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Saturday 31 December 2016

Party Tips

Before I ramble, I'd like to thank you, dear readers, for popping today and during the 11 months I've been Pouting.  
I appreciate the time you spare to visit and the absolute pleasure you give me when you've popped in, and when you follow me or leave a comment - it warms my heart and spurs me on as a blog can be a lonely place :-(.   
The friendships made have been a surprise bonus.  
I am humbled by your support. 
I wish you all a wonderful night tonight, wherever you are and whatever you're doing, and I wish you and yours a happy and healthy year ahead. 

Our recent Christmas Gathering of The Clan was held at Chez Pout.
I'd like to share my preps for the party with you, dear reader.
But before that, let's get the outfit out the way.

I went for total comfort.  A black jersey Rohan maxi vest dress.  Oh how I have worn this dress over the years.  It can go just about anywhere, dressed up, down ... or even sideways!

As it was a fun day, I accessorised with fun necklace and bracelet.  Both made of wood.  Both painted in multi-colours.  Both given to me as souvenirs from exotic places. 
I wear these pieces soooo much, like when we first met here!

But the party was pre-antibiotics, so I covered my neck snuggly with my dependable Zara leoprint scarf.  I think I've made up the word leoprint, BTW.  I hope so.  I think I can safely add that to my "jacardi" in the Pout Dictionary of Words That Should Exist.  But Don't.
Finally, keeping it real and yet in perfect context with the outfit, just a sneak of leoprint pompomed slippers below hemline :-).

And thus, our Pout is ready to party.

Fire lit and coloured lights a-flashing. Front lounge is ready to party.  Hyggeligt, ikke?

Kitchen ready for baking action.

Lemons ready to slide into G&Ts.

Hot drinks area ready for guests to help themselves, as and when

Chairs in place for ladies to place their handbags, a la towels on a poolside sun bed.  Really.  This actually happened.  I wish I'd taken a shot of all the bags positioned on the chairs, "claiming" their spots!

Crisps and nuts dotted around the mingling areas.

Candles lit.

Pout decorated with tinsel by granddaughter, done.

Photographer, as above, done.

Christmas light in its new home :-).
Photographer working on his crossword until the very second the first guests arrived!

Yes, Chez Pout is ready to party!

We had an absolutely wonderful time.  The children had a whale of a time!
It's so nice to see the generations together.  I'm now the eldest.  Ugh!  But it's better than the alternative, eh?

The party was a drinks and nibbles party.  And from it I have three top tips that I would like to share.  They are serious tips.  Don't expect anything witty.  They are sensible tips which may help you when hosting something similar.  Or you may already do these things and I am just incredibly slow to twig!

1.  When serving bought-in frozen party nibbles, take them out of the freezer, cook and serve in batches of one or two differents sorts at a time.  This means that you can gauge what's being eaten and you can stop when it looks like your guests are sated.  Thus, no waste.

2. Use paper plates and cups.  I usually shun them but I tried it this year and used "real" stuff just for serving dishes and wine.  This so worked.

3.  Make your own sausage rolls, with lots of added tastiness.  You get lots of compliments, they all get eaten up = empty plates!

Following those three basic steps, clearing up after everyone left was a doddle.  Just the glasses to wash up (the next day), the serving dishes bunged in the dishwasher and no food to pack up and struggle to find a place for in the fridge.  Simples or what?!

Sis offered to help clear up - I thanked her but told her we'd sort if out.  I am so relieved that I did.  Because having followed steps 1-3, clearing up was but a few moments' work.  It would have been embarrassing having got Sis to help out with such a quick task!

So what about you?  Have you been hosting any parties?  Do you have any time-saving tips to share?

And with this little offering, I thank you for popping in today and bid you
A la perchoine, in 2017!


Friday 30 December 2016

How To Get Your Way

OK, let's set the scene.  I recently let it slip here that I didn't like a particular light display positioned over the fireplace mirror.  I wanted to it moved. The Photographer didn't.
So here's how I got my way.  By cunning.  By stealth.

I've had a mirror sitting in my shed for a few years.  It came from my Gran's old house.  I had fond childhood memories of it.  When we were selling the house, I discovered that nobody felt as emotionally attached to it as I did, so I unscrewed it and it went home with me. 
And it sat patiently in the shed for maybe 5 years.  Waiting to come indoors. I always meant to tidy it up and instal it somewhere in the house, but other stuff always seemed to get in the way. 

The Christmas Lights Affair was just the impetus I needed.
Whilst The Photographer was at golf last week, I cleaned up the mirror and brought it indoors.  The rest is history. 

For it is now installed over the fireplace. 

