I was busy yesterday. We have our NCT Christmas get together on Sunday, and while I’m not feeling the most festive I’ve felt (Shaun claims I’m like this every year, I can neither confirm nor deny this as I can’t remember), I decided it was time to make things.
Stupidest thought so far when making things?
I wondered why they don’t have mixing bowls with a spout. Which of course is really just a large measuring jug. Also, I realise we need a food processor as all I have is a hand blender which held about half of the mixture which has probably made it a bit odd, but HEY. I cooked and people will survive to tell the tale. (edited later on – I also went and bought an Argos Value Processer for £15)
Firstly, I made some fudge based on this recipe. It was easy to do, but my hand ached after about 20 minutes of stirring and beating, and I think the fudge may have suffered for it (though looks pretty marvellous, it’s about half a cm thick) – I can’t help thinking I should have made some for nursery instead of for Sunday as it may well not survive once Shaun sees it.
I added some raisins but no rum.
Then I headed off to A Mummy Too and made these ones. This is the point I realised I need a proper blender. Handheld just isn’t good enough – plus there was a bit of smoke coming from the end of it (not a good sign, I think that’s what happened to the last one as well). Anyway, they look acceptable and are currently chilling in the fridge about to be rolled out and baked.
Sometime after this we’ve got to make our Christmas Cake (yes I know we’re cutting it fine) and have some interesting mincemeat roulade type things instead of mince pies from WeightWatchers (which come in at 1 point each!), then we should be all set for the big day.
One part of Christmas I really like is when all our drab dreary houses start to burst into a load of colour. The first time I ever saw houses with outdoor lights was back when we went to Dana Point in California at Christmas 1998. Everyone had such pride in their house, it may have looked all bright and tacky, but it was a well done bright and tacky. I grew to love the icicle lights on the edge of the rooves, and as for dancing Santa”s – hilarious! I’d only ever seen things like that on the front of shops.
These days house decorations are everywhere. We have a road near Morden Park where it’s almost compulsory to have your house decorated, and mid-way there’s someone doing the charity collection too. It’s great – especially when you’re three.
Actually, one small point. H sulked on Saturday before we went. She claimed Shaun and I hadn’t given her a turn to spot any housebling, and she announced she didn’t want to go. Luckily we turned the sulk around, picked up Jos from the station and then let her spot whatever she happened to fancy. Actually, hearing her exclaim amazement at things was like listening to a three year old going on thirty three. “ooh! What a beautiful snowflake! AH! A Blue fish!” and so on…
The houses around here are a bit lacking in bling – they used to be really good on the streets of Carshalton as you head towards St Helier Hospital, but no more. But it’s okay, as we have our Lower Morden Lane lights. They’ve even got their own Facebook page (though there’s not much going on there) but fortunately there’s others.
Was fantastic, as expected. It all went too quickly, it rained but stopped when we got there so it was muddy, but we had torches. We asked for an older present for H, so she got fairy wings which she’s beyond happy about which is great – and a Winnie the Pooh activity book which she loves too.
I’m tired and have so much to write about, but for now here’s a picture photoshopped in the hope it’ll look somewhere near acceptable. I need a new camera which takes good photos in the dark… on a budget.
So this afternoon was H’s nursery Christmas songs presentation – our first and last one – except Shaun couldn’t go. His work are installing a new system which he’s leading, so he couldn’t get away from work. I’ve videoed the lot in the hope it’s some consolation, but damn you work for getting in the way – it’s not like you get a second chance at this kind of thing.
My work were great about it, and I got there with ten minutes to spare, for the record.
H was a Christmas Tree. She got to stand up when the songs involved a tree which was great, as we received a Christmas Tree costume yesterday to review – and I have to say, while her nursery one was good, the one we’re reviewing is much much better. She loves it too which is good, as there’s an even more gorgeous tree dress but it was out of stock. More on that over at Mum Friendly soon…
Anyway, they sung six or seven songs, were all very cute, none of them were too shy and I was really pleased I didn’t burst into tears like I thought I would. H is currently rejecting my cuddles though, I’m SO proud of her, but she’s very much “mummy, leave me alone!” right now. Sob!
