Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Focusing on CHRISTmas

It has been a busy few week and a half!

The party on Saturday went really well, and it was lovely to have a house full. The food seemed to go ok too which was a relief.

On Sunday 13th our church hosted a carol service in Orpington. Roarke got to do the reading, which he did really well. The whole evening was brilliant, and the school hall was packed. We were honoured to have some of the travellers from Orpington come over for their first taste ever of a church service. I think BCC managed to show them that not all churches fit the world's (negative - but sometimes justified) stereotype :-)

Monday I spent 3 hours with a team of media students making a documentary about the fight to save home education. Tuesday saw me at Westminster again for a Christmas "thank you" from NCVO to representatives from their members.

During the week I was baking cakes and preparing for our evening party on Saturday.

Roarke spent most of the week travelling around the borough of Bromley helping to deliver hampers for the Hope Foundation. Most of the work for the Christmas give away is done by Pastor Lydia and her assistant Judy, together with the tireless efforts of Terry & Junia. I really pray that they (and all the others who have helped) are blessed for their service. To me, that is what Christmas is all about - putting others first, serving others, putting Jesus's words into ACTION.

The snow stopped our plans for finishing off our Christmas shopping! We were worried that it would stop the home ed Christmas party on Friday that we were invited to, but fortunately it didn't. The boys had a great time - outside at the venue having a snowball fight for the best part of 2 1/2 hours!

Saturday morning I started baking and preparing at 9am, including icing my third Christmas cake of the season, and was just finished in time to get the food on the table for 7pm that evening! We had 16 people as some were not able to make it due to the treacherous conditions.

It was nice to have people around and to be able to relax with them.

My "fancy" party food on a budget looked like this:

I used Sainsbury's Basics bread, cut out circles using a mince pie/cookie cutter, dipped them in olive oil then put in patties tins and baked in the oven for 10 minutes. These made the basis for canapes of beef (brisket slow cooked for 9 hours in one mini bottle of red wine) with onion relish,
and canapes of smoked salmon (Sainsbury's basic's scraps) with sour cream, lemon zest/juice and shallot. I also used them to make canapes of mozzarella topped with finely chopped roasted red peppers. I also cut stars out of the bread and treated the same way, then topped with a sliver of brie (Sainsbury's Basics again!) and a dollop of home made cranberry sauce.

I also slow cooked some gammon in coca cola and cut into cubes. I then used cocktail sticks and put a cube of cheese, cube of gammon, then a tiny silverskin onion on top. A mad idea I had was to make individual prawn cocktails. I mixed up the filling then used it to stuff cherry tomatoes. Yes, really!

I also stuffed baby bell peppers with a mixture of feta, mint, and lemon zest/juice. The usual sausage rolls ( thank God for Sainsburys Basics range!), sausages, and bits and pieces finished the savoury food. I'd made a clementine cake, mince pies, and of course the Christmas cake (all gluten free as one of our guests was gluten free).

All in all I was quite pleased with the over all effect.

The next day we had the second BCC carol service, this time at the church in Bromley. With everyone on their "home ground" they were all a lot more relaxed and the evening was a lot of fun.

Yesterday the boys were meant to have their party. I spent the day baking, and in the afternoon we popped over to see some friends from church for a short while. Whilst we were there, the rain turned to sleet, then snow and oh boy did it snow! If you were anywhere in Bromley or south east London area you will know what I mean! The snow, about 2-3 inches, fell on top of the freezing roads and there was chaos.

We realised the conditions looked grim and left our friends to get back in time to set up for the party. About 1/2 a mile later we hit gridlock and realised we were going no where. We all frantically texted/rang everyone to try and say that the party was cancelled.

We headed back to our friends and they very kindly took us in, warmed us up, and fed us.

About 2 hours later we tried again, and this time - very slowly - we managed to get home.

The boys were of course upset to have had to cancel, though it had been quite an adventure!

We were much more fortunate than thousands across the south and south east who were stranded in cars. Many of my facebook friends had tales to tell of being stuck with kids in the car and unable to get back, or having to walk home from work etc.

Today we finished off delivering some hampers, then headed out to Bromley for our own last minute Christmas shopping. We then took William into Orpington for his. This is the first year that all the boys have bought presents for each other and it is really heart warming to see.

We then took another hamper over to a family that we knew who were in need. To be blunt, seeing the huge difference it made to them has just blown us away and has made this an AWESOME day. To be serving in a church that serves the community so well, with no strings attached, just because it is what we should be doing, is just the best thing ever. It has really made Christmas for us.

As a family we are seriously excited about 2010 and where serving through our church is going to take us.


Ruth J said...

What a lovely Christmas cake! I do think you're clever!

Jules said...

I really enjoyed reading that. Great tips on "fancy party food on a budget" thanks for sharing :)

Love and Blessings for throughout the Christmas Season, and wishing you all a very happy, healthy, and prosperous 2010.

Julia x

Anonymous said...

What a great blog-post. Thanks for the frugal recipes ... :0)

I wish you and yours all the best for the New Year.

Shirl x