Dec. 26th, 2007 11:35 am
blackberry444: (Default)
We had a spiffing Christmas Day! 

For once Charles had had enough sleep and was in a really jovial mood.  He was awake before me!

I put on my most comfortable "best" clothes and went down to make smoothies and warm croissants while Charles made the coffee.  After breakfast we all sat at the kitchen table and prepared the vegetables.  I'd bought pre-prepared sprouts for once, so they just needed halving and blanching.  We prepared the parsnips and carrots for parrots and I peeled the spuds while John cut them up.  I think this is the very first time anyone has insisted that he help with the vegetables and it was Charles who said he should do so.  I think he was a bit taken aback.  Giggle!

We took our shampagne and coffee into the sitting-room, put the tree lights on and had our presents, interrupted only by the necessity of moving the vase of flowers to another room where Morgan couldn't push them off the chest of drawers in an effort to drink the flower water again!

I'd wrapped the camera, camera case and media card and put them all in a Christmas bag, so I gave them to Charles last of all.  He was sooooo pleased with the camera, and so was I.  It's got an incredible spec for the unbelievably cheap price I got it for.  It even has a little built in memory so that you can take 10 photos with no media card at all, which is more than mine would do.  It's also got instant access by buttons to various functions that I have to access laboriously through the menu, and it's really tiny enough to carry in a pocket!.  I WANT ONE!

He spent all day photographing cats, the views from the attic windows and Christmas!!!. 
I have hopes that he may start going out for little walks just to take photos.  He got a pedometer in his cracker, so maybe that was some sort of sign!  I'm hoping that since I bought him the camera with the ostensible reason being that he's supposed to be going on a course in the New Year, he may actually go to the course instead of changing his mind at the last minute as he often does.

We all got lots of nice things.  Among other things I got a Maddy Prior CD that I hadn't heard of before, a lovely stainless steel vacuum flask cafetiere and a lovely pair of gold earrings, which John had bought from one of the Asian jewellery shops, Apparently he was charged by the weight of the gold!!

Sadly, it appears that the holes in my ears have closed in the few weeks that I haven't had any everyday earrings, so I may have to get them re-pierced, unless I can get them in a little while before I start drinking again!  I can't really believe that they can have closed up after all these years.  It must be over 40 years since I had them done.

Our lovely next-door Asian neighbours had assembled a little Christmas hamper for us with a jar of mixed nuts, chocolates, shortbread and something else I can't remember at the moment.  I was very touched and I nearly went round with some mince pies, but I fortunately remembered that they have brandy in them.  I've decided to go out tomorrow and buy some vegetarian mince-meat and bake a batch just for them on Saturday that I can take round on Sunday for New Year.

Charles had several pairs of socks, which he wanted, but he was so particularly struck by the two pairs of Snoopy socks I bought him that he changed into them!

We had our dinner at about 5.30, a little later than I meant to, but not too bad, and we had a really nice bottle of wine we had left over from last year, when it was given us as a present.  It was very good!  The goose was lovely and we've only eaten half of it, even having as much as we greedily wanted.  Charles' home-made stuffing was really very good and there's only a little of it left to be squabbled over today.  Unbelievably, there were goose-fat roast potatoes left over, but Charles manfully ate them because they're so delicious and they can never be satisfactorily warmed up.  The sprouts with chestnuts and bacon were good, but we all agreed that the chestnuts did nothing for the sprouts and will think of something else for next year.

No-one had any room for Christmas pudding, or even a tiny mince pie, although Charles and I had a small bowl of lemon mousse at 9.00 pm.

We finished dinner and retired to the sitting-room just in time to watch Dr Who.  And no-one got indigestion.  That's what I call a result!

I phoned my Sis before we had dinner and they had all had a really nice day, too.

It was really a very happy relaxed Christmas Day, one of the best I can remember in recent years, although, of course, the very best ones were when Charles was small.

I hope that all my friends had as happy a Christmas as we did.
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What a perfectly lovely day it's been.  It was even sunny!

blackberry444: (Default)
I'm completely shattered! 

I've managed to get everything done today and I've just taken the last batch of mince pies out of the oven.  They looked absolutely delicious, but I'm so tired I couldn't feel hungry enough to eat one.  Charles ate the broken one and said it was really good.  He actually said that my mince pies are always better than anyone else's, bless him!  Not that he's partial, or anything!

