Christmas - where are we up to?

Cake: made, fed lovingly with brandy every week, but not yet marzipaned or iced.  I used to think I hated marzipan until I discovered that what I didn't like was very sweet, shop bought marzipan.  I love home made marzipan with lemon juice and ground almonds so need to get on and make some.

Pudding: made, sitting in the pantry, wrapped in the muslin it steamed in.

Turkey: ordered from the butcher to be picked up along with the gammon and the sausagemeat on Wednesday morning.  I need to remember that giving myself half an hour to do this will not work.  There will be conversations going on the butcher which is also a post office and a deli which will mean the whole operation will need double that amount of time.

Other meals: planned, sort of.  I have a rough list of things to cook which is waiting the arrival of the first of the returning adult children.  Son and daughter in law have offered to cook a meal or two over the next few days so they may have a look at the ingredients in freezer and pantry and have ideas of their own.

Cards: some written, some done by Ian, we have now hit the stage where all the distant people are done and others may or may not happen, depending on what else is to do and what comes through the door.

Tree: delivered by a kind friend and outside, leaning against the never used front door of the farmhouse.  I am hoping Ian and son between them will install it inside and that we can decorate it tomorrow so that it will be hung with all our ancient and rather tatty ornaments when daughter, son in law and the baby arrive on Monday.  There was a year when they were all teenagers when I tried to have a more glamourous and minimalist tree.  I went out and bought some rather beautiful silver decorations and banned the tinsel.  It was a total waste of time.  There was outcry.  Each of them began smuggling something else on: the wonky robin, the drunken knitted snowman, the toilet roll cylinder covered in shiny paper made when one was about four.  I admitted defeat.  Sentiment and excess rule.

Decorating the house:  Let us see tomorrow what is growing out in the field.  I know that hellebore foetidus  is out in the garden and some viburnum bodnantense is beginning to come into flower, far too early.  They might make the centre of a table decoration for Christmas Day.  Otherwise there is holly in the hedges and ivy growing all over the bank behind the house so we will have that and nothing else in the house I think.  At least there is so much of it that if it begins to flag the twigs can light the fire and another armful can come inside.

Presents: all done.  Not too much although as my parents' and my sister's and my brother's presents come into the house things are beginning to pile up very satisfyingly.

Carols: sung, beautiful, no thanks to me at all, but beautiful.

Wrapping: hmm, we have done some (we as in Ian who can wrap so much better than I can.  Mine look as if I threw the paper on hopefully and then sellotaped until I ran out).  Sadly there are loads more to do and Ian has had an operation on his hand today.  Perhaps we shall just go for the dog chewed look.  It will go with the slightly tatty, homemade look of everything else!

Candles: there are loads,  a new haul from Morrisons.

Wine: by the caseload.

So there should be food, and wine and candles.  Candles hide a multitude of sins!


  1. You've done it again. I so enjoy reading your blog. Have a wonderful Christmas. Love Molly xxx

  2. You put me to shame.
    Have a very happy Christmas, it all sounds perfect.

  3. You are just so organised but I am astonished to learn you can't wrap - I mean welcome to the club - but I fondly imagined you wrapping away, scissors, tags, ribbons - making little curls and bows and everything square and perfect like they do in French shops when you say that what you've bought is intended as a 'cadeau!'

    Which puts me in mind of the story Lenny Henry tells of his (impoverished) upbringing when his mother used to safe the paper from one year to the next and then when Christmas shopping ask 'have you got a present - this size!'

    I have just this moment thought of a wizard wheeze for a budding entrepreneur which would be to construct a sort of carriage enabling you to move easily large flower pots and especially the pot in which you might have growing a species of evergreen that you might require in the house at Yuletide.
    How simple it would be just to wheel in holly, ivy, spruce and so on and move them from room to room to suit one's mood. No more throwing out a dead tree either on Twelfth Night. And for the really sophisticated the carriage could be battery powered and remote controlled so that you could move the trees in your garden from the comfort of your fireside. Imagine the fun! Definitely for the Christmas present list next year.

  4. Sorry, Elizabeth. So carried away was I with the vision of these self-moving trees that I forgot to wish you and all your family a wonderful Christmas and very Happy New Year. I look forward to reading many more of your delightful pieces.

    (I also see now that I can't spell 'save' - but that's par for the course!)

  5. Fennie - love the self moving trees! Invent it and I am your first customer. Hope you and yours have a great Christmas too, or just a perfectly nice one would be fine.
    Molly - thank you so much. hope yours is a good one too.
    Cait - it is not perfect (dust, spiders, chicken poo - not in the house obviously, hideous 70s falling to bits kitchen) but it will be lovely in its own way. Certainly there will be lots of food and wine and laughing.

  6. It is indeed SO comforting to find other people who can't wrap presents elegantly. My sister always puts me to shame with her ribboned and bowed parcels, all glitter and glam.

  7. Wekk it sounds like bliss to me!

  8. Candlelight? Beautiful, and as you say so flattering and hides a multitude of sins. Why do I have to stop my men folk from turning on the 'big light'to eat their suppers?

    Sounds like you are very organised and only need to sit back and enjoy the next few days. That's the way it should be. Have a lovely time. Best wishes. fX

  9. Can I come and have your Christmas? Of course, I'd have to bring the children and grandchildren too! I love your list of things done and may dig it out and refer to it over the next few days. Merry Christmas to everyone at your house - you have one another, and everything else is icing.

