Goodbye 2015.

 

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I know everyone says this, but I really can’t believe how quick 2015 has gone! So much has happened, some good, some bad. But through it all i’ve learnt a lot. And thats really what life is about isn’t it? I’ve had so much fun with the blog, this is my place. My space to just spread creativity. So I thought for my last post of the year I’d just show some of my favourite blogging moments of 2015.

  • My very first post. When I re-started TLWP as a blog, I honestly thought it would burn out in a couple of months – full of faith! ha- But its just been so addictive. I look back at my first post and I can sense the nerves in my writing, I was SO scared of hitting that publish button. The support I’ve had since is just insane. So thank you for coming here to read.

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  •  Support Small Saturdays. I’ve completely slacked at these, I WILL re-start in 2016, but I’m just so happy I had so many amazing small business that wanted to be involved! I love the interview parts and getting to share some truly inspirational ladies with readers is what its all about.

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  • North west bloggers event. This is when I felt like a blogger, sat in that room full of wonderful people, all in there for the same reason as myself. It was a lovely day and I left with the biggest boost in confidence as well as a bunch of fab ladies I still talk to now. The blogging world is a strange one, its so much easier when you have a group of people that just get it.

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  • The one where I painted my bathroom floor. – This was such a fun/cheap project to do, not only that but It also ended up with me being contacted by Wayfair! My post ended up being part of an bloggers bathroom inspo post! As you can imagine I was so excited to be featured on quite a massive brands website. You can find the Wayfair post here.

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  • World prematurity day – my story. This was a completely last minute post. I had written it, re-written it and gone back to delete it so many times. My blog isn’t really super personal, but I felt this was a story to be shared. I did not at all expect the response I got. Its still the post with the most views this year! It was lovely to know that readers, so used to to recipes, tutorials ect. Weren’t turned off by a little bit of my real life.

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And as far as blogging goes in 2016, I’ve planned a couple of posts, but really, my plan is to just work freely, writing up posts as and when inspiration strikes. One of my main goals though is to step up my photography game, I’m lucky enough to have been gifted a half decent camera, I’m better than I was last year, but I’ve still a long way to go and as a blog that really is very visual, its so important for me to try a little harder to get those crisp, bright, clear photographs.

Goodbye 2015, hello 2016.

Happy New year readers!

Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

 

Our Gingerbread house.

I wasn’t really planning on doing a post about this, but then I realised, there are SO many gingerbread house kits on the market, this time of year. It may actually be helpful if you want to do one but aren’t sure on where to buy from.

I read an article a few weeks ago, one of the national newspapers I think. Giving the run down on gingerbread house kits, where to buy, where not to buy. Anyway, the Lidl one received the best ratings and priced at only £4.49 it would hardly break the bank to have a go.

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As I said earlier I wasn’t actually planning on doing this post, so I have no photographs at all of the process, but its all pretty simple. In the box you’ll have 8 gingerbread pieces, 4 packets of sweets for decorating and 3 christmas icing figures (santa, a snowman and a christmas tree).

The only disappointment would be that you don’t get anything to make icing with, nothing at all (It does state it on the box, I just didn’t read it). Luckily, avid baker that I am I always have packets of icing sugar in. On the inside of the box is steps to follow, including the measurements needed to make up the perfect icing. 300g of icing sugar mixed with one egg white (All in all I made up two lots of this icing) This really does make the best icing to build up your house with. Other things to think about buying extra is sweets. I bought a bag of giant white buttons for the roof, mini marshmallows for the smoking chimney and candy canes… just because… its a gingerbread house.

The actual building of the house is simple. Follow the steps on the inside of the box, securing the gingerbread with cocktail sticks. The icing only takes about ten minutes to dry, giving you time to set up the sweets.

