Merry Christmas Eve

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Christmas Eve, a time of excitement and anticipation. Things happen during Christmas, good things, and bad things. Just because it’s Christmas doesn’t mean all life’s problems magically fix themselves. Christmas isn’t about what advertising companies make it, it’s not about the gift-giving and the decorations, and it’s not about pretending life’s problems aren’t there. It’s about taking time to reflect on the important things in life.

christmas-2

The lights and decorations remind us that this is a season of hope, love, and the promise of a new year. The gifts remind us that we are special and the people around us are special. The holidays are just an excuse to take a couple weeks, put your feet up, and have a bit of me-time.

christmas-12

I love the Christmas season. Nothing beats waking up on Christmas morning to open stockings, having brunch with your family and go on to have a wonderful day. Our plans as a family change every year and with the moving out of my brother, this Christmas is sure to be a strange one. But Christmas has a certain magic to it, and it’s something that always makes me sad when it’s over.

christmas-10

If nothing else, Christmas is a time to be around good people, good food, and good vibes. …and the fairy lights, don’t forget the fairy lights.

christmas-1

christmas-3

 

xmas-blog

Spelt Gingerbread // Eggnog

The Holidays were made for baking; especially around Christmas time. I’ve decided to share a couple recipes that I made this year for Christmas. I’ve always been a fan of baking but during Christmas ,there are a couple things that are holiday staples. The first being, Gingerbread.

christmas-baking-6

Now I was never really sure if I liked gingerbread, but when the holidays roll around you feel like you at least ought to make it. It’s the same with mince pies. Unfortunately, both my mom and I are cutting back on our wheat consumption so the only things I’m able to bake now have to be made with some kind of alternative flour or oats. Let me know if you’re interested in seeing what else I make work with these ingredients. This year I wanted to try spelt gingerbread. I tried making normal gingerbread one year, (the year I went absolutely crazy with Xmas baking which I will probably not repeat anytime soon) and it took me so long to do, even though I had a friend over to help me. This recipe, however, was made quickly and relatively fuss-free provided you are able to get hold of the ingredients.

Please excuse me as I rummage through my room to actually find the recipes I wanted to share with you…

christmas-baking-11

Ahem. So in looking for a recipe specifically suited for spelt flour I found two which looked particularly promising. The one was completely vegan, using applesauce and coconut oil in place of butter and eggs. Since I didn’t feel like being THAT healthy I combined it with another recipe that also used coconut sugar in conjunction with maple syrup. The reason I didn’t just use this recipe, however, was because I liked the combination of spices in the vegan recipe which included cinnamon and cloves instead of just ginger. If you want to view both of these recipes separately the vegan one was from makingthymeforhealth.com and the other one was from myfussyeater.com. However, if you’re interested in how I combined these two recipes then keep reading!

First, I started with 2 cups of spelt flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons ginger, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon cloves, and 1/4 cup coconut sugar. Combine all these dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. (You can sift it but that would have gotten rid of a major part of the flour that I was using. It will probably depend on how fine your flour is but if you want to keep the nuttiness of the spelt I would suggest just dumping it in)

Next, grab your 1/4 cup coconut sugar, 3 tablespoons maple syrup, 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon of molasses, 1 medium egg, and 50g (roughly 1/4 cup I think?) of butter. Stir all these wet ingredients together.

christmas-baking-1

Pour your wet mixture into your dry mixture, combine, and chill. Aim for an hour or more. Then all you’ve got to do is roll out your dough on a floured surface. The recipe says around 1/4 of an inch thick but since I have no idea what that means roll it out until you’re happy with the thickness. Cut out your shapes, transfer to a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes. One of the recipes says 160ºC and the other says 350ºF. Since the oven I use is very cold, I just used the universal 180ºC because I couldn’t be bothered about being precise and baked them until they looked done. If you like your cookies a little crunchier you might want to bake them a little longer but it depends on what your particular oven is like. Do not make your cookies super thin, super small, bake at 180º for 10 minutes and just leave them! You’re going to want to keep an eye on any cookie you’ve got baking when you do it the first time around because if you change the portion size or your oven is slightly hotter than normal you could end up with a couple very burnt cookies. (Speaking from experience)

christmas-baking-2

christmas-baking-8

christmas-baking-9

christmas-baking-12

Just as a disclaimer I am not a recipe genius, I’ve never created a recipe myself I’m just going off of what other people did and sharing what I made from that. They turned out great for me so let me know how yours went!

Next up is eggnog. This recipe is from my trusty Christmas cookbook: Company’s Coming for Christmas so I take no credit for this. The original recipe makes an absolute ton so I halved the recipe that fit neatly into a jug around this size:

christmas-baking-14

Alternatively, I  found it made around 8 servings. 🙂 The recipe is as follows:

Beat 6 egg whites until they start to thicken. Add 1 cup of granulated sugar and continue to beat until thick.

In a second bowl beath the egg yolks (6) and 1/2 teaspoon of salt until thick. Add the egg whites and beat until mixed and thick.

