Month: December 2015

RIP Lemmy

Whether you’re a rock and roll fan or not, everyone knows of Lemmy Kilmister; hard drinking, hard living, epitome of a rockstar.

Lemmy

His death from cancer, so suddenly, is a surprise; although he hasn’t been well for quite a while.

I saw Lemmy performing live twice.

The first was with his rockabilly super group side project The Head Cat, at the Garage in London, 4 years ago. The place was absolutely rammed, and deservedly so. This was the first (and only) time the band played outside of the States and it was something special.

The second was seeing Motorhead at the NIA in Birmingham 14 months ago where the gig started, as ever, with the immortal line “We are Motorhead and we play rock n roll”.

Rock hard on the other side Lemmy. The music world has lost a great one.

Post Christmas round up

Did everyone have a fab Christmas? I hope so. Ours was full of food and family, as it should be (family first, obvs). The spare bedroom came together to look like a beautiful boudoir for my Mother in Law (maybe boudoir is the wrong word for a 76 year old woman?!) The flat looked like a beautiful festive grotto and lunch was, as always, a pleasure to cook (and eat!)

Christmas Day and night was a massively relaxed affair with drinks flowing, watching films and generally feeling very happy. Just like Christmas Day and night should be.

Boxing Day lunch was at my Mom’s, then an evening visit to my Dad’s where I proceeded to wear as many Christmas presents as I could as I opened them – what can I say, there was a lot of my beloved leopard print and I wanted to make the best of everything immediately (the Christmas pudding hat was a late borrowed addition, and yes those are leopard print tights on my head).

Christmas leopard print

We were ridiculously spoilt on all sides by our families, overwhelmingly so, and felt humbled and grateful and lots of other adjectives to describe ourselves in the face of so much love and happiness.

On our return home yesterday I retired into my new leopard print loungewear (which has pockets!), drank Bailey’s, ate Pringles, and watched Christmas films. Because Christmas doesn’t finish until my work alarm goes off on Monday 4th Jan.

Today I’m still in PJs, having a Mexican day – the perfect antithesis to traditional roast dinners (which, by the way, I would totally eat all over again now) – eating a tex mex buffet (onion rings, garlic mushrooms, spicy potato wedges and sweetcorn jalapeno fritters), with the promise of turkey fajitas later. I may may not won’t get out of my PJs at all.

This is one of our only days of doing nothing during the holiday.

And I’ll enjoy every minute.

Ooh, and panto tomorrow! (oh no it isn’t; oh yes it is!)

Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals! Keep the change!

It was all going so well…

…and then booze spoilt everything.

This isn’t a post of drunken Christmas party antics or a hangover from hell though, thank God!

So, there I am beavering away towards Christmas. It’s been fairly stressful, as we’ve been decorating our spare bedroom for the Mother in Law to come and stay, as well as painting the kitchen and lounge (what can I say, we’re gluttons for punishment). Last week a whole tin of gloss paint went over on the spare bedroom carpet, so we had an unexpected mad rush to replace it. The flat has resembled a student hovel with stuff just everywhere and we haven’t really been able to lean into Christmas as much as we’d liked.

On Tuesday everything started coming together. The bedroom was finished which meant we could start reclaiming the rest of our home. I finally put the wreaths up on the front door and created some quick and easy table centrepieces for Christmas lunch. Yesterday I did the food and booze shop at lunch and made a good start on wrapping presents, then returned the 4 new bed covers that didn’t match the new room (I’ve been trying to make everything perfect!) and exchanged the new bedding for the right size. Just needed to pop to the local supermarket for the bits I couldn’t get at lunch, and headed home.

That’s when disaster struck. I opened the car door to unload the shopping and my handbag toppled to the floor – my handbag which contained a glass bottle of spirits. And my phone.

You can probably fill in the blanks yourself.

Phone bottle sad face

EE can’t get a new phone to me until Sunday. And I have to pay £55 excess.

How am I supposed to Instagram my Christmas with no phone????? (I’m only half joking!)

On the plus side, at least I’ll spend pure, unadulterated time with my family with no distractions.

