Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!


2010 has been a really interesting year. So much has happened and I have so much to be grateful for. One of those things is you, my wonderful readers. It’s such a pleasure getting to ‘know’ so many of you. The most recent statistics indicate that over 100,000 people from 83 countries worldwide visit the main 21st Century Housewife site each month and that just blows me away. It’s a long way from when I started back in 2002! I love getting your emails and I do try to reply to each and every one of them - it is so lovely to hear from you. Thank you for your interest and your wonderful support!

I am really excited about 2011. I love the New Year and the fresh start that it brings. I’m not one to make resolutions - the very sound of the word seems to set one up for failure. Instead I affirm goals - I’ll write more about that in the next few days. But for tonight, I celebrate the joys I have known in the past year and count my blessings. Although this isn’t the New Year’s Eve my family and I had planned (we were meant to be celebrating with friends but seasonal coughs and viruses have put paid to that) I am happy to be with the two people I love most in the world. I am also profoundly grateful for the wonderful blessings we enjoy.

I hope that wherever you are, you are celebrating with family and friends too and looking forward to the New Year.

Wishing everyone a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year! May you experience many blessings, your dreams fulfilled and most importantly, may you and yours have lots and lots of fun!

Friday, December 24, 2010

From My Home to Yours


The Christmas preparations are nearly finished.

Yesterday the lovely Emma from Green Parlour dropped off the new wreath and floral arrangements I ordered (I always like to refresh my fresh floral Christmas decorations a couple days before Christmas.) I’m so pleased with them.



This morning my husband, son and I went to Pangbourne in what is becoming a traditional Christmas Eve visit. We stopped into the gift shop, the bakery and the little grocery store for some last minute bits and pieces and also went to Green’s, our wonderful local butchers, to collect our Christmas order. We were queued out into the street to collect it and everyone was chatting. There were some amazing things coming out of the shop. Beautiful pastry wrapped Beef Wellingtons, geese, hams and of course, turkeys. Everyone was in a festive mood, and folks reminisced about Christmases gone by - and one lady told us about a dish she once had featuring seven birds, all cooked inside each other (a turkey somehow stuffed with a duck, goose, pheasant, quail and two other birds I can’t remember).  It was fascinating, if not very appetising!

Anyway, after a very pleasant few minutes chatting with everyone, we collected our turkey, a cooked, sliced ham, a wonderful pork pie (the pastry wrapped cooked kind with hard boiled egg in the centre) and luscious pastry wrapped sausage rolls.

We came home and had some of the fresh sausage rolls for lunch with some wintery apple salad. While my husband, who is working from home today, works in the study, there is a frenzy of cooking, present wrapping and card delivering going on. I am loving every minute of it.

I hope that wherever you may be you are loving every minute of the Christmas season too!

 From my home to yours, wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas!

April
The 21st Century Housewife

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Start UK's 20 Tips to Living More Sustainably This Christmas


Those clever people at Start UK, the Prince of Wales’ Charities Foundation’s new initiative to help people across the UK lead more sustainable lives, have come up with 20 tips to help you live more sustainably this Christmas. Some of their tips could also come in handy if you are a bit behind on the Christmas preparations too!

Click here to find out more.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year...


And also the busiest! Click on the links to catch up with everything that is happening back on my main site The 21st Century Housewife.

Need some last minute Christmas gifts?


Click here for some easy and inexpensive ideas suitable for just about anyone.

Think it's too late to make a Christmas cake?


Try my Mincemeat and Brandy cake. It takes hardly any time to throw together, and many folks prefer it to traditional Christmas cake. 

Need a delicious and easy meat free meal?


Here's a Vegetarian Lasagne recipe even meat eaters will love. 

Wondering what to serve for breakfast on Christmas morning?


Check out my easy, make ahead Christmas Morning Breakfast Treats for a selection of recipes that the whole family will enjoy. 

Fancy a new and different cookie?


Here's my latest cookie recipe for yummy Pecan Scotchies

And for some delicious squares to finish off your dessert plate or any cookie plates you might be making to give to family and friends, check out these two family recipes that I have shared over at Miss Simplee Sufficient

Hope you are enjoying the Holiday Season!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas At My House



Please do come and visit my home, all decorated for Christmas – just click here!

The First Part of the Week on The 21st Century Housewife


There’s already lots going on this week at my main site. Please click on the links to go and visit!


There is a delicious Red Cabbage recipe which was my contribution to some of the Meatless Monday recipe carnivals.

Plus an old family recipe re-vamped



And for tips for a Merry Green Christmas courtesy of Ecover, please click here.





Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Monday Musings - On Wednesday


The holiday season has really caught up with me and I let Monday Musings slide last week, thinking I’d have time to do another vlog this week. Well not only do I not have time, but I’ve got my cold back, and my voice isn’t very good! So Monday Musings is going to have to be a written post this week.

To be honest, Mondays are such a busy days for me I have decided to move my vlog to Wednesdays in the New Year. Now all I have to do is think of a name. If you’ve got any suggestions, please do let me know! I’m also going to expand it to include more than just links - it’s really evolving at the moment so watch this space and be sure to visit on 12th January for the first edition of my new and improved weekly vlog!

Right, on to some of the great things I’ve found in my travels round the blogosphere in the last two weeks.

One of my first shout outs goes to a cool new site I have joined as a contributing writer - Miss Simplee Sufficient. With the goal of “Encouraging every woman to become more aware of the world around her and to also truly understand the importance of developing and strengthening the skills she needs so that she can become “Simplee” the best woman she can be”, this is a great resource for all kinds of women, from corporate executives to stay at home moms and everything in between. It’s well worth a visit, and you can see my articles by clicking on my author profile here.

I have to confess I have not got a proper start on my Christmas baking yet this year, so the timing was perfect for me to stumble on 12 Types of Christmas Cookies without Going Insane on Life as a Mom. With some great tips on batch baking, getting ahead and using your freezer, this article is a great resource for everyone from the first time baker to the seasoned professional.

Recently I found a great new blog out in the blogosphere called Comfy in the Kitchen. Written by a lovely lady named Janelle, this new blog is beautifully laid out and features lots of yummy recipes with step by step instructions. Well worth a visit!

Another cool site I stumbled upon recently was Crafty Kayla, written by Kayla, an American currently living in Finland with her partner, a professional hockey player. One of the things I like most about Kayla’s blog is the great free ‘printables’ that she offers. There’s a lovely one of “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” that could be the basis for many a homemade Christmas gift or craft. To see it, please click here.

Laura at Hey What’s For Dinner Mom has started a new blog linkie called The Pennyworthy Project. Laura is the hostess of “Just Another Meatless Monday” and this linkie promises to be every bit as popular as it is. At the moment, the linkie is evolving, and as Laura writes, “It's a link party, it's inspiration, it's thrifted Sunday, it's your Etsy store, it's your weekly craft check-in, Ebay listings, art journal posts, recipes to share, presents to make, decorating on a budget, book selling and anything else you want it to be.” Do go along and check out Laura’s new Pennyworthy Project and don’t forget to link up your posts!

I’ve recently found a wonderful online magazine called The Arbuturian, which is a publication with real personality, and lots of really interesting articles. Some of them are very tongue in cheek,  but they are all a great read. They are also an excellent resource and highlight many of the great and the good in British food, fashion and lifestyle.  Maddy York’s article on The Perils of the Party Season will make any woman smile and Angela Clutton’s Lingerie Guide for Men provides some very wise advice that had me nodding my head and smiling knowingly at the same time!

They also led me to Vintage Seekers, a website offering vintage 20th century design and collectibles. Although I am unlikely to be doing much Christmas shopping from it as most of the pieces on offer are rather expensive, if there was ever a place to go ‘window shopping’ on the internet, this is definitely it. They have a mesmerising collection and are guilty of keeping me from my work for far too long while I perused their tempting indulgences. So far, I’ve been good and bought absolutely nothing, although I confess to being tempted by this

And last but by no means least, check out these gorgeous Mini Pecan Tarts topped with Mascarpone and Glazed Pecans from Butter Yum. The picture alone will tell you why I definitely want to try making these in the New Year when things settle down. Actually, who am I kidding? Things never ‘settle down’ around here, and I probably wouldn’t know what to do if they did!

So that’s it for Monday Musings for this year! Watch this space for the new and improved Wednesday vlogs starting on 12th JanuaryAnd if you do visit any of the blogs or sites I mentioned, it would be lovely if you would leave them a comment and let them know April at The 21st Century Housewife sent you.

In the meantime, don’t forget to come back and visit The 21st Century Housewife and The 21st Century Housewife’s Kitchen for lots of recipes, ideas and inspiration as we celebrate the holidays and then a very special 18th birthday in early January.

Have a great week!

Jakemans' Secret Sweet Shop



To celebrate the very best of British sweets this winter, traditional confectionery manufacturer Jakemans is opening the Jakemans Secret Sweet Shop at Whiteleys Shopping Centre in London on the 9th, 10th and 11th of December and offering FREE sweets to all its visitors. Rhubarb and custards, cough candy twists or liquorice sticks… we all love sweets that take us back to our childhood – and there’s nothing better than a traditional sweet shop! The Jakemans shop will transport you back to Britain in the early 1900’s with vintage sweet jars, old-fashioned weighing scales and lovely candy stripe bags, as well as masses of delicious free confectionery. Jakemans has been producing confectionery since way back in 1907 and their products are available in both the UK and the US at a wide variety of retailers.