The gammon is cooked and is in the oven already studded with cloves and covered with a mixture of brown sugar and mustard.  All I have to do now is put the oven on an hour before we want to eat.  Charles has made the pease pudding and it's wonderful!  I shouldn't think we'll ever want to buy shop-bought again.

I had a terrible time colouring the almond paste for the poinsettia leaves.  First of all I couldn't get the stuff green and red enough and then suddenly I'd got food dye everywhere!  I didn't think I was ever going to get it off my hands, but it's mostly gone now;  it came off the marble slab and the rolling pin OK, but it's badly stained the pine kitchen table.  Fortunately we shan't eat in the kitchen again until at least Thursday and I may have been able to remove it with bleach by then.

It took us hours to prepare the chestnuts.  I think Charles will let me buy ready-prepared next year as half the first batch were bad.  He put some of them into his own home-made stuffing with sausage meat extracted from super-duper chipolatas, lots of thyme, red  onion and something else I can't now remember.  It smells very appetising even raw.  I just hope I remember to cook it tomorrow.  I totally forgot the stuffing last year.  We had to have it on Boxing Day with the cold meat. He went to do the shopping with John and said that the sausage meat available was disgustingly and unfeasibly pink, hence the sausages.  I very much fear that I may have brought him up with standards he can never afford!

 The rest of the chestnuts he will sauté with the parboiled sprouts and a little bacon.  I do hope the goose defrosts properly in time.  It's sitting in a big dish on the sideboard in the dining room, but I'm not entirely convinced that Bramble can't get in there, since we sometimes discover the door mysteriously open.  I shall have to find somewhere else more secure to put it overnight otherwise I shan't be able to sleep for worrying about it although at the moment I feel as though I could sleep on an ironing board!

It's always the same at this time of year.  The house is stuffed full of lovely food and suddenly none of us feels hungry!

Personally I feel extremely sticky and can't wait to get into a lovely long hot shower before I go to bed.  I even feel as though I have icing sugar and bacon fat in my hair!

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!  I've just remembered that I still have presents to wrap!  Wail!

Happy Christmas World!
blackberry444: (Default)
I forgot to have the G&T but I feel much better anyway.

Doing the flowers was indeed very soothing.

I had a bit of an accident with the brandy butter in which I put my finger into the blades of a wand mixer to extract the final bit of brandy butter and then accidentally turned it on.

Ouch!  Ouch!  Ouch!  And lots of blood.  I had to have quite a long rest waiting for the blood to stop before I could put on a plaster and ice the cake.  Pink icing is quite attractive, but still......................

There's a horrid bruise on my finger and I suspect I shall lose the nail, but when I did it, I fully expected to find myself with a very badly chewed up finger indeed.  Thank God I didn't have to spend the afternoon in A&E!

I must make a mental note to turn the blummin' thing off before I do that again!

I've made the brandy butter, iced the cake.  I only made it look snowy as I plan an almond paste poinsettia for the centre.  I did one once before and it looks pretty good.

I've arranged the flowers for the dining room and the sitting room, put the beef in the oven, put the gammon in to soak overnight, put the split peas for the pease pudden in to soak, taken the goose out of the freezer and written a shopping list for the final bits & pieces of vegetables and perishables John and Charles are to get from Morrison's tomorrow morning.

Now I need to go downstairs, cook the potatoes and vegetables, make the gravy and rest the beef.  We'll have to have ice-cream for pudding as we have nothing else, unless they want stollen cake.

The cats are going mad with all the meaty smells throughout the house and Morgan has had to be banned from the sitting room unless he's supervised as he will not stop drinking the flower water and has already got water all over the polished chest of drawers.  I don't suppose it's poisonous, but I put that flower food stuff in the water, so I'm not sure whether he would be ill if he drank much of it it.

I'm told that Scrooged will not be on TV this Christmas.  I fewl like having a strop, but I won't.  I wonder if Blockbusters has it in stock.................


Dec. 23rd, 2007 12:47 pm
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I've been desperately looking through the TV schedules to see if my favourite "Scrooged" is going to be shown over the holidays, but I've gone cross-eyed after a few pages.

Oh dear!  My Christmas Spirit has taken a bit of a knock.  There's such a lot to do and we're all skulking in our rooms trying to pretend it's not happening.

At least Charles had a good night last night and has decided that Christmas is not a good time to give up coffee and have withdrawal symptoms, so he will probably cheer up eventually.  In the meantime he's being horrid and sarcastic and I want to go back to bed and pull the duvet over my head.

