Wednesday, December 24, 2014

One more sleep!

Only one more sleep!

Wishing all of our Alphabet-Soupers a fantastic Christmas, 
where-ever in the world you are celebrating it.

We are going to take a break and will be back in the New Year.

Merry Christmas everyone and may 2015 have some fun & good times in store for you!

x x
E & S

Monday, December 22, 2014

down to the wire

How are you going? Are you on track to get everything done, come Wednesday night? Food bought, cards sent, presents wrapped?

This is where I put my hand up and say "No, nope, not me, not this little black duck" - all my Christmas plans were travelling along swimmingly, until two visits to the emergency department, two Saturdays running (ahhhh, boys, my lovely, beautiful, accident prone boys!) threw a spanner in the works.

Thankfully, everyone is on the road to recovery (isn't that skin glue amazing stuff!) and although we'll be managing an eight year old on crutches for the next few days, in light of all the terrible events over the last couple of week, we are counting our blessings!

But the cards, yes, I have to confess, a bare minimum of cards been done, and food, well, yes.....we still have to finish off the food shopping, and no nothing is wrapped.

But my boys are all healthy & in one piece and we will all be together come Christmas morning, and I couldn't ask for anything more.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Gingerbread goodness

Wow - where has December gone?

Usually, like Em, I get some great gingerbread house kits and the boys go to town to decorate them. Thankfully one son is a little anal like me and his house is usually very nicely decorated. Wow it kills me not to fix the other one! the theme of this year I have left it too had to buy a cheaper option from the shops on the weekend. A gingerbread train and a shack! 

For a start, the icing was rubbish! Did not stick easily, and just clumped. Also the gingerbread is not the best. Serves me right really for going for the super quick and cheap and nasty option in my haste to tick the boxes! At least you won't really taste it under the layers of lollies!!!

Next year - its calendar notes and planning ahead!

Are you feeling a little frazzled and time poor too?


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The end of an era

My first baby finishes primary school today.

Wow. Where has that time gone? It seems like just yesterday that he was starting school, all cute and chubby faced. Now he is a 12 year old boy, with a fab group of buddies, about to embark on the next phase...

All the best my amazing little man! I love you to the moon and back (and I promise to try not to embarrass you by bawling my eyes out on your last moments at primary school!) xx


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas treats

Not only is it almost Christmas, this also means its the end of the school year and there are parties galore! Pool parties, class parties, graduation name it..and that is just the kids!

A girlfriend of mine from work as requested some specific treats this I thought Id make them also for both the boys class end of year parties. When I say I will make them I really mean the kids!

Today after work I will be on a mission for marshmallows, candy canes and icing pens!

We have made the Tony Teddy sleighs before - a cinch...and I think the others will be easy too...and lots of licking of fingers at the end!

What treats do you like to make at the end of the ear?


Monday, December 15, 2014

Running Late!

Em mentioned in an earlier post about how they are the tree up on 1st December kinda people. I am. Usually.

This year my darling husband decided to order our tree from the tree farm at Dural to be delivered (and they pick it up also which is a bonus). We have both been so busy lately that to try and find time to take the boys out to choose one just wasn't going to happen!.

This meant, however, that we were on their schedule not our own. So it didn't arrive until last Wednesday! I have to admit to having some anxious moments thinking that it just doesn't FEEL like Christmas yet.

Thankfully the tree arrived in one lovely piece and yes we have overdone it on the size again! We have started a tradition in the last couple of years where we decorate the tree with the family - the in-laws and my mum and sometimes a good family friend. Everyone gets a new ornament every year to hang on the tree. This year we did little baubles with everyones names.

Oh - yes...we do have the largest tree in the land. For scale - a 12 year old boy standing on front!

Oh but the smell when I get home from work every day....its just Christmas!


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Perfect way to finish off your christmas shopping!

Quick quick - free shipping on all orders this week over on, just for friends of Alphabet Soup and just in time to finish off your christmas shopping - yay, yay, double yay!!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Blog love - Confessions of a Christmas tragic

My girlfriend was Barbie, has been outed on kidspot as a Christmas tragic - check out the post, it is truly excellent and chock full of all sorts of Christmas goodness!


Friday, December 12, 2014

Christmas Inspo

Where do you find your Christmas Inspo?




I am still a big magazine fan but this year, I also started a "Christmas Love" board on Pinterest.  In having a quick peep at it this morning, I realised that my pinning vision, a smooth, quiet palette....all dreamy neutrals with hints of candle light, and kisses of somewhat different from my multi coloured, mismatching, luridly lit reality.

Oh the joys of the decorating bent of small people - but I wouldn't have it any other way :)

Happy Friday peeps, only 13 sleeps to go!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

An Alphabet Soup type of Christmas - Part 3 - The Ginger Bread House

The Gingerbread House.

