So how is your Christmas planning coming along? Are you nearly there – or nearly at your wits end? ;o) In case you didn’t know…I’m following the Flylady and her Cruising Through the Holidays missions. To ensure that I’m ready, rested and ‘raring to go’ come 1 December!
Last week I told you that I have finished the Xmas card envelopes: addressing them, stamps, stickers and so on. On Friday we, at long last, received the school photos of the kids so I was able to order the actual cards – hooray! I ordered them online and hopefully they’ll be here by the end of the week. Cross your fingers!
I’ve now got most of the Christmas gift shopping done. Only the ‘big’ electronic things left to buy. The kids have also made quite a few gifts. Here’s DS12 at the sewing machine, making a ‘draught excluder snake’ toy for his little toddler cousin…
DS12 has a ‘Sewing Machine Driving Licence’ from school! 😀
I’ve also got the ingredients for making peppermint creams, coconut ice and chocolate pistachio fudge, but we won’t be making those until December.
Ingredients for making yummy sweets…
This week I’ve got a few more goals. To make our Family Christmas Advent Calendar – a day by day list of Xmas activities. To put up the Christmas fairy lights in the garden. And to make a final push of gift buying. The first of December is approaching rapidly – time to pull out all the stops!
Hope my Dad and Brother will enjoy this year’s Beer Advent Calendar! 😀
Have a marvelous Monday – check back next week to see if we made it to the Finish Line!
I set myself a mission last week to declutte my Xmas linens and decorations. Thirty minutes later I had a whole bag of rubbish – things that had lost their Christmas sparkle or we’re broken (like a hairband with reindeer antlers, one of which had snapped in half!). I even took a deep breath and threw away some of the kids’ homemade decorations. Don’t worry – I’ve still got plenty left! ;o) During the declutter session I also found lots of containers that we can use for our homemade gifts. Yay, no need to buy any more – money saved!
I also ended up with a large pile of decorations, tablecloths and serviettes that we can use in our SwedishSummerhouseByTheSea. And last, but not least, there were two large bags for charity. DS12 and I delivered them to the charity shop on Saturday morning and – before we could even get out the door – the ladies were “oohing” and “aaahing” over our ‘treasures’ and started decorating the shop! A great ‘feel good’ moment…
Our local charity shop…now complete with inflatable plastic Xmas trees and Santas!
The envelopes for the Christmas cards are addressed (have been doing 5 a day –Flyladyorders!) and DD10 is going to put the stamps/charity stamps on them this week. I still haven’t ordered the photo Christmas cards yet…not because I haven’t had time but because we’re still waiting for the school photographer to send us the latest snaps of the kids… Aaaargh! ;D
I forgot to mention last week that one of the key points in Christmas Planning (and generally in the Flylady system) is to pace yourself. And be nice to yourself. So, whenever you get overwhelmed or don’t know which job to start next, you have to take a break. With “a cup of something warm and wonderful”. Fifteen minutes later and we are ready for action! 😀
Time for a cuppa!
And what do I need to concentrate on this week? Gifts! Buying. And helping the kids to make them. Oh well, at least all the gifts we already have are wrapped and tagged. Go us!Check back next Monday when we are into the final run!
I’m about halfway through gift buying and have set up a little ‘gift wrapping station’ on a table in the basement. And every time I begin to say to myself “Oh, I can wrap that later when I have more time/more energy”, I swiftly kick my self in the behind, sit down and wrap the ru**y thing… Do. It. Now! ;D
We spent the weekend at our SwedishSummerhouseByTheSea and when I was at the supermarket I found some food goodies to give away (not pictured…they will be a surprise for the recipients!) and to keep in store for baking with the kids. Readymade pepparkaksdeg ‘gingerbread dough’ and DIY gingerbread house kits. Should be fun in December!
I’m making a concerted effort to be more consistent with the Flylady’s Flightplan (daily cleaning missions). Thanks to following the system for the past six years, the house is generally in okay shape, so most only actually take 5 minutes in the morning once I send the kids off on their bikes to school. But this week I’ve also chosen to declutter our Christmas linens and the three boxes of Christmas ornaments, decorations, candles, etc. A few things will go to our SwedishSummerhouseByTheSea and the rest will go to the charity shop… :o)
Check back again next week to see how I get on! Have a marvelous Monday!
