Friday 30 December 2011

Christmas? Make it Snappy.

So here I am the other side of Christmas and sadly not unscathed. As my dear (and very) pessimistic sister said 'On the whole 2011 has been a shit year for you, and it looks like it's planning to end that way too'
It all started innocently enough, I braved the horror of Tesco on Christmas Eve for a food shop and then spent three and a half  hours baking the 5 different cakey treats I had been asked to make for Boxing Day. I wore my rather splendid new Christmas jumper. The only time of year I would be seen in such an item!
We headed over to my parents where we ate and drank and watched tv. Christmas Morn we got up, ate and drank some more, opened a present or 3 and went for a walk before dinner. I had great fun trying out the adult exercise equipment in the park though I'm not sure Himself was convinced!
We got home and I helped plate up dinner, I pulled a cracker, put on a paper hat, took my first mouthful of dinner and thought that doesn't feel right, rooted very inelegantly in my mouth and retrieved one of my teeth!?! The teeth each side of my front two are both crowns due to them not growing properly when my adult teeth came through, one of these had snapped clean off, crown intact. I still can't quite believe it had to happen right at that moment, I mean of all days of the year for the stupid thing to break. The irony being I had only been to the dentist on the 22nd for a check-up, x-ray and hygienist visit and was given a clean bill of teeth health.

Lets just say I didn't exactly fancy my christmas dinner after that, and if nothing else it hurt whenever hot, cold or anything for that matter touched the spot where once a tooth had been.
I rang the emergency number on the surgery answer machine and left a message. They called me back the next day and arranged to see me 10am on the 28th. Three whole days.......

It's at times like these that I am grateful my mother likes to buy random bits of pottery for bless her she had a sudden brainwave and produced this 
Not exactly elegant but at least it meant I could drink without hitting the roof with every mouthful!! My brother and family arrived on Boxing Day with soup and straws, though I confess to being pretty miserable company I was very grateful.
It's also at times like this when not having a car is a problem. My emergency appointment was in to get there.....thankfully my parents stepped in again and offered to drive me there. Dear god but I hate going to the dentist, I was a nervous wreck.
Unlucky for me, the whole reson I had had the teeth capped in the first place meant that the underdeveloped root was too small to accomodate a peg which would have sorted the problem then and there and meant no further treatment, oh I could have wept.
The prognosis is not good. I am looking at either a bridge or an implant, both of which will mean extensive dental work and will cost upwards of £1000. Happy Christmas to me.
Anyway the lovely emergency dentist managed to drill in two fine metal wires and cement the cap onto them, it nearly didn't work but thankfully 2nd attempt and the cap stayed put. I left with strict instructions to be VERY careful and under no circumstances to bite into anything! Following these instructions the tooth should hold until my own dentist is open again in early January. Of course I have been too paranoid to eat much since other than soup, but at least I can drink tea again! On the bright side I had also planned to lose some weight in the new year so I have just started the diet early I guess.
Anyway after spending the last few days feeling sick with panic I have given myself a talking too. What is done is done and as Himself says it's nothing that can't be mended. Also on the plus side if I have an implant it will never, ever happen again!

As you can imagine I haven't really done much other than sleep and read these last few days. I have watched a little tv, it's been pretty crap Christmas viewing on the whole though I loved 'Downton' and 'Great Expectations'.
I certainly got enough new reading material for Christmas, as if there was the slightest chance I was running short!
I also got an assortment of Snoopy items :-)
Some lovely necklaces.....
Shopping bags.
 and a new jumper.
So really it's not all doom and gloom, far from it in fact.

I shall finish up with a picture from my garden, a sign of joy and hope in all the cold,wet, miserable mud.
New year, new beginings. The end of an eventful and not always happy year and the start of good things to come. x

Tuesday 27 December 2011

My Bloggy Swap Gifts From Treasures From the Cherry Tree.

I thought I'd better find a moment to do my Bloggy swap post. I was partnered with Treasures from the Cherry Tree in the lovely Lakota's Faith Hope and Charity Swapping Christmas blog swap.

