Friday, 19 December 2014

A free-from Christmas

The cold, winter weather is definitely upon us and Christmas is quickly approaching with just a few short days to go. It’s the time of year for families to get together and share fun, games and food in the company of one another. 

However, for those families who need to consider relatives with food allergies and intolerances, planning Christmas dinner can become a little more complicated.

Many people that do not have special dietary requirements believe that free-from food can be tasteless and unappealing. Yet by making a few simple switches to flavourful recipes, the whole family can enjoy delicious Christmas favourites. 

Newburn Bakehouse, a specialist gluten and dairy free bakery by Warburtons, have spent years experimenting and improving the overall texture and taste of their free-from products, including gluten and dairy free bread, muffins and wraps to name a few. The Newburn Bakehouse team has developed a variety of festive recipes just in time for Christmas that the whole family - including those living with food intolerances and allergies – can eat together. Follow Santa as he hops down chimneys delivering presents on Christmas Eve, and read on to see him discover free-from food when wolfing down gluten free and dairy free mince pies.

Newburn Winter Warmers

The recipes found throughout Santa’s tale are all gluten free and dairy free, and can be enjoyed by all the family over the festive season. The complete collection of recipes can be found on the Newburn Bakehouse website.

I've also put the free-from Christmas recipes that we make in our house every Christmas on a new page you can see at the top of my blog, titled Free From Christmas Bakes.

Our family are all great believers that free-from treats are neither free from taste nor difficult to bake!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

The countdown is on...

Come on in and let me show you around our festive decor!


I should add, that in the interests of keeping it real I didn't move that bundle of clothes to the back left of the tree. They were just waiting there until I got the iron out. Consider it an act of public service that I kept them in shot - so that no one else feels bad if they don't have a Pinterest Perfect house!

The DIY pictures I shared last week have been joined by a few extra additions.
This snowman is Calum's favourite decoration. He bought it at a school Christmas fair for about £1 when he was in the early years of Primary school.
These snowmen were made by David (9) and Ally (5) last week. It was the activity from one day of their advent activity calendar.
At the bottom of the fireplace are these little carol singers. They can usually be found in all sorts of positions these days as Fraser (1) likes to get his hands on them! Sharp eyed readers might also notice that one of them is rather gruesomely missing a head! He was the victim of a freak accident with the Hoover last year - it fell backwards, landing on the fireplace and taking this poor man's head off! His head is safely in a bag somewhere but we haven't got round to fixing it on yet!
Our tree is a Caring a Christmas Tree, as it has been for quite a few years now. The money raised goes to the homeless charity my hubby works for.


The tree is decked with ornaments that are full of memories.








And the Playmobil advent calendar scene is filling up nicely!


Monday, 15 December 2014

Make it Monday - Snowman Breakfast

On Saturday morning the boys' advent activity calendar told them that they were going to have a special surprise breakfast.

David (9) and Ally (5) were told to keep out of the kitchen while Calum (12) and I set it up, along with our little helper Fraser - it was a little early for James (14) to be up on a Saturday morning so he joined us all when everything was ready for eating!

I wish I could say it was my own idea, but I have to admit that once again my friend Pinterest was the source of my inspiration. I found this post here with a snowman breakfast and thought how much the boys would enjoy this variation on their usual weekend pancakes.

We don't have any plain glasses so Calum decorated some jam jars with Sharpies. Then we filled them up with milk to make them more snowman-like. We put the lids back on, with each boy's initial so that we would know which ones had the cows milk and the dairy free milk in them!

For the pancakes I used my trusty gluten free and dairy free pancake recipe, which you can find here.

I started off making one big and one smaller pancake and placing them together as I thought a joined up one would be too hard to flip around. But then I got a little braver and tried one out, with some success!

The buttons and face are made out of dairy free chocolate drops, the nose is a little writing icing that you get in those wee tubes and the snow is some mini marshmallows (just check the ingredients as not all are allergy friendly. I'm pretty sure the Cake Angels brand have either milk or wheat in them - can't remember which but I do know there was one of the two in them the last time I checked!)

Friday, 12 December 2014

Free Printable Chalkboard Christmas Decorations

I was going to leave my latest make for Monday's Make it Monday post but it's so pretty that I couldn't wait any longer!

These three pictures are the beginning of my Christmas mantle decorations for this year.

If you are on Pinterest then you can't have avoided all the lovely chalkboard art that is around just now.

I quite fancied making a big chalkboard wall somewhere in the house and writing out lots of things to keep us organised, as well as verses and phrases that I love. I would have to practice my chalkboard fonts as well of course.

