Friday, December 31, 2010

Out with the Old

Ladies and gentlemen, in true style, I am at home NYE. Boy and his friends have gone off, looking fabulous, for an all night party. I'll see them at some point tomorrow.

I had intended to do a lot of things. Instead I ended up at Ms Boxer's New Year party. We're partying like a Prince song and for every comment, Ms Boxer will be making a donation to a local charity of choice.

The vodka fountain is plugged in. There are games and nibbles.

Partying virtual stylee...

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Shopping Local

Long-time readers may remember I used to work at the only Independent Department store in Norwich. It's been two years since I worked there and it's still my favourite place to shop. Firstly, because I get to see all the girls and catch up on the gossip and secondly, because I really do believe in supporting local business.

This department store has always been a family-run business and family remains at the heart of it. It's not unusual to find several family members working there, or people who've worked there for years calculated in double digits. The recession has hit the business hard, but I'm pleased to see it's still going strong.

When I ventured into the sales, that's where I went first. It's great to be served by someone I knew. Boy now has new bedroom furniture on order and while I was there, I bought a sofa. Now, I've had the futon for the past 10 years. It was a cheap alternative to a sofa bed and for the first 3 years it was comfortable. Futons aren't meant to be sat on regularly. The stuffing compacts into concrete. I got round that by draping a duvet over it. About 3 years ago, I'd had enough and bought a proper sofa bed. In chocolate leather, so the cat doesn't shred it to buggery. Obviously, with the sofa bed innards it was more expensive that it needed to be, but I wanted shot of the futon.

Boy was not happy. He liked the futon. He spent most of his time stretched out on it...his prefered position. So, I kept it. We moved house and I grumbled about the futon. He insisted. But then he started to relent when I brought the subject up. In the run up to the Festive Season, I saw lots of adverts for new sofas and began to covet one that has reclining seats. I looked one up on the internet...I put it to the back of my mind.

On Tuesday, I went shopping. The furniture section was quite busy. Shoppers looking to snag a bargain before the VAT increase on the 4th of January. While I waited, I sat on a very comfy sofa. It had a little lever on the side. I played with it. Suddenly, my feet were raised and I was lying back. I looked at the price and made the decision.

Yesterday, I got a call from their warehouse to say they would like to deliver the sofa in the morning between 8 and 12. Oh yeah, thought I, being of cynical nature and having previous experience of waiting in for such things and plumbers. I was dozing at about 8 o'clock this morning. I was aware of time, having prised my eyes apart to look at clock, but I figured it would be at least 11 before they showed. The phone rang. They were just dropping some furniture off down the road and they'd be 20 minutes.

I got dressed, woke the teenagers, put the kettle on and went outside for a smoke. Boy kept me company. I'd had two puffs and there they were. The delivery guys were cheerful and chatty. They put a mat down before they hauled the bits in. They explained how it all went together. They needn't have wasted their time, all I heard was 'blah, blah, blah', but they looked happy delivering their explanation, so I let them carry on. They made sure it fit where it was to go, they made sure everything was working, drank their tea and off they went.

Needless to say, I am writing this upstairs in my study. As soon as the delivery men had gone, the teenagers comandeered the new sofa and the x-box to play Call of Duty.

I see who's in charge in this household.

What became of the futon? I hear you ask. Well, Gee said she could use it for one of her lads. JD (her husband) came around yesterday and evicted it for me. So all in all, I'm a very happy bunny.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Isolation

I realise that over the festive period, I may have become a tad insular. Yesterday, was the first day I'd been out since Friday. I spent a shit load of money and then scampered back home. The City was packed with people, most of whom were grumpy and pushy. I was very glad to get home.

There apparently is a world outside my front door. I hear it hum when I go into my garden for a crafty smoke. I see it on the news: filled with angst and dire happenings. Mostly, however I'm content to potter around in the warmth and cosiness that is my home.