Izzy was supposed to be a part of the gingerbread house decorating,  I told her she couldn’t eat all the sweets, cue tantrum, followed by her falling asleep. So Mischa and I did it all on our own. Its certainly fiddly, trying to get all those little sweets stuck down, and I think if I did it again, i’d ice the decorations on the front of the house, prior to sticking it all together, its not the easiest position to draw. But overall its a lovely kit, simple instructions an something fab to do with the kids during the christmas period. Now I know just how easy it is, I’m planning on making something much more elaborate next year.

 

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Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

Rocky road Christmas pudding.

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On monday I put up my rather elaborate Christmas day food plan. On the dessert table menu was a rocky road christmas pudding. I make this ever year, out of the 6-8 people (not including the children) only two of those like actual christmas pudding. For the rest of us there’s this. Its a great alternative, really easy to make and you can prepare it well in advanced, so ideal if like me your Christmas day meal plan is pretty jam packed with to do’s.

So, heres what you’ll need:

  • large pudding bowl
  • 400g milk chocolate
  • Large share bag of Maltesers
  • 70g mini marshmallows
  • 8 plain digestive biscuits
  • 50g white chocolate
  • * Optional* bristle of holly to garnish, I’ve made some up with icing, seen as this particular one is going to Izzy’s nursery for their Christmas party.

The great thing about this is that you can literally throw anything in, nuts, dried fruit ect. I’ve kept this one simple, again because this is going to a nursery class & i’m not sure if any of the kids have nut allergies.

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And here’s what you’ll need to do:

First, melt your chocolate in a large bowl, usually I melt my chocolate in the microwave, but because I need a large bowl for this I melt it on the hob, placing the bowl over a pan of boiling water.

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Once your chocolate is melted, pour in your maltasers, marshmallows and broken digestives. giving it a good thorough mix.

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Next line your pudding bowl with cling film and pour your rocky road mix into the pudding bowl.

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You need your mix to be pressed right in, you can do this using the back of a spoon. Pull the left over cling film over the top of your rocky road pudding and place in the fridge to set (this needs to be chilled overnight, so it really does need doing the night before.)

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About twenty minutes before you plan on serving your rocky road pudding, pop it out of the pudding bowl and peel off the cling film.

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Melt down your white chocolate and using a spoon pour over the top of your pudding, pop it back in the fridge for ten minutes.

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Once your white chocolate has chilled a little bit, finish with a festive spring of holly and serve.

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The perfect Christmas pudding for those that don’t like traditional Christmas puddings.

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Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

Hosting Christmas day.

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When we lived out of the country, our Christmas’s were quiet, too quite. I yearned for a full house, tables of food, family all around. I’m a hostess, any major holiday and I’m on it, I live for these things. So this christmas, just like the last two, we’re hosting christmas dinner at our house. Its a bit smaller this year only having 6 adults and two children. But like always I will go completely over the top. Its not christmas without enough food to feed a small army is it?!

So every year, around about two weeks before Christmas I get out my notepad and jot down the menu for the day, then I write down my christmas food shopping list, aswell as timing for food to be prepared and cooked on the day. It makes it so much easier when I know what I need to be doing and when, it also means I can spend as much time enjoying the festivities with everyone else.

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I thought I’d share my menu and prep list so if your hosting christmas this year, maybe for the first time and have no idea how you’ll organise everything, it might make it just that little bit easier.

So first up, here’s my menu.

 

Christmas dinner:

Roast turkey

Roast potatoes

yorkshire puddings,

sausage meat stuffing

roasted carrots & parsnips

steamed broccoli

brussel sprouts

Turkey gravy

 

Dessert table:

Millionaires shortcake

Rocky road christmas pudding

real christmas pudding with clotted cream

boston cream cupcakes.

I’m a dessert lover (just incase you didn’t get that from the list above) and every year I like to fill the table with an array of desserts once dinner has been cleared up. I always end up with loads left over, but then i’ll do my rounds to the neighbours, passing over left over treats. Also I know there are NO fruit based desserts on this menu, again I’ve learnt from years passed, they barely get touched, we’re a family of chocolate lovers.

