Saturday, December 26, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from the Scones and Crackers family!

I hope all of you are having a great holiday!
See you in the New Year!

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas... Walkers Plum Pudding

After hearing about this microwaveable Plum Pudding from Walkers I decided to pick it up when I saw it at London Market. 
I removed it from the box and took a film off the top and then microwaved it for a short amount of time. 
It looked like this. 

Abigail, my oldest daughter, sniffed it. 

Then she kind of tasted it. 

And then she said, "Nope."

Madeline didn't want to taste it after that but we urged her to take a little bite. 
This was her reaction. 

My husband, Doug, and I both tried it as well. We both agreed that it tasted like warm, bitter raisins. 
Not horrible but not good either. He said that if he had grown up eating it every Christmas he thinks he probably would like it but as it is... not so much. 
So, will I be buying it again? 

*Have you ever had Plum Pudding, microwaveable or otherwise? 

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas... The Queen's Christmas Message 2015

In case you are interested here is the Queen's Christmas Message for 2015. It is about nine minutes long. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

On the Tenth day of Christmas... The Muppet Christmas Carol

After mentioning the book A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens I just had to mention my favorite film version of the book. 
The Muppet Christmas Carol is so much fun. 
I am already a Muppets fan but I think I would probably like it even if I wasn't. 

Gonzo plays Charles Dickens and narrates the story. 

Scrooge is portrayed by Michael Caine and I think he does a fabulous job. 

I think they do a really good job with the story line itself and the music that they have added is really fun. 
In fact, one of the songs is a favorite of ours and is sung year round substituting "sleep til Christmas" for "sleep til schools out" or "vacation" or whatever else we are looking forward to. 

And we have one other favorite song that immediately brings the Christmas feels. 

If you haven't seen it I suggest you do! 
We will be watching it tomorrow on Christmas Eve!
Here's the trailer: 

Monday, December 21, 2015

On the Ninth Day of Christmas.... A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, pop-up edition by Chuck Fischer

I think it is safe to assume that we all know the story of A Christmas Carol. 
It is a true classic. So I am not going to talk about the story itself besides the fact that I really like it and feel like it is a must read every Christmas. 
Instead I am showing you the edition of A Christmas Carol that I bought this year. 
I was in a small children's book store and saw this book on display. I opened it out of curiosity and was drawn in by the beautiful artistry. It is truly magical.
This is the title page...

Each page is so beautiful that you can just sit for so long taking in all of the little details. 
I loved pop up books as a kid and looking through this book made me feel like a kid again.  I can't wait to share this with my daughters. I know it will captivate them. 

The story isn't printed on the pages of the books. Instead, each page has a small pocket and inside is a little booklet with part of the story in it. And these are illustrated as well! 

This is a truly cool book and I think it would make a great addition to every Christmas book library! 
I know it will become a tradition in our home. 

*Do you read A Christmas Carol every year? 
*Do you like pop up books?

Saturday, December 19, 2015

On the Eighth day of Christmas.... The Holiday

The Holiday is one of my favorite Christmas movies. 

Iris, played by Kate Winslet, works for a newspaper in London. She has been in love with Jaspar Bloom for years and when she finds out that he is engaged she is heartbroken. 
Amanda, played by Cameron Diaz, is a movie trailer maker in Los Angeles. She breaks up with her boyfriend and is looking for a change. 
They find each other online and agree to swap houses for the holidays. 

We go back and forth between the two girls and what they do and learn in their new situations. 
 Iris is so excited when she shows up at Amanda's mansion. 

Amanda, however, is less than thrilled with the small cozy cottage in England. 

I LOVE that cottage. I was so sad when I learned that it was built for the movie. I really wanted to stay in it!

This movie is so great. 
It is funny, heartwarming, sad, and really festive. 
I dare you not to fall in love with Jude Law after watching this!

(you too!)

And those children. They are so adorable. 

And I can't imagine anyone watching it and not rooting like crazy for Kate Winslet's character to find her happiness. 

I fully recommend this movie. It is PG-13. It is a really great film.