The Photographer liked it there.  He even liked its "shabby chicness" and suggested that I don't touch up the artwork.  Leave it as it is.  As it was, when it left Gran's house.

And The Photographer even agreed that Christmas Lights on this lovely piece would look just awful.

So the Christmas light fitting has been moved to a window in the back lounge.

And that, my dears, is a master class in How To Get Your Way.  You're welcome!

A la perchoine.

Thursday 29 December 2016

Faking the Faux

Hi to everyone out there.  I hope you've had a lovely Christmas break.
Having spent what seems like an eternity on paracetamol spiced up occasionally with Lemsip or the odd glass of wine :-) in my battle against this fluey cold and all its variances, I finally succumbed yesterday to antibiotics when sinuses and related eye issues became just too much for this old Pout to deal with.  And already today I am feeling so much better.

So just when it seems I'm saying goodbye to December's nasty lurgy and it seems safe to go back in the water, what happens today? 
I appear to be growing a bunion.  Or I have gout. Even just a walk around Town this morning aggrevated the toe area.  It prevented me going for an afternoon walk. 
And the day is absolutely gorgeous.  Bummer. 

So let's do some sedentary stuff.  OOTDs.  And Challenges.

The ever-lovely, ever-funny Anna from Mutton Years came up with her faux fur gillet substitution here, the idea being that rather than wasting money on a short-lived fur gillet fashion item, one can give it a nod by "shopping one's wardrobe" for furry scarves.  Wishing to save my Pensioner Pounds, I jumped at the idea.  I raided my cloakroom scarf basket.

Together with a Monsoon fawn cable dress, brown opaques and Gabor knee boots, I tried a brown faux fur windey scarf. 
I liked this look - it balanced the outfit nicely and it felt very cosy.  It gave me the required hint of furry gillet.

Then I tried a leopard print faux fur. 
Didn't like this.  Too small.  It looks inconsequential and I look bottom-heavy.  And it didn't quite cover all of the flesh around the neckline.  So definitely not a keeper look.

And then I got side-tracked.  I usually do.
A cosy faux fur hat.  I've worn this a few times when out walking recently in my fluey cold haze.

Then I switched to my dependable Zara leo-print.  Well, it's faux, but without the fur bit.
I donned an aubergine velvet hat.  Another hat I've had good use of over the years.

Then leaping out of the basket came a leather cap.  "Pleez geev me a go" it pleaded, for it is a French-style cap.  I must have bought this about 20 years ago and haven't worn it.  Never.  Ever. 

It looks so wrong on my head.  But I gave it a try-out.  Which I probably do every winter.  Just the once.  Could I grow to like it?  I don't think so.  Will I throw it out?  Non!

You can just imagine how much The Photographer enjoyed my dalliance.  My fun excursion with hats.  Oh how I digress!  But getting back to the matter in hand, let's talk faux fur some more.  Anna has certainly got me on a mission with this faux fur gillet substitution.  The idea being that it gives a nod to the FFG, without spending good money on a fleeting fashion.

So when dressing for my family party the previous day, I had also tried this black fur (faux) collar with my Rohan jersey maxi vest dress.  I think this look is quite Downton Abbey.  High Fashion, circa 1910-1920.  I think it would look quite nice with a fitted hip-length jacket. And that can be arranged, but we can have fun with that another day.

So where did I end up?  What did I wear when I left Chez Pout? The scarf in the top pic, of course.  And none of the hats. 
Thank you, Anna.

Doing these challenges gets me to try putting things together that I haven't thought of before.  Sometimes it works (picture 1) and sometimes it doesn't (most of the other pics). 
What do you think?  And, what does Anna think?

A la perchoine.

Monday 26 December 2016

Boxing Day Check-in

Hope you've had a lovely Christmas and Boxing Day!
My Christmas Day with the family was bloomin' marvellous. 

Boxing Day today has been low-key.  I enjoyed a bit of fresh air this morning (lovely day) which shook out a few festive cobwebs, only to return home to hear that George Michael had passed away.  It's been that sort of year.

The day progressed with some audio book listening, a.k.a.  a sneaky  traditional nap to recharge the batteries and culminated in a satisfying surge of sausage roll making.   Yes, that surprised me too!  But, I needed to cross at least one thing off my To Do List for tomorrow's gathering of the clan at Chez Pout and I don't know about your gatherings but ours are usually underpinned by a blast of baking.  So, sausage roll platter - done.  I'll leave the rest of the catering to m&s !

But the day was otherwise chilled as returning cold symptoms restricted us to doing only what was absolutely necessary.
So, no photos!

Does that sound pretty much like how your Boxing Day has panned out?
Or have you been doing much more glam things?

A la perchoine.

