18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”

19 The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”

21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. 22 When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.

23 When his time of service was completed, he returned home. 24 After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. 25 “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favour and taken away my disgrace among the people.”

[Luke 1:18-25] 

Christmas Jumper of the Day

Today's Christmas jumper, worn by Rachel, brings orange and cyan blue to the Christmas party and makes them light up the room! 

With its piercing eyes this penguin grabs your gaze and hypnotises you better than the penguins in Madagascar ('You didn't see anything!'). As Skipper says to Private: "Don't give me excuses, GIVE ME RESULTS!". 

Well, this jumper is a result! 

Penguins are awesome - Rachel has loved them from childhood - and here's a fun fact about them: Penguins are black and white so that they camouflage well. For birds flying above or predators swimming above, the black blends the penguin into the dark depths of the ocean. But to predators or prey below them in the sea, their white bellies blend into bright ocean surface. 

If group of penguins in the water is called a raft and a group of penguins on land are called a waddle, what do you call 500 penguins in Trafalgar Square? [Answers in the comments below] 

Evie's (actually Mary Berry's!) Christmas Tree Brownies

Ingredients for the Brownies

275g (10oz)butter, softened
375g (13oz)caster sugar
4large eggs
75g (3oz)cocoa powder
100g (4oz)self-raising flour
100g (4oz)plain chocolate chips

Essential kit

You will need a 30 x 23 x 4cm (12 x 9 x 1½in) traybake or roasting tin.

Instructions to make the Brownies

Preheat the oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C/gas 4.

Cut a rectangle of non-stick baking parchment to fit the base and sides of a 30cm x 23cm x 4cm traybake or roasting tin. Grease the tin and then line it with the paper, pushing it neatly into the corners.

Measure all the ingredients into a large bowl and mix with a hand-held electric mixer until evenly blended.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, scraping the sides of the bowl with a plastic spatula to remove all of it. Spread the mixture gently to the corners of the tin and level the surface with the back of the spatula.

Bake for 40–45 minutes, until the brownies have a crusty top and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cover loosely with foil for the last 10 minutes if the mixture is browning too much.

Allow the brownies to cool in the tin and then cut into triangles. Store in an airtight tin.


Making/Decorating the Trees

This site is really helpful with ideas about cutting and decorating ... but you can make them your own as you use your imagination and whatever is in your cupboards!! 

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