Farewell 2014….


Well Hello 2015!
Well Hello 2015!

I’ve completely lost track of the days as you do over the Christmas holidays, so it came as a bit of a surprise to find out it’s New Years Eve already & Wednesday.  I have slept for most of the holidays if I’m honest, I was really quite exhausted by Christmas Eve & then came down with an epic cold as you do. So I’d love to say I’ve planned an epic night of partying, with heaps of friends, ridiculous drinking games, endless quaffing & general New Year bawdiness but alas not for me, those partying days of old, of dressing up in quirky, eye catching fancy dress which took days to plan, with no regard to the freezing temperatures are definitely over!  I’m more likely to be snuggled up on the sofa with a hot chocolate & marshmallows, well it is New Year,  in my onesie & elf slippers, wondering when it would be polite to go to bed – Oh how sensible & boring I’ve become! I fear (& hope) I’m not the only one, yes, please someone tell me this is their life too… please…? Or…..  I could just throw caution to the wind, let loose the pink fizz & just get absolutely trollied & have done with it, I’m even sure I spotted a bottle of Baileys in the cupboard!!! I guess I’ll let you know tomorrow.

Anyways, enough of the not even drunk ramblings, as is customary at this time of year, lets have a look back at the High Lights from the year that was! It’s mostly of cake can you believe it, & heaps of it too!

So many high lights, so much cake & gingerbread made & here’s hoping lots, lots more in 2015!

2014 has been a tough year for lots of reasons, but despite all the hurdles I feel I have achieved such a lot, but I really couldn’t have done without the love, kindness, patience, understanding & support from my most wonderful Family & Friends.  I am one very lucky Little Baker!

So to you all, I wish as 2014 comes to a close, that 2015 brings you Happiness & Health, that you love & are loved & All your Dreams come true! May 2015 be everything you wish for!

Happy New Year!!!

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❄️❄️❄️ Christmas Treacle Market Part 2 – The Finale!! ❄️❄️❄️


Christmas is Coming

As I write this I’m watching  Morcombe & Wise Christmas Special, kipper ties, wide lapels & Des O’Conner, oh & Angela Rippon now, its definite throw back to the 70’s, (not that I remember the 70’s of course, I’m purely guessing here you understand…) Either way, it definitely means Christmas is almost here! It’s very nearly almost time to hibernate & I really cannot wait!! But before all that (&  several more vintage Christmas Special of years gone by), there’s the very serious  business of the final, the very best till last, the amazing finale of the year, the last Treacle Market of 2014 & it’s going to be MAGNIFICENT!! It will be a perfect ending to a very busy year! So you’d best get out the trundles & trollies, bags & baskets, & fill your boots, you’re going to need it!

So if you’ve not been before & you’d like a heads up to Magnificent Stalls & local businesses (obviously I include myself in this list!) here’s a few of my absolute favourites!!

❄️ On Chestergate there’s the wonderful treasure trove that is Deja Vu! It’s a shop full to the brim with the curious, the gorgeous & the must haves, but hands off the cake plates – they’re ALL MINE!!! Mwhahahahaa!

❄️ Next is the wonderful Fudge Box to be found on Castle St, you’ll get the most amazing Cheshire fudge, the a tasty gift for Christmas!

❄️ The best Cafe by far is Plums Kitchen on the Market Place (opps the Library), the best food in Macclesfield in my honest opinion & they currently have the cutest Gingerbread House that ever was! (Ok, I admit to being utterly biased but it is cute don’t you think!!)Home Sweet Gingerbread Home

❄️ My lovely friend Doodle Lou is so very talented & she has a stall along with other very talented artists/designers, just out the entrance to the Grosvenor Centre, beautiful, quirky jewelry , cards & gifts!

There are so many more wonderful business I could go on all day & night & longer, but a few to look at anyways!

Right then.. CAKES!!!!!!

So Fairy Cakes & morsels are priced at £1.50 each or the special Treacle Market Box Price of 4 for £5.00, gingerbread priced individually.

FESTIVE FARE

St Clements Cake – Oranges & Lemons – lovely zesty sponge with

Cosy Spicy Apple & Cinnamon – Moist & Spicy sponge with delicate vanilla buttercream dusted with cinnamon & a Christmas shaped Gingerbread Biscuit!

