Monday, 19 December 2011

JYC 2011 - December 17th: Christmas Do

I'm not sure quite how it happened, but some how Kendo managed to convince me that it was a good idea to go on a work's night out with two of the people he works with (who I've never met) and their wives. Hmmmm. Still not sure how he talked me into that one, especially as I make a particular point of avoiding all my works do.

Anyhoo, he'd agreed I'd go so off I went. We caught the train into Liverpool (which is really not far from us. 25 minutes on the train. I don't know why we don't go more often) and began the night (well, afternoon really) at a place called "Viva Brazil":

We sat there, at the round table at the front (only it was bigger, with more chairs). This is the strangest restaurant. It's a kind of all you can eat. You start with a plate and then hit the salad bar (although that's something of a misnomer because there was a darn site more than salad on it). You have a little coloured card on your table (like a beer mat). One side red, one side green. When the green side it showing waiters come to your table with huge skewers with meat on (all different stuff, chicken and beef and lamb and pork and sausage) which they carve at the table for you. When you've got enough you turn your card to red and they stop coming, when you want more you flick it back to green. Easy. Kendo literally thought he'd died and gone to carnivore heaven. That he just sat there and people brought him meat. Lots of meat. He was one happy diner I can tell you.

From there we ventured to a Liverpool land mark. On request from two of the people we were with we went here:

You probably recognise the name, if not the place. Some small Liverpool band is famous for starting out here. See, here they are at the Cavern:

Don't recognise them there? How about here?:

I have to confess despite living so close to Liverpool this is the first time I've ever been in the Cavern (how bad is that?). It's actually quite a nice club (if a little claustrphobic). There are tonnes of names graffitied on the bricks inside. If I'd known before hand apparently I could have looked for my Mother's, it's in there somewhere (what a rebel she was!).

From one Liverpool band we ventured to another. Echo and the Bunnymen at the O2 Academy:

Not really my cup of tea but I did spend 10 minutes in the mosh pit looking for Kendo while they were playing this song (which is thankfully one I know):

Phew. That was hard work. Couple it with a broken down train on the way home and having to get up the day after and do a fitness challenge at the annual karate club party (100 push ups, 100 crunches, 100 squat kicks) it's hardly surprising I don't feel like I've had a weekend off! I think I'll give strict instructions not to volunteer me for any Christmas Do's next year!

JYC 2011 - December 16th: Gratitude

Two years ago around this time we received the news that my Dad had cancer.

One year ago around this time we heard that despite chemo and radiation treatment it had recurred.

Today we heard that following a big surgery and chemo in the last 6 months he has the all clear.

For that, today, I am truly, truly grateful.

The best Christmas gift of all.


Thursday, 15 December 2011

JYC 2011 - December 15th: Visitors.

Christmas visiting. Ahhhh. Neither my husband nor I are good with the whole visiting thing but it's Christmas and there are people to see and who want to see us (well, want to see the kids anyway ;)). We have our Christmas visiting schedule and it hasn't changed much in 7 years. Off to my parents after presents and breakfast at home (not like its much of a trek though as it's next door!). Back home for Christmas lunch then off to the In-laws for a bit (Santa's really good to my kids, he delivers to grandparents houses too (both sets!!)). Back home to "next door Nanny's" for Christmas tea then home. Boxing day it's back to the in laws for MILs roast dinner (roast lamb - nom nom nom).

This year my Mum is particulary excited about Christmas visiting. My sister and her partner and my two nephews are coming up on Christmas Eve and staying until the day after boxing day. Whilst that means (coupled with the other waifs and strays she collected who would otherwise be alone on the big day) that she'll have 14 people for Christmas dinner she couldn't be happier. All her kids and grandkids under one roof.

Thankfully we're past the age where we feel the need to pick on one another and cause fights all the time.........I think ;)


Wednesday, 14 December 2011

JYC 2011 - December 14th: Christmas Presents.

Ordinarily at this point I have already written my own Christmas list, shopped for my own presents, wrapped them and haranged my husband into writing the tags (I have to draw the line somewhere!). To be honest, it never bothers me. At least I know I'm getting things I want and will use and its much less stress for him having to think about what to buy (not to mention trying to fit shopping in amongst the ridiculous hours he works!).

In his defense I am in charge of the budgeting around here so usually he doesn't know when the Christmas budget is available for spending or indeed how much it is. This year some extra hours and bonuses at work meant he had pennies to spend and I was more than happy to provide a "Dear Santa" list of things I might like to see in my stocking. I know what I sent on the list but I don't know exactly what he's bought. I'm looking forward to having a nice surprise when I open my presents Christmas morning for a change. I think I could get used to this arrangement.


JYC 2011 - December 13th: Christmas Tunes.

