Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Our 2014

Just before we welcome in 2015, I thought I'll have
 a little look back at the year that we've had, our 2014.

It's been a good one, full of fun and happy memories.
There were birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, sunny days out
and cosy days at home. Of course there were long, stressful
 and not so happy days too, but they are far outnumbered
by the good and happy ones. We feel very blessed and we are
full of hope that the year ahead will be just as good -
or even better!

Wishing you all a very happy New Year!
See you in 2015!!

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Snow Days

It snowed quite heavily here on Boxing Day evening.
We were already at home when it did, back from my husband's
parents' place where we'd stayed overnight on Christmas Day
 and we felt very lucky. My brother-in-law, on the other hand,
was still out on the road and he got caught in the blizzard
as he drove from Stoke to Yorkshire. He had to leave his car
 on the side of a road when he was nearly home and had to
 continue the rest of the journey on foot. Good thing that their
house wasn't too far and he made it back just before midnight.

The following day we woke up to a bright, crisp and
very snowy Sheffield. We all went outside after breakfast.
The girls played in the snow and we built a little snowman
together but their excitement didn't last long. Soon they
were complaining of the cold and just wanted to get back in.
My husband stayed out for much longer, clearing the paths
for our elderly neighbours and helping grit the road so
cars can get past. Again we're lucky to have a full salt grit
bin at the bottom of our street on days like this and there are
well and able people to use them. We have a lot of pensioners
around here and we worry about them when the weather
is freezing. We've just brought a bag of groceries to one
of them and gave someone a lift to town this morning.

On Sunday we had to go back to my in-laws' for another
family get-together. It was a lovely day and the snowy
countryside we went past was beautiful. Driving wasn't
much fun though. We took the main roads and my husband
did his best to get us there safely and back.

These really are days best spent indoors and we're glad
we can do that this week. The girls and I stayed in the whole day yesterday. My husband had to go back to work and he's working
again this afternoon. But for the next couple of days he's off work
and we're all looking forward to more warm, cosy days at home.
We have lots here to keep us happy and occupied. The girls are
 still enjoying their new toys and books and there are programmes
 over Christmas that we want to catch up on the telly. I don't mind
 at all welcoming 2015 in my pyjamas under a blanket on the sofa.
 I just hope all these snow and frost will melt away soon. I quite
 miss those soggy, snow-free winter days we're all so used to.
Here's hoping for better weather and more good things
in the New Year!!

Have a very happy New Year! Stay warm and keep safe.
See you soon!

Friday, 26 December 2014

Five on Friday

Hello! Today I'm taking part in Amy's 'Five on Friday' posts.
As it's the day after Christmas I thought I'll write about
five of my favourite things this festive season. Thanks to Amy
for organizing this and for letting me join in.

So, my five favourite things this Christmas...

1. Making Christmas cards with my girls

We had a lot of fun making them and we're so pleased with
how they've turned out. I'm really looking forward to doing more
 of this with them next Christmas.

2. Our festive flapjacks

I'm really glad we've found a way to add a little bit of Christmas
flavour to our favourite homemade treat. It's another thing I've
enjoyed making with my girls and I'm really happy about this.

3. Slices of pannetone dipped in amaretto

This is a very grown up way of enjoying this Christmas cake
and it is so good!

4. Time with my family

Being with my favourite people in the world is always wonderful.

5. Our Noche Buena, a traditional Filipino celebration
on Christmas Eve

I love that we have made this Filipino tradition a part
of our family's Christmas celebration. Noche Buena is a time
 for thanksgiving, a special time for families to be together,
and of course, an occasion for delicious Filipino dishes.
We made spring rolls, pork estofado and leche flan (creme
caramel) for our little feast and it was lovely.

Family, tradition, food, baking, crafting...they made my
Christmas this year and it's been a happy one.


I am joining in Five on Friday, taking five minutes from
our day to enjoy five things. Please go and visit the other
people who are also blogging about Five on Friday this week.

Amy from Love Made My Home
Kristie from North of 49
Patricia from A Place for Everything
Katharine from Art-e-facts
Selma from Eclectic Home & Life

Thank you for taking time to stop by here.
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas Day yesterday.
See you soon!

Saturday, 20 December 2014

O Christmas Tree

This is our Christmas tree. For the past four years since
we've first moved here and had our first ever family Christmas,
we've had a real tree and this year is no exception. 

