Friday, 27 December 2013

Magic Elf Update No. 3

We had a fantastic time with Sally and Colin and miss them lots now they have gone back to the North Pole with Father Christmas.

Here is the final instalment of their antics before they left ...

- they toasted mini marshmallows by the fire...
- they played Christmas I Spy (printed from here) ...


 - they coloured Sophie and Justin's noses red whilst they were asleep and left a note for them to look in the mirror ...
 - they wrapped themselves in bubble wrap and hid in a box addressed to Sophie and Justin, with some other parcels. Only Rudolph gave it away ...
 - they gave Sophie and Justin some new night clothes to wear on Christmas Eve, together with a book (Father Christmas Needs a Wee) and a new hat and scarf for Rudolph because he helped them so much again this year. They also got some felt parcel bags to sit in addressed to Santa at the North Pole ...
 

On their last night, Christmas Eve, Sophie and Justin popped them into their bags and put them next to the chimney with all the goodies for Father Christmas and the reindeer (a carrot for each one). Sophie also packed a goodie bag for each elf to enjoy on their trip back to the North Pole ...

Thanks Sally and Colin for lots of fun again this year and we hope to see you next year.

© 2013 Nicola Noble: Please observe the rules of copyright and blog etiquette. If you use my ideas or images, please link back to my blog. And do let me know - I'd love to take a look.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Christmas cake 2013

My oven is old and generally doesn't bake things well at long, low temperatures so I haven't yet been brave enough to have a go at making my own Christmas cake yet (perhaps next year!). So, as in previous years, I bought a ready made Christmas cake to decorate myself.

Initial thoughts were to create a snowy village scene but time got the better of me and I opted for my second choice of a simple bold Christmas tree that I had seen and pinned on Pinterest a couple of months ago.

So here is my take on the design - I was pleased with how it came out ...
cake, christmas, christmas tree, fondant
 cake, christmas, christmas tree, fondant
 cake, christmas, christmas tree, fondant
 cake, christmas, christmas tree, fondant
 cake, christmas, christmas tree, fondant
© 2013 Nicola Noble: Please observe the rules of copyright and blog etiquette. If you use my ideas or images, please link back to my blog. And do let me know - I'd love to take a look.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Magic Elf Update No. 2

The Elves have been with us for 18 days now and they are keeping up the mischief. Here are their latest exploits ...

- they rolled two tiny friends down the stairs in the middle of toilet rolls. We are not sure if Oddbod and Penguin volunteered or if Sally and Colin "persuaded" them ...
 
 
 - they hid under the kitchen table with some Christmas sweet jars for Sophie and Justin ...
 - they disappeared from our house and turned up in mini form at our friends house the next morning. We saw them on Skype ...
- they grew back to their normal size overnight with the help of some Magic Restoring Powder and snuggled up in a sleeping bag in the Build-a-bear tent ...
 - they had fun jumping in a big bucket of ball-pool balls ...
 
- they played ALL the xbox games and mixed them all up in the cases ...
 
 - they"played" Trivial Pursuit but ended up making a mess of all the cards ...
 
 - they decided to become trapeze artists with the help of an empty wrapping paper tube and some string ...
 
 - they had a pampering night ...
 
 
 - they cut snowflakes out of pancakes ...
 - and last night they drew all over the kitchen windows with window pens ...
 
Less than a week to go until they go back to the North Pole with Father Christmas. I hope they don't get up to too much more mischief although a lot can happen in a week!!!

© 2013 Nicola Noble: Please observe the rules of copyright and blog etiquette. If you use my ideas or images, please link back to my blog. And do let me know - I'd love to take a look.


Sunday, 15 December 2013

Christmas craft fair - decorations for the tree

Last year one of the school mums and I discovered that we both like crafting. Melinda has an amazing stash of crafting goodies and we decided that once Justin was at school full time we would try to get together every Thursday morning for a bit of crafting for the soul time.

Coming out of that was the idea that we would take a table at the school Christmas craft fair and so we started in September making lots of different things that we could sell. A huge number of the items have been inspired by Pinterest and we have had great fun making them all.