The best thing about JYC blogging. I don't just get to write about my favourite Christmas tunes this year. I can share them :) 

So, if you fancy getting into the festive spirit with my, crank up the PC speakers and have at it....

My all time FAVE Christmas tune:

LOVE this song :)

Completely useless factoid to accompany the song... the New York Police Department doesn't have a choir... it has a Pipe and Drum band, who were featured in the video. They are not in fact playing "Galway Bay" however because they didn't know it. They're playing something else and the speed was adjusted to fit the beat :)

On the other side of the festive tunage coin we have my all time favourite Christmas Carol (i.e. a traditional Christmas song, not a pop song). Always loving this version of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by the awesome Annie Lennox. The music on this track is amazing:

The CD that this song comes from is completely fabulous (even Grace loves it). It's called "A Christmas Cornucopia" (how cool is that title?) and I highly recommend it for injecting some Christmas spirit.

That was easy :)


Monday, 12 December 2011

JYC 2011 - December 10th: (Definitely No) Christmas Wrapping.

No time for JYCing at the weekend (even with the mobile blogging) it would seem.

This weekend particularly there's been little time. Mostly because there's been one very special Christmas present arriving at Chez Cookie this week. One that definitely came with no wrapping!

Meet the latest members of the Cookie family:

This is Opal (the tabby) and Loki (the ginger). They are 17 weeks old and totally bonkers! Our current cat, Scully (who is a grumpy, old lady cat) is less than amused by the new arrivals We're hoping she'll come round in a few days.

In the meantime Opal and Loki have been making themselves well at home. Exploring every inch of the living room (including the top of the bookshelves and the widescreen TV (eek!). They are so loveable and cuddly, the kids just adore them. Loki has even been assisting with Kendo's University work. He's very helpful, see:

While he was expanding his brain Opal was busy catch up on some much needed Kitten Zzzzzz's:

All that exploring and stalking your brother really takes it out of you!

So, not a very Christmassy JYC post for the 10th, but I had to share our new babies with you all. Sorry about the tenous wrapping paper link (that was the prompt for the day!).

Back with more tales of kitten madness soon I'm sure. They're home alone today while I'm at work.... God knows what they're doing to my Christmas tree while I'm gone!!


Friday, 9 December 2011

JYC 2011 - December 9th: Traditions.

I have just relented and done my Christmas food shopping online for delivery (on Thursday 22nd as all the 23rd and 24th delivery dates had been snapped up). I have a standard list that I have saved on the computer for Christmas food shopping. I roll the same one out every year and add other bits I'll need (so at least I know I won't forget anything).

I noticed that there's one particular item that always appears on that list and it's a little sad and lonely looking.

I always buy an individual Christmas Pudding. Just a little one. Why? Well, no one else in the family likes it (freaky people I live with!) and if I buy a big one it just goes to waste (or I end up scoffing the whole thing which, Christmas season or not, is really not good for my waistline!).

So I have my little individual Christmas pudding and custard while the rest of the family tuck into very unfestive cheesecake for dessert. The weirdos.

I'm happy though, that little bigtof Christmassy goodness tops off my Christmas dinner quite nicely, thank you very much. Yum, yum, yum.


JYC 2011 - December 8th: Do you see what I See?

Four years on and we're still playing this game:

These days with even more gusto and louder voices and to even more incredible displays of Christmas light extravaganza mentalness! It's comforting to know somethings don't change :)


Thursday, 8 December 2011

JYC 2001 - December 7th: Organised, much?

Thankfully, there is not much left on my pre-Christmas "To Do List". I learnt a long time ago that I need to be organised for Christmas. I can't abide a last minute rush and the thought of going into town or a shopping centre so near Christms just brings me out in a cold sweat. WAY too many people for my liking. Probably 97% of my present shopping is done (mostly done online it has to be said (and wrapped and stashed around the house away from prying eyes!)).

I still have the following to do:

  • Buy the kids Christmas gifts to each other (Grace wants to buy Ewan a Nerf blaster - Lord help us!). I'm thinking he should probably buy her one in return so she can at least defend herself against the foam they come in pink, I wonder?)

  • Christmas food shopping (this will be getting on on 21st - before the absolute insane supermarket madness begins, hopefully. Why do people do that? Shop for food like it's Armageddon??? It's not like the shops aren't open Boxing Day these days! *SIGH*)

  • Fix up the fireplace (I won the Ebay auction!) and get the stockings hung up.

