Christmas 2017

And just like that, another festive season has come and gone. But what a festive season it was!

We headed to Melbourne to spend Christmas with my family this year, but our celebrations started well before then. For knowing we would be away for Christmas Day, and having my niece back from Vietnam for a short while, we held a Canberra Christmas celebration with my in-laws in early December too.

The girls loved the festivity of the day, redecorating the tree (for the hundredth time) and ripping open presents. While we sat back having cuddles with the littlest member of the family, sipping cocktails, before tucking into a simple brunch of fruit and croissants.

A few weeks later, it was time to head down the Hume. Given it was likely to be a little cramped if we all stayed at my Mum’s two-bedroom unit, we decided to rent a holiday house nearby (= best decision ever!) . We made ourselves at home in our ‘home away from home’  almost immediately – with the big backyard, in particular, being a huge hit with the kids.

We hosted Christmas Eve at the holiday house, watching three rounds of Carols by Candlelight on the TV. The cousins were super excited to be reunited,  and didn’t stop playing and singing along to the carols the whole time. Meanwhile, we sipped on (more) cocktails, caught up on ‘life’ and snacked on a mezze platter. There were, of course, goodies left out for Santa and his reindeer too.

Up next…Christmas Day, which proved to be one of the most relaxing days I’ve had in a long time. Casual, fuss-free, and just perfect really.

Maggie and I headed out for an early walk before the household stirred, and returned home just as two excited girls emerged from their bedroom to discover the presents that Santa had left overnight – along with the mess the reindeers had made of their carrots. We then lazed around in our (matching haha) Christmas pyjamas for most of the morning while the girls tested out their new toys, before heading to my brother and sister-in-law’s house for the rest of the day.

This year we decided to do ‘Kris Kringle’ among the adults again – which took a lot of stress (and cost!) out of buying pressies. The kids, on the other hand, we well and truly spoiled by their extended family – and loved every second of it.

The afternoon was then spent feasting with the family in the sunshine. All the Christmas trimmings were had – turkey, pork, ham, roasted vegetables and salad. Followed by a tropical pavlova, and washed down with champagne. We were so pleased to see that Melbourne had put on a beautiful day – sunny but not too hot – making it perfect weather for indulging in a hot lunch outside on the deck. Post-lunch naps were had by some (both young and not so young), after which the kids splashed under the sprinkler while the adults laughed their way through a few rounds of charades.  Then, as the sun started to set, we made our way back ‘home’, crashing into (sugar-induced) comas not long after.  And thus a truly wonderful festive season was had by all. Not only because we had the chance to spend time with our extended families, but also because we had a whole week away with just the five of us! The kids LOVED every second of having their Dad off work – and barely left his side the whole time. Needless to say we returned back to Canberra with lots of happy memories (oh and a few extra kilograms too).

Bring on 2018!

Christmas 2016

I’ve always loved Christmas, but it feels even more special now that we have children in the house. For they bring a whole new level of excitement to the season – from school concerts and daycare parties, to tree redecorating and endless requests for carols when we are in the car.

While this year was to be a “Canberra” Christmas with my in-laws,  it ended up being a combined Christmas when my (Melbourne) family made the trip up the Hume to celebrate with us also.  This meant we had 5 extra people under our roof, including my gorgeous 1 year old nephew who the girls just adore, and needless to say a lot of fun was had by all!

Christmas Eve

Blessed with warm weather and sunny skies, Christmas Eve ‘day’ was all about fun. We put the finishing touches on the tree, decorated biscuits, played in the paddle pool and visited the local playground.

Our evening was spent watching the carols, feasting on homemade nibbles (think cheeses, antipasto, homemade sausage rolls, wonton cups…) and sipping on baileys eggnog made by our resident bartender for the evening – my little brother!  Oh and the kids made sure to leave out some treats for Santa and his Reindeers too – before finally falling into bed for the evening.

Christmas Day 

As is usually the case with young children, the whole house was up bright and early on Christmas morning. The girls were delighted to find their requested presents under the tree – namely a bike for C and a scooter for J. So much so that they wasted no time in racing to find their shoes and head outside for a spin.