We started with some decorations for the Christmas tree.
I had seen the simplest wire angels, made from butterfly paperclips, that I was desperate to make. Unfortunately the wire paperclips for these are not generally available to buy in the UK (even on eBay!) but fortunately Melinda is from the US and often goes back on holiday so managed to track them down and came home with a large supply of them. 
So we set to and made large and small angels, with a mixture of ribbon colours and a mixture of bead heads. The final touch was to add a label and the finished angels have gone down a storm with all who have seen them - creating orders way beyond the Christmas Craft Fair. So glad other people liked them too ...
Another decoration I made for the tree was a simple wooden star. I bought the stars from our local craft shop and drilled little holes in the top of each one. I then cut a square of hessian (from my stash of things I keep that will come in useful some day!) which I attached to the star by threading some bakers twine through the hole in the star and through the hessian. The finishing touch was a simple button with some bakers twine threaded and knotted through and glued into the middle of the star.
I also made a snowflake decoration, but didn't have time to make lots of these and ended up keeping the prototype for myself. It was made by cutting a snowflake out of sticky back glitter foam using one of the dies from my Sizzlits snowflakes set, sticking the remaining square onto white felt and attaching a button to the middle with a knotted piece of bakers twine in the middle.
© 2013 Nicola Noble: Please observe the rules of copyright and blog etiquette. If you use my ideas or images, please link back to my blog. And do let me know - I'd love to take a look.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Christmas gifts: gingerbread "stained glass" cookies

For the past few years I have made some little gifts for Sophie to give to her school friends (see last year's marshmallow snowmen and 2011's reindeer noses).

This year, time has been limited so I decided that Sophie and Justin could help me make gingerbread window cookies. This is something I did a very long time ago with the guides and I still think they are very pretty and surprisingly simple.

I made some gingerbread dough and chilled it until the kids came home from school. Then they rolled and cut out lots of cookies, in christmas tree, snowflake and holly leaf shapes, The christmas tree cutter was one I already had for making window cookies and is designed to cut the big and little tree in one go but the snowflake and holly leaf cutters are solid and so we cut a small flower from the middle of each cookie.

I bought some Foxes Glacier fruit sweets and then popped similar colours into freezer bags and bashed them to bits. It is okay to have a few lumps in it still. A word of warning on this bit though - make sure you have an old chopping board or similar underneath. And use a hammer! My kitchen table now has a multitude of little dents from these very solid sweets, as does our kiddies wooden rolling pin!

I then sprinkled the crushed sweets into the hole in the middle of each cookie, mixing some of the colours for a really pretty effect. The gingerbread was then cooked for about 12 minutes and hey presto, out came some beautiful "stained glass" christmas cookies.
This is the recipe I used for the gingerbread:

Gingerbread "stained glass" cookies

350g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
125g butter
175g light soft brown sugar
1 free-range egg
4 tbsp golden syrup
Coloured boiled sweets (such as Foxes Glacier Fruits) - crushed into small pieces

Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon and pour into the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and blend until the mix looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.

Lightly beat the egg and golden syrup together, add to the food processor and pulse until the mixture clumps together. (I had trouble with the dough coming together here so I tipped it out into a bigger bowl and mixed together by hand which took a good 5 minutes). Tip the dough out, knead briefly until smooth, wrap in clingfim and leave to chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to Gas mark 4.5 or 180C. Grease the baking tray thoroughly (this is important as I forgot to do this and one set of cookies stuck to the tray - there was no way to get the stained glass bit off the tray!)

Roll the dough out to a 0.5cm/¼in thickness on a lightly floured surface. Using cutters, cut out the shapes you want, including the hole in the middle and place on the baking tray, leaving a gap between them. Make sure the hole is a good size as this shrinks when the gingerbread bakes.

If you would like to use these as hanging decorations, make a small hole in one end of the cookie before baking. You should then be able to thread a piece of ribbon through once it is cooked.
Carefully sprinkle the crushed sweets into the holes in the middles of the gingerbread cookies. You can be creative and mix the colours, as you can see I did with the christmas tree and the snowflake.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until lightly golden-brown. Leave on the tray for 10 minutes and then move to a wire rack to finish cooling. It is helpful to flex the baking tray or sheet a little to "pop" the gingerbread cookies off.
© 2013 Nicola Noble: Please observe the rules of copyright and blog etiquette. If you use my ideas or images, please link back to my blog. And do let me know - I'd love to take a look.