Category Archives: Christmas

Epiphany and 2018 Resolutions

Nope, not “epiphany” but “Epiphany”. So (sadly) I have not had either a major breakthrough nor a dramatic insight. However it *is* the time when we (us Christian-folks) stop celebrating the birth of Jesus and on the date (ahem, cough cough) that the 3 Kings came and acknowledged Baby Jesus in person, we start recognizing Jesus as The Son of God, and so appreciate all His sacrifice for our salvation.

In other words, we stop partying and start praying.

AKA: We gotta take those Christmas decorations down (sob).

emma bridgewater hollywreath christmas star christmas rose

Good bye Christmas Emma Bridgewater….

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Hello everyday Emma!

In fact, US-peeps may not know that for us UK-folks, Epiphany (or 12th night) is often considered the date by which all our Christmas decorations must be down or WE SHALL BE FOREVER CURSED. Or at least, if not exactly forever cursed, we will have bad luck for the year… and weirdly, for a repressed group of folks such as us Brits, we do often adhere to this superstition. Feeling like I have had enough “bad luck” recently (thanks 2017), all my decorations are indeed down now (sob, again), although due to my slight tardiness I decided to adhere to something I read on a pottery board* this week (always a good place to get religious and / or metaphysical advice…) and chose midday on Epiphany as the final cut-point rather than the night before Epiphany. (And should anyone care to know, this involved me running outside in my PJs, glasses, and bedhead into freezing cold Houston at 11.45 am this morning and hastily taking down my outside decorations… nice mental image for you there).

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And a magnificent tree it was… much maligned by our naughty elf indeed

If, like me, you don’t really recognize NYE due to all the post Christmas booze and cheese muddling your brain a healthy recognition that progress should be a constant process free from the constraints of artificial checkpoints, Epiphany is also a time when it is hard to avoid looking back. And let’s face it, 2017 sucked for me. Like, here is a real, actual screenshot of Webster’s Dictionary:

A really, bad, awful year:

noun   a.real.ly.bad.aw.ful.year   /Lekki in 2017/

  1. The year you nearly destroy your hard-won career trying to save your marriage only to find out your husband probably never liked being married to you, lied to you for 3 years about his earnings, stole $4K of tax money from the family, committed identify theft in your name, officially accused you of domestic abuse in a document to court, officially accused you of child abuse in a document to court, lied in court, smuggled drugs into Texas to sell using a credit card in your name, requested the court keep you from seeing your kids at all for two years, requested the court evaluate you for “the mental defect that makes you so abusive” and – possibly worst of all – spent the last 6 months you were together (and trying to save your marriage remember) setting you up and both secretly and not so secretly filming you to document you as violent and abusive so he could ensure when he left you, he got the house, child support and alimony. All while you were still in love with the guy who, OK, was a pot head and lazy, but was funny and laid back and good at things you are not (like building fences) and was, after all, your husband.

And the illustrated version has a picture of my “2017 best 9” from Instagram. Its an awfully specific definition, but I swear it’s there. And, I’m not saying this actually happened to me (denial is more than just a river in Egypt my friends), I am just saying this that would be a really, really bad year. And that I had a really, really bad year.

However, what amazes me is that the kids and I had the most amazingly, perfect advent season! (And I swear this is not the anti depressants talking!). We managed to hone our weekends to be busy, but fun, with lots of kiddo-mummy time, and we managed to check every Christmas box that either I, or they, felt needed to be checked…

And we did have a gloriously perfect, drunken (me), magical (them), spoiled (all of us) batsh*t crazy (also all of us), Christmas Day.

Such that, (and I swear this isn’t the barbital talking) when someone asked me what my 2018 resolutions were, despite thinking super hard, I couldn’t come up with anything I would change (nothing I have the power to reasonably change anyway…). I think I have figured out our finances, I have figured out how have some luxuries on a shoestring and stash a little away, how to have amazing weekends with the kids, how to stay on top of all those life things like car repairs and tax returns and changing air filters and de-fleaing the dogs… the house is kept clean (passably), and I cook a variety of healthy foods most nights (but we also visit Mickey D’s a fair bit because… academia people).

[Also, in the interests of honesty, the kids don’t actually eat those foods, but throw a chicken dinosaur or two in front of them and be quick or you’ll draw back a nub… but hey, I’m eating like a queen… Witness a wee sample of the beautiful meals my children have refused to eat

]

For now, I actually do just want to be able to keep doing what I am doing for a while… and there is nothing I want to improve…

In the end I came up with “seeing a new movie, and trying a new food” each month for my resolutions. Maybe I’ll do that… I don’t care if I don’t, but maybe I will 🙂

Happy 2018.

*Ummm… yes I did just admit to hanging out on pottery boards.

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Linzer cookies – ish

Linzer cookies jam sandwich cookies shortbread

Last week we took reindeer cupcakes to say thank you to my OB team. Yesterday we took Linzer cookies (ish) to my pre-labour / labour team at Texas Children’s Hospital (something I hope to make a yearly event). Sadly our lovely nurses, who were universally awesome – Naval, Tracie and Heej – were not there, but we left them in the nurses’ station. I hope they get them before they go stale!