With the kids well and truly occupied with their Santa presents, we got to work on brunch.  Croissants, french toast casserole,  eggs benedict, ham and a fruit platter – washed down with peach sangria. Perfect fuel for the upcoming adventures of the day (or perhaps it was more of a ‘head start’ as much of the day’s adventures involved more eating!!).

That’s right, after the littlest members of the family had taken their lunchtime naps, we put on our party dresses and headed over to my sister in-law’s house for part 2 of the day – namely a late lunch (or perhaps better described as an ‘early dinner’) – which included all the Christmas trimmings. Prawns, turkey, pork, ham, vegetables, salads….yes my plate (and belly) was full to the brim. Although I did find some space for dessert – particularly when not one, but four were on offer. My favourite being the locally made plum pudding!

And just like that, the sun began to set and another Christmas Day came to pass. I returned home with my belt buckle loosened, and feeling very grateful for the day’s wonderful food, great company and lots of laughs (not to mention being able to spend the day with all of my nearest and dearest!).

And I can only imagine how much mischief the little cousins are going to get up to together in the years to come….

Christmas 2015

The title of this post should actually be Christmases 2015, as we were lucky enough to celebrate Christmas not once, not twice, but on three occasions.  And although it is probably a tad late to post about Christmas when we are over half way through January, I figured “why not”?

One

The first of our celebrations took place during the week before Christmas at Gumbuya Park. We met up with my Dad and spent the day wandering the animal enclosures, patting kangaroos and squeezing into the various rides. It turned out to be the perfect venue for a casual Christmas catch up, and visiting on a Monday meant that we had the place pretty much to ourselves. Not even the unexpectedly cool temperature could dampen our spirits!

IMG_5610 IMG_5622 IMG_5639 IMG_5679 IMG_5691 (I love this pic – for it shows J’s current obsession with things she finds on the ground. Although I suspect that 2 seconds after taking this photo she would have put the leaf in her mouth….)

Two

Our second Christmas, well that was on the day itself.  Little J’s remarkably reliable body clock saw us up and out for a walk at 5.30am, and a little while after returning home Miss C woke and excitedly discovered her gifts (she had requested a cash register from Santa!)

Later that morning, we headed to lunch with my sister-in-law’s family, where we feasted on all the delicious Christmas trimmings – meat, salads, prawns, champagne… finished with a layered eggnog + ginger cake that I contributed to the meal.  The day was a hot one, so we even squeezed in a walk to the beach – where Miss C, in particular, had a fantastic time splashing around! A highlight of the day,  was definitely taking all the newborn cuddles I could get – with my gorgeous 13 day
old nephew.

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Returning home from Melbourne, we held a late Christmas “linner” with Mr BBB’s family in Canberra. A casual afternoon, filled with family and food (always a winning combination). We hosted the linner at our place, keeping the menu simple. Mr BBB cooked a turkey roll and some pork  in the BBQ, and his family supplied some delicious salads – meaning there was no need for me to turn on the oven at all! Dessert was a tropical pavlova – topped with lemon curd cream, mango, lychees, passionfruit and coconut.  All washed down with peach bellinis.

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And so we came out the ‘other side’ of our extended Christmas celebrations feeling rather relaxed and perhaps a little more rotund.  The girls had an absolute blast along the way, and were thoroughly spoilt.

A delightful end to 2015 indeed!

