So this is Christmas... 2015 Christmas Series Wrap Up, Overview & Links


So that was Christmas! My 2015 Christmas series has come to an end, as has the Christmas season! If you wanted to read back through any of 11 blog posts in this series (or for easy access for next Christmas), here is an overview of and link to each blog: 


Part 1: Advent Calendars

Part 2: [Guest Post by Fiona] Organising and Storing Christmas Items

Part 3: Christmas Eve Boxes

Part 4: Gift Ideas

Part 5: Christmas Craft Ideas

Part 6: Christmas Traditions

Part 7: Blogs to read for Christmas ideas

Part 8: Ten ways to maintain healthy eating and exercise over the Christmas period

Part 9: Elf on the Shelf (The First 12 days)

Part 10: Christmas Baking

Part 11: Elf on the Shelf (The next 12 days)


I hope you all had a lovely Christmas season, filled with love, laughter, giving, receiving, family & friends!

[Top image from http://www.christmaswishesimages.org/]
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So this is Christmas... Part 11: Elf on the Shelf [The next 12 days]

Our Elf 'Jingles' adventures, days 12-24! Enjoy!













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So this is Christmas... Part 10: Christmas Baking



With only a few days left until Christmas, this is the perfect time to enjoy some time in the kitchen baking! I love Christmas baking, especially all the traditional favourites. This year I made: (Click on each heading for the link - most photos are from the same link as well)

Thermomix Fudge

A couple of friends and I spent an afternoon making fudgem including choc mint, choc orange and choc raspberry (using Your Inspiration At Home chocolate powders). 

image

Thermomix Caramel

Thermomix Caramel Fudge


Truffles

The recipe I use is simply 1 packet of Malt biscuits crushed, 3 tablespoons of coconut, 1 tablespoon of cocoa and 1 can of condensed milk. Mix together and roll in extra coconut. Refrigerate until set! Yum. 
Image from here. 



Gingerbread Men (with 'Ninjabread' Men cutters!)
I used a packet mix because I wanted to buy the Ninjabread Men cutters. Here is a thermomix gingerbread recipe though - click here. 

Thermomix Gingerbread Recipe

Christmas Cookies

The recipe I used is similiar to shortbread - melt 125g butter, and mix with 3/4 cup castor sugar, 2 tsp vanilla, 1 egg and 2 and a half cups of plain flour. Roll out and cut using cookie cutters. Bake on a greased tray for 10-12 mins in a 180 degree oven. Ice once cool. 
Image from here. 



White Chocolate Rocky Road

I actually just made this one up! I used a bag of Nestle white chocolate drops and melted these slowly in the microwave. Then I added cut up marshmallows, some mini m&m's and a few crushed up tim tams. Mix it all together and place in a tray lined with baking paper. Refrigerate for a few hours until set. SO yummy! You could also add pistachios, cranberries, cherries or gummy lollies. Anything really!
Image from here. 




Other favourites include: (many links included are Thermomix recipes, however if you don't have a Thermomix or Food Processor, just google each recipe!)

Rum Balls

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Chocolate Rocky Road

or variations such as:
~ Thermomix Turkish Delight Rocky Road
~ Thermomix Clinker Rocky Road

Image from here. 



Florentines

If you haven't tried these, you are missing out!! My friend made some AMAZING Florentines this year, yum! 
Image from Pinterest. 



Shortbread

My Mum has this amazing shortbread recipe, titled 'Sheila's Shortbread' - no idea who Sheila is! One year, my aunty had made a batch, and Mum was telling her how nice they were and asked for the recipe. My aunty replied, "it's your recipe!" They really are that good! 

200g butter 
2/3 cup icing sugar
2 cups plain flour

1. Cream butter and sugar
2. Add flour and knead for 10 mins. 
3. Roll into loaf and chill for 60 mins. 
4. Cut the roll with the wrong side of the knife to make circle/oval shapes. 
5. Place on a greased tray and bake at 140 degrees for 20-25 mins. 

Image from here. 



Fruit Mince Pies

Fruit mince pies

Chocolate Bark

Christmas Chocolate Bark

White Christmas

White Christmas

Nougat

Cranberry and pistachio nougat

Tim Tam Buttons
You can also make variations of these with cherry ripes and any other biscuit or chocolate bar!

Tim Tam Buttons:

Mars Bar Christmas Crackles

Mars Bar Christmas crackles recipe .:

Spiral Sugar Cookies

Spiral Sugar Cookies - these cookies are a festive addition to any occasion! Christmas, birthday parties, Easter...just change the color of the dough accordingly!