We have made Gingerbread houses for the last 8 years. I got involved in the whole Gingerbread caper when my eldest first started school and one of the local churches ran a Gingerbread evening.

I was totally there for the crafting (being non-religious) and as it was a child-free event - I could t.o.t.a.l.l.y. get my craft on - and wow - that first house - let me tell you it was a perfect example of control-freakery colour co-ordinated goodness.

All very orderly, I only used the icing, silver balls, green spearmint leaves, red raspberries and white jelly beans - oh for the love of classic patterns and fine sugar work! other Gingerbread house we have done since has ever looked like that....ever again. After the first one, the boys HAD to get involved and I had yet another mothering lesson of "release, it's all about release" handed down to me.

We have now embraced the Any-which-way-goes vibe and turned the Gingerbread House into a bit of an event. On a Saturday in early December, I invite 3 other families over and we all get up to our elbows in lollies and runny icing. (I order the kits from The Ginerbread Folk and highly recommend them.)

The kids love it.........and I have to leave the room while they are sticking the lollies on - pass the Rosé please!


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Getting our Christmas craft on

Today, we have a guest post from my gorgeous step-sister Emma (yes, we have the same name - long story!). Em has two total cuties who are 4 & 2 (heading for 5 & 3 in the next couple of months), so she in knee deep in christmas frenzy, tinsel love and putting all the decorations half way up the tree.

She's also been getting down and dirty with the glitter........

This year I decided the best way to avoid any potential Christmas meltdowns (and the potential is STRONG when hosting 14 on Christmas Day and 12 on Boxing Day!) was to do absolutely as MUCH as possible as early as possible. This includes the cooking of the pudding and cake and the getting on of the Christmas craft!

Now when you live with some little people as I do, a little glitter and starry garland action ahead of time is not seen as out of order, in fact it is applauded and welcomed. We've had our homemade star garlands up for a few weeks now, and though we still have one more (quite long) one to make, I take great comfort in seeing them up and feeling festive.....

To make, we traced a wooden star we already had on a couple of large sheets of white cardboard, then cut out all the stars. This truly did take a fair bit longer than I thought it would, but I comforted myself with how much money I was saving by not buying someone else's homemade gorgeous bunting on Etsy.

We used stick glue to coat before dipping the stars alternately in gold glitter and sand from the little harbour beach close by and stringing up with twine. 

I really wanted to make something simple that fit in with the bush surrounds of our new house but that was still Christmassy.

Whilst involving the little people did result in them looking ready to board a Mardi Gras float by the end, it was fun and they loved making something for our house.

Mission accomplished, feels like Christmas already!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

An Alphabet Soup type of Christmas - Part 2 - The Advent Calendar

So, just was we are a tree-up-on-Dec-1st, type of family, we are also a crack-out-the-advent-calendar type of family.

I didn't really grow up doing the advent calendar, but when I had kids, I thought it was a pretty fun idea and looked forward to counting down the days of December with the boys, with little treats all part of the deal.

However, with a handful of years managing super-tired, end-of-the-year, sugar fueled, nightmarish, little kid melt-down moments had me looking for a different way to celebrate.

Years ago, I came across the idea of a photo wreath on Sweet Paul, and loved the look of it. The love of the image of Wreath grew into a photo Advent Calendar.

Every year for the past 5 or 6, I print up a collection of photos from through the year - around 80 usually does it - the last few years I have been using Social Print Studio to get the shots printed (super easy upload, speedy delivery, dreamy card and matt printing - love, Love, LOVE). The photos are them mixed up and divided between 24 labeled bags.

Everyday, the boys get a bag down and each pull out a photo. We then have to work out what the photo is of, and when we think it happened during the year. Once the timing is nailed down, it gets pinned to the wreath in (clockwise) month order. Once completed, the Wreath is a photo memento of the year that has just been, and it stays with us during the coming year, until late November comes, and it's time to take it down and start again.

(For the wreath base, I use a polystyrene florist wreath, which it fixed to the wall using 3M removable tape.)

I love that it give us a tool to re-cap our year AND that it isn't all about lollies or MORE gifts.

For other great non-lollie advent ideas, Natalie over at The Indigo Crew had a great post last week, check it out.


Monday, December 8, 2014

An Alphabet Soup type of Christmas - Part 1

So has everyone survived the first week of December?

That week when it dawns on you that, yes, actually, Christmas is like totally just around the corner and best you shift it & get busy with the Christmas action.

Around here, Christmas action comes in a few different shapes and sizes. Firstly, we are a Tree-up-on-December-1st type of household. This year, that involved H heading out to the Christmas tree farm at Dural and selecting a tree. (said tree then stood patiently in a bucket, wrapped in net, waiting for December 1st to roll around).

