Saturday, 26 December 2009

One Hot Mamma!

Well I guess most of you will have finished Christmas by now. Was it worth all the hard work? Yep, it certainly was for me anyway. It was such a perfect day for us. The weather was outstanding, the children had a ball, the gifts were good fun to open and it was quite relaxing really.

The girls were all excitedly searching through their stockings when we crawled out of bed. There were some yummy treats that were eagerly gobbled up - stuff breakfast on Christmas Day! Santa delivered mostly what they asked for, but there were no complaints about the variations.

I must say that preparing for a meal in this heat wasn't that pleasant. Nearly 30 degrees by mid afternoon with a hot breeze was not good for the kitchen workers. It was sweltering hot with unbelievable mugginess to go with it. Still it was mostly cold food apart from the chickens and potatoes.
Just look at the beautiful blue sky with the green leaves...

What else is there to do on such a hot Christmas Day? Gosh this is the life for children isn't it?

There was only one thing for it. Bring out the pools! We all enjoyed a few feet dips in between cooking and Christmas preparations.

This is my setting at table A. The gingham cloth didn't stretch for both tables! Well actually I didn't get to sit much with getting up and down for little girls needing drinks, food etc anyway.

And who's idea was it to get Singstar ABBA?!!! Golly I didn't know singing could be so painful to listen to! And to be woken up at 6.45 by such noise is not too pleasant. As Daddy says, we have no budding Taylor Swifts here! Still they are having so much fun with it and even the four year old knows every word of Mamma Mia. Well some words she thinks she has right!

I hope you all had such a great day too. Can't wait to hear about it.
I suppose you want to know what Santa brought me? Well, I got a Wasgij Christmas puzzle, three blocks of dark chocolate!!!, a triple pack of craft magazines, and wait for it...
a new twin pack of telephones! I have been so restricted of late with a stupid phone that would allow me to speak for about ten mins a day before it would just cut out. Imagine how awful that would be for three months? Hubby found it quite amusing as you can imagine. Well my life will be forever changed now I have my phone back.

Well the pool is currently being filled for another fun day in the sun. Might be a good beginning to the holiday to start my puzzle. Right off for a bit of R and R and perhaps a little chocolate treat.
We are doing it all again tonight with the leftovers - better than Christmas itself as there is no work to do.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Happy Christmas Everyone!!!

Santa has been, the reindeer have eaten their carrots, and three of the children are peeking into their stockings!

Thursday, 24 December 2009

We'll Show You Fancy Snow Photo Ladies What Christmas Is Really Like!!

Right ladies (and gentlemen too) this is how we do Christmas Eve! We start with a very sunny day with sunflowers flowering in the garden...
Grab some magnificent blue sky with high temperatures, about 28 Degrees to be precise...

Catch a glimpse of red Christmas Pohutukawa's flowering on the trees over the fence...

Add a little bit of the tropics with orange Canna Lillies...

A pair of shorts and t-shirt (not my legs I'm afraid, these fabulous pins belong to No.1) and nothing on ones feet...

It's a time for cold creamy milkshakes...
And warm red stockings ready and waiting for Santa...

It's a time to shed one's cast for the summer and for unwrapping one's gifts in the morning...

And it's a time for Mother's to receive kind gifts from overseas as well. I'd like to thank Rebecca very much for thinking of me when she spotted these rolls of paper gingham ribbon. And look, another perfect tea towel for my kitchen.

Just look at this special knitted stocking that she crafted herself. What a lucky girl I am! Thank you ever so much Rebecca! It's hanging on our tree.

I also received a special card and ribbon from a kind commenter of mine, Priyanca. I forgot to take photos sorry but will sort this out at some stage!
I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas with your families. Our family sends you warm wishes for a happy day. Have a great time, enjoy the lovely food and drinks, be happy and remember, take loads of photos to share!
Happy Christmas one and all!!!
With Love, The Red Gingham Family xxxxxx

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

The Lights At Night

On Monday evening we set out for our Annual Christmas Lights Trip around the neighbourhood. We started at a church that holds the most magnificent light display, with it's own radio station, that has a light show to music. It's absolutely fantastic! And then you go inside and there are four different shows to watch. The parishioners put it on and they have a bit of fun with the Christmas story. There's carol singing too which we joined in until No.4 put her hand across my mouth! What's she trying to say???

