Wednesday, 30 December 2009

New Year Goals

This time of year resonates with me. A fresh start, a new year, whole new possibilities...

In November I joined Melisa's group Be A Beacon. It really has changed the way I think in unexpected ways. I am finding it very helpful in my personal life & in my life with the Lord (the two are very much one & the same...)

So, inspired by the Be A Beacon programme, I have just one New Year's goal -

To differentiate in Prayer & meditation between essentials & non-essentials

This is the first of Steiner's Six Exercises.

This exercise has helped me so much. For me, it transforms from the inside out, whereas before, my 'simplification' I think has been more 'outside in'

Does that make any sense???

I know I will fall short of perfection...& being a perfectionist, this is tough for me to deal with...but spending time with God, praying & meditating on what truly matters brings me to ponder that there is no place for perfectionism in my life, anyway. - It is a non-essential.

Psalm 63

O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;
To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.
Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.
Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:
When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.
Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.
My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.
But those that seek my soul, to destroy it, shall go into the lower parts of the earth.
They shall fall by the sword: they shall be a portion for foxes.
But the king shall rejoice in God; every one that sweareth by him shall glory: but the mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped.

I would love to hear of your own new year goals - please let me know your thoughts...

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

January Plans

As I mentioned in my last post, there will be no school for the first week of January.
Despite the fact that I have my plans all neatly written out, I have a bit of a panic at this time of year - a vague sense of ' I dont know what I am doing!' I think it relates to us having had the whole of December off regular 'school' - although we maintain circle time, we switch to baking, gift making & card making.
So back to school in January is somewhat of a shock!
I spent time this morning reading over my plans for January & printing out our circle time hymn, verses & songs to put in my little 'Verses Book" that I carry around.
I also planned out what I would like to achieve during our holiday - yes, even our holiday time has structure. I find it works best this way, otherwise the temptation of the television is too much!

Here is my list:

Daily walks in the woods - During school time, our daily walks take us to a local park - which is very pretty - but on days with no school, we have more time to wander that little bit further into the woodland.

"French Day" - We are learning French, so it will be super to cook a traditional French meal for Dinner. We can decorate the table with French flags the girls have coloured & toast our meals 'à la française' - À votre santé : )

Blackboard Fun - the girls can be let loose with chalks on Mummy's blackboard - this is truly an honor!

Play Games We have some lovely games & puzzles A morning spent palying them together with no other tasks will be a lot of fun!

Face Paints I shall strip the girls & let them at each other with face paints : )
A lovely warm sudsy bath will follow : )

An afternoon curled up on the sofa with books & hot chocolate no further explaination needed : )

I hope to be able to take some time this week to work on our second grade plans for September.......but that is another post altogether : )

January Circle Time

We will be taking off the first week in January.
Here is our circle time for the rest of the month:


We three kings of Orient are

Bearing gifts we traverse afar

Field and fountain, moor and mountain

Following yonder star

O Star of wonder, star of night

Star with royal beauty bright

Westward leading, still proceeding

Guide us to thy Perfect Light


Matthew 2:11

And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.


Now that winter's come to stay
all the trees are bare.
Little birds must fly away
To find their food elsewhere.

Little seeds lie hidden
In the dark brow earth,
Waiting until bidden
To rise above the earth.

(winter - Wynnstones)

Finger Play:

Softly, Softly, through the darkness ('patter' fingers)
Snow is falling
Sharply, sharply, in the meadows (cup ear)
Lambs are calling
Coldly, coldly, all around me (cuddle self)
Winds are blowing.
Brighly, brightly, up above me ('twinkle' fingers)
Stars are glowing

(winter - Wynnstones)


On the wind of January, down flits the snow.
Traveling from the frozen north
Cold as it can blow.

(winter - Wynnstones)

Math Facts:

counting 1-100 & 100-1
Skip counting 2's 3's 4's & 5's

(I think we will most likely just learn the first line verse of this song)

© 2003 Alain Le Lait

Bonjour, bonjour 

Comment ça va?

Bonjour, bonjour

Trés bien, merci
Je suis content d’être ici

Avec tous mes petits amis

Bonjour, bonjour

Comment ça va?

Merci, merci

Merci d’être ici

Merci, merci

Aimez-vous cette chanson?

J’éspère que je suis dans le ton

Merci, merci

Merci d’être ici

Hello, hello

How are you?

