I am going to be signing off for about a week and a half to enjoy some family time so I just wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who comes back time and again to read my blog or to chat with me on social media.
This blog wouldn’t exist without the brilliant support of the folk who read it and every single comment, share and like means so very much.
I will be back in the New Year to share about our trip to Norway, our Christmas and plenty more and I’m sure I will still be over on Instagram (as always) but for now, I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and New Year.
Merry Christmas from all of us.
When Expedia recently got in touch with me to see whether I would be interested in taking part in their Christmas World on a Plate challenge there was really only one country I could have chosen. The challenge has been running throughout the year with Expedia asking bloggers to create a recipe inspired by one of their holiday destinations.
Having just spent the weekend in Oslo I was really looking forward to give one of their wonderful Christmas treats a go. One thing I noticed whilst we were in Norway is that they love their baked treats at this time of year. In fact, there is a tradition known as ‘Seven Sorts’ where seven different types of cookies and biscuits are made and laid out to be enjoyed at various points in the festivities on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and beyond.
Whilst we were in Oslo we visited the largest Christmas market in the city and there were so many stalls selling large cookies on sticks with brightly coloured designs, marzipan shapes and plenty of other delights.
It felt a bit overwhelming trying to choose just one baked treat to give a go but eventually we settled on Kringla cookies. Kringla are an interesting creation. On the surface they look fairly plain and uninspiring (they only darken in colour if you seriously overcook them *ahem*) with no decoration at all, especially compared with some of the other baked treats on offer but the taste is actually something else. They actually taste like cake rather than biscuit and the squishy softness of the texture, along with the simple sweetness makes them really rather nice.
I’ve seen a couple of different shapes from researching the best recipe on the internet but I liked the figure of 8 shape best and thought it would be the easiest one to test out.
600ml sour cream
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees.
2. Combine sugar, egg and sour cream.
3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt.
4. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and combine completely. The dough will be very sticky.
5. Refrigerate overnight (I did try a Great British Bake Off special here and try to freeze the mixture but it didn’t work and I found leaving it overnight the only way to reduce the stickiness and make the dough even slightly workable)
6. Remove dough and separate into two.
7. Take half and form the dough into a long roll with your hands.
8. Cut off a narrow slice (about 1 inch wide) and roll into a thin sausage shape.
9. Form a figure 8 shape with the dough, pinching the ends together.
10. Place onto greaseproof paper and repeat. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the dough feels firm and is lightly coloured.
Things to note:
* Make sure you roll the dough out on a well floured surface. Despite being left overnight in the fridge the dough was still remarkable sticky and I did find it difficult to work with initially.
* Leave more of a gap than seems necessary in your figure of 8 as the cookies will rise and the gap will close.
* Don’t leave them out otherwise you will find yourself returning again and again for just ‘one more’ taste!
Even our kindness elves got in on the action…
I also gave some JuleKake (Norwegian Christmas Cake) a go in our breadmaker which is the dark loaf you can see in some of the pictures. This is so simply and so tasty; we’ve been eating it as a little sweet treat for breakfast this week and the kids are loving it! I have to admit that I’m not a fan of traditional English Christmas cake but this is just subtle and light enough to have me completely hooked.
1/3 cup evaporated milk
2/3 cup water
3 1/3 cups white bread flour
1/4 brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cardamom seeds
1/2 cup butter
2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast
1 cup dried mixed fruit
1. Put all the ingredients, except the dried mixed fruit into the bread maker.
2. Add the dried mixed fruit at the beep.
So easy, so delicious and perfect for a little pick me up snack in the day.
Thank you to Expedia for inviting me to write this post and for the gift of a voucher and a hamper to help towards the purchase of ingredients as well.
I know it shouldn’t have really come as any great surprise to me but I can’t believe that this is the last Sibling post of the year!
What a year it has been; I have seen my two siblings grow and change so much in themselves and in their relationship with each other and I don’t think that could have been more evident than this past weekend when we were in Norway.
I read somewhere once that travelling brings out your true nature and I think that is so right. Meg, who likes everything to be just so and needs to have a plan for the day and for that plan to happen exactly as she imagined and Eli, who is just a crazy ball of chaos wherever he goes. Put the two together in a new and unknown city and you can imagine the result!
That said, I am very proud of Meg and Eli this month in the way that they were together, how Meg tried to adapt when things didn’t go the way we imagined and knowing that Eli tried his best not to always be rushing round at ten million miles an hour (apart from when we were ice skating of course!)
The way they kept each other entertained during the 2 hour flight and the games they played in the apartment…just all the small things which combined meant that they actually behaved really nicely together and there was hardly any of the petty squabbling we sometimes see.
Of course with two weeks together off school from this coming Friday I might be painting an altogether different picture come January! But for now I am really looking forward to the break and I am hopeful that it will be as heartwarming as our recent break away was.
And because I always try and throw in a silly one which has made me smile and shows me that no matter how much I shout ‘smile at Mummy’ when I take the photo…I always somehow end up with one or two which turn out looking like this….
I can’t believe there are only two more Little Loves left before Christmas…all the excitement!! I feel a bit more ‘ready’ now having spent a couple of evenings this week wrapping presents and writing cards. Now I just have to make sure I don’t forget anything next week (the kids are supposedly ‘winding down’ by having something special to do on literally every day next week at school) … I’m sure I am going to get my Panto day muddled with my Festive Jumper day or something.
