gamiila: (snowy icon)
This year, I spent Christmas at a friend's. It was arranged kind of last minute, but it worked out well. We tried out Nigella's Spanish Chicken & Chorizo Tray Bake for our Christmas dinner, and it was a complete success. I find that, the older I get, the more I appreciate my Christmas dinners becoming less and less complicated. I can't be doing with stuffing a goose (as turkey is probably my least favourite bird to eat, I've stuck to the traditional goose longer than most people of my acquaintance) and faff about cooking a 6-course meal anymore; I just want something that's tasty, moderately festive, and relatively easy to make.

Another thing we tried out this year was the novelty of going food shopping on Boxing Day, as for the first time ever, some supermarkets in Amsterdam kept their doors open all through Christmas! We didn't buy anything, as we'd done our grocery run in the days leading up to the festival, but it was amazing to see how many people were actually treating it as a normal shopping day. I suppose it's another sign of the ongoing secularisation of Christmas, but I'm not sure how I feel about it. Part of me is weeping and wailing for the loss of tradition and decorum, and yet there's another part that thinks it's wonderful you can now go out for bog roll instead of having to make do with paper napkins for two days if you're anything like me and you've forgotten to stock up on this most essential of supplies.

Anyway, lots of wine was drunk, lots of pastry and chocolate was eaten, and I have put on weight, but who cares? I'll go on a diet next year.
gamiila: (X-mas cat)




Dit kerststerretje
schijnt helder en klaar
Dat het de weg mag leiden
naar een gelukkig nieuwjaar!

This small Christmas star/shines bright and clear/May it lead the way/to a happy New Year!
gamiila: (three kings)
Belatedly, I remembered that Viderunt Omnes, a very rare example of organum quadruplum (or four-part polyphony) was actually written specifically to be sung on Christmas Day. This version was recorded by The Hilliard Ensemble in 1988 and provides the opening track on their 1989 cd Perotin, which was one of the first in my ars antiqua-collection.

gamiila: (painful)
Remember how a few years ago I hurt my right shoulder? As with most shoulder injuries, it took quite a long time to heal -- properly, I mean, to the point where you don't notice, apart from the occasional twinge, that you ever hurt it at all. Well, I don't know how I did it, but I woke up on Christmas Eve and there it was back again, that sharp pain in my shoulder and collar bone. It's been getting worse ever since; it woke me up a couple of times last night (not surprising, since I have this tendency to turn to the right in my sleep) and as from this morning, my arm is pretty much useless as I can't lift it or move it far enough backwards to accomplish the simplest of tasks (like getting dressed). Merry Christmas, looks like I'm going to have to think before using this arm to make any kind of movement again...and that is harder than you might suppose.

Speaking of Christmas, I spent all of it at home, by myself...and quite enjoyed it. I watched a few films, and the Doctor Who-special; read a book, did the laundry and had a glass of wine to mark the occasion. I didn't overeat, and because of the snow and ice, and the fear that I might slip and hurt my other arm, I didn't go to midnight or early morning Mass. There was only one thing I didn't like about the day, and that was that in assuming the lotus position as I usually do when sitting down, I ripped my favourite pair of jeans across the seat.
gamiila: (vrolijk Kerstfeest)
The majority of her workers may still be on strike, but today I found that somehow 'Tante Pos' (as the service was affectionately called when it was still a state monopoly and regular as clockwork, in those long ago days before privatisation) has managed to deliver a few of your Christmas cards to me in time for the festive season. Thank you, [livejournal.com profile] curiouswombat and [livejournal.com profile] speakr2customrs, [livejournal.com profile] soundingsea, [livejournal.com profile] suze2000, [livejournal.com profile] anonypooh and Mr. Jay, and [livejournal.com profile] elisi for your lovely cards and best wishes. They've arrived safely and are now prominently displayed, spreading the Christmas cheer.
gamiila: (on mission)
I'm afraid I might be cutting it a bit fine considering the holidays are only 38 days away, if I want to send my Christmas cards out -to those of you who are overseas especially- with any hope of them arriving before the latter half of December.

