Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Easy Chocolate Pretzel Christmas Mix

If you know me, you know I like things that are insanely easy to make but look somewhat impressive. Anything that can make people go "oooh" when you present it to them, but hasn't taken hours and hours to make is perfection in my books. I have better things to do than slave away in the kitchen. Things like watch Netflix, check my Facebook or have a nap. IMPORTANT THINGS!

I'm the master of two and three ingredient yumminess:

Fudge Christmas Trees with only two main ingredients? Check!
Three Ingredient Choc Mint Truffles? Check!
Three Ingredient Choc Orange Truffles? Check!

I could go on and on, but I won't because you'll lose interest. Oh, look, something shiny.

So last year I had some pretzels and some Christmas M&Ms hanging around and I put them in my mouth at the same time because every bloody food blogger around was going on about the taste sensation that is salty and sweet and I thought it was about time I tried it.

Oh. My. Christmas.

Yeah. So they weren't bangin' on about it for nothing.

But I wanted more sweet so I had an idea and went about making this Christmas Pretzel Mix all stuck together. I figured I'd make some for friends and family, presented in gorgeous gift boxes, then also had some on hand at home because YUM.

  • Grab a baking tray and line it with baking paper
  • Place a bag of mini pretzels over the top, making sure they touch and overlap slightly
  • Rain down the Christmas M&Ms 
  • Drizzle melted white chocolate over the whole lot
  • Refrigerate for 20 minutes or until set
  • Break in to clumps and pop in a gift box, cellophane, or serving bowl

The clumps of pretzels and M&Ms with the white chocolate "glue" holding it all together create that amazing collision of saltiness and sweetness. So Christmassy and delicious, but you've barely done anything! 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

How to recycle old Christmas cards in to homemade Christmas baubles

I love Advent Activities for a few reasons:

1. My kids love craft. I love craft. Win win. 
2. It makes excellent bribe material for over tired children ("if you don't stop hitting your sister, you can't do today's activity")
3. It means it's nearly Christmas!!!

I don't like spending a fortune though, and I if I can get away with activities that don't require purchasing anything or even recycling things we already have, it makes it even better.

I have heaps of old Christmas cards hanging around, most of which are in unopened packets from the 1980s when it would appear my Grandmother bought half a store in one go. They went in to my craft drawers a few years ago and now each year we try to do something with them. 

This year I thought we'd make some baubles!

You'll need: 
  • Old Christmas cards or wrapping paper that you've glued on a sheet of cardboard to make it sturdier
  • A circle punch - I used a two inch punch and any smaller would be tricky, but you can use any size you like, or make a template and cut your own with ye olde scissors 
  • A stapler 
  • A piece of string

After you've cut your circles, fold them in to triangles (see images 1, 2 and 3), then staple the edge of one to the edge of another until you've created a ball shape (see images 4, 5 and 6). It's up to you how many you put together, for these I put eight pieces together to make small baubles, but you can do whatever you like.

Staple or tape a string to the top (if you're really clever you can do this with your first circle to make it easier - I was not that clever!) and hang it on the tree! Voila! I find the kids love seeing their own creations on the tree, and are quick to point them out with pride to visitors, and to me, that's what it's all about. 

Happy decorating! 

Friday, December 4, 2015

Best Santa Photos in Perth

Not sponsored
I'm a sucker for a Santa photo, and I think I've found the best in Perth!

There are a bajillion Santas around and not all are cut from the same plush, red velvet. 

As far as I'm concerned, to make the best Santa photo in Perth you need a winning trifecta:

1. Santa must have a REAL beard! This is non negotiable despite some very fancy fake beards getting around. A real smile is also preferred but I will accept a fake smile if the beard is legit. A lovely backdrop is also a bonus, but I will always peg genuine white whiskers above all else. 

Would you look at those whiskers!
Copyright Penny Butler Photography - used with permission
2. Allocated times. I did not understand the joy or appreciate the value that is booking for Santa photos until Bobbin the Explorer came in to our lives. I could not line up forever with this feisty femme and expect her to then smile sweetly at the camera - she'd be climbing the sleigh, finding out if Rudolph was a boy or girl (and proclaiming LOUDLY that it didn't have a penis so it must be a girl), and generally getting up to marvellous mischief. Which is all fabulous and entertaining except every other kid is doing the same thing and the frazzled mothers are scrounging in handbags for anything to bring some peace; snacks, toys, valium, you name it. 

Knowing that when we arrive, we have a few minutes wait at most takes so much pressure off and also means that there is less time for the kids to spill tomato sauce down their fronts. Plus with a 15 minute window there is no rush to get in, smile, get out while the next bored toddler tries to photobomb. It's SO much more relaxed and, shock, horror, is actually quite fun!

3. A real photographer. Once the realm of the rich and famous, now everyone can get a sweet deal with a real photographer. The best part is that they take a heap of photos and choose the best as opposed to five rushed jobs for you to choose from at a shopping centre where you sometimes have to pick the least bad - which I admit is better than back in the day when you got the instant photo with no choice at all! 

As an added bonus, a real photographer can touch up the pictures if you need, so if, for example, your two year old rubbed her face in the lawn and came up with a tiny little rash on her cheeks and forehead the morning of the photos, well, they could be touched up slightly. ASK ME HOW I KNOW! 

My mate Penny from Penny Butler Photography does Santa photos for the people of Perth every year and she ticks all three boxes with her awesome set up. 

Santa not only has a real beard, but he's SO good with the kids and his suit? Holy Nutcracker, it was divine! Beautiful embroidery which on closer inspection had reindeer, angels and snowflakes amongst the filigree. 

His set up is in his little work shed with his sleigh this year - which he built himself, and even has a letter box that you can pop your wish list in to - if you put your address in there, he'll write back. Tricky drew him a picture and asked him how old he was... Santa answered but we have been sworn to secrecy. 

Santa is very hands on, doesn't make the elves do everything
Copyright Penny Butler Photography - used with permission
To make it even more magical, the whole thing is at the Christmas Tree Farm in Mariginiup (north in the City of Wanneroo), and there are families wandering around choosing their tree, Christmas carols on the loudspeaker, and a real sense of excitement hangs in the air. The Christmas Tree Farm is where Santa hangs out when he's in Perth - a holiday house if you will. Can't be stuck at the North Pole all year. 

The man never stops, even on holiday he's in the Christmas spirit
Copyright Penny Butler Photography - used with permission
Penny knew I loved the funny photos she'd taken for another family last year, so after she'd snapped the usual ones she got the kids to ham it up. It's my favourite photo and is now our Christmas card! 

Considering I've spent $70 in the past for a handful of randomly sized prints in a rush job with a crappy Santa, I was more than happy to pay the $60 for these and support a small business rather than a giant multinational.

For your money you get 15 minutes with Santa (my two had about 5 minutes and then buggered off!), 4-5 digital images that you can then print yourself or email out, and a reply from Santa if you post your letter in the special mail box on the day. 

There are still some spots available so contact Penny at Penny Butler Photography for bookings.


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