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Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Twelve Days of Christmas - Christmas Eve

{Day Twelve}

It's Christmas Eve everybody! I can't believe it, it makes me a little sad that this series is over because that means the whole festive build up is over...but, that does mean it is Christmas Day tomorrow. Word's cannot describe my excitement!

Today we put our hampers together and cleaned the house, especially the kitchen. It was such a mess from all the baking, seriously...sugar and nuts everywhere! After getting ourselves ready we went out to play Santa and delivered gifts to everyone. The most shocking thing of all is that tonight was the first Christmas Eve we actually made it home early and had time for dinner and some Christmas films (currently watching A Muppets Christmas Carol).

So Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you all have a wonderful day tomorrow, however you plan on spending it. I am off to watch the rest of our film and enjoy a hot chocolate. 

1 Sleep Till Christmas!

Monday, 23 December 2013

Twelve Days of Christmas - "Starbucks" Peppermint Brownie Cake Pops

{Day Eleven}

Two weeks ago a friend of mine came home from a holiday in America, with her she brought back Starbucks Peppermint Brownie Cake Pops. We don't get them here in the UK and after trying it I was in love so I had to try and make my own, this is how they turned out and I have to say...I am impressed!

Chocolate cake mix
Chocolate icing (aproxomatly 250g)
Peppermint extract
Plastic lolly sticks
Vanilla Candy Melts, or chocolate if you prefer
Candy Canes 

First make your chocolate cake mix and add 1 tsp of peppermint extract, you can use a shop bought packet or your own recipe. I used my own never-fail recipe, if you would like me to post it let me know. When it is completely cool crumble it up in to a large mixing bowl until it resembles breadcrumbs. 

Spoon half a jar of icing into a bowl and add 2 tsp of peppermint extract, mix this together and then add to your cake crumbs. You then mix it through until it forms a kind of have to use your hands for this, it doesn't come together as well with utensils.

Crush up your candy canes, I used four but how many you want to use is up to you, add them to your dough and mix until they are evenly worked through. Start rolling out your mixture into balls around ping-pong ball size and spread them out on baking trays, you then keep them in the fridge for a couple of hours to firm up.

Star to melt your chocolate or candy melts for coating your cakes, before you push the lolly sticks into your cake pops it helps to dip them in the chocolate. This acts like a glue to help stop the pops falling off the sticks, or the sticks coming out the top of the cakes. Keep going until you have put lolly sticks into all of your little cakes and then place them back in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.

Then all you have to do is dip them in the chocolate to coat them and before it dries sprinkle some crushed candy cane on for decoration. It helps when doing this to have something to place them in to hold them. I used an upside down shoe box that I had made some holes in. 

And there you go! I can't say they are simple or quick to make, because they aren't, but I would say they are worth it in the end. They would look great tied up in little cellophane bags too, I think we might do that for visiting friends and family tomorrow.

Have you tried these cake pops from Starbucks? What do you think of them?

2 Sleeps Till Christmas!


Sunday, 22 December 2013

Twelve Days of Christmas - Christmas Tree Tea Bags

{Day Ten}

Each year for Christmas we make hampers for friends and family filled with yummy home made treats. When deciding what to put in them this year I remembered the little hear shaped tea bags I made for Valentines day, they were raspberry and pomegranate so went a lovely red colour when brewed -you can see how I did it here. I thought they would be a nice touch to the hampers this Christmas to go with the shortbread and truffles that we will be making. To make them more festive I decided to make them Christmas tree shape and fill them with peppermint tea.

I am really pleased with how they turned out, I think next time I would like to try and make my own tea instead of using shop bough tea bags.

Have you ever made your own tea? I would love any tips on how to go about it...not really sure where to start.

3 Sleeps Till Christmas!


Saturday, 21 December 2013

Twelve Days of Christmas - White Hot Chocolate

{Day Nine}

Around this time of year I drink far too much hot chocolate, when I am out I will rarely order anything else. I justify it by reminding myself that I don't really drink it any other time of year -that makes it ok, right? It is usually just the standard milk chocolate but I wanted something very sweet earlier this week and thought it might be nice to do it with white instead. This is what I did.

Makes two cups.
100g white chocolate
3 quarters of a pint of milk
squrity cream for on top
chocolate stars for decoration (optional)

It's very simple to do, warm your milk over a low to medium heat so that it doesn't burn or boil over. When it is warm add your chocolate and stir until completely melted into the milk. A tip I found after making the second batch is that a little vanilla extract makes it extra tasty. That is really all there is too it, just carefully pour into mugs, top with lots of squirty cream and if you like, little chocolate stars to decorate.

I sometimes sweeten my hot chocolate but this really doesn't need it with white chocolate being sweeter, I also think if I make it again I will try it with semi-skimmed or full fat milk. I used skimmed for mine but I think the others would make it that little bit more creamy.

What is your favourite Christmas drink?

4 Sleeps Till Christmas! 


Friday, 20 December 2013

Twelve Days of Christmas - The Christmas Tag

{Day Eight}

I thought it was only right that I include a Christmas tag in this series. I read "The Christmas Tag" on Rachels blog and I thought it would be a good one do to, so here we go...

1. What's your favourite holiday film? My answer kind of copies Rachel because it is "Love Actually" and "Elf", I honestly can't choose between them. But I would like to add a third to my answer, "A Muppet's Christmas Carol". I love love love that film, no matter how old I get I will always look forward to watching it it Christmas Eve.

2. What's your favourite Christmas colour? I don't think I have one, but the colours that feel most Christmasy to me are red's, gold's, and greens. 

3. Do you open your presents on Christmas Eve or Morning? When I was younger my mum used to let my brother and I open one present each on Christmas Eve and then the rest on Christmas morning. Now I am older and no longer live with my mum we don't do that any more. Now we just open all of our gifts on Christmas morning.

