Sunday, 23 December 2012

That Christmassy Feeling

Unfortunately it's been hard to get in the Christmas preparations this year.  Since coming home from Germany I've been very sick.  I caught a stomach bug which left me totally devoid of any energy for at least two weeks after.
I had such great plans for handmade presents for my family and friends.  I had patterns ready and materials sourced.   So as difficult as I found it to admit, I just couldn't face to follow through with my plans.  This year I didn't want any extra stress and just wanted to focus on enjoying this precious time with my family.
So decision made, I packed away all my material and wool into the attic and took down the decorations.  The preparation is probably what I like most about Christmas.  Dressing the tree with my kids, the dog sitting at my feet and Christmas songs on the radio, singing along out of tune but at the top of our voices.
Going shopping with the kids as we pick out presents for the family.  Going home and wrapping all we bought, sitting on the floor surrounded by ribbons, bow and multicoloured paper.
Preparing the turkey bath...yes we do give our turkey a bath of spices and oranges and we leave it for about 12 hours before roasting.  This recipe that I got from Nigella Lawson and so worth a try.  The turkey never dries out when cooking.
 Lighting the candle in the lantern that gives a warm welcoming glow at the front door, guiding visitors in the thick fog that we've been having lately.
And last but not least, I love the smell of Christmas.  The smell of the bowl of pine cones mixed with star anise, cinnamon and dried orange pieces which fills the air with the most beautiful aroma.
We have a full house for Christmas dinner but I'm determined to relax and enjoy it and not get at all stressed out.
Have you many for Christmas dinner?
What's your favourite preparations?
Rosie xx

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

A Late Start To Advent

Unfortunately I missed the start of Advent because I was away.  But the children were very understanding and I made sure that I was home on time to write their letters to St. Nicholas.

It is wonderful how traditions evolve from when you were a child yourself to when you have your own little family.  As a child we always celebrated St. Nicholas' day on 6th December.  We would  always wake up to plates of colourful foil wrapped chocolate Santas or coins.  Now with my children, on the night of 5th we write to St. Nicholas with their wish list for Christmas morning and leave them out with a glass of milk, some cookies and an apple or two for Rudolf.  As soon as they are finished getting the table ready, the kids rush up to bed so that they are asleep before the big man himself appears in the house and rings the Christmas bell on the landing.  This year they woke up to a sewing kit each and a small plate of treats.  This for our family marks the beginning of Christmas.

We did not finish the wreath until the second Sunday of Advent.  Growing up there was always a wreath for Advent and I loved the smell of the candles burning.  People always differ on the candle colours but my German father always said that there should be three red and one purple one for the fourth Sunday.  Hence the mismatched shapes.
 Just before Advent each year my father travelled to Germany and in his case when he returned there was always an Advent calendar for each of us.  The little cardboard ones and I would hang it up on my bedroom wall and open a window each day.
But now with my children we have our Advent calendar on the stairs.  We spend a long afternoon decorating it with holly, pine cones, cinnamon, lights and ribbons.  Patrick and Lucy each hang their own little red bag from the side. Two of Santa's Elves sit in the evergreen trees in front of our house and watch to see if they go to bed on time and behave well during the day.  If the have, then when they awake the next morning they will find that the Elves have come in and left a little chocolate sweet in each of their bags.
Christmas with the kids is so magical.  I just love it!

Monday, 10 December 2012

Part Two Of My Journey

There was so much to see when I was away and I drove everybody around me because I was stopping to take pictures every two minutes.  The light my not have been great at times because the sky was grey with snow laden clouds but still I could not help but try.

We stopped in a roadside restaurant one day and I could not help but drool at the food that was on display there.  And just inside the main entrance was this little giant beauty of a gingerbread house.  i don't think that I've ever seen such attention to detail in one before.  It even had gorgeous shutters on the windows.
If you can see the man standing behind it.  You can get some idea of the scale of this thing.  I think that I would have eaten half of it before I even managed to decorate it.  Yum diddily yumshious.

