‘Tis the season…well, nearly!

I’m getting a bit overexcited about Christmas this year. I think it’s a combination of new house, new baby, no morning sickness and increased mobility on last year. But it all boils down to the one thing. I’m addicted to tinsel.

While I’m really really looking forward to getting the Christmas deeleyboppers and the santa hats out soon, I’ve not done very much of use to prepare. I’ve bought next to no presents (and have made absolutely none, given the time constraints thatĀ a certain very young person imposes on me!), written no cards, planned no festive gatherings. But I do have a very nice new tree and an awful lot of tinsel. You see, every year I miss all the good tinsel and am faced with those stringy mean looking strands that everyone else leaves in favour of the good, fat, bushy garlands. So this year I adopted a proactive, early bird catches the worm strategy and started buying tinsel early. With the result that I haven’t been able to pass a shop with tinsel since September without studying it intently and (usually) taking it home. I got eight metres of lovely green tinsel with fake holly leaves at intervals along the length from Tesco today. Such simple things keep me happy! I wonder what my Christmas obsession will be next year, given that I will already have ALL THE TINSEL and won’t be able to justify buying any more. Oh, or fairy lights. We do seem to own quite a few sets of fairy lights, but that’s also a Very Good Thing. It means that I can light up my house to Midsummer in the Med levels of brightness and banish the miserable short grey days happening outside.

In the meantime, if anyone would like to trudge around town doing my gift shopping for me, please drop a postcard to the usual address…

Dear upstairs neighbours…

Dear Upstairs Neighbours,

I thought I’d take this opportunity to write you a little letter, as you’re way too aggressive for me to ever contemplate approaching you faceĀ to face. You’ve lived upstairs for a little while now, but seem wholly unaware that you have near neighbours. Do you not know that every time you shout and swear in the hallways, we all hear you. We all hear your friends when they stand in front of the block and shout to your flat. We also hear when you throw things around in your flat and damage things like the hallway cupboard doors which don’t belong to you and I hope you have to pay for when you move out.

Most of us in the flats are of a ‘live and let live’ mentality, and so long as you respect the property and your neighbours, we’d have no problem with you. However, when you stand in the communal hallway or outside the flats and shout, swear and scream about how “everyone ‘f***ing hates us and can’t f***ing wait for us to leave, f***ing b*****ds”, Ā it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy and we do start counting the days. I don’t want my children exposed to that sort of language, in their own home, or that sort of aggression. And I don’t want to worry about leaving and re-entering my home in case you or your friends are hanging about and being intimidating. Don’t even get me started onĀ causing the policeĀ to be calledĀ to the flats because of aggression and threats of vandalism by people associated with you.

All in all, if you were polite to those around you, showed a little respect and empathy to your neighbours, I imagine you’d be a lot happier and would enjoy living here more than you do. And we’d enjoy having you as a neighbour considerably more.

Ebay and bootsales

I’m selling a few things on Ebay at the moment, in order to make a bit more room in the house for the four of us, and in an attempt to fit all of our possessions fit under one roof.

No family of four needs the amount of stuff we own right now!

It’s quite nervewracking though; the auction for my first items ends in less than an hour, and I’m finding myself hitting the ‘refresh’ button continuously in order to see whether any new bids have appeared. It’s compelling!

In other news, my friends Maria, Angela and I went to Caerleon today in order to check out their fortnightly car boot sale. After the disappointment I experienced at Splott Market on Thursday, I had very low expectations, but I was wrong. It was a proper, old fashioned, car boot sale where people were genuinely trying to get rid of excess stuff, rather than the sort of car boot sale where small traders go in an attempt to get cheap retail premises and low overheads! So, in conclusion, I intend to take a boot full down to Caerleon in a fortnight and see whether my junk really is someone else’s treasure!

That’s a long enough post for today. I’ve not pressed the ‘refresh’ button on my Ebay homepage for at least five minutes – I could have missed something vital!

Edited to add: I’ve been and pressed refresh now, and need toĀ get aĀ gripĀ so I’ve come back to add this photo I took today;

blue sky

I wanted a pictorial record of the colour of the sky so that I can look back on this in a month and, if we’ve had a miserable drizzly month, remember my sunny Sunday! I’d almost forgotten how vibrant a blue the sky can be!

And yet again – inconsiderate neighbours

So, I guess that my pessimistic assessment of my upstairs neighbours’ consideration of our feelings was about right. Last night, they invited another group of friends around and had another all-nighter, including an impromptu karaoke session at gone midnight. I managed to sleep, on and off, from about 1am on, but GG and I both woke up at intervals and this morning were able to tell each other that they were still going at 5.30 and 6.30am. Handsome (eldest son) was woken at “three minutes after quarter past two” (he’s very exact with the time!) by the shouting and music.

I think I’m past anger now. I also think that I’m resigning myself to sleep deprivation in a way that has been unnecessary since Cheeky started sleeping through the night. This in itself is competely unacceptable. Why should I (and my family) have to put up with this?

