Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Furry Blissful Christmas

Welcome to Christmas Bliss.
Won't you come inside? Let me take your coat. First door on your left, my dear.
What's that you say? Ah yes, the house is very Christmassy looking, glad you like it. I love decorating for Christmas, don't you?
During the last few weeks before Christmas the days are very short and as they are usually dull, dark and dreary we need to cram in as much lights as we possibly can.
This year we have only a small Christmas tree because of puppy Tara, a big tree would be too dangerous. This little one is high upon a pedestal, safely out of puppy reach.
It's tiny, but still a Christmas tree, wouldn't want to do without one.
Yes, those Paperwhites smell divine, I always have them at Christmas and the same goes for Hyacinths. I love the wonderful scent they provide. Speaking of which, would you like a glass of mulled wine, judging by the smell of it, it's about ready to be poured. Glass or bucket? Only joking, you know how I am, forever pulling people's legs.
Is that the time already? Not long now before the magical hour starts. You haven't heard of the magical hour on Christmas Eve before? Really my dear, such a careless oversight on somebody's part, I'm sure. Sit down please and I'll tell you all about it. You see, it starts tonight after the last stroke of eleven and ends on the first stroke of midnight. It's the only time of the year when you can open the door to the past, to Christmas Past. It's almost time now; listen, the clock is chiming the hour, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven...........
Shhhhhhhh, be quiet, close your eyes, breathe in deeply and then
they are here, my silver ghosts of Christmas Past 1988; dear Bebop(l) and his sister Purrfect Melody. Aren't they simply adorable and as sweet as can possibly be? It's so good to see them again, how beautiful, so full of life and young they were then.
And here they are on Boxing Day 1988, after they'd just stripped the tree of a few of its decorations, the little darlings.

Hang on, we're going fast forward, suddenly it's Christmas Past 1997 and awwwwww, there is widdle Dolly, how tiny she was then to fit in that little box.
Cute, doesn't begin to describe her. But where is she now, on Christmas Present? Do you see her? Oh, there she is.
I don't think I've told you yet, but during the magical hour you can not only open the door to Christmases Past but also see who people really are, their true selves. Our Dolly is Santa's little helper and such a help she's been through all these years.
Kadootje (=present) is certainly living up to her name, her presence is certainly the best present anyone could ever have. And look at ................ Wait, what's that?!
Tara, stop it, give Dolly her hat back!
Tara: Fat chance, it's mine and I'm keeping it. Yep, we certainly are showing our true colours tonight, I'm the evil puppy of Christmas Present! Grrrrrrrrrrr!
Meanwhile something is happening on the Russian front; Pippa has suddenly sprouted wings,
real wings made of real feathers and that's not all, look at Willow who's laying next to her.
A halo has magically appeared above my little girl's head; I always knew my Russian Blues were true angels.
See how angelic Willow is looking? The presence of all those sweet little angels must surely have some effect on puppy Tara?
But no, she is still her rascally self, or is she? Isn't that a strange glow I see in her eyes? But what's happening? ZAPPPP!!! An unexpected flash of blinding white light and then .......................
Tara has turned into an ickle Christmas Faerie complete with pink fluffy bone. Awwwwwwww!
A Furry Blissful Christmas to all who visit Bliss, Past, Present and Future!

copyright 2008: Y.E.W. Heuzen

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Perfect Wines for Christmas

I know that many of you are fretting your little hearts out about what wines to serve with Christmas dinner and/or lunch. Worry no more, help is at hand, we at Bliss not only know our onions but our wines as well.

