Christmas Connections

Merry Christmas to all,

I hope you are looking forward to a wonderful Christmas with your amazing family and friends. It’s a wonderful time of year because we get to connect with all those people that we love. Connection is what it’s all about at Christmas – and this got me thinking about how we connect because let’s face it Christmas or your holiday season can also be really stressful.

When we are stressed its easy to lose connection, and when we lose connection all our demons come out.  Instead of being the happiest time of the year and looking forward to friends and family, you find yourself on the Afterpay and Zip pay train buying things you can’t afford to find that sense of connection. Looking externally to make people happy at Christmas is hard to avoid.

Take a deep breath and give yourself a moment because you know it’s not about the gifts it’s about the connection.

So if you are feeling disconnected and you are overspending what can you do?

Talk to someone. When we open ourselves up we create connections so having a chat with a friend will give you not just an outlet to let off steam but a moment to get your Sh*t together.

Ask for help – no one is giving you a medal at the end of Christmas day for being a slave to your family.  You can’t join in the fun if you are running in and out of the kitchen turning purple and sweaty while everyone else sits there – but if you don’t ask they don’t know.

Do Kris Kringle or Bad Santa or make gifts.  I like giving at Christmas – it’s a little act of love for me to have made some delicious chili jam or some Christmas cookies – it’s what I will be doing tomorrow. Tiny acts of love make you feel more connected simply by giving something you have made.

Get the kids crafty to make wrapping and cards  – Kmart was selling the best little activity packs for kids to get crafty – or you can use old decorations and cut-off wrapping paper – nothing little kids like more than glue and paper.

Don’t buy crappy little stocking fillers – think of the environment – buy candy or chocolate from somewhere local and support a small business, and as you are doing it ask them how they are – because it makes a connection and small business is stressful.

Reach out and ask all your friends/followers / connections how THEY are doing – you will feel less alone I promise.

Christmas Cookies

150g unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup caster sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 free-range egg

2 cups plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 free-range egg white

1/2 tsp lemon juice

1 1/2 cups pure icing sugar, sifted

Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, and vanilla until pale and creamy. Add egg, beating until combined. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt over the butter mixture, then stir to combine. Shape the dough into a disc, wrap it in baking paper and refrigerate for 15 minutes to rest.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan-forced. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

Roll dough out between 2 sheets of baking paper until 5mm thick. Using assorted Christmas cookie cutters (about 5 x 8cm), cut shapes from dough, re-rolling scraps, and cutting shapes. Place 4cm apart on trays, then bake, swapping trays halfway through cooking, for 12 minutes or until lightly golden. Stand on trays for 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, to make the royal icing, lightly whisk egg white and lemon juice in a bowl. Gradually add icing sugar, whisking until smooth and combined. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 2mm plain nozzle. Using pictures as a guide, decorate cookies with icing. Stand for 30 minutes to set, then serve.

I don’t have a piping bag (seriously) but cutting a little corner of a plastic bag works or just fully ice with different colours.

 

Nigella’s Chilli Jam

INGREDIENTS

Serves: approx. 1.5 liters / 1.5 quart

150 grams long fresh red chili peppers (deseeded and cut into 4 pieces)

150 grams of red peppers (cored, deseeded, and cut into rough chunks)

1-kilogram jam sugar

600 milliliters cider vinegar

METHOD

You will need 6 x 250ml / 1 cup sealable jars, with vinegar-proof lids, such as Kilner jars or re-usable pickle jars.

 

Sterilize your jars and leave them to cool.

Put the cut-up chilies into a food processor and pulse until they are finely chopped. Add the chunks of red pepper and pulse again until you have a vibrantly red-flecked processor bowl.

Dissolve the sugar in the vinegar in a wide, medium-sized pan over low heat without stirring.

Scrape the chili-pepper mixture out of the bowl and add to the pan. Bring the pan to a boil, then leave it at a rollicking boil for 10 minutes.

Take the pan off the heat and allow it cool. The liquid will become more syrupy, then from syrup to viscous and from viscous to jelly-like as it cools.

After about 40 minutes, or once the red flecks are more or less evenly dispersed in the jelly (as the liquid firms up, the hints of chili and pepper start being suspended in it rather than floating on it), ladle into your jars. If you want to stir gently at this stage, it will do no harm. Then seal tightly.

No matter what you are doing this Christmas enjoy yourself, have fun, and if you are feeling disconnected reach out.

 

Phoebe x

 

Contact Phoebe

Phoebe is available for interviews, guest appearances, article commentary, and talks on a range of topics relating to property, mortgage broking, and personal finance (particularly for women!).