Just Now I Am....

Monday, 30 November 2015

Making Christmas preparations.
I've made my mincemeat and my Christmas pudding. I haven't made a Christmas cake and I'm not going to. Each year I seem to drop something from the long list of Christmas to-dos. My advent calendar has not made an appearance this year and George has been declared too old at 20 to have a stocking. I like the way Christmas evolves as the family does.

Reading
I have been making a collection of seasonal reading matter. I have; 

The Little House in the Big Woods and The Long Winter -books 1 and 6 of the The Little House On the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Hercule Poirot's Christmas and The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding by Agatha Christie

A Christmas Carol by Dickens

What are your favourite Christmas/winter reads?

Getting Old
Tomorrow I shall be 50. Bring it on.



75 comments:

  1. Happy birthday for tomorrow! Mere whippersnapper at 50 - it gets better the older one gets and I speak as one who knows!!

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  2. Happy Birthday for tomorrow! I'm quite sure you will embrace your fifties as warmly as you appear to embrace cooking and books -the most important things in life!
    I love the renewal of old Christmas traditions and the insertion of new ones as the family grows and grows up. My Christmas re-reads are A Christmas Carol, The Country Child by Alison Uttley and The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper

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    1. The Country Child is one of my favourites and I adore The Dark is Rising.

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  3. A very happy birthday for tomorrow, Sue!

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  4. 50? That all? Just wait until you get to my age, chuck, you can add another 21 years ... now that's getting on but I just ignore the number (if I can!)
    I buy pudding, I don't make mincemeat, but I always make a Christmas cake. Indeed, I've made the same one (idiot-proof recipe) since 1968 when it was published in the Cordon Bleu Cookery Course part-work (they were popular in the 1960s). I only kept this issue of the part work, the rest were disposed of long ago, but it's a super cake recipe, doesn't take hours to bake, either, and I've even made it on Christmas Eve and it's turned out perfectly. One thing I don't do is lace it with alcohol after cooking. I don't like raw alcohol in my cake, and it has brandy in it when cooking and that is quite sufficient. I also make my own almond paste (similar to marzipan but much nicer than that bought stuff) and my own icing. I don't do a fancy job, that's for people with more time to faff with than I have, but just a snow scene with a pretty ribbon around the cake and a little Christmas tree in the centre - I bought this a few years ago from a shop selling doll's house furniture, it was for a doll's house garden!
    Now, girl, enjoy your birthday tomorrow - you're no'but a kid!
    My favourite Christmas read isn't actually a read at all, but one of the lovely John S Goodall books without words, An Edwardian Christmas. This comes out every Christmas and has done since it was published in the 1970s and was a Christmas present to me by my (now late) mother.
    Margaret P

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    1. My mum has those books too, I agree they are lovely.

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  5. Always Laura Ingalls Wilder and The Country Child by Alison Uttley. Will look for the Agatha Christies. Have made and burnt a Christmas Cake. The baking parchment lining caught fire. About to make salted caramel ice cream with just two ingredients. If I manage not to set fire to it will post picture.

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  6. Oh and Many Happy Returns for tomorrow.

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  7. Happy birthday for tomorrow Sue. I do hope there'll be birthday cake. surely that is one tradition that must be kept Always xxx

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    1. No Cake Tess. There will be dinner out and wine though.

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  8. Happy Birthday for tomorrow - hope you have a lovely day xx

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  9. Happy Birthday! I think we will all be trying that salted caramel ice-cream. I have a lovely collection of children's Christmas picturebooks which we all read at this time of year. I am still deciding which one to buy for this Christmas - it has to have a certain magic....

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  10. Getting old? I think not!!! Fifty is a long way behind me now, and I think I may be maturing and getting more out of life than I did in my hectic forties. Happy birthday - just remember you're probably only about halfway through......

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  11. Happy birthday tomorrow, Sue! I'm not that far behind you and it is being a good decade, marred only by my copy of The Long Winter being lost.

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  12. Happy birthday for tomorrow. Only 50, so young!

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  13. Many Happy Returns - I hope that some bubbly will be permitted into your new, austere existence and that you will not consider yourself too old for a treat or two.

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  14. Wishing you a very happy birthday for tomorrow! I do love the Little House books!

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  15. Happy birthday for tomorrow Sue, hope you have a wonderful day.

    Such a shame your Advent Calendar didn't make the cut this year but I guess you roll with the changes.



