Five good things I have discovered this Christmas

Christmas tree

Discovery number 1:Β A super-duper, handy-dandy, egg timer! Maybe other people knew about these, but I didn’t (and if you did, why didn’t you tell me about them?!). You place it in a pan of cold water with the eggs, and as things heat up, a ring comes across telling you where your eggs are in the cooking process, and by golly it works! I like soft boiled eggs but can never get the timing right, so this is a miracle in the world of egg-boiling…

Christmas egg timer before useEgg timer post use

Discovery number 2: I am turning into my grandmother. Yes, every gift that is given to me or my kids is now viewed by me as a potential donator of wrapping materials that can be reused. So while the kids are ripping open presents, I can be found crawling around the floor collecting bows and smoothing out gift bags. Well hey, it’s not only frugal but good for the environment, so it’s nothing to be ashamed of right?

Discovery number 3: A great Christmas party food recipe. I’m not the greatest cook in the world, I’m not terrible, but it’s all a bit hit or miss. I therefore find entertaining to be quite stressful, so I’m always delighted to find recipes that are foolproof but still impressive. This one is rather decadent – 12 large pitted prunes, soaked overnight in 100ml brandy, stuffed with 100g stilton cheese, wrapped snugly in 12 slices of parma ham (prosciutto), baked for 10 mins, then served warm. The parma ham could be substituted with another very thinly sliced dry-cured aged ham, but it does need to be one with that type of strong flavour, it really wouldn’t be the same with regular ham. Also, keep in mind that with only a few minutes baking, it retains a pretty high alcohol content so don’t be dishing them out to the kids! I took a photo before putting it in the oven, I meant to take an after photo too but forgot. Obviously, it’s all in the presentation when you serve them!

Christmas party food dish

Discovery number 4: Taking a walk on Boxing Day in the rain and cold and mud can be fun if you’re with lovely people and dogs. Here we are; well not me because I’m taking the photo, and not the dogs because they were running off somewhere, but the other lovely people! (You can tell how lovely they are even from the back view can’t you) –

Christmas walk

Discovery number 5: That sometimes the best gifts can be the most spontaneous ones. A friend at a Christmas gathering loved a jacket I was wearing and so I just took it off and gave it to her – She was absolutely delighted, and it truly looked much better on her than it did on me. Just to clarify, I don’t make a habit of discarding and handing over items of clothing I am complimented on, but it just felt right on this occasion and it made me and her happy.

I know a lot of you are probably not doing your usual blog reading at the moment, but if you are, did you make any good discoveries this Christmas?

Oh, and just a quick reminder, you still have until 11pm (GMT) tomorrow to enter the giveaway in my last post if you haven’t done that yet – Author chat and a chance to win an Amazon gift card, oh yes!

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47 responses to “Five good things I have discovered this Christmas

  1. I discovered that simple is always better and that there is nothing like a hug from those that I love. (I kind of knew these things already, but I was reminded of them)! πŸ™‚

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  2. I also was reminded that you don’t have to have a lavish celebration to be happy. We kept it very simple this year and it truly was all the better for it. Yvonne x

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  3. Homemade food is the best gift. If you took the time to bake something for me it tells me you care so much more than a store bought bobble.

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    • You’re right, homemade food does make a great gift! A few years ago we made batches of fudge and packed them up in pretty boxes for Christmas presents. I might revisit homemade food gifts next year…

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  4. Oh, now I want an egg timer, too! I’ll probably have to wait until next year’s stocking stuffers.

    Sounds like you had a great Christmas, and you even managed a walk outside the next day. I’m impressed. I tend to shun the cold. I’m a bit wimpy that way, which I guess begs the question of why I live in Ohio?…

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    • Well pop the egg timer on your list for next year, and if you’re a good girl, Santa might bring it for you.

      Yes, I’m a wimp when it comes to cold and rain and suchlike, that’s why it was a discovery for me that I could have fun in it!

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  5. These were some great discoveries! I have to comment on your prunes…My sister makes a similar dish: bacon-wrapped dates. When I first heard about it, I said Yuck–dates. Then one year I went to a party which served hors d’oeuvres only, and I felt I owed it to her to try them. They were heavenly–gooey and sticky sweet but salty. You should try them–they are even less trouble than your prune dish.