Hello, hello

Very well, thank you
I am happy to be here
With all my little friends

Hello, hello
How are you?

Thank you, thank you

For being here

Thank you, thank you

Listen up

Do you like this song?

I hope that I am in tune

Thank you, thank you

For being here 


Mary Had A Little Lamb

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Merry Christmas

I think life will be a little too busy to blog again before Christmas, so I want to wish you all a

Very Merry Christmas!

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

Lynn xxxxxx

Monday, 21 December 2009


The beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere
The winter solstice marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year. The sun appears at its lowest point in the sky, therefore it crosses the sky in the quickest time which makes this the shortest day of the year. Its noontime elevation appears to be the same for several days before and after the solstice, hence the origin of the word solstice; which comes from Latin solstitium, from sol, "sun" and -stitium, "a stoppage." Following the winter solstice, the days begin to grow longer and the nights shorter.
Sunshine makes the seasons
You can see the reason for these changes using a globe for the earth & a torch for the sun.
Put a sticker on the place where you live on the globe. Turn the globe so that the north pole is tilted away from the torch. Turn the globe all the way around & you will see that the sticker is in the light only a short time.The northern half of the earth has short days & long nights. Sunlight does not fall on the north pole. The north pole has its long winter night. It is winter & it is cold.
Keep the globe tilted in the same direction & go partway around the torch. Now the light falls on both polls. It is springtime in the north. Days are getting longer. Without changing the direction of the globe, move until you are halfway around the torch from where you started. Soon the North Pole will be tilted toward the light. It is summer. As you spin the globe, the sticker is in the light longer than it is in the dark. The northern half of the earth has long days & short nights. The North Pole has its long summer day. It is summer & it is warm. Keep moving around the torch. Remember, keep the axis of the globe pointing in the same direction. You’ll see that once again light falls on both the North pole & the South Pole of the globe. It is autumn in the north. The days are getting shorter & cooler too. Keep moving until you come back to winter.

A song to sing:
Down with darkness, up with light,
Up with sunshine, down with night,
Each of us is one small light.
But together we shine bright.

Go away darkest, blackest night.
Go away, give way to light.

A spiral Walk

In the woodlands or garden, lay out a path, spiraling inwards. Moss & greenery can edge the path & a tall candle in the centre of the spiral. Beautiful stones & rocks can be set in the greenery & stars of gold card line the pathway.

The celebration can begin with a reading of John 8:12

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

Carol singing follows. During the singing, each child approaches the entrance of the spiral path to receive a white candle (or tealight) in a shiny red apple, which they carry toward the centre of the spiral. (Little ones shepherded by a parent or older child) From the centre candle, they take light for their own candle & then proceede outwards, very carefuly until they find a gold star on which to place their own apple & candle.
When all the children have walked the path, serve solstice fairy cakes(see below), star sugar cookies & warm pear juice, or mulled apple jiuce. They may keep their apple candle to relight & re-kindle the memories of a special walk.

Solstice Fairy Cakes:

We ice half a batch of fairy cakes with white chocolate & half with milk chocolate: white representing the (returning) light and milk symbolizing the (retreating) dark.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Winter Wonderland

Sleigh bells ring, are you listening,
In the lane, snow is glistening
A beautiful sight,
We're happy tonight.
Walking in a winter wonderland.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Of Snowmen, Sausage Rolls, Stollen & Sewing

The snow came down even heavier today & was much enjoyed by my girls.
Aided by Daddy, they made a tiny snowman named Luke.

Daddy picked the Holly berries for his eyes & buttons : )

Two very proud girls!

Here you see him sporting a bow tie!

At this point the girls came in & had a warming lunch - home made potato & leek soup & warm apple juice. Quiet time was abandoned in honor of this special day & whilst Rosie came to help in the kitchen, Elianna went outside to play with her snowman. Her you can see 'Princess Leah' that she made to keep Luke company ; )

Rosie & I busied ourselves in the kitchen, baking our usual 'Saturday Loaves'. We also made some Sausage Rolls to freeze ahead, ready for Christmas & a loaf of seasonal Stollen as a special treat for tomorrow's breakfast.

A tired & cold Elianna joined us for our weekly 'Pizza & movie night' & disaster struck - down came the rain - cold & bitter.
Luke & Leah were offered protection:

But, we had to face the fact that rain does not bode well for those of snow origin...

