Friday, 21 December 2012

Christmas Past (part one).

The dynamic of my Christmas has changed over the years.  This year different to last and last year different to the previous year ...

But there was a time where I remember the familiar fabric of this time of year, so well worn that it could have been the same comforter brought out time and time again wrapping me in a blanket of contentment and happiness.

My childhood wasn't perfect but there were times it was perfection and Christmas was always such a time.

Christmas began at the end of October when, in a steamy fug my Grandmother gathered together the ingredients for the Christmas cake, homemade mincemeat and the Christmas pudding.

Great bowlfuls of shiny dates, plump raisins and currents, oranges and lemons ready for zesting and squeezing.  Huge heavy based pans and long wooden spoons, walnuts to crack and glace cherries sticky and sweet ....

We each took a turn in stirring the pudding mix and making a wish, usually a hint whispered out loud as to what we would most like to find under the tree on Christmas morning.

Once cooked the cake was wrapped in greaseproof paper ready for feeding drip by drip from the large bottle of brandy.  The pudding swaddled in a muslin cloth and circles of waxed paper sealed the jars of mincemeat before their lids were given a jaunty bonnet of red and white checked cloth secured with an elastic band.

Everything carefully labelled with the date was then stored in the huge wardrobe built into the alcove next to the fireplace in the large bedroom at the front of the house where it sat glowing richly one the dark wooden shelves amongst the fruits of the summer which had been made into pickles and chutneys and jam.

I used to open the door occasionally just to wonder at the array of goodies lined up and breath in the scent of cinnamon and spices.  Sometimes it would seem like Christmas would never come ...

Thursday, 20 December 2012

`Putting The Arse Into Class

I've often been told that I 'talk posh' - I don't know how true that is, I think my voice is fairly accent less, probably due to the fact that we travelled a lot during my younger years.

I've also been told that I'm elegant - as my friend C once remarked, 'you even get out of cars with your knees together for god's sake!'

Of course, anyone that knows me knows that it's all an illusion - I may 'talk the talk' and I may 'walk the walk' but there's no one more capable of making a complete arse of themselves than me!

Case in point!

Yesterday (before my lovely K had the chance to give me the kick I needed) I gave myself a kick up the backside.

I posted my cards and blitz my shopping (still a few to go) and then hit the clothes shops in search of a dress.

It's party season and although I have 3 or 4 party dresses I don't actually own a LBD.

I've already missed a couple of parties due to this bloody cold.  Last week I managed a paltry 2 hours at a party sipping lime and soda and snivelling into a tissue.

Well, I'm not missing out on any more!

I've a party to go to on Saturday night, another one on Christmas Eve - one between Christmas and New Year and one on New Years Eve so a new dress is justified I think ;).

Bloody hell, there are some truly horrible dresses out there right now!

I don't want an on the knee black velvet with stretchy lace sleeves thankyouverymuch!  I don't want sequin festooned chiffon and I don't want taffeta with so many layers I have to go through a bloody door sideways!

I want something a little quirky, a bit sexy, slightly slinky, totally frivolous with maybe a discrete touch of bling (sparkly shoulder straps perhaps?).

Hmmm ...

Can I also send out a plea to shops NOT to turn their heating up to tropical?  I know it's December (but actually, it's pretty mild for this time of year).  I'm fighting my way through the crowds with heavy bags, a shit load of stress and the remnants of a cold - I've got inbuilt fecking central heating thank you!

My coat was on and off like a pair of tarts knickers and overheated shops are entirely responsible for what happened next!

My last stop on the way home was Sport Direct for a pair of Goldigga boots for Miss Mac.

I'm not a fan of Sports Direct - they employ 2 dozen teenagers per shop - pay them minimum wage and teach them selective hearing, how to ignore customers (whilst carrying on conversations with each other) and cram in as many racks of clothes as possible so that getting through the shop is like a bloody obstacle course.

However, they DO sell Goldigga boots at an affordable price ...

In I marched and was hit in the face by this solid wall of heat.  Bags down, coat off and I Lambada'd through the racks of clothes to the escalator.

Upstairs was even hotter, I half expected to see a spider monkey or parrot perched on a light fitting!

And then I started feeling a little peculiar ....

