Friday, December 6, 2013

Online Advent Calender: 6th December: Presents, free charts and Giveaway!

Hi everyone and welcome to my day of the Advent calender organised by Jo at Seredipitous Stitching!

What a great event!  I am getting so christmassy reading each blog as their day comes up!  Are you all getting excited yet?  I sure am!

Christmas brings lots of family traditions which make us all feel warm and squidgy inside.

We start about a week before Christmas by watching the Polar Express and the Muppet Christmas Carol as we decorate the tree.

I am thrilled to say that apart from the tinsel, the odd ball and the glass Snowmen and dodgy toys my FIL insists on getting, every single decoration we put up has either been made by me or by my many blogging buddies!

I love hanging up the things I have made or the things that friends have made for me.  They are kindda special aren't they?

And of course Christmas brings some great food traditions which will all form part of the advent calender theme this year.

I am going to share a few of these with you and who knows, maybe the odd recipe!

I try to be healthy even at Christmas so we don't go mad with chocolates and sweets.  We still have some lovely jubblie things to eat.

Also, almost every single thing we eat is home-made, from scratch!  No packets filled with dodgy chemicals for me and my family...even if we could get there in rural Ireland which we probably wouldn't.

Last year we made gingerbread houses and that is a new tradition we will be continuing this year.  Because we use a solid fuel range which occassionally smokes, these houses are for show only.  I just can't bring myself to eat something which has been a table decoration for a week!  We also make cookies which are kept in a tin and are very safe to eat!

These were our first ones; not bad if I do say so!  We use this recipe!

Three to four days before Christmas I make the mince pies  with my own mincemeat which is gorgeous and may have the odd dash or ten of brandy included!

Two days before Christmas I make my own sausage meat using belly pork, homemade bread crumbs and spices.  I also make the sausage rolls now to eat on Christmas eve.  I refuse to cook meals for us on Christmas eve!  We eat them with salad and coleslaw and maybe baked potatoes.

On Christmas eve, my youngest son will make the cranberry sauce. He is very good at it and it is always a huge success.  The recipe in the link is one we use year in year out!

Christmas should be spent with loved ones, not stuck in the kitchen so all the menial tasks are done on Christmas Eve!.

The whole family  helps prepare the veggies which are left in water and will be cooked on Christmas day.  Bread crumbs are grated ready for the bread sauce which will be made in the morning and we all sit around the table doing our designated chores...with Muppet Christmas carol blaring in the background!

Christmas dinner will be turkey (or occasionally Goose) which has been farmed free range by a very good friend.  They are very free range...healthy turkeys have great flight abilities and we are often called up to help fetch them out of neighbouring fields where they are having a ball or to try and induce them back out of the trees!

The turkey is cooked on Christmas eve..  I always cook the turkey on Christmas eve.  I've too many bad memories of Christmas dinner being a highly stressful affair as my mother worried and got all tense wondering if the turkey would be cooked or be a bit raw in which case we would all die from food poisoning.  Needless to say, none of us died but we never had a relaxing Christmas day either!

Christmas eve evening is spent enjoying each others company and maybe having a feel of pressies under the tree! Santa brings one gift on Christmas Eve; he is kindda sneaky: he leaves it under the children's pillows so they can open it when they go to bed.

The reindeer used to be heard early on Christmas morning but I don't think they will stop by now my youngest son is 13 which is a shame.  Funny how reindeer sound like someone throwing small pebbles onto the roof of a house at 7 am..almost like a mum who is very excited and can't wait for her lazybone offspring to wake up!

So what do we eat on Christmas day? How does our day go?

We open our presents in the morning (apart from a few under the tree which are left until the evening and tend to be chocolates etc: Father Christmas is very clever and knows I will not be happy if appetites are ruined so he saves edible pressies for later in the day!).  

Then we have breakfast.  We have a proper coffee with croissants or pain au chocolate...mmmmmmm lovely. 

I then disappear into the kitchen to start the bread sauce: it is a secret recipe and sorry but I can't share it! It doesn't take long and it will sit there quite happily starting the lovely smells we associate with Christmas.