Anyway, changing the subject, I woke up (most recently) at about 8.30 this morning, and at 9am felt the strongest urge to practise Handsome’s violin (I like to be able to pick out tunes on any instrument). Then I did a bit of music making on the recorder, followed by a short burst of spontaneous singing of “I could have danced all night” from “My Fair Lady”. Then I had a quiet half hour, since when I’ve been listening (and singing along – I was a soprano in the university choir) to Verdi’s Requiem – a very loud, stirring piece of music! I do hope that none of my (upstairs) neighbours were trying to sleep, especially if they were worn out with partying all night, as I imagine that could have made it a little difficult ;-).

How time flies…

…when you’re having fun!

I honestly don’t know where the time has gone since I came back from holidays in May. I have so much to share with you, both things about the holiday and things which have happened since. I just don’t know where to start!

I think I’ll start with the most important. It is my birthday next week, and while some people (who obviously can’t count) would tell you that I’m going to be thirty, as my best friend Maria and I have agreed (as she is only three months younger than me) I am in fact going to be 22. So,Ā to celebrateĀ the fact that I have obviously acquired the keys to my very own time machine, I’m considering another giveaway. I really enjoyed the last one, and so I think it would be a bonza idea! I just have to get some ideas about things to put in the parcel for the lucky winner.

I’ve had a busy weekend. GG (my husband) disappeared off up to Scotland to help out with some driving for a three peaks challenge that his friends from work were doing. I took the opportunity to clear bags of unwanted items from our room and begin to redecorate. Now, we’ve only lived in our home for eight years, so I think that I’ve got round to decorating our bedroom quite quickly, all things considered! I’ve decorated the wall which had the most stuff leaning up against it. I don’t think the other three will be as much work to prepare now that I’ve done the majority of the clearing out. I seem to be perpetually clearing stuff out of my small home; it certainly feels like I’m clearing out more than I’m putting into it. Hopefully that means that sometime soon, everything I have might actually fit into the allotted space here!

Oh, and speaking of doing things in a timely manner – this week I plan to list my cot for sale on Ebay. It’s only been three years since Cheeky stopped using it, and I think that, in its dismantled state, leaning against my living room wall, it is a valuable piece of decorative installation art! Or at least I did, until I pretty much broke my toe by walking into it (inadvertently, obviously) a couple of weeks ago. So now, as soon as I’ve found the fittings to screw it all together, I’ll be getting shot of it. It’s in really good condition, and if I knew anyone who was having a baby I’d love to gift it to them. But I don’t, so I might as well try to get some money for it!

Anyway, things seem to have calmed down a little in the Jennieworld, so hopefully I’ll manage to blog a little more frequently now. I’m off to get some more sleep now (don’t seem to be able to get enough recently), so take care for now, and I hope to write more for you soon. x

Sunset

sunset

Look at the colours in this sky. It is the five minutes of the day that the sky looks like this which makes the yukkiness of the rest of the drizzly day worthwhile. I was busy typing when I looked up and caught sight of these colours out of my living room window, and I couldn’t let the photographic opportunity pass me by.

One day I will live somewhere that has a panoramic view of sunsets, preferably over the sea, andĀ I will take every opportunity to enjoy and value these oases of beauty in otherwise grey, nondescript days.

Onion, garlic and cumin bread

As requested by Suzy, here’s my recipe for garlic, onion and cumin bread rolls. It’s very easy to make, and very delicious! I’m planning on trying some variations to the flavours in the near future, so stay tuned for further developments!

I originally made these as we were making a curry for tea and had no naan bread. Now, while these are obviously not naan bread, the cumin, especially, as well as the other ingredients, combine to provide a very acceptable substitute if you have no naan bread in the house and the curry cravings are getting out of control!

Garlic, onion and cumin bread

Ingredients

  • 2lbs/908g strong white bread flour, plus extra for use when kneading
  • 2x7g sachets of yeast
  • 2 tsps salt
  • 24 fl oz/ lukewarm water
  • 1 onion, finely diced (or grated)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed, pureed or VERY finely diced
  • Couple of tablespoons of cumin seeds
  • Sunflower oil for greasing and for frying

Method

  1. Fry the onion and garlic until the onion is starting to turn brown. Add the cumin seeds for a minute before the end of the frying time. Set fried ingredients aside.
  2. In a large bowl mix together the flour, salt and yeast. Add the onion, garlic and cumin seeds and mix well. Make a well in the centre of the flour mix and gradually add in the lukewarm water until you have a slightly sticky, elasticky dough.
  3. Knead the dough for five or so minutes, then put into a large greased bowl and cover with a damp teatowel. Put in a warm place (I use either the airing cupboard or the top oven after the bottom oven has been on) for up to an hour and a half or until the dough has doubled in size.
  4. Divide the dough into roughly small roll-sized pieces, place on a couple of greased baking trays, cover and return to the warm placeĀ for another quarter of an hour.
  5. Place in a preheated oven at 190Ā°C for 20 minutes or until starting to go golden brown on the top.

Et voila! Very very simple, and the only thing you need to do then is enjoy them before anyone else finds out they’re in the house…

…Mmmmm! I’m going to be nice and share these – I’m making a meatball casserole this evening, the recipe for which I found on the Sainsbury’s website. I’m making a couple of modifications to their recipe, but some nice bread rolls with it will be just the thing, I think!