Saturday, 31 December 2011

I'm Engaged & A Christmas Update

I really don't know where to begin with this post.  I was hoping to have posted over the past few days about my Christmas but things have been rather up in the air since the day itself.  So today I am going to try and get as up to date as I can before the new year begins (that doesn't give me long hey).

Christmas day was a lot better then I had thought, it was very different from previous years, a lot simpler but it was nice.  We didn't go over the top this year and there were new traditions tried.  We usually have table presents between courses at dinner, this year to make it a little different we had a stocking each and we then had to buy a present to go in each persons stocking, it worked really well and will be doing this in future years to come.

I got some great presents this year.

A gorgeous Cath Kidston bag and peg bag from my Mum & Dad

Lovely Clinique toiletries and bag from my Nan

I squealed when i opened this (sad I know) also from my Mum & Dad

This amazing Ted Baker bag from Rebecca my brother's girlfriend

I just love these plates from my Mum & Dad and can't wait to use them next Christmas.

I got lots of other lovely gifts too and feel that I did really well this year.  After dinner I drove round to a friends to meet James and from there we went back to his to open more presents.  Those of you who saw my post yesterday will know that James proposed.  I was so shocked, and wasn't expecting it at all.  It was a great end to a lovely day.  

 And what a better way to start of a new year :D

I hope it is a great 2012 for everyone.  2011 was a bit rubbish if I'm honest so 2012 is going to be a better year.  I'm engaged and have a new job just round the corner from home, yay.  I'm due to be starting at the end of January and cannot wait.  Bring it on 2012 I'm ready for ya.

Happy New Year

Love Gem x x x x x

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Merry Cristmas

Wishing you all a very


 
I hope Santa has brought you everything you have asked for.

Christmas Hugs & Love
Gem x x x x

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Twas The Week Before Christmas - Christmas Eve

Wow, what a week it has been.  Thank you again so much ladies, I really appreciate you all taking time out of your busy lives to feature on my little space, it has been great to share and celebrate this special time of year with you all.


Christmas.  If any of you had not yet noticed, I really do love Christmas.  It is my most favourite time of the year.  A time of love.  A time of Giving.  A time of happiness.  This year also a time of sadness for those that will not be with us celebrating this time of year.


I have many happy memories of Christmas.  Every year on Christmas Eve we used to visit my Dad's Aunt and Uncle, we were always amazed at how there was always a mountain of presents under their tree - we were told that they had been for an afternoon sleep and Father Christmas had been to visit them while they were sleeping (ha ha how gullible we must have been)  After spending the evening with them we used to drive back home, by this point we were so excited, I remember the whole way home me and my Brother would be gazing up at the sky looking for Santa and his sleigh and reindeer.  Sadly this is a tradition that no longer happens, and hasn't for some time, my Uncle passed away 11 years ago and he is still missed so much. 

me and my brother many years ago.

After going to bed Christmas Eve I would wake up Christmas morning, glance over at a brimming full stocking and screaming at the top of my voice " He's Been, He's Been" such excitement, Christmas is never quite the same as that any more :( Oh to be a child again.


My Nan and Grandad would always spend Christmas day with us, turning up around 10am with a car laden full of presents for us, we were always spoilt.  This year will be our first Christmas without him, it is going to be really hard.  We will be picking my Nan up this afternoon and go to visit my Grandad's bench.  My Nan will be staying with us over the Christmas week, it is going to be sad but lovely at the same time.  We will be making more memories and making the most of what we have and spending time together as a family.

My Nan & Grandad.
What ever you are doing and who ever you will be spending your day with, I hope you have a wonderful and magical Christmas.


Love Gem x x x x

Friday, 23 December 2011

Twas The Week Before Christmas - Guest Post - Day 5

The last of the Gemma's today, just to confuse you all a little more, we seem to be multiplying. 

Gem should be crowned the Charity Shop (Cherry Tree) Queen.  You will totally understand why if you check out her blog Treasures From The Cherry Tree (her name for the charity shop)  She never fails to make me laugh so it is usually best to avoid stopping by at her place with a cuppa, well unless you want it splurted across your computer screen - trust me it has happened to me in the past, I have learnt my lesson the hard way!  After reading today's post I'm sure you will understand me a little bit more.  So here she is the lovely Gem from Treasures From The Cherry Tree.
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The Night I Saw Father Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas and I was ten years old. I remember feeling the excitement as the tingle of expectation shivered down my spine. After the carol service and mince pies by the fire, I kissed my parents and siblings goodnight and went to sleep with my eyes shut tight.

