caz963: (Christmas twinkling stars)
Phew! So that's it for another year. I had a lovely Christmas with the family. My brother and s-i-l came up on Christmas morning and stayed over, which delighted the kids :) -much food has been cooked and eaten, and Santa brought lots of great prezzies. I now have a Kindle, thanks to Mr Caz and the kids, and today is the first chance I've had to really play with it and load it up with stuff. I've got quite a large collection of ebooks on the PC and laptop, so first of all, I had to sort out which ones are bloody DRM and then find a way to strip it off so I could convert them and then load them onto the Kindle. I've done it, but it took me a while to find a way that didn't involve paying for several different format converters. I'm only doing stuff I've already paid for, but even that's probably illegal. IDK.

We've not watched a lot of telly, so I've got a bit of a backlog on the Sky+ to catch up with! We did watch DW (more on that in another post), but I've got Downton, The Borrowers and several other things recorded, which I hope to get to this week. I completely forgot about Ab Fab on Christmas Day - but thankfully, it's on again this week, so I'll watch it them. I've never really been one to complain about repeats, so that's okay :-) I also watched the first part of Great Expectations earlier on, and thought it was pretty good. Ray Winstone as Magwitch is pretty much perfect casting and I thought Gillian Anderson was brilliant. Her portrayal of Miss Haversham as a rather ethereal creature (and the way she was lit and photographed, too) worked really well so that the signs of the steeliness and unpleasantness of her true nature underneath were excellently contrasted. Also, all credit to her for being willing to look such a fright! My one criticism so far though, is that the chap playing the lead looks a little too much like Justin Bieber (or some such teen-idol) for comfort!

So, now I'm making yummy leftover recipes and am planning to do very little for the rest of the week! I know the shops are open more or less all the time these days, but I don't like food-shopping after Christmas, so I tend to shop for the week when I do the Christmas shop.

I've not been around LJ all that much, but I know that their latest (so-called) upgrade has upset a lot of people. My membership is due in the spring, so I'll see how things go and make a decision as to whether I stay here or move permanently to DW at that point. I do already have a DW, and I use the same moniker there as here, so if you've already got one, or have recently set up a DW, do look me up and add me, or whatever the hell they call it over there!
caz963: (Christmas candle and star)
We appear to be over the worst of the lurgy (fingers crossed!)

Presents are wrapped, shopping is done, recipe books and foodie websites have been trawled for recipes and Mr Caz has worshipped at the shrine of Nigella :) (several times!)

We've gone for a Norfolk Bronze turkey this year; the butcher reckons that once we've tasted one, we'll never want anything else at Christmas. Well, yeah, he would say that because they're more expensive than 'regular' turkeys, but that view has been endorsed by many of the telly chefs we've been watching over the last couple of weeks, so what the hell!

Rather than cooking it whole this year, we're going to do a Gordon-effing-Ramsay and cook the legs and crown separately. I asked the butcher to bone the legs, which are then going to be stuffed and rolled; that should reduce the cooking time considerably. I'll probably still put some stuffing in the neck, but if there's not room, I'm going to make a stuffing "roll" - wrap it in bacon and foil and then bake it in the oven.

I also found a tip about roast potatoes in a magazine somewhere and earlier in the week, I par-boiled them, then when they were still steaming, I roughed 'em up, coated them in a mixture of seasoned flour and semolina, left them to cool and then froze them. Just to make sure they weren't going to taste horrible on Christmas day - naff roasties would ruin things, wouldn't it? - I tried some yesterday and they were fab. Lovely and fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside. I've done more or less the same thing with the parsnips, although they're coated in a mixture of seasoned flour and grated parmesan.

It'll be nice not to be buried in a mound of vegetable peelings on Christmas morning! Other accompaniments will be orange-glazed carrots and creamed cabbage with bacon and cream.

(Chop and fry an onion, then add about 3 or 4 chopped up rashers of smoked bacon. In a big pan or wok, add as much shredded savoy cabbage as you want, put in 6 tablespoons of water and stir fry the cabbage. When it's almost cooked, add the onions, bacon and seasoning. Add 4 or 5 tablespoons of cream (whatever you've got), stir it all in and then serve.)

Tomorrow, we'll put all the other bits of the turkey and left-over bones to good use by making a stock for the gravy.

