Sunday, 4 November 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...!

Yes, I know it's only November, but I have been making Christmas cakes and the whole house smells of cinnamon and cloves and I opened the curtains this morning to find it snowing. This is not usual weather for South West England in early November.


Before I get on to Christmas, I think I should cover Halloween. On Wednesday I abandoned my beloved to look after the cats and hand out chocolate to the neighbourhood thugs children (actually they are not bad kids, just lack the football skills to keep the ball away from our car, garage door, garden etc), and I crossed the bridge and headed West. My nephew enjoys celebrating Halloween (as do I) and we had a lovely family dinner.

The house lends itself to eery decor...and the lights and cobwebs and candles could only help.

green hand lights
My sister and nephew decorated cupcakes with 'stone' roses and made good use of the spider cupcake holders I found.

edible stone roses and spider cakes
 I hadn't had toffee apples in years - and they were as good as I remember! It's the sweet crunch of the toffee against the cool freshness of the apple...mmmmm!

toffee apples

spider cupcakes
This is Mary - my very favourite almost niece (my brother-in-law's brother's daughter), and her dad trying to get in shot!

Mary and Kimbo
 Mary always throws herself in to any event and bravely tackled a spider cupcake, only to find it turned her teeth a greeny-black!

black-tooth Mary
It was a good evening.


You may have noticed that I enjoy a bit of baking. I particularly like cake decorating - and Christmas is such an opportunity. There are those who may call me stingy, but I like homemade gifts. There are number of friends and family who get a Christmas cake every year (like it or not!). So I made four cakes on Friday and another on Saturday. I soaked the dried fruit (raisins, sultanas, currants, apricots, cranberries, cherries etc) overnight in chai tea to make sure the cakes end up moist.

mixing the Christmas cake batter
 To stop the outside cooking too quickly, I wrap the cake tins in newspaper or brown paper - the smell of the warm paper somehow adds to the smell of fruit and spices in a really good way. Sorry about the colour of this photo - I failed to correct it; the cake mix didn't really look like coronation chicken.

Christmas cakes ready for the oven

Christmas cakes fresh from the oven
Once the cakes are cool, I attack them with a small skewer and then pour over alcohol.
pricking the cakes
 I like to 'feed' the cakes this way once a week until I am ready to decorate them. By Christmas they are good and boozy. Some years I use brandy, in others I use sherry or port or marsala. This year I am using ginger wine.

feeding the Christmas cake

all tucked up in kitchen foil

let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

Actually, I don't really like snow. Yes, it looks pretty (before it turns to muddy ice) and, when you don't have anywhere to be, it is fun to make a snow man or go tobogganing, but I hate driving or walking on ice. However, today's snow was here and gone before you could say Jack Frost.

snowy garden

Getting old!

On Friday I went to see a physiotherapist about my aching, non-functioning shoulder. The physiotherapist at the RUH couldn't have been nicer - even when telling me the problem is that I slouch. I have been doing the exercises she recommended this weekend, and the pain is sooooo much worse! I am assuming it is a case of things getting worse before they get better, but I feel like I am 80. Today, after popping in to the Bath Apple store for Mark to get his birthday present (the new, upgraded ipad), I spent the rest of the day sewing. It was very productive - I changed my mind about the colour thread to use for quilting so have to unpick and re-stitch 4 rows of sewing, and then just hand-stitch the trim - but I really ache. I have been using our dining table and chairs for working/sewing, but I believe my Christmas present from Mark will be a proper work chair; hopefully then I may feel a bit younger again.

1 comment:

  1. I remember your sister's house - such a lovely place with loads of atmosphere. It must be the perfect setting for Halloween!

    Personally I quite forgot about it (it's hasn't been celebrated i Sweden for more than a decade or so), so I quite forgot to get candy for the children... I felt quite ashamed when the they turned up at our door!

    A Christmas cake seems quite exotic to me - and very, very British. I am sure they will be delicious!