My poor, poor girl. Her heart truly broken. My girls are always tucked up in their beds by 7pm - tonight, Rosie went alone & Elianna & I cosied up on my bed - she with her spinning, I with my knitting. We chatted & cried &, eventually, laughed.
Then I remembered the wee surprise I had tucked away as a Christmas gift Girls' Best Book of Knitting, Sewing, and Embroidery by Virginie Desmoulins

This is a lovely little book that I would encourage you to take a look at, if you have daughters who are interested in crafting.
I made my excuses & nipped off to retrieve the book from its hiding place. Oh, you should have seen the smiles & the curiosity when I presented the book to my daughter!
The cover of the book actually has a cardboard Dolly that you 'pop out' of the cover - & lots of lovely ideas inside the book for making clothes for her, along with many other wonderful embroidery, knitting & sewing projects.

At 9pm a very tired, but much more peaceful Elianna went to bed, taking with her the new book. As i kissed her goodnight, she asked to have the lamp left on, so she could browse the book for a while before she went to sleep. It is so wonderful to connect with my child over a shared hobby. I love the times we knit, spin, sew & craft together.

It is good for the soul.

Goodnight & wishing you sweet, creative dreams : )

Friday, 18 December 2009

Snowy Day...

Outside, the snow provides opportunities for old-fashioned family entertainment.

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
Isaiah 1:18

Things to do

Build a snowman
Make snow angels
Have a snowball fight
Make paper snowflakes
A Snow Day Tea
Soup & Sandwhiches

White Hot Chocolate
• 4 cups whole milk
• 4 cups half-and-half
• 1 pound white chocolate, chopped
• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 8 to 10 vanilla beans
In a saucepan on medium heat, heat the milk and half-and-half to just below the simmering point. Remove the pan from the heat and add the white chocolate. When the chocolate is melted, add the vanilla and whisk vigorously. Reheat very gently and serve with a vanilla bean stirrer in each cup.
(Serves 8-10. From The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook)

Snow Ice cream
1 cup of milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla & 1/2 cup of sugar. Beat well untill frothy. Place mixture in a bowl & add enough clean, fresh snow until the liquid is completely absorbed by the snow. This delicious concoction will have the consistency of sherbert.


Snow Is Falling by Franklin M. Branley,
Snowflake Bentley by Jaqueline Briggs Martin,
Ken Libbrecht's Field Guide to Snowflakes by Kenneth G. Libbrecht,
First Snow in the Woods by Carl R. Sams and Jean Stoick.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

December Circle Time

December Circle Time

Hymn -
Silent Night

Scripture -
Luke 2:8-14
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Alphabet beanbag toss

Verse -
Hush a bye, hush a bye, holy night,
angels have brought the child of light:
All mankind shall gently bear Him,
all the beasts shall nestle near Him,
all the flowers shall adore Him,
all the stones shall kneel before Him,
all the world shall worship Him,
Cherubim & Seraphim.

Winter - Wynstones

Finger Play -

Mary rocks her baby, (rock)
Joseph holds a light (twinkle fingers)
ox & ass are standing
In the stable bright (‘rainbow’ hands)

Shepherds in the doorway
Comr to greet the child, (bow)
Now they kneel before Him (mime)
And His mother mild

One holds out a lambkin (hold out hands)
soft & white as snow, (stroke)
All shall give their presents (hold out hands)
Ere they homeward go (wave)
Winter - Wynstones

Song -

We are shepherds& we sing of lots of jolly things.
We can dance & we can shout, we can wave our caps about.
The stars shine above us, the snow shines below And we are so happy in this wondrous glow.

Winter - Wynstones

Math Facts -
Counting 1-100 / 100-1 beanbag games

(bean bag toss. Whisper numbers, shout the skip count numbers)

There was a family strange indeed;
Each member had a peculiar speed
They could walk for half a day
Counting footsteps all the way.
Here they come,
Number One

I am proper, neat & prim
My walk is straight, my clothes are trim
That every one’s the same for me.
1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12 (up to 24)

But my two steps are not the same.
For I must lean upon my cane
Although I’m bent & weak & old
I can still count with numbers bold

Im a lad, light & gay
And I’d much rather play
I can run with my ball
While the numbers I call

Our French Song -

He is born the divine child
He is born the divine child,
          Play oboe, resonate musette.
          He is born the divine child,
          Let's all sing his accession.
          For more than four thousand years
          We've promised by the prophets,
          For more than four thousand years
          We've been waiting for this happy time.
          A stable is his lodging,
          A bit of hay is his little bed,
     A stable is his lodging,
          For a god such a humble thing.
          O Jesus, o all powerful king,
          Such a little child you are,
          O Jesus, o all powerful God,
          Rule completely over us.

