Thursday, 31 January 2013

Happy New Year!

I don't know where the time has gone but January has been a real write off, the kids have been sick, I had the 'flu, none of the bills got paid after Christmas and the guinea pig died!! 
And now I've just found out that I had this post all written and ready to go but never published it, so better late then never, may I wish you a Happy New Year!

I hope you too had an enjoyable and peaceful Christmas time.
My idea of a good Christmas is a quiet one, with time to relax (sleep-in!), some family and some days out.  Add in a bit of me/craft time and that would make it perfect!
This year was definitely different from last years, I'd forgotten how rushed everything seems when you're working too, having more time in December is the key to getting organised, doing days out with the kids, having time to do Christmas craft activities/presents with the children and also having time to do personal present making.
I'm quite unhappy that I only really made two presents this Christmas, I feel quite guilty that I had nothing as usual for my sister or Mum or even Rowan.

Still I DID do something new....after much procrastination and doubt's that I could have time/should attempt it, both girls presents were finished at about midnight on Christmas Eve.....


I got a free pattern online and it was surprisingly easy, just large! I made the child's version but they're still quite big, you need just under 4m of material each for the outer AND inner bag and then you need the filling so they're only marginally cheaper than buying a ready-made one, but you know that's not the point!
The navy material is a double sheet from the charity shop, about £3, this bag used some Ikea fabric I hadn't used for anything and the inner bag was made with another charity shop sheet I had lying around!
So the most expensive thing was the bean filling, which I got on Christmas Eve at Dunelm Mill, I got their largest size bag (10cuFt) for £22 oh and it needed a zip!  You're supposed to use two, one each for the inner andouter but I didn't like the idea of the filling being that easily accessible to my kids! So for the inner bag I just sewed up the gap in the seam after filling and am happy to unpick and re-sew if it needs the filling topping up later. 
The hardest part was filling the bags up! Those damn little beads went everywhere!! I didn't have a funnel to use and any idea of just pouring them in is easier said than done! I resorted to using a jug to fill from the bag and pour into the seam hole, which was rather more time-consuming than I'd imagined but less messy!

The other Christmas makes were culinary, after finally finding some candy canes (Poundland in Oxford) I managed to whip up some Peppernint Bark like last year, and then as promised on Twitter I made up some non-mince pies!
I used this recipe from the Eden Project and adapted it slightly to my tastes.


Made about 24 pies

8 oz apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped (I used eating apples, about 4)

1 oz Dried Mixed Fruit (I was going to use 2oz but 1 looked enough, I only wanted a little so the kids wouldn't really notice them and refuse to eat them!)

2 oz Dried Apricots, chopped (app. 14 whole ones)

2 oz Brown Sugar

1.5 oz Vegetarian Suet

Pinch Mixed Spice

1fl oz cold water (just enough to bind together)


Mix well! 

Shortcrust Pastry

1lb Plain Flour

10 oz Butter, chopped

5 oz sugar

1 egg, beaten

Assemble and cook as per normal mince pies

I am happy to report they were really nice, even the kids loved them and are still waiting for me to make some more!  They should be a new Christmas tradition for us.

Now the next thing to do is to try and collate a review of my 2012...wonder how long that will take?!
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