On the Seventh Day of Christmas... How to Have a British Christmas by Anglophenia

Here is a fantastic video by Anglophenia explaining some of the British Christmas traditions. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

On the Sixth day of Christmas.... The Life of Our Lord by Charles Dickens

Everyone knows about Charles Dickens' Christmas stories like A Christmas Carol (doesn't mean I won't talk about it another day!) but I don't know if everyone knows about this book. 
The Life of Our Lord was a book written by Charles Dickens for his children telling them the story of Jesus Christ from his birth through his resurrection. 
It was written during 1846-1849. 
He read it with his children every Christmas. 
I bought it a couple of years ago and have it stashed with my Christmas books but this year I took it out to read it again and realized this is a book I will now be leaving out all year long since it covers so much more than just the Christmas story. 
He doesn't embellish the story or add his own commentary. It is very straightforward and by the book. 
I think that his tradition of reading this to his family each year at Christmas could be a wonderful tradition that many families might really enjoy. 

This particular edition is absolutely beautiful. 
The cover has a really great texture to it. 
And this is what the first few inside pages look like...

The layout of the entire book is gorgeous with illustrations by Simon Dewey. 

This is a really quick read. I sat down with it on Sunday afternoon and had it finished in just over an hour. I think that it is a great addition to any bookshelf and would make a wonderful Christmas gift to any religious person on your list!

Friday, December 11, 2015

On the fifth day of Christmas... Christmas Crackers

The tradition of Christmas Crackers has been something that I have always loved.
They were something that I found to be so much fun that in our little family we have had them as a tradition for Christmas day dinner and New Years Eve ever since the kids were born. And they feature in my blog name, of course.

Christmas crackers were first created in around 1845-1850 by Tom Smith, a candy maker in London. He was inspired by the French bon bon sweets that were wrapped in pretty paper. He tried to sell his sweets the same way but also inserted a riddle. They did not sell as successfully as he had hoped.
It is said that one night he was sitting in front of his log fire and was inspired by the sparks in the fire. He thought it would be fun if his sweets and toys could open with a crack like that fire when they were pulled in half.
He originally called them Cosaques.

This began to do well. When he died, his sons took over his business. His son Walter came up with including the hats in the crackers.
They began to make themed crackers and crackers for special occasions like Coronations.
Business was good.

Today Christmas Crackers are cardboard tubes wrapped in colorful paper. It is a tradition to put a Cracker next to each Christmas dinner plate. You pull them, they let out a bang and a spark and you find your paper crown hat, a toy of some kind (usually something cheap) and a piece of paper with a corny joke.

Pay attention in any modern British Christmas production and you will usually see or hear about them. 
Remember this scene in Harry Potter....

As you can see there are some purple Crackers on the table and Arthur Weasley already has on a crown hat! 

Overall it is a really fun tradition that we love doing and look forward to each year. 
This year I have the Union Jack decorated Crackers for us to use as well as some really cute tiny ones I picked up at Target for a few dollars. 
I am really glad we started and continue this tradition. 

*Do you do Christmas Crackers? 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

On the fourth day of Christmas... John Lewis Christmas advert

I heard about John Lewis, a chain of department stores in Great Britain, through YouTube. 
I kept hearing about their Christmas adverts and how great they are. So I looked them up. 
They are so good. 
Here are some of my favorites so far: 

And this one goes unexpectedly sweet...

Monday, December 7, 2015

On the third day of Christmas... Love Actually

What is it about this film that keeps me coming back to it every year? 
The amazing cast? The story lines? The charm? 
Whatever it is, it has become a must watch in my holiday line up. 

It begins with an opening sequence narrated by Hugh Grant. This is one of my favorite parts of the film. 
These people that are reuniting are not actors. The reunions are not staged. 
The film's crew camped out at Heathrow for a week to capture all of the scenes to use for the film. 
And I love what Hugh Grant says: 

"Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there- fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge- they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I have a sneaky feeling you'll find that love actually is all around."

Onto the film itself; there are multiple story lines continuing through the film that all end up being connected in some way. There are some that I love, some that I dislike, some that are heartbreaking, some that are heartwarming. But the one thing that is in all of them is love. Love broken, love found, love between parents and children, love between siblings, love between friends, young love, probably every kind you can think of.

And of course, it is well acted. How could it not be with this cast? 

I have to warn that it isn't for all audiences. There is a fair amount of swearing in it as well as some nudity. In fact, I told my mom that most films that included the same elements wouldn't be ones I would enjoy, but for some reason this one still spoke to me and I have managed to look past all of that. 
The other day I finally made my mom watch it after talking to her about if for years but I fast forwarded through the naughty bits. Afterward I felt like that was a dumb thing to do because I felt like it left it feeling disjointed and took away a bit of its charm. I hope she was able to pick up on that a bit but I have come to the conclusion that this is a movie meant to be seen in whole. So, if you don't watch rated R movies or movies with those things in it you are better off to probably just leave this one alone.

