Monday, 26 December 2016

Boxing Day

Aunty Edith and Ken came round for tea as did Matthew, Sophie and Sienna. The first two have been expected since last Boxing Day, the other 3 were last minute additions.

We swapped gifts, had a good chat and spent a lot of time fussing over Sienna which often happens when she's here. Poor Aunty Edith had taken another tumble in her house on Christmas Eve and is sporting a whopper of a black eye. 

The table was laid yet again....

For our traditional tea of ham salad followed by a home-made trifle, Christmas cake and mince pies, although thinking about it I may have cheated last year and bought the trifle.  
Just a few snapshots of the past couple of days for posterity.

Christopher Elf has returned home. As a thank you present he left Thomas and Amy a pair of elf socks with bells on :)
The Christmas Eve Games went down well especially the 'Minute to Win It' challenges. I didn't realise that for such a laid back family we're actually quite competitive.

Amongst others we did a one handed pyramid stack
A malteser pick up - which for all the lung capacity they have when it comes to talking Mum and Thomas were both totally rubbish at and didn't manage to pick any up!
And a snowball toss - much harder than it looks.
Christmas Day started later than usual but was still as exciting. Presents were opened.
And as well as more traditional gifts some very strange ones were found under the tree. 
Pre-lunch fizz and canapes turned into lunch
And lunch turned into an evening meal
I received lots of gifts. A new book, candles, chocolates, slippers, perfume. All the things I love.
And from Amy a calligraphy pen. What a fantastic and original present. She chose it herself when she was in London. I've had a go at 'normal' writing with it and it's lovely to use. I can't wait to have a go at calligraphy or cursive writing. When she gave it to me she said "it's for a new hobby" and I'll definitely be taking this up. 
And that's it. Christmas is done and dusted for another year at Number 38. Everybody has gone home and I'm sat down with a brew. We've had three days of fun, good food and excellent company. Gradually gifts will be put away, the festive food will disappear, decorations will be taken down and life will return to normal.

And as much as I've enjoyed it, normal definitely has a certain appeal to it now.

Thank you all for your comments during my 14 Days of Christmas. The biggest part I miss when not blogging every day is chatting to all you lovely people.

I'll be blogging again next Sunday but will be back on the gram this week.

Hope you all have a lovely week. 


Sunday, 25 December 2016

On the first day of Christmas....

.... I'd like to wish you all A Merry Christmas! 

Plans changed here a little time wise and food wise. I've realised this year that when you get up at 5am with children there is no problem at all fitting a big breakfast, lunch and tea into a day. When FC is no more and children rise at a decent hour it's a little harder. Breakfast was late which meant pre-dinner canapes turned into lunch and lunch turned into an evening meal. But the whole day has been really relaxing and we've done everything at a leisurely pace which has been lovely.

The games last night were fun although we ran out of time and energy for the talent show so that was done today. In fact, we've not long finished. Mark was the winner. He did impressions of us all which were absolutely spot on and hilarious. 

I will post some pictures over the next couple of days and reply to all your lovely comments tomorrow. 

Hope you've all had a lovely day whatever you've been doing and whoever you've spent it with.


Saturday, 24 December 2016

On the 2nd Day of Christmas......

..... all the usual preps took place.

The turkey and ham are cooking, the vegetables and potatoes are peeled, the Christmas cake has been iced and the ancient decorations have been stuck on.
Secret Santa gifts have been exchanged. 
And the games prize table has been set up.
A few G&T's have been drunk.  Followed by coffee to stop me sleeping the rest of the day away.
Now it's just a case of enjoying the build up.

Hope you are all enjoying your Christmas Eve whether it be laid back and relaxed or full in in your face festivities. 

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas. 


Friday, 23 December 2016

On the 3rd Day of Christmas....

