Santa’s Favourite Snickerdoodle Cookies


Oh, the weather outside is frightful
But snickerdoodles are so delightful!
To the kitchen we must go…
Cookie dough, cookie dough, cookie dough!

Christmas is fast approaching, and as Santa’s favourite cookes are snickerdoodles (I’m pretty certain that’s official!), it’s time to get baking! They are deliciously simple to make, although it’s devilishly difficult to keep from eating the cookie dough before they even reach the oven, because the scent of all that cinnamony goodness will drive you to distraction and have you drooling in anticipation of these melt-in-the-mouth little pieces of food heaven!

I accept no responsibility for your taste buds exploding with pleasure, nor for your expanding waistline when you have to make a second batch to cover the fact that you ate the entire lot in secret yourself and the kids didn’t get any! These buttery little beauties are a recipe you’ll be baking every Christmas from now until the end of time. And in between too!

12375062_10156207007265386_1090460394727965666_oSanta’s Favourite Snickerdoodle Cookies
Makes 3 dozen

Ingredients:

  • 240g butter (melted)
  • 280g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 300g flour
  • extra sugar and cinnamon for rolling

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 170C.
  • Melt the butter and mix well with the sugar.
  • Beat the egg well and stir into the mixture.
  • Add the vanilla, cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda, and salt, and mix well.
  • Sift the flour and add in increments, making sure it is well incorporated after each addition.
  • Put the dough in the fridge for a while to firm up a little.
  • When it has firmed remove the dough from the fridge. This is the hard part – do NOT eat the cookie dough! If you start now, you will not stop and you will have no snickerdoodles at the end of it, which would be tragic!
  • In a small bowl, mix a couple of spoons of sugar with a coupe of teaspoons of cinnamon (don’t stint on the cinnamon at this stage – you’ll thank me later!).
  • Using a tablespoon to scoop the right amount of dough, roll into small balls, toss them in the cinnamon sugar mixture, and place on trays lined with grease proof paper or baking parchment, leaving plenty of space in between for spreading (I only put about half a dozen cookies on each baking tray, to make sure they don’t touch).
  • Pop them in the oven for 10-15 minutes, till golden at the edges.
  • Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the trays for two minutes, before removing to a wire rack to finish cooling.

You will be tempted to eat the cookies before they are cooled. I’m not going to tell you not to sneak one for yourself (baker’s privilege and all that!), but be aware that it will be extremely difficult to stop at one. Keep them in an airtight container – I have no idea how long they’ll last in there, because in our house, everyone goes at them like gannets and friends suddenly descend, having smelled the cookies baking from half way across town, and they snaffle a few to take home with them too, so they’re always gone within a day or two!

This is actually a very nice project to do with the kids on a cold, wet afternoon, but your yield will be about half, because your kids will eat the cookie dough – be warned! And then they’ll eat all the cookies too, so you’ll still have to make a second batch!

And don’t forget to leave a couple for Santa on Christmas Eve – it’s a well known fact that he leaves the best gifts for people who leave him snickerdoodles!

You can thank me now. ๐Ÿ˜‰

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!


Here at Kincavel Korner, things are definitely looking more festive – the tree is up and decorated (although I think we’ll pick up a few more decorations for it this afternoon, to fill it out some more!), and the mantelpiece is decorated too.

We kind of just let the kids loose with the tree ornaments, and then had them (well, Tadpole, at least) help rearrange them and spread them out a bit. Much fun was had by all and now we’re all ready to gather our supplies to make some festive cookies and mince pies over the next few weeks!

Tadpole’s Xmas cards and gifts


Small reindeer dust instructions
Print off these Reindeer Dust instructions and include them in the packets

Tadpole is six years old now and getting so grown up! He decided he wanted to write his festive cards to his classmates all by himself, so I got a couple of packs quite cheaply and let him loose with them, telling him he could write a few each day so as not to get bored with it. Well, he loved it so much, he wrote all forty, yes, FORTY cards in one go and then asked if he could do some more! He still had to put names on the envelopes, so he did that instead. He has 27 classmates, one teacher and three teaching assistants, so he used the rest of his cards to write to family members.