See, not many things at all. I can live with a list like that. Of course I will probably end up buying last minute presents for the kids (when I look at their pile and decide they need more stocking fillers - which I will buy and they will probably not play with. I wonder if I can disuade myself from spending the extra money this year?) but all in all not much left to do except enjoy the season... which is exactly the plan :)


**don't mention the absence of December 6th. As I am officially not sweating the JYC catch up this year I decided to give prompt 6 a miss. Do I feel bad about it? Not one jot! Hurrah! I am finally JYC guilt free :)

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

JYC 2001 - December 5th: Christmas Countdown

There was a whole different kind of Christmas Countdown going on at Chez Cookie last night. Yes, the kids are merrily counting down the days with their chocolate advent calendar (because despite all my craftiness I am clearly incapable of EVER making a reusable one - not that they're complaining, because lets face it, who doesn't want a Cadburys chocolate every morning after breakfast for 24 days?) but I was counting down the seconds on an Ebay auction.

What might be so exciting and Christmassy about this Ebay auction you might ask. Was it a Christmas present? A fabulous toy for the kids? Something blingy and exciting for my Christmas stocking? No. It was somewhere to actually PUT the Christmas stockings!

The year before last my lovely FIL took out our old, decrepit heating system and fitted us a nice, shiny, new, super energy efficient combo boiler. As the old one was a back boiler behind the fire in the living room that meant as the boiler went, so did the fire (and the fireplace). Now we hadn't used the fire in about 5 years so it wasn't an epic loss, and I did loathe the brick monsterosity of the fireplace that was there, but it did present one problem. Last Christmas, there was nowhere for me to hang the Christmas stockings :(

This year I've decided that we need a fireplace back. The living room is just missing something without one. So that's what I was bidding on. A lovely wooden firesurround for the living room....... so I'll have somewhere to hang my stockings. Is that a bit overboard just for Christmas decorations??? I think not :) The good news is I won, and for the bargain price of £9.99. I just need to get round to picking it up and find something for a hearth, and drag the mantle decorations out, and find the stocking, and the money to buy a fire!


Monday, 5 December 2011

JYC 2011 - December 4th: A Perfect Christmas.

My good friend Louise and I went on our annual Twilight movie pilgrimage yesterday (we have a tradition of meeting at a cinema in between our two houses (about a 100 mile round trip for each of us) to spend some quality time scoffing Ben and Jerrys and drooling over scrumptious shirtless werewolves (so very wrong when you're practically old enough to be his mother! LOL).

Anyhoo.... over our obligatory Christmassey lattes we also had a discussion about December 4ths JYC prompt and how you can only write so many times about what your "Perfect" Christmas is like. Lou has taken a different tactic this year and gotten her DD to write down what would be her perfect Christmas. Mine hasn't changed much since I scrapped this page in 2007:

So, rather than rehash the whole thing I thought I would take today to ponder one element of it, my favourite Christmas movie. Now, I'm not generally one for black and white films. As a rule they usually don't float my cinematic boat, but I do have to make an exception when it comes to "It's a Wonderful Life". I totally love this movie, Jimmy Stewart is fab in that swarve fabulous forties kind of a way (what it it about me in suits and hats?) and I think the story is the perfect Christmas tale. I think there's a point for all of us when we wonder why we bother doing the daily grind but this film at its heart shows us just how much the smallest things we do can have an impact on other people. It also gives us food for thought over striving to make the decisions and actions we do make in life positive ones (as every action we take has an affect on others).

I do try to make the effort to watch this movie on Christmas Eve but the last few years things have conspired against me (mostly poorly small people I seem to recall... why do my kids insist on getting sick on Christmas Eve??). This year I'm going to attempt to watch it earlier..... hopefully I'll get to settle down with a nice glass of something festive and some lovely chocolates and just enjoy the black and white festiveness (even though I don't do black and white I still can't bring myself to watch the colourised version that's on my DVD. It just seems wrong!).

I'll leave you with a little clip then. Always remember.... no man is a failure who has friends :)


Sunday, 4 December 2011

JYC 2011 - December 3rd: Christmas Cards.

I'm torn on the issue of Christmas cards. Kendo is firmly of the opinion that Christmas cards should be reserved for those people you don't see throughout the year, that's its crazy to send Christmas cards to people who you can easily say 'Merry Christmas' to in person.

The older I get the more I'm inclined to agree with him. Especially when you consider how much the whole card thing feeds into the consumerist agenda of Christmas. That said, in these days when written correspondance (that's not in the form of junk mail or a bill) is few and far between maybe its a time to revive the tradition of putting actual pen to real paper and penning some thoughtful words to someone special.

I have long since given up on handmade Christmas cards (way too much guilt for not completing them and who needs that stress?) but I have actually gotten round to buying some cards this year. Whether they actually make it to being sent is a whole other issue though!


