Posted in Family, Food, General Issues, Life

Preparing For My First Dinner Party

This may not sound much but I’ve never cooked for anyone before.

Leaving home at 18 obviously meant learning to cook for myself, I was not the type of student to live off pot-noodle, but that doesn’t mean I had to learn to cook for anyone else.

 

The Challenge

My mother’s birthday.

I have volunteered to do this. I’m not sure what I was thinking.

Luckily, my mother, knowing how I hated cooking has not invited any of her friends so it’s only my mum and dad that I have to feed. This may sound easy. It’s not.

My mum is a seasoned cook, she’s been experimenting with food since she was 16 and now for her 52nd birthday she’s going to enjoy watching me struggle.

Just a side note, to make things more interesting, my dad is picky. He likes beef or chicken, anything else he’ll refuse to eat. Also, there’s got to be chips. Every meal should have chips in his world.

 

The Theme

All our birthdays, meals and presents, have always run along with a loose theme. My mother’s this year

“Tropical Island”

I realise tropical island suggests a lot of fish, but as my dad doesn’t really like fish I will adapt.pexels-photo-139259

The Menu

 

Appetisers

Cheese & Pineapple on Sticks

Watermelon and Feta Salad

 

I know these sound like a 70’s party buffet and not particularly exciting but they will keep my parents happy whilst I’m cooking and my mum absolutely loves both. Fruit and cheese is a little bit tropical right? At least the Pineapple should be.

 

Starter

Chilli Salmon

Spiced Prawns

Skinny fries

Roast Peppers

Roast Tomatoes

 

I’m only cooking one large salmon piece and cutting it roughly into 4. My dad will try it because he likes sweet chilli but won’t eat more than a mouthful. The skinny fries will appease him.

My aim is to serve the skinny fries and curried prawns in little wire baskets, with the salmon, tomatoes and peppers being cooked in tin foil parcels so I’ll just rip them open and put on a large serving plate. Very relaxed (trying for an informal Caribbean feeling)

 

Main Course

Jerk Chicken

Rice and Peas

Sweet Potato Wedges

 

Keeping it simple, easy to cook and easy to serve.

 

Desert

‘Watermelon Shots’

Pineapple with Mint and Sugar

Birthday Cake (Jamaican Ginger Cake)

 

The watermelon shots are not made of watermelon. This was just a fun looking thing on Pinterest and I thought I’d try to recreate the look as my mum will love it. I’m going for a lime jelly base, a strawberry moose top and chocolate chips.

Pineapple is literally covered with sugar and chopped mint. Birthday cake will be easy, I’m buying it.

 

The Struggle

I’m going home to cook this. Home is 3 hours away. I’m going on friday evening and this food will be Saturday afternoon.

It may not sound too difficult but when you realise that I have to go to work on Friday and I will be going straight home from work, keeping things chilled for a day in the office and a 3 hour drive is going to be hard work.

 

The Plan

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Appetiser – Will buy the components Thursday night and assemble on Saturday

Starter and Main – Will take the chicken and salmon from the freezer Friday morning and they can slowly defrost in the office fridge during the day and should be ok for me to cook 30 hours later. I’ll buy/take out of my dads greenhouse the tomatoes, peppers and sweet potatoes. Rice and peas will be cooked Saturday. As for the skinny fries and prawns, I’ll buy at home and cook from frozen – one of the best phrases in the english language!

Desert – Will buy the cake and parts of the shots, make the jelly friday night before I go to bed and the moose 5 minutes before serving.

 

The Decoration

I have no idea… I’m hoping something along these lines

 

I feel like I shouldn’t have offered to do this but I know my previous idea (country themed birthday, picnic on the tailgate of a truck) was shot down by my grumpy father and he’s not going to help with anything anyway.

My mum makes such an effort for my birthday, she was the best thing about it this year (my depressing birthday blog shows that). I have to return the effort.

Posted in Family, Friends, Life, Random Thoughts, Relationships

More attached to my Car than my Partner

My latest relationship failure has made me think more about the fact I’m more attached to my cars than my relationships.

Is that my problem or theirs?

Please don’t take this the wrong way, I do not have any sort of physical relationship with my car. I would never go so far as to be someone who marries their vehicle. The people who ‘come out’ as being in a relationship with an object confuse me, but hey, as long as their happy right?

I have just noticed more and more that my attachment to them is stronger than that to my exs.

 

Dorian, 1.9, GSOH, OH (Good Sense of Humour, Own Horn)

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I bought my first car at 19, a 2001 Land Rover Freelander. It became a bargaining chip between myself and my parents, I could buy any car I wanted (with my own money) if I took my driving test again – I’d failed a couple of times and was refusing to go back through the hell of it all.

The car, I named Dorian, was my soul mate. I loved every inch of that little silver beast. He cost me £2,500, looking back this was a rip off but I didn’t care. £1,000 on insurance and about £300 on car tax was a small price to pay for the freedom he offered.

A 1.9litre deisel was never going to be fuel-efficient or environmentally friendly but he offered comfort, safety and a hell of a lot of fun.

I’ve loved Land Rovers all of my life and now I’m proud to say I had one for my first car.

He had multiple ‘operations’ where I* changed starter motors, several crank shaft pulleys and the battery *with the help of my father. The garage changed all the breaks, pads, disks, shoes, cables, as well as corroded housing, oil lines, anti-roll links, exhaust pipes etc. He was almost a completely new car under the bonnet. I even needed a new horn, my road rage had worn out the old one.

