This “catch” this morning for one of my books amused me. Of course, it may be pure coincidence that the anonymous finder misspells TranzCoastal in exactly the same way as the releaser – after all, you’d have to be a pretty sad type to resort to faking journal entries…

Anyway, now that I’ve got that bit of snark out of my system: not a lot to report, really. Spent most of the last few days getting done some of those little jobs (mostly of the spring cleaning variety) that I’ve been putting off for when I’ve got more time. And now is the time I’ve got more time. I won’t bore you with the details though (I dunno, a description of cleaning the vacuum cleaner’s filter could be pretty fascinating stuff…)

Nicholas came round yesterday afternoon to meet the cats. He’s going to be babysitting them while we’re down in Alex in a couple of weeks, saving us the hassle (and the cats the stress) of putting them in a cattery. Saffy seemed to take to him ok, but George was a bit wary (but then, he always is with new people) – I’m sure they’ll all get on fine together though (especially once the cats figure out he’s the one with access to the food!).

As usual, the outlaws had tucked a few pounds into our Christmas card (plus a few more into MrPloppy’s birthday card), so we took them in to the bank today to get them changed, and had a little shopping spree. We had a couple of Whitcoulls vouchers too, so we hit there first, but bypassed the books in favour of the DVD section’s 25% off sale. Boy there’s a lot of rubbish being put out on DVD these days! But after a lot of searching (and skilful avoidance of the weird guy singing along to the muzak at the top of his voice) we found something worth getting: series 4 of Doctor Who (the new version). After that we went to Scorpios, where the good books are, and I drooled over the popular science books (I could have spent a fortune in there, but I finally managed to narrow the choice down and in the end got Opening Skinner’s Box by Lauren Slater and Seeing Voices by Oliver Sacks) while MrPloppy searched the shelf of Forteana for something more to his taste.

There were a few more things we were planning to get done in town, but by that time the threatened southerly had hit, and things were getting nastily cold and wet, so we headed home. So we’ll probably have to go back in tomorrow. Yay, town on New Year’s Eve, such fun…

Speaking of New Year’s Eve, we’ve got absolutely no plans for marking the change of decade. Given that MrPloppy detests crowds at the best of times, we certainly won’t be heading into the square with everyone else in Christchurch (not that I’d want to anyway – crowds of drunken idiots don’t do a lot for me either). Anyway, I’ve got two new books to read, so I’d much rather be curled up with one of them than partying!

And talking of catches (I was way back up there at the top of the page, remember?), it’s been a while since I reported on some of the genuine catches I’ve had lately:

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift – a second generation catch
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Cyteen by CJ Cherryh
The Barrumbi Kids by Leonie Norrington
Armon Enkelit by Michael Palmer – a catch from the backpackers we stayed at in Singapore! It’s in Germany now and back in another backpackers, so it’s likely to travel even further.
The Famous Five Versus the Black Mask by Claude Voilier
Rift by Beverly Birch
Shaking by David Chadwick – took this one all the way to Wellington, and it was caught by another Christchurch bookcrosser! (who then found another suitable themed release spot for it)
Buttons: The Dog who was More than a Friend by Linda Yeatman (I still think that title is a bit dodgy ;-))
Sticky Stuff by Sam James – I’m not sure if this is two catches by different people, or just the anonymous finder re-catching it after joining. Good catch either way.
Round Behind the Ice-House by Anne Fine
Greyfriars Bobby by Eleanor Atkinson – I met one of the Wellington bookcrossers (Zuccini?) while I was releasing this. She didn’t catch it, but someone else did, almost straight away!
Hay Days by Sir Hamish Hay – I wonder if the book languished in the flatmate’s room for the whole three years between release and catch?
The Famous Five and the Knights’ Treasure by Claude Voilier – caught by an anonymous finder, re-released, and then caught again almost immediately!
Altar Ego by Kathy Lette
Surfacing by Margaret Atwood – no idea where I released this one, because I never made release notes. It surfaced in a Blenheim supermarket, anyway.
A Birthday for Bluebell by Rose Impey – another double catch.
The Other Side of the Dale by Gervase Phinn
The Wind Chime Legacy by A W Mykel
Brian’s Week by Brian Edwards
There was an Old Woman by Eric Weiner
A Place of Safety by Natasha Cooper
False Truths by Gwen Hunter
The Street Lawyer by John Grisham
Man’s Estate by Jon Cleary
Not the End of the World by Christopher Brookmyre
Second Hand Magic by Ruth Chew – another second-generation (or second-hand?) catch.
The Poetry Girl by Beverley Dunlop
The White Rajahs of Sarawak by Robert Payne – a lovely bit of serendipity in this catch.
The Laughing Policeman by Glenn Wood
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement C Moore – a catch from the Christmas tree!
Love Stories of World War II edited by Larry King
Skeleton Cave by Cora Cheney

Christmas at the FutureCat house, Part 2

Back again. The quick trip into town to drop off DVDs expanded slightly to include stopping off at The Coffee Club to drop off a few more books, and in Riccarton to go to Nature’s Discoveries to finish off the Christmas shopping (what do you mean you’re supposed to finish your Christmas shopping before Christmas? We’re not seeing the kids until January, so it’s much easier (and cheaper!) to wait until Boxing Day to buy their pressies!).

So, Christmas. A nice quiet relaxing day, consisting mostly of eating:

(That’s brunch, before I finished making the crepes (after I finished making the crepes we were too busy eating them to take photos :-)). Dinner was a nice piece of venison Dad gave us a while back, which we’ve had waiting in the freezer for a good reason to eat it. I combined a few different recipes (this is becoming a habit!) to come up with a red wine, juniper and redcurrant sauce for it, which reduced down to the most incredibly rich and wonderful sauce – I managed to impress myself with that one!)


