Wednesday, 31 December 2008

New Year's Eve

I'm not one for a "big night out" on New Year's Eve.  There is nothing worse than being crammed into a bar with a thousand other people all having A Great Time.  

Since moving to London we have usually spent NYE with the in-laws Oop North, had friends round to us, or gone round to friends.  Last year was a brilliant night as my parents came down to London and we spent the evening having a lovely dinner, walking to St James' Park to watch the fireworks before heading back to the hotel we where we were staying for a glass of champagne before bed.

This year we are going round to some friends who are having a "90's" themed party ... it will be fun as we always have  good time with them!  I'm just a bit concerned about what to wear as the 90's are a decade that I would like to forget as I was a miserable student/goth ... ha ha ha! I bet you can't imagine it at all .... I'm not sure how I have changed so much - maybe it's all just part of growing up and realising how you want to be!

I hope you all have lovely evenings - whatever you decide to do!

Christmas Reading

I got lots of fabulous books for Christmas!

I'm looking forward to making lots of delicious cakes, making Cath Kidston style bits (with my now working sewing machine),  gardening, and relaxing with a good book about the Mitfords ... me and Mr Plum are looking forward to a thriftier 2009! 

Tuesday, 30 December 2008


Today I received two parcels ... one from Arizona and another from Florida! Very exciting! I had been waiting for these parcels ever since I put together my two packages full of home made goodies, recipes and other bits and pieces at the beginning of December.

This was my parcel from the "Yummy Recipe Swap" ....

And here is my parcel from the "Clasheen Christmas Crafty Swap"

So lovely to receive these parcels full of beautifully crafted bits and pieces ... if you haven't taken part in a swap, and fancy doing one ... I would definitely recommend it! It was great fun ... especially putting together the parcels I sent out!  I think I will look for another swap to do in the New Year!

Monday, 29 December 2008

The Puppini Sisters Christmas Show!

Last night, me and my Mum went to The Puppini Sisters Christmas Show at 
the Royal Festival Hall, on Southbank.  I've seen the Puppini's quite a few times now and never get bored of their show!  I love their music ... the 40's originals, the modern covers with a 40's twist, their clothes, shoes (especially Stephanie's fab red sparkly heels she was wearing last night!).  They did some new songs last night, so I'm hoping that they will release a new album soon! They are great live ... if they are doing a show near you ... go and see them!!

A Little Bit of Mummy Plum's Magic ...

AKA: Kitchen Transformation - Part 3!

Good afternoon!

I hope everyone has had a lovely Christmas ... mine was lovely.  Unfortunately both my parents were inflicted with the lurgy and Mr Plum has started to come down with it too ... so we had a rather laid back affair ... not too much eating (although, I won't be stepping on the scales for a day or three!), just lots of relaxing, watching TV, drinking snowballs and knitting!  I was completely spoilt by everyone ... and got lots of bits and pieces to keep me busy!

We came home yesterday and Mummy Plum had a look at my sewing machine (oh yes ... the saga continues!).  I'm not sure what she did - but I think it had something to do with Mum's being able to sort anything out!  Anyway .... my sewing machine is working!!!! HURRAH!!!!

Which means .... I have finally finished my kitchen cabinet!! Here's a pic:
It needs a bit of tweaking, but doesn't it look great?  Thanks Mum!!  

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Festive greetings to you all!  

I've spent the day cleaning, ironing and doing a few bits in the kitchen (while Mr Plum "worked from home" aka sitting in bed while working on the laptop!) in preparation for the holiday!  I probably won't get a chance to post again before Christmas, so wanted to say "Merry Christmas!!"

Mary Poppins recently wrote about what she would be wearing this Christmas ... I won't be anywhere near as glam as that (I need room for expansion throughout the day! ha ha).  So will probably be wearing my lovely pink "sparkle" PJ's
and then my new favourite Joules dress with fab green beads (Oh! the Joules sale started today ... the only thing I wanted was not available in the colour I wanted it...nevermind!)
Have a lovely Christmas everyone!!

Monday, 22 December 2008

Potatoes and Onions

I finally got around to putting my seed potatoes in a tray and have put them in the greenhouse to "chit"


 I also got my onion bulbs delivered over the weekend, so those are also in a tray in the greenhouse!

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Limoncello - part 3

Having left my limoncello in a cool, dark place for another 40 days and nights ... today I strained out the lemon zest, decanted into bottles and put into the freezer until we decided to have a tipple!  I did try a small glass ... it is very strong! But lovely and zesty - and, best of all, homemade!

I am planning on making limoncello martinis over Christmas ... a measure of limoncello, topped up with champagne ... mmm mmm, sounds delicious! 

Christmassy Things!

Today I have .... 

Iced my Christmas Cake - I think it looks fab! I hope it tastes as good as it looks!!