(to be sung to the tune of ‘Mistletoe and Wine’ please)
I have been tagged by Miss Cisco, and so I shall play.
What’s your favourite thing about Christmas?
My absolute favourite thing of all with Christmas used to be parties, going to York and watching the Theatre Royal panto (it’s a tradition we’ve not been able to do with H just yet) – the moment Berwick Kaler steps onto the stage and says “ME BABBIES! ME BAIRNS!” the same as it has been almost every Christmas Eve for over 20 years, my eyes kind of well up and I feel like I’m home, and Christmas can start. So that is my absolute favourite thing about it, as it’s like someone has started a fanfare and the celebrations can start. BUT! Now we have H so things change. This isn’t so bad, and we’re not in York which again isn’t so bad as we can do other pantomimes until it’s time. My favourite thing these days isn’t making sure I enjoy myself, it’s keeping the magic going for H and giggling away to myself at how easy it is to hide presents in the loft. So probably more the anticipation of it all.
What’s your favourite make-up look for the festive season?
I don’t have time to put on makeup, but I’d say a good concealer that hides my cholesterol spots and that blood spot on my nose, as well as the dark rings around the eyes. I have one Christmas party to attend (my work one) which I probably won’t go to (it’s not as much fun going on your own, and babysitters are expensive) – so any times I’d wear makeup would be when H has a party – so I don’t look too haggard in front of other mums.
Real or fake trees?
Fake plastic trees all the way, I’m afraid. Mainly so I don’t have to clean up too often bar the glitter…. and we have a nice little tree. Maybe next year depending where we are.
Having said that, I love our tree this year. There’s hardly any shop-bought decorations on (some Ikea baubles and some tinsel), and it has home-made or bought from crafty places ones instead (I buy one nice thing a year which usually ends up being two or three) which I like that little bit more – and it has our slightly scary but brilliant fairy on the top too.
Giving or receiving presents?
Giving. I don’t want anything for Christmas. Shaun and I are having a disagreement about this. I’d rather have money and spend it in the sales when I can get the same things for less, whereas he says I really don’t get the presents at Christmas thing, and insists on getting me something. But I don’t want anything… I don’t need anything. Everything I want or need I have here. I have settled on a pair of slippers, which H has insisted must be Princess Holly ones (I’m not entirely sure they’ll do my size) and then of course on discussing this we had to swiftly add in how I must ask Santa so H doesn’t get confused! Ohh these lies.
Do you open your presents in the morning or evening?
Morning! I don’t think we could hold H back until the evening. Or me. I’m just as excited when I watch her open her presents.
What’s your favourite Christmas film?
Not at all Christmassy, but The Sound Of Music at Christmas always made it for me. These days it’s discovering a Disney film that we really should have seen (see : Shrek, Toy Story, Finding Nemo) – again, not Christmassy, just shown on Christmas Day. I realise I could join LoveFilm and have done twice – but I’m one of those people who hangs on to films for five months before sending back so I may as well just buy them. If it absolutely has to be Christmas then all of them! We have some DVDs ready for this year, so everything may change by the New Year…
What’s your favourite Christmas food?
I’m all about the Quality Street. But Christmas dinner is always pretty good. Heston’s Orange in a pudding was pretty amazing last year, and our home-made cake was also pretty good (thanks Delia). I’m one of those people who is happy with once slice of cake and I’m done for the year which means Shaun has to eat it all instead (he doesn’t mind). Last weekend it was our local Frost Fair, and I discovered an ace vegetarian pie company who make a lovely spicy one, so I bought one from our Farmer’s Market last Saturday, which is in the freezer ready for me to eat in a couple of weeks. We don’t really have traditions… we’ve still got last years crackers too. Do crackers go off? So my favourite food is probably all of it – the sitting down as a family and stuffing your face and slobbing in front of the tv to watch a film for the afternoon while sipping on some tasty spirit. Yum.
