Sunday 14 December 2014

Sunday Summary: It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Morning all! For the last few years, since I've been working in retail, I haven't exactly been feeling Christmassy until it's too late. I might find myself humming Christmas carols in October (September, August...) as I unpack the festive books, but I get so caught up in the stress of retail-Christmas that I haven't really been able to enjoy the season. This year I seem to have disassociated retail-Christmas with the real thing, being able to keep the two things separate in my mind, and now I am feeling very festive indeed - and there's still a week and a half to go! I hope this lasts.

My day off was Friday this week, and I spent the afternoon decorating our tree and living and dining rooms, while watching Anne of Green Gables. I also picked up a massive parcel from the post office. Some of the UK book bloggers decided to do a Secret Santa this year, and my sender was particularly generous. I'll keep their identity a secret until everyone else has revealed their presents (and I hope it was OK to open my parcel before Christmas day.) But it was someone who knows me well! As well as three books: The Thirteenth Tale, The Rook, and We Should All Be Feminists, I received some chocolate hobnobs - my absolute favourite! - some knitting wool for making cosy winter socks, and a book bag with the instructions to use it for taking my books for a walk.

Another thing that has made me feel Christmassy has been when my feet lead me out of work and straight into Costa Coffee, to find a tasty festive hot beverage to keep me company in the cold and dark as I trudge up the hill towards my home. But I've also been experimenting with making my very own deluxe spicey hot chocolate, and as it's Christmas, I'm going to share the recipe with you:


1 x small bar/ 5-6  squares of dark chocolate. (I use Bournville. I think 6 squares may make it a leetle bit too rich, so feel free to eat the last bit.)
1 x mug of whole milk. 
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1-2 cardamom pods.

Grate or finely chop the chocolate (so that it melts better). Heat the milk in a saucepan over the hob. When hot but not boiling, add the chocolate and spices, and stir until all melted. Remove cardamom, pour into mug and top with whipped cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon. Et voila! Hot chocolate fit for a king.

I haven't got a lot of reading done this week, but - against my better judgement - I decided to face up to my childhood fear of clowns and read Stephen King's It. I think King was responsible for the longest book I've read this year, 11.22.63, and It is nearly twice as long. So far I've been intrigued rather than scared, but have only had the merest glimpse of the clown, and I will never ever ever be able to watch any screen adaptation. 

On the other end of the scale, a comment on a very old blog post prompted me to think of looking on the Kobo site for a book for which I've been searching for about seventeen years: the final installment of Anne Digby's Trebizon series of girls' school stories. The genre was pretty much extinct by the time the last book came to be published, with a tiny print run, and second hand copies are available for upwards of £40 in paperback. But to my joy, I found Kobo selling it for the same price a children's book would have sold for in the mid 1990s - a mere £2.99. I still can't convince my brain that reading on my phone or any other electronic device is the same activity as reading a book, but it's better than nothing, and I can gladly say I've finished the story, at last.

This week I started playing around with Grandma's old sewing machine, which is now mine. It had been at least fifteen years since I touched a sewing machine, but as I figured out how to thread it up, a lot came back to me from school, and once I'd worked out what to do with the bobbin, it was a lot simpler than it looked. I raided my mum's scrap bag to practice seams, and ended up with a patchwork cushion cover, which is not at all bad for a first try. The seams are mostly pretty straight, and I seem to have learned a bit more control over the machine than I had as a girl. The lovely thing about this cushion is that every bit of fabric has its own memories: the flowery fabric is left over from my mum's favourite dress, the polka dots were from pyjamas, and the navy blue material was a dress when I was very little.


  1. Aghhh, such a good secret Santa! *frets about own parcel and it's goodness* I know who had youuuu!

    SO EXCITED YOURE READING IT! I mean, I wasn't even scared of clowns then I read it and now I have that phobia as well as a few others so... Thanks, uncle Stevie! But seriously, it is my faaaave :)

    1. I felt quite pleased with my parcel until I received this one, and now I'm not so sure. This was such a good present! There was no way I was going to wait to open it. (The biscuits are all gone now.) I sent it last week but second class, and I haven't heard whether it's arrived at its destination yet.

      I was terrified of clowns as a kid. Like, I had to be taken out of assembly and sent home from friends' birthday parties when clowns turned up. But at least the book is words on a page and not CLOWN RIGHT THERE AARRRRGHHH!! I can, however, foresee myself moving the book further and further away from my bed at night as it gets scarier, so that It can't get out of the book, haha!

  2. This post is so full of loveliness (apart from Pennywise, but even that's bookish so I'll let it slide...). I'm going to try that hot chocolate recipe next time I feel the need for something filling and warming (though weirdly, no hot chocolate yet has ever surpassed this vending machine thing they had behind the counter in my school sixth-form canteen, I don't know what it was but it was THE NICEST EVER), and your SS parcel is wonderful, and the cushion is lovely, and... *happy sigh*

    I haven't found a LOT of time to be festive yet, because I've had a sudden flurry of job applications and an epic security vetting dossier to fill out for a job interview after Christmas and SO MUCH STUFF TO ORGANISE - but I'm getting there. No festive reading or viewing yet, but I've managed to listen to some festive tunes between tasks, and buy my telly Christmas guide so I can see which films and one-off dramas are on, and I bought mince pies at Chatsworth Farm Shop. Hopefully that'll carry me through until I get chance to relax and enjoy the rest! :D

    1. I hope you like the hot chocolate, it is SO TASTY! I have a Thing about cinnamon (as well as chocolate, naturally) it makes me so happy.

      Good luck with all the job applications. It sounds like you're being very busy and productive, and I hope it pays off sooner rather than later, and that you will get an amazing job (where you don't have to deal with too many rude and miserable people.)

      I haven't read or watched any of my Christmas essentials yet, which is quite shocking. Really must get them all out before it's too late.


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