Around midnight, something made me wake. I heard a noise on the landing outside my bedroom. It was Him, I knew it. Should I leap out of bed and ask for a ride on his sleigh? Could I pat his reindeer and gently feed them a carrot, while burying my head in their soft, smooth fur? Could I hug Saint Nick, marvel at his rosy cheeks and sparkling eyes and then boast to my friends that I'd actually met him?

I didn't know what to do. I was literally quaking in my bed. I heard the rustling of wrapping paper, footsteps padded up and down (I remember thinking "I really hope he hasn't trodden mud in the house, Mum will go mad") and I couldn't breathe.

Slowly, and very quietly, my bedroom door opened. I shut my eyes as tight as I could, and held my breath, for fear he would not fill my stocking with gifts if he knew I was peeking. I lay as still as I could and heard a sackful of presents land swiftly at the foot of my bed.

Then Father Christmas left the room but I heard him still outside my door. He had more to bring to me, I could feel it.

 I heard him creep back into my room but dropped something heavy and he said, in an exasperated whisper: "Oh BUGGER it."

This wasn't right. Father Christmas didn't swear... I slowly opened one eye, as carefully as I could.

And lo and behold, in front of me, picking up the doll which he had dropped from a shiny new pram, was my dad in a pair of Y-fronts.

At first I thought he must have been helping Father Christmas with all my presents, but slowly yet surely, realisation dawned on my disappointed, naive little face. My illusion was rudely shattered. 

What was worse I don't remember - realising that Santa didn't exist, or seeing my dad swearing in his kecks - but I didn't let on for another year or two as knew my lovely dad would be deeply disappointed.

Rule number one - Santa NEVER drops a present, and more importantly, he certainly NEVER uses rude words.

Here I am on that said Christmas, with my brother Robert and sister Anna.  I loved that doll and pram for many years.


My love for secondhand and charity shop items probably stems from photos like these, taken one Christmas (probably that fateful Christmas). Most of our clothes were secondhand and none of us had a problem with it. We simply re-loved clothes that other people had fallen out of love with and proudly wore them. My mum also made a lot of our clothes, see we were thrifty all those years ago too!

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Thanks Gem.  I just love this story, it really made me laugh but could you imagine as a small child realising that Father Christmas was infact your dad and on Christmas Eve, Gem that must have been devastating.  Still thank you so much for sharing your story with us, it really is hillarious and so well told.
Love Gem x x x x

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Twas The Week Before Christmas - Guest Post - Day4

Today I would like to introduce the wonderful Brook at Redhead Reverie all the way from Iowa.  Her blog is a great diary of her football mad life with her husband and their 2 gorgeous little boys that makes great reading.  If you have not yet met Brook then please do stop by her blog and say Hi, I know she would welcome you with open arms.  

Here is Brook's magical tale of Christmas.  (And just a little warning you may need a tissue at the ready)

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The twinkling lights, the crisp smell of evergreen, and the soft melody of holiday carols filling the air. Ah Christmas!

It’s a magical time. A time for Christmas wishes.

Last year, I shared my wish with Santa. Ironically, he has heard the same wish since the first grade.

“For Christmas I would like my mommy,” I scribbled on the gray wide spaced paper.

“Are you sure you want to write that,” my teacher asked. “It’s going to be put on the bulletin board for everyone to see.”

What was she thinking? Of course I wanted it on the bulletin board; more of a chance for Santa to see it.

But if he saw it, he didn’t really make it happen. Well, at least not the way I wanted.

Weekend visits with my mom were fine, but I wanted the REAL thing; the mom who greeted me at the door after school, the one who made actual dinner {not just mac and cheese…no offense dad} and the one I could talk to about girl things.

Even when I visited Santa, and asked him for my mommy, he would just look at me strangely and nod like he understood.

It wasn’t until I was in first or second grade that I realized there was no Santa {sorry spoiler alert}. I blame it on my Grandmother and a lost pair of earrings. She kept asking over and over where the earrings were that she bought me for Christmas. After about the fourth time of asking I realized she meant the ones Santa had brought me. BLAMO the myth was busted.