But prior to the tree going up on December 1st, we have the annual outing to the shops for the boys to select their new decoration for the year. This is something I have done with them every year, and baring the odd breakage along the way, they now have quite the collection. (please note, this can be quite a painful outing, but I'll go into that at a later date.....somewhere under the heading of "for the love of sweet baby jesus, would you just choose a decoration, the centre only offers 3 hours free parking").

Anywoo, upon choosing a new decoration, we waiting for the December the 1st to roll around and the boys set about decorating the tree with great gusto - as you can imagine, it is quite the eclectic style of tree - not your lovely, simple matchy-matchy goodness that appeals to my inner ODC self - actually a girl friend of mine hashtagged the picture of her tree on Instagram with a beauty  #whenthekidsmoveoutiwilldothetreemyway - I just had to join in! xE

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Super gift for your mum

Want a great gift for your mum? Something lovely, and easy and pretty? 

Not another trinket, not another about a gorgeous hand poured soy candle with a lovely fragrance?

I just L.O.V.E a nice smelling candle. As a gift they are usually very well received (hint hint darling). A candle and a lovely picture of the kids or something...what any mum/granny loves!

Try these little beauties! Wee Willie Candles - a local business, and some lovely smells...

One big tick off your Christmas list.

You're welcome


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Its beginning to look a lot like...


If you are a Christmas cake or pudding baker, you would realise all of a sudden that its time to get your fruit soaking.

When Em & I had the catering business, this item was a fave of a couple of our clients - I used to make mini loaf sized ones. Now I usually do a big one as well as the smaller ones (usually baked now in a muffin tin) as the boys like to take them to school. The good thing is that the booze you soak it in cooks off when baking. The muffin sized ones are also great to take to people's houses..just sprinkle with a little icing sugar and they look fab.

I have a Christmas cake recipe that I have used for years now - I pulled it out of a magazine in 1999 and haven't looked back.

Until this week that is. When I discovered that I can't find it. NOOOOOO. Recipe LOST. PANIC!

Now I am on the hunt for a recipe that is the same.

I've got my fruit soaking already.... 1.5kg of generic mixed fruit plus about 3 packets of glace cherries. All in a bowl and mixed with about 1.5 cups of booze. Whatever spirit that takes your fancy. Brandy, port, rum. This year Ive used a mix of caramel vodka and Drambuie. Let sit for a few days to macerate stirring every day or so.

Now to find a recipe to cook it! Watch this space...

Do you have a recipe I could use?


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Would you eat this?

My darling husband, on the odd occasion, likes to eat the weirdest combination on toast. Like. EVER.

Peanut butter and tomato sauce.


Ive seen some weird combos on toast. Vegemite & honey. Banana, cheese and bacon (suprisingly ok). But this beats 'em all. I did try it. I had to spit it out.

Now if I have to make it I put silly pictures with the tommy sauce on the toast...may as well have a bit of fun!

Do you know of a worse one?


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Sustainable christmas wrapping

I am just about organised this year when it comes to the whole present buying things. Except for the boys that is.

Our tree goes up in just over a week, and I am pleased to say that I will already have some wrapped gifts to put under it.

I do and try, most of the time, to do my very best by the environment. Every year we are sure to recycle all of our paper and wrappings. 

This year, I am wrapping all of the adults presents in either a calico bag or a lovely tea towel. Ive seen some great bags on Apple Green Duck and some cute ones on Cotton on.

For the boys, sorry I am using paper as how can you deny kids the mad tearing of paper on Christmas day, but it will be recycled paper. 

For gift tags, every year I reuse old christmas cards that have been sent to us. I cut out the pictures or words, discard the back of the card, and hey presto - instant gift tag.

Maybe next year I will manage to wrap everything in lovely reusable bags....

Do you have any wrapping tips? Know any good places I can get some more bags?


Monday, December 1, 2014

Never lose your glass at that Christmas party again

Yup.Its just about that time of year again, the mad festive season where all of a sudden every person you know wants to catch up "before christmas". 

As my big boy is coming to the end of this primary school years, we are having a lot of drop ins and kids coming over for a swim. This also includes usually a few mummies staying too for a nice cold glass of bubbles! 

Along with this, for some reason my boys like to use every glass in the house. Every. Single. Day. At the end of the day we end up with about a dozen glasses lying about.

You know those little dibbers that people have with little items hanging off them that you put around the stem of your wine glass to remember its yours at a party? Well, they are clever, but I always forget whether Im the knife and fork, or the rolling pin etc etc

Ta daa......nifty wine glass markers. I have been using them on the boys glasses of a morning so they only use one each a day, and they are also great when you have a few friends over so you don't forget which glass is yours. 

Get entertaining everyone!!