Once he was done, he thought it would be nice to give his classmates and teacher/assistants a little gift, which, while very generous, could be the bane of any parent’s life, after all, 27+1+3 = 31. That’s a lot of gifts and could be very costly!

So here’s what we did…

It just so happens that Santa’s Elves taught me how to make Magical Reindeer Dust, so I thought everyone else might like to know how to make it too.

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Our bags of Magical Elf-Made Reindeer Dust to sprinkle outside on Xmas Eve!

Ingredients:

  • Porridge oats
  • Sparkles

Now, I’ve seen it made with glitter and metallic sparkles before, but I worry that it might harm wildlife if they eat those, so I used cake sparkles. I delved into my cupboard and found some that were just about at the end of their shelf life – some sparkly sugar crystals and some silver balls. Then we mixed them in with the oats.

I had an abundance of little gauze bags, but you could just as easily make little paper envelopes to package up your reindeer dust, and decorate them however you like.

27.11.14 - Writing Xmas Cards 1
Tadpole diligently writing his festive greetings

The last inclusion was a little scroll with the instructions for using the reindeer dust, which I printed out on the computer.

Next we had to think of something for Tadpole’s teacher and three teaching assistants. Clearly Reindeer Dust is for the kids, so we needed something a little more grown up for the adults in the class. Last year we made individual Xmas cakes and mince pies, but we haven’t had time to do any baking yet (we’ll be doing some right before Xmas though, so we can leave a treat for Santa on Xmas Eve!). So, we had to come up with an alternative gift…

As all four are female, we decided that I would make a Shamballa-style bracelet for each of them. Tadpole chose the bead and colour combinations, I put them together, and then popped them in some more of the little gauze bags – much easier than wrapping them individually and it looks very pretty!

I hope they’ll like they’re gifts!

10704328_10154856399130386_7964812702228848589_o
Shamballa-style bracelets for Tadpole’s teacher and teaching assistants

SANTA CLAUS IS REAL.


Proof positive that Santa Claus is, without a shadow of a doubt, REAL. I knew that anyway, because he came to my house one, WHILE I WAS AWAKE! I don’t remember much about it, other than that he was in his red suit and had a white flowing beard and a round, choochie belly, and a jolly laugh, and it felt like he was entirely made of love. I was only about 3 years old, but I remember that feeling of excitement and wonder at Santa actually coming to my house to visit. I’m glad some other kids have met the Jolly Dude on one of his days off too. ๐Ÿ™‚

Take a look at John’s story – it’s a real dilly!

SANTA CLAUS IS REAL..

 

 

Christmas at Beamish


The Beamish Open Air Museum is, of course, one of our favourite places to visit – we went twice during the summer holidays, and booked tickets for a special evening visit before Christmas. We went last night…

We arrived just after 5pm and immediately went to queue to see Santa Claus in his grotto – we thought it best to do that part of the visit as early as possible and then see everything else at our leisure. Even so, it was a hour and a half of waiting. Still, the good folk at Beamish had put together a whole host of activities to keep the kids entertained while they waited for their five minutes with Santa Claus, including plate spinning, juggling, various crafts, a quiz, posing for a photograph on Santa’s very own sleigh, and writing a quick letter to Santa.

Eventually we made it to the grotto and were led into a cozy room warmed by an open fire, where Santa sat waiting to greet every girl and boy. Tadpole handed over his letter in which he very politely asked if he might have a metal detector for Christmas (I’m proud to say, he was one of the very few kids who included a “please” in there and said thank you as well!). He only wanted to ask for one thing for himself, although he then verbally asked for several other things – for his little brother! That kid is all heart, I tell you!

Santa then handed them each a little gift and also a bag of lichen to feed the reindeer outside. We said our goodbyes to Santa and headed back out into the freezing cold where Tadpole was delighted by the velvety noses of the reindeer as they snuffled the lichen from his hands.

We then headed into the town where we were delighted by carol singers in the street and music hall entertainment in the Masonic Hall – she was a real dilly and we stayed for several numbers, singing along and applauding wildly at the end.

In the town park, there was a brass band playing and a number of stalls selling craft goods, food and drink.