Comments are screened so please everyone, remind me of your current addresses and I will do my very best to pick you the prettiest card I can find and get it in the post before the year is out. Alternatively, you can PM or mail me through gamiila(at)livejournal(dot)com.

Christmas

Dec. 26th, 2008 02:11 pm
gamiila: (Default)
Boxing Day, and the weather's changed from it's usual winter grey to clear blue skies, glorious sunshine, and an icy cold wind. Another day to stay indoors by the fire, I think...

I stayed in yesterday, too; and watched the Doctor Who Christmas special which was okay, I thought (I esp. liked the 'next Doctor's' TARDIS). Regretfully, I suppose it's safe to say that David Morrissey will definitely not be stepping into David Tennant's Doctor shoes when he leaves the role, and I don't know who else I would like to see take it on.

I cooked myself a lovely Christmas dinner of a simple tiger prawn stir-fry for starters and a main course of turkey and roasted vegetables -- despite the fact that turkey is not my favourite bird. My New Year's resolution will therefore be to start preparing for Christmas 2009 a little earlier, so that I'll have time to find somewhere that sells the type of poultry that I do find delicious, i.e. goose or pheasant.

now for a meme )
gamiila: (Default)
I should have remembered that as soon as I sit down at the computer, that's always Manasse's cue to jump up in my lap and make typing an extremely arduous exercise...so what should have taken me no more than a minute to write has now taken me ten.

This is just a quick note to say that as per usual, I've left sending cards too late for some of them to reach you in time for Christmas; in fact, so far I haven't sent any yet, because I haven't even had a chance to buy them. I will go out for them later this afternoon though, as I'm feeling slightly better today and will likely return to work tomorrow (with this being a new job, I don't want them to think I'm skiving off already).

All this typing around a cat's wriggly bottom has made me very hungry all of a sudden; I think I'll make myself a ploughman's lunch in a minute, or at least a rough approximation of it, depending on what ingredients I can find in my larder. There'll be the bread and cheese, obviously, but I'm afraid I'll have to forego on the cider. Pity, a drop of that pear and strawberry cider I tasted earlier in the year (or was it last year?) would go down a treat just now.

Bleugh

Dec. 16th, 2008 04:54 pm
gamiila: (Default)
9 More days to go before Christmas, and I'm struck down with the flu'. On the plus side, that means I'll most likely be hale and healthy by then, but on the minus side, it means I feel crap right now.

I don't know what I'll do this Christmas. My sister wants me to come over and meet her boyfriend, but considering they've been going out since January, and been discussing a future, even marriage together since the summer without apparently finding it necessary to introduce him to the family, I'd say it's a toss-up between going there and hold polite conversation, or staying in and watch The Next Doctor. The way my pc's been behaving lately, I'm not at all sure I can rely on downloading it for later viewing.
gamiila: (Default)
Twelfth Night, or Jan. 6th. I had planned on having a little lie-in, but check-out time was 10:30am -- and for some reason, neither [livejournal.com profile] anonypooh nor I managed to sleep for very long. In fact, we were up at the crack of dawn. We parted company for a few hours after breakfast, during which I took myself off to Camden market, but met up again at noon at Mansion House to go wassailing.

It's an annual event held at Bankside, and it's free. Jules had found it on her little brick that morning, and it seemed like it might be fun, so we'd decided to go check it out.

We got there early, and found there was hardly anyone there. So we took ourselves off to the nearest Starbucks for hot beverages and a bite to eat (the weather was beautiful but there was a cold wind blowing from the river), and when we got back, the place was packed. Still, we took up positions in the crowd, and watched events unfurl.

First, the Holly Man arrived by boat, and came to land by the Millennium Bridge. I took a picture, but I was too far away from the scene and it didn't come out very well.

After that, I found a better spot from which to view the proceedings.