Made a batch of Rosemary Shortbread ... yum!

Written my Christmas cards ... but can't face wrapping presents!  I think I will leave that for a day, or two.

Only 4 and a 1/2 working days left before I have a week off for Christmas! Yey!!

Saturday, 13 December 2008


My seed potatoes arrived today!!

I have three sets of five tubers which need to be kept in a dark, dry place until March/April when it will be warm enough to get my three potato barrels on the go!

I have been sent three different varieties (early, middle and late cropping) ... I can't wait to get started on these!

BHS - vintage splendidness!

Picked up some Cath Kidston and Emma Bridgewater-esq loveliness from BHS and Tesco yesterday ...... 

Lovely new duvet cover 

Pretty wrapping paper

And an Emma Bridgewater style teapot from Tesco!

Friday, 12 December 2008

Today, while sitting in bed listening to Radio 2 ...

I have taken a days leave to recover from singing in two carol concerts this week and prepare for my third tomorrow!  Mr Plum has gone off to work, and I am planning what I am going to do with my day!

So many things to get done ... it's too cold to venture to the gym for a swim, so think I will write Christmas cards, ice the Christmas cake, wrap presents, pop to Plumdon to pick up some parcels ... maybe convince Mr Plum to meet me for lunch then head into town to meet a friend for champagne as it is her birthday! 

But first of all I will have some porridge!

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Wonderful Rye!

We had originally planned to go to Berlin with  some friends for Mr Plum's birthday ... but due to other commitments (well, the friends being invited to a wedding oop North!) we had to postpone. I had been looking forward to getting away from London for a day or two, so put on my thinking cap and tried to find an alternative .... 

I have always wanted to visit Rye.  One of my favourite programmes "Mapp and Lucia" was filmed there (and I can't wait to go back to my parents for Christmas so that I can watch their DVD!) and it always sounds like the most enchanting place to visit.  I wasn't disappointed.

Last Friday afternoon we hopped on a train and started our journey down to Rye.  We got there at about 4pm, it was cold and dark ... but we were greeted by the prettiest  streets and Christmas lights.  We stayed at The George Hotel on the High Street, so headed there to drop off our bags before going out for a walk around town.  We wandered along the cobbled (some quite steep) streets and found a lovely pub where I tried a small glass of the local cider.  We then walked on to find a pretty little pub (re-built in the 1600's) with a roaring fire and radio 2 playing in the background.  We stopped there for tea and a drink and then headed back to the hotel.

After a lovely breakfast of poached eggs on toast, we checked out (but left our bags at the hotel) and wandered around Tilling, sorry, I mean Rye.  Our first stop was the Tourist Information Centre where I picked up a map of Tilling with all the main places from the books by E.F Benson.  The Rye Christmas festival was due to start with a procession through the town at 4.30 with drummers, pipers and ..... Father Christmas!

We pottered around for hours and hours, looking around antique shops, craft shops, kitchen shops, antique kitchen craft shops .... stopped for hot chocolate (with cream and marshmallows) and a huge piece of homemade battenburg cake (delish!), had chips for lunch, and walked around some more!  

I bought lots of bits and pieces ... new thicker knitting needles and some lovely wool, Cath Kidston notelets, crafty bits, Mapp & Lucia book (of course!), Christmas presents ..... the shops there are wonderful! Everyone is so friendly ...

We easily spent from 10am until 4pm pottering around ... after a couple of glasses of mulled wine by the fire in The Mermaid Inn, we headed off to find a good spot to watch the procession.

At 4.30 the procession arrived outside The George Hotel and after a visit from Father Christmas in a horse-drawn carriage, the Mayor turned on the lights of the Christmas tree outside the hotel and we watched the fireworks display.  

Here is a clip from "Mapp & Lucia" from Youtube .... this one has lots of Rye (which was used as the location for "Tilling")

At one time, Rye was surrounded on three sides by the sea ... and although the sea receded hundreds of years ago, the town still has a "seaside" feel to it.  I think that next time we visit we will hire a car so that we can drive out and visit the other Cinque ports and Camber Sands.

Sadly, at nearly 6pm we had to start our way back up to London (which, of course, was an absolute nightmare on the trains...).  I would like to live in Rye.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Mummy Plum's Famous Ice-Cream!

After mentioning my Violet Ice-cream yesterday, I couldn't leave it too long before posting the recipe! It's so easy, and you can flavour it with anything (lemon, ginger, strawbs, rasps....I've even made Christmas Pud ice-cream before! That was delish!).

Anyway, while on hols in France earlier this year, I had the most lovely Violet ice-cream (while at Versailles - I like to think that Marie Antoinette would have spent her days eating this wonderful ice-cream!)