Somebody had turned the heat up another notch and sucked all the air out of the shop ...  I needed to get out of there!

But it was too late ....

I'm not sure how I managed to find a six foot long space to go down like a sack of spuds in without impaling myself on a rack of Lycra, just lucky I guess.

Who would have known that was the best way to get service in Sports Direct???

I woke up to half a dozen teenagers crowded around me wondering what the hell to do.

'She needs to see someone' - It's ok, I can see lots of people already thanks ...

'Shall I call her an ambulance?' - You could, but actually my name's Sarah (very bad cracker joke, sorry ;).

Then I realised they WERE actually about to call an ambulance - bloody hell, yoof of today, don't they recognise a faint when they see one?

Like I said, if you need service in a shop can I recommend fainting?

I've still got some shopping to do and I still haven't found that elusive dress but I DID get Miss Macs boots and I didn't have to queue for them - I'd call that a result wouldn't you? ;)

Friday, 14 December 2012

Salt Dough Gifts

Linking up with Anne at Domesblissity for Thriving Thursday.

My Daughter who is 13 had been agonising over gifts for her friends.

Not being in a position to spend lots of money and also not wanting her to feel her gifts were inferior in anyway I suggested we have a go at making something personal for each of them.

Salt dough is so easy to make and I had everything to hand.  All you need is:

Equal parts plain flour and salt (say a cup of each) and half that amount of water.  I add a little (approx tsp) of vegetable oil to make it more pliable.

Mix it all together and then kneed.  You really need to kneed it for at least 5 minutes, but the longer the better.

Roll it out and use cookie cutters to stamp shapes.

Don't forget to make a hole if you want to be able to hang them up.

Either cook on a low heat in the oven for a couple of hours, leave to air dry (about 3 days) or, pop them in the microwave.  I've found 1 minute bursts (turning them each time) for about 3 minutes on a medium heat works really well.  If you find they rise a little or you have air bubbles then just place a plate on top of them as they cook.

Then, decorate:

Miss Mac thought they were pretty awesome.  I shall put them in polythene bags and tie them up with pretty ribbon - total cost - practically nothing - originality - priceless.

I've already started making some salt dough bunting as a gift for my niece to hang in her bedroom as well as making salt dough roses and strawberries made in silicone ice cube trays. 

It really is so addictive!

Photo: Salt dough strawberry - just because ...

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Duvet Days For Kids

This isn't the post I was going to write today - in fact I have another post more than half written that I was just going to finish off but then this cropped up.

In general I believe that children should go to school unless they are actively throwing up, have a temperature or some other tangible sign of real illness.

BUT - I also think that there are times where you can use your discretion as a parent and give them a break.

It's not something I do lightly or often but today I've allowed Miss Mac to take the day off.

This is why:

In my last post I told how the year 9's were running the school Christmas Fair this year as part of a business project.

Miss Mac has put an enormous amount of work into it.  She was supposed to be working with two other friends.  I had said that they could both come over on Saturday to draw up the posters, get organised and do the shopping.  That I would be available to help in any way that I could.

On Saturday one of the girls decided she couldn't be bothered to help and didn't show up.  The other one did come and spent the day playing on her phone, eating sweets and doing bugger all else.

Another friend of Miss Macs who was doing a different stall also came round and she DID help out even though it was nothing to do with her.

Miss Mac has agonised over this bloody stall.  Like me she is a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to things like that and she wanted to do a good job.

Yesterday was the Christmas Fair.

Miss Mac set out for school happy and excited, some money in her pocket to spend at the fair (the idea being that each would have the opportunity to have a look around while the others minded the stall).

She came home completely dejected and totally exhausted and took herself off to bed for a couple of hours to sleep.

The other two girls hadn't given her any help other than blowing up a couple of balloons.  She had been left to man the stall by herself the whole time.  She didn't get to look around or spend her money.  At the end of the fair she was left to pack away by herself.

She had borrowed a bowl from the food dept to put some prizes in and when she came back from returning it she was told that she couldn't go back into the room to finish tidying up but had to go to her next lesson.

This she did and at the end of school she returned to finish the clearing up only to find that the cleaning staff had been in and everything left had been binned!

