Thursday, 31 December 2015

I've Moved

I hope you've all had a wonderful Christmas.  Mine has been spent with family and loved ones.  Lots of food has been eaten and lots of lounging about has been done, but now I'm ready for the new year and all that it has in store.

I've already started making a few changes around here.  You will now be able to find me at www.gemscountrylife.com   I plan to make a few more changes over the next few weeks so please bare with me during this time.  


Wishing you all a great New Year, I'll be back again tomorrow with my January bucket list.

~ Gem x  

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Merry Christmas



I'm not entirely sure where these days on the lead up to Christmas are actually going, but the day is fast approaching.  I had hoped to share a few things with you before Christmas but alas it's not supposed to be.  Time has gotten the better of me and instead I have been caught up spending time with friends and family, buying gifts, wrapping and generally just enjoying this time of year, including a flying visit to Bath.


I have also recorded my very first vlog.  I have tried uploading it on numerous occasions but am yet to succeed so if I manage to do so before Christmas then I will pop back to share it with you.  I'm hoping it does as it is a Lush Christmas haul, it won;t have the same effect after Christmas although I'm aware a lot of people posted theirs ages ago so I am pretty late to the party on this one.



I am going to take this opportunity to say a Merry Christmas to you all.  I intend to take a very short break from the blog over Christmas but will be back and raring to go just before the new year with a few plans up my sleeve for an exciting 2016.  Thank you all for taking time out from your busy days to stop and read my ramblings and an extra thank you goes to all of you who leave me comments, I really appreciate it.


Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas.


~ Gem x

Friday, 18 December 2015

Chewy Gingersnaps Christmas Cookies - Guest Post

Today I am very pleased to welcome Bronwyn to the blog.  Over the years she has become a very good friend with constant emails and letters pinging backwards and forwards across the oceans. 

If you don't follow her blog already then your missing out.  She can often be found sharing her amazing travels overseas with her family as well as interesting days out in Canada around their hometown.  As if that wasn't enough there are often crafty treats usually created by her own fair hands with the help of her beautiful daughter and for those foodies with a sweet tooth you can also find some delightful recipes (one of which she is sharing with us today).  But enough from me, I shall hand you over to Bronwyn.   


Hi all!
My name in Bronwyn and I blog over at Queen B Creative Me. I am a married mother of three, kindergarten teacher, crafter, baker, and home-decorator. 
I have known Gem for a few years through our respective blogs and had the benefit of meeting her face-to-face this past March while on vacation in the UK with my daughter.  
We met up at the famous Columbia Road Flower Market (neither of us had been before!)......


.....then enjoyed cake and tea in a pretty little shop of Brick Lane. 
I'm already looking forward to a return trip and another cuppa with you, Gem!


Now onto the recipe I want to share with you all!
This is a favourite in our home and I make them regularly from the first of September all they way until March.  They are a "comfy" cookie  with spices such as ginger, cloves and nutmeg and they seem to pair perfectly with the warmth of autumn and the cosi-ness of Christmas!



Chewy Gingersnaps
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup margarine or butter, softened
1/4 cup molasses (or treacle)
1 egg
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 ts nutmeg
1/4 white sugar (for rolling)
(Festive candy for decorating!)


1.  In a large bowl, combine 1 cup sugar, butter, molasses and egg; beat until light and fluffy.

2.  Add in flour, soda, salt and spices; mix well.

3.  Cover ball of dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.
(This is Treacle and Ginger.  They help with the baking this time of year!)

4.  Heat oven to 350 degrees (175 Celcius).  Shape dough into 1-inch (2.5 cm) balls.  Roll these balls in 1/4 sugar until they are light coated. 

5.  Place 12 balls on an un-greased baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes.  The cookies will puff up then flatten out while they are baking. 

6.  If you want to add the flourish of Christmas candy on top, stick them into the warm cookies before they cool. 


I hope you give this recipe a try.  They are perfect for taking as a hostess gift this coming holiday season or for the simple enjoyment of family at home. 


Thanks so much, Gem, for inviting me to write for your blog. 
I love popping in to this little part of blogland and I hope to visit again soon!




Best wishes to all.  My this festive holiday season bring you tons of joy, love and celebration!!

XOXOXO

Bronwyn


Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Christmas In Our Home

Christmas arrived in our home a couple of weeks ago now but I'm yet to show you our tree.


It's not my favourite from our three years in our first home and already it seems to be dropping loads, but I still love the shape and of course all of our decorations adorning it.

You see I always miss our Christmas decorations when they are all packed away in the garage so I try my best to make the most of them when they are out in all their glory during December.  


