Sunday, December 28, 2008

It's All Over

Well. here we are December 28th and Christmas is but a memory. All that food preparation and cooking, present buying, tree decorating, card writing etc and it's all gone in a flash. Why do we do it?Because we like it! Fortunately for Plum and I, we didn't have to do the entertaining this year as we usually do because we were invited out by Jay and Fraser and Terry and Yvonne. That was really appreciated because we both had the 'flu/ cold that is going around, Plum worse than me (as I write this she is coughing, shame).
Christmas Eve we went to Jay's as it was Izzie's first Christmas. She had so many presents they spilled out from the spare room across the landing to the stairs. it took J & F 4 hours to unwrap them all!! One of the pressies we gave her was a Christmas quilt, hand made by her great aunt Plum. (See picture) so it would always be a memory of her first Christmas as it has a label on the back which is a picture of us all dressed in red.
Christmas Day dawned and after opening a mountain of presents for both us and Molly, she was more keen on tearing the wrapping than the actual pressies, we went off to Terry and Yvonne's for a lovely home cooked Christmas lunch, played a game of Articulate (boys v girls, boys won, naturally) and then made our merry way home again.
Boxing Day we were too sick to do anything but start our new 1000 piece jigsaw called Dad's Potting shed which Sarah kindly bought us which, when it is finished will take pride of place on the wall of our shed.
Yesterday, feeling better, I planned to go down the plot to pick some leeks. However, when I got into Plum's car and put on the seat belt, the mechanism broke and I was trapped in the seat unable to escape! Eventually I managed to extricate myself after a good hour. Plum thought I was at the plot so no one looked for me. I have to get a new belt as soon as our garage re opens. (Plum says!!)
Today, we are off to Terry and Yvonne's again for lunch with Paul ,Vicki, Jay, Fraser and Izzy who we call number 9 as she is the ninth member of the family to sit down to meals now.
Molly has enjoyed her Christmas too especially the microchipped mouse that squeaks when it moves. She has tossed it up and down the stairs and we can hear her still playing into the early hours. She has also learned how to ting the tiny silver bell on the Christmas tree.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Village Green at Christmas

is alive and well... just over a week ago, we saw the Parish Council putting up a beautiful Christmas tree complete with lights on Terry and Yvonne's village green.
This week we all gathered round that Christmas tree for carols all equipped with lanterns lit and voices at the ready. How old fashioned I thought, but how very wonderful and what a way of slowing down for thought before Christmas and to be reassured that some traditions will never go away. Of course our candles burned so brightly, that we nearly set fire to the song sheet. Do Yvonne and I know how to have fun, or what?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Christmas Wish

A Merry Christmas to our friends Far and Near

from Bri, Plum and Molly xxx

Sunday, December 14, 2008

It's getting to look a lot like christmas

Fill My Stocking

with loving kindness, peace on earth, goodwill to all, helping hands and thoughtfulness, but it never is just that. It is gifts of the biggest kind, drinking, eating, merriment. Apart from the gift business, is there anything wrong with celebrating once a year - I don't think so, because somehow Christmas brings families together, and that is really the true messsage isn't it?

Strictly the Best

After next week, Saturdays nights won't be the same. The reason for this is that it is the final of the nation's favourite t.v. show, Strictly Come Dancing or, as it is known to us fans, 'Strictly'.
This show embodies all that is good about Saturday night t.v. in that it gives us everything we want from a show. It has glamour and glitz, with the wonderful Hollywood style costumes, drama from the judges criticisms and the celebrity and professionals reactions to their scoring, humour from the banter between Bruce and the judges, tension from the results of the phone-in vote and the subsequent dance off as well as world class star guests. This year, especially, has been more controversial than ever with the headline hitting departure of John Sergeant. (The photo of him dragging his partner across the dance floor will loom large in the history of the programme). The X-Factor may attract more viewers, but that is just a singing contest not a whole entertainment package. For once, the BBC has got the formula right and I for one, can't wait for next years competition when it will be nice to see it, to see it, nice.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Mulling We Will Go

'We will have mulled wine with wisdom, & buttered toast with story-telling & crack jokes & bottles from morning till night”.... the words may have been written by Herman Melville years ago, but the spirit of them still ring true, because when we think of mulled wine, we think of friends around a crackling fire on a snowy Christmas Eve, or carol singers enjoying the moment as the door opens and happy faces greet them with a mince pie or of hot roasted chestnuts in paper cones bought from a street seller. Or does mulled wine bring you other thoughts?

