Christmas Traditions As The Kids Grow

It’s official, our kids have aged out of believing in Santa.  I have mixed feelings about that.  On the one hand I’ll miss them wanting to put out carrots for the reindeer, cookies and milk for Santa, and glitter to guide in the reindeer.  But then again we have a closet full of secret Santa paper that we’ve kept hidden.  We would wrap our son’s gifts in different paper from our daughter’s so no handwriting would be on the gifts to give away the magic.  That’s how I figured it out when I was a kid!

Because my husband had to travel half this month we got our Christmas tree right after Thanksgiving which is really early for us but we lucked out with amazing weather.  We go to a local farm where they have horse drawn carriages and pick out a tree.  Afterwards we have free homemade donuts and hot chocolate.

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I had a Griswold moment as we were picking out a tree.  As we found one I saw across the way The Tree.  I told the family to stay put, to hedge our bets, and took off running.  Now I don’t run.  There was a foot of snow and I’m in my winter boots huffing and puffing going as fast as I could.  Which isn’t very fast.  I got passed by the guy with a saw and a dolled up woman who laid claim to the tree.  I did a “Noooo!” and fell to my knees gasping.  The nice man said to me but there is another one right over there.  Before I could raise my hand and say “Yes!” the woman whipped round and claimed that one too.  I nearly did a faceplant in the snow.  So I trudged back to the family and claimed the one we hedged our bets with.  Actually it’s a gorgeous tree, just a bare spot in the back but we put that against the wall.  🙂

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We do have fun decorating the tree with our favourite ornaments and Christmas music is put on.  Guinness could care less but Murphy is always willing to be in the way.  He generally curls up right at the tree looking up to see what we are doing.

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I was way behind with things this month.  I only made the Christmas cake two Sundays ago!  The recipe is here part 1 and part 2.  I thought, because we are obviously not having a white Christmas, it would be fun to decorate the cake with the three stages of the snowman.  I had in my head how I wanted to do the snowman and knew I had to head to the local candy shop.  And right there were snowman done out of marshmallow!  Perfect so I was able to recreate using what they did.

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Today we’ll be playing games and watching Christmas movies in our PJs.  After we bake mince meat pies and sticky buns for tomorrow’s breakfast.  And it’s tradition to order Chinese food for dinner tonight.  We eat it next to the tree with the fire going.  And can’t forget the Christmas crackers!

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Guinness and Murphy are taken care of with big bones for them to entertain themselves with.  🙂

For those that celebrate Christmas, have a very Happy Christmas.  May it be safe and fun.  🙂

Bringing the Fruit Cake to a Winter Wonderland

Hard to believe Christmas has come and gone.  So much preparation that goes on then you blink and it’s gone.  It was an absolute whirlwind.  This year it was our turn to have the kids for the day rather than Christmas Eve and morning.   Once they had done the presents at their mother’s they arrived to our round of presents and sticky buns.  Then a dash to my parents where the whole family gets together.  In the years past we usually pass a present out to everyone then we all open and see what each other gets, say thank you , that sort of thing.  I have no idea what happened this year.  It was chaos.  Paper flying, screams, excitement, confusion.  When it was done the adults just sat back and wondered what just happened.  Fortunately it quieted down and all the kids went off to play with their new toys, the adults fortified themselves with wine and beer and we had a breather.   My mum cooked the Christmas dinner and it was a lovely turkey with the sides.  It’s a lot of work but she pulled it off beautifully.  We both made Christmas cakes and she made a trifle.  That was delicious.

I offered to make the cake and mum said that we should each make one as we seem to be the only family stateside that never has enough fruit cake!  Our husbands would be happy to each have one.  🙂  This year I wanted to create a winter wonderland for the kids.  I bought way too much candy for this cake so we have a large bag left over.  What was in my head was much bigger than the cake!  I had to downsize a bit.  Ah well.

