Sunday, 21 December 2008

The Tiger Who came to Tea!!

This was my favourite book when I was little. So much so that when I was 3 and my sister was born I was adamant that she be named after the main character, Sophie. Sadly my parents didn't go with my suggestion and named her Rebecca instead... but that didn't stop me calling my new baby sister Sophie anyway!!!

So it's well known in my family that I'm a fan of this book. (I even bought my Godson's brother the book for his past birthday which he is really enjoying!!)
I was delighted to receive an early present from my Dad today- tickets to the very first stage production of 'When the Tiger Came to Tea!' I can't wait!! We have tickets for the matinee performance on Christmas Eve.

Nathan and I will no doubt be the only adults there without a small child in tow but I am going to enjoy it non the less! A great present!!

If you have never seen the book here is a link to a you tube version of the book.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Christmas Decoration Preparation!

Now I am starting to feel a little better this weekend will be spent getting all the decorations ready and making our house a Christmas Grotto!!

I am also very excited as after today Nathan is off on holiday until the 2nd of January. Granted he has a few nights out and I think all of Sunday is given over to the rugby club Christmas lunch but it will be so nice to spend a good amount of time together!! I can't wait!!

We are shopping for our food at the beginning of next week and will then be preparing our feast!
This is my current table centre piece with gold and red as the theme. I have also planned out our Christmas Day and New Years Day table. We are hosting Nathan's Mum and Dad on New Years Day this year. For Christmas Nathan and I are going to use our everyday plates with a red charger underneath and I am going to play on the dots... I even found crackers to match and then on New Years Day I am going for a little more elegance with the white and blue plates with silver chargers and silver sparkles!!

I love setting the table and picking the flowers and table setting... I wish I could have Martha Stewarts job!!

Paris at Christmas!!

On Saturday morning we got up really early and met all Nathan's work colleagues and partners at the airport and flew to Paris!

We arrived slightly delayed but met up with an events team who had organized a treasure hunt round the city for us... it was great fun!! and a brilliant way to see the sites.

Unfortunately the rain and cold put a bit of a dampener on it and I can honestly say I have no idea how I managed to get through the day with my cold/flu.... it kind of feels a little like a strange dream now!!

We were split into teams of 4-5 and were given maps and clues to find out information about Paris. We started at the Opera Garnier, which inspired the Phantom of the Opera! And moved onto the Galeries Layfette, a large, famous French department store. Here we are on the roof of Galeries Layfette- I am making a space between Richie and myself so you can see the Eiffel Tour but I think instead I am standing in front of it!! oops! Oh well!
Richard, Kirsty, Richie, Me and Nathan.
This is the ceiling of the Galeries Layfette- beautiful!! I love the dome and also all their Christmas decorations were gorgeous. You looked down onto the make up floor. Everywhere was so busy and full of people doing their Christmas shopping. I refrained!!
You can see how wet it was.. our treasure hunt took us to the Place de la Concorde, looking down the Champs-Elysees. We had to take some photos of our team to win extra points and so here we are spelling out Paris with their millennium wheel in the background! Towards the end of the Saturday we were all a little too wet to finish the treasure hunt. We concluded our journey at the Louvre! Nathan and I at dinner

We were taken to a beautiful modern restaurant for dinner where we had a private dinning space. It was so nice and the food was tasty (but not too filling) My mille feuille dessert was delicious and very French! Lucy, Nic and Rhona all waiting for our very overpriced drinks in the bar after dinner. I could not believe how expensive Paris was! Now that the pound has gone down against the Euro it is so so expensive. We were paying £10 a pint of beer!!! I had some tasty red wine which was just slightly more reasonable!! ... but not by much!!

On the Sunday we had the day to ourselves to go adventuring. Nathan and I got the Metro to the Eiffel tower and then walked across the Seinne . We then went for a lovely lunch where I ate way to much duck- including Foie Gras , it was very very rich but tasty and unique to the country!!
It was a great trip and very much appreciated that we were treated by Nathan's work. I would love to go back to Paris again with Nathan. Maybe this time in the Summer or Spring and when I don't have the cold/ flu!! But I feel like we saw a lot for the time we were there.

Culinary Christmas Prepartion!

I love the colours of the cranberries and red cabbage. I preprepared the cranberry sauce, red cabbage for gammon and made the beginning of an onion bread sauce. I froze all of this so it will be ready for Christmas Day and cut down the amount of cooking Nathan and I have to do the week of Christmas.

