Archive of ‘Festive Posts’ category

20 Unique Gift Ideas Everyone Will Love You For This Christmas

unique gift ideas red santa sack piled high with gifts

‘Ho ho ho my goodness’. It’s that time of year where half of us are stuck for inspiration trying to come up with unique gift ideas for everyone! 

Many of us find the festive season a tad stressful with All. The. Things. that seem to be expected of us. And then there’s the gift-giving… If any of the following sounds familiar:

  • You feel like you buy the same sort of presents but are stuck thinking of something different and don’t know where to look for amazing and unique gift ideas

  • You have already got some basic bits but want to come up with something extra special and  thoughtful

  • You won’t be seeing your loved ones and need to post gifts to them

  • You don’t want the ordeal of running around from store to store and would love to get all your gift shopping done online from the comfort of your chair

  • You’ve had a few Christmas disasters in the past and don’t want to see any withering looks or hear a single ‘you shouldn’t have’ this year!

 

 Then  I Have Got THE Ultimate List Of Unique Gift Ideas for You!

It’s too easy to resort to just transferring money to the recipient’s account or going down the secret Santa route.

But let’s face it, nothing beats spoiling a loved one with a well-chosen present that they least expect and love most.  However, what to do if you’re struggling to come up with unique gift ideas that nobody else will think of or you just get overwhelmed at the thought of All. The. Christmas. Duties?

This list – and frankly the rest of the incredible one-stop range from which these have been selected – will save your life this Christmas!

Right. Peruse, choose and happy shopping to you!

 

Unisex Gifts

1.

unique gifts eye stones

Did I squeal with delight when I found these Orbits Tired Eyes Stones? Yes I did! Do you work long days in front of a computer? Do you suffer from allergies? Are you just tired full stop? More importantly, are your eyes telling you they need some TLC? This overtired blogger needs these in her life. No they’re not doughnuts. They’re your secret weapon against puffy tired eyes made of Finnish bedrock. Grab yourself a pair, chill them in the fridge, apply and let’s compare notes some time alright?

 

2.

These Big Personality Desk Signs may just be adorning my workspace in the very near future! Whether you’re the CEO of a company or the COO of your household, these tongue in cheek signs add an amusing touch to your office desk or home office space.

3.

 

unique gift ideas couch table

If you’re plagued by the ‘where did  I put the remote/how do I balance my drink and snack without them spilling on the sofa’ dilemma, the Couch Arm Table is just the perfect solution. Perfect for small spaces or lounges without a coffee table or just for people who don’t want to bend forward each time to pick things up (!), this attractive mini table top keeps things within arm’s reach with the aid of adjustable clasps that grip on to sofa arms up to 15 inches in width.

4.

 

unique gift ideas diy kit

Personally I think everyone should have this fab portable Fix It Kit. Seriously, there is now no excuse not to fix that thingy that needs fixing. I may actually throw out the makeup bag to free up space for this in my handbag…because while it’s featured in the men’s section of this gift guide, it also comes in (a very girly) hot pink! Each kit contains: hammer, LED Flashlight (2 x AAA batteries not included), pliers, 1M tape measure, slot screwdriver, interchangeable handle, 4 sockets, 10 assorted screwdriver bits, socket extension.

 

For Her 

5.

 

unique gift ideas chocolate soaps

This stunning Chocolate Soap Box consists of natural handmade soaps, infused with decadent cocoa powder and rich oil blends (olive, coconut, palm kernel, cocoa butter, shea butter, high oleic sunflower & refined sweet almond). Not only do they look totally lush, they had to be included in this list because of the official description mentioning their ‘pronounceable’ ingredients which raised a chuckle here at Prabulous HQ.

6.

unique gift ideas mother daughter letterbook

The brainchild of a woman who lost her mother to cancer, this Mother and Daughter Letter Book Set is simply one of the most beautiful gifts and an heirloom to be treasured. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to leave behind a keepsake of your life, personality and some unknown facts about yourself for your kids? This thoughtfully designed nostalgic set of 40 cards designed to be sent and shared helps you do just that.

7.

For your mother, sister, daughter, best friend, cousin…or you! If supporting female empowerment is important to you, then this Shattered Glass Ceiling Necklace can’t be overlooked. The design concept is of course based on the well-known metaphorical reference for the (often unacknowledged) barriers against women in the workplace.  This unique pendant is a tribute to all the women who have ever smashed it and is a great gift for someone who has herself achieved milestone breakthroughs or just to show support for those who have.

8.

Available in several versions including the traditional open scarf design this Literary Scarf is just perfect for the writers, journalists, students and *cough* bloggers in your life. Bottom line, if you know someone with a passion for words, they’ll love this.

 

For Him 

9..

unique gift ideas whiskey glasses plus chilling stones

Once the whiskey drinker in your life uses these fantastic soapstone cubes, they’ll probably never go back to ice cubes! Not only do these stones prevent dilution, they also keep the drink chilled at the perfect temperature for a longer period of time. The stones are available separately as part of a larger gift set including two glasses.

10.

unique gift ideas beeropoly board game

This low-maintenance Beeropoly Board Game requires no fussy set up and is perfect for adult parties or just to start the weekend with some fun. Players take turns rolling the dice, moving their bottle cap pieces around the handsome pine wood board and completing the light-hearted challenges along the way to try to avoid elimination. The last person standing must drink the Community Cup. Bottoms up! Please drink responsibly.

11.

It’s too hard to pick a favourite gift from this round-up but this BBQ Briefcase is surely in the top three. Seriously, for the man who fancies himself as a bit of BBQ king, this has got to be on the list! Where do I start? Well what it contains is a good place: Spatula (18″ L), Three-prong Fork (18″ L), 8 Shish-Kabab Skewers -17.5″ L, 8 Corn Holders – 2.5″ L, Pair of Tongs (18″ L), Barbeque Knife – 15″ L, Cleaning Brush – 16″ L, 2 Cleaning Brush Heads – 3.25″ L x 2.5″ W #HeGottaHaveIt

12.

unique gift ideas eyeglasses holder

Ba ha haaaa, this raised such a chuckle here at Prabulous HQ. We need two of this eyeglass holder in my house! Seriously how cool? No more searching around blindly (seriously this is actually a thing in my life) or trying to remember where you last put them down. Not only is this beside/hallway/mantelpiece companion incredibly handy, there is also a lovely story behind its creation. The product is distributed by HSSS, a non-profit in India that helps underprivileged artisans who suffer all sorts of hardships to find markets for their wood products.

For the Family 

13.

unique gift ideas trick question game

You simply can’t celebrate the holidays, lazy Sunday nights or general get-togethers without  games! Game night is easily THE thing I love the most about  Christmas with my family. The Trick Question Quiz has fun stamped all over it. Every one of its 400 questions conceals a brain-teasing trick question and answer and it’s a race against time to second-guess it.

14.

unique gift ideas two wishing balls

A truly unusual ornament, Birthstone Wishing Balls  have obvious appeal to children, besties and grandparents alike. What’s more, it’s the kind of gift that would look equally good on a lounge mantelpiece or a bedroom shelf. Created by Jill Henrietta Davis the birthstone wishing ball is designed to capture a single wish, accomplishment, or meditation every week for the coming year. Each shimmering ball of hand-blown glass comes with 52 tiny slips of paper for you to pause once a week throughout the year and record a message which you then coil up and tuck into the base.

15.

gift ideas what I love about you book

 

Sweet and personal, this endearing hardcover fill-in-the-blanks book spells out exactly what you love about a special someone. Complete each page’s simple prompts with racy disclosures or heartfelt sentiments and you have the perfect personalized pick me up for the one you love.

16.

unique gift ideas table topics boxes

Break the ice with these super clever Table Topics Conversation Starters.  Each clear acrylic “ice cube” holds a stack of 135 conversation starters to get dinner party guests thinking and chatting or to add a fun fresh touch to family meal gatherings. There are boxes covering several categories eg. families, couples, teens etc as well as an intriguing deck of provocative questions that will spark a lively debate and reveal a whole new side to your friends and family. Definitely one of the best unique gift ideas you’ll find.

For Kids

17.

Hold the front page! This amazing luminescent Dino Pet is actually thousands of pets in one. Tiny, bioluminescent dinoflaggelates illuminate their dinosaur-shaped environment. Just let them bask in indirect light during the day, and they’ll treat you to a soft blue light show at night. Quiet, compact, and easy to care for, Dino Pet It makes a soothing nightlight, an interactive aquarium, and an attractive ornamental pet (dino food, included).

18.

UNIQUE GIFT IDEAS princess duvet set

With incredible attention given to the design and colours, these fabulous  Princess/Mermaid/Astronaut/Dino Duvet Sets (princess set pictured here), may be a tad extravagant price-wise but are truly one of the most stunning and unusual bedding sets you will come across. Children will eagerly climb into bed when they know they’ve got one of these keeping them warm. They ought to make them for adults too!

19.

When you thought being a teen just couldn’t get any tougher, those embarrassing moments remind us it can and it does! Awarded the National Parenting Centre’s Seal of Approval, the Awkward Moment Card Game presents numerous tricky scenarios with questions focussing on how to handle them. The players have to come up with their best responses to those mortifying situations. Funny yet thought-provoking, it can be played anywhere with zero set up required.