Il est né le divin enfant
Il est né le divin enfant,
Jouez hautbois, résonnez musette.
Il est né le divin enfant,
Chantons tous son avènement.
Depuis plus de quatre mille ans
Nous le promettaient les prophètes,

Depuis plus de quatre mille ans
Nous attendions cet heureux temps.
Une étable est son logement,
Un peu de paille est sa couchette,
Une étable est son logement,
Pour un dieu quel abaissement.
O Jésus, ô roi tout puissant,
Tout petit enfant que vous êtes,
O Jésus, ô roi tout puissant,
Régnez sur nous entièrement.

Rosie’s Story - (preschooler)
The little Fir Tree
Winter - wynstones

Snack time & read aloud -
One Wintry Night

Monday, 23 November 2009

Advent is coming!

Advent ~ 4th Sunday before December 25
(the Sunday between November 27 and December 3 inclusive.)

Our Advent Traditions ~

Advent Morning devotions : We use the Jesse tree devotions here. However, I personally do not think all of the devotions are age appropriate for my children, so some of them I change or miss out altogether.
The decorations I sewed or needle felted & some my girls made.

Our Advent Calendar ~ This year we will be using this calendar.

And this book

Our Advent Wreath ~
The advent wreath is full of symbolism, which makes rich learning for children & adults alike.
The growing light heralds the growing anticipation of the birth of Jesus Christ who is 'The light of the world' John 8:12.
The circle demonstrates that God & His love has no beginning & no end. The evergreen, everlasting life.
The colour of the candles has its own significance. Three purple (the colour of royalty - used as it is the season of the coming of our King) and one rose (the joy candle.)The fifth candle is a white candle~ the Christ candle and is placed in the centre of the wreath and lit on Christmas day to celebrate the miracle of Jesus birth.

Play Christmas music

Begin our Christmas Journals We began these on Stir Up Sunday.
You can see my girls journals in this post. They decorated the outside with old Christmas cards & recorded Stir Up Sunday.
They will add drawings of advent happenings, photos & other memorabilia. Makes a lovely keepsake for them.
My own Christmas journal is one I started when Elianna was a baby. I love to look back over each year's happenings & my thoughts.

My Christmas devotional reading
This year I will be reading A Child in Winter: Advent, Epiphany, Christmas with Caryll Houselander

Be Christmas Angels: Each person has a secret partner, for whom they do secret acts of kindness, throughout Advent.
Straw for the baby Jesus. For each kind deed throughout advent, you may add a piece of straw to the baby Jesus’ crib

‘Happy Advent’ cake ~
This dark chocolate Bundt cake is a chocolate-lover's dream. This is a delicious and intensely chocolate cake, especially if you use a high-quality or Dutch-process cocoa.
• 8 ounces butter (2 sticks)
• 1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa, such as Valrhona or high-quality, such as Scharffen Berger*
• 3/4 cup water
• 2 cups granulated sugar
• 1 cup sour cream
• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
• 2 large eggs
• 2 cups all-purpose flour, stir before measuring
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt

Grease and flour a 10- to 12-cup Bundt pan. Heat oven to GM 4
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat; add cocoa, stirring until smooth. Whisk in the water and remove from heat. To the warm cocoa mixture, add the sugar, sour cream, 1 tablespoon vanilla, and eggs; whisk until smooth. In another bowl combine the flour, soda, and salt. Add all at once to the first mixture, whisking until well blended.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until it feels firm to the touch and has slightly pulled away from the sides of the pan. Cool in pan on a rack for 20 minutes. Carefully loosen the cake with a knife and invert onto a large plate.
Serves 10 to 12.
*If you're using a standard baking cocoa (not Dutch-process or high-quality) add 1/2 teaspoon more of baking soda to the dry ingredients.

