Monday, 31 December 2012

Out with the old ...

So 2012 is finally  (thankfully) drawing to a close.  To quote the beginning of a well known novel:-

"It was the BEST of times,  it was the WORST of times...."

I've already documented in grim detail my annus horribilis so I won't go over old ground in review of 2012.

Truth is - I'm actually struggling for words.  I've never been very good at celebrating New Year.  I know one should be full of hope and excitement as the New Year dawns but in truth its just another night to me.  It holds no interest at all.  We've been invited to a couple of parties but to be honest I wouldn't inflict myself on anyone other than those who understand how I have to deal with it.  We've had a nice, quiet evening with some home made buffet food to nibble on.  The kids are doing their own thing upstairs and lovely man and I are just chilling down here in the living room watching some trashy tv.   I'm trying hard not to be introspective and gloomy and am trying hard to think of something profound to say as 2012 ends, but I am at a loss for so many reasons.

In closing, may I simply take this opportunity of wishing you and yours all the very best for the New Year.  I sincerely hope that it brings you everything you need and a little of what you want.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for continuing to visit my little space in blog land.

Love, Light and much, much Laughter.

Mwahh!!!



Kim xxx





Sunday, 30 December 2012

Sausage Rolls and Christmas Spoons

Hello Bloglies

First of all I'd like to say a huge "THANKS" to those of you who take time out of your day to read my blog. I had 205 page views yesterday which for a little blog about nothing of much consequence is quite an achievement in my book. Thank you xx

I needed to use up some stuff from the fridge today; in particular some sausage meat and a sheet of ready made puff pastry  You'll never guess what I made

Oh.

You did guess didn't you?!

Pah!

Well let me tell you they weren't just your average common or garden sausage rolls.  They were posh ones.  So there!

First of all I divided the sheet of pastry into three, then mixed up a few tablespoons of packet stuffing mix with some hot water.  I then mixed the stuffing into approximately half a pack of sausage meat and made sure it was well combined using my hands to squish it together.  I then divided the sausage meat between the three pastry sheets, ensuring that it was well spread out.


For a little added interest, I spooned a little caramelised onion chutney over the sausage meat.


I then folded the pastry over to meet at the edges, using a little egg wash to make it stick, and then crimped the edges with a fork 


I had to ignore a grossly over-acting border collie at this stage who intimated that he had not been fed for WEEKS!

Do not accept begging requests from this dog.



On to a baking tray then where each long sausage was cut into dainty bite size morsels.  Some more dainty than others it seems. 

And the end result - puffed and flaky, crispy, golden and very tasty, best fresh from the oven as with any savoury bake.  The onion chutney gives a mildly sweet tangy bite to these sausage rolls and I'm happy to report that they are were a big hit with everyone.   


OI!! Get yer hands off!


This afternoon we wandered down to Mum's for Sunday dinner.  My barmy brother and his (very tolerant and in need of an award for bravery) girlfriend were there too and the seven of us had a lovely afternoon eating and chatting.  Now I may have mentioned before that my darling brother really is a bit nuts.  He has us in absolute hysterics sometimes with his lunacy and this afternoon was no exception.

Now, I know that you really do have to 'be there' sometimes to appreciate what other people consider to be hilariously funny but my sides are still aching at his self-penned rendition of 'Christmas Spoons', ("Christmas spoons, Christmas spoons, Little Christmas spooooons" to the tune of Jingle Bells) accompanied by dancing spoons of differing sizes wearing Santa hats.  When he can work out how to make the video public on YT I shall share it with you. 

(Go on admit it - you're now singing 'Christmas Spoons' in your head aren't you?!!)

Tis the last day of 2012 tomorrow (I'm a mine of very useful information, me).  What plans do you have for New Year's Eve?  

I shall post again tomorrow, but if you don't have a chance to get back here to Peapods, I shall see you on the flip side and wish you and yours a very Happy New Year. 