Friday, 2 December 2011

JYC 2011 - December 2nd: Winter Weather

The "winter"weather this year seems unseasonable warm. I blame the fact the my lovely husband went out and bought a car (to use for his commute to work instead ofhis motorbike) on the basis that the UK Met office told us we'd have snow comeOctober. So, clearly, lesson #1 NEVER believe what the Met office tells you! Wehaven't seen a sniff of a snow flake and it's barely gotten to freezing even at this point in December.

The weather for today? A positively balmy (for this time of year) 7 degrees..... and set to be even warmer tomorrow.

When it comes to the weather I'm a fickle creature. I love the snow, but only for the first day of excitement and fun. I soon lose any desire for it when it's turned to grey slush then refrozen and I have to attempt to drive on it! I don't much care for the rain, unless I'm tucked up snuggly in the house with the heating on, then I could listen to rain and storms all night.

I was hoping for a little snow this year, mostly because the kids just love it so much. It's so much fun to see their faces when they realise that it's snowed and they can't wait to get outside for some snowball/snowman/snow angel action.

Last year we had the most excellent snowfall in January (Miss G loved it.... until it interfered with her birthday celebrations!).

The local park was transformed to a winter wonderland:


and the kids had tonnes of fun playing in the snow both in the park (amidst the blizzard!) and in my parents garden:




Unfortunately we had to wait until January for our snow last year. I'm secretly hoping we'll get to have at least a little snowy fun over the actual Christmas period this year. For me it really does make the whole thing that little bit more Christmassey. The biggest benefit to a day in the snow though? A perfect excuse to indulge in a guilt free one of these:

Nom. Nom. Nom. :)
Here's hoping for some of the white stuff before the Big day.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

JYC 2011 - 1st December: A Christmas Manifesto.

The first test of JYC blogging on the fly. Hopefully the Blogger app will prove successful....then there might be some hope of me actually getting some way through JYC this year!

So, to start with. A Christmas manifesto. I've been a little lazy for sure and stolen Shimelle's premade one, but really it does actually sum up what I'm hoping for from this Christmas. I really want to try to get into a proper festive mood and to just relax and enjoy the season. To make it as magical for the kids as possible. To let go of the stress and be a fun Mum for a change instead of one who is cranky and busy all the time. I just want to kick back and enjoy the Christmas tree scented, minced pie flavored, holly berry coloured, wrapping paper covered ride!


JYC 2011 - Welcome to December

So. Kicking off as I (hopefully) mean to go on, with the first task of this year's Journal Your Christmas.

The prompt for today hasn't yet arrived but there was a little taster in my inbox this morning from the lovely Shimelle asking me to consider and take a little time to fill in this:

I'm really hoping that as I'm (mostly) organised for this year I will be able to take a step back from the usual madness and spend some time actually enjoying the festive build up, rather than being all "Bah! Humbuggy" like I usually am come the first week of December. So this Christmas I will attempt all of the above....... most especially that last one!

Back later with some JYC prompt 1 related waffle.


Thoughts on Christmas Journalling.

There was a time (in the dim and distant past) when the 1st December came to mean one thing to me. The beginning of Shimelle's "Journal Your Christmas" class.

This was a time when I had enough time to make albums, and plan pages, and enjoy the delights of sticking sparkly lovely Christmas themed paper in to hand made albums with jolly little embellishments. Oh I did love to do that.


These days there seems to be much less time for things like this. My scrapbooking supplies have laid mostly untouched for the last couple of years (with the exception of a few occasions where my lovely friend Lou has shamed me into scrapping some more of the kids photos!).

Last year, knowing that an album was never going to work for me and my hectic schedule I began JYC 2010 in a spiral bound sketch book, just writing and doodling a little each day. I don't think I made it past day 10 and they certainly didn't make it onto the Cookie blog (although I seem to recall there being a "Word Cloud" one that I was quite pleased with. I wonder that I did with that book?)

We're here once again at the 1st December (which I still really cannot believe is actually here.... I'm sure it was August last week!) and once again I'm getting that JYC feeling :) There's no way on this planet I would be able to keep up with an album. I know this, even as that scrapbooky voice in my head is saying "you could just get some stash out and whip up something pretty".  What I do really like about JYC is that it forces you to stop and look at the festive season as something to be enjoyed, rather than whizzing through it in a mindless blur of "must get this done" madness.

I want to take part this year. I also need a way to take part that is going to give me a half decent chance of actually getting something done. Album is out, sketch book didn't work. I'm thinking I need to rely more on the wonders of modern technology. I have a smart phone, it has a blogger app. I'm at my desk most of the day, with my computer, which I can blog from. I have a much neglected blog. The answer seems reasonably simple them, and I'm all for the Finding your Simple at the moment.

So, an attempt at a bloggy JYC this year. I have no idea if it will work but I know this - I won't sweat about it if it doesn't and I will enjoy it if it does!

Wish Me Luck.... I'm going in!!