Monday, 23 December 2013

Christmas Wreath

For the last couple of years I have been meaning to make my own Christmas wreath, I have had all the things to make it but just never got round to making it.  Today was the day that I finally made it!  I was off today as had a really bad cold but I soon got bored, I didn't have enough energy to do any house work, so I decided to make my wreath (and my #craftblog Secret Santa which I will post about at a later date!)

The wreath I have is an artificial one from B and Q which I bought a couple of years ago, the ones that they have in just now are smaller and not as thick.

I had a few decorations in my craft stash from a couple of Christmases ago and also had some floral decorations such as cinnamon sticks, candied apples and berries.  I bought a Santa tree decoration from M&S and thought he would look perfect on the wreath.  My friend made my bow as I am pretty useless when it comes to making them.

I stuck on Santa and some decorations using a hot glue gun.  The berries, cinnamon sticks, apples and bow are attached using wire.

I filled out the wreath by putting in some pine cones, toadstools and some more berries.  I am very pleased with how it looks and it didn't take too long to make either.  It will have to be an indoor wreath as the decorations will get spoiled by the rain and snow, so I have it hanging on the outside of my living room door.

Holiday Wreath

Have you made any Christmas crafts?  I would love to see them :)


Chocolate M&M Cookies

Today has been a busy day with cleaning, setting up the table for our Christmas Eve get together and baking.  These are what I made today (if I have time I will write up another couple of posts on my Christmas baking).

What you will need:

100g Butter
100g Soft Light Brown Sugar
1Tablespoon Golden Syrup
150g Self-Raising Flour
85g Chocolate M&Ms

How to make:

Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees (or 170 if you have a fan oven).
Line your baking sheets with grease proof paper.
Place the butter and sugar and beat until pale and smooth.
Add the golden syrup and mix in.
Add 75g of the flour and mix in until smooth then add in the remaining flour.
Stir in the M&Ms.
Roll small amounts of the dough between your hands into smooth balls.  This makes around 15 cookies.
Place onto the baking sheets, spacing them well apart (I didn't space them out far enough and they were stuck together).
Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown.
After 2-3 minutes, transfer them to a wire rack to cool.
Eat and enjoy!


Friday, 20 December 2013

Christmas Cake Decoration

After making my Christmas cakes a few weeks ago and feeding them Brandy once a week, the time has now come to marzipan and ice them.  I was being quite lazy when I bought the ready rolled marzipan and icing but it saves a bit of time and also, they will definitely be more evenly rolled out than I would ever be able to do them!

You will need:

Apricot Jam (seedless)
Marzipan (I used white marzipan as I don't like the taste of the yellow)
Icing sugar for dusting
Cake board
Anything you want to decorate your cake with

To start, take your cake out of the tin it has been living in for the last few weeks and cut a small bit off the top of the cake to flatten it and then turn upside down so the bottom is now the top.  You now have a smooth top to decorate with.  I only discovered this tip recently while watching Cake Boss as in previous years I have had lumpy, bumpy cakes, seems pretty obvious now it has been pointed out to me :)!

Warm up the apricot jam in a pan and then using a pastry brush, coat the jam all over the cake so it is nice and sticky for the marzipan to go on.

If you need to roll out your marzipan do that next(apparently using caster sugar on the board prevents it sticking when rolling it out)or if you are lazy like me then unwrap the marzipan and follow instructions on the box on how to unroll. Place the marzipan onto the cake and smooth out using your hands and make sure the cake is completely covered.

The marzipan needs 24-48 hours to dry out, you can do it sooner if you are going to be eating the cake shortly after decorating, otherwise the marzipan oils will seep through the icing.

Follow the instructions for rolling out the icing if needed (use icing sugar this time to prevent the icing sticking to your board) or the box if using ready rolled. Place the icing over the cake and smooth out using your hands, cut off any excess icing around the cake. You can use the remaining icing to decorate your cake. I then put a ribbon around the cake and used glue dots so the ribbon could stick to itself. I have snowflake cutters that I used to cut out different sized snowflakes and applied them to the cake using edible glue, I then used edible glitter to make the snowflakes sparkle. This cake is part of a Christmas gift for my Auntie and Uncle.