Today, I will have a visitor from The Outside. I will actually have to construct coherent sentences, offer tea, coffee and munchies. I'm not sure I remember how to be sociable. Talking to teenagers isn't the same. They're happy with simple language forms; if I point them to the cupboard and fridge, they leave me pretty well enough alone.

A visitor means I have to find my kitchen underneath the dirty dishes and pans. Not to mention the empty bottles, of which there are but a few. I'll have to clear an area where we can sit without having to look at cat hairs, crumbs and shavings of tobacco and the remnants of Boy's scratch card.

As it's warmed up a bit, I really should turn off the heating and open all the doors and windows, get some fresh air in. Let the smells of roasted duck, burnt chestnuts and teenage feet dissipate.

I think I'd better start with me though. Nothing says 'I'm happy to see you' more than being clean and dressed.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Oops.

I think I overdid it; the whole food shopping thing. Of course this doesn't apply to the alcohol, which won't go off.

I didn't bother to cook yesterday, I just grazed. Crackers with pate, soft cheese, salami, parma ham, more salami (I like salami). Chocolate and biscuits, oh and nuts. Honey roasted peanuts.

Waitrose ran out of full-fat Philadelphia, so I ended up buying the light shit. You'd think I'd learn, but no. I thought I must have some soft cheese, it'll be palatable. No, it wasn't. It tastes disgusting. It has an after taste that makes me want to shave my teeth. The day they start making low-fat/sugar/no calorie food that tastes good, I swear I'll eat it. Until then fat, sugar and calories are my friends. Being righteous and holier than thou 'oh no, I won't have sugar in my coffee, I have my sweetners'....is not worth it.

I like my food. You can tell that immediately by looking at the size of my backside. It's taken a long time to get these curves. While I do quite like the odd bit of junk food, I don't fantasize about crisps or chocolate. I do fantasize about bacon sandwiches though. Smoked back bacon. Proper bread. Piccalilli. Yum. I love cooking with cream. Double cream. Creme Fraiche isn't a bad substitute. Butter, never margarine. I got one of those hysterical health e-mails awhile ago (don't drink water out of a plastic bottle, it'll give you cancer), it said margarine was almost the same as plastic chemically and it's got no food value. Plus, it doesn't taste that good. Butter, now butter always tastes good. Especially on jacket potatoes. Or for frying mushrooms.

Fortunately, I have teenagers in the house. I'm happy to report that they are eating everything in sight, so hopefully I won't have to throw out the Philly. I do hate waste, but I hate eating that shit even more.

The question is: continue to graze, or cook something? Hmmm...I'll graze while I think about whether I can be arsed to cook.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Duck Dilema

The duck seems to have caused fun and games from the start.

I ordered said duck from my butcher in the beginning of December. I explained it was a duck for 2 and also ordered half a hundredweight of bacon and some steak. Christmas Eve, mid-morning (I'd finished work the day before and couldn't move any quicker), Boy, Best Friend, Mate #2 and I rock up to the butchers.

He'd forgotten my order. Personally, I didn't care. These things happen and I'd have found a way around it. But then he found me a duck in the freezer. This was not my duck. This was an emergency duck.

The emergency duck was a lot bigger than the duck I'd ordered. My butcher and I have a long-standing relationship. I tell him how many people I'm feeding, he factors in other variables: teenage appetites, hungry male company etc, and then he calculates how much to stick in the bag. This system works well. I've never cooked short using this method. But this emergency duck, was pushing the limits of my roasting pans.

Now my butcher said the emergency duck would defrost in the fridge in time. I believed him. I stopped believing him when I took emergency duck from the fridge and tried to remove it's innards (the innards were simmered within an inch of their lives to make sauce). At this point it was around about 11(ish. Very ish. Boy and I had started on the not-so-innocent smoothies when we unwrapped our pressies. No idea exactly what time it was). I cleaned the sink, put the plug in and attempted to drown the frozen, emergency duck in tepid water. The oven was already on, so I bunged in nibbles thoughtfully pre-prepared by our personal chef at Waitrose (if you think I'm playing with filo pastry, you've got another thing coming - disappointment). Boy and I nibbled our way through BBQ wings, filled filo baskets and ceddar and bacon rings, before I remembered the frozen, emergency duck. It was no longer frozen.