Love love xx









Saturday, 29 December 2012

A December Kind of Daybook

Hello blogland - and a welcome to my new follower/reader TRUDIE!  Many thanks for joining me and reading my inane whitterings! 


So, as its a "slow news day" here at Peapods, *** I'm playing my December Simple Woman's Daybook card for some blog prompting.  Here's the link if you'd like to play along:  

http://thesimplewomansdaybook.blogspot.com/



FOR TODAY


Outside my window...Well I'm not sure that you'll believe this but.... It is raining.  My, how its raining!  It seems to have been raining for weeks now.  It woke me in the night on several occasions; blown in great spluttery gusts against my window as if someone was throwing hand fulls of gravel at the pane.  The puddles are building in the garden and I'm thankful that we live at the top of a hill.  The dog stands at the back door looking out, then looking back at me as if to say "you're having a larf ain't ya?"

I am thinking... that I really need to get started on our dinner.  Minted lamb chops and crispy parmentier potatoes.  Sounds posh doesn't it?  Reality is that everything was reduced in Waitrose yesterday and is more or less prepared!  Lazy article I am!!

I am thankful...as ever, for my family and for being able to celebrate Christmas surrounded by love, light and laughter. 

In the kitchen...a candle is burning, meat is defrosting, a lone mince pie is sitting awaiting its fate,  two piles of washing need to be removed and taken upstairs, and the new to us cooker is STILL waiting to be plumbed in.  

I am wearing... black jeans, a black crocheted cardy cover up thingie and a .........wait for it.   PINK TEESHIRT!  Shocked aren't you?! 

I am creating... nothing at the moment, although there are 5,427 unfinished projects dotted around the house awaiting my attention.  

I am going... to get off my bum.  Any.   Minute.    Now.  

I am wondering... how much more wet dog stink Harvey can possibly emit. 

I am reading...Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries II and swooning over both the recipes and his wonderful descriptions. 

I am hoping...  that 
2013 will be better.   Hopefully much better than this year, however the cynical old bag in me is hazarding a guess that I'll be repeating this ad inifitum for years to come!!

I am looking forward to... the weather becoming less bothersome and for my shed to be finished.  The structure is complete but the  cladding and insulating is yet to be done and I think we have some laminate flooring we can use in there too to make it extra cosy.  Once that is done then I can move in!  Well not literally - but you know what I mean! I can't move my papers in there at the moment as they'll become damp and go curly!

I am learning ... that nice things DO come to those who wait. Eventually.  You just got to grin and bear it whilst you're waiting.  Sometimes this may be a very long wait  Wear gum shields to protect your teeth from grinding in the interim and you'll be ok. 

Around the house... it is relatively peaceful (apart from the two different types of music emanating from the kids' rooms; and the bangy crashy sweary stuff emanating from the tv as LM is playing soldiers on the XBox.  It is also relatively tidy.  Bonus!

I am pondering...what to do on New Year's Eve.  We have been invited to a house party.  Quite frankly I would rather stick pins in my eyes but I don't want to be a party pooper if LM wants to go. 

A favorite quote for today... 



One of my favorite things... Today?  That's an easy one.  Not being at work!

A few plans for the rest of the week: No plans really apart from a visit to Mum's tomorrow.  I'd like to take the deccies down prior to my return to the D&G place on Wednesday, and, I think, I have a lunch date arranged with a girlfriend.  Thats about it really. 

A peek into my day...


Coffee - a staple part of our day.  We drink farrrrr too much.
Confuscious he say - may your kettle never be cold.
Or actually on reflection - that may have been me!


Love from Peapods!
~x~


*** Actually I have news of great import to impart.   Princess Leia laid an egg.  And it was Hewoooge!

Friday, 28 December 2012

Final Friday of 2012

Hello lovely people.

A very warm welcome to newly subscribed reader Tammy of http://tammyroney.blogspot.co.uk/  Thank you for stopping by.