In a third bowl, beat 1 1/2 cups of whipping cream until it starts to thicken. add 1 tbsp of granulated sugar and a dash of vanilla (1/2 tablespoon if you want to be precise.)

Add everything together into one bowl (pour egg into whipped cream) and stir until everything is mixed in. Finally, beat in 3 1/2 cups of milk and you’re done! Of course, if you prefer to add a bit of rum you’re welcome to do that as well. 😉

christmas-baking-16

christmas-baking-15

All that’s left to do is to garnish with a generous sprinkle of nutmeg and presto!

christmas-baking-17

I find Christmas baking is all a part of the festive experience so even if you don’t make these I hope you enjoyed looking through the pretty pictures. Christmas is almost here! What an exciting thought. I’ve finally got all of my Christmas shopping done (I left it super late as usual) and I’m excited to see everything under our tree. I hope you have a wonderful end to your Christmas run-up and I’ll talk to you soon!

Thanks for reading my latest blog, I hope you enjoyed it! If you did, hit the follow button for regular updates and stay tuned for more.

~Abby

Xx

Christmas: Thoughts, Wrapping, & Music

Christmas. I can’t believe it’s only a week away! A time when many of us are enjoying the holidays, going christmas shopping, baking cookies and wrapping presents. I personally love all the decorations that come with Christmas time it’s just such a joy to be surrounded by pretty things in my opinion.

christmas-tree-3

wrapping

Christmas in a tropical country I have to say is not the same as in a temperate country (for obvious reasons). You lose the cozy atmosphere and it’s replaced by a much lighter, and definitely hotter one. I’m quite thankful that eggnog is cold, seeing as we hardly touch hot chocolate this time of the year. It’s funny because we always tend to go swimming in the months from December to February. It may be hard for some people to wrap their heads around but that’s the norm here. Because we don’t have cozy fires, warm drinks, cold caroling, and soft blankets to get us in the Christmas spirit I love it when I can finally play my Christmas music. This year, I was able to download one of Pentatonix’ Christmas albums and needless to say I’ve been playing it nonstop. They’re all so talented and there’s some really amazing stuff in their Christmas albums. I will certainly be going back for more. What’s your favourite Christmas music? Feel free to leave a comment letting me know. 🙂

christmas-tree-4

But seriously, how fast has this year gone? It might just be me because I’ve been halfway around the world running around airports and packing, unpacking, and repacking for 5 whole months and I’ve definitely been playing catchup (especially where school is concerned) but hey, new year, new start. I can’t wait for my 2nd semester courses. After working my butt off this semester I will not be sad to be saying goodbye. If only my Christmas break were a little longer…

christmas-tree-5

On a more festive note, wrapping presents is especially fun around this time of year. Apart from just regular birthday presents and such I’m always inspired to get creative when wrapping Christmas presents. I tend to wrap most of the presents my parents (or santa) have gotten for each other, so I’ve had a fair amount of practice over the years. 😉

wrapping-7

wrapping-6

wrapping-4

wrapping-3

wrapping-1

Things that I can stick on to presents making them look 10x better with minimal effort I epecially like. For instance, I love this white poinsetta arrangement I picked up at our local 2nd hand store. I was really surprised I was able to find such a gem like this! My mom keeps wanting to steal it from me but I think it looks beautiful on this golden present that I wrapped for her incidentally. (But it’s mine!)

wrapping-2

Anyways, that’s about it. Just a casual post with a couple pictures of me wrapping presents, and my mini Christmas tree that I put all of my personal ornaments on (thanks mom) plus a couple Christmassy comments here and there. I hope you’re enjoying the festive season and making the most of this time with family and friends.

Thanks for reading my latest blog, I hope you enjoyed it! If you did, hit the follow button for regular updates and stay tuned for more.

~Abby

Xx

Friends & Fun

shongweni-market-1

These pictures were from a Saturday that my family and some friends went up to the morning market in Shongweni. It was such a lovely day and I got so many pretty pictures that I thought it was only right to share them. I had to get up really early in order to get ready and the sun hadn’t quite reached this part of the house yet. I liked it though, it gives a sense of cosiness when it’s slightly darker, even though it turned out to be a rather warm day.

shongweni-market-3

shongweni-market-4

shongweni-market-5

Since it was going to be a full day filled with lots of fun and people, I decided to put a little more time and effort into getting ready, i.e. doing my hair. I love having straight hair but I can never put in the time to do it properly, plus I can never get the crown of my head at the back, it’s the bit I always struggle with. But today I put that behind me and got it done. I was pretty pleased with the result. 🙂

shongweni-market-6

shongweni-market-8

Honestly, it was worth getting up that early just for the food. Because it’s quite a busy market and it’s only open until 12 we decided to set out bright and early (since it’s about an hours drive from where we are) in order to get there just in time for breakfast. Look at this amazing “full house” one of the stalls was selling. Completely blog post worthy I’d say. Needless to say, it was delicious, and the eggs were cooked perfectly.

shongweni-market-10

shongweni-market-12

It turned out to be such a lovely day, and the market atmosphere is always nice to experience, especially on the weekend.