I do have a Santa Claus and Sleigh cake decoration that I will put on my own cake, I will post a photo on Twitter of it on Christmas Eve. I would love to see a picture of your cakes if you have made one, if you do post it on Twitter you can follow me on there @wannabeDG.


Monday, 9 December 2013

DIY Colour Coded Key Makeover

DIY Key Make OVer

Picture the scene:  you are standing at your front door, it's freezing cold, your hands are like blocks of ice and when you finally put your key into the lock so you can get into your warm, cosy house.......disaster's the wrong key!!! After a few (or many) swear words, with your frozen fingers you manage to find the other key to place into the lock and you finally get into your warm home.  Sounds familiar? This is me most of the time, guaranteed that on the coldest day/night, that will be when I use the wrong key!!

So I decided to do something about it before the snow arrives.  I have loads of nail varnish (I'm ashamed to say that some are a few years old) so I came up with the idea to colour code my keys by painting the top of the keys with a different colour so I could tell which key was the front door and which was the back. This DIY is so easy to do and saves a lot of time fumbling for the right key once they are colour coded.

How To Make:

Remove keys from your key ring.
Apply nail varnish to the top of each key only, nail varnish in the grooves of the key might prevent it from opening your door and getting a locksmith to sort out that little problem will be quite costly!
If you go over the edges at all a cotton bud dipped into nail varnish remover will clean those bits up. You can even decorate the key with spots, stripes or glitter to make it look pretty but make sure that the bottom coat of varnish is dry first.
Finish off with either a top coat or clear nail varnish to seal the key.
Allow to dry for a few hours before using as it will smudge (this may have happened to impatient little old me!)

DIY Color Coded Keys
DIY Key Nail Varnish

It really is as easy as that plus no more standing outside in the cold trying to figure out which key goes into which lock! Let me know if you give this key colour coding a try.


Sunday, 8 December 2013

Shoebox Appeal - Aberdeen Cyrenians

We all know that not everyone has someone to celebrate Christmas with nor have presents to open on Christmas Day as we see adverts and appeals asking for donations for various charities over the Festive period. I wanted to do something for a charity and had heard of Shoebox appeals for people abroad as well as for Children but while I was googling Shoebox appeals I came across one for the Aberdeen Cyrenians. Aberdeen Cyrenians is a charity that helps meet the needs of people who are homeless, at risk of homelessness or affected by homelessness in any way. Their appeal, Christmas and Beyond  is asking for people to donate shoeboxes filled with warm clothing, chocolate, treats, toiletries, etc and as this is a local charity I felt that this was one to go for.

I decided to donate two shoeboxes for females and everything that I bought cost £1 or less. I filled each one up with the following:

Earrings - Asda £1
2 Pairs of Socks - Asda £1 each
Opi Nail Varnish - Poundland £1
Deodorant - Home Bargains £1
Lip Balm - Poundland £1
Shampoo - Home Bargains - £1
Jelly Beans - Home Bargains 59p
Rimmel Eyeshadow - Poundland £1
Hair Turban - Poundworld £1
Fake Eyelashes - Free from a magazine
Gingerbread House - Home Bargains 69p
Polka Dot Wash Bags - Sainsburys 25p
Shower Gel - Asda - £1
Fluffy Gloves - Poundland £1
Shower Gel - Asda - £1
Chocolate - Sainsburys - £1
Smarties Penguin - Sainsburys - 65p

If you would like to donate a Shoe Box to the Aberdeen Cyrenian's appeal, their closing date for donations is 17th December.


Thursday, 5 December 2013

Snowman Christmas Table Centrepiece

Although we won't be having our Christmas Dinner at our house this year, I decided to make a centrepiece for our kitchen table for the Festive period.  It was very simple to make and inexpensive too.

I already had the globe vase (was bought from Home Bargains two months ago for £2.95), so I bought 2 packs of Glitter Snow from Poundland and a Snowman decoration from Marks & Spencer (£4).

