You’ve Been Tinselled!

Some years ago, I came across the ‘You’ve Been Jingled’ idea on Pinterest, and thought it was great! What a fun tradition to start in our neighbourhood! I had not seen anything along those lines happening around here, nor heard of it anywhere else.

So we dutifully printed up a handful of flyers, selected a few Christmas treats (candy canes, from memory) and secretly left them on the doorsteps of several houses in our street. I wasn’t too keen on the ‘ring and run’ plan, which is why we just left our little packages on the doorstep. We were very excited, and watched the neighbours’ houses closely to see if they were going to follow through… Continue reading

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Our Aussie Bush Christmas

This year we celebrated Christmas in the picturesque Hunter Valley with my sister and her family. My parents, my brother and his family also came, which made 15 around the table! I have another sister, but she lives in Hong Kong so wasn’t with us this year.

We love having a ‘Ros’ Christmas, because food is her thing. We all do a great job at Christmas, of course, but she is a bit more used to feeding the hungry hoards. And if you are ever in this part of New South Wales, I recommend visiting Mojo’s: the restaurant, the Deli, or grabbing one of Ros’ picnic hampers. No, I wasn’t paid to say that! But she is my sister so I am allowed 😉

Anyway, because I love Christmas so much, I am going to share our Aussie bush Christmas celebration with you all… Prepare for photo overload!

We arrived first, so were able to lend a hand setting up. Here’s the simple but tasteful table:

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Bunting adorned the rafters

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There’s been a lot of rain lately, so it was very green and lush

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Love these rustic Santas decorating the tables

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Saffy didn’t want to miss out on the celebrations 🙂

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Mosquito coils are a necessity in this weather

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I contributed a baked camembert for the before-lunch nibblies

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I also made Nuts and Bolts, and there were plenty of dips and chips as well.

Nuts and Bolts sawitdidit.wordpress.com

Present time before the meal – no-one can wait any longer!

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Our entrée was DIY smoked salmon bruschetta

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Main course was traditional baked ham, turkey, and potato bake, along with a couple of fresh salads. There was plenty of wine, juice and soft drink to wash it all down.

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We were all very full after these two courses, so everyone took some time away from the table. Checkers was a popular pastime

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Later, everyone joined in a game of cricket, including the dogs and the horse. A gentle stroll was required to reach the pitch

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Fresh watermelon was most welcome in the hot afternoon sun

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and Saffy appreciated the watermelon rind

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Thongs and flies, synonymous with an Australian summer!

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Exhausted from all the cricket, we returned to the house

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‘Dinner’ was dessert – Christmas pudding (and custard), trifle, gingerbread, nougat and shortbread. Plenty of fruit was brought out as well. This confused the kids no end, but they managed! It was nearly 7pm by this stage!

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Ros’ famous Christmas pudding

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Two camp sites had been set up to cater for all the extra bodies. Thankfully, it wasn’t too hot so the campers were quite comfortable.

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We enjoyed each others’ company as the sun went down

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We had a lazy start to Boxing Day, but were treated to a delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs, Christmas ham, bacon, roasted tomatoes and toast. Yum!

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A generous local friend had offered the use of her pool, so off we went after breakfast. How’s this for a pool with a view?

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More culinary treats were on the menu, including mum’s smoked salmon puffs

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There were plenty of shenanigans in the pool

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Back to the house and some leftovers for lunch, before packing. A storm was approaching so we had decided to head home rather than camping another night. We were sorry to be leaving a little earlier than originally planned, but we will all catch up again before the school holidays are over.

After all that fun, no-one can blame a boy for falling asleep shortly after we begin the drive home!

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So that’s our Aussie bush Christmas. I hope you enjoyed your Christmas as much as we enjoyed ours!

Linking up with:

A Tray of Bliss – Five Star Frou Frou, Love Bakes Good Cakes – Freedom Fridays, Shoestring Elegance – What to do Weekends, Oh My Heartsie Girl – Friday Features, 21 Rosemary Lane – Share Your Style, Too Much Time on my Hands – The Handmade Hangout, Posed Perfection – Creative Ways, Have a Daily Cup of Mrs Olsen – Share Your Cup, Crafty Wife – Wednesday Roundup, Lamberts Lately – Create it Thursday, Savvy Southern Style – Wow us Wednesdays, The Life of Jennifer Dawn – A Little Bird Told Me, Merry About Town – Monday Funday, The Interior Frugalista – DIY Sunday Showcase, Thoughts From Alice – Sundays at Home, Claire Justine – Creative Mondays, Create With Joy – Inspire me Monday, I Should be Mopping the Floor – Inspiration Monday, Pastels and Macarons – The Creative Corner, My Pinterventures – Merry Monday, Julie’s Lifestyle – Cooking and Crafting With J&J, Raising Fairies and Knights – Bloggers Spotlight, Yesterday on Tuesday – Project Inspired, Lou Lou Girls, Kathe With an E – You’re Gonna Love it, Our Home Away From Home – Tuesdays at Our Home, Cozy Little House – Tweak it Tuesday, Tip Junkie – Tip Me Tuesday, The Dedicated House – Make it Pretty Monday, Domesblissity – Thriving on Thursdays, A Tray of Bliss – Five Star Frou Frou

Melting Snowman cupcakes

As we were growing up, Christmases were lively affairs filled with siblings, parents, cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. And of course there was always the annual cousin photos with us all lined up oldest to youngest, followed by another photo tallest to shortest. Yes, there was a difference!