Wæs hæl! )

Then cakes were thrown into the audience (yum), and whoever found a bean or a pea in theirs was crowned King or Queen for the day (the King was a little girl). Together with the mummers, they led us in procession through Southwark to the George Inn, where the Holly Man wassailed the pub,

Photobucket

another collection was held, and dancing and the drinking of alcoholic beverages was encouraged. Jules and I made our escape at that time, and hied ourselves off to another, quieter pub in Leicester Square for a farewell drink...then she went home to Hampshire, and I to Amsterdam.

Just before I went into the departure lounge, I was stopped and asked a few questions by a kind old lady 'on behalf of the government'. Where did I come from, where had I been, how long had I stayed, how much had I spent, and what had made me come over in the first place? She was most interested to hear I'd come over especially to see Lee Mead, and we had quite a nice chat about him. ;-)
gamiila: (Default)
Christmas Day started early round mine's with me putting on a last minute spring cleaning in the depths of winter, which was just as well as my first guest (my mother) arrived shortly before noon. As she's a member of a small faith community with only one minister catering to several churches/places of worship in the area, of course she'd gone to the wrong church for this year's Christmas service, and then decided she might as well come and get in my way help me with my preparations.

My sister and the kids arrived right on time for drinks and nibblies, my spring rolls and deep fried shrimp in batter, the salmon and smoked eel. Romeo was disappointed to find my telly wasn't working (and failed to see it was because I had unplugged it from the socket); I'm afraid I've dropped a few points in his estimation, but not only do I believe he's watching far too much television as it is, I also believe, and I believe this most strongly, that when people come round for a social occasion, the idiot box should be off. However, I will allow exceptions to confim the rule -- and yesterday's exception was the The Voyage of the Damned Doctor Who Christmas special, which my relatives had been informed they would be obliged to watch with me if they wanted to have dinner at my place.

I'm not made of stone though, so I put in The Polar Express-dvd I'd gotten a few weeks back, and kept my littlest nephew amused and out of mischief for a while.

Christmas dinner was a cracking success, thanks in large part to the Raymond sisters' recipe for cheese & cranberry pasties, which turned out exactly as promised: quick, easy, and delicious. I served them with a chicory salad with a capers and anchovies dressing; roasted asparagus with cherry tomatoes and olives (both straight out of one of Jamie Oliver's cookery books); and Brussels sprouts, for that traditional Christmassy touch. For dessert, I treated them to red fruit tartelettes with vanilla-mascarpone cream; then followed that course with one of handmade (not by me) chocolate pralines, coffee and liqueur.

So after dinner we sat around and watched Doctor Who which left my mother, my sister and Romeo unimpressed. I...kinda liked it; or rather, I liked the idea of the Titanic as a spaceship, and Richard Bucket as a befuddled alien with a degree in Earthonomics. It explains a lot about how he could stay married to Violet all those years...or it would have done had The Doctor actually abandoned him on earth sometime in the latter half of the previous century.

Romeo and my sister helped me do the washing up, and after a few more drinks, they all left. I stayed up for a little while longer, during which I watched the To The Manor Born one-off Christmas special (somehow not as funny as I'd hoped), then tumbled into bed exhausted.

It hasn't been a bad Christmas, this.
gamiila: (Default)
I'd promised my sister I'd help her and the kids move house, so I presented myself bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at their address early this morning. More help arrived in the form of Mick's goth friends, all wearing those impossibly impractical platformed boots and with no conversation other than about purple nail varnish and the latest vampire horror films -- but nice boys, all three of them.

The plan was that the husband of a friend of my sister's would ferry her stuff over in 'the van' - but when he arrived, it turned out that there had been a slight miscommunication between them: he thought she'd have organised a van, and she thought he would bring it...so in the end, they had to go looking for one. Unfortunately, despite going round several hire companies, there were none to be had at such short notice, and the move had to be postponed till after Christmas. They're now going to move in to their new place on Thursday.

As I hadn't seen the new-build they're moving into yet, and as they were eager to show it off, we took a trip down there anyway. They're moving into the country, onto a new estate outside one of the villages near The Hague,

and this is what it looks like: )


Their old place though is a shambles. Everything's bagged and boxed up, all the beds and cupboards have been disassembled, the cooker has been disconnected...What could I do but invite them over to mine for Christmas?