4. What's your favourite Winter fragrance? I don't have one that I turn to year after year, last Christmas I loved using The Body Shops Cranberry body spray, that was lovely! This year I have been really enjoying Pomegranate Noir from Jo Malone.

5. What's your favourite Christmas smell? That would have to be our Christmas candle, Red Apple Wreath from Yankee Candle. We buy the same one each year and when ever I smell it it just takes me straight to Christmas day...even if it is mid-summer. 

6. What's your favourite holiday drink? Hot Chocolate! To be exact...Starbucks Hazelnut Signature Hot Chocolate! It has to be the signature, the other just doesn't compare. I have had so many of them in the past few weeks I have lost count!

7. Candy Canes or Gingerbread men? I never used to like either, but now I do and I would have to go with Gingerbread men. I only eat them at Christmas so they are very festive to me.

8. What's your favourite Christmas song? I have far too many to name my one favourite but, the one that gets me most excited for Christmas is "Christmas" by Micheal Buble!

9. Have you ever made a snowman? Yes, many many times! Not so much as I have got older but lots of times when I was younger. Once we even made an igloo, we were very proud.

10. What is most important to you about the holidays? What I love most about the holidays is how it make everyone that little bit happier. The most important thing to me is just being able to relax at home with friends and family, not having to worry about anything and just enjoying the day.

I tag everyone to do this! 

5 Sleeps Till Christmas!


Thursday, 19 December 2013

Twelve Days of Christmas - DIY: Festive Body Scrub

{Day Seven}

I can't believe we are more than half way through this little series, not many sleeps to go now!

As wonderful and magical as Christmas can be, it is also quite possibly the most expensive time of year for most of us. This is where home made gifts can be very helpful! If you haven't finished your shopping and you are on a tight budget or, if you are just looking for thoughtful little extras to hand out this DIY is perfect! I can't take all the credit as I borrowed the idea last year from a friend of mine who had made something similar but I changed it up a little to use what I had lying around. 

Everything for this scrub I found in my kitchen so if you don't have all of the ingredients why not just improvise? The original had no cocoa or cinnamon but I thought as I had them and as it is Christmas...why not!

1/2 a cup of caster sugar
1 cup of brown sugar
1/2 a cup of rock salt
2 tbsp of ground cinnamon
2 tbsp of cocoa powder
3 tbsp of olive oil

The instructions for making this scrub couldn't be simpler - place all ingredients into a bowl and mix until completely combined. Then all you have to do is put it in a container you like. I used a storage jar and tied a white ribbon around it, then finished with a little gift tag. 

Because I used olive oil, in the jar the scrub smells more of that than anything else however, when you use it and then rinse it off it leaves you smelling of chocolate and cinnamon. Perfect for Christmas! You could of course use any other oil you like if you don't enjoy the olive oil scent. 

Are you making gifts for anyone this year? 

6 Sleeps Till Christmas!


Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Twelve Days of Christmas - Photo Diary: Edinburgh Christmas Market

{Day Six }

Edinburgh is one of my favourite places in the world, the atmosphere is lovely and it holds so many special memories...the most special being when Paul proposed, that was a perfect day! Every Christmas the atmosphere gets that little bit more exciting and the city is full of festive fun, my favourite thing is the Christmas Market so I wanted to share a little bit of that with you. Hope you don't mind the overload of pictures?

7 Sleeps Till Christmas!


Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Twelve Days of Christmas - Homemade Snowflake Wrapping Paper

{Day Five}

My thinking is that the more effort that goes into the gifts you give, the more people appreciate them. It's not about the money you spend or how many things you's all about the thought behind them. Also...I have a great fondness for Christmas crafts - I love them really! (With this in mind expect some festive DIY's coming very soon!)

This year I thought it would be nice to extend that thinking to what we use to finish off our gifts, so I decided to make my own wrapping paper. When I say "make my own wrapping paper" I don't mean literally make the paper, I guess I should say customised? This year I knew that I wanted to have a white theme and, as I have done for a few years now I wanted to use brown paper, I love the rustic look of it. The first thing that comes to mind when you think "white" and "Christmas" for me is snow, so that was the plan! This paper is very quick and easy to make and as a bonus is far cheaper than buying the usual rolls of fancy gift wrap and all the tags and bows that come along with that. You also make as much or as little as you need.

You Will Need:
Brown paper
White acrylic paint
White glitter
Snowflake stamp
Old paint brush
Small plate

First roll out your brown paper and weigh the ends down so it doesn't roll up, I found this easiest to do on the floor just because it gave me a lot more room. I put a large board under the paper to give me a flat sold surface but if you have a clear table or work top that would be easier.

Squeeze a little paint out onto your plate (don't worry it washes off) and drip in your brush. The reason for the plate is to allow you to dab the brush around to take off excess paint. Lightly dab the brush all over the stamp until the design is covered and then press it on your paper. Be careful not to overload your stamp, this will give you a much neater finish.

As soon as you lift off your stamp, sprinkle your glitter all over your snowflake print, this gives the glitter time to stuck to the paint properly while it dries. How you lay out your design is completely up to you, I decided to go for an organised pattern with my paper. 

Keep going until you have done as much paper as you need. The prints take only moments to dry so as I was moving down the roll I would shake the excess glitter back into the jar and either roll up or fold the finished wrapping paper, just so it is out of the way. And there you have it...glittery snowflake gift wrap! So easy to make and looks so beautiful under your tree. I stayed with the white theme and finished our with plain white ribbon and as I always do, little plain brown luggage tags. 

How are you wrapping your gifts this year?

8 Sleeps Till Christmas!

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