Life lately…

Last time I posted I noted how it had been ‘ages’ since my last post.  Well that was 7 months ago.  7 months have passed since I last found time to post, and as I sit now watching Christmas TV reflecting on the past year  realise what a crazy 7 months those have been; it’s no surprise I’ve not been able to post.

I’ve not really been up to much fun to be honest.  I was looking through my photos from this year earlier, and there really weren’t that many.  I have discovered a new talent in making home made marshmallows, and now the kitchen is nearly done I have a dedicated baking cupboard, and I now have red hair, but aside from that it’s been pretty work heavy.

My new job is very demanding and takes up a lot of energy, on top of that I was writing my dissertation for my MBA, which pretty much meant every evening and weekend was spent working on that, going to the library, reading, writing, drawing diagrams, crying, sending desperate texts of ‘I can’t do this’ to my friend, drinking Starbucks and neglecting nearly every other part of my life that wasn’t work.  That finished in October, but a week before it was due in I got really sick with some sort of kidney infection meaning I spent close to 5 days in bed.  I managed to submit, but it wasn’t quite the ceremonious event I thought it would be.

MBA ended, but my health deteriorated.  I was pretty exhausted, and after going back to the doctors as I still didn’t feel right she discovered by BP was something ludicrious like 200/130, so I ended up having many tests, including wearing a 12 hour BP monitor, and had to be referred to a cardiologist.  That took me to December and involved many other tests, including having to collect all my urine for 24 hours.  I am now eagerly awaiting the results to find out my fate….most likely being on BP medication for the rest of my life, which I’m not best pleased about, but it’s better than the alternative!

Thus we arrive at Christmas, and I am wiped out.  If you remember my posts from last year you will recall that I love Christmas, the food, the drinks, the atmosphere, buying and wrapping gifts, decorating the tree, singing carols etc..  Well this year was no exception, and with MBA out of the way, and a nice email confirming I’d passed having winged its way to me, I could finally relax.

So this brings me to today.  Another fantastic Christmas, and a week left before I have to return to work = relaxation, vegging in front of the TV, eating chocolate and resting.

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    Halloween costume

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    sitting on Father Christmas’ knee telling him what I want for Christmas

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    Red hair, much shorter

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    60s make up and hair for first Christmas celebration of the year

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    Birthday cake I made for my niece’s first birthday

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    medical tests

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    Halloween

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    Passing my MBA

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    Kitchen finally finished

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    Maple and honey glazed Ham for Christmas Day evening buffet

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    home made marshmallows

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    hazlenut truffles

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It’s still Christmas right???

So, it’s sort of over.  Well the big day is over anyway.  I always feel an element of sadness in the days after Christmas.  I get so excited, spend increasing amounts of time from, let’s face it the start of September once my birthday is over planning, preparing and thinking about it.  This year,  I felt very Christmassy around mid-November, then it seemed to take ages for December, and then suddenly it was here!  All of that, for one day!  But what a day it was!!  We hosted Christmas for the first time this year, and by the evening there were ten of us in our living room around the tree, opening presents, playing games, drinking, eating and generally getting our Christmas on.

Apart from the good company and festivities there were three things that made this Christmas truly awesome…the food, the presents and having my niece here for her first Christmas.

Food

Usually at my parents, my mum doesn’t like us to snack before dinner.  I guess I can understand that.  You spend Christmas morning in the kitchen and so want everyone to be hungry for and enjoy the meal you serve.  I am the opposite, I want people to be so full they need to loosen their belts.  So in addition to the traditional turkey meal, we provided an array of goodies for people to munch on, a lot of which I spent Christmas eve making (before heading out for drinks).  For the evening, we boiled a ham, and served a selection of cheeses, pates, breads and bits….I do love cheese, and the ham was awesome.  I am still feeling the after effects of so much food!

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I would have taken photos of the evening buffet with cheeses etc… except by then the three bottles of fizz we’d got through was kicking in and my plans for taking everlasting memories by way of photos went out the window!

Speaking of tables, I was quite impressed with how our table looked after I’d set it.  I’d bought everyone a little present from my niece – a little plaque with a quote on – ‘Home is where your mum is’ or ‘Dad’s carry photos where their money used to be’ and ‘Grandads are just antique little boys’! I put them on everyone’s plate so they had them over dinner!

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My niece’s first Christmas!

Perhaps told best by photos – let’s just say by the end of the day, she was an expert in unwrapping and had been more spoiled than anyone!

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And finally…the presents!