Christmas 2014

IMG_2272 I am sure that for many of us, Christmas is starting to feel like a distant memory, as we all settle into the swing of the New Year. However, this year we had a particularly lovely day, and I feel it would be a little sad to leave the photos and memories stored away in their files without sharing. IMG_2132 And besides, it is always nice to have a blog post to reflect back on in the years to come. Feeling a little weary as the year drew to a close, we opted to keep things low key this festive season. Many of the gifts we chose for friends and family took the form of vouchers, and we tried to keep our ‘social calendar’ to a minimum. Christmas Eve, however, was set aside for carols, family time and this year – gingerbread house making. IMG_2157 I purchased the ‘kit’ from Kmart (I think it was) – and added extra icing and lollies along the way (well the ones that weren’t quality tested by my ‘helper’, that is). IMG_2152 The finished product was a little rough around the edges, but it was a fun project nevertheless. IMG_2226IMG_2228 Christmas Day itself, was equally quiet, relaxing and rewarding. C got a visit from Santa overnight, and seemed positively thrilled with her toy kitchen! IMG_2165IMG_2171 C wasted no time in making us all “bacon and eggs” for breakfast, before eagerly  unwrapping the other presents she found under the tree (and had so patiently left alone over the last month). Needless to say, she was thoroughly spoiled! xmas IMG_2249 As for Christmas lunch, this too followed the ever-emerged ‘relaxed’ theme. We had Mr BBB’s parents and sister over, and with everyone contributing a dish, I didn’t even need to turn my oven on! IMG_2214IMG_2209 Taking colour inspiration from some gorgeous bon bons I picked up from David Jones, we had ourselves a blue, white and silver Christmas table. IMG_2216 Just waiting to be adorned with the real stars of the show – Christmas lunch! IMG_2285 On the menu? Christmas Ham, turkey, homemade stuffing, prawns, eggplant / feta salad, potato salad and a caprese salad. IMG_2281IMG_2278IMG_2279 For dessert I made a raspberry, rosewater and pistachio semi-freddo (although it set rock hard so perhaps not the best…..). Luckily we had lots of other sweets to keep us happy (think chocolate shortbread, fresh berries and stolen). IMG_2324IMG_2325 And, although I missed out on champagne this year – our mocktails (apple and ginger syrup with sparkling mineral water) – turned out to be a refreshing alternative on what was a humid Christmas day. IMG_2299 Overall, we had a beautiful day – filled with good food and good company.  IMG_2356 And its hard to believe that this time next year – we will have a 10 month old joining the fray! What about you? How did you spend Christmas Day this year?

Merry Christmas

Today has been just perfect. IMG_2214 A lazy morning, spent watching the littlest member of our family run around the house and be thoroughly spoilt by our nearest and dearest. A long relaxed lunch – for which no oven was turned on, and no kitchen stress was encountered. An afternoon spent chatting over apple / ginger mocktails, followed by homemade semifreddo and stollen. IMG_2285 A day spent in the company of family, and also being able to touch base with our loved ones further afield via more ‘modern’ means. IMG_2297 I hope that you all had a splendid day – and found comfort in family, friends and food. For we certainly were lucky enough to. I would also like to say a big ‘thankyou’ for all your support during 2014, and I look forward to continuing this blog (starting with a full Christmas recap!)  when I return in the New Year. Until then…stay safe and Happy Baking!

Rocky Road Christmas Bags

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I’m a little late to the “Christmas Cheer” this year. It’s not that I don’t want to get into the spirit – its just that the festive season kind of snuck up on me.  Our work schedules have been hectic over the past few months, and then there is the whole 30+ weeks pregnant thing…. But no festive season can slip by without multiple batches of my favourite rocky road being made. Simple to put together, perfect for edible gifts and more often than not – well received. I’ve posted about it before,  I have no doubt, but let’s re-visit the sweet sugary goodness, shall we? This last weekend, I stepped away from the computer and other life ‘obligations’ and spent a little time in the kitchen. I had my trusty “helper” by my side who, true to form, very effectively taste-tested the marshmallows and other ingredients along the way.

The ‘base’ for the rocky road is milk and white chocolate. Not the fancy stuff, or baking chocolate, but good ol’ Cadbury dairy milk. As for the fillings – well this is where you can change things up according to your preference. This time I used white and pink marshmallows, raspberry lollies and chopped Turkish Delight bars. I love adding nuts too – but kept it allergy friendly on this occasion.

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The milk chocolate is melted, then mixed with the fillings, and pressed into a lined dish. Finished with a generous drizzle of melted white chocolate, and swirled for effect.

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Covered, and placed in the fridge overnight to set. Then it’s ready to slice!

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We filled these cute little bags with pieces of the rocky road (in baking paper) – and gifts for my work team were done!

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And, perhaps in more exciting news, I am now officially on Christmas leave (well from my main job at least)! Time to start thinking about our Christmas lunch menu…

Rocky Road The following quantities are a guide only. You really can use as little or as many ingredients as you would like – depending on the taste / texture that you are after.