 Orange, Chocolate & Cinnamon – The King of the Christmas Menu, Zesty, aromatic & utterly Wonderful!

Mince Pie Cake – Warm & spicy Mulled spice & Mincemeat Christmasy Sponge – Christmas Perfection!

Vanilla & Nutmeg – subtly Spiced & slightly exotic – delicately flavoured buttercream – topped with perfect Gingerbread biscuit!

Christmas Trees – Decadent Chocolate Sponge with perfectly poised Christmas Tree Buttercream & Sparkly Sprinkles! (Natural food colouring)

GLUTEN FREE FAIRY CAKES

Gluten Free Simples – Wonderfully Moist Chocolate Sponge with voluptuous Vanilla Buttercream – Gluten Free Perfection!

Double Trouble – Divinely moist Chocolate Sponge with rich chocolate buttercream with a top of sprinkles & chocolate stuff!

Doodle Lou’s Victorious Sponge – layers of gorgeously light Victoria sponge & raspberry jam, Vanilla buttercream & dusted with golden caster sugar! NEW!!!

FAIRY CAKES

Karl’s Crazy Caramel – Delicious rich Caramel Sponge with home made caramel buttercream, with drizzles of dark chocolate & caramel

Silly Vanilly – Simply the simplest flavour there is but oh so yummy, Vanilla Sponge topped with the whippiest lightest Vanilla Buttercream ever

Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake– Sticky toffee sponge with oodles of dates, liberally swirled with crunchy brown sugar, toffee buttercream

Luscious Lemon – Lovely Luscious Lemon Sponge with zesty lemon buttercream – Lemon Lovers Heaven!

Double Trouble Chocolate – Divinely moist Chocolate Sponge with rich chocolate buttercream with a top of sprinkles & chocolate stuff

FlutterBy Choc – Delicious Chocolate Butterfly Sponge with raspberry jam secret centre & fluffy vanilla buttercream

Deepest Darkest Chocolate – Divinely moist chocolate sponge with seriously dark chocolate ganache! Only seriously chocoholics need apply!

Simon’s Coffee Cake – Rich Coffee layer cake, with a tiny hint of Vanilla topped with wonderful Coffee Buttercream & chocolate coated coffee beans!

ChoccyCaramel Cake – Moist chocolate sponge, a centre of creamy caramel, topped with Vanilla Buttercream & oodles of chocolate & caramel drizzle!

SLICES 

Lemon Drizzle – The Infamous & Legendary Luscious Lemon Drizzle, one slice is never enough!

Vicki Victorious Sponge – layers of gorgeously light Victoria sponge & raspberry jam, dusted with golden caster sugar!

Batty Battenburg – Gorgeously moist almond sponge with oodles of raspberry jam & cosily wrapped with marzipan

Sticky MaccTreacle Cake – Deeply dark treacly, orange & ginger cake, utterly gorgeous!

MORSELS

Coconut Macaroons – Utterly Moist & seriously flavourful Macaroons, liberally draped in Dark Belgian Chocolate! £1.50 (or 4 for £5.00 Deal)

Chocolate Chip Cookies – Best recipe ever!! 50p each!

GINGERBREAD

Gingerbread – Secret Recipe Gingerbread, extensively taste tested as only the best will do!

Please feel free to sample the specially created Treacle Market Gingerbread Festive Mittens that will only be available while stocks last!!

Buttons, Moustaches, & Baubles 

Christmas Tree Lollies

(All Gingerbread are priced individually)

Looking forward to seeing you all on Sunday, a Very Merry Christmas to you All!

A Very Merry Christmas

 

 

Christmas Treacle Market Part 1


Christmas is coming

 

So it’s the first Festive Treacle Market on Sunday, how wonderful!! That means 2 chances at getting your mittens on some rather wonderful festive fare, heaps of treasures, cart loads of beautiful pressies, there’ll be festive music, a carousel & oh so much more! But to keep your spirits up & your energy levels high you’ll some to keep you going, which brings me neatly to this months menu!

