Wednesday, 24 December 2014

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care....

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care.......

As today is Christmas eve, we just wanted to share one last post with you before we take a break until the new year. It has been so enjoyable starting this project and has really opened our eyes to all sorts of possibilities. I myself feel like I am becoming more creative and as a family we have been lucky enough to be given some great experiences.

As we enter all our Christmas festivities, I wanted to share with you one family tradition that has taken place in my family's home since before I can remember. 
Christmas eve is always a celebration, more so now than ever as it is also my youngest sister's birthday. But a tradition that we had even before she was born still carries on now. 
We have always been together on Christmas eve as my parents give us all one present to open and we all sit and read '' 'Twas The Night Before Christmas'' by Clement C. Moore. This is a beautiful poem that always marked the start of our Christmas celebrations. It is so lovely now as we grow up as Raphael and Giulietta also get to share in this experience.

I am looking forward to it and as I write this post we are busy with final preparations for Christmas day before we drive out to my Mum's and have a birthday tea.

I wanted to Share the poem with you just in case you haven't come across it before.

A Visit from St. Nicholas

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse,
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads,
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter,
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Gave a lustre of midday to objects below,
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.

With a little old driver so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:

"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the housetop the coursers they flew
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof,
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof,
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot,
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes - how they twinkled! His dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow,
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath,
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself,
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, 'ere he drove out of sight:

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

With That, We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Post by Emily

Family Fashion Photo Shoot - CatGirls

Family Fashion Photo Shoot - CatGirls

It has been hard getting us all together for a shoot recently as we have been busy and the weekends have been taken up with family things. Today I thought it would be good for Etta and I to showcase our new cat hats!
To say this shoot was challenging was an understatement. Giulietta was not interested in partaking and in my  desperation to get a shoot done resulted in me desperately trying to get her in front of the camera with the hat on. The results therefore are a little blurred but I still think they have come out great!!

I wore: Zara Hat, old Next black jumper, Primark white shirt, H&M necklace, River Island old shorts and a H.Pinchbeck watch.

Etta wore; Bob & Blossom tutu, H&M spotty vest, Primark shoes and her hat was also H&M.

As you can see, tears were shed, but she did well. she looks adorable and once she was allowed to just play she was happy again. They always say to never work with kids!

If you want to steal our style click the links
Primark is on the high street and my black jumper is a standard black jumper.

Photo credits go to my sister Gabriella.

Post by Emily

Monday, 22 December 2014

Hanging Spiced Biscuits

Hanging Spiced Biscuits

 This will be the first time I have made spiced hanging biscuits. You often see them in magazines or in more traditional images. I always think of them as quite a German thing to do as that is what my mind associates gingerbread and more rustic Christmas styles with.
I have a really easy method that I have just used while in my dressing gown first thing this morning as the kids are playing and distracted. It hasn't taken long.

Into one bowl put 350g plain flour, 1tsp of cinnamon and 3tsp of ground ginger. (I had no ginger as I couldn't find it in the shop so used 1tsp of nutmeg and 3tsp of cinnamon. (I love cinnamon though!) mix them all together.
Then into a pan, measure out 175g dark muscavado sugar, 85g golden syrup, 100g butter. Melt these down on a low heat.
Whilst melting the mixture, mix a tsp of bicarbonate soda with a tbsp of water. Also, lightly beat one egg.
Make a well in the bowl of dry ingredients and pour your sugar mix into it and also the bicarb and egg.
Mix all together well. The mixture should be soft and squishy. Leave it to cool then cover with Clingfilm and put in the fringe for an hour. This will firm it up. The mixture keeps for up to a week so you could always make it and not do the biscuits until a little later.

When you want to make you biscuits, place the dough on a heavily floured surface. Roll out and cut into whatever shapes you want. For hanging them make sure you put a hole at the top with a skewer.

Then bake in a 180C oven for 12-15 mins until. They darken slightly. If the hole closes whilst baking, while they are still warm re-skewer.

I took my batch to my mum's and decorated them using royal icing in piping bags. I fancied trying to be artistic but i found it really difficult! I did it with my youngest sister, brother and Raph. They all enjoyed it and we sat for a while listening to Christmas music and decorating them. I then strung with some string and have hung them on the tree.

Post by Emily

Button Gingerbread Men

Button Gingerbread Men

If you read any of our Halloween posts you would have seen we made some clay pumpkins that we then decorated with buttons. (Click HERE to view). As a Gingerbread Man is a more fitting shape during the Christmas period, Raphael and I made some today.

We used a Cookie cutter to get the shape out of clay and then let that dry. It took a couple of days to completely air dry through. So do that before you plan the full activity! 
We then painted them in a brown colour so that the base resembled a gingerbread biscuit. You can then decorate with what you want but we chose buttons. Raphael loved it and we had made some for Etta to do but as she was sleeping and Raph was enjoying them so much, we decided to just continue and do them all! I knew she wouldn't be bothered!