And in the next village, we have for the first time, a marque fill with Christmas goodness inside and out. This belongs to a couple who actually just live around the corner from us. But two years ago someone was killed outside their house crossing the busy road to see the lights. so now they aren't allowed to do what they want and the council has put them in the village where it is safer. So these lovely people, for six weeks, open up their hearts to all of us and provide our children with an amazing experience. There is no fee and there are candy canes for everyone too.

Inside you find loads of these sort of toys, where you press a button and watch as the toy performs for you.

And just look at these pesky signs!!!...

The train set villages are my favourite...

The girls like to put a coin in the red carriage.

Oh darling, I do think it might be snowing...

Golly, I think you might be right!

Mmmm, it seems to be quite warm over here. I'm a little fearful of loosing my bottom!

Ho ho ho! Santa's here with a reindeer to cheer all the snow men and ladies up.

As I took this photo yesterday, it's a bit out of date, but you can see we are nearly there!!! And my goodness are the girls getting excited. No.1 has always been a very excitable child and No.2 loves Christmas so she's excited, No.3 never gets excited so she's fairly (herself) normal, and No.4 doesn't need much of an excuse to go a bit silly and over the top. So you can imagine how jolly it is around here. They are starting to play nicely now which Mama is really delighted about.

It's Christmas Eve here tomorrow. That's pretty close. We will do goodness knows what tomorrow, probably tidy and make beds, then at 6pm we will go to church for the Children's Service. There's always a play put on by the children and some carol singing. As we aren't regulars, our girls won't be in it.
After the service we will come home and the girls will each pick one present that they would like to open. This is usually quite planned as they have been peaking at the presents under the tree! They'll know what looks good and who it's from. Mummy and Daddy only get three presents each so we won't be joining in.
Tonight we will wrap the last of the presents all ready for Christmas. Have you wrapped all your yet? Ours are never fancy looking and usually the ones the little girls have wrapped have screeds of sellotape. It's OK, I bought four more rolls of it yesterday.

Nana Red Gingham's Pavlova

A friend of mine has requested the recipe for my birthday pavlova so I though it might be nice to share it with you lovely people too. She and we are having it for Christmas Dinner this year. We are still having the traditional Christmas Pudding as well (even though it will be sunny, hopefully) but as some of us are unable to enjoy such delicacies anymore, we have substitutes.

Now this is such an easy recipe and as long as your oven isn't hotter than stated, you'll end up with a very delicious marshmellowy pav as pictured. It just melts in your mouth!

OK lets begin. Turn the oven on to 200 degrees C (392 degrees F). In a large bowl add:

4 egg whites
1 cup of white sugar (for those English lasses who don't use measuring cups this is 250ml)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 teaspoon vinegar (malt or white)
1 dessertspoon (20ml) cornflour
6 tablespoons (6x15ml) cold water

Beat together with an electric beater for 15 mins. You will end up with RSI unless you have one of those fancy beater units (or two capable helpers).

Plop onto a baking tray lined with wet baking paper and spread out a bit. It won't grow so you get what you make.

Pop it in the oven when it has reached 200 for two minutes only. Turn off with door shut overnight, or until very cool. Here's the important part DO NOT PEAK!!! Even if your door is really dirty and you can't see the jolly thing. It will be fine unless you open the door. It's a good idea to do this at night so children don't mess it up.

You can spread a layer of cream over the top and add fruit, but there are always people who can't stand cream so it's safer to leave it blank and have a bowl of whipped cream and a fruit salad on the side.

Enjoy and try not to make one every week as tempting as it is!

Monday, 21 December 2009

A Pause In Advent Part 4

This is my last Sunday in Advent post. OK it's Monday for us, but for many of you it is still Sunday. As I've travelled through blogland this week I've noticed how many of you are now living in a different world - it's snowing. Goodness doesn't it change the look of the place! Suddenly it's so perfect and pretty looking.

The girls are horribly jealous of this white stuff as only the two bigger girls have ever been in snow before. And that was just on the side of the road on a long trip down to Wellington. We have some snowy mountains several hours from here and apparently they actually had a sprinkling of snow on them last week! I thought it was summer?!!

