Christmas 2018

So, that’s that then for another year! Three hundred and sixty three days shopping days until Christmas! I hope everyone had (or is still having if you’re having extended celebrations) a fantastic festive time.

Looking through the camera roll of my phone I now realise that I was too busy having a great time to take many pictures over the last two days. For those of you reading in different countries I’ll explain the two day thing. Until I started work with my current employee and had contact with lots of colleagues all over Europe, I assumed that Boxing Day was a universal holiday, but it seems it’s not. It’s mainly observed in the UK and former members of the British Empire. It dates back as far as the sixteen hundreds (it was documented by a certain Samuel Pepys) and its origins lie in the tradition of giving tradesmen and service staff a Christmas box on the first working day after Christmas Day. Whatever its derivation, I’m very grateful for it because it gives us two days over which to see mine and hubby’s families and gives me more time to catch up on sleep at a time of year when although happy, I’m always exhausted.

We’ve fallen into a happy routine over Christmas. We spend Christmas morning and early afternoon at home, just the two of us and the cats, then we spend the evening at my sister-in-law’s house exchanging gifts, playing games, eating too much and catching up. On Boxing Day we go to my Dad’s house in Worcester for more over-eating, more exchanging of gifts and more catching up. I love it!

I talked to you last time about making a recipe card similar to Gousto for our Christmas dinner to take all the hassle out of cooking it. It worked a treat!

I followed this pretty much to the letter and (even if I say so myself) Christmas lunch turned out absolutely delish!


It wasn’t all strictly from scratch, but it was less pre-prepared than we’ve done in previous years. We always have prawn cocktail for our starter – we shredded the iceberg lettuce ourselves but the prawn cocktail was out of a tub. I do actually make a mean thousand island dressing (it’s dead easy) but really, life’s too short to faff around when Tesco will do it for you for very little expense.

The chicken number two was lovely. I cooked it in its bag and just had to cut it open twenty minutes before the end and baste it – fabulous, no mess in the oven! We had roast potatoes with thyme, mashed potato, Yorkshire pudding (controversial!) cauliflower cheese (hubby’s fave), Chantenay carrots and parsnips roasted in a honey glaze, peas, red cabbage with port and cranberries, gravy and, the pièce de résistance, pigs in blankets! Hubby had seven. SEVEN! He certainly ate well – three roasties, seven pigs in blankets, two yorkies and all the rest too! Oh well, if you can’t indulge at Christmas, when can you?

We didn’t forget our little girls – they had their own Christmas lunches on special Christmas plates.

Speaking of fur babies, we got my sister-in-law’s pooch, Charly, a little festive treat.

You can’t quite see it, but it says Santa’s Little Helper on it. She was very clever and opened it herself. She needed a little bit of help to put it on, but she seemed quite pleased with it.

On to Boxing Day, and we headed off to Worcester around eleven thirty. I don’t know how I manage to forget out the speed restrictions on the M5 every time I go on it! It’s down to 30 mph at one point which feels slower than walking! Oh well, for once the traffic was light and we didn’t need to be rushing so road rage was absent.

Driving home for Christmas, oh I can’t wait to see those faces. Those words are very apt. I love seeing everyone altogether in one place. People just find a perch on a chair or the floor and we just all chat away to whomever we happen to perch next to.

Some of our numbers were beavering away on a Christmas jigsaw for much of the day, with cries of ‘who’s pinched that bit?!’ and ‘the pieces had better all be here!’ emanating from that end of the room periodically!

People dipped in and out as they pleased throughout the day. Look at all those lovely heads bent over as they vied to be the one to put the last piece in! Surely this is what Christmas is all about? Relaxing and enjoying the company of family.

We both got some amazing gifts from our nearest and dearest which we will enjoy wearing, making, reading, watching, planting, bathing in, eating and drinking for some time to come. I’ll tell you about all our lovely new things over the next few posts rather than bombard you with them all now, but I will leave you with this picture of the amazing quilt that my Mum made for us, which Olive and Tinkerbell have already commandeered as their own!

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My day in photos

I’ve had quite a productive day today, unlike this gorgeous twosome who have spent most of the day snoozing!

I know I’m biased, but I’m convinced we have the two cutest puddy tats in the world. They’re so beautiful, they make my heart flutter a little bit.

I decided to use my extra hour today to make a start on this lovely craft project that one of my favourite people bought me for my birthday.

It’s make your own sequin Christmas baubles. This was all in a kit, but I’m quite sure you could get the equipment separately from somewhere like Hobbycraft.

