Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Seinfeld Finale Night

As I know I’ve mentioned ten million times before, and will keep on mentioning until it is no longer reality, we move a lot. It could be pretty easy to give in to the stress and frustration of that, but we prefer to take it as an adventure. This requires a fair bit of effort, but what’s the point of living if you’re not living, you know?

Anyway, one of our secrets to happiness is to always look for a way to include fun adventures in our life. Having to move to yet another new city? Time to buy a guidebook and set out exploring (that’s my way), or just go for a long afternoon wander (that’s David’s way). Spending too much time working on separate projects? Share some articles or books with each other and then have a coffee date to discuss them. Forced to spend months apart? Share dinner dates over Skype. These are all things we’ve done in the past and they help. A lot.

David requested that I blog about one thing we did recently. We’re short on funds and can’t easily get a babysitter, so our lives revolve around reinventing the night-in. In the midst of Thesis Madness, David suggested that we watch Seinfeld from start to finish, all nine seasons. He purposefully never watched the finale when it aired years ago, because he wanted to save it as a treat for one vague future day. So I upped the suggestion by saying we make an actual Seinfeld Finale party night, since we weren’t together for the finale when it aired.

We both love pizza so the obvious solution was to have a pizza party. We spent a few weeks (ok, months), discussing topping options. This is the poor-man’s foodie art form, along with the burger, right?

We eventually settled on Spanish and seafood inspired pizzas. I made the sauce from scratch, because we wanted something that packed a spicy punch. Then it was time to load ‘em up. Our Spanish one sported chorizo, black olives, peppers, tomatoes, goat cheese, red onions & ‘mild’ cheese (similar to North American cheapo mozza). The seafood one had mussels, shrimp, spinach, mushrooms (on my half), mozza (the good kind), and more of the cheapo cheese. Verdict: delicious. Washed ‘em down with a bottle of red wine.

Homemade spicy sauce!
David used his mad chopping skillz
awkward selfie of the cooks (Walter was a taste-sampler)
Oven-ready, aside from the final dose of cheese
Seafood Pizza
Spanish Pizza
 It’s the little things like this that keep our sanity.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

English Christmas (in England!), 2013

So... Christmas! Or, as I’ve been calling it in my head, The Year We Wanted to Go Home but Couldn’t So I tried Extra Hard to Make things Nice. David tells me that I succeeded, which is great because it means my title isn’t a total waste of brain space.

This was our fourth English Christmas, but it did not contain the following things which I’ve associated with English Christmas: Clare College Advent Service, Clare College Christmas Formal, M.R. James’ Ghost Stories at the Leper Chapel, Christmas Dinner with my work team, and Christmas week hijinks at the office. All of these things were missed but most of them would’ve been impossible with the two babies anyway.

For something completely new, we got to attend the Ely Lights Switch-On. That should be fairly self explanatory. Market Square was absolutely packed with stalls and people, there was a big stage where various performers blared bad music (we are so not down with what kids these days are listening to), and the air was full of Christmas cheer. We shared a bag of roasted chestnuts, with Walter joining in on the action, and eventually fought our way to a nice bit of ground to await the countdown. Then the city lit up with Christmas lights and it was beautiful and magical and actually really special to feel part of the community.

Eating his chestnuts

Their Santa Hats from Baba arrived that evening
Our Christmas Pudding!
David really wanted an Advent Wreath, so on the first Sunday of Advent we walked home via the fens and gathered some winter greenery which I then wove into a wreath. I’m so glad that we did this, because it’s one of the first Catholic things we’ve done that Walter has shown interest in. He wanted the candles lit every evening, with supper, and he’d remind me to use the prayer book if I forgot. We caught him trying to cross himself a couple of times as well.

We once again did the tree decorating on the Gaudete Sunday week of Advent. This year Walter was old enough to help, which mostly consisted of him appropriating the Christmas tree box as his new most favourite toy. To save money I handmade most of the decorations and it actually turned out better than I thought. In England people like to hang bright, foil-wrapped chocolates on their trees so we went that route because it made more sense to pay for edible decorations than for ones we’d toss out.

Ended the evening with Christmas baking, of course!
Instead of supper out, we had our pub outing for lunch on Christmas Eve. Then we made ourselves brave and woke the sleeping babies in time for the 11:30pm Carol Service at our church, followed by Midnight Mass. It was funny being out in the middle of the night with the double buggy, all of us dressed respectably for church, and walking past the long bar lineups and the police vans in downtown Ely. When we got home it seemed that Santa had dropped off a couple small packages for the children, although Walter was mostly interested in stacking them and Emily had no idea why we wanted her to rip paper.

We all got to bed at around 2am, but at least the kids didn’t want to wake up until closer to 9. And they’re too little to understand about presents and Christmas morning, so we were able to take things at our leisure. It was a lovely day, with lots of talking to family, and relaxing, and no heavy cooking. Both kids were a bit out of sorts, wanting long naps, so it meant that David and I had a fairly easy time of it once we got them to sleep. Our special gifts for them this year were ikons from the Ely Cathedral Shop: St George & the Dragon for Walter and the Old Testament Trinity for Emily. We wanted them to have something that they could keep for years to come, especially as they are too little to know that we are short changing them on the toy front!

Trying to eat his new cutlery set

We saved our big Christmas dinner for Boxing Day, because cooking a big meal for the whole family with two kids is an epic undertaking. The cooking was mostly stress-free and we ended up enjoying a lovely meal together, right before Walter's bedtime.