Tag: Christmas

Christmas 2020

I have to say, I really enjoyed Christmas Day. Not only was I spoiled completely by M, but it was a nice easy day, with no stress at all. Even making Christmas dinner went off without any problems, and everything was ready when I aimed for it to be, and needless to say, it was rather delicious.

As mentioned, I was spoiled by M with a Yamaha Electronic Baby Grand. Not only is it a Baby Grand, but it has hundreds of different “voices” (instruments), and it can teach you how to play. I learned by ear when I was a kid, but due to my father being an ass hole I was never able to take it further. My uncle taught me stuff and let me play on his piano. Two of my uncles are pipe organ tuners and restorers. Both of them told my father (their brother) that he should encourage me as I had a talent and that one of them would get a piano for me, but the ass hole said not and that was that. M to the rescue all these years later and I am giving it my best shot. I admit, when I opened it I was shocked and rather intimidated as I knew that I had not played since I was about 14/15, and being 51, that’s a long time, almost biblical. My wrists are aching a little along with my fingers from all the stretching, but at least I am giving it my all. I feel 2021 is going to be a full packed year of piano, crochet and reading.

M bought me lots of books too including The Colour Purple, Malcolm X autobiography, James Baldwins Notes of a Native Son to name a few. I also got a beautiful William Morris tea set, William Morris notebook, oh, also a Vogue Knitting Colour Work Paper book that will enable me to design and plan some Fair Isle projects. I received so much more and will keep the details for another post as and when I get to them. There were so many gifts for each other we all, including the dogs had stockings full of gifts that we kept until Boxing Day, which we have decided will be a tradition from now on.

Christmas Wreath – Complete

I bought the letter off a seller on Etsy and never received them, being told they must be “lost in the post”. I question this and it turned out he had screwed up my address, but would not resend them, blaming Etsy on it. I had to order a second set in order to complete the project. It took him 5 days to actually put it in the post. Not happy as those letters cost me £10 in the end. Now I have them I will be complaining to Etsy about this as I think it was BS I was being fed. Anyway, I am very happy with the finished item.

Christmas Wreath

I have never bothered knitting much for Christmas, however, this year I decided to pull out all the stops and make a Christmas Wreath. I still have to finish it with a “Merry Christmas” on it, but alas I cannot find red felt letters anywhere for love nor money, which means I may have to make them, or find a cake topper that will fit.

Christmas 2019

Christmas day was a nice quiet and astonishingly warm day, as can be seen with me in a tee shirt. We took the dogs out for a walk around the village Christmas morning, and as I was dressed as Santa being carried by an elf with the dogs wearing Christmas hats I had a lot of cars going passed beeping their horns and people waving, and lots of smiles on peoples faces.

It was quite a nice easy day, but I confess we ate far too much, but I guess most people do. The girls as always enjoyed the day, and once they opened one of their presents Mazikeen decided it was open season and kept helping herself to presents, she even passed ones over to Harper to open, who was very willing.

Each year I say that I will get a smaller turkey as it is only M, me and the girls, so we really do not need something that will feed 20 people, but when it comes to it, I just cannot help it and a big one is always bought.

We did our annual charity run, so went to the supermarket and bought a trolly full of food, personals and sweets (for the kids) and took them to the homeless shelter The Whitechapel Centre in Liverpool. I know that lots of people don’t realise that there are families that are homeless and that includes kids, so we bought 30 big tubes of sweets for them in the hope that they have something to enjoy. M sponsored a few Christmas boxes for Shelter which includes a bed for the night, Christmas dinner, warm clothes, personals (toiletries) and more. He also sponsored a dog for me, funny enough also called Harper. He lives at the Dogs Trust shelter in Liverpool, so we are going to visit him in the new year which will be nice.

All in all, it was a lovely Christmas. I hope you all had a nice day too.

Mince Pies

With a twist…

I do love a good mince pie, and since Christmas is on its way, I decided to start eating them this month, and today I made my own version.

Now, I know that my American readers, and, thinking on, most readers that are not it the UK may not know what the hell a mince pie is. They go by other names of Christmas Pie, Shrid Pie and Mutton Pie, and date back to Tudor times. Although we now use sweet mince and not savory fillings. Sweet mince was also a favourite of the Tudors.

