I know you are probably very much over Christmas but I have to do a wrap up! Advent and Christmas for 2012 was a mix of super busy and then in the end, very relaxing! Here is our Christmas photo –
Bill was so busy at work for the end of year rush. He was working long hours and normally that would be stressful enough. Throw in Christmas and all the usual ‘busy stuff’ that goes along with that and December really did fly by.
During December for different nights during each week, I was with others at Queen of All Saints packing my friend Michele’s amazing gingerbread and other delicious cookies. Then Bill and I were selling these after each Mass on Saturday and Sunday. This meant our spare time was drastically cut to fit in everything else that you need to do in December. BUT somehow, this almost made things easier to deal with. We had to be organized from get go and it worked out well. Here we are selling the cookies –
My to-do list was ongoing and constantly growing but we got everything done and more. The only problem is, it felt like Advent didn’t even exist it went by so quickly and that is something I really have to work on for 2013.
We did our usual decorations… no changes there!
Our tree –
Advent Wreath –
We had our Stir-up Sunday the week before Thanksgiving. This was the first time I had ever attempted to make a Christmas Pudding and I worked off Delia Smith’s recipe with tips and hints from this page. A note about this page – I have to admit that the first time I landed on the page I thought it was some kind of joke that there was a site made by Paul Denyer from Melbourne (people from Australia would know who I am talking about) or I was thinking that there was a website made by him that was produced in prison, but it is the real deal and it is just a mere coincidence by name.
In the end our recipe was this –
4 oz (110 g) shredded suet
2 oz (50 g) self-raising flour, sifted
8 oz (225 g) soft dark brown sugar
1¼ teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
1¼ teaspoons of freshly ground cinnamon
1/3 of a teaspoon ground ginger
¼ of a teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon salt
4 oz (110 g) white breadcrumbs
4 oz (110 g) sultanas
4 oz (110 g) raisins
10 oz (275 g) currants
4 oz (110 g) dried dates – cut into pieces, stones removed
2 large eggs
1 large lemon, zested
1 small apple, cored, peeled and grated
1 oz (25 g) almonds, skinned and chopped
1 oz (25 g) mixed candied peel, finely chopped
5 fl oz (150 ml) stout
2 tablespoons rum
If you compare the two you will see there were only small differences.
We used our own home baked bread for the breadcrumbs and making our own ground cinnamon really made a HUGE difference. The fragrance was amazing.
I did a big stock up from Nuts.com so we had all fresh ingredients –
The mix –
We made it on a Saturday, then steamed it for 8 hours on Sunday.
This was Bill’s coathanger invention to lift it in and out of the steamer –
Steaming away –
We let it cool overnight on our bench (with the kitchen window open) and then re-did the covering and string and let it sit in the fridge for six weeks. It then took a journey to Albany where he kept it in the mini-bar fridge of our hotel room until it was ready for the 2.5 hours of steaming before our Christmas Eve dinner.
I made a batch of custard in the afternoon and reheated that when the pudding was ready. Here it is –
Of course, I had to get some holly to go on the top and we picked up some from Jo-ann’s arts and crafts. When it came time to present it to the table, we warmed some brandy and had to ladle it over the pudding and light it. Um… I somehow thought the PLASTIC holly would be fine… I blame a total Christmas brain. There we were getting “Ohhhhs” and “Ahhhhs” throughout the room and then… bang… the holly caught on fire (Der Jenelle.. I was pouring flames right over it… and yet I was still surprised) and the holly startsed melting over the pudding. ARGH! The ohhhhs and ahhhhs turned into screams and yelling. I was holding a ladle with a flame burning, Bill was trying to get the holly and we were all in a panic. It was a scene from a movie.. seriously!
Thankfully, we managed to throw the melted mess off the pudding and into a glass without anything else catching on fire (or burning down Emily and Brian’s newlywed nest!) and there was also no residue on the pudding. WIN!
You can see the flaming holly in the glass in this photo –
So, regardless of the flammable incident the result was… PERFECT. I was SO happy with it!
Note – I also purchased some genuine 1911 silver threepence from England on eBay and unfortunately they didn’t arrive in time. They’ll be going into the mix next year!
What made this all even more special was when I told mum that we planned to make a pudding she told me how it was something her mum would do every year and send them to people as gifts. So because of that, I am going to keep this tradition going!
The rest of Christmas was beautiful. Our time Upstate was so relaxing. Went got up to Albany on Saturday morning, had lots of R & R and did lots of cooking. I took Bill on a surprise date – ten pin bowling!
Christmas Eve was lovely (even with flaming holly) and newlyweds Emily and Brian hosted it. Here we are –
Here is everyone else –
The desserts oh my gosh –
We also went to Mass at Holy Spirit –
Then on Christmas Day, we woke up to a white Christmas! Here is the view from our room at the Fairfield Inn –
We all got together for brunch. This is seriously SO MUCH fun. French toast, bagels, eggs, quiches… all sitting around and chatting and it was so easy!
Unfortunately, with no Boxing Day on the calendar we had to get back in the car and head back home as we had work the next day! If Bill ever becomes President, it will be the one thing he has to introduce to the USA! I need Boxing Day for my own sanity!
Also, for a look at some other trees.
Here is mum and dad’s –
The Johnson Family tree –
Emily and Brian’s –
(Can you see the little bit of Australia they put on their tree?)
I love Christmas… now to countdown until 2013! 🙂