Tis the Season!

Christmas has officially arrived in our house. The tree is up, the presents are wrapped up underneath. We’re quite a bit more than halfway through our various advent calendars.

It’s the last day of school term today and, while I am working a few days between now and Christmas, I feel like Christmas really begins when Pip starts school holidays. I’ve had Christmas tunes on all day. I should probably apologise to my neighbours for attempting to sing along!

The tree has one new ornament this year, just as it does every year. We chose this one together – we’re all big Marvel fans and I really like the detailing on it.

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The first ornament we bought, just after Husband and I visited Paris in 2008

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Celebrating Pip’s first Christmas

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For our first Christmas in Wales, after moving to Cardiff in 2011

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For Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary in 2013

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Seemed very fitting for a family of Starbucks fans

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This year’s ornament, celebrating our surpreme geekiness

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My best wishes to you all for a happy & fun Christmas and New Year!

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My December 2015

December has been a ridiculously busy month. We’ve had various family visiting (and more visiting this week), new fish delivered, birthdays and too many school events for me to keep track of and that’s before we even get to, you know, Christmas happening.

I think the first festive thing was Pip’s school nativity play. She played the innkeeper’s wife and was just brilliant. She made everyone laugh, which she was thrilled with. Husband and I both managed to be there – a first for us as usually at least one of us has to work.

The two weekends following that we had family members visiting. It’s lovely to see people we don’t often get to and meant that Christmas sort of stretched out into weeks before the actual Big Day and with another visit this week, it feels like it hasn’t quite ended yet.

The weekend before Christmas, disaster struck. Our oven broke. This meant no Christmas baking, which is one of my favourite activities in the festive season. Despite my landlady’s best efforts in trying to get an electrician to fix it, it wasn’t fixed in time for Christmas (and, in fact, still isn’t fixed now). Thankfully my landlady lent us a mini oven, which cooked our little chicken (no point in a turkey when there’s only three of us!) perfectly, even if the roast potatoes didn’t crisp up at all.

On Christmas Eve, I had to do a shift at work. It wasn’t long and while I was out, husband and Pip had some quality time together (by which I mean that they shot each other with Nerf guns). In the evening, we enjoyed our usual tradition of drinking hot chocolates with marshmallows and cream and watching Muppet Christmas Carol. Pip was allowed to open two presents – a pair of new pyjamas and a little toy dog, which she has named Dudley. After she went off to bed, we watched Die Hard, another tradition of ours. Call me sentimental, but it just doesn’t feel like Christmas until I’ve seen a Bruce Willis repeatedly escape what should be certain death to brutally gun down an office tower of mercenaries armed to the teeth, all while barefoot and bleeding.

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A trio of geeky mugs, obviously

Pip is unique amongst all children I have ever known in that the only lie in she ever has, for the entire year, is on Christmas morning. We woke up at 8am. That might not sound exactly late but on a normal weekend, she’s out of bed at 7am, if not earlier. It was a leisurely morning of opening presents and eating pastries for breakfast. I continued in a relaxed and calm manner until I realised that I was whole minutes late to start my intricate dinner cooking schedule and went straight into a state of utter panic.

Dinner was ready on time though. The mini oven wasn’t perfect but it did the job and that was better than nothing.

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The afternoon was spent on the sofa in a food-induced stupor, watching mostly disappointing television. Except for the Doctor Who and Downtown Abbey Christmas specials, which were both utterly brilliant. That’s all I shall say – no spoilers here.

We had a honey glazed gammon joint for Boxing Day dinner and for dessert my favourite festive pudding – Panetonne bread and butter pudding. Very yummy, if I do say so myself.

The rest of the weekend has been pretty slow and relaxed. I had wanted to get outdoors for a nice walk but the weather has been pretty dismal so we’ve been almost entirely indoors, except for a brief trip to the shop for some essentials. Or rather, more cream for the mince pies and reduced price chocolates.

I hope you all have a had a wonderful Christmas and I wish you an awesome 2016!

 

 

What I love about the festive season

Wrapping up warm and going for walks on crisp winter days. Seeing twinkling lights in town. Enjoying a big mug of hot chocolate at my favourite cafe. Getting under a blanket and watching a really sentimental film. Wrapping gifts. Listening to Christmas songs. Singing Christmas songs. Baking mince pies and shortbread and ginger cookies. Decorating the house with ornaments we’ve collected over the years. Watching Muppet Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve. Watching my little girl open her presents. Christmas dinner. Doctor Who special. Honey glazed gammon on Boxing Day. Relaxing in the glow of everyone’s happiness until it all ends….but knowing it’ll happen all over again next year!

