Friday, 16 December 2016
Aah, the end of school. Big happy sigh. The madness has passed. Well, the school-related madness anyway. The last week is a wild blur of chocolate, partying every day, DVDs, Christmas jumpers, secret Santa gifts and more chocolate. You can imagine how it whips up the hysteria levels. I will be aiming to re-introduce some calmness and green vegetables over the next few days. Otherwise I fear we may implode.
Hardly any photos I'm afraid. Just a picture from the carol service and a couple of tree ornaments at home. All I had on my camera. Those eight hours of daylight fly by and by the time it occurs to me to take a picture or two it is all dark again. The carol service was lovely. The middle boy played his recorder and I was a bit sad because he won't be doing it any more. The recorder group played at Birmingham Symphony Hall in the summer and it was amazing. But now the better players have moved up to big school so he feels it's time to stop. There's always something a little bittersweet isn't there.
Have you been watching Ben Fogle's Lives in the Wild? I love to see how different people live. And I'm fascinated to see how people survive in different wild environments. It's great to see how every single thing is valued. No bin collection. No shops. Everything is used or saved or composted. In these days of out of control shopping it's very encouraging to see a different way.
I can completely understand the desire to escape this modern life of ours. The constant bombardment with advertisements, coming at me from everywhere. Phone calls, rubbish through the door, radios blasting in shops, in the doctor's surgery, emails, leaflets thrust at me. Everyone trying to put their message in front of me. Packaging I don't want or need, no way to avoid much of it. I'm being forced down a path I don't want to tread. How do we live a green life without completely opting out? Difficult isn't it.
I was listening to something on the radio earlier about how many Christmas presents are just rubbish that people don't want. Stupid pointless novelty garbage, or other things that they just don't like. The shops are thrilled of course. If Christmas didn't exist they'd have to invent it. Anyway, I didn't come here to rant. I do love a bit of greenery about the place, and of course I've bought gifts for the children. But I think next week I shall try and point us at the countryside and do some deep breathing.
I have barely had a mince pie yet this year (does this explain the slight humbuggery?), although I have found a nice looking recipe that I shall tweak a bit. Butter instead of suet (Mary Berry's idea, it saves hunting down vegetarian suet), orange zest and juice, maybe some cherries. I'd like apricots and cranberries in it but someone doesn't like apricots and someone else doesn't like cranberries. Someone doesn't even like mince pies. I can't remember who. Is it just me, or does anyone else have trouble remembering who likes what? I am always getting it wrong. Maybe I shall just put everything in and eat it all myself. The mincemeat is made by soaking the fruit overnight in orange juice and Cointreau and then putting it in a really low oven for 3 hours. Nice and easy. I'll let you know how it goes. Wishing all a good weekend. CJ xx
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I guess we were blogging and catching up at the same time! I'm so glad you're finished now and can relax. I know what you mean about the hysteria. I actually found myself yesterday, while attending my son's class party, sitting with my head in my hands in the corner, trying to tune out the noise. The other moms probably thought I was going to snap but I seriously couldn't take the screaming anymore, they were all acting like sugar-crazed maniacs. I agree with everything you said about the commercialism and materialism we live with today. I try very hard to avoid it. We really aim for what most people would consider a pretty lean Christmas where presents are concerned, which is just fine with me. These kids have everything they need and most of what they want, it's okay to want for something in life. It's okay to make your own fun too. I've already made two trips to return presents sent to my children by relatives who barely take the time to know them, and as a result send them repeats of the same things year after year. We don't need doubles, triples, quadruples of things like board games and card games. It's all about checking people off the list and it feels so meaningless. Anyway, I've complained enough. I hope you enjoy the weekend. I've never had mince pies but I think I'd like them. I love dried fruit and a little Cointreau never hurt anybody. :)ReplyDelete
I think it's great that you like to live green and with thought.. your children will be raised well that way. I see way too many spoiled kids who are showered with things and then act all outraged if they don't get every. single. thing. they. want. I was raised with very VERY little.. so I appreciate things so much now. Enjoy your weekend.. we are fully loving the season with all the decorations and lights. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)ReplyDelete
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I well remember and shudder at thoughts of Christmas in school and its mad frenzy.ReplyDelete
I do share your feelings about the excess of everything at this time of year... Too much packaging, too much junk food, too many presents that serve no purpose. It's hard to not get caught up in it all and just enjoy the good things. Enjoy your mince pies xReplyDelete
I agree with you wholeheartedly about modern living and this time of year. Enjoy the mince pies. Flighty xxReplyDelete
Your mincemeat sounds yummy CJ. I'm already looking forward to Christmas being over.ReplyDelete
I did call into a local Christmas tree festival today, listened to carols played by a brass band and dropped some change in the collection boxes. That is the sort of Chrissmassy thing I love these days.
