Sydney Christmas Lights 2011 – Festival Girl’s Review

Christmas is only 1 night away – how excitement! Last night I went wandering to see some of the wonderful Christmas lights that Sydney has to offer. I must admit that I did have to spilt my time with some last minute Christmas shopping 😀

I know this might be a little glass is half empty, but I love Christmas so much, that its sad to see it comes, as it just goes by so quickly. However, this definitely feels like my most organised Christmas ever. I have my pre-made Christmas cutlery booties that I made last year, created a Christmas Advent Tree for chocolate goodies, scrapped my last year’s Gingerbread House and instead made a Chocolate House, wrapped my pressies and got my favourite Chrissy wine.

The streets were packed with cars, bikes and families everywhere. Did I mention all the ice cream trucks? And yes, if you were wondering, I did get an ice cream – I couldn’t help myself. It was a lovely night for walking around and taking in all the lights. Since today is so warm, I urge you to get all the family together and take a walk to your nearby neighbourhood and take in the last day of Christmas cheer.

haha I love this guy – moving deer head

ooh so pretty

Looking into a special house window display – isn’t this just gorgeous?

Oh Dear…

So that’s where Santa lives. All lies about the North Pole!

Look at his cute Aussie present

How cute is this camp fire?

A gift for me? You shouldn’t have…

haha Soccer santa

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!

xox Love,

Festival Girl

How to: Make a Christmas Chocolate House…Mmm

That special time of year is only 2 sleeps away. The tree is prepped, Christmas pressies are wrapped and Santa is surely on his way. It was a lot of fun making a Christmas gingerbread house last year, but I noticed the kiddies who tore down the house attacked all the treats and left of the house. After tasting it, I could see why. Gingerbread, like fruitcake is just gross. So this year, I have been watching A LOT of Choccywoccydoodah and I was inspired to make something that I would actually love to eat – A Chocolate House.

Ingredients:

  • 2 x 170 g Kit Kat Family break blocks
  • 5 x 200 g Cadbury Dairy Milk blocks
  • 2 x bags of cooking chocolate – choose dark, milk or white chocolate.
  • 1 x bag of M&Ms
  • 1 x bag of Maltesers
  • 1 x sheet of Baking Paper
  • A packet of zip lock lunch bags or a icing piper
  • Glass bowl, pot, wooden spoon, boiling water

You will really only need 4 blocks for the walls, but it’s good to have 1 or 2 spare in case one is cracked.

So here’s how you do it.

Step 1: Start by putting all your chocolate in the fridge and only take it out as you need it. When you start to construct the house, the cool chocolate will make it easier to bind with the melted chocolate and will make it less likely to collapse.

Step 2: Prepare a bain marie for the cooking chocolate. Boil some water in a pot and place the glass bowl on the pot. Make sure the bowl sits well and isn’t too small. If you haven’t done this before, make sure to start with a small amount of cooking chocolate, just in case you stuff it up as there’s no real way of fixing it – trust me, I have tried.

The key to melting the chocolate is keeping the temperature very low, making sure NO WATER gets in the mixture and make sure to keep the chocolate off the heat once melted so it doesn’t spoil. Use a wooden spoon for mixing and a small plastic spatula for spreading.

Step 3: I’ve used a simple house design for my model, if you like you can trace this out in paper first. First, measure the height of a regular Cadbury block, this will become a wall to your house. Now grab 2 blocks of the Cadbury and cut out 2 edges making a triangle point and make sure the bottom edge is the same height as the wall block. Use the Cadbury grid to help you measure it out. This process will help keep your side panels nice and even. Mine was actually a bit wonky, but it’s ok as you can use some more cooking chocolate to cover up any gaps. I did try to cut out a door, but I kept cracking the walls, so I wasted 2 blocks in the process. Not to worry, I will eat them all up. Nom nom nom…

Step 4: Build the foundation of where your house will sit. Line a tray or board with baking paper and sticky tape in place underneath. Don’t make your house straight on this, as you are sure to get some drips and bits on it. Grab a chopping board and place a gold or silver foil cardboard (that you get from cake stores) to build the house onto, which you can later use to transfer the house to the baking sheet foundation. Make sure this tray will fit in your fridge.