All Miss Macs hard work, the posters, the sleigh that I made (still with some reindeer food left in it), the Christmas decorations I'd lent her to decorate the stall and,the thing she is most upset about, one of the teachers baby photos that she had put in the sleigh as she didn't see her to give it back, all thrown in the bin!

I am angry on so many levels.

I'm angry that her so called 'friends' really let her down.

I'm angry that her business teacher and her form tutor who were both at the fair didn't pick up on what was going on.

I'm angry someone thought it was ok to throw away things that clearly weren't rubbish.

I'm angry that Miss Mac takes all this onto herself and worries herself sick that the teacher who's photo has been binned is going to be really upset and angry with her.

I'm angry, so fucking angry that she worked SO hard and should be so proud of herself and yet she spent most of the night in tears and worrying so yes:

Today I'm letting Miss Mac have a duvet day because she bloody deserves it!!!

ps - I'm well aware that some people may think it's the wrong thing to do and, whilst they may have a point and whilst I generally am happy for people to view any opinions on my blog (and please do feel free to on this post too) - you should be aware that if you do choose to tell me how I should parent my child it's entirely possible I may tell you to fuck off ;)

Oh and yes, I WILL be speaking to the school to sort this out!

Monday, 10 December 2012

Famous Last Words

It's a little after 1am and by rights I should be tucked up in my nice warm bed

I love my bed with it's pocket sprung mattress, it's feather filled pillows covered in cosy flannel pillowcases and my light as marshmallow duvet encased in it's crisp blue and white striped duvet cover.

You'd have to go a long way to find a comfier place to be than my bed on a cold winters night.

And yet, here I am, bare foot and cold.  Kitten on my knee and a cup of tea by my side contemplating life and love and wondering if I'll ever make any sense of it all ...

About a week ago I happened to mention to a friend that I rarely get colds,  that in fact it had been years since I last had one.

Famous last words indeed!

The very next day I started sneezing, no other symptoms just sneezing so I ignored it.

The following day, sore throat which I also ignored.


That evening somebody replaced my blood supply with concrete and took a sledge hammer to my limbs.  They also fitted me with some kind of invisible crash helmet or something so everything sounded muffled like I was under water.

My eyes started weeping, my nose constantly ran and my lips were cracked and dry.  The bastards even sandpapered my skin!!!

For the last four days I have felt like 10 different kinds of shit but today, today I started to feel a little better.

My hearing suddenly came back, my nose stopped running and my temperature which had seen me refusing to turn the heating on or wear more than a vest top and joggers for days returned to somewhere near normal (apologies to those I refused to believe, you're right, it IS bloody cold!).

I was SO looking forward to bed tonight.  I'm a bit anal about my bed.  Clean sheets at least twice a week and everything just so (you'll never see a lump or bump in my duvet :).

I had a crafty kind of day.  The year 9's are running the Christmas fair at school this year as part of a project.  They have been given £10 for each stall and the idea is to make money (or at least not lose any).

Miss Mac and some friends have decided to go with the 'guess the teacher from their baby photos' competition.

Now I am slightly ashamed to say that I'm just a little bit competitive when it comes to things like that.  Every year without fail Miss Mac won the Easter Bonnet competition.  It wasn't just about the winning (honest!!!) I just love all that stuff.

I'm not convinced that they have thought this thing through properly or that it will be much of a money spinner BUT I do acknowledge (much as it pains me) that this is all part of the learning process and I needed to butt out.

So I have ....

Kind of ....

I just suggested a little sideline for the stall.  I mean, that's ok isn't it?  I'm letting them do their thing their way (ok, I helped a little with the poster but that's all).

Well, I had a lovely afternoon making Reindeer food and fashioning a sleigh out of a shoebox with lots of wrapping paper, glitter and tinsel to put it in.

Best of all I had everything to make it from here so it didn't add to their costs and hopefully the kids will like it after all, who doesn't like reindeer food???

I'm wandering a little here aren't I?

The reason I'm not tucked up in a self satisfied smug cocoon?

This bloody cold which I thought I had knocked on the head has me wheezing and making a weird kind of crackling noise every time I lie down and every 30 seconds I have to sit up just so I can breath.