I love being home - I can't tell you how much.  Today, however, I had a rare yearning to be out and about, and, as Lovely Man was snoozing after his nightshift, I took myself off down town to see what they were giving away.    I had a browse around the charity shops but there was nothing very exciting there.  I  popped into Boots, picked things up then put them down again after a realisation that I really didn't NEED any more body butter/shower gel/ bla bla bla - it's so easy to think  - ooh that's cheap!  But it's only a bargain if you really need it isn't it?  Our overspending really has to stop and therefore I came out (rather proudly) empty handed. 

After the rich, cloying tastes of Christmas fare, I'm positively craving fresh, clean tastes; something with a bit of a kick, and lots of vegetables.  I had some vouchers to spend in Waitrose, and therefore picked up some good quality fresh produce which had been reduced in price.  Crunchy orange and yellow peppers, long, spears of sweet red peppers, a bag of nutty sprouting seeds, (not quite sure what to do with these yet)  some tender green romaine lettuce, jewel-like fresh cranberries and some goats cheese.

 I was looking for Wensleydale with cranberries (for him) and some good Cornish Brie (for me) and it was good fortune to pick up a  reduced pack of assorted cheeses which included both of these plus some decent Stilton, Red Leicester and Cheddar to boot, for the same price I was about to pay for the two individual cheeses.  Bonus!    I fell in love with some sweet little pudding dishes which had been knocked down to £2 each and so four of these little beauties came home with me.  


My candles are lit now as I'm sitting here relaxing and browsing through my Christmas reading gifts.   I get through lots of candles and do spend silly amounts of money on them.  The bog standard cheap and cheerful ones are usually just dipped in scent which soon burns away and I find them to be smokey and sooty - not very clever against newly painted walls!   I usually favour Partylite wax  (I was a consultant for seven years and totally believed in my product!), and sometimes Yankee candles, but these really are getting to be stupidly expensive now.  I've been very impressed with these pretty little filled jars by Glade,  which burn for 30 hours each and I can totally recommend them.  They smell divine, particularly the spiced apple and cinnamon one which I have burning all the time!  It's sooo Christmassy, without being too overpowering, they burn cleanly and completely, and with the added bonus that they've been on offer in Wilkinsons for weeks I've bought some on every shopping trip.  The kids got me some as gifts too so I have a little stash now - a good thing as the scent I like is only available at this time of year.  If you're into your candles give them a try. **

I also got this one - which changes colour!  How?   I don't know - maybe it's witchcraft!  All I know is that it smells gorgeous and as soon as the flame is introduced to the wick, the glass jar begins to change colour.  Magic!  

Talking of apple and cinnamon - I've just eaten some gorgeous apple and cinnamon organic yoghurt (natch!) from one of my new little bowls!  YUM!   

** My blog has no affiliation to this manufacturer.  I just like the candles!

Happy Weekend everyone!  

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Post Christmas Post!

Hello my darlings

I hope that you all had the best festive season ever and that you are all able to relax a little now that the manic-ness is over.

In all honesty, I didn't know what I'd be feeling on Christmas Day.  I was expecting a kind of numbness and a sense of loss, it being the first without my Dad.  However, after the kids had opened their gifts and taken a trip over to their other family for an hour or two, I quietly lit a candle next to his picture and wished him a Happy Christmas.  I'll admit to a few tears then, but thankfully they were the only ones that day.

We spent the afternoon and evening at my brother's house and had the loveliest time.  In fact, I would go as far as to say it was the best Christmas day I can remember.  The house was cosy, warm, and full  of laughter and love.  Just perfect.




Happy Feet!

SpiderGran and Bat-boy!
These last couple of days have been spent quietly and that's no hardship.   I really do love this time of year.  The frenzy has settled, the days are drowsy, the candles are lit and there is much needed down-time in which to sit quietly and to appreciate what you have.

I've spent a few hours this afternoon catching up on posts on my favourite blogs, drinking coffee and snuggling on the sofa  Pretty darn near perfect I reckon!

Wishing you much lazy-dom and cosy-ness until next time.

With love,

xxxxx







Sunday, 23 December 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like Shed-mas...

Hello Lovelies!

