almost christmas eve

In exactly one week it’s going to be Christmas Eve. How is that even possible? I’m so behind on my usual pre-Christmas blog posts; I had planned to share a Christmas recipe, some Christmas wish lists, some Christmas activities, but with one week to go, I know I won’t have time to do any of this, so I’ll combine a bit of everything in this one. I truly wish I had more time, but between our school and the boys’ school events, the Christmas shows, all the baking, gifts wrapping, sneaking a movie night to watch Mary Poppins, a family cousins reunion AND the actual Christmas festivities, not sure how I will ever survive this next week! But even with all that, I’m still the most excited one in this household! I just LOVE Christmas! And here’s a little recap of what we’ve been up to the last couple of days.

Picking our Christmas Tree: The official opening of the holiday season always starts with the cutting of our tree at Ian’s Christmas Tree Farm. I’ve already shared with you how big of a deal our tree is, and you can read more about our magical tree tradition here. Let’s just say this year didn’t go according to plan. It had snowed a few days before, it was beautiful outside, the weather was great, we were 11 of us crammed into 3 cars, but once out there in the field, we couldn’t find a tree we would agree on. We walked and walked and walked some more, but nothing, nada, zero. All of them too small, or too big. After searching for the perfect one for over an hour and a half, we finally placed the bag under the magic tree, the boys found it, they were happy, we pretended to cut it and hitched a ride on the wagon to go back (actually without a tree). So while we were having hot dogs, maple fudge and brownies by the outside fire pit, Brian picked up a pre-cut one! Only once we had already paid and wrapped up the tree we were told we were actually in the wrong field. Well, you just watch me next year, Clark Griswold will eat his heart out when he sees my perfect tree. After that, we all came back home for some drinks, pasta diner and to decorate the tree. All in all, we didn’t cut it ourselves, but our tree still looks beautiful and smells wonderful, which is all that matters. 

Christmas Party number 1:

We’ve had our annual friends Christmas party ever since I can remember, and for the last 5 or 6 years, we’ve been hiring a chef to cook for us, at home, and it’s been amazing. But this year, our chef double-booked the date and we were left with no one with about two weeks’ notice. So at the last minute, we all decided that each couple would be responsible to take care of one service. And it turned out to be amazing! Saved us a ton of money and the food was delicious. Vero and Mat have the greatest basement for parties like this, with mirrors and lights and loud speakers and a dancing floor, so let’s just say that the next morning was rough for a few of us who drank and danced too much! I just think there may be a little less Tequila involved next year, or so I’ve heard. But we had so much fun, as always, and I can’t wait for next year’s party already.

Nutcracker:

I love the Nutcracker. We saw the new movie a few weeks ago and Liam loved it so much that when a young girl from my school was chosen to take part in the ballet, I knew we had to go. So last week, Liam and I added the Nutcracker Ballet to our list of Christmas things to do. On Thursday night, we skipped the school homework and went to see the show. It truly puts you in the Christmas spirit and I was so proud to cheer on Victoria. She was wonderful to watch, and Liam and I just loved the entire thing, as it was beautiful and so well done.

Christmas Parties 2, 3 and 4:

Last weekend was filled to the brim with activities. First, Friday night was my workplace party at my co-worker’s new house. Well, now I have severe house envy. Well, how could I not? She has a dream kitchen, PLUS a stage (well, an open staircase that looks like a stage) where I came up with a singing/lipsing performance! The games were hilarious, I will definitely plan games like these for Christmas Day at our house. Family, beware and be ready! After my work thing, I drove back-and-forth to the other side of Ottawa to pick up Brian who was at another Christmas party at his friend’s house… so by the time I went to bed it was pretty late! And then Saturday morning I was up early to get everything ready in time as I was hosting family members for diner. We don’t see each other enough, but we do this every year now and we always have a great time. I really love this new tradition of ours. This year was no different. My aunt, uncle and the boys all played a few songs on the piano. We shared old and new stories. The boys saw their baby cousin Evely, who is definitely one of the best dressed toddler ever! And then, on Sunday morning, we drove to Brian’s dad to get the house ready for the Christmas Eve Woodbury family ‘Réveillon’. So while Brian, his brother and his sister were picking up and decorating the tree and the house, I decided to cook my Christmas ‘boulettes’ for the 24th midnight lunch; at least one thing to check off my list, finally!