.... I woke up with a slight 'morning after the night before' feeling, although 2 cups of tea and 2 slices of toast soon sorted that out. Here's my annual selfie, wearing my trusty sparkly top that comes out at Christmas. 
Manchester wasn't as busy as I thought it would be, in fact there was nobody around.  This is outside the Town Hall where one of the Christmas Markets was.  Maybe it'll be a different story this weekend.
I did a bit of a party table for Amy, Thomas and my Mum before we went out. Just a few sandwiches, sausage rolls, crisps and sweets. They obviously enjoyed it because there wasn't much left when we got home. 
Today has been spent pottering around the house doing a few bits and pieces, but nothing very much really. I bought a panettone yesterday, just a little one which I'm looking forward to trying.
The weather here has been wet, windy and grey. It would appear Storm Barbara is on her way. A 10 minute downpour and gusts earlier on resulted in a broken shed panel on one side of the garden.
And it blew one panel down completely on the other side. 
Apart from the damage it was quite nice that it was dark enough to light the candles mid afternoon.
It's my nephew's 18th today. He's brother to our niece who turned 13 on Monday. This week is always busy for their family, 2 birthdays as well as Christmas but this year it's been extra busy. He's having a party tonight but his sister does ballroom dancing and it's her presentation so me, Mum and Thomas are taking her there and we'll just pop in for a bit when we drop her off. 

Two nights out on the trot for me, but definitely no drinking tonight as I'm driving. Not a bad thing really. I wasn't keen on how I woke up feeling this morning and don't fancy a repeat tomorrow. 

Not long to go now. 2 more sleeps!!!


Thursday, 22 December 2016

On the 4th Day of Christmas....

.... I did my Christmas shop and bought the turkey. I've put it in the fridge and will get it out tomorrow to continue defrosting so it can be cooked Christmas Eve. 

It's been a day of doing bits and bobs like covering the  Christmas cake in marzipan.
Then making chocolate marzipan balls for Mum with the left overs. She's coming down later to stay with us until Christmas Day or longer if she wants.  She comes and stays over on Christmas Eve but I wanted her to come earlier this year as I fancied her company a bit longer than for just an overnight stay. Plus she's the only one brave enough to pull the neck out from inside the turkey!
While the kitchen was a mess I decided I may as well make Thomas some Christopher Elf Cookies as they will forever be known at Number 38. He thinks they're delicious. 
Amy has been helping Thomas with his talent show props for Christmas Eve. Oh, I haven't told you what I'm doing yet have I. A one woman Nativity shadow show. You know the thing, where you stand behind a sheet and you become a shadow. Should be fun as I have several characters to play and of course it will all go wrong, so I very much doubt I'll be £10 richer at the end of it, but at least it will be a laugh. 
I've had a re-jig of some of the decorations and Betty Boop has now joined us for Christmas. The ivy has gone, it had dried up and I couldn't be bothered to cut any more. More candles have also been bought.
And a little bunch of cream roses with some of my Christmas twigs have been added to the dining table. 
Would you look at what Christopher Elf did this morning after Thomas sneaked in bed for a cuddle and went back to sleep. He must have been out for the count because apart from a couple of nose wiggles he didn't move while I did this. Shame Christopher could only draw freckles on one cheek.
I was expecting him to walk around most of the day like this, but his morning routine is to obviously admire himself in the mirror because within 2 minutes of him going in the bathroom he shouted "MUM, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE". 
Tonight we are out with my brother and his partner. We're going to The Albert Square Chop House. We went for Marks' 50th and it's definitely worth a re-visit. I was prepared for the area to be heaving with people as it's near the town hall where one of the Christmas markets is set up, but apparently the markets all packed up yesterday so it probably won't be half as bad as I expected.

Right, going to have a brew and an hour with my feet up. It's an early start tonight, a 6pm set off, eating at 7pm. Which suits me fine. The older I get the more a late meal doesn't agree with me so eating early is perfect. 

Hope you've all had a lovely day and the Christmas excitement is beginning to build up. 


Wednesday, 21 December 2016

On the 5th Day of Christmas.....

.... Amy finished college. She got a text last night saying the last day had been brought forward to today, but as she only had one English Lit lesson and they were watching the film 1984 she didn't bother going in. So we are now all on holiday together which feels better. 