In my usual way I threw herbs and spices (and mango chutney) into a bowl, made a paste, covered the thawed, emergency duck, like it was sunscreen and the duck was going out in the mid-day mediterranean sun. Covered with foil and into the oven it went. In the meantime, Boy decided he wanted to play Oblivion. He's full of good ideas, my Boy is. So we adventured.

Two-thirds of the way through, Boy and I drained the duck fat off so I could roast some spuds. I had a brief experiment with roasting chesnuts which was a failure. One chestnut exploded. Burnt chesnut is not a pleasant smell, I know this. Especially combined with roasting emergency duck. It sounds like it would go, it didn't. Boy and I drank another batch of not-so-innocent smoothies.

Eventually, we put one of the Christmas dvds on: The Expendables. No, it had nothing to do with Christmas and everything to do with machismo, brotherhood and explosions. I nearly fancied Sly Stallone, but made do with Jason Statham. Om nom nom.

Speaking of which, the emergency duck was finally cooked. Probably a bit over-cooked in truth. Boy, piled his plate up high. Me, by that point, I wanted as little to do with that damn bird. He says it was tasty. He finished his plate. Teenagers. God love 'em. Metabolisms set to GO-GO-GO. We spent the rest of the evening playing Oblivion. I gave up and went to bed at around 9.30ish.

Not the most exciting of days, but it was exactly what we wanted to do, exactly how we wanted to do it. And that's all that matters.

Oh yeah, have you got any ideas what we can do with the rest of the emergency duck, because there seems to be an awful lot left.

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Little Something

...to get you in the Christmas mood. Although, I am pagan, my childhood has left me with a love of Christmas carols that is with me still. These are my favourites...



Gaudete by Steeleye Span is just fantastic. My friend Gee will whack me on the head because she thinks it and Steeleye Span are too cheesy by half. But I still love it to bits.



This is the most amazing version of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen I found in my surfing today. Quite a few arrangements change the 'ye' to 'you', which irritates me beyond belief.



This is a fanvid. Ignore the Harry Potter references. What gets me about this carol is the eerie sense of urgency behind the carol.



And thanks to Savannah, this is the version which has stuck in my brain. Thanks for that sugar.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

MCW Muppet's Christmas Carol



This is my favourite Christmas movie. Yes, it does make me cry at the end. For I am of soft heart and brain.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winter Solstice Blessings

Blessings of the Winter Solstice to you and yours.

May the returning sun bring with it joy, laughter, love and prosperity to you and your loved ones.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Party Season

As I sit here blogging this morning, the roof-tops are hidden under a couple of inches of snow, my garden is all white and I'm cosy and warm.

Yesterday, I spent preparing slowly for the night ahead. I took my preparations at a leisurely pace. I did my nails while watching Criminal Minds. I timed my preparations with military precision. Down to when I ran my bath, getting my clothes laid out on the bed, laying out the make-up to put on. My timing was impeccable. I had two minutes after I was ready before the taxi arrived. And that's when the fun began.

I had a smoke in the garden an hour before hand. There was only the sprinkling of snow from the night before. When I poked my head out the front door to see if the taxi was there, there was two inches. In that hour, the arctic conditions hit. My taxi driver, a real sweetheart, said the taxi firm were suspending service from 8 pm. The drivers were not risking going out and about. I had booked that morning, and I got him to call into base to confirm that they would be able to pick me up again. As I told the driver, I had come unprepared for an overnight stay. No toothbrush, no clean undies. He laughed. They gave me instructions to ring in at 11 pm to check they were still running. They assured me they would honour the booking. Yes, I did have my credit card, I could have booked a room for the night. But frankly, I was craving my bed. Plus, having breakfast in full evening gear in a hotel dining room the morning after, seems a bit sleazy, especially if there was nothing to feel sleazy about.