 

So it’s going to be busy & if you see something you fancy but aren’t planning to get to the market till later, you can reserve your order, so you don’t miss out! email me on cocoanokos@hotmail.co.uk or message me on Facebook, easy peasy! (I don’t get much in the way of signal at the market so best to reserve your goodies before midnight Saturday)

So Fairy Cakes & morsels are priced at £1.50 each or the special Treacle Market Box Price of 4 for £5.00, gingerbread priced individually.

FESTIVE FARE

Cosy Spicy Apple & Cinnamon – Moist & Spicy sponge with spicy warm buttercream with suitably Christmas shapes Cinnamon Biscuit!

 Orange, Chocolate & Cinnamon – The King of the Christmas Menu, Zesty, aromatic & utterly Wonderful!

Mince Pie Cake – Warm & spicy Mulled spice & Mincemeat Christmasy Sponge – Christmas Perfection!

Vanilla & Nutmeg – subtly Spiced & slightly exotic – delicately flavoured buttercream – topped with perfect Vanilla biscuit!

Christmas Trees – Decadent Chocolate Sponge with perfectly poised Christmas Tree Buttercream & Sparkly Sprinkles!

GLUTEN FREE FAIRY CAKES

Gluten Free Simples – Wonderfully Moist Chocolate Sponge with voluptuous Vanilla Buttercream – Gluten Free Perfection!

Double Trouble – Divinely moist Chocolate Sponge with rich chocolate buttercream with a top of sprinkles & chocolate stuff!

Doodle Lou’s Victorious Sponge – layers of gorgeously light Victoria sponge & raspberry jam, Vanilla buttercream & dusted with golden caster sugar! NEW!!!

FAIRY CAKES

Crazy Caramel – Delicious rich Caramel Sponge with home made caramel buttercream, with drizzles of dark chocolate & caramel

Silly Vanilly – Simply the simplest flavour there is but oh so yummy, Vanilla Sponge topped with the whippiest lightest Vanilla Buttercream ever

Sticky Toffee – Sticky toffee sponge with oodles of dates, liberally swirled with crunchy brown sugar, toffee buttercream

Luscious Lemon – Lovely Luscious Lemon Sponge with zesty lemon buttercream – Lemon Lovers Heaven!

Double Trouble Chocolate – Divinely moist Chocolate Sponge with rich chocolate buttercream with a top of sprinkles & chocolate stuff

FlutterBy Choc – Delicious Chocolate Butterfly Sponge with raspberry jam secret centre & fluffy vanilla buttercream

Deepest Darkest Chocolate – Divinely moist chocolate sponge with seriously dark chocolate ganache! Only seriously chocoholics need apply!

Simon’s Coffee Cake – Rich Coffee layer cake, with a tiny hint of Vanilla topped with wonderful Coffee Buttercream & chocolate coated coffee beans!

ChoccyCaramel Cake – Moist chocolate sponge, a centre of creamy caramel, topped with Vanilla Buttercream & oodles of chocolate & caramel drizzle!

SLICES 

Lemon Drizzle – The Infamous & Legendary Luscious Lemon Drizzle, one slice is never enough!

Vicki Victorious Sponge – layers of gorgeously light Victoria sponge & raspberry jam, dusted with golden caster sugar!

Batty Battenburg – Gorgeously moist almond sponge with oodles of raspberry jam & cosily wrapped with marzipan

Sticky MaccTreacle Cake – Deeply dark treacly, orange & ginger cake, utterly gorgeous!

 

MORSELS

Coconut Macaroons – Utterly Moist & seriously flavourful Macaroons, liberally draped in Dark Belgian Chocolate! £1.50 (or 4 for £5.00 Deal)

Chocolate Chip Cookies – Best recipe ever!! 50p each!

GINGERBREAD

Gingerbread – Secret Recipe Gingerbread, extensively taste tested as only the best will do!

Please feel free to sample the specially created Treacle Market Gingerbread Festive Mittens that will only be available while stocks last!!

Buttons, Moustaches, & Baubles

Christmas Tree Lollies

(All Gingerbread are priced individually)

Looking forward to seeing you all on Sunday, bright & early!!!

 

 

Pre-Christmas Drinkies


Christmas is ComingIt’s exactly one month to Christmas Day.

