Wrapping Up The Year

Shopping at the last minute for Christmas is the most stressful activity concerning this holiday month that I can think of. The only thing that makes it easier is that I more or less know what I am going to buy for each of my friends and family.

The best thing that you can do if you know you will be late on shopping, whether you get paid late or you don’t have enough time, is to go around town and window shop. If you see something that sticks out or you know someone will enjoy, pop by and put it on hold. Another thing that helps with this dilemma is that town will be opening till late the closer we get to Christmas Day.

Now if you want to be super organized like me, I suggest getting a wrapping paper from Cosmorama that you can use for only the gifts you are giving. This helps to eliminate any confusion between who bought what when it comes to gift giving.

This year between my friends however is that we are going to try and do a Secret Santa gift giving; not only is it more affordable but also less stressful. When you only have one friend to focus on, you won’t end up messing up and buying the wrong gift for the wrong person.

My only problem is that I enjoy buying gifts for people. It is one of my favorite things. I know my friends so well that when I see something I know one will like, i get the impulse to just buy it, despite not knowing whether they reciprocate. I don’t mind not getting anything in turn, it’s the happiness that is enough for me.

Bake Off

Creativity and craft is something that comes naturally in my life. My maternal side of the family is composed of mainly women; all of which are talented in many ways. We have artists and jewelers, bakers and chefs and I wouldn’t change it for a thing.

Because of my family, I also have seemed to inherit this skill. Mine is art but I do dabble in baking.

This year, my baking skills have been put to the test for Christmas. My mom, whom I am still convinced is a event dictator, has put me in charge of all the cookies and cakes that will be given as gifts, tokens and charity for the month of December.

No pressure.

Every day after work, I spend my time elbow deep in flour and sugar, whipping up cream and frosting and burning my fingers on the oven. I think it’s worth the outcome though.

So far I have completed my batch of Chocolate Crinkles (recipe below.)


INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour or white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar or cane sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable (or canola) oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • (optional: 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, for coating the cookies

DIRECTIONS:

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the oil and granulated sugar. Beat on medium-high speed for 2 minutes, or until the mixture is light and fluffy.  Add in the eggs one at a time, beating on medium-low speed until combined.  Add in vanilla, beating on medium-low speed until combined.  Then gradually fold in the flour mixture, and beat on medium-low speed until combined.

Form the dough into a large ball, and place it on a large sheet of plastic wrap.  Wrap the plastic around it so that it is sealed tightly.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours (or up to 24 hours) until the dough is chilled completely through.

When you’re ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350°F.  Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Scoop the sugar into a small bowl.

Remove and unwrap the dough.  Then roll the dough into 1-inch balls, dip each ball in the powdered sugar until it is completely covered on all sides, and then place the dough balls at least 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes, then remove and let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 3 minutes.  Transfer the cookies to a wire rack, and let them cool until they reach room temperature.

Serve immediately, or store in a sealed container for up to 5 days.  These cookies (either in dough form, or baked) can also freeze for up to 3 months in a sealed container.


It took me a while to perfect this recipe but I think I have the hang of it. Next on my baking list is Sugar Cookies and Russian Tea Cakes.

Wish me luck!

If you don’t feel like getting dirty and would rather have a pre-made cake, then check out Chatterbox and their Christmas Cakes.

Eat Up

With December finally making its way onto our calendars, it’s time for me to share with you my not so busy schedule for this month of madness.

This week is definitely going to be the busiest of all my weeks. Since Christmas is right around the corner, I’m reminded that my friends are not as available to hang out as they usually are. That’s why in the spirit of Christmas, and also a really late Thanksgiving, I have decided to throw a Friends-giving party at my house.

This small event will host around fifteen people and the food must be a plenty because these people can eat! I’ve decided to go in a more traditional American direction when it comes to the menu; from turkeys and glazed ham, to collared greens and corn on the cob, and all the way to pumpkin pie. This whole week will be spent shopping and preparing for the meal.

Whilst I’ve been organizing this, I have also spent time thinking about what my table is going to look like for my actual Christmas meal. The 25th is usually spent with my family, the eve being with my friends. This year the menu will contain seafood; a nice match to our sea themed decorations of course.

