Monthly Archives: December 2008

A New Year meme

I know I know, uninspired blogging but I am sat in the office with very little to do and so my brain has gone to sleep somewhat. I found this on Synchronization of Us (through Technorati)

1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before?

Had every nook and cranny scanned, tested and re-scanned. End result? Alarmingly clean bill of health given what I do to myself but no clue about mystery illness. On a more positive note: began the germ of something that might change my life.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions as January is such a miserable month that any changes should – in my opinion – be avoided. I do have some general thoughts about 2009 which, on the whole, involve me being kinder to myself.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Not quite the baby fest that was 2007 but a few friends had new additions: so 2008 welcomed Cara, Charlie and Jonathan.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No, thank goodness.

5. What countries did you visit?

Only a couple this year: Ireland (twice) and Spain (Majorca). Definitely need more travel next year.

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?

A proper job that doesn’t “run out”, as lack of work and security really did for me over the summer this year. I am not a good unemployed person.

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

None. Which is good. Given the rollercoaster events of the past few years, I think I was due some peace and quiet. Having said that unexplained illnesses, mistakes with medication, redundancy and subsequent soul-destroying trips to the “marvellous” Job Centre Plus have been rather trying; gaining a new god-daughter, re-connecting with old/new friends (mostly in the virtual world) and seeing my sister have been good things.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

(Hopefully) finding a home for my work life.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Not keeping up the positivity.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Well it turned out that I wasn’t really ill but the whole emergency dash to the hospital peculiar post-viral whatsit was a bit of a scare.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

I didn’t buy it but the Wii is an entirely fun addition to the household. Personally I’ve been rather abstemious on the purchasing front although my rather fabulous pink shoes were a high point (yes, they have 4.5 inch heels).

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

He-who-shall-not-be named for trying.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed? 

He-who-shall-not-be named for messing up and not taking responsibility for his actions.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Where money usually goes: big companies and organisations who seem to require it so I can live my life legally and in relative comfort.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Someone passing their driving test.

16. What song will always remind you of 2008?

Nothing stands out in particular. Crappy ad jingles from crappy daytime TV ads defined most of my summer.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

(a) happier or sadder? Happier and hoping to stay that way.

(b) thinner or fatter? Fatter (thanks to medication mix up) and hoping not to stay that way.

(c) richer or poorer? Marginally richer but that’s largely because I didn’t pay much into my pension which has to change if I’m not going to be a very cold and grumpy little old lady.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Sleep. I always wish I had more sleep.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Worrying.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

With The Beloved. Just the two of us as the rest of my family were in far flung places and his family were transport-less.

21. Did you fall in love in 2008?

With several small babies.

22. What was your favourite TV programme?

Dexter, without a doubt one of the best things on TV.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

No-one new but my hatred towards certain individuals has hardened somewhat.

24. What was the best book you read?

The Book Thief. Fabulous book.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

I’m not Simon Cowell you know… Rediscovering Nothing Ever Matters by Metallica which I’m not even going to try to justify.

26. What did you want and get?

Stability. It’s a work in progress.

27. What did you want and not get?

Resolution. But, being optimistic, it’s also a work in progress.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

A toss up between Mamma Mia and Taken.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

Had a lovely day with a massage and a facial and a scrumptious dinner at Acorn House. I am now at the age that it’s rude to ask.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Being employed for the whole year.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?

Anything that fits following horrifying weight gain issue although discovering asos has been a bright point (see fabulous pink shoe purchase earlier).

32. What kept you sane?

Baths and Caroline.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

The usual bad boy inappropriate people, Colin Farrell probably gets top spot this year.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

Obama’s probably the obvious choice. On the domestic front I think Vince Cable could be an interesting chap to watch/listen to.

35. Who did you miss?

My sister.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

Jenny. 

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.

Accept the things you cannot change

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year. 

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans

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A Festive Meme

I was hunting for one of these (yes I know it’s lazy blogging) and found one at poppingbubbles (thanks). I have taken a little artistic licence to Anglicise it.

Have you ever…..

Built a snowman? Yes, but not for ages. You just don’t seem to get the right sort of snow nowadays!



Heard Santa’s sleigh? When I was little I used to. One Christmas Eve I woke in the middle of Santa’s delivery which was all very confusing.