20.

unique gift ideas motivational water bottle

Genius! I don’t know about you but getting my kids to drink enough water is literally like pushing water uphill, pun fully intended. Give the reluctant hydrator in your life a very heavy nudge in the right direction with this utterly brilliant Motivational Water Bottle marked with motivational messages to remind you to sip your way through two full bottles of H2O per day. The clear markings and clever graphics on a sturdy glass and stainless steel bottle make this design a friendly hydration helper.

 

So whether you need to buy for the easiest mum, the best friend who means the world to you, the least demanding dad or the person who has everything…

…hopefully this gift guide helps you out this year.

Finally, if you’re one of those who has already finished their Christmas shoppingdid somebody say ‘stocking fillers’…?

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10 of the Worst Christmas disasters ever

Christmas Disasters

 

My family have known their fair share of Christmas disasters to be frank with you.

I think it’s just a given that most families actually do.  I’m talking high drama and major meltdowns.  Luckily, recent years have seen smoother festivities (which sadly I’ve missed due to celebrating Christmas here in Malta most of the time). The worst fiasco has been mince pie fails and over competitiveness at Christmas family game night.

So I got to thinking about pulling together a post featuring other people’s Christmas disasters, a sort of festive version of my #OopsFiles series.

The result, thanks to the bloggers who offered up their stories, is the following!

Vicki from Cakeescapes

Last year we did a Christmas Eve box for the first time. During the day, my girls helped to build and decorate a gingerbread house.  We saved it until the evening so we could show their Dad when he got home from work. When it came to settling down as a family that evening we got the Gingerbread house out and began to nibble. It wasn’t long before my youngest let out an almighty shriek and began to cry, holding her nose. In a flash, I realised what she had done – she had stuck a sugar ball decoration up her nose. Speaking to 111 at 6pm on Christmas Eve explaining that ‘my daughter has just put a sugar ball off the gingerbread house up her nose’ was such a surreal conversation. We were sent off to A&E, a 45 minute drive away, to get the little ball free. By the time we were seen the little ball had started to dissolve so we were sent home. It was so far from the cosy Christmas Eve box experience that we had imagined, and I don’t think we will be building gingerbread houses ever again!

 

Becky from Hectic Diabectic

One Christmas a couple of years ago, I bought my Grandmother a little gift set containing some homemade smellies; bath bombs, bath confetti, body moisturiser, that kind of thing. I also purchased her a pretty cupcake shaped soap, complete with soap textured icing and a little gingerbread man topper. Christmas Day arrived and I handed my Gran her gifts. I noticed the soapy icing had started to melt a bit so told my gran to be careful. S then proceeded to scoop up the melted ‘icing’ with her finger and proceeded to lick it off! My family were all in hoots of laughter as I shouted “You can’t eat it, it’s soap!” I understand the soap looked realistic but she’s never lived it down!

 

Claire, Life Love and Dirty Dishes

As a parent I tell many many lies to keep the magic of the big man in red alive.  I want my kids to believe for as long as possible and shall be giving any children in the playground who deny father Christmas’s existence my best evil eye.  I myself found out the truth on Christmas morning whilst unwrapping the gifts in my stocking.  And it was my Mum that gave it away.  My Dad kept nodding off and my Mum kept nudging him awake.  Obviously irritated she snapped at him “I don’t know why you’re so tired, I did the stockings last night”.  My mum vehemently denies this now, but little ears people.  They hear everything!

My husband thinks he’s good at drawing.  And in fairness when he is copying an image he’s pretty good.  He’s been known to really impress the kids with a picture of Lightening McQueen.  However without anything to copy and when under time pressure, he’s well, not so good.  In fact he’s shit!  The proof of this is easily seen in a festive family game of Pictionary. His drawing of what was supposed to be an airplane was so bad that his Grandma quite literally peed herself laughing. I’ve never seen her move so fast to get to the bathroom!  It was a memorable game.

 

Sarah, Mum Muddling Through

No one makes Roast potatoes as amazing as my Mum. We love to mimic her catch phrase at every Sunday dinner ‘Are those the best roast potatoes you’ve ever had? Do they make you say Mmmm?!’. Yes Mum.

Needless to say, her perfect Christmas dinners are on another level. The year the roast potatoes were cremated as she served Baileys to more unexpected guests, it just wasn’t going to do. My stepdad was sent to the garage for potatoes at 3pm on Christmas Day and we were told to have some cheese footballs while dinner was pushed back 2 hours.   As we finally sat down to eat the feast and somewhat underdone potatoes, the prosecco was popped and we reassured Mum it looked incredible. As she reached for the pickled onions, her arm knocked the fizz over, soaking the table and flooding the dish of spuds.

Despite all giving nuveau cuisine a go, I can’t recommend prosecco potatoes. The cold burnt ones were retrieved from the kitchen and doused in hot gravy; Christmas was saved.   To this day we remember ‘The Christmas with the potatoes’; always offering a drop of bubbly with the potatoes, which, yes Mum, are best I’ve ever had. Mmmmm.

 

Nelc3.com

1. A “certain someone” went out for Christmas drinks. He came home in the early hours and was completely drunk. He stumbled up the stairs and fell asleep, at the top of the stairs.  His feet were dangling over the top step and his top half was on the top landing.  I told him to get up and that he can’t sleep in our bed as the baby had woken up and was sleeping in our bed (didn’t want alcohol fumes over the newborn!). I wanted him to sleep downstairs. But, he must have forgotten that my mother was also staying over because he then got up and proceeded to go to the spare room (where my mum was sleeping) and he got into her bed, next to her! My mother jumped out of bed and then had to sleep on the sofa downstairs!

 

2. A “certain someone” I know, went out for a Christmas party on the 23rd December (the day before Christmas Eve).  He came home in the early hours of Christmas Eve morning and proceeded to stumble around. He went to the bathroom to go to the toilet. He had a full bottle of whiskey in his hand (which he had received as a gift). Instead of putting the bottle down, he decided to put it in his pocket whilst going to the toilet. The bottle fell out of his pocket smashed through the toilet cistern and broke the toilet. Christmas Eve was then spent in a DIY shop buying a replacement toilet and frantically fitting it before everyone came for Christmas lunch! The bottle of whiskey was totally fine, not even a slight scratch!

 

Lynne, New Mummy Blog

Back in 2009 I’d not long moved to Gloucestershire and was looking forward to another ‘quick’ journey up the road to Scotland for Christmas. The weather was set to change the next day, but I’d be there for dinner with my parents. Hubby (then boyfriend) was flying up on Boxing Day so I was on my own. Singing along to Christmas tunes I didn’t care there were a few hold ups before the border. The weather was good. Then the snow hit. When I say hit, it came from no-where, blue sky, then, white snow bombarding me. I slowed a bit, expecting it to pass. Then, as quickly as it initially hit, I actually couldn’t see, I gradually slowed so I didn’t skid. Lorries had jack-knifed, cars had skidded: the M74 was shut. I sat in the car alone, just able to see other cars. All stuck, all snowed in until just after midnight. After over 6 hours, we started crawling. There were more close calls with cars skidding towards me, but I arrived at 1.30am. I was exhausted and relieved. Most of all, I didn’t need the toilet! So, my oops moment is trusting the the weather forecast. What idiot actually does that?!

Louise, Pink Pear Bear

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So our Christmas disaster comes at a time pre-children, back when we could drink with merry abandonment, which is probably where it all went wrong! I’m a vegetarian and my husband isn’t. I always have a lovely mushroom strudel, and this year, as it was just him eating meat, he got a pheasant. All fine so far. He wanted to wrap it in bacon, but it wouldn’t stay on and we had no cocktail sticks so he reached for the next best thing; some corn on the cob holders. With sweet little plastic corns on the ends. Can you see where this is going? Bacon firmly skewered in, he popped it in the oven in a lidded pan to cook. When it was done, he lifted the lid to see long strings of bright yellow plastic. Yep, those cute little corns had totally melted!! His dinner was ruined and being Christmas Day nowhere was open. So I shared my strudel with him, but believe me, he was the saddest figure in a paper crown that day!! I’m still not sure he can see the funny side 10 years on!

Catherine, Pushing the Moon

Last Christmas was going to be magical. A Christmas at home, just the four of us. The kiddies had their usual pre-Christmas bugs which had cleared by the 23rd. I was super organised and by the evening of Christmas Eve utterly confident that the next day would go without a hitch… until about 9pm when I started to feel like I had been hit by truck. Cold, achy bones, headache. I took myself off to bed with some paracetamol hoping that when I woke I would feel better. No such luck. I made it through the opening of the presents in the morning, and even managed to put the turkey in the oven while hubs did the rest of the food prep. He had also started to feel a bit poorly at this point. When I took the turkey out of the oven I looked at it and burst into tears saying “I feel so ill, I just can’t face dinner” – hubs then admitted that neither could he too. But, the kiddies needed to eat, so between the two of us we managed to rustle up some ever so festive Fishfinger sandwiches. My son announced “This is the BEST Christmas dinner EVER!” and I cried some more.