The house is a tip, the sitting-room is in a state of creative destruction, although it will probably be all right when they've finished the decorations and the tree, but the KITCHEN.......................!!   I need to deconstruct it before I can get any cooking done.  And what fool filled the little sink with water and flowers?  I shall have to do the flowers as well, before I can start cooking.

OTOH, I usually find doing the flowers wonderfully soothing, so maybe it's a good idea after all!

Perhaps I should try to chill out.  The trouble is, that I've still got the words "silent ischaemia" running round in my head.  I don't want to mention it to anyone before Christmas, but OTOH, I'm finding it a bit difficult to cope with on my own.  It's very silly of me, because, after all, it may not be that at all.

I know!  I shall have a socking great Gin and Tonic with my lunch!  That should do it!  And then I shall put on a CD of Carols!

It's an absolutely beautiful day today which made going to Aldi almost a treat, in spite of having to spend ages scraping the frost of the car windscreen.  It would be really terrific to have a sunny Christmas!

Happy Christmas to all my friends,
by the way.  I'm sure it will be lovely!
blackberry444: (Default)
I've had a copy letter today, of the letter Doctor Adams sent to my Lovely Lady Doctor.  At the bottom is a note of the tests he has scheduled for me, including a myocardial perfusion scan, which I don't think I've had yet, after which he has written "(silent ischaemia?)"

This possibility puts an entirely new complexion on things.  My mother died very suddenly in her mid 50s of ischaemic heart disease, having exhibited no symptoms that anyone ever knew about, although she did have many dizzy episodes which were put down to Meniére's disease.

I have to say that this has made me feel quite anxious, although I haven't told John or Charles.  John saw the letter but I don't think the phrase will have meant much to him.

Charles and I are both feeling unwell today anyway.  He had only three hours' sleep last night and has a terrible headache.  I was fine until I started home from Costco, when I started feeling sick.  I put it down to hunger as I'd eaten very little breakfast, much earlier than usual, but eating just changed it from nausea to a general feeling of unwellness.  Consequently our schedule is now miles behind.  I feel more or less all right now, though.

I did sit down this afternoon and wrap presents and do cards for the neighbours and a couple of people who sent me cards and who I hadn't sent one to.  I heard unexpectedly from my second cousin Pat who was my father's mother's niece.  Goodness knows how old she must be now,  I had rather imagined that she had died as I didn't hear from her last year, but she has moved again and is living in a retirement flat in Guildford.

At least I managed to get the gammon from Costco as well as the beef, although the gammon cost about double the price from the shop in the market, but I can't leave it till Monday as I need to soak it tomorrow night so that I can cook it for Christmas Eve dinner.

It doesn't look as though Charles will have time to steam clean the oven, but he needn't think that he's got away with it!  I shall make him clean it after Christmas now!

I still have to go to Aldi for something tomorrow, but I'm putting Charles and John on house-decorating and cleaning duties before I go.  I'm also making them do the final last-minute shopping for perishables at Morrison's on Monday, so that after I get back from Aldi tomorrow, I don't have to leave the house for anything until after Christmas and can concentrate on cooking and organising everyone else, which I do so well!

At least Charles' main Christmas present finally arrived this morning while John and I were out.  It's just as well I insisted that Charles got up and lay on the sofa, so that he could hear the doorbell, even if he was asleep, otherwise we might not have got it in time.  It's securely wrapped and hidden in the wardrobe now.

I can't understand why it's taken so long to come.  I understand that my Sis's Christmas present, also from Amazon, was delivered not very long after I ordered it, although they just threw it over the back gate as she was out and she didn't discover it until she went to put something in the dustbin.  Fortunately it hadn't rained before she found it.

Everything else I ordered from Amazon came about a fortnight ago, so I suppose it was just an evil fairy making sure that I remained anxious for as long as possible!

We have one of Costco's wonderful fresh giant pizzas to eat tonight.  I think that as I'm going to cook the beef tomorrow, I shall serve some of it for dinner with all the trimmings.  Normally we just have it cold in sandwiches over the Twelve Days  but if I'm going to cook it tomorrow, it makes sense to have some of it while it's still hot and wonderful.

Oh well, time to go down and put the pizza in the oven.  I must make the brandy butter which I forgot to do yesterday.

That naughty Bramble!  When we returned from Costco I unloaded the shopping and left the croissants on the kitchen table.  In the short time I was away, Bramble had managed to open the packet and eaten half of one croissant and a piece of another.  This isn't the first time he's done this. Bad, bad baby!
blackberry444: (Default)

I've finally had my hair cut and it looks and feels sooo much better!