There. A bit of a festive free write for you. What’s your favourite thing about this wonderful time of the year?

Our Christmas

I think this Christmas has been my favourite yet. It’s been full of fun family time and lots of festive activity, plus lots of yummy food and lovely gifts!

This was our first Christmas in our current apartment, which is much larger than where we were last year. It looked lovely decorated for the festive season.

Christmas decorations

As always, I did lots of baking. Honey spiced Christmas trees, chocolate chip shortbread stars and we even built a gingerbread house – our first ever!

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Since last years 3ft tree was getting a little overcrowded and we would be adding another ornament this year (a family tradition you can read more about here), we needed to discard it and get a new 5ft one, plus a new set of lights. It looked brilliant, especially when topped with our new felt owls!

owls in the tree

Before Christmas, we had a few visits from family and friends, people we don’t often get to see, which was really lovely. Christmas itself, as it has been for the last few years, is spent as just the three of us; myself, Husband and Pip.

Christmas Eve was spent as it always is, drinking hot chocolate with marshmallows and whipped cream on top and watching Muppet Christmas Carol. Once Pip was in bed, Husband and I watched Die Hard, a more grown up Christmas film.

Shockingly, we weren’t awake until nearly 8am on Christmas Day, when Pip wandered into our bedroom looking a bit sleepy. We all got up to have breakfast before presents. I made panetonne French toast, which was really tasty and a good start to the day. Then we set about opening presents. Pip had already opened all of her presents from family and friends before Christmas Day. On previous years, it’s been bit overwhelming to open it all at once and a few toys end up being almost forgotten for a few days. Instead we decided to spread it all out a bit so that she could properly enjoy everything she received. Here are just a few of her favourites:

Pip's presents

She also received two sets of Lego, clothes, craft sets, games and lots of other lovely stuff. I’ll definitely be doing some reviews of these in the new year!

I was also rather spoilt this year. I got some lovely jewellery, including a beautiful butterfly necklace from Pip (picked out with just a little help from Husband, I’m told!) and a photo album for pictures of the year to come.

My presents

Husband also took my very obvious hints and gave me an ice cream maker and also a Ben & Jerry’s recipe book. I’ve already given it a try and it produced some of the tastiest vanilla ice cream I’ve ever tasted. I’m looking forward to trying out lots of recipes, both for ice cream and some healthier frozen yoghurts and sorbets, and coming up with some of my own!

For Christmas dinner, we had roast chicken – turkey is just too big for only 3 of us! Plus there were roast potatoes, mashed potatoes, honey & mustard glazed carrots, cranberry & apple stuffing balls, Yorkshire puddings, green beans and peas. It was a real feast and I think it was my best yet, if I do say so myself!

We spent the day enjoying our new presents, playing games and, of course, watching the Christmas episode of Doctor Who!

I’ve really loved this Christmas and I hope all of you have too!

Only 7 sleeps!

We’ve reached the point where Pip is telling me roughly once an hour how many sleeps it is until Christmas. I love how excited she gets. She’s been a busy girl, what with visits from lovely relatives, Christmas concerts and parties at school and a school trip to Techniquest in Cardiff Bay. She’s still got a carol service at the local church with her classmates on Friday morning. I wish I could go along but apparently there’s no space for parents to fit in the church as well.

I must say, I’m getting really excited now as well.

I’m looking forward to baking mince pies and Christmas biscuits with Pip on Christmas Eve.

I’m looking forward to Husband getting home from work that evening and it feeling like our Christmas has officially started.

I’m looking forward to hot chocolate with marshmallows and whipped cream and watching Muppet Christmas Carol, a family tradition.

I’m even looking forward to being woken up early on Christmas morning by my excited little girl and giving her and Husband their presents.

I’m looking forward to Christmas dinner and all of the other yummy festive food.

I’m looking forward to Christmas Day Doctor Who!

There’s so much to feel excited about. It really is the most wonderful time of the year!

What are you most looking forward to about Christmas?

Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree

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Today we put up our Christmas tree and decorations. Our tree is special. Before our first Christmas as an engaged couple, Husband came up with an idea, to get one Christmas tree ornament each year, to commemorate each year we’re together. Our first family Christmas tradition. We’ve kept it up, adding one ornament each year. This year we’ve bought our seventh and we’ve bought a larger tree as the old 3ft one was getting a little crowded. We try to pick ornaments that mean something to us.

