The World According to Izzie

Mum of twin teens - nothing else scares me!

Friday, 19 December 2014

Christmas by Olivia

Olivia's been home for just over a week now and I couldn't be happier. She graces the house with her own inimitable style and has thrown herself back into family life. 

She's been making the most of home cooking and we've made cookies together. It's fair to say that we're both pretty clueless in the kitchen and my eldest daughter's a little distracted with some tight deadlines looming at the start of next term, but I was rather surprised to be told, "Next, you add the ground almonds and raspberries."

"Really, I thought we were making pecan and cranberry cookies?"

"Oh drat," she said, "I'm following the recipe for bakewell tart." Fortunately, the cookies turned out OK in the end.

She's also been busy with the Christmas decorations and did this with the nativity set...

It's a bit weird, but I kind of like it. And, she's also sprinkled a bit of festive magic on the refrigerator...

Even the cat's joining in with the festive mayhem. Whenever she falls asleep, Olivia digs out her Santa hat. As always Kitty isn't impressed in the slightest....

Fortunately, the tree looks fairly normal, shame it's leaning slightly, I have my fingers crossed it will stay upright until the day after Boxing Day when I'll be looking for any excuse to take it down.

Olivia's thoughtfully offered to help her sister by eating the first 20 chocolates out of Sophia's advent calender before she arrives home at the weekend. We're collecting Sophia on Sunday and depending on the roads the journey can take anything between two to four and a half hours each way as we're completely at the mercy of the motorways and the M6 can be horrendous.

Olivia's opted to stay at home to work on her essays in bed until lunchtime and cook us a meal to come back to, which will be lovely. Here's hoping she can follow the recipe. Once Sophia's back, the Christmas celebrations will officially start. I can't wait to have both daughters home and enjoy the chaos for a couple of weeks. Christmas with older offspring has its own kind of magic.

And finally, here's a taste of what Sophia has to look forward to in her bedroom... after Olivia decided to explore up in the loft and re-discovered an entire box of stuff that I wasn't allowed to donate to charity earlier in the year...

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas.

And Happy Holidays to all of my blog readers from the US.

Until next time...

Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton

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Tuesday, 16 December 2014

What happens at ours...

With less than two weeks to go until Christmas Day, I thought I'd write a post about what happens in our house over the festive season...

I love Christmas Eve - the realisation that you can do no more makes for a peaceful and relaxing time at home. We usually go to the cinema to watch the latest festive offering and this puts everyone in a great mood for the holidays before the relatives come over and spoil everything, I'm kidding. Coming home after the film, downing a sherry (or two) and knowing that I no longer have to wait for my daughters to fall asleep as they're all grown up and the presents are already under the tree is bliss. After leaving sherry and a mince pie on the coffee table for Father Christmas and a sprinkling of carrots on the floor for the reindeer, chances are, Mr A and myself will be asleep before our daughters.

If the girls are out partying on Christmas Eve, I have no idea what time they'll make an appearance on Christmas morning. We never had any rules about what time they were allowed out of bed; but one year when they were little, it was just 4 am and as we'd only managed a couple of hours' sleep, Mr A and myself were shattered.

On Christmas morning Mr A will make a pot of tea, forage for the tin of biscuits I've been hiding and we'll wait for the girls to wake up and climb into our bed with their stockings... it's a bit of a squish now they're older. I'd never had a stocking before I met my husband and I love the randomness of what goes in there; for me, this is my favourite part of Christmas Day. It's traditional for the girls to have a small plastic animal in their stockings and even though they protest about it, I have a feeling they'd be upset if I no longer did this. After sneaking downstairs, we open the presents slowly while scoffing more biscuits and enjoying a fresh pot of tea. I always keep one present back for the girls to enjoy later on and it's always a surprise that they won't have asked for. Their gifts this year are mostly essential items required by students as they've really learnt to appreciate books and anything else that's required for uni. 