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  6. Dates are a big staple of Middle Eastern food (no surprise there). I have a Palestinian employee who has introduced me to many things. His mother once visited from Jordan and made homemade baklava using pistachios. I had always had baklava with either walnuts or pecans. It was surprising what a difference it made, in a good way.

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    • My maternal grandmother was French Egyptian so I grew up with a lot of Middle Eastern food, although I guess dates can’t have been one of her favourites because I don’t remember them featuring much! I agree that baklava is far superior with pistachios!

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  7. I learned that Christmas really is what you make it, from the inside.

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  8. That is beautiful landscape – is that where you live? It’s great.

    My wife has been recycling boxes, paper, and ribbons – Ha, sometimes even cards – which can be very funny.

    What is boxing day?

    And like you, I find cooking stressful so I tend not to entertain. I love to cook when I have the time and don’t have to entertain – just throw
    something together.
    Randy

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    • Yes, that particular place where we went for the walk is about half an hour’s drive from where I live because that’s where we were for the day. But it’s typical of the county I live in which is Kent, and I live in a small rural village.

      Boxing day is what we call the day after Christmas here in the UK. It’s another public holiday, and it’s often a kind of second Christmas day, e.g. an opportunity to celebrate with relatives that you didn’t see on Christmas day! I don’t think there is a definitive answer of why it is called Boxing day, but there are several theories, the one I favour is that years ago, rich people would give their servants a Christmas box on the day after Christmas which would contain left over food and maybe a few gifts and money – the servants had to serve on Christmas day, but they were given the day after off to spend with their families, and so were given that Christmas box to take home to their families. I like that one best!

      Me too on the cooking, I love it when I’m in the mood and have the time, and am perfectly happy to do it when it’s just us at home, but as soon as I have to cook for anyone else, I get panicky and it all seems to go wrong!

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  9. Such lovely (and yummy!) thoughts to extend to your readers at this time of year, Vanessa. πŸ˜€

    First, I’d always thought egg timers were just, well, timers. I had no idea they were so specific to egg-cooking! Second, you’re not the only one who goes digging through the wrapping and bows. I’m especially careful with the prettier ones, for their own sake, but it’s been a long-standing joke among my family that my dad never, ever rips any wrapping paper if he can absolutely help it. πŸ™‚

    Thanks for sharing these charming observations and photos with your readers. I admit I’m not doing my usual blogging/reading this week of calories and blanket-cuddles, but it’s a treat to read one like yours. πŸ™‚

    Hope the rest of this year and holiday season is just as lovely for you as it’s already been!

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    • Hi Mayumi! I think generally egg timers are just timers, this is the first one I’ve seen that actually goes in the pan with the eggs and is therefore specific to just eggs!

      I haven’t actually started saving wrapping paper for reuse, but bows and bags definitely!

      It’s definitely a bit quieter out in the blogging world at the moment, glad you stopped by here! Hope you’ve been having a lovely holiday season yourself.

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      • It is like a ghost town around here, isn’t it? πŸ™‚ Still, it’s a nice excuse to concentrate on our own work without the distraction…even if we do sometimes crave the distraction. πŸ˜€

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  10. That egg timer thing does look awfully cool. I had heard of such a thing being in existance, but I never really knew what it looked like and how it worked until now. So, to answer your last question: Yes, I did make a new discovery, thanks to you! (The other things were new to me too, but the egg timer really got to me, for some reason!)

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  11. what I learned – to take my own advice about keep it simple, less is more – I ignored it and went through a few stressful moments–but everything worked out in the end
    Really enjoyed your post–varied and interesting, and I too gather up wrapping stuff for next time

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  12. Oh my God! You are turning into my grandmother too… we always had to unwrap everything so carefully.

    I loved #5!

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  13. Hey, that egg-ometer thing looks great! I’ve heard about them before, but I’ve never actually seen one “in the flesh” or even a photo of one so I was starting to suspect they didn’t exist. Now I’m a believer.