Now I’m not saying I’m panicking exactly, well not outwardly, well not yet anyway, but…. There’s definitely visions of sugared plums dancing in my head, whether I’m awake or not, I’m consumed by gingerbread, which to be fair isn’t as much of problem as you’d think.  I’ve accidentally merged the Christmas play list with the everyday one on my iPod, (yes, you assume right, I file Christmas music, I’m ok with it & so should you… OK???).  So essentially, the path well trodden & seldom totally prepared for is before me. Christmas, whether you like it or loath it is coming… So pass round the tin of Quality Street, crack open the sherry, it’s time to plan ahead.

My intention is to keep this particular blog piece short & sweet, a bit like my good self,  & to share with you where & when you can get your woolly mittens on some fine CocoaNokos fodder, because as we all know, it’s good to share.

Firstly, & excitedly, a few dates in your diary:

Sunday 30th November will find us at the region’s FAVOURITE Artisan Market – Treacle Market!! This month is the first Christmas Treacle Market & will be chockablock, rammed to the rafters, filled to the brim with amazing produce, stunning art, wonderful crafts, fabulous entertainment & oh so much more! Free parking all day too! Definitely bring bags a plenty, you WILL need them, for a truly amazing market! And we’ll be on Castle Street, with cakes aplenty & more gingerbread than you can shake a stick!

And then as if that wasn’t enough, there’s another Treacle Market on Sunday 21st December, joyous times!!

And inbetwix that, there’ll be treats a plenty at Macclesfield Train Station, as they will be holding several pop-up events, this Friday, Saturday & Sunday, & then every Saturday leading up to Christmas! We’ll be attending on Saturday 6th with gingerbread galore!!!

Secondly & equally exciting, you can visit the rather awesome Plums Kitchen, on the Market Place, for some rather top nosh. You can get you’re CocoaNoko’s FairyCake fix there too!

Serendipity not only have rather scrummy gingerbread cows & ChocChipCookies, along with a stunning array of unusual gifts!

And then we have Food4Macc Direct, where you can order an abundance of local produce, including a veritable array of CocoaNoko’s produce!

And just to keep you in the know about all things Christmassy in Macclesfield, pop over to the following, they’ve got pretty much everything covered!! Winterfest, Totally Locally MaccTreacle Mums & Mums In the Know

Shorter & sweeter than my usual, marginally! Back to baking gingerbread for me, so excited, Christmas is Coming to Macclesfield & it’s gingerbread shaped!!!

 

 

Christmas Treacle Market Sunday 23rd December 2012


Christmas is Coming!Christmas Menu
This is the intended menu for the very last Treacle Market of 2012! Boxes of 4 (£5.00) & 12 (£15.00) will be available & can be ordered ready for collection & payment on Sunday!

Fairy Cakes

Gluten Free – Wonderfully Moist Chocolate Sponge with voluptuous Vanilla Buttercream – Gluten Free Perfection!

Double Chocolate – Divinely moist Chocolate Sponge with rich chocolate buttercream with a top of sprinkles & chocolate stuff!

Crazy Caramel – Delicious rich Caramel Sponge with home made caramel buttercream, with drizzles of yumminess!

Simon’s Coffee – Rich Coffee with a tiny hint of Vanilla with wonderful Coffee Buttercream!

Silly Vanilly – Simply the simplest flavour there is but of so yummy, Vanilla Sponge topped with the whippiest lightest Vanilla Buttercream ever!

Luscious Lemon – Lovely Luscious Lemon Sponge with zesty lemon buttercream – Lemon Lovers Heaven!

I Should Coconut – Unbelievably moist Coconut Cake with lashings of Coconut Buttercream with Christmassy white Sprinkles!

Fluttery ButterflyLovely Vanilla Sponge, with yummy Organic Raspberry Jam, a little swirl of Buttercream, sprinkled with snowy icing sugar!

Lemony Ginger – Zesty, spicy Lemony Ginger sponge with equally yummy buttercream, topped with a cute a button Gingerbread Mitten!

Apple & Cinnamon – Moist & Spicy sponge with spicy warm buttercream with suitably Christmas shapes Gingerbread Biscuit!

Orange, Chocolate & Cinnamon – The King of the Christmas Menu, Zesty, aromatic & utterly Wonderful!

Minty Chocolate – Minty Chocolatey sponge with seriously lush buttercream adorned with chocolatey mint stuff!