So now I'm going to have to think about, plan and execute a fabulous vegetarian Christmas dinner when I would have been perfectly happy with a glass of wine and a piece of venison or pheasant breast (I hadn't decided yet), and watching the Doctor Who Christmas special on my own.

I'm thinking Portobello mushrooms stuffed with goat's cheese for starters, but I'm stumped for a main course -- I'm such a bloody carnivore that I can't think of anything festive yet meat-free at the moment. Help me out, please, vegetarian flist of mine! Share with me your ideas for a quick, easy and delicious vegetarian feast!
gamiila: (Default)
Lately, I've not been feeling myself inasmuch as I can't seem to muster any enthusiasm for anything. It's a most peculiar feeling not to be able to care about whether to update this journal, for instance. I can't remember the last time I felt so uninspired. Not that anything much has been happening in my life really, although that's never stopped me from writing before.

This year's Christmas hamper didn't contain much to write home about: 2 hotplates, a decorative candle, an oven glove and matching apron, a tea towel, a food container, a bottle of wine, some olive oil and a little jar of course sea salt. I opened it at the busstop, and a Moroccan lady sitting next to me ooh-ed and aah-ed over every item I dug up from the box, so I gave it all to her except for the wine, the oil and the salt which I kept for myself. "Happy Eid al-Fitr!", I said. She couldn't believe her luck.

I got a rude awakening at the cashpoint yesterday, when I went to get some grocery money. It told me I couldn't take out more than 47 euros. I know I've been spending money hand over fist these last two months, putting together a new wardrobe to replace the skirts, tops and trousers that have suddenly become too big for me, and having a few items altered, but I had no idea I'd been going through my reserves so quickly. Part of it's my own fault, for never bothering to apply to extend my overdraught no matter how much better off I am now as compared to twenty years ago when I was making do on a student loan, but still...It's going to have to be a very frugal Christmas this year.
gamiila: (Default)
The eagerly anticipated annual office Christmas party proved to be a total waste of time, mainly because of the lack of so many colleagues that have been let go in the past year. There simply weren't very many people for me to chat with.

I looked good, though )

With Sinterklaas safely out of the way, I sat down, wrote out and sent my Christmas cards. I also succombed to the lure of a Christmas tree.

it's humongous! )

That's it, next to the mother-in-law's tongue. I can't have a normal size tree as the cats have been known to use it as a climbing rack in years past, and no tree has ever survived such treatment. Well, not here, anyway.

Yesterday, we celebrated Romeo's 6th birthday with veggieburgers and chocolate cake. My sister and her family are moving house in a week or two, and so we sat among the boxes and talked of new carpets and schools for the children.
gamiila: (Default)
You Are Christmas

More than most people, you are able to find magic in life's small moments.
Traditions mean a lot to you, and you tend to be quite nostalgic.
You are a giving, kind person who really understands the true meaning of holidays.
You inspire others to be as altruistic and caring as you are.

What makes you celebrate: Tradition and a generous spirit

At holiday get togethers, you do best as: The storyteller. You like to recount memories with everyone.

On a holiday, you're the one most likely to: Give a gift to everyone you know


Hmmm...I don't know about the inspiring 'others to be altruistic and caring'-bit...I'm not even sure that I'm all that altruistic and caring myself! But I'm pleased that I came up as Christmas -- it is my favourite holiday, even though I don't celebrate it as much as I used to. No point really, when you're on your own, or share your flat with three cats who firmly believe in killing anything that's green quite dead.

Which leads me to my annual question of "Who would like to receive a Christmas card from me, and do I have your address?" If you're sure I don't, or unsure whether I do, please just e-mail me the necessary details, and I'll add your name to the list.
gamiila: (Default)
Here we are, on this third day of Christmas, and I finally got to see The Runaway Bride, since I'm sick with the flu and therefore at home and (mostly) abed instead of at the office, working.

