Wednesday, 22 December 2010

M & M (Mistletoe & Mulled Wine!)

Tonight is the first night that I am truly in the mood for Christmas. We'd been to the Christmas Markets in Manchester (where I stocked up on lots of Dutch goodies) and visited the one in Chester. We'd organised a Busy Betsy Christmas Market and I've been to numerous nativity plays and concerts but I suppose due to all the work and a certain amount of stress I couldn't really relax and get in the mood.

Tonight however I have put my feet up after finishing wrapping presents for friends and delivering the last of the seasonal wishes by hand; feeding 6 little ones and making sure they had a good time. I don't think they are all asleep yet but at least I can't hear them at the moment.

I have put up my feet in front of the fire, enjoying a cup of mulled wine and 'macarons de Paris' that are now available in my local supermarket. They are my favourite treats and they have finally reached the UK! Meanwhile I can't stop looking at my tree, I totally love it. It was purchased again at Golden Days nursery where I believe they have the best trees in the South Manchester area. It even had a pine cone on it:

I usually let the kids decorate the tree. Sometimes I give them a colour scheme and other years I leave them to it. They've decorated my tree in red and orange, red and silver and also multi coloured but this year I'd asked them to decorate in red, white, blue and turquoise and they did a fantastic job! The picture does not do it justice and I hasten to say that I have put a big ribbon at the top above the apples but girl monkey liked them so much and got upset when I suggested we change the composition slightly that I just had to run with it. The red and white gingham ribbon on the top inspired me for the colour scheme next year: red and white gingham and green decorations.

As a final touch I have put up some fresh mistletoe tonight. Now let the festivities begin!

I shall throw another log on the fire and wish you all a wonderful Christmas and the very best wishes for 2011!

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Have a merry green Christmas

I am so excited just a few more days until Father Christmas comes. I love this time of year; I've got a roaring fire going, the lights in the tree are sparkling and there is snow outside. Sitting in my comfortable arm chair I can't seem to get a permanent grin off my face looking at all the decorations and the tree.

The last two weeks have been extremely busy. For Busy Betsy this is the most hectic time of year with most orders coming in last minute. We've finished them all for the week and are now enjoying some quiet time, roaming around the Manchester Christmas Market (apparently it rivals the German ones!).

In order to get the house ready for Christmas I tend to do a fair bit of sorting out, with trips to the recycling bins and charity shops. And on that note I had to say goodbye to my favourite pair of Joules wellies. They cheered me (and many onlookers) up on rainy days over the past few years but the many holes in them now make them totally unsuitable. It seemed that all Joules wellies have sold out everywhere so I had to content myself with another brand but as they are zebra print with pink lining I think they will be equally cheerful.

Tonight I had to do some proper cleaning and I wasn't amused. The former Mr. B. looked after the monkeys for one day and stayed at the Betsy residence which includes a cat. Never been keen on the animal and not really knowing how to look after them he'd closed the door to the poor thing's playroom and therefore she used the kitchen cupboard as a toilet! All our baking and lunch box equipment was stinking and I think I may have to replace a shelf in the cupboard. More hassle than it was worth but one lives and learns. Thankfully I had the Ecover sprays ready to make it smell a bit better. My friends at Ecover sent me some fabulous green tips this week to get us through the festive season. I think they are helpful and hope they can trigger some green thinking with others:

  • Get some eco in your Christmas wardrobe – why not rock the office Christmas party eco-style this festive season? Visit for a list of eco fashion labels
  • Buying a real tree? Visit the Forest Stewardship Council website to make sure your precious pine has been farmed sustainably –
  • e-Christmas cards – why not try Facebook, Twitter or email rather than snail mail to send your seasons greetings?
  • Recycled wrapping paper is a really easy way to score ‘green’ points at Christmas and doesn’t cost the earth. Try the selection at
  • Banish those stains – red wine, gravy, cranberry sauce stains are rife on Christmas day. Remove them with ease Ecover’s Stain Remover – so effective it’s been awarded a Which? Best Buy
  • Turn off the fairy lights at times when you are out of the house or in bed – it’s both safe and energy efficient!
  • Treat your guests to some eco luxury – pop some Ecover Hand Wash in the bathroom and try Ecover Room Fragrance to keep your house smelling fresh
  • Travel together – try car sharing with friends and family or taking the bus to the shops to do your Christmas shopping
  • Once you’ve filled up on turkey, yorkshire puddings and brussel sprouts, wash the dishes with Ecover Washing Up Liquid (Busy Betsy thinks this really smells the very best, honestly I have tried them all!)– you can even use your grey water to feed the Christmas tree!

Having done all that cleaning I am looking forward to opening this lovely bottle of Shloer on the mantle piece. Nothing better to keep you in the festive spirit than a bottle of bubbly! Don't get me wrong I do appreciate an alcoholic version but this time of year it flows too freely and I need a 'clean' day every now and then and Shloer is the best choice. If you’re looking for a little more sparkle for your Christmas entertaining, Shloer is on hand with some mouth-watering ideas to keep the food flowing and the family happy – whether that’s a traditional roast, or a lighter alternative. Simply visit the official Shloer Facebook page at to find recipes, shopping lists and information on the latest promotions. You can also pick up some tips on how to roast the perfect potato from one of the many Shloer fans, who are always on hand for a pointer or two! A number of my friends do not drink at all and pouring either white or pink Shloer in a champagne glass doesn't look any different and doesn't make anyone uncomfortable having to come up with excuses why they are not drinking.

I am going to put my feet up and open that bottle!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

25 Chocolates until Christmas

Yay it's the first of December and I am really getting into the mood for Christmas. Christmas cards have started to arrive (seems to be earlier every year) and today the monkeys and the cat opened their first door of the advent calendars. Yes you read that well : cat! Never knew they had these for four legged creatures too but she was all too happy to get her treats. Strangely she got six in hers and the monkeys only got one.

My first trip this morning was to the local hardware store to buy a shovel. It was much needed today as I could hardly back up onto my own drive. I love snow and it is very early this year, adding to the Christmas feeling but I am worried about the roads. Last year it was total mayhem with me and a few friends trying to turn a car manually so I am now a bit more prepared for icy roads and pavements.

I had a really homely day today. Lots of baking and decorating done with a house full of friends. Today was my friend Jo's birthday and we got to christen the dining room. I have mentioned this before but it is kind of ready now, missing a few chairs still but we've got enough to have friends round.

I am very pleased with the result. It was not exactly a minimal effort as the painting took some time but it was done on a very limited budget and I think that the team who filmed the house last year would be very surprised to see the change to this:

From this:

After school we had friends of the monkeys round and we all had a lovely time playing in the snow. With baked potatoes in the oven and a freshly baked cake it felt like a proper winter's day from long long ago when I lived in a little village with my mum and dad. This sounds quite sentimental but I suppose it is the time of the year.

Tomorrow I will be engrossed in photography and Friday it is back to preparing the Sparkly Busy Betsy night that is coming up next week.