As I mentioned previously I made my Christmas pudding last Tuesday. Traditionally it should be made on 'Stir Up Sunday' the Sunday before advent and all members of the household are meant to stir the mixture and make a wish! (we will have to follow this tradition next year!)

Christmas pudding is a steamed pudding, heavy with dried fruit and nuts , and usually made with suet. It is very dark in appearance - effectively black - as a result of the dark sugars and black treacle in most recipes, and its long cooking time. The mixture can be moistened with the juice of citrus fruits, brandy and other alcohol. We have grand mariner and brandy in ours!!

The amount of mixture I had meant that I made two puddings. One I put in the oven in a ban-marie and the other in a pan to steam- we'll see which one turns out best!! Having the puddings cooking for 5 hours in the oven and on the hob meant there was lots of heat created!! I love steamy windows from cooking! To me it is a sign of a happy home where there is lots of tasty food being cooked!!
This is our Christmas Day Menu! I can't wait to taste all the divine food! Roll on Christmas Day!

Ill in Bed!

Well the last week my life has been on hold (sort of!) I was all guns blazing last week, ready to get sorted for Christmas... I made my Christmas pudding on Tuesday (slightly late I know!) and all other Christmas day delights (more about that later) Then Wednesday I began sorting out the my decorations from storage so that my sister could put up the tree in my Dad's office. So I was on a roll!!

However on Wednesday evening I didn't feel so good- I had a fuzzy head and a really sore throat! I woke up early on Thursday to full blown illness. I was achy and so took to my bed. Nathan was very good and looked after me when he came home. Friday brought with it even more sickness. I was joking with my sister that I felt like I was in a period drama where someone is writhing around in their bed sweat pouring off them as someone worries about their fever!! It was not pleasant!

But because I have no common sense (I actually do!) but not when it comes to free trips to Paris gifted by Nathan's work!! I somehow and don't ask me how! managed to get myself together enough to fly to Paris for the weekend... not the best idea when you are ill and traipsing round a wet and cold city.... but it's PARIS!! how could I not!!

So since I got back on Sunday night I've been in my bed!! I managed to get out my jammies yesterday evening to meet a friend in town and this morning I ventured in to do the very first bits of my Christmas shopping!!! This is SO not like me! I am usually at the stage where everything is wrapped and under the tree so I can enjoy the next week but not this year!!

The elf workshop has also been on hold!! Maybe everyone will get January presents this year instead!!

I am still coughing a lot and feel like I am about to hack up a lung at some point but the head cold seems to have mostly gone... my poor sister now has it and my Dad seems to have caught it slightly!! Hopefully all will be recovered for Christmas!

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Paris bound at Christmas!

Nathan and I 2 years ago on our first Christmas together! We had just been to the ice skating rink in Princes Street Gardens and the German Market! (a very good date night!)
Nathan and I last year at a Christmas wedding! I love getting dressed up all fancy!

This weekend we are getting to combine winter European markets and dressing up for a fancy night out as Nathan's work is taking us to Paris for the weekend! I can't wait! The last time I was in Paris was when I was 9!

We fly out early on the Saturday morning and have a surprise activity planned for the day and dinner at night time! Then on Sunday we are free to do what we wish and Nathan and I plan to see as much as we can!

I am suffering from the beginning of a cold (which is hopefully not a more serious flu!) as I am really looking forward to it! I took the day off today and snuggled up watching Christmas Movies and writing lists of all the millions of things I still need to do before Christmas but it's that way that I feel worse (hopefully before I get better real soon!)

Elf workshop!

About 4 years ago I decided in a cost cutting and increased enjoyment exercise to put together my own Christmas Gifts for friends. I have a list of about 10 girls who live near by who I am close with... (sadly I can't mail them as they always end up too heavy to send!)

My Dad calls it my Christmas Elf Workshop as the first year I took over his living room making up Christmas baskets for everyone. I put in a mulled wine kit, baubles with the recipients name on it, gingerbread cookies, bath salts for relaxing and a wee stocking filler... I had so much fun making them.

Then for the families I got bright red pots at IKEA and in gold wrote the family name on them and filled it with a poinsettia and then put red baubles with each of the family members names written in the same gold and hung them on the beautiful red plant!

In 2006 I made dinner party kits; these were made up of 4 chargers, 4 napkins, candle sticks with candles and 2 invitations to dinner and 4 name cards... oh and after dinner mints!! They were either in gold or silver and looked beautiful! (and for all that effort it really kept the cost down.) My friend Amber actually contacted me the other week to let me know she used her set for Thanksgiving in her new home in London!! (so nice to know your efforts are appreciated!)

