Showing posts from 2015

A Hobbit Christmas

I love Christmas, a lot, and I promise to post my #christmasisntchristmaswithout posts even if I have to post them throughout the new year and back date them!

But today will not be the day that I do that; today I am prepping for Christmas At Home. We spent Christmas Day at my brothers house (27 for dinner) and, although I loved it, I get over-faced by that many, and I ate my dinner sitting back from the table due to NO arm space at all, so my Christmas Dinner was not at all restful (or even really enjoyable; turkey is not made to eat off one's knees) but the craic was really lovely, and the time spent with everybody was worth the pain.
Today my Mum and Dad are coming. We were going to have a turkey cooked by me.... but it smelled off. I mean really bleachy and not fresh, even though I only bought it on Christmas Eve and it was good until the 26th, so I won't risk anyone's health. Life is too short to eat bad turkey. That bird is binned and two small chickens bask in the gl…

Christmas isn't Christmas without..... The Big Man

Today is St Nicholas' Day, and over Europe children will have left out their shoes and hoped to find them filled with sweets and goodies. That's what St Nicholas does.

Whether you take exception to the fact that Sinter Klass as we know him has been hijacked by the wheels of commercialism as a toy-pushing, over-eating exploiter of elf-kind, or think he's a jolly old St Nicholas, he is a big part of the season, especially when you're below a certain age. The magic of anticipation is brilliant, putting out a carrot and mince pie for the man, and waiting for the sound of bells and hoof prints because, hey, he really can fly and he really does get into the house and leave the gifts.....
I love The Polar Express for many reasons, but I think I really like how it deals with the whole Big Man problem; for years I could not watch it because I didn't want my children to ask, or to think too deeply. It's back on our watch list now, and we talk more in terms of tropes and…

Christmas isn't Christmas without..... Hot Chocolate

It's the season to indulge, and nothing warms me up on a cold winter's day quite a beautifully as a thick, sweet hot chocolate with cream, marshmallows and chocolate dusting.

I have friends on Facebook whose recent posts have been full of Black Forest chocolate from Costa. I've had one; it was too sweet. I like peppermint hot chocolate, and I think that was the right blend of tooth-aching sweetness and sharp-cutting taste. I'd like ginger hot chocolate, I think, or a good chocolate orange. But in the end, I just like the occasional warm mug of happiness. Which reminds me, I must go and change out the mugs from our red and blue everyday ones to our special Christmas mugs.

Christmas isn't Christmas without..... cards

It is still beautiful that at this time of the year snail mail runs amok and delivers little envelopes full of sweet wishes. And I have such a load of conflicting feelings about them; they cost a lot of money and are only sent out of obligation (perhaps) but then again they are a valuable link with relatives and friends far away, and add to the feel of the house.
I hate tacky cards. I don't do anything rude, nor comedy cartoonish. I dislike the cheap and nasty slightly heavier than paper photo cards that were so common when I was a teenager, and I don't like ostentatious cards that are designed to scream out about the worth of the sender (and I mean monetary worth, not self-value) and most of all I hate cards that are ready printed and sometimes never even get a name signed.
If I'm sending a card, I will send a good one. I've cut back a lot on obligation cards; you know, things like the second cousin seven times removed whom you never see from one year to the next desp…

Christmas isn't Christmas without.... Christmas music

From the first of November (yes, you read that right!) my car becomes a centre of everything kitsch if only musically; that's the day I get out my Christmas CD collection and begin to hum along to the old and new favourites I have found. I wrote about my favourite Christmas music as part of Blogmas last year, and the records I listed there are still very much on my playlist.
But this year was a classic year for albums. Kylie had a new album out!! Kylie Christmas [CD+DVD] Now usually Pop Princesses don't get much listening to in my car, but I LOVE this album; it is kitsch, old fashioned, modern pop, pure Kylie, duets with the weirdest people and all wrapped up with a picture of a lady old enough to be me (she's 5 days younger, I think) but a LOT smaller! I love the opening song, 'It's the most wonderful time of the Year', and the song written by Chris Martin, 'Every Day's Like Christmas', but I really love her duet of 'Only You' with James Co…

Christmas isn't Christmas without...... the advent wreath

Circles stand for eternity; candles stand for light in the depths of the darkest winter; evergreen decorations stand for life in the middle of the sere and grey dead of winter and the four candles each stand in a corner of the world as a symbol of the unity of the world under God's care. The wreath stretches back to pagan times; it's another one of those great traditions from the past that Christianity appropriated and made its own.

I bought our wreath when I was first employed at a school that held a traditional Prizegiving in Liverpool Cathedral, and we have had it on our dining table every December since. Sometimes I am traditional enough to have purple candles for three Sundays and a pink one for the third Sunday (Gaudete Sunday; the week of joy) with a plain white one for Christmas Day itself.

Other years I have red candles for the Sundays and white for Christmas.