To go with the turkey there will be stuffing balls (which are handy at tea time to go in the turkey sandwiches), roast potatoes, roast carrots and roast parsnips.  I add a little honey and orange to the roasting carrots and parsnips to act as a glaze and often add home grown rosemary to the potatoes.

There has to be green veg or two: broccoli, maybe some beans: yorkshire puddings which are not strictly Christmas food but we all like them: bread sauce, cranberry sauce and home made pigs in blankets! (sausage meat with a bacon skin).  Maybe I will also make baked onions stuffed with thyme and butter and of course steamed leeks and brussel sprouts..which I love!

Add the home made gravy, the cranberry sauce and bread sauce and voila!

Dessert is christmas pudding which I set alight with brandy: this can be quite risky depending on how much wine I drank at the dinner.  I don't normally drink and never have more than two glasses but those two always seem to hit the spot!

And then we all relax and enjoy spending time together.

So, has this put you in the mood for Christmas yet?

I hope so.

Thank you Jo for organising this and thank you getting to the end of a very long post.  Ah but it isn't over yet!

Firstly, to apologise to my wonderful blogging friends who have helped me through some really tough times, I have a gift.  I have been so busy with my children coming and going and emigrating and of course dealing with the nitty gritty bits of starting a business that I must confess: I am going to be very late sending cards and didn't realise how close Christmas was.  So I decided to buy a gift I know you would appreciated.  It is a gift bought through Oxfam.  It is called Girl Power and it seemed appropriate.

You should be able to see what I bought you through this link.

I also have a free chart to give you: it matches my Season of Faith chart.  Click on it and save it to your computer where you can print it off.  If you struggle in anyway, email me and I will send it to you via pdf.

And what better post to announce my Christmas Giveaway?

Every year I have hosted a giveaway for Christmas: I have no idea at this point what will be in it but I promise it will be filled with crafting goodies. 

The  prize will be all things crafty.  Fabric, charts, threads, gadgets, and all sorts of stitchy goodness and I will peek into your blog and see what else you like to do and make the prize up accordingly once the winner has been drawn.  A nice big mystery box filled with all things wonderful.  Perfect when Christmas is over and we have the long wait for spring to come!  Something to make you smile at a time when the nights are long and the days are cold!

All you have to do is like my page and leave a comment...comment is essential!
It might be nice if you share the seasonal spirit and also mention my giveaway on your blog: it is the season to share after all so please, let others know.

I have been increasing my reading list and wish for it to continue!  I love reading your blogs and being inspired!

I will draw the winners on December 26th! 

Well, now I really am done.   Don't forget to check out the other days of the Advent Blog Calender!  Oooo I am feeling so Christmassy now!

Have a wonderful, peaceful, fun filled, healthy Christmas! 


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  2. Your fireplace and tree look amazing, all those stitchy things.. Wonderful.
    Thanks for the giveaway and the chart and all those tips and tricks for Christmas. xxx

  3. What a wonderful Christmas packed full of traditions. Feeling very Christmassy now :)

    I would love to enter you giveaway but have been really lucky with how many I have won recently so I won't although I am sure the winner will be VERY lucky!!

  4. Wonderful post. Thank you for sharing your traditions and stitching. Love the gift! I would love to enter your give away.

  5. I always love a nice long, christmassy post! Thank you for sharing so much of your day with us. Please count me in your giveaway, I will post about it on my blog on my next post (later today sometime) and in the sidebar of my blog as well. I already "Like" your FB page. Merry Xmas, Kaye

  6. What a sweet post!! Thank you for sharing your Christmas traditions ~ sounds perfectly simple and wonderful!! I am so overwhelmed by the "overdoneness" of so many ~ being that it is a leaner year for us! I am really looking forward to focusing more on the family time and not so much about what is, or isn't, under the tree. Blessings to you and your family!

  7. Season of Joy is wonderful. So are your children. =) And your traditions!

  8. First, thank you for the free chart that you posted!! I was needing another small quickie one to give to stitch for a friend!