You need a polystyrene ball, a bauble hanging cap (this is the metal ring that you get in the top of old fashioned style baubles – you could recycle from an old/broken one), sequins, pins and ribbon. That’s it!

After you’ve pushed your hanging cap into the ball you get going with the sequins. You literally just work round in circles, slightly overlapping the sequins as you go. It was actually really therapeutic and I really enjoyed the slow circular rhythm. I found after a while that it helped to balance the ball on a little candle that I have, and, happy bonus, every time I moved it round I got the gentle scent of fresh linen from my candle.

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Heres the finished bauble. I LOVE it. So pretty and sparkly. Can’t wait for December to get the tree out and let it fulfil its festive destiny.

After my dressing room clearout yesterday we decided to go to the tip. I know it’s a bit sad, but I love going to the tip. Although I don’t like clear surfaces and have to have bits and bobs around, much to the chagrin of my lovely hubby who tends to be in charge of the family duster, I find it so cathartic getting rid of junk and clutter. We had three Gousto boxes which are too bulky to go in the regular recycling bin, and various other bits of cardboard as well as a load of rubbish that wasn’t good enough for the charity shop and a mahoosive bag of garden rubbish. All gone now!

I needed to pick up our click and collect shopping, and while I was there I spotted M&S and, inspired by the lovely Butterflies and Boundaries blog post that I read this morning I decided to nip in to get some lunch. Can’t beat M&S ready meals, and this is one of their best.

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Spaghetti Carbonara. Yum!

Whilst I was out I decided to go and get a birthday present for my special friend whose birthday was actually last week, but I’m not seeing her until Tuesday. Obviously I can’t show you what I bought her in case she reads this before Tuesday, but as with any great shopping trip, I also came home with a couple of little treats for myself.

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I’ve been trying to work out all afternoon if this is irony. It’s a Crassula which is toxic to cats, in a cat pot. Is that ironic or just misleading? Isn’t it just typically British to create a concept, that no one is ever actually quite sure how to define. We all know that Alanis Morrisette got it all wrong with her ten thousands spoons when all you need is a knife and all that. The only way that would’ve been ironic is if it turned out at a later date that actually a spoon would’ve done! Is my Crassula/cat pot ironic? Really not sure! Anyway, it had to stay in the car to avoid cat ingestion and is coming to work with me tomorrow.

I also got some new socks. Somehow mine all seem to have holes in the heel. Socks are so expensive! £20 for these nine pairs. Nice though, eh?

Back at Chez Green Girl I decided to construct the second raised bed, despite the absence of my lovely hubby. Not as easy with one, but stubborn to a fault I am, and determined, so I succeeded. I did have to admit defeat when it comes to moving them to their final resting point – that is definitely going to take two (if not three) pairs of arms.

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Ta daaaaa! We will have our own fruit and veg next year!

I had a quick look round the garden, just to reassure myself that everything is ok. It pretty much is, although it’s very sad to see everything starting to shut down for the winter.

My Acer is still tiny, and it is supposed to go red in the Autumn, which is hasn’t really, but you can just about see that it’s trying.

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And my Eupatorium has got some beautiful white flowers. It’s so so pretty waving around in the breeze.

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By now I was getting peckish, so I came in and cooked the first of this week’s Gousto meals – Goat’s Cheese and Red Pepper Pizza with Rocket Salad.

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Delicious! I love goat’s cheese.

Right, time to ease my aching back after the weekend’s exertions in a nice hot bubble bath with the last episode of the Cry on my iPad. I’ve watched the first three today and I’m hooked – I’ve got to find out what the conclusion is!

Toodles!

A week of food

I’m actually halfway through a draft of a post I’ve been pondering for a few weeks, but it’s taking me a little while to get it right, so in the meantime I’ve come to tell you about my week of scrummy food. Honestly it’s no wonder I struggle to lose weight!

We had another Gousto box this week and, oh my, it was full of deliciousness!

We started the week with a veggie offering. Neither of us is vegetarian, but we are both animal lovers so we do try to reduce the amount of meat we eat. Hubby tries to only eat it once a day, and I will often choose a veggie option over meat. I’m not a massive meat lover anyway, I don’t really like the texture and I can’t bear fatty or gristly cuts. I find that I get very tired after prolonged periods without meat, so I don’t cut it out altogether. I’m obviously not getting everything I need from my veggie choices.

Anyway, feast your eyes on this.

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This is a spinach and feta tart with crispy potatoes and rocket salad. It was really quick and easy to make and so so tasty. It reminded us both of relaxed and restful Greek holidays, probably just because of the feta. Y-um!