Crab will be curried and prawns will be grilled. Fish will be fried and mussels will be sauteed and the table will be set with a large serving platter, perfect to pick from like a small buffet. Having only three people in total to celebrate with means more food!

What will you be eating this Christmas? Are you spending it with family or friends or both?

 

Shopping Around The Christmas Tree

Christmas is fast approaching on our less than sunny Seychelles Islands, and along with it, Christmas Shopping.

This to me is a dreaded time of year; traffic in town, lining up and trying to buy as many things before everything is sold out is stressful. What makes all this worthwhile however is the happiness that radiates around the house on Christmas Day when all the gifts are exchanged.

I’m still trying to figure out what to buy everyone this year and it is very important to budget yourself accordingly. You have to guesstimate how much you want to spend on who and what is more important; does something small and significant have more meaning than a bunch of little gifts together?

As each year passes, my Christmas list changes. This year for example, I have moved away from asking for books and instead gone after household items. From cushions to rugs to little decorations for my home. These items have become more and more easier to find as Seychelles also progresses.

I know my mother as well has similar tastes, but instead of asking for a bunch of things, she prefers the meaningful gifts. It isn’t about how many presents she gets but what one of them might mean to her. My grandmother is more indecisive. She never knows what she wants but somehow my mother always knows what to get her.

Friends are easy to shop for. I know who would prefer a voucher of some sort and who would like something more material.

Do you know what your friends and family want for Christmas? Don’t leave your Christmas Shopping to the last minute!

For furniture ideas check out Island Living and DIY.

Check out Sarah’s Kids Corner for children.

For spa vouchers check out this list of spas here.

For a wider range of shops check out this page.

Christmas Ready

As our calendars make their way to mid-November, a lot of people make the decision of decorating for Christmas early; or if you’re anything like me, remind those that do, that it is still November!

My mother won’t listen to me as she makes me go get the Christmas decorations out of storage and dust off my father’s custom made Palm-like Christmas tree. Her theme this year is Under The Sea. The baubles are all colored shades of blues and greens, glimmering in the late afternoon sunlight on our veranda. I am still insisting that it is “only November!” but she ignores me in favor of her Celtic Christmas music.

Being half-American means that Thanksgiving is also thrown in the running along with our yearly Holidays in Seychelles, and in my home it usually means a quiet meal shared with family and remembering the history of such a ‘holiday’ However, my mom has decided to forgo this Thanksgiving meal and remind me that we (her, my grandmother and I) all have birthdays in November.

This means that we are just going to jump straight to into Christmas spirit and drink liqueur coffee while watching the rain pour down outside. Being a humid country means no snow but plenty of rain for the rest of the year. The rain can’t drown out the Yuletide cheer though. It’s thick and distinct and smells like vanilla and cinnamon and it shouldn’t because its “still November!”

No one hears me still. My Grandmother has decided to  pull out a small faux tree to place upon her coffee table and my mother has once again convinced me to decorate something else; it’s the fake bamboo plant and it is now adorned with burgundy baubles.

It seems like our town of Victoria is the only one who’s rational; the streets are yet to be fully decorated to the max as it had been last time around. But the resolve is slowly breaking as Seychellois’ comment on Facebook about the lack of festive cheer. Slowly, but surely, lights are being strung up and the Christmas music is playing on almost every radio channel.

We have almost over a week left of November and I tend to cling to it as hard as I can. It isn’t that I hate Christmas; I love the food my family shares and the gifts we give. Perhaps it’s the American in me that is used to having holidays forced upon me, one after the other as another year comes to a close.

What I won’t do though, is begrudge my mothers happiness and instead I’ll complain to the dog as I light all the scented candles that smell like sugary goodness and have my ears berated by cheery flutes and harps.

Although, don’t let my Grinch like behavior get you down! Christmas is a wonderful holiday (when it’s December!). Think of the treats and the Advent Calendars and the warmth of family.

What is Christmas like in your home? Is it cold and white or sunny and bright? Are you excited or just not that interested? Leave me a comment and let me know how you feel about one of the biggest holidays of the year!

For decorations check out Cosmorama and Pineapple Boutique for scented candles.