Christmas really starts the first time I hear this first song. However, I first heard this song at least two weeks ago which makes it November, so I’m not sure if that still counts (Christmas does seem to be getting earlier each year). Nevertheless, it’s like the bit where Noddy shouts “IT’S CHRIST-MAAASSSS” at the end of the song, when you know it’s finally almost properly with us. But for starters, here’s The Waitresses; Noddy will have his time soon.
Alas, there’s no video on YouTube, just loads of people covering it or doing bass covers. Close your eyes instead, let those jolly sleighbell sounds take you away….
Shonen Knife are obviously exempt from any bad Christmas cover versions, though happily wrote their own which was a Seminal Twang single way back in the nineties. No christmas is complete without ‘Space Christmas’. Ladies and gentleman, Japan’s ultra-ultra eccentric super cult punk pop band Shonen Knife!
The Dandy Warhols covered ‘Little Drummer Boy’ and it sounds exactly like you’d imagine it.
See? It’s very good isn’t it? I always want to pick up a tambourine when I listen to them.
Now, I think of the days when I went to the pub on Christmas Eve. More often than not I’d be in York, and we’d have been to the Theatre Royal Panto, thus was our tradition. We’d sit in the same pub afterwards, we’d buy a bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale and someone would place their programme around it and we’d toast Berwick Kaler and comment on what a brilliant panto it was, and how it was yet again the same story as the previous year. (Berwick himself makes this gag all the way through) But yet we never had one particular song that commemorated that time – ‘Mistletoe and Wine’ was on, heck, I even remember ‘Boom Shake The Room’ (we were drunk), though there is one Christmas song which never fails to make me smile and reminds me of my old York Christmas Eve nights out… and that’s mainly because we’ve all been going for so long. Plus it always seems to be the first song I hear once settled in the pub. Slade, of course – the song that means Christmas is really here. ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’
This is an excellent song Rachel sent in our direction which has just been released to raise funds for Sense, the Deaf-Blind charity. It’s pretty rocking and I bought it from iTunes. It’s good, it’s different and it’s a good cause – it hasn’t been around long enough to be a classic, but that’s okay. (and if you like your retro toys then you need to watch the video too).
How about cooling down to a little Grandaddy? I first heard this on the ‘It’s a Cool Cool Christmas’ charity album released back in 2001ish. ‘Walking in an Alan Parsons Winter Wonderland’… where else will you build a snowman and pretend he’s Alan Parsons then, eh? You can feel that snow a-falling…. it’s nearly time to get those mittens on…
This is lovely. She & Him doing ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ which is rather splendid. She & Him are M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel. This isn’t a party song, it’s an end of the evening curling up in the warm kind of song, I reckon. Doesn’t make it any less festive either. Swoon. (and if you really need to take it a bit up-tempo as you’re driving then how about ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside‘ instead?)
I quite fancy The Arcade Fire being not very serious for once. I do like them, I really do, but they are terribly serious. Although I bet even when they’re making songs like this they have very serious faces.
But now to the utterly ridiculous. I LOVE it. When the Cocteau Twins sung ‘Frosty The Snowman’ (and ‘Winter Wonderland’) all us fans wondered what the hell was going on. It was odd. It STILL is odd. It gets played in shops at Christmas. It’s lovely. It’s still VERY odd. I would have loved to see them recording this. I bet they didn’t have serious faces like The Arcade Fire. I bet they were dying inside – though I bet they’re kind of happy they’re not forgotten.
Badly Drawn Boy next. This sounds all festive. I’m starting to think my Christmas tunes may be a bit ‘down’. Anyway, this was on the ‘About A Boy’ soundtrack, and we released it at work in time for Christmas on a limited 7″ single. I sold loads via Mail Order and it kept me ridiculously busy. I love this song, even if it made me a bit tired.