Are you a flybaby? Someone whose house and – more importantly – head has been saved by the Flylady? I am! And I love, love, love her Cruising through the Holidays system! Basically she helps us to get all the prep done now – in October and November – so that by the 1st of December we are ready and relaxed to actually enjoy Christmas. Not be stressed out by it….
I’ve posted my Christmas planning here on the blog for the last two years. Here we go for Christmas 2013!
The Danish Post Office has just delivered the stamps I ordered online. And I’ve been through my Christmas card list and made a few changes for this year (going to hand deliver more cards because postage costs an arm and a leg here!).
Love the Winterbathing Viking stamps!
I’ve also checked my Christmas gift list. Lots of people (again, again…), but I already have a good idea of what needs bought or made. I’ve placed a few orders online (including pressies for myself from the kids, ha ha!) and what I’ve already bought is wrapped and ready to go!
What to buy for toddlers? Anything that comes in a huge box! :o)
On the social side of things, I’ve planned a Christmas lunch with mywinterbathing buddies, am looking into tickets for a Christmas jazz concert and have booked an appointment at the hairdressers for a trim in the month of December.
On the food and drink side of things, I’ve started buying a few extra items when I do my weekly shop. And have already planned our meals for the week when my family from Scotland will be here with us (7 mouths to feed instead of 4).
So that’s the story so far. Have a marvelous Monday and don’t forget to check back next week!
I feel a bit silly calling this post Christmas “planning” like all the others because – thanks to the Flylady – all my prep for Crimbo is actually done! Ha! Our greetings cards were posted on 30 November. (Almost) all the presents are bought and wrapped (or ordered online). And…we’ve all just had haircuts! ;D
We lit the third advent candle on Sunday 🙂
So – instead of telling you all that I’ve done or need to do – I thought I’d let you have a peek into what I’ve been able to enjoy since the 1st of December!
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Put together some cookie dough…baked one portion and put three logs in the freezer, which I can pull out/slice/bake when we have friends over 🙂
Ingredients for cranberry and pistachio shortbread in the mixer
Been to Tivoli with the ‘girls’ for drinks and a pantomime…
Sorry for the blurred image…too many glasses of wine drops of rain on the lens
Made sweets with the kids…
These are some of the ‘healthy’ ones: dried figs/orange juice/cocoa powder/coconut
My friend H and I went to an exhibition of Danish Christmas decorations by Jette Frölich (and had gløgg and æbleskiver in the café afterwards)
Nice! And especially nice to be able to enjoy it all without rushing around and getting stressed. This week it’s full swing over at school where we’ll be partaking in the Lucia Procession/Concert, Xmas Bingo, Breakfast and Decoration-making with DD9’s class…
I shall play an Xmas tune on the old joanna while the kids decorate the boughs… ;D
18. Gløgg (mulled wine) and æbleskiver (Danish Christmas donuts) with friends
19. Take in teacher gifts
20. Last day of school – hooray!
21. Watch a Christmas film
22. Double check the gift lists – is everything wrapped and ready?
23.A walk in the park – perhaps complete with some snow?
24. The girls are going to a show, the boys are going to a football match
25. Merry Christmas to one and all!
And don’t forget to give yourself the best Christmas present of all… the gift of Flylady! She will not only help you to get your house in order – she’ll also help to sort out your head! ;D And will remind you to pamper yourself every day: a hot bath, read a chapter of a book before you turn out the lights, make yourself a nice coffee or hot chocolate, phone a friend, listen to your favourite music and turn up the stereo to 11! Anything that will put a smile on your face and recharge your batteries… 😀
We’re getting into the final stretch! The Flylady has started sending out the final ‘super’ missions for getting ready for Christmas, and I’m actually feeling very much in control. Which is just as well, as we had some excitement yesterday afternoon when DH fell down a very long flight of concrete stairs at the station (we were at home, wondering where on earth he had got to) which required an ambulance ride and 10+ stitches on the top/back of his head. They kept him in overnight (because of concussion) but is now safe back at home where we can keep an eye on him… 😛
Anyway, apart from the ‘head injury excitement’ we lit our first advent candle at breakfast yesterday morning and DD9 and DS11 got their advent presents (Dress Up Your Own Paper Pups and Lego Crazy Action Contraptions from the ‘Klutz Chicken Socks’ series which I found on amazon). So that kept the kids busy all morning 🙂
Last week my goals were to clean out the freezer, hang lights in the garden and finish the Christmas cards…hmm.