We then headed to the pit village, in the hopes of giving Tadpoke his first ice skating experience, but the queues were so long, we didn’t fancy another lengthy wait, so we promised that we will take him skating soon after Christmas. We headed into the school house where Tadpole very neatly wrote his Christmas wish using a dipping pen and ink, then handed it to the teacher to put in the fire so the smoky wish would fly up the chimney. He again wished for a metal detector – I guess he really wants one!* A brass quartet had come into the school house to escape the cold and they played carols while we warmed up.

Finally we went round to the 1940s Home Farm, where Tadpole made a Santa finger puppet. When he sneezed I made the mistake of saying “Gesundheit!” before realising that speaking German in a little 1940s farm in England really wasn’t the wisest course of action, and the man in costume jokingly called his neighbour to report the possibility of his finding a German spy in his home!

And then it was time to go home. Tired, but happy, we piled into the car, where both the boys almost immediately fell asleep.

There was one terrifying moment when we took a wrong turning in the dark and ended up going through the Tyne Tunnel (one of my biggest phobias) and I had a tough time controlling the panic (alright, I failed miserably and had a bit of a panic attack), but we came out the other side and I was still alive, so that’s all to the good, although I had to make Hubby promise me we would never, EVER go through that tunnel again! Even that didn’t take the shine off the evening though.

We had such a magical time – I can hardly wait for our next visit to the past!

* He will be very pleasantly surprised on Christmas morning!

Have yourself a crafty little Christmas…


Crafty little ChristmasIf you’re anything like me, you love giving hand-made gifts for that personal touch. And if you’re anything like me, you feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day and days in the week to get everything made in time for the holiday season.

Fear not! There are plenty of lovely little ideas that are easy on the wallet (because, let’s face it, who isn’t a little strapped for cash around the festive season?), and won’t eat away all of your precious time.

And don’t worry if you don’t feel particularly talented in the crafts department, there are some clever little ideas that even the least artistic of us can put together and have them look great and have quite an impact on the recipient.

Here are a few gift ideas, some of which I’ve made and given over the last few years. I won’t reveal this year’s gifts, as I obviously want them to be a surprise! Many of the ideas on this list are great projects to work on with kids for other family members too…

  1. If you knit or crochet, a nice easy option, and one that you can produce in multiples if required, are scarves and mitts. And even if you live in a warmer climate, ladies often like lightweight lacy scarves, so they can be an option.

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  2. Little tree decorations can be a very quick gift to make, and you can use whatever craft you’re most comfortable with, to create all manner of lovely decorations. And if you’re not particularly crafty, get hold of some clear glass baubles (the kind you can take the top off) and pop a few feathers or scrolls of vintage paper inside for a unique decoration.
    ALL DECS & TREE
  3. If you bake, cookies or cakes are always a nice gift that can either be make far in advance (individual Christmas cakes that have been fed for months with booze), or just a few days before you see people (sugar cookies, shortbread, sweet mince pies). They can be wrapped in colourful cellophane for a festive look.
  4. Even if baking isn’t your thing, there are other foodie gifts you can make – truffles, chocolates, peppermint fondant sweeties, fudge, tablet and toffee are all great fun to make and also tasty to eat. Not to mention jams, chutneys, pickles and preserves – if you’ve had a bumper harvest from your garden or allotment, or there has been an abundance of fruit growing wild, this is a particularly great way of giving the double-whammy of using up excess items that would go off if not preserved.
    B&B Jam
  5. If you have friends or family who enjoy a tipple or two, you could always try flavoured vodka. There are the sweetie-flavoured ones you can make using things like Skittles or Gummy Bears, but there’s also the very chic vanilla-flavoured option, where you split a couple of vanilla pods and pop them into a pretty bottle with a tight stopper, and jut occasionally swish it around till, over the course of a few weeks, the vodka becomes infused. Or a pretty jar with peaches preserved in brandy, or cherries in kirsch. These are all delicious food and drink gifts you can make in advance.
  6. If you know someone who loves books or films, find a pretty jar and fill it with quotes from their favourites. Write them by hand, or print them off your computer, and either fold them or roll them into little scrolls.
  7. Looking for something special for Mum? A love jar will bring a tear to her eyes. Same as with the quote jar, except you fill it with reasons you love her. Guaranteed to keep you on her “nice” list for another year!
    Love Jar
  8. For kids and jokers, a joke jar, filled with one-liners, knock knocks, and doctor doctor jokes will keep them giggling all year round and cheer them up when they feel down.
  9. For grandparents, a memory jar, filled with all those little stories that you associate with them. If the stories are longer, fill a little scrap book with them and decorate it to your heart’s content.
  10. Another one for the parents and grandparents is a photo book. Grab an inexpensive photo album or scrap book and pop in all the pictures that will make them smile. Make it small enough for them to carry with them and show off how beautiful their kids and grandkids are!
  11. Luminaries are a beautiful way to display a candle and are very easy and inexpensive to make. Again with the glass jars, find all manner of items – pressed leaves and flowers, feathers, tissue paper in different colours – then cover the jar in glue (a good craft glue like Mod Podge) and stick the items on the outside before giving them a good covering too. Or you can use glass paints for some stunningly colourful effects. Then you just pop a tea light in the bottom (you can buy bags of, like, 50 of them for next to nothing). Or you could make your own candles, either using paraffin wax or beeswax (which smells divine as it is!), because if you make your own, you can choose your own colours and scents to add, making them even more personal!