Step 5: Take your block of chocolate out of the fridge one at a time and start the construction process. Start by spreading some chocolate on the length of a regular block and on the inside edge of the and connecting it to a pointed edge. You can do this using a piping bag or you can get a zip lock sandwich bag, make a tiny cut on the corner of the bag and spoon it in. Make sure you put melted chocolate on both the bottom and side edges for maximum hold. Hold these in place for about 30 seconds and use some bowls to help keep it up. Continue until all 4 walls are standing. Between each new section, I put it in the fridge to set a little quicker.

Step 6: Start on the roof construction. Pipe your melted chocolate over the wall edges and gently lay your Kit Kat block on the wall top. Be sure to make sure it’s steady before letting it go. Repeat for second half of the roof.

Step 7: Now I managed to skip a few photos because I was covered in so much chocolate and making a big pig of myself. But Basically once your house is constructed, you can decorate until your hearts content.

For the roof decor, I cut Maltesers in half and lay them all the way across.  I also decided to put a chimney made from a chocolate off cut. Then I placed red and green M&Ms all along the house edges to represent Christmas lights. You can make a pretend door using some chocolate piping and I used a Malteser as a door handle. It’s also a bit hard to see, but I tried to make some etchings in the door, to make it look like a wood texture. Once all the decorating is complete, use a large knife to carry the house to your baking paper lined tray.

Using some chocolate molds, I made candy canes, holly and presents and placed them on. I also made some fence corners by using some chocolate offcuts.  I also used the piping bag to make some pretty decor loops. This is also a great way to cover up any mistakes you have made along the way 😀

I found these jelly sugar Christmas creatures and decided to incorporate them . I put some red striped candy canes as fence posts and put M&Ms as a house path and scattered them all over the yard.

If you find some things are falling over, put a toothpick in place until it sets, just remember to take them out before eating.

SANTA! I found some cute tree decorations and decided to incorporate them into the house them like the sled and a Christmas parcel that can open. Once your done decorating, wrap the house in cello wrap and put the entire house in the fridge.

 I guess the idea about this Chocolate House is about having fun. Who cares if it’s messy,  lopsided or falling apart – people of all ages will be falling over themselves to get a piece of this. There is still time to get inspired and make this chocolate house for this Christmas. If you do make a house for this Christmas – send them through, because I’d love to see them!

Merry Christmas!

xox Love,

Festival Girl

Guide to Best Christmas Lights in Sydney 2011

It’s the silly season again – Yay! I’ve decided to compile a list of Sydney’s Top Christmas lights display for 2011.

Enjoy this time of the year and be thankful for the generosity of Sydney-siders (considering the rising Electricity prices) getting into the Christmas spirit and providing you with a magical Christmas lights display.  You know I heard of a Sydney family spending more than $200,000 on their expensive Christmas hobby. Trust me, if I had that kind of money lying around, I would not be spending it on mechanical reindeer or fake Santas.

Festival Girl’s Sydney Christmas Light Display:

Second St, Ashbury (Also see First, Second, Third & Fourth Sts.) 15 Ashford Ct, Currans Hill 65 Buring Crescent, Minchinbury
Mulgray Ave / Geraldine St, Baulkham Hills 2 Astley Pl, Edensor Park 4 Verrills Grove, Oaskhurst
122 Prince Charles Rd, Belrose NSW Dewdney Road Emu Plains Brierley Crescent, Plumpton
9 Childs Circuit, Belrose Camellia St, Greystanes, 8 Trafford Lane, Stanhope Gardens
11 McDonald St, Berala Windsor and Old Northern Rds, Hills District 50 Glencoe Street Sutherland
12 Acres Pl, Bligh Park Hodge St, Hurstville 4 Hunter Street Warriewood
Waratah Street, North Bondi Tea Tree Ave, Kirrawee 37 Bellotti Avenue / 40 Caroline Chisholm Drive, Winston Hill
17 Guineviere Court, Castle hill, sydney 59 Elsiemer St, Long Jetty

Planning to go see the lights? Here are my best tips to help you plan for your big night out:

  • As this Summer is turning out to be one big FAT lie, take some gumboots in the car and bring along an umbrella or rain coat – just in case.
  • Try to pass by before dinner if you can to avoid some of the busy congestion
  • Take your own camera and take some pictures of ideas that you might like to try to do in your own home
  • As it is a busy time and lots of people are trying to look at the lights at the same time, try to walk to the street if possible or leave your car a few streets further. This way the street doesn’t get so congested and also, you get a little exercise, not really a bad thing for anyone
If the above areas are not close by for you, try here for a more in-depth list to the
Christmas light displays around Sydney.

Love, Festival Girl

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