On the down side, as well as the phone/excess/hassle; WASTED ALCOHOL!!!

Mind you, last year the washing machine jammed on Christmas Eve, full of water and clothes. On Christmas Day my kitchen tap broke and leaked everywhere. While I was cooking. The year before that the dishwasher broke.

So I should have expected something. Let’s hope that’s the worst of it!

How’s your Christmas Eve going?

Favourite Christmas films

Christmas films.jpg

There are traditions in our home around Christmas films. One is that we (or, more accurately, the husband) start watching them at the end of October, when Movies 24 switches to Christmas 24 at weekends. We love a made for TV Christmas film. There are some shockers, but we’ve seen some great ones. If I was an actor I’d insist on making a Christmas film. So much fun. Although some of them are pretty tenuous – just a storyline that’s set at Christmas. No! We need Santa!

Another is that we watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (the husband’s favourite Christmas film) on December 1st. Plans were scuppered this year when he couldn’t find the remote for the BluRay player. He took it well.

Another one that has to be watched is Home Alone. I always wondered how come the Mom and Dad didn’t realise there was a spare ticket for Kevin when they get to the airport. Then last year I saw this clip of things you may have missed in the film, and it turns out that when Kevin spills the milk the evening before (the incident that gets him sent to the attic room) his ticket gets swept into the bin as the mess gets cleared up. So now it makes much more sense!

(check it out – 1 min to 1.15)

We haven’t watched it yet this year, it’s a Christmas Eve tradition (I’m usually wrapped up in sellotape, swearing and half drunk on wine by this point, bemoaning that I should have started my Christmas wrapping earlier and cursing the husband every time he tells me to shush).

We did, however, watch Home Alone 2, which I’ve decided I prefer out of the two.

On the subject of Home Alone, have you seen this very dark sketch of Macauley Culkin playing Kevin in the future? Well worth a watch and very funny/weird/creepy!

One of the presents I got for my birthday was The Holiday. Which, oddly, I only saw for the first time a couple of years ago when it was on TV in January. A Christmas film in January? It was either a bit late or very early for the following Christmas! Anyway, it’s a new favourite! So we’ll be watching that over the next few days too.

Oh, and The Santa Clause was one of the first ones we watched this year, and is a new entry into the list of “films we must watch every year”.

Controversially, one of husband’s work colleagues said you’re not allowed to watch Christmas films after Christmas Day. Say what? I disagree wholeheartedly. As far as I’m concerned it’s Christmas right up until I go back to work on 4th January, as my eating, drinking and watching habits will demonstrate!

Are there any other films that should be on my list? What are your favourites?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

 

My birthday in pictures

It was my birthday on Sunday! Another year older, and all that jazz. I certainly wouldn’t say I’m growing up, or will ever be a grown up actually (the husband called me a woman on Sunday, and I was like no! I’m still a girl!) But the candles on the (hypothetical) birthday cake keep piling up! That’s life!

Anyway, after a less than auspicious Saturday, I was feeling very un-birthday like. But I woke up on Sunday to blue skies and sunshine, and the husband singing Happy Birthday to me before I even opened my eyes, so I was determined to make it a good day.

I got new pyjamas, which were quite apt considering how crappy I’d been feeling!

New pyjamas

Oodles of presents including a girly trip to London in the New Year, Marc Jacobs Dot, a beaded fringed bag, a journal set, some of my beloved Brian Cox, a light up make up mirror (so I can see my aging wrinkles more clearly, ha!), pantomime tickets with the amazing Julian Clary (oh no I didn’t…oh yes I did!)

Thriller

Marc Jacobs Dot

Jessica Simpson fringed bag

Carolina Herrera journal set

Brian Cox The Human Universe

Light up mirror

Aladdin pantomime

Plus loads more things too. I was supremely spoilt and very humbled.

I drank prosecco for breakfast and then we went into Birmingham to meet some friends for some festive fun at the German market.

German Christmas market

We saw Chris Moose and had a singalong.

German market Chris Moose

Drank mulled wine and beer.

Beer and mulled wine

Visited the Big Hoot Santa Owl in Great Western Arcade.