Begin our Nativity scene. Animals, Mary & Joseph, shepherds & finally, on The Epiphany, the Wise Men. We use a porcelain set that I purchased for my first Christmas as a married lady with a home of her own : )

Bring out our play Nativity set. This is the set the girls play with. It is just wonderful! Beautifully made & great for play.

Make Christmas cards
Make Christmas gifts More about these two in a future post.

Bake cookies *Lots* of cookies : )

Bundle up in P.J’s & snowsuits, jump in the car with a flask of hot chocolate & go for a drive to see all the christmas lights This is usually on Elianna's birthday, but will be a different date this year, due to an extra special birthday ; )

Buy & decorate our christmas tree Oh! i love this traditon!

Go for a woodland walk to collect holly,pine cones, boughs, etc to decorate our home.

Make applesauce ornaments

Bake a gingerbread house

Snuggle up under the quilt to watch Polar Express with cookies, hot chocolate & a roaring fire.

• 4 cups whole milk
• 4 cups half-and-half
• 1 pound white chocolate, chopped
• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 8 to 10 vanilla beans
In a saucepan on medium heat, heat the milk and half-and-half to just below the simmering point. Remove the pan from the heat and add the white chocolate. When the chocolate is melted, add the vanilla and whisk vigorously. Reheat very gently and serve with a vanilla bean stirrer in each cup.
(Serves 8-10. From The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook)

Have a ‘Cocoa story time’
~ Have an afternoon of Christmas stories, cookies & cocoa

On the Solstice, decorate our garden with goodies for the birds

Attend the Carol service at church

I will be writing a post soon about our school time during advent.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Happy Stir Up Sunday!

How was your day?
Here is a peek at ours...

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Preparing for Stir Up Sunday

This Sunday is Stir Up Sunday ~ the sunday before advent

This custom is thought to have originated, because, on the Sunday before advent, Victorian congregations were exhorted to ‘stir up’ & ‘bring forth good works’ a timely reminder to the women that it was time to prepare their Christmas puddings.
An essential part of this tradition is that all members of the household must take a turn stirring the pudding while making a wish. Finally, stir a lucky coin into the sticky mixture. We can look forward to finding it on Christmas day.

Ephesians 2:10

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Traditional Christmas Pudding by Delia Smith
Serves 8-10
4 oz shredded suet 2 large eggs
2oz self raising flour 5 fl oz (75 ml) stout
4 oz (110 g) white breadcrumbs 2 tablespoons rum
1 level teaspoon ground mixed spice grated zest 1/2 large lemon
1/4 level teaspoon grated nutmeg grated zest 1/2 large orange
good pinch ground cinnamon 1 small apple, peeled cored & finely chopped
8oz soft dark brown sugar 1 oz almonds, chopped
4 oz sultanas 1 oz candied peel
40z raisins 10 oz currants

You will also need a 2 pint (1.2 litre) pudding basin, lightly greased.
This recipe makes one large pudding in a 2 pint (1.2 litre) basin. If you have any left over it will re-heat beautifully, wrapped in foil, in the oven next day. If you want two smaller puddings, use two 1 pint (570 ml) basins, but give them the same steaming time.
Begin the day before you want to steam the pudding. Take your largest, roomiest mixing bowl and start by putting in the suet, sifted flour and breadcrumbs, spices and sugar. Mix these ingredients very thoroughly together, then gradually mix in all the dried fruit, mixed peel and nuts followed by the apple and the grated orange and lemon zests. Don't forget to tick everything off so as not to leave anything out. Now in a smaller basin measure out the rum and stout, then add the eggs and beat these thoroughly together. Next pour this over all the other ingredients, and begin to mix very thoroughly. It's now traditional to gather all the family round, especially the children, and invite everyone to have a really good stir and make a wish! The mixture should have a fairly sloppy consistency – that is, it should fall instantly from the spoon when this is tapped on the side of the bowl. If you think it needs a bit more liquid add a spot more stout. Cover the bowl and leave overnight.
Next day pack the mixture into the lightly greased basin, cover it with a double sheet of silicone paper (baking parchment) and a sheet of foil and tie it securely with string (you really need to borrow someone's finger for this!). It's also a good idea to tie a piece of string across the top to make a handle. Place the pudding in a steamer set over a saucepan of simmering water and steam the pudding for 8 hours. Do make sure you keep a regular eye on the water underneath and top it up with boiling water from the kettle from time to time. When the pudding is steamed let it get quite cold, then remove the steam papers and foil and replace them with some fresh ones, again making a string handle for easier manoeuvring. Now your Christmas pudding is all ready for Christmas Day. Keep it in a cool place away from the light. Under the bed in an unheated bedroom is an ideal place.
To cook, fill a saucepan quite full with boiling water, put it on the heat and, when it comes back to the boil, place a steamer on top of the pan and turn it down to a gentle simmer. Put the Christmas pudding in the steamer, cover and leave to steam away for 2¼ hours. You'll need to check the water from time to time and maybe top it up a bit.
To serve, remove the pudding from the steamer and take off the wrapping. Slide a palette knife all round the pudding, then turn it out on to a warmed plate. Place a suitably sized sprig of holly on top. Now warm a ladleful of brandy over direct heat, and as soon as the brandy is hot ask someone to set light to it. Place the ladle, now gently flaming, on top of the pudding – but don't pour it over until you reach the table. When you do, pour it slowly over the pudding, sides and all, and watch it flame to the cheers of the assembled company! When both flames and cheers have died down, serve the pudding with rum sauce, or rum or brandy butter.

