Because, well, I LOVE CHRISTMAS SO HARD.

I didn’t manage to post last Thursday, but to be honest I didn’t do much anyway, other than making a mini Gingerbread House and watching Frozen four times in two days. No, really.

Anyway, on to this week’s rundown…

1. Christmas Cakes (stage 1)

As I mentioned in my first post, I’m putting together some Christmas hampers to give as presents this year. Everything is going to be made by yours truly, with the exception of the baskets/boxes (which I don’t have yet), and the jars!

This week, I made a start on making individual Christmas cakes by soaking the dried fruit in a whole bottle of cherry brandy, and a glug of honey brandy to boot. It smells amazing, and after a week I think it’s ready!

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I know some people soak their fruit for months but I don’t think it’s necessary. I pour brandy over the cake afterwards anyway. More booze than cake is my motto at Christmas! This is the recipe I’ve roughly followed over the last couple of years. It’s one that doesn’t require soaking at all, but I still do.

Hopefully I’ll have stage 2 – baking & decorating – done for next week’s post.

2. Chilli & Apple Jam

I’d never made jam before, or even chutney, but was assured it’s quite easy, and it really was!

I wanted a ‘jam’ that was spicy to suit my Dad and Brother’s tastes, but was also Christmassy, so I combined two different recipes – this Nigella one, which is so simple, and I added some clove-studded apples to the mixture as it boiled, which I’d seen in a different recipe I was tempted to try.

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I also used a few different types of chillies and preserving sugar instead of regular. At first I thought it wasn’t going to set, but after an hour cooling, and 30 mins in the fridge it firmed up and is a perfect consistency. The only fail – it only filled two of my jars so I had to make some more. But it was so easy it didn’t matter!

For the second batch, I added a whole lemon to the chillies (instead of the apples) and blitzed the whole lot. And I ran out of preserving sugar so just used regular. It came out just as good, and the lemon tastes really great with the chilli. This one’s my favourite. I might have to keep one for myself!

3. A Christmas to Remember

I read, and pretty much devoured this book! My review will be up on Monday, hopefully.

ng4Everyone loves Christmas – don’t they?

Carrie Blake loves her job as a nanny but, while her friends are settling down, all of Carrie’s spare time is spent with other people’s families. Though it breaks her heart, her New Year’s resolution is to embark on a new career and fix her love life.

As Carrie starts her last job, she’s sure she’ll be going out on a high – the house is amazing , the kids are adorable, and she’s in charge of decorating the tree!

The only problem could be her boss… single-dad Adam Fletcher might be both handsome and successful, but he’s always working. Doesn’t he realise he’s missing out on precious moments with his son and daughter?

As Adam’s family arrive for Christmas including his sensitive sister, Sharon, and his fun-loving elderly Grandpa, Walter, Carrie realises that she might just have found the perfect allies in her quest to persuade Adam to loosen up. There’s still time for Carrie to make this the best Christmas ever… after all, Christmas is the time for miracles, isn’t it? Let the festivities begin!

I also posted my review of Dying for Christmas – an altogether different kind of Christmas read!

4. Christmas 24 and the rest!

I’m such a sucker for those made-for-TV Christmas films. Seriously, I can’t get enough. Most of them are terrible, but in a really good way. And now and again you find some that are actually great, in nothing but a great way!

This week however, I watched One Christmas starring a very old and scary-looking Katharine Hepburn and THE FONZ. Sounds great right? Wrong. It was so, so bad, and not very festive at all. Avoid!

5. Miscellaneous Festive Funtimes:

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This week I also bought a new Christmas jumper which is AMAZING and I bought some red candles in the hopes that I’d find a cheap candelabra thing to put in the window but I couldn’t find one. Any ideas for my candles? There’s always wine bottles I guess. Bit boring though.

Up Next: More festive reads, my Christmas cake progress, and hopefully salted chocolate & cinnamon fudge gets added to my hampers. And I’m going to an ELF Quote-A-Long at my favourite cinema. Yessss!

Merry Festiving!