Boxing-day menus are already in my head; they always include bubble and squeak made with leftover veg and Creamed Turkey en Croute - one of Delia's recipies that I've been making for the last 20 years. (Sadly, I can't find the recipe on line, but if anyone wants it, just holler!) I'm also going to make some spicy sweet potato rosti - I stumbled across the recipe the other day and they're lovely and incredibly simple. You need about 450g of grated sweet potato - leave it in a caulinder for about 10 mins before you use it. Then mix 60g of flour with a teaspoon of caster sugar, a teaspoon of brown sugar, a teaspoon of curry powder and a teaspoon of cumin. I'm going to double the amount of cumin I use next time and maybe add some ginger - you can do whatever you like, really. Then add 120ml of milk and an egg to the flour mixture and mix it to a batter. Add the sweet potato and mix well. Then heat some oil in a pan and put in spoonfuls of the mixture; flatten with the back of the spoon and cook until crispy. Then turn the rosti over and cook the other side.

And now I'm getting hungry. Lunch time!
caz963: (Autumn misty bench)
I think this is the first time for about the last six years, that I feel as though Christmas isn't creeping up on me. Usually, there's so much to do at school, that I seem to live from week to week by numbers, rather than actually realising the date so that it's suddenly the end of term and Christmas is just a few days away.

But not being at work right now means I've had time to do stuff at a more leisurely pace, like making the cake, puddings, mincemeat and various pickles. I've actually enjoyed doing it all rather than seen it as something I need to get done NOW or I won't have the time to do it at all.

There is, however, one thing I still have to do and I want to pick the brains of my super-intelligent f-list. Christmas cards. I said last year that I really would rather stop sending cards to people just for the sake of it - and come on, we all do it, send cards to people we don't otherwise think about all year! - and give the money I'd have spent on the cards and postage (plus a bit) to charity.

I'd still send a card to close family and friends, but I really want to cut down on the rest. For one thing, writing makes my RSI flare up, and for another, it's so bloody time-consuming.

But how do I go about this? I know that some of the people on my list have an email address, so I could send an ecard and then explain that I'm donating money instead, but what about those that don't, or whose addys I don't know? Or am I just being an enormous Humbug! and should just shut up and get on with it?

Any ideas?
caz963: (sparkly tree)
Just a quick drive-by post to wish everyone out there in LJ-land a very Merry Christmas (if you celebrate) and a Happy Holidays if you don't.

Here's hoping Santa bring you lots of nice prezzies and that you have a great time with friends / family or whoever you're spending the day with.

See you on the flip side :-)

XX

(PS - My final DW post will be a bit late, simply because I haven't had a chance to think of what I want to say yet!)
caz963: (snowman animated)
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Well, in our house, Christmas isn't Christmas without viewings of Scrooge (the 1951 version with Alastair Sim, IMO the best version of them all), It's a Wonderful Life and The Muppet Christmas Carol! What? It's the Muppets. You don't diss the Muppets!

Eric and Ern are sadly no longer with us, but there are always repeats of their Christmas specials or of compilation shows on Gold, and they're still worth watching. I remember that when they bowed out, it was the turn of The Two Ronnies to take over the top slot.

But there wasn't anyone to take over from them in that variety-show-type format and I suppose that by the time they retired, TV had moved on. But it didn't move away from the double act - because then the coveted BBC Christmas Special spot was taken over by Del and Rodney as Only Fools and Horses pulled in massive audiences, in the day before Sky and cable telly fragmented the viewing figures. I remember the first time I saw the Batman and Robin scene in the 1996 special (which I believe pulled in in excess of 26 million viewers) - I was literally crying with laughter.

Now, the days of audiences in excess of 25 million are long gone, as is the comedy Christmas special featuring some of the country's most loved actors and entertainers.

But you know what? The BBC is one lucky bastard of a corporation. They said goodbye to Del and Rodney in 2003, two iconic characters who had become part of British TV history and two years later, they've filled the gap in a completely different way with another iconic TV character.

I'm delighed that Doctor Who has become as much a part of Christmas for some of us as Eric and Ern were, albeit in a completely different way. Although maybe one of these years they could produce a play wot Moff wrote and get Trinity Wells out of retirement to head up the newsreader's song and dance number!
caz963: (candles dark)
It's late on Boxing Day - Santa brought me a new laptop cable yesterday so I've at last been able to catch up on news, LJ and other bits and pieces.