The recipe I used was our family’s recipe for the Christmas Cake.

I had seen on pinterest a few times people using sugar cones to make trees so I thought I would give that a try.  To cut down to size just use a bread knife.  Very easy.

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I set this aside and work on the other elements.  Once I start using the Royal Icing I have to work quickly.  I wanted to do a snowman so I used marzipan as the base and stacked them with two toothpicks.

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I then iced the cake and placed the candy where I wanted it.  I used sugar plums as little ponds. Had some gummy bears frolicking in the “snow”.   I iced the snowman.  At first I was obsessed on getting it all smooth but then I realised that real snowmans aren’t always smooth either.  Once I was done with the white I added the green and iced the sugar cone to make a tree and added some sugar pearls to dress it up a bit.

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To paint the snowman I used food colouring gel to draw the face and buttons.  To finish the cake I dusted it with white glitter dust to add a bit of sparkle.

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I was pleased with it and I couldn’t wait to bring it. When we were waiting for the kids to show I made the mistake of putting the dome over it and left it in the sun.  When I got in the car I noticed red puddles on top of the cake.  The peppermint candy canes had melted the red off!  It was a massacre.  Good thing I had taken the photos!  We had a good laugh about it and it didn’t change the flavour of the cake.  🙂

Deck the Halls!

Before Thanksgiving I’m a scrooge.  A bah humbug.  I don’t believe Christmas should be dragged out for 3 months.  I love Christmas but it fits nicely into December.  After Thanksgiving?  Bring it!  I love the carols, the food, the tree, and the joy on my kids’ faces.  I am a huge fan of the traditions that we pass along.  The Christmas crackers, mince pies, chinese food on the eve.  What’s not to like?  And the great tradition?  Getting the tree.

When I was a kid, when trees were cheap, my dad started the game of what’s the least amount we can spend on a great looking tree?  For years we would get trees for less than $10.  It was a point of pride.  Our chances were increased because we waited until after my sister’s birthday so we wouldn’t get a tree until a week or two before Christmas so vendors were looking to get rid of inventory.  And because we followed the 12 days of Christmas and kept the tree up until the 7th of January we never missed out on tree time.

This past weekend it was time to get our tree.  We go to a tree farm just north of us.  They have free donuts and hot chocolate.  It was an easy choice to keep going to this farm.  Plus they really make it an adventure for the families.  Once you are able to find a parking space, which isn’t always easy as this is a very popular spot, you get in line for the horse drawn carriages which take you down to the trees then bring you back again with your trees.

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They even play Christmas carols for the ride.  As it is usually bitter cold we all huddle together for warmth.  We did quite well this year as we found our tree as soon as we got off the carriage.  Usually it takes awhile as we compare and search.  We have high ceilings so it needs to be tall, full but not overly wide.  Not always easy to find.  But this year it was waiting for us.  🙂

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Then it was the ride back for the donuts and hot chocolate while we waited for our tree to catch up with us.  It was very busy so they couldn’t get all the trees up at the same time.  The next day we decorated it, good thing for ladders!  I love our decorations.  We have blue and white lights which are the colours we used to honour Grammy at Christmas time but as they are so pretty I continued it, we have glass ornaments I got from Harrods when I was a student and they were on sale, and we have several ornaments the kids made.  Those are my favourites.  There is one that has our son’s tiny hand print on it.  How they grow.  We hang round the house various paper santas and snowmen they have made over the years.  I’m amazed they survived!

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It was quite the task getting the angel to stay up.  It took a complete nose dive to the floor.  Most of it survived.  We had to trim the top a bit so it was stable but we got it to behave.  I love having the regular lights off and just have the tree lights on.  So pretty.  I even like taking my glasses off and have it all a soft blur.

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The next step is to organise the presents and start putting them under the tree.  Fortunately our pets leave it all alone!  Though Murphy is always interested in our decorating.  He gets right in the thick of things.  🙂