Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Christmas – The Second Day of Christmas with guests Darlene Foster and Miriam Hurdle

Welcome to the Second Day of Christmas with some guests, music, and not to forget food… My guests today are children’s author and travel writer Darlene Foster, and poet Miriam Hurdle…sharing their most favourite Christmas gift ever…

Before we find out more about the second day of Christmas and meet the guests I would like to get you in the mood with music, and one of my favourite groups has always been Status Quo -‘It’s Christmas Time’ was recorded in 2008. You can buy Status Quo Music Amazon

I thought it would be interesting to take a look at how other countries celebrate their Christmas festivities. In China for example, only about 1% of the population is Christian and Christmas is really only celebrated in the big cities for its commercial value. But there are grottos set up in the shops and Santa Claus is called ‘Shen Dan Lao Ren’. According to Why Christmas the younger generation give gifts to each other but more in line with St. Valentines’ Day.

Very few people have a tree and if so it is plastic and hung with paper ornaments. The irony is that the majority of Christmas tree ornaments we use are made in China!

The Second Day of Christmas is also called Boxing Day in the UK and St. Stephen’s Day. St. Stephen was the first martyr who died for his faith.

Stephen was a deacon in the early Christian Church appointed by the apostles when they found that there was simply not enough of them to cope with many poor, widows and orphans that were so numerous in those times. They ordained seven assistants or deacons of which Stephen was one. He was very devout and well liked. He spoke eloquently and converted many to Christianity. Of course this did not sit very well with those outside the religion and they did their best to discredit him. He did not help his cause by giving his enemies some home truths about their behaviour I am afraid that they reacted by having him put to death. He is therefore the first martyr of the Christian faith and was awarded sainthood.

The carol most sung on St. Stephen’s Day is ‘Good King Wenceslas’ and here is an amazing version from Michala Petri, recorder and Danish National Vocal Ensemble conducted by Michael Bojesen from their own Recordings

Time to meet my first guest who is children’s author and travel writer Darlene Foster. Darlene moved to Spain from Canada in the last few years and shares her new found love of the Spanish culture with her photographic posts, and also the new addition to the family of a little rescue dog called Dot. Here is one of her recent travel posts Notre Dame

This is Darlene’s very best Christmas present ever….

My best Christmas gift, believe it or not, was a stamp album. I wanted one so badly and was disappointed that there wasn’t one under the tree. Dad looked under the couch and found a flat gift had slid under, addressed to me from my grandmother. To my delight, it was a stamp album and some stamps to get me started. I loved putting stamps from all over the world in that book, dreaming of eventually visiting those places. I recall the stamps for Espanola at the time, had General Franco on them.

I did not have to think too long for the perfect gift for Darlene and I have decided that perhaps a series of Flamenco Dance lessons might be just the ticket and I am sure with a little practice this is what we might see next Christmas..courtesy of ‘Youtube’

Discover all the books by Darlene Foster:
Find out more about Darlene via her blog:


One of the recent reviews for Amanda in New Mexico

Even though I am way beyond the age bracket market this series is intended to, the child in me truly enjoyed Amanda and her class mates’ adventures on their school trip to New Mexico, discovering enchanting villages and people along the way and getting into all kinds of scraps that may or may not involve spirits and otherworldly phenomena. I especially enjoyed learning about a part of the world I have never been to, in particular the town of Taos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its History, as well as the Day of the Dead celebrations and Doña Sebastiana, the female saint of death. Darlene Foster takes the young reader into a whole new world, which might just make them travel and explore for themselves. A lot of fun!

We have been so lucky this year to have Carol Taylor writing the Food Column.. she will of course be a guest later in this party series, but she has shared several wonderful festive dishes in the last few weeks and I am going to select some that immediately bring back Christmas memories for me. Although you would usually cook the Christmas pudding in advance, there is still time to make this home-made recipe and enjoy on the day.


• 300gm fresh white breadcrumbs (I use brown)
• 100gm self-raising flour
• 1 tsp mixed spice
• 1 tsp ground cinnamon
• ½ whole nutmeg, very finely grated
• 350gm raisins
• 100g mixed peel
• 50 gm flaked almonds
• 250 gm suet
• 225 gm Demerara sugar
• 225 gm sultanas
• 225 gm currants
• 2 carrots, peeled and very finely grated
• 2 cooking apples, peeled and very finely grated
• (shhhh)Wet ingredients
• Zest and juice of 1 orange
• Zest and juice of 1 lemon
• 1 small wine glass of brandy shhhhh and a tad more..ha ha
• 2 tbsp black treacle
• 4 eggs, lightly beaten

Let’s Cook!