Mince Pie Cake – Warm & spicy Mulled spice & Mincemeat Christmasy Sponge – Christmas Perfection!

Vanilla & Nutmeg – subtly Spiced & slightly exotic – delicately flavoured buttercream – topped with perfect Vanilla biscuit!

Christmas Trees – Decadent Chocolate Sponge with perfectly poised Christmas Tree Buttercream & Sparkly Sprinkles!
£1.50 (or 4 for £5.00 Deal) or 12 for £15.00

Slices
Lemon Drizzle – The Infamous & Legendary Luscious Lemon Drizzle, one slice is never enough!
£1.50 (or 4 for £5.00 Deal)

Muffins
Triple Chocolate – Bursting with decadent Belgian Chocolate – perfect partner to a steaming mug of Hot Chocolate!
£1.50 (or 4 for £5.00 Deal)

Morsels
Coconut Macaroons – Utterly Moist & seriously flavourful Macaroons, liberally draped in Dark Belgian Chocolate!
£1.50 (or 4 for £5.00 Deal)

Gingerbread
Gingerbread – Secret Recipe Gingerbread, extensively taste tested as only the best will do!
Please feel free to sample the specially created Treacle Market Gingerbread Mittens that will be available while stocks last!!
Tree Ornaments – 6 Designs 75p each, 3 for £2.00 or 6 for £4.00
Christmas Tree Lollies £1.50 (or 4 for £5.00 Deal)

LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING YOU ALL ON SUNDAY!!!

And don’t forget First Up gets the cake – only crumbs if you’re late!!

xxxxx

Christmas Is Coming!!

The Wreath is Up – not many sleeps to Christmas now!


The Christmas Wreath has been made, it has been glamorously attached to the front door with the aid of Gaffer Tape and BluTak! It looks lovely, a biased opinion I can assure you, but it does look nice! It’s a little on the large size and you may have to squeeze carefully past it to enter the house and so not to be impaled yourself on the holly but I loves it!

Lovingly made from the greenery and foliage that is in abundance in my garden, from the of-cuts from this years Christmas Tree generously donated or else it wouldn’t fit in it’s pot! Some not so natural but other wise gorgeous and richly coloured berries carefully placed and a quick raid of the carefully collected, stored and possibly quite vintage ribbon drawer and there you have it. This years Christmas Wreath, carefully, lovingly constructed without a wire or glue gun in sight. One is a happy, satisfied and contented CocoaNoko… For that precise moment anyway, I now need to clear up the mess…!

12 Days Left Till Christmas… DON’T PANIC!!!!


cropped-dscf65823.jpgSo me hearties, today is the 12th Day, of the 12th Month of 2012, an auspicious day.  A date the likes of which we’ll not see again for another 89 years… Wow… In the meantime and more importantly there are only 12 days left till Christmas, time to put the sprouts on I think!

I’m guessing most you out there will have completed you’re Christmas shopping, wrapped & labelled it, trimmed the tree, the house and basically anything that was in your eye-line at the time; food has been ordered, festive drinks have been settled into the drinks cupboard (after a thorough taste testing of course or is that just me?)) and all you’re waiting for is the children to finish school, make some last-minute mince pies, tie a ribbon in your hair and wait for the Big Man himself to arrive.  If this is you, well there’s nothing for you here. Run along with you, with your perfect life! Those of us who are not you have some work to do!

I’m currently decorating the dining room and a wall in the front (2 currently painted, the other can wait!) like you do 2 weeks before Christmas.  This means the tree purchased lovingly from the forest on Sunday, is currently lay on the patio, covered in hoar-frost, most probably home to some wildlife or other soon to be homeless.  My gorgeous parquet flooring looks as though we’ve been visited by a flock of pigeons with the novaris virus and the front room is still covered in boxes filled with toys I optimistically hoped to sort out long before now.  This is all before I start preparing for the final Christmas Treacle Market of 2012, and I’m sad to say the holly is still firmly attached to the tree as is the laurel and fir bows, all the Christmas lights & decs are still carefully wrapped and filed from last year and the Christmas cards, erm well they are written out – I did that last year…  Panic is beginning to settle in for the long-term…