I filled the bowl a third of the way up with the fake snow (I only used one of the bags) and I cut the hanging ribbon off the Snowman and placed him into the snow and voila............a Snowman table centrepiece!  I did think of making a couple of Fimo Christmas Trees to put in alongside him but I really don't have the time, so I may do that next year :)!

I think that it looks very cute and it required minimal effort to make.  Do you make your own Christmas Centrepieces or do you buy yours?  I'd love to hear what you do!


Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Advent Calendar Ideas

Well the countdown to Christmas is away to begin and most people will be displaying their advent calendars and looking forward to whatever will be behind the door that day, whether its chocolate, toys, beauty products or (what was on my wish list) a Yankee Candle. In our home, we have one of those wooden advent calendars that you fill up the drawers with sweets or toys but seeing as we are on a bit of a health kick at the moment, chocolate is out! So I came up with an idea to fill the days with activities we can do over the next 24 days until it's finally Christmas Day. This would also be a good thing to do if you don't want your children consuming lots of chocolate in the run up to Christmas and also to build up the excitement for them.

I have made a list of some of the things we will be doing but I have also included some activities that you could do with your children or if you are big kids like us :).

1. Buy a Christmas Tree and decorate it.
2. Have a movie night watching your favourite Christmas films such as Elf, Muppets' Xmas Carol, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, etc.
3. Build a Gingerbread House.
4. Bake Christmas cookies.
5. Have a Fondue night.
6. Buy a scratchcard.
7. Build a Snowman (obviously this is weather dependant).
8. Visit Santa at his Grotto.
9. Go to the cinema to see this year's Christmas film.
10. Decorate outside your home.
11. Drive around to see other people's Christmas lights.
12. Have a hot chocolate night with marshmallows, cream and other toppings or add in Baileys...Yum!
13. Do something for charity such as donating a shoebox to an appeal or buy a child a gift.
14. Make Reindeer food for Christmas Eve.
15. Picnic tea under the Christmas Tree.
16. Make paper-chain decorations.
17. Have a Christmas themed packed lunch, you could use a cookie cutters for cutting out shaped sandwiches or things that are red and green.
18. Go to a Christmas Market.
19. Go to a Carol service on Christmas Eve.
20. Roast chestnuts.
21. Read a Christmas book.
22. Make Mulled Wine or Hot Apple Cider (for non drinkers or children there is Spiced Apple Drink).
23. Play "We wish you a Merry Christmas" on the Wii.
24. Make paper snowflakes.
25. Go to the Christmas Pantomime.
26. Listen to Christmas music at home and in the car.
27. Go ice-skating.
28. Go out for a festive meal.
29. Buy a new decoration for the tree.
30. Go sledging and make snow angels (weather dependant).
31. Play board games.
32. Make and drink some Christmas cocktails.
33. Write a letter to Santa.
34. Buy a Starbucks festive drink.
35. Have a bath using Lush Christmas Bath Bombs.

And in case our cat felt left out, I bought him an Advent Calendar too :)!

What kind of Advent Calendar do you have this year? Do you already do something like this? If you have any ideas, I would love to hear them.


Sunday, 1 December 2013

Meal Planning Monday

Well that's us now into December and the next few weeks are no doubt going to pass in a blur with cards to write, presents to buy and wrap, food shopping to do and people to see.  This will likely lead to eating out a few times and also eating a lot of crap as we will be busy getting organised for the Big Day.  My plan is to try and cook a couple of extra meals a week to freeze so we can have something healthy to eat when we (me) are too busy to cook.

Baked Cod with Baked Sweet Potato

Out for dinner

At my Mum's

Cottage Pie

Something quick from Sainsburys's


Slow Roasted Pork Belly & Veg

Will double up the mince for my cottage pie so I can freeze the rest to eat during the Festive period.  If I have time at the weekend I will maybe bake some cookies to freeze too for Christmas.

I've linked up to Mrs M's blog for meal planning Monday, why not link up too and see what other people are eating this week? Also if you are on Twitter then #mealplanningmonday

Meal Planning Monday

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