Friday, 18 December 2015

The Christmas Season Is Well Underway!

Well, the Christmas season is certainly well under way.
We hosted the first 'party' of the season on Wednesday night and it was really lovely to be surrounded by some fantastic friends.
The mushroom vol-au-vents were a success....that is until I discovered friends who don't like mushrooms!  Eek!  Is that even possible?  Is it a thing?  LOL It must be a thing...but with enormous grace, the friends in question still tried one because I'd made them!  How nice is that?!
Hubby made mincemeat strudel which was quite a success, although I have to admit I ate too much at the buffet and so my slice of strudel had to be forcibly stuffed into my mouth! LOL  What an image you now have of my party! ;-)  No, it wasn't like that - but I did have to overeat in order to have some of that lovely strudel!
Want recipes? 
They really are cheats recipes and oh-so easy to make....
Mushroom Vol-au-vents
1 x 500g pack of puff pastry
1 x Can condensed mushroom soup
1 x egg yolk
1 x dash of milk.
Freeze the pack of pastry beforehand and then defrost on the day you want to bake. Pastry always behaves better if it is cold. Roll it out until it is about 3-4mm thick, then cut out into circles or squares. I use a circular pastry cutter. Line a baking tray with grease-proof paper and place the circles onto the sheet. Make a second cut inside but not all the way through. Glaze with the yolk and milk mix and pop into the oven at 180 degrees C. until they are risen and golden brown.
Take them out of the oven and, I use the end of a steak knife as it's flat, punch through the middle circles.  Then simply spoon in the mushroom soup and sprinkle parsley on top to garnish!
Mincemeat Strudel
1 x 500g pack of puff pastry
1 x jar of mincemeat
1x egg yolk
1x milk
Again, freeze the pastry pack before hand because it is better cold. Defrost and roll out into a large oblong. Line a baking tray with grease-proof paper and heat the oven to 180 degrees C. Spread the mincemeat onto the pastry as even as possible. Then, roll up the pastry along the longest side until you have a long fat sausage shape. Glaze with the milk and yolk and pop into the oven until golden brown!
Enjoy!  And have a very Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

IndieBRAG Christmas Blog Hop!

Welcome to day 16 of the IndieBRAG Christmas Blog Hop!

I was truly blessed to win 2 IndieBRAG Medallions for Charlotte and Rosings, so I am over the moon to be part of this wonderful Christmas Blog Hop. 
So far we have heard from some extremely talented writers and it has been a joy to read their, it's my turn!

1.    What is a Christmas tradition you and your family have? Christmas truly is the most wonderful time of the year and our family, rather than having specific Christmas traditions, like to have a traditional Christmas. We like to go to a carol service on Christmas Eve, either at the local Church of England, Norman church or, in line with my family history, to the Salvation Army. The church we attend has its carol service before Christmas Eve, so it’s nice to visit other churches. Somehow it doesn’t feel like Christmas without Christ first and the ‘mas’ of other stuff second. Then we come home, tired and cold, drink hot chocolate and giggle while my husband reads, in his best imitation Santa voice, The Night Before Christmas, and it’s off to bed.

On Christmas day, we breakfast on Panettone – a gorgeous Italian fruited bread, and then hastily dress, put the dinner on, and head to the living room to put on a Christmas film and open presents. Christmas dinner is a leisurely affair – we don’t do all the stress that some people seem to feel is part of the day. We don’t like turkey, but do enjoy goose – however, this year I haven’t seen one!  I pray we find one or it might be chicken this year, but that’s no worry; Christmas isn’t about the food, after all.

2.    What is or was your favorite stocking gift(s)? We do hang stockings on the fireplace but they are mostly for decoration, the only things ever we place in them is a few sweets. This year I went retro and we’ve got Jelly Tots!


3.    Is there a humorous gift that you received? What was it? I don’t think I’ve ever had a humorous gift, but I’ve had novelty gifts. I’m a huge fan of Marmite and my mother bought me a Marmite teapot once. I never have used it; it’s just for decoration and always brings a smile to my face. My Godmother bought me a really cute cruet set with a border collie dog and a ginger cat from the All Creatures Great and Small TV show memorabilia collection.

4.    What is your favorite Christmas story? Apart from the first Christmas account in the gospels, I do enjoy A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I particularly like to watch film adaptations of it, collect the best ones, and try, if possible, to watch as many as I can each year. I am a big Christmas film buff.

5.    Have you ever taken a Christmas Vacation somewhere? If so, were to and please share your experiences and what you enjoyed about it? I have never been away for Christmas, other than to family for the day itself. I am a huge traditionalist as far as Christmas is concerned and going away would be sure to bring about panic in me!  However, if I was 'forced' to take a Christmas holiday, then it would be in a log cabin, in the woods, up a mountain, and I’d like to be snowed in – presuming I had plenty of food, water, and wood for the fire, that is!

6.    What are some of you favorite books you have received at Christmas time? The Wit of Jane Austen had me giggling in the armchair for a good few hours one Christmas. People don’t generally give me books, to be honest, they give a bookshop voucher instead, so that I can choose a book for myself. One year I got Ma Larkin’s Cookbook, from the TV series The Darling Buds of May – that was some nostalgia and quite a lot of shock at the old recipes because they contained so much fat and salt compared to today’s recipes.  

7.    Egg Nog or Cocoa? Egg nog is not big in the U.K. I’ve only ever had it out of a carton, so really I have no true idea what it is supposed to taste like. Therefore, I’d have to say cocoa…but I prefer Spanish hot chocolate; Colacao – it’s so thick and super-chocolatey! I really need to buy another tub!

8.    What is your favorite part of Christmas day? I particularly love first thing in the morning. The air is so still and quiet, there’s a certain ‘magic’ about it. I like to sit alone, pray and read the Word. It's a precious time.

9.    Do you go all out on Christmas decorations? What is your favorite? This year, I had the overwhelming desire to keep things simple and actually make my own Christmas decorations. It’s been such amazing fun! My husband even joined in. If I am honest, I don’t think I will ever go back to shop-bought decorations again. The angel is my favourite – isn’t she sweet? I had an idea in my head but I didn’t think I could pull it off. All-in-all, she’s turned out really well.


10. What is your favorite Christmas movie and why? I love Christmas films. I adore them. I even watch them all year long. My three all-time favourite films ever are, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Home Alone, and Uncle Buck.  There…two of them are Christmas films! I love Christmas Vacation because Clark reminds me a little of my husband – if there are lights to be put up or a tree to fetch, my hubby has an almost irresistible urge to go over the top and mayhem and hilarity always ensue. Perhaps that’s why he’s married to me, to keep him from actually becoming Clark W. Griswold! The film is just a good laugh at all the things that can, and often do, go wrong a Christmas. If you can keep your Christmas fun, light-hearted, and therefore as stress-free as possible, then you’ve won! A good old-fashioned family Christmas and the ‘mistakes’ become memories, or…if you’re that way inclined…new traditions! ;-)
(Christmas is about love not about getting it right – if it’s filled with love then you’ve got it spot on!)

Share your favorite Christmas Carol and what its special meaning to you is. Joy to the world by Isaac Watts! I love it. What a celebration ‘Christ’mas is for all mankind!

Joy to the World , the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the World, the Saviour reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Thank you for joining me on this stop of the IndieBRAG Christmas Blog Hop. The next stop is tomorrow (December 17th) with Alison Morton!


I wish you and your families a wonderful and peaceful Christmas! 
God bless you all!
 Many thanks to Geri Clouston and Stephanie Hopkins from IndieBRAG.