Seen Santa & Rudolph in the sky? No. Although apparently my Dad got a lift with him one year when he was working on the rigs and bad weather meant it was a bit of a “will he, won’t he get back from Christmas?” moment.

Sat on Santa’s lap? Yes, including a relatively recent adult sitting on the lap experience – poor Santa.

Shoveled the driveway/sidewalk? No. We had a friendly neighbour with a tractor who used to do that for us.

Made snow angels? Not for many years. See earlier about lack of quality snow. In fact the last time was when I was a student in Birmingham and we woke to the biggest snow dump I have ever seen in this country in my life. It was incredible and great fun (although there was no bread in the supermarkets for five days because the whole city got cut off).

Built a fort/igloo? Never, but sounds like great fun.

Wrote a Christmas list? A very large “to do” list.

Wrote a letter to Santa? I used to write them every year and send them up the chimney. Apparently if they fell in the fire then the message would be written out in smoke in the sky for Father Christmas to see.

Left cookies/milk for Santa & reindeer? Back in the day Father Christmas used to like a glass of sherry and a carrot for the reindeer. I suspect he could have been done for drunk in charge of a sleigh.

Caught a snowflake on your tongue? Yes, but I prefer them on eyelashes.

Went caroling? When I was young we used to go and sing carols in a barn which was brilliant fun sitting on straw bales and giggling at the choir master’s rather elaborate conducting. Now I welcome any opportunity to sing carols although tend to do it in a church rather than the mean streets of south London.

Got hurt during the winter season? Many slippy ice moments and peculiar seasonal injuries such as turkey carving thumb. This year I suspect any injuries will b Wii related.

Gone ice skating/sledding? Yes and yes. Went ice skating in the Winter Wonderland this year which was great fun and as a child used to go sledging whenever there was enough snow. We always used to give up on the proper sledges though (made by my Dad and really very good) and end up on bin bags.

Kissed under a mistletoe? Yes
indeed. Try to catch The Beloved as often as possible but my last mistletoe kiss was actually my lovely nephew on Sunday.

Experienced/saw a miracle happen? No, but I live in hope.

Get everything you wanted for Christmas? Not yet but this year hoping for no arguments or stressiness. Keeping everything crossed and trying not to get wound up thinking about it.

Cooked/baked? Always. Love it. Shopping arrives tonight and planning much chopping and whisking. 

 Tree is fake/real? Real. Always. Love the smell and annoying prickiness.

 Tree is under/above 4? This year we have a littl-ish one at about 5′ 6″ but we’ve had some real whoppers in the past.

 Open presents Christmas Eve/Day? On Christmas Day. We used to do our stockings in the morning (we stopped doing stockings about three years ago when my grandparents died) and then do under-the-tree presents after lunch so now we just wait until we are full of turkey. I may think about changing our timing this year.

House/entire yard is decorated? No. Our only external decoration is a wreath on the door. Otherwise we just keep the festivities indoors. Having said that pretty much every room has some decorations in it.

Amount of presents under the tree? Less and less every year which sounds a bit sad. Actually it is a bit sad but there you go.  

Snowman is a male/female? Snowman is a man the clue is in the title.

Go for Santa/Jesus? Mainly Jesus, although loving the whole Santa bit too.

Homemade/delivered/takeout Christmas dinner? Shopping delivered (just really can’t bear the supermarket scrum and everyone acting as if the supermarkets are going to shut down FOREVER, having said that I know I’ve over-ordered big style), but everything else homemade even things that normal sensible people buy ready made.

Bedtime is before/after midnight? Really want to go to midnight mass so hopefully after although recent plans for midnight mass have been somewhat scuppered.

Wake-up is before/after 7am? Will probably wake up before 7, realise it’s Christmas, roll over and go back to sleep – hurrah!

Go/don’t go to church on Christmas? See above about midnight mass. I’ve never managed church on Christmas Day proper because there always seems to be a zillion things that need doing to get that bird on the table before it gets dark (which is possibly why we’ve never opened presents before lunch either).

Pray & sing Happy Birthday/do nothing before bed? Singing Christmas carols and other festive tunes very loudly and badly is one of my favourite things to do before bed and throughout Christmas Day (well until after lunch when the tellybox is allowed to go on). The whole Happy Birthday thing is a bit odd because although I am of the “celebrating Jesus’ birth” persuasion, I don’t actually think of it as his birthday. Hmmm…might have to have a think about that one.

