There were so many pictures to pick from this week, as we took so many over the past few days. But after going through them all, this has to be my favourite. I love the look on their faces and the way they’re going through their Christmas Eve box together. My girls are the best of friends and their bond really jumps out in this picture.
Today is the most magical, special day of the year. I know tomorrow is the big one but I love Christmas Eve. I love the feeling of anticipation and excitement in the air! For some reason it always feels so much more festive and ‘christmassy’ than Christmas Day itself, which is strange but for me true.
Like most families we have our littler Christmas Eve traditions. Our little ways of making the day extra special and familiar all at once. This is what we do every year – after we’ve finished the Christmas present deliveries…
The Christmas Eve Hamper
Every year I make a little Christmas Eve hamper for the girls. It usually includes a pair of new pyjamas, some festive films to watch in the afternoon and ‘christmassy’ books to read at bed time. I also pop in some treats and popcorn to enjoy with the films.
This gives you a good insight into what our day looks like. In the morning we deliver presents and in the afternoon we watch Christmas films on the sofa. This year I went for Miracle on 34th Street and the magical Polar Express. And at bed time we’ll be reading The Jolly Christmas Postman and The Fairytale Hairdresser and Father Christmas. The girls love the Fairytale Hairdresser series, so I’m sure this will go down well.
Christmas Eve Hot Chocolate
One other thing I tend to do on Christmas Eve is Jamie Oliver’s Epic Hot Chocolate. This hot chocolate is epic by name and epic by nature! You really do need to be a ‘full-on’ chocoholic for this one – but that’s fine by me. It’s thick and delicious, almost like a chocolate sauce, in fact it’s so luxurious I only make it once a year and this is it…
Ingredients for Epic Hot Chocolate
2 pints semi-skimmed milk
For the hot chocolate mix
2 tablespoons Horlicks
2 tablespoons cornflour
3 tablespoons icing sugar
4 tablespoons quality organic cocoa
100 g good-quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), finely grated
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1 pinch sea salt
The girls are now ready for bed after hanging their stockings and deciding on leaving mice pies and a glass of wine out for Santa.
I’m now off to help my mum with the vegetables and do some last minute wrapping. All that’s left for me to do is to wish you all a very Merry Christmas!!
Lots of Love xxx
What do I miss about working in an office? If I’m honest, the main things I miss are my friends, the office Christmas party and ‘Secret Santa’. I know some people find it all a bit annoying and unnecessary but for me it was always a lovely way to get together as an office (at Christmas time) and give a thoughtful, yet inexpensive gift. Over the years, I’ve given books, dvds, pens, stationary and of course chocolate.
This year I thought I’d be missing out on this fun but then a group of us bloggers got together and decided to do our own ‘Secret Santa’. So a draw was done and I got the ever so lovely Kat from BeauTwins blog. Instantly, I knew that I wanted to create a box of gifts that represented me and my blog. I always think you give the gifts you’d like to receive and in this case, I certainly did!
This is the Gift Box I Sent…
So what did I send and why?
1) A Lavender Candle – This candle was made using lavender picked from our local lavender field – where in the early summer months, my family and I spend many a day ‘Running in Lavender’. And of course is the inspiration behind my blog’s name. I personally love a good candle and there’s nothing more relaxing and calming than the scent of lavender.
2) A Selection of Clarins mini products – I worked at Clarins Head Office for over ten years, so the company has been a big part of my adult life. This selection includes some of my favourite products, which were lists in this post. I hope Kat enjoys these products as much as I do.
3) Chocolate – I’m a massive chocaholic and recently wrote a post on my top ten favourite chocolate treats. One of my all time favourite chocolate bars has to be Green & Blacks Creamy Milk Chocolate. It’s literally the best, there’s nothing more I can say! Again, I hope Kat enjoys this treat.
4) Home Made Biscuits – Poppy and I have been making cinnamon Christmas biscuits over the past few weeks (to eat and to decorate the tree) so I thought I’d add a few biscuit decorations to the box as a personal little memento.