My dad's coming over for breakfast and I have no idea what's on the menu, but it'll most likely feature smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, pain au chocolat, croissants and Buck's Fizz. We're breaking with tradition and going to my sister-in-law's for dinner, we've never done this before, but Mr A's family are fabulous hosts and I can't wait to celebrate Christmas with them. We're all contributing something and we're taking dessert... I may have cheated ever so slightly and ordered one of those delicious chocolate praline cakes from M&S (see pic above). There will be other options too - I'm thinking strawberry and Prosecco trifle and maybe a Christmas pudding.

I always feel slightly nostalgic at this time of year and spare a thought for absent friends and relatives. It's not always a happy time for everyone and I think the festivities can stir all kinds of emotions that are best left alone.

On Boxing Day, we'll probably host something here. I tend to make most of my plans at the last minute and entertaining in our house is always pretty informal. Usually it involves lots of alcohol and huge optimism that guests will think that my cooking is passable.

Chances are that the celebrations will last from 21st December (the date Sophia comes home) all the way through till the 3rd January (the date Olivia plans to leave) as everyone will want to catch up with the girls before they vanish back to university for another term. I plan on making the most of my daughters' company for as long as possible.
How do you celebrate Christmas at yours?

Until next time...

Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton
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Friday, 12 December 2014

Collecting Olivia...

On Wednesday I caught the train into Birmingham to collect Olivia from the coach. I head to the station where there are no car park spaces to be had. After driving round three times I nip into a tiny space that isn't really a space at all. There's a queue at the ticket booth and the 10:25 comes and goes without me on it. I catch the 10:40 and arrive just in time to collect my daughter. I shower her with hugs and she's isn't happy - I do it anyway - it's weeks since I last held either of my daughters.

We head off to Birmingham Christmas Market and mingle with the crowds, resisting the temptation of gluhwein at lunchtime.

And opting for gingerbread instead...

We may have bought some of these to take home...

How gorgeous is this carousel?

Here's Olivia thinking about Christmas presents...

Next, we visit Selfridges, where I'm really rather taken with these cute bunnies....

And thinking that this would make an excellent gift for the Queen...

And finally, we stop to admire the twinkly lights before heading for home.

Olivia falls asleep on the train and as I watch my daughter sleep, I'm reminded of what it is to be a mum all over again. They will always be my babies no matter how old they are and I've tried to explain that someday, when they have a child of their own they will understand.

It's lovely to have one daughter home for the holidays, now all I need is the other one. Sadly, Sophia isn't coming home until 21st December... I can't wait.

Until next time...

Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton
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Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Oh Christmas Tree...

The annual family pilgrimage to find the perfect tree usually takes place a couple of weekends before Christmas. From experience we've learnt  to take both cars as the tree plus every member of the family are never going to fit into just the one.

As a child my father always refused to have a real tree in the house and so, as an act of defiance I've had one every single year since leaving home. Although I don't know why I insist on this, as I'm allergic and come out in hives after any contact. I love to watch the rest of the family decorating and all of the chaos that this entails.

Over the years though, we've had some spectacular Christmas tree mishaps...

There was the year we bought a tree when it was raining and had no choice but to leave it outside for a couple of days before dragging it into the house. It wasn't until the heating came on that we noticed a pungent scent that lingered on the lower floor of the house. After several days we concluded that the local tomcat must have doused the tree in cat pee. And sadly, the tree came down the day after Boxing Day as we were fed up with freezing in our own home in order to enjoy the tree without Eau de Tomcat.

For our daughters' first Christmas the tree was safe from inquisitive fingers as the girls were just 3 months old. They loved the twinkling lights and their baby blue eyes would stay fixated on them just as long as they could stay awake. On Christmas Day we had the family over and my aunt was holding Olivia and showing her the tree. As someone asked her a question she turned around and Olivia started to pout and cry. As soon as she turned back to the tree Olivia was all smiles and each time my aunt turned her around to see the relatives, Olivia would cry again. She was heard to tell my daughter... "I know baby, this tree is so much prettier, I'd much rather look at this too."