Santa Owl

And gave him a hug!

Me and santa owl

Went to The Oasis to get some ear piercings (part of my birthday pressie from the husband, more on that another time).

Me getting pierced at The Oasis

Drank more mulled wine.

Mulled wine santa mug

Had another singalong, with the live band.

German market singalong

Popped round to Centenary Square and drank hot toffee cider – OMG! This stuff is amazing; I’d like it on tap in my home.

Hot toffee mulled cider

Oohed at the big wheel.

Birmingham big wheel

Had a cheeky cocktail in The Victoria and oohed at their traditional Christmas decorations.

Traditional Christmas decorations

Then came home and got indian food and snuggled up on the sofa (wearing my new PJs, obvs) and felt very pleased with myself.

What have you all been up to?

Thanks, as always for reading! x

Recipe: “Taste of Christmas” pie

A couple of weeks back we had “an incident”. The remote control for our Blu-ray player has gone missing, which meant we couldn’t watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation on 1st December. This is A.Tradition. And therefore became A. Disaster (not with me, I might add).

Because the husband took it so well (snort), I tried to placate him with Scrooged purchased from Virgin. He was having none of it.

Determined not to waste the £2.99 I’d paid for a two day rental, I declared that we bloody well would watch Scrooged the following evening, and I would make something Christmassy to eat.

Christmas knife and fork

And so my “Taste of Christmas” pie was born. This is all from my own little head, because I like Christmas and I like food, and I could just imagine it all working together.

The concept is based on cottage pie, but includes all the lovely Christmassy flavours instead of the traditional beef and mashed potato. It’s super quick and easy to make, but mega tasty and festive.

Start with chopped onions and mushrooms (chestnut work well for extra depth of flavour) in a pan.

taste-of-christmas-pie-mushrooms-and-onions

 

Add turkey mince and dried thyme, and cook til browned (onions) / not pink (meat)

taste-of-christmas-pie-turkey-mince

 

Then add some tomato puree and a small amount of thick gravy to bind it (you could use onion gravy granules for extra flavour).

This is your first layer – spread it out on the bottom of an ovenproof dish.

taste-of-christmas-pie-first-layer

 

On top of that spread a layer of cranberry sauce. If you’re a domestic goddess, make your own. If you’re normal, use a jar.

taste-of-christmas-pie-second-layer

 

Next layer is mash. You can be as creative as you like here. Personally I use carrot and swede mash as it’s sweet and also healthier than potato mash. But standard mash would also work, or add in mustard or cheese. Or use sweet potatoes. Your pie – your choice. Spread this over the cranberry and turkey mince.

taste-of-christmas-pie-mash-potato-layer

 

Next make up some stuffing mix. Again you can use your choice of flavour. I use sausage meat flavour because it’s delish. Spread over the other three layers.

taste-of-christmas-pie-first-layer

Pop the dish onto a baking tray in case of spillage and stick it in a pre-heated oven at about 180-200 degrees (I’m not a very precise cook). Keep an eye on it until the stuffing starts to bake and go crispy; probably about 20-30 minutes.

taste-of-christmas-pie-stuffing-layer

 

It will be all gooey and sweet and layered and yum!

 

 

I served it with sprouts and roast parsnips but you could go with your choice of veg – creamed leeks would be good, or roast potatoes for a carb fest, or a cauliflower cheese.

taste-of-christmas-pie-parsnips-and-sprouts

 

It was declared an absolute success, and we watched Scrooged.

Disappointment – bad for the soul, good for the bank balance

I’ve had 3 major disappointments with online orders recently. These are things that I’ve been hankering after for ages (in some cases, years).

The timing is probably good, because between Christmas shopping and spending money on our home I’m not exactly in the best financial place. But you know when you really really want something to be great? And your mind has already run away with you about how your life is going to be better as a result? That!

The first thing is this grey fur coat.