On offer at the Jakemans Secret Sweet Shop, amongst a selection of other British favourites, will be all five varieties of Jakemans – Throat & Chest, Menthol & Eucalyptus, Cherry Menthol, Honey & Lemon and Blueberry Menthol. They contain no artificial colours or flavours and are suitable for vegetarians.

Jakemans very kindly sent me samples of all five of their delicious varieties – and it was perfect timing as I had just begun to develop a cold! Now I have to be honest, I’m not a fan of normal cough sweets – but Jakemans are something else. Not only do they work really well – soothing a tickly throat and helping to clear your head and nose – they taste absolutely delicious. I’m particularly partial to the blueberry and cherry varieties.

I highly recommend Jakemans, and if you are in the London area, a visit to their Secret Sweet Shop sounds like it would be great fun. It will be on the First Floor of the Whiteleys Shopping Centre, Queensway, London, W2 4YN on Thursday 9th, Friday 10th and Saturday 11th December 2010 from 11am – 7pm.

If you are unable to visit the Sweet Shop, you still don’t want to miss out on Jakemans’ great products. Available in the UK from a number of retailers including Sainsburys, ASDA, Tesco, Boots and Superdrug, Jakemans are also available in the United States from Whole Foods and many other retailers. They are definitely the most delicious and effective cough sweets I have ever tried.

For more information about Jakemans, please visit www.jakemans.com

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Catching Up Again

Want to catch up on what’s been happening on The 21st Century Housewife?
For a delicious and easy bread machine recipe, check out my Raisin and Orange Loaf

Read my thoughts on Joy for Two At Christmas as shared with Marriage Monday on Chrysalis by clicking here

And try out my newest dessert idea - St Clement's Custard - by clicking here

Hope your week is going well so far!

Friday, December 03, 2010

The 21st Century Housewife's Kitchen



A number of readers have recently gotten in touch and asked about my kitchen and I suddenly realised I had never really posted about it. So please click here for the grand tour!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Yummie Tummie



Ever wished you had a fairy godmother who could magically smooth away your figure flaws? Let’s face it, even those of us who are really comfortable with our bodies have bits we wish we could camouflage. Yet every time I’ve worn traditional shape wear I have felt so constricted and uncomfortable all I have wanted to do was take it off. Not to mention how it made me feel - absolutely anything but sexy. Luckily I’ve found a fantastic solution.

Yummie Tummie is a lightweight cotton wardrobe staple that smoothes and shapes your tummy and hips – and helps camouflage those pesky lumps and bumps, giving your midsection a beautiful smooth line. You can wear it under anything you own, but the best part is, many of the pieces can actually be worn by themselves. As well as slips and undergarments, Yummie Tummie offer dresses, t-shirts, vests and camisoles – all with comfortable shape wear built in.

Designed by Heather Thomson, an established fashion designer and celebrity stylist, Yummie Tummie is hugely popular in the US and is making a big impact over here across the pond as well.

The best thing about Yummie Tummie is that their designs are really sexy. It’s totally unlike any other shape wear on the market. And because it doesn’t look or feel like shape wear, you can avoid those Bridget Jones granny pants moments when getting undressed in front of your man.

See what I mean? This pretty design looks nothing like a traditional shape wear undergarment. The pieces - which even include some very sexy teddies - are really gorgeous, and no one would ever know they were giving you a little extra help.

The lovely people at Yummie Tummie sent me one of their fabulous ruffle t-shirts to try for myself. I was amazed by how beautifully it smoothed my figure and I have had compliments every time I have worn it. It is a comfortable and lightweight piece that I really look forward to wearing. In fact, I liked it so much I have personally purchased other items from the Yummie Tummie range since then.

Yummie Tummie is widely available in the US and also via the Yummie Tummie website, which will soon be ready to take orders from those of us who live in the UK as well. In the meantime, a good selection of the range is available in the UK online from www.asos.com ; www.mywardrobe.com and www.figleaves.com

Yummie Tummie’s RIPT torso enhancing t-shirts and undershirts for men are going down a storm too. Available both in the US and here in the UK (exclusively at www.figleaves.com) these fantastic t’s mean that men don’t have to miss out on the smoothing benefits of Yummie Tummie. UK readers may even have seen them on the popular television programme The Apprentice a few weeks ago.

I highly recommend the Yummie Tummie line, and I cannot wait until it is more widely available in the UK. It’s the perfect shape wear for 21st century women - incredibly smoothing, totally comfortable and really, really stylish.