Saturday 24 December 2016

Greetings From The Pout

And finally, it's here!  Wishing you all a happy and cosy Christmas Eve.

Humming along to Bing's White Christmas as I make a mushroom duxelle and crepes ready for our Beef Wellington tomorrow.  Yes, I know, revolutionary or what?! 
It was a family decision to swap turkey for beef this year. 
But then we panicked.  There'd be no leftovers for sarnies on Boxing Day.  So, The Photographer and I are having roast turkey this evening. 
Come to think of it, that makes us a bit European tonight, eating a festive meal on Christmas Eve ... but we will definitely not be prancing around the Christmas tree singing songs after supper like the Danes do, that's for sure!!  Sofas and a corny movie for us oldies.

 Have a nice evening.
A la perchoine.

Friday 23 December 2016

Lady Wot Lunches Done Wintry

Hello and Merry Christmas Eve Eve to you!
I'm pleased to say that we haven't seen Storm Barbara around these parts.
With commiserations to any Scottish or N. Ireland readers who have taken a pounding today, dusk is looking pretty good from where I'm sitting.  At my desk.

And swivelling around I can see my lit-up olive tree.  Looking calm and still.

Then another swivellette and I can just about spy the motionless pergola lights.

This was my view this morning from the front lounge.  An empty field.  No horses in there it yet but they are coming.  But for now, all is still.  No prancing.  No cantering.  All is quiet.

So let's move on to my lunch with The Boys at the golf club.

I dressed in a Lady Wot Lunches sort of outfit. 

Following the "summer stuff in winter" theme that's been buzzing in my head, I dug out from the archives a thin Per Una skirt which I had previously thought of as a summer skirt.  But actually, it has autumn colours (brown and khaki) and hey, it works done wintry.  With my khaki M&S military-style cardi (also an archive item) and Dotty P top, now done twinset-style and teamed with my brown Gabor boots,  I have created wintry.  Hey presto, I now have a winter poshish outfit from things I had long since abandoned because, in the past, I simply didn't know what to do with them.  Now I do.

And there we have it.  For those who have a nano second free at this busy time to think about challenges, how about these?
 Summer skirt worn wintry. 
Khaki with brown. 
Re-discover things that previously you didn't quite know what to do with. 
Fancy trying?

Wishing you cosy times with loved ones.
A la perchoine.

Thursday 22 December 2016

Drinks With The Neighbours

To Do Lists.  Why do we do it to ourselves?  Christmas preps.  Getting together for just a few days, with food a little more fancy than normal, with the house tarted up a tad, oh and some presents too.  Not a huge deal, really, eh?  But each year I live by lists from some time in November through to the end of the year.  Terrified of forgetting something.   Why do I beat myself up over this?

Oh, maybe its because about 20 years ago I forgot to buy my brother in law's present (garden spade, permanently etched in Pout Memory).  It only dawned on me as we were sharing presents on the day itself.  I looked around for his awkward-shaped parcel.  No where.  Then it dawned on me. 
I didn't buy !!  It was a sort of Home Alone "Kevin!!!!!!!!" moment.
Since then, my Christmas preps are planned, documented and with a 4-eyes control process to ensure that The Bad Thing I did back in the day will never ever be repeated.

As I sit here typing, I spy to my left a spiral-bound battle-worn notepad in which currently I have at least half a dozen lists going on simultaneously.  Presents.  Christmas meal (and I am only preparing one dish!).  Drinks with Neighbours.  Family get together.  House preps.  Catering menus. Oh, it goes on and on.  And somewhere on one of the many lists is an entry "write blog post". 
See the system works.  For that is what I am doing right now!!

But I do love Christmas and I love the lovely times spent with family.  So, wind your neck in, Pout, and stop your ramblings!!!

What's not to love about this time of year.  Lots of nice things happening.  Like our annual Christmas drinks with the neighbours.  I have to admit I was still feeling washed out by this fluey cold on Tuesday, the day of our drinks party.  This fluey cold thing comes and goes. 
But needs must and I snapped myself into action and managed to organise nibbles and (delegate) drinks.  And despite The Photographer telling me I looked as white as a sheet an hour before they arrived, somehow 10 minutes in the bathroom and a change of outfit did wonders.  I think. 

And then I was ready.  Quick check around the house.

 Candles lit.

Plethora of festive lighting in the front lounge.
I say plethora as I do not like the juxtaposition of those two light displays.  I want to remove one.  The Photographer can't understand why I would want to do this.  Big debates at Chez Pout!

Gilded reindeers casually draped with glass beading.

The Photographer nonchalantly crosswording next to my (small) Christmas tree.

I tried to get a pic of the loads of flashing lights out in the garden. (Another plethora, but in a nice way).   I failed.

