Christmas Past. Lessons Learned. Notes To Self

christmas jar oh christmas jar1.Don’t wear a dress.
Christmas being a special day, it may seem like a good time to wear a special dress.

It’s not.

Be real, if there’s even a change you’ll be crawling on your belly under a six foot pine trying to reach your auntie’s lavender bath bombs, then unless you like flashing your loved ones and filling your tights with pine needles, you should just go for comfy jeans. Better still something soft, elastic, splash-proof and fire retardant and you’re all set.

2.Do some wrapping in advance.
I bloody love wrapping. Not a universal opinion I know, but for me I’d have a good wrapping session (wine, twinkly lights, Michael Buble) over an all expenses paid skiing holiday with (insert hot bloke here).
I thought I was being very cunning last year by saving up the wrapping for Christmas eve, for maximum eve fun. WRONG. Wrapping IS fun. But ALL the wrapping together in one night makes you want to die. Spread out, enjoy at leisure.

3.If you continually bite the sellotape to tear it apart, then all the skin off your lower lip will be wrapped up with the presents, and you’ll look like you’ve been punched in the face.

4.Don’t aim to cook more things than can fit in the oven. Yes, we all want a scrumptious spread for Christmas dinner, but you can achieve that without cooking every vegetable on God’s green earth.

It might not seem that way to your bucks fizz addled mind, but there IS a limit to the sheer volume of stuffing you family can ingest. Be generous by all means, but be real, we can’t all have agas the size of two bed flats, and the best Christmas ever will never be the one where you cried because you didn’t know where to put the parsnips.

5.Don’t turn the Christmas lights on at the plug while your brother is fixing them like that time you did a few years ago, and he was electrocuted.

6.Adding tinsel to your outfit in any form, will look cute, but will itch like scabies.

Love love, Merry Christmas and all that,
Gwen

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In Breif: Recent Reads

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This Comes a little late in the day I must confess, and the word ‘recent’ in the title must be taken in the loosest sense (I’ll admit that the thyme plant in the picture is now dead thanks to my not so green fingers.. Rest in peace Herbie). However I think I can dredge up some dim memories of these reads if I squeeze my eyes shut and really try.

I would recommend…

After the Armistice Ball- A decent who done it with an appealing leading lady and an appropriately tense ending. A good read, not too taxing.

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The Tenant of Wildfell Hall- A period romance with a mystery element, and I have to say I really got into this one. Considered shocking and ‘a complete mistake’ in its day due to content such as a wife leaving a husband (shock horror), times have changed, but it could still be called an intense ride I think.

Not so into…

The Whaleboat House: I read it all quite quickly, and it’s fine, but I don’t know, for me it was just fine and not much more really. Not very original I think and the author insists on detouring into every character’s extensive backstory even when not relevant or interesting.

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The Shadow of Death: This has been made into a TV show, and soz balls but it beats me why. Boring and repetitive in my eyes, and not very mysterious mysteries. I have a friend who holds the same opinion but I suppose some people must like it, so  let me know if you do.

Love love,Kiss Kiss and all that,

Gwen

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Craft Fair Update

I dreamed last night that no one came. It seems to be a bit of a pattern with me, I’m organising something, all is going swimmingly, but even so I dream a disaster scenario. I refer you to the time I was organising a posh dinner party, I dreamed of everyone turning up really early and all I had to give them was cheese puffs. Nightmare.

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Anyway we can hope it’s not an oman because we have put in efforts to really get butts through the door, leaflets have been printed and my younger siblings roped in to post the through doors. Turns out some letterboxes are really hard to get things through, they seem to be equipped with brush heads on the inside, I don’t know if that’s to stop people posting dog poo through or what but it put a stop to some of our leaflets I can tell you. I as tempted to get the kids to really shove them in but was afraid I’d end up with an eight-year-old girl with her arm stuck in the neighbour’s letter box. You really shouldn’t try and post your siblings. I’ve also arranged to have a notice but in the church bulletin, plus facebook mithering of all our friends and relations.P1170049

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I’ll be selling cake, as I did last time, but also I bought six different types of wholesale sweets and packaged them up as lovely little stocking fillers (for it is a Christmas craft fair), I did just over half in cellophane bags with red ribbon or twine, and the rest became little Victorian style parcels in brown paper, which if I do say so myself look rather adorable. They took a good few hours to put together, but it had a very Christmas eve wrapping session feel about it that I rather enjoyed.