  1. Put the breadcrumbs in the biggest mixing bowl you can find.
  2. Sieve the flour into the bowl with the mixed spice, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  3. Then add the remaining dry ingredients, up to and including the grated apples.
  4. Combine all the wet ingredients in a jug.
  5. Pour the mixture over the dry ingredients and mix together, with a big wooden spoon.
  6. Take it in turns to give it a stir, closing your eyes and making a wish.
  7. Cover the bowl with a clean, damp cloth and leave overnight.
  8. Butter 2 x 1.2-litre pudding basins and spoon the mix into them. Place a disc of baking paper on top of the puddings, then seal with a big sheet of baking paper with a central pleat, to allow expansion. Cover with a cotton or muslin cloth and tie with string or foil.
  9. Steam for 6 hours in steamers, or in pans with simmering water that reaches two-thirds up the sides of the basins – be sure to keep the water topped up. Remove and allow to cool.
  10. When cool, re-cover the basins and store in a cool, dry place. On Christmas day, or the day you’re going to eat the puddings, steam for another 1-2 hours. Turn the pudding onto a plate, then pour 75ml of brandy into a ladle and carefully warm over a low heat for 1 minute or so. Light the match and voila a flaming pud

You can find all of Carol’s recipes, including her full Vegetarian and Traditional Christmas menus in the directory: Carol Taylor Food Column

Time now for my second guest today who is poet Miriam Hurdle, who has recently published her debut collection of poetry. Miriam Hurdle is a multi-genre writer. She writes poetry, flash fiction, and short stories. Her poems are included in Letters to Gaia, Whispers and Echoes Issue 2, Whispers and Echoes Issue 3, and Outcast and More Words.

Miriam shares her most favourite Christmas gift ever.

The favorite Christmas gift I received ten years ago from my husband was a GPS. Using Google map in a cellphone was not my regular practice then.

I have no sense of direction in any given new location. When visiting a friend for the first time, I somehow turned to an opposite direction to go home. Before receiving the GPS, I got lost many times and found myself in a parking lot, calling my husband to direct me home. He gave me a GPS for a Christmas gift in 2009.

My daughter got married in May 2010 in Portland, Oregon. My brother-in-law did videotape using my camcorder. He recorded the wedding ceremony in the afternoon and the wedding reception in the evening. In the middle of the wedding reception, he told me the battery was running low. My panicky antenna went up. It would disappoint my daughter and the family not to record entirely such an important event in life.

I left the battery charger in my daughter’s house. My only option was to go get it and come back to charge the camcorder without missing too much of the memorable moments. The reception was in Columbia Edgewater Country Club. With no street lighting, I had no clue how to get out of the golf course to find my way to my daughter’s house. After I turned on the GPS, it kept saying in a robotic voice, “Calculating, calculating…” Finally, the little gadget figured out my position, directed my way to get the battery charger and come back to the reception. The GPS served me well for many years.

My virtual Christmas present for Miriam ….

Clearly Miriam already has a SatNav.. but I searched around and found this that she might find this next generation Car upgrade an interesting ride… the Tesla autopilot test can mute the Rolling Stones if you wish.. personally I quite like it…even more scary!!!

You can buy Miriam’s debut poetry collection from
Find out more about Miriam via her website and blog: 

A recent review for the collection

Songs of Heartstrings: Poems of Gratitude and Beatitude,” is a journey into the mind of a woman who has found her voice in this world through her poetry. Hurdle splits the book into poetic songs categorized by Nature, Dissonance, Physical Healing, Marriage, Parenthood, Tribute, Reflection, Challenge, and Inspiration. These categories lead the reader on a path to understanding her life through times of joy and sorrow. Her photos and artwork are stunning and compliment her poetry. For me, reading poetry is like walking beside the poet and stepping into their footsteps, connecting with their experiences in a deeper realm of being.

