Is it too early to send Christmas cards yet? It might be but with last posting dates scarily close, buying your cards is probably a very good idea.

What about your tree? Is it up? Does it need a little jazzing up?

How are you with gift-wrapping? Isn’t is always that bit extra special when your presents are attractive even before they are opened?

I have just had a good look at the Hallmark website and they have some really lovely items available for Christmas. Check it out. Hallmark is one of those places where you can sort out a lot of those Christmas tasks all at once. Cards, decorations, gift-wrapping and affordable pressie ideas too.

Hallmark sent us a lovely tree ornament to review. It features a cuckoo clock with a tiny Winnie the Pooh as the “cuckoo”. Out he pops and actually speaks to you. The clock also has a large Winnie the Pooh on the roof dressed as Santa. The hands on the clock move and there are Christmas lights in varied colours around the roof of the clock. It is very cute, a hit with my children and just one of a range of Disney tree decorations.

Whether you like “in your face” or understated elegance, Hallmark have tree decorations to match your theme.

So treat yourself to a tree decoration and whilst you are there stock up on Christmas cards, gift wrap and those easy pressies for people you always find it difficult to buy for.

Have yourself a Hallmark Christmas!

http://www.hallmark.co.uk/christmas/

Stained glass cookies recipe

Stained Glass Cookies

Delicious buttery biscuits, with edible sweetie stained glass. These edible decorations make the perfect gift and are ideal for hanging on the tree. Great for getting the kids involved, all you need are clean hands and a little imagination!

A magical treat to enjoy at Christmas.

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Makes 10-15 biscuits

Ingredients

220g butter, softened
100g Whitworths for Baking Light Soft Brown Sugar
350g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp ground ginger or cinnamon
50g Whitworths for Baking Crunchy Demerara Sugar
A selection of fruit-flavoured boiled sweets in different colours
To decorate
50g Whitworths for Baking Super Fine Icing Sugar
1 – 2 tblsp of lemon juice
Coloured ribbon (narrow)

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/ gas 4. Line 2 large baking trays with baking paper.
2. Separate the boiled sweets into colours, place in separate plastic food bags and use a rolling pin to crush into pieces approximately 1cm and set aside.
3. Beat the butter and Whitworths for Baking Light Soft Brown Sugar in a bowl, until pale and creamy. Sift the flour and spice into the mixture; add enough milk to make a workable dough. Use your hands to make a smooth dough. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
4. Sprinkle a little flour over the work surface, divide the dough into 2 pieces and roll it out so it is ½ cm thick. Using biscuit cutters, cut out Christmas shapes. Using smaller pastry cutters, cut out the middle of each biscuit and sprinkle the biscuits with a little Whitworths for Baking Crunchy Demerara Sugar.
5. Carefully transfer the cookies to the baking trays with a fish slice. Place one or two pieces of sweet into the middle of each biscuit whole.
6. Bake for 10 minutes or until the biscuits are just golden. Cool on the trays for a minute before making a small hole near the top of each biscuit with a skewer, so you can thread ribbon through the holes when they are cool.
7. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. The biscuits can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
8. Mix the Whitworths for Baking Icing Sugar with a little lemon juice or water to make a thick pipeable icing. Make a cone out of greaseproof paper, cut a small hole in the tip and decorate the biscuits with the icing.
9. When the icing is dry the biscuits are ready to hand on the tree!

Top Tip

Make sure the sweets have set hard before removing from the trays.

 

Cuddle Fairy

Blackberry and blueberry healthy Christmas cake recipe

Strap: A lighter alternative to the traditional cake

If you are not a fan of heavy dried fruit cakes then try this light almondy sponge cake speckled with blackberries and blueberries drizzled with glace icing.

Serves 8

Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 40-50 minutes
To decorate: 5 minutes

175g (6oz) mixed blackberries and blueberries, if the blackberries are very large, cut them in half
175g (6oz) self-raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
175g (6oz) butter, at room temperature
175g (6 oz) caster sugar
3 medium eggs, beaten
75g (3oz) ground almonds
Few drops almond essence, optional

To decorate
175g (6oz) icing sugar
4-5 tsp cold water
3 tbsp toasted flaked almonds
Few extra blackberries and blueberries or a few halved strawberries

