Like many things on my 36 before 36 list, I really couldn’t tell you why I wanted to make mince pies. Perhaps it was the girl in my old office you used to bring in delicious home made mince pies every Christmas. Or perhaps I just haven’t been that impressed with the supermarket offerings in recent years, which leave a fatty coating in my mouth. Or perhaps I just wanted the satisfaction of making my own.
Do you know how long it takes to make mince pies? Three days. Minimum. Unless you buy a jar of mincemeat. But no. I had to make mine from scratch. Fortunately, Frugal Feeding has a wonderful recipe for mincemeat, which I went with. I was slightly sceptical about the inclusion of an apple, but the finished product tasted delicious and smelled just like Christmas. Note to self: Make sure container lid is properly sealed when shaking mincemeat.
Frugal Feeding also has a recipe for shortcrust pastry which, going through a gluten-free phase at the time, I didn’t go with. Big mistake. I am not going to link to the pastry recipe I used because it really didn’t work for me. It didn’t roll out well and came out very hard and brittle. It may just have been me – I am not known for my pastry making skillz.
Despite the rock hard pastry, I would definitely like to try making mince pies again. If anyone has a foolproof shortcrust pastry recipe, please let me know. Also, does anyone have any suggestions for using up leftover mincemeat?
I’ve spent the past week cleaning the house. This means that everything has been dusted, polished, scrubbed, vacuumed, mopped, laundered, ironed or just put away. It also means that drawers and cupboards are full to bursting and can’t be opened for fear of having items lunge out at you. I hope that I will be able to keep the place clean as I slowly go through every drawer, cupboard and box looking for things to “release”. It’s gonna be a big job; I’ve got 300kg to find.
Now that that’s all done, it feels like 2012 is really over. (Yes, I know it’s been a few days.) With that in mind, here’s my usual ruminations on the year that was.
1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?
Cooked asparagus, touched an elephant, made pasta, segmented an orange, made ice cream, dined at a Michelin starred restaurant, rowed on the Thames, made meatballs (so many, many meatballs) and cooked with buttermilk.
2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I didn’t make any last year. This year I plan to get 300 hours of exercise, throw away 300kg of stuff and have 30 “meetings”.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Naomi had a daughter.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
Unfortunately, Eugene passed away. He still owed me a beer.
5. What countries did you visit?
The Maldives, Thailand and France.
6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
A clean flat and a new job.
7. What date from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
The day before my birthday, wandering around Paris, window shopping, actually using my French and eating glorious food. Apart from the celery mousse for dessert.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Completing the Bikram 30 day challenge.
9. What event made you stronger?
Completing the Bikram 30 day challenge.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
A sprained ankle, a few minor colds and one big one.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
Flip flops, aviator sunglasses and a blender.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
14. Where did most of your money go?
Groceries and bills.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Touching an elephant!
16. What song will always remind you of 2012?
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? Happier.
ii. thinner or fatter? Thinner.
iii. richer or poorer? Poorer.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Getting out of the house.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Watching TV and stressing about exams.
20. How did you spend Christmas?
I spent it with my husband, cooking a goat and catching up on episodes of University Challenge.
21. How many one-night stands?
Zilch. I think I need a new question here…
22. What was your favorite TV program?
So hard to choose. I can’t decide between Community and Revenge.
23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
24. What was the best book you read?
Fiction – All quiet on the western front by Erich Maria Remarque
Non-Fiction – Let’s pretend this never happened by Jenny Lawson
25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
This YouTube video
26. What did you want and get?
Time to myself.
27. What was your favourite film of this year?
Probably The Avengers
28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 35. I went to Paris and ate way too much food.
29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
A bit more self-confidence.
30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?
Exactly the same as last year. I am still sorely in need of a makeover.
31. What kept you sane?
32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Louis Smith was pretty nifty.
32. What political issue stirred you the most?
I kept right out of politics.
33. Who did you miss?
My family and friends.
34. Who was the best new person you met?
35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012:
Always have two feet on the floor before getting out of bed.
36. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
“Something has changed within me
Something is not the same
I’m through with playing by the rules
Of someone else’s game
Too late for second-guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It’s time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes: and leap!”
Photo found here.
Ooooh, it’s a metaphor!
And so, like probably tens of thousands of other people, I am starting this year with a new blog. With my own domain, no less.
Last year was a quiet year for me; one of solitude, contemplation and reflection. And while that was just what I needed, I think I need a complete change for 2013.
Borrowing an idea from Meg, I’ve chosen three words that I hope will carry me through the year and remind me of my intentions at this point.
I’ve become somewhat disconnected from my body. The last several years have focused on studying and my body has just become something to carry my head around. With any luck, the studying will ease up this year and I can instead direct my energies towards getting my body moving and making it strong and flexible. With that in mind, my SMART target for the year is to get 300 hours of exercise.
In 2012 I met up with people fewer than ten times. Not great. I really want this year to be about connecting with people. Meeting new people, catching up with friends and family, making new friends, renewing old acquaintances, and discovering new family members. As an introvert, this is probably going to be very hard for me, but my SMART target for this year is to have 30 “meetings”. Odd choice of word, I know, but if you can come up with a single word that encompasses family get-togethers, morning tea with friends, cocktails with the girls, dinners with colleagues and networking events, then I’m all ears.
When I came to the UK, I had one suitcase and a backpack. Now I have an entire flat full of klumpf (my grandfather’s word) and a house move takes weeks. And like everyone else, I have my own emotional baggage. I really want this year to be about letting go of everything that is no longer needed in my life whether that’s grudges or ten year old gas bills. My SMART target for this year is to get rid of 300kg of “stuff” that I don’t need any more or serves no useful purpose. It will be donated, re-gifted, recycled, upcycled, used up, sold or just plain thrown out. Whatever, it just won’t be *here* cluttering my life any more.
Mostly, I’m planning to make some big changes in my life and hopefully, the above caterpillar will be a butterfly by the end of the year. Please wish me luck!
Photo courtesy Aussiegall