Sunday, December 25, 2005

Guess what I got for Christmas

A digital camera.

My first pictures were of the Husband, the Stepson and the Stepdaughter.

It's a complicated machine so it will take a while to get totally used to it. It should be fun.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Most Delicious Drink in the World

This recipe is not for slimmers. But at this time of the year it is nice to indulge yourself a little. Enjoy!

For each big latte mug you will need:

300 ml (I/2 pint) of "gold top" Channel Islands or Devon full fat milk
100 gm bar of Green and Black's "Maya Gold" dark chocolate with orange and spices
50 ml of Cointreau (or other good orange liqueur)

Bring the milk gently almost to the boil. In the meantime break all the chocolate up into squares and place in a liquidiser , blender or food processor and pour the liqueur over the top of it. When the milk has almost boiled, pour it over the chocolate/liqueur and blitz this carefully (it's hot and will give off a lot of steam) until it is frothy. Then pour into your mug and sit back and savour.

Don't be tempted to skimp on the ingredients. You do need creamy milk and very good chocolate. But I suppose you could stretch it by pouring some whipped cream on the top of the finished drink in the mug, and then sieving a light dusting of cocoa powder on top of that.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


As a child I had huge difficulty in deciding upon names for my dolls. I could never find names that I liked. I can remember that I eventually called my main doll "Barbara" but even then I wasn't very keen on it and often tried to think of alternative names for her, without success. The naming of my cats, over the years, has been a similar problem. When 10 years ago I brought home sister and brother kittens from the Cats Protection League I just could not think of good names for them and eventually came up with Pickle and Pepper. Afterwards I realised just how twee the two names were together but by then the black cat then named Pepper started to bring in his kill and live captures. The Husband said "we ought to call him Nimrod the Mightly Hunter instead". So we did.

I think the problem is that I have always been aware that I disliked the names given to me by my parents, particularly my first name I don't use here (not Val, which was and still is my second given name). Eventually, after over 50 years on this earth I came to the conclusion that why should I continue to live with a first name thaat I didn't like. I was also aware that it had not taken much time or difficulty to get used to my new surname when I married.

It took some time to find a name I did like for myself but one day, when I was at a conference at the Metropolitan Hotel, Brighton and listening to something extremely boring while sitting under an air conditioning outlet and trying to stop thinking just how cold I was, a name that I liked and wanted to be callled suddenly popped into my head.

It is a bit of a fiddle to change your name as there are so many places where your name is registered. Also to change your name legally is some places, like bank and savings accounts, shares, etc, etc all require official documentation. Fortunately a quick surf of Google found a reasonably local company that would do a Deed Poll Certificate for me for only about £20.

Generally changing my name has been successful and virtually everyone uses my new name. The only exceptions are my mother who hates my new name and insists on calling me by my old first name (which she chose, so I can understand her on this) and my hairdresser who only sees me once a month and was used to my old name and sometimes forgets my new one.

I think the main problem over the naming of babies is that parents are required to register the name(s) of the baby so shortly after birth, when the child's character has yet to emerge. So I would urge everyone who dislikes their name not to be afraid to consider changing it to something you feel better suits you.

On this track I have found a very funny website called "Baby's Named a Bad, Bad Thing - A Primer on Parent Cruelty" where some parents have come up with some very imaginative names for their children, either already here and suffering from the names they have been given or still to be born and to have a daft moniker given to them. There are 15 pages of the website and so it will take a time to read. Thus it is an ideal site to read in the hiatus between Xmas and the New Year when times hangs heavy and you need something to laugh at.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Cherry Mistmas

Christmas Cookie Ingredients:
1 cup of water
lemon juice
1 tsp baking soda
4 large eggs
1 cup of sugar
1 cup nuts
1 tsp salt
2 cups of dried fruit
1 cup of brown sugar
1 bottle Brandy

Sample the Brandy to check quality. Take a large bowl, check the brandy again, to be sure it is of the highest quality, pour one level glass and drink. Turn on the electric mixer....Beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl. Add one teaspoon of sugar...Beat again. At this point it's best to make sure the brandy is still OK so try another cup .. just in case. Turn off the mixerer thingy. Break 2 leggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit. Pick the frigging fruit off floor... Mix on the turner. If the fried druit gets stuck in the beaterers just pry it loose with a drewscriver. Sample the brandy to check for tonsisticity. Next, sift two cups of salt, or something. Who giveshz a sheet. Check the brandy. Now shift the lemon juice and strain your nuts. Add one table. Add a spoon of sugar, or somefink. Whatever you can find. Greash the oven. Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall over. ; Don't forget to beat off the turner. Finally, throw the bowl through the window, finish the brandy and make sure to put the stove in the dishwasher. CHERRY MISTMAS

