December notes

Been on holiday for a week. Already having trouble remembering what day of the week it is. Lovely. Two more weeks before I go back.

Went to stay with S for a few days. It’s like a mini resort stay. Not as luxurious, but someone else does all the work, I am fed excellent food, and there are no ‘shoulds’. Went up to my old hometown to look at the lights and the christmas tat in the markets there. Was awful in a very nostalgic way and I was only a little bit sad – when we went to see the ‘living nativity’ in which my family participated every year. I was usually a shepherd, not being blonde enough to be an angel, which was fine because the animals were great and one year I got to lead an alpaca around. One glorious year I got to be the wise man’s assistant, and wear the shiny costume. My dad was the corresponding wise man. When we saw it there was a dad and his daughter playing those roles, and there were a few Moments. In a good way, sort of.

I was a bit apprehensive about the stay. I’ve only really spent time with the kids a few times, and I’ve previously found the eldest a bit… not difficult, that’s unfair. They are both super lovely kids. But he is/was a teenage boy. And his temperament is a bit like mine, so there were some moments I found hard to navigate especially as I have no actual status as anything. But this year was 100% delightful. Those boys are turning into – are already – lovely people, and it was a pleasure to hang out with them. It was heartening.

I have had some very thoughtful christmas and birthday presents from friends. I don’t really expect anything, in general, although it’s nice to have something to open. But everything I’ve received has been so perfect and thought out. It’s lovely to know that people are thinking about you and care enough to go through the hell that is christmas shopping. That sounds a bit self aggrandising, somehow. But I really mean it to be about how much I appreciate my friends, and how touched I am by the lovely gifts. One was a book about guerilla embroidery from a guy friend who always gets gifts bang on. Previous gifts from him include a brooch that is a teeny bit of knitting on teeny needles, and a book on how to make zombie cupcakes.

Speaking of cupcakes, been baking up a storm here. I’m in charge of deserts for Christmas lunch. I think I’ve gone a bit overboard. Last night I cooked a christmas cake – my first christmas/fruit cake ever, a little singed around the edges but man, it smells divine. At the same time I cooked a roast and two loafs of bread for domestic consumption, made the pastry for the famous and requested chocolate pie, and made vanilla icecream which is basically frozen custard and is absolutely amazing. I ate the bits that were left in the freezer bowl and then I thought I might die of a heart attack right there, because it was so rich. Tonight I made an inferior ice cream, with just cream and vanilla essence, for people who want to eat icecream without fearing death, the actual famous chocolate pie (originally a Jamie Oliver recipe), a raspberry coulis for said pie, and some lemon curd to go on top of the pav that I’ll make tomorrow morning. Did I mention that both today and yesterday were high thirties? Yikes. But should be cool enough to sit outside tomorrow.

I’ve also been making. I had a little production line and made a bunch of bike shorts to wear under skirts. Churned them out, I’ve cracked it now and each pair only took about 20 minutes, cutting included. I also made two skirts, both from the same Ottobre pattern that I traced off of Janet’s magazine one Camp. I discovered the blind hem stitch on my machine, which is AMAZING, but I buggered one of them up so have to redo it. Maybe tomorrow? It’s red and white so I might wear it as a festive outfit to lunch. I feel like I’ve leveled up a bit, sewing-wise. I’m still finding it hard, and there’s lots of swearing and ripping out seams, but things seem a bit more possible, somehow.

I really just meant this to be a bullet point catchup, but apparently I had more to say than I thought. Well, anyway, I am thinking of all of you this holiday season, and wishing you a happy whatever-you-celebrate (I’ve got a few christmases, a solstice or two, Hanukkah, Kwanza and a festivus, that I know of). Thank you all for another lovely year of internet friendship, sporadic as it may have been on my part. Here’s looking forward to many more.

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