I missed posting yesterday as we had a bit of a manic day.   We set out early to meet my partner's family in town for breakfast.  We were entertained by our 18 month old granddaughter - she's so funny! Adorable little creature she is.  She was very pleased with her biker jacket which looks just like Grandad's.  Its never too early to encourage rock chick-ness!!  She loved her new Disney Princess Belle 'baby' too and gave it lots of cuddles.  It was lovely to see them - we only meet up a few times each year and I do worry about them not seeing enough  of each other.

After saying our goodbyes we then went to do some last bits of shopping, including the food shop.  Half way around town, we bumped into a good friend of mine and so adjourned for coffee and a gossipy catch up for half an hour or so.

Today was supposed to be House Clean-up Day, however after coffee and croissants in bed, Lovely Man left me to complete the wrapping up of gifts whilst he went out to erect my shed, taking advantage of a rare dry day.  I had the beginnings of a cold yesterday and this morning it started taking hold.  I sat upstairs on our bed wrapping presents, sniffling a lot,  drinking coffee and listening to the inanities of Create and Craft in the background.  Still - it was a job that needed doing and at least this has been completed now.  My daughter will get a couple of last minute bits for me tomorrow and that will be it.  All done!

When I finally ventured downstairs, it appeared that Operation Shed-mas was well under way.  I had to take a couple of photos (of course) in the interests of quality control and for prosperity!


Note KTT (Kevin the Teenager) being extremely helpful with the one handed support system! Ahem.




I had to laugh when I looked out a few minutes later though.....  Charlie cat appeared to be getting in on the action too!


Ahh - not helping it seems - just hitching a ride!!



No seriously - you NEED a cat scarf.  It's the new big thing!


Nope.  I love you.  I am not getting down.  


Daft cat.  He refused to get off KTT's shoulder for about twenty minutes!! 


He even went for a walk up the garden with him!



Barmy animal!

Shed update - light faded fast - but only the door and windows to be added now! YEEHAH!!! 

I feel some red gingham curtains coming on! 

See you soon! 

Friday, 21 December 2012

Solstice Blessings


In the Green Wood (from Mother Goose)

Oak-logs will warm you well,
That are old and dry;
Logs of pine will sweetly smell
But the sparks will fly.
Birch-logs will burn too fast,
Chestnut scarce at all;
Hawthorn-logs are good to last -
Catch them in the fall.
Holly-logs will burn like wax,
You may burn them green;
Elm-logs like to smoldering flax,
No flame to be seen.
Beech-logs for winter time,
Yew-logs as well;
Green elder-logs it is a crime
For any man to sell.
Pear-logs and apple-logs,
They will scent your room,
Cherry-logs across the dogs
Smell like flower of the broom.
Ash-logs, smooth and grey,
Burn them green or old,
Buy up all that come your way -
Worth their weight in gold.

My darling readers - Solstice Blessings upon you and yours - from me and mine.  May your yule logs burn brightly. xxx


p.s. - No work for 11 whole blissful days - I am one very happy lady!  

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Thursday - nearly there!

Hey guess what?!

There's only ......ONE MORE GET UP!!!!!

Oops sorry.  Got a little bit excited then didn't I?!

The closer it gets to the big day, however, the busier it gets at work.  I guess working in a probate department there's always going to be that whiff of cold hard cash to be chased right down to the last possible hour of the working day!

It was our departmental lunch this afternoon and all 30 of us adjourned to a ridiculously overrated and up it's own arse fashionably and achingly hip hostelry for some festive food.  I always feel out of place in these sort of places where the beautiful people hang out and you need to take a mortgage out to buy a bottle of wine, but hey ho - I had no say in the matter, and it was paid for!  