Last year I made a cookie making set and weighed all the flour and dry ingredients out. I provided everything you would need from the greaseproof paper,baking tray and wooden spoon to the icing and decorations!!

2007's Christmas Elf Workshop were the only photos I could find so I hope you find some inspiration...

And as for Christmas 2008... well watch this space!!

Christmas 2007

Last year was Nathan and I's first Christmas living together and because I need no excuse to celebrate and decorate I kind of went a little crazy!! We have really high ceilings and so I bought the tallest tree I could fit in the car!! It must have been about 7ft and it's diameter took up about 1/6th of the living room!! (and ours is not a big living room!)
I decorated it with white, silver, crystal and a few pale blue baubles... it looked so beautiful with only the fairy lights on!! I took me about 4 1/2 hours to do the tree!!! (and I started at 11.30pm!)
Our fireplace! (I'd love a real roaring fire.. maybe one day!!)
This was my table setting for Christmas morning breakfast. Last year we had so many place to go and dash to but we managed to spend Christmas morning together- We made tasty ham and cheese croissants- a tradition which will continue this year!!

But this year will be different! Nathan's parents are away in Thailand and Malaysia on a 60th birthday trip for Nathan's Dad. So Nathan and I are having Christmas Day just the two of us!! We can't wait! We've planned out a menu and I was making and baking on Tuesday so we are all organized!!

We will also be doing the tree a little differently this year as on Hogmanny (New Years Eve) last year we had friends round for drinks and the tree was so big and got in the way so much that it ended up falling over!! So safety first this year the tree is going to be smaller and take up less space. I'm going to go with a red and white theme this year and maybe some gingerbread baubles too!

But I love looking at the photos of last year and remembering what fun it was!!

Watsons Children's Party (for adults!)

Here is a photo of Becky and I at the Watsons Rugby Club Christmas Party. I have LOADS more photos but I am yet to download them so I pinched this one!

The theme was 'Children's party' and there were people dressed up as all sorts- GI Joe, Little Bo Peep, Wilma and Fred Flintstone, people came dressed for a pyjama party and there was A Magician and Santa Clause was there of course.

Becky was dressed as Rollerblade Barbie and I was Minnie Mouse but the best costume of all I thought was someone who came as a Piniata!! She even had a papermache tummy which if you hit with the piniata stick sweets fell out of! Loved it!!

I have a great full length photo of Becky and I- my outfit was a bit impromptu but it totally worked and it cost me the price of the ears in the Disney Shop. (as an aside sympathy to all parents shopping at this time of year!! I was queuing for a £3 pair of ears and it took me 20+ minutes!!)

I had a great night and it was good to spend some time with Bex and Dougie... plus the walk home with Dougie and I pulling Becky along in her rollerblades was worth it alone!!

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Crawford-Wilkinson Christmas Dinner Party

On Saturday night Sarah and James invited all the RBS crew and me along to their house for a wonderful dinner party. James did a beautiful job of the table and the food was amazing! We had a feast of recipes from the Jamie Oliver cook book- so tasty!!

Amber and Lucy (who had to get out of bed to come and say hello to everyone as she was very excited!!) Amber and Becky had spent the day with Lucy and Seb (their godchildren) so Sarah and James had time to prepare the dinner for everyone.

It was decided that instead of Christmas presents we would do a secret Santa with each person getting one name! There was a budget of £5 ($7) and there were some fun presents round the table!!
Sarah has had her three children in the last 4 years and when pregnant is addicted to Haribo sweets- she joked that Claudia, her youngest is entirely made up of them!
James received some chocolate and GQ magazine
Sarah D and her back massager for all the stress!!
I got Amber's secret Santa but she knew from the wrapping and the writing that it was me straight away! My genius gift were goldapples for her Christmas Tree... since she married in September her married name is 'Goldapple!'
My drinking game which came in handy later on!
Dougie received some comic teeth which went down very well- I think everyone on the table had them on!

The ladies looking lovely!! Paul with his Bratz karaoke microphone!
Amy who has two gorgeous kittens got a fun mug that said 'only my cats understand me!'
Becky was delighted about her space hopper that we had lots of fun with in the garden later on!
Bex having fun on her space hopper!
We played games after dinner including this buzzer game- fastest fingers first! The last person to press their buzzer gets a wee electric shock! (ouch!)
The table at the end of the night! Always a good sign of a great evening! Thanks Sarah and James and all the Secret Santa's!!