Only two days to go. I don't know why Christmas seems to consist of carrying long lists in my head of things to be done, especially when there are only two of us, but I have been busy for what feels like weeks sorting things out, so no sewing. As all our family live in other parts of the country the schedule is set by Posting Dates although it is not as bad as the days when we had to send things to New Zealand. T hen when I had a sister living abroad we used to swop presents when they were home in the summer. In 1999 they delivered two lovely Zimbabwean bowls in August which then went through our house fire in November! Fortunately the firemen rescued them and we have used them almost every day since we opened the presents that Christmas. Now I find myself reeling at the price of postage but tell myself it is cheaper than petrol for driving elsewhere. And yes, I do buy most things on-line but sometimes, like the calendars we give brothers-in-law, they have to be sent here first. I have also got heavily into e-cards this year which is much cheaper and means I do not have to get to the post office as this is becoming a bit of a problem because of no longer driving.
The second challenge is the gluten free cooking. The situation is compounded by the fact my husband does not eat meat in any shape or form and I am allergic to fish unless it is smoked. So pure vegetarian it has to be. Last year's choice of main course did not work very well and this morning my husband remarked that the menu seemed to be going round in circles! I think it is sorted. I bought a gluten free pudding at vast expense via Amazon. (The first year I made one but you end up with several puddings and most of the gluten free puddings in the shops are big enough for one tiny helping. I have always been very fond of Christmas pudding.) Mince pies are not a problem as I have been able to adapt the popular pastry with orange by adding the orange juice to the egg that you are supposed to use for gluten free pastry.
Cake I buy from Marks and Spencer (not sure I am allowed to give them a plug on a blog!). Traditionally our Christmas has always had a distinctive Italian touch to it as that is where we were living when we met. I have given up on panetone as it is complicated to make and I used to end up eating most of it myself. However, this year I have had a go at gluten free panforte. There is a small shop here which sells all sorts of crystalized fruit so that was not a problem. Whether we will be able to cut it is another matter. Last year I made one from a recipe that contained chocolate and it was so hard I feared for my teeth.
So that's the food dealt with.
We have a had couple of little problems this year. First my ice cream machine decided to die last week. I have not attempted to replace it yet because we can only fit a small 'bomb' in our freezer. Bought ice cream often contains gluten and as a New Zealander I am an ice-cream snob so don't like most commercially produced brands. We will live without it this year.
Our other problem is related to the tree. We are rather Continental about this ritual and generally decorate it while listening to the Kings College Cambridge carol service on Christmas Eve. But we know that English people buy their trees well in advance as in the days when we used to drive down here for Christmas, there were often none left by the time we got here. I learnt to order them over the phone. So now we buy it in advance and store it in the greenhouse. Fine, but yesterday when we got the decorations out of the roof, there was no lametta and no Christmas tree stand! It may be a lametta less Christmas but some friends have offered us some of theirs. The Christmas tree stand was more of a problem. We think some of the workmen who have been in our roof this year have moved it to a part where we cannot reach it (it is a very confined roof space) so we had to buy a new one. Luckily the nearest garden centre still had some but then we found that the tree was too big for it. So this is what my husband had to do this morning:
Having lost some of its trunk it is now up in the conservatory although still not stable.
The cats were very annoyed that they were not allowed into the garden to witness the tree alterations but they are more or less indoor cats and it was almost raining.
I have updated the photos on my Facebook page to ones with a Christmas feel. Joining Facebook has put me in touch with a lot of my quilting friends again so has been well worth it.
And,finally, I have decided it is time we 'retired' the quilted decorations. Like most quilters I have an assortment of wall hangings and table mats which used to come out each year. However, finding places to hang things in this house is difficult. They seem like a symbol of quilting times past, so they are staying in the suitcase where they live. So I think that is Christmas sorted for another year. I hope you all have a good one.