The Classic Christmas Cake by Delia Smith
1 lb currants
6 oz sultanas
6 oz raisins
2 oz (50 g) glacé cherries, rinsed, dried and finely chopped
2 oz mixed candied peel
3 tablespoons brandy, plus extra for 'feeding'
8 oz plain flour
1/2 level tsp salt
1/4 level tsp grated nutmeg
½ level teaspoon ground mixed spice
8 oz unsalted butter
8 oz soft brown sugar
4 large eggs
2 oz chopped almonds
1 level dessertspoon black treacle
grated zest 1 lemon
grated zest 1 orange

You will also need an 8 inch (20 cm) round cake tin or a 7 inch (18 cm) square tin, greased and lined with silicone paper (baking parchment). Tie a band of brown paper round the outside of the tin for extra protection.
You need to begin this cake the night before you want to bake it. All you do is weigh out the dried fruit and mixed peel, place it in a mixing bowl and mix in the brandy (or orange juice) as evenly and thoroughly as possible. Cover the bowl with a clean tea cloth and leave the fruit aside to absorb the brandy for 12 hours.
Next day pre-heat the ovento gas mark 1.Then measure out all the rest of the ingredients, ticking them off to make quite sure they're all there. The treacle will be easier to measure if you remove the lid and place the tin in a small pan of barely simmering water.
Now begin the cake by sifting the flour, salt and spices into a large mixing bowl, lifting the sieve up high to give the flour a good airing. Next, in a separate large mixing bowl, whisk the butter and sugar together until it's light, pale and fluffy. Now beat the eggs in a separate bowl and add them to the creamed mixture a tablespoonful at a time; keep the whisk running until all the egg is incorporated. If you add the eggs slowly by degrees like this the mixture won't curdle. If it does, don't worry, any cake full of such beautiful things can't fail to taste good! When all the egg has been added, fold in the flour and spices, using gentle, folding movements and not beating at all (this is to keep all that precious air in). Now fold in the fruit, peel, chopped nuts and treacle and finally the grated lemon and orange zests.
Next, using a large kitchen spoon, transfer the cake mixture into the prepared tin, spread it out evenly with the back of a spoon and, if you don't intend to ice the cake, lightly drop the whole blanched almonds in circles or squares all over the surface. Finally cover the top of the cake with a double square of silicone paper with a 50p-size hole in the centre (this gives extra protection during the long slow cooking). Bake the cake on the lowest shelf of the oven for 4½-4¾ hours. Sometimes it can take up to ½-¾ hour longer than this, but in any case don't look till at least 4 hours have passed.
Cool the cake for 30 minutes in the tin, then remove it to a wire rack to finish cooling. When it's cold 'feed' it – make small holes in the top and base of the cake with a cocktail stick or small skewer, then spoon over a few teaspoons of brandy, wrap it in double silicone paper secured with an elastic band and either wrap again in foil or store in an airtight container. You can now feed it at odd intervals until you need to ice or eat it.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Aprons & More...

A baking is such a Big Thing in our house, I spent some time this weekend sewing new aprons for the girls & made them some 'Baker's Hats' to go with them....

The gorgeous linen / cotton blend I used came from here

I slightly adapted these patterns.