are the stars out tonight?

life and stuff


new year is invariably a let down. the hype that surrounds those twelve chimes is disproportionate to the amount of fun that anyone has. everyone gears up for the party of the year, but whatever you choose to do, by the time big ben's finished you're miserable and wishing you were somewhere else.

so this year, to avoid disappointment, i'm staying at home. i know it'll be a let down and come midnight i'll be miserable and wishing i was somewhere else, but i know that in advance, so i'll be able to prepare for it, with hot water bottles, good books and a cat.

it may seem bleak. but i know that it's not because i haven't been asked to go anywhere. it's purely my choice. and i'm pretty pleased with it.


yeah, so happy christmas to you my loyal band of followers readers i have had a cup of espresso and two or three glasses of champagne and not much to eat (a slice of bread and smoked salmon - it's like the bluddy workhouse here) so i may not be in the most sensible of moods.

presents are good and nice. thanks to those of you who gave/sent me things: stu for the last party - a book about britpop which looks seriously ace; gina sent me another lowry cross stitch, *yay*; and daniel-from-my-course gave me ziggy stardust on vinyl from these people, nothing says "i, like, totally heart you" like (as i like to call him).

as for family presents, i was particularly amused to recieve alex parks' album. this was amusing because of what sarah has been saying recently. at first i thought it was from my parents, which would have been serious, and maybe scary, a bit like if they bought me a rainbow flag for my bedroom, or suggested i shave my head. or something.
but actually it was from my little brother, who shares (maybe) my ironic appreciation of the cornish pixie's oeuvre.

(aside: christmas shopping at liberty, mum and i stopped for lunch in their restaurant.
me: this is nice, it'd be a good place to bring a date.
mum: i don't know. it's all women.
me: ....
mum: oh that sort of date.)

yes. merry christmas to all and to all a good lunch.


nigella's christmas biscuits (or cookies if you'd rather). these come from the fabulous how to be a domestic goddess, which you really should purchase.

she recommends that you use these to decorate the tree by poking a hole in the top before you bake them. but they're just as lovely as just plain biscuits (and they make good presents too).

you will need:
300g plain flour
pinch of salt
1tsp baking powder
1tsp ground mixed spice
1-2 tsps freshly ground pepper (depending on your tolerance of spice)
100g unsalted butter
100g dark muscavado sugar
2 large eggs beaten with 4 tblsps runny honey.

nigella uses a food processor for this, but i think with a bit of elbow grease it's fine to do it by hand.
so combine the flour, salt, baking powder, mixed spice and pepper in the processor. with the motor on, add the butter and the sugar, then, slowly, the eggs and the honey, but don't use all of this liquid if the pastry has come together before it's all used up. form two discs and put one, covered in clingfilm, or in a freezer bag, into the fridge while you get started on the other. preheat the oven to 170 degrees or gas mark 3.

dust a surface with flour, roll out the disc to about 5mm and cut the biscuits with appropriately shaped biscuit cutters (these are almost impossible to find at this time of year, i fear, but it's worth persevering). you know the drill, once you've cut out as many as you can, re-roll the pastry and start again, then add the second disc.

arrange the biscuits on lined baking sheets (nigella says 2 but i found i had to use mine in shifts, ending up with 4 sheets' worth) and put them in the oven for 20 minutes. you can tell they're cooked because the bottoms won't be doughy, but don't worry if they go quite brown because i think they're nicer like that. put them on wire racks to cool.

when they are cool you can ice them with glace icing, which you make by taking about 200g sieved icing sugar and adding about 3tbsps of boiling water, so that you have what she describes as a thin glossy glaze (although i left mine a bit thicker). ice them with a teaspoon, decorating them as you go with silver balls or other suitably glitzy but edible decorations.


i've got a very exciting new photolog: have yourself a feather boa christmas - oh yes i'm on top form with the puns at the moment. at the moment you can see the art-school christmas decorations (featuring a tree decorated only with flowers and mirrorbaubles) and my very exciting biscuits.