Whip 1 pint of cream (whipping or double) to soft peaks

Add 10oz icing sugar (sifted) and vanilla extract, to taste (or any flavour you like!)



So simple, and no faffing around with ice-cream makers!

I added a jar of violet preserve (bought from Lakeland) and slurp of violet syrup and a drop of food colouring.  I haven't tasted it yet, but will update you in due course!

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Here are some of my lovely purchases from Rye ...

There are so many gorgeous shops in Rye ... selling all my favourite kind of things!  For a morning I forgot about the fact that I am but a mere civil servant and the fact the the country is in recession (boo!) and treated myself to some Cath Kidston notelets, a star and christmas tree cookie cutter and some lovely blue wool and some thicker knitting needles!

I'm off now as I need to help Mr Plum decorate the Christmas tree (with the new bells we got from Rye ....).  I wish Sundays like this could go on forever, how inconvenient that I have to go to work tomorrow!!

Today I have been mostly ...

  • Making truffles ... creme de menthe, amaretto and tia maria (Daddy Plum's recipe)
  • Making Violet Ice-Cream (Mummy Plum's recipe)
  • Marzipanning my Christmas Cake - you remember the one I made back in September? It's been regularly fed with sloe gin ... and the odd crumb that fell into my mouth this afternoon tasted delicious!
  • Cooking a lovely Sunday lunch
Am now considering whether to bake a chocolate cake, glue the oil cloth curtains, start some knitting with my lovely new wool or watch Home Alone!

Okay ... curtains it is! (only because it is on my "one more job to do before I can have a G&T blackboard!!)  

(Recipes to follow in next couple of days!)

Monday, 1 December 2008

It's Christmastime!

One of Mr Plum's many varied talents includes tracking down random and ancient Christmas tunes and putting them on a downloading website.  He is currently working on his 2008 Christmassy playlist - and he has let me include a link to last years playlist on my blog! 

You don't need a password or anything complicated - just copy and paste the link below for some festive fun!  My favourite song is "I know what you want for Christmas".

Here is a list of all 14 Christmas songs (with Mr Plum's notes), I hope you enjoy them!  Merry Christmas!!

1) Twas the Night Before the Goose got Fat - DJ Riko (Jon Kennedy vs Louis Armstrong)
A great start and a great mash-up by DJ Riko. This so happens to be Louis Armstrong's last recording – and what a great one it is. Louis Armstrong RIP.

2) Christmas Time (Don't Let The Bells End) – The Darkness
What a fantastically cheesy tune – this is what Christmas music is about! Whatever happened to The Darkness?

3) Santa Claus Is Coming to Town - Frank Sinatra, Cyndi Lauper
You can't have a Christmas record without a bit of Frank. Here he is in classic big band fashion with Cyndi Lauper – fantastic!

4) Do You Know How Christmas Trees Are Grown? - Nina
This is from the James Bond film with George Lazenby – On Her Majesty's Secret Service. It was written by Hal David, orchestrated by John Barry and sung beautifully by Nina. Shame it's so bad!

5) Christmas in the Stars – Star Wars Christmas Album
Another film tie in – this time found on the net. C3P0 singing to R2 D2 and Chewbacca. This album has gained cult status because it's so tacky. Surely is – but isn't that what it's all about?

6) Twelve Days Of Christmas – John Denver & The Muppets
My wife has fond memories of this album. She played this cut to me last year and I've been hooked since! The Muppets! Fantastic!

7) Happy Christmas (War Is Over) – Neil Diamond
I love Neil Diamond – not quite sure why. Here he is killing a Lennon classic. Enjoy!

8) Merry Xmas Everybody – Slade
Let's face it, no Christmas album is complete without this Slade classic. Greatest Christmas song ever? It's right up there!

9) Saviour's Day – Cliff Richard
Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas without a bit of Cliff.

10) I Know What You Want For Christmas (But I Don't Know How to Wrap It) - Kay Martin & Her Body Guards
I found this on the internet. Delightfully risque for it's time. Full of dodgy innuendo and sung by a pin-up. I reckon this might be the best track on this record!

11) Back Door Santa - B.B. King & John Popper
Sticking with the innuendo theme, here's B.B. King delivering blues in the only way B. B. King can. Fantastic stuff!

12) Peace On Earth / Little Drummer Boy – David Bowie & Bing Crosby
A Christmas classic and so bizarre. I suspect Bing Crosby was doing what his people told him and Bowie, well, Bowie probably didn't have a clue what he was doing.

13) Jingle Bells - Julie Andrews & Andre Previn
An exquisite rendition of a popular classic. Let's face it, no one is going to mess with Dame Julie – and here she seems to be teaching us all how to sing properly.

14) Oichie Chiun (Silent Night) – Enya
I heard this for the first time in the Oxford Street HMV last year. It's beautiful. It's a nice way to conclude this record.