Well, the freezer is looking much more respectable. Okay, so I didn’t actually defrost it, but I did throw out lots of old bread etc, so there is more space for the new stuff coming in. Plus I can actually see what I already have in there – bonus! 🙂
I had planned to hang up fairy lights in the garden on Saturday afternoon but we had a storm warning for the whole of Denmark for Sunday afternoon/evening, so I decided to wait until it had blown over. So I went out this morning (Monday) to clear up the debris/move the garden furniture back into position/lift up the bikes which had been knocked over and then I quickly put up the lights. 30 minutes and that project was done! There are quite a few light bulbs which have blown but I decided not to notice and will replace those next year… ;D
We haven’t started playing any Christmas music just yet – Thursday 1st December will be quite soon enough – but I do have one CD that I’ve lovedfor years and years which is always, always first on the turntable (and playing in the background when I bake my Christmas cake in October). Ella (Fitzgerald) Wishes You a Swinging Christmas. Here’s one of my favourite tracks…cue the snowflakes!
And Candace introduced me to this little pearl last year… Yes, yes, we all love Billy Idol. But Billy singing Christmas songs? Surreal. Scary. But oddly addictive! ;D
Check back next Monday for more Christmas planning. When my Christmas cards will (hopefully) be posted, baking will have started and we shall all be parading around wearing Santa hats or reindeer antler hairbands…
How are you doing with your Christmas planning? Haven’t started yet?! Never fear, you can go check out the Flylady’s website for a complete run down of what you need to ‘cruise’ through Christmas.
My goals last week were to get the Crimbo cards started and finish off the gift shopping. Happy to say that the (circa 40) cards are well and truly started and DD9 is having a ball playing ‘post office’: sticking on the stamps, ‘second-class post’ stickers and charity stickers.
I’m still working on the gifts – ho, hum – but at least everything that we’ve bought/made so far is wrapped and hidden. And talking of gifts, the kids have been decluttering their rooms (5 mins at a time) in order to make way for the Christmas pressies that will be coming in. DS11 decluttered his shelves and ended up with two full bags of games and books. DD9 has a huge collection of dogs but was able to part with a whole bag of them. Here she is saying ‘goodbye’ before they went off to the charity shop! ;D
In other news, DH did his once-a-year-stint in the kitchen on Saturday afternoon and baked…110 Danish Christmas donuts. Yum! We ate about 20 of them on Saturday night and the rest are bagged up and in the freezer – all ready to be enjoyed warm with hot gløgg in December.
DS11 also did a stint in the kitchen – helping me to make up Christmas snaps (recipe for that on the blog tomorrow). It needs to sit for about 40 days, so we’re right on schedule!
One of my goals for last week was to go through our boxes of Christmas decorations and weed out what we no longer use or love. It took me a bit longer than 15 minutes but I have to say it was fun!
I managed to fill a whole bag with decorations we no longer use (or like)
and gave it to the After School Club.
I’ve put all the Christmas serviettes together and can see that, um, we really don’t need to buy any more of those this year… ;D
Nor do we need to spend any money this year on red candles!
The shelf with all the Christmas linens (mostly inherited from DH’s family) is pretty neat and tidy. And I discovered lots of little tins that we can use if we’re giving homemade biscuits or chocolates as presents. Yay, more money saved! ;D
On the food front, I’m still buying a few extra goodies every week. And I fried 2 kilos of minced beef and put it into 4 freezer bags, all ready for the crockpot (chili con carne, spaghetti bolognese, taco filling or Cold Weather Hotpot).