Since it makes me feel so much better, I'd probably have it done more often, if it weren't so expensive.  It was £38.45 today!!!  I know I could probably have it cut for a lot less elsewhere, but this particular hairdresser is soooo good at cutting.................

So I look 10 years younger and feel so light!  This is good, because I've just remembered that I'm going out to Christmas lunch with Caroline tomorrow.

I can't stop touching my hair at the back and feeling how short and sleek it is!

My new shoes arrived from Hotter today.  I ordered two pairs in the Autumn sale months ago.  The first pair went out of stock and wasn't replaced and the second one arrived but was too tight, so I sent it back.  I've been trying to decide ever since which ones I would prefer at full price and finally decided last week.  They were normal price, but they've also sent me a free pair of black leather gloves.  I'm rather pleased about that because last time I treated myself to leather gloves I could only get grey in my size and since my good coat is black, I prefer black gloves.

The thing I love about Hotter shoes is that I can just put them on and wear them anywhere I like straight away;  there's no nonsense about having to wear them in or anything.  Wearing this new pair is like wearing slippers out in the street.  It's a relief, because my old pair of black loafers, which I bought cheap from Brantano, or whatever the shoe warehouse was called in those days, are beginning to be a little uncomfortable because I've worn the heels down on the outside edge.

This new pair is sooo comfortable and suitable for wearing with trousers or skirts, but I would like to get another pair of slip-ons which are lighter, to wear with skirts.  I'll probably leave it till the Spring now, because I can't really afford another pair just yet.

Charles' present still hasn't arrived, so I made him get up and lie on the sofa while I went to the hairdresser as I'm afraid the parcel will be delivered when I'm, out and John is working today.  He's gone to Congleton.  We thought he'd better go, even though it's inconvenient, as his van will  be MOTted tomorrow, and we've found in previous years that work will probably be very sparse after Christmas.

Actually, I've just looked at Amazon's last email again and it says it expects it to be delivered on the 22nd., which is Saturday, when we're all expecting to go in different directions for last-minute grocery shopping.  Sigh!  Maybe I shall get John and Charles to do the shopping with a comprehensive list, while I stay at home waiting for parcels and icing the cake.

The boiler is playing up again!  Yesterday it kept refusing to turn on and the pilot light went out.  It took ages of fiddling about and pressing buttons before it would go again.  It seems OK so far today, but I'm wondering whether we should try to get it looked at before Christmas, if it's possible to get it done.  John says we have insurance cover for heating repairs, and that they will supply the plumbers, but I bet there are conditions which this doesn't meet.  I can't find out at the moment as I've no idea where he's put the insurance documents.

It's such a relief to be able to put the heating on without worrying about the bills.  Atlantic have reduced our direct debits by 50%, thank God, and though they refunded me £300 (I was hoping for £400) the bills are paid right up to the end of November and they have enough in hand to probably pay the next one outright.  After Christmas John will see what USwitch have to say about our best option and we will probably change suppliers.  Presumably I will then get back the rest of the money.

Sometime I need to go to Costco to get the beef, but this afternoon seems a bit early, since it won't be cooked until Christmas Eve and there is no room at all in the freezer.  I seem to be in a strange sort of limbo at the moment where it's too early to do a lot of things which will overwhelm me later on when it is time to do them!

Maybe we should put up the decorations this afternoon and be really festive by the time John comes home.  This relies on Charles being in a good mood, though and he wasn't happy at being roused early this morning.

We'll see!
blackberry444: (Default)
Today I made John and Charles clear out the dining room and take a lot of stuff to the tip.  They also went to get the Christmas tree, but we haven't put it up yet.  We'll do that tomorrow, maybe, if we have time.

I made the almond paste and covered the cake this afternoon.  I've left it to dry out in the dining room, so the cats are banned from there again. They'd only been allowed back in for three hours or so, but Morgan managed to upset the pot pourri all over the floor and it's a miracle the container wasn't broken.  

I shan't ice the cake till Saturday because we don't like hard icing.  I wanted to make one with a big almond paste poinsettia on top, but I seem to have lost all my food dyes.  I don't know if I can face Morrison's again.  John and I went yesterday and it was absolutely horrid.  Thank God for my Blue Badge or we would have had to leave and go back another day.  I'm hoping I shan't have to do any other shopping except for getting the beef from Costco and the vegetables from Justin in Hexham.  Oh!  I've just remembered that Charles and I are going to Grainger Market in Newcastle on Friday for the gammon and pease pudding.

