Silent Sunday

A Christmas Message From Me...

Positively, The Best Christmas Ever

24 December 2012

This year I've been on a mission to make this the best Christmas ever. I'll probably say that every year to come. But this year has been about introducing traditions for our little family. At two and almost four years old, Oliver and Lydia are old enough to understand what Christmas is all about. But they're still young enough to start a few traditions that, hopefully, we'll follow for years to come. 

For us, Christmas Eve is almost as important as Christmas Day. We'll start by opening the last door on our advent calendar. Inside will be a chocolate coin each and a little note. The note says 'Open our Christmas eve surprise box'. I've been getting it ready for weeks and have picked up little treats whenever I've seen something nice. Oliver helped to decorate the wrapping paper but he didn't know what I was using it for. Inside are some Christmas socks for both of them, a light up spinning Santa toy, a lucky bag each, our reindeer food {home made with porridge oats and glitter}, some Santa chocolates, Christmas crackers, a Christmas book and a Christmas DVD. I absolutely can't wait to see their faces when we open it!

On Christmas Eve afternoon, we always to to the Christingle service at our local church. My parents, sister and nieces all go too. It's a lovely family service and everyone gets to make a Christingle candle and we sing some carols by candlelight. It's one of my favourite times of the whole festive season.

Before bedtime, we'll leave out a mince pie and glass of milk for Santa and a carrot for Rudolph. Then sprinkle our reindeer food outside in the garden and finally hang their stockings in their bedrooms.

What family traditions do you have at Christmas?

Silent Sunday

My Week On Instagram

22 December 2012

It's been another crazy week here. But I'm happy to report that I've finally ticked off everything on my to-do list.

I've finished work {although I have to go in on the 27th & 28th... sob} All the presents are wrapped and have been given out or stashed at my parents house until Christmas Eve when I do my Santa thing. All the parties and concerts have been attended. The grocery shopping is done and has been delivered by our lovely Asda delivery man. And most importantly I've delivered the invitations for Oliver's birthday party. 

So now I can concentrate on relaxing, eating, drinking, baking and having fun with my wonderful little family. Here's a little montage of some of my Instagram photos from the past week...

my week on instagram
I had a fabulous time at my work's Christmas party which was held at a posh casino in Manchester. Gorgeous food, free drinks and a spot of roulette where I won £25... then lost it all!
I made a  chocolate cake decorated with Kit Kat's and M&M's for my lucky work colleagues. For our last team meeting of the year we had Domino's pizza for lunch and my lovely friend asked me to make this cake as an extra treat for everybody.
Oliver's nursery nativity was fantastic. He had one of the main roles as one of three grumpy cows in the stable.Whenever anyone wanted to come into the stable {shepherds, kings etc} they said 'You're not all coming in here are you' with hands on hips and grumpy faces. He was brilliant.
The darlings made some reindeer food for Rudolph and Co. They both took their jobs very seriously and very carefully stirred the glitter into the oats. I then bagged them up, tied with a bow and a cute gift tag. I've put them in our Christmas Eve hamper to bring out and sprinkle in the garden on Christmas eve.
I got the most amazing Secret Santa gift from work. A bottle of Bailey's biscotti flavour! Whoever bought it me must know me very well or had been listening into my conversations.
Hubby went out on his work's Christmas party so I enjoyed an evening to myself with a couple of mini mince pies, Irish cream flavoured extra thick cream and a huge glass of my new Bailey's.
Oliver made the cutest Christmas card ever at Nursery. I've entered it into a Children's Christmas card competition that we have at work.
I decided to have a go at making my own mince pies. I've never made them before, but I was inspired by Paul Hollywood making then on the Christmas special of The Great British Bake Off this week. I used the exact recipe that he used and they turned out great. I think I overfilled them so they were quite err... rustic looking, but taste yummy.

What has been the highlight of your week? Are you prepared for Christmas yet?