Goals for next week? I really need to make a big push to get the last of the gifts sorted. I know what we want to give – we just need to make it, order it online or physically go and buy it from a shop. Simple, right? ;D
And I’d like to start on the Christmas cards. We usually send about 40 of them. DH and I made a lot of international friends in the days when we both worked at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, so most of our cards go to friends abroad and family. I’ll write about 5 of them every night while DD9 sticks on the stamps and labels (her favourite job). Which means I should really pop off and order my stamps online now…
Another Monday. Another round-up of Christmas planning! 🙂
I finally got the kids photos wrapped. With lots of help from DD9 (who also wrote out all the to/from stickers). I bought four different rolls of wrapping paper from Ikea but I have to admit that there was something rather pleasing about wrapping everything up in the same paper…
I also wrapped – this time away from little prying eyes – the kids’ advent gifts. In Denmark it’s traditional to give the kids a tiny present every day in December. I tried doing that for a couple of years and a) it was time consuming b) need I say stressful to find 24 different small gifts? c) expensive bien sûr and, d) the kids said “Wow!” when they opened their gift each morning, before promptly throwing said gift into a pile with all the others, before moving on to something else. So now we give them a present each Advent Sunday morning. And I’ve already bought and wrapped them – ha!
Advent Sunday pressies for the kids (in my kitsch but cute white heart basket)
The kids and I took a trip to our local Danish library yesterday and I got lots of inspirational books. [The librarian actually went into the storeroom and got the Christmas chariot of books out for me. They had it all ready to go but weren’t planning to put it out on display for another few days. She thought I was very organised! ;D ] I’m not planning to make oodles of decorations or bake biscuits and cakes en masse but it’s nice to get a few new ideas. And there’s nothing cosier than sitting reading these books – with a cup of hot tea and a blanket over your knees – while the weather outside continues to deteriorate 🙂
I set myself some Christmas planning goals last week and – eek! – I still haven’t firmed up our Christmas plans… So I’m hoping to get that done online tonight. Don’t want to find out that there’s no room at the Inn! ;D
And my goals for next week? Well, as the diary is filling up with Christmas lunches, concerts, bazars, etc, etc, I want to get the freezer filled up with easy eats. I’m thinking of making up a few lasagnes, my world-famous Danish meatloaf (Forloren Hare). And lots of cooked minced beef that I can pull from the freezer, pop into the crockpot and turn into bolognese (meat) sauce, chili con carne, taco filling or Beef in a Bowl (Oksekød i fad).
And if I have time at the weekend, I’m going to go through our Christmas decoration boxes. I’m sure there are a few things that can be decluttered (and that school would be happy to receive) and I know I already have lots of red candles/Christmas serviettes in there. (For some reason, I tend to go overboard buying those items.) Knowledge is power. And less money spent in the shops on stuff we already have… ;D
Check back next week for another round-up. In the meantime, have a marvelous Monday and check out the Flylady’s website for more Christmas planning! 🙂
One of my goals for this week was to get the kids’ school photos into frames and wrapped. So I went to Ikea – armed with a list, naturellement – and bought supplies. Here I am, ready to start…large clean table, scissors, tape, frames, photos…and music turned up to 11! ;D
Twenty minutes later and 18 photos are in frames. Though they aren’t wrapped in Christmas paper yet… Oh well, I’ll let the kids help with the actual wrapping – that’s the fun part 🙂 And just look at how much rubbish there was from the packaging and the trimmings from the photos – eek!
I also said last week that I would place the order for our online photo upload Christmas cards by today. Oops! Still not done! So, no more procrastinating, it’s top of my list for tomorrow morning…
But I have been a good girl and have already booked not only my next haircut (for this week) but also made an appointment for a haircut and highlights in December. Go (glamorous) me! ;D (And I’ve booked appointments for the kids too.)