So there you have it my now ‘not so secret’ Santa gifts. As I’ve already mentioned, I hope Kat’s happy with her box of treats and that she enjoys using them in the next few weeks.
A Big THANK YOU to Kat, who sent me this amazingly thoughtful box of gifts in return…
Click here to read Kat’s post on the gifts she sent me and why.
With the year coming to an end I thought I’d look back on 2014 and think about what I’ve read and watched during the year. There’s been some good and bad things on the TV and at the cinema. In this post I thought I’d share with you my favourite TV programs, movies and books of the year.
What I’ve watched on TV…
These are the TV programmes that have really caught my attention this year. All three happen to feature a strong leading lady in the staring role and in a political or legal field. All three were gripping, tense and in parts disturbing – but they were all fascinating and really entertaining. I like programmes that need a certain level of concentration and an element of ‘not knowing what’s coming next’. And these three had all these elements in spades. If you fancy catching up with a good box set over the Christmas break, I’d highly recommend one of these.
What I’ve watched at the cinema…
To be honest I don’t go to the cinema that often these days but these three films were well worth the effort of getting a babysitter. They’re three very different films but all equally entertaining in their own right. Gone Girl is a melodrama based on the book by Gillian Flynn and is full of twists and turns. Maleficent is a fantasy film based on the story of Sleeping Beauty but told from the ‘other side’ and Boyhood is a totally captivating film shot over twelve years and documents the life of a boy called Manson, from the age of 5 to 18. This last film, has really stayed with me, I hope it gets the recognition it deserves come award season.
What I’ve read…
I’ve mostly been revisiting some old classics this year. I have a very eclectic taste in books, from trashy novels to more heavy autobiographies and gripping thrillers. My top books of the year, were all written in the last century and are very different. However, they all have one thing in common… they all have an element of glamour and extravagance. The Grate Gatsby and Rebecca are big classics for a reason – they’re both gripping and exceptionally well written. Valley of the Dolls, was the fist ever ‘trashy novel’ targeted at women. Way before Jackie Collins, we had Jacqueline Susann . Fancy reading a good book over the Christmas break? Then try one of these modern/ not so modern classics.
This post is an entry into a Currys PCWorld competition called #Currysfiresidefiction.
Welcome back to our Sunday Stars linky, a place for you to share your favourite posts each week.
Myself and a group of lovely bloggers decided to start this linky together. We wanted to create a place where all our favourite posts from the week could be easily shared and then thought why not let everyone join in! We take it in turns each week to host but we all comment and re-tweet throughout the week.
Last week’s Top Reads
Last week’s top posts came from The Twinkle Diaries. Who wrote a beautiful post about her cats. We’re all massive animal lovers here at Sunday Stars and this was a lovely post about giving unwanted animals a second chance. Well worth a read if you’re a cat lover!
And Mamascribbles who wrote a fab post titled Boobs! It’s a great response to the recent “boobgate” saga. We agreed with every word Lisa wrote and thought that she highlighted the insecurity issues related to breastfeeding perfectly. If you’re a breastfeeding mum, this post is a must read.
Back to this week…
This linky is designed to give everyone a place to show off their favourite posts and make sure they don’t go unread. This week it’s myself and Amy from Everything Mummy who’s hosting and we can’t wait to read your star posts!
Tweet your posts to either of us (@heleddlavender or @amycooperem) and @SundaysStars using the hashtag #sundaystars and we’ll RT. We’ll also be pinning your posts to the Sunday Stars pinterest board.
• You can link up to 3 post old or new, anything that you are really proud of and want to share.
• Please remember to add the Sunday Stars badge to the bottom of your posts.
• Share the love – try and comment on at least three other posts. After all that’s what it’s all about.
Last Sunday we went to Build a Bear Workshop and Lili got this ‘Elsa’ Bear. I love this picture, it captures the moment she first held her new toy bear and as you can see from her face, it was love at fist cuddle!
