Archive for December, 2011


Well the evening started off well.  We met in the beautiful village of Shere to gather in the square to sing Christmas Carols and apart from the lack of snow, it was like a scene from The Holiday, minus Jude Law!  The pub was so crowded I didn’t even manage a glass of mulled wine, which was fine .. I was driving anyway.  We sang numerous carols, and even though I had forgotten to bring my reading glasses, I even managed to read the words .. well sort of.  And then the pub crawl continued.  The next pub had no queue, and the drinks were flowing, and the final pub was walking distance to my house.  All was going well . My husband and youngest daughter, four lovely young men and another set of responsible parents.  And then the landlord offered us Vodka Jelly Shots.  Haven’t drunk vodka since my 16th birthday when I downed 16 shots of vodka, and had my first ‘never again experience’.  I think I was trying to re-live my youth and forgot that vodka shots possibly don’t agree with me!  Anyway, the rest is history.  I had some help filling the stockings, and don’t remember too much more, although I believe there is some video evidence floating around!



As for Christmas day .. well apparently I had got to bed around 2 am, and my middle daughter woke me up at 6.30 am looking for an asthma inhaler which she had left at Uni!  so I didn’t have a chance to get a hangover, because I was still drunk!  I had laid the table the day before, and all that smug planning I have been doing for the last couple of weeks paid off .. lunch for 12 sorted and apart from a book in an Anne Summers bag from my daughters boyfriend titled Sex 365 Positions, I got all I wanted for Christmas!


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Only two more sleeps till Santa Claus comes, and all seems to be going according to schedule.  My last Xmas present was delivered today by Dave, my postie, and I had to refrain from hugging him!  I even ordered two new dog beds from Pets at Home yesterday with a special 20% internet discount, and much to my amazement they arrived today too!  The only fly in my ointment was that Wilfred decided to roll in some foul smelling substance on his walk this morning, so he doesn’t deserve his clean bed-clothes really!   So I am all wrapped and labeled and even have some spare gift wrap available so that when my children do their last minute wrapping, I can still remain calm and in control!  I still have a couple of rogue Christmas cards that need delivering and I am wondering who I shall delegate that to tomorrow!

My Ocado delivery actually arrived early and everything was present and correct except for a punnet of cress .. on the basis that my chickens are on a go slow, egg and cress sandwiches are off the menu so it isn’t a problem anyway!

Today seemed like a good time to refresh my first table arrangement that I made about 10 days ago, so I stripped it completely, salvaged all the reusable bits, and added fresh greenery, mistletoe and some new red roses.  It seems to look a bit more wild than my first one, but it will do for another week at least.


I had hoped to make another batch of pastry today as I am clean out of mince pies, but got distracted by laying the table for Christmas Day instead.  So that can be a job for tomorrow morning along with the big house clean.  Wish that could be delegated too!  And now it is time to watch my all time favorite Crimbo movie … Love Actually ..  I have made a pact with my three girls that every Christmas we have to all sit down together with a boxes of Celebrations and tissues and watch what is probably my all time favorite chick flick.  And every time I watch it, I still salivate at the scene when the extremely fit,hot, bronzed, honed young man (Rodrigo Santoro) is trying to get with the dumb american girl (Laura Linney) and she seems to think talking to her barking brother is more important than him .. epic fail!!



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Well I am now beginning to question my sanity!  Last night I had a quick check to see what time M & S opened today, as the most important thing on my list today was to secure the turkey.  To my surprise for the next couple of days it opens at 7am, so possibly because I like to be ahead of the game, or crowds in this situation, I set my alarm for the crack of sparrows and found my self driving into Dorking before it was light!  And I am happy to report that my dawn mission paid off.  Firstly the car park was empty.  Not only did I get the last two free range Turkey’s in the chiller, I was offered by a lovely girl (shop assistant) a whole side of fresh salmon for £5 which I have stashed in my freezer for a later date!  I managed to fill up a little trolley in no time, and at the checkout was greeted by a friend of mine who was working on the till, so I had a natter whilst loading my groceries into my own free carrier bags.  All in all a very stress free and pleasant experience although a little early in the day!

On returning home, I quickly prepared my Delia Smith Parmesan Parsnips, and they are open freezing now, whilst I write this.  My final pre-Christmas job on the list for today was to make a dining room table decoration.  I managed to buy some beautiful red roses that had been tipped in gold glitter, and some bronze sprayed thistles from M & S earlier, totaling £11.  I foraged in the garden for greenery and mistletoe, and then made a display pushed into oasis that was secured to a plastic plant saucer.  I have to say I was pleased with the outcome, and am enjoying the new-found florist within me!

Tomorrow I plan to rejuvenate the display that I made last week, with some fresh greenery, and take delivery of my ridiculously expensive Ocado shop, which I booked back in October …..  always an early bird eh!?

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Well the countdown to Christmas is truly underway with less than a week to go!  I am working through my list, with a couple of cooking jobs scheduled for today and yet another delivery of mistletoe to my local Kingfisher Farm Shop.  I was just reading an article on the BBC website that mistletoe is a dying species and under threat of extinction!  Not sure I should be harvesting it daily, but the mistletoe season is very short so I can’t miss this opportunity!