    By the way did you manage to find Smooth Christmas on DAB? Was it not to your liking?

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    1. I did find it thanks. I just had a quick listen and I will probably listen again but the adverts put me off a bit.

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    2. Sadly that is the downside with these non BBC stations.

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  16. Hope you have a very happy birthday. I've made Christmas cakes and puddings - we haven't grown out of them just yet! No advent calendar any more.

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  17. Happy birthday Sue!! Hope you have a fab day! I don't like/make Christmas cake/pudding but will be eating Spanish marzipans and turron as well as a few good old mince pies and mulled wines.. ( my Christmas favourites...)..... Pati x

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  18. I wish you a very happy birthday for tomorrow Sue! I hope you have a hugely enjoyable day. I'm three months in to 50 and it's absolutely fine. Don't know what all the fuss is about :-) You've just sparked a memory for me and I've rummaged through every bookshelf and book cupboard in the house for my childhood copy of Enid Blyton's The Christmas Book. Sadly, I can't find it but I used to love reading it and passed it on to the kids (stupidly). We have a beautifully illustrated book of The Night Before Christmas that I read with the children for years. My youngest might possibly let me look through it with her for old times' sake!

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  19. Hope you have a very happy birthday tomorrow! K xx

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  20. Happy Birthday for tomorrow! Enjoy your day, however it's spent :)

    x

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  21. Hey Sue,
    Many happy returns for tomorrow. Bring it on indeed! Your picture collage is just gorgeous.
    Leanne xx

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  22. Happy Birthday for tomorrow!

    Probably my favourite Christmas book is The Children of Green Knowe by Lucy M. Boston - I think I read it every year, along with Jo of the Chalet School by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer. This is worth reading even if you're not a fan of the school-story genre, as it has a lovely description of an Austrian Christmas in it.

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  23. Many happy returns of the day, Sue! But I have to take issue with two of your practices. No birthday cake? Horrors! And, at our house, everyone gets a stocking. No matter how old. How else would I get all those very expensive chocolate bars I don't allow myself the rest of the year?

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    1. Thing is the children's stockings have become rather more than a few small items. It would be nice to gradually replace the current large sacks of stuff with a small stocking for each of us with such things as bars of lovely chocolate. Only trouble is I would have to rely on less imaginative family members to do mine for me.

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    2. My girls (25&27) wanted to keep the stocking tradition but agreed to my suggestion to share the work (and cost). So last year I bought a Xmas bag for everyone ( I will try to make them when these fall apart) and labelled them. They went under the tree a few days before Xmas and we all put little gifts in (in secret, if possible!) I made sure there was a tangerine in each bag and all our favorite chocs, hubby made keyrings for each of us, one SIL bought matchbox puzzles, one daughter made a xmas cracker for each of us with a special gift inside, the other daughter found lovely scarves & ties and the other SIL gave us xmas ornaments he made. We all agreed it was the highlight of Xmas!

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    3. PS: Happy Birthday!

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    4. I like this idea very much. Something to think about for the future I think.

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  24. Happy birthday for tomorrow, Sue. And you're right about 50 - I have done more adventurous things since turning 50 than I'd ever done when I was younger.
    When it comes to Christmas reading, "The Box of Delights" is my fave.

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  25. Have a very happy brthday, Sue.

    I recently discovered the cake I made last year. It is fine, all that brandy...

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  26. Lovely to see you back, and many happy returns for tomorrow.
    Have just moved on to 60 myself. Can thoroughly recommend the 50s, and so far a month in 60s good too.
    Love your book choices. I enjoy re-reading the Anne of Green Gables books too. Xxxx

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  27. Many happy returns for tomorrow, don't forget to have a celebratory gin ;)

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  28. Anonymous8:28 pm GMT

    Hope you have a very Happy Birthday.

    Frances SW

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  29. Have a happy 50th. I'm a year ahead of you and so far have loved this time of my life. Oh and I agree with you re. the adverts on Smooth radio - very annoying! But the Christmas songs are good to bake along to.

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  30. I loved reading the Laura Ingalls books along with my daughters. Have a happy birthday!

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  31. Happy Birthday Sue. I'm only six months behind you.
    Jacquie x

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  32. A Christmas Carol is the only one I re-read for the season -- we have some beautiful books of art with re-tellings of the christmas story, but those are in storage ~ such is life. Happy Birthday!

