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Mince Pies

Many times in the last few months, not to mention over the last number of years, I have expressed my opinion on mince pies being in the supermarket far too early … I have said that you shouldn’t eat your first mince pie of the season until it’s December.

Yesterday I ate my first mince pie for this Christmas.

I know! I know! How inconsistent can I be, right?

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But these weren’t any ordinary mince pies! No shop-bought or Mr Kipling varieties here!

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These were homemade mince pies, which I made with my three sisters. The pastry was made by my youngest sister T, who makes melt-in-the-mouth short crust pastry.

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The mincemeat we used in the pies was made by my older sister J, who chopped the apples, finely sliced the almonds and stirred in the currants herself.

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We rolled out, cut out, filled and topped each mince pie between the four of us.

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They were dusted with icing sugar as soon as they came out of the oven – or Aga in my family’s case … wish I had one of those to keep my flat toasty warm! 😉

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We ate the mince pies in front of the cosy wood burner, while they were still warm and fresh out of the oven, while sitting on the hearth-rug and chatting.

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Mince Pie Heaven!

Now don’t you think I’m forgiven for eating my first mince pie before the 1st of December?!

Date Nights

The best kind of evening.

L, me, cooking together, wine, music, a good film, time …

That’s what I call a good date night!

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We cooked a favourite of ours – Jambalaya – and enjoyed some white wine.

Does anyone else think there’s something a bit special about drinking a glass of wine while cooking?!

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The Jambalaya was delicious (just as we knew it would be, but still good to note … 😉 ) and then we watched the second half of the latest Sherlock Holmes film.

We’ve watched it before, but we’re kind of Sherlock Holmes fans …

Ahhh, now that was a lovely evening!

The Lord Of The Rings

Yesterday night L and I finished reading a book I’ve been reading out loud to us for a while.

Not just any book, mind you.

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We finished reading The Lord Of The Rings!

I first bought this book about 4 years ago, on a mission to read classic books that most(ish) people have read/watched or at least know the basics of. The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings were some of the first I picked up in charity shops or in this case, a read and return shop – yeah, this one never got returned and exchanged for a different book!! 😉

I was about 1/2-2/3rd through The Hobbit when I went home for Christmas with L, just a couple of months after we started dating. He got a sicky bug while we were at his parents and I offered to read to him – what about The Hobbit?

That was the start of a tradition for us and after finishing The Hobbit we started on The Lord Of The Rings. As any of you who have read this book will know, it’s quite a hefty volume and quite a bit more involved than the lighter Hobbit!

We have been reading this book together on and off for the last 3 1/2 years, with other books sprinkled in-between … it is well-travelled, well-loved, a little worse for wear when you look closely … but it has brought us so many hours of enjoyment!

I can honestly say that The Lord Of The Rings is one of the best books I have ever read!! I don’t know if I would have had the self-discipline to slog through the slightly heavier middle bits, but thanks to reading it with L, we have conquered!!

Autumn is here because …

I put on a pair of fluffy slipper socks tonight.

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I cooked this Sausage, Leek and Cider Stew last night.

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I cuddled up in my slanket this week for the first time since the spring.

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My laundry is taking twice as long to dry as it did a matter of weeks ago.

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I’m wearing my well-loved monkey slippers around the house.

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I’ve dug my long socks out from the bottom of my drawer … and remembered why I thought I needed to buy some new ones!

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My head is starting to buz with thoughts about starting on homemade Christmas presents.

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My strippy hat has been reinstated as a daily fashion essential – I don’t think it’s actually that fashionable, but I’m wearing it regardless! 😉

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It’s less then a month until my birthday.

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Oh yeah, did I mention something about the arrival of cold weather?! 😉

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Three years ago today …

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To love, comfort, honour and protect

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forsaking all others, be faithful as long as you both shall live.

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To have and to hold

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from this day forward

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for better for worse

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for richer for poorer

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in sickness and in health

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to love and to cherish until death us do part.

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According to God’s holy law.

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And this is my solemn vow.

Jambalaya!

Contrary to what my blog has lately suggested, L and I have been very busy …

Work, big-house-clear-out, deep-cleaning, walking with friends, cooking together, craft projects … plus all the mundane little bits and bobs it’s too boring to list!

I will be posting some photos as soon as I can, but for now, here’s what we got up to tonight …

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We made Jambalaya!

L has a friend he plays games with, who he yesterday discovered is Cajun. We had both heard of Cajun as in the spice, but didn’t know that they are an ethnic group of people.

Inspired by this new knowledge we decided to cook Jambalaya!

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We used Momma’s Meat Jambalaya recipe and it was a huge success, literally – it tasted brilliant and it made a huge pan full of spicy meat and rice! Seriously – we ate it tonight, put some in the fridge for tomorrow and put another four portions in the freezer!

We used Basmati rice instead of Long Grain rice and it absorbed a lot more water and cooked faster than the recipe said it would, but hey, who minds getting to eat it a bit sooner, especially when the wonderful cooking smells are drifting around the whole house?! 😉

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I love all the colours!

We added cooked prawns/shrimps to the portions on our plate (I have a bit of a thing about re-heating seafood too much … ) and they added the perfect finishing touch to the dish – yummy!!

Oh yes, and the perfect finishing touch to the evening was a bottle of white wine, Escape From New York and a bar of Cadbury’s Caramel Dairymilk – brilliant! 😀

12 Pictures of My Christmas

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A month or so ago I mixed up a Christmas cake for my Grandparents – Apricot and Brandy, from a brilliant recipe that let’s you choose your own combination but still comes out wonderfully moist!

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I wrapped the cake and fed it twice with brandy, keeping it the dark bottom of my wardrobe …

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… and tonight, after a minor-ish slip-up :P, I covered and decorated the cake ready for delivery tomorrow!

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On the 9th of December we had friends round for Mulled Wine and Mince Pies …

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… and to help us put up and decorate our Christmas tree – a tradition we love repeating every year, so much fun!!

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We had a Lady of Light!

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I grew a tinsel beard … as you do! 😉

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Our tree-builders relaxed with a glass of L and I’s special home-brew Mulled Wine – a little more potent than the ready-bottles but oh-so-yummy! 😛

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Our lovely Lady of Light made us gingerbread cookie decorations to hang on our tree – a really sweet and thoughtful Christmas gift!! Maybe I’ll just go and have a little nibble … 😉

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S took a Christmas photo of my hubby and I for us! 🙂

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Some close friends of ours are getting to adopt kids next year, so for D’s birthday party (which being on the 22nd December always feels like the start of Christmas to me!), they asked us each to bring an ornament to put on their tree, which they can tell their kids came from their friends – what an awesome idea is that?! I am so excited that they are soon to become parents and loved making a tree decoration for them!

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A few nights ago I settled into a three-hour plus marathon of present wrapping! I genuinely enjoy wrapping presents, but when it comes to Christmas, even I need to do the wrapping with the company of a film! 😉 I chose Magnolia – if you haven’t watched it: do!!

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For my last photo, because I’m a die-hard believer in a Baker’s Dozen (notice the mention L?!) … by tomorrow evening this little pile of presents will be sitting underneath my lovely in-law’s Christmas tree, waiting for the morning …

Have a very Happy Christmas and a most Blessed New Year!!!