Thursday, December 19, 2013

I need a beautiful hat!

Our Italian in-laws will be here soon: Younger Son and Nuora have gone to Stansted to collect them. And I haven't bought a hat, beautiful or otherwise, yet.

They're staying in my cousin's cottage but, obviously, we'll be seeing a bit of them including on Christmas Day. Currently the closest I can get to anything like conversation in Italian is 'O comprato del vino ed un bel capello.' (Excuse the spelling; it's a course on cd that we borrowed from the library and don't have the books to go with it.) If I want to ask where Venezia Street is or if the shops are open, or exclaim at the cost of petrol, I can do but that won't make a very satisfactory dialogue. Unless we can get on to journeying and how far it is from here to there and whether they had to go to the right or the left and if their car is Italian or English. Yes, you're right: that sounds as thrilling as some conversations I've endured.

So I shall have to go and buy a beautiful hat and some wine. (I wonder if I could pretend I bought the one I was given ...)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Christmas fever has set in

I just clicked on the Debenhams website - not to buy anything but to advise on the choice of a gift for someone else - and a flashing sign came up saying, '10% off today!'

I must buy. I must buy. (You don't want anything in Debenhams.) I must buy. 10% off. I must buy. (Resist. Resist.)

My latest brilliant idea

We've lived in this house 26 years and in all that time we've had 12 steps leading up from the front gate to our path. And every time I go down in the dark I count the steps. And every time I get to step 11 and stop ... and tentatively feel for the ground at the bottom.

It's as if I distrust my counting or fear that, overnight, someone will have stolen the bottom step or, worse, added an extra one. 

The fact that we don't have a light on the steps doesn't help. We kept talking about putting one in but ...

Anyway now I've had a brilliant idea. Nuora's parents are visiting over Christmas and though they're not staying with us they will be coming to our house on occasions and, no doubt, sometimes leaving in the dark. So my brilliant idea is that we collect glass jars and put candles in them to light up the steps. Pretty good huh?

Unless it rains. 

And, of course, someone has to go out first and light the candles. I nominate Younger Son for that. 

My son the diving instructor

Younger Son passed his exams and is now a fully qualified diving instructor (quite fortunate as he's about to set up a project that will involve teaching people to dive). He was very stressed about the weekend in spite of all our assurances that he'd be fine so there's huge relief all around.

He took Husband diving when we visited them in Ibiza a couple of years ago and he was a very good instructor then so we knew he'd do well but this morning he did have to dive in 20 m of very cold water in a quarry in the middle of England and that must have been a bit unpleasant. 

Anyway now he's home and he's given up his job so he can clear the dining room of all his junk (he was working from home and spread himself across the table and floor)! Hip hip hooray!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Orange? Really?

Walking along a lane in Devon this week I was surprised when a car reversed up the lane and stopped next to me. The driver wound down his window and said, 'Oh, I'm sorry: I saw your orange hair and thought you were someone else.'

There's not much a girl can say to that.

* * * * * * * * *
Going to get organised this weekend (ha ha ha) but I'm feeling a bit run down and under the weather (getting my excuses in early).

Younger Son is in Rugby (I think) sitting or rather swimming his dive instructor exams; Nuora is working flat out at the restaurant; Husband is going to check their house for wet patches after he removed the chimney; and I'm going to clean ready for the Christmas tree and decorations. The good thing about putting up the decorations is that it is really hard to clean around them so you can't do much after that ...

Monday, December 09, 2013

What the devil?

 Even by my standards my handbag was unusually messy.
But you'd still think I'd know how I came to acquire a pen with The Devil's Testicles written on the side.

Full of Christmas spirit

One of the perks of working at Linden is that I get to decorate the Christmas tree! Some people like the minimalist approach; I'm of the more the merrier persuasion.

However, it also means scrambling through the undergrowth to find big stones to put in the bucket as we seem to have lost our tree stand.

And we've had out first Merry Messiahmas card in work. In fact it's the first Messiahmas card I've ever seen.

I am wearing my Ho Ho Ho jumper, listening to Christmas music, watching seasonal films ... but, as I posted on Facebook today, that old black dog is whimpering to be let in and it's a struggle to resist. But put up a fight I will!

Helped by filling - belatedly - the drawers in my/our advent calendar with chocolates while eating all the Malteaser ones.

* * * * * * * *
I made my Christmas cake some time ago but decided to make another small one for someone else so searched for a last minute cake recipe. The one I opted for needed stout so I trotted off to the off-licence and asked for the cheapest stout. Somehow I managed to end up buying probably the most expensive  but the man told me it was worth it as it was very chocolatey. 'In fact,' he said, 'it's like drinking melted milk chocolate.'

I would be willing to bet 5p that, were I to taste it, I would not think that. (Husband was compelled to finish the bottle and he confirmed it did taste like chocolate and was very nice.) But I still bet I wouldn't like it.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Just what I've always wanted

I recently received a Lakeland catalogue and yesterday afternoon I settled down to look at it very excited at the prospect of all those pans and baking essentials - yes, I know that's sad but the way I look at it some people get excited by power tools, shoes or handbags; for me, it's saucepans every time.

Imagine then my disappointment when I discover it's 100 pages of cleaning and storage stuff! Seriously? There are tools in it to clean things I didn't even know you were supposed to clean. My favourite item though - and one that will be top of my Christmas wish list this year - stay dry sleeve protectors. It was close between that and the water-stop gloves but the elegance of the former, not to mention the personal recommendation of Kelly from Marketing, swung it for me.
P.S. To my children, if you think it might be fun to buy these for mum, be warned: I WILL disinherit you.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Not forgetting ...

My rock and the person I always want to come home to. Husband had a low key birthday yesterday because of everything else that was going on. It's his generosity of spirit that allows me to do the things that I do and I love him to bits.

Which, incidentally, is nearly what became of his birthday cheesecake when it fell out of the fridge.

It's amazing what a bit of cream and fruit can hide.

Finally getting to sit down and enjoy his cake after a long day!

What a weekend!

Okay, so I made it through to December, yay! A little rest this week I think and then I can concentrate on the run-up to Christmas in earnest.

Having finished NaNoWriMo a few days early I was able to put writing aside and think about this last weekend. On Saturday we went to Cardiff for the Wales Australia rugby game. When Wales scored in the first few minutes our hopes were raised but from then on it was more or less downhill. the final score (26-30) was quite flattering to Wales, though it grieves me to write that.

But it was great as always to be in the Millennium Stadium - and as we were there and we weren't going to be having any dinner as such we had to have the traditional pie and a pint - or bottle of water in my case.
Walking back to the car after I did lots of oohing and aahing at the pretty Christmas lights. The capital's city centre puts Swansea's to shame. 

* * * * * * * * *
Sunday and A Taste of Italy. Not a huge number of people but everyone seemed to enjoy it, especially the sampling.
Chef and his lovely assistant. 

Doughballs deep fried, plain or with olives.

As it was the first Sunday in the month there was also a Zac's Tribal gathering, with a celebration of Sean's 25 years in ministry. As I couldn't be there I sent a cake.
Who'd have thought 'congratulations' was such a long word? I kept thinking I must have put in an extra 'a' because it looked as though it were going to run over the edge of the cake. As it was I had to  improvise and add a star so that it looked as though the writing were deliberately off-centre ...