I feel I’ve been a little ambitious this year.  I do have a wonderful mantra though which I frequently offer to others and occasionally use myself  ‘All will be well’.  I think I may have been saying this in my sleep of late, even my subconscious is yet to be convinced!  And when I am awake, I’m alternating between stressful weeping (quite pathetic!) to hysterical laughter (scary…)!  But you know, things WILL get done! The original plan may be a little different in the end, there will be an element of not opening certain cupboards (in case of avalanche and injury) until after the holidays, the ironing pile filed somewhere unusual and the garage stacked with things that really should not be in there but really do I care?  Well yes I do now, but come Christmas Eve, when we plate up the Big Man’s Mince Pies, a small port and carrots for the Reindeer, I will have (hopefully!) resigned myself to what hasn’t been done, can either wait or be added to the ‘List of Things I WILL Do Next Year’.  I (hopefully) will not care a dot and not because I taste tested the whole bottle of port just in case.

So in the meantime, I’m going to battle with that last patch of dining room ceiling, plan some very swift and unfortunately necessary trips to busy shopping places, plan some enjoyable shopping visits to some lovely shops in Macclesfield, Make, Bake, create myself into Christmassy Frenzy and at the end of the day ALL WILL BE WELL!

So bloomin nerrrr to you of the organised inclination! I’m taking a rollercoaster to Christmas this year and it’s going to a fantastical, hysterical and a somewhat bumpy ride, and that’s just fine by me!

So Merry Christmas to Everyone!  Have a good one, be loved, be merry and be very jolly this Christmas! Only 19 days till New Year!

Love CocoaNoko

x

Traditionally Christmassy Yours


Deliciously moist apple & mincemeat, encrusted with lovely crisp pastry!
Deliciously moist apple & mincemeat, encrusted with lovely crisp pastry!

You may have noticed that it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Even those with the most Hum bug and Scrooge like tendencies can’t have failed to see the twinkly lights, the jollity in the air and there’s even been snow in some parts of the country (sadly not in my neck of the woods just yet, but all appendages are crossed for some soon!) And with this comes the roll out of I’m sad to say cringe worthy, sickly sweet, predictably asinine drivel that come under the genre of the Christmas Film Season.  I’ve just watched two in a row, and I find myself craving  something slightly darker & possibly confrontational with a little violence thrown in like Fawlty Towers Christmas Special or The Nightmare before Christmas…  It’s a miracle I can even think for myself now! Don’t ask me why I didn’t change channels, I can’t answer that other than despite the inevitable dross, they are addictive viewing!  I am so ashamed…  But it is the tradition of the Season I suppose – there that’s my excuse!!! (Lame and insipid but sadly true.)

So it makes me wonder about the Traditions we set ourselves, despite the vague possibility that we don’t actually enjoy them, particularly need them, can’t remember the initial reasons for them beginning, due to this being lost in the annuls of time.  Of course there are those Christmas Traditions that are purposeful and very necessary and Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without them.  For us and many people who live in the wonderful town of Macclesfield, it’s driving up to the Forest and buying your tree.  It’s a joyous time!  I admit we are fairly new to this tradition but I’ll never change it now, it’s part of our Christmas! Many a time we’re been up there and we see friends doing exactly the same thing.  It’s wonderful – there’s a dialogue, a script to why we go there too, a sense of responsibility, of local love as the trees all come from the surrounding forest, as nature intended which can mean some raggedy affairs if you leave your tree buying a little too late!  It gives me a warm glow knowing our tree comes from our local forest and has been cut down to help maintain the ancient woodland, fuel costs are also at a minimum!  There’s even the tradition of how we dispose of it afterward, it’s collected along with a donation (and always some biscuits or cakes), to be mulched (the tree – not the cakes!) to be used again and the money raised goes to our local East Cheshire Hospice.  It’s a win win tradition if ever the was one.  Simple, purposeful and beneficial I think.

Another fabulous tradition is that my lovely Mum & Dad always buy a chocolate advent calendar for each of us – adults & children alike! It’s so exciting and it’s really does form part of the festivities! Each one tailored to our personalities – sometimes it’s the little things!