I now have to admit, that I only completed one of my pre Christmas cooking tasks today due to time constraints!  I have made the Delia Smith Cranberry and Orange Relish, to go with our turkey, and popped it in the freezer.  Another very simple recipe and so much nicer than the shop bought variety  …  it’s such a beautiful vibrant burgundy colour laced with Port and packed with the zingy flavour of fresh cranberries.  Got a house full of family to entertain tomorrow, so I think it’s unlikely that my Parmesan Parsnips will be prepared!  It’s ok though …  everything is under control (famous last words!).

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Well, I feel like I have been in the kitchen all day .. wait, that’s because I have!!!  Started by serving porridge with blueberries and bananas to my first house guest, swiftly followed by a ham and cheese panini for my next resident!  Respite down the garden harvesting my next delivery of mistletoe and a few leeks, followed by rustling up some warming leek and potato soup for general consumption. The next house guest appears for brunch which consists of freshly laid egg muffins and some of my fresh from the Magimix soup, oh and did I mention I had served a portion earlier with cheese muffins to my husband.  3 out of 6 residents are dispatched to work and I am still beavering away in the kitchen!  Checked my tin for mince pies, and to my surprise, the tin is virtually empty!  Luckily I still have some more of my orange pastry in the fridge, so I quickly make another batch and warn 2 of the residents they are for tonight and not to be touched!  I quickly make some cheese straws and safely squirrel them away, as they are for later too.  And now on to the dish that I am making for the guests that are just about to arrive at my door.  It’s a Mary Berry recipe for Chicken with Pesto, Taleggio and Roasted Vine Tomatoes  It is so quick and easy to prepare ahead of time, and tastes like you have spent ages in the kitchen (even though I have!)  It is from one of my favorite books at the moment called Cook up a Feast.  For pudding I have made a Passion Fruit and Ginger Trifle which is a Nigella Lawson recipe from Nigella Express which is another book that is always to hand, and smeared in ingredients from over use!!  My daughter came up with the title when I was just about to publish this blog; she said “Mum, you really are hostess with the mostess!’ whatever that means!?

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Well I am happily working my way through my list and today was making and freezing breadcrumbs for the bread sauce, and hand delivering home-grown mistletoe to my neighbours!  This was in addition to making some banana and blueberry muffins and a giant vat of chilli for the returning residents of Hotel Lapin!  We even had another flurry of snow earlier and it feels really chilly again, and I thought I should share with you the latest animal garment craze that is hitting the streets …

It’s a Leopard Furry Animal Hat by Spirit Hood.  Forget your onesies!   This is the one that you want for going out and about over this festive season.  It comes in a whole range of different animals including Grey Wolf, Skunk, Owl, Tiger, Grizzly Bear, Black Navajo Wolf and retails at around £105. When you purchase a Spirit Hood with the PRO BLUE logo, they donate 10% of net profits to a non-profit organization dedicated to helping that particular Spirit animal.  Take a look at Whats About Town via the link above and go on … unleash the beast in you or a loved one!

Product Details – Made in Los Angeles

Faux fur: 100% Acrylic, Lining: 50% Linen 50% Rayon. Inner cap size 18 inches. Scarf Length: 25 inches”. One size fits all.

Tomorrow I plan to share with you one of my favourite recipes from Mary Berry that I will be making for a family dinner!!

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So today is the day to get ahead with the preparation of some food items, that will  make the big day less stressful and more enjoyable to us domestic godesses!   I made a double lot of of the delicious orange pastry that I use for my mince pies, and I also invented a fruity stuffing to go with my Christmas day Turkey.  I made the mincemeat about a month ago, which was so easy, and if you haven’t made any yet and have a minute over the weekend, I always use a Delia Smith recipe which is quick and idiot proof!  Below are the three stages of development from the mincemeat prior to being cooked, then in the jars waiting followed by the finished article!

As for the orange pastry… I think I originally got this recipe from my dear friend Mrs Mad, and I have since passed it to all my friends as it is the most delicious pastry recipe I have ever used.

In a food processor, combine 1lb plain flour, with 12oz butter and 6oz icing sugar.  Then add the zest and juice of an orange and combine until it forms a dough. This can then be kept in the fridge and used as required.

The next job that was ticked off my list today was making the stuffing for Christmas day.  I prefer a non-meaty stuffing and couldn’t find a recipe for what I fancied, so I softened an onion with some smoked garlic, added some chopped chestnuts, apricots, an apple, some sage, juice and zest of a lemon, some fresh white breadcrumbs with heaps of seasoning and bound it with one of my freshly laid eggs.  Then I had a vision and decided to roll it into two long log shapes, in cling film, ready for the freezer, so that on the big day I can cook it and slice it into perfect portions making it so simple to serve whilst looking aesthetically pleasing!  After all, you eat with your eyes!!

Next job will be my cranberry sauce … the cranberries arrived in my Tescos delivery but I forgot to order an orange .. dementia again!!

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