My chosen starter was very disappointing.  This was:-

Black pudding stacked between puff pastry with apple & vanilla puree and sherry vinaigrette  Well - there was a slice of black pudding sat on top of a - well - I couldn't make out whether it was simply undercooked or not cooked at all circle of puff pastry   There was no puff in it at all.  Bleurgh! Quite frankly.   The apple and vanilla puree was a splodge of airy nothingness and as for the sherry vinaigrette - well I'm afraid I've never seen green sherry and the arty drizzle around the edge of the plate was more akin to olive oil than sherry vinaigrette. Methinks a nil point was scored for this particular starter.  

My main of Braised beef in red wine with creamy parsley mash and horseradish crème fraiche topped with crispy onions fared much better.  A hunk of melting, tender beef was the star of the plate.  This was beautifully cooked and fell apart at the touch of a fork.  The mash was indeed creamy and the creme fraiche was tangy with just the right amount of horseradish for a little kick to cut through the richness of the beef.  This was served with crushed root vegetables with rosemary and simply presented brussels.

Pud was a very decadent Italian chocolate Torta Macao with crème fraiche - or chocolate tart to you and me.  Dense and chocolatey and teeth dissolvingly rich - it did what it was supposed to and had the obligatory slice of strawberry to boot.  Natch. 

£24.99 for what was essentially an inch of black pudding, a bit of shin of beef and some veg and a sliver of choccie tart.  Money for old rope really innit?!  

When I got home this evening the house had been christmassified!  Some of you will remember my post about our rock an' roll tree from last year.  This year its much the same - but instead of Sid on top of the tree, my Green Santa is back in pride of place.  Here's a few photos! 








Changing the subject completely - have any of your been following the Last Tango in Halifax series?  Oh my word what wonderful acting.  I loved every minute of it right up until the last ten minutes last night which I watched through my fingers with tears dripping off my nose.  If you haven't seen it I'm sure you can find it on Iplayer or something similar. Here's the link  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01p1q6x

See you soon!! 

xxx



Wednesday Whitterings

Hello there my little mince pies!

Only two more 'get ups' for me!  Ah the joy!!

I'm beginning to feel 'slightly' more festive I think!  I've been wrapping gifts and writing cards for the last couple of evenings and that accompanied by some festive foodie progs on t'tellybox, (not least the rather swoonsome Paul Hollywood) is helping me to get into the spirit of things!

The decorating is all but done.  Just a very few bits to do not but as this involves stripping and sanding doors then this may be left until after Xmas.  The tree and decs have made it down from the loft - although everyone was just too shattered tonight to attempt to actually put it up!

The firm I work for has kindly given to us all our choice of either a food hamper or 12 bottles of wine, to the value of £100 each.  I went for the food hamper as neither of us are big wine drinkers.  There are, in fact, three bottles (one red, one white and one sparkling white) in the food hamper anyway so this will be more than enough for over the holidays when we go out and about visiting.

The hamper itself is lovely and a big improvement on last year which was full of expensive .... well, rubbish really!



The foodstuff was presented in a lovely wicker log basket 

Wine, crackers, fruit cake, tea, chocolate meringues, honeycomb chocolate

Chocolate (those are MINE!), napkins (the kids can have them!) and some raspberry jam!

Biscuits, cookies, nuts, cheese bickies, chocolate sauce, Christmas chutney and a divinely scented jasmine candle!
As much as I moan about my job, we can't fault our employers for their generosity this year in such financially trying times.



And now for a gratuitous shot of my new wallpaper. 

Tadahhhh!! 


I thank you!

Christmas lunch tomorrow for our Department at a local hostelry.... a whole two and a half hours away from the office!  Bring it on!! 


Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Ponderings ....

My children never cease to amaze me.

My son came home from school this afternoon and the whole street had been knocked out in a power cut.  Having been told that there was a power cut going on and he therefore wouldn't be able to use anything electrical, his response was a very concerned:  "Will the toilet still work?"

My daughter, pondering about life, the universe and everything earlier this week said "Mum, y'know limes right... well..... are they just green lemons?".


You gotta laugh!



Observations of a Reluctant Shopper

Just a few daft observations of my late night shopping trip and general ponderisations! (yes I made that one up!)