Until I do though, there are plenty lovely people online who have shared their free printables with us all.

These three were my favourite Christmas ones.

You can find this one here.

You can find this one here.

You can find this one here.

It was so simple to make these and the best thing was that I found the frames in Poundland, so the whole thing cost me £3 plus a little bit of ink from our printer.

I love the frames so much that I think after Christmas I will have to find some non-Christmassy printables and put them in instead!

In other Christmas decor news, we chose our tree tonight! The lights are on and we are leaving the branches to settle overnight before decorating the rest tomorrow.

All together now - 'It's beginning to look a lot like............

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Christmas Biscuits

One of our Christmas traditions is baking Christmas biscuits together.


A couple of days ago I had this as the activity in David and Ally's advent activity calendar.


Because Ally can't handle anything with raw egg in it I made up a batch of these easy biscuits from Allergy Adventures blog. We adapted them slightly by leaving out the lemon and adding a teaspoon of mixed spice instead.



Because there was no egg in them Ally was able to do all the rolling and cutting by himself, and what a great job he did of them too.
Although he is the only boy with no allergies, David still made a free from biscuit so that everyone could eat them. He used my usual Christmas Biscuit recipe, which you can find here. The boys with egg allergies, as I've mentioned before, are fine to eat egg in biscuits and cakes. They just can't handle raw egg or eat egg on its own. We made these without the stained glass middle bits but we are planning on making a batch of the stained glass ones for the tree.
David took his job very seriously and can't wait to make another batch.


Two batches of biscuits were made on Monday.


It's now Wednesday and there is nothing in that tin but crumbs!

Monday, 8 December 2014

Make it Monday - Crochet Snowman Wreath Reveal

Remember that crochet snowman wreath I was working on a couple of weeks ago?
I finally got around to hanging it up today.


Isn't he cute?
I was thinking of giving him a black nose as I didn't want to buy a ball of orange wool just for four stitches worth, but then my brother's wife gave me a strip of orange wool from her stash at the weekend. So now he has a proper carrot nose like any self respecting snowman should.


We won't be collecting our Christmas tree until this Friday afternoon, so this wee chap is managing to make the living room look festive all on his own for now.



I have another couple of makes waiting for the Christmas tree to arrive too.

These two will be hanging on the tree when it comes.


The tweed reindeer was the work of one of the mums from the school craft group.
The little heart was made by me at our church ladies night last week.


There might be a couple more tree decorations being made later on in the week too when the boys open their Advent Activity calendar, which they are really loving!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Advent Calendars Galore!

In our house we have several different advent calendars.


There are the chocolate ones, two Cadburys ones and two free from ones.


But more popular than the chocolate ones are the old ones we dig out of the attic each year.


We've had this Playmobil one since James and Calum were quite small.


Despite how long we've had it, or perhaps because of it, the boys all love this one the most. When it comes out of it's year long storage they all help rebuild the little boxes and follow the instruction book that explains which piece of Playmobil goes in each of the boxes.

They also have to assemble the little winter background where the pieces you get each day all come together to make a cosy winter scene. That's it on the left below.


Of course, our house wouldn't be complete without a Lego calendar and we have been reusing this one for the last four or five years.
Our final calendar is being used a little bit differently this year. It's actually the oldest of all the calendars. I bought this one for James' first Christmas back in 2000.


I used to fill it with little treats for him and then it came in handy when Calum came along as when he was small we weren't able to find any dairy free chocolate calendars. In fact, up until a couple of years ago this was his and Alasdair's calendar. We would use their special chocolate and a Christmas mold to make shapes for them and fill two to each pouch.
This year though we're filling it with slips of paper. Each day has a little thing to do in it. Nothing too adventurous as I don't want to give ourselves too much to do in what is already the busiest month of the year, although some days will have something a bit bigger in them.
Here's a sneak peek at what we have planned for them on Friday!



Monday, 1 December 2014

Make it Monday - Easy Candy Cane Reindeer Craft

On Saturday it was the Christmas Fair at the boys' Primary school.

We were busy with baking things for both the baking stall and the teas & coffees.

We also made up a pile of these cute little reindeer.

They were really easy to make.

All you need is:

candy canes
 brown felt
 googley eyes
red pom poms
a little glue

Just cut strips of the felt to wrap tightly around two candy canes. Have your little helpers glue the felt around the candy canes and then they can glue on the eyes and nose.

Leave to dry for a while or the eyes will fall off!

I think they would make cute little presents for little friends, teachers, lollipop men/women....all those people you want to say a little thank you to at Christmas time really!