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.

Winter wonderland 1 2013

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.

Winter wonderland 2 2013

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.

Winter wonderland 4 2013

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.

Winter wonderland 5 2013

Winter wonderland 3 2013

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.  🙂

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Let it Snow! Let it, ok it can stop now….

This past weekend we had our first major winter storm where we got about 8″ of snow during Saturday night.  Which was very pretty and cozy.  Our second storm just hit.  Icing on the cake of a day that started at -8F/-22C.  It is now 9F/-13C.  We are supposed to get a few inches but we got that already today and it’s still going.  On the plus side it may let us have a white Christmas.  I’m afraid I jinxed it the other day saying we’re guaranteed.  Like I am a rookie or something!  We’ll have three days over the weekend above freezing with some rain.  Not good.

Winter 1 2013

Watching my kids get excited about the snow brings me back to when I was their age.  There was nothing better that several inches of snow.  Epic snowball fights, endless runs down the hill on our sleds.  My dad would do a run with bumps for us from our next door neighbours into our back garden.  As an adult I doubt the bumps were huge but to a small kid we were flying!

Winter 2 2013

As an adult now I think about the roads, how much shoveling and snowblowing will we have to do, and when’s a good time to walk the dogs.  This morning Guinness was very intent on getting round.  He couldn’t wait to get back to the door.  Murphy could care less.  I have to say I put as many layers on that would allow my coat to still fit.  I looked a bit like the little kid in “The Christmas Story”, the bit where he can’t put his arms down.  And I was still cold!

Winter 3 2013

If the snow was right when we were kids we’d make snow forts into our hill and hang out in them.  Little caves.  Of course now they tell you not to do that as they could collapse.  I want my kids to be safe and all but sometimes common sense sucks the fun out of it.  Our first winter here we dealt with the blizzard of ’78.  My dad dug us a 4′ deep hole, plunked us in, and set about moving several tons of snow.  My Grandma came over that winter for the first time.  My parents tried to warn her of the cold and snow but living in Yorkshire for most of her life she felt she’d “be fine, lad”.  It took her breath away.

Winter 4 2013

To be honest though if the snow is right we’re right out there with the kids building forts and having epic snowballs fights.  We’ve gone on for hours sometimes.  So we’re due for the sticky stuff, not this dry snow.  As long as it’s on a weekend.  🙂

First big winter storm of the year….

My family and I moved stateside July of ’77 when I was 4.  Funnily enough so did my husband.  Out of all of us only my mum knew what New England winters could really bring.  It wouldn’t be long before we found out.  35 years ago this past week a major blizzard blindsided NE.  It was a dangerous storm that took many lives especially those stranded in cars on the 128.  It was also one to stick in my memory as I couldn’t believe the amount of snow right outside our door.  My dad was lucky that day as he listened to his instinct and headed home before most that day.  His commute included the 128.  I remember him digging a hole for my sister and me to play in while he tackled the driveway with a shovel.  While it wasn’t a long driveway, it was a hell of a job with just a shovel.  For images of that storm check out blizzardof78.org for more information.

Fortunately we now own a snowblower and have better notice to when these storms come.  New Englanders are a bit jaded as many times we are warned that the storm of the century is coming!  That’s a bit rare but this was a big storm we just had.  It took us 2 hours to clear our driveway, porches, pathways, the greenhouse, and the cars.  If we didn’t have the snowblower I think we’d still be out there!  So here are some pictures of our snow.  The sun finally came out and it’s a pretty day but these photos are from earlier when it was still snowing.

The calm before the storm:

storm 1 2013

It took awhile for the storm to start.  It was about 12 hours late!  But finally it began…

storm 2 2013

This morning we awoke to nearly two feet of snow and it was still snowing.

storm 3 2013

storm 4 2013

Our dogs didn’t know what to do.  Guinness wanted to go right back in the house.  🙂  They ended up kind of hopping over the snow.  It was really hard to take them for a walk.  I fell twice.  Fortunately the snow was soft!  And of course I had several layers on.

storm 7 2013 storm 8 2013

Murphy tries to eat all the snow in sight but even he couldn’t keep up with it all.  But he gave it his all!

Here is a shot from down the road at the cemetery.  This cemetery dates back to the 1700’s.

storm 9 2013

The wind wouldn’t quit at all when we were doing the clearing.  It was a bit much.

storm 5 2013

I had to clear a path to the oil pipe so we can still get deliveries.  The snow on the edges was chest height by the time I finished.

storm 6 2013

Just wish it was our week to have the kids.  We would be building some epic forts!  🙂