1/2 pint of good red wine
1 small glass whiskey, brandy or rum
6 fl oz lemondade
1 slice lemon
1 slice orange
1 clove
1/2 stick cinnamon
good pinch nutmeg
1 1/2 dessert spoons sugar.

1. Put everything except red wine and chosen spirit into saucepan
2. Heat until sugar has dissloved and simmer gently for 10 minutes
3. Add wine and spirit and reheat but not to boiling as it spoils the flavour serve as hot as possible into glasses. Don't forget a teaspoon added to the glass will prevent the it from shattering with the hot liquid.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Victory Over Rationing?

During the Second World War, rationing made everyone resourceful, there was no choice. It is about to happen again according to the newspapers with the BIG recession looming over us. I have decided to make an early start with it being Christmas. I always mean to be extra thoughtful, so I thought what if I pretend we are being rationed - how would I handle Christmas? Well, better than I thought - I have tried to make everyone a little something (this should scare my family something rotten) to go along with their real presents.It has taken longer than shopping, but I have had time to think about favourite things or personalities or just fun things. I do hope everyone will like wondering, 'what the hell is this for?', when the wrappers come off. As for decorations, I am still pondering over what to do with the dried orange slices, sticks of cinnamon and tartan ribbon I bought thinking these will be great when I get them home and, and er...... you can't win 'em all, so, just in case... Thank goodness I still have our ration books.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Who's in Control.

Let me ask you a question: Who has charge of the remote control in your house? I bet the answer isn't any female member of the family. Since their invention, the remote control has always been the province of the man of the house. Let's face it, men, we can't get along without it. We have to have it beside us at all times while watching the box, especially in this digital age of multiple channels. It gives us a sense of power to be able to flip nonchalantly between channels on a whim with no regard whatever for our partners and or kids who have been watching a programme for some time only to suddenly find that they can no longer follow the plot because we have decided to have a look at what is on the other channels.
What it is , is that we like to know what is on all of the channels all of the time in case we are missing anything good. The fact that we never actually SEE anything all the way through is not as important as the fact that we have TOTAL CONTROL over at least one aspect of family life... How on earth did we manage before this electronic marvel, when we would have had to get up off our behinds and change channels manually? We used to wait until our wives went to make a cup of tea and ask them to change it whilst they were passing! But now, that is all in the past! We are in control! We can watch what we want, when we want! We can...wait a minute! there's something interesting on BBC3.. no, hang on, ... is that a new film on 4? Did I just see Jordan take her kit off on ITV2?........

Must Try Harder

I have a confession to make. Nothing that would have the scribes of the gutter press beating a path to my door to expose to the Nation, though. No, my confession is simply that I don't do cold. The recent spell of cold weather has kept me and Plum firmly indoors. There is work to be done on the plot but I am afraid it will have to wait until the weather is more clement. I have had to brave the cold on occasion though, as we are overwintering our geraniums in our plastic greenhouses and the shed and they do need water from time to time.
I was reading Hazel's blog yesterday, and it appears that she has had a really good year. On the other hand, I must admit that Plum and I are disappointed with our results this year. Last year, apart from growing the veg, we also had to organise the plot with pathways and beds and compost bins etc but this year, only having to concentrate on growing, we have come somewhat unstuck. The peas and beans didn't really take off, and as for the tomatoes, they were the same as everyone elses - a disaster. The sweetcorn grew and ripened, however, because of lack of sunshine, it doesn't taste anywhere as sweet as the year before. We did have an abundance of courgettes and raspberries and the first crop of cos lettuce was fantastic as were the strawberries ( We are still enjoying the jam we made from them). Our brassicas have been a big disappointment apart from our January Kings which, although they are growing well, we have decided we don't like cabbage. The leeks, lambs lettuce and mazuna are doing well and so are the spinach and the parsnips.We haven't seen our neighbour Julie for some time, so when we do we will have to ask her how she fared this year.
We have a plan for next year - that is to grow fewer crops and to concentrate on making them as good as we can. To this end I am having a book for Christmas entitled The Vegetable Expert which was recommended to us by Julie. I will take this as my Bible and then my next end of year report won't have to read 'must try harder'

Thursday, December 4, 2008

New Books for Christmas

The new trend is now firmly set to buy a cook book for Christmas that has been written by, or for any celebrity going. Are these books any good or are they turkeys? This year sees Jamie Oliver with two up there in the charts but Delia is still outselling him with her How to Cheat. Nigella is selling her old recipes under a new title (Nigella Christmas) and even Delia has jumped on the recession bandwagon with Frugal Food. But I am looking for something a little different so I have asked for a nostalgic look at cooking with Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer by Jane Brocket and some fun with Maw Broon's Cookbook.