The First Noel

I am so excited that it is The Boy’s first Christmas. Really over-excited. So much so that the reality may be a bit of a disappointment. He will definitely love the wrapping paper and tree ornaments more than anything else, and his ideal present would be our cats in a box, so that he could ‘stroke’ (in reality grabbing fistfuls of fur and pulling their tails) them without chasing them into a corner first. I know deep down that presents will be a waste of time, and that l should demonstrate restraint, but my inner shopoholic can’t help it. Last night l hit the (internet) shops.I am sure l can hear my bank manager sobbing, luckily he lives over 1000 miles away. If you are interested, here is what he (The Boy, not the bank manager) will be getting for Christmas.

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I wish they did this in adult size, l have a Paddington Bear obsession.

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He has been crawling for all of 3 weeks and now wants to be walking. Shoes it is.

 

 

 

 

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Just. So. Cute. Perfect for cold toes.

 

 

 

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Christmas Day outfit. ‘Nuff said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I have been told quite specifically by The Husband that this is horrific and in no way am l allowed to buy it. Oppps.

I seem to have a mustard obsession at the moment. This is the fourth item l have bought in this colour recently.

Leggings were vetoed too. Duly ignored.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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So our cats don’t live out their remaining lives in fear. Hopefully.

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The best Christmas book ever. Fact.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the first time ever l have not bought myself a Christmas present. Well, not yet anyway. These are bookmarked, waiting for that inevitable evening when l am home alone with a glass or three of mulled wine. On reflection, I had better buy the bank manager something too….

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*SWOON* I am a new addict to expensive make up. Look how pretty!

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This year’s Christmas jumper? Yum.

 

I wish it could be Christmas everyday

Christmas Day has always been one of my favourite days of year. I have spent most of my Christmases in the UK with my family, following much the same traditions as the year before. Wake up early, open stockings (at 37 l still get ridiculously excited about this), go for a swim in the sea (yes, the actual sea), warm up with a nip of brandy and a hot bath, change into Christmas outfits, eat dinner, open presents, play games and them one by one fall asleep in front in the television. Even with divorces, remarriages, partners, friends and the odd additional pet, most years remain comfortingly the same. Apart from the last four.

2010 – Myself and The Husband, then boyfriend, had been through a horrific breakup a couple of months earlier. He had moved to China. I was still very much an emotional mess. This Christmas l just remember being a black hole of tears with sad songs on repeat and, really, not much else.

2011 – Myself and The Husband, then boyfriend, had just got back together. However, my mum had been unexpectedly diagnosed with lung cancer a week before, and was due to have a lung removed two weeks after Christmas Day. It was a quiet and sombre day despite our best efforts. No-one swam. No-one really ate dinner. The atmosphere was pretty bleak.

2012 – Having just moved to Bangkok, myself and The Husband, then fiancee, decided that we would take the holiday we had talked of for years. We went to Japan. It was amazing, and we spent Christmas in Tokyo, one of my all time favourite cities. We woke up in a tiny hotel room, opened the few presents we had managed to squeeze into our backpacks, went for Christmas Dinner in a British Pub, took a walk in the park and watched ‘Cross of Iron’ (not my choice) on the laptop until we could Skype the family. We ate take-out sushi from the 7-Eleven for dinner with a can of Asahi from a vending machine. Probably the strangest non-Christmas/Christmas either of us have ever had.

2013 – I was almost 4 months pregnant, so myself and The Husband decided to stay put in Thailand. We had my brother and another good friend from China come and stay. We tried to create as traditional a Christmas as possible. We all had stockings to open in the morning, took a Christmas swim in our swimming pool (a tad warmer that the sea), drank Bucks fizz, then headed for a buffet lunch at one of the posh hotels in the city. Bloated (l blamed my bulge on the growing baby, not the mountains of Christmas pudding), we played games into the evening, when we all passed out on the sofa watching a film. It was perfect.

Fast forward to 2014. We are taking The Boy back to the UK for two weeks, to experience the Christmas I had when growing up. We have, however, already introduced him to the joys of decorating a tree, thinking he would love the twinkling lights and sparkly baubles. In truth, he prefers the plug socket underneath.

This decoration was promptly thrown up on.

This decoration was promptly thrown up on.

Not happy about the antlers. Or the selfie.

Not happy about the antlers. Or the selfie.

This is taking up valuable crawling space.

This is taking up valuable crawling space.

What do you expect me to do with this?

What do you expect me to do with this?

Okay, l got this.

Okay, l got this.

Rocking around the tree. Dad style.

Rocking around the tree. Dad style.

After the baby had gone to bed.

After the baby had gone to bed.

Advent Calendars tomorrow, yippee! Happy Advent one and all.

 

Swedish Cinnamon Rolls

It was one of those moments that my Mum now dreads. The ones where I make seemingly random decisions that often end in near disaster*. Four years ago, heartbroken, ridiculously stressed and slightly delirious with exhaustion,  I booked a flight. To Stockholm. In December. On Friday. It was Wednesday. It started with a snow storm in the UK. My flight was delayed. I arrived after midnight, stepped out of the bus and almost drowned in snow (no exaggeration). Sweden has an abundance of snow. In fact, I spent the whole time marvelling at this white, twinkly wonderland that people were living in. Well, most of my time. The rest was spent wearing every item of clothing I had brought and fending off frostbite. Note to self: thin leather jackets and Converse are not appropriate winter wear north of the UK.

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Snow, snow, and more snow.

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Appropriate winter wear.

Luckily, there were also plenty of cafes to warm my frozen fingers in, which is where I developed an everlasting love for cinnamon buns. Sticky, sweet, warming and spicy, and perfect with a glass of gluwein. This is the food that mends sad hearts.

*This trip ended with a cancelled flight, no flights out for the foreseeable future, many hours in queues, and the possibility of Christmas spent alone in a hostel in Stockholm. My Mum came to the rescue again and I made it home for the holidays.

Cinnamon Buns

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Soft, sweet and spicy. Note the glass of milk instead of gluhwein (it’s not December yet!).

Ingredients

For the dough:
225ml milk
75g butter
300g plain flour
125g wholewheat flour
70g brown sugar
1tsp cardamom
½ tsp salt
10g dried yeast
1 egg, beaten

For the filling:
75g butter
50g brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt

To finish:
1 egg, beaten
brown sugar

Mix together flour, brown sugar, salt, cardamom, and yeast in a large bowl.IMG_5787
Make a well in the centre and mix in beaten egg, and milk that has been scalded with butter and then cooled. Mix it to a dough, cover with clingfilm and leave it in a warm place for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, beat together butter, cinnamon, brown sugar and salt.IMG_5789
When dough has risen, roll out to the size of a laptop and spread filling over it. Roll up and cut into 7 slices, one smaller than the rest. Arrange in a greased baking tin.

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Cover, and put in a warm place for 30 minutes. When doubled in size brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake at 200 Celcius for 20-25 minutes.

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Leave to cool and then tear apart and eat. IMG_5808

Delicious, even if your heart is not broken. IMG_5814

Santa Baby

You are young (say, under 30), your friends have started reproducing, and it is Christmas. Your mantlepiece starts filling with cards adorned with various offspring dressed as Santa Claus, a Christmas Pudding, a Wise Man, or just in a festive jumper smiling broadly for the camera. “Oh no,” you think scornfully, “poor children, surely that will scar them for life”. Then you become a parent. One day, with nothing better to do, you find yourself putting your child in an empty cardboard box for fun. They like it. A lightbulb pings in your head. Christmas is coming…..

Here are the outtakes:

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