This year we’ve decided controversially, to look at changing a few traditions.  Massively!! Some people will possibly relate to our proposal, others will be shock – nay horrified!! We’re thinking of doing away with Christmas Dinner… (GASP!!!)  I know!! Ok, I must admit not entirely, just moving it from Christmas Day is all. Now hear me out, there’s good sound reasons for it, even though I know it goes against convention.  Christmas Day is a busy affair, present unwrapping, playing with all the fab new toys, looking and reading all the new books, watching the decent(ish) Christmas tele. It’s something of a feat just to change out of your pyjamas!  So on top of that, to cook lets face a HUGE meal that takes ages to sort out & by the time it’s ready, you’re so stuffed from eating chocolate, Quality Street, peanuts, pancakes, Chocolate Orange, bacon butties, mince pies and all the other assortments of Christmas fare that is freely available, that to eat a HUGE amount of traditional Christmas Dinner is sometimes a little over-facing… So what about having that on Boxing Day, for some the damp squib day of Christmas when you’re not quite sure what to do with yourself, due to the high-octane excitement of the day before.  Less pressure, more time to spend relaxing, less family politics (a well trod situation, when in-laws are concerned…) I’m quite looking forward to it if I’m honest!  In actual fact it could be created on any day between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve Eve for me.  It’s going to be quite interesting viewing the reaction of folk when we’re asked if we had a nice dinner and we reply ‘Don’t know – not had it yet!’.

I say all this knowing full well that it’s all under the auspicious label of ‘Subject to Change’.  And if I’m honest in-built flexibility suits me fine at the end of the day.  I can think of nothing worse than having my entire Christmas mapped out minute by minute, I think I’d rather eat frog spawn!  And anyway, it’s Traditional!  (To be flexible, not to eat frog spawn – that would just be weird don’t you think..?…)

So to conclude, it is my humble opinion that whilst for the most of us there’s rhyme & reason for our collection of Christmas Traditions, there’s also a fundamental rhyme & reason to discard the outdated, the redundant & sometimes collective thinking type of Traditions.  Give them a thorough shake down and embrace the new with inbuilt flexibility to cope with the fast pace world we live in.  And eat chocolate & cake for breakfast of course! #Christmas Is Coming

Current Climate Shopping… and I don’t mean the weather


A small selection of the lovely Fairy Cakes on offer at the Treacle Market Macclesfield – last Sunday of the month – on the CocoaNokos Stall!

Shopping!  There’s not many people in our society that doesn’t love a bit of shopping!  Doesn’t have to be clothes, could be food or cars or even pots & pans; I think most people have a shopping weakness! Mine is most definitely house related things & food!  My weakness is sparkly, twinkly glass cake plates, especially pre-owned ones. I have strict limit on how much I will spend (well I say strict, this is obviously negotiable dependant on how wonderful it is!) I love nothing better than rooting (carefully!) through the pots & pans shelves in the local charity shops; it got to the point where one shop would save them for me!  I think I’ve got enough now… Yeah right, who am I trying to kid, you can never have enough, says the reckless, want it all side of my brain, whilst the other sensible, austerity aware, right all along side says, enough is enough.  It’s currently winning…

I’m finding this side of me kicking in more and more these days.  When shopping for food I’m asking ‘Do we really NEED this?, ‘Can we do without it this week?’.  I shop in Aldi, when I remember (habit is such a terrible thing, when you’re trying to change your shopping habits) and Sainsbury’s for pretty much everything else.  Then there are the wholesalers I get my bulk ingredients from but sometimes they’re more expensive than the supermarkets.  I try to buy my fruit & veg seasonally, to buy British and for it to have the lowest air miles.  To add to this I try very hard to avoid Tesco’s, I find their philosophy  jars with my own.

So lots to think about when just food shopping, it’s enough to make both sides of my brain to frazzle.  But that’s just me.  These things help me make my shopping decisions, if I think I know where the food I buy comes from, how it’s (roughly) made, it eases my conscience a little.

On top of all this, we now have ‘localism’.  Buying local, from local independent sources.  Keeps your well-earned pennies in your community,  investing right back at the source, underpinning the local economy, making your local high street stronger, making your community stronger, financially more secure, more diverse & more likely to survive the future.  Which is grand…  But can we, the consumer sustain and embrace that choice?  Especially when the supermarkets make many of their best sellers, loss leaders?  Tricky decisions to make… but only if these things matter to you in the first place.