Of course, Christmas isn’t Christmas without the Phil Spector Christmas Album. Here’s Darlene Love doing ‘Winter Wonderland’
Time to scoff a mince pie, I think and wrap a few presents…
Edited to add : Chuitar comes up trumps again. Every now and then a novelty York City song comes from the genius brain of Chuitar, and this year it’s festive. Christmas is definitely a time not to be too serious, and I applaud Chuitar for that (even if it isn’t as catchy as ‘City At Wembley’…)
I had my second chiropractor appointment this morning, which started with the kind of lesson about my back that would have been really interesting in biology lessons (this is why I did so badly at biology – it didn’t make any sense) – as well as accompanying x-rays of my back. I do have a worn disc, and there are exercises and ways to make it bearable. I also (and this was quite fascinating) have a longer sacrum than is usual – I think they’re usually made of five bits of bone, but mine is six. It’s not hugely rare but it’s also not that common. So I had a tens machine on my back before a painful pressured massage and some moving of my legs to get things moving. So far, no pain afterwards which is good – and in fact my lower half of my body felt what would be classed as ‘lightheaded’ were it my head.
A quick lunch and we headed over the road to our local school fair where I bumped into a few people I knew and recognised – and there were a lot of mums who are hoping their kids go there next year – so I think whatever happens I’ll know some of the other mums there. We bought all kinds of things and headed on to the ponds for the Carshalton Frost Fair. We were promised a Farmers Market, and it kind of was, though lots of cakes and not much vegetable-wise. There was a yummy vegetarian stall – but I forgot their name. They were good anyway – and loads of random stalls.
We headed on to the Ecology Centre where they were also having their Christmas Fair, stopping for a coffee and catching up with more friends. It was there we found out about the Winter Wonderland trail which was perfect fun for two three year olds, and a nice wander around their grounds too. The trail ended with a trip to one of Santa’s ‘Elves’ with a big sack of presents – needless to say it was very popular and went down really well!
We headed back to the Frost Fair which by now was packed. The memorial gardens had some bands playing, where we caught a band called The Dirty Spoons – H started dancing, then joined J and the two of them jumped around on the steps and really enjoyed themselves (much to us parents’ amusement)
Adam recognised one of the songs they did as The Wiggles also did a version.
After that it was too packed to do much else so we headed for comfort at The Sun, which was also packed. Fortunately it was open outside so we went out there, and it was heated, fortunately. We bumped into more friends and got given the evils by another family as we had the heated seats (well, sorry – there was at least eight of us potentially and yes, we’ve got kids too even if they happen to be playing in the sandpit in the pub at that point). Anyway, we drank our beers, chatted and eventually it was time to go home.
It’s been a good weekend so far. Tomorrow, the tree.
Carshalton’s Christmas lights were switched on tonight, though we missed them. We got there though, and stood around. There was free mulled wine and gingerbread shapes for kids, raffles and competitions (that always appeals) and more mulled wine – the warm of the wine and the cold of the air made a great combination, although not so good for H.
We’ve a new shop called Jude Jewellery next to the wool shop, and while I’m not a jewellery person, they had a knitted hood type thing which is exactly what I need with my warm winter coat, to keep my throat nice and warm. So I bought one of those, I am nothing but not girly.
Or just not girly.
A Mickey Mouse balloon was bought for H, and we slowly wandered home in the cold. The ponds are frozen, the cold weather is here. We have three Christmas Fayre’s tomorrow and on Sunday I hibernate again, with a pile of DVDs to keep me company (I hope).
Okay, my advice. Close your eyes tightly. Wear earplugs. Stay in bed. Pretend it isn’t there and it’s the same day as any other. That way you’ll spend as much as you normally do, drink as much as you’d normally drink, and eat as much as you’d normally eat.
You cannot, however, rely on takeaways. They’re all (or mostly) closed. See also : pubs.
Also, avoid BBC1. Eastenders will be on too many times (quite frankly, once during the day is bad enough). Having said that, there may be some interesting Disney fluff which is always fun, unless you’ve already got it on DVD.
So there you have it. Christmas on a budget. Oh, and buy your presents on Boxing Day – they’ll be half price.