1. Baked some tasty vegan treats.
The above cupcakes are triple chocolate ganache truffle cupcakes and yep, they’re totally vegan. Dark chocolate sponge with chocolate ganache in the middle, chocolate not-butter-not-cream frosting, and a Moo Free truffle added to the top for good measure! The rather beautiful cake dome was a Christmas present from the loveliest Lovely Boyfriend. Though it looks like a vintage one, it’s new, but it is made out of 100% recycled materials! Amazing gifting, methinks.
The aforementioned LB requested “a gigantic mince pie” for Christmas dinner dessert, so I duly made a full-size 9-inch diameter mince pie with rather delicious boozy mincemeat. I had some scrappy little bits of rolled shortcrust pastry left over, so I used them to make these: the world’s ugliest mince pies. They obviously still tasted great, though!
2. Had some even tastier vegan treats made for me.
I think I may have already mentioned here that Lovely Boyfriend is the best vegan cook since Isa Chandra Moskowitz, yes? Well, over our winter holiday he’s had even more time than usual to cook up a storm, so my belly has been extremely happy. Lots of people have been curious about how the heck you even do Christmas as a vegan — the answer is, the same as everyone else. You eat lots and lots of extremely tasty stuff! This was our Christmas morning breakfast:
That’s Isa’s own tofu scramble with a Lovely Boyfriend twist: a Christmassy spice mix featuring lots of rosemary, and extra mushrooms. All on a sesame bagel and served with champagne, because Christmas.
I didn’t get a pic of our Christmas dinner because it seemed rude to be a food-snapping hipster blogger in front of our guests (also I was too keen to just SCOFF IT), but again we are indebted to The Great Isa. We had a version of this stuffed seitan roast, with a more traditional sage-and-onion type stuffing to make it more Christmassy. Plus all the usual roast potatoes and veg type stuff, and then my uber-mince-pie with vegan ice cream and these to finish. Delish!
3. Received many amazing gifts.
I couldn’t really do a gratitude post at this time of year without thanking everyone who bought me gifts over the festive period. Thank you, amazing people of my acquaintance, for giving me so many thoughtful, useful and beautiful things. I especially want to thank the folk (a lot of you this year!) who shopped local, supported small businesses like mine, bought secondhand, and/or made charitable donations in lieu of presents. You rock.
I also love that so many people got me gifts that are so ‘me’. (This seems to happen a lot, so I hope that means I’m easy to buy for. Or perhaps I am just easily pleased!) This vintage typewriter calendar was clearly an obvious choice… and now I have one for home and one for work! Perfect!
4. Met the newest member of the family.
My parents have always been cat people. Seriously: their house is full of cat-related stuff. Cat mugs, cat ornaments, cat coasters, cat Christmas tree decorations… they really like cats. So they were devastated when their faithful furry friend Beatrice went to the great cattery in the sky back in 2012.
After a period of mourning for “Little Bertie,” as she was affectionately known, I was extremely excited to hear that they’d decided to rescue a new fur-baby. World, meet Benny! He’s been part of the family for nearly three weeks now, and he’s a super cute, slightly eccentric TOTAL BABE. As you can see, he knows exactly how beautiful he is and loves having his photo taken.
Like me, he’s also a stove-worshipper. Smart kitty.
5. Bought a lot of books.
I know, I know, so what’s new? In short, I made the mistake of going to Bookcase Books in Carlisle while on my New Year travels.
I’ve blogged about this place before. The bookshop occupies two big townhouses that have been knocked together, and there are books in every room, including the two basements and the huge attic. You can also buy the artwork, paintings and oddities (I found an antique book-press I so wanted) which are displayed in the various corridors and staircases. There are over thirty rooms full of books here. It’s AMAZING.
Hours of book-browsing fun, and only an hour on the train from Edinburgh. Just sayin’!
6. Did a lot of plotting.
I love New Year, perhaps even more than I love Christmas (and I really love Christmas). I’m very good at saying “yes” to things and ending up super busy all the time, and very bad at pausing to take stock. So during that between-Christmas-and-going-back-to-work lull, I try to do as much mental stock-taking as I can.
There’s always a lot of journalling. This year, I’ve been reading posts like this and thinking about ways to make new year’s goals and resolutions (which I always make, regardless of how uncool everyone says it is) that are meaningful and will last. I prefer to set new year goals — a list of things to achieve — rather than make resolutions, because goal-setting feels way more positive than ’stop doing this thing you do because you like it,’ and ‘do more of this thing you don’t do because you hate it,’ etc. (For example, this year I’ve got ‘find a yoga class I like,’ rather than ‘do more yoga.’) But I have also committed to a couple of “higher resolutions” (the big stuff), which I hope to work on all year.
[One of them is: get better at being sociable. I am generally bad at making new friends, especially with women (this article, the part about rejection, rang so true with me). I have this assumption that most of the people who hang out with me only do it out of some masochistic form of politeness. I'm sure you'll all agree that that mindset is pretty toxic and needs to go. It's been with me a long time, but this is the year I intend to at least begin to cut that shit out. And the other big resolution is a secret for now, because I don't want to jinx it. If I manage to keep it, then all should be revealed in due course.]
Finally, I also use New Year as a time to think about the past year, and what I achieved. Every life coach/internet guru/mindfulness blogger and their dog is keen to point out that saying thank you for the good stuff in your life makes more good stuff happen. So that’s why I write Things I Love Thursday posts (still), and it’s also why every year I write a ‘in [year], I…’ post. Usually I have to go through my old diaries, Facebook updates, and blogposts to recall what I did. So much good stuff gets instantly forgotten and I’m always gobsmacked to revisit it… which is another reason why this process is useful.
If you haven’t done any 2014 plotting or 2013 revisiting yet, try it! The year is young! I highly recommend it.
What are YOU loving this week?
Like shiny things? Check out Edinburgh Vintage, a totally unrelated ’sister site’ full of jewels, treasures and trinkets. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!