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  33. Happy birthday! I wish you a very blessed year and 50 will come and go before you know it!!
    Rita

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  34. Dear Sue, I wish you a very Happy Birthday. I am thrilled to think that you are young enough to be my daughter!
    I loved your mentioning some favorite Christmas books, and thank you for the introductions to The Country Child and The Dark is Rising. I have a tower of books awaiting my eyes, and that tower seems to grow every taller. No matter. I will read them all eventually, and welcome all contributions.

    Oddly, I've never quite got around to reading any of those Laura Ingralls Wilder books, and am not sure I will. But...one never knows.

    Exciting to know that December is just a few hours away. xo

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    1. I must say I am surprised to hear you have never read the LIW books Frances. Is it not compulsory in America? :D

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    2. I thought that you might be surprised. Those books came along after my childhood. I was an early reader, who quicly read through all the books in my elementary school library, and kept going along the shelves at the Richmond, Virginia's children's section, then moved on to Sherlock Holmes stories, Dickens and much, much more.

      I'll have to ask my youngest brother (who's still not much of a reader) if he ever read any of those LIW books. My guess would be...not willingly.

      xo

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  35. Happy birthday, Sue. I hope that somebody else will make you a cake?

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  36. Happy birthday Sue. I turned 50 this year and am loving it. Goodbye to the insecurities of youth and hello to pleasing yourself more!
    I am reading your blog while my youngest sorts the advent boxes into number order for me to blutack to the wall. He's only 10 so we'll be doing it for a few years yet. I need to find some treats to put in each box.
    I've always gifted my children a new christmas story book on Christmas eve so those come out at the start of December and are re-read during the month. Our favourite is the christmas miracle of Jonathan Toomey.
    Thanks for the reminder I must make a christmas cake this week I am so behind this year as my middle child has just finished his final school exams. (Christmas coincides with the end of the school year here in Oz)

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  37. Anonymous9:09 am GMT

    Happy Birthday Sue! I turned 51 last week and now that the children are independent, more or less, I'm ready for the next episode.

    I like your list of Christmas books very much, I like to reread A Christmas Carol every year or so.
    Do you know the British Library Crime Classics series? I love the covers of these books and the stories are a great fun to read too. They are only online available here in the Netherlands, but you should not have that problem in the UK.

    Anyway, I very much enjoy reading your blog and I sincerely hope that you will continue to blog for many years to come.

    Barbara

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    1. I've seen the Crime Classics and admired the covers. Will have to give them a try.

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  38. Happy birthday Sue. I make a Dundee cake a couple of days before Christmas (Delia's recipe) and that serves as a Christmas cake. I've still got three jars of homemade mincemeat from last year and last year I swapped the Christmas pudding for a home-grown plum frangipani tart baked in advance. I did not miss the 'steam up' in the kitchen. I love reading Everyman's book of Christmas short stories which features some of my favourite authors and the children and I always used to read The Box of Delights, a well-loved book from my childhood.

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    1. I'll probably cave in and make something like a Dundee cake later too.

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  39. Happy Birthday! I love the Laura Ingalls Wilder books as well - perhaps the answer is to adopt a pioneer-girl approach to Christmas stockings and offer only striped candy and bright red mittens...

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  40. Happy Birthday Sue! Our Christmas to-do list also gets shorter and I am feeling more relaxed year after year. Enjoy your books. I am very fond of Hercule Poirot.

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  41. Thank you everyone for your birthday wishes. I am having a marvellous day :-)

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  42. Hope you had a lovely day today.
    Sighing really, because every year I say let's just buy four things for each other....
    'something to wear, something to read, something you want and something you need.' So sensible!

    On another note, have you ever heard of Cabin Pressure? It's a Radio 4 production that we listen to in the car, on cds. The other day listening to it, I said to Nick, I think Quince Tree would like this! And he said, well tell her about it then, so I am.
    It's about a small airline (one plane) with only a few characters, the pilots are played by Benedict Cumberbatch and Fred Thursday from Endeavour. It's clever, full of dry humour. There's quite a lot of episodes, we have the box set and a Christmas episode.
    We strictly only listen to it in the car which then makes us look forward to an otherwise boring journey.

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  43. Roger Allam, that's his name and the brilliant Stephanie Cole!

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  44. Good lord you know me well Niki! I absolutely adore cabin pressure. I have them all on audible and have requested the hard copies for the car. Roger Allam is one of my very favourite actors -that voice, and the others are so good too. I particularly loved the way the series ended and think John Finnemore is a genius.I have literally just this minute been listening to the Helsinki episode (with Alison Steadman). There are some great guest appearances -love Anthony Head as Herc.