If you live in the Birmingham England vicinity then do pop in.

Gwen

Previous craft fair post here.

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Reading, reading and reading

Whoops, sorry dear blog you have lain forgotten and forlorn in a dusty corner while other parts of the internet (and actual life in general) get mine & me co-blogger’s attention. In fact if you want to see what’s been going on with the meece you can here or here. Since finishing uni I have had an explosion in my reading, suddenly I am able to read what I want, when I want and how I want. It’s so exciting!!! So here is the slightly bizarre compilation of books that I have been devouring over the last five months. (Oh great grief its been five months!)

Many books & a single strawberry

Many books & a single strawberry

In Search of Blandings by NTP Murphy – quite a good read and being a bit nosey I really enjoyed finding out where PG Wodehouse got his ideas from, although I found some of Murphy’s links between places in real life and places, particularly Blandings, in the books were rather tenuous to me. But I think that’s more to do with cynical historian training.

In Search of Blandings (Omnibus) & Something Fresh by PG Wodehouse – hmmm having read the book about the world of Wodehouse I then read the actual books, who’d have thunk it? I will always love Wodehouse so I know I liked these but it was so long ago that I can’t really remember I think pumpkins came into it. And definitely a scarab in Something Fresh – the night scene where everyone ends up creping about is also just fantastically ridiculous.

Honeysuckle Cottage by PG Wodehouse – anyone noticing a theme here? This book is the teeny-tiny one in the photo sandwiched between Something Fresh & The Mark of Athena and its not in the Blandings universe. Or really Jeeves & Wooster. Shocker, but even more shocking its actually a ghost story. The cynical crime writer inherits his aunts cottage, his aunt also a writer (along the lines of Barbara Cartland I think judging by her reputation & this book) then “influences” the events at the cottage to her taste and just when you think you know exactly what should happen, it all goes to the unexpected but perfect end. I read this at the dentists was definitely grinning inanely, especially at the end, it certainly livened up the forty-five minute wait I had.

The Mark of Athena & The House of Hades by Rick Riordan – Oh the feels! Particularly the end of The Mark of Athena. I think I compounded this by first having re-read nearly all of both demigod series before reading these (I didn’t include them in the photo for reasons of size & that these were all books I haven’t read before). Given how deadly every book is I fear that the very last one will be truly terrible, eventually I’ll get round to reading it. Even with all the highly strung drama in these two books I still find it funny that the Athena Parthenon’s feet end up in the stables.

Colditz by PR Reid – There is something in one sense completely farsical about this and on the other hand completely believable. It might be the way its written but it seems surprisingly like stories my dad tells of his school. It is an incredibly good read and really incredible that anyone actually thought of doing any of these things – you also inadvertently learn a certain amount of French and German phrases. That was the one thing I found a little annoying was that sometimes PR Reid wrote short conversations in German because that was how it happened and I had to rely on guessing from the surrounding words or asking my mum to translate.

Emma by Jane Austen – I rather liked this one, and I liked that Emma’s character was flawed in such a versatile way, and that the other characters were flawed in some way as well, Mr Elton’s conceit, Harriet’s naivety, Mrs Weston’s compliance to Emma and Mr Weston’s over kindness. And lets not mention Frank Churchill’s character, or Jane Fairfax’s the daft girl. It made it a lot more human and their conversations became a bit more a live. I know others find Emma’s manipulation of Harriet the worst thing but I thought what happened to their friendship at the end was really bad on both their parts.

Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery – This book has been sitting on my shelf ever since we refitted for the new library at school so about six years. The long speeches from Anne at the beginning made this book quite difficult to read for me, I kept on losing track and I really thought I wouldn’t like this book. I really liked this book actually to the point where I keep dipping back into it, and you notice throughout the book the way Anne’s language changes as she gets older, “tragical” becomes “tragic” which then disappears altogether. As much I am slightly fascinated with this book I don’t actually want to read any of the others in the series – I couldn’t quite believe there were so many books really.