Mincemeat is a sweet filling made from fruit, spices and sugars and has many veriations, but all have the same base with currents and sultanas. My version has a lemon & rose twist to it.

Ingredients

  • 150g Currants
  • 100g Sultanas
  • 100g Chopped nuts (I used salted caramalised pican, almonds, cashew, hazelnuts, macadamia)
  • 150g Golden Caster Sugar
  • 100g Unsalted butter
  • ½ tsp Ground clove
  • 1 tsp Ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp Ground cinnamon
  • Zest of 1 Lemon
  • Zest of 1 Orange
  • 60ml Lemon Juice
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • ½ tsp Rosewater
  • 500g Short Crust Pastry
  • Lemon Curd
  • 1 egg, beaten

Method

  1. Combine the currants, sultanas, chopped nuts, citrus zests, lemon juice, spices and salt.
  2. Heat butter butter together with sugar in a large saucepan. When butter starts to bubble stir in fruit mixture.
  3. Remove pan from heat. When cool add rosewater.
  4. Roll pastry out to about 2mm thick, cut discs and fit into muffin or small tart tins. Cut discs for the tops too, or have fun and cut stars for the tops.
  5. Place a few spoons of the filling into the pie cases and add a blob of lemon curd on top of the mixture, then add the pastry lid/star. You can use the whisked egg to bond the lid if you are not crimping the edges.
  6. Brush with a bit of egg/eggwash.
  7. I sprinkled the tops with some lavendar sugar that I had mad with culinary lavendar that I keep in a sealed jar.
  8. If using disc lids cut a few little holes to allow the steam to escape.
  9. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes at 200°C / fan 190°C / Gas mark 5 (adjust times for your oven) or until the pastry has turned golden brown.
  10. Allow to cool slightly and dust with icing sugar before serving.
  11. I like to serve with a dollop of extra thick double cream.

The three on the left of the photo with the slashes in are puff pastry ones I made at the same time. For this I cut out a disc of puff pastry, added the filling to the centre, brushed the edges with egg and added a puff pastry top and pressed it down, washed with egg, slashed the top and baked at the same time, but I did not add the lemon curd to these.

I hope you enjoy this recipe if you make it. But be warned, you may put on weight if consuming too many of these delicious mince pies.

Christmas Eve

So, here we are, and what a busy day.

I decided to make Christmas tree biscuits as well as my usual homemade stuffing, and most of my trifle with only the cream to whip tomorrow.

My prep is done and the table is set, and M and I are relaxing in front of the TV drinking tea. All the lights are twinkling about the house, over 1000 in the lounge, 240 in the bedroom, hundreds in the kitchen, and the spiral staircase is lit up with 400 of them. Very cosy indeed.

One of the presents I got for M was a signed photo of Linda Carter dressed as Wonder Woman. M loves both the new and old Wonder Woman, but his heart lies with Linda Carter. I was supposed to get a frame for it, but could not find one I liked and I could not get the right size either, so decided that I would give him it tonight. Needless to say, he loved it.

I have been chatting to my friends in Australia who are 11 hours ahead of us, so are already enjoying Christmas Day, and sending photos of their day so far, although they are having the day with 32c heat, we are -2c. Not too sure which I would prefer, I think the cold, as it is more Christmasy, although I would prefer the Christmas of that portrayed by Charles Dickens, lots of snow, and people wishing good health to all. Maybe it is the romantic in me that laments Christmas of the past.

So, with that I will wish you one and all, a Very Merry Christmas.

The End is Nigh…

Christmas was nice, but, as we all know, there was something missing, that being our beloved dog Lilu.  Christmas morning was always full of fun and excitement with her and Harper opening their presents.  Indeed Mazikeen did join in, but it was not the same, and I know over time Maz will replace the fun on Christmas day.  M and I had bought each other far too many presents, about 40 each.  Now don’t get me wrong, we went for volume rather than cost, so most things were cheap trinkets, for example, I had got M 4 different packs of Top Trump cards, tapestry needles and other little things, and he did the same for me.  We decided not to bother with a “big” present as neither of us needed or wanted anything, although I will confide in you my dear reader, I did break the rules and bought M a GoPro action camera with all the bits and bobs that go with it.  It was on offer, so I thought why not.  As it was my birthday a few days before Christmas I know that he had spent a lot of money on me, so I decided, what the hell, rules are to be broken.  We had three sessions of sitting down opening presents as to do it in one go would have been vulgar (I say this with tongue in cheek).