If you have seen the film, what are your thoughts? 

And in case you have never heard of it, this is the trailer: 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

On the Second day of Christmas.... Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien

When I was reading The Fellowship, The Literary Lives of the Inklings, I read about the letters that J.R.R. Tolkien would write to his children from Father Christmas each year. I found out that they had been published into a book called Letters from Father Christmas. I really wanted to read them!
I went onto Amazon and a few other websites but I just didn't know which version to buy. There were some cool ones that had pull out letters but then the reviews said that the letters weren't complete. I wanted to make sure I had the version that would have the complete letters. 
I have also wanted to try out the Book Depository so I went on there to see what they had. 
They had the one I wanted!
I bought it right then!

This book does not take long to read. It is just under two hundred pages and it is possible to read the whole thing in a couple of hours or over a couple of days. 
The letters start in 1920 and end in 1943. 
Each letter is in response to letters from his children and it is interesting to see how they change as they get older. 
The letters are accompanied by drawings that he did as well. And they are amazing. 

Tokien wrote each letter in a really shaky handwriting and all I could think as I looked at each one was how much time it must have taken him to write out the longer letters. This was one devoted father. 
The letters are so funny. 
He tells stories of antics of his Polar Bear, having to move house when the first house is ruined, floods, fireworks going off, goblin wars, and so much more. 
They are magical.
Really magical. 
I actually laughed out loud on multiple occasions at parts of the letters and at the pictures. 

My photos can't do it justice because this book is a treasure. 

There are copies of each letter he wrote so that you can read them and see the handwriting, additions made by the Polar bear and by elves, and see how he decorated the pages. 
But then it also has each letter typed out so that it is easier to read. 
I love that it gave us the letters in type but also allowed us to see the original work. 

In short, this is now one of my very favorite Christmas books and I will treasure it!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

On the first day of Christmas... Festive Friends

On my last trip to London Market they had out their Christmas things. 
I picked up this box of biscuits by Cadbury called Festive Friends. 
I pulled them out this week for the family to try them. 

They are really cute. 
They are packaged in a sealed bag inside of the box. 

And they were in these shapes. 

They are partly covered in a very thin layer of chocolate. 
These were quite tasty.
To me, they tasted like shortbread cookies with a hint of coconut (although there is nothing about coconut in the ingredients so I don't know where I got that flavor from). 
Abigail and Madeline loved these so much. They are both now hoping that Santa will leave them each their own box in their stocking on Christmas morning. 
So, obviously these were a hit!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Christmas on Scones and Crackers

Happy December!
I'm switching things up a bit on the blog this month. 
I will not be posting every weekday nor will the subject schedule be the same as it has been up until now.
I will be doing the 12 days of Scones and Crackers Christmas. 
Between now and Christmas you can expect at least 12 posts about Christmas books, movies, treats, and activities. 
This is my favorite time of year and I can't wait to share some of my favorite things with all of you. 

Monday, November 30, 2015

St. Andrews Day

Today is St. Andrew's Day. 
It is a national day of Scotland. 
Here is the story of St. Andrew: 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Let's talk about: The Young Victoria

This week I watched the film The Young Victoria starring Emily Blunt and Rupert Friend as Victoria and Albert.  I enjoyed the movie. 
I thought that Emily and Rupert were really good in their parts and I think the rest of the cast was top notch as well. 
The costumes and look of the film were gorgeous and captivating. 
I enjoyed Emily's portrayal of Victoria's strength in standing up to those around her that were trying to bully her. I really enjoyed the relationship between Victoria and Albert. Especially knowing how much she really loved him in real life and how much she mourned him after his passing. They do a good job of showcasing how that strong of a relationship was begun.
I know there are historical inaccuracies that I am not aware of and that every historical movie adds things or changes things for the sake of drama but I do think they went a little over the top in this film with Albert getting shot. As far as I understand it, there was an assassination attempt but Albert was not injured. 
Overall, I think if you have any interest in the love story of Victoria and Albert you will find this movie to be enjoyable. 