We all went down to our local Homebase the previous Saturday
to look for our perfect tree and chose this 4 ft Nordman fir with
soft, longer-lasting needles and a nice pine scent. It fits just right
in the corner of our living room and of course, as soon as it was
in place, we just couldn't wait to decorate it!

The girls especially were very excited. The tree decorating actually
got a bit chaotic at one point when Lulu started hanging baubles
 wherever she can reach and Markie kept wanting to be lifted up
so she can hang the angel at the top. But it was still fun and really
sweet to see them so eager and wanting to help. Now that they're
a bit older they're able to join in the activities and preparations,
making the festive season more enjoyable and memorable.
In fact it's been one best of the things this Christmas for me.

About our tree ornaments..around half of them are shop bought.
I'm always on the look out for them in the post holiday sales and
put them away for the next year. We have a few that were given
 to us by my parents-in-law, like the green star below.
They also gave us the little tin. It was my husband's when he
was small and they found it when they were clearing up their
garage last year. It's the only Christmas item we have from his
childhood so it's pretty special. The ceramic angel was a
souvenir from our holiday in Italy. I'd be very sad if this gets
broken or lost.

The rest of our tree decorations were handmade by yours truly.
These are some of the first ones I made four years ago when
I decided to save some money and make my own. I love them
 because they got me interested in sewing and making, and
 crafts like crochet that I haven't done since I was in school.
A few months after making these I bought my first sewing
machine and made my first cushion cover.  My interest and love
 of crafting started and really grew from here. So these little
 fabric trees, felt angels and felt Christmas puddings
will always be treasured and will always have their place
on our tree.

We're really delighted with our tree this year and as the old
Christmas song goes it 'brings to us all both joy and glee'.
O Christmas tree!

Before I go I'd like to thank you for visiting my blog
throughout the year and for all your lovely comments.

I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a very happy
New Year!!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Festive Flapjacks

These are festive flapjacks, a Christmas version of
our favourite homemade treat. They're made with the usual
ingredients sugar, porridge oats, golden syrup, butter,
but made seasonal by the addition of mincemeat. They're so
 simple and easy to make, and they taste so good!

The idea for this came from this recipe that I found online.
 I've made some changes with the quantities and instead of brandy
and mincemeat I used brandy-infused mincemeat that we
got from Aldi. It works really well and for me it's just the right mix
of citrussy and spicy with a slight hint of booze, giving the flapjacks
a lovely Christmassy flavour.

Here's our recipe for making this irresistible treat:

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line with baking
parchment a square 8x8 inch baking tin.

Gently melt 175g of butter in a large sauce pan along with
 3 tablespoons golden syrup and 175g demerara sugar. 
Remove from heat and stir in 100g brandy-infused mincemeat.
Stir in 325g porridge oats. Mix well and turn into the prepared tin,
pressing flat with the back of a spoon.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 13-15 minutes, or until pale
golden brown. Remove from the oven. Leave to cool for about
10 minutes then mark into 16 squares. Leave to cool completely
in the tin.

Lulu and I made this yesterday for Markie's teachers at school.
We put five flapjack squares in each party bag and tied it with
red bakers' twine.

I also added labels made from brown gift tags and washi tape,
with the ingredients written at the back.

So they're not only easy to make and taste delicious, they also
make lovely presents. I really hope Markie's teachers like them.

We were actually planning to make some today to take to
playgroup tomorrow but unfortunately my sweet little helper
was feeling poorly. We hope and pray she'll feel better soon.
We have plans to make more festive flapjacks to give to friends
and of course, for us to enjoy too!

Hope your Christmas making and baking are going well.
See you soon!

Friday, 12 December 2014

Lovely Happy Christmas Things

It's starting to feel more festive around here and so
not surprisingly a lot of the things I've enjoyed over the
past week have got something to do with Christmas.
Things like..........

..........snowflakes on the table mat and Christmas colours
around the house,

..........making festive flapjacks with the girls,

...........soft and lovely yarn for making a crocheted present, our Advent candle every evening - my own quiet,
chocolate-free way to mark the days before Christmas.

..........having our own handmade Christmas cards to give
to friends and family as well as these lovelies that
Markie designed at school,

.........and making Pancit Molo (Filipino wonton soup).