Here are some other cool food creations from Pinterest:

Chocolate sleighs - 

10 Tutorials to DIY Christmas Gifts - Pretty Designs:

Chocolate dipping spoons for hot chocolate -

Buy a mug and plastic spoons. Creat your own chocolate and toppings on the spoons. Cute DIY Christmas present. :-) Bianca@itti:

Cheat's mini Christmas puddings - 

Cheats mini Christmas puddings using Arnotts Royals, white choc and red/green m+m's:

Green meringue Christmas trees - 

Christmas Tree Meringues:

Snowman & white chocolate pretzels - 

Festive Frosty Snowman Pretzels | TheBestDessertRecipes.com:


Brownie Christmas Trees - 

Cut brownies into triangles, decorate like a Christmas tree, then use a peppermint stick as a tree trunk. L:

Strawberry and brownie Christmas bites - 

Christmas food ideas/ chocolate strawberry Christmas trees | It’s time to start cranking out the holiday sweets! Well I came up ...:

Brownie 'Santa hats' - 

Santa Hats - use the pre-made brownie bites (Costco), buttercream, whole strawberry with top cut off and put a dab of buttercream on top.:

Cake pop snowmen - 

Melted Snowman Oreo Balls - the-girl-who-ate-everything.com:

Decorate cookies as melted snowmen - 

Melting Snowman Sugar Cookies- so silly and so fun!  The kids will love these!:


What sort of things do you like to bake for your family and friends at Christmas? Let me know via my Facebook page

Enjoy! 

[Top image from http://storebuildingtool.com/christmas-baking/]


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Organise & Declutter [& DIY!] Part 15 - The Front Yard

The front of our house is complete! 

Before - 
~ Painted yellow with green gutters
~ Red brick 'fence' 
~ Lots of trees and shrubs 
~ Wooden lattice 
~ Green front door behind a screen door
~ Cement retaining wall
~ Old cement driveway
~ Slippery tiles on the stairs and porch
~ Poor quality grass
~ Old fashioned railing on the porch and stairs





After - 
~ Painted grey with darker grey gutters
~ White picket fences
~ New gardens
~ Tiered landscaping
~ New turf
~ No trees blocking the house
~ New railing on the porch
~ New grey tiles on the stairs and porch
~ Red front door with no screen
~ New driveway
~ Painted lattice
~ Garden edges
~ Hedges planted






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Organise & Declutter [& DIY!] Part 14 - The Backyard

One of the major renovations we've completed on our house is the front and backyard. I actually really disliked the colour and style of the front of our house, and while the backyard was neat, it needed some work to get it to where we wanted it! I am happy to say everything is finally done!

This is what the back of our house and our backyard looked like when we bought it (Feb 2013) 
~ no deck
~ house is yellow with green gutters
~ mismatched fences
~ old cement path 
~ poor quality grass
~ washing line very close to the house
~ lots of random trees and bushes
~ old rundown garden shed




The view from the sunroom - 


The first thing my hubby did was build a deck off the sunroom and the back of the house and move the washing line - 





Then we painted the chimney and the rest of the house -  



Then he pulled down the little shed bedside the garden shed and created a garden bed and path for the garden shed - 



After - 
~ Freshly painted shed
~ Garden beds
~ Path
~ White boards around the windows to match the house




And the rest of the yard - 
~ Finished deck with sunshade and wider stairs than the original stairs we put in
~ Outdoor table and chairs, and a red pot
~ House and gutters are fully painted
~ Gardens created
~ New colourbond fence (Yard is now fully fenced)
~ Grass has been re-turfed/fixed up with grass seed
~ New door for the 'cellar' under the house
~ Sink, tap and hose reel painted and tidied up
~ Both sides of the house have a new path
~ One side of the house has a paved area (for a car/boat etc)
~ Retaining wall above paved area
~ Colourbond gate on one side of the house and picket fence gate on the other
~ Washing line moved
~ Red pots and bird bath added in













Our main goals in landscaping and renovating the backyard was:
~ to full fence the yard for kids and pets
~ to create lots of space with nice grass for kids to run around and enjoy
~ to have the space match the house
~ to make the space practical and easy to maintain
~ to be able to enjoy the outside space, without always looking at what could be done!

We are so happy with what has been achieved, all thanks to my hubby! We had a vision and he made it happen. I just love looking out the window at my beautiful backyard! 


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