It’s going to be a busy week, but it’s one of the best week of the year, as this is what it’s all about: gatherings, reminiscing, spending time with the people that matters, with all the love, the bickering and the dirty dishes in between! Christmas would definitely not be the same without all the craziness that comes with it. So, no more complaining about everything I have left to do before December 24th, and I will enjoy each day to the fullest and I’ll catch up on sleep sometime in the new year! Cheers my friends, and have fun, and be safe, hoping the next few weeks are filled with Christmas magic for all of you, as we all deserve some of it this time of year. I wish you all the best Holiday Season possible. Merry Christmas.

 

         


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our christmas

Hope your Christmas was merry and bright. Ours was, and as always we had a jam-packed schedule; but that is clearly how we love it!

The boys were super excited on Christmas Eve, so I decided to put my long to-do list on the side and go snowshoeing with them to burn off some of that energy. It was kind of cold outside, but not enough to prevent us from enjoying our nice walk by the river. Definitely something I would like do every Christmas Eve from now on. After that we had a light lunch and it was already time for the kids Christmas Eve’s nap. They didn’t like the idea that they had to take a nap, but knowing that they would go to bed past midnight, we knew they had to. After the nap, they got dressed up, we packed the car with food and gifts and we were on our way.

We have had this amazing fondue dinner at my mother-in-law on Christmas Eve for years, and this year was no different. It’s just so nice to start the Holiday Season with a nice dinner that does not involve turkey! So after dinner we all opened some gifts and then had a lot of fun with our yearly gift exchanged thing. I’m so happy that Brian and I ended up with the two things I really wanted!!! Since my kids are the youngest on both sides of Brian’s family, well they were the only ones that kept on asking for more gifts, literally ALL-NIGHT-LONG! But what’s Christmas without a little excitement, right?

We then made our way to our second family gathering of the night at my father-in-law’s for the Woodbury ‘Réveillon de Noel’. Just before midnight, Liam, who was kind of quiet so far, told me he had a headache, so I gave him a bit of medicine as he looked like he was starting a fever and wasn’t really himself. Logan on the other hand had a blast. He danced, he sang Christmas song with uncle Bobby, and he was super excited to see Santa. The boys finally went to bed at around 1:30 am. Yep! We then kept on partying until something like 2:30, then decided it was time to head back home.

Home is about 45 minutes away, but it nearly took us 2 hours to get there. We had looked at the weather forecast in the afternoon in order to decide if we should sleep over or come back home, and as expected (and forecasted), there was like a beautiful Christmas Eve light snowstorm going on when we left; but then, 15 minutes later, we were driving in a pure blizzard… and I wanted to cry as I couldn’t see a thing 15 feet in front of me! It was white everywhere, and I couldn’t see the road, or the shoulder lane, or the ditch, or like anything, but luckily, Brian didn’t fell asleep and did his best to keep me calm so we would make it home safely. I will NEVER drive in a snow storm like that one again. Let’s just say that by the end of that ‘beautiful’ Christmas Eve snowstorm, there was at least foot of snow in our driveway, which was way more than expected. We should have clearly stayed there and continue to party instead of driving back home!

So, we got to bed at around 4:30 am only to be woken up at 8 by an excited and joyful Logan. By that time, Santa had come, had eaten the cookies, drank the milk, and had left each of the boys the toy they had asked him. Liam woke up with a severe sore throat and a headache, so gifts opening was quieter than usual for him. The boys got the new Nintendo Switch console as a surprise, and they were really happy about it, but with Liam not having as much energy, the reaction was kind of mellow, or not as loud as expected! For months now, Liam has been talking about the Nintendo Switch… so when he told us 3 weeks ago that his best friend from school was probably having one for Christmas, we told him that he was still too young for it and would have to wait a few more years before he’d get one… his response was ‘I will never get the Switch; I will only get the Switch when I’ll be 30 years old’… so dramatic, I wonder where he gets this from… so anyway, we were expecting him to jump all over the place, but poor little thing, he was clearly not feeling too well. My favorite gifts the boys got are clearly their new Mario and Luigi pajamas; and I guess it was Logan’s favorite as well, as he did not take it off yet since he opened it! They look so funny in them, so I couldn’t care less if he’s spent the last 3 days wearing it!

We were hosting Christmas dinner at our house. And I just love this new tradition: my Mom and Frank bring all the food and I provide the house! My brother and his family came over as well as my aunt Lise-Ann and her family. We opened more gifts and then ate too much food. The kids were all playing downstairs, and at some point my nephew came up and I asked him what were they all doing and he told me that they were all playing Mario Kart, except for Liam who was watching them from the couch under his blanket. Well that’s clearly not Liam, as he’s a Mario Kart pro (and addict!). So I went downstairs to get him, and poor little thing, he was having a fever. He was shivering and in really bad shape. So yeah, I put him to bed at 6 on Christmas Day. He was so sad he couldn’t enjoy Christmas Day with his cousins, but the only thing he wanted was to go to bed. He woke up 14 hours later. I guess he needed to rest. Dinner was delicious; dessert too. Everyone was gone by 10, and then I just sat by myself in the living room, listening to Christmas music on the record turntable while watching the tree lights. It never last long enough. I was so sad it was already over. But still, it was a great Christmas season, and I enjoyed every moments of it.