We went to see Joan this morning and took her cards and presents. She showed no interest in them at all until she opened a box of Toffifee and then she came alive, the little minx. Today she thought Mark was his cousin Ken and Thomas was Mark. Usually she thinks Mark is  her husband, Tom. No wonder she gives me some looks when I visit. She's probably wondering what I'm doing with her hubby!
As it's one of the few times over the holiday where we'll actually all be up, dressed and ready to go out at the same time we decided to go for lunch afterwards. I had a poached salmon sandwich and a bottle of prosecco; after all, it is the season to be jolly.
We'd gone to Housing Units so after lunch we had a look around the store. We were only here a couple of weeks ago with Sienna and Christmas was in full flow, but already it seems to be over in retail. All the displays bar one had been cleared and pretty much everything was half price. There was loads of stuff left, so I might go down in the New Year and see if more reductions have been made. 
I started to watch Midsomer Murders this afternoon but couldn't get into it so decided to be more productive and clean the bedrooms instead. Well, a quick wipe down, bedding changed and floors swept constitutes cleaning this week. That's one of the best things about Christmas decs, I don't do any dusting until they're put away. 

Christopher Elf stole my wrapping paper last night and wrapped the kitchen cupboards up. Tonight I'm bringing Amy on board to help me out with his naughtiness. 
He's leaving us Friday night and I can't say I'll be sorry to see him go. 


Tuesday, 20 December 2016

On the 6th Day of Christmas....

.... I ate my first mince pie of the season. They're only little, 2 bites and they're gone so I had another three! Not all at once though. Delicious.
Christopher Elf went camping last night. Looks as though he had good fun melting marshmallows and reading ghost stories. 
I did a bit of Christmas food prep this morning and made mushroom and cheese sauce for the vol au vents. On the day I'll add some bacon to the cheese one and black pudding and bacon to the mushroom.  
Thomas will be my waiter on the day and as he likes to do things properly I've bought this plate and some cheap champagne glasses so he can serve our pre-lunch fizzy and nibbles in style.
Matthew and Sophie's boiler broke at the weekend and the earliest anybody from Homeserve can come out to look at it is tomorrow. Anyway, Matthew came round for a shower today and brought Sienna with him. Her and Sophie have both got colds and he says the house is freezing. Sienna could have stayed but Matthew says she's not sleeping and to be honest I can only just about cope with feed wake ups let alone a poorly baby who isn't sleeping at all. 
And once again the events in Berlin last night remind me how fragile the world is. Those poor people and their families. I've told Amy to steer clear of the Christmas markets this week. A lot of people say we should carry on as normal and I admire that train of thought, but for the sake of a bratwurst and a bit of atmosphere I'm not willing for her to risk her safety just to prove a point. If she's desperate she'll probably find the same sausages, cheese, chocolate and mulled wine at our local Lidl store anyway. 


Monday, 19 December 2016

On the 7th Day of Christmas....

..... our niece who is also our god-daughter turned 13 today so I went up to see her at Mums with her cards and birthday money. She's a lovely young lady and is a real credit to her Mum and Dad. She's the niece who gave me flute lessons earlier in the year although I have to confess I let the flute and the dancing lessons slip a few months ago when the caravan, quilting and crochet took over my life.

I popped into Middleton this morning for some silver stars. Last Christmas I prettied the dining chairs up a little bit and I thought I'd kept the ribbon and stars in the decorations box but couldn't find them so needed some more.

While I was looking back over my blog to see how I'd done the chairs I had a quick flick through my December posts last year to see what we'd got up to. There were a few things I'd completely forgotten about. Anybody remember the anagram/riddle card game I posted throughout December? There's also a great photo of Thomas having a donkey ride at the garden centre and a photo of some Christmas cushion covers I sewed. It made me a bit sad that even though last Christmas only seems like yesterday that I'd forgotten a lot of things. What it did reinforce though is because my memory is really poor I need to keep this blog going to remind myself of what we've done.

I forgot to take a photo of Christopher Elf this morning but last night he went swimming with little armbands on. I'd made him a diving board out of cocktail sticks and used embroidery thread to create swimming lanes. Miffed that I didn't take a photo but never mind. 

