Monday, 31 December 2012

Looking back and forward – the 2012/13 edition – part one

I did a 2011 year in review post last year, so I thought I’d do one this year too.

Where to start? Well, January I suppose…
January was full of 30th birthdays galore – including my own, which involved a wonderful few weeks filled with various dinners, a night at Circus, a Duck Tour of London, afternoon tea for breakfast, dinner at Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s, a massive party, a family gathering and some fish n chips with the Luvvies. And some beeooootiful presents. I was truly spoilt.

We also managed to purchase a house! Hurrah!
Normally a quiet and gloomy month, this February was full of fun!

It kicked off with a Vintage Patisserie hen party for one of my dear “2-4-1 girlies”, Sarah, followed by my birthday present from the same group – fascinator making and then another 30th – all in one weekend, so I spent the rest of the month recovering until round four(possibly five?) of the hen tour with a TOWIE party in Brentwood!
March saw us take a group trip to Galway for Sarah's traditional Irish wedding, a special little boy was christened and another one of the girls, Caroline, turned thirty - we celebrated with a posh Chinese meal and a fairy tale fancy dress party!

We also managed to purchase another house, after the previous one fell through! Proper HURRAH!
April was another big birthday month! We got started with a Mad Hatter’s afternoon tea party at the Sanderson for Katy and then a big birthday weekend for Mr G.  We started with a birthday breakfast in our favourite brunch spot, a trip around the London Dungeons and then some stall-to-stall snacking in Borough Market. We then headed out to dinner at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at the Mandarin Oriental. A family meal and then some more posh Chinese with Mr G’s crew!

We also packed up our flat ready to make ourselves homeless. A sad, sad day!
We were however cheered to hear that one of my besties, Claire, became spectacularly engaged. YAY!!

In May we said our final goodbyes to our first home and made ourselves officially homeless. We moved in with my parents for one night, before jetting off to California (and Nevada, briefly) for a road trip of a lifetime through San Francisco, Monterey, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and ending in San Diego.
June was downright crazy, beginning with the Jubilee weekender, which included two weddings, a thirtieth birthday party and a garden party (hosted by moi) all within three days. Needless to say the fourth day of the long weekender Queenie gave us was spent on the sofa in my PJs!
An engagement party, some London sightseeing, and lunch and cocktail date with the god family (including a suspicious non-drinker, mwah ha ha ha) a thirtieth party at Lovebox and some kiddies’ birthday parties completed the month!

I spent the early hours of the first day of July drunkenly navigating my way home, well, to my parents' home, from Kim’s 30th birthday celebrations in Camden, and making myself comfortable, face down, on their driveway for a snooze. I then spent the rest of that day feigning sobriety as we MOVED IN TO OUR NEW HOME! Not an ideal start, but at least I was upright… mostly! 

A baby shower a bit later in July provided the perfect excuse to abstain from alcohol for a little while!
The Olympic Flame came to stay in our home city (oh yes, we’re a city now, a Jubilee city in fact) and we welcomed it with a festival, some fireworks, some skydivers and a rather odd light show.

Oh, and let’s not forget LONDON 20-FLIPPING-12. I was in heaven! GO TEAM GB!!!!! Words can not describe how amazing London 2012 was for me. Well I tried in a blog post, see what you think.  I also spent an amazing day at Wimbledon watching Andy Murray and Laura Robson do us proud!
The so-called height of summer, or August, saw us attend a Great Gatsby-esque wedding on a lake, a catch up afternoon tea party with the Tea Shop Luvvies, a wedding at the home of my friend (and talented wedding photographer) Jasmine and a rave in a field to celebrate the last thirtieth of our gang, Liz.
We also got burgled. But the less we say about that, the better. Hmph.
But in better news the Paralympics got underway – INSPIRATION!
September began with a wonderful wedding at Blenheim Palace and the arrival of a beautiful baby girl, Varenna.

I also climbed the O2, spent the evening at the Olympic Stadium watched Lady Gaga strut her stuff at Twickenham and took a mixology class at Harvey Nichols.

We ended the summer with a short break in Seville in October to top up our vitamin D levels before the long dark winter, said goodbye to some ooooooold friends and one very new one (Baby V) as they left for the other side of the world to start a new life, and ended the month with a Halloween housewarming in our new pad.
November saw Secrets Revealed at the Harry Potter Studio Tour, an afternoon tea date with the God Family (the last one before we gained a new member) and a trip to Dublin and Belfast (full write up to follow!) to visit Jo and see the Titanic exhibition. Then the preparations for Christmas in our new home began!