(my new bookseat, which MrPloppy got me for Christmas after I’d shown him libertine101’s post about them)


(our traditional Christmas afternoon activity)

and cross-stitching (while half-watching The X-Files with MrPloppy – I got him the box set for Christmas, so we’ll be watching it for quite some time!):

(Yes, that is a new project I’m starting. And no, I haven’t finished all the other projects I’ve got on the go… but I felt like doing something nice and simple, and found this kit lurking in the bottom of my stash (it’s one Mum gave me – I think she picked it up at a garage sale or something))

A very pleasant way to spend a day.

Talking of cross-stitch, I have actually finished a project recently, and I don’t think I ever posted the finished product here:

Anyway, hope you all had/are having/will have a wonderful Christmas, and a totally lazy Boxing Day.

Christmas at the FutureCat house

Happy Boxing Day! (And Happy Christmas to those of you in the Western hemisphere still stuck in the past ;-))

We had a very quiet Christmas, as is our wont. After a hectic few weeks of work (a couple of big last minute projects, plus trying to catch up on all the work I hadn’t been able to do earlier in the year, plus the usual round of end-of-year celebrations (my final count was four lunches, one breakfast, one barbeque, and two morning teas – that’s the trouble with working for such a large organisation: you end up in so many different teams and committees that all want to mark the end of the year – which is fun, but it takes up so much time!)) I finally finished at lunchtime on the 23rd, as is traditional in our workplace. Still a huge pile of work on my desk, but nothing that can’t wait until I get back.

I’d been planning to get all sorts of useful stuff done on Wednesday afternoon, but it had been such a tiring few weeks that I ended up just curling up with a cat and a book. Sometimes you need to just stop for a while.

Christmas Eve saw us up bright and early to get to the supermarket before the hordes, to grab a few last minute things . Even that early it was still crowded, but we managed to get most of what we wanted without too much stress. The only failure was mince pies – the only ones the supermarket had left were their own brand, which we’ve had before, and were pretty horrible.

“Don’t worry,” I told MrPloppy (who is the real mince pie connoisseur – I don’t actually like them that much), “I’ll just buy some fruit mince and pasty and make you some.”

Except they were sold out of fruit mince too. Ah.

I was undaunted though. MrPloppy would still get his mince pies. I grabbed a bag of mixed dried fruit and peel, certain that my trusty Edmonds book must have a recipe for making fruit mince. Surely it couldn’t be too hard.

Back home I settled down with the Edmonds book. No mention of fruit mince. But finally after searching several more books I found a recipe. First ingredient: suet. Suet??? Who has suet??? Ok, keep reading the recipe, maybe you can substitute something else… “put mixture in jar and store in a cool dark place for at least three weeks” Three weeks????? Looks like MrPloppy would have to live without his mince pies after all.

Then I spotted another recipe. This one used fresh fruit, and didn’t have to ferment for three weeks. Of course, I didn’t have any of the fruit they listed, and it didn’t sound like it was going to taste much like traditional fruit mince, but I reckoned if I took some of the things from that recipe, and some from the other, plus a few ideas I had of my own (and a few substitutions because I couldn’t be bothered going back to the supermarket), I’d get something that would taste kind of like mince pies.

And amazingly, it worked! The fruit mince came out a little bit lighter in colour than the bought stuff, but otherwise looked and tasted pretty similar. And MrPloppy approved of the final product.

So here’s the FutureCat version of fruit mince:

400g of mixed dried fruit and peel (of the variety sold for making Christmas cakes)
1 cup apple sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup brandy

Mix together and simmer very gently for about 20 minutes until almost all the liquid is gone and you’re left with a thick syrupy mixture. Cool, then make mince pies using sweet shortcrust pastry. Makes about 24 pies.

In the evening, we’d been going to have the traditional Christchurch bookcrossing Christmas gathering, followed by an expedition to Jellie Park to create our BC Christmas tree. But in the end all of the usual suspects were busy that night (though the gwilks did pop round for a quick visit earlier in the evening, and lytteltonwitch phoned from London, so we weren’t completely abandoned by our bookcrossing friends :-)), so MrPloppy and I just had a quiet evening eating mince pies and raspberries and playing scrabble, then went and did the tree by ourselves:

I hadn’t managed to collect up quite as many Christmas-themed books as usual (and we definitely missed lytteltonwitch’s contribution!), but we still managed a reasonable display.

The Little Drummer Girl by John Le Carré
Her Christmas Fantasy by Penny Jordan
Christmas with a Latin Lover by Lynne Graham, Penny Jordan and Lucy Gordon
Merry Christmas by Emma Darcy
Christmas at His Command by Helen Brooks
Red Carpet Christmas by Patricia Rosemoor and Christmas Ransom by Jenna Ryan
Noël by Romeo Muller
Chimney Witch Christmas by Victoria Whitehead
Santa’s Christmas Joke Book by Katie Wales
Married by Christmas by Diana Palmer, Catherine George and Louise Allan
His Christmas Angel by Michelle Douglas
Christmas Cover-Up by Cassie Miles
Classified Christmas by BJ Daniels
Holly and Mistletoe by Susan Mallery
A Surprise Christmas Proposal by Liz Fielding
Christmas Eve Wedding by Penny Jordan
Their Christmas Wish Come True by Cara Colter
A Christmas Visitor by Anne Perry
The Puffin Book of Christmas Poems compiled by Wes Magee
Horrid Henry’s Christmas Cracker by Francesca Simon
Spot’s Magical Christmas by Eric Hill
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement C Moore (which has been caught already!)
Christmas Fun Book by Jean Chapman

