It all started with the wonderful icy weather that came our way this week. I can't feel Christmassy when its raining, or when its blowing. I need frost or snow. Sadly both are not really very common in London...but when they come its wonderful! Freezing cold, brilliant white and blue winter weather is my absolute favourite type of weather.
I drive along the edge of Epping Forest on the way to school each morning, and I very nearly made us all late on Wednesday because I wanted to stop and take photos of the thick sparkling frost that had appeared overnight. C & O were horrified that they might be late though, so I let them off lightly by embarrassingly wielding my camera in the playground instead.
The cold weather has meant that hot puddings, stews and pies have all had to be made. There have been many meals involving roast parsnips, which to me are one of the defining tastes of winter. And I love remembering when I eat them, that the harder the frost the sweeter the parsnip.
There was also a less successful experiment with a hot pudding. I rarely cook hot puddings - stewed fruit is my usual offering - but it was so cold that I started to fantasise about a warm, steaming, sponge pudding with a sticky sauce and a slowly melting scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. I went for one of those scary recipes that start with making a basic sponge. You put the sponge mixture into a large dish with a good sprinkling of sugar over the top, then you pour over a jug of boiling water over the raw sponge mixture, slam it all into the oven and the sponge mixture steams while the sugar and water turn into a syrupy sauce....Its an odd and alarming method, but all my recipe books swear that it works. Maybe I used the wrong shaped dish?
School is nearing the end of term, and I went to two nativity performances in one day on Thursday. Both were wonderful, sweet and hysterically funny at times. Spot my very tall angel in the picture below!
And now, finally, the tree has gone up and we are in the home straight. A few weeks ago I went to Liberty with Mum for a bit of fabric shopping. We stopped by in their Christmas department and were in awe at the wonderful baubles. I could have bought all of these - so pretty.
But a tastefully toned or themed tree doesn't really do it for me, I like the fact that all the baubles and decorations we have gathered over the years have stories around them. There are the mini glitter balls given by my sister-in-law last year, that remind us of the annual Strictly Come Dancing excitement around Christmas time. There are some strawberries, given to berry-mad O by my Grandmother. There is a giant, iridescent blue bauble that was a present from G's brother when we first bought this house. It requires an especially thick and sturdy branch to hold it up. And there are two ceramic stars painted by C & O at Gill and Nat's shop.
This year, C is even tall enough to reach the top of the tree, so the tree is no longer weighed down with baubles at the bottom that later have to be redistributed by me further up the top.
Its time to start wrapping those presents!