This specialty dish of the province where I'm from is not
a Christmas dish but as it's not often we make it, it's a bit
of a special occasion when we do. It's a dish made with
wonton dumplings served in a hot broth and garnished
with chicken pieces and spring onions. Back home you can
buy the wonton parcels or dumplings ready made from shops
but here I have to make them so preparation can be lengthy.
At least we can buy wonton wrappers from shops here.
So for about an hour one afternoon last week I sat down
with a cup of tea and Classic FM on the radio and set about
wrapping little parcels of pork mixtures. That's one of them
on the upper right hand photo. It was actually quite relaxing
and I enjoyed it and when they were all done my husband
got busy cooking. It was a real team effort and of course
we had a happy, lovely meal that evening so all the work
was worth it!

So those are some of my happies this week. Tomorrow morning
we're going to buy our Christmas tree. It's a very big event here
 and we're all very excited! Fingers crossed that the weather
won't be too bad. I heard there might be snow and there might
well be - there were snow flurries on our way home from
 school this afternoon.

So have a warm and safe weekend everyone and hope
it will be full of lovely and happy things for you all!!

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Markie's Scarf

This is Markie's finished scarf. I actually finished making it
weeks ago but just haven't had the chance to share it here.
It's similar to the scarf I made for her sister. It is knitted in
stocking stitch using Drops Merino Extra Fine (DK) yarn and 
to add a bit of colour I cross stitched these butterfly and
 star motifs.*

This was one of those projects that took longer to make
than expected. I was so pleased when it's finally finished.
I just wish I'd chosen a smaller butterfly motif but Markie
doesn't mind it which is good. It does feel nice and soft
 and she likes wearing it which makes me happy. Here she is
 at Yorkshire Sculpture Park wearing her Mummy-made scarf.

As always I'm glad and grateful to be able to make my girls
 even just little things that will help keep them cosy and warm
 especially in this wintry weather we're having this week.
It has suddenly gotten very cold these past few days - 
winter is really here now!

Hope you're all keeping nice and cosy at home tonight.
Have a lovely evening everyone!

*Both motifs are from Sweet Stitches from the Heart.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Felt Dala Horse

I've made a small, felt version of the very popular Swedish
Dala horse. It's my fun little project this week. 

I looked online for templates and there are so many that
can be downloaded for free but as we don't have a printer
I had to sketch my own. I'm not very good at this and it took
me a few tries before my drawing looked more like a horse
than a donkey!

After the girls have gone to bed I gathered all
my materials and sat down in front of the telly to do
some cutting and then sewing.

I decided to decorate my Dala horse with embroidery stitches
and I really enjoyed doing this. I was able to finish all the
embroidery in the evening and this afternoon when I had some
free time I stitched both sides together and added the stuffing.

And this is my little felt Dala horse. What do you think?

I'm very happy with it and I'm pleased that the embroidery stitches
 have worked (big thanks to my charity shop bought copy of Mary Thomas's Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches). But my favourite of all
are the little gold beads. I really love their Christmassy sparkle.

So it's been a lovely, happy project and I'm hoping that I could make
another one soon. For now I have a pair of fairy wings to fix.
Markie is going as a fairy to a fancy dress birthday party
this weekend and I'm official costumier. I got her a 25p fairy
wand from the charity shop the other day and the rest of her
outfit is sorted, I think. Hopefully my little client will be pleased!

Thanks for stopping by here. Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Reindeer Christmas Cards

Last weekend my girls and I tried our hand at making
Christmas cards. When I say tried our hand, I mean it literally -
we used thumbprints to make festive little reindeers!

I got the idea for this from here.  First I helped the girls make
thumbprints on plain white cards. We didn't have any brown ink
so we just used whatever we've got at home which was orange! 
 It was very exciting. We've never done finger painting before and
 it was a bit messy at the start but we soon found a way
to make neater prints and it was so much fun.

After the ink had dried we added red paper dots for reindeers'
noses. Again we just used whatever material we have available.
Little red buttons and tiny red pompoms will work perfectly too.

Then it was time for me to draw the eyes, ears, heads and antlers and
 stamp a festive greeting and we have our reindeer Christmas cards!

It was great fun making them and the girls are so proud
of their handiwork. Markie is excited to give them to her friends
 and teachers in school and I've posted some to friends and
family already. I'm looking forward to making more cards
with them this weekend. I love us making things and being
creative together especially this Advent. Being able to involve
them in our festive preparations is wonderful, making this
time before Christmas special and meaningful for our little family.

I hope all your Christmas makings and preparations
are going well. Have a lovely week!