shongweni-market-26

shongweni-market-14

shongweni-market-25

shongweni-market-16

shongweni-market-17

shongweni-market-15

shongweni-market-24

shongweni-market-19

My friend and I climbed up a hill where this tree was standing and behind us was a kid’s play station and they were making bubbles! They had the most awesome bubble maker ever. It was a rope tied into various loops between two rods and they dipped it into magic bubble solution and let the wind do its work. We had a fair amount of fun chasing after them as the wind often took them right up to our perch.

shongweni-market-20

Like I said, I would’ve woken up that early just for the food. There’s something about market/fair finger food that you just can’t replicate. My friend and I shared this back of candied nuts and it was soo amazing. Like a crunchy sugary cinnamonny goodness. I was planning on making a batch of beer nuts this year for a spot of Christmas baking but I don’t think they’ll be able to compare.

shongweni-market-21

shongweni-market-22

And that was my day at the morning market. I didn’t really have much to say because the pictures speak for themselves. It completely transports me back to that warm spring day which is the best part about photography in my opinion.

Thanks for reading my latest blog, I hope you enjoyed it! If you did, hit the follow button for regular updates and stay tuned for more.

~Abby

Xx

 

 

What Saturdays Were Made For

For a high school student, Saturday is probably the best day of the week. As a homeschooler, my itinerary tends to include a bit of work that needs doing, but for the most part, Saturday is a day of respite and recuperation from the past week. As those who know me are aware, my favourite thing to do on a Saturday is fry up a couple of eggs and have a really chill morning with a cup of tea, doing whatever I please which generally includes a fair amount of time on Pinterest, and maybe even a bit of blogging. 😉

morning-eggs-7

morning-eggs-6

I often think to myself, “wouldn’t it be nice if there was one, just one more Saturday in the week?” I guess it would be nice, but then wouldn’t Saturday lose it’s novelty of being, well, Saturday? Since we don’t get two Saturdays in the weekend however, it’s imperative to make the most of the one that we’ve got.

morning-eggs-4

Saturdays were firstly made for tea. People have very personal preferences concerning the kind of tea (or coffee) they like to drink. I have a confession to make, I used to put milk in peppermint tea. I know, shock horror. I wasn’t aware that some tea didn’t require milk… in retrospect I don’t even know if I used to drink tea because I liked it… maybe I just thought it was cool. Anyways, I certainly love tea now specifically sweet tea – raw honey all the way! There’s probably been a study about the de-stressing effects of tea, but who’s got time to research that.. especially on a Saturday? Whether there’s been a study or not, one (who likes tea) cannot dispute the calming effect of this drink. The only problem for me is that in the summer time when it’s like 35º+ it’s not the most practical drink. People say tea is refreshing even when it’s hot, but I mean, really? I guess it makes one sweat and your sweat is supposed to cool you down but if I wasn’t warmed up by the tea I wouldn’t be sweating in the first place. Who can say which is the right logic? Maybe I’ll stick to iced tea in the summer months.

morning-eggs-5

Saturdays were also made for breakfast. As I have previously stated, I love my Saturday fried eggs and my family knows this. Rather controversially, I enjoy ketchup with my eggs. My South African friends call it tomaaato sauce but since I can’t pronounce it we’ll stick with ketchup.  Don’t knock it till you try it! Do you like baked beans with your eggs? Tomatoes. Do you like salsa with your eggs? Tomatoes. I don’t even like tomatoes that much… I won’t have a grilled one for breakfast but I’ll have ketchup with the eggs… oh the irony. Does that say that I prefer processed condiments to the real thing? Who came up with ketchup anyway? Well, I guess regular tomatoes just aren’t good enough sometimes.

morning-eggs-2

Saturdays were made for Pinterest too. Sitting down at a table or desk with your eggs and tea and just scrolling through a bunch of cool, pretty, and inspirational photos… What a great way to start a day! I love when you are on Pinterest long enough so it starts suggesting photos it thinks you’ll like and your whole feed is just filled with photos you love. And I’m so excited because I get to start pinning Christmas pics like crazy now it’s December, can you even believe it? I feel like while we were in Canada my life just got fast forwarded and I skipped over those 5 months and it’s December when it’s really supposed to be July. On the upside, the sun is finally coming out. I’ve really enjoyed the cool, rainy spell that Durban has been under lately, but sometimes you just need a bit of sun. Now if only I can  get a bit of a tan this time. I guess that involves going outside. Hmmm.. nahhh. Haha, I always promise myself I’m going to get a bit of sun, but who’s got the time? I’m working right up until Christmas weekend so I don’t even get any time off until January pretty much. Go on, South Africans, rub it in. At least I’ve got my Saturdays. ^_^

morning-eggs-1

And finally, Saturdays were made for blogging. Sorry I’ve been a bit of a stranger as of late, life happens as they say. Not to mention I’ve done my share of procrastinating. More content coming soon, I promise! I’m thinking of turning “What Saturdays Were Made For” into a bit of a series so please leave a comment if you enjoyed this little post, and stay tuned for more. 🙂

~Abby

Xx