Friday, 9 December 2016

The Christmas 2016 Hot Chocolate Station is Now Open!

Every year, my children wait in eager anticipation for the hot chocolate station to open.  It's become a bit of a tradition in our household that our normal comforting mug of bedtime cocoa, becomes an all day, crazed, bulging sweet fest of indulgence which marks the beginning of the Christmas foray into over eating from the first weekend in December.   I'm personally not normally a huge fan of drinking milk - hot or cold, but even I can't resist the excitement of drinking something that really ought to carry the title of 'Pudding'.  
            

I'm sure that you all have your own way of making hot chocolate.  Perhaps some of you even make it from scratch with cocoa powder or like my parents in Grenada, where they use pure cocoa balls made from cocoa beans grown in pods on their own land - you can't get more organic than that...  
However, my version (sorry Mum) comes straight out of a tin.  Easy Peasy and no recipe needed, however, for those who wish to know - this is what I do.

Hill House Easy Peasy Chocolate Hottie
4 Heaped teaspoons of Hot Chocolate granules per mug (I'm partial to Green & Blacks organic Hot Chocolate, but whatever brand floats your boat), pour over 250ml of hot semi-skimmed milk and stir to make a thick, creamy mug of yumminess.  (If I'm making a larger batch, I make it in a saucepan with 4 heaped tablespoons of chocolate and 1L semi skimmed milk) Squirt a huge dollop of cream in a swirl on top, add mixed chocolate sprinkles (mine are cake curl toppings from Tesco), a cinnamon stick and mini marshmallows.  Pop in a minted candy cane for added deliciousness.
For the luxury, (as in adult - children have gone upstairs to bed) - version, add a shot of brandy and throw on a pinch of grated nutmeg.

Sit back. Enjoy. You're Welcome. 








Until Next Time...




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Wednesday, 7 December 2016

A CHRISTMAS CRACKER!

...And suddenly it was Christmas!


There I was, in my own comfortable way, preparing a blog post for Halloween, and then I looked up after a quick sip of tea...and the Christmas season had arrived!  Well, perhaps it didn't quite go like that, but it really does feel like it...


Not that I'm complaining, because I must admit to Christmas being one of my favourite times of the year. ( I have realised begrudgingly since moving to the English countryside, that my preferred months all fall during times when there is either a high chance of the weather necessitating that I wear wellington boots, or a high chance that I must put logs on the fire - usually both... and there I was thinking that I was a warm weather person! )

Although I believe strongly in the deeper religious meaning behind Christmas, and the joy of bringing family together,  I can't deny the fact that it also brings with it the joy of being able to decorate and theme everything at Hill House with the frenzied and unadulterated vigour of a madwoman without having to explain myself...


Christmas decorating for us starts relatively late it seems.  We usually start on the second week of December when we bundle into the car and drive to the nearby Elveden Estate to pick our tree and drink mulled wine (me) while the children ride the carousel, my husband orders the Turkey and we choose new decorations for the tree...


I've noticed on instagram and on other blogs that there are many who start their festive decorating in November - lucky them!  With an important member of our family being an inquisitive and rambunctious dog (the nicest description I can think of for a pooch who assumes that everything we do or bring through the door at Hill House is solely for her own amusement and pleasure - precious Christmas trinkets included...) we are forced to think carefully and strategically plan our course of action when it comes to decorations.  I also enjoy the delayed gratification and anticipation that comes with waiting a while to join in the fun...although my children may not agree with this sentiment...

This year I did cave in slightly early and set to with decorating the front door...


...which has made it a pleasure to leave and return home each day - after all, who can resist smiling when confronted with twinkly, flashing lights on the doorstep!


I settled on a white theme this year, with matching white wreaths and white faux foliage with berries tucked into the urns.  The addition of a vintage sledge that has been handed down in my husband family adds the necessary vintage touch that is a signature of my home, along with galvanised tin buckets filled with mini Christmas trees, which adds a salvage chic appeal to the whole ensemble I think...


However, the most exciting excuse that I have had to kick-start the decorating delirium is the delivery of a very special box of Christmas Crackers from one of my favourite independent small British businesses - Fraser & Parsley!  Now, for those of you who don't know them, Fraser & Parsley comprise of Rachel and Josie, who are a two woman design team of quintessentially English stationary of the highest quality.  I stumbled across them a while ago in the happy world that is instagram - primarily drawn towards Josie's incredible kitchen which wins a prize for being one of the most lustworthy English country kitchens on instagram - take a look at it Here!  Please also take a look at their website if you get a second, as they have the most beautiful range of personalised gifts and stationary items that are as beautiful as they are functional...swoon!

So, back to the Christmas Crackers...


I decided to have a little play around with them in order to gather some ideas for my Christmas table - as one does...


They are some of the most elegantly beautiful Crackers that I have ever seen, and the surprises inside are absolutely genius! (I won't spoil what they are - particularly as my children read my blog!)

I thought that I'd pair set them against some French inspired white plates with silver cutlery, with my green hand blown glasses, and traditional champagne flutes on the side.


A vintage French soupier makes a lovely centrepiece filled with white roses, and as I am a great lover (and maker) of candles, my tea light holders and antique silver candlesticks provide a bit of extra faded glamour.  Striped cotton napkins from Susie Watson add a subtle bit of extra colour, topped with vintage fruit knife and forks which will be used for one of the courses - perhaps a pear, walnut and stilton combo...yum!


I think that the crackers look gorgeous at the table - wouldn't you agree, and I am giddy with excitement to get cracking them open.  However, like the tree, delayed gratification is the name of the game, and I shall therefore tie my hands behind my back to avoid pulling one before December 25th...  However, if a certain Ms. Coco decided to steal one prematurely, and, being decidedly lacking in dexterity skills, needed assistance with pulling it, (enabling me to enjoy the contents guilt free) - then who am I to stop her!


Until Next Time...


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