For years I went about my merry way never once giving Santa a thought, until I had kids. Yep, those little munchkins with their wide eyes and large smiles brought Santa back to life for me.


We buy special Santa wrapping paper, we write Santa letters, we leave him cookies and egg nog {blech} and carrots for the reindeer. The magic is alive and well at our house.

Except for last year…last year was hard. It was the first holiday without my dad and Christmas is his birthday. I was feeling a little lost and disconnected from my family.

I talk to my mom EVERY day, but it didn’t take away the fact that she just couldn’t make it for the holiday.

So, while other people were full of holiday cheer, I was full of bah humbugs. It wasn’t until I read The Grinch to my eldest son {over and over again} that I realized I needed to change my attitude and start letting a little Christmas magic into my heart.

I decided then and there to make one more plea to Santa, just one more. And I made this wish …

I want some family to FINALLY be living closer.

So with that said, Santa better get to work because this time next year I expect my mom and stepdad to be living somewhere nearby...do you hear me Santa, do you hear me?
And you know what?
This year. After 30 odd years of waiting.
My WISH came true!
My mom whom I only see twice a year is FINALLY going to be living only 45 minutes away, and we will celebrate the holiday TOGETHER.
 
Thanks Santa, I’m a believer.


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Now that really is what they call a Happy ending, I hope this Christmas is the most magical Christmas yet Brook.  To find out more about Brook's Christmas with her Mum do check out her blog here to see how it all goes.

Merry Christmas

Love Gem x x x x

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Twas The Week Before Christmas - Guest Post - Day3

Afternoon ladies,

Another Gemma posting today from the wonderful Little Gem's Diary.  It must have something to do with the name as all us Gemma's seem to have quite a bit in common, scary huh.  Anyway please check out Gemma's blog here.  I shall leave you now in her very capable hands.

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Hello everyone, Gemma from Little Gem's Diary here! Firstly, a big thank you to Gem for asking me to be a Blogger Guest Poster!
For my post I thought I would share a little easy recipe for Homemade Biscuit and Chocolate Truffles.


These are really quick and easy to make as they are not your traditional style truffle, they are a cheats truffle! 
This is what you will need to make them:

20 digestive biscuits
125g butter
200g condensed milk
2tbsp cocoa
125g desicated coconut

You will also need: chocolate strands/cocoa powder/crushed flake bars for rolling

Step One:
Bash your digestives up either in a plastic bag with a rolling pin or in a food processor til you have mostly crumbs and a few small chunks.
Put the butter and condensed milk in a pan over a low heat until the butter melts. Allow to cool slightly. 

Step Two:
Add the biscuit, coconut and cocoa powder to the cooled mixture and stir well to combine all of the ingredients.

Step Three:
Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Form the mixture into small truffle sized balls using your hands - this is messy, but good fun!
Place the truffles onto the greaseproof and begin to roll them in the coatings you have chosen. Cocoa powder was the easiest to work with, but the chocolate strands do look very pretty too. The best way to roll them is to cover a clean plate in your chosen coating and roll the truffles one by one, then return to the baking tray. Chill the truffles in the fridge until ready to serve.



These truffles make really lovely gifts too, and can be packaged up in lots of different ways. 
One idea is to wrap them up in a clear celophane bag and tie with a handmade label and pretty ribbon.


Or for a more feminine gift why not use a vintage teacup, fill it with truffles and wrap in celophane, again with a handmade label.

The truffles keep reasonably well and have also frozen well, they are best served slightly chilled so they are not too messy to eat!

Hope you enjoyed the recipe and have a go at the truffles!

Merry Christmas
Gemma @ Little Gem's Diary
xxx

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I don't think there is really much more that I can say to that apart from yum yum, they look delish.  Thanks Gemma.

Love Gem x x x x

Monday, 19 December 2011

Twas The Week Before Christmas - Guest Post - Day2

This morning I would like to welcome Melissa from Miss Sew & So.  Her blog is a wonderful place, all about her family's journey all the way from Australia to the English Countryside.  To find out more about their journey check out her blog here.  I have loved following their journey and been pleased to play a little part of that here in blogland.

So let's find out about Melissa's Christmas.

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Morning all...

I'm Melissa & so happy to be here in Gem's little part of the bloggy world...