Lisa, That British Betty

One Christmas Eve, I thought I’d be a little ambitious and bake my very first Yule Log, based on a recipe from a Nigella Lawson book. It was the first Christmas at my in laws so I wanted to make a good impression. I spent a small fortune on posh ingredients and got to work. I went to assemble the super soft sponge and heavy icing concoction..and it all fell apart! Disheartened, I put it in the bin and spent another two hours mixing and baking. When the moment of truth arrived, the same thing happened again! My poor fiancé found me crying in the kitchen at midnight in a huge sulk. I haven’t attempted a Nigella recipe since and still feel sour when I see her on TV!

 

Kate, The Less Refined Mind

 

Several years ago before my brother and his wife were married, we spent Christmas at their house. And by ‘we’, I mean my whole family: siblings, partners, kids – and my mum…

On Christmas Eve we were enjoying a few drinks in the evening (kids in bed, obvs), and we decided to play Cranium – one of those board games where you have to act out a title/term/saying, etc. My poor sister-in-law was blessed/cursed (you decide) with an ‘action’ card and the words ‘sperm whale’. Do I have to spell the rest out for you?

Suffice to say, my intensely shy and ‘proper’ SIL did herself and our family proud – she secured her place as my brother’s wife during that momentous performance. Even my mum guessed the answer, because really, how could any of us fail to understand her very convincing gestures? It’s a rather special moment which has gone down in family history.

So how about you? What was your worst festive disaster?

8 Things Santa Would Love For Christmas

8-things-santa-probably-wants-for-xmas-2

 Nobody Seems to Think About What Santa Wants for Christmas do they?

So this Christmas Eve, whilst you’re busy wrapping that last gift, making sure the stockings are full, observing your various Christmas traditions and putting out a mince pie/cookie for Santa along with a carrot or two for his four-legged sleigh partners, will it dawn on you to leave an actual gift for the poor man? You didn’t think about what Santa wants for Christmas, did you? I admit, the only reason I did is because he visited me in a dream. Seriously…I could have been dreaming of Henry Cavill, Bradley Cooper, Dave Grohl, Adam Levine…er or Hubster…but no, I ended up being visited in my slumber by an overweight man in a red suit and dodgy boots. Just my damned luck.

Anyways, he was a-moaning and a-lamenting about how he visits the world’s kids and bestows gifts galore on them following their every wish as laid out in their letters only to get: zilch…nothing…rien…nada…zip in return. So I promised I’d put in a good word for him here on the blog (frankly I was desperate to get back to sleep). So please be a dear and see if you can get him something from his 8 things Santa wants for Christmas list ok?

1. Trimmer
Because there are only so many times a man can lose his cornflakes in his beard without losing his dignity too. (I reckon this one will please him.)

2. Airbags
The skies are way busier than they used to be. Santa may have a super cool sleigh but you just can’t be too careful these days. Good luck with that.

3. Go Pro Camera
Because sleigh selfies at high speed…of course!

4. Large Cooler Bag
Contrary to popular belief, everyone’s favourite man in red doesn’t eat all those treats left out for him at each house. He could really do with something decent to put them in as it’s getting a bit gross stuffing them down his suit each time. And look…I found a Polar Gear one. Yep, pun totally intended…come on, it’s Christmas..let me have my fun ok?

5. Boob Job
No not for him; for Mrs Claus. What can I say? She’s a great toy-maker, workshop manager etc (and boy can she whip those elves into shape when they’re slacking) but let’s just say she’s let some things…erm…‘go south’.

6. Designer Eye Glasses
Let’s face it, those wire-rimmed round ones are sooo 18th century and he’s earned the right to have the good stuff.

7. Seatbelts
Well yeah! Rudolph’s not getting any younger (I know he’s supposed to be immortal but it’s MY blog so I can say he’s not getting any younger if I want to) and the poor little deer nearly fell out of the sleigh last year. Come on now. Santa’s wingman cannot fall out of the sleigh!

8. A brand new suit
That drycleaner’s become a bit complacent and frankly the suit don’t smell so good…well if you stuffed mince pies and cookies down your trousers all night, you’d honk a bit too. Am I right or am I right?

Seriously folks, that poor man is starting to feel more and more down-hearted each year. It’s time we thought about what Santa wants for Christmas. So, can you help?


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7 Christmas Traditions That Get on my Nerves!

Disclaimer: 
No reindeer, elves or fake Santas (what am I saying…Santa is fake!) were harmed in the making of this post. The author of this article accepts the risk of putting noses out of joint; she reserves the right to handle her critics with a rather large glass of mulled wine in hand and apologises (a bit) in advance for the state of aforementioned noses. Furthermore, it should be noted that the author has not turned into a grumpy old woman and any accusations that she is Bah Humbug about Christmas are vehemently denied. Tis all in jest.

Clear?

Good. Let us proceed.

Christmas-Traditions
Here’s the thing. Sometimes…ugh…who am I kidding…frequently:

I find myself questioning certain Festive ‘Traditions’

that seem to have become increasingly popular in recent years. Don’t get me wrong. As mentioned by my lawyer (ahem) in the disclaimer above, I am not – I repeat NOT – Bah Hambug. I love Christmas. That warm feeling I get walking into a beautifully decorated cafe or shop, hearing the sound of Nat King Cole (yep, guilty) playing and of course, seasonal hot chocolate, christmas lights, spending time with my family and friends etc. I’d have to be nitwit not to enjoy all that. (Hubster is the one who’s Bah Humbug. The one job I asked him to do was clearly a bit much: the beautiful cloth advent calendar is still waiting to be put up. Just whatever Dude.)

IMG_3834


But I’ve become more unsettled each year with what feels like the insane festive overdrive.

I will never get my head around how so many shops start the Christmas-athon immediately after Halloween. Good grief. By the time Christmas Day actually arrives, one’s almost sick of Christmas. And social media, would you just calm down? It seems I can’t go a day on Twitter, Facebook, etc without stumbling over yet another image of some activity or tradition I ‘ought’ to be doing to ensure my kids to have the bestest ever Christmas. Homemade Christmas decorations, pinterest-perfect Christmas cookies, houses decorated to perfection, gingerbread houses even better decorated than real houses…it just goes on and on.  Of course, being a blogger, I see this and some because Christmas blog posts are already in force from the start of November.  Maybe my aversion to all this says more about my own psychological makeup than it does anything else.

Maybe if I’d had my kids when I was younger, I’d have more parenting energy and would LOVE the many traditions that exist

and would be blasting through them with glee and excitement. And I totally admit, everyone is different. It’s all subjective. Maybe I shouldn’t even write this post at all.

I think there was actually a trigger to this aversion a while back…

Pull up your chair. Shortly after Cheeky K was born, I was invited to a Christmas gathering by an expat mum. There was no requirement to bring anything other than ourselves. Well there was one thing we needed to ‘bring’… We were asked to come ready to share stories/examples of the Christmas traditions we had created over the years with our families. I panicked. Traditions? What the what?

I cancelled. Seriously. I didn’t go. (And believe me, I was desperate to get out after being housebound for weeks with new baby.)

Okay, I had a legitimate excuse as I wasn’t meant to be driving so soon after my third c-section. But that’s not really why I didn’t go. You see the problem was:

I couldn’t think of a single tradition we observed.

I didn’t even KNOW what she meant, for crying out loud. I thought, I decorate the tree/half the house, I buy the gifts, I fight with the end of the sellotape roll, I wrap the gifts, I half-heartedly consider Jamie Oliver’s alternative mince pie recipes and then side with Delia’s traditional ones instead, Hubster makes a stonking meal, we open the gifts, we lose at least two items from the kids’ new toys and games before we’ve even cleared up the wrapping paper waste, I pass out with a belly full of food and wine, I wake up, I raid the cheese and chocolates… Isn’t that what everyone does? Now I find out I was supposed to be making traditions?!

There was no way I could sit there in front of those perfectly coiffed, preppy, upwardly mobile women and admit that I didn’t exactly, erm, [whispering as quietly as possible] have any Christmas traditions that I’d come up with all by my clever little elf self. Fact is, we just didn’t do Christmas traditions when I was growing up!

We were blessed enough to grow up in a household where our parents loved and got excited over an occasion that had no connection at all to their Indian heritage.

Christmas is not a part of Punjabi culture but Mum and Dad, despite being first generation immigrants, still made an effort to celebrate it and make sure their children got to enjoy it, in their own way. A turkey was always lovingly prepared; yes it had a spicy Indian masala marinade instead of sage stuffing but it was bloody good and it was a turkey, something a lot of my Indian friends and Hubster himself didn’t have. There were always presents under the tree; yours truly had to spend all Christmas Eve wrapping the damned things but we had a tree and we had presents. Father Christmas? I don’t remember much; we didn’t do the mince pie and glass of milk thing as my parents didn’t know about it. We hardly suffered. I think as we got a bit older, we had stockings but they weren’t hung up by a fireplace or anything. No big deal.

Christmas Turkey
Maybe the rest of the world was busy with ‘other’ traditions while in the suburbs of North West London, my family and I bumbled along celebrating our ‘clueless Christmas’. Somehow I think not. I don’t think the rest of the world in the 70’s and 80’s were breaking out the reindeer dust or running out to buy the most impressive elf.  But all these years later, raising my own family, I’m feeling overwhelmed and deflated by the over the top stuff that goes on in the run up to the big day and I just can’t keep up (nor do I want to).