Which brings me neatly to the question of what governs our shopping habits?  Is it cheap prices, or value for money or even social status, do we buy brands because they’re brands for example?   Or is it time…  The most precious commodity of all.

I think there is no right or wrong to this conundrum.  It would be grand if everyone had the time to buy from local growers for their fruit & veg, but have you the time to find where to buy from when the supermarket has it all there, would you buy all your staple groceries from the local independent shop, given they’re more expensive than the supermarkets due to buying power, especially for a weekly shop.  Surely there must be a compromise.  I think I know of one…

In our little town of Macclesfield, there’s been a bit of rebellion going on for some time, in the background for the main, but more and more in the limelight these days with the likes of our wonderful monthly Treacle Market, our Food for Macc and Wake Up Macc.  They’re giving the shopping habits we’ve fallen in to a good shake, literally from the ground up.  Giving the opportunity and access for those who might not think there’s any questions regarding our shopping habits, to actually question their own shopping habits; to think about where the pennies go when we shop, to wonder where our food comes from. They’re doing a grand job! Wouldn’t it also be grand if we could teach our children this, have it as part of the curriculum, although that maybe a wish to far in the current climate, but the thought is a start…

I’m not asking you to think like me necessarily, that’s a step too far for anyone to cope with, but I ask you to think about how you shop, to maybe wonder what happens to your well-earned pennies when you spend them in the supermarket, where do they go, does it benefit you directly, where does your food really come from & why.  Are you getting good value for money with your purchases, do you really need  to buy it all?  And I can highly recommend thinking about ‘localism’, where & when you can of course, a balance, to buy from the independent retailer; from the butcher who knows exactly which field his meat comes from, from the veg shop or stall owner who knows their spuds from their parsnips and know that your informed choice will look after the pennies, your community, your high street, not just for you but for the next generation too.  Makes it all taste nicer in my opinion!

Christmas – has it arrived too early this year?


SO Christmas is here… already… And has been for at least a week in Sainsbury’s give or take a few days. Lakeland have launched their Christmas range for 2012, getting in there at the beginning before all the rest I imagine and who can resist a Lakeland Christmas! Then there’s the seamless appearance of all the Christmas cards in those wonderful Charity shops but I can’t help thinking that it’s all a wee bit early this year…

It’s a weird thing to say from my point of view – I ADORE Christmas! I drive my entire family nuts and a fair few of my friends with my August playing of cheesy Christmas songs, planning and plotting the festive frivolities; I’ve often wondered what Christmas would be like all the year round! I gleefully welcome the onslaught of the Season of Good Cheer but this year I think it’s all just a little bit early, a little bit heartless, a whole lot commercial and just a little bit lost…

There are those who feel Christmas should stay in December and only December, but I just think that’s just a bit late by then, but I can see their point. In merchandising terms, it used to be that Christmas kicked off on Bonfire Night, that was the deadline for shops and stores to be ready – which is over a month away from now! These days we’re drip fed Christmas from late August, to the point that when stores do jazz up their shop windows, hang up their decorations to dazzle us we’re all a little bit indifferent, a little bit worn down and a little bit fatigued by the season of good will. We’ve already bought our festive short breads and After Eight mints way back in late summer when they were on offer, and possibly again in October because we were feeling a bit peckish one night and there wasn’t anything else…

So it seems to be me that no matter how traditional our Christmas’s appear, no matter how personal we make it, we’re governed by commercialism, by marketing stratagems and forecasts, by clever psychological shopping tricks that actually entice us to shop early, to shop for 2, 3 or even 4 Christmas’s in one year. More to the point are we actually happy, have our spirits been lifted, have we shown good will to all men (whilst fighting over the last turkey crown in Sainsbury’s because you always forget something!) The answer is probably no…

So this Christmas, the one in December, the only one in this year of Glorious 2012, have a little think about whose in charge of your Christmas. Yes the shops may have festive biscuits on their shelves, those cards may be sparkling at you at eye height but you don’t have to buy them just yet, you don’t have to buy anything at all, in fact you could instead, just for a change buy from a quirky, nothing is too much trouble, local independent shop or you could always, even more special & worthwhile, make it yourself…