Originally a Sydney beach girl- I've been living with my three kiddos & travel-mad gorgeous

husband in the *English countryside* for almost four years now...


thrifting...sewing...mothering...loving watching our family grow in memories-we've had an amazing time...

& no time is more wonderful here in the English countryside, than Christmas...

we took our kiddos from seafood & swimming on Christmas morning...

to a winter wonderland of snow & sledding...

moments like these make us smile big...

travelling with our children has been a blessing...a basket full of treasured memories...


with sandy toes, salty hair & sun-kissed cheeks we approached our first Christmas in England with endless love & enthusiasm...

our children had never seen snow...they'd read about it in books...they'd *spoken about it* with Santa ;)

but they'd never seen it...

to say our Christmas' here have been perfectly gorgeous is an understatement...

each year we have lived more & more of that *storybook* country life...

we've embraced it...

our kids have embraced it...


& we'll continue to embrace it, as a family, until we return to our very loved beach house in Oz...
For me- creating a home is something I love to do everyday for my family...

I truly love for us, to acknowledge & embrace the seasons here in England...

To run with the local crops the farmers plant...to understand that with each passing month a new crop is produced...

Christmas is a time of early nights, very cold, clear days, and very little in the local fields....

Our children now understand that certain fruits & vege are no longer in abundance locally...we work with that as much as

we can when cooking & shopping....& they have learnt that cycle...

A cycle that you are part of living in the countryside...


For me- Christmas here is a time to really snuggle in...to light the fire...to indulge in all things English that this beach girl

still finds romantically perfect...
Our move from the beaches of Australia to the English countryside has been pretty perfect...

There have been hiccups along the way...life's like that...but having these years to just watch our kids travel & grow has

been incredible...so many blessed memories...especially at Christmas...

Family memories are something I hold onto very tightly...shared moments...so personal & so very special...

Images of our Christmas' here...wrapped in wool blankets my mother has made...wrapping presents in front of our open fire...

Sharing mulled wine with our local, very cherished English friends....

For a born & bred coastal girl, these Christmas moments have been truly heavenly...


Creating that time for our family has been a total pleasure....
However you spend your Christmas...

Wrapped in a soft striped beach towel, or snuggled inside a cherished blanket....

Singing carols on the beach...or in your village church....

Making mince pies dancing to Michael B or the King's Choir...

Make it a *wonderful, cherished, full of memories* one...

Hug your kids a little tighter...talk to them about the world...

Share with them the differences...help them to embrace *all* that life offers....

Especially at Christmas....
Pop over & say *G'day*....we're whack bam in the middle of packing up our gorgeous big

ol' country house here...

We're taking the peeps...little travelling gypsies...home to the beaches for Christmas...

It's been delightfully gorgeous being here sweet Gem...x

Happy Christmas to all you readers of Gem's lovely blog....

AND....



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I don't know about you lot but I think this is just beautiful.  Thank you so much Melissa for sharing that with us, it really does sound just like a storybook fairytale.

Love Gem x x x x

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Twas The Week Before Christmas - Guest Post - Day1

Today is the first of my guest bloggers as part of my 'Twas The Week Before Christmas' feature. 
I would like to welcome the lovely Gemma from Musings Of A Gem you can visit her beautiful blog here.  You will find that myself and Gemma have far more in common than just our name.  She has a wonderful blog full of lots of baking and homemade goodies.  Check out what she has to share with you all this Christmas.
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 I’m Gemma from Musings of a Gem. I use my little corner of the web to document the memorable and day to day things that happen in my life. I like to share recipes of food I love ( I am a foodie!), the things I make (I am pro handmade) and my recent new love of ‘growing my own’ in the Summer.
Like Gem, I just love Christmas. I try and savour every little bit of it and celebrate it all through December until the big day arrives. Simple things like fairy lights, family traditions, circling programmes in the Radio times, wrapping presents and listening to Christmas Classics really makes me feel festive.
One of the things I love to bake at this time of year is shortbread. The smell of fresh buttery biscuits is such a welcoming and cosy smell and sums up how anyone wants to feel at Christmas time. They are great to give as a gift or just to snack on...it is Christmas after all!!




You will need:
  •  125g (4oz) Butter
  • 50g (2oz) Caster Sugar (Plus some for sprinkling on top)
  • 175g (6oz) Plain Flour
Method:
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the flour and stir until the mixture binds together.

Turn onto a lightly floured board and kneed until smooth.