Common courtesy appears to have vanished.  This evening I held open the door of a shop whilst a total of 8 people trooped through.  Not one of the buggers even acknowledged me, never mind offered a thank you.  This could be due to several mitigating factors.  a) I had forgotten to take off my cloak of invisibility prior to going shopping  b) I am not big enough to see or c) I look like a door-person.   A loudly muttered "Oh THA-ANKS" as the last person barged past went unheeded.  Rude gits. 

Over Friendly Cashier of the Evening Award goes to...... The 12 year old who served me in Primark who asked me whether I had been shopping all day, where I worked, what I did, whether it was difficult, whether I liked i it, how much more shopping I needed to do and what time I was going home this evening.  Erm.  Bless your cheerful, pink-cheeked smiley little face but shh now and get on with it cos I want to go home! 

Primark clothes are nothing more than jumble sale garments with tags on. 

Number of renditions of Shakin' Stevens 'Merry Christmas, Everyone' heard:  3.5  

There appears to be a preponderance of nasty acrylic jumpers and cardigans on sale, the likes of which were worn by me Nan circa 1987 however appear to currently be the height of fashion.  Why?  

If you require a specific item from a specific shop there is a written guarantee somewhere out there that there will be a gap on the shelf  where your specific item once resided and will remain so for the duration of your shopping trip.  All other goods either side of the gap where your specific item once resided will, of course, be in plentiful supply. 

We are apparently on the brink of a triple dip recession however at 8pm this evening the amount of shoppers at our local shopping centre could have rivalled the crowds there on Saturday afternoon.  The shops are all open until 12 midnight for the whole of this week.  The world has has gorn mad.

I haven't a clue what presents I have got left to get.   Methinks next year a different plan of attack is required.   Beginning with something sensible.  Like a list.  Maybe. 

Number of pairs of insane novelty slippers purchased in last week:  4     Number of pairs of insane novelty slippers left to purchase: 3.  (There is a method in my madness in the purchase of said insane novelty slippers which shall be revealed post C-word day).

Note to self.  Do not go late night shopping again prior to C-word as you know that you would rather eat your own elbows. 

Fin.  







Sunday, 16 December 2012

But its not like Christmas at all!

Hello lovely readers

I've been looking at lots of every so prettyfull blogs this evening all full of sparkle and tinsel.  I'm ashamed.  There is nary a bauble to be seen in this house as yet and there is unlikely to be for at least another week.   The wallpaper is up and looks beautiful,the ceiling is painted and most of the woodwork is done.  We were supposed to rise early and tackle the rest of the emulsioning today.  Man has been doing major battle with a new ceiling rose however which has taken most of the bliddy afternoon!!  He had to take the light down and has had the devil's job to put it back up thanks to Dudley Council's bloody rubbish workmanship in the first place which has left the wiring almost inaccessible. SOOO frustrating. Talk about the best laid plans!!  To his credit, however, he refuses to be beaten and although it was touch and go as to whether we'd have a light this evening, it's done now - ceiling rose is still hanging off though and will be another job for tomorrow.  We've managed to put the first coat of emulsion on this evening but again with low light levels, this will need going over again tomorrow.

Lovely Mum came up to rescue me from my despair early this afternoon as I was battling a huge dose of "ARRRGH I DON'T KNOW WHERE TO STARTs"!  She's a marvel and had soon taken control of the situation.  With some hard work we've put away all of my crafting stuff which was beginning to take over the complete house.  All of this will, of course be transplanted (!) into my shed, however as this is lying supine on the patio under a large tarpaulin at the moment until project "decorate the lounge at the most stressful time of the year" is finalised, it's all gone back into the cupboard of doom underneath the stairs!

This week will be spent working, then shopping after work, wrapping, stressing, attending two work's functions  and, I guess, at some point I need to write a card or two.

Meh.

Hope your week is a little less stressy than mine is shaping up to be!

Lots of love from The Grinch!



Saturday, 15 December 2012

Dear Santa ........


Define Good .......... 