So, there are just a small handful of ideas. I’ve come up with a few new ones for my Yuletide gifts this year, which I will share after Xmas, but if you have some other ideas for hand-crafted gifts, I’d love to hear them. Share them in the comments below and we can all benefit from the additional inspiration!

Xmas was a blast!


And so here we are, Xmas 2013! I hope Santa was good to everyone – we must have been incredibly well-behaved here at Kincavel Korner, because we were all spoiled rotten!

Button started by giving me the best gift ever – he slept for five hours straight. In his Moses Basket. Not on me! This meant I actually got a little bit of sleep last night, so I felt more rested than I usually do.

Tadpole showed amazing restraint and didn’t get up until 6.45am. In all honesty, I had expected him to be up at least 45 minutes earlier than that, so it was a bonus! He then contented himself playing with his stocking fillers till Hubby got up about 15 minutes later.

We let Tadpole open all his gifts first, as he was the only child old enough to be excited by it all. Even ripping through all he paper at lightening speed without stopping to play with things as they were unwrapped, it took an hour and a quarter to open all his gifts. He then went of to his room to play with his new toys while Hubby opened his gifts. He got almost everything he’d put on his letter to Santa, along with lots of things he’d never thought to request, so he was very happy.

Then I got to open my gifts.

I’m like a small child in a toy shop at Xmas – I love opening gifts! I got loads of lovely things I wanted and some I didn’t know I wanted till I opened them, but I’ll go into more detail at the end.

Finally, we got to Button’s gifts. As he is too small at only two months old, Tadpole opened most of them for him. He got a lovely selection of next-size-up clothes (which he’s just starting to move into) and some lovely books and toys which I know he’s going to enjoy.

Once everyone had got dressed, I started making the Xmas dinner. I always cook the turkey the night before to save time on the day, so all I had to do was prep the veg and pop everything on the stove and in the oven. We filled our plates to mountainous heights and I couldn’t even eat half of mine!

Next was the phone calls to our various family members as this is he first year we haven’t been going anywhere or having anyone round. Then we went for a little walk to ease our full tummies, before returning home to finally have our pudding!

Anyway, I know you want to know what I got from Santa, so here are a few items that really stood out for me (I loved everything, but these were the “Wow!” factor gifts):

As you can see, I got gifts galore, so I must have been a very good girl indeed!

