Christmas time is here

Christmas has come and gone but I still feel festive! It was a great week!

We started the week by going grocery shopping and stocking stuffing. We figured with Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day all coming we should have food. I have been going to the grocery store daily since arriving so stocking up wasn’t a bad idea. It was a beautiful and delightful day to grocery shop on Wednesday. It was one of the first sunny days this month so we enjoyed it immensely.

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Dinner after our shopping day: Pear, Lancashire and honey crostini

Christmas Eve was a beautiful day again! We woke up to a sun! It was a great gift. We popped out of bed and went to City Screen, in town, and watched It’s A Wonderful Life on a big screen. That movie is John’s very favorite Christmas movie so it was a real treat. After the movie we had cream tea at Bennett’s, a little cafe that looks out on York Minster.  We have both been wanting to go there since we moved here and had not made it. I am glad we saved it for such a special day. After the wonderful morning and tea time we headed home to get ready for skyping with our lovely family. Skype is a wonderfully wonderful invention, especially around the holidays. It made our Christmas very special.

We had a tasty candle lit dinner and then I baked a little for our Christmas Day feast. Afterwards we opened presents from E-mama and Auntie Molly and Uncle PeterG while talking via the amazing Skype. It is a tradition to open something on the eve of Christmas. Merry Christmas Eve! So it ended, rather late but very happily.

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Christmas morning began earlier than either of us wanted, having gone to bed very late. (We had to make sure Santa visited us ;D) We quickly got dressed and bustled to York Minster for the Eucharist Service. We sang beautiful hymns, heard the Christmas Story, and listened to the choir sing some of Palestrina’s Missa Hodie Christus Natus est. After church we went home to open stockings. John played an excellent Santa 😀 He got my my very own red Mini Cooper!!!!!!! wine stopper….. hahaha Hot chocolate and scrambled eggs followed and then it was time for the presents under the tree. I got so much crafty stuff I am going to be busy for a while! More skyping with people ensued and it was a lovely lovely day!

Our Christmas feast consisted of:
 Whisky and Honey Roast beef 
Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes 
Glazed Carrots
Steamed Broccoli
Knock-off Olive Garden Bread Sticks
Pumpkin Sugar Cookie Bars with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Glaze
and
Sparkling Sicilian Lemonade
After many laughs, a game of Chinese Checkers, tea and more Pumpkin bar, we went to bed happy!
Boxing Day went by in a hurry because I woke up at 3pm. Never in my life have I awoken at such a late hour. It was nice. 🙂 Leftovers were had and cross stitching  commenced.
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The finished Santa 🙂
Today was glorious! We had a castle adventure at Clifford’s Tower (aka York Castle). Then we walked around and documented the very flooded Ouse and ate at Gert and Henry’s. 
Merry Christmas and Happy Happy New Year!
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A foodie’s life

That is what I feel like I have turned this blog into- a foodie blog. I always knew I liked cooking and eating, but these last 2 and a half months have really allowed me to do both of those things to my hearts content. I really should have called the blog: food, music and old churches!

Last post I neglected to post food so I am going to remedy that now 🙂 If ever you would like links to recipes I have used just let me know. So far I have not been disappointed 🙂

I made the delicious stuffed focaccia bread again by request from John. It turned out even better this time! Last time I stunted the rise by kneading the fillings in too soon. This time I waited till the second rise and added them. The result was a even fluffier loaf!

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Sometimes one just craves a nice Chicken Fried Rice so that is what one makes! haha Tasty stuff amidst Christmas decor!

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Izzy inspired me to make chicken hand pies. I used empanada dough and stuffed them with creamy shredded chicken and peas. After that I had some left over dough and so I decided to make dessert. It turns out that pears cooked with lemon juice and cream make AMAZING dessert empanadas. Top with ice cream and ta-da!  This was a good food day!  IMG_4296

On one late night, after a long day of rehearsal for John, We decided a cheese and fruit night was in order. Here we have the masterpiece : Jacobs cream crackers, grapes, pears, turkey slices, smoked cheese, Gloucester, and honey and pear baked brie in puff pastry. It was pure comfort food.