N.B.
I've had to enable moderation of comments I'm afraid lovely people, as some far less lovely people than you are trying to utilise my little blog for yuksome advertising and I shall not stand for it.   

Be gone... vile people.  

Don't make me drop a house on you!





Friday, 14 December 2012

No words .....

Just a heavy heart for the families affected by today's atrocities in Newtown, Connecticut. 

Hold your loved ones close. 





Love and Light.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Bad Timing?

So.  Who in their right mind starts decorating two weeks before Christmas then?

Oh.  That'll be us!

Never mind though - only the skirting boards to gloss, the cupboard to strip and sand and varnish,  the door to strip and sand and varnish, the wallpaper to be put up on one full wall, the emulsioning to be done on the other three walls, new curtains to hang, everything to be put back in place and a light fitting to replace.

And the kids want to put the tree up.

I may emigrate.

Never mind - I can open the first of my advent gift swappy gifts tomorrow! Something to look forward to at least!





Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Deejays Day - 12.12.12 (!)

Did you get it?  One Two, One Two, One Two!  tee hee.  Sorry.

A bit of a momentous day today.  The last repetitive date we shall see.  It was a friend's birthday too - and she had actually been born at 12 minutes past 12, 27 years ago today!

I sent a text to my loved ones at 12.12pm to say that I loved 'em.  Seemed fitting really!

Enough of the date malarkey.  It was the first of two c-word meals out from work this evening.  We went to a local Italian Restaurant. As we went straight from work it did lack a little atmosphere as there was no-one else in the place apart from us!  The staff also seemed to be quite brusque, so to begin with the evening was a little flat.  Once the food was served, however, the staff seemed to become more friendly and were very attentive.  My choices were goats cheese bruschetta with roasted pear and pine nuts for my starter.  This was very tasty but was a big hunk of cheese on a single round of bread.  Very filling!   This was followed by rack of lamb with mash and roasted veg, which consisted of three tiny succulent cutlets arranged over a spoon of mash, surrounded by a very tasty rosemary 'jus' (rolls eyes!) and roasted root veg.  Pud was a classic tiramisu.  I'm always disappointed in puddings - they always seem to sound nice but when they arrive fail to live up to expectations.  This was no exception!  Relatively bland and nothing to write home about.   On the whole though the meal was ok.  We didn't have to pay for it so that made it even better!

One thing that made me laugh (cos I am 12 years old!) was the fact that I was sitting in direct eye line of a lovely (ahem) mural of some naked bloke reclining on a bed of acorns.  The waiter took great delight in pointing out that he was a "real Italian man" accompanied by much suggestive wiggling of eyebrows.

I'm just glad that sausage wasn't on the menu.   It would have put me right off!


Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Favourite Winter Poems

I thought I'd share two of my very favourite winter poems with you today.

The first one is very evocative of primary school days as we had to learn it verbatim for a performance.  This was probably my first experience of  Shakespeare! I can still see my old teacher, Mrs Williams - a plump and jolly Welsh woman with a shock of of curly black hair and a benign expression, nodding her head as we chanted along.  Funny how things stick in your head isn't it?!   I think it struck a chord with me as its a little 'dark' - I always thought it was a bit of a spooky poem!!

Winter

(From "Love's Labour's Lost")
When icicles hang by the wall,
    And Dick the shepherd blows his nail,
And Tom bears logs into the hall,
    And milk comes frozen home in pail,
When blood is nipp’d and ways be foul,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,
                Tu-whit;
Tu-who, a merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

When all aloud the wind doth blow,
    And coughing drowns the parson’s saw,
And birds sit brooding in the snow,
    And Marion’s nose looks red and raw,
When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,
                Tu-whit;
Tu-who, a merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.


The next one is by Robert Frost.  I stumbled across it in a Jilly Cooper novel of all places and 
was struck by it.  I really don't know why -  all I know is that the last three lines make my heart 
swell!

