First Tree 2008

First Christmas Tree 2008
First Christmas Tree 2008

I know it’s not December yet, but we got our Christmas Decorations down from the attic today so we were ready for Monday.  As you can imagine there was no stopping Miss L from putting up her pink Christmas tree in her bedroom.   As you can see she was doing the decoration in a ‘slightly’ daredevil way, but she managed not fall off and the tree looks lovely.

I’m not putting up our main tree until Monday as I have to move a ton of furniture and clean to get it in – bah humbug 😉

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Childrens tax allowance 2002-2003 – DEADLINE 31 Jan 09!

Obviously phone your tax office to check this out and get the right address to send all the information to – double check with them about this one!

In 2002 – 2003 tax year there was an allowance that the tax office didn’t publicise that well and most people didn’t apply for and most importantly it wasn’t means tested like the current Child and Working Tax Allowance.  It could be worth £520 off your tax bill, and I guess it’s worth a phone call to find out if you are eligible.

So here’s what you do:

It is called Childrens Tax Allowance for the year 2002/03

You can still claim but the deadline for allowance is before deadline 31st January 2009.

You are eligible to claim £520 allowance if:-

Have a child born between 6th April 1986 – 5th April 2003
Child lived with you for all or part of 2002/03
You worked and paid tax for all or part of 2002/03
You or your partner earned £6000 plus in the year 2002/03 tax year

You are eligble for the £1040 allowance if you can answer yes to all four above
One of your children was born between 6th April 02 and 5th April 03

If you call the HMRC on 0845 302 1437 and ask if you have received this allowance and they will let you know what to do if you haven’t.

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Vintage Christmas Cards

In the summer I was rummaging in a junk store near my Mum’s and I came across these.  I was surprised at how un – ‘Christmassy’ they are.  I’m guessing they are from maybe the 1930’s or 40’s but there is no date on any of them.

card-collageI’m trying to think of a use for them as it seems a waste not to, but I can’t think of anything.  Any ideas?

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Tuesday Link Love

I’ve read so many great articles over the last couple of weeks, but I’ve not had time to post about any of them.  So I’m now sitting with a nice hot mug of coffee and some biscuits and I thought I’d share these with you all.

iphone and kids – a great site if you have both!

Pumpkin Bread Pudding from City Sage….I so want to make this!

New Thanksgiving Tradition – I love this idea and I’m going to adapt it for Christmas as we don’t have Thanksgiving here.  Miss L’s always have the best ideas 🙂

iphone as a baby monitor and other cool ideas. I wish I’d had my iphone when Miss L was a baby I was so tired I could never remember when I’d changed her, so this would have been ideal.

Christmas Outdoor Decorating ideas from Restyled Home

Making a Beautiful Mantle from Thrifty Decor Chick – a blog I’m just getting into and she has some fabulous ideas.

Nursery Furniture and Decorating Ideas from Hooked on Houses – just adorable!

How the British Government dictates how children are raised – Alpha Mummy article from The Times. It is actually quite scary being a parent here sometimes. You should see how much homework 4 and 5 year olds get. Let alone if you need to take them to the Accident department at the hospital! Of course all the people who this is aimed at still don’t care and their poor kids suffer anyway 🙁

When I grow up I want my house to look like this – of course it may involve leaving my whole family 😉

Making a Custom Photo Calendar – I was going to write one of these, but frankly they’ve done it better.  Ideal and inexpensive Christmas present.

I’m out of coffee, so enjoy the links! x

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Mince Pies

This is my ongoing quest to educate my American blog friends about strange and interesting British Christmas Food – please don’t run away, honestly these are good despite the name!  🙂

Okay so mince pies don’t actually have meat in them, the ‘mince’ in these is a sweet mixture made up of rasins, currants, glace cherries, dried apricot, candied peet and spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg.   You can generally also add nuts such as walnuts or chopped almonds, suet and as usual in British cooking some kind of alcohol, usually either brandy or rum. Mince pies are suitable for vegetarians only if the suet is replaced by vegetable fat. Here is an excellent recipe from Delia Smith to make your own at home.

The mixture is then added into a sweet pastry pie and served with any type of cream, in my family we have them on Christmas Day after the Christmas Pudding and Christmas Dinner!  I sometimes have to roll away from the table….

Here’s a recipe for the pies

Preparation time less than 30 mins

Cooking time 10 to 30 mins

1 quantity puff pastry
450g/1lb mincemeat
1 egg, beaten with a pinch of salt
55g/2oz caster sugar
60ml/2fl oz milk

1. Heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6.
2. Roll out the pastry until it is 2mm thick. Stamp out 24 7.5cm/3inch rounds with a pastry cutter and put in the base of 2 patty trays.
3. Fill each case with 2 tsp mincemeat and brush the edges with a little milk.
4. Stamp out 24 6cm/2½ in rounds for the lids and put on top of the mincemeat, sealing to the edges of the bases. Brush the egg wash over the pies and sprinkle with the caster sugar.
5. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until golden brown and cool or serve warm.
6. If you make them in advance, store in an air-tight tin and re-heat when needed.



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Gmail Themes

I love GMail, I’ve had an account since 2004 when I think it was still in Beta?   You can keep as many mails on there as you want, search is a sinch and it easy to connect to your iPhone.  I’ve even coverted my new company over to it, they all still use Outlook but it makes those ‘I just deleted it by accident and I didn’t mean to’ panic moments easier to deal with as nothing gets deleted from the GMail account 🙂

So this morning I was delighted to wake up and find that I was one of the lucky ones who had been upgraded to ‘Themes’, Hubby hasn’t as yet (he he!)

I’ve gone with ‘Tree’ but I have to say it’s nice to be able to customise GMail a little more – Thanks Google!

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Banner Giveaway!!

So I’m a little bored working only 2 days a week and I’m in the holiday festive mood….so does anyone want a banner for their blog?  

I have an urge to play with photoshop and I’m sure I could get at least 5 done in a couple of weeks.  So the first 5 people who leave me a message, with the size/colours/font/subject/whatever you like, a link to your blog, and e-mail address so I can contact you will be the winners.  I’ll try and make you something pretty and I won’t be offended if you don’t use it 🙂

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New Star Trek Trailer

Has just appeared on You Tube…ummmm I used to be a Trekkie (Next Generation) no surprise to anyone who knows me! But this looks AMAZING!  I can’t wait to see it more clearly when the HD version goes up tomorrow.

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Puppies from Heaven

I’ve had a really crappy day, viruses on computers to deal with, mail merge that wouldn’t well merge, parent’s evening from hell (5 year old who struggles with writing shocker!).  So now I’m having a glass of wine and watching this to calm down.  How cute are they? 🙂

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Christmas Pudding

Now is the time to be making Christmas Pudding (Plum Pudding) or so my mother tells me!. She’s just made puddings for the whole family and all her friends, she’s just the best at making them, which saves me a Christmas job.  However it does mean that I don’t get to stir the pudding and make a wish, or add the silver penny for luck.  Yes I know I’m 36, but it’s still one of my favourite Christmas traditions 🙂

My Mum uses this recipe from Delia Smith

But here are some alternatives I’ve found which aren’t as traditional but sound equally yummy

Christmas Pudding and Chocolate Cheesecake

Wheat and Dairy Free Christmas Pudding

Melting Chocolate Puddings

Iced Christmas Pudding

I’m still trying to decide which one to try this year, they all look good!

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