Tomorrow I am definitely going to make time to sit down with one of these tomorrow and a cup of tea. I think I must be the only person who hasn't had a mince pie yet. Don't feel sorry for me though, I've made up for it with plenty of chocolate and other cakes.
And Mark decreed today that there will be a talent contest at Number 38 on Christmas Eve. We have a maximum of 3 minutes each for our slot and there will be a £10 prize for the best turn. I've made a start on assembling the equipment I need to win! 
Not that I'm competitive of anything :)


Sunday, 18 December 2016

On the 8th Day of Christmas.....

..... we visited Tom's sister. She's very easy company. There's no conversation as such, all we do is sit there and let her talk. She doesn't come up for air but to be fair she's quite entertaining.

When we got home I made some sandwiches and then me and Amy sat and watched The Snowman. It gets Amy every time. She blubs like a baby at the end when he's melted away. 

I popped some stollen into the shopping trolley this week which we've never tried before. It's a butter one because Mark isn't keen on marzipan. It's quite a dry loaf but very nice with butter or jam. Another thing I've never tried is panettone. I might pick one up this week although according to google the only difference, apart from shape, is that stollen has marzipan and twice the amount of fruit in it. 
Christopher Elf sneaked into Thomas' bedroom last night and pinched his light shade and a pair of his underpants, then made a hot air balloon and went for a ride around the house. I think he gave Amy quite a scare in the night when she came down for a drink. Usually I tell her what he's up to but she was asleep when I went to bed so she wasn't prepared for him to be dangling from the ceiling when she came down.
And I've stuck all the tickets on the double or quits board for our Christmas Eve game. There's a prize on every ticket but there are also some Humbug tickets and if you choose one of them you lose everything you've won so it's all very much a gamble. I can tell you now Thomas will be nearly wetting himself playing this. 
And that's about it. The days are pretty much ticking over as they usually do here. There's nothing especially Christmassy going on and having decorated the house, written and posted the cards and bought and wrapped the presents it now all seems very laid back and just a case of waiting for it to arrive. 
Which won't be long now. Only 7 more sleeps and it will be here.

Just have to tell you this before I press publish. Amy has just said to me "I was telling somebody the other day you use a Halifax". Me and Mark looked at each other and burst out laughing. She means my filofax!

She's on her way out to see her best friend John. They've known each other since pre-school although it's only in the past couple of years they've become really close. When you see them together you'd easily think they were boyfriend and girlfriend but that's definitely not the case. This is his Christmas present from her, a beautifully wrapped box, full of bath bombs from Lush! 


Saturday, 17 December 2016

On the 9th Day of Christmas.....

..... I started the day with a lie in and didn't get up til 10am! Then I sat myself down with a brew and had a chat to all you lovely people who leave me comments :)

Christopher Elf commandeered the Xbox room last night and installed laser beams across the doorway to stop Thomas getting in.
Of course when they saw what he'd done this morning both Amy and Thomas just had to see if they could wriggle through without touching the beams.
They both managed quite easily (as did I haha), and Thomas has spent the rest of the day going in and out of the room on his tummy playing some sort of war game. Occasionally he will launch himself from the door frame to the other side of the dining room after touching the lasers and being zapped, all done to some pretty good noise effects, which boys seem to be really good at. Funny what can keep them entertained isn't it. 
I brought Mum down for a brew this afternoon. She's not been out of the house for nearly 2 weeks and said she was going stir crazy. She's a lot better already thanks to the antibiotics although she was struggling to take the inhaler properly so we went to the chemist to buy a spacer and a mask which she says has made a big difference.

On the way back from dropping her home I went and had my Christmas hair cut. The girls were all excited about their works do tomorrow night at a local hotel which is holding a Narnia themed event. Can't say I particularly miss works dos although the school ones used to be fun. Teachers are crackers after a couple of glasses of wine. 

And that's really it for today. It's been foggy and misty and grey but that's fine by me. It's a good excuse to stay cosy indoors. I hope it stays in winter weather mode until Christmas Day. If snow isn't on the agenda then grey and foggy will do just fine. I'm not a fan of waking up to sunshine on 25th December, it  just seems wrong on all counts. 

Hope you've all had a lovely  Saturday. This time next week the big jolly man will be loading his sleigh!