The Little Prince by Antione de Saint-Exupery – I wanted to read this ever since I saw the trailer about the new film their doing of it. I knew the book would be rather different to what was in the trailer, the premise I think I enjoyed the majority of everything went over my head. Some bits like why the rose was special I got, but I didn’t get the stuff about the rose prior to that or the sheep, the fox I think I understood. I reckon there is no actual storyline or any form of continued narrative in this book and I think that’s what threw me a bit – there is so much rave about this being one of the greatest books that I was disappointed I think.

Winnie-the-Pooh by AA Milne – What does a freshly graduated historian of 21 years buy the day after graduation? Obviously a copy of Winnie the Pooh! That and an English version of the Magna Carta. I may have bought this book partly for the illustrations (I love EH Shepherd’s stuff) but also because to the best of my remembrance I didn’t have a Winnie the Pooh book when I was a child. I think I might have spurned it because my cousins family were so into Disney’s Winnie the Pooh. However thanks to Gwen and her family I was given snippets of AA Milne’s poems and stories and found I rather enjoyed it. My favourite story from this book is the one where Pooh eats too much at Rabbits and gets stuck and Rabbit uses his legs as a towel rack!

Anyone else read anything good recently?

au revoir

Elinor

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Jaffa Cupcakes

I made these recently,orange cupcakes with chocolate buttercream and a mini jaffacake on top. I’ve been experimenting with different cake ideas lately, remember that post I did about the craft fair? Well we’re doing another one, my sister in law and I, we can’t be stopped, we’re  on a rampage! If you do live in the b30 area you may well want to pop in, you may want to browse, to partake of cake, what’s stopping you?

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The poster, ta da:

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Also, while we’re on selling our wares, have you looked at the etsy shop of my esteemed colleague (blog name Elinor, shop name Middleton’s meece) ? No? What’s wrong with you you animal? Go and look, do the decent thing, give a sister a chance, you never know, there might be something you like. You know what to do.

Love love, kiss kiss and all that,

 

Gwen

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Exciting News this way comes!

Twice now I have alluded to exciting things happening soon and it’s all finally come together and begun to float:

I have an Etsy Shop!!! If you have ever thought you might have wanted a picture of the meece or any other critter that happens to pop along now you can at a small establishment called Middletons Meece From this small corner of the interweb I shall conquer the world with whimsical drawings!

Open for Business!

I now have a Twitter and a Facebook page for the Meece to explore all there shenanigans, so they will no longer parade about on the blog as Weekly Doodles and there are no more Weekly Doodles. (Let’s be honest here – this is a relief to anyone who even cares an ounce about time keeping, including me, given how late they usually were.) So if you’re day is a bit grey and dull and you’ll feel in need of a smackerel of the ridiculous you’ll know where to find it.

What will appear on the blog (and facebook with behind-the-scenes on Twitter) is a new monthly series “The History Meece”. As I am now a fully-fledged Historian (I can officially say that now, I think) I have been the honest neighbour and made my art and history friends. I have already got twelve history events for the Meece to have some with, so they are set up currently for a twelvemonth – occasionally I can be on the ball.

Having bumbled along with this idea sitting in the back of my head for about two years it’s slightly horrifying in a marvellous way that it’s all coming together, and owes a fair amount to being metaphorically kicked up the backside by various people to which much thanks is owed.

au revoir

Elinor

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The Older Lass

The older lass,
The years have passed,
Looks crinkled in the looking glass,
Her hair was fair,
Now bald and bare,
Frame lodged in the easy chair,

By hook or crook,
She’d run amok,
But medication must be took,
And all at once, idyllic bliss,
Are younger people’s whim and wish,
It’s not for her,

The sunlit verge,
Or swift and swallows’,
Swoop and serge,
But television’s dreadful dirge,
To keep her peace,
And keep her calm,
Boredom can’t do any harm,
Intelligence of course has fled,
And left a may as well be empty bed,
For all the sleeper’s life is led,
As far as we’re concerned,

It’s stamped out,
Every glint and glimmer,
With mashed potatoes for her dinner,
And eyebrows’ former knowing arch,
Is frozen with the tatties starch,

And in the corner of the eye,
Where younger lass would smile and cry,
The tiny, salty, soul filled chink,
Shielded by a frequent blink,
‘I wish I could eat chocolate spread,
‘Walk in the ocean to my head,
‘A thunder bolt would strike me dead,
‘Scream aloud and not be mad,
‘I miss my Mum, I miss my Dad!’