Boxing Day was pretty boring at our house. The day started with Liam throwing up in our bed. So I did some laundry, then cleaned up the house a little while staying in our jammies all day. By the end of the day, Liam was back to his usual self and started to play the new console like a pro. The best part of my day was when I started a 1000 pieces puzzle. Woot woot. Party animal over here!

We’re still in la-la-land over here, enjoying our two weeks holiday, not caring what we’ll do today, when we’ll get dressed up or what to eat next. So far it feels like all we’ve eaten this week is leftovers from Christmas. Hello leftovers! I will share the Ultimate Leftover Turkey Sandwich later this week, so don’t miss this one, as I’m pretty sure all of you will have everything you need in your fridge to do this on January 2nd!

Even if Christmas was not picture perfect, it was still great, and of course the best time of the year. We spent lots of time cuddling and being together and that’s the best part of it. Right now it’s minus 40 degrees Celsius over here, so were staying inside, playing with our new games and living on leftovers and hot chocolate. Not too bad, right? Well, I hope Santa was good to all of you and that you’ve spent time with the people you love. Now, let’s get ready for NYE!

 

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christmas cake…everyday cake

Are you full?  I bet you are… I know I still am!  But there’s always a spot left for my all-time favorite chocolate cake!

We had a really good Christmas this year.  We visited family, had fabulous meals with the ones we love, exchange presents and waited for Santa to come visit us -way past our bedtime- at the Woodbury Christmas Eve réveillon.  I can’t believe it’s already gone, makes me so sad having to take away our tree and decorations; but I think I’ll keep them for another week (or two)!

Since I’m not ready to say goodbye yet, I’m sharing this amazing chocolate cake recipe with you.  You can make it year round and you will not be disappointed, it really is a crowd pleaser!  It was our Christmas Day dessert this year (and probably will for the next 50).  I melted some Wilton White Chocolate Candy Melts in the microwave and spread it on a large parchment paper.  Let it cool at room temperature, melted a few chocolate chipits and then brushed the ‘bark’ with a small paintbrush.  Takes less than 15 minutes….very easy.

For the cake and icing, I’ve adapted a recipe from Marilou 3 fois par jour: Mon gâteau au chocolat préféré.  I took out the chipits from the cake and changed the icing for it to be a little more buttery.  The original is amazing -just like everything else she does-, but I really love the changes I made… suits my liking!

what you need for the cake:

butter to grease the cake pans

2 cups of flour

3\4 cups of cocoa

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1\2 teaspoon of baking powder

pinch of salt

3 eggs

1 3\4 cups of sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla

1 cup of mayonnaise (I use Hellman’s Olive Oil)

1 1\3 cups of water

what you need for the icing:

1 lbs of unsalted butter (oh yes, one pound!)

1\2 lbs of salted butter (I guess one pound was not enough; but like I said, it is buttery!!!)

3\4 cup of cocoa

3 cups of icing sugar

how to:

Heat up the oven at 350.  Grease the 2 cake molds (9 in.) with butter.

Mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl.  Put aside.

In the mixer (I use my Kitchen Aid mixer, but you may use a hand held mixer) add the eggs, sugar and vanilla.  Mix for about 3 minutes until the mixture is frothy.

In another separate bowl, mix the mayo and water.  Add to the mixer, alternating with the dry ingredients.

Pour into the cake pans, place in oven for about 30 minutes.  Let the cake cool down completely before icing.  I also suggest to freeze the cakes.  It’s easier to frost when it’s frozen, plus you can make your cakes in advance and unfreeze them the day your serving it.

For the icing, using your mixer again, mix the room temperature butter until fluffy.  Add the cocoa and icing sugar.  Mix on low setting until the icing is smooth and delicious!  Place your cakes on a nice cake stand, adding some icing between the layers.  Frost any way you like.  This frosting will be the best one you’ve ever tasted, I swear.  If you don’t like it, call me and I’ll come eat the entire cake!

I added the white chocolate bark all around the cake and placed a few decorations.  Theses were my great-grandma vinyl cake decorations… probably the only thing we have of hers… yet, we use them every year!  This cake needs no decoration at all, but it’s fun to dress it up for the occasion!

This IS simply the best cake EVER!  ENJOY!

 

 

 

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