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  45. Oh that's brilliant, I'm laughing at your response. We haven't got to the end yet! Yes, that voice and his timing!
    We are holding our breath to see if Fred will return when Endeavour does..... fingers crossed.

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  46. Hope you had a lovely birthday. I'm reading Mystery in White: A Christmas Crime Story by J Jefferson Farjeon which is great fun.

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  47. Happy Birthday!
    Greetings from Chicago~

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  48. Hope you had a lovely birthday.

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  49. Anonymous3:56 am GMT

    Hope you had a lovely birthday. 50 is a nice age, with lots of fun and happiness to come!

    My Christmas reading has mostly been mentioned by other people, The Dark is Rising and A Country Child being particular favourites, but I would add Alison Uttley's A Traveller in Time and Elizabeth Goudge's The Dean's Watch for Elizabethan and Victorian Christmases respectively.

    And it isn't Christmas without watching A Muppet Christmas Carol and Blackadder's Christmas Carol.

    Kitty in the Forest

    PS: I love your blog!

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  50. aah, the old Christmas likeys. Happy 50th, as you will be by now. My husband is 50 tomorrow. We are 'celebrating' by him doing a coast run over the cliffs and then meeting him in Sidmouth for a fish and chip lunch. Never let it be said we don't know how to live. When I am 50 I expect to be sipping Prosecco in Venice. Start off thinking big. What did you do? I also love the tales of Christmas from the Little House books - the image of the candy heart with the powdery insides and the tin cup which Laura got stuck in my mind for EVER. Proper presents. Have a lovely evolving Christmas Sue.
    x

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  51. Happy Birthday.
    50 is the new 30. Really. Enjoy it. From my perspective, 50 is young.
    As for Christmas reads, I love to look back at Raymond Briggs' Father Christmas and Shirley Hughes' Alfie's Christmas. Both great favourites when my children were little.

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  52. Happy Birthday, you young thing you!!

    Yes, I am making NOTHING this Christmas as we are off to New Zealand to stay with our son and his family yippee! And I'm so thankful it is a huge relief - so many Christmas things become almost an obligation, you just daren't not do them. But like you, we seem to do less, bake less each successive year.

    Oh yes! The Dean's Watch y Elizabeth Goudge - i LOVE her books and have most of them I think.

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  53. I'm not making cakes either, that's a lot of pressure gone. I hope you had a good birthday.

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  54. A very happy birthday to you, Sue. Fifty is delightfully young from my standpoint!
    Thanks for the recent recipe for gingerbread--I hope to try it soon. Also the crazy cake.
    Best wishes!

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  55. Anonymous11:19 pm GMT

    You might remember this book Sue. Willy Mouse stories by Alison Jezard .Willy Mouse's Christmas Pudding. I hope you had a good day.

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  56. Just a book to suggest if you like detective stories - Redemption by Jill McGown which has just be re-released with a new title which I can't remember at the moment but I think it now has Christmas in the title.

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  57. I have now looked it up (I should have done that before) - Murder at the Old Vicarage: a Christmas Mystery by Jill McGown

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    1. Thanks Karen, Amazon are recommending it to me too, presumably because of the Agatha Christies I bought.

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  58. I've just been reading back through your posts - seems to be a bit of an epidemic at the moment amongst bloggers doing the whole not-posting-often-enough-to-satisfy-our-consciences.
    Here, it's not just a case of not feeling like it (although that's definitely a part of it). Life's been hectic, slightly out-of-control and I really don't like that sensation. I'm guilty of being passive and hoping things slow down when it suddenly hit me today that I'm the one who keeps saying yes to things. Therefore I'm the one who can start saying no.
    Anyway, enough of that. Your War on Waste recipes look delicious (and creative - I'm currently in a bit of a food rut) and the Christmas reading list sounds great too. I've had the Laura Ingalls Wilder books on my Amazon wish list for absolutely ages, and Agatha Christie is a perennial favourite. I tend to read a lot of seasonal poetry at this time of year and have just started on Moll Flanders too - I suspect it'll be quite an undertaking but the early signs are good.
    Hope you had a wonderful birthday.

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  59. I hope you had a lovely birthday. xx

    Our Christmas has evolved to being a very grown up affair, but I must say I love it :-)

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