So what happens when you have your floors re-done in mid December, throw a drinks party on the 23rd and host a full Christmas lunch at home on the 25th is that plans for everything else – other than preparation for those things and making sure there are presents under the tree for the kids – goes completely awry.
The edible Christmas thing started well. Ended with a whimper. I didn’t do half the projects I had planned. So they’re consigned to next year.
The advent calendar thing started well. It ended with not so much a whimper as the collective, daily groan of two little girls who, after about the 11th of December did not get another advent package. I often feel the phrase “first world problems” can be used too dismissively, but in this case, I felt it did neatly sum up what the kids were experiencing. That’s right, it’s not shoddy follow-through on my part, it’s excessive first world expectations that are to blame.
Sticking to it.
Just for the sake of completeness, and Gaga knows I loves me my completeness, here is a little round-up of some other Christmas bits and bobs that went on this year.
In the edible Christmas stakes, I did also make a beautiful, starlight mint wreath.
It took a long time to unwrap each mint. And even longer to hot glue each one to the wreath form. But by golly it is pretty.
Heavy, too. And now also melting a bit as it is hung over our stove top.
It is not my original idea, but something I saw on Pinterest. It’s on my Pinterest Christmas board if you’d like to check out the original.
I also put out these cute starlight mint LED candles that I found on Ebay.
The native floral wreaths were one of my favourite things this year. I had to replace the flowers every 4 or 5 days or so but that gave great scope for new blooms, new colours and a bit of creativity.
This one is about number 5 I think.
Oh yeah, and we had our front door painted. And the whole front of our house – just the door blue though. As you do. In December. When things are really calm and not busy at all.
I’m kind of loving the colour. Only kind of. Not sure how long it will last. I’m heading into a fuchsia and forest green stage I think. You can imagine how enamoured with the idea of a fuchsia front door my handsome husband is. He’s a good man. A patient man.
This year a wee elf arrived on 1st December and stayed with us, keeping a close (if somewhat cheeky and sidelong) watch on the girls.
As the book that arrives with him explains, the Elf on the Shelf keeps watch during the day and flies home each night to the North Pole to report to Father Christmas on the levels of naughty and/or nice he’s observed during the day.
Sadly, I think Sophia is already reaching the sceptical stage and she took some convincing (well, just general threats that you have to believe to receive actually) that the elf had indeed arrived from aforementioned pole and that I had not just “bought him on ebay”. Where does she get this stuff? I only buy stuff on ebay like once a day. Sheesh.
Anyway, the elf moves to a different observational spot each day. I had grand plans for our elf to get up to some very funny tricks indeed (some potentially involving inappropriate behaviour with Barbies and a bottle of Tequila that would be photographed for posterity but obviously cleaned up by the morning for general viewing) but again, we were so busy and exhausted that we were lucky to remember to move the elf at all, let alone have the kids discover him in a bubble bath made of marshmallows.
Next year there will be cheeky and hilarious elven carryings-on. If you google Elf on the Shelf ideas you get everything from elves taking aforementioned marshmallow bubble baths to elves photocopying their bums. So many hilarious and vaguely inappropriate things to look forward to manipulating our elf into doing.
On our bookcase, I strung up some beautiful vintage baubles.
I also completely stripped the tree around the 18th December as the edible decorations had been slowly but surely depleted. I went for traditional read and white bows instead. Although I did leave the starlight mint baubles on as they didn’t get eaten quite as regularly.
As is tradition here, Christmas Eve saw the girls excitedly jump into their new nighties and have a few photos in front of the tree before reading a chapter or two of Tolkien’s Father Christmas Letters.
My handsome husband and I then spent 4 hours wrapping presents.
I am hopeless at wrapping presents. Hopeless. Although, this year I did find a sweet way to wrap the one gift of cashola that we gave our darling God-daughter who is saving for a trip to Italy.
Handmade Christmas crackers. That was another thing I was going to do. I made them a year back or so for Christmas in July but again, just ran out of time this year. Next year.
We just managed to squeeze in sibling gifts as well. Sophia made Olive some beautiful Christmas decorations, and a Christmas puzzle while Olive decorated a little wooden box – inside and out, mind- with Sharpies and glitter for her big sister to keep treasures in. The sweetness breaks my heart.
Christmas Day was spectacular. The weather was the best we have had for as long as I can remember. A perfect, sunny day, gentle breeze, around 25 degrees (celsius) I suppose.
We set up a huge square table in our courtyard and had lots of fun with my husband’s side of the family plus some Swedish friends who we celebrate with every year as well.
I did the usual suspects: a 6kg turkey and a 3 kg ham. I glazed the ham with a plum and mustard glaze this year after studding it with cloves. Served it with whole honeyed plums. It was delish. But it was the turkey that made me really excited.
I got a beautiful new oven just before Christmas (what? find a plumber and an electrician 2 days before Christmas to install it? You better bloody believe I did – although I must confess there were tears involved) and so I was determined to cook a moist turkey. I eschewed brining – although I’m keen to try that another time – and instead used an ice pack to cool down just the turkey’s breast for about 30 minutes before cooking. That meant the breast and legs were ready at the same time.
Now look, I know I’m prone to hyperbole, but I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that was THE moistest turkey breast I’ve ever eaten. And I’ve seen a few breasts. Many of them on turkeys.
So my beasts were good, but the dish that received a spontaneous round of applause was the SPECTACULAR prawn and salmon cake that our Swedes brought.
My goodness, you have not lived until you’ve tasted this. Words aren’t adequate to describe the deliciousness but it is a traditional smorgasbord dish consisting of layers of fresh white bread, sour cream, egg, mayonnaise, smoked salmon, fresh, sweet prawns, caviar, dill and lemon.
So it’s been a lovely Christmas but I SWEAR next year I will have all presents bought and wrapped by mid December. I will not do major things to the house in December, I will not try to entertain 2 nights before Christmas and host Christmas Day and I will sit down with a festive drink (martinis are festive, yes?) on Christmas Eve and watch Miracle on 34th Street. By the power of all that is festive, next year, I WILL DO THIS!
I hope you all, my beautiful, beloved readers, had a wonderful festive period and are just about to embark on a cracking new year. I wanted to take this opportunity to say another HUGE thank you to everyone who has followed me along again this year and for all your lovely, supportive comments. I loves ya. Deeply.