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I could not find pumpkin puree anywhere, so Mama sent me some. Here are the fruits of two cans:

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Above you see Impossible Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes, which are not at all impossible. They do however REALLY taste like pumpkin pie. I highly recommend these become a fall tradition. I know they will be for us. I topped them with hand whipped English double cream (which is way better than anything I’ve ever whipped in the States!) This cream is the real deal! My, oh my!  🙂

Below is my absolute favorite Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread. I make it every fall at least 4 times! haha IMG_4311

With the food came two concerts. John is in a choir called The 24, which is just as it sounds : 24 singers led by Robert Hollingworth. The 24 gave a concert on the 27th of November. They did a wide variety of music spanning from the 14th-20th centuries. It was a very enjoyable evening filled with beautiful music. The concert took place at Heslington Church, which is on the University of York Campus. It was a very nice and intimate setting for a concert. It most note worth piece on the program was Per Nørgård’s  D’Monstrantz Voogli (The Disturbing Duckling). This work is for mixed choir and birdsong.  It was very difficult, I am sure. I could also tell that everyone performing it was having a good time. I myself had to stifle a few giggles. It was an experience. Very enjoyable 😀

The second concert we attended was The Marian Consort. It was held in the National Centre for Early Music here in York. The Church that houses the Centre is beautiful. The construction of the church began in the 12th century, but is a relatively new church in that it was mostly built in the 14th century. hahahaha. The amount of amazing history and architecture John and I get to see on a daily basis is stunning. It starts to feel normal because we are around it all the time now, but I just keep reminding myself what a privilege it is to be here.

Happy Friday, all!

 

Thanks giving way to Christmas

Our first holiday in England was perfect. Low key and tasty, we spent the day doing our two favorite things: wandering around and eating. I decided to take the day off from cooking so we went to a little sandwich shop we had been meaning to try. Circles Cafe is a quaint little spot on Lendal Bridge. The cafe is in an old toll house on the bridge so as you eat you get to look out onto the river Ouse (ooz). It was so enjoyable. The food was tasty too 🙂 I had been craving panini so that is what we got.

After a very nice late lunch we took a walk into the center of town to visit Santa’s village. It was the perfect weekend to do so. At the moment York is turning into a Dickens’ Village complete with tiny trees on buildings and Christmas Mulled Wine and Cider stands. The part of town we walked through on Thanksgiving is home to many little log cabin stands at this time of year. They have been built to house adorable little shops filled with local goods: cheese, puppets, photography, candles,ornaments, dishes, and cozy things.  It was a worthwhile jaunt 🙂

While there isn’t Thanksgiving holiday here in York there surly is a Black Friday/Cyber Monday event! This little place was the most crowded I have seen it. I felt like a salmon swimming up stream. There were great deals however! I picked up a coat from Ness I had been eyeing since we got here! I am one happy camper.

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Just in case the picture doesn’t really show it, this is a beautiful blue wool coat 😀

Since December is upon us and time is moving rapidly these days we set up our Christmas tree this week. It has given me fun projects to tackle. There are amazing things to be done with paper, popcorn, cranberries, thread, and some fabric. With the help of pinterest (my absolute favorite thing) and some Poundworld  buys I have had a blast this week. Here are a few of my favorite things 🙂

I really am not good a making a star shaped ornament! haha the one finally pictured here was the result of much agony. The next one should be better!

Here are some of my salt dough ornaments 🙂 My favorite is the donut. I am inordinately fond of it.

 

Merry Christmas Season all!!!

John’s first masters recital is on Friday the 11th at 2:oo our time (9:00 am in Texas) Here is a link to the Facebook event and live stream! https://www.facebook.com/events/910947468980879/