December was full of festive catch ups, a trip to the Churchill war rooms (review coming soon!) dinner dates and parties, including a James Bond themed affair at Hush, an opulent party at Claridge’s and meeting one of the most inspiring women from London 2012 – Martine Wright – at a beautiful carol service at St. Paul’s. A Fake Christmas Day and Boxing Day weekend got us fully in the festive mood for our first Christmas event, uniting both families in our new home. Possibly a new tradition in the making? After that it was back to the traditions of old, including the Annual Potage Cup, and then almost a week of Christmas celebrations, before tonight’s Roaring Twenties New Year’s Eve party.
We also received some amazing news: Baby E joined my God Family a fortnight early on 29th. I suspect he was desperate to be born in one of the greatest years we can remember: The Golden Jubilee and London 2012. Why wait for 2013 when you can list that on your birth certificate?

And so to Twenty Thirteen
2012 was another fun-packed year, full of memories that will stay with me for a lifetime but I’m looking forward to some chill time next year, although I doubt it’ll happen – more home improvements to work on, eight weddings (including two abroad), a family sailing trip (though I’ll be flying), more thirtieth birthdays and hopefully some more exciting travel opportunities. And then who knows…

And so, to say good bye to a year full of montages, what better way than to end with this year in review, from Google. Amazing!
See you next year!


Friday, 28 December 2012

Christmas Day

Like I mentioned in my Christmas Eve post, it was All Change this year for Christmas, and our usual traditions of sofa camping, all day blow up mattress snoozing, dining room reconfiguration for sleeping purposes and late night living room campsite cinema was replaced by actual beds back at my house, champagne brunch in the dining room and reasonable amounts of sleep!

Let me expand...

Woke up in a bed... and Santa found me! WIN!
Having hosted  Christmas Eve Chez Moi, I didn't have to camp in my parents' lounge with my cousins, husband, baby bro and sister in law, in fact I woke up in my own bed, in a house full of my family, to whom I had also offered beds to save them also camping in the lounge and dining room. I had been worried that Santa wouldn't find me here to deliver my Santa Sack, but he must have SantaNav as he did manage to locate me! It still felt sad not to be with everyone in one house, but stuffing my face with half a box of After Eights before even leaving the bed helped a little.

A quick cuppa and we (those at the Griffith outpost) were en route, in convoy back to my parents' for a Champagne brunch, and with all the time we saved on not having to re-configure the lounge and dining room from campsites back in to usual reception rooms and packing away beds and bedding we found time to snuggle up and watch a chick flick!

I headed over to Mr G's parents' to watch him getting stressed out about stuffing his goose and braising his red cabbage, whilst I snuggled up with his family (sadly minus Middle Sister, who was kayaking in Guatemala when we called) to watch The Snowman and the Snow Dog.

Dinner time dress ups!

more dinner time dress ups!
As they sat down for their Christmas dinner (goose stuffed and red cabbage braised) I returned to my parents' to help set the table and settle down to our own yummy dinner.

mmmmmm, parmesan 'snips! My fave!

After dinner we played the usual games and then at about 8pm we gathered back in the lounge, secured our spots for present and opening and Jo and I handed out the mountains of gifts. Some things never change though - we always feint my dad with gifts for other people, saving all his until the end so he "thinks" he has none to open. I add the bunny ears around "thinks", because he knows full well what we're doing, having done it for the last 20 years, but is a good sport and plays along. Bless.

No one knows when or wy we started doing it, but it makes us giggle, so long may it continue!

After the hustle and bustle of gift unwrapping, and cries of "ooooh", "ahhhhh" and "thank yooooooou", coffee, petit fours arrive, we all put on our christmas pyjamas (or onesies) and argue over what to watch... Strictly Christmas Special? Doctor Who? Downton Abbey? Whatever happens, it's never Eastenders, I have no time for that doom and gloom on Christmas Day!!!! Although this year someone selected The Woman in Black... now, Eastenders would have been much cheerier!


As with Christmas Eve, there was no camping required as we all had bed this year so after a long and happy day those of us sleeping at my house headed back to hit the pillows. I felt a bit sad not snuggling up with "the kids" in the lounge (not that any of us has been a "kid" in a loooooong time) but I suppose nothing lasts forever!

ending Christmas Day in a onesie, with a Cosmo!

One day I may even host Christmas Day Chez Moi... scary Mary!

I can't believe it's all over for another year. Time to start thinking about NYE... outfits at the ready people!

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Festive outfits

This year I felt a bit Grinchy for most of December, so in an attempt to combat that I did lots of festive activities which, of course, required lots of festive outfits.