  10. It all sounds wonderful and very real Elizabeth. Much the same stage here, though I doubt those blooming cards will ever get written! I keep replacing the tired greenery and it sparks the fire beautifully. Have a lovely Sunday xx

  11. You have prepared with such care and thought! These are the gatherings that create wonderful memories for the family.

  12. It all sounds lovely. You are an absolutely perfect hostess I am sure. I got so upset last year my kids finely said Mom do the country ham and we will bring every thing else. I just get too tired to finish if I start out too jaunty. Blessings to all Elizabeth in your family.

  13. Have a wonderful busy time, but enjoy the togetherness which tome, Christmas is supposed to bring. I am baking cocnut cookies for my final gifts. Here in SA it is summery and very hot, no white Christmas for us!

  14. It all sounds wonderful, organised and very festive. I hope you all have a wonderful time together and a lovely Christmas. xx

  15. You haven't gilded your pears?! What an oversight. How ever will you manage now?

    Happy Christmas to you and yours. Dx

  16. Why did I think it a good idea to pop over and see what you're doing ?
    Mind you , I think I could rustle up a foil-wrapped loo roll middle before Thursday . But it wouldn't have the history yours has . ( Just had to stare at yours and correct first attempt i.e. your's ....brain taking early Christmas break ) .
    Warning ! Tout blogland making their way to your house . Is there a star above the door ?

  17. Goodness Elizabeth, you are organised. I'm seriously impressed. I'm sitting here procrastinating and watching Cranford. I still have two presents to make before I leave tomorrow evening!

  18. Fran - I love getting beautifully wrapped presents but can never produce them myself.
    HAH - It might not be bliss but it will be pretty good I hope!
    Mountainear - yes, same here, we need to be able to see what we are eating, obviously.
    Pondside - of course you can come, bring them all, plenty of room.
    Pipany - yes, cards are not my favourite job and I easily run out of steam or time!

    Leonora - I have prepared to some degree and to some extent we will take our chance and it will all come out ok, I am sure.

  19. ooh now i want marzipan, too, the way you describe it.

  20. Here i am stuck in the shop with a pile of "to do's" getting higher and higher even the chainsaws gone on strike for christmas! and your tree sounds just like mine xx all the best.

  21. Here is something to make your holidays even busier. I've tagged you with an Honest Scrap Award at

  22. Mark - well now we have the snow. Not loads but enough.
    QMM - you are lucky to have a family who want to share in all the work. That is what mine do too and it makes it all a lot less fuss!
    LG - a hot Christmas can be quite fun. We used to have them in NZ but I do find it easier to get in the mood in the cold!
    PM - it may sound more organised than it is in fact! Hope you enjoy yours too!
    Dawn - damn it, I knew there was something I had missed. We will have to make do with the ungilded ones this year.
    S&S - oh, good to see you again. No star above the door. There is a peacock on the roof though. He has decided this is the safest place while son's dog is around.
    Silverpebble - I think that having two presents to make, instead of buy, puts you firmly in the top league!
    laurie - just finished the marzipan, rich, almondy, lemony but not too sweet. You can tell I have been eating it.
    Bodran - hope you have a great Christmas. I was hoping to drop into the shop but somehome haven't managed to come down from the hill for a couple of days!
    James - thank you for thinking of me. I shall do your honest scrap but won't promise exactly when!

  23. I lost custody of the ancient sentimental christmas tree decorations when the girl's dad and I divorced. (Although it amuses me that new wife puts my decorations up!).

  24. Your approach to Christmas sounds exactly like how I would aspire to be - perfectly balanced. All the important things taken care of (food, wine, candles) and not too much panic about those things that don't really matter all that much in the scheme of things.

    Wishing you a wonderful Christmas with your brand new grandchild. xoxox

  25. You are ahead of me - no cake, pudding, tree or decorations - yet ! It sounds as if your home is going to look and smell so good for the festive days ahead. Wishing you peace and happiness at Christmas and in the new year Elizabeth.

  26. Ah, that all sounds just perfect. Wishing you and yours a lovely Chrsitmas and a Happy and Healthy 2010. Hope to meet up.

    Much love

  27. I love wonky decorations - we ahve our own ever growing collection and however awful up they go. I fing lots and lots of tinsel hides the things that offend my eyes and of course candelight does do wondrous things! Happy Christmas!

  28. one day we will have a christmas like yours... but not this year

  29. Candles may hide a multitude of sins, and caseloads of wine make sure there are multitudes of sins to hide! Hee hee!

    PUDDING RECIPE REQUEST! I have never had, nor made, a Christmas pudding and I am feeling as though my life is seriously lacking because of this fact. If you could see your way to posting the pudding recipe, I would be eternally grateful. Not that I will have time to make it this year before Christmas Day, but I would like to try it a time or two before next year.



  30. Gulp - I'm nowhere near as well prepared as you are!

    Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year - I loved your tale of singing carols in Welsh. We managed a Welsh wassail for our Christmas concert from the Gower, a lovely song :)

  31. Candles make everything and every one look beautiful! Have a very happy Christmas!

    Pomona x


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