I have had my parcel for a few weeks now but decided to wait until Christmas to open it. In the end I opened my gifts on Christmas Eve before I headed off to my parents house, and what wonderful presents they were too!
The idea was 5 or so gifts with one handmade, one christmas themed and one from a charity shop. I have to say I feel quite guilty because I got far more than just 5 gifts and that was all that I had sent.....

Behold my lovely gifts. Christmas baubles, a sparkly butterfly, notelets, a gorgeous headscarf, a knitted ear warmer (much needed!) snowmen for my collection, a used teabag dish and a fab vintage Nestle cook book :-)
                                                             How ace is that?

                                          Look at my colour change snowman light!

Thursday 22 December 2011

Is It Friday Yet?

I am quite excited about christmas coming but mostly I just want to be able to collapse in a heap, not have to get up early and not have to eat unless I absolutely have to! I feel like I have been eating non-stop for weeks now.
Last week's over indulging has continued in earnest this week too.
On Saturday Soo and I slip slide-ed over to Jenny's to exchange pressies. We got fed a delicious lunch followed by mince pies and much gossip, just what the doctor ordered.
Then it was home to glue myself to the Strictly final, yay for Harry.

Back to the food.
Monday I was round at my brother's house until fairly late so we grabbed fish and chips for tea.
Tuesday I was out with the girls in Oxford. We ate at Atomic Burger where I seriously feared I might burst after my Frankenstein burger, fries and banana milkshake :-)

 Wednesday I was determined to go and see 'Puss in Boots'. Himself wasn't convinced but he came anyway because he is good like that, and thankfully he really enjoyed it. I on the other hand loved it. I would urge anyone who has cats,or loves cats, and likes animation to see it.

In among all the things that I was meant to do but actually still haven't, I did manage to squeeze in a tiny visit to the charity shops.

I came away with a pair of trousers for work and this lovely purple shirt for £4, which was new with tags but smelt a bit funny so I chucked it into the wash assuming it was polyester. It came out in a remarkably screwed up ball and as I tried to straighten it out I noticed the label said 'pure silk' 'dry clean only'......oopps.
I gave it a press on a low heat and thankfully it seems to have survived the wash! I'm having a bit of a thing for pussy bow blouses at the moment and purple is a favourite colour, so I would have been gutted to have ruin it.
I also found this Oasis summer dress for £2.50.
                              Not sure if it's really me, but it seemed churlish to leave it.

Anyways I am off to bed. Last day at work tomorrow and I'm out again tomorrow night. Saturday I now have to make 5 different cakey treats for Boxing Day lunch before we head off to my Ma and Pa's. No rest for the wicked and all that!
I leave you with a picture of the tree. I admit I may have got a tad carried away when decorating it......
A very happy Christmas to one and all. x x G

Saturday 17 December 2011

This Week it's all About the Boys and the Food.

I have finally found a little time in the manic schedule to drink tea and blog. In all honesty I *should* be writing christmas cards but I'm a bit carded out if truth be told and as I have been banished from upstairs because Himself is 'wrapping things' what better excuse do I need?

So last Saturday I was up at 6am (6am mind!) to head off to Torquay for Nephew Number Two's 2nd birthday. Thankfully we managed to not only catch the right train but also find a seat, it was freaking packed with people even at that hour! Unluckily for them, as we were going to miss our boiled egg breakfast I made egg sandwiches for the journey instead. They were delicious but 'fragrant' as only an egg sandwich can be! Anyway the journey passed without incident and we arrived in a sunny but freeze your bits off cold Torquay by 11am. It was the wee man's party at 3pm so we did some catching up first before heading out to party 2 year old style.
Much fun was had by child and adult alike in the ball pit, (sadly no photo's of that) but most exciting thing of the day by far turned out to be this plastic pan pipe that came in the childs goodie bag when we arrived, ain't that always the way?
Once the birthday boy had retired for the night, out came crisps, brownies and much wine and well I'm sure you can imagine the rest........ 
Lets just say we got home on Sunday just after 8pm only to discover not only had Himself forgotten his socks but also my bottle of Advocaat *weeps* (about the Advocaat not the socks obviously.)