Of course it all started with the official party dress for Claridge's (which will be recycled for NYE), followed by a seasonally-appropriate red mini dress with starry tights for a drinks party (I resisted the urge to sew white marabou along the hem), a flash of leopard print for a catch up lunch and gift exchange and then a sequinned jumper with a faux fur gilet and my holly and berry Tatty Devine necklace for a festive baby shower.

Party dress at Claridge's

Snuggly lunch. Upstaged by that jumper!

Starry, starry tights
Red dress, minus the marabou

Festive and furry baby shower

Christmas Eve sparkles

Accessorising my gold dress with an elf bib and ears... of course.

Onesie time

Onesie day!

Monday was Christmas Eve, and thus required a sequinned skirt, a glittery jumper, the very same necklace and my snuggly furry slippers.

Christmas day started with a sparkly gold and black dress and ended with my reindeer onesie and Boxing Day, well boxing day is always Onesie Day.

All day.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Christmas Eve

We hosted our first Christmas gathering in our new home and joined our families together for their first festive party. We broke from the standard tradition of Christmas Eve at my parents' and invited everyone round to play.

We decided against a sit down meal, and went for cocktails and canapes, followed by a buffet, the annual soup competition and then dessert, some very special bubbly and then tea and sofa snuggling.

Mini cherry and dark chocolate trifles. HIGHLY dangerous!

"Champagne flutes" for my mum and aunts - to avoid drunk and disorderliness

Stressed Chef!

Joint effort on the salmon!


Special bubbles!

Posh Squash... for use in alcoholic drinks only!

Soup tasting in the Potage Cup 2012

We worked hard on the prep, we grafted all night, we hardly ate any of the food we prepared and drank barely a drop. We collapsed in to bed at 3am, shattered, but it was worth it to have all our loved ones together, in our new home, at Christmas... except Kate Louise - we missed you. Lucky we had Fake Christmas last week.

Fake Christmas last week with Kate Louise and Lucy Jayne!
Could this be a new tradition in the making?


The Potage Cup 2012

It was SOUP-er.

The Potage Cups for first and second place
Well not for me - I came third. Close, but no trophy.

Baby Bro sent the rules out a few weeks in advance and there was a new category added for this year "Patriotic-ness"... well, that I can do.

Every year the other contestants go all out, testing out recipes, looking for clever ideas, sourcing unusual ingredients. Every year I find a random fruit, add a slug of alcohol, a bit of garnish and give it a clever name.

15 mins of prep time

15 mins of prep time

15 mins of prep time
I have a select number of "fans" who always mark me quite highly... everyone else exclaims in outrage that it's actually not a soup, but in fact a cocktail.

How very dare they!

Last year I did a vodka, orange and chilli gazpacho in shot glasses, the year before I hollowed out a melon, blended it, added some vodka, a spring of mint and served it in the melon skin. Genius!

This year? I blended some fresh raspberries with some rose wine, sieved out the pips, served with blue meringue clouds and some white creme fraice, placed on a patriotic tray and named it Red, white and blues-berry soup, with meringue clouds and Royal furniture.

The Entries

Soup 1: Red, white and blues-berry soup, with meringue clouds and Royal furniture.
It went up against the following:

Soup 2: Rubbish soup
Soup 3: Roast chicken soup with chorizo bits and triple cooked chicken ciabatta blue croutons.
Soup 4: Squishy and squashy butternut squash soup with chestnut and bacon topping and olive Olympic rings

Soup 5: Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
Soup 6: Pea, pear, mint and ginger with caviar and fish roe biscuits.

The marks were allocated as follows:
  • Taste (/10)
  • Texture (/5)
  • Moreishness (/5)
  • Presentation (/5)
  • Colour (/5)
  • Christmas Spirit (/5)
  • Britishness (/5) (In honour of the Jubilee and the Olympics!
The winners

In second place came Joanna, with her Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire having received very high points for Christmas Spirit.

...and in first place, Mr G with his self-proclaimed Rubbish Soup. He's a very good cook usually, but this soup was cobbled together at the last minute, tasted pretty vile and was rather un-festive or patriotic (until he raided my Jubilee party box and London 2012 souvenirs). Quite how he won, we're not sure. Absolutely nothing to do with the fact that his mother was involved in the voting... hmmmm.

Will there be an adjudicator's enquiry?

Either way, after years of striving to reclaim his trophy, he's finally got it back and he's finally stopped whinging about the previous years' winners being cheats, so that's good enough for me!
So now he's putting up a shelf for his trophy...