Reading poetry is subjective, so I judge most poetry by how it invokes emotions within me and how it makes me reflect on my own human condition. The poem, “Healing,” touched a deep chord within me. Yet, there were so many more connections I experienced. I received this book as a gift from a dear friend. That’s the kind of book this is, one to be shared with others, and to be reread many times. MY RATING: Character Believability: 5 Flow and Pace: 5 Reader Engagement: 5 Reader Enrichment: 5 Reader Enjoyment: 5 Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 Stars 

And I cannot let you go without offering you a drink for the road (provided you are the passenger)..

Now whilst this is not a traditional Christmas drink… it is a cocktail that goes down well at any time of the year and I have a fail save recipe for you for the simple but highly effecting Margarita.

I suggest making in a large jug and I will give you the proportions per person and then I will give you the overall health benefits.

As many of you will know this is made with tequila and it is my advice that you use the top of the range Cuervo Gold as tastes much better, certainly for the first one and then you don’t really taste anything anyway. Tequila like most of my favourite food pharmacy subjects has been used for thousands of years by the Native American Indians for both medicinal and recreational purposes. It was used as a hallucinogenic and apparently improves all aspects of stamina and enabled the imbiber to achieve the Dream State. You can see this effect for your self after your guests have sampled two or three of your concoction.

Add 1oz per person.

You will also need some Cointreau or Cuarenta y tres or triple sec, which are all orange liqueurs. I have covered the benefits of oranges in several of my healthy eating posts, but obviously in alcoholic form its antioxidant properties are a little subdued. Of course there is still the antiseptic nature of alcohol to compensate.

You will need 1oz per person.

Finally you will need 1oz of fresh squeezed lime juice per person. Now as everyone knows limes are full of Vitamin C and limes in particular have some special properties. They prevent scurvy, if taken every day they can prevent cholera and the vitamin C in the fruit is anti-ageing as it forms collagen that fills in wrinkles and frown lines.

I have looked on a worldwide basis for the health benefits of margaritas and this is a summary of the best I could find.

  1. Apart from the obvious antiseptic, antioxidant and anti-ageing effects of the cocktail there are some other side effects that can be life changing.
  2. If you have feelings of inadequacy or suffer from shyness and lack of assertiveness then drinking just one margarita may be the answer.
  3. It makes you feel more confidant about yourself and your actions and encourages you to tell the world that you are willing and able to do just about anything. You will notice the effects of the margarita almost immediately. You will find that you are able to dance at a higher intensity (particularly on a table), you will be able to sing and give renditions of everyone’s favourite hits from the forties and fifties. You will also find that the dress code does not apply to you because you are not wearing one.
  4. Drinking margaritas may not be right for everyone as there are some side effects including dizziness, nausea, incarceration, lustfulness, loss of motor control, loss of clothing and money, delusions of grandeur, lap dancing, headache, dehydration and an increase in appetite for snakes and lizards. 

My guests tomorrow are Jennie Fitzkee and Lisa Thomson and I hope you will join us.

Thank you very much for visiting today.. Please tell us about your most memorable Christmas gift in the comments section.  I hope you have enjoyed yourself and please be careful if you have tried one of the above Margaritas… Thanks Sally.



90 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Christmas – The Second Day of Christmas with guests Darlene Foster and Miriam Hurdle

  1. Excellent day. I like your margarita recipe. Here’s mine. I state it in measures be it an ounce or gallon. I measure of tequila (I use Avion Silver), 1 measure of Grand Marnier, I measure freshly squeezed Key lime juice, 1/2 measure agave nectar. Place ingredients into a cocktail shaker and shake. Serve over ice in a pint mason jar with a lime wedge and straw. Those who want salt get kosher on the rim.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Another wonderful day of meeting some folks I hadn’t encountered before! Congratulations on some great reviews Darlene and Miriam! The Margarita recipe is ideal for our Australian summer celebrations of Christmas. Thanks for the introductions, Sally.😊

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Sooz. My husband was born in Wala Wala, New South Wales. His family came to the US when he was 12 years old, after living in London for 2 years. We took a trip to Australia 15 years ago. It was a great trip climbing the Harbor Bridge, seeing koalas and crocodiles and he went diving in Great Barrier Reef. I surely would like to go back.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Hi, Miriam, Wala Wala is a sleepy little country town. Or it was ten years ago when we drove through on our trip around my amazing country. If you do venture back to Oz please let me know. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting up with friends I’ve made online several times in the last few years. 🐨😊

        Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you so much for your kind and friendly offer, Soooz. I’m taking up on it. We only went to Sydney and north along the coast all the way to Cape Tribulations. There are many places I want to go. In fact I write a post about our trip and to these days, I still have new bloggers making comments on it. It must have 380 “likes” and counting. If I go back, I’ll take it slow and write about my visit thoroughly!! I love holding that soft Koala in my arms. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      • 😊 I’ll put the welcoming coffee on to brew. My daughter, grandson and I share a home together in a small University Town five hours south west of Sydney. We have only been here for two years now and it took some time to accustom ourselves to the slower pace of the country area after living all our lives in the frantic heart of Sydney. I love it here now, it’s the perfect environment for my young grandson to experience the years of his childhood.

        Liked by 2 people

      • It sounds like just the perfect place for you, your daughter and grandson. I talked about the idea with my husband over dinner. He loves it. When? We don’t know because we have family vacation plans for the next two years. We can always go on an extra trip. He is done with diving, he said. I agree with you for having a slower pace for younger kids. My daughter, her hubby and my 14 months old granddaughter live in Portland, Oregon, a place with friendly, down to earth people. I miss them badly. People asked me if they would ever move to Los Angeles. I said, no. and I said Portland is a better place to raise kids. 🙂 I’ll keep in touch with you! 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Great music and recipes! I enjoyed getting to know Darlene and Miriam even better, finding out about their favorite Christmas gifts and getting a peek at their current works. One of my favorite presents, ever, was my first transistor radio. It opened up a whole new world of music for me and also made me feel very grown up. This must have been 1964, since I remember that “Love Potion Number 9” and “Downtown” were both big songs at that time:)

    Liked by 3 people

  4. A fun post and it was great to get to know the featured ladies a bit better as for Margaritas on my last little foray most of 3 and 4 applied…I did say never again…But I think that maybe they are famous last words…Hic….Thank you for featuring my Christmas Pudding recipe which I made today as I have been waiting for the suet to arrive so I can now say Mincemeat and pudding both made xxxx

    Liked by 3 people

  5. You are so much fun, Sally!! I love the music you provided for us here, the history (yes, funny, most of the ‘fake’ trees come from China), the recipes and then the reasons a margaritas is good for me. Darlene’s best Christmas gift is adorable. I can certainly understand the GPS gift, as I am directionally challenged. My best Christmas gift was learning how to blog, with my nephew setting me up seven years ago. Cheers, and bottoms up!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Another great post, Sally. I look forward to seeing Darlene perform Flamenco for us next Christmas! I love Margaritas and I now I know they are so very healthy I will indulge without the guilt. I will keep my clothes on, though 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Great recipe and drink, Sally. Always nice to see Darlene and Miriam here. Miriam, I too have no sense of direction and my husband also gave me a GPS. My dad used to draw maps for me when I first started working and had to get around a lot to difference places. Of course, he always drew it upside down as he knew I would read it that way [giggle!]

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Thank you, Sally for featuring me. The Christmas Pudding looks so delicious. I’m allergic to alcohol literally. I could drink 1/4 glass of wind or beer or anything with alcohol, after that, my eyes and face turn red. The Tesla autopilot looks great. I’m getting a new car next year and will have navigation and rare view screen. You’re right about the history of China about Christmas, and the local people have no access to the export products. I remember when iPad 2 came out (the factory is in southern China a few miles from Hong Kong where my sister is), my brother-in-law asked me to order it in the US and ship it to him. It was faster than waiting for it to be available in Hong Kong.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. So much fun here today Sal. Great food and music and love your little Christmas story tidbits. And thanks for the health benefits of the margarita. I’ll be downing a few of those in a short time from now so I’ll report back about the benefits LOLLLLLLLLL. I also love the gifts you pick out for featured guests. I always knew you’d be a great gift giver. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  10. What a wonderful post, Sally, and so lovely to meet up Darlene and Miriam here and hear about their favourite Christmas gifts. You have presented each with a lovely gift too. How generous. Food and drink to share makes any gathering more enjoyable. Thank you for such delicious treats.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Christmas – Weekly Update – Christmas parties, guest posts, books, Traditional Christmas menu and music. | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

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