Sunday, 21 December 2014

Christmas Club

Good intentions.  They're great aren't they?  I'm going to do all my Christmas wrapping as soon as I get the presents home this year.  Didn't happen.  I'll empty the freezer in November so I can bake well in advance this year.  Didn't happen.  I'll get all my shopping done well before the week before Christmas this year.  Didn't happen.  I'm going to join in all of Sian's Christmas Club Sundays.  No, that didn't happen either.  Of course my default setting for when plans go wrong is naturally to blame it on the husband.  Especially if I can get away with him not knowing I'm blaming him for something I haven't done. So the reason I missed last week was his fault.  No, really, it was his fault.  After all, it was his birthday.  Tradition dictates that the Sunday closest to his birthday we have a mini Christmas with all the family round and he gets to choose the menu.  So last Sunday went in a whirl of cooking and clearing up and decorating tables and welcoming visitors.  Glass of prosecco for the cook?  Don't mind if I do.  Long dog walk in the afternoon?  Who can resist those big puppy dog eyes?  Trying out a new game and getting hooked on Bananagrams.  As I wearily closed my eyes at bedtime I suddenly realised the day had gone and I hadn't shared a story. 
My mum loved Christmas. If ever there was a Mrs Santa Claus, it was her.  Christmas was a magical time in our house.  She would spend weeks cooking in advance, because everyone had to have their favourite things to eat.  Presents were thoughtfully chosen, she must have listened so hard to the slightest hint of conversations where people would mention something that they had seen that they liked.  There was a year where I saw a lovely knitting pattern in her magazine for a cable knit jumper and mentioned how much I loved it.  This was just a short while before Christmas, and she then must have rushed out to buy wool the next day, and secretly start knitting as soon as I'd gone up to bed in the evenings to get it done in time.  How she managed that I do not know as she wasn't the fastest knitter in the world and it was a tricky wool to work with especially in the evenings when the light isn't so good. 
She was also a crossword fanatic.  Every day she challenged herself to do a crossword and was so good at getting those cryptic clues.  So she introduced a new family tradition.  She would give crossword style hints on gift tags so you had to have a guess at what it was before you opened it.  Let's just say that some clues were more cryptic than others.  Some had to be explained even after you'd opened the present!  She particularly like anagrams and to this day I think of my Kenwood Gourmet food processor as my Gemtour as the clue for that was 'Something to help make the picnic you take on a Gem Tour'
So silly me.  I decided to pick up the baton of this tradition.  When she passed away in December 1977 it seemed an ideal way to keep her in our thoughts on Christmas morning.  Her clues always brought laughter as we tried to work them out.  But oh mum.  I never realised how hard it is to come up with something original.  I did not inherit your cryptic brain.  Although I have inherited the ability to totally confuse people with what I think is a blindingly obvious clue!
Thank you Sian for giving us all an excuse to walk down memory lane with our family stories, they've been such fun to read. 

Monday, 8 December 2014

Me on Monday

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas ...
Oh yes, that's Me on Monday, decorating the tree.  Under careful supervision from Rachel and a certain fluffy dog nestling in her bean bag, wondering what's causing all the changes to the house. 
What a weekend it was.  We kicked off proceedings on Friday, meeting up with Denise and Himself for a fab Indian meal.  Saturday was a 'Support Local Shops' day in town so we popped into town, taking advantage of free car parking for the day, did a bit of Christmas shopping, then popped into a little Italian deli/coffee shop for a rather delicious coffee and slice of cake.  A bit of Christmas wrapping in the afternoon, taking Coco to the groomers, a meet up for a drink with some old school friends early evening, then back home to have friends round for drinks later.  Writing it down, it does seem as if I spent rather a lot of time eating or drinking ...  Now I come to think of it, Sunday was a bit foody too.  Sausage roll making, practising gluten free recipes (my god daughter has just been diagnosed as being allergic) ready for Christmas visitors, cooking Sunday lunch, getting involved with a podcast my son has recommended (Serial.  Is anyone else listening to it?  I think I am hooked!)and then the shock horror elimination of Pixie Lott from Strictly.  Lots of muttering under the breath following that.  I was sure she was going to win! 
So, here we are with a week of December under our belt.  This is a week of meals out with ex work mates, meals out with friends and husband's birthday on Friday.  Maybe I'll give Slimming World a miss this week ;-)
Let's give a big, glittery, sparkly Christmas wave to Sian, who had the idea of Me on Monday.  Actually, don't just wave - join in, we'd all love to hear what you're up to today!

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Christmas Club 2014

There's an amusing photo doing the rounds of social media.  It's of a rather guilty looking dog with a Christmas tree laying flat on the floor behind it.  The caption is 'Oh great, you're here.  The Christmas tree just fainted.'   I saw it and suddenly had inspiration for my Christmas Club post!
At Christmas we ...
... always had chocolate coins and novelties hung on the tree along with all the decorations.  The idea was that we could find one each per day to eat in the lead up to Christmas.  By December 24th it was hard to find that last one hidden deep within the innermost branches.  We always had a real tree, so you had to brave the prickles to reach them - well worth any pain or injury inflicted in my mind! But Mum didn't just hide little treats for me and my sister, there was always a couple of sugar mice hidden in there for the dog to have on Christmas Eve too. 
Well, one year Mum clearly didn't hide those mice as well as she thought.  The dog wandered into the dining room while we were having dinner and we noticed rather a lot of pine needles the fur along her back.  Not to mention the top of her head, and there was a little self satisfied spring in her step as she licked her lips and laid down in front of the fire.
Our suspicions aroused, we went to investigate - and when we opened the door to the sitting room, the tree was on its side, baubles all over the floor, tinsel pulled off and no sign of any sugar mice.  And as we were standing there, assessing the damage and marvelling at how hard she must have tugged on those mice to pull a 6ft tree over on top of her, we heard the padding of paws, turned round and there she was with an innocent look in her eyes as if to say 'What?  Me? I know nothing about it.'
Come share a Christmas story over at Sian's. It'll put you in the mood for mince pies and mulled wine!