    I have become a follower of you just now. I loved reading about your traditions!!!! And I just LOVE how beautiful your tree looks!!! This is a very special time of year!!!

    I would love to entered into your Christmas Giveaway!!!


  9. What a lovely post, thanks for sharing. Have a wonderful Christmas!

  10. A very lovely Christmassy post, sounds like a wonderful family time in your home.

    Thank you for the gift .. I wish Aasi well.

  11. It was so nice to read about your Christmas traditions! Thank you for the free chart and the chance to win a Christmas goodie box from you! I posted about your giveaway on my blog here:

  12. Thank you for sharing your christmas traditions - I am enjoying this years advent blog hop, even if it does make me hungry!

    Thank you for the free chart too, I have saved it although I am not sure when I will get round to stitching it!

    I would love to be included in your giveaway too please, I have added a link on my blog. x

  13. Gaynor, those are some wonderful Christmas traditions. The freebie is beautiful - I may stitch that for my Pastor and his family. That was also a nice 'gift' of girl power, thank you!

  14. I would also like to be entered in your giveaway, thank you for the opportunity!

  15. Christmas sure has jumped on me this year too! I am still trying to figure out what to buy my parents, they are always the hardest.
    I would love to be entered in your giveaway please, I am already a follower.
    Thanks for the opportunity.

  16. Please include me in your giveaway

  17. Thanks for sharing your Christmas traditions with us. I love hearing how other people spend their days!

    Please enter me into your giveaway. And I'm loving your Christmas SAL, though I didn't join up for it. Is the pattern still available?

    Merry Christmas!

  18. Your tree is lovely with all of the handmade ornaments. Thank you for sharing your pattern. Happy Holidays!

  19. How wonderful to put up all handmade decorations, everyone building love and memories. Thank you for sharing and lovely chart.
    I would like to be included in your Giveaway, thank you.
    Carol xx

  20. Please enter me for your giveaway . Thanks x

  21. What a lovely post and sooo generous of you. Please enter me into your giveaway. What fun. xx

  22. Thanks for the giveaway!I love your stitch designs.They're so cute.

  23. I am a follower now and found you thru your Victorian Christmas SAL!
    Please enter me in your giveaway and I have posted about it on the sidebar of my blog!
    Merry Christmas!

  24. Merry Christmas. I'll pass on the chance to win the giveaway. I don't want to stick you with postage to New York. I just had to tell you how much I enjoy your blog and your Victorian Christmas SAL.
    Thank you!

  25. Gaynor, wow, have been reading different posts, you are very talented in your designing! Loved the *drunken* trip to Dublin! Saw your comment about lighting... Google the Australian blog Red Brolly, she has some lighting tips for photography that you might want to try. Can't find an email for you?
    Thank you for the nice comment on my hop post, loved reading yours!

  26. What a wonderful post. I loved reading all about your traditions. I'm the same as you and prepare as much as I can on Christmas Eve rather than be stucm in the kitchen all Christmas Day.

    Thank you for the sweet freebie. It is beautiful.

    I would love to be entered into your giveawy please if I can. I haven't been reading your blog for very long and don't always comment.

  27. I would love to be entered. We all love gifts. Both giving and getting. Especially around Christmas time. I am surprised to see that there is already a pile under my Christmas tree. Unexpected (as there is only 3 of us this year). And we are only doing a present each, but we included the ones we are giving to the 2 people who cancelled the last minute... study and work. Speaking of sharing I mentioned your giveaway in my latest post.

    Your dinner sounds so delicious, and I think you should be disallowed from mentioning secret recipes and then not sharing them with us ... hehe ... I am going to cook duck (I think ... need to go and buy it first ... and if it is all sold out might go for mussels or stakes). The duck recipe is the one from Christmas with Gordon book. So must be Christmassy. I have done turkey last year for 5, but will be way too big for 3 (counting one is only 7). And I decided it was to gross having my hand with butter under its skin ... so need to recover properly before I will do it again. Maybe next year.

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