What an incredibly good girl I must have been in 2013 to get the amazing gifts I got….some I don’t have photos of yet but will post when I’ve taken.  A Vivienne Westwood bass orb necklace, four pairs of shoes, a pair of boots, a superdry top, make up, loads of baking stuff, books, chocolates, including an awesome gingerbread house and mini chocolate basket made by my sis!

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It’s Christmas Eve Eve!!!

I can’t remember exactly why, but ever since we were kids my sister and I have called the day before Christmas Eve, Christmas Eve Eve!  Probably because we both love Christmas.  Only two days to go and I’m so excited I can barely sleep.  There are presents everywhere, I’ve done the pre-Christmas house clean food shop.  Today I need to iron (boo); a sad necessity if I want to wear something nice on the big day!  I also stupidly forgot to buy vanilla essence yesterday at Sainsburys, so, like the song says, it’s on with the boots back out in the snow (well rain)….BF keeps asking why don’t I drive….he’s clearly never been to the supermarket a few days before Christmas before!!!

But prior to that I wanted to post a quick picture of my breakfast.  It’s the first time in about 7 months I’ve made myself on of these; and I’d forgotten how good they were.  Egg toasties with oregano ketchup and a cup of Typhoo!!  Yum all the way!

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Christmas Fizz

Last night we hosted the first of our Christmas events; Christmas fizz.  Four of our friends came over and we all drank some of the finest drinks known to mankind (as Withnail would proclaim).  The dress code was come in an outfit that you feel reflects the inner you.  There was a range of outfits, all equally as glam; from bow-ties to LBDs.  I embraced my inner eccentricity and dressed as a 1920s flapper in a gorgeous sequin and fringe dress.

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As I’ve mentioned before, one rule I always live by is that no one should sit in my house feeling hungry or thirsty. So with a bottle of Etienne Dumont and a bottle of Piper Heidsieck in the fridge I set about making some snacks.  Some I did buy – some samosas and bhajis from the supermarket, but the rest I made.

Strawberries covered in melted dairy milk, puff pastry tart with caramelised onion chutney, pesto and tomato and oregano sauce:

buffet1 and home made mince pies – not sure if it worked that well as I’d not tried it before; and I personally don’t like mince pies so couldn’t taste; but I added a bit of Jack Daniels to the mincemeat.  I actually find mince pies had to make – they always seem to fall apart during the baking process.  However, icing sugar can hide a multitude of sins; and at Christmas, I just say the dusting of sugar is to create a snow effect….now that’s festive.buffet2 Finally, my favourite piece; these cute little strawberry snowmen.  Two of my favourite things, strawberries and icing….I used a cream cheese icing as it’s stiffer than butter icing, and added more vanilla essence than the recipe prescribed.  It tasted like ice cream!IMG_1022With Christmas day just two days away, I’ve got quite a bit of baking to do.  I’m not sure what I’ll be making – a chocolate torte is definitely on the list, and I definitely want to make some more santas.  I’m contemplating cup cakes too….

I may walk into the village tomorrow to pick up some ingredients.  It’s quite cold out, but that just means I get to wear my vintage fur hat! Yay for Christmas!

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It’s Christmas…even my cat has gone glam!

It’s Christmas, and my house is filled with decorations, presents and everything looks glam and sparkly!  I’ve been bakings lots, practicing for Christmas day, for this year we are hosting everyone at ours.  I’ve perfected my pretzles and taught myself torte!  Pictures will post – sadly this time they got eaten before photos could be taken. In the meantime, I wanted to share some pictures of Christmas.  And yes….they are shoe decorations….like I said, glitz and glam!

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Smells like Christmas…

I absolutely love Christmas – the lights, the smells, the sounds, the excitement – I swear even the air smells of Christmas.  My sister and I often can be found sniffing tinsel at this time of the year – not in a weird way, if that’s possible.  But it reminds us of when we were kids and my gran used to put tinsel on her tree.  Of course we’re way too 21st century cosmopolitan and put beads rather than tinsel on our trees, but nothing beats the memories of a good old fashioned 1984 Christmas!!

While I wait for Christmas to come, I’m also waiting for these little deers 😉 to arrive so I can start making Christmas cupcakes:
Sadly I’ve been ill for the past few weeks with Flu, and haven’t baked anything, or done, well anything really; aside from online shopping and watching lame made for TV movies on Xmas 24!!  At least I’ve done loads of my shopping already; and even bought myself a few little treats – things that are pink, sparkly or glam!!