But, importantly, the Nibbles were ready.  I was ready.

And so I enjoyed a quiet glass of wine before the neighbours arrived, pleased with my work.
I just love this time before a party.  A sense of achievement pervades my every nerve ending.

But in my dash to make house and me presentable, I forgot to take an OOTD pic.  So I tried a selfie.  

I failed again.

So (and you'll have to trust me on this one), under that snug scarf I wore something remarkably similar to the outfit I wore for my last home-entertaining here, the only subtle difference being a change of necklace.  I wanted something a little more colourful, festive.  I chose the necklace worn for my-first-time with you. 11 months ago.  Where has that time gone?

I had a nice evening.  I hope you are enjoying a nice evening right now, whether it be cosying up or out having fun out and about.  Whatever you are doing, just relax and forget about those To Do Lists. Even just for a few hours!

A la perchoine.

Monday 19 December 2016

My (small) Christmas Tree

Hi maties.  I'll dive straight into today's subject.  Christmas trees.  Specifically the Pout Manor tree.
It's small.
We usually buy a large tree but this year we (rashly) decided to try a little one in a tub, one that we can plant out after Christmas.  And hopefully dig up year after year - I did tell you I was tight, eh?!!

But as soon as the tree arrived I knew it was, well, not The One.  It was small.  And maybe it is really all about size with Christmas trees. 
I remember one year as a child when money must have been exceptionally tight because we had no tree.  Then on Christmas Eve, Dad went out and cut a branch from a very large fir tree.  It was a very big branch and so it really was, in effect, a Christmas Tree. We decorated it and I loved it. Even that "tree" was large.  Tree 2016 is not. 

I have tried to love it with each day that it sat in its (little) pot on the patio.  From Day 1 I wanted to rush out and buy a "proper" tree.  But The Photographer told me to ignore my knee-jerk reaction, I just need to calm down. Give myself some time to love it.  Live with it for this one year.  If it doesn't work out, then next year we'll go big again.  He offered to feed it Baby Bio.  
I acquiesced.

We installed the tree indoors a few days ago.  The Baby Bio hasn't worked.  It's still small.  Despite standing it on a little chest.
But I put my negative thoughts behind me and allowed it to be draped with lights in readiness for the ceremonial dressing of the tree the next day.
(And look, even its spin doctor has turned his back on it!).

Obviously it couldn't take the full complement of decorations I've collected over the years.  So I made an executive decision.  This year, the tree will be decorated with just the "kiddy" decorations.

A little helper came round to help me decorate it.  It's been a little tradition we've had ever since I felt she could be trusted with delicate glass balls.  She's become a deft and artistic
Co-Decorator of the Christmas Tree.

And so we piled on the decorations on to the (small) tree .  It took all of 5 minutes :-).

Bird of Joy.  I have three of these little birds with red, pink and blue patterned wings and beady eyes.  They have to go on the tree, no matter what its size.

Some ten years ago I made more than 70 of these and sent them as Christmas cards.  It was the work of many evenings (evenings, as I was working at the time).  A recipient called it The Bird of Joy.  She puts it on her tree each year.  I hope at least some of the recipients have since kept theirs as tree decorations, for that was my hope. 

It dawned on me as we decorated that, over the years, I have built up a definite bird theme. Without intending to.  It must have been subliminally started by The Bird of Joy.

Some treasured decorations have been hand-made by friends, which I've received as gifts.


And a shoe. A girl has to have a token shoe hanging on her tree.  This is Cinderella's glass slipper.

And so the tree was decorated.  Lots of presents now sit around its base.  
And it's still small.

Whilst my little helper and I decorated the tree, The Photographer was Building A Little Birdhouse in his Soul - well, out in the garden, actually, with another little helper.   OK, that was all lyrical license, the birdhouse was already built; they were topping it up with seed and nuts and hanging a few feeders inside the pergola.  His little helper is becoming very keen on nature.

The weather is very mild and sunny at the moment.  Expect all that to change on Wednesday.  Gales forecast.  Batten down the hatches.  Or at least the garden furniture. And the bird table.

So, (small) tree, decorated.  Birds, fed.  Now what about me?

When shopping for tinsel at the nearby garden centre, we treated ourselves to lunch. 

And then we checked out the ice rink set up in the centre.

No, that figure is not me.   There is no shot of The Pout skating expertly on the rink.  Ain't gonna happen.  My first (and probably only) attempt at skating was at The Rockerfeller Centre in New York, a Christmastime family holiday some years ago. V. embarrassing story.  I think I'd have more success keeping upright in the (small) tree's glass slipper than I would on a pair of skates!

A la perchoine.