    Not so much discoveries, but a couple of reminders:
    1. Value and price are completely separate things. My young children played very happily with the boxes and wrapping paper, and weren’t too fussed about the price of some of their presents. Imagination attaches far greater value to things than a price tag ever can.
    2. A Sellotape (sticky tape) dispenser saves a heck of a lot of time when wrapping presents, and is a very good investment.
    3. It’s very easy to over-cater food-wise (can I get away with that close-proximity double-hyphenation?), believing that the food shops will be closed for longer than they actually are, and that starvation will inevitably follow – it rarely does.
    4. Father Christmas doesn’t get his wrapping paper from the same place as the rest of us, so it’s important to have some previously unseen paper stashed somewhere secret – otherwise the children will start to suspect that someone hasn’t been telling “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”.

    I love the idea of going out for a family walk in the wind and the rain, either on Christmas Day afternoon or Boxing Day. I used to dislike this, preferring to stay in the warm and dry – but as soon as I discovered that I didn’t dissolve in the wet and that I would eventually return to room temperature, I found a bracing walk much more enjoyable.

    And now I’m off to the shops to get some pitted prunes. I was going to make a pun about them having a date with stilton, parma ham and brandy, but for semi-obvious reasons I couldn’t get it to work…

    Have a Happy New Year!

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    • Glad I’ve turned you into a believer on the egg-timer!

      Definitely true on the value/price – last year, for all the fancy expensive presents my kids received, the most fun we all had with a simple card game called ‘Lose your letters’ which I had bought as a little stocking filler for about Β£2.

      I do a lot of double-hyphenation too and question it at times! Very true about the shopping, I always over-stock with my Christmas food shopping – years ago, the shops were shut for a few days over the period weren’t they, but now it’s only really Christmas day itself. However, for me it’s more about not wanting to have to go back food shopping over that time unless I really have to.

      Yes, I messed up on the Father Christmas wrapping paper thing one year, so I had to explain that sometimes he runs out of time and so has to leave the gifts for the parents to wrap! My two are 14 and 11 now, so we don’t have to worry about Father Christmas issues any more!

      If you make the recipe, let me know how it works for you!

      Happy New Year to you too πŸ™‚

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  14. Talk about a balanced diet! Prunes, booze, quality bleu cheese and pork products. All in one bite?! Where do I sign up??

    For the record, I made no new discoveries this Christmas. In the spirit of full disclosure, I confess that at least part of the reason I read your posts is to look at your dreamy eyes in your header photo.

    P.S. – I can’t read the words “Boxing Day” without hearing Elvis Costello’s song of the same name blaring in my head. I only wish you Brits had a holiday called “Shipbuilding” or “Every Day I Write The Book” as I like those two songs a little better.

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    • You’re right! Most of the major food groups in one little bite! In fact if we swapped the brandy for whisky, then we would have grain covered too! I never realised it was such a healthy recipe πŸ™‚

      Aww, you charmer you! I can’t comment on your eyes because they are behind shades.

      I’ll have a word with the Queen and the Prime Minister to see if we can add some holidays with those names for you, ok?

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      • My shades are strategically placed to keep any internet stalkers from seeing my turd-brown eyes. One look at these peepers and women lose all self control. I’m doing this for your own good!

        Don’t bother the Queen and PM, they’ll likely assume you’re just another Australian shock jock and ignore you anyway.

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  15. The older I get the simpler I want things. However, it’s difficult when the kids are so young and all about Santa and gifts. But I notice every year I’m cutting corners just to lessen the burdens and get the most out of the *spirit* of Christmas. Happy Holidays!

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  16. I just name dropped you on my blog! I happen to have occasion to point our your egg timer recommendation. πŸ™‚

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  17. I love simple gifts at Christmas. And I’m with you on the recycling of paper and gift bagsβ€”even tags! We still have some from more years ago than I care to detail! πŸ˜€

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  18. Oh, how sweet of you to offer your jacket, Vanessa. And, what a lovely walk. It looks so green. My Christmas was pretty quiet this year with just my husband and the kids. It was pretty relaxing.

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  19. Pingback: Happy Blogiversary to Me | Joy in the Moments

  20. O.M.G.!!!!!! I absolutely must get an egg timer like that one!!!! That’s my Christmas discovery, and you made me as happy as if you handed over the jacket off your back. ; ) Thanks, Vanessa. BTW, your walk across the wet, blowy moors looks picture-postcard perfect.

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  21. Ooooh I need the egg timer! you should have seen me Christmas day ” Hey are these eggs done?…..how bout now?………Now???”

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