Dorothy Oerkins grey fur coat

Now I know I said I wasn’t in the market for a new fur coat. But I was lying. I’ve been hankering after a grey one for ages; in fact this very coat is the one that prompted me to put that post together, although by the time I got round to it the grey had disappeared (hence me featuring the cream). But then it came back online; in the Dorothy Perkins half price Black Friday sale (is it just me, or do they always have discount offers on?) It was set to be my find of the season at less than £30.

Alas, it made me look like the honey monster. The shape made my posture look wrong; all round shouldered and weird, plus it was the kind of hairy fur that moults and gets everywhere.

Boo.

Second fail was this coat from New Look. Be still my inner Penny Lane (read my review of Almost Famous here). I’ve wanted a suede and shaggy fur coat like this in forever. OK, this is faux suede, but that’s ok, I’m not a fabric snob.

New Look 70s suede coat

Unfortunately it didn’t even resemble faux suede. It was more like orange cardboard. And the shaggy fur looked like it had been left to dry after being submerged in a muddy puddle. Penny Lane was not to be.

Finally, on a different tip, a hairstyler which I was sure would revolutionise my barnet (I haven’t moaned about it for a while!) I found the UK version of the one handed blowdryer from Revlon, on Amazon, and kindly told asked the husband if he would buy it for me if it was any good.

Revlon blow dryerRevlon blowdryer

Unfortunately it wasn’t. It took ages to dry and it was awkward to get right to the roots. I gave up in the and finished off with my hairdryer and straighteners. Such a shame as I was mega excited about that.

Have you had any shopping disappointments recently?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

The Christmas Tag

I saw this on another blog and thought I’d like to get involved, because the festive feels are upon me!

Christmas tag

What is your favourite Christmas film?

Not sure I have a favourite? We watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation early doors every year as that’s a tradition. And I love Bad Santa just because it’s so naughty! And also The Santa Clause. I couldn’t choose! I love a “made for TV” Christmas film; like those on Christmas 24. There are some shockers, but we’ve seen some great ones. If I was an actor I’d insist on making a Christmas film. So much fun. Although some of them are pretty tenuous – just a storyline that’s set at Christmas. No! We need Santa!

Have you ever had a white Christmas?

When there’s been snow on the ground, yes, but not fresh snow on Christmas Day. It’s a nice idea if you don’t have anywhere to go, but when you need to be visiting and driving it’s just a pain in the ass.

Where do you usually spend your holidays?

We spend our holidays at home; we have my Mother in Law over for Christmas lunch and then usually visit my family in the evening, although this year we’re staying home Christmas Day and night (mother in law is staying over) so I won’t have to drive anywhere (which means I can drink wine!)

What’s your favorite Christmas song?

Mariah Carey – All I Want for Christmas is You. It’s just the best. So much fun to sing a long too, even if I’m really bad at it and can’t hit the high (or any) notes.

Do you open presents on Christmas Eve?

Nope. Why would you do that? Occasionally we allow each other one present to open, but generally it’s all Christmas morning. It’s the rules.

Can you name all of Santa’s Reindeer?

I doubt it. There’s Rudolph (obvs!), Dancer, Prancer, Donner and Blitzen, Cupid and Comet. Is that all of them? Oh, and Vixen! It’s only fresh in my mind as we watched The Santa Clause a couple of weeks back.

What holiday traditions are you most looking forward to this year?

Just the usual eating, drinking, staying up late, watching box sets and sleeping in. It’s good to have time off work and relax.

Is your Christmas tree real or fake?

Artificial! We couldn’t have a real one – our flat is too warm and all the needles would drop off.

What is your all-time favorite Christmas sweet/treat?

I don’t think I have one. Although we do have shortbread and whipped cream on Christmas afternoon (try it, it’s amazing) and that’s the only time we have it all year.

Be honest: Do you love giving gifts or receiving them better?

Giving. I stress so much about buying presents because I want people to be happy. I’m lucky enough to be able to buy myself stuff all year round so I never have a big list of stuff I want.

What is the best Christmas present you have ever received?

I remember being super duper happy with my Barbie caravan when I was about 6 or 7.

What would be your dream place to visit for the holidays?

Nowhere. I like being at home and seeing family and friends. It wouldn’t be right without that.