Raphael was so pleased with the results, he was very proud to have done it by himself.

These are now perfect for hanging on a tree or using as gift tags for presents.

Post by Emily


Sunday, 21 December 2014

Our Finished Christmas Cake

Our Finished Christmas Cake

A few weeks ago I shared my Grandma's Christmas cake recipe with you all. If you missed it click HERE.
I wanted to share with you the finished piece as I have decorated it now.
I covered it in marzipan and then just plain white fondant icing. I have then cut a thin strip of grey linen material and pinned it around the base. I then pinned a grey ribbon on top of that and added a bow.
I wanted to make a little bunting sign saying 'Noel', so I skewered 2 kebab sticks into the cake and tied some thread between like a washing line. I then added some grey string bows.
Using some thin card, I cut out some triangles along the fold so that I would be able to stick the front and back together. I wrote on them before I stuck them together. I used PVA glue and then some pegs to hold them as they dried.
I think the finished result is super cute. I wouldn't say it is particularly Christmassy but you could just change the colours to red and it would be instantly. I like it as it is my kind of style so I am really pleased with the finished result. I don't want to cut it now though, it's too pretty!

Post by Emily


Tools, Glorious Tools

Tools, Glorious Tools

There are certain tools which every household should have. Whether you're a professional tradesman, a weekend DIYer or have no interest apart from stopping a domestic disaster; basic tools are so useful around a house & in the garden. 
Some tools can be totally cheap & cheerful, but some are worth spending a bit more on. Seen as it's spending season you may be struggling for a present for a loved one. Here are a few tools I use daily/weekly that might be a good present for yourself or someone who has everything:

An ''Estwing'' hammer
When we moved into our house, I found an ''Estwing'' hammer in our loft! I've now had it 5 years and love it so much. It's been borrowed, lost, attemptedly stolen & left in the rain, but it still does its job & as far as hammers go, these are the best!
They are around £35, but are a real treat. 

Sharp hand woodsaw
A good saw doesn't have to be expensive, but you really can tell the difference between a sharp one & a blunt one. B&Q are selling Spear & Jackson ''Predator'' saws at 2 for £10, so you can get a rough & fine for quick or fine cuts. Bargain!

Good set of screwdrivers
I need good screwdrivers for my electrical work, So I have ''Bahco'' ones. These are great as they have a lovely feel in the hand & are insulated to 1000v. You can get uninsulated ones for cheaper. But if you're getting a set, try to get either Bahco, Stanley or a decent brand. If you're on a budget though, Silverline do some good sets.

A small adjustable spanner
You can buy cheap here if you're not going to use it very often, but they're so useful for when you don't have the right size spanner.

A ''Stanley'' knife
I use mine everyday, even to open packaging around the house.

A sealant gun
These are useful for doing any siliconing, caulking (filling), gluing, etc. as all of these products come in tubes. Get yourself a good metal one as the plastic ones break. For some things: Buy cheap, buy twice!

You can get these in quite cheap sets of waterpump pliars, long nose pliars, ordinary pliars & mole grips. If you're buying them separately though, cheap Pliars & molegrips are fine but spend a bit more on waterpump pliars. Again, insulated ones are a little bit more. 

Tape measure
You can get cheap ones, which are fine, but they don't last as long. However, these are like scissors; they go missing. Raph always plays with these so I try to keep at least a few in the house to allow for ones in his toy box!

Wood chisels are great if you want to hang a door or just want to get behind something. Cheap is fine so long as they're sharp.

An Axe
Axes are great for in the garden. I have a large one for chopping big stuff. For my last birthday Rick (my brother) & Case (my friend) bought me a lovely handmade wooden handled hatchet. It is super sharp & is great for small chopping, especially for kindling for starting bbqs, bonfires or pizza ovens.

More DIY/specialist trade tools

Spirit level set
These are always on offer & if you're undertaking any building work or picture/sign hanging these save time. I got a set from screwfix for £35 for 5 levels & a tape measure.

A good battery drill
You need to spend a bit here. I have an AEG 18v Li-ion drill. They are around £150-200. The thing to watch out for here is the battery life. You want one with at least 3Ah for the batteries to last a good length of time. This makes a great present for a keen DIYer.

A compound mitre saw
I bought one of these from ebay for £51 & it owes me nothing. I used it for laying our oak hardwood floor, skirting, the cladding on our extension & loads of other jobs. If you work with wood; get one of these. 

1000v ''fluke'' pen stick
These are 15 quid, but I never leave home without it. People from all trades should use them. It gives you confidence to work around cables. Obviously you should be trained/competent to undertake electrical work, but this is a great tool because you never know if the person before you was a cowboy. I've turned sockets off before, assumed the power's off & realised the owner has wired 2 circuits into one socket, so get one of these. It'll save your life!
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