This blog is mainly a rambling kind of diary of the transition from smallholderwannabe to smallholder.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Christmas Holiday

This is a series of snippets about the Christmas holiday that I want to write down before I forget all about them.

Having been down with a bug and off work for two weeks, then back at work but struggling, I got very behind in my Christmas preparations.  Not wanting to run out to the shops and spend in a panic, I organised some baked presents.  I was given some citrus fruit and made marmalade.  I cooked the fruit and peel in the pressure cooker and it certainly made things a lot easier.  I made limoncello for my daughters but that uses the peel and not the juice or pulp so that went into the marmalade too.  Then I got some more lemons and oranges and made a different type of marmalade.  The people that normally get a hamper of homemade jams from us got some Four Fruit Marmalade and some Lightly Gingered Orange and Lemon Marmalade and either some cranberry biscotti or some peanut and choc chip cookies or a cranberry cake (banana cake with lots of cranberries in - this is a beautiful moist cake and the flavour is just wonderful and it is good with added sunflower seeds or coconut or choc chips).  This seemed to go down very well.  Hopefully next year I will get my hands on some fruit and I'll make jam again.  It really is useful to have some presents made in the summer without any last minute panic.

The banana cake recipe is now one of my staple go-to recipes but it came originally from The Moneysaving Expert forum.  The recipes for the biscotti and the cookies both came from Elaine's blog "Mortgage Free in Three"  My husband kindly volunteered to eat the misshapen cookies and has now requested some more misshapes please...  : )  The cranberry biscotti were absolutely gorgeous and will definitely be made again.  I had a voucher for £1.50 off at Holland & Barrett sitting in my purse. I got there this weekend and as I couldn't find anything else to spend it on and as the cranberries were in their 1p sale, I came home with 600g of cranberries.

The recipes can be found at:

Banana cake: Posted by Pink on 26-08-2006  post 44

On the Sunday before Christmas, we went to help at a carol service at another very small church.  It is in a poorer area of the city and music is a little difficult for them to provide sometimes.  They welcomed us so warmly and gave us a lovely tea afterwards which was especially lovely because, being so few in number, it falls on the heads of so few to both provide it and do the work.  One of the church members works in the city centre in the same office as one of our church members .  Our church member came to me and told me how the other lady had been so pleased with our help and how she had been delighted to see so many people in her church for the service.  One doesn't always get feedback and this was so much more than the usual "thanks very much" that you get at the door on your way out. I felt quite overwhemed. 

Our church has decided to take part in a scheme providing a food bank in our area.  I'm really pleased about this.  People will be referred to us by Social Services and will bring a token to be exchanged for a bag of food suitable for their family size.  The church where we helped in the carol service is in an area where many people rely heavily on food banks to be able to feed their families.  Those of us who have enough money to feed, clothe and house our families and have the knowledge and ability to stretch a penny to breaking point, need to appreciate just how fortunate we are.

On the Sunday before Christmas, I had a music rehearsal, then the service and then we went to our local Asda who had asked that we go and sing carols to the shoppers for an hour.  Then we went back to church for a rehearsal for the songs we were singing at the little church in the evening.  After that we had a late lunch and a well earned sit down.  When we got home late that night, I knew I was going down with the next bug although I had still not got rid of the previous one. Christmas Eve was a struggle to make my cottonwool filled head cope with the last of the Christmas preparations.

On Christmas Day, I felt absolutely dreadful and stayed in bed until my husband got back from church.  I didn't want to get up but we were due at my daughter's for dinner (it was our turn to have everybody last year) and my husband said he would not go and leave me, not even to take all the presents round.  We'd been given a lot of presents for the family by lots of people so there were several boxes to go.  So I crawled out of bed and got dressed but was having difficulty putting one foot in front of the other.  My daughter had just been having some major work done on the house and it was still not quite finished so she had a brainwave and booked her church for the afternoon.  They have a lovely big lounge with comfy chairs which was an ideal size for the 13 of us gathered there.  Small seriously overexcited three-year-old grandson had loads of room to run round.  There is a good kitchen and my daughter had prepared as much of the dinner as she could the day before and it went very well.  Apart, that is, from the fact that she steamed her hand really badly.  She was in a lot of pain but my other daughter had the brainwave of going up to the local pub and begging some ice.  The one thing that the church doesn't have is a freezer.  Her hand is healed now and there is no sign of a scar and that is probably due to the ice.  The meal was lovely and most of my dinner came home in a tub because I just couldn't eat the dinner however lovely it was. We were the first to leave after presents were opened and I crawled into bed and didn't emerge again for several days. 

My Christmas present is still sat there waiting to be used.  They had clubbed together to buy me an enormous vat of a slowcooker.  I had been heard to say that my little one is too small.  It will cook three portions of soup/stew happily but that is not enough for two days without "doctoring" the leftovers for the second day.  I do think they might just have gone over the top though, but it will be great when some of the family come to visit : ) I'd actually got the slowcooker which is the next size up from ours sitting in my basket on Amazon in the hope that I'd be given a little money for Christmas but I've deleted that now. 

Having got over the worst of my bug, the next big date in my calendar was the wedding of a friend's son.  This lad was my son's best friend when they were growing up.  He actually married a Japanese girl in Japan back in the summer but this was the British side of the festivities.  It couldn't happen closer to the "real" wedding because the couple are working in India at the moment.  A real international event. It was lovely to meet up with people that I hadn't seen for some time and I enjoyed the occasion very much.  The couple certainly enjoyed it because they had the biggest grin on their faces the whole evening.  There was a ceremony, then the most lovely buffet and then a disco.  My grandson only liked the plain crackers to go with the cheese board because the rest of the food was definitely a grownup buffet.  I whispered the problem to the waitress who was stood by the table ready to help and she went off and brought him back an enormous plate of all sorts of fruit cut up and ready to eat.  He was thrilled especially as it was all for him.  He just loves fruit.


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