Today I want to talk about my favourite part of Christmas. And that is the time it gives all of us. There is no rushing out doors, no lunches to prepare, no timetables, nothing is expected of us, we can finally rest and rejuvenate. It's so good to be able to do this.
We are lucky because hubby also loves holidays and takes about five weeks off work to spend time at home with his family. Of course he doesn't get paid to be at home and February is a pretty lean month, but it's so worth it.

The girls get to spend time with both of us doing fun things. Sometimes separately, sometimes all together. Board games make a come back as do messy crafts. The girls enjoy each other's company more when they spend more time together and keep themselves busy whilst we big people read, do puzzles, or just generally relax.

Occasionally we go out of the house for an outing, but it's rare. This time we will be going away for a week, which is something we haven't done for over three years. We will drive for about eight hours and stop maybe two times. Our girls are brilliant travellers and don't seem to go to the toilet very often! Makes for good driving.

We will visit family and friends while we are away and spend special time with them. The girls will love it and we are desperately hoping we will too. It's always really hard going away with children who have food intolerance's and allergies. And of course I am now gluten free on top of dairy free so going out for a meal is really hard. It really is the biggest reason we don't holiday more often. We do take a big box of food with us, but it's not as easy as staying in our comfort zone - home.

We do love home, and three of our four girls prefer to stay at home than go out. And that's the three who had no idea what they wanted for Christmas! Brilliant!!! Actually No.2 just wanted to spend special time with her parents, on her own, this Christmas. That's a bit hard with three sisters but it seems to be really important for her. We will try very hard to give her that one on one time.

Time these holidays will give me time to teach the girls new things. Maybe they would like to learn how to cook something special (like jam she's hoping!), do some sewing, perhaps learn embroidery. Or maybe they can teach me something.
There will be lots of aunts, uncles and a sweet little cousin here for a few days too, which will be fabulous. Nothing like extra excitement at Christmas!

We don't often get to see our extended family, so it's pretty fun for the girls when there are lots of trips to the airport planned. My parents are doing most of these trips but the girls are all having turns going too. And for the first time in years, my parents are coming to stay with us. And the funny thing is, they just live seven minutes away! It's all about fitting everyone in at different houses and this just seemed to work best. The girls will love it!
I have shown you photos of what I've been up to lately. I made the nighties yesterday. This morning I looked at No.4's one, and it suddenly reminded me of a Pictureka board! She doesn't like it even though she picked the fabric, it's just too new. Not too keen on change. Being mean I made her wear it anyway. Ah... she'll get over it!
I hope you have also finished your Christmas shopping like me (she gloats!!) and are able to spend some precious time with your family. I'm off to do that now, in my pj's, to have breakfast with the girls. I love it!

Friday, 18 December 2009

Holiday's - Day One!

Look what I made a couple of weeks ago when I was knee deep in sewing projects. OK before my jam making took over my life! It's a Christmas Garland and it was easy peasie. I didn't even finish off the edges of the triangle points, such a cheat. Well I'm thinking it will still last for ages as no one will be touching it way up there.

I just rummaged through my ribbons and laces and found some suitable ones. The lace square was that crochet table mat I found in the op shop a while back. See that precious red ric rac? Dearest Michela sent it all the way from Venice for me. Isn't she sweet?

All done in one evening and a lot of fun as well. I also sewed some buttons on the ribbons randomly - again from Michela with some old finds too. I'm very pleased with how it has come out and it livens the dining room up immensely.
My favourite part of it is the section with the white pompoms. Unfortunately I can't show you a close up of that, as there are too many cobwebs in the photo!!! I really must find that duster. I just know there is one somewhere - the last people to live here left it behind. Imagine leaving your old duster behind!!
Oooo, I got my butt whipped today! I took the big girls to ten pin bowling while No.3 was at kindy and No.4 left at Great Gran's. Well it all started off well. My first bowl was a strike!!! I am still in shock over that one. But it seems I peaked too early on in the game and it was all down hill from there and I actually came last by quite a bit. So embarrassing, as a huge group of holiday programme kids were watching and all I could show them were gutter balls! Oh the shame of it.
Gosh I'm really hoping my middle girls calm down for the holidays real soon as they are both being really naughty and driving their poor mother to despair. (And they are home for six weeks!!!) Honestly you'd think they would be trying to impress Santa at this late date, but sadly no. Clearly they don't want many presents. I'm on here trying to escape!
Oh well I guess some housework wouldn't go amiss would it? We are having fish'n'chips at the beach tonight. It's such a lovely week of sunshine over here. Don't you wish you could live in both sides of the world, six months in each?

