Archive | December, 2012

Yellow knickers for a ¡Feliz ano nuevo!

30 Dec

ImageI’ve never been more excited about spending New Year’s Eve at home as I am this year, as we’ll be celebrating Mexican style!  Complete with delicious food that couldn’t be less like Christmas dinner (thank goodness), plenty of rum and tequila, cut paper decorations and a few of the bonkers rituals the Mexicans practise.  Which is why I need to find some yellow knickers.  Where do I find yellow knickers in the Dulwich area before tomorrow evening?  A tricky one that, but I must find them because according to our Mexican friends, I won’t be granted my wish for 2013 of happiness and prosperity without them!

Mexico is the perfect place to look for New Years Eve inspiration because everything about Mexico is just FUN and bright and beautiful.  We were there a couple of years ago and totally fell in love with its warmth, colour, music and creativity, and we found the Mexican people to be friendly, relaxed and delightfully resourceful.  We were there just after Día de los Muertos, so we missed the celebrations, but one night we went to a wonderful restaurant in Tulum which was in the owner’s garage.  She’d decorated it with cut paper-bag lanterns, sugar skull skeletons, paper chains and battered old furniture.  Eating our dinner in a garage by candlelight whilst being watched over by a trio of guitar-playing skeletons was both cosy and fascinating at the same time.  The food was exceptional too and the whole experience perfectly reflected the friendly, laid-back, handmade, rich and creative Mexican culture.

Having looked into how the Mexicans celebrate New Year I thought I’d share it on – they really are a bonkers lot!

Traditions and rituals

papel

Papel Picado is the Mexican folk art of paper-cutting.  The colourful, intricate designs are traditionally cut into tissue paper using a variety of tools including scissors, chisels and hole-punches.  They are made to celebrate religious festivals and national holidays and can be hung on string to create banners, turned into lanterns, napkins, tablecloths and so on.  Here’s a simple how-to to follow to make a colourful banner.

Colour of Decorations.  Just in case the knickers fail to work (!) people in Mexico people make decorations in the colour that reflects their wish for the year ahead:

Red: General improvement in lifestyle and love
Yellow: Blessings of improved employment conditions
Green: Improved financial circumstances
White: Improved health

The Twelve Grapes is a Spanish tradition that dates back to at least 1895.  The Spanish, Mexicans and other Latin American countries eat a grape with each bell strike at midnight to bring prosperity in the New Year.  Mexicans make a wish with every grape and each grape represents a different month of the year – get a sweet grape and it’ll be a good month, get a sour grape and it’ll be a bad one.  I’m going to give this a go but have to admit I am worried I won’t be able to think of wishes and eat so quickly, especially after a few too many drinks, but we’ll see!

To banish all negative energy Mexicans like to write a list of all the bad things that happened in the previous year and ceremonially burn it before midnight arrives.

Taking the suitcase for a walk.  An obvious one this?!  Mexicans can be found taking an empty suitcase for a walk at midnight to represent the distance to be travelled in the new year.

Sweep in good fortune.  Others will open their front door at midnight and sweep out the previous year, then drop coins outside and sweep them in for prosperity in the new year.

Food and Drink

Mexicans traditionally have a late dinner with family to celebrate the New Year. Bacalao is the staple New Year meal in Mexico – a dried salted codfish.

rosca

Rosca de Reyes (Three Kings cake) is a Mexican sweet bread that is generally baked in the New Year in preparation for the Epiphany on 6th January.  It symbolises both the crowns of the Three Kings and God’s unending love.  They bake a charm or a tiny figure of baby Jesus into it and the person who finds the charm is blessed and must take the figurine to the nearest church on February 2, Candlemas Day. In the Mexican culture, this person also has to throw a party!

Ponche Con Piccante is a hot, spiced cider that is traditionally drunk on New Year.  Sounds yum to me.

We’re going to mix this up with a few Mexican faves such as pulled pork, tacos and of course, churros!  I’ll post some pics afterwards.  ¡Feliz ano nuevo! may all your New Year wishes come true.

29 Dec

WordPress looks at blogging in 2012, featuring some delightfully inspiring blog-based projects.