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Now i’ve decided on my menu, its time to plan and write down my list of timings for both the prep and the cooking. I’ve learnt  that if I dont plan correctly or over pack my menu I will be in the kitchen for days before (Christmas 2013 I was in the kitchen for 2 days prior and pretty much all of christmas day)

So starting with the earliest. Things that can be prepared well in advanced.

The morning of Christmas eve:

  • Make the Rocky road christmas pudding and leave in the fridge to set (I’ll have a recipe for this up on the blog on Weds)
  • Make the shortbread & caramel part of the millionaires shortbread. (leave on the side, covered)
  • Make the cupcakes & creme pattiseier for the boston cream cupcakes (leave the cupcakes to cool, cover the crem pat & chill in the fridge)

I always make sure i’m completely free from at least 4-7pm on Christmas eve, this is our family time, Once the kids are tucked up in bed I’ll finish food prep before setting up the living room for christmas day morning.

Christmas eve evening:

  • Add the chocolate topping to the millionaires shortbread. (cover and set aside)
  • Peel the potatoes (pop them in a water filled bowl or tupperware dish and leave in the fridge until needed)
  • prepare the sausage meat stuffing. (Set in a loaf tin, cover with foil and pop in the fridge)
  • Prepare the turkey. (again cover with foil and put it into the fridge)

Christmas Day:

9am – Put the turkey in the oven.

12pm – Prep the carrots and parsnips (place in a baking tray & set aside), prep the broccoli and put in a pan, same with the brussel sprouts.

1pm – Make up the yorkshire pudding batter (leave in the fridge until needed)

1:15 – combine the cupcakes  & creme pat (set aside for choclate topping later)

1:30 – part boil the potatoes.

1:50 – put the potatoes in the oven to roast.

2pm – Put the carrots & parnips in to roast

2:15 – Put the stuffing in the oven.

2:20 – Put the oiled yorkshire pudding tray in the oven.

2:30 – Pop the yorkshire puddings mixture in the tray and back in the oven.

2:35 – Brussel sprouts on to boil

2:45 – Broccoli on, Take out the turkey ( set on the serving platter, cover with foil)

2:50 – Gravy!

3pm – DINNER TIME! ( The Turkey, stuffing, gravy & yorkshire puddings are set on the table, everything else is pre plated up, my table isnt big enough for a serve yourself style dinner)

4pm- After dinner is finished and the table cleared, prepare the dessert table. Cover the rocky road christmas pudding with melted white chocoate & top the boston cream cupcakes with melted milk chocolate. Invite everyone in for the traditional lighting of the normal christmas pudding before helping themselves to everything else.

4:30pm – Grab three bottles of wine & lock myself in the bathroom for the rest of the evening. Ha. Just kidding, but with everyone fed, I’ll sit, I’ll drink, I’ll congratulate myself on another successfull Christmas dinner and enjoy the festivities with everyone else.

*Quick note, I have a double oven, this makes it so much easier to have everything in. If you’ve got a single oven, you’ll have to do some juggling.*

Hosting Christmas dinner is not for the faint hearted. Of course you can cut out a ton of those steps by buying pre-made desserts & frozen potatoes, yorkshire puddings ect. But Its christmas, its only one day of the year and if your like me this beautiful day of food, family and festivities only deserves the best.

So deep breaths, get your lists made up and remember YOU CAN DO THIS!

Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

The worlds BEST hot chocolate.

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I’m going to confess something rather shocking… I dont like Hot chocolate. *Gasp* I just dont, I dont like chocolate ice cream, chocolate cake or chocolate milkshake either, give me an actual bar of chocolate though and i’m happy as larry. Wierd eh. You’re probably wondering why as someone that doesnt like hot chocolate am I posting a recipe for it? Well, its a regular demand in my household on any cold winters night and I have it on very good authority that this hot chocolate is the absolute best my three taste testers have ever had. This isn’t an instant, just add water hot chocolate. It does take a little effort, but for a special occasion, say Christmas eve.. this is the one to make!