This Christmas, I 'ave been mostly... )
caz963: (trees)
Turkey defrosted - check.

Stuffing made`- check.

Mince pies made - check.

Trifle made - check.

Giblet stock bubbling away - check.

Next... open a bottle of wine and watch telly!
caz963: (poinsettia)
For anyone who's wondering when Santa might arrive at their house - my kids are having great fun checking out his whereabouts courtesy of the NORAD Santa-tracker.

As I write this, he's in Omsk!

There's even a 3D version if you have Google Earth :-)
caz963: (Default)
I'm sure many of you are going to be disappearing over the holiday, so I thought I'd do this now and wish everyone a happy and peaceful Christmas.

Click to play Happy Holidays!
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I've enjoyed "talking" to you all, have been grateful for your kindness and have valued your support over the last year. Thank you - and Merry Christmas!
caz963: (lights)
I know this is probably going to upset my transatlantic friends who are currently battling with large snowfalls... but this how stupid the weather is here in the UK.

We have butterflies in the garden.

Yes - you read that right. Butterflies. In the garden. On 23rd December.
caz963: (snowman)
It was so nice not to have to get up before dawn this morning...

The girls and I sent Mr Caz packing this morning and we had a girly morning getting manicures and pedicures (or, as Abigial termed it, a "pedicle" :-)).

I've managed to finish marking one set of books - so two more to go. Hopefully, the rest won't take me quite as long - I just want to get them out of the way so they're not hanging over my head for the rest of the holiday.

I finished the Christmas cake yesterday - now I think it's time to make some mince pies.
caz963: (snowman)
We packed the kids off to Nanny and Grandad's for the weekend last night, so today was Operation Christmas Shopping.

We managed to drag ourselves out of bed fairly early and braved the cold, the biting winds and the rain to get the rest of the stuff the girls have asked for, plus a few other odds and ends. But I'm bound to have forgotten something.

Then we spent most of the afternoon wrapping presents while watching Iron Man.

I don't know why it is though, but I can't say that I feel particularly festive. The girls are getting excited, and so are all the kids at school, but it just doesn't feel real to me! The end of term is Friday, and we're having our usual Christmas tea for the kids and some of their friends after school, so perhaps that might help to start to get me in the mood.

Tomorrow morning I'm planning to make marzipan and then slap it on the Christmas cake so I can ice it next weekend. Maybe I'll even make some mince pies.

Why??

Dec. 10th, 2008 10:05 pm
caz963: (bugger)
Being an organised sort of person, I have my name and address labels for Christmas cards all ready to print out each year. Except that this year, the PC they're on is in bits round my parents', so I had to retype them all on the other one. That wasn't such a bad thing really though, because a bit of weeding was needed and there were some new ones to be added - and now, it's all done.

BUT.

Does anyone know why, regardless of what make of label you buy, or what set up you choose, the bloody things never print out right?? It usually takes two or three attempts fiddling with the margins and the pitch and all that stuff; and even then I usually end up giving up on that and just adding extra hits of the space bar.

And something which was supposed to have saved me some time... hasn't. *points to icon*
caz963: (Default)
The end of another... well, I was going to say long week, but to be honest, none of them seem that long, these days.

And it's two weeks until the end of term - thank God.

It's funny, but every teacher I've spoken to, either in person at school, or via various fora and blogs has said the same thing - that for the last week or so, the kids have been 'orrible. I can only attribute this to the fact that we're all tired. It's been a long term; staff will have done 15 weeks (of actual teaching) and the kids will have been in school for marginally less time, and we're all knackered.

This is always the case in the autumn term though - it's the longest term of the year and the one with the least holidays. Well, other than half-term, NO holidays.

But although it's December, and the kids - my own and those at school - are starting to talk about Christmas, it just hasn't sunk in that it's only about 3 weeks away now. I'm probably so focussed in just making it to the end of term in one piece that it's all passing me by. I haven't bought a single card or piece of wrapping paper. I've bought a couple of presents for the kids, but otherwise, Mr Caz is going to have to take care of it all. I'm just too tired.

But... when I do get around to getting cards, if you'd like to receive one, please drop me an email with your address (and your name!) and I'll do my best to oblige :)

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