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Happy Christmas!!!

Happy Christmas everyone!

I hope you have some truly happy times over Christmas and much joy and peace in the year 2014 to come!

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There are many lovely Christmas things I would like to tell you about …

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We decorated our tree with two of L’s work colleges, along with our own mulled wine and festive snacks …

I’ve been finding (with a little help from the husband!), sewing, sticking, painting and wrapping Christmas gifts for friends and family …

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I held a Gingerbread Party for my friends and my sisters …

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… we had so much fun decorating gingerbread men that my friend A and myself had made!

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My personal favourite was Eve – complete with a little red apple in her hand! Go C!! 😉

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I cooked up a two course Christmas meal just for my hubby and I, with inspiration from the latest Masterchef The Professionals Series … although thank goodness I’m not being judged on the final result!! 😛

(Pickled Beetroot with Grilled Goats Cheese and Walnuts, followed by Shin of Beef braised in Red Wine, with Bacon-wrapped Potato Cakes, Roasted Shallots and tenderstem broccoli.)

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I baked, fed with brandy, iced and decorated three Christmas cakes for friends and family …

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And we got to attended the lovely Christmas wedding of two wonderful, God-loving friends and celebrate with their blood and church families!

My faithful little camera broke and although L thankfully has one he never uses, it is taking quite a bit of getting used to – hence the lack of photos! 😛 Our internet connection is also playing around, so I can’t always upload/download things when I want to …

If this was not the case, you would have had more photos and blog posts from me … I miss talking to you!

My first resolution for next year: learn how to use L’s camera so it takes photos I like!!

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Have times of much love with your families, peace in the midst of trouble, happiness in the small things, joy in the greatest gift of all time and the hope of things to come!!

Our love,

Mr and Mrs Moose

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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!!

Smiling

Here are two things which have really made me smile this week, despite a number of things which have made me very sad …

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L bought me a dozen red roses for our anniversary – not just any red roses, but my very favourite shade of red and my favourite kind of roses!

How can I not smile?!

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I made my hubby a Cherry Pie!

I’ve cooked and baked many things for L, before and during our marriage, and one of the sung favourites has been a Cherry Pie! What’s not to love?!

I am told I inherited my Grandmother’s skill for pastry, so let’s bake!! 😀

What has made you smile this week?! 🙂

About Bank Holidays and Fun on The Beach!

There’s this standing joke among us British. Well, not a joke maybe … more an ironic truth? A pessimistic reality? A soggy certainty I think about sums it up.

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It always rains on the bank holiday weekend. The May and August bank holidays are looked forward to as a long weekend where workers get the Monday off and the kids get a day off school, a weekend for fun, family and food … and usually failed plans. The weather just seems to know everyone wants to be outside having fun, so rains, usually hard.

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We always plan for gorgeous weather … and are almost always disappointed by rain. Somehow, when it comes to bank holidays, we seem to have developed a national unquenchable optimism.

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This bank holiday weekend has so far been fantastic! Blue skies, nice breezes, blazing sun and not a rain drop in sight – perfect! I reckon that gives us at least a 10 year renewal on our optimism lease! 😉

My best friend R and I went to our favourite sand beach and had fish and chips by the sea! The chippy (fish and chip shop for the uninitiated 😉 ) claimed to serve the best chips in the South West – I haven’t run a taste-test on every chippy in the South West, so I can’t say for sure, but they were very scrummy chips, especially with a good helping of salt and vinegar – yum!! 😀

We leaned against the sea wall, chatting and watching the sea and the other people enjoying themselves on the beach. Somehow, while watching the really little kids exploring and discovering, you can’t help but see it all through new eyes yourself. No to mention how cute some of those little kids were … 😉

We couldn’t resist taking our shoes and socks off and enjoying the feeling of warm sand running between our toes … then the water just seemed to beckon … it looked so fresh and inviting … so we just had to go paddling!! It.Was.Cold. The first time the waves washed over our feet it was chilly, but good but the next few times and we could feel our feet going numb! After not very long we retreated to the hot sand to dry off, but hey, we did it, ok?! 😛

I took a conservative number of photos and got sunburned – two things which hardly ever happen!

Thanks for a lovely time R! 🙂

Tomorrow L and I are going for a picnic BBQ and walk in the woods with friends, so the weather better stay good … or else … well, hopefully something I won’t have to come up with, because of course it’s going to be brilliant weather on a bank holiday Monday!! 😀

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!!!