Most Christmas’s we start the day with a glass of champagne and orange juice, but this year we decided that we wanted to have clear heads.  Needless to say, we ate far too much but did not really drink, we had a bottle of wine with dinner, then sat in the lounge far too stuffed to even think about consuming more, but towards the end of the day, we did manage to have the obligatory turkey sandwich.

Boxing day we took the dogs out for walks and pottered about, watched a film and read books.  Wednesday we decided since the weather was dreadful we would have a movie day.  It was torrential rain outside and the temperature was 1c, so why it was coming down as rain was beyond me as a lot of the country was getting snow again.  I know I go on about the lack of snow, but it really does annoy me, it’s down to the microclimate we live in and that we live on the coast.

I decided to make my yearly glazed ham.  This year I boiled the 2kg join in water for 10 minutes, poured the water off and filled the pan with orange juice an onion cut in half with a clove in each, four bay leaves and a touch of pepper and simmered it for three hours.  When the time was up I then removed the skin/rind and made diamond patterns in the fats, put a clove on each diamond and then drizzled it with my glaze that consisted of honey, wholegrain mustard, juice of an orange and the zest, pepper and orange marmalade, then baked it for 40 minutes.  It was delicious, and I served it with pickled red cabbage and apple sauce.

Today I have made another trifle and am currently roasting a huge joint of beef, the smell is divine and I cannot wait to eat with some roast potatoes and veg.

I finally managed to finish one of the many books I am reading, Captain Scott by Ranulph Fiennes, it was quite an interesting history of Scott’s last expedition to the South Pole, and I found it quite sad to read the extent of suffering and the conditions of his and his colleague’s deaths.  Although I knew of the story, and who doesn’t, but Ranulph Fiennes wrote in detail of all the backstabbing and character assassinations other authors had done in the past, one particular author Roland Huntford, had made lots of rubbish up and was taken to court by Scott’s son, needless to say Scott’s son won, but the damage it had done to Scotts reputation was quite alarming, and this so called text by Huntford was taken as gospel, only in later years has it been acknowleged that the man knew nothing and his life, like his book, was lies, even his name was not his real name.  It says a lot about a person who assassinates someone’s reputation in order to give themselves a so-called good name.

Christmas is now over and the New Year heading towards us at speed, tomorrow, the last day of 2017.  We have taken down all the Christmas decorations, apart from the tree that is, which may go tomorrow.  I will be glad to get the house back to normal if I am being totally honest.  I love all the decor we have during the period, but once boxing day is over, I am ready to box it all up again until the next December.

I have decided to make a few New Years Resolutions, and one of them is not to buy any more books.  Our house is like a library and we have quite literally thousands of books, and hundreds that I have not got round to reading, so it seems silly buying more when there are so many queued up waiting for me.  I have made a few other decisions along with a diet as I need to lose weight, I have just weighed myself and am 14 Stone 8 Pounds, so have quite a bit of weight to get rid of.  I am going to publish it on my site, and hopefully, this will spur me on to shed it.  I am not built for speed, so will never be skinny, but I do not intend to be that way.  I have Scandinavian ancestry, basically, I am from Viking stock, which explains why I am not tall, being 171cm which is the typical height of a Viking man, I have the same build as the average Viking too, not built for speed, but for hard work, I have blond hair and red in my beard, oh yes, I have a beard and have had since I was 21, I am 48 now, which is a typical trait of a Viking.  Also in common with Vikings, I have Osteoarthritis, am a bit of a fighter, very argumentative and have a temper that goes from zero to explosion in an instant.  Yes, I do sound like a delight!  Anyway, weight loss is on the cards for the new year.

This evening I am going to attempt to finish this bloody sweater.  It feels like it has taken me forever to make, but there has been a lot of changes at home as posted, but I really really want and need to finish it, after all, there are so many projects I have my eyes on.

In the new year, I aim to read 24 books.  One year I managed to read over 50, but lately, I seem to purchase huge tomes that have thousands of pages, so watch this space.  This year I have only managed to read 19 books which is poor.  When I was in my late teen’s early twenties I could read a novel in a day.  I would get my book, lie on the end of my bed, with the book on the floor and me hanging over the edge, and I would not move until I finished it.  These days life is too busy to get the chance to do such things, but I am not complaining.