I’ve also pencilled in other events in my diary: a Christmas shopping trip to Sweden, pantomime at the theatre, DH cooking Danish Christmas donuts, Lucia Procession at school, Christmas lunch with my girlfriends, Whew, I’m already feeling in the Christmas spirit! ;D
DD9 after the Lucia procession last year
And what else do I have on my to-do list for the coming week? Hmm. More gift buying and wrapping. Plus, as we’re visiting family for Christmas this year, I need to finalise those arrangements. And I also need to arrange holiday ‘accommodation’ for our two new ‘babies’! ;D
DS11’s dwarf hamster, “Hammy” 🙂
Check back here next Monday for another ‘countdown to Christmas’ update. Have a marvelous Monday! :)
Christmas is coming, Christmas is coming – my favourite time of year, woo hoo! And – just like last year – I’ll be posting my Christmas Planning progress week by week here on the blog. Nothing like writing it down in black and white to keep me accountable 🙂
Another quaint Danish tradition…
burning a candle at breakfast or dinner and watching the days counting down!
The Flylady has kick-started her Cruising through the Holiday Missions (small, daily missions that will get your house, your family and yourself ready by 1 December) and I’m following those and also using Flylady’s free Holiday Control Journal (a helpful planner with places for all your lists). I started using her Holiday Control Journal about four or five years ago and it has been a breeze to get organised. I just add to it every year and it’s fan-flippin-tastic to have everything in one place: Christmas card lists, gift lists, recipes we use at Christmas, Christmas songbooks.
Ciao! We’re baaaaaaack from a mini-week in Rome (it was the Danish schools’ autumn break) and – as is the tradition in our family – baked our Christmas cake yesterday – woo hoo! Yes, yes, it seems early but – hey – Christmas is just eight weeks away and this little baby needs to be fed every week with whisky…or similar (Christmas) spirits! ;D
I’m reposting the recipe from last year (and, if you’re interested, here are pictures of us in the kitchen back in 2010).
So check the list of ingredients, check your cupboards and get ready to go stir crazy…
450 g mincemeat from a jar (1 lb)
225 g wholemeal flour (8 oz)
3 level teaspoons baking powder
150 g dark brown sugar (5 oz)
150 g butter or margarine (5 oz)
175 g mixed dried fruit, chopped into small pieces (6 oz) [I use whatever I have handy – normally prunes, raisins, apricots, cranberries]
50 g walnuts (2 oz) [yuck, don’t like nuts in cakes, so I don’t use them 😉 ]
grated zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon [I don’t always bother]
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HERE ARE THE MIXING/BAKING INSTRUCTIONS
Put everything in a large bowl. Mix with an electric hand whisk if you have one because this mixture is pretty heavy. Get everyone in the family to stir it with a big wooden spoon (just for theatrical effect) and make a wish. Naf, I know, but that has become our little Danish/Scottish family’s tradition.
DD9 stirring and making a wish yesterday
Pour into a 20 cm (8 inch) round or square cake tin. Make sure the base and sides are lined with paper, because it’s going to be cooking for a looooong time.
Put into a preheated oven at gas mark 4, or 325 f. Or if you’re here in Europe, 170 c. Check it after 1½ hours. If it is firm and springy in the middle and doesn’t leave a mark when you press it, it’s done. Otherwise give it a bit longer (can take up to 2 hrs in all). Depends on your mincemeat, what fruit you’re using etc.
Leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes, then turn out and finish cooling on a wire rack. Don’t bother taking off the paper.
I then wrap mine in tinfoil, put it in a plastic box and feed it once a week (an integral part of my Flylady WHB each Monday morning up to Christmas).
Feeding it involves poking it several times with a skewer, then drizzling with a couple of tablespoons of Drambuie (Scottish whisky liqueur). Or cognac, Grand Marnier, brandy – whatever you happen to have to hand (can’t really be tasted in the final cake, mainly gives a richness to the fruit).
Just make sure that whatever you use is fairly alcoholic. Because the ‘proof’ of the cake is in the eating… boom boom!
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I gave it a stir. DH gave it a stir. DS11 gave it a good stir and finally we were able to put The Cake 2011 in the tin…
And here it is…all ready for the oven! And the CD in the picture? We listened to “Ella (Fitzgerald) Wishes You a Swinging Christmas” while we made the cake…two bars of that CD and I’m seeing snowflakes!
