Gingerbread is our nemesis.
Last year we handmade everything. Panels, icing, the lot. We were so sure we’d be awesome gingerbread housers. Oh the frustration. Why doesn’t it stick together right? Why won’t the walls stay up? There’s no way a roof can stay on without walls up properly.
If it wasn’t for the fact that we completely enjoyed our haunted dilapidated cathedral complete with jelly baby ravers we would have written the exercise off as a failure. And that’s always hard to do.
This year we thought we’d found the answer.
How could you go wrong with a gingerbread house kit?
Look how happy those gingerbread kids are.
So at 9:30am Lil D and I cleared the kitchen table and got stuck in.
Sure some of the sweeties looked like plastic but all the walls were there and the gingerbread kids were definitely smiling at us.
Erm why are the foundations that were so handily provided bigger than our walls? Why is the icing so tough to pipe? Memories of last year come flooding back. Bah humbug gingy. Why can’t we master you?
We battled through, both telling onlookers that they shouldn’t expect much, that it wasn’t going well. We packed the foundations with icing and held on tight as we lowered the roof and hoped. 15 minutes later we came back to decorate, unsure it would even still be standing.
Surprisingly it was. And oh how the decorating made up for the construction woes.
Lil D wanted to follow the box so I piped and she embellished. Not quite as satisfying as making mini elf doughnuts but pretty good. Plus Short Circuit was on in the background and the way it drew Lil D in was amusing all by itself.
When we stood back to view our creation we had to admit it was pretty awesome.
Still I felt compelled to promise Lil D that I’d spend the year practicing gingerbread to get it right for this time next year.
Then again, these ninjabread men seem much more fun.
A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig. Illustrated by Chris Mould.
This is the story of how Father Christmas came to be the man we know today.
Everyone is young first – this story follows Nikolas, our Boy called Christmas on his path to becoming the jolliest man in the world. An adventure that teaches us that saying something is impossible is merely a restriction we put on ourselves.
A Boy called Christmas is a beautiful tale about finding your path. It shows us the importance of kindness and altruism whilst challenging what’s thought of as impossible. It also explains the old chimney trick nicely.
We’re looking forward to reading this for many Decembers to come.
Cheerios, icing and sprinkles. That’s all it takes to make the elf in your life very happy.
Tiny little doughnuts that conceal the joy we took in making them.
Lil D put her heart into these so when Barbie presented them to Tinseltoes she was understandably proud of her mini achievements.
Elf-esteem – the perfect gift this Christmas (^-^)
The Librarian in work is a little obsessed with Christmas. She was quite insistent that we put up hundreds of posters advertising a carol service in the library; was not pleased that no-one wanted to put up the Christmas tree on the very first day of December (and when a bat flew out of that very Christmas tree it was a little less Christmassy than expected); and she wanted decorations everywhere. Or rather she wanted angels made from books everywhere.
Even after the bat incident she would not be deterred.
Thank goodness for the internet. A quick google for ‘book angels craft’ led me to this site, which was simple enough for me to follow. Let’s see if I can explain them. Though I’d recommend looking at the link, ‘cos the pictures make it really clear.
First take a paperback book with 120 or so pages (rip a book in half if it’s too big- I made 2 angels per book). Remove the cover and bend the spine, but don’t break.
Now fold the first page in half (top corner to the spine).
Fold that triangle in half again.
Repeat for the next 20 or so pages (you can make a Christmas tree is you just keep folding in this way through all the pages).
For the wings, fold from the bottom corner up to the spine for the next five or so pages, varying the size of the second fold so that the wings feather out a little.
Next page go back to folding from the top down until you are ready for another wing. Repeat the bottom fold technique for 5 pages, then finish off the rest with the top fold.
Find a christmas bauble and attach to the top for a head.
Easy, if time consuming.
I admit I quickly discovered a joy in the repetitive folding of pages (the ripping up of a book first helped discharge a little of the frustration at being forced to craft). By the end of the day 4 angels were made and ready to be admired.
Which is why I have to admit that the Librarian was right…they are pretty impressive. They sit proudly in the library and have been given so many compliments that I am now, begrudgingly, proud of them.
Only one complaint has been lodged, from a book lover. But I did choose the oldest, least used book that was headed for a charity shop, so I think that’s just called recycling.
How’s that for Christmas spirit?
Someone in work *cough may have been me* decided that it would be fun to have a Christmas tea party, where we all bring in some food to share. Great idea!
So what does one bring to a Christmas tea party?
Chocolate orange cupcakes to be precise.
Snow nearly stopped this in it’s tracks, as we couldn’t go get ingredients at the weekend, but luckily I was able to improvise with what was already in the cupboard.
Once again I used Hummingbird Bakery as my base recipe- everyone who has tried one of these cupcakes agrees that the lightness and softness of the sponge is special. Adding a little orange zest to the basic recipe created an amazing aroma of orange just as you bite into the cupcake. Bournville cocoa in the buttercream icing made a subtly sweet chocolately indulgence.
Decorated with come christmassy sprinkles, placed in box, and I crossed my fingers that they wouldn’t get squashed on the bus journey to work! (They didn’t)
And the tea party? A picnic of lovely food with some lovely work friends, all finished off with a christmas cupcake. Yummy!
Ho ho ho
We saw this recipe in a supermarket magazine ages ago and decided there and then that we had to do it in December. Rice krispies shaped to look like Christmas trees and decorated with smarties with a rolo base? – adorable!
They made it sound oh so easy. Melt some butter, add a ton of marshmallows and let it all melt some more. A touch of food colouring then stir into the rice krispies and shape.
It’s only warning was to work quickly to make sure that the decorations stick.
Reality 2 – only a 7-year-old can get the correct balance between wet enough hands for shaping, and not wet enough hands for frustration. I gave up quickly, hands covered in sticky green rice whilst Lil D patiently experimented with shaping techniques til she found a way to make triangle.
Not the fun I had anticipated but Lil D was left basking in her own creative glory, so not all bad (^-^)