January Blues

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Is it just me, or does everyone feel blue half way through January?

Now that the glitz, sparkle and energy of Christmas and New Year had faded, everything seems grey, dull and slightly depressing. New Year resolutions have been made and broken; there is still two weeks to pay day; the Christmas pounds are still clinging onto the hips and the skies darken at 4pm. The end of the month seems so far away, it’s almost untouchable.

But as soon as February arrives, then life seems to be brighter. Sunset will now nearer be 5pm and the days will get visibly longer. Spring is round the corner and snowdrops break through the surface of the ground followed by the vibrant purples of crocus flowers.

Seventeen days to go – not that I am counting, of course.

 

 

 

 

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Everything looks so bare …

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I hate it!

I hate seeing my house bare and naked.  After spending an afternoon packing Christmas away and dragging everything up into the darkness of the loft, all I can do is sit with a coffee and stare at blank surfaces. Yesterday everything glittered and sparkled. Today?

Some of my friends look forward to packing everything away, they see it as a fresh start. I don’t. After the brillance of Christmas when lights twinkle and sparkle all through the house, tonight I seem engulfed by darkness. There are dim corners and shadows every where I turn. And outside? One by one the brightly illuminated houses are extinguishing their flames; the streets will become dark corridors once more until Spring and Summer arrive to brighten our days. But tonight, with frost nibbling at the windows that all seems such a long way away.

I’ll have to buy some candles and instead of twinkling fairy lights, I’ll surround myself with flickering flames and shifting shadows.

Happy January xx

After Christmas Musings

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IMG_1933.jpgA belated Happy Christmas to everyone. I hope that you all had a happy, healthy Christmas with good food and good company.

As usual, I made far too much food; I always over prepare. I cater for an army rather than for 5 people for 2 days. But I would hate anyone to leave my home hungry. So I have lots of food to get through. The vegetables that were still sitting in the refrigerator waiting for their turn in the spotlight have been caramelised with maple syrup and blitzed into soup for tonight. The mince pies will be brought out for guests on News Years Eve. That just leaves the Christmas cake which I can manage quite nicely on my own, thank you very much.

Christmas lunch was wonderful – even if I say it myself. Starter was a roasted red pepper and butternut squash hummus served with pitta bread. The turkey and trimmings were delicious. The Christmas pudding is still waiting to be eaten but that will last a few months so it can be an indulgent treat later in the year. The disappointment was my trifle. I had seen the recipe on the internet and I should really have done a test run before the big day: brownies, Baileys, bananas, custard and cream should have been a heavenly combination. I just felt it was lacking something.

But – if you want to try a really yummy mousse, you must try the mousse that I made Christmas Eve. Toblerone, cream and marshmallows. Beautiful and so easy to make.

So – hopefully by New Year, all of the ‘naughty’ food will have been eaten and I can begin the task of shifting the few pounds that have crept onto my hips over the past few days. I’m almost looking forward to getting back on the straight and narrow. Almost.

Have a brilliant New Year and I hope 2019 is wonderful to you.

White trainers????

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It was with some amazement that I read an article in the Daily Mail stating that white trainers are the new heels. Apparently if you want to be part of the ‘crowd’ you must wear your white trainers to the glitziest occasions. Actress Emma Thompson wore hers when she went to Buckingham Palace to receive her Damehood. White trainers to see the Queen – or rather Prince William? My jaw dropped. If I had been invited to Buckingham Palace, I would have spent weeks organising my outfit, I wouldn’t just have pulled on a pair of trainers.

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Photo courtesy of EI News

Am I old fashioned? I know that I’m not a youngster anymore, but surely this trend of dressing down for every occasion is one that is not good. As a child, I remember putting on my best clothes on Sundays. When my husband and I started dating in the 80s, I would dress up for a date. Now everyone wears jeans whether to a restaurant or the theatre.

I long for a return to a time where everyone looks elegant; to a time where I don’t feel over-dressed just because I am in a dress; to a time when women exuded femininity.

I know many will disagree with me, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion and mine is – bring back elegance and glamour.

 

 

Christmas Shopping

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                                         This was taken a couple of years ago

Is it too early to write about Christmas shopping? I don’t know about you, but I love this time of year – the shops full of lights and sparkle. I’ve even more to buy for this year as my son is bringing his girlfriend to stay for Christmas, and we have invited her friend along as well to prevent her being on her own. So, I’m busy preparing Christmas sacks for them both so that they feel part of Christmas morning. I’ve not had to buy bits and pieces for girls before – only having a son – and I am loving it! In fact, I’m enjoying it too much. At this rate, my son and husband will be the ones feeling left out. I need to switch my shopping radar from girlie to masculine.

There is only one problem that I can forsee on the horizon – wrapping the gifts. I think this is going to take me hours!!!!!!!! Maybe I should start now.

 

 

Red High Heeled Boots.

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This was a little bit different for me. Two days ago I was the compere for a fashion show. Ever since giving up teaching, I have been working in the accounts office of a local department store, and was asked to front the fashion show.

Fashion shows not only allow a store to showcase their items, but most importantly, because the models are neither professionals, nor size zero but are the girls/women who work on the shop floor, it allows an audience to see the clothes as worn by real women like themselves. I was also allowed to dress up – my red high-heeled boots were gorgeous!

As a teacher, I might have become accustomed to standing before a class of 30 teenagers, but addressing a group of over 80 ladies was very different. They listened, they laughed in all of the right places and they even applauded. It was a great night.

 

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Vegan Chocolate Cake

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As those of you who have followed my blogs in the past will know, I love baking and experimenting. So, inspired by a recent edition of The Great British Bake Off, I decided to try baking a vegan chocolate cake.

Vegan means no dairy or eggs so the first challenge – finding substitutes for butter and eggs. I looked at many different recipes on the Net but eventually decided to opt for soya milk to which I added a tablespoon of cider vinegar. The rise would occur when the wet ingredients mixed with the dry – flour, sugar, cocoa powder and a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda. Who hasn’t used bicarbonate and vinegar to make mini eruptions before – magical. But in a cake????

The completed cake baked well, and once it was sandwiched with butter cream made with dairy free margarine and vegan chocolate, I was very pleased with the result.

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The taste test. It wasn’t as light and fluffy as my usual bakes but the flavour was good. I don’t think I will be turning vegan, but I will certainly try making another vegan cake in the future. A Victoria sponge sandwiched with vegan butter cream and strawberries could be the next best thing. I’ll keep you posted.