It is the last Friday before Christmas, and after a long week of gingerbread house making and a wonderful X-factor inspired Christmas show put on by students and teachers today (I was Elvis!), I can finally kick back and relax guilt-free. And tell you about my favourite Christmas things.
1. Christmas baking: Pretty much a given for me, although I've never done baking on the scale my mom used to do. Last year, I made about six batches of Millionaire Shortbread as Christmas gifts for my husband's family. This year, I spent this past week making gingerbread houses with students, all from scratch, using recipes and templates from the Great British Bake Off: How to turn everyday bakes into showstoppers book, and including creating stained glass windows out of candies. This was my first time making gingerbread houses ever, because I actually don't like gingerbread, but I knew it would be a wonderful experience for my students. And it was. Unfortunately I can't post any photos because they're on my camera at school.
I can, however, post photos of Millionaire Shortbread!
This photo was from a post of mine last year, where I gave instructions on how to make an already delicious recipe even better. Millionaire Shortbread is a rich Scottish baked treat, but isn't actually a Christmas treat here as Shortbread is a year round thing. It's basically a fancier, more indulgent version with caramel and chocolate that you wouldn't eat so often as it's also loaded with butter, sugar, and sweetened condensed milk!
2. Christmas romantic comedies: All my favourites include an allstar cast and that certain element that makes you want to watch them over and over and over again. The Holiday, so bad and cheesy yet so good! The scene when the little girls meet Cameron Diaz for the first time brings a tear to my eye every time, and I think Eli Wallach is absolutely adorable in it.
3. Holiday food traditions: My mom is French Canadian and every year, she makes Cipate (pronounced 'See-paat'), which traditionally is a game pie. She makes it with beef, pork, and chicken, along with carrots, celery and onions, some spices and lots of white wine. It's all contained in a large casserole with a pie crust on top, and it's amazing. This dish is a French-Canadian dish, where many families will have their own version, and my family has been making it for years. I made my first Cipate last year, and will make Pat and I one again this year. Click here for the recipe.
4. Christmas ornaments: Every year since I was a teenager, my mom would buy my sister and I a Christmas ornament. We've both accumulated quite a collection, along with ornaments we've received as children from others, and for me, ornaments I've received from students in the past. When I moved to Scotland, one thing I made sure to take with me was my Christmas ornaments as I was determined Pat and I would always have a Christmas tree. Three years later, we've finally put our first! Granted, it's a 3 foot artifical tree from Asda, that we bought for £3, but it still counts. We put the tree up this week, and I got to reminisce as each ornament was unwrapped and put on the tree.
|From my childhood friend Adrienne, who gave this to me when we were little|
|Another one from when I was a kid|
6. Being with family: This is what Christmas has always been about for me. I have a truly wonderful family back in Canada, and I miss them all so much. Now that I'm married, I'm fortunate to have two more wonderful families to be a part of, and we make sure we see each other quite a bit over the holidays. My first Christmas in Scotland, we actually traveled to Germany to be with my sister-in-law Kate and her family. This was my first Christmas away from my family, which was really tough, and yes I did breakdown and cry (not in Germany though Kate, don't worry!), but I had wonderful people around me to still have that family feeling. Last year, Pat and I were on our own as everyone was in Germany again, and we couldn't go. I was scared that it would be a horrible Christmas, but it actually was one of the best one's I've ever had!
And in typical, expat fashion, we will be spending a lot of time on Skype this Christmas, like every Christmas, chatting with family in Canada and Germany.
Question: Will you be running Christmas day? Tracy is. I actually was going to, but our weekend plans have changed which means I will run Christmas Eve and Boxing Day instead. I had planned to do an easy 4 miles Christmas day, at which my husband initially thought was a silly idea. But after he thought about it a bit more, he liked it and said he would do it with me. We had also decided to do it in the Santa Run Santa outfits, just to be festive. Oh well!
If these epic rains which creates epic flooding right now here in Scotland let us, we're heading down to Edinburgh Sunday for the German Christmas market, our two favourite Asian restaurants (Chop Chop and the Thai Orchid), and some ice skating!
Finally, my holiday message with a little help from my favourite dogs.
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,
and may you all have a safe and happy holiday season,
wherever you are, and whoever you're with.
P.S. Do you like the new header?