Monday was going to be a day of action as we were both off work. I had plans, big plans, but somehow I couldn't get motivated. I was fiddlearsing around as my Dad would say when my sister in law rang up and said she could fit me in for a hair colour in the afternoon. As I was showing the kind of roots that make grown women cry I shot off down there as fast as my feet could fly.
I did sort of put the tree up but that was about it, I do have a lovely golden barnet though!

Tuesday was work, home, change and fly out of the door and on the train to Reading to see Ross Noble. As you may recall from previous blogs we are both huge fans of his and this was a chance to see him in a small venue. We were in the front row which is never a good thing as he does like to interact with his audience, ie: harrass latecomers and jest with the front row. Himself got into a slight difference of opinion with Ross about Star Wars, (never a good move on anyone's part as Himself is an unashamed geek of all things Star Wars.) I was refered to as the lady in a 'The Killing' jumper, and entered a lively discussion about whether one should buy the boxed set of Series One or not with the next comedian on stage. Oh I also managed to drop my freshly laundered scarf in my beer!?! It was a great night, but a late night and getting up the next morning was painful.

Wednesday was Christmas lunch day at work which everyone gets ridiculously excited about because it is free food and drink. It was a lovely dinner actually and much needed as I had to hang around in work until 6.40pm before I got a lift to Nephew Number One's end of term performance at college. Now those who know me know I am not one for swearing unless the situation/person calls for it but when asked what I thought of the evening my dazed response was 'Fuck me'. Himself's was 'Fuck me' followed by 'Never again' so you get the gist.

Sadly for the poor kids involved it was bloody awful, a complete shambles. There were 4 'bands' on that night the 3rd of which had Nephew Number One in it. These 4 were put together by the tutors, who basically told them : Who they were playing with and what instrument they were expected to play, then just left them to it!

The sound was appalling, seriously the man on the sound desk needing taking outside and lynching!! I felt so sorry for the poor kids, as not only could you hardly hear the guitars they also had to battle with screeching feedback!
On top of this they came off stage saying the volume on the monitor kept going up and down which meant they couldn't always hear themselves singing. Of course this meant even the ones with good voices were going in and out of tune as it happened. I would go on but I won't bore you with more details and to be fair there were also some kids who were just crap, even the best producer in the world wouldn't have helped them.
But all in all it did make for a painful listening experience.
There were a handful of kids who shone and I am proud to say Nephew Number One was one of them.

My brother is starting to question exactly what it is he will get out of this course though.
I must say I can't see the logic in giving a kid an instument they have never played before and making them get on stage and play it in front of an audience after only a few weeks practice, as far as I can see it's only ever going to make them feel like an idiot and crush their self esteem when they screw up. Oy.

Thursday was lunch in the canteen at work and Friday was my departmental Christmas lunch. God bless the button on my trousers is all I can say!
The diet January!

I shall leave you with a picture of the shopping Himself came back from Sainsburys with. I have to make the puddings for boxing day and sent him out with a detailed list and a very unsubtle hint about the 'It's a Wonderful Life' boxed set......
                                                              It worked! :-)

Thursday 8 December 2011

Christmas. An Argument For it.

From reading many blog posts recently I come to the conclusion that Christmas in blogland is like Marmite, you either love it or or you hate it.

I gamely throw my Santa hat into the ring and declare I fall firmly into the ‘LOVE IT’ camp.

I get childishly excited by it all, and as a collector of snowmen it’s the perfect excuse to fill my house with their wintery wonderfulness. (ornaments rather than real snow obviously!)

I do understand the complaints about how commercial it has all become, I’d be the first to agree how sad this is, but I truly believe Christmas, like life, is what you make it.