2008 – Paris BaubleP1020882

In December 2008, about a month after getting engaged, me and Husband took a trip to Paris. It was our first trip away together and we wanted to have a souvenir to remember it. This was how the Christmas ornament tradition was born.

2009 – A First Christmas Bauble

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By the next Christmas, we were married with a baby. It was Pip’s first Christmas, although she was only a few months old and had no clue what was going on!

2010 – Fairy

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We wanted something that wasn’t a bauble this year, something a little different. Pip had already had a first Christmas but now she was just over a year old and a bit more aware of everything. Ok, she didn’t exactly get what Christmas was but she was very excited by it! This fairy is to commemorate the first Christmas when she could enjoy the festive season.

2011 – Cymru Bauble

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This was our first year living in Wales. This was a massive change in our lives and definitely needed to be remembered in Christmas ornament form. We bought this from Cardiff Castle.

2012 – Joy Bauble

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This is probably the least special bauble. Compared to previous years, this one was a bit boring. We moved house but only still within Cardiff. There wasn’t really anything big to commemorate. However, we were all very happy in our family life and so a bauble that said ‘joy’ seemed appropriate.

2013 – TARDIS

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2013 marked the 50th anniversary our family’s favourite television programme, Doctor Who. Not only that, watching the Christmas episode has become one of the day’s highlights, as we all put down our presents and watch together. The TARDIS represents how we were growing as a family, how we shared this interest.

2014 – Pair Of Owls

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We let Pip pick this year’s ornament. This was a bit of a gamble as she might have picked something rubbish and we’d have been stuck with it! But we told her it needed to be something special and also that it would be nice to have something a bit different from our other ornaments and she seemed to really take that on board. She picked this pair of felt owls because we didn’t have anything else fabric on the tree, my favourite bird is an owl and she thought it being a boy and a girl owl reminded her of Mummy and Daddy, which I thought was very cute. All great reasons and I really like this one.

I love our Christmas tree ornament tradition. It really feels like we’re building memories. Each year we’ll be able to talk about why we got each one and what happened that year. It has real sentimental value.

What Christmas traditions do your family have?

A New Kind of Normal: The Post-Christmas clear out

With Christmas now well behind us and the decorations in their new box – the old one was falling to pieces and husband got a lovely red one full of goodies, now eaten, from work – tucked away at the back of the wardrobe, it’s time to get on with normal life again. But of course, normal life cannot resume entirely just yet. With Little Pip still at home all day long, it’s impossible to begin on all of the things I want to do this year. Once she’s back to nursery for afternoons from next Tuesday, then we can get back to normal. Except normal is now a bit different.

My goals for the year are going to change what I’m doing on a day to day basis quite a bit. In order to keep this blog up to date, improve business and keep up with my uni studies, I really need to make the most of every moment of the day. In order to make this a little easier to do, I decided the house needs to be in better order before I even begin. Things need to be more organised. It’s a good time of year to do it – all of our lovely Christmas presents need places to go. Fortunately, I did consider the lack of space when I was buying Little Pip’s gifts. She got some LEGO, which easily fits into the LEGO box she already had – no extra space required. She got some board games, which easily fit in the living room with all of the other board games with minimal shuffling things about. She got some new dolls and accessories for those dolls but I found a beautiful suitcase style box in TKMaxx for them all to live in. Unfortunately she also received a sackful of wonderful gifts from friends and family so her bedroom does still need a proper Post-Christmas tidy up. Not that it’ll stay tidy for long!

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I also considered our storage problems when asking for presents for myself. I asked the husband for a box to keep my sewing things in. It needs to be stylish yet practical, I told him. He did very well. I now have a beautiful Cath Kidston sewing box, which is proudly on display in our living room – very useful to have needle & thread to hand! It has lots of little pockets and compartments and even a pin cushion. However, it’s not very big. It couldn’t possibly fit in everything I need for my work. But husband, clever thing that he is, thought of a way around this. Which is why I also have a much larger plastic box, also with lots of compartments, now on the shelf in our wardrobe which used to hold a confusion of smaller boxes and packets that made finding a particular clasp or button very difficult. It’s now all organised and ready to use. Between the two boxes, they store everything for my business, minus the stock.

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I’m now looking forward to Tuesday when we can get into a new daily routine. Until then, I’m going to make the most of holiday time with my Little Pip!