Put the dough into the fridge for 30 - 1 hour (an hour is perfect).

Roll out till about 1cm / 1/2 inch thick.

Use Chrismassy cookie cutters  (which is great for when giving the cookies as a gift) or you can use a round glass.

Place on a greased baking tray, sprinkle lightly with sugar and bake in a preheated oven (160c , 550f , Gas mark 3) for 10-15 minutes. Keep an eye on then after 10 minutes as they can brown VERY quickly!!


If giving them as a gift you could use a clear cellophane bag and a pretty ribbon..lovely!
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I hope you enjoy the recipe. Come and say hi to me on my blog!

Thanks for having me !

Gemma x
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Yummy how good do they look?  Thanks so much for sharing Gemma, it has been lovely having you.  come back again soon :)

Love Gem x x x x

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Twas The Week Before Christmas

Christmas is a time of love, friendship and happiness.  I have been blogging now for over a year and in that time I have made some amazing bloggy friends.  I know it has all been said before but it really does mean so much to know that people are reading what I am writing.  This time last year I would never have imagined I would have as many followers as I do now, I really cannot thank you enough for that, and for all your lovely comments, they really do keep me going.


I wanted to try something a little different to celebrate Christmas on my blog.  But also wanted to make sure I was able to involve and celebrate the season with some of my bloggy friends and so I thought what better way to celebrate then by asking some of those friends to feature in a number of guest posts for me. 


So for the next 7 days and during the week before Christmas my blog is being taken over by some lovely ladies that some of you may already know, but if not I suggest you pop on over and check out what you are missing out on ;)


So that is all from me for the next 6 days, I'll be back a few times during the next week with my own little taster of Christmas and of course introducing each of the beautiful friends each day but the rest will be down to them.  No pressure ladies ha ha.


Merry Christmas

Love Gem x x x x

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Winter List 2011

OK so I know winter doesn't officially begin until next week but firstly I have plans for this blog for next week already, I know some of you know what this is already so until then sssshhhhh it's still a secret.  For the rest of you, you will find out on Saturday and secondly it is so bloody cold out there it feels like winter so as far as I am concerned it is winter. 

I have really struggled putting this list together so there are fewer things then what I would usually have, but let's face it, it is a fairly dull time of year once Christmas is out of the way, however I am hoping this year will be different but I won't be holding my breath.


I'm well on the way for finishing my Christmas list so will update on this after Christmas if not before.  And I shall be working on these activities over the next couple of months.

Happy Wednesday,

Love Gem x x x x

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Making Sausages

Today's post is going to be mostly photos.  Over the weekend me and James made sausages.  It is something James has been wanting to do for ages so as soon as his new toy arrived he was off to the butchers to buy his ingredients.
The sausage maker

The pigs intestines (sausage skins)

Have you noticed the pint in the background there ha ha

(sorry I know this could look a little rude - I promise you it isn't)

Adding some spice to the mixture

The proud man with his sausages

This is what we ended up with.  Pork sausages, sage and parsnip, cinnamon & some spicy ones for James.

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On a more Christmassy note, I have finished all my Christmas shopping, written out all my cards and wrapped all my gifts.  It is such a relief *big sigh* to be done, now I can begin to enjoy the festivities to the max and spend the next couple of weeks buying little gifts for people if and when I see them without the pressure of knowing I still have people to buy for, everything now are extras :)

How are you getting on with your Christmas shopping?

Love Gem x x x  x

Sunday, 11 December 2011

The Xmas Factor

This book is quite apt for more than one reason.  I have timed this one about right hey, not only for Christmas but also for the X-Factor final.

This is my 3rd Christmas book of the year.  I have read a couple of Annie Sanders other books before and they have been quite comical so I am hoping this will be similar.

Love Gem x x x x

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Oh Christmas Tree

Oh Christmas Tree

How lovely are your Lego branches.


Yep Lego.  I went and visited the Lego Christmas tree at London St Pancreas station the other day.  Truly amazing.  I cannot imagine how long it must of taken to make something of this size and with so much detail.   It is covered in Lego baubles and really is just fantastic.


If you are going to be in London at any point on the run up to Christmas you really should go and see it. 


It took me back to childhood thinking about the hours I used to spend with my brother building things, never quite achieved anything quite like this though ha ha.


Love Gem x x x x