A couple of years later and we were preparing a festive dinner for friends. Our daughters were just 2-years old at the time and we'd had to barricade the tree behind a safety gate in the dining room. As the girls were resourceful enough to clamber over the gate we were being especially vigilant, but freaking out slightly in the kitchen as we were behind with the cooking. You know that feeling when you hear an unfamiliar sound and think only... "What the heck is that?" Well... food prep was suspended briefly by the sound of the tree keeling over and landing with a dull thud on the carpet. Fortunately both daughters appeared at the stair gate unscathed and proclaimed, "It's a mess Mummy." Our guests arrived to find the kitchen in complete chaos and the Christmas tree on the dining room floor.

Adding a family pet to the Christmas mayhem added a new set of challenges. Naturally when she was a kitten, she believed the tree was entirely for her benefit and would happily clamber all the way to the top sending baubles crashing to the floor. She'd have absolutely no idea what to do once she was up there and it was up to us to assist her descent. Now that she's older, the cat tends to leave the tree well alone, but she does have a habit of disappearing into the pile of presents and swiping off the ribbon and any bows.

Do you have any festive tree mishaps you'd like to add to the list?

Until next time....

Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton

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Friday, 5 December 2014

I Don't Know Why She Does It

Izzie's pretty tied up at the moment, (not literally) so she's asked me to jot down some mewsings and share them with you. As family pet in the Anderton house I see more than my fair share of strange behaviour and most of the time I have no idea what they're all up to. But right now, I'm wondering if anyone can explain why my owner human is even more insane than usual?

Here are a few examples of recent behaviour I've spotted while curled up on the sofa feigning sleep...

1. She returns home looking extremely knackered and carrying lots of bags.

2. She keeps wrapping the contents of these bags in brightly coloured paper and losing the end of the 'sodding tape,' her words, not mine. She isn't pleased when I chew the ends of the ribbon on any of her parcels and then swipe off the bows.

3. There is talk of a tree coming into the house in the not too distant future. I don't get why you would bring a real tree indoors, but in previous years I've seen this as a treat for yours truly, used it as a scratching post and reached the summit many times. A few baubles may have been sacrificed during my climbing expeditions - but it was so worth it.

4. The kitchen cupboards are so rammed I have a feeling we have a least ten people coming to stay for quite some time. I am plotting my escape.

5. My sisters will be home from university soon which can only mean one thing... trouble's brewing. She gets ridiculously excited about this and I'm happy to report that I receive slightly less attention as she lavishes affection on them as well as me. There's only so much love one cat can take. As I haven't seen any evidence of my cage making an appearance from the back of the shed, I'm optimistic they're not going on holiday and putting me in cat-jail.

6. Most evenings she can be spotted on the sofa scribbling in cards and licking envelopes... is this normal?

7. Yesterday afternoon she curled up on the sofa and watched one of those soppy Christmas movies. Personally I'd have preferred Fast and Furious anything, but as Mr A wasn't home there was no one around to help wrestle the remote off her. She may have sipped on a small rather large glass of something medicinal... I have no idea what was in there, but it seemed to cheer her up.

She's lucky I can't tell anyone what she gets up to. As for recent behaviour exhibited in the house I really have no idea why she does it. Can anyone enlighten me?

I know that it's going to be Christmas soon and here's hoping she remembered to buy a little something for me. In my recent letter to Santa Claws, I pointed out that I'd been exceptionally well-behaved this year and asked for an endless supply of tuna. If she buys me another pointless cat toy and a new collar, I'll be asking for the gift receipts and returning these the day after Boxing Day. I think these are the feline equivalents of socks and tea towels and you'd think that as I'm always losing collars while out on my daily constitutional would be a pretty good hint that actually, I hate wearing one. And while we're on the subject I'm supposed to like something called catnip... she can't smell it, but apparently it's supposed to make me go crazy. Seriously, why bother? Isn't there enough crazy going on already in my house?

Is any of the above going on in your home too?

Until next time, when I'm hoping that things might be back to normal... whatever that might be.

Copyright©2014 Kitty
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Tuesday, 2 December 2014

My Kind of Tree...

Having made an enthusiastic start on the Christmas shopping back in October, I was quietly optimistic that everything would be sussed before the onslaught of festive chaos. Although tempted by the possibility of having everything bought, wrapped and getting to sit smugly nibbling on dark chocolate gingers while sipping sherry in front of the fire for most of December, that option relied on two things...