To start with a blindingly obvious choice for those of you who live in colder climates:
a nice Glühwein or mulled wine which should be served the moment your guests arrive. You serve it hot and it's very nice for those who are in danger of freezing one or more body parts off. It works a bit like anti-freeze but is suitable for human consumption, unlike the real deal.
If you live in hotter climes or your guests have been totally thawed out at long last after imbibing vast quantities of mulled wine, you could serve them a nice glass of bubbly. Champagne is served cold, so put it in the fridge a couple of hours before you serve it.
What's that I hear you moan? But, but YE there's a credit crisis going on, I can't afford champagne. Not to worry my dears, have I ever let you down? You don't have to buy the real thing, as champagne may only be called champagne when it's from the Champagne area in France and the good ones cost a small fortune, simply buy a nice fizzy wine from Italy, Spain, Germany or even from a non-Champagne area in France and pay less than half the price. And steer clear from the sweet stuff, try the dry, very dry or, if you must the semi dry (semi secco, halb trocken) ones. They taste really great and go well with all kinds of finger food.
Personally I like the Italian Spumante very well, but it's very dry so perhaps not the one to buy if so far you've only tasted the sweet fizzy wines.

Enough of fizzy wines let's progress to the real stuff; the non fizzy wines. As a rule of thumb you serve dry white wine with fish and chicken, dry red wine with meat and cheese and a dry rose with lamb. That was generally speaking of course, but personal taste comes into it too and some wines are more suitable for a certain type of guest than others. What if you had some very special guests for dinner, like gardeners for instance, what kind of wine would you serve them? Well, how about this one?
A lovely bordeau from France, made from the Merlot grape. It's a dry red wine.

Or, if you had Poppins, Dee, Barbara, Katarina or yours truly to dinner you couldn't go wrong with a wine like this:
A lovely Italian wine.
With dessert you could serve your guests a sweet wine like this one for instance. What gardener could say no to a drop of Passion flower wine?And although it looks very oriental it's actually made in Germany.There is a suitable wine for every occasion, for every dish and every kind of guest, even for guests you do not like all that much. If, in the unlikely event, you'll find yourself having guests for dinner who are less than simpatico, do not worry, I have the right wine for them as well and here it is; a remarkably full bodied dry red wine from Australia:
Make sure that the label is very visible and hopefully they will take the hint and make themselves scarce, pronto!


copyrigth 2008 Y.E.W. Heuzen

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Hunting of the Bloom

'Just the place for a Snark! 'the Bellman cried,
As he landed his crew with care;
Supporting each man on the top of the tide
By a finger entwined in his hair. *

Oops, wrong hunting party, sorry.
Rosa Moonlight

If you're wondering whether I found any blooms on my hunt for GBBD organised by Carol of MDG, the long answer is: I hunted high and I hunted low and lo and behold what did I stumble on after searching for hours and hours (minutes actually) apart from the usual suspects such as this one
and this
and this one?
A marigold in a wheelbarrow! Colour me surprised. What else did I find outside?
A yellow Primula in the potager,
one lonely, slightly moth eaten Periwinkle
a yellow wildflower (one of 3 blooms actually, amazing isn't it?)
and, although we've had several frosts and some snow, the white borage is still going strong.
In the Victorian greenhouse the Solanum crispum album is flowering its little heart out and the pelargoniums are still going to the blooming ball.
On the terrace the Camellia is about to burst forth in vivid pink
while the Christmas box has flowers that are hardly noticeable, but their scent makes more than up for it. Sorry, there is no scratch and sniff widget available yet.
In the front garden the Winter Jasmin is flowering with gay abandon and so is the exceptionally long flowering Rosa Moonlight.
As you can see she is still forming buds! In December!! Simply amazing!!!

After my hunt I quickly went inside as it is quite nippy here. Inside I continued my hunt for more blooms and this is what I found:
A soft pink Cyclamen and some Hyacinths,
an orchid,
some African Violets,
well hidden away from the Horrible Wreaker Of Havoc amongst said plants,
aka Vita Le Chat Terrible, lurking in the conservatory behind several Cyclamen and a beautiful Christmas Cactus.
While in the conservatory my nose started to twitch as it caught the scent of the wonderful blossom on my little lime tree.
And dangling from the ceiling are the pretty red flowers of the Aeschynanthus. Well this is me, all bloomed out how about your blooms gentle reader?

copyright 2008: Y.E.W. Heuzen

* The Hunting of the Snark by Lewis Carroll

You can travel round the world, you can take loads of drugs, you can read poetry, indulge in weird sex, but at the end of it all, you must look after your own garden.
Tom Hodgskinson, Digging for Anarchy, 2006