Given the twenty minute journey took forty-five minutes, and I was technically late, I was pleased to see there were only a few others already there. My Financial Services company knows how to throw a good party, let me tell you. I was greeted with champagne at the door, the room was fantastic. I'm really pleased I made the effort. People took the 'black tie' seriously, and dressed up to the nines. Everyone looked fantastic. I think their hiring policy must be biased to the attractive.

There are about 50+ people who work in the company. One of the people I work for keeps telling me he's in his 70s and I'm still waiting for proof. Until I see it in black and white, I'm sticking to my guns that he's in his late 50s. The youngest member of staff is 16. I'm still getting used to the very corporate environment, but it has such heart. I never expected the kindness I've found there. People genuinely care, from the top down. The directors lead by example. Anyway, if I was looking for office romance, I won't be finding it there. I think there are only 3 other single people there and the rest seem genuinely happy in coupledom.

The evening went according to plan. Though, I would have happily strangled the DJ, who seemed to have borrowed the Christmas CDs from my department store. Yes, Slade still makes me grind my teeth. Secret Santa was a success. The person who ended up with my gift was actually sitting on my table. His wife eyed up the bottle of Cava with approval, so I am imagining them sharing that over the season. I'm hoping in big bubble bath, surrounded by candles. What can I say? I'm a romantic. I got a fabulous pamper set from the Body Shop. I can't wait to use the goodies. No, I haven't found out who bought that for me. I will make enquiries on Thursday. They definitely need a hug.

We were all given £25 vouchers for the three casino tables set up in the corner. Roulette, black jack and poker. The person with the most amount of money at the end of the night could win a 7 night holiday. By that point, I was fading. I rang the taxi firm and they agreed to come pick me up early. It was good being out and glammed up, but in truth, I'd had enough. I wanted my bed.

When I left, the DJ had changed to playing good dance music and the admin girls were shaking their funky stuff on the dance floor. The taxi driver spent the journey whinging about clients and the road conditions.

We did not end up going round any roundabouts sideways, or stopping abruptly in the back of someone else's car. Nor did I end up on my arse in my heels. So, thank you for your prayers on my behalf. Unfortunately, there's more bad weather forecast, which means tonight's shenanigans has to be postponed. I'm just not happy taking my car out in this. I know I'm a wimp, but I'd really rather not.

Tonight, I will therefore be tucked up cosy and warm at home. I may just celebrate being cosy and warm with a handy bottle of cider or glass of wine.

Friday, December 17, 2010

One Down

I wonder why it is, when they predict the weather, they only get the crap forecasts right?

It rained pretty much all day yesterday, and then around 4 pm the temperature dropped. The rain turned lumpy and all that lovely water on the roads and pavements froze.

Given my luck, I knew I was in my walking boots, just as well really. Walking through fresh snow is a doddle. I did get quite a few funny looks when I got to the pub: woolly hat, long coat, boots and staff. Hey, I didn't fall over. I had a great time. I don't think I embarrassed myself. No declarations of undying love, no inappropriate affection. Though I think I did go on a bit about a hideous phonecall about an elderly client and the problems with her corns. After a conversation with a couple of smokers from another office party: two people from their team, well in their cups disappeared together. I went back to our table and complained. There's not even a sniff of any romantic work scandal going on. No salacious goings on, going on. Humpf.

All in all, it was a very pleasant evening. I do like the people I work with and for.

The walk home was not fun. The pavements were glass. But I made it home in one piece. I did laugh when we came across a group of people sliding in the road (they were doing it on purpose). They can't have been more than 20 years old in t-shirts and canvas shoes. One guy slid about 20 feet with a can of beer in his hand.  I was impressed, he didn't spill a drop.