The WordPress.com Blog

At the end of November, we gave shout-outs to bloggers and artists who participated in month-long projects like NaBloPoMo and NaNoDrawMo. As 2012 comes to a close, we also want to highlight writers and photographers who challenged themselves all year — who posted each day or each week, or have established an ongoing project on their sites.

These bloggers caught our attention:

JUMP FOR JOY! Photo Project

An inspiring international project focused on play, fun, and the positive in our lives, JUMP FOR JOY! presents Eyoälha Baker’s vision of a world united by our expression of joy. Eyoälha has taken nearly all the images on her blog — with the exception of the photos of her. Her jumping subjects are captured in locations around the world: at the beach in Kauaiat a park in Vancouver, or even between city skyscrapers . . . while holding a ninja…

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One day ‘working from home’ with a one year old

21 Dec

Illness and childcare misunderstandings massively screwed with the last two weeks and meant that we’ve had to look after Nancy ourselves for  five days when we needed to be at work.  This has involved a lot of ‘working from home’ – an interesting idea for someone who has a sick, needy and inquisitive little explorer in their care.  Here’s how it went:

Hmm, following a one year old up the stairs around maybe 10 times (not because we needed to go up the stairs, but for fun!) wasn’t exactly on my to-do list today.

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Ahh ok, well we’re upstairs now.  I’ll just work wherever she decides to play.  Should be cool…and this feeding chair is way more comfortable than my swivel chair at work.  Snowy, keep an eye on Nancy will you?  Thanks.

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Exhausted all play options in the nursery – we’re now in Nancy’s favourite room in the house.  Her favourite because it’s full of her favourite things – bottles, pots and tubes.  Wasn’t quite expecting her to find her fun actually inside the shower, but what the hell she’s happy, and I can hardly talk – I’m sat on the loo sending an email (lid down).

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She soon got bored of sucking shampoo bottles in the shower and headed into our bedroom.  Ahh this is more like it, the comfort of my own bed – where better to work?  Meanwhile Nancy is happy looking at her own reflection.  And leaving evidence of her cold behind on the mirror.  Nice.

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Having explored all rooms upstairs, it’s now time to bomp* down the stairs and hang out in the living room.  It was at this point that Nancy and Duck no.1 decide to work out what’s so interesting about the bright, shiny box that I’ve been carrying around, in some kind of laptop ambush which almost led to the deletion of a table I’d been working on since the bathroom.

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At the end of a long hard day of attempted work, cooking, cleaning and cuddles, I realise I’ve not eaten and decide to walk around the corner to the pub for a burger, where it becomes clear that working from home means that even my lime and soda gets a dose of Nancy.

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Conclusion:  I’m a big fan of working in different environments, mixing things up a bit.  But if I’m honest I prefer a cafe, the library or the park where you can go about your business without a small person wrapping their arms around your legs so you can’t move, giving you a face full of yogurt or pressing all the buttons on your laptop.  Yeh I managed to get a fair amount done while she was playing and I crammed work and calls in during her naps, but if I’d been really under it, as I often am, this would not have worked at all.  Don’t be fooled, working from home with a bubba ain’t cool.

* Bomping:  A term made up by my own mother to describe sitting on your Mum’s lap while you bounce together from one stair to the next to get to the bottom. ‘Tis fun and quite frankly the only way to descend the stairs.

Quote

“It is what you…

12 Dec

“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it” – Oscar Wilde

I’ve a night to myself tonight, with nothing much to do.  Makes me think of this wonderful quote from my man Oscar.

Mamas’ Running Club – Brockwell Park, Saturdays

1 Dec

Feeling terrible guilt this morning!  And not even the Mum kind.  Guilt for promising to take part in the inaugural Mamas’ running club run, set up by the lovely Clemmie.

AND THEN SLEEPING IN!

TIL 10AM!

I know.  Unheard of.  But we had a bad night of teething, so Tom let me sleep.  Anyway, to pay my penace I am re-posting this to spread the word.

Run away from it all every Saturday, 10am Brockwell Park.  Meet by the Lido flags.  Fitness not necessary!

Calling All Mamas!