1. Knowing what the heck to buy everyone in the first place and
2. Sustained effort and summoning the energy to actually go shopping.

This is what actually happened...

After two consecutive Saturdays of shopping in October, motivation was in short supply and my mind started to wander to more interesting thoughts instead. November saw me taking my eye off the prize and I was fooled into thinking that Christmas was actually celebrated sometime in January. Occasionally I'd pop something into the supermarket trolley and congratulate myself on being clever but on the whole, I was in denial. Oh and we also spent a relaxing week in Cornwall, where time was spent mostly on the beach in search of treasure...

And that is how it's December already and there's still much to shop for...

When everything starts to go pear-shaped, I drag Mr A along on extended shopping trips in the hope that he'll be more inspired than me and have some inclination as to what to buy everyone. Often he's just as clueless and after a couple of hours of uninspired shopping yesterday, we ended up in Bill's Restaurant in Worcester. I was quite taken with my Blueberry and Buttermilk Pancakes and amused by the fact that Bill's also sell sticks of rock... I was tempted by the possibility of hampers filled with summer goodies and thought it might make a change. Having beach combed in Cornwall for most of the previous week I have an assortment of shells and sea glass that would make tasteful decorations. I also asked Mr A if he'd make me one of the fabulous trees (below) that I spied in a shop window in Truro.

We arrived home with a few presents... mostly books, a diffuser and an unwelcome headache. Last night I spent most of the evening chained to the laptop. This time I'd actually written a list and managed to order several gifts online; naturally, there's one thing out of stock which is likely to stay that way until well after Santa's been. Although initially pleased with my efforts, since crossing each item off the list at least two more have been added for every one that's been purchased.

And what's the bet all of the parcels turn up while I'm not home?

Somehow Christmas will unfurl - it always does and if anyone's presents are going to be missing from under the tree they'll be mine. I'll have completely run out of steam and make plans to shop when the memory of all that shopping is in the dim and very distant past.

Don't you just love Christmas Eve when the shops are closed and you know you can do no more? For me, that's the most magical part of the holidays.

Meanwhile, do you think the shop where I spotted this would sell me their tree? I'm really rather taken with it...

Until next time...

Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton

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Friday, 28 November 2014

What's in a name?

The cat - aka Miss Nibbly
I spotted this week's writing prompt over at Post40Bloggers and couldn't resist sharing my thoughts as it's a great topic... 

Doesn't everyone dish out a nickname to their unborn foetus? Is this where the liberal sprinkling of alternative names begins

Having no idea what sex my twin babies might be, I spent considerable time perusing through the baby name books for inspiration. A combination of hormones and sleepless nights led to some pretty weird suggestions; but in the end we decided on names that were surprisingly normal compared to the assortment of nicknames both daughters have accumulated ever since. 

There are times when I wish I could call my nearest and dearest by their real names, but somehow I can't quite bring myself to do it. Calling someone by a pet name seems more affectionate somehow and it's never malicious. It does however drive both daughters completely insane and despite numerous requests to, 'Cut it out,' it's a habit I can't seem to break.  

In fact, if anyone in the house is referred to by their actual name this can mean only one of two things... 

1) We have company, or, 
2) They're in deep trouble.

Olivia answers to any one of the fifty or so names she has accumulated over the years - albeit with varying degrees of success now that she's twenty years old. 

Sophia doesn't have quite so many and I have no idea why this is. It's rare however, that she'll answer to any of them, which makes for rather one-sided conversation. Just occasionally, she'll forget and humour me with a reply - that makes me very happy indeed. 

My daughters' nicknames range from the sublime to the completely ridiculous and sadly, I'm banned from sharing any of them. I am however, happy to share a few of my own... 

'Dobby,' is one, as I'm always behind the scenes performing mundane tasks. I guess in the depths of domestic drudgery I have a lot in common with the infamous house-elf from the Harry Potter series and thanks go to Mr A for dishing this one out. For the record he's often referred to as 'Kreacher,' as he tackles his fair share of dull tasks around the house too.