My final decision is to spend less, save more!  I know a lot of people have this as a resolution, but I have everything, and I really mean everything I want and need, so there is no excuse for spend spend spend!  Unlike the usually broken resolution of joining the gym and then giving up within a month, these are things I really want to do.  I have them on my iPhone, so no escaping it.

In case you were wondering the photo is one I took a few years ago whilst visiting the Brontë Parsonage in Haworth.  I have visited it many times, and spend many many hours on the moors.  A beautiful part of the world.

All that is left to do is say farewell to 2017.

Scarlet, and other stories…

Ok, well, if I am honest, Scarlet will not be featuring in this post, I don’t know her.

Tuesday’s Child… Busy week again this week.  On Tuesday I had to go to the hospital again for my heart scan.  So for all those who think I do not have a heart, it turns out I do have one.  The lady who did the scan said that recorded the extra and missed beats, and that the speed of it is at the upper level of fast and she would add all that to her report for my cardiologist.  I am there again on Monday to get another 24-hour monitor fitted, then again on Tuesday to have it removed and downloaded.  One thing I like about this hospital is it is efficient and all the appointments are on time every time and the fact that it is a specialist hospital dealing with hearts and chest only.  Unless there is a major problem, I do not think I will know much this year.

Road to Your Soul…  Wednesday I went out with my friend E.  I first met her when I started working for her when I was in my mid 20’s, now in my late 40’s we are still friends and have a great laugh with each other.  We went to one of our favourite restaurants which is situated about 6 miles away.  We started with large Tanqueray gins.  Starters ordered, and we moved on to a rather fine Italian Rioja, which was delicious, especially with the queen scallops and black pudding stuffed pigs cheeks. Main courses, E had a Christmas Turkey roast dinner as she will be in Mexico for Christmas, so will not have a traditional dinner.  I had tender liver in a red wine sauce with creamed potato and carrot and turnip.  Another gin at this point arrived as we had finished the wine.  Desert for me was cinder toffee Eton mess which needless to say was amazing, E had coconut rum and raisin, not my idea of a desert but she enjoyed it.  Next was a couple of amarettos and a cheese board, followed by more amaretto.  We paid the bill and moved to the bar, and E started messing about with the reindeers on display, madness ensued and we had a laugh.  More gin, this time Hendricks then I went onto the Jack Daniels.  After several, we decided to call it a night and got our taxi cabs home.

Only One Reason…  Amazon finally sorted themselves out, apologies quite a lot and added a few free months to my account.  They spoke to the transport team and started an investigation as to why so many of my deliveries are lost or majorly delayed.  I received all the refunds that I should have had and an assurance that it would never happen again.  The latter promise I have taken with a pinch of salt as I know they will screw up again, but I really hope that they don’t as I could not deal with all the problems again.  Tomorrow will tell as I have three things coming to the house.

Dream Now…  Finally got my 7mm circular I can now finish making my sweater.  I have sewn the shoulders together and picked up a load of stitches so I can now do the large ribbed turtleneck.  I was going to do some tonight but decided to do it tomorrow as I want the light and to get it right from the start.  I had to pick up a collection of stitches that were divisible by 6 + 2, for example, 62 stitches.  If I get an early start I should finish it by the end of the day, and a big YAY to me if I do.  After sewing the shoulders together I opped it over my head and M said that it looked really nice and expensive too, which is great news.  Once I have finished it I will post some photos of it.

Pieces of Our Hearts…  All the presents are wrapped and under the tree, all the essential none perishable items have been bought and are in the larder awaiting the big day.  Mazikeen is a little too interested in the presents under the tree, so much so that she stole one and ripped it open, one of mine to be exact, however, M got to it fast enough that I did not see what it was, but it was a lovely box it was in, whatever it is.  Harper keeps looking at the stuff under the tree, and since there are about 60 items there is a lot to look at.  I know what she is doing, she is looking and sniffing to see if she can see something for her.  Her and Maz have a lot of things to open, but we have them upstairs out of the way, or they will end up stealing them.  Lilu loved Christmas and on the big day she knew it was her time to open lots of presents (we spoiled her), she taught Harper how to open them over the years, both of them experts.  This will be the first Christmas in this house without her, so will be a little odd, but she will be with us in spirit.