This is easy for me to say I know, I don’t have children demanding the latest £300 must have item. (Even if I did I can assure you they would not be getting it! )

 I ADORE buying people presents. I think this stems partly from the fact I love shopping full stop. It doesn’t have to be just for me! I get even more of a buzz buying something I know someone else will be thrilled with. I make a point of listening to people and filing away likes, dislikes and yearnings. I also shop throughout the year, I learnt the hard way that if you see the perfect thing at the perfect price you must snap it up straight away or you’ll regret it.You leave it for a later day and suddenly it’s sold out and you are frantically hunting for a Plan B.
I have a shelf in my wardrobe for storing these items and I also have a list in my diary so I know what I already have and don’t double buy for people. Sad maybe, but it doesn’t half take a lot of the strain out of Christmas shopping.
If I don’t know what to get someone I ask them. I would much rather get something they really want, even if it is something practical or boring (in my eyes) than buy some random thing that will go : straight back to the shop/in a charity bag/passed on to someone else*
*delete as applicable.

Again I cannot but help agreeing about not understanding or buying into the food madness that seems to possess some people. I feel like going up to those stressed couples you see tearing wildly round the grocery store with 2 full to bursting shopping trolleys and bellowing ‘DON'T PANIC! Tesco is only shut for 2 DAYS!'.
I food shop on a Saturday, a week at a time. Other than the occasional pint of milk of loaf of bread I don’t buy again until the next Saturday.
I don’t shop any different for Christmas! Why on earth would you buy something you don’t even like just because of the time of year? I buy what we need for the week ahead, including for entertaining and that is all. Yes there may well be a few seasonal treats in there but that is because we both freaking love mince pies and this is the only time of year you get them!

I love sending Christmas cards and I love receiving them. I love catching up with friends and family who yes I really should make the effort to see more than once a year ‘because it’s Christmas’ but it’s as good a reason as any and it’s fantastic to catch up.
On the other hand I don’t feel obliged to go to the dreadful work Christmas parties. I have also got to a stage in my life where I don’t feel I must go to something when I can’t stand the person/persons involved.*
 *see previous post on friendship.

This way I feel I truly do get the best out of the festivities.

I may love shopping but I’m not madly materialistic. (Actually for those who have lost the meaning of Christmas in all the materialism I recommend reading Dickens - A Christmas Carol which put simply is about changing for the better, for life, and not just for Christmas.)

My favourite Christmas delights involve simple things like sitting downstairs first thing in the morning with a cup of tea and just the coloured tree lights for illumination, or throwing open the bedroom window on Christmas morning and breathing in the delicious fresh icy air, whilst listening to the church bells ringing in the day.
Going to a carol concert, singing very badly and not caring one bit, putting food out for the birds on a frosty morning and watching the colourful visitors it brings.There are so many joyful little things.

Admittedly I also love nothing better than quaffing numerous alcoholic beverages or watching Singing in the Rain for the millionth time whilst eating malteseers until my eyes bulge.
Lets face it Christmas is a damn fine excuse to roll out the cocktail shaker or to drink things I don’t at any other time of the year, just because! Advocaat anyone? hell yeah.

So yes at this time of year you will find me with a spring in my step and joy in my heart, festooning the house and decking my halls. I will watch all my favourite Christmas films culminating with the George C Scott version of A Christmas Carol.

                         To be watched on Christmas Eve with bottles of fizz as is our family tradition.

I accept there are those of you who may think like Scrooge, say ‘Christmas is a Humbug’ and can't wait for it to be over.

but I prefer to be his Nephew Fred, with a little bit of Tiny Tim thrown in.

So I say ‘Hurrah for Christmas’ and ‘God bless us everyone!’

Tuesday 6 December 2011

It's Starting to Look a Lot Like Winter/Spring/Winter?

I have a post planned for which I was going to share this picture of my neighbour's glorious holly tree!
The birds haven't started stripping the berries yet, but now the first frosts are here it won't be long before there isn't a one left believe me. Obviously fierce spikes don't bother birds!
The reason for this quick post rather than the planned one, was this other tree I spotted from the train window as we came into Oxford station yesterday. Today I went for a lunchtime walk with my camera to take a closer look.
It is very beautiful but sad as well. This poor tree has been fooled by the ridiculously warm weather we have had lately into thinking it's spring and so has burst into bloom. 
Sad thing is the first lot of frost and well.........