Still plodding away with Inkheart. I just haven’t had 2 minutes to spare this week as I’ve been racing from pillar to post. I managed a chapter or two but I haven’t read nearly as much as I’d hoped to. Hopefully whilst we are away I will manage to get it finished.
The High Hopes Choir on Really. It’s about an conductor in Ireland who is putting together two choirs in Dublin and Waterford consisting of people who are homeless, living in shelters or who have been affected by homelessness. He believes music is uplifting for the soul and could have a real impact. Honestly, I don’t know if I will make it through the series, I will in tears after just the first episode!
It’s a total cheat this week but I will be wearing my new winter hat as you read this post. Other than that I have just been wearing the usual and trying not to get too wet or frozen on the school run!
I know last week I was harping on about my children but I’m going to have to go there again this week. Yesterday was Meg’s nativity and I was literally blown away by her. She had told us she was ‘just a star’ and we were fine with that, loving listening to her practice in her room. Little did I know when I turned up to watch yesterday that she was actually the star of the show. I had so many people come up to me afterwards and sing her praises. Then this morning it was Eli’s nativity and he did a super job. One of the teachers told me I had the coolest kids so I will take that as a pretty good compliment! Of course now I have all their songs whizzing around my head but I can handle that. Maybe.
Here is Meg looking suitably awkward after I insisted that the Headteacher let me take a photo. Nothing wrong with being a proud mum, is there?!
I am quite proud of the fact that despite having had the busiest week I only missed one day with the elves coming to visit. We have done card writing and Christmas story telling, and today the kids took some chocolates in to share with their class and congratulate them on the hard work they all put into their nativities.
I think this time of year is always so hectic and it can be so hard to find time to slow down and appreciate the smaller things but I have to say that this is really my most favourite time of year. From the cosiness of homes which are decorated to the hilt to the general cheeriness that random strangers feel the need to share with you whilst out and about, the excuse to sing songs all of the time and spending time with family…I could go on and on.
Earlier on in the week I enjoyed a walk along the beach with the dog and we happened to be there whilst the sun was setting. It was the perfect time to reflect and take a step back from the present buying and elf organising and just the stuff and to think about the things I am really looking forward to this year. It made for a pretty good picture too.
Each year we try and factor in one visit to see Santa (sometimes it ends up being more than once which can be a little confusing for the kids!) so when our local Wyevale Garden Centre invited us to come along and try out their Breakfast with Santa we knew it was the ideal way to kick off our festive season.
We decided to tie it in with buying our real Christmas tree which we always like to do on the first Saturday in December so we chose the 6th to go along.
Although our local Wyevale Garden Centre didn’t have a Grotto, we certainly noticed that an effort had been made to dress up the restaurant area with festive decorations; there was a toy filled sleigh with a wonderful moving reindeer, a chair festooned with tinsel and sparkly bits where Santa eventually sat with the children and great thought had been put into the individual place settings as well. I didn’t even think to check whether there would be a Grotto and I’ll admit to being a little disappointed on the day so this is definitely something I would check in future, and if you think it will be an important element then do make sure before booking.
A section had been cordoned off for the guests who would be meeting Santa and I particularly liked that each table had a name card with the family name and the children’s names as well; no fighting over where to sit (from the parents!). We just drifted in around 9.45am and found our seat. Immediately an elf was over asking what we would like to drink, whether we were ready for our breakfast and encouraging Meg and Eli to get stuck in with their little activity sheet.
There was also a small soft play area just off from where we were sitting which had been closed to the public but was open for the Santa guests; ideal for Eli who was bouncing with excitement and couldn’t contain himself. He was never going to sit and wait for his breakfast to arrive as he kept looking for Santa at every opportunity so it was nice for him to go and play and burn off some of that excess energy.
We were given breakfast before we met Santa; for children that was a mini cooked breakfast and adults could choose between a full cooked breakfast or a lighter option of pastries. We ordered these in advance when we were booking our time slot for the event. The food was well cooked and there was a lot of it which James commented on a number of times.
After everyone had eaten their breakfast, the elf returned and asked all the children to shout as loudly as they could for Santa. Surprisingly it took them a while to warm up to this but once they were really going for it, Santa appeared.
Each table was invited up individually to come and sit with Santa and meet him which I thought was lovely. He spent a lot of time talking to the children and was very engaging. I think you can tell by the look on Eli’s face what he thought about the experience.
After they’d spent some time talking to Santa they were asked to choose a gift. Although one part of me was a little sad that the gifts weren’t wrapped another was pleased that we could see what the children were getting and that there was a range of items to choose from. Neither of the kids ended up with the items they are actually holding in the photo as they both changed their minds after seeing what the other kids chose but the staff were very accommodating about this!
After speaking to Santa, some cookies were brought out for the children to decorate. Again this was a lovely touch and it kept Meg and Eli occupied whilst Santa finished with the other tables. I liked that he then didn’t disappear away but wandered amongst the children chatting to them and the parents. He was a very good Santa!
The whole event probably lasted just under an hour and a half and both Meg and Eli thoroughly enjoyed themselves. It wasn’t too long that the children lost interest or too short that you didn’t feel like you were getting your money’s worth. I also appreciate that it most likely depends on the Santa you get on the day and your particular garden centre but we thought it was a lovely way to kick off this festive period.
As well as running Breakfast with Santa events, Wyevale are also holding Tea with Santa too so it’s well worth checking what is happening at your local centre. We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the event to friends and family.
We were provided with complimentary tickets to attend this event. All thoughts and opinions are our own.