Blind Lemon Sam…  The pup has started growing at an alarming rate.  I was a little worried as she just seemed to be the same size for over a month, but this week she has had a growth spurt, and when I came home yesterday evening she seems to have increased by 50% since last seeing her just 10 hours earlier.  I bought her an elf sweater for a small dog, that would have done a week ago, and it is quite tight on her, she looks adorable, but a little snug in it.  I wanted to get Harper one, but they did not have one big enough, shame really.  Mazikeen has only had a few accidents lately and seems to be getting better with her toileting. I have taught her more tricks which is funny to watch, and she now can get onto the sofa with no problem, although still cannot get on to our bed, it is really high.

The Pearl Fisherman…  Well that it so far for my update, fingers crossed I can get back to posting more and reading everyone’s blogs, which seems to have been put on hold, but I will catch up and read everyone’s posts over the past few months.  Just have to get next week out of the way, and I think normality will be resumed.

The Empty Dancehall…  In case anyone was wondering about the titles and the name of my post, it is from a group called All About Eve, the album is Scarlet, and other Stories and the bold are titles of songs.  I went to see All About Eve back in 1989 in Liverpool and totally loved them, and have spoken to Julianne Regan many times, she even recommended that I read ‘On Ther Periphery’ about David Sylvian, which I loved reading.

I’m Back…

Busy, yes, I think that sums up the past 3 weeks.  In fact, I could go one further and say bedlam, mmm, yes, I will stick with bedlam.

Obviously, the pup has been keeping us on our toes, but we have had so many appointments to fit in including puppy days at the vets, Mazikeen getting her final injections, then back for worming then again for kennel cough vaccination, then Harper with all hers.  Add to this cardiology for me, helping out a friend with her business, and life zooming along at a million miles an hour that is it in a nutshell.

Once Mazikeen could go our a week after her final vaccination we took her to the forest, which she loves.  Picking up sticks to carry with her, meeting other dogs and people that just want to fuss over the both of them, and who can blame them, they are both very cute.  We have not taken her to the beach just yet as the weather has not been very good to us.  The near freezing temperature is fine, we all have winter coats and the dogs have lovely matching ones, it’s just the constant rain and high winds that make it near impossible to be on the coastline.  Mazikeen’s training is coming on very well and the breeder was very surprised that she does so much on command at such a young age, as she is only 3 months old today.

I have managed to finally finish The Dynamite Room by Jason Hewitt, and given that this is his first novel, I thought it was well written, and kept me interested throughout, although the end was a little anticlimactic.  So with the end of one physical book, I have started another one, this time “Breakfast with the Borgias” by D.B.C. Pierre.  The title and cover intrigued me, also last November I was in the Borgia Apartments in the Vatican, so it felt like I had to read it.  I mentioned it being a physical book because I have so much I am reading on my Kindle including among others Captian Scott by Ranulph Fiennes and Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang, this is the second time I have read this.

I have not managed to do any more of my sweater, and I really need to finish it, I’m getting cold.

Christmas is close at hand and with that comes more running about and buying presents for M and the dogs.  I have done my cards and bought some presents for M, but more are on the way, and I have managed to get something for my niece but still looking for my nephew and my parents.  This year I have found it really hard to get things for M.  I have not been inspired by anything and being honest, I thought that the hateful black Friday may give me some ideas and bargains, but nothing at all, everything that seemed to be on sale were things that we already have.  There was one thing that I saw but was too late as they had run out of stock.  I am sure you can tell that I am not a fan of BF.  I think it is just a way for the shops to get us to buy crap that we do not need, but the fact remains that over 60% of goods on offer on that day can be bought cheaper either before or after the so-called deal day.

I had a little accident this week and managed to fracture my nose.  I have broken it many times and I am a tough cookie if I am honest, and I just get on with it.  I have smashed many parts of my body in through the years and ended up in the hospital far too many times.  This time I was cleaning the inside of the back window of the car, I have an X-Trail and it’s quite a big car, and with that quite a big hatch.  I stepped back and to the side after cleaning and pulled it down with a lot of force, but had not stood back enough and brought the corner of the door/hatch down on the bridge of my nose.  Pain and seeing stars was then followed by lots of blood pouring down my face, needless to say, I looked a bit of a mess.  I have a little bruising today, but nothing worth talking about.

That about sums it up.

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