Next up I took a bit of a risk. Tandoori fish! I don’t mind fish (as long as it doesn’t still have its eye looking at me *shudder*) but I wasn’t sure if the delicate fishy flavours would work with the strong tasting tandoori marinade, but it absolutely did. I should have known really because good old Gousto has rarely let us down. I forgot to take a photo of this one, so desperate was I to try it but here’s the Gousto pic.

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Next up was another veggie dish. I love love loved this one, and again it was super easy to make and took less than fifteen minutes. Hubby says he liked it, but I didn’t get the vibe that he loved it quite as much as I did. I love picky food – crisps and dips, crudités, a finger buffet – so Gousto’s halloumi shawarma with hummus couldn’t have been further up my alley.

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We grilled the pittas and pumpkin seeds, fried the halloumi in a tiny bit of olive oil and blitzed together chickpeas, garlic, tahini, olive oil and lemon to make the hummus …… and then the dipping commenced. The nommiest of noms!

Finally we had a meat option, chicken schnitzel with apple and potato salad. I have absolutely no doubt that this will become a regular dish in the Green Girl Gardener household. Really simple and easy to make, oh so tasty, and common ingredients that we generally have in the kitchen already.

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We had a lovely, and delicious, surprise at our front door on Monday this week. Our neighbours held their baby son’s christening at the weekend, and it seems they’d over-catered (always safer than under-catering) and they brought us round cake! How amazing! Cake on the doorstep on a Monday evening. How very kind of them to think of us.

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It was a rocky road style cake topped with teeny tiny marshmallows and hundreds and thousands all drizzled with white chocolate. Sooooooo good! Mindful of having to get into swimwear in the near future, I shared the joy and took the last four pieces to work for my lovely colleagues to enjoy.

The working week ended with another delicious meal, this time out with my Dad and our very good friend in town. Yep, that’s right, I went out! Not just out, but out out. In town! Not the local town, but proper city centre, second city, Birmingham town. Whoop! Don’t do this very often so it feels like such a luxury, and oh my goodness, this restaurant didn’t disappoint.

It’s an Indian restaurant called Varanasi, but this is not just your local sit down, bring your own, have a great time Indian restaurant. This one did Indian food and fancy dining with so much aplomb that my head practically exploded with gleeful wonderment!

First of all I have to show you a few snaps of the interior which dazzled and amazed before we’d even got as far as opening the wine list (New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, obviously!) or perusing the menu.

Just look!

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You really feel like you’re entering somewhere special as you’re escorted down that corridor of Buddha-Esque statues. I’m ashamed to say I don’t know who they represented. Krishna maybe?

The restaurant on the other side is laid out over three floors with balconies overlooking the lower levels and low lighting to accentuate the ambience created by the burning incense. I don’t normally like incense, but this was by no means overpowering and made me feel completely immersed in the Hindu inspired environment.

Once we had finished marvelling at our surrounding, and we were seated, we commenced the almost impossible task of deciding what to choose from the menu. Not easy! We had some poppadoms and chutneys whilst we decided.

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Even this was done well with each of us having our own chutney pots to save reaching over each other. This is always awkward I find when you’re out in a larger group and you don’t have the chutney right in front of you and have to either keep leaning over your neighbour or cover your plate in raita which you then can’t quite scoop on to your poppadom!

The waiters were incredibly attentive without being intrusive and were around to give us advice on which dishes to choose. I decided on the Varanasi special chicken curry with steamed rice and I opted to have it cooked with medium spice.

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It was amazing. It had a definite kick (glad I opted for medium) but with a hint of ginger. The dish was beautifully presented and perfectly cooked. It was a veritable delectation for the taste buds! We shared a naan bread which again appeals to my love of picky, dippy food. We were three very satisfied diners.

Goodness knows how, but between us we managed to get through four bottles of the fruity Sauvignon Blanc so a trip to the little girls’ room was required, and luckily I took my phone with me because there were more photo opportunities.

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What a beautiful bathroom.  The hand wash smelt divine! I didn’t use the moisturiser because when our hand towels were brought after dinner which were expanded in little bowls of water in front of us, we were also given a little bottle of moisturiser, so I used that.

All in all, a thoroughly excellent evening of laughs and scrumptious food. I would highly recommend Varanasi to anyone who finds themselves in the vacinity of this great city of mine.

Must dash, we’re off to the matinee performance of War Horse today (in town again, twice within twenty four hours!) so I need to get a wiggle on. I’m super excited about seeing this show. I loved the book and I know several people who have seen the stage show and have raved about it. I’ll let you all know if it lives up to expectations. I have no doubt it will.