I have a Christmas Gift for You!

“They always gives me bath salts,” complained Nobby. “And bath soap and bubble bath and herbal bath lumps and tons of bath stuff and I can’t think why, ‘cos it’s not as if I hardly ever has a bath. You’d think they’d take the hint, wouldn’t you?”
~ Terry Pratchett*

(*Apologies, because I’ve actually used the Terry Pratchett quote once before but I love it so much that I decided to use it again!)

 

Christmas Gift?

I do.

I have a Christmas Gift for you.

I’ve been working on it on and off all week.

But you’ll have to wait until tomorrow morning, when just like Santa, I will sneak in on stocking-ed feet and pop it up here on the blog for it to find its way to your inbox or screen.

You don’t even have to leave me milk and cookies. Or sherry and fruitcake. Or carrots for the reindeer. Or whatever it is you usually leave for Santa and his team.

Yay!

Lots of love from Nicole and her Magical Unicorn Dogs <3 xoxo

 

PS – Actually the Magical Unicorn Dogs protest. They love treats!

unicorn-dogs

A Christmas Gift for Yourself

“You’re gorgeous, you old hag, and if I could give you just one gift ever for the rest of your life it would be this. Confidence. It would be the gift of confidence. Either that or a scented candle.”
~ David Nicholls, One Day

 

I was talking with a girlfriend yesterday. A very organised girlfriend who’s a bit of a mother figure to me. She’s had the family Christmas shopping done months ago, and everything is wrapped, waiting to go under the tree.

‘Gee,’ she said, ‘I wonder what abominations I’ll get this year…’

I asked her what she meant.

‘All I want is a good nightie. A comfortable one in soft cotton that’s nice to sleep in. I give hints all year, but the kids and grandkids always get me some horrible thing with cartoon animals, or David gets me some lacy sexy thing that appeals to him but is scratchy and synthetic and awful.’

‘Could you go with them to choose it?’ I asked.

‘No! Then it wouldn’t be a surprise.’ My friend pulled a pouty face worthy of a five-year-old.

I smiled. She is adorable at nearly sixty, and one of the kindest, most thoughtful people I know. ‘Would there be better presents for them to get you?’ I asked.

‘Yes!’ she said. ‘Books, chocolate, bath products, perfume. Any of those would be good. Even a colouring book. The complete Harry Potter series would be even better. I’ve alway wanted to read that.’

Image from twosistergethealthy.wordpress.com

Image from twosistergethealthy.wordpress.com

‘Well, tell them that’s what you want. Write a list for them even. Then go buy yourself the nightie you want and put it under the tree from Santa for you. That way everyone’s happy.’

‘But I can’t do that!’ she protested. ‘Christmas is about you being thoughtful for other people, and them being thoughtful for you.’

And therein lies the problem. Worth. Not everyone is as thoughtful or observant or organised as my friend. No-one else knows that her definition of Christmas is about other people being as thoughtful for her as she is for them. Or that thoughtfulness is a soft cotton nightie. Why can’t my friend be thoughtful for herself too?

You’re always doomed to disappointment with a set-up like that.

Christmas is not a test of love and worthiness. Don’t treat it as such. Don’t wait for others to demonstrate your worthiness based upon a framework they can’t even access.

I get that surprises are wonderful. You can get a surprise from the smallest thing. A surprise means you didn’t know what gift you’d get. Surprise! Let the gifts others give you be accepted in the spirit of surprise, gratitude and appreciation. Or good manners, if that is all you can muster, and especially if there was no thought, love or care reciprocated.

This year, if you really have your heart set on something, give it to yourself. You are worthy of the thought and consideration you give others. You are worthy enough to spend your own money on you.

My Christmas gift to myself this year is going to be prawns in white sauce served on toast with a glass of champagne. That was Ceddie and Marga’s (my grandparents on my mum’s side) favourite Christmas breakfast. I miss them heaps, especially at Christmas. My husband doesn’t like prawns. That’s okay. I’ve asked him and he wants a full-on Canadian breakfast. We have the technology to do that.

It’s okay to be kind and thoughtful to yourself, and to meet your own needs. If you don’t treat yourself like that, how will other people know to do that?

Big love and hugs, Nicole xx

Quick Christmas Macadamia Shortbread Recipe

2014-12-18 19.31.46

“For centuries men have kept an appointment with Christmas. Christmas means fellowship, feasting, giving and receiving, a time of good cheer, home.”  ~ W.J. Ronald Tucker

 

This is a super recipe. It’s rich and buttery, and the lovely crispness of the shortbread goes perfectly with a cup of tea. I like their rustic style too. It speaks of kitchens and aprons and being made with love. (If you prefer your biscuits to look perfectly perfect rather than rustic, see note at bottom of page.)

These shortbread make a an easy and thoughtful home-made Christmas gift, and are good to have on hand when friends pop by for a visit.

The recipe can also be made gluten-free or vegan very easily – simple substitutes are listed below.

Shortbread Ingredients:

250 grams butter (1 cup), 1/4 cup sugar, 1/3 cup icing sugar (powdered or confectioners sugar), 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1/3 cup cornflour (cornstarch for my USA friends!), 2 and 1/3 cups plain flour, 1 cup of chopped raw macadamia nuts, 1/3 cup of raw sugar (optional).

This works fabulously well with gluten-free flour. If you’re vegan or dairy-free use your favourite butter alternative.

Hint: use level cups of flours and sugars rather than generous ones.

Method

Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).

Shortbread:

Melt the butter over low heat. Cool slightly.

Sift icing sugar, sugar and cornflour into a large bowl. PS. How cute are these stackable little duck measuring cups that my Nana gave me many years ago? I totally adore them!

2014-12-18 16.53.11

Pour over the melted butter. Beat until thick and creamy. You could use a spoon or hand beaters but I use my trusty electric beaters.  The thickened mix will be the consistency of thick custard. Be patient. It takes a minute or two for the magic to work.

shortbread

Then add in the sifted flour. Mix until combined. The mixture will be crumbly and moist. Add the macadamia nuts and mix well to distribute them evenly.

2014-12-18 16.57.42

2014-12-18 17.24.19

Cover a couple of oven-proof trays with baking paper.

Place the raw sugar into a small bowl.

Take a teaspoon of mixture and roll it into a ball. Press the ball into the bowl of sugar, and then place the ball sugar side up on the prepared tray.

2014-12-18 17.25.36

 

Leave some space between each of the biscuits as they will spread slightly. Press the biscuits down gently with the tines of a fork. You could also use your hand to do this, but the fork tines make pretty marks.

2014-12-18 17.28.58

Bake for 15 minutes, or until lightly golden. Leave on trays for five minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

2014-12-18 19.26.30

Package to give as gifts, or store in an airtight container to serve with your next cuppa.

Santa is quite partial to these shortbread as well.

Enjoy!

2014-12-18 19.34.29

 

Variations:

1/2 cup of macadamias and 1/2 cup of chocolate chips

1 cup of macadamias and 2 tablespoons chopped glace ginger

1 cup of chocolate chips

Or just omit the nuts and leave them plain

NOTE: If you are a perfectionist who cannot abide rustic-looking biscuits, make sure that your macadamia nuts are cut quite small. Divide the dough in half, roll into two cylinders, cover in cling wrap and pop in the fridge for an hour until firm. Now you will be able to slice perfect circles that give biscuits with no obvious lumpy bits. You may or may not wish to mar the perfection with fork tines or sugar.

2014-12-18 19.30.38