  • 400g milk chocolate (I use Cadbury)
  • 200g white chocolate
  • 200g marshmallows, chopped in half or leave them whole
  • 180g raspberry lollies
  • 4 x Turkish delight bars, chopped
  • Handful of chopped nuts (peanuts, macadamias etc) (or leave these out if you are looking for a nut-free version)
  1. Line a slice tray with baking paper, allowing the sides to overhang.
  2. Place the chopped marshmallows, raspberry lollies, Turkish delight and nuts into a large bowl and set aside.
  3. Melt the milk chocolate, then pour over the chopped ingredients. Stir to coat well, and press into the lined tray.
  4. Melt the white chocolate, and drizzle it over the top. Use a spoon to swirl it into the milk chocolate.
  5. Cover and refrigerate until set, then slice and serve.

What about you? Are you making any edible gifts this year?

Christmas 2013

IMG_5968 It’s hard to believe that Christmas Day was almost a week ago. For we have well and truly made the most of this festive season – spending most of our time with family and friends, eating well, drinking merrily and laughing heartily. It is actually quite strange to have this quiet moment to myself, the first for over a week. IMG_5976  IMG_5937 This year we travelled to Melbourne to spend Christmas with my family. We took two days to get from Canberra to Melbourne, which worked just perfectly and kept C from going too crazy in the backseat. IMG_5951 We stayed with my little brother and his girlfriend, who were wonderful hosts when their house was invaded for the week (including managing the ever-abundant supplies for a toddler!). IMG_5799 From the Christmas Eve BBQ, to a delicious Christmas Day lunch, to the Boxing Day festivities (with Mr BBB’s family who also happened to be down South!) – everything was just splendid. xmas7 We had a rather delicious Christmas lunch spread – with everyone contributing a dish. There were the usual suspects – Pork, Ham, Turkey, roast vegetables – along with a scrumptious prawn and mango salad that suited the warm day just perfectly. Washed down with multiple glasses of champagne. IMG_5986IMG_5987 Despite being filled to the brim, we found room for dessert – which was my contribution to the lunch. Not being able to decide between pavlova and trifle – I opted to make both – along with a batch of rocky road for the chocolate lovers among us. IMG_6118 The rest of our day was spent lazing, and laughing, and enjoying the warm Melbourne day with our nearest and dearest. xmas1 As for the remainder of our trip – well let’s just say there was barely a quiet moment… xmas5xmas6 Brunch with Mr BBB’s family, catch-ups with my Aunties, more alfresco meals, a spot of shopping and Charlotte pretty much living in the pool. xmas4 A small trip – but with a lot packed in – and we’ve returned home a little tired – but a lot grateful for the wonderful family and friends that we have.  A lovely end to a busy 2013 – that’s for sure.

Happy Holidays

Well the time has finally arrived for us to disconnect for a few days. To visit family, to drink fine wine and to eat an abundance of what I am sure will be great food. IMG_5735 So until we resurface, probably a little heavier but hopefully a lot more relaxed, I wish you and your families all the very best for Christmas and this Festive Season. IMG_5409 Enjoy xxx

Christmas in July

Happy Monday lovely people! IMG_3080 What a weekend we have just had. Sadly not because of any grand adventures….quite the opposite really. For finally my immune system decided that ‘enough is enough’ and yielded to the cold / flu bug that has been lurking around our house for the last month or so. So, while I was well enough to prepare our special Xmas in July dinner on Saturday night, sadly I was not all that enthused when it came to actually eating said dinner. IMG_3108 But here is a glimpse into the night’s dishes nonetheless. IMG_3099 On the menu… IMG_3104 Ham shoulder, glazed with marmalade, whiskey and dijon mustard. IMG_3086IMG_3088IMG_3085IMG_3118 Turkey stuffed with apple and cranberry (unpictured?!) On the side – duck fat roast potatoes, cranberry and pistachio “stuffing” and a pumpkin, red onion and feta salad. IMG_3120IMG_3081IMG_3093 All together now! IMG_3121 But it was dessert that had me most excited… IMG_3064 Sticky date pudding, served with butterscotch sauce, double cream and almond biscotti. IMG_3070 I only wish my tastebuds has been co-operating! Details of the dishes to follow… What about you? Did you celebrate Christmas in July this year?