Mr A also calls me 'Delia' - I'm always convinced that whatever's going on in the kitchen is completely under control, but sadly, nothing could be further from the truth. My husband finds this name especially hilarious as obviously the unflappable Ms. Smith's kitchen couldn't be more different from the one at the Anderton house.
Since watching Maleficent earlier this year, Sophia has been getting her own back and now refers to me as 'Beastie,' I'm guessing this isn't a compliment but as I've yet to see the film I'll reserve judgement.

Even the cat has nicknames although more often than not she won't answer to anything. 'Kip' is one of my names for her; this originates from the fact that she's sleeps rather a lot. Another is 'Miss Nibbly,' as she is partial to dishing out a swift nip whenever the mood takes her.

Is there a medical term for this affliction I wonder? Please tell me you do this too? 

Thanks to none other than Her- Mel-ness (also a nickname - who knew?!) for the inspiration behind this post.

Until next time...

Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton

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Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The Mum Meme

Thanks to the lovely Sarah from Mum of Three World  for tagging me in the Mum Meme. I love her inspired questions and hope that I've done them justice as I'm just back from holiday in Cornwall and haven't blogged for over a week.

Here goes…

What is the soundtrack to your life?

I'd probably choose What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong as it was released the year I was born and is one of the first songs I can remember listening to. I still think it's beautiful and often listen to it on my iPod. After my daughters were born this was the song that made me sob...

What has been your favourite holiday so far? 
Our holiday to New England in 2012 was one of the best family holidays ever. We spent two weeks flinging ourselves on and off public transport and visiting as many places as possible. It was awesome. Here are the relevant blogs if you'd like to read about it: Boston, Salem and Hyannis

Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
Hopefully growing old disgracefully as I'll officially be retired by then. Maybe I'll have a couple of grandkids and be able to share all of my daughters' childhood tales with them. I plan on kidnapping the grandchildren at least one day a week so that their mums (my daughters) can have the day off and hopefully stay more sane than I ever did while being a mum. Here's hoping we'll be living by the coast by then and that I'll still be writing, blogging and reading even more books than I do now.

What do you best remember about your grandparents?
I'm lucky enough to have a grandma who's still alive. Sadly, she suffers from dementia - but occasionally she has a good day and we get to reminisce about the past. She's been the matriarch in our family for as long as I can remember and always been there for everyone.

I'll always remember our shopping trips to Birmingham and holidays in Wales when I was little. They were happy, fun-filled days and created memories I'll always treasure. I like that Gran is still full of spirit on a good day and has a habit of perking up whenever my daughters pay a visit.

If you could go to space, would you do it?
I'm thinking yes - I probably would - if only to see how peaceful planet earth looks from space. Although I'm guessing I wouldn't appreciate the motion sickness I'd have to endure on the way up - as I suffer badly with vertigo.

Shoes or handbags?
I'm not fixated on either to be honest. I have one handbag I use most of the time and as it contains my entire life, I'd be completely flummoxed without it. If I switch over to another bag, I tend to panic that it won't contain all the c**p I need.

Shoes - obviously I have lots more of these, I particularly like Geox. So I guess I'll go for shoes.

What food couldn’t you live without?
I may have to change that to foods and yes, I know... that's cheating. I love dark chocolate, crunchy peanut butter and lettuce on wholemeal pitta bread, tiramisu and all summer fruits, except raspberries.  

And now all I need to do is come up with seven questions to ask the fabulous bloggers I'm nominating for this meme. These were the first things that popped into my frazzled brain...

Who was your first crush?

What were the last three things you bought?

What are you secretly hoping to find under the Christmas tree this year?

Where would you go on holiday if you could go anywhere in the world?

What are you reading at the moment?

What was the last concert you went to?

What were you like at school?

I’m tagging these four lovely bloggers:

Anya at Older Single Mum
Catherine at Always a Redhead
Sonya at The Ramblings of a Formerly Rock n Roll Mum
Ting at My Travel Monkey

and hoping that they'll take part.

Thanks to Sarah for nominating me.

Until next time...

 Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton
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