So I'd been thinking for a while about deleting my facebook account and I've taken the plunge. Twitter is definitely the new thing. It's the short sharp status updates I always liked rather than anything else, and Twitter strikes me as far less vain. And a lot more grown up. Sadly, facebook seems to be full of the juvenile and the ignorant. I'm sure Twitter has it's fair share, they're just a lot easier to ignore. I've met some new friends too, courtesy of Sara Soap, and found a splendid new blog that puts mine to shame. I think I'm going to enrol for a blogging master class. I would share the link but I'm mobile phone blogging this morning. I'm on a pickling drive at the moment, that's when I'm not on a yoga and doing nothing drive. It's all about food, getting out the jumpers and scarves and battoning down the hatches for winter. I love this time of year.
Finally we are again an online household. It's amazing how reliant we become on such modern commodities in such a relatively short space of time. I've never seen a teenager look so happy.
I wonder if it is totally coincidental that the 'net comes back on at the same time as the husband leaves? Maybe the Police have been monitoring his frequent visits to naked land rover sites, or the "caravans in compromising positions" he's been watching.
So the big event is done and dusted, and the pressure's off. So I celebrated by starting a new big project. Because I don't have enough going on already. Properly fitted and removable car seat covers, made, predominatly from a duvet set bought for £1 in a charity shop ages ago, because it matches my little golden shoe's interior. And because I want them to be quite protective, I've made the inner out of several layers of my good friend Pugface's bed sheets. Photos to follow, when I can be bothered to finish them. Not right now as I'm about to put mud on my teenager's head.
So I have a week (ish) sans husband. Hmmm. He has gone to a very worthy cause, and I wish I could have gone with, but there was no chance. It feels weird (but tidy, clean and free of documentaries on the nazis) when it's just the five of us, and the Labrador aint talking to us yet! SO what luxury will I afford myself while my better half is away? Overtime and Radio 4 in bed. Rock'n'roll.
Oh and before I go I must apologize to the peeps that were around my at the smashing GLC concert last night for the smell of fish. I'd like to say that it wasn't me, but it was. (at this point I'm very aware of the multi-age range that read this so am VERY aware of my overactive ability to be smutty) I read in a magazine a little while ago that a good hand treatment was to split open a couple of Omega 3 capsules and massage them into dry hands and cuticles.
Not to self - DON'T OPEN A COUPLE OF OMEGA 3 CAPSULES AND MASSAGE THEM INTO DRY CUTICLES BECAUSE A - IT DOES VERY LITTLE AND B - YOU SMELL LIKE A HARBOUR. We were all feeling quite sick by half 9, and I did wonder if my helping the INCREDIBLY drunk Newcastle girl find her boyfriend was a good idea, considering she was green when I found her ...
Having decided that gardening is not my thing, I was quite pleased to take delivery of my onions grown down the mountain. Luckily, our goat is of no use to man nor beast, so he hasn't eaten them, or anything else really, other than goat nuts and a few thistles. Weird creature.
So this is the busy week coming up, I have the secret event happening on Friday, so, the house needs to be spick and span, and the Christmas decorations up beautifully. I asked hubby if we had to bother doing it a second time in December (seems pointless to me!) and he just told me not to be so miserable!
It's my niece's birthday next month, so I made her the cushion cover at the top. It's really pretty and I'm quite pleased with it, didn't take too long either, about six hours. That's another one to tick off the list. I did buy the pink felt, (80p) but the ribbon was scrounged, the buttons I already had in the house, and the fabric is beautiful damask cotton (formerly my bedroom curtains!), so I hope it'll stay with her for many years to come.
The Christmas cakes are done. Finally. Never underestimate a Christmas cake. Now, the box that contains all the cakes is so heavy I can't even drag it. So on tho the next thing, the edible tree decorations. Having learned many valuable lessons from making the cakes, I am now perfecting the gingerbread BEFORE embarking on the big bake. I need a perfect batch for next week's exciting event, but then the big bake will be reserved for immediately before the presents are to be given, for freshness purposes.
Yay! Back to school day. I love my pet teenager, and I LOVE having her around, but I'm ever so glad on this day every year. It's not healthy for them to be stuck around the house for that long, but it's not really long enough to arrange a job or other activity.
Yesterday was an incredibly tough day, work wise, and today I feel a bit shattered. But I have just knocked out another four cakes and I'm still in awe about how much over my budget they have taken me, and just how long the whole process takes, not to mention the amount of mess that it generates on a kitchen.
I have had the telly on while I have been making a mess and I found a really interesting quote in the very strangest of places. On an advert.
In fairness, it was an advert for trendy but classic clothes for "ladies who know who they are" (as opposed to being old!) and the voice over lady said as part of her patter "shop to buy, not to shop". ooo, now that's important, isn't it? I think that's the key.
I have had a very nice request too. A good friend of mine who is a teacher, has asked me to come to her school and give a talk in assembly to the children who will be embarking on a "no spending" day in November...how excited am I?!
I once heard that the mark of a good recipe is the mess that it gets in. In that case, I think I have the best recipe in the world!
Crikey, if you ever thought that making a Christmas cake is easy, you have another thing coming. On the plus side, I have got one that's available for current eating and one test one that's living with the other gift ones for quality monitoring over the next few months. Honest!
The recipe "in print since 1978" was lies. It said "bake on the bottom shelf of the oven for 4 1/2 to 4 3/4 hours on gas mark 1" well they weren't cakes, they were Christmas puddings. So I put them back in for another hour on gm1, no good. Another hour on gm4, still a bit gooey. 45 minutes on gm 6 and that pretty much did the trick. So, the next batch, I decided to only do two at a time, but I cooked them for 2 hours on gm3.5 then two hours on gm 1, then I turned the oven off and allowed them to continue cooking while the oven cooled. They came out pretty damned perfect, I must say.
I bought a big clear plastic air tight stacker box to keep them in last week. The smell when you lift the lid is just to die for, but I can barely lift the box already and there are only 5 cakes in there. There'll be 13 by the time I've finished. I have another two in the oven as we speak, another 4 are prepped ready to cook on Monday. I'm working tomorrow so I'm not going to get chance to cook them. I'm still struggling to think how I'm going to present the cakes in the hampers though. I guess I'll see how much cake boards are, I could go for one of those and some cling film. I supose if I could get my hands on some really strong cardboard, I could make round cake boards myself cunningly using foil.
As usual, I've learned several valuable lessons making these cakes:
Never underestimate the work, love, attention and blinkin' expensive ingredients in a Christmas cake.
Always have a practice run with a new recipe (schoolgirl error - sorry Mrs Phillips :) )
Go with your gut instinct to save money and ingredients (I dispensed with the very expensive candied peel and after 6 cakes decided to also dispense with the fresh orange and lemon zest because they it was an awful lot of extra work for very little result, AND, not everyone likes peel).
It makes you feel very smug in September when you're virtually ready for Christmas!
I don't know if I mentioned that I have completed the kids Christmas sacks. They turned out really well and have given me some ideas for what the children will be getting next year. It's never too early to start planning! However, I have managed to overlook another two birthdays coming up so I'd better get cracking on that. Not really got any ideas yet either. Hmmm.
And the other thing I have to do this week, other than make some edible gingerbread Christmas tree decorations, is make my Christmas cards. Luckily, Meg and I had a brainwave involving blank cards bought cheaply and one sheet of expensive gift wrap. A couple of hours that'll take, and that'll be another job ticked off the list.