Tonight, I've decided to go by taxi. I was hoping to drive, but I really don't like the look of the roads this morning. It also means I can have a drink or two. Tonight, is a 'best foot forward' event. I will be in full evening attire, complete with heels. I like dressing up and being a girlie. Everyone else will bring their husbands/partners etc. I think there are only 3 of us single people in the whole company. And no, there's no salacious goings on either. Ah well.

I have a favour to ask: please say a prayer to whichever deity you worship, I don't fall over.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

'Tis the Season...

It's 7.39 am and it's still dark outside. Perhaps the sun forgot to set his alarm today? Maybe he hit snooze? Unfortunately, I can't wait for him.

I'm drinking my coffee and gathering my energy and courage.

For I am about to have 4 days of festivities. Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am about to be sociable. Did I hear someone gasp? You might well. I'm not sure I'm capable of this. But I'm game, I'm willing to give it a go.

Let me give you a glimpse.

Tonight, is the Christmas Dinner for the Alternative Healthcare Practice. Fortunately, it's being held in a pub within walking distance of my home. Unfortunately, today's weather forecast is predicting the arrival of the Arctic temperatures. All plans of my going out in heels and skimpy clothing have been cancelled. I know I'll be fine once I get to the pub, but I have to survive the walk. No, I'm not suggesting I'll drop dead of cold, I'm suggesting if I make the walk in heels and icy conditions, chances are I'll end up bashing my head open after a failed triple toe-loop crossing the road.

Tomorrow night, is the Christmas Do for my Financial Services place of work. Unfortunately, that is being held in a manor now hotel, across the city. I will be driving to that, if I possibly can. Firstly, I don't know these people well enough to get drunk in front of them. I prefer to make a complete tit of myself with people I know and who will forgive me my declarations of undying love...and won't take them seriously.

Saturday night, I've been invited out with Lord Noel and Lady Jacqui. I need to pick Lord Noel's brains and any excuse to see the fabulous couple, is always a good one. I'm told we'll be hitting their local. They won't mind if I make a tit of myself, fortunately. And I get to sleep over, which is just as well. Needless to say, they have more stamina than I. Last time, I gave up all pretense and crawled into bed by 3 am.

Sunday afternoon, Dave will be calling on me. We will be availing ourselves of the delights of a very local pub.

It's all do-able people. I just need to pace myself, take things easy, line my stomach well before any alcohol. I have will power. I can have a good time without reaching for my mobile phone.

Why is my liver quaking at the thought?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Note to Self:

...when whinging about how appalling the weather...do not read other peoples' blogs.

Grab a cup of coffee/tea/vodka, pull up a chair and prepare to be whinged at. You have to understand, I feel entitled to whinge about how awful the weather is at the moment. Here in Norfolk, we've had more snow and icy temperatures. It's been as low as -3.5'C, the warm day in the beginning of the week was -1.5'C. The snow from last week (and the week before) is still hanging around. The melt soon iced over, it turned the road outside mine into glass. Wednesday night, as I smoked in the garden, it started snowing again. My garden looked like it had a bad case of dandruff. I knew I was back on the bus for work the next day.

Oh boy was I glad I didn't drive it. I nearly busted my arse three times taking the wheelie bin out (and I was in walking boots). As I walked to the bus stop (bobbly hat, long coat, staff) I stopped on the corner and watched a guy in a small car, try to stop before the junction. As he kept coming towards me, I realised I really should move just in case he couldn't stop. And no he didn't. Not until he sat in the junction facing the way he travelled down. If I were him, I'd have taken my guardian angel out for a pint and a curry that night. He'd have been in severe do-do if there was any on-coming traffic at that point. He was one lucky bugger.

The day before, I felt confident to drive in. Unfortunately, the paths around work and the parking lot that separates the two buildings that house the Financial Service company were like a skating rink. And I'd forgotten my ice-skates. By the time I'd crossed over the car park a couple of times, I felt there were a panel of judges holding up score cards, marking me out of 10.