i seem to have been accidentally copied on a group of uni friends' emails, i'm debating informing them, but the emails are so appallingly funny that i think i'm going to leave it a little longer. you know full of horrible in jokes (" hope the hat's getting good use... weeeeeell, is it? isn't it?! (you know the lyrics!)") and unwitting comedy touches like "your golf clubs are safe at my grandparents".

they're clearly freshers, and i'm just waiting for them to reveal which university they're at so that i can make a mental note to avoid people from there in the future.

i would feel guilty about posting their private thoughts up here, but y'know they did email them to a stranger - it's not like i'm gonna sell them or anything although. anyway, i'm a hack, i'm not supposed to have morals, and anyway we haven't studied law and ethics yet so ner. (always a good come back, i find).


a weekend of shopping has left me exhausted both physically and emotionally. we had to buy presents for my aunts and nana on saturday - so a trip to the west end was in order: so it was liberty, john lewis. yesterday, to complete the great british trinity it was food shopping at fortnum and mason - their mince pies are probably the most delicious mince pies in the world (in my unsolicited opinion).

there was a great deal of walking involved, and although we did manage to get most of the stuff we needed i am now officially cream crackered. but am now beginning to feel a lot like christmas (which is quite unusual for me). so tomorrow i'm baking decorations for the tree.

trying to find biscuit cutters in appropriately festive shapes was next to impossible though. john lewis had sold out. house of fraser said try john lewis. and debenhams kitchen department was so jammed i didn't dare approach someone to ask. plus there was a small child shouting "gonad" incessantly. at least i think that's what she was shouting.

mum found some (biscuit cutters that is) in surrey this afternoon fortunately, so my domestic goddessery can continue unhindered by such trivialities.

ooh and i've got a job interview at bush hall on friday. go me, i rule, etc.


wow, half my blogroll are in web user this week. i knew i had good taste.

am now writing dykewrite: a case study. 2009 words down in case you were wondering. i think when i'm writing my dissertation i'll have a running word total on the side bar over there, maybe that'll encourage me.


as i'm currently writing an essay about blogging i sort of feel i can justify blog surfing - it's almost research, but not quite. the whole thing is pretty interesting actually: i found out where the term blogosphere came from, and i've been reading all sorts of statistics which make facinating browsing. and actually the writing isn't too bad. i thought it would be terrible, so i've been putting it off, but it's going well (although not so well that i'm not distracting myself here). i'm almost happy about it. go me. i might put it up when it's done if it's good.

yesterday i was writing about shafilea ahmed, which is a pretty horrific story. i read so much about her, i sort of feel i know her: y'know she was 17, she liked justin timberlake, she worked in a call centre. she was a normal kid. and now she's probably dead, and it might have been someone from her family who did it, or else it was suicide. grrr. that's pretty much all i can say really.

right, back to my essay.


every time i see belle and sebastian i get very excited. i spend my time in the run up to the gig listening obsessively to their records and generally immersing myself in their twee-pop world. i'm never disappointed when i do actually see them, they always manage to do something really special:

in scarborough they came and sat with us on the beach, in ipswich they played queen's 'don't stop me' and struan dressed up like freddie mercury, at brixton, actually i don't remember them doing anything very exciting at brixton but then there was fitba the next day by the albert memorial. and then on friday night, despite the odd sound problem, they played an amazing gig, and then had a free after-show party.

i attended with stu and daniel from my course. we ran into a vanload of sinisterines inside the venue, and i thought how nice it is to have a readymade circle of people to hang out with.

i stood next to struan at the bar and asked him if he'd enjoyed himself, he said there had been sound problems, but about halfway through he just thought 'fuck it' and started having fun. we talked a bit about how he's been travelling around a lot recently. he's so cool, but i wasn't nearly as starstruck this time as when i met him in scarborough.

oh and i meant to say how cute mick cooke's rendition of 'this guy's in love with you' was. *sigh*