Here is the trailer: 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Let's talk about: The Fellowship, The Literary Lives of the Inklings by Philip Zaleski and Carol Zaleski

 The Fellowship, The Literary Lives of the Inklings by Philip and Carol Zaleski tells the stories of four of the main "Inklings": J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, and Charles Williams. 
We get a LOT of information not only about these four men but also those they surrounded themselves with and how they met.
I put a lot of tabs in this book while reading it. There were so many things I wanted to remember and go back to. There are so many good quotes. 

We began with Mr. Tolkien.

 They talked a lot about his mom. Mabel gave him a great world to grow up in. She taught him Latin, French, German, about linguistics. Her influence created a thirst for knowledge of languages, alphabets, and etymologies that would last throughout his entire life. 
She taught him to draw and paint and introduced him to the children's stories of the time such as Alice in Wonderland and other fairy tales.
We also learned a lot about his wife and children. He was so devoted to them. It seemed that like most of us, he always felt like he should be doing more and yet he was doing so much. 
I was so impressed with Tolkien. Obviously I already really enjoy his work but this book just opened my eyes to him as a man and not just the creator of the marvelous world of Middle Earth. 
He was such a good man. It has given me some information on some of his other books that I will be talking about soon as well. 

C.S. Lewis grew up with his brother as his main companion. One of my favorite parts of his story was when they were quoting a letter he wrote about his brother Warnie coming home. 
"Horra!! Warnie comes home this morning. I am lying in bed waiting for him and thinking of him, before I know where I am I hear his boots pounding the stairs, he comes into the room, we shake hands, and begin to talk... well I was glad to have him but of course we had our rows afterwards..."
It is just such a telling quote about siblings. 
I was surprised by Lewis. I knew that he grew up religious and at some point became atheist and then later accepted Christianity again. 
What I didn't know was that while he wasn't my least favorite of the Inklings, he was certainly not my favorite person during his teenage and atheist years. He seemed to be quite the sadist and sexist man.
We followed his life through his affair with Mrs. Moore and then his romance with Joy. 
Later he improved greatly in my estimation and I found his transformation very interesting.
His quotes gave me a lot to think about. 

 I had never heard of Owen Barfield before reading this book. I enjoyed learning about him. I am curious to read his book, The Silver Trumpet, but haven't had any luck finding a reasonably priced one. Owen seemed like a nice gentleman. He was depressed a lot, or at least seemed to be. 
He had a stutter and found that reciting poetry and singing helped it.
Owen seemed to always think he wasn't good enough and I felt so sad for him and the fact that he seemed to always be unhappy with who he was and what he was doing. 

Charles Williams was the Inkling that I never liked throughout the book. 
"Charles Williams was a man that everyone had trouble describing. He seemed ugly but beautiful, a swirling mass of contradictions. He wrote shockers that failed to shock. He worshipped women but 'liked to beat them with a ruler'. He was a faithful husband with a harem of besotted acolytes. He was orthodox but heretical, a devout Anglican who practiced magic. He had a face at once hideous and beautiful."
He also kind of looks like the mean teacher in Anne of Green Gables... or is that just me thinking that? 

The Inklings were actually begun by Edward Tangye Lean. He founded the group when he was an undergraduate. He created it so that a small society of literary students could " pay homage to those who express themselves through ink as well as those who discover through their inky labors, inklings of a higher world." Tolkien and Lewis joined his group and took over when he graduated.
I found it interesting that Tolkien's son Christopher became an active inkling as well when he came to read English at Oxford.

Overall, this book was really well written. There was a lot of information. So much that it could be a bit tedious at times. However, I really enjoyed reading it and finding out so much more about these men and the times they lived in. It is a very interesting book and well worth the time it takes to read it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


Sorry for the break in posts lately. I have had a lot of projects taking up my time. 
I will be back later this week with a few posts and then I will be taking the week of Thanksgiving off from blogging. 
So, stay tuned. There will be more!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Let's talk about: Nestle Animal Bar

The day before Halloween I stopped into the London Market as I was in the neighborhood.
I grabbed two Nestle Animal chocolate bars to give to my daughters when I picked them up from school. They were very excited. 
The bars themselves are pretty cute with animals on them. 

They both thought they were good. 
I didn't try one but I can tell you that my kids thought they were great. 
My 5 year old reminded me quickly of why I don't normally give them chocolate on the go when she stuck her thumb through it.