Silent Sunday

Our Christmas Tree

15 December 2012

We have a rule that we don't put up our Christmas tree or any decorations until after Lydia's birthday. So on Tuesday {the day after her birthday}, we got all the boxes out and Oliver and I put the tree up. He was a fabulous helper {for a nearly four year old} and he arranged the baubles very nicely on the tree. I wanted a change this year and have gone for red and white decorations on the tree. Since September I've been buying a couple of decorations a week. It might not be the biggest tree around, but I think it looks very pretty.
Oliver and I have spent lots of time this week doing some Christmas crafts together. We've made paper chains, paper snowflakes and these cute tree decorations. They were in a kit that I bought from Sainsburys. The pieces are all made of foam and are already pre-cut. All you have to do it peel off the sticky backing and stick them together. Oliver loved it and they now have pride of place on the Christmas tree.
On Wednesday we made some Christmas lanterns. I've been keeping hold of any empty glass jars and have loads in the cellar now. We painted the jars with PVA glue, then stuck on some white tissue paper all over. Then we stuck on our paper snowflakes and also some little glittery snowflakes. I tied some red and white twine round the top, popped in a tealight and hey presto. They look lovely on the windowsill with my new light-up Christmas tree. I want to make a couple more and have got a great idea for making them using washi tape.

So it's all looking really festive now and I love it. Only 11 sleeps until the big day and I think I'm even more excited than the darlings.

Lydia Is Two!

14 December 2012

Goodness me! Is it really a whole week since I blogged? As I said in my last post about Christmas stress, I'm just incredibly busy with a huge Christmas-related to-do list. There really aren't enough hours in the day to fit it all in, never mind blogging, which unfortunately has had to take a back seat for the time being.

On Monday my beautiful Lydia turned two. Two years old! I can't believe it. She's still my baby even though she's an independent, headstrong little girl now.

We had a lovely little family tea party at home. I was really happy that I had enough time to make the wonderful pink layer cake and everyone loved it. I think it was my most impressive cake to date. It was a bit of a giant cake so I took half of it into work the next day.

pink flower birthday cake

pink layer cake

She got some lovely presents. Her favourites were the sweet wooden tree house from her Oliver, hubby and I, and a pink scooter from her grandparents.

 I also made some Christmas tree chocolate brownies. I saw them on Pinterest a while ago and really wanted to have a go as brownies are one of my favourite things to make. When I had finished them I put them on the dining table and told the darlings not to touch them. A while later Lydia came into the kitchen chewing something. I asked her what she was eating and she said 'balls'. The little monkey had been picking the Smarties off and eating them! Luckily the icing hadn't set so I stuck some more on.

chocolate brownie christmas trees

My to-do list is looking a bit healthier now with lots of tasks ticked off. I still have to finish wrapping some presents and need to deliver them to my friends. I really want to make a gingerbread house but I'm not sure if I'll have time. And I've got another two nights out next week. Even more importantly, Oliver's birthday is 12 days after Christmas so I need to get my backside into gear ans start organising things for that - I haven't even sent out any invitations yet!

Christmas Stress

7 December 2012

I'm feeling a lot of Christmas related stress at the moment. There's just so much I need to do before Christmas. Presents need wrapping. A gingerbread house needs baking and assembling. Cards need delivering. Chocolate brownie Christmas trees need baking. Home made lanterns need making. Salt dough tree ornaments and gift tags need making. Old toys need putting on Gumtree to make space for new ones. And it feels like there aren't enough hours in the day to do everything. 

I've had two Christmas nights out this week and I'm absolutely knackered from relatively late nights. Plus I've got four more parties/meals to attend before Christmas *collapses at the thought of it all*

On top of all the usual Christmas stuff, it's Lydia's 2nd birthday on Monday. We're having a very small family tea party and of course I'm baking the cake. I was planning on making a pink rainbow cake but don't know if I'll have time now so it might be a regular sponge cake instead. I haven't wrapped her presents yet. And I need to make some owl bunting too.

There's a lot of list making going on. I love lists at any time of the year but they're essential right now. I need to keep everything in my head organised or it would just explode!

On a more positive note... I've managed to fit in two trips to Costa coffee with my Oliver and Lydia. I flipping love their lattes so I've been dying to taste their festive flavours.