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
Whose woods these are I think I know. His house is in the village, though; He will not see me stopping here To watch his woods fill up with snow. My little horse must think it queer To stop without a farmhouse near Between the woods and frozen lake The darkest evening of the year. He gives his harness bells a shake To ask if there is some mistake. The only other sound's the sweep Of easy wind and downy flake. The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep. 




Monday, 10 December 2012

Humbled


Something a little different for me today.  Along with some work colleagues, I visited a local women's refuge which provides support, shelter, care and assistance to women who are victims of domestic violence.  They had requested some assistance with making their premises suitably festive for their service users.  We had collected lots and lots of unwanted decorations, tinsel, trees, fairy lights and ornaments over the last couple of weeks, and went to work to "christmassify" (!) the rooms in question.  We managed to transform the rooms with lots of sparkle and fairy dust, and hopefully this will bring a little cheer to the women and children using the centre.  

We chatted to some of the staff and it was clear that they were really dedicated to and justifiably proud of their cause.  We were told that they had around 50 women who were currently receiving their assistance, along with around 100 children.  The centre had collected donations of toys, and these would be made available for the Mums to come to choose, wrap and which would then be delivered to them by the refuge workers on Christmas eve so that the children would not suspect a thing.  What a wonderful thing to do.  

Whilst I was there I was intrigued to see some of the art work created by the service users.   They had a wonderful 'wishing tree' made simply from wire and wrapped in knitting yarn, hung with messages and wishes.  You will appreciate that I didn't take any photographs but there were some very poignant messages I can assure you and they touched me greatly.  

The refuge expects to be at it's busiest over the coming weeks as the stresses of the festive period take their toll.  

We walked away from the centre today with the good wishes and thanks of the refuge staff  ringing in our ears.   I felt a little bit fake really.  We had spent a pleasant four hours away from mundane desk jobs.  My colleagues and I had a giggle, wearing silly reindeer antlers and drinking coffee.  All we had done, really, was to hang up a few strands of tinsel and decorate a couple of trees but they were so grateful to us for doing it.  It isn't much to do in the grand scheme of things is it?  

We were very quiet on the drive back to the office; each of us, I think, considering what we had and what we could be thankful for.   


Sunday, 9 December 2012

Two Blocks of Five!

Yes -  It's just  ten working days of the year left to go. Or 2 x 5 days. Come on.... we can do this guys!

**Runs up and down stairs with a towel round neck in a Rocky Balboa style and shadow boxes the Johnny Rotten poster hung outside the bathroom**

**Collapses in a heap gasping for breath**

Ahem.

So.  It's Sunday evening yet again.  It's going to be even MORE difficult to get up tomorrow morning because Lovely Man has got a whole four days off - and I have no holiday left.  Sniff.  The plus side is though that he won't be having to go to work when I'm going to bed. Yay!    He's also going to tackle decorating the lounge.  We've been doing a lot of preparation today.  I hate that bit and would quite happily slapdash over it and hope for the best, but Man won't allow it and has/will be stripped/stripping and sanded back everything to within an inch of its life.  Preparation is they key of course. *scuffs feet childishly* Still bliddy boring though!  

I'm keeping everything crossed that we will get our living room finished in time for C-mas so we can both have a lovely chill out without having to look at bare walls and scuffed paintwork.  I have every faith!

I found these pics on the t'interweb today.  They came up in my Facebook feed and made me chuckle so I thought I'd share them with you.



This first one may be quite topical if the weather forecast in the weekend papers was to be believed that a Siberian weather front is heading our way, equipped with arctic temperatures of epic proportions, snow inches deep and icy blast winds.  This does, however, seem at odds with the forecast on the telly - which isn't at all bad for this week!  Who knows what Momma Nature has up her sleeve.  I don't mind snow - but if its going to happen then I don't want any pussy footing around with a couple of centimetres here and a bit of frost there.   I want drifts up the front door which will prevent egress for at least a week!

The second sums up my feeling about the forthcoming period.



Hee heee.  

Hope your weekend was cosy and jolly and that you're all beginning to fa -la -effin' - la your heads off!!

Much love!
xx