Friday, November 11, 2011

Planning for Christmas

I noticed on Notes from Home website that the next Carnival call is for the subject of Christmas Planning.So, how do I do it ?

I make life really difficult for myself by buying gifts for practically everyone I know. A lot of people that I talk to tell me 'Oh, we only buy for the children now', or they exclaim 'You buy gifts for your neighbours and their children'. Oh yes, practically everyone and their dog is on my list.

You know I love to cook and that extends to Christmas too. In fact, I also make my friend's Christmas cakes and puddings. It's not like a business or anything, basically I charge enough to cover my costs. It's as easy, most of the time, to make 2 or 3 cakes at the same time as one. More importantly, I have all of the equipment - super-dooper powerful KitchenAid, turntable for icing, and I did a course in cake decorating remember ? I can give them a professional looking, handmade, gorgeous cake, wrapped with cellophane and ribbons which makes a great Thank you gift for your host if you are lucky enough to NOT be cooking your own Christmas dinner. They love me for it.

My Christmas cakes and puddings were cooked last weekend. This week they had their first 'feed' - whisky for the Christmas cake and brandy for the Christmas pudding. Of course, I made one for myself. BB and CC don't like Christmas pudding, so I get to eat the lot. Ha! BB loves the Christmas Cake though.

Enough about cakes. All, most of, my Christmas cards are written now. I like them in the post (with 2nd class stamps) on December 1st.  My old university friend tells me she sets her Christmas barometer by the early arrival of my Christmas card. I think that's sweet.

I have an unusual Christmas, in that I don't actually spend it in this country. I flee to my Labour of Love in France, and this year, more than most, I cannot wait! I am so tired, I cannot wait to get there and unwind and forget all of my obligations here for a while. The downside of this is, of course, celebrating Christmas here with family and friends before leaving for France. Fitting it all in is difficult.  Basically, I do Christmas twice. A Christmas tree in England and a tree in France. I have already started stockpiling our favourite foods to take with us to France, especially as some of them we cannot get there. The spare room is filling first.

Last year Christmas dinner was a bit of a waste of time if I'm honest. We didn't eat til 6pm, I was still full of smoked salmon and eggs from brunch at 1pm. It was the first time we had used the cooker so it all took a lot longer than expected. No one really wanted to eat it.  I have already asked BB and CC about Christmas Dinner and they have already said 'No turkey' so it will be interesting to see what we end up with ! I'd be more than happy with some brie, a lump of french bread, my homemade chutney and some warmed red wine. Delish. In France they always sell a deluge of oysters, they are very popular. We have already decided that when we have our friends over for dinner in France we will serve oysters in several different ways. I'm looking forward to that.

Where was I ? Ah yes, gifts. Like I said I do buy a lot, but I would like to think I am 80% finished on gift-buying. Something that may be a little unusual is that I do not buy the gifts that BB gives to his extended family.  It's not that I'm mean or anything.. it's just that he knows them better than me, and quite frankly I'm doing everything else! I will help him with ideas, and I have already started badgering him about making a start. I will be giving my first gifts this Saturday when a friend and her family visit. They are wrapped and ready.

Now on to my favourite Christmas subject - the decorations!!! In my village house in France I go all rustic - it's all candlelights and lanterns and silver. Here, in my London city house it's more glitzy, and modern and red.  I like both. BB hates Christmas decorations, if it was up to him they would go up on Christmas Eve and come down on Boxing Day (26th December). But it's not.  I like them up by mid December at the latest. Although the way I see it once the Advent Calendar is up on December 1, the rest of the decs might as well come out ... The decs in France will go up as soon as we get there as we're getting there a little late. I bought the cutest little candles the other day. I can't wait to get them  out actually. I think I will go Santa's grotto style this year. CC is ten now so I am running out of Christmases to have a really kiddy-styleeee one.

I always make my Black forest trifle too. The recipe was one of the first I put on the blog I think. I LOVE it. Basically chocolate sponge, soaked in kirsch with morello cherries in it, and cherry jam blobbed on. Cover with cherry jelly and leave to set. Once set, cover with chocolate custard, leave to set. Just before you serve, cover with whipped double cream and grate chocolate over the top of that. It's lovely and one of my BB's favourites.

I have by now also dug out my Christmas cook books. I now have three, the Nigella one, one my Mother bought me which is just wonderful (It is called Christmas (Cook's Encyclopedia), and one that I bought the other day which has recipes for oysters in it, so it will be coming with me to France.It is called Celebrate Christmas, it's the newest book in my Cookbook Collection, and I am loving it.

Here's pictures of all of them from Amazon.

Basically, I like to have all of the cards sent, the gifts wrapped and ready to go, the cakes delivered, and the decs up by December 1 - then I can actually really enjoy Christmas. :o)

PS> It is a dream that one year I will make a gingerbread house. The new cookbook has a recipe. None of us like gingerbread, I just like how they look.

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