Monday, 1 December 2014

Me on Monday

The first Monday in December and I'm watching Denise on my iPad 
What a superstar she is, calmly demonstrating for Kanban Crafts. It seems so strange to see someone you know on TV and I can't believe how cool calm and collected she is. If it were me I'd have spilt the glue, dropped the glitter, put everything on crooked and got all tongue tied. 

The last weekend of November went by on fast forward. There was a bit of Christmas shopping, menu for Boxing Day was decided, a new Christmas mug was bought, hair was cut and coloured, sausage rolls were made, and eaten, Strictly Come Dancing was watched, meetings with a friend's daughter who was home from Hong Kong for a weekend were made, To Do lists were written, dogs were walked, banana and walnut loaves were made and suddenly December was here!

Me on Monday - giving a big wave to Sian who had the original idea of sharing what we are up to in a Monday.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Time for one last cup of tea

As we get together for the last cup of tea in Abi's idea to get together over a cuppa once a month, I thought I'd get the best china out and have a 'proper' cup of tea. 
It's been such fun to go round the world via cups, mugs and wine glasses, catching up on news, sharing ideas and admiring crafty work.  But as the saying goes 'all good things must come to an end' and I think we can all agree that Abi has more than enough on her plate in her final year of university! 
Today we seem to be experiencing the madness that has come over here from the US that goes under the name of 'Black Friday'.  While I was at work this morning, I received over 20 emails on my phone all from companies inviting me to take advantage of savings if I buy before midnight tonight.  I can't think of anything I desperately need so I am quietly deleting them so that I am not tempted to buy something that I don't need just because it's got a good discount! 
I am still of the feeling that Christmas shouldn't start before December 1st; what do you think?  Our tree doesn't go up until the weekend after my husband's birthday - 12 December.  I can't imagine having it in the lounge for over a month, 2 weeks is about right for me! 
As I pour another cup (one cup is never enough when you normally have tea in a mug!)we would sit with our feet curled beneath us, a quilt over our lap and an optimistic dog close by hoping for a crumb or two from a biscuit.  I would ask if you could help me in a search.  I am making a quilt for my daughter, one that can cover the seat on a sofa once she moves into a new home.  One that Coco can curl up on without ruining the furniture.  I've found two pieces of fabric, one black with white paw prints on it and one white with black bones on it - yes, there is a dog theme!  She only wants it in black, white and grey and I am now struggling to find a couple of other fabrics that have a dog related design on it.  Do any of you sewing ladies have ideas of where I might find some?  Mr Google is not helping much at the moment!
You see, this is what is lovely about sharing a cup of tea; likeminded people sharing news, views and ideas.  Abi's idea has been brilliant and I've loved getting to know more about everyone.  I'm a firm believer that as one chapter closes, another begins and I am sure that 2015 will bring other memes that we can all join in with.  Ideas anyone?!

Monday, 24 November 2014

Me on Monday

Much of this weekend was spent with me brushing up my domestic goddess skills. I seemed to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. A special request for another cherry ring cake was made, honestly you'd have thought they'd have had enough of them by now but apparently not. I also practised a recipe we learnt at this month's cookery club, chicken satay as a little starter before dinner. So simple, so delicious. Fancy having a go? Poach a chicken breast in stock for about 10-15 mins. Let it cool then cut into small cubes to add to a cocktails stick. Mix equal quantities of crunchy peanut butter with sweet chilli dipping sauce. Add a sprinkle of coriander and then thin it down with boiled water. I did 2tbs PB/ chilli sauce and about 3tbs water. Pour over chicken and leave to marinate.
More domestic duties this Monday, always made better by multi tasking and catching up on programmes you've recorded while standing behind a hot ironing board.

That's the view from my ironing board, dog resting (it's hard work protecting the house all day) and Lewis on the TV.
The skies opened this weekend, it was a welly wearing, raincoat wearing, starting the Christmas present buying, bathing a muddy dog 3 times in 2 days, turning up the central heating, watching a huge puddle develop on the patio, staying indoors as much as possible kind of weekend. Wintery weather has officially arrived!
So that's me on this chilly Monday, giving up a big wave to Sian and hoping she soon feels better.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Me on Monday

These Monday's are coming around quickly aren't they? 
Here is a snap of what I was doing first thing this morning
Remember the Dress a Girl around the World project I mentioned a while back? Well I made the body of the dress ages ago and it was just waiting for the pocket to be added and as we all know, it's the finishing off bits that get left behind until someone finds your UFO (unfinished object) and says "are you ever going to send that off?" So here I am, when my finished dress, ready to put it in a bag to hand over to the teacher in charge of the project - finally!
So, it was a busy old weekend here. Pockets were made, and sewn on, threads were snipped, rugby was watched, as was football, Indian take aways were eaten with friends, a few Christmas presents were bought, a new living room floor lamp was ordered, a moving around of furniture in the lounge was discussed, and hours of Internet searching took place to find a new chair to put in the space that the reshuffle would make, and finally much relief was felt when the voting on Strictly Come Dancing was announced. 
Giving up a big wave to Sian whose idea it was to share our photos on Mondays.