This is probably not a true Linzer cookie, as it is just shortbread sandwiched with jam. But hey… these are very cute to make. Here is my recipe:

2 cups butter
1.5 cups sugar (I used granulated; superfine / caster would be better)
2 egg yolks
4 tsp vanilla essence
4 cups of flour
pinch salt

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egg white
extra sugar
raspberry jam

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Preheat oven to 375

Like all my baking recipes, I threw all the top ingredients into my Kitchenaid. You could use an electric mixer, or – gasp – do it by hand (

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Bake for 5 mins. Brush tops with egg white and sprinkle with sugar.

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Bake for another 5-8 mins. WATCH CLOSELY and remove at the first sign o browning. Put blobs of jam on the bases only. Let cool (This is KEY). Then smush the jam around the bases and sandwich a top ontop.

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Serve the deliciousness, or display as a present.

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Yum. We managed to only keep 2 for ourselves 🙂 Done with these cutters, they may be cute for a baby shower too.

Reindeer cupcakes

reindeer cupcakes

Merry Christmas… just 5 more days to go. While I am super excited, I must confess, my Christmas crafts did not go as plentifully as planned. I blame two things:

(1) Sam.

Cute, but time consuming

Cute, but time consuming

(2) Liars in Kroger who tell my husband that you can’t get superfine sugar in the US (wtf? Superfine is the US term! In the UK we call is caster sugar…) nor can you get ground almonds (again: wtf? The country of paleo eating and the birth place of Atkins does indeed have ground almonds / almond meal / almond flour). Eegits have put a halt to my Christmas baking.

So… since I last blogged about my tree and wreath, all I have really managed is some paper chains around the banisters:

paper chains Christmas decoration

The stockings being hung (not even on a mantelpiece… oh dearie me):

Can you guess which one is Sam's?

Can you guess which one is Sam’s?

A party involving mulled wine and mince pies,

And some reindeer cupcakes.

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The decorations were cobbled together from several ideas on the internet, but I basically put chocolate frosting (icing) on some cupcakes and added:

Muzzle: vanilla wafer
Nose: mini chocolate chip / mini morsel
Eyes: Sugar eyes from Target
Antlers: mini pretzels snapped in half.

Easy peasy and very festive.

Oh, and don’t forget to ask your husband to buy an ENORMOUS bag of mini M&M’s so you can extract just one red one for:

Don't forget Rudolph

Don’t forget Rudolph

LOVE Christmas baking. These went to our OB’s office. I may do some more this weekend to give to Texas Children’s Hospital 🙂

Happy Advent! The First Christmas Craft of the Season

Happy Advent

Happy Advent

Happy Advent 🙂 OK, this is more than a little belated, but now I have wrangled young Samuel into a routine (<—- I owe you a post on this) that involves proper naps during the day, and thus also happy awake times, I actually have some time to blog (at least until grant writing makes me crazy again). I still have to put up the Thanksgiving pictures. Oh well.

This year I have actually got my butt into gear and done Christmas properly. I am not sure why this year I managed it… perhaps ‘missing’ three Christmases by letting advent go un-noticed finally tipped me. Or maybe it is because now I have a house I love and am proud of. Or because there is so much going on juggling work and a newborn and a marriage that I have started to become a ‘planner’. Who knows? Anyone else find this? Hyper organized when a little one came along?

Anyway, We got a tree nice and early which Sam got to help decorate:

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Every year, Wes I buy each other an ornament.

Wes to me 2011:

'Our first Christmas 2011' ornament

‘Our first Christmas 2011’ ornament

Me to Wes 2011:

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And me to Wes 2012:

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And this year I got brave and made a bauble:

Handmade by Lekki

Handmade by Lekki

See? My crafting isn’t always just gluing bits of pre-cut wood together 😉

Then all the Christmas decorations came out:

Advent calendar

Advent calendar

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Including the all-time favourite (from many moons ago)

Old friends

Old friends

 

I got organised and actually wrote Christmas cards (We tried to make a family Christmas card… but failed [attempts at the top and bottom of this card], so people got a photo of Sam in the hospital instead [better luck next year…])

But I did a Christmas wreath using:

  • A Styrofoam wreath form
  • Felt
  • Small cardboard boxes
  • Spray paint
  • Hot glue
  • ribbon
  • baubles
  • Foam
  • Scissors

Step 1: Cover the wreath form in felt squares

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Step 2: Spray paint your cardboard boxes:

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Step 3: Decorate your painted boxes:

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Step 4: Glue decorated boxes to the felt, and fill in the gaps using baubles and stars cut free-hand from the foam

Homemade Christmas wreath

Voila. A cute decoration, and easy for kids to do too.

Happy Advent y’all:

Sam's Thanksgiving / Christmas outfit.

Sam’s Thanksgiving / Christmas outfit.