I must say, it didn't disappoint; in fact, I thought it a lot more fun than last year's Christmas special. At first, with the RoboSantas and the Christmas tree, I thought 'oh here we go again', but then I got caught up in the action and the banter and I didn't really notice them anymore. The monster was a triumph of the makeup department and, in true new Dr. Who-fashion, ultimately vain and easily defeated (why do the baddies always insist on talking so much?). Catherine Tate's character turned out to be quite plucky and endearing, especially after her fiancé turned on her; and David Tennant's Doctor has become a sadder, much less shouty one, and after what happened to him and Rose, that can only be right.

I wonder if I'll watch the Sarah Jane-spin off on New Year's Day. I gave up on Torchwood after seeing two or three episodes, as I found I couldn't really care about any of the main characters, whether Owen snogs whatsherface or Ianto turns gay from one week to the next...but at least the trailer for the third Doctor Who-season looked interesting and I think I will tune in again.

Anyway, Christmas...what is there to say about Christmas? Mum had the flu, the kids had the flu, I've come down with the flu since - and this led to us having a quiet family Christmas, all without a tree, without presents, and without a Christmas dinner. It was different, and actually quite nice, in a way. Though I do hope next year, we'll have one with all the trimmings again.
gamiila: (Default)
Tonight, I feasted on my simple seafood pasta again. In my student days, it was one of my favourite dishes to cook up for my friends, as the ingredients don't cost much and it seems to cater to everyone's taste; luckily I still remembered how to prepare it:

Simple Seafood Pasta )

I don't suppose LJ will be very busy in the coming days, as everyone will be focusing on their Christmas celebrations, reconnecting with friends and family, and thinking it rude to sneak away and come online. So before that happens, let me just take this opportunity to thank everyone who has sent me a Christmas card, and everyone who's been here for me this past year; everyone I've interacted with through LJ, and everyone I've had the good fortune to meet and spend time with in real life, and wish you all the very best of Christmasses ever.

Party time

Dec. 17th, 2006 12:27 am
gamiila: (Default)
Have just stumbled in after having had a whale of a time at our annual office Christmas party. Drank loads of pink champagne because a) it was free and b) you can't get hung over from champagne...or so they say. Didn't interact much with anyone from work, least of all that wanker Jobsworth (who wore a f*cking red blazer to a black tie party!), but had brought my own posse of three lovely gay men of my acquaintance (1 Dutch, 1 West Indian, and 1 Brazilian). Spent the evening drinking, eating (there was a brilliant buffet), dancing and apraising the waiters and the sartorial choices my co-workers had made. Was still pleased about my own outfit of frilly black skirt and red wrap-around top à la Sharon Stone at the Oscars, even after I'd come to suspect that they must have had those flattering kind of mirrors in the fitting rooms when I'd tried it on in the shop yesterday. Must now stumble out of said outfit and into bed...Night night!
gamiila: (Default)
My boy is ill. He woke me up at 4 a.m., poor baby, and he's been sick at regular intervals ever since. At the moment, he's curled up on the bed trying to get some sleep, and I'm hoping he'll get some. Cat sick is a bitch to get out of carpets, and why won't cats throw up anywhere else, on the nice bit of lino in the kitchen, e.g.?

The first Christmas card came in the post today, making me smile...because it came from an LJ friend.

Yesterday, I spent three hours in the salon, only to walk out with a do very similar to the one I came in with. The only difference is that my fringe, forelocks and sideburns are now a disconcertingly bright red. Next time, I'll tell them to cut me a bob and be done with it.
gamiila: (Default)
Most of Boxing Day was spent in the bosom of my family (Mum, sis, and sis's kids). I'd hit upon the idea of making a present of the fondue set I'd received in my Christmas hamper this year, but couldn't have imagined how welcome my gift would be. The children had asked for chocolate fondue for dessert, and Monique had thought to improvise...and now she didn't need to! We all sat down to a wonderful dinner, and the fondue set got christened straight out of the box.

I played hide and seek and watched that Grinch-film with Romeo, played cards with the older children, and had a jolly good time -- though Mum's depressed state still worries me a little. She's gone back into therapy again though recently, a year after deciding she could do without, so hopefully she'll start to reap the benefits from going back on her decision before too long.

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