This year my daughter has worked her magic again, and brought a beautiful blue candle from Cologne. Just one,…

Christmas isn't Christmas without.... An advent calendar

I'm going to try to post everyday in December (again) and to record my Christmas through the things that make Christmas special to me. I'll do my best! I'll tag them #christmasisn'tchristmaswithout and put the photos on Instagram as well (you can find me on there as angeljem5)

Today; well, for the 1st of December it must be advent calendars. I love them, I have loads, but every year I like to try out a different one. This year I treated myself to the Yankee Candle advent from Dobbies, every day a new tealight!
And today was the first of the 24; a lovely cinnamon heavy scent that is even now burning brightly in my present off my daughter, who spent last weekend in Germany on a school trip, haunting the markets and feasting on gingerbread.
She bought me a porcelain dome, with a small saucer beneath to hold the candle. When you light the flame it shines through the thinnest parts of the dome, giving a beautiful effect of light and shade.

Advent calendars weren't big …

First Sunday of Advent.....

And breathe.

I say that to myself a lot at the moment. A lot over this weekend, especially, when a bug wiped me out for Friday and Saturday meaning any plans I had for a quiet Christmas putter in my house were wiped out. No slow amble around a supermarket looking for red candles for my Advent wreath, no pootling through the advent chest to find and choose which calendars made the cut this year and filling them with gold-wrapped chocolate gingers, no slow sipping of a Costa mulled wine. Oh, no! My Saturday was passed on the sofa, plain builders in hand, snuggling 'neath a quilt and checking that everybody else was cold as well, or was it just me? (it was; everybody else was toasty warm)
And of course that means I am a weekend behind in any house preparations I wanted to make. My settee will not now be pulled out and carefully cleaned behind before the tree takes centre stage and makes housework redundant. My kitchen cupboards will be dirty and unlined as I cram the December goodies…


and apologies.
I haven't been on the internet for a while. I haven't read any blogs, commented on any blogs or written on mine. I need to make a change and make room for this, because I miss my virtual friends. Not to mention my favourite time of year is coming up and I am missing it all at the moment. Life will slow down (sometime) and I will return, but until then.... please be patient and wait for me, please?

Wednesday Wind Up

What am I reading this week?

I finished The Ice Twins  over the weekend. It was a really good book; a sort-of chillingly twisted book, where the Mum coming to terms with the death of one of her twin daughters is suddenly thrown off balance when the surviving daughter suddenly says that she is actually the other daughter. Is she being haunted or possessed by her sister? Did the father do something to them? And why if the family are so screwed would they go to a remote island off the coast of Skye? At a certain point I just had to read on until I fell asleep clutching my Kindle.

Now I'm reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time  and enjoying it. Yes, I am late to this party but it's been picked as the October book club book and the meeting is on Monday. 30% through; will I make it in time?

What have I watched this week?
We broke open a Christmas DVD in desperation last Tuesday and watched

Avengers: Age of Ultron [DVD] . We went to the cinema to watch it last April,…

Taking a breather...

This weekend has been a chance to take a breather out from work and rampaging and doing so much to do a lot of little things that needed doing. A little crafting, a little reading, some planning for Christmas and some housework. Next week will be a week from hell, with parents evenings (both doing and attending) evening events that I need to go to, and a list of things to do ready for half term next Friday. And breathe.......

Ninjabread men cookies. Sarah made them, and they were delicious! Can you tell they're all doing different kung fu moves? Such a simple idea! I bought the kit from Dobbies and brought them home, worrying that they were too childish for my sophisticated teenagers. Not a bit of it; James (15) has claimed the patterns as his own. Apparently I must have bought the kit for him, because he is my Ninjaboy!

The Cherry Heart CAL; this week I have gone slowly. I have until next Tuesday (the 25th?) to complete these parts. I'm hoping to sit and do some during X Fact…

Meal Planning Monday for October 2015

Yes, I know, it's already October, but I didn't grab any time last week for meal planning. So here, without further ado, are my menu plans for the rest of October. I'm awaiting Nigella and Nigel's new books, so no recipe book inspiration this month.

1 Chicken Stir fry 2 SFC and chips/ Peter to decide 3S Fish and chips 4S Char sui Pork and mash 5 Bolognese and pasta 6 Pork and 5 spice stir fry noodles 7 Sausages and potato wedges 8 Macaroni, ham and peas 9 Burgers/ Hung Shao Pork 10S Chilli, rice and wedges 11S Pork with hasselbacks, and brocciflower cheese 12 Pulled pork fajitas with cucumber and hoisin 13 Chicken and red pepper roast 14 meatballs and pasta 15 Toad in the Hole 16 HM pizza/ paella 17S Mince enchilladas 18S Roast, mash, brocciflower cheese 19 Pork belly stir fry with rice 20 Breakfast at night 21 Mince fajitas 22 Lasagne, garlic bread and broccoli 23 Fish and chips 24S Cottage pie 25S Boeuf bourguinonne 26 Bolognese pasta 27 sausage, mash and beans 28 meatballs and mash 29 lasagne a…