For more information on our visit to Build a Bear Workshop, click here.
Last week the girls were overjoyed at seeing Santa! We went to meet him at Painshill in Surrey, were he was sat in the most amazingly, magical Crystal Grotto. We’d never been to Painshill before but we’ll definitely be going back to this beautiful park. It’s a true ‘beauty spot’ and only a few miles from our house – as my husband would say “winner!”
When we arrived we were given a map and told to follow the ‘Elf signs’ that would lead us to the magical grotto. Luckily it was a bright sunny day as the walk was longer than we’d realised. Not that this bothered us, it was such a beautiful walk with a lovely white bridge, swans swimming on the lake, lush green grass and an amazing old ruin.
When we finally got to the grotto we were greeted by the elfs and held in a small marquee until Santa was “ready for us”. After the thirty minute walk, and a short wait in the tent, the girls were getting really excited, if a little nervous. I think the anticipation had been building up and by now they were both ready to burst.
However, all these feelings disappeared the moment we stepped into the Crystal Grotto. This crystal cave had been decorated beautifully with fairy lights and Christmas trees – it was quite simply amazing. As we walked round the corner we spotted the “big man in red” and all of a sudden my two confident little girls turned to jelly. Slowly they walked up to him and answered his questions, all the time speaking quietly and making sure to “behave”.
The amazement on their faces as we walked into the grotto – and then as they saw Santa was priceless. They believe with every fibre in their little bodies, which really takes me back to my own childhood and how magical Christmas felt. I love seeing Christmas through their eyes, it’s one of my favourite thing about being a mother.
Here are some pictures of our day at Painshill, meeting Santa.
If you’re coming into London in the next few weeks, I have a secret to share with you. Forget Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland, where it’s super busy and lets face it, a tad expensive. Where you need to go is Monty’s Winter Roof Garden in John Lewis, Oxford St. Okay, it’s nowhere near as big as the Hyde Park attraction and the only ride on offer is the lift up to the roof but it is free and very magical.
As you step out onto the roof, you’ll be met by a beautiful snowy, christmasy scene. There are lots of snow covered pine trees, Monty’s house, a Hotel Chocolat cafe and a heated seated area, which is covered in blankets for you to snuggle under – with your hot chocolate. Poppy and I went for the second time last week with our friends Bonnie and Marnie from MamasVIB.
Once you’re on the roof, you can wonder around and take pictures with Monty (the star of John Lewis’ Christmas ad campaign) or make Christmas cards and decorate penguin biscuits in Monty’s house. Other than the Hotel Chocolat café, everything is free which is so lovely and refreshing.
Here are some snaps from our day out on Monty’s Winter Roof Garden…
We’ve had a busy few days, so I thought Poppy and I could do with a quiet day at home today. A day to chill out, watch some TV, play games and finally make these cinnamon Christmas biscuits for our tree.
Poppy’s becoming a very enthusiastic little baker. She enjoys mixing and did really well today with the rolling pin and cutters. I think all those play doh sessions are paying off!
I’m not a big fan of ginger (so I’m using cinnamon), but this recipe can be made with ginger if you prefer. Simply swap the two ingredients and you’ll have ginger biscuits.
Our Cinnamon Christmas Biscuits
350g plain flour
1-2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
100g margarine or butter
175g soft brown sugar
4 tablespoons golden syrup
1. Mix the flour, cinnamon and bicarb in a bowl and rub in the butter using your fingers or blitz in a food processor.
2. Add the sugar and mix in the golden syrup and egg to make a firm dough.
3. Roll out the dough to around 5mm thick and cut out into your chosen shapes. If you want to hang the biscuits on the tree, use a skewer to make a hole in each one.
4. Place the shapes onto a greased baking tray (space them out, as they can spread) and bake at 190’C/Gas 5 for 10 mins or until golden brown.
5. Once cooled and firm, decorate or thread.
Now lets see how long these stay on the tree!