Merry Xmas

Hey there!

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I won’t be posting this week since Christmas is only days away and I suspect most of you are having amazing family adventures right about now.

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I hope you give each other the perfect gifts…

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…and fall into the deepest food coma imaginable,

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and watch fun, Christmassy things on TV while you drink hot cocoa/tea/eggnog.

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Whatever your plans are, I hope you have a spectacular week 😀

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Merry Almost Xmas (And Happy Almost-Almost New Year!) to all of you!

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Christmassy evenings.

I’ve fallen into a new routine.

I bought a desk for my bedroom. As soon as I put it together, I started doing all computer-related activities in there, neglecting my poor, poor, little living room. But now that the Christmas season is upon us, it’s gotten colder outside, and the winds are howling like the demon hound of the Baskervilles, I’ve started doing that thing where you hover by the window being grateful you’re not outside getting blown into a fence. What is it about enjoying bad weather from the comfort of your warm, dry home? Whatever it is, I dig it. So now I’m spending more time in my living room, cuddled up near my bay window, listening to the wind blow.

Of course I have to set the mood before settling in. I’m not just gonna crouch in the dark with a blanket around my shoulders, peeking outside like your creepy neighbor down the street (you know the one) who in their spare time is probably a witch living in a seaside cave. Nope. Firstly, I turn the heat on because my flat can get mighty frosty. Then, I light a candle or two. My current fave is this one, by Canova (which I bought from a local shop):

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It burns well, and it’s easy to light despite being in a can. I hate when you’ve got, like, a week’s worth of candle left to burn but you can’t get to the wick because your lighter won’t reach. That shit is the stuff of nightmares.

Then, I switch on my Christmas tree! I bought a tiny one, perfect for me and the fuzzballs. When I went home last month, I dug through some of my boxes and found the ornaments I bought for my first Xmas tree in England before I moved here. I don’t remember why I left them behind. Probably something to do with the weight of my suitcase. Luckily, this is my first English Xmas tree (didn’t get one last year), so I hadn’t missed my chance to use them! I’ve bought more ornaments since I’ve been here, too. Right now, I’ve got just enough to cover the visible sides of my lil’ Charlie Brown tree. 🙂


And with the lights out, I’ve got my own personal rave plant.

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Where have fibre optic trees been all my life?! And in case you’re wondering, that large dark space that looks like a black hole is where my big ole Queen of Hearts ornament is XD

With everything else in place, all that’s left is to do is get comfy on my couch and gaze out into the night.

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And of course the cat-monsters come in and get cozy with me, too 😀

How do you enjoy the holiday/autumn season at your house?

Happy Tuesday!

 

 

 

Chrismussss

I hope everyone has been spending lots of time with loved ones and enjoying the holidays 🙂 My first Christmas in England was a success. I skyped with my mom and we watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas, because…duh. I managed to synch my showing up with hers relatively well — in the end, it sounded like we were watching in stereooo-ooo-ooo-oooohh. We laughed and sang and generally had a blast.

The friend taking care of my cats sent me pictures of my monsters:
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I miss them so much, it’s not even funny. 😥

Later, I went to the local chapel with a flatmate and her friend to hear the choir sing. They were fantastic. I’ve never heard the song “Seinte Mari, Moder Milde” before; now it’s one of my favorite things I have ever heard. After that, we headed back to the flat and my flatmate prepared dinner. We ate well and have plenty of leftovers.
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It was a nice day.

Now, we’re onto New Year’s Eve! Since it closes in January, I bought a ticket to see Urinetown on December 31st. Caity — of the blog Where the Heart Is — wrote a post about the show that intrigued me, and subsequent research has turned up good reviews. The recurring theme in them is that Urinetown completely takes you by surprise with how good it is, so I’m excited to check it out! I missed out on tickets to the fireworks in London (accidentally on purpose b/c I’m not into crowds), and am still trying to think of where to head after the show for the countdown to the new year. Any ideas?

What are your NYE plans?

Christmas Abroad

Kristen over at See You In A Porridge wrote a really sweet post about what it’s like to spend Christmas with her family, and it got me thinking of what I’ll be missing this year during my first Christmas abroad. My mom and I typically spend the holidays together, just us. We didn’t start celebrating until I was 14, and have since developed a small list of traditions. For one, we assemble our tree (we’ve had the same fake pine tree for over a decade) and decorate it the day after Thanksgiving with the same ornaments we’ve had since we first bought the tree. Over the years, we’ve accumulated a lot of personalized ornaments, too. So many, in fact, that we have to become Sherlock Holmes and Watson in order to find a free bit of tree to stick the remaining ornaments onto.