We got one more week of school over here... As crazy as it sounds they finish on the 23rd!!! You know what that means... The following week will be absolutely FILLED with all the things you just described. Phew! I'm collecting strength already. On another note, Ben Fogle's Lives In The WIld is one of our favorite shows. We record the series and watch it whenever we can. Just like you I find it refreshing to see alternative life styles where less is more. I think everyone has a teeny tiny bit of desire to live a simpler life with less stuff and less stress. At the same time, if we can manage to find a balance, existing life is not that shabby. It is in fact quite great! Good luck with the mince pie, maybe that is just what you need to get into the right place and return to harmony after the last week's frantic madness.ReplyDelete
Yup, that's my kind of mincemeat. Shove it in booze and cook it slowly. I shall be joining you making mine next week. The tree looks wonderful. Far more elegant than ours :o). End of term here too. Phew. And, breathe xxReplyDelete
I have been enjoying Ben Fogle Lives in the Wild too. We went into town this morning to buy vegetables and we were only too pleased to get home, it was so crowded! Homemade mincemeat always tastes so much nicer. Have a peaceful week in the country next week. Did you see the return of Sacha Dench following the migration route of the Berwick swan, what an achievement! Sarah xReplyDelete
Yes, saw it on the local news, brilliant to see her arrive home. And lovely to see the route the swans follow on their way to England. Quite amazing, through 12 countries I think. It's always wonderful to see them each year, together with any cygnets they may have raised. CJ xxDelete
I agree with you about being bombarded with the commercial hype. When there are many people struggling to make ends meet it feels immoral that millions of pounds are spent on advertising. Fresh air and spending time in the outdoors sounds like the best way to enjoy the holiday period. Homemade mincemeat is the best - enjoy making and eating it.ReplyDelete
Any junk that comes into my mailbox lately is going straight into the recycling and not into the house. I'm so over all the pushy advertising, especially as I'm miraculously organised this year and have everything I need and want.ReplyDelete
I may have to try fruit mince pies next year. I've never made them before and have found out this year that there is at least one other person in the family that will eat them. Yay!
Enjoy your lead up week to Christmas. My kids have been home from school for a week already (summer holidays here) and have just come off their last week of school sugar hit. Time to breathe and think of more outings in between the fiendish bouts of baking I seem to be doing lately. xx Susan
I love your title CJ, because apart from making mincemeat (and pies of course) I haven't done much else for Christmas. It is as if the more the world goes on about it the more I hold off from doing stuff. My theory is that if it is advertised then you definitely don't need it. Lots of walks, a bit of greenery from the countryside, a good home-cooked meal with pudding on Sunday, games, fun and laughter, that is what I am aiming for.ReplyDelete
I'm going to have to confess to never having made my own mincemeat. I buy some, grate an apple into it, and add a squeeze of lemon juice and pretend..............ReplyDelete
I'm trying very hard to buy only gifts that are creative, or books, or something genuinely useful. it's so hard.......
oh...you're so virtuous, making your own mincemeat. I'm thrilled with myself for just buying a jar to make mince pies this year...a great improvement over years past. I'm sure, eventually, I'll make my own...perhaps once you've test-kitchened it?ReplyDelete
i sometimes feel physically ill over the endless reams of plastic tat that seems to come with Christmas these days. and everywhere you turn, people barking at you and wanting you to buy some of aforementioned tat. I even had a quiet wobble over the Christmas crackers (with their novelty uselessness) at my mum's last weekend. It's hard to feel/believe as we do without being a killjoy, isn't it? I feel like i don't want to be the party-pooer and gloom-monger and yet at the same time, i'm screaming on the inside. *sigh* I suppose there's the whole living the example angle, though....and hoping people twig on.
anyway -- enough of that. we go right up to the 23rd at school -- much to girl-child's dismay -- so we're squashing in some baking and festive film watching and trying not to go into introvert-induced catatonia over the hither and thither that's going to be required this week -- school play, the turkey skate, class party -- i will surely need to be fortified with mince pies.
have a lovely week of vegetables and country walks!
Yes, the frenzied pace of the end of school year rushing into the holidays. I say more chocolate and more time just sitting on the couch under a throw. Baking some mince pies sounds like another great way to keep warm I don't know why I don't just modify the recipe as well. I have the people that don't like certain dried fruits as well. sigh. Anyways, enjoy the pies and make what you want to make, I'm sure there is something on your list for everyone. One for yourself is not bad at all ;)ReplyDelete
I love your thoughts and your spunk my friend. I have been over Christmas for years. The decorating, cards, shopping, wrapping and shipping. It just takes on a life of its own and I can't stand it anymore. By the time the actual day gets here I am so tired I can't even enjoy it. I wish it would all go away. And no matter how I try t simplify it all it just seems to drag me down worse and worse every year/ Bah humbug!ReplyDelete
Rant away CJ - thoughts about the over consumption of everything should be spoken (and acted upon) by many more people. How many times do you hear people say, "Oh, what can I get for so and so?", just because the feel that they HAVE to give somebody a gift because it is the holidays.ReplyDelete
Yes, hysteria, that's exactly the word. I'll tell you what stops me turning into a total humbug - working in a primary school. A tiny bit of Christmassy magic happens there, although staff are generally teetering on the edge of sanity, myself included. I hope you're now enjoying some fresh air and vegetables. XxReplyDelete