Saturday 3 December 2011

Marilyn, a Manic Monday and Old London Town.

Eeee what a week, a veritable roller coaster is all I can say. I am prostrated here on the sofa with tea and a Terry's chocolate orange feeling totally drained.
It all started last Friday when Himself's friend came to stay.
Much, MUCH wine was drunk and it all got very silly. I only wish I could share with you the video they made of their interpretation of The Proclaimers I was weeping with laughter when I saw it the next morning.

Monday it was an interview day at work and it was freaking mental. It started with the trains being screwed and 2 interviewers and 4 interviewees being stuck somewhere outside of the city. Lots of frantic rearranging and lots of headless chicken running ensued. Thank the lord I had the next day off work is all I can say.
I didn't get nearly as much done on Tuesday as I planned, I think I may have been a bit over ambitious with my plans actually. Anyway I did allow myself a visit to the charity shops in town as I had to go out to the post office and the bank anyway. I came back with a pair of trousers and a jumper for work, as well as this vintage skirt for a bargainous £2.99.
                          It needs a little tailoring to make it into the pencil skirt I see it as.

                      However my prize find was this gorgeous little two cup tea set for £4.50.

 Then it was home to wrap christmas presents. I mean really, it wasn't even freaking December at that point!!
I needed to wrap my friend's and her son's for the next day and thought I may as well do Himself's parents presents at the same time as he needed them for this weekend, then I just went with the flow and wrapped until I couldn't stand it any longer.....

Wednesday I headed off to London Town to meet my friend Jennifer who was over here from America visiting her in-laws. We had a lovely day, most of it spent shopping it must be said, we are both big fans of shopping!
I was extremely good and only bought two things for myself, a hat and bag, both on sale so that's not so bad is it? Is it?

 I did manage to drag Jennifer into Beyond Retro where I very nearly bought a gorgeous but extremely crumpled plaid wiggle dress for the very resonable price of £20. That was until I checked the label and saw it was 'dry clean only' always puts me right off if something is 'dry clean only' so I decided against it. I would have liked to have browsed more but Jennifer doesn't do second hand so we headed for Oxford Street.

I also had have a gift card for Liberty so we spent a considerable time in there hunting high and low for something I could either afford or actually wanted to put the cost of the voucher toward! Not easy at all, it's freaking expensive in there. Eventually I found this very pretty journal and a christmas mug.

 I have to say I was not impressed with the Oxford Street lights. Kind of weird star things and what's with the umbrellas? Not exactly a symbol of christmas. I did love the coloured lights on Debenhams though.

By about 7pm we were both wilting so Accessorize was our last port of call before battling with the masses on the underground. I loved the mirror with it's gorgeous frame made from brooches and hair clips, it's given me an idea for a future project!

I finally got home at 9pm absolutely knackered. I think I should have had Thursday off work too, partly because I was very tired but mostly because it was not a good day. My computer suddenly stopped working and when IT finally arrived it was to diagnos a 'start-up virus' which is about the worst you can get apparently. I was advised to change all the passwords to any sites I might have accessed whilst using it recently.
I spent the next hour logged onto another machine frantically changing passwords only for IT to call and say apparently someone else had the virus not me!?!
Turns out their IP address was one digit different to mine and that my IP address had been blocked by mistake. So I lost a whole morning of catching up on my work and also changed loads of passwords for no reason *sigh* Lets just say my working day did NOT improve after that.
I did have a lovely lunch with some girlfriends though and after work I went to see 'My Week With Marilyn' with my friend Simon which really turned the day around.
I absolutely loved it! Michelle Williams was amazing as Marilyn and Kenneth Branagh was superb as Olivier. I think I found it all the more poignant having been so recently to the exhibition at the American Museum in Bath and seen so many of her possessions. I would highly recommend the film.

Without going into details, Friday at work was just shit. I have to say I was thoroughly down when I got home, the last few days have really knocked my confidence, and made me doubt my ability to do the job. Sods law Himself is away this weekend so I couldn't even talk it through.
However I saw my brother today who gave me a good pep talk, and so, Monday is another day.