Oliver and I popped into Costa on Thursday {after shopping for a dehumidifier!} and I tried the Pralines and Cream latte. It was nice and I especially liked the cream on top but it tasted a bit too 'nutty' for may liking. Oliver loved his chocolate babychino and gingerbread Christmas shapes.

Lydia and I had a girly shopping trip into town today for a few more Christmas pressies. All that shopping tired us out so we headed to Costa for a sit down. This time I had a gingerbread latte which was absolutely gorgeous! It just tasted so festive. Lydia and I also shared a chocolate orange torte {also gorgeous!} and a gingerbread reindeer.

How do you feel about Christmas? Organised or not? Stressed or relaxed?

The Gallery: Colour

5 December 2012

On Saturday, the darlings and I, along with my sister and nieces paid a visit to Father Christmas in his spectacular grotto. Just look at him! Isn't he just the best Father Christmas you've ever seen? Even I thought he was the real deal.

In typical forgetful mummy fashion I forgot my mobile so couldn't take any photos. But my sister saved the day with her brand new iPhone and took some brilliant photos. I'm going to write a full post about our visit ASAP but until then, here is my favourite photo....

The Gallery: Colour
I absolutely love all the festive colours at this time of year. Santa's coat is such a vibrant red and all the colours in his grotto are so warm and festive.

So I'm linking up with THE GALLERY at Sticky Fingers blog where the theme this week is COLOUR. Please pop over to say hello and looks at all the other lovely colouful posts.

My Week In Pictures

3 December 2012

I wasn't planning on blogging tonight. This evening was reserved for writing my Christmas cards. But then the Hubby decided he just had to watch a certain football match on TV {it looks very unexciting to me!} So here I am with the laptop, using it as an excuse to get out of writing cards... one of my most dreaded pre-Christmas tasks.

I think I need to look back on some of my photos from this week to cheer myself up after a hellish day. Lydia is poorly and we've had two nights of hardly any sleep. It started on Saturday with her suffering with a big back tooth cutting through. Yesterday it turned into a cold, cough and high temperature. It felt like she coughed non-stop all night {Hubby ended up sleeping on the sofa so he could get some sleep!} so I took her to the doctors this morning who said it's a virus so there's nothing they can do. She's been a nightmare all day because of the lack of sleep. She's over tired and miserable which has sent her a bit loopy with tantrum after tantrum... and boy is she the queen of tantrums! She was in bed at 6.30pm this evening so keep your fingers crossed for a better night for us all tonight. 

In between all this miserableness, I'm still so grateful that I've got {relatively} healthy children. You see, my friends 21 month old son son was recently diagnosed with cancer. He's been having chemo for the last few weeks and had an operation on Thursday to remove two thirds of his liver. I saw her this morning and she said after a couple of bad days following his op, he's now sitting up, smiling and asking for the TV on! Bless him. My God, it just makes me so grateful to have healthy kids and I really shouldn't complaint about Lydia being poorly.

Anyway, enough of the whinging. We actually had a lovely week so here are my photos from Instagram...

my week in pictures
~ I finally got my phone camera working so that it faces you {hope you know what I mean!} so I took a few pictures of the darlings and me ~

~ I finished my home made advent calendar just in time to open it on 1st December. I'm so proud of it and Oliver and Lydia love it ~

~We went to visit Father Christmas on Saturday. He was the most fantastic Father Christmas I've ever seen, in fact I think he really was the real thing! ~ 

~ Oliver and I made some chocolate chip cookies on Saturday afternoon. I used a new recipe {thanks Nigella!} and they were the yummiest cookies ever. The cookie dough was just as delicious ~

~ All that baking tired Oliver out. He just had to have a lie down on the sofa - dressed as Spiderman of course ~

~ I bought Lydia a new onesie.  The first time she wore it, I kept going upstairs and looking at her sleeping in her cot, she's never looked more cute. And just look at her gorgeous curls! ~

~ I won a prize! The lovely Amanda at City Girl Gone Coastal did a giveaway of some Christmas bits and pieces on her blog. This morning I received some gorgeous Christmas bunting, two lovely handmade heart decorations and some little wooden cut outs. Love them ~

~ Last but not least, hubby offered to do the shopping this week and he came home with LARD instead of butter!!! ~