  • Three Tudor necklaces
  • A selection of Twinings tea and a tea ball
  • A box crammed full of jam-making equipment with a note saying I still have a load of blackberries and plums in Mam’s freezer and she is getting first dibs on the jam I make with them!
  • A f@rting Burt hippo as seen in NCIS (Abby’s stuffed toy)
  • A jar of book quotes
  • A pile of books:
    • Richard Castle – Deadly Heat
    • Terry Pratchett – Raising Steam
    • Simon Scarrow – The Blood Crows
    • Chris Brookmyre – Flesh Wounds
    • Sally Harding – Crochet Step By Step
    • Kay Maguire – Grow Your Own Crops In Pots
    • Beverly LeBlanc – I Love My Slow Cooker

So that’s Xmas over for another year. We have LOADS of leftovers to get through and a million sweet treats to munch on while we try out our new toys, which is what I’m off to do now, so I’ll leave you with a bunch of photographs to show you what we got up to.

Hope you’ve all had a fabulous day!

Xan and toys 1
Tadpole had a great time opening his gifts
Xan and toys 2
There were so many he hardly knew what to open next

 

IMG_20131225_101909
Then Tadpole opened Button’s gifts for him
(what a kind boy)
IMG_20131225_113248
Suddenly I realised that whereas other families don festive jumpers on Xmas day,
we all inadvertently wear grey and black, and manage to look like a four-piece rock band

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swwet Child O Mine
This Sweet Child O’ Mine is even getting in on the rocking out!

Kell-Abby
I have dark hair in braids, I’m very pale and slightly Gothic, and I have a f@rting hippo called Burt.
Do I qualify as an Abby-a-like yet?
Kell and Josh
Modelling one of my new necklaces and our youngest son

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

necklaces
My three very beautiful Tudor necklaces

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘T’was the night before Xmas…


It’s Xmas Eve!

Tadpole has been high as a kite all day and was awake much later than usual, but who can blame him when SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN?!

Both our boys were left new nightwear by the Pyjama Pixie, because they have both been very good, so they were both all dressed nicely so Santa can see how good they’ve been. They’ve even both volunteered to be Santa’s Little Helpers.

Our little flat looks like we gift wrapped a toy shop, so I think we’ll have a very excited 5-year-old in the morning, and one 2-month-old who hasn’t a clue what’s happening, but that’s beside the point.

I can hardly wait to see Tadpole’s face in the morning!

Wishing you all a wonderful day, however you choose to celebrate (or even if you don’t celebrate – have an awesome Wednesday!) from all at Kincavel Korner. May your day be merry and bright!

1. Santa's Little Helpers
My gorgeous boys have been SO good they even volunteered to help Santa.
Here they are in their new jimjams.
2. Josh
It’s hungry work being an elf.
It’s also very tiring work, so little elves need to sleep!
3. Gifts
On the left are the gifts for the boys.
On the right, the grown ups have done just as well!
4. Stockings
We hang our stockings on bedroom doors,
but Button got a stocking on the end of his Moses basket too.
This is because he’s tiny and won’t wake up and see “Santa” putting it there!
Santa's snack is gone
Santa has finished his snack of a homemade mince pie and a glass of non-alcoholic ginger wine,
and one of the reindeer got lucky with a carrot to munch on.
And look at that – Santa left a little gift as a thank you!

It’s a Xmas miracle!


Xmas miracles!
Two Xmas miracles in one morning:
Fussy boy eats a mince pie, and sleepless baby finally sleeps!

Tadpole is one of the fussiest eaters in the world. There is no end to the list of things he refuses to eat. Even things he likes one minute, he will profess to hate the very next moment. He doesn’t like Xmas dinner, he doesn’t like Xmas pudding, he doesn’t like mince pies…

Oh, hang on, that’s right! He hates mince pies, but this morning he asked if he could try one of the ones I made last night ready for Santa coming.

And then he ate it.

The whole damned pie!

And then he asked for another one!

He didn’t get another one, because two mince pies would be a bit much for a 5-year-old boy at 10-o-clock in the morning, but I promised he could have one later too.

And Button is the most sleepless baby in the world. He’s just over two months old and yesterday he only slept 25 minutes during the day. The problem we have is he won’t lie down flat as he has a misalignment – we’ve been seeing a chiropractor about that and he’s been improving, but the only place he’d sleep up till now is on me.

Last night he did two stints of over 3 hours… in his Moses basket. And as I type this, he’s lying asleep in there again.

Anyone who says Xmas miracles can’t happen needs to think again because I got two on the same morning!