Christmas Cookies, Enchanted Gardens & Cinnamon Raisin Bread

We’ve spent a lot of time in the house this week, thanks to sickness, so most of our activities have been creative ones at home. My daughter helped me to make bread on a day off school. She loves measuring ingredients and kneading, so I let her cover herself in dough šŸ™‚ I think she enjoyed baking alone with me because her sister was in school and she rarely gets to do that šŸ™‚ We also made some crackers. They turned out really crunchy, but they were nice and made good crouton-type additions to soup šŸ™‚ I definitely want to experiment with more cracker recipes at home. I’ve only made them a couple of times but it’s quite therapeutic and rewarding making your own. We did some of the basket weaving that her sister got to try on a day off before. There doesn’t seem to be any time spent resting on sick days in our house :/

I’ve been reading lots of books about frugality and homemaking since Christmas is coming up and I’ve been trying to reduce my daily coffee visits when I write. I made my own coffee all week and had a gingerbread latte on Friday as a reward šŸ™‚ I’ve figured out how to make lattes that are just as good at home, but there’s still something nice about someone else making it for you sometimes šŸ™‚ I’ve also been mending lots of things that needed sewn instead of throwing them out. I tend to do that anyway, but I tackled a huge pile of things this week. It’s so economical because it saved me getting new duvet covers, blankets and I fixed some of our clothes too.

I finally got some candy canes for the girls to add to the tree. (They’ve been nagging me to get some for a while as it’s become a tradition of ours.) I found some lovely scented candles with Christmassy smells while I was shopping too šŸ™‚ I love anything that smells like it’s baking in the oven šŸ™‚ I found some Christmas stamps in the pound shop for the girls too and they enjoyed making Christmas pictures with them.

On Friday afternoon, we made paper plate Christmas trees. It was really stormy outside, so it felt like the perfect time to hibernate šŸ™‚ I found the tutorial for it on The girls painted their plates green on both sides, and then we had to let them dry overnight. I drew around cups to make circle shapes on card for the baubles and cut them out, and the girls decorated them with sequins. They left room for a hole to be made so they could be threaded onto string to hang on the tree šŸ™‚ I also got them to paint lolly sticks white for another craft this weekend. We had pizza and watched a Christmas movie with the wind howling outside šŸ™‚ After the girls went to bed, I did some painting and finished a picture of flowers šŸ™‚ I’ve also been editing a book, so I had some wine and listened to music and read the book again.

On Saturday, we finished our Christmas tree craft. I just cut the paper plates into long S shapes. We added string to the top of them and stars I cut out of card. Then the girls threaded their baubles onto embroidery thread and we stapled them onto the trees. Then they hung them up, to add to our Christmas decorations šŸ™‚

It was really cold outside and we were going to The Enchanted Garden in the late afternoon, so I made some minestrone soup and grilled cheeses with homemade bread to warm the girls up before we went out. I was surprised that they actually ate most of them šŸ™‚

We arrived at Antrim Castle Gardens as it was starting to get dark and we got a skewer of marshmallows to toast. I usually end up firefighting two at once so I thought it’d be easier if the girls shared šŸ™‚ There were lovely light displays all over the gardens and little fire pits that warmed the place up. The girls liked the candy cane/lollipop part of the walk šŸ™‚ They got to say hello to Santa and get a picture with him and then got some Haribo each. The Grinch was walking around talking to people and they were so excited to see him – it was like a celebrity sighting. They went on the Helter Skelter and then we went to the food market part and got dinner there. I had a katsu curry dish and they got their favourites (sausages and chicken goujons.) We stood/sat on the ground while we ate and then discovered after we’d finished that there were tents with benches in them. (I always have to have at least one blonde moment per outing.) The lights in Antrim were beautiful on our walk back to the car and after two hours in the cold, we were happy to return to it šŸ™‚

Today, we just had a peaceful day in the house. We made some more vanilla cookies and iced them this time. I found new sprinkles for the girls, so they enjoyed decorating them with those šŸ™‚ I feel like I’ve spent most of the day doing dishes because we have done so much cooking, but I got a chance to sit down and have coffee and a biscuit and they were good šŸ™‚

Afterwards, the girls made lists of all the kids in their classes and I gave them a pack of Christmas cards each. I love this activity because it bought me an hour’s peace with minimal fighting šŸ™‚ They get really engrossed in it and added Christmas stamps to their friends’ cards too šŸ™‚ I have no idea if they’ve spelt any of the names properly, but it’s an activity they like to do independently anyway šŸ™‚

While they were doing that, I made some cinnamon raisin bread. I love the smell of the house when anything with cinnamon in it is cooking šŸ™‚ I lit my ginger cake candle too, so it felt very Christmassy inside the house. I think I’m happiest when I’m baking with a cup of coffee by my side and a candle lit.

I made dinner in the slow cooker and I used up potato peelings by making my own crisps. i just tossed them in a lot of oil and cooked them, then added lots of salt. Surprisingly the girls loved them and ate all of them šŸ™‚

Finally, the girls made some snowflakes with the lolly sticks they painted on Friday. They just crisscrossed them and glued them together, adding sequins in the centre. They don’t seem to be able to leave them alone to let them dry so I don’t know if they’ll survive long enough to become decorations šŸ™‚

My daisy and orange prints are still available to buy here:

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