It seemed easier to come down and waffle on here for a bit although how much sense I'm making dosed up to the eyeballs on a combination of paracetamol, Benylin and hot toddies I'm not really sure...

I do need to get some sleep though as tomorrow I need to have my wits about me because Double D has invited me out for a spot of stocking filling (at least I THINK that's what he said ...).

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Abandoning All Hope

I sometimes worry that maybe people might think I'm a little ....  Hmmm, frivolous? 

Maybe even a bit lightweight ...

I did wonder if I should write a post explaining that ok, yes, I MIGHT just be those things at times BUT there's far more to me than that (honest!!).

I was going to point out that actually, I am a fairly intelligent, responsible and capable person.  That many people value my advice and opinion (yes you do, go on,  admit it! ;).

That, when the need arises I can (arise?) be relied upon to stand up and be counted.

I thought I'd give a few examples and cast around for inspiration.

I have to say, I probably don't do myself any favours do I?

This morning I 'liked' a page on FB (I tend not to like to many as you get inundated with crap but this one was connected to a blog I found through a friend which looked like fun).

Anyway - I  managed to not only say lubricant but also penis, TWICE, in my very first comment ...  possibly NOT a great example then ...

I commented on a status from a friend who said that they had snow this morning and asked if I could come to play - He said:

NO...not letting you anywhere near it. You're WAY to dangerous as it is.....lol.'

Completely unfair (as I pointed out) - it's been almost 2 years since I last broke a bone in the snow!

So I checked out my recent status updates - surely I must have said something semi intelligent or insightful???

Most recent:

'Hmm, it's probably just steam (altho it COULD be smoke) -I'll just turn it back on - see what happens...'
The response I got?
'OK , it's been eight hours now should I phone the emergency services or is the new pressure cooker now working? It's no wonder I worry'
Some people have SO little faith in me, it's astounding! ( I don't even own a pressure cooker:)
I delved a little further (pretty confident that at some point Id find something to redeem myself ...) and found this:
'Dumb question time - Are you supposed to put shoe polish on with a brush and then polish it off with a cloth or is it the other way round???'
To which the answer (for those also not in the know) is - you should used two brushes, one to put it on and one to polish after.  Failing that then, on with a cloth, off with the brush.
And no, I didn't wait for the answer.  And yes, I got it the wrong way round ok?
Moving on ...
'My relief at not having trodden on a slug (again!) was short lived when I realised it was cat shit!'
Now that status went global ...  ok, viral ... - well, got reposted anyway by a friend so that all of HER friends could laugh at me too!
Then I hit GOLD!
A friend had posted THIS!!
'Thank you to Sarah Mac for her assistance with my fantastic blackberry and apple crumble! Not tried it yet but sometimes that's for the best - rest on my laurels!'
See?  I DO have my moments! (we shall gloss over the fact that she was force feeding her son said crumble)
With restored faith I carried on:
I found this photo:
Photo: What am I doing? Isn't it obvious that Im ironing Lous homework?
With the caption:
What am I doing? Isn't it obvious that I'm ironing Miss Mac's homework?
Aspersions were  cast on my having the right skills to actually use an iron (bloody cheek!)
Possibly I didn't help myself when I confessed that I hadn't realised she's used crayon for some of it and now I had melted crayon all over my ironing board cover and, when it was suggested that ironing over it with a layer of brown paper between the iron and cover would probably take it off I used the first bit of brown paper I came across (it worked btw) but no one had said not to use the paper bag the onions were stored in ...  I mean seriously people, don't go leaving out the important details ok?
'Clearly I should not be let loose with hairspray'
Self explanatory if you've read my 'Seduction Sarah Stylee' post ...
And then FINALLY (thank you god!)  I found this staus I posted last week!:
'Love the innocence of someone (who shall remain nameless) who has no idea why I laughed until I cried when they ended dictating an email I was typing for them with - 'see you next Tuesday'.'
Oh I'm aware it doesn't really further MY case (but at least it does prove that it's not just me :)
BTW - thinking of conducting a straw pole - asking people if they think there might be any hope for me or if I'm lost cause - what do you think???

Monday, 3 December 2012

Time Warp

It's been a helluv a weekend - my feet have barely touched the ground!