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There’s also the tradition of chasing whatever feline menace is living with me at the time away from said tree.

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One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is food, food, FOOD.

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Mom and I plan our menu each year. Some foods are staples (baked ham, collard greens, yams, turkey, mac & cheese), but there are dishes we rotate in and out, too. My main food-related duty on the day is eating (we all have our strengths), but I do help out here and there. It’s not that I can’t cook, it’s just that my mom’s food is the best ever, so why mess with a good thing?

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On Christmas day, we HAVE to watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas (and sing along, too, of course)…

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…and on New Year’s Eve into New Year’s Day we watch the Twilight Zone marathon on Syfy.

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Of course we open gifts. And once we open them, our unwrapped presents go back under the tree for a day or two so we can enjoy the look of a full tree a little longer.

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I’m happy to be living in England — it’s literally a dream come true — but I’ll miss spending the holidays with my mom. However, me being here just means I’ll have to come up with my own traditions to carry me through the season. And in future, when my mother comes to visit me here for Christmas, we’ll have new ways of celebrating (but we’ll still watch The Grinch wherever we are in the world because how can you not? 🙂 ).

*Brief aside* I did my first UK reading Tuesday night, and it went really well! I was a newbie to this group of (crazy talented) writers, who all seemed to know one another, and I was worried the humor in the piece wouldn’t come across… but it did! One of the organizers told me afterwards, “You were a revelation! Everyone kept saying ‘That lady! That lady!’ So I guess I’ll have to bill you as ‘That Lady’ from now on.” Hahaha! I smiled the whole way home. I’m so happy to have found a literary community to be part of here.

I’m on the lookout for fun ways to spend my first Christmas in England, so if you’ve got any recommendations, send ’em my way.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Two of my flatmates (one from Brazil, the other from Puerto Rico) and I had Thanksgiving dinner at The Breakfast Club’s Battersea Rise location. I initially booked us at Honky Tonk, but their T-day menu was more a variation on traditional Thanksgiving dinner with some non-traditional things thrown in (i.e. turkey burgers, quesadillas, buffalo wings, etc.) My Brazilian flatmate was anxious to have an authentic Thanksgiving experience being that this would be his first ever, so I cancelled our Honky Tonk reservation and searched (the night before Thanksgiving) for a restaurant with availability serving turkey without a bun around it. We settled on The Breakfast Club. None of us left disappointed — the food was delicious.

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They served a 3-course dinner, with seatings at 6:30PM & 9:30PM. We opted for the 6:30 seating. For our starter, we had “spiced winter pumpkin soup with Parmesan cornbread,” and they gave us some diced bacon & crème fraîche as optional toppings (which were not optional for any of us *NOM*). The soup had a great flavor. The cornbread was savory, not sweet, which is a departure for me, but it was so. good.

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For our mains, we had a choice of “chilli and beer buttered Norfolk turkey roasted with shallots” (which we all ordered) or “roasted acorn squash filled with macaroni & cheese and topped with parsley and panko breadcrumbs.” Both were served with “honey and rosemary glazed carrots, maple sweet potato mash, and roasted brussell sprouts with cranberries.” My Brazilian flatmate finished his food, then ate the carrots left on my plate that I was too full to eat. I wish I’d taken a picture of his plate in the end. The only thing left for him to do was lick it clean.

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A Lemongrass Collins? Hit me.

A Lemongrass Collins? Hit me.

For puds, we could choose either pecan pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (flatmates both ordered this), or cinnamon cheesecake (which was supposed to come with raspberry coulis, but came with fresh berries instead). When I was done, my plate looked like there’d never been anything on it to begin with.

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In addition to food, glorious food, the atmosphere was perfect. American oldies played on the speakers, the lighting was festive and low, and despite all the people, each table felt like its own little world.

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We were all pleased with the experience, but none more than my Brazilian flatmate, who was so excited and happy to share the holiday with us that he asked the waiter if he could keep the menu as a memento. He told us that celebrating Thanksgiving with us was what he was thankful for 🙂 My Puerto Rican flatmate and I got a little misty after that, not gonna lie.

I may not be spending the holidays with family and old friends this year, but I’m incredibly thankful to have new friends in my new home — a place I’ve wanted to call home for ages — and to be doing what I love with the support of the loved ones I’ve left behind. I’m also thankful for everyone who reads this blog. It’s nice to be part of a community, even when you can’t see the people who comprise it.

Happy holidays, everyone!