 

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3BT – 22nd December

1. I went to the most amazing Nine Lessons and Carols in Chiswick last night. The choir was incredible and Father Kevin certainly does very good church.

2. My nephew is so lovely. Seventeen year olds are generally rather surly monosyllabic individuals who – on the whole – scare me somewhat, but my nephew is entirely different. Much more sensible than both his parents put together.

3. A jolly nice team lunch in the pub today which is not something that ever happens at any other time of the year but is certainly a well-deserved treat for those of us who braved (the strangely empty) public transport this morning and have put up with work creation from clients.

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No festive cheer

There is something very sad and depressing to come into work and find that the management has given everyone else in the office a bottle of festive Champagne but apparently I don’t get one. I don’t know why but probably because in terms of employee status I’m a fixed contract second class citizen. It has somewhat punctured the good mood I woke up with this morning.

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16th December – a day in history

So what’s happened on this day throughout the years?*

1653 – Oliver Cromwell becomes Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland and everyone gave up partying whilst old warty was in charge.

1773 – Boston Tea Party

So, historically a day for bashing the Brits, royals and that sort of stuff.

 

People born on this day (obviously a very edited list):

1485 – Catherine of Aragon – poor love generally had a bit of a raw deal

1770 – Beethoven – there is a thread of musical genius running through this day (see Noel Coward and Benny Andersson), unfortunately the stars must have been in a different alignment when I was born

1775 – Jane Austen – pretty hot on literary bods too (there are some I haven’t included because I haven’t read their books)

1899 – Noel Coward – general all round clever so and so

1917 – Arthur C Clarke – see there’s a precedent that us 16th December bods are literary – why in that case does my ‘writing’ end up at the bottom of the drawer?

1946 – Benny Andersson – musical genius and general bear-like keyboard hero

 

 

* I was born

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3BT – 15th December

1. Getting in the car and finding it filled with piney freshness from the tree we bought at the Christmas tree farm. In fact the whole concept of a Christmas tree farm is quite lovely, certainly better than the rather over-priced florist.

2. Being told I am a ‘natural’ giving a very new and tiny baby a bottle. I suspect this praise from the father is mostly relief that he doesn’t have to do it but it makes you feel nice anyway.

3. A very quiet office to ease me into Monday gently.

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A featherduster type meme

Yes memes are lazy blogging but I am lacking that certain spark to talk about my real world at the moment so they keep my hand in. I saw this one at Musings from the Sofa, yet another of those blogs I like to look at every now and then. It also seemed quite relevant seeing as way back when I started this blog on the premise of domestic joy!

A is for Aprons. Yes/no, favourites?

I love an apron, it makes you feel as if you are doing proper cooking and – considering I am a messy pup – it’s essential for avoiding tomato-based and turmeric like stains. I use a blue and white stripy one for everyday but have a lovely purple linen one with my initials embroidered on the front and a handy loop for a wipey hand cloth type thing. Genius.

B is for Baking. Favourite thing to bake?

Not the biggest baker but I make quite acceptable chocolate fairy cakes. Problem is I don’t eat cake or pastry type things so the motivation is often lacking.

C is for Clothesline, do you have one?

Yes, the birds like to perch on it which is about the most action it gets at this time of year. I love the smell of clothes from the outside.

D is for Doughnuts. Have you ever made them?

No, see above about baking. Not a sweet sort of person. Wouldn’t particularly occur to me.

E is for Everyday. One home making task you do every day.

Make the bed. I like neat beds with plumped pillows and – if possible – a fluffy-umptious duvet (although that gets a bit tricky towards the end of the week when everything starts to migrate to the end of the bed).

F is for Freezer. Do you have a separate deep freeze?

No, there’s only two of us so no real need. Having said that I do tend to over-cater so there’s always lots of leftovers cluttering up the place.

G is for Garbage Disposal Unit. Do you have one?

No. My parents have (very 80s thing to get installed) and always seems to cause no end of problems with the wrong things going down there and clogging it up.

H is for Handbook. What’s your favourite home making resource?

The Hamlyn Cook Book is my stand by on all things that I should know how to make but forget the measurements like Yorkshire puds. I went through a phase of buying lots of handbooks and household guides but some of the information is extraordinarily random and I don’t actually have time to do a lot of the things that are considered essential.

I is for Ironing. Love it or hate it?