I Mean, When Did Christmas Get This Complicated?

as Mother’s Always Right asks in a fantastic post about the Elf on the Shelf. In fact, why (and when) did Christmas get so far away from what it’s actually meant to celebrate? I’m not religious. Not one bit. But what the dickens has an elf got to do with Christ-mass? Yes, I get the elf is on Santa’s payroll and I get what the idea is but for the love of Christmas Pudding, it’s just the blatant commercialism behind that and other ideas that gets me. And it just gets worse with every year.

I know, horses for courses. There are far more important things to get wound up over. Just because others get excited over reindeer dust and wrapping Santa’s gifts in different paper, it doesn’t mean I should feel pressured to do so. I probably shouldn’t get my big girl pants in a twist but I really do think Christmas has got out of hand. Well Christmas hasn’t. People have. It’s like everyone’s gone a bit mad in the name of giving children a magical Christmas.

Yet There Is One Important Tradition That Has Died Out…One We Need To Bring Back

Wishing each other Happy Christmas. I’m not talking about friends and family. I mean that person at the petrol station, the barista in the coffee shop…nobody says it in shops, restaurants, service-oriented industries. We spend, spend, spend. But there seems to be no well-wishing. Maybe there are too many of us; maybe it’s exhausting for the supermarket checkout person or people in retail to say it all day long. Maybe it is still said in little villages. But I can honestly say in the last twenty years since returning from Paris to London and then moving to Malta, I just do not hear it being said. Tis sad.

Instead, there’s a preoccupation with:

REINDEER POOP

reindeer poop

Who on earth wants to fart about littering their garden path with chocolate raisins etc to pretend the reindeer pooped? And while we’re on the subject, it’s chocolate. CHOCOLATE! I don’t know about you but in my world, CHOCOLATE IS SACRED.

For the love of chestnuts, why on earth would you waste chocolate by throwing it on the ground making it inedible? And you can’t even use the five second rule. It’s a crime, I tell you.


REINDEER FOOD

reindeer-food

I have to admit, I wasn’t even aware of this trend until one of my sisters did it a few years ago when we went back to the UK for Christmas. I felt a little unsettled by the idea. As if it’s not enough, kidding the kids (alliteration genius, me) into thinking reindeer actually turn up on Christmas Eve, now we’re going to turn things up a notch and let them think they also stop off outside the house and eat food?! Go on. Shake your head at my ‘first-world-problems’-esque fussing. I put it to you, however, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, that I have good cause for concern. I mentally fast-fowarded a few years to my kids, all grown up, suing me for mental trauma caused by the earth-shattering discovery that it was ALL a con: the reindeer food, the fake poop…a total fraud of epic proportions!

NB. The year after, my sis sent me a packet of reindeer food for me to use outside my own house. It’s still sitting in the cupboard. I just couldn’t bring myself to use it (and yes, knowing my luck, this will be the one post my sister reads…sssshhhh).


LIGHTING THE PATHWAY FOR SANTA AND CO.

A tad confused here, I confess. Why light the pathway if Santa comes down the chimney? Presumably it’s for those of us without chimneys (admittedly a lot of people)? What if you live in a block of flats? Am I just inept? Again, don’t answer that.


CHRISTMAS EVE BOXES

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Now, a good friend told me about this the other day (because yes…again I was unaware). In case you don’t know what it is, it’s basically a box you fill with simple little goodies (pyjamas, a book, etc) to make the night before Christmas magical. You can wrap the box to add to the excitement factor. There are loads of Pinterest pictures apparently with suggestions of what to put in your Christmas Eve box. But honestly? It’s just one more thing in addition to all the other things! In principle, I sort of like it but I’m sorry, I won’t give them a Christmas Eve box and a stocking and presents from Santa and… Enough already!


LETTING THE KIDS THINK ALL THE GIFTS ARE FROM SANTA

Okay, here’s my big confession. I had no idea all these years that most of my friends tell their kids the presents are all from Santa. My parents didn’t do this. We were very aware that they worked their tail end off in their shop every day of the year and it was their hard-earned money that bought the presents. It’s important for me that my kids know money doesn’t just fall from the sky and that they appreciate the value of things.  Not to mention, that they have an understanding that family and friends spent time and energy on getting them nice things. Worry not. We don’t guilt trip them and make them feel like shite. I just have an issue with them thinking all the gifts are from the rotund guy in the red suit.


WRAPPING SANTA’S GIFT IN DIFFERENT PAPER

Now, this one I do get! I GET! In fact, it’s actually geniius! I had no idea people were doing this either (honestly…I’m blushing). I can wrap the gifts in the different paper. No probs. I can do a little tag from Santa. No prob. But the whole concept just unravels after that…

Can I remember to alter my handwriting so it’s not the same as on the other tags? Can I remember in days to come (actually even minutes after they’ve unwrapped them) which gifts were from Santa? Can I keep my mouth shut and not gaff? Nope. I have messed up time and time again regaling them excitedly about where I found that gift, how I had a sneaky feeling they wanted it, blah blah. The same with the stockings. Heaven help me.

Last but not least, the first class, irritating, utterly unnecessary humdinger of them all:


THE ELF ON THE BLOODY SHELF

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I.

Can’t.

Even.

Why? Just why? And more importantly WHO?! Who is the idiot that thought this freak show up? I see all these posts by parents moaning about how they’ve got to find ingenuous places to hide it for the whole run up to Christmas and oh the stress, yada yada. Little tip for ya: just don’t buy one in the first place, then no you haven’t got a problem!

So this Christmas, as I usually do, I will savour the simplest ‘traditions’:

Glasses of festive cheer, mince pies, seeing the kids open their gifts, snuggling up for Christmas movies including Elf for the tenth time (Will Ferrell’s finest role ever has to be Buddy the elf), watching the Christmas edition of Jamie Oliver for the gazillionth time, beating Hubster to the last bit of cranberry paté and…and…taking a break from the blog!

In fact, the only ‘new’ tradition will be Spotifying the Michael Bublé Christmas album (don’t laugh…it happens to the best of us and my Christmas classic CD’s are about 20 years old so that’s my excuse).

Merry Christmas everyone…!!


WHAT ARE YOUR CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS? HONESTLY, MAYBE I’LL GET SOME INSPIRATION!

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And That’s What Happened There…

Is it a little late to do a 2014 retrospective? I mean I already mentioned my 2015 goals a few days ago. So I’m kind of going backwards if I look back at last year right? Plus it’s 5th January already…we’re almost a week into the new year. So I guess it’s a little weird and passé and I should have done it in the last week of December. Am I starting to sound like Woody Allen?

No wait…in that last week, a lot of people were busy eating and drinking and being merry. So in a way, it’s better to do it now, as those of you who celebrated Christmas have probably put away the decorations, vowed to go easy on the naughty treats and need something to read before Box Set season kicks in. So actually, I’m doing you a favour right? And in the time it takes to ponder this any more, we could well reach the end of 2015. And then it really will be late.

Dammit Janet. I’m GOING to do a 2014 retrospective. Because I’m crazy like that.

So these were my 2014 highlights and lowlights aka:

And That's What Happened There

 

Seeing an incredible number of friends lose parents. #NoWords

Making beautiful memories in Sweden thanks to a gorgeous friend (she knows who she is). #That’sWhatHubsterSaid

and thats what happened sweden canoe

 

Starting 2014 off the way I meant to go on, by doing 10k on the first day of 2014 after only three hours sleep, running my second half mara way faster than I expected…and then seeing it all slide away as I stopped running for the rest of the year following injury. #I’llBeBackYouJustWatch

Cheeky K starting school and it hitting me like an express train that THAT WAS IT…last one in…the baby years were definitely over and my heart was a bit hurt. #PassTheKleenex

A local beachside café/pizzeria/restaurant opening up down the road and revolutionising our life in Malta. #CantBeatTheSimpleThings

las palmas

 

Having an impromptu evening in London jumping from pub to pub, eating great food and having great chat with my brother and realising it was the first time that just the two of us had ever gone out together ever ever. #TheBestThingsAreWorthWaitingFor

Finding Phunk Investigation’s This Holiday again after losing it nine years ago…only to find it was under our noses all this time when Hubster played a random music game with Musical M (I’ll always remember ‘Put on the cd that’s in the second column from the left, far right stack, eighth cd down and see what it is). #ThankYouForTheMusic

Hubster exclaiming that our marriage had at last been consummated on an alcoholic level because I finally got into vodka. #It’sAllAboutThatMixer

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Classy Bird leaving Malta and hurting my heart a bit. #HateItWhenSheDoesThat

Going on my first ever girls’ trip (totally falling in love with Dubliners) and wondering what on earth I’ve been doing for the last 20 odd years to have never done that before. #IHeartDublinAndMyGirls

Dreamy D finally overcoming his ‘fear of water’ demons #AlwaysKnewYouCouldSon

she's gone Dhru

 

Meeting up with dear friends in the UK including an old university chum I hadn’t seen in 25 years, picking up the banter where we left off and then meeting his wife and feeling like I’d known her for years. #AReasonToLoveLife

Seeing friends faced with tough personal battles and feeling helpless just standing by.  #LifeIsAJourneyWithSomeBadSpeedBumps

Being spoiled by acts of kindness from someone I barely even know. #ThereWasALadyFromDownUnder

Finally going on the London Eye thanks to my generous parents and brother. #ItsAboutTimeWoman

london eye side

 

A good friend of mine showing that underneath that well manicured seemingly middle class polished exterior, there’s just a good old regular working class girl who isn’t too proud to try on a lingerie set over her clothes in THAT store which shan’t be named. #MarvellousMarilyn

Playing chess for the first time and loving it. #SayCheckmateOneMoreTimeAndWe’reDone

chess

 

A certain young lady turning 10 and my heart (and maybe Hubster’s too?) aching a bit at how quickly it came round. #ItGoesByFast

and thats what happened there MandP

 

And a certain other someone turning 50…OH MY GAWD! #WasntMe

prash 50th us 2

 

It was a year filled with laughter, tears and love with good friends, kiddie milestones, great Summer memories, a bit of a hurty heart, runners’ frustration and sadness at not seeing my parents enough because of the miles between us.  (Okay, yes, chocolate, wine and vodka made more than an occasional brief appearance but a girl’s gotta live.)