Thursday, 17 December 2009

White Chocolate and Cranberry Cookies

Here is the recipe for these delicious cookies as requested by Stephanie, at Make It... a Wonderful Life.
Originally it was given to my friend, beautifully layered in a large jar. Instructions were attached to turn it into a couple of trays of delicious cookies. What a lovely Christmas present for someone special.
Anyway, throw all these ingredients into a large bowl and mix well:

1 cup chopped white chocolate

1 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup cranberries

1/2 cup white sugar

1 cup flour

Melt 125 grams of butter and stir into dry ingredients. Mix well. Add 1 egg and mix again thoroughly.

Place biggish spoonfuls onto a baking tray (lined with greaseproof paper) with allowance for spreading.

Bake at 180 degrees C for about 10 mins or until light brown in colour. Makes about 20. I made a double batch and needed to transfer the mixture into the crock pot, as I ran out of room!
I made another batch of strawberry jam yesterday and I've just bought another lot of apricots for more jam. I think I need help!!! I just can't stop making it, I love it so much. It's a shame you all live so far away or I'd give you a jar of it for Christmas. Maybe I should just can the smell for you instead - it's just as wonderful.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

A Pause In Advent Part 3

Here we are, late as usual, but feeling suddenly much better about things which is always nice to hear, is it not? So it's the 3rd week in Advent which means Christmas is just around the corner now. Sorry for reminding you, please don't throw that at me.

This week, my topic is to remember that Christmas is also the season for giving. Being on The Challenge I have been rather challenged in this area. I have to admit to buying some items as there is only so much of me to go around and time is of the essence these days. Please forgive me, but golly I have tried.

And speaking of lacking in time, just in the nick of time, guess who arrived on my doorstep on Friday????

Yee Ha!! Yes those wonderful creatures, Santa's elves! And boy have they whipped up a storm around here. I hardly recognise the place. The window frames and the blinds have all been cleaned in every room (actually the dear husband did that!), the floors vacuumed (well some of them), the bathrooms are sparkling (OK the guest one is and now the girls are forbidden to enter it), the entrance way is mopped (because someone peed all over it), and we are trying to keep the place a little tidier (and failing miserably as No.4 is quite against tidiness).
But anyway, look what those dear little elves have baked... Cranberry and White Chocolate Cookies. The smell was truly divine.

Strawberries have been chopped in preparation for Strawberry Jam...

Apricots, bananas, pineapple, passion fruit were prepared for Fruit Salad Jam and apricots for Apricot Jam...

And just look at how nicely they are displayed! Those elves really now how to set the scene for blogging don't they? Bless their little green slippers.

Baskets have been filled with treats for giving to teachers, friends and family... for this is the season for giving. (The school teachers were very grateful for their homemade treats today too! I forgot to take the kindy presents, left them on the table can you believe it??? Yes you probably can actually.)

Sweet little bags with red gingham bows adorn the cookies and Christmas tarts...
And just look at this glorious sight! A fruit cake made and given to us by my Mother, brimming with nuts, (that cost an absolute fortune which nearly caused my mother to faint at the counter!!) whole fruits and all gluten free.

Look what we were gifted from last week's kindy activity. Our third little pasta, button, matchstick, tinsel wreath spray painted in silver made by our clever little No.3. These are my absolute favourite all time decorations. Here they all are, just one more to come in a year or two.

And along with quite a few other bloggers, we put up our Christmas tree in the weekend. The girls did it all themselves and had, well, a grumpy time. No.4 was sent to her room just after this photo was taken because she really was loosing the plot!). It does look rather lovely with the twinkling lights at night. Unfortunately as it doesn't get dark until after 9pm the girls really don't get to enjoy it as much. They do each have a mini tree by their beds which is so festive and special for them.

So yesterday and today we have been wizzing around the country side leaving little parcels on doorsteps. No Christmas cards have been written around here, but presents have been delivered instead. Well you can't do everything can you?
Now I really must be off and cook some dinner. Senior Prize Giving tonight and husband is taking No.1 to sing in the choir, and who knows about the prizes.
My wish for you this week is for your Christmas shopping, card writing and present wrapping
to be finished and you are sitting back relaxing with a mince pie and a glass of wine.