The 21st Century Housewife was not paid for this post. I did receive a beautiful ruffle top to help me with my review.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend!


I hope everyone who is celebrating is having a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend! There’s lots going on at my main site, so do click on the links and go visit!
Just in time for Black Friday and all that Christmas shopping, there’s my first article for the excellent new website Miss Simplee, How to Survive Holiday Shopping.
There’s also a healthy pasta dish, Cauliflower Cheese with Broccoli and Bacon.

Plus another A Dickens of A Christmas post. Remember I blogged about how to make your own Traditional Victorian Christmas Pudding? Well, I’ve just done my first post about Serving Traditional Victorian Christmas Pudding. There's another post to follow soon!

And if you haven't already, do check out this week's Monday Musings vlog and visit my new Facebook page.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

An American Thanksgiving in England


There is no official Thanksgiving in the United Kingdom which I think is rather sad. Gratitude is something that we need to teach our children. In the modern world, assailed by advertising and the media, it’s easy to be swallowed up by the culture of “I want” or “I need” where our day to day blessings are simply ignored. Without some sort of official corporate non-denominational celebration of gratitude for our blessings, there is a risk that people rush through their lives completely oblivious of all the things we have to be grateful for.

For this reason and for the sake of tradition, we have always kept Canadian Thanksgiving in our house. Although I am a naturalised British citizen, I am Canadian by birth and it is a festival my family have come to enjoy. I can never get a turkey in England in October, but we have the largest chicken I can find, and all the other trimmings, including pumpkin pie. Until recently, you couldn’t get a whole fresh turkey anywhere in this country until the last weeks of December, but the influx of American ex-pats has led to a very welcome, if limited, availability of turkeys in late November. I have always made it a point to get one around that time, in part to encourage supermarkets and butchers to keep stocking the focal point of the Thanksgiving meal at this time - and also in the vain hope they might start to have them in October too.

And so it was that once again this year I ordered a turkey during the fourth week in November, intending to cook it at some point during the week. On seeing the large bird in the fridge, my son turned to me and asked when we would have it. When I said sometime in the next few days, he looked me straight in the eye and said,

“Why don’t we celebrate American Thanksgiving on Thursday too?”

I consider myself to be both Canadian and British, so it never occurred to me to celebrate the US Thanksgiving. So I gave my standard reply,

“Why, because we are not American, darling.”

My son looked at me quizzically,

“But didn’t your ancestors come over on the Mayflower?”

This gave me pause. There is anecdotal evidence to suggest that my maternal great grandmother’s family was related to Francis Eaton, one of the passengers on that great ship, and we did visit both Plymouths (in England and the US) to teach our son about this over the years. And then he put the icing on the cake.

“And how can we not celebrate Thanksgiving when we are related to the ninth president of the United States?”

Okay, he had me here. During the war of 1812, when the British and Canadians were fighting the US, one of our ancestors, Isaac Corman, was captured by the Americans. He managed to escape with his life after convincing them (truthfully) that he was a cousin of American General William Henry Harrison.

After the war was over, William Henry Harrison was elected President in 1840. Sadly, his was the shortest presidential tenure in the history of American politics - he died 32 days into his first term. But yes, we are related and yes, it is very likely we are related to one of the pilgrims who was at the first Thanksgiving.

And so it is that for the first time ever, I am preparing a Thanksgiving feast on the fourth Thursday in November. I’m all for celebrations of gratitude, particularly as we do have so much to be grateful for, and this is a great way to celebrate our family history too. So as well as giving thanks, we’ll raise a glass to Francis Eaton, Isaac Corman and William Henry Harrison - and to the wonderful tapestry of nationalities that makes up our very happy family.


Wishing you and yours the Happiest of Thanksgivings!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Monday and Tuesday on The 21st Century Housewife


There's already lots happening this week on The 21st Century Housewife!  

Please click here for the latest edition of Monday Musings.

And here is another yummy recipe.

Grandma's Garlic Bread



Friday, November 19, 2010

A Delicious New Bread Recipe



To see the yummy Apple Cinnamon Raisin bread recipe I shared with many of the Friday blog hops and recipe exchanges, please click here

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What's Happening Back At The 21st Century Housewife

You can catch up with what's been happening on my main site by clicking on the links below.


Enter my latest CSN Stores Giveaway for an $85 (or £60) Gift Certificate - Hurry, closing date for entries is Thursday! 


For a yummy Meatless Monday Recipe, please click on the link below the picture.


My Vegetarian Chili

And to see the latest Monday Musings vlog, please click here.


For a recipe for a British classic, please click on the link below.


Shepherd's Pie
And check out the last few days of Autumn in my garden by clicking here.



Hope you are having a great week!