Monday, 30 November 2015

This Years Advent Calendar

This year I have decided to forgo the usual advent calendar - We have always had a shop bought calender .........

From the moving Santa when I was a kid that was hung on the kitchen door and my brother and I would take it in turns to open a window , to the chocolate filled ones we had when my step kids were still living at home - why is the chocolate so horrible in those ones? - Since we have become child free I haven't seemed to be able to shake the need to buy one each year ...... it's a ritual that's very hard to break.....

So this year I decided to have a go and make something to tick off those days leading up to Christmas day. There are loads of great ideas on the Internet and I decided to go for 24 little presents, all wrapped and labelled. This way I could choose more interesting and tasty gifts ..........

bought a selection of little presents from individually wrapped chocolates, retro sweets - I haven't eaten since the 70's, Christmas decorations, packets of seeds, Christmas washi tape and Christmas coaster...... just inexpensive fun things.......

I ordered some vintage style labels, bought brown paper bags and some string to make up the 24 little parcels.

With some shredded white paper and green card to pad out the parcels I spend a few hours filling, wrapping and sticking......

I added a few cones and dried olive branches to decorate some parcels.....

Now tonight I'm going to hang them all up...... I've a few ideas on where and how I could hang them....

But I will probably do this........ in numerical order, with 24 being the last parcel at the top of the stairs.......

Have a great day
Love Lizx

Friday, 27 November 2015


This Sunday - 29th November - is the first Sunday of Advent. Although it's not December - just yet - in western Christianity Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas Day. So therefore, this year it begins this Sunday.

This is not when you get your Advent Calenders out, or when you can start opening windows and eating chocolates, this is a more gentle occasion and for some more thoughtful, the lighting of a candle to symbolise the start of the lead up to Christmas. As a child I was told at Sunday School the meaning of the four candles - I'm not sure if I have remembered it all correctly but I still think that the first candle is for Hope, the second To Prepare, the third Joy and the fourth for Love. Which all seem good sentiments to carry with you through the lead up to Christmas and beyond.

To me the start of Advent also means the start of Christmas. In my town it always coincides with the towns Dickensian Evening where the shops put up their Christmas decorations and stay open late, the Christmas light in the town are turned on, we have a lantern parade with all the local children and there are street stalls, hot chestnuts, mulled wine, Town Criers and Morris dancing in the streets. It's a perfect way to start........

This year my preparations for Advent and Christmas are all about simplicity. We will be dividing our time between Bath and Cornwall this year and spending Christmas with my parents - yay Mum's cooking the Turkey!! - so I have decided to keep everything easy, simple, and very Scandinavian.

My choice of arrangement for Advent this year shows my Christmas decoration style perfectly.....

However, if your looking for something a little different here are a few others I looked at for inspiration....

There are loads  on my pinterest board - if you want more click on the link below......


I hope you all have a peaceful start to your Advent

Love Lizx

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Indian Spiced Chicken with A Quick Pilau Rice

I've said it before, I will probably say it again, and I'm definitely going to say it now....... ''eating is visual''

I'm sure some study has been done to tell us how much of what we enjoy eating is due to visual stimulus and I am a firm believer in arranging a plate of food, be it just my simple bowl of porridge in the morning or a sandwich for lunch. All have to look good even if I'm the only one seeing and eating it. To me it shows love and care has been taken to prepare the meal, it's a way to demonstrate you have pride in your dish, it looks good, it tastes good and you want to show all that as you place the meal in front of your family and friends.

This plate of food really does that for's sunshine food, all full of colour and spicy flavours. It look so bright on the plate, has a spicy rich flavour and is a really satisfying supper - it's definitely 'Good Mood Food'

Recipe - Serves 2
2 large chicken breast - thick meaty organic one if you can get them
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon Turmeric
2 cloves garlic - crushed
1 dessertspoon tomato paste
1 large pinch of chilli flakes - more if your feeling hot and spicy
olive oil

For the Pilau Rice
half teaspoon cumin
small knob of butter
2 cardamon pods
1 teaspoon turmeric
half a cinnamon stick - optional
1 bay leaf
measure 150ml long grain rice in a jug
300ml boiling water

Spring onions and yellow peppers to serve

Measure out your whole spices and place in a pestle and mortar. Give it all a good bash to crush, but not powder your spices.

Add the crushed garlic, turmeric, chilli and tomato paste, give it all a good mix. Add a pinch of salt if you wish.

Now add about a tablespoon of  olive oil to the mix to form a thick paste. Set aside whilst you prepare the chicken.

Cut the chicken into thick slices, you should be able to get at least four fat slices from each breast. Place them in a bowl and pour over the spicy paste. Mix it all really well, making sure all get a good covering. Seal the bowl and set aside, in the fridge, for at least an hour - over night would be perfect but you need to be organised for that and I never am!

Before you cook the chicken you need to get the rice and the vegetables underway. First up it the rice. Grab a deep sided, non-stick, frying pan and dry toast the cumin. give it a squish with the back of a wooden spoon to crush it a bit, add a little knob of butter and then the turmeric, cardamon pods and rice. Stir until all the rice is coated then pour in the boiling water, add the bay leaf and the cinnamon stick if using. Cover the pan and set to simmer on the lowest setting until it's tender and fluffy - about 12-15 minutes. Before serving take the lid off the pan, let the steam dry the rice and then run a fork through to fluff it up. Before serving remove the cardamon pods, the cinnamon stick and the bay leaf.

To prepare the vegetables - cut the pepper into long strips length wise and trim the spring onions - but leave them long. Get you griddle good and hot, lightly coat the peppers and onion in a little olive oil and then place on the griddle to cook - let them blacken slightly along the edges. If they are cooked before you are ready to serve just wrap them in some foil to keep them hot.

Now you are ready to cook the chicken.

Heat a non stick pan on high. Give your chicken a good mix in the bowl and then place each slice into the pan - do not up-end the bowl over the pan - you don't want to add excess liquid which could cause the chicken to broil rather than 'dry-fry'. Quickly cook the chicken on both sides to colour the meat and then turn down the heat to medium. Let your chicken cooked but do not over cook and make the meat dry - should take about 8-10 minutes.

To serve place the rice on a hot plate, arrange the chicken off to one side of the rice and place a few pepper slices and spring onions over the top. A little natural yogurt goes well with this so add a bowl to the table if you wish.

Have a great day
Love Lizx

 Indian Chicken