My Christmas Dinner Tablescape: Neutral and Natural

We’re still finding our way for Christmas dinner traditions.

I suppose it will be so for some time to come, as is the case with blended families, comprising of member young and old, near and far. Some years we are fifty-strong at one set of in-laws for a hot turkey dinner with all the fixings, followed by an ample sweet table.

This year, we are hosting another side of the family around our table and my new range will get to perform Christmas dinner duties. I’m roasting a leg of lamb with Meyer lemon as a nod to my British background, not forgetting the Yorkshire pudding or the classic English trifle for dessert. We will be 14 at dinner, so you, know, a respectable number but still manageable.

With everything that is going on (book-writing, house guests, holiday prep and a houseful of kids) I wanted a simple yet festive holiday table.  It took some head-scratching, a little sawing and snipping, and an hour of scrolling Pinterest, but in the end, my Christmas tablescape came together with relative ease and the natural beauty I was hoping to achieve.

[Read more…]

How to make spiced orange pomander balls

The temperatures dipped once again yesterday and we chose indoor activities over snow games.

I tipped a tin of whole cloves into bowls, set out oranges and the boys and I made spiced orange pomander balls while listening to an audio book. This was a craft I can remember making as a child, sitting next to the wood fire, and deeply engrossed with a story tape on cassette.

How to make spiced orange pomander balls on www.simplebites.net #craft #tutorial #Christmas #oranges

Making spiced orange pomander balls is simple enough to do and yields both a pretty centerpiece and a natural air freshener. Best of all, it’s an all natural decoration and can be made with items around the house.

Let’s get started.

[Read more…]

The after school gingerbread project: outtakes

The after school gingerbread house wouldn’t have been a normal kitchen project without excessive silliness from my two monkeys.

Most of it happened off camera, but I captured some of the laughs as they went down. Oh my.

[Read more…]

The after school gingerbread project: decorating the house

The moment we’ve all been waiting for has arrived – at least, if you are a small child who seldom is allowed unrestricted access to a table of candy, it has.

Our base gingerbread house is solid. We’ve assembled our decorations and mixed together the icing. This is the part of the after school gingerbread project where we can leave the recipe aside and get creative. It’s time to use our imaginations to decorate a gingerbread house that is pure holiday magic.

You’ll need another Ziplock bag with royal icing and one corner snipped, for applying the ‘glue’ to the house and your collection of candy for decorating.

Mateo’s tip: A warm cloth for sticky fingers is a good idea! [Read more…]

The after school gingerbread project: icing and assembly

Last night in the bakery section of my supermarket, I spotted a stack of generic kits for gingerbread houses. I wasn’t tempted to buy one in the slightest, knowing that we were all set at home to assemble our very own, freshly baked creation.

Now that we have prepared our ingredients, mixed our dough, and baked our pieces, it is finally time to raise the walls and put a roof on our gingerbread house.

No, we’re not going to fully decorate in this post, because it is best to let the house dry overnight before adding roof tiles and all the other details. At least, this is my experience. You can certainly carry right on through if you like.

Let’s get to the recipe for royal icing and the assembly process.

[Read more…]