Found on the web. I think this is one recipe I will not be adding to the Recipe blog (grin)

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Exercising Indoors - Hmm

Wednesday of last week I had an appointment with the asthma Consultant at the local hospital. I've been seeing him every so often since my asthma was diagnosed a couple of years ago. When I saw him last February he said that he wanted me to lose a stone (14 lbs) by the time he saw me at the end of November. Well, I tried hard and lost about half a stone. Then I got ill and the shingles lasted for quite a while. So I put on again the weight that I had lost. Anyway, when I saw him last week he said that I definitely need exercise to improve my asthma. However, he thought that major exercising outdoors isn't a good idea for me and said that I need to find a way to exercise indoors. So he started talking about gyms. Immediately he said this I felt a little concerned because to me gyms and sports centres are meant more for the young, slim and fit to use for body maintenance, not an overweight woman of 54 who doesn't exercise. PE classes at school were definitely not my best subject.

Pondering the situation subsequently I've bought a couple of exercise DVDs which are currently winging their way to me through the post (thank goodness for I've also looked on the Net and discovered that it is possible to join a special programme of exercising at the local council's sports centre. You need to be referred by your GP for this and as soon as my GP returns to the fold (he is on holiday this week) I will make an appointment to see him about it.

I hope it works out. Exercising isn't something I've ever done, though for several years I did do some yoga positions every morning before work. I stopped doing them some time ago. Perhaps I should restart them again.

Parmesan Parsnips

We usually have these with Christmas Dinner, delicious and they can be prepared beforehand to cut down on the fuss on the day.
2.5 lbs parsnips
6 oz plain flour
2 oz parmesan, freshly grated
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sunflower oil
knob of butter
  1. Mix together the parmesan, flour, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl.
  2. Peel and halve the parsnips then quarter them lengthways then cut each quater into smallish chunks. Cut out any woody centres.
  3. Put the parsnips into a saucepan with enough boiling water to cover them and add salt. Parboil them for 3 minutes while you get a large kitchen tray ready.
  4. As soon as they are ready drain in a colander and drop them, while still steaming, into the flour and parmesan mixture making sure each chunk gets thoroughly coated with the mixture. (N.B. Make sure they are steaming at this stage as this is the easiest way to get them covered with the mixture.) Then transfer them to the tray.
  5. Heat the oil in the oven and roast them above the roasting turkey/meat for 20 minutes then turn them over and continue to roast for a further 15-20 minutes.


After Stage 4 has been completed they can be prepared ahead, storing in the fridge for about 24 hours. Alternatively they can be frozen at this stage. Make sure they are fully defrosted before being put in the oven.
The recipe states that sweet potatoes can be used instead of parsnips but I have not tried this.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Ah, Christmas

The advantage of buying virtually all the Christmas presents you are going to give the family either via the Internet or by telephone is that you don't have to brave the shops and all those crowds of frantic shoppers, desperately trying to find things to buy. You can order at home with the knowledge that the goods will be delivered to your home, leaving you relaxed and free of stress. There are few downsides to buying online or by phone. The only ones I can think of is the amount of cardboard boxes and packaging that you end up with. Oh, and the fact that because the Husband and I are awaiting deliveries of things we have ordered one of us always has to be at home during the day and we can't go out together. But it's only for a few days, so this is soon over.

I may not be out buying Christmas presents but I'm still not avoiding the shops totally. There are still "ordinary" things to buy for day-to-day life. And in each shop there is the piped music, which at this time of the year is all Christmas based. Like "Deck the Hall with Boughs of Holly, tralalalalalalala .....

And then there is Christmas music being played at home. The Husband loves to listen to Christmas choral music and oratorios during December, loudly.
[Posted a bit later - at the moment he is playing, one after the other, all the FIVE different versions he has of Vaughn Williams "Fantasia of Christmas Carols" so he can work out which one he prefers. (FYI, so far he prefers the one from the Guildford Cathedral choir. The one I liked was dismissed because it had sopranos singing rather than boys - grin)]

Have you noticed that Television adverts change at this time of year? Suddenly they are full of adverts: for perfume (including that incredibly expensive one from Dior with Nicole Kidman that they originally showed last year); for food for THE meal; games (I believe that this is the best time of year to sell games); and lots of happily smiling perfect-looking families opening parcels to display things that advertisers think we should buy as gifts.

Oh well, only 19 days to go. All that anticipation.......