Wednesday, 24 December 2014

December 24th - decorate the Christmas tree

 The last day with the elf and he brought gifts for the girls to eat.
Today the girl's decorated the tree (yes we leave it that late!).  P and I also went to a Christingle Service.

We read the Product Details

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

December 23th - Go on a Christmas Quest

Today the Elf has been enjoying a Christmas tipple.

We went to Moseley Old Hall to go their Christmas Quest which consisted of a quick walk to their lovely tree house, then back to the fire pit before collecting greenery to decorate your house (did you know you need the same amount of smooth and spikey holly leaves - too much of one and then man takes charge (spikey) or visa versa. Then we roasted marshmallows and had hot chocolate and shortbread back in the house. 

We read Product Details which tells the story of a 4th wise man trying to catch up with his three friends having lots of adventures on the way, helping people in all sorts of difficulties including Mary, Joseph & Jesus - who he doesn't realise he's met.

Monday, 22 December 2014

December 22nd - Make Pepperkakka

The elf was riding the camel today:

We made Swedish gingerbread (Peppakakka).  In a saucepan, we mixed 1 cup butter, 1 cup brown sugar, 1 t. molasses, 2 t corn syrup, a little orange rind, 1 T cinnamon, ½ t allspice, ½ t ginger. Boiled it for a minute or two. Mixed in 1 t baking soda in dollop of sour cream (or you could use an ounce of hot water), then added it to the mixture. We let it cool for 20 minutes and then added either 2 egg yokes or 1 whole egg and stirred. Then we added 2 to 2 ½ cups flour. Mixed and let it stand overnight in the fridge.  Then we rolled out the dough, cut it out and placed on clean baking trays. We baked it at 375◦ for 7 to 10 minutes.

We read Little Grey Rabbit's Christmas by  by Alison Uttley where we join the  festivities as the animals prepare for a truly special Christmas as Little Grey Rabbit goes to market to buy her friends a secret gift.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

December 21st - go back in time to learn about Christmas past

Today our Elf was watching from the stairs.

We had a tour round the back to back houses which I finally managed to book and get on.  It was a glimpse of life for ordinary people moving from the 1840s through to the 1970s.  It was fairly child friendly with lots of authentic items they could touch and feel.  
Then in the evening we went to the black country museum which had a Victorian Christmas evening. It was very busy so everything had to be queued for and was busy.  We also spent more money than just the tickets - the girls went on the fairground rides (which are not dreadfully expensive - a pound a ride!) and also we bought supper, roast chestnuts, sweets and mullled wine. 

We read Product Details which tells the story of the Nativity from the point of view of the Shepherds (and I note has been dramatized for BBC 1). 

Saturday, 20 December 2014

December 20th - Go to a Christmas concert

Today the elf was in danger

We went to a lovely  magical candlelit Christmas concert ; with a special selection of seasonal readings and ravishing choral music by Ex Cathedra.  

We read The Fairytale Hairdresser and Father Christmas which is a one in a seseriesf books the girls love about  Kittie Lacey, the heroine who uses her hairdressing skills to save the day, and this time, to save Christmas.

Friday, 19 December 2014

December 19th - Make mince pies

Today the elf was at home in the snow
 (He made the snow using 2 cups corn flour (corn starch in US), 1/3 to 1/2 of a cup baby oil and 3-4 tablespoons silver glitter).

We then made mince pies (I used silicon bun cases in my tin to stop them sticking).

We read A Christmas Wish by Marcus Sedgwick and Simon Bartram Product Detailswhich has little text but amazing  illustrations of wishing for a snowy Christmas.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

December 18th - Make Chrsitmas tree decorations

Today the elf wrote a message:

We then made White Clay to make Christmas tree decorations:

1 cup bicarbonate of soda
1/2  cup corn flour
3/4 cup warm water

G mixed all the ingredients into a pan and warmed them through on a moderate heat, stirring regularly. Soon it resembled mashed potatoes and then play dough. We turned off the heat andput it on the work top to cool slightly. When we could touch it,we kneaded it and then it was ready to start rolling and cutting!( Don’t leave it for too long as it is a naturally air-drying clay and will become a little crumbly).

G and P used cutters to make their shapes and decorated them with sequins. We left them to harden over night.

E, I and myself went to watch the ENB's version of the Nutcracker... which was delightful and Christmas but sadly lacking the amazing scenery of last year's ROH version. 

We read the The Tomtes' Christmas Porridge Product Details  which has a lovely story,and beautiful detailed illustrations describing how Papa tomte wants is to be thanked on Christmas Eve with an offering of porridge.