So that’s what happened there.

Right, 2015…what you got for me girl?

Well, I mean…

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13 Things That Made Me Happy This Christmas

Before the decorations come down and I’m plunged into January blues, I thought I’d take a minute to remember my favourite moments from this festive season. Call me corny…go on, I dare ya…

13 Things That Made Me Happy This Christmas.

1. Hubster cooking good ole Italian sausage pasta while mince pies baked in the oven, mulled wine simmered away on the stove and chill out tunes played on Christmas Eve.

2. My tall Norwegian’s buns (her cinnamon ones.)

3. My kids finally getting to an age where they are all able to play games, games and more games!

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4. My kids opening THE gift they wanted above all else, going nuts and doing a celebratory lap around the lounge and Musical M saying “this is the best Christmas ever mum”.

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5.  The annual family Christmas film fest (even if it did involve me finally enduring the original Star Wars trilogy and Breakfast Club at home, it was great to see British film makers doing their thing at the cinema this Christmas).

6. Valletta by night.

7. That first drink of the season where you think ‘yep, bar’s open and I’m getting Christmassed up’.

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8. Hubster saying: “I’m not normally into mince pies but these ones are awesome. I might have another one after this.” (when I made them a new way after five years of the same recipe).

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9. Kite flying on a windy December day at our local beach (watching my son and husband do all the work).

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10. Watching Jerry Maguire (and by watching I mean mouthing almost every single line) while scoffing cheese, pate, crackers and a glass of red at 1 in the morning.

11. Shepherds pie made from leftover Christmas lamb (and yes I’ll give you the recipe soon).

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12.  Insane long lie-ins with these goons.

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13. Stuff like this sent to me by erm..certain people.

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And Hubster’s right: much as it’s lovely to go away on a Winter break to some exotic destination, sometimes you just can’t beat the simple pleasures of a family Christmas at home. (And yes I just admitted Hubster’s right about something…well, a new year’s around the corner so I thought I’d try something new.)

 

 

Holiday Season Classic Quotes

Do we have a cupboard large enough to keep this til next Christmas?

Do we even have a cupboard large enough to keep this in til NEXT Christmas?

I sat down to write a post about my favourite quotes from the 2013 festive season, thinking “oh this’ll be fun cos I bet we all made a variety of really different ones”. Um, about that…  Apparently, food and drink seems to be the only thing we do really well. Because it sure seems to have been the main topic of conversation this past holiday season; well…the only topic of conversation clean enough for me to repeat (M.A. your hall of fame all time classic line is safe with me…for now).

So I wonder how far into January you need to get before admitting defeat and realising you’re just not going to get through all the seasonal goodies that are left over. At the time of writing, we still have:

– a large selection box of cheese crackers

– one medium tin of assorted biscuits

– a packet each of shortbread biscuits, oreos, digestives and jaffa cakes

– two boxes of assorted chocolates

– the majority of a jumbo size box of Maltesers and toblerone and I don’t even know how many other sweets

– a massive gift box containing an Italian panettone along with a bottle of bubbly plus 6 different sets of sweet treats

– not sure how many mince pies

– a Christmas log (always makes me laugh)

– an entire block of pate

– Christmas pudding

– millionaire’s shortbread (I keep eating it thinking I’ll get rich)

– clementines, chestnuts, walnuts etc

– two cases of beer

– several bottles of wine

– and a partridge in a pear tree 🙂

 

Seriously, I’m amazed I didn’t stop to to take a short nap in the middle of that.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the majority – not all but definitely the majority – of my favourite holiday season quotes centre around food:

1.  Hubster: “I’m going to go easy on the mince pies now, I’m so stuffed. Where did you say you put that shortbread by the way?”

2. L.C. “Don’t touch my antlers.”

3. Me, pretty much throughout the holidays: “Oh my good grief, WHY am I still eating?”

4. Musical M: “Mummy, so there’s Jesus and Mary.  And what’s the name of the other guy?” Me: “Which other guy?” Musical M: “You know, Jesus’ Dad.”

5Hubster: “My head still hurts. Let’s go and get more whiskey.”

6. Pete: “It’s cheaper to get your wife shot than to divorce her.”

7. My sister M.E. (after tucking into toblerone and jaffa cakes): “One of my biggest professional achievements last year was inventing the ‘biscuit buffet at work.”

8.Hubster (after spaghetti carbonara): “That’s it, I’m full now. I’ve left room for pate, cheese, crackers and chocolates later.”

9. Me: “No thanks, I’m not drinking anything else tonight. I’ll just have a double Martini please.”

10. Hubster after an amazing meal at a restaurant: “I couldn’t eat ANOTHER thing…apart from a Banoffi dessert. And I’ll have a cappuccino with it.”

 

See what I mean?

Right, I’m off to bed now. Seriously. I wish I had one of those residential stair lifts to help me get upstairs because I’ve just eaten a truck load of chocolate typing this.

Last Year’s Firsts

I’ve seen numerous posts the last couple of days from people saying that 2013 wasn’t their  year. So I feel even more blessed, looking back at last year, to be able to say I had a pretty good one overall….or am I still looking at life through Christmas wine goggles? Nothing earth-shattering happened – and there were definitely some upsetting bumps along the way – but I like to think there were some personal victories (however small) here and there. If nothing else, it was definitely a year of firsts for my family.

Let’s see…

It was the year I ran a race for the first time and just a couple of weeks later ran a half marathon (without training…tut tut) and not long after that, bizarrely won my first ever trophy (have never won anything my entire life) at the hideously hard Gozo 8-miler. I say bizarrely because it was a miracle I even crossed the finish line never mind actually win my category…and then I missed my podium moment because I was too busy chatting with friends to hear my name being called out.

It was the year in which running – however sporadically I may do it – brought an absolutely wonderful bunch of people into my life, with whom I’ve also ended up spending plenty of time socially and have grown really fond of. K.L., N.C., T.K., S.W. KT…it’s a pleasure knowing you ladies.

It was the year hubster got into meditation and and finally rejoined a gym after an 8 year hiatus. It was the year my son finally started doing 3 after-school sports a week at one point, threatening to vaguely resemble a sporty child.

It was the year I discovered I actually really like pubs. Who knew?

It was the year where university friends I’d lost touch with – and others I’d never really known well in the first place – found me via social media; old friendships were rekindled, new ones blossomed and there were some interesting surprises.

It was the year I finally took up tennis lessons.

It was the year my kitchen ‘grew up’ at last and got a breakfast bar.

It was the year we had our first medical drama (unless you count me having to eat awful hospital food, each time I’ve had a baby, as a medical drama too) when Musical M and Dreamy D accidentally fell on Cheeky K breaking her arm in the process, whilst re-enacting a waltz scene from Princess Diaries – wow those Disney movies can be dangerous.

It was the year I went on radio for the first time, LOVED IT and got the radio bug.

And it was the year I finally got off my stay-at-home-mum backside and launched a blog 🙂

[Check out Mama’s Got a Brand New Blog for more on that.]

So I raise a glass (well I may as well because we’ve still got soooo much wine and bubbly stuff left over, someone’s got to drink it) and say: “here’s to many more Absolutely Prabulous posts in 2014. I’ll keep doing my best to make sure they’re good ones. You keep coming back. Deal?”

Happy New Year folks!

 

Girls and Boys: Game On!

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A few years ago, we had one of those rare Christmases where my whole family managed to reunite at my parents’ place in West London; one of my sisters S.J. flew in from Holland, we came over from Malta, my other sis M.E. travelled up the motorway from Sussex (and UK traffic being what it is, she probably had a longer journey than us) and my brother (the talented songwriter and producer Deewaan and yes that is a shameless plug and so what?) emerged from his recording studio.

One of the highlights of that Christmas was the insane amount of snow which shocked the socks off my pseudo Mediterranean kids who’d never seen snow before. But the runaway best moment (for oh so many reasons) was games night, which has actually become an almost legendary event in my family. I honestly believe one of my best ever memories happened that night: the sight of my father (a pretty sort of serious sort of man to say the least) utterly helpless with laughter and I really do mean HELPLESS WITH LAUGHTER for a full ten minutes straight. Since then we’ve done three Christmases in a row here in Malta so next year we’ll have to rectify that.