I am not enjoying this Winter. The snow and ice have got old and it's only fecking December damnit. I've got another 3 months of this...or should I say, you've got another 3 months of me whinging.

Then I read Macy's experience of the weather in Scotland, and Pearl from over the water and then I realised if I had to live with weather like that every year, it wouldn't be a question of if I immigrate, cause I'd already be sitting on a sandy beach, drinking a Carib.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

MCW: Best Detective Movie



Inside Man, I suspect the pedantic will argue is more Thriller than Cop Movie. However, it's about a couple of hostage negotiators, the fabulous Denzel and Chiwetel, trying to save hostages in a bank from Clive and having to deal with the shark-like Jodie along the way.

It has a fabulous cast, the dialogue is sharp, you know there's a twist in the tale and you can't wait for the reveal. Plus, the music is fantastic.

It's one of my favourite rainy-day movies.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Rubbernecking at Car Crashes

I am not what you would call trendy. I choose comfort over style any time. If I had my way, I'd go to work in jeans and trainers. If it's cold, I layer up starting with my M&S thermal underwear. Nor do I watch soaps, reality tv or anything vaguely 'now'. My conversation in an office is limited. I refuse point blank to spend my hard earned cash on fashion, celebrity or even women's magazines.

Am I interested in what Katie Price did next? No, not really. Do I care which X-Factor star is trying to cop off with Simon Powell? If I say I couldn't give a flying fuck, it would indicate too much emotion on my part.

And yet...

I can't wait to get to the doctor/dentist/orthodontist's waiting rooms. I always arrive early. Not because I'm a punctual person (I'm not. I operate on Pagan time, which means I'm always late), but because I love to read the magazines I publicly revile. Hello and OK draw me like a slice of double chocolate cake, seduces an anorexic.

The older these magazines, the better. I've found myself happily reading about Peter and Katie's fairy tale romance in a waiting room this year, the grumbling when I was called in for my consultation, was audible and expletive-ridden. I don't know why Angelina being reviled for seducing Brad pulls me in.

I pour over pictures of minor celebrities, major A-Listers and members of the upper echelons of British society, decked out in their best formal-wear as they 'lounge' around their humble weekend pad that is the size of my house X 4. I tut over Camilla's choice of dress to an opening event. Openly mock the stylist who convinced the Queen that the apricot suit and matching hat really worked for her. The recovering alcoholic rock-star in his mid-forties with his new soulmate, who has 2 years on his oldest child from his previous soulmate, is not above my bitchiness.

The article in Cosmo on the top 10 tips to have the best orgasms with him, her or them, gets read from beginning to end. As does the 'How to have a perfect Christmas' in the 2003 edition of Woman and Home. I've shaken my head at the 75 year old woman who has been having an affair with the same married man for the last 35 years. I've been suitably horrified for poor 19 year old Chardonnay whose 17 year old rat-bag husband ran off with her mum (aged 30) in Take-A-Break. The best 10 minute exercise to get my body ready for the summer. The latest fad diet: no carb, no proteins, food combining, starvation and upchucking as the best ways to loose weight for the LBD for the Christmas party. Serious debates about plastic surgery, size 0, curvy women, skinny women, real women choose botox. I can't get enough of it.

I realise that I can do this because of one fundemental fact: this is environmentally friendly trash. It's all recycled. It doesn't matter if I don't buy the newest copy of Elle, because the content will be pretty much the same in 5 years time. It'll still be filled with cosmetic ads, the latest anti-aging product from Olay, and articles on how to attract the right bloke, keep the right bloke, get over the wrong bloke and carry on without a bloke.

It doesn't stop me getting to the waiting room early and reaching for the copy though.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Tribute to Leslie - Naked Gun



I know this is not the MCW. But I loved Leslie Neilson and the Naked Gun travesties.

It's a bit long, but enjoy anyway.