The same day we went for a short walk around a small lake, the name of which I can't spell so I'm leaving it out.  The snow fell lightly and it was so fine and dry that it sat on our hats and eyelashes like icing sugar.
This tree with steps that children climb so that they can jump from it into the water, sits dormant and sleeping over the semi-frozen lake while it waits for it's playmates to return in the heat of the summer.
At a small local Christmas market on the way back to the house we stopped and drank some Glühwein and ate hot waffles sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. This kept us warmed up nicely as we stood and chatted about Christmas and all the nice biscuits and sweets that we wanted  had to bring home and how on earth we were going to squeeze them into our suitcases.  We just couldn't go home and not bring a selection (of everything) home for the holiday season.  I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that the cake shops are heaven on earth!

Our last big trip was to the Salzburg Christmas market.  We went at night so that we could experience the true magic of it.  It was beautiful to see the stalls lit up with candle and fairy lights.  The choir stood on the steps of the Cathedral and sang carols in the cold night air.  This would get even Ebeneezer Scrooge into the Christmas spirit.

I love the colours of all the liqueurs and schnapps here. I had never realised that they could look so appetising and appealing.  Just look at that blue and pink!
Traditional nutcrackers stand to attention and proudly.  So beautifully handcrafted.
And finally row upon row of smoker dolls of every type and description stand in a blast of colour in the dark cold evening.

And last but most definitely now least, as a family we have had some excellent news in this last week.  My son was diagnosed with petit mal epilepsy when he was four years old and his specialist has decided that now as everything is in his favour, EEG results and MRI, he can finally try and come off his medication.  Needless to say we are all very happy bunnies about that one.  The best Christmas present that we could have ever asked for.  We are just going to take it one step at a time together.

Thanks for taking the time to visit and read my ramblings.
Rosie xx

Friday, 7 December 2012

Home From Germany!

As we arrived in Germany last week we were greeted by my brother and his girlfriend with two beautiful posies of flowers.  Aren't they fantastic?  Such a gorgeous welcome it was.  I felt like I was arriving to my second home and as we drove away from the airport, I realised how much I've missed Germany in the last year.  My brother always makes me feel very at home in his house, so walking in the door it was like putting on a forgotten pair of slippers.  Comfortable and familiar.  
The first day it was cold but dry, so we decided to a Christmas market at Hellbrunner.  It is situated in the grounds of an old palace.  And even though the cold air was nipping at our cheeks, the people were very warm and welcoming.  There was so much to see here and not only the market stalls.  
This gentleman was selling traditional German horns and every few minutes he would stand up, select an instrument and give a demonstration.  Such a wonder to hear.  
There was plenty there too for kids.  There was a petting zoo with some ever so cute farm animals...
reindeers walking around and some of the sweetest sheep that I've ever seen.  They also lit a large campfire where the kids would sit around and listen to stories of legends.  Their little faces entraled and fixated on the storyteller.  There was a large baking house too and the children would sit at long tables and make their own Christmas cookies and then watch them as they bake in the old stone oven and then later decorate them when they cooled.  I can't wait until I can bring my Lucy and Patrick to share in this too.  They would love it!
The following day we went to Hintersee.  There is a beautiful walk around the lake with the most spectacular views.

This truly has to be one of my most favourite places in the world.  It is peaceful and utterly breathtaking.  I love to just sit there and wonder at the beauty of mother nature.

The water here is crystal clear but the colour of emeralds because it is so nutrient rich.

We hoped for snow every day and it seemed to fall everywhere but where we were in Freilässing!  So my brother decided to drive us through the Austrian Alps to see the snow there.  The mountains looked like they were dusted with icing sugar and were awe inspiring.  I've never seen anything like them in my life.  I just sat in the back of the car in silence as I gaped out every window to watch the scenery pass by as we whizzed in and out of the tunnels.

On the Austrian side of the Alps there was less snow, unfortunately.  But we did spot this huge castle.  It looks like something out of Merlin!  I couldn't get close enough to get a proper picture and my Mother certainly wasn't fit to walk to the top.  So some better photos will have to wait until next time.  What a place that would be to live, surrounded by all those mountains.  So long as you didn't forget the milk for your tea!
Well I have a lot more to show and tell you but I'm exhausted after our day travelling home.  I was hoping to get blogging over there but I was having problems uploading my photos.  I hope to do another couple of posts over the weekend.  I hope that you enjoy reading it and looking at my pictures and that I haven't turned into one of those very boring people who make you sit down and go through all of their holiday photos before they even make you a cup of tea.
Cup of tea anyone?

Rosie xx