Anyways, this particular games night got a bit heated where CERTAIN individuals (oops I just fell on my keyboard and almost typed their names) got very competitive and others could barely get a single answer right; I believe there was even shouting involved…goodness knows how we didn’t wake up M.E.’s and my own kids. So just before Christmas the following year, my brother came up with a set of rules in the hope of maintaining some ‘order’ at the inevitable games night that would take place.  M.E. found them a few days ago and shared them again after my brother’s recent comment about how Indian families often fall out over money/property matters and how you  can imagine how ugly it can get when they play Monopoly!

I laughed out loud and then I got to thinking about I’m sure a lot of people would relate to these rules. After all, surely every family has:

– the individual who gets really wound up and takes the whole thing too seriously

– the one who gets nearly every answer wrong in spectacular fashion

– the person who has no clue of what’s going on from start to finish

– and the one who has eaten and drunk so much they just fall asleep.

No? Is that just my family then?

And you know every family’s got the silent farter. The one who lets off again and abloodygain (damn those brussel sprouts) and denies it. Or worse, proudly owns up to it like they just performed an Olympic medal-worthy feat.

So here are my brother’s short but sweet Christmas game rules (most names replaced with aliases but  you nutters know who you are):

1. Aspiring Eagle and Gunners girl on the same team

2. Gunners girl to be sedated before play

3. Mum: pay attention

4. Deewaan: answer at least one general knowledge question correctly

5. Tulip girl: try not to mention Sleeve Martin

6. Aspiring Eagle: cork your bum unless anyone specifically asks for their nose hairs to be singed

7. Blues Man: don’t fall asleep and defo don’t snore; I will uncork Crystal Palace boy and ask him to do the Beyonce shuffle in your face

I’ve added a few of my own:

8. Dad: just stay awake.

9. Prabs: you can no longer answer questions on 80’s pop music. Give someone else a chance to shine.

10. Dutchie boy: no asking if anyone wants to play Truth or Dare please.

 

Right, girls and boys : Game On!

 

For Deewaan and M.E. who are the inspiration for this post.

Desperately Seeking My Festive Spirit!

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I have to admit I’ve been having difficulty finding my Christmas spirit this year. It’s not the first time it’s happened and I always thought it was because of a combination of two things: 1) only putting the tree and decorations up with just days to go before the big day and hence not having that ‘build up’ and 2) this little island just not ‘doing Christmas’ the way I’m used to.

It turns out that neither 1 nor 2 were the source of my lack of festive spirit, however. For starters, we got the tree up December 1st. Yay!

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This is the earliest we have ever put the tree up. I was in shock…happy shock that we’d got it up so early but…strangely disappointed. Why? I mean, the tree was up on time for once, a bunch of baubles and sparkly things were on it and various decorations up in the lounge…and yet…I still wasn’t feeling festive.

Re 2), well, having lived here eight years, I’m used to the less Christmassy feel in general. In fairness, I wouldn’t want to see Malta become like those countries where everything goes Christmastastic almost from end of October onwards and where the entire festive season has  become so consumer-driven that it’s a wonder anyone even knows what Christmas is actually originally about. And I got over the surprise of seeing Joseph, Mary and Jesus statues everywhere, instead of London/New York style decorations, a few years ago. Catholic country after all. (But it would be nice to see more streets and houses with decorations and actually be able to go Christmas shopping without finding that everything is out of stock by mid December already.)

So no, that wasn’t it.

I even put a Christmas film on uncharacteristically early so we watched the first of many, Miracle on 34th Street, the last day of November. I thought, “Ah, this will be lovely. Nope, no Christmassy feeling. That’ll teach me to put a Christmas film on when it’s still only November. Clearly, it doesn’t work.

It was around this time where I had the not-so-bright idea of announcing that I’d do my Twelve Posts of Christmas here on the blog. I mean for goodness sake, why couldn’t I have just thought it? Why did I have to announce it?  At the time, I thought “Mmmm, what a festive thing to do”. In reality, we’re now days away from Christmas and er…there are quite a few posts still to go. Festive? Well, stresstive.

By now, really rather worried about this total lack of festive spirit, I chucked more baubles and sparkly bits at the tree:

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and a few more decorations up on various walls etc in the lounge such as:

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thinking that would help. Alas…

Then I thought “Ooh I know, snow spray the windows. That always does it.” Oh no it doesn’t. Oh yes it does! My tacky Santas and Christmas trees sprayed all over the lounge window do the trick each time in making sure nobody’s in any doubt that IT’S CHRISTMAS.

But I:

a) couldn’t find the snow spray despite having all the decorations tucked away in one box in a set place every year,

b) found it and then couldn’t face the idea of spending ages spraying the windows to kingdom come and almost passing out like I do every blooming year from the smell of the spray,

c) didn’t fancy getting cold while I opened the windows and aired the lounge for four hours to get rid of said smell and

d) upon finally embracing the idea of adorning the windows with my creations, got sick and could barely get off the sofa.

It was starting to get serious.  I had a girls’ night looming, had nothing hideously Christmassy to wear for it (wearing of something rather ugly was obligatory as specified under the 12 Pubs of Christmas rules), I was getting a good kicking from my woman flu and I wasn’t feeling festive. What to do? Not even going out shopping with S.W. to buy something suitably red, velour-ish and embarassing, as already described in Ho Ho Holy CRAP What I Have I Done?! really helped.

Granted, when I popped into a store to buy yet more Christmas sparkles (are you detecting a freakish obsession with decorations here?), they were playing those lovely Nat King Cole songs (that my bro in-law hates) which did help a bit. Sadly, I then made the mistake of actually smiling at the sullen girl serving behind the counter and the total lack of a smile or “Merry Christmas” back at me scared off any tiny glimmer of festive spirit that I’d managed to summon. Add to that the fact that by the time of the school run, I was more ill than I have been in years and ended up spending the next three days housebound and you start to see why I was struggling to get my Christmas on (yes, sis, I just stole that fab phrase from your FB post just now).

Admittedly, popping out the house to watch Cheeky K in her first ever little concert dressed as a little angel clinging nervously to the wall and timidly singing, was just too heart-melting not to lift the spirits:

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So I went home and over the next three days of near total incarceration, threw yet more baubles at the tree and put more lovely shiny things around the lounge, (so many that when I tried counting them – yes I really am that sad – I gave up as there were simply too many).

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THEN A WONDERFUL THING HAPPENED.

Five years after moving into our house, this finally got installed in our kitchen…it’s been a long wait and it’s just in time for Christmas and yes, I AM typing this post sitting at it.

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Then Saturday came. The night. So, dosed up and dressed in a suitably ridiculous manner, I went out for the 12 Pubs of Christmas pub crawl. Good fun, some great pub discoveries which I’ll be sure to revisit (dressed more appropriately), singing Jingle Bells outside pub 7 was a giggle and thank you Pepes for delighting us mummies with your fab decorations. I so wish there’d been room in my onesie for my camera to capture that pub in all its fantabulous sparkly Christmas glory because it did start to feel a bit more like Christmas at that point.

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With the headache from hell gripping me today, I thanked my lucky stars when Hubster offered to go hunt and gather for his family. Well, alright not quite. But he did go to several supermarkets to do the big Christmas food shop (yep on his own…and we all know what a huge one that is). The man did good. Came back with everything we needed. Ok, everything we needed except for one rather crucial item which he didn’t hear me request. No, no it’s okay, I’m fine, I’M FINE. What’s that? No, I wasn’t literally bashing my laptop keyboard as I typed that. No no, I’m smiling graciously, simply grateful that I have an amazing husband who went out and single-handedly did the Christmas food shop (and managed to come back with a ******* crazy  amount of snacks that we will never finish).

Thanks babe but WHERE am I going to put it all?!

Thanks babe but WHERE am I going to put it all?!

In case you’re not impressed enough at his domesticated tendences, know this: upon seeing me looking almost panicked at the idea of trying to store all the food, he even kindly offered to help make room in the fridge…by drinking two cans of beer that were seriously causing congestion on the top shelf.

While I got busy sorting groceries etc in the kitchen, AN EVEN MORE WONDERFUL THING HAPPENED…  Our very own Christmas miracle was taking place in the lounge:
HUBSTER WAS ARRANGING THE REALLY IMPORTANT STUFF!

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Ah….behold…looks like Mama found her Christmas spirit(s).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ho Ho Holy CRAP What Have I Done?!

I’m really not sure what surprised me the most today.

Perhaps it was the fact that I just never seem to change my scatty ways, which meant that yet again, after doing all the morning drop offs (M and D at school, K at nursery and hubster at work – and yes I AM going to buy myself a chauffeur’s uniform in the January sales), I of course had to go back home due to another ‘Prabs misplaces her phone incident’.

Necessary action included: hunting high and low for the phone, failing to find it, logging on to my computer to access Facebook to go through my messages to get my friend S.W.’s number so that I could call her from the landline (are you keeping up with this?) as we were going shopping to get me a Christmas jumper (sweater) for this weekend’s pub crawl, calling S.W. and arranging a meeting point as I wouldn’t be able to call her once I got there (and then mulling in a bemused manner over how very 80’s/early 90’s this arranging a rendezvous due to absence of mobile was).

No none of that surprised me.

Perhaps it was hearing a bhangra track being played on the car radio while I was on my way to meet my friend, which is absolutely the first time I’ve ever heard any of form of Indian music on mainstream Maltese radio. (Go Malta!)