The day he finally gave up on me was heartbreaking. The head gasket blew and the plumes of black, white and blue smoke that poured out of him showed me that it was time to say goodbye. I cried more over my baby Landy than any boy.

He sat still for 4 months before being sold to a friend’s son. I’m proud to say he started up and drove onto the trailer before being taken away, it was like a final goodbye. He’s been completely restored and is back on the road in the hands of another Land Rover enthusiast who I hope enjoys him as much as I did for the 3 years we were together.

3 years, that’s 8 months longer than any relationship I’ve been in.

 

 

Gaston, 1.9, ISOSTR (In Search Of Short Term Relationships)

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After getting over the heartbreak and being at a complete loss without a vehicle, I decided to ask my parents to find me something fun. They succeeded with a 2005 Vauxhall Tigre – convertible, 1.9l ball of enjoyment.

There’s a huge difference to driving a 1.9litre four-wheel drive and a 1.9litre convertible. Size and speed couldn’t be more different. I introduced the convertible to as many people as possible, it was just so much fun, annoyingly it was also more expensive, at least in insurance terms.

I still dream of the day my insurance is under £1,000.

The main issue I had with my little convertible, Gaston, was… he couldn’t climb trees.

3 months after I bought him, he was sold for scrap. Long story short, after a lot of spinning we parted ways in a ditch, the only casualties being the car and a few trees that got in the way.

 

Time to look for car number 3. Car shopping is not fun when you’re being forced to do it quickly and with no money, similarly to choosing a partner.

 

 

Vince, 1.6, Tall Dark and Handsome

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I settled, after a lot of shopping around, for the new Suzuki Vitara. Vincent was collected in December. The glossy black paintwork shone in the evening sunshine.

A sublte-but-sexy, modern, four wheel drive. Less power, more safety features. He came with all the gadgets (because I demanded them). If I’m spending the next 3 years paying for this then I want everything.

It took a while for the pride of a brand-spanking-new car to wear off but now I’ve begun my new love affair with this pretty guy.

I’ve had around 5 partners (give or take) to my 3 cars. I’ve cried more over a scratch than I have an argument. I definitely have spent more on the cars, both in terms of both money and time. I might not be able to cuddle my car but it provides so much more fun and general satisfaction.

 

I might not have found “the one” but my car is keeping me happy.

Posted in Family, Friends, General Issues, Life, Work

Am I too old for Birthdays?

Yesterday was my Birthday. I’m still in my 20’s but somehow I feel like I turned 75.

 

Work

Having a birthday on a Monday is never fun, people forget over the weekend so when they you see you in work the thought immediately pops into their head “Oh crap, I forgot”. We’re all guilty of forgetting but it’s still not a great feeling. There are 3 other people in my office, 2 remembered when I walked through the door, one was reminded later on. This was also the first year that I didn’t get a card or cake during the day.

Apart from the usual ” Happy Birthday… how old are you?… I remember being that age etc” No one mentioned it again. A delivery of flowers and a plant sparked little conversations of horticultural management but nothing more.

Leaving 30 minutes early was my gift.

 

Friends

My 3 best friends posted the usual collage of embarrassing photos on social media before I had left for work. Then they’re the friends that forget and post something at 11pm.

 

4 cards arrived.. when did social mediadog-in-party-hat_4460x4460.jpg posts replace cards? I remember being about 10 and the whole room was covered with brightly coloured pictures and love from family members you hardly saw but somehow always managed to remember your birthday. Now I have 6 cards in my flat, including one from my dog.

 

 

Pink Moth Orchid

Everyone has awkward moments on their birthday too right? This year my ex sent me a card (very kind of him), his family sent me a card (very nice of them) and as a joint gift they had a moth orchid delivered to me at work. This begs the question, has he mentioned that we’ve split up?? I know it happened less than two weeks ago but surely he told them. Or are they in denial?

 

I’d spent the weekend with my best friend so I’d opened 3 gifts with her and saved 2 for monday morning. I’m glad I did, they were the highlight of my day until my mum arrived.

 

Family

My mother has been at every one of my previous birthdays and my move 3 hours down the country was not going to stop her missing this one. She arrived at my flat at the same time I did.

I opened 5 gifts with my mum and I have the rest to open with both of my parents at the weekend (We’re a family that will buy 20 little gifts to a normal families 1 gift).tractor-485897_960_720.jpg

My dad is from a farming family so the excitement of silaging time and a new tractor meant he almost completely forgot the anniversary of my birth. We called him at 10:30pm. Tractors dominated our conversation.

 

My mum makes a real effort every year, I love her for that.

She’d cooked and we had a “Southern-style” dinner. Starting with crab cakes, followed by Gumbo, then Mississippi mud pie. Although, as I live thousands of miles from the Mississippi, she renamed it “River Wye Mud Pie”. Preacher cake and coffee to finish. It was beautiful.

We watched comedian Greg Davies and his Back Of My Mum’s Head Tour, this had us laughing so hard we were in pain. She then proceeded to sleep on my living room floor and left at 5:30am today.

 

All in all it wasn’t a bad day by any means. I had a great weekend, lovely gifts, left work early and go to spend time laughing with my mum. I just can’t help feeling I’ve hit the age where birthdays are just something that pass us by and fun has been sucked away.

Am I just tired or in need of birthday cake? Can I buy myself birthday cake? Is singing Happy Birthday to yourself as sad as it sounds in my head?

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