But three O’clock,
The timely chime,
Is older lass’ napping time.

Gwen

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Autum Cupcakes

It’s so easy to get inspired to bake in the summer with all the light, bright, floral and pastel colours abounding, but I thought a bit of autumn,woolly jumper, deep hue and curled up with a book style cakes were called for.

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These here are sticky date and ginger cupcakes with brown sugar icing. I basically adapted a sticky toffee pudding sponge, and I can tell you the cake is VERY nice by itself (especially the next day after the ginger has developed a bit), so you can make it just as a tray bake or a loaf cake if you like, I am doing that very thing today. But to make them into these rather fetching cupcakes I added brown sugar buttercream with I felt was fitting.

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Ingredients

180g Medjool Dates

2 Tablespoons Black Treacle

1 Piece of   Stem Ginger

80g Butter

150g brown sugar

2eggs

180g Self  Raising Flour

1 teaspoon backing powder

2 teaspoons Ground Ginger

 

For the Buttercream;

300g softened butter

Some icing sugar

Some brown sugar (seriously make it to taste, it’s the only way)

A little milk

Start by covering the dates with boiling water and soaking them in a saucepan for about 20 mins. Add to the pan your black treacle and finely chopped stem ginger and turn on the heat for a couple of minutes to break up the dates to a pulp.

In a separate bowl cream the butter and sugar with the eggs. Mix in the dry ingredients, and then, when the date mixture has cooled (for otherwise it will scramble the eggs) mix that in as well.

Spoon into cupcake cases and bake for about 15 minutes.

Use an electric whisk to combine the buttercream ingredients, you know the drill, and decorate with a piping bag using the open star nozzle.

 

Gwen

 

 

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Sidle in Stage Left

Oh I am apparently back. The internet has return-ed over a week ago now, so exciting things can start to happen soon – once I get taught some basics. I am not a little bored right n0w, I have been writing a job application and its very, very hard. I am British, as Britishly British can be and I seriously hate talking about myself for job applications. I can’t even take prise well, one of my tutors found it hilarious that every time she said something I’d written was good I would make this really worried face. I was trying to look happy and clearly failed. Is this one of those initiation things that you have to do to become a real adult? Trying desperately to be a proper adult and yet all I can think every time I look at the job title I’m applying for is part of Much Ado About Nothing:

“He was wont to speak plain and to the purpose, like an honest man and a soldier, and now is he turned orthography; his words are a very fantastical banquet, just so many strange dishes.” (ActII Scene3)

When I were a lad you were a ruddy guide plain and simple, or ticket officer or café assistance (which this job description seems to entail). I mean seriously why do we have to have so many new and fantastical names for jobs that previously could have been described in their title. We can see how bored I am, I honestly just looked up the quote in my copy of Much Ado, can’t I just sit there and quote Shakespeare at them? And I’m at that point of boredom where anything else seems a good thing, I did just spend half and hour rearranging the fridge to accommodate the new shopping which could have been stuffed in anywhere but I went with it. The only thing stopping me from vacuuming my room at the moment is that we have neighbours and thin walls. It’s also become really cold in the house, I have been in a woolly jumper, scarf and fluffy socks all day with a near constant supply of tea – just to point out the chillyness I saw the meece curled up at the corner of my bed having stolen a pair of my socks.

Desperate Attempts at Keeping Warm

Desperate Attempts at Keeping Warm

au revoir

Elinor 

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Internet, where art thou?

I am currently internetless! Woohoo tech-free for a week. I could lie and say I am aspiring to my Luddite sensibilities however this is really bad timing for so many reasons. Still silver lining and all that…somewhere 🙂
au revoir
Elinor

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