Definitely surprising enough for me to pull over to the side of the road so that I could act out all my “I’m  really surprised right now!” facial expressions while in a safe stationary position.

No, I think what surprised me the most today was the fact that I went shopping to buy a jumper and came back with a onesie:

 

Prabs wondered if this is what you wear to go out on the town or wash the car

do I wear this to go out on the town or wash the car?

 

I don’t know:

– if I’m in the throes of a mid-life crisis (last time I checked it was NOT normal to buy a red velour all-in-one outfit at a certain age, with the intention of wearing it outside the house…outside the house is probably ok as long as it means you don’t go any further than your garage door)

– whether anyone says ‘outfit’ anymore

– if it’s slightly freaky that the women’s ones didn’t fit me and that I bought mine from the kids’ section

– if I simply have poor judgement (don’t say a word)

– whether I’m just too easily influenced by my friends (damn that beautiful blond-haired blue-eyed musical-voiced Swede for managing to convince me in no more than 2 minutes that this a was a good choice for me

– if there’ll be enough Martini available on Saturday to help me dull the pain of realising I’m out on a Saturday night in a bloody onesie

– whether I should use those Christmas baubles, that I bought today, to decorate my lounge…or acessorise my onesie instead.

But I do know this is probably the last time I go shopping with that Swedish chick 🙂

 

 

Dear Santa…oh dear, Santa

 

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At the time of writing this, I have a head full of cold and a sore throat so I’m a little worried that this may not be my most complete and stellar offering. I think I may well be onto something here though and as the fog of this head cold lifts, I’m sure that many other questions will spring to mind.  So I reserve the right to revisit the theme started in this post and add to it as time goes on. After all, every day brings a new lesson and we never stop learning right…?

For the time being, here’s  my letter to Santa:

 

Dear Santa,

I’ve already ordered some earphones for the now rare occasion that I go out for a run, I’ll make do with my natural skincare and skip the Dermalogica (heck, I’ve been without it most of the year so I’ll just manage for a while longer) and just listen to that Stereophonics Graffiti on the Train album via You Tube for the time being.  And I guess I’ll simply drop some subtle hints to hubster about that food processor I need. So my wishlist is a bit different this year.

Actually hang on Santa. Hubster, if you’re reading this, can you go get me the Kenwood Multi pro from our regular supermarket pleeeeeeze? Was that subtle enough? Right Santa, back with you. About my wishlist…all I want from you this Christmas is your wisdom and your guidance on some areas of my life I’m struggling with.  I’m baring my soul Santa so please don’t laugh:

How do I have so many half open packets of carrots in the fridge?

How do some humans make groundbreaking decisions that impact entire nations while I can’t even choose which items to order from Ikea?  How is it taking me longer to decide whether to turn the playroom into a kid’s bedroom than it takes some governments to formulate a peace treaty?

Why do I get so ridiculously excited when a parcel is delivered?

How have I only just found out that the late great Johnny Cash did a cover of U2’s One? And that the Stereophonics did a cover of the Foo’s Best of You and the BeatlesDon’t Let Me Down song? And that – ok clearly I could go on for a while here…

How do my kids not hear me call their name just 20 freaking centimetres from their face but magically appear by my side 2 seconds after I silently mouth ‘I’m about to eat the last slice of chocolate cake’?

Why/when/how did Musical M become aware of skin colour when we have consciously raised our kids to see the person, not the person’s colour, sending them to a school with an amazing number of nationalities, creeds and cultures?  WHEN did she start feeling ‘uncool’  because of her brown skin and dark hair?  And please Santa tell me, how do I teach this beautiful, intelligent, happy, considerate, intuitive, miracle of a young lady that she is NOT inferior to the blond-haired fair-skinned blue-eyed girls at her school and that she must NEVER let anyone convince her otherwise?

When will I figure out how to wipe kiddie rice/pasta droppings off the kitchen floor without making the mess even worse and streaking the tiles with starchy ming?

How did I lose the confidence and energy that I had a as a cook in my twenties and why does the sight of a kitchen make me just want to scream? Will I go back to being one of those women who loves nothing more than to throw her doors open and cook up a storm for her friends instead of being filled with utter dread at the mere words ‘dinner party’?

When will I finally get my head around the fact that I have no chance with Duran Duran’s John Taylor and that even if I did, there are a couple of bands of platinum around my ring finger that would make it a bad idea anyway?

What kind of a legacy am I creating, if any, for my kids?

Why do I think of an idea (this applies so many areas of my life), proceed to second-guess myself and analyse every potential ramification to the nth degree, change my mind 100 times, waste time and energy and drive everyone around me nuts, only to go with the original thing I decided? Ucch.

Why do I have an infinite capacity for remembering meaningless trivia instead of anything truly important? Double ucch.

Will I ever be able to calculate the right amount of pasta to cook? I either make so much I could literally feed an entire town or so little that my children think I hate them.

Why do I adore bread and nutella so much?

Where did I get my intense, immeasurable, soul-stirring, never-ending, life-affirming passion for music from and how do I pass this on to my children?

Will I drink the mind-blowing hot chocolate of Les Deux Magots on Boulevard St Germain ever again? And if I do, please please please can you make sure that Suzana and Joe are there too? I miss them so much.

When will I accept that I’m the only woman in the world who can’t multi-task all that well? Apparently we can make pancakes, empty the dishwasher, plan the week’s meals and do a conference call all at the same time.  I’m not there yet.  Well, in theory I could but the whole thing would take me about 4 hours. Which brings me neatly onto:

What can I do to manage my time more effectively? Correction, what can I do to manage my time?  (By the way, if you say “It’s simple: wake up earlier, stop dragging your feet  around all day practically grieving over how tired you are, before magically coming alive the minute it gets dark, spending the whole night blogging before finally retiring at stupid o’clock”, then you and I are DONE Santa and I’ll blow your secret wide open. I just want a magic quick fix. No sensible stuff.)

Will I ever get rid of the guilt I’ve been feeling about not saying goodbye to a friend who passed away last year? And will there come a day when I can think of her with a smile, not tears.

When will I learn to be happy with the person that I am? Or muster up the whatever-it-is-one-musters-up to become the person that I’d like to be?

And er, sorry Santa but HOW the blooming jingle bells do I explain to my kids that you don’t actually exist? You can just leave the answers in a letter next to the mince pie plate before you leave on Christmas Eve…just in case I fall asleep again like last year.

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Twas the night before Christmas and frankly Mama was blooming exhausted

(Hubster, you can hold the jokes about me never managing to stay up thanks. What are you still doing here anyway? Don’t you have a food processor to fetch?)

Girls’ Night Do’s and Don’ts (aka My Christmas Boobs Revealed)

Cynthia could not wait to show off her baubles at the Christmas party

Cynthia could not wait to show off her baubles at the Christmas party

I had a quite a big night out a while ago with friends. I’d rather not go into too much detail right now for the sake of discretion; actually, discretion nothing…I’m just terrified my mum will read this.  In brief, getting rather friendly with a tequila bottle, apologising to a door after bumping into it and almost falling into a toilet bowl, featured somewhere in the proceedings…but maybe I simply imagined that.

Anyway, let’s just say I learned a few lessons on what to avoid the next time I go out…Christmas boobs you see…ah!  To be honest, I probably won’t need to remember them myself because I swore that I’d never go out again after that night (she said before remembering the 12 Pubs of Christmas pub crawl is coming up).  So I thought I’d distil them into a sort of do’s and don’ts guide for your mums’ night out and/or office Christmas party, now that the festive season is upon us.  Consider this guide a sort of pre-Christmas gift from me to you.  And er, if you’ve already had your big do, then I’m sorry I didn’t get this to you earlier.

Christmas Party Do’s and Don’ts:

1. DO make sure you line your stomach properly beforehand.  Start drinking milk at least 3 days before to prepare your body for the carnage you intend to inflict on it. If you’d prefer to be able to look the other parents in the face the next day at the school gates or you’re chasing a promotion at work, best leave the self-infliction of carnage to someone else and stick to soda water eh?

2. DON’T dress inappropriately.  That dress – you know the one I mean – which has been looking at you tantalisingly from the back of the wardrobe may just have to stay there a while longer.  Nobody wants to see your baubles.  Save that for the privacy of your own home when Santa’s due. The dads I know who read this blog: please ignore bauble remark.

3. If you’re the first to arrive and you have a history of never being on time for anything – not even the birth of your own children – for pity’s sake, DO make sure you’re in the right place before giving the manager a pasting for having no record of the booking.

4. For the over 30’s amongst you, DON’T fist-pump the air, after caning the Jagermeisters all night, glaring triumphantly at those 30-something lightweights who’ll probably flake around midnight while you, the hardcore 40-somethings carry on til the early hours. For my 30-something friends (er that’ll be everyone in the dedication at the end then), apologies for the lightweight comment. Don’t shoot the messenger.

5. If you realise you are actually pretty far gone and need to sober up, DO make sure you have a clear plan for making it back to the bar to order water without falling over. (Don’t ask me what kind of a plan or how you should execute it. I just thought that sounded like a sensible thing to suggest.  So I suggested it.)

6. DON’T climb onto the ‘stage’ or tables or cavort over-suggestively on the dance floor… a little bit of suggestibility (what kind of a rubbish noun is that anyway?) is fine but anymore is just so 90’s.