Are you a pro-present wrapper or do you fail miserably?

I start with good intentions but then lose interest because I have so many to do. It’s basic wrapping of paper and tape; no fancy bows or ribbons. It would take far too long.

Most memorable holiday moment?

When me and the husband decided that we were getting married at about 4am after getting back from a Christmas party. Not getting married there and then! But that we would become husband and wife.

What made you realize the truth about Santa?

I can’t remember. I was an analytical clever kid, so probably the realisation that there’s no way one guy can get round the whole world in just one night!

Do you make New Years Resolutions? Do you stick to them?

I don’t make them, what’s the point? It only adds extra pressure on, and January’s pretty miserable anyway without making life harder. I do subconsciously tell myself I’ll eat less/drink less/exercise more but that’s a knee jerk reaction to the over indulgence of the holidays.

What makes the holidays special for you?

Time off work! Just kidding (a bit). Sparkly lights. Seeing family. Everyone smiling. People being generally nicer and happier and kinder to each other.

I’d love to read anyone else’s Christmas tag – if you want to take part please link to your responses in the comments section so I can have a nosy!

5 things you know if you have a December birthday

It’s my birthday on Sunday. It will be something of a double whammy, as I realised that I’ve told two different people I’m a year younger than I actually am in the past two weeks, so it will be like getting two years older, in a way. Gulp!

I’m not that big on celebrating my birthday, because there’s always so much other stuff going on.

Here are 5 things you’ll know if you have a December birthday (or 5 things to consider if you know someone else who was born this month).

1 – The offer of joint gifts is never acceptable. Would you ask me if I wanted a combined Christmas and birthday present if I was born in June? No. Stop it.December birthday

2 – Everyone is busy with Christmas parties and work events and often can’t make it to your birthday plans.

3 – People are generally in a festively excitable mood anyway, so you don’t get your moment in the sun where people are jolly just for you (what an attention seeker!)

4 – You’re not sure if your post contains birthday or Christmas cards, so often open stuff by mistake.

5 – All your gifts come too close together. Nothing all year and then an overwhelming amount of stuff pretty much in one go. If there’s something you want in summertime you either need to buy it yourself or wait (not good if it’s something seasonal!)

On the plus side at least everyone is in a great mood and ready to celebrate. Imagine a January birthday when everyone is skint and on a detox. That would be awful.

Do you have any gripes about your birthday timing?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

Dynamo at the Barclaycard Arena

On Friday night I went to see Dynamo. I’d booked the tickets in October last year, so had been waiting a long time! As it got closer I started to worry a little about how close up magic would work in a big arena environment, but my concerns were unfounded. It was brilliant.

Dynamo

I’ve always thought that Dynamo comes across as a really sweet and likable person, with quite a humble attitude and a strong family focus. Seeing him live reinforced that; he’s a genuinely nice bloke. The show touched on his background, and his struggles as a kid being picked on in his local area. He spoke about his Grandma and Grandpa with such respect and love, and they’re obviously a massive part of who he is today. There was even video footage of his Gran doing a card trick, which was great!

He indulged in some banter with the audience and made some funny quips and jokes which weren’t expected – I’d say he’s had some coaching prior to the tour as his shyness definitely wasn’t present (and with an audience of 5000 people that’s a good thing!)

There was a lot of audience participation and random selection of people which I suppose is there to prove that the people who are taking part on stage aren’t planted and “in on it”. There was no trick that I could say “I know how he did that” and most of them were so brain bafflingly complex so I couldn’t even begin to think how they’d been designed and orchestrated. It’s easy to suggest that camera trickery and clever editing are at play when you watch magicians on TV, but in a live environment there’s nowhere to hide. Leading me to declare, during the interval, that “magic must be real” (I’ve long suspected this, to be honest, regardless of the guffaws I’m met with whenever I share that opinion!)

I won’t talk about any of the tricks, as Dynamo made that request at the end of the show, but suffice to say I would highly recommend getting tickets to what’s left of the tour (if there are any still available) and prepare to be left scratching your head and wondering what on earth you just witnessed with your own eyes!