On Friday a call went out from the Hairy Bikers that the place to be was the Plough ...

Last time I went there it was called Harpoon Louis and it was a restaurant.

We'd had a works Christmas meal there and to be honest, I thought I might still be banned!

I'd just like to point out that it was a blanket ban and it wasn't anything I'd done ok!

Anyway.  It hasn't been on my radar since and I didn't even know it had been converted back to a pub.

It's hard to resist the HB's even though most of them aren't so hairy these days and some of them don't even have bikes anymore (but that's always been my name for them and it's kind of stuck).

I ummed and ahh just a little but had my arm twisted by the news that The Man from Funkle were playing.  Not my absolute favourite band although technically they really are very good.  A little too much 80's dance going on for my liking when I was far more into Punk in that era.


I swear to god I walked into an 80's time warp.  Seriously.  There were people there I thought had died!

It's not a big place and it was heaving.

I stood at the bar and looked around and there was MB.  I don't think I've seen him for about 10 years.  I used to have a bit of a thing about him way, way back and he looked just as gobsmacked to see me.

He'd started on the real ale a little early and by the time we got there (fashionably late) he was in effusive overdrive comparing me to a fine wine that's improved with age ect  Actually not a hugely flattering analogy but hey, he tried.

SD was on top form giving me the lowdown on all the people he knew from the past.  He has an endearing tendency to give me a all the details on someone who then generally turn out to be someone completely different altogether.

We were standing talking to an old friend of his and his wife (who obviously SD couldn't introduce me to) about the days he used to do landscape gardening and how he then moved into teaching.

Suddenly, like a bloody jelly fish she came out of nowhere and said to SD, 'so you're not as stupid as you look then'!!!

I don't know if she was trying to be funny or clever or what - I think she was just bloody rude!

I was tempted to say, 'I don't suppose you're as fat as you look, you just don't have any friends to tell you how big your arse looks in those leggings' - but I resisted ;).

For the record, SD isn't and doesn't look in the least bit stupid!

We sat down and chatted with the HB's who are hilarious when this random woman threw herself onto SD's lap.  I have to say, the women in there that night weren't at all slow at being forward!

Seeing SD totally helpless to do anything about it without actually tipping her on to the floor (which he is far too well mannered to do) was the best entertainment any of us had had all night.

Saturday ....  Do you know, Saturday is a complete blank!

I've NO idea what I did on Saturday ...

Nope, it's gone ....  If it comes back to me I'll let you know.

Sunday was the Christmas Cruz.

A gathering of several hundred VDubbers, Hotrodders, Bikers and Classic car enthusiasts in Bristol followed by a cruise through the town ending up at a big social event.

It raises a huge amount for charity every year and it's a final (forgetting final fling) chance to catch up with some people before next Spring when everything kicks off again.

Sunday night ....  Hmmm ...

Well, I WAS supposed to be heading back up to Bristol to see the Dickies and the Damned but Sunday night means I have childcare issues so I had to give it a miss which I'm gutted about.

Not helped by the world and his wife plastering what a good time they were having all over FB.

One last thing.

Those phone calls....

Well, I had another one over the weekend.  I'd left my phone at home by mistake yesterday and when I got home there was a missed call from an unknown number.  The call actually came on Saturday according to the phone log but I didn't get a notification until yesterday for some reason.

I was all for ignoring it still.  Not that I can do much else when it's an unknown number.

I do still have the number that wasn't witheld and I keep picking up my phone to ring it and then not doing it.

When my phone rang with a withheld number this morning I was surprised at how it shook me up.  Seriously, I was almost too scared to answer it!

But I did.

Bloody recorded message asking me if Id thought about a personal pension!!!

I think the best thing is to ignore it if there are any more.  I'm really pissed off that I'm wasting so much time dwelling on it.

I still can't be sure that there is any connection between the calls and I'm starting to wonder if I didn't just imagine someone calling me a bitch.

It could just be the result of my overactive imagination (ok, not entirely convincing myself here).

Anyway, life's to short to waste time worrying about that kind of crap and I've decided that tomorrow is the day I start putting up my Christmas decorations although if FB is anything to go by I seem to be leaving it rather late!