7. DO take advantage of this occasion to talk to that mother or colleague you’ve never really  got to know that well but please:

8. DON’T end up telling them that you love them when you just met them five minutes ago.

9. DO relax and let your hair down. You’ve earned it after a term of after-school activities, homework, PTA events, the school run, birthday parties, housework, commuting, 12 hour days at the office etc but:

10. DON’T relax too much or you’ll end up shouting the lyrics to Blurred Lines – or even worse Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody – in the face of a total stranger…shudder.

11. DO hold the jokes about Santa’s sack and bastard turkeys. Mum, that second bit was for you 🙂

12. DON’T run around taking pics of all the fake ‘girls’ out that night, with a view to instagramming them later.  It’s poor form and frankly you’d run out of time, there’d be oh so many there. On second thought, just take pics of all the real ones…far less time-consuming.

13. DO try to mentally register the faces of at least a handful of the random people you chat to/dance with. Call me old-fashioned but I think it makes life so much easier (when they inevitably friend you the next day on FB), if you can actually remember who the hell they are.  This is particularly relevant if you ignored point 8.

14. If you end up staying at a friend’s house, DON’T leave your clothing in the kitchen/hallway necessitating a mad dash to try to retrieve them in the morning before your friend’s partner and/or children wake up. And:

15. DO make sure there are no witnesses as you lay your head on your friend’s kitchen counter, waiting for the kettle to boil the following morning.  Why? Because moaning “Oh God I could die…why is the kettle making sooo much noise?” while your friend’s kids look on confused and slightly scared, may seriously affect your ability to look them in the face at the playground next time.

16. DON’T wear rubbish makeup. It needs to be proper badass Ninja makeup that stays. Because believe me, if you end up doing the walk of shame from your friend’s house to a café the following morning, it’s good to be able to ask for that double espresso without eye makeup and lip gloss remnants smudged all over your face. (Who are you kidding? You know won’t have cleansed your face before you went to bed because you went to bed an hour before you got up.)  The dads I know who read this blog, why did you read that part?

17. If you plan on drinking your entire body weight in booze then DO make sure you know exactly how you’re getting home.  I’m dead serious.

 

For the lovely and always fun N.C., J.C., L.C., I.J.,T.K., K.L., K.T. and S.W.

Merry Christmas ladies.

 

 

Get Crafty This Christmas (but don’t come crying to me when it all goes wrong)

This post starts off my Christmas 2013 segment The Twelve Posts of Christmas.  And as a treat, I have a hilarious guest post by my talented, crazy, runner chick, working-mum, fund-raising, Christmas gift making (I told you she was crazy) mate Anne Joyce. Oh and BIG DISCLAIMER: if I get to about post 8, run out of steam and go do something else instead like sit around drinking wine, don’t hold it against me.

Enjoy!

Family disclaimer

I’m going to talk about presents I am making for THIS Christmas. If you are my family, please don’t read this.  Jog on and don’t look at any photos. Off you go, Mum…

Have they gone?

Ok then.

 

The scenario

Busy mother throws together thoughtful and immaculately produced handcrafted Christmas gifts to the rapturous acclaim of recipients, whilst saving money, avoiding the high streets and feeling smug.

the smug housewife

The reality

Between working full time, co-ordinating the PTA ‘Santa’s Helper’ project, training for a marathon and watching just enough trashy TV to get me through, of course I thought it was a splendid idea to make some family presents. I would be saving money and giving something with real thought and time invested in it. Time. I didn’t pay too much attention to THAT part…

I started off well enough. Way back in September, I surfed around, looking for good ideas.  I made a list of what would work for each recipient, what I would need to buy and where to order it from. I was immediately drawn to two items (seriously, Mum, look away now, PLEASE).  The first was a no-sew fleece blanket. Those magic words ‘no-sew’ drew me in, promising ease, speed and well… no sewing.  I knew that there were fabulous patterned fleece fabrics available and I could make some great double layers with a pattern and a block colour. Then there was the homemade flavoured vodka.  I knew JUST the person for that and it looked so easy as I skim read the recipes, apparently only requiring skill enough to throw sweets in the vodka and shake it for a bit. I decided on a few other projects and was happy. And smug.

Then the bit of paper sat in my diary for a really, really long time. And then it was the end of November.

Rather hurriedly I ordered fabric, pleased that it was all I had to order for the no-sew creations. In passing, I thought that 1.5 metres wasn’t big enough, 2 metres was much better. I turned my attention to the vodka which needed pretty bottles. Eventually finding them in Lakeland, I finally bought the vodka and sweets that I thought would work from the lists I had scanned online: Skittles and Werthers Originals. The process went a bit like this:

o        Drain weird purple Pimms (leftover from summer) into a jar. (What? I’m not wasteful!)

o        Wash empty bottle, decant half of a litre bottle of vodka into it.

o        Open Werthers, try not to let three year old see. Fail.

o        Discover Werthers don’t fit through the neck of a vodka bottle.

o        Smash Werthers into the bottle one-by-one with a blunt ended implement.

o        Try to stop three year-old picking up and eating toffee shards from the floor.

o        Sweep up toffee shards.

o        Swoosh it around a bit, realise it isn’t going to dissolve straight away and decide to work on the skittles vodka.

o        Sort skittles so that no green or purple ones go into the vodka, making the colour muddy.

o        Eat leftover green and purple skittles (while hiding from three year old).

o        Throw the orange, red and yellow ones into the bottle and swoosh it around a bit.

o        Return later to admire your beautifully dissolved…hang on…WHAT THE HELL IS FLOATING ON THE SKITTLES VODKA?!

How to make Skittles Vodka and Werthers Vodka

Google ‘skittles vodka’ skittles vodka and according to Something Random the ming needs to be filtered out before you bottle it.

Sigh and abandon bottles for the night, decide to focus on blankets as the fabric has arrived.

The Werthers vodka needs to be filtered too.

Ah, the blankets. Have you any idea how much fabric four double-sided 1.5 x 2 metre blankets consist of?  Laid out, the blanket didn’t fit on the floor space I had. Undaunted (it’s no-sew so it’s  going to be a breeze right?!), I set to with the family scissors, which cost next to nothing and clearly were not designed to cut two layers of fleece. An hour and three blisters later, I admitted defeat and retreated to trashy TV. A trip to Hobbycraft a few days later and I returned home with hardcore tailors’ shears. Thankfully they breezed through the rest of that first blanket, which does look fantastic, but sewing would probably have been quicker…

how to make a no-sew fleece blanket

 

The results

Well, I need to say the ‘potential’ results because a week into December, I’m still in the midst of all of this. Two blankets down and two to go, still haven’t found a suitable presentation bag/box for the vodka (which is yet to be filtered), still not bought cushion covers (I am going to use iron-on ink-jet paper to transfer my own designs over), still waiting for one bit of replacement fleece to arrive and still not labelled all the jam/chutney combos.

And, I’m going to be honest, I’m not making presents for the boys. Can you imagine the collective look of horror if faced with some hand-crafted creation from me and not a karting suit (eldest – 10 years) or bike (youngest – 3 years)?

But I’ll be pleased with what I make. This will mainly be because I, hopefully, manage to make it all… And hopefully, did not dissolve into a weeping puddle, coated in fleece off-cuts and skittle vodka ‘ming’. So if you see a smug mum telling you about all her handcrafted gems, she’s really just thankful she managed to do it and get out of the other side alive.

Be nice.

And never trust anything that says ‘no-sew’.

 

Mum, if you read this far, you’ve ruined Christmas.

I can’t help you any more.

Written by Anne Joyce

Thanksgiving is…A Piece of Cake

We Brits may not celebrate Thanksgiving but it doesn’t mean I can’t stop for a moment and take stock of all the good things in my life.  For all my flaws, one of my good points is that I usually manage to find some reason almost every day to drink from the cup of gratitude.  I know, I know..horrendously cheesy but it’s true!  (Mental note to self: sit down and make a list of all those good things in the not-too-distant future.)

Anyway, yesterday was such a dreary wet day here in Malta that after running a bunch of errands in the bad weather, it was so nice to get home to three kids (school closed early for Thanksgiving) and my husband (who was off work with man flu).  There was something so lovely about having the whole family home on a weekday and all of us staying warm inside while it poured outside that I simply had to ignore the housework (again) and show hubster and MDK how thankful I am to have them in my life by:

1) taking these:

chocolate cake ingredients

2) doing this with them:

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3) pouring all this love into a cake tin (you can hold the jokes about it looking like a cow pat thanks…hubster already had a good laugh):

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4) enduring being asked 47 times ‘is it ready yet?’ (and that was just my husband) and then a short while later – tbh considering how many times I was asked if it was ready, it didn’t feel like a short while at all –

5) pulling one of life’s simple pleasures, chocolate cake, out of the oven and waiting what felt like an eternity for it to cool down a bit:

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6) before slapping on some of this:
[hopes her readers will help her out by simply imagining a photo of the chocolate butter cream icing which she forgot to photograph]

7) and serving this up (okay I admit I couldn’t wait for the cake to cool down enough hence the melted icing):

and yes, don’t worry, I did leave a bit for my family too

8) before finally snuggling up on the sofa with my life’s loves to watch this for the umpteenth time:

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Dreary wet afternoon?

See, I even ended up giving thanks for that too.