Thursday 29 December 2011

And so this was Christmas . . .

Oh but we did have a lovely Christmas this year. I was so glad that it all worked out fine and thatTodd was feeling ever so much better on the day than he had been for the few weeks prior to it!! My mother called first thing and I got to speak to her, which is always nice. It just would not seem like Christmas without having talked to my mum. It was also nice going to church in the morning. One of the bonus's of Christmas actually falling on a Sunday!

My Christmas Lunch turned out beautifully. I had done the Simple Turkey range from Piper's Farm and it was quite delicious, and true to their word it cooked in just 60 minutes! We had Doreen and Billy (remember them from our trip to Llandudno last summer?) come to lunch and the four of us enjoyed the feast together and some quality time with each other.

After they had gone, Todd and I watched the Queen's speech, which is another integral part of Christmas day you know! For as long as I can remember I have always watched the Queen's speech on the television on Christmas Day. I thought she gave a really nice one this year, but then . . . she always does!

I had a text from my eldest son to see if I was free and then we both went onto an MSN Video call and I got to see our Gabriel and Luke in their Christmas jim jams playing with some of their Christmas presents. That was really nice! I loved being a part of their Christmas Day. I am so glad that we live in a day and an age where technology allows this type of thing. What a blessing!

I called my father on the telephone after that and spoke to him for a time. He was pleased to get the call. He was all on his own this year. He lives in Quebec and they do something called Reveillion on Christmas Eve, which is midnight mass and an all night celebration. He just didn't feel up to all the festivities this year, what with just having been fitted with his pacemaker etc. and so he stayed home. He just wasn't up to it and says he tires easily. We were so happy to find out also that he didn't have cancer so double blessing and gift to us that we will have him around for a lot longer!

Then Todd and I spent a quiet evening on our own, just enjoying each other's company along with Mitzie and watching a few things on the telly. I am trying to remember now what they were, but alas . . . I can't! I must be getting old!

This is a picture of little Maryn on Christmas Day with her dad Tom. Doesn't she look sweet enough to eat? I thought so at any rate! It's amazing to me that she looks just like I did at the same age!

This is Jonathan and Joshua wearing the jim jams I sent to them! It is really nice to see my grandsons actually wearing something from me! I was very excited about that. All my grandchildren got matching pajamas and a book and some choccies from us. The boys all got exactly the same ones, printed with circus clowns and animals, and little Maryn got Beatrix Potter pink ones with Flopsie Bunny embroidered on the top and ruffles on the bottoms of the pantlegs. She got a board book as well (Goodnight Moon) along with a little pink sock monkey.

Here's Gabriel and Luke visiting Santa with their mom, Anne. Apparently Luke wasn't going to sit on Santa's lap without mom being there. My daughter in law is such a good sport. I love her to bits and Santa looks like he's enjoying her too!

We worked towards it for what seemed like forever . . . baking, planning, decorating . . . and then in just a few short days it was over. The best part of Christmas it seems happens in the planning and the run up to Christmas, or at least that is how it works for me. There is this huge build up, and not enough hours in the day . . . and then, like a sneeze, all of a sudden it is finished and all we're left with are a few Christmas goodies and some happy memories. It always makes me a bit sad when I have to take the decorations down and put them away. Kind of like saying goodbye to a few old friends, and the kitchen here in our cottage always seems a little bit empty for a few days . . . like something big is missing.

And then, all of a sudden, like a breath of fresh air, a forgotten gift arrives and it's Christmas all over again. A lovely brown paper bag decorated with Santa Claus's and full of little surprises, each one pretty and daintily wrapped and decorated, not the least of which was this beautiful little gold box tied up with a pretty pink ribbon.

Deep inside it's recesses, hidden under some pretty parchment paper folds lays a beautiful sweet Christmas surprise. What pretty colours these chocolates are . . . a wonder to behold and I am a child again . . . I don't want to eat them they are so lovely. I want to hoard them like the Easter Bunny I hid in the book case headboard of my bed for a whole day when I was eleven, only to discover the morning after, that my cousin's had been and eaten it when I wasn't looking. The only evidence of it's having been there a few telltale chocolate crumbs and some crumbled foil . . . Dare I take that chance again?

Oh look!!! A lovely Santa's hat and stocking, even a cute little snowman and a Christmas pudding . . . almost too cute to eat, but who am I to resist temptation. I must nibble . . . before someone else does . . . and we all know who that someone is!

Just another little painting I did yesterday afternoon. I got my Sunday talk all written and so I wanted to play for a bit and I had seen a photograph of two little girls posed just like this . . . it so tempted me to want to replicate it with some of my characters and so I did. As usual it is available as a print or a card. I need to post some of these newest creations in my Etsy shop I think!

After all the excesses of Christmas can I . . . dare I . . . tempt myself into eating just one more?? There is still a tin of Celebrations Chocolates on the counter that beckons to me, making it very hard to resist it's sweet treasures hidden inside. Whoever invented these was surely a genius, imagine all your favourite Chocolate bar temptations tucked into small packages, each one just a tiny bite . . . Mars . . . Maltesers . . . Bounty . . . Milky Way . . . they are too lovely to stay away from for very long. What could possibly be any better than these ???

Why Celebrations Brownies of course! This is a recipe adapted from the Green and Black's Chocolate cookbook, and yes . . . it was impossible to eat just one . . .

*Celebrations Brownies*
Makes 15
Printable Recipe

Imagine a brownie so rich and gooey that you can’t help gasping with pleasure when you sink your teeth into one . . . now add the hidden surprise of your favourite chocolate candy bar deep inside it’s decadently rich, chocolaty depth . . . Yes, you have died and gone to heaven.

7 ounces butter (13.8 TBS)
3 ½ ounces dark chocolate, broken into pieces (use really good quality, no less than 60% chocolate solids)
12 ounces dark soft brown sugar (1.69 cups)
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 ounces self raising flour (2 cups)
Pinch of salt
10 ¼ ounce box of Celebration** chocolates, or other chocolates of your choice (Imagine Maltesers dotting the middle or a lovely layer of thin chocolate After Eight mints)

Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/350*F. Brush an 11 X 7 inch tin with melted butter and then life with greaseproof paper. Set aside.

Put the butter and the chocolate in the top of a double boiler over simmering, but not boiling water, making sure the water does not touch the bottom of the top pan. Allow to melt, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat. Stir in the chocolate, mixing it in well.

Beat the eggs together with the vanilla and the pinch of salt. Stir this into the chocolate mixture, mixing it in well. Sift the flour and stir in until well combined.

Un wrap the chocolates.

Pour half of the chocolate batter into the prepared tin. Lay the chocolates evenly spaced carefully over the top of the batter, making sure that there will be at least one in each portion that is cut. Pour the remaining batter over top, ensuring that all the chocolates are completely covered.

Bake in the heated oven for 15 to 30 minutes until the top is crispy and glazed looking but the insides are still soft. Remove from the oven and to a rack to cool. Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars.

**Celebration chocolates are a mixture we can get over here of small miniature chocolate bars such as Milky Way, Bounty, Mars, Snickers, etc. If you can’t get those use any favourite chocolate of yours. Malted milk balls sprinkled over the layer work quite well, as do thin chocolate mints. Chunks of caramel bar work equally as well. Let your decadent foodie imagination run free!

And over in The English Kitchen today, a genius and most delicious way to use up some of all those parsnips you got in for the holidays, scrummy Parsnip Patties with a Cranberry Mustard!

“Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God's love encompasses us completely. ... He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken.”
― Dieter F. Uchtdorf

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