1 Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Brush inside a 23cm (9 inch) diameter or 1.5 litre (3 pint) fluted ring mould with a little oil. Add the blackberries and blueberries to a small bowl with 2 tablespoons of the flour and gently stir together until the berries are coated. Add baking powder to the remaining flour.
2 Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl with a wooden spoon or electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually mix in alternate spoonfuls of beaten egg and remaining flour, beating well after each addition and continuing until both have all been added.
3 Stir in the ground almonds and almond essence if using, then fold in the flour coated berries.
4 Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and level the top. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until well risen, the top is golden and a skewer comes out cleanly when inserted into the cake.
5 Leave to cool for 30 minutes then loosen the edges of the mould, turn out on to a wire rack and remove the mould. Leave to cool completely.
6 Sift the icing sugar into a bowl, gradually mix in just enough water to mix to a smooth icing that will slowly fall from a spoon. Transfer the cake to a serving plate, drizzle the icing over in zig zag lines, decorate with a few extra berries and sprinkle with the flaked almonds. Leave to stand for 15 minutes or so for the icing to set, then cut into thick slices and serve.

Tip: As the cake has lots of fresh fruit in the mixture it is best eaten within 2 days.

I’m thinking you are familiar with the Guess how much I love you? books. Heart-warming does not even cover it. I love the simple but timeless message of Guess how much I love you?

Now for the good news …

Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare come to life on DVD in a series of charming adventures just in time for Christmas.

Guess How Much I Love You, the best selling children’s book is set to become a much loved DVD as celebrated author Sam McBratney’s characters star in their first DVD this Christmas. Fans of the heartwarming tale can now follow the adventures of Little Nutbrown Hare and all his friends in a series of beautifully animated adventures from November 5th.

With eight adorable episodes, the DVD is the first time that the characters drawn by Anita Jeram will appear on screen. As well as the Nut Brown Hares, fans will meet other countryside creatures including Little White Owl and Little Field Mouse. The episodes follow the friends fun and the life lessons they learn along the way.

Based on the children’s classic book that has sold over 20 million copies worldwide and that delights generation after generation, the DVD is an ideal gift for parents or grandparents to pass on to their loved ones this festive season. Popular with both parents and teachers worldwide, Guess How Much I Love You teaches children of as young as two years old the meaning of love and affection for those closest to them and allows them to learn how to put how they feel into words.

Episodes include ‘Blossoms’ where we see the changes in the seasons and Little Nutbrown Hare’s memory of a magnificent cherry tree he saw when he was younger. He sets off on an adventure to find it. Will the blossoms floating downstream give them a clue as to a shorter way home? In the episode ‘What Sound Does the Moon Make?’ both Nutbrown Hares are having trouble sleeping. As they lay quietly in a pile of leaves they listen to the sounds of the night…swish, hoot, wobble, nibble, croak and splash! They go on a journey to discover what’s making the interesting night noises, but will they work out what sound the moon makes?

Other episodes include ‘Bedtime Story,’ ‘It’s Okay,’ ‘Can you Touch the Stars?’, ‘Four Seasons,’ ‘You for a Day’ and ‘Big Like You.’

For families looking to share special experiences this Christmas, this DVD is sure to make the colder days feel warmer.

I have 2 of the dvds up for grabs.

Just leave me a comment giving your twitter name or email address so that I am able to contact you should you be one of the winners.co

I will select the 2 winners (1 dvd) each at random.

This competition is open to UK residents aged 18 years and over.

The closing date for entries is midnight on 10th December 2012.

ThePrizeFinder – UK Competitions

Chocolate cheesecake recipe. If you love chocolate and you adore cheesecake, this is the perfect recipe.

a href=”http://kateonthinice.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/philly-festive-mini-cheesecake-bites2low.jpg”>Jennifer’s Mini Cheesecake Bites

Prep time: 15 minutes

Serves/Makes 28

Ingredients

160g Light Philadelphia with Cadbury

100g mini chocolate chip cookies or mini oat biscuits

Instructions

1. Arrange the biscuits on a serving platter.

2. Spread or pipe a little Philly with Cadbury on to each biscuit and serve topped with a number of different toppings.

Do you have a recipe for chocolate cheesecake?

I was talking to Him Indoors about cheesecake last night. For years, cheesecake has been one of my favourite desserts. I first came across it at the Pizza Express in Cambridge when I was a university. Puddings at home in Dewsbury were home-made until the Vienetta turned up to tempt my taste-buds in the Eighties. There is an infamous occasion where a boy took me out to dinner and did not buy me a cheesecake dessert. If this was a date, it did not last long when I realised I would not be eating my favourite thing.

So since 1987, cheesecake and I have been firm friends. Sadly with a prediabetes diagnosis I need to be careful these days but it still makes a very special occasional treat.

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