December 17th - Make Christmas cards

I think the elf was tired today:
 We made Christmas cards today. They were super simple - we just used stickers from Baker Ross.  P had so much fun with it and I wrote them for me. 
Product Details

Today we read Cat in the Manger which tells the Nativity through the eyes of a cat.

Me and G went to see the Wind in the willows in London which was just lovely. A simple very child friendly version using action, dance, song, music and puppetry - the weasels and stoats were not scary! It had Alan Titchmarsh narrating.

                                             Cris Penfold and the cast of The Wind in the Willows at the Vauderville Theatre © ROH. Photographer Johan Persson, 2014

December 16th - Make Gingerbread houses

Today the Elf was guarding this gingerbread house kit:
 I and P then got to work making it.  It was quite straightforward - they did it no help:

 G made her own:

 She used this recipe:

300ml black treacle
3tsp ground cinnamon
3tsp ground ginger
1-3tsp ground cloves
200g butter, softened
180g caster sugar
2 eggs
2tsp bicarb of soda
500g plain flour

She used a food mixer to mix all the ingredients except the flour and bicarb. 
Then she added the flour and bicarb and mixed again to make a smooth dough. She chilled overnight in the fridge before rolling.

We preheated the oven to 200C. She then used the lakeland mould to help her shape it. We baked for 10 to 15minutes until it was just beginning to darken. Then we left it to cool before G decorated it.

We read   Product Detailswhich has Madeline competently running the household as everyone else is poorly when she meets a magical-rug merchant.  It is slightly odd story! 



Monday, 15 December 2014

December 15th - a trip to London

Today the Elf clearly was a little homesick:
We then had a fab day out in London.

First we went ice-skating (again) at Somerset house:

Then we had lunch at The Parlour, Fortnam and Mason where the girls had sandwiches and amazing ice-creams and I had a G and T float! 

Then we went on a Paddington Bear hunt and to look at the Christmas lights.

Then we read Product Details which I just love!

Sunday, 14 December 2014

December 14th - celebrate a birthday

Today is E's 7th birthday.  I managed to fail to get a photo but the Elf was guarding E's presents.  We went ice-skating in Cambridge, had Pizza at Jamie's and then had a birthday party to the Pantomime - a thoroughly Christmas birthday.

Happy birthday loud, crazy, exhausting lovely lady.  You are so full of life- you love singing and dancing and especially annoying G.

We read  Product Detailswhich is the story of the nativity but told from the eyes of a little girl and a baby donkey.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

December 13th - Lucia day

Today we had music:

Around Christmas time in Sweden, one of the biggest celebrations is St. Lucia's Day (or St. Lucy's Day) on December 13th. The celebration comes from stories that were told by Monks who first brought Christianity to Sweden.
St Lucia was a young Christian girl who was martyred, killed for her faith, in 304AD. The most common story told about St Lucia is that she would secretly bring food to the persecuted Christians in Rome, who lived in hiding in the catacombs under the city. She would wear candles on her head so she had both her hands free to carry things. Lucy means 'light' so this is a very appropriate name.  December 13th was also the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year.

 We made lussekat buns:

150 g (3 tablespoons) butter
5 dl (2 1/4 cups) milk
2 teaspoons yeast
1 g saffron
2 ml (1/2 teaspoon) salt
1,5 dl (1/2 cup) sugar
2 eggs
17 dl (6 cups) white flour
Egg and raisins for garnishing

Set the oven to 225°C.  Melt the butter. Add milk and warm to lukewarm (37°C). Mix out yeast in some of the milk. Crush the saffron in a mortar and pestle, or dissolve it in the milk. Mix milk, yeast, saffron, salt, sugar and whisked egg (and raisins if used) with most of the flour. Work the dough until it lets go of the bowl, adding more flour if necessary. Spread some flour over the dough and cover it with a clean towel. Let it rise to double its size. Work the dough lightly on a floured surface. It should be a light, pliable and rather loose dough. Form wreaths or buns, for example s-shaped. Put them on a non-stick oven paper on an oven tray and let rise for 30-40 minutes.Brush with whisked egg and garnish
with raisins on the rolled-up ends. Bake in the oven for 5-10 minutes.

We read Product Details- a fitting Swedish story with fantastic pictures.

Friday, 12 December 2014

December 12th - sing some Christmas carols

Today the elf has been reading:

The girls went to their school carol service and enjoyed singing traditional carols.

We read Angelina's Christmas. 

Thursday, 11 December 2014

December 11th - another present of a board game

Today the elf has been writing on the mirror with toothpaste:

And we got a given a gift of a board game Product Details.  It is really simple game where have to make the sound of or act or do both of whatever is on the picture on the card whilst the rest of the players guess what you are doing!  Simple and fun! 

We read Stickman Product Details