However, as we have all grown and started our own families, Christmas gatherings were becoming enormous!

Some years ago we simplified things by celebrating with our own family groups. I have two sisters and one brother, so along with our parents and all the children and partners Christmas is still quite a wondrous feat!

But we missed seeing our cousins, especially as we are now quite spread out across the city, state and country…even overseas.

So a few years ago we started doing a ‘Cousin Christmas’ earlier in December. We meet in a big park where there is more than enough space for all the kids to run around, and the adults to eat, drink and be merry. This means all our children – second cousins – will have some knowledge of each other. There was even talk this time about holding another ‘Cousin gathering’ half way through the year, because for a lot of us, it’s the only time we see each other. And we all kinda like each other..y’know?

To this gathering, we all bring a festive plate of something on which to nibble. Sweet and savoury, there’s plenty for us all to share.

This year I found a very cute idea for Melting Snowman Cupcakes from  Just-Between-Friends.com. (You can follow my Christmas Pinterest board if you like 🙂 )I thought that was a particularly inspired idea since Christmas here in Australia is in the middle of summer. If there were any snowmen to be found, they would definitely be melting!

I started with a plain vanilla cake which I baked in silver patterned cupcake cups, found in Aldi.

Next, I wanted an icing that was stiff enough to hold it’s shape easily, but was also a clean white colour. Jonie’s cupcakes have two distinct melted blobs, however she has used a pre-made frosting. Usually I make butter icing, however that is off-white because butter is yellow.

I made a Royal Icing using 1 egg white mixed with Icing Sugar, adding some milk (water is ok too) to get it to the required consistency. You don’t need to whip the egg white, just break it up before beating in the icing sugar and liquid.

royal icing

While I working on the cupcakes, my son had been given the job of constructing and decorating the gingerbread Christmas Tree my mum makes each year. So we had icing going everywhere (I made green-tinted butter icing for the tree)!

icing everywhere

I added all my icing to a piping bag, however the largest nozzle I found was still quite small. You can see in the above photo that it doesn’t look much like a melted ball of snow. Also, because I baked the cupcakes in cups rather than patty pans, the cake sat below the rim. So you wouldn’t get the full effect of 2 distinct blobs of melted snowman.

Using a wet spoon I smoothed my blobs over, then added half a marshmallow for the head. Snowmen melt faster in summer, so I figured one big blog would be enough!

Following Jonie’s suggestion I used half pretzel sticks for the arms, and chocolate chips for the eyes and buttons. She used mini choc chips, but I didn’t have them.

snowmen taking shape

In hindsight (a marvellous thing) I should have put the marshmallow heads closer to the edge so there was more room for buttons.

The cupcake cup pack also had cake toppers, so I stuck those in too!

I don’t think mine turned out as nicely as Jonie’s, however I think you can still what they are meant to be. And they tasted pretty good!

We had fun working on our decorating projects. Here they are finished, ready to be packed up to take to the park:

gingerbread and snowmen

I think our contributions fitted in nicely with everything else!

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And just because I can, (with big apologies to my cousins!) here is a photo from quite possibly the last time we all had Christmas together before too many children came along. My sister had just had her first baby, the first grandchild. We are posed in order of tallest to shortest in this photo. I am fourth from the left. I am the eldest of my cousins!

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I think I’ll make some more melting snowman cupcakes to take to our street party this weekend! What do you think?

Linking up with:

The Pinterested Parent – Sunday’s Best, The Interior Frugalista – DIY Sunday Showcase, Thoughts From Alice – Sundays at Home, Domestic Superhero – Pinworthy Projects, Oh My Heartsie Girl – Friday Features, 24 Cottonwood Lane – Best of the Weekend, Julie’s Lifestyle – Cooking and Crafting with J&J, My Pinterventures – Merry Monday, Claire Justine – Creative Mondays, Create With Joy – Inspire Me Monday, I Should be Mopping the Floor – Inspiration Monday, The Foley Fam – Sunday Funday, Pastels and Macarons – Creative Corner, Yesterday on Tuesday – Project Inspired, Lou Lou Girls, Merry About Town – Monday Funday, Kathe With an E – You’re Gonna Love it, Cozy Little House – Tweak it Tuesday, Tip Junkie – Tip me Tuesday, 21 Rosemary Lane – Share Your Style, To Simply Inspire – The Mommy Club, Domesblissity – Thriving on Thursdays, Have a Daily Cup of Mrs Olsen – Share Your CupPosed Perfection – Creative Ways, Crafty Wife – The Weekly Roundup, Lamberts Lately – Create it Thursday, Savvy Southern Style – Wow us Wednesdays, Wondermom Wannabe – This is How We Roll, The Life of Jennifer Dawn – A Little Bird Told Me, A Tray of Bliss – Five Star Frou Frou, Love Bakes Good Cakes – Freedom Fridays, The Pin Junkie, Life With Lorelei – Home Matters, Domestic Superhero – Pinworthy Projects, Oh My Heartsie Girl – Friday Features, 24 Cottonwood Lane – Best of the Weekend, My Pinterventures – Blogmas Recipes,