So here’s what you’ll need:

– 30g butter
– 20g cornflour
– 450ml  whole fat milk, plus a little extra (Blue top)
– 50g sugar
– 90g milk chocolate chips
– 90g  dark chocolate chips
– Whipped cream *Optional*
– Mini marshmallows *Optional*
These quantities make 2-4 servings, depending on mug size. Feel free to double up, its worse to run out than it is to have too much & any left overs can be kept in the fridge for a few days and reheated (once only).

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And here’s what you’ll need to do:

First you need to melt the butter in a saucepan, once melted whisk in the cornflour to make a clumpy paste – I know that sounds revolting, but bare with me!

Next, pop your sugar in with your milk, give it a little stir before very slowly pouring a little into your saucepan at a time.  This is really important, little in & stir, little more then stir. Continue until you’ve used all your milk/sugar & your milky mixture is lump free.

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When the mixture starts to thicken, take your pan off the hob and add all of your chocolate chips. Stir continuously until all of the chocolate chips have melted.

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This bit is completely optional, Add about 50ml of milk & stir, before pouring into your mug of choice. I add the last bit of milk at the end because it cools the rather hot chocolate mixture a little bit, children aren’t really programmed to wait, especially not for melted chocolate in a mug. The quicker its cooled to drinking tempeture the better.

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Lastly (and this is completely optional) top with cream, marshmallows, any left over chocolate chips and serve!

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Enjoy.

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Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

Ten minute Christmas stocking.

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Christmas is in full swing! Right now the majority of the country has fairy lights twinkling and bauble adorned trees. Its all so beautiful. One thing that always gets forgotten about is the stocking, I’ve been using the same cheap ones I picked up from a mall in Cyprus (over six years ago!) This year, I thought it was about time they got an upgrade. And knowing i’m not alone in the abandonment of stockings I’ve made up a really quick tutorial to show you just how easy it is to make one.

So here’s what you’ll need.

  • Fabric, two lots, i’ve gone with a traditional navy/green tartan for the main stocking with some left over fur from my fur collar tutorial for the trim.
  • Fabric scissors
  • Dressmakers pins
  • small piece of ribbon, lace, anything you want to use as a loop to hang your stocking.
  • An old stocking to trace round * Optional*

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And here’s what you’ll need to do.

So first up, you’ll need a template. To make this I literally just drew around an old stocking I had in. if you don’t have an old stocking, you can just wing it, its basically a massive sock, not really an awkward shape to draw. You’ll need to leave about 1/2 inch around your stocking, this is your seam allowance, if you don’t your stocking will be much smaller than you wanted it.

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So now, you have your pattern, you want to cut it out and pin it to your fabric, you’ll ned two pieces, REMEMBER you want fabric on the front sides of both, i’m okay because my fabric has a double sided pattern. If yours is only one sided, fold your fabric in half pattern side on the inside and cut away.

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Now simply place your fabrics, pattern sides together and pin.

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Sew all the way around leaving the top open.

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And turn your stocking the right way out. You’ll notice it isn’t looking that crisp, this is easily rectified by running the iron over it, use a pencil or a trustily chopstick to turn all the curved corners out and give a quick once over. It’ll look miles better.

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Now place your (trim) fabrics together (pattern side down again.) and sew down either side. My trim is 17″ wide and 8 1/2″ high. I wanted a really chunky fur trim though, so feel free to adjust to your tastes.

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Keeping your trim inside out, pop your stocking inside. Its vital at this point that they are exactly the same size. Once snug, pin the top of your trim to your stocking fabric.

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Sew the two together and  turn your trim over.

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Next its time to attach whatever you’re using as a loop, you can’t hang your stocking without it. I’ve gone for a grey polka ribbon. Simply fold over your looped ribbon.

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You’ll need to pin it on the seam of the trim, before sewing securely. Do your backstitch, sew across, then backstitch again going back to where you first started. Repeat that step a few times. This will make it extra strong.

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Thats it!  Your handmade stocking is ready to hang and fill with goodies.

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Robyn,

The little woman pretends.