John and I did the Christmas cards this evening and we'll post them tomorrow on our way out.  There are fewer and fewer cards to do each year.  This year two couples have died and my cousin's wife has died.  It's very sobering.

Tomorrow is Charles' 32nd. birthday;  (God, that makes me feel soooo old!) and John is taking us all to the tapas bar in the Metrocentre for lunch, so we shall do a little last-minute present shopping.  I forgot to telephone and ask to hire an electric wheelchair.  I do hope they have one available, otherwise it will mean stumbling from one bench to the next.

I need to get a few more small things for Charles for Christmas and maybe a couple of things for John.  We've decided not to spend a lot this year as we're so broke, but John and I have clubbed together to get Charles a cheap digital camera because he's actually going to attend a course in the New Year! Unbelievable!  He does seem so much better lately, though.  This evening he was making silly jokes about his birthday, which is wonderful because he usually doesn't even want to acknowledge it.  I even heard him singing in the shower earlier!

The camera I've chosen is incredibly cheap from Amazon, but it has far more pixels than my own expensive Olympus which seems almost obsolete now that it's four years old.  I had terrible trouble recently finding somewhere to buy a 512 Mb card for it.  All the newer cameras use 2Gb cards, but mine won't take more than 512 Mb.

Charles' camera is really tiny but still has millions of pixels more than mine and a good zoom.  The customer ratings for it were really good.  I just wish it would be delivered soon.  The camera card, which came from an associate company to Amazon arrived days ago and the camera itself is alleged to be on its way.  I bet it comes tomorrow while we're all out!

I'm looking at my Christmas timetable and I'm only one task behind so far.  Sadly it's rather a large one.  Since the dining room has been out of commission for so long, all the ornaments on the dresser need washing, but so far there are a lot of gaps in the schedule to take up the slack.  In any case, as it's only the three of us for Christmas, it really won't matter if everything isn't perfect, just as long as we all enjoy it.

Fortunately I managed to get a hair appointment for Wednesday, which is rather good because it's the day before I'm going out for Christmas lunch with Caroline and her staff.  I don't know exactly where we're going apart from the fact that it's close to the office and is a new Italian restaurant.  I don't suppose it will be as wonderful as last year when we went to the Tree House in Alnwick Gardens, but it did make an awful lot of driving for a couple of people and I love Italian food, anyway.

I'm getting rather Christmassy and excited now!

CT Scan

Dec. 12th, 2007 11:38 am
blackberry444: (Default)
I went for my CT scan this morning. I was feeling rather nervous about it, so I got there early as they requested. Imagine my embarrassment when they said I'd been due to go yesterday!!  Sure enough, when I looked at the letter it was for the 11th.  How I came to put it in my diary for the 12th., I can't imagine.

I felt terrible because I know how busy that department is, but they managed to fit me in and in fact one of the radiographers said it was probably better that I'd come a day late, since yesterday was extremely busy and people were having to wait for hours.

I had to remove my bra and lie face down on the table with my head on two pillows and my hands clasped above my head.

They moved me into the scanner feet first and the machine kept telling me to breathe in.............
hold it.............................breathe normally......... breathe in...............hold it........................................breathe normally and again and again for about 15 minutes.

When it was finished and I got up I was weaving all over the place because I felt dizzy.  I don't know whether it was from having my hands above my head so long or from the deep breathing, but I felt a bit woozy for about an hour.

I do hope they manage to find out what's wrong.  I just can't be like this for the rest of my life!

I seem to have inadvertently finished my Christmas shopping really early, except for a few silly little tree gifts and the gammon, which I shall get from the stall in Grainger Market along with the sausage meat for the stuffing.  Charles is talking about making our own pease pudding, but I'll probably get a couple of cartons at that same stall, because they make the best pease pudding I've ever tasted.

Now I just have to keep my nerve and hope that everything arrives in time.  The PC game I've ordered for Charles' birthday hasn't turned up yet and his birthday is next Monday.  It was promised to arrive this week, and Amazon have never let me down yet!!

Oh dear!  I still haven't got the ground almonds for the marzipan yet.  They didn't have any in either Aldi or Lidl, so I suppose I shall have to go to Morrison's this afternoon, buggrit!

Ooops!  I haven't finished my cards yet!
blackberry444: (Default)
I've just done my Christmas wish list for John and Charles.

Apart from a couple of items I got last year, it's identical to last year's list.

How pathetic is that?


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