Don’t forget to check back here tomorrow, when I’ll be kicking off this year’s “Christmas Planning Countdown”…
Happy 1st of December! Time for advent calendars – and those crazy Danes can’t get enough of them! 🙂
Yes, of course, we have the homemade ones that the kids have made at school in art class. And the bought ones from the supermarket where you get a little chocolate every day. It’s a common Danish tradition for kids to receive a calendar (from their parents or grandparents) with 24 little gifts, one to open each day. The public Danish TV channels show a specially made Christmas series. In 24 instalments, lasting about 30 minutes. That’s a lot of television… ;D Not forgetting the ‘on-line’ calendars from shops, restaurants, insurance companies, hotels and travel agents with a daily chance to ‘win’ discounts, a free dinner, a holiday etc, etc, etc. And, of course, we also light an advent candle every morning – nice while we’re eating our brekkie while it is still pitch dark, cold and very frosty outside!
Last year, inspired by Krista at Typical-Ramblings, we made a Family Advent Calendar. Something ‘Christmassy’ for us to do, make or enjoy…you can read what we did last year right here.
Without further ado, here’s our Family Advent Calendar for 2010:
1. Bake Christmas biscuits
2. Finish putting up the Christmas lights outside (snow got in the way last weekend)
3. More decorating – inside the house
4. Local library has ‘craft Saturday’, so we’ll go and make some decorations
5. DH is ready for his once-a-year-in-the-kitchen-stint and will be making his famous “Danish Christmas donuts”. See the recipe and how he got on last year!
6. Watch a Christmas film and eat popcorn
7. Christmas lunch – in Sweden – with my running buddies! 😀
8. Christmas Bingo at DS10’s AfterSchoolClub
9. After today’s swimming lesson we’ll make Snowman soup! (Hot chocolate, marshmallows and lots of squirty cream…)
10. Check Christmas lists and check all gifts are wrapped
11. Make some edible goodies! Here’s a selection of what we made last year – cookies, marcipan sweets, add a few candy canes and – hey presto – fit for a Danish Queen!
12. Make up a large batch of sausage rolls to freeze and to eat! (my recipe is here)
13. DD8 is taking part in a St. Lucia procession
14. DD8 is playing an instrument (guitar) in a Christmas concert
15. Kids will decorate the Christmas cake which we made in October, recipe here. This is last year’s cake 🙂
16. Take in gifts to school (last day tomorrow) and read Christmas stories.
17. Last day of school. Yay! Granny and Grandad arrive from Scotland – double yay! 😀
18. Buy a fresh Christmas tree
19. Danish smørrebrød, Christmas øl (beer) and snaps for lunch
20. Evening trip to Tivoli Gardens
21. Museum trip or a long walk – we’ll need a change of air!
22. Grown ups are out to a Christmas jazz concert at Copenhagen Jazz House
23. Gløgg (mulled wine) and æbleskiver (Dad’s Christmas Danish Donuts, see 5 December)
24. Christmas Eve! Start off with a good breakfast (followed by a light lunch then traditional duck for dinner).
Hope you have a wonderful Wednesday! Let the festivities commence! 🙂
PS: Need a bit of help with your Christmas prep? The Flylady has it all in one place – click here for instant stress relief!
Today – if you haven’t noticed – is the very last day of November. Tomorrow the Mad Christmas Rush starts. For everyone else, that is! 😀 Thanks to the Flylady, I’m basically done with Christmas prep and looking forward to enjoying the lights, food and parties. I wrote the very last Christmas card after dinner tonight (ably assisted by DD8 who just loves sticking on stamps) and tomorrow we shall post them on our walk over to school. I didn’t really want to post them before the first of December and make anyone else feel behind! ;D
I found out last night that DS10 needed to take a dish for a brunch at school tomorrow (somebody forgot to tell the parents…oopsie!) and I even managed to spend a – very relaxed – hour baking pancakes today. (Next year remind me to use three frying pans…)
Seventy should be plenty, right? [Postscript: thanks to Anjeannette for asking for the pancake recipe. It’s on the blog, right here.]
Hope you have a terrific Tuesday and goodnight from me! 🙂