Selecting the decorations from the many boxes and being taken back to the memories behind them, remembering where they were purchased or who they were gifted by, one of the many magical moments that surrounds Christmas.

I'll share with you next week some of the other decorations around our home.


Have a wonderful weekend.

~ Gem x

Monday, 14 December 2015

All Saints Christmas Tree Festival, Writtle

Being an avid Christmas tree fan there was no way I was going to be missing the annual Christmas Tree Festival in our village church (unlike last year, I was gutted to have missed it).
Last Saturday I headed off with my partner in crime to take a look at the 57 trees that had been decorated by local groups, schools societies & businesses.

Walking up to the church it was lovely to see fairy lights strung up, it looked so magical and festive and automatically added to that festive feeling.


Stepping inside the church I was blown away by the sight of all of the trees, the photos honestly don't do it justice.  The atmosphere was just incredible.  We were each given a form detailing each of the trees and were asked to vote for our favourite, a job we took very seriously.



Looking around it was clear to see that some serious love and effort had gone into creating and decorating these trees and to begin with it seemed as though it was going to be impossible to select a clear winner.






That was until we spotted this beauty.  It was just stunning.



It got both of our votes and could we have voted more than once then we would have done so, it really was beautiful.  Sadly for us it didn't win but the winning tree was still a superb effort, 


I've already announced that if I'm still living in Writtle next year we shall be entering a tree without doubt.  And if I'm not, well then I'll be looking for another tree festival that I can enter wherever it is that I end up.

~ Gem x

Friday, 11 December 2015

Christmas at Norpar Barns

I'll apologise in advance for the photo heavy post but I'm sure you understand that there are not many words required for this, the photos are capable of doing the talking for me.

I'm no stranger to Norpar Barns, but I think it is fair to say that my favourite time of year to visit is at Christmas time, though I'm sure that comes as no surprise to any of you who have followed my blog for any length of time.







So many beautiful decorations displayed in just the best way possible.  It is seriously like a Christmas treasure trove. 









And as if this wasn't enough, they have lights, lots and lots of Christmas lights.  I honestly felt as though I could have been in heaven.





If ever you find yourself in and around Essex at a loose end, be sure to check Norpar out, especially around Christmas time, but also around other celebrations in the year.  They have an Easter barn, a summer barn and a Halloween barn, all definitely worth checking out.

~ Gem x

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

December Essex Blogger Meet Up

This past weekend was a very busy one for me, I'm going to break it up into some separate posts for you over the next few days.  I thought I'd kick things off with the Essex Blogger meet up I arranged and attended on Saturday evening.

It's always so nice meeting up with other bloggers, more so when they live locally so that the opportunity to meet up more regularly is possible.  There will definitely be more get togethers so hopefully some new friendships will be made.



We headed to Lush Chelmsford after hours for a bloggers pamper party, where Wendy and her team were on hand to talk about some of their new gift boxes as well as demonstrating some of their Christmas range.  




I was tempted by everything.  Considering this time last year I'd not had a bath in years (I'm a shower person), Lush has definitely converted me. In-between demonstrations we had the opportunity to make our own bah humbug bubble bar.


I was absolutely fascinated to see the work that goes into making the products and how quickly a selection of powders soon becomes a bubble bar.  Looking at the bah humbugs they all look very similar in shape, size and design.  To think that each and every one of these have been made by hand absolutely amazes me.  I don't think any of us got anywhere close to the design on our first attempt although a few of us attempted again and there were improvements but still nothing in comparison to the experts.  



We were then given some time to shop.  It felt great to wander round the store looking around to our hearts content without having to battle against the usual crowds of people.  Products just seemed to keep falling into my basket.  I'm planning to do a little Lush haul post later in the month to share with you my purchases, there are a few too many to include it in today's post, we'd literally be here all day.





Shopping complete we ended our time at Lush getting into pairs and learning how to give a hand and arm massage using a range of the Lush massage bars.  It was the perfect way to round it all up and a great opportunity to test out the massage bars.


To finish off our evening we headed across to Bar & Beyond (the old Chicago's) for burger and chips and a few drinks.  The d├ęcor inside was really funky, the place was almost unrecognisable from it's Chicago days.  The food was really good too although I'm not so sure I could ever get used to eating dinner amongst revellers on a night out.  I think it is fair to say that my clubbing days are over, I'd much rather sit at home in-front of the TV in my pj's.  However should I be heading out for a night in Chelmsford this would definitely be somewhere I would happily go to.  There was a real mix of ages and the music was to my taste too.



It was a great evening and I'm already thinking of what we could do for our next Essex Blogger meet up.  If you'd be interested in meeting up with us next time let me know and as soon as I have the details I can let you know.

~ Gem x