Don’t like it at all. Really my least favourite domestic task. And the main problem is I like everything to be ironed (well not pants because that’s weird). A couple of years ago I decided to ease the load by sending my duvet covers to the laundry. It’s very indulgent but means I get about an hour back in my life. Hurrah!

J is for Junk Drawer. Have one, and if so, where?

Hmmm…several. Both drawers in the side table in the living room are semi-junkish although I do sort of know what’s in there and the contents are highly useful (keys to other people’s houses, tape measures and the such like). One of the drawers in the dining room dresser has a habit of morphing into a junk drawer every now and then but mostly contains batteries, corkscrews, matches and other exciting dining room related paraphernalia.

K is for Kitchen. Colour and decorating scheme?

At the moment yellow walls. It really needs repainting as it hasn’t been touched since we moved in and the ceiling has a weird swirly effect which I am ashamed to say is more to do with accumulated kitchen grime (and botched cleaning attempts) than anything else.

L is for Love. What’s your favourite part of home making?

Cooking. I find it so relaxing; nothing beats chopping an onion after a stressful day. Plus, as I learnt from the lovely Brahma Kumaris ladies, cooking with love makes food taste better.

M is for Mop. Do you have one?

Yes.

N is for Nylons. Machine or handwash?

Don’t really have any nylons. All my tights have a super thick denier and get popped in the machine in a special hosiery bag-type thing.

O is for Oven. Do you have a window or do you open the oven door to check?

I have a window but you need to have a proper peek too.

P is for Pizza. What do you put on yours?

I never make pizza but my favourite pizza out is Quattro stagioni from Eco which has: artichoke, ham, mushrooms, olives, anchovies, mozzarella, tomato sauce, garlic & olive oil and is yummy.

Q is for Quiet. What do you do during the day when you get a quiet moment?

Ideally have a bath. I love baths. I know they’re not environmentally friendly but they are essential to my well-being on at least a weekly basis.

R is for Recipe Card Box.Yes/no? If yes, what does it look like?

I have a recipe folder which has a very nice print of Salisbury Cathedral on the front (not quite sure why, I suspect I was hoping for holy help). It has recipes that I tear out of magazines or print off the internet plus some ancient relics torn out of my Home Economics exercise book circa 1982 – ginger cake anyone?

S is Style of House.

1930s three bed terrace. Not quite as ubiquitous as the Victorian terrace in these here parts but not exactly standing out in the architectural style front.

T is for Tablecloths. Do you use them?

Yes. Lots. My current favourite actually started life as a Maasai blanket but is a fabulous tablecloth, only needs a cool wash and requires virtually no ironing. At this time of year though I have to start thinking about the Christmas table linen which probably needs a good wash and iron (bugger).

U is for Under the Kitchen Sink. Organised or toxic wasteland?

It’s organised but it’s size and shape (very narrow door, huge inaccessible space to the left) does not lend itself to easy access so there are times when I end up getting very cross at not being able to reach something so everything ends up on the floor whilst I try to work out if there is a good way of organising the beast and what tools I might need to help me (so far the perfect solution has remained elusive).

V is for Vacuum. How many times  a week?

I would like to say lots but the reality is only once a week most of the time. In fairness we’re not in much during the week so we don’t create that much mess.

W is for Washing. How many loads of washing do you do a week?

Probably about three a week although since the Beloved has taken to going to the gym EVERY DAY (excessive? Yes) then it’s increased by an extra towel wash.

X’s – do you keep a daily list of things to do that you cross off?

I used to have a complete mania for to do lists which I have managed to get slightly under control. Having said that I always have the following lists on the go:

work to do list

weekly shopping list which I add to as I realise we need more of something

general householdy/life tasks list like paying bills, painting fences, making dentist appointments

Yes. Scarily this is my list making under control (you should have asked me the question two years ago!)

Y is for Yard. Who does what?

Or a garden as us Brits like to call it. I tend to do most things. Occasionally I have a strop and insist the Beloved mows the lawn because I hate the lawnmower since he ran over the cord a couple of years ago so now it has some complicated extension cable thingummy. Also my mum comes up once or twice a year to save me from stressing about pruning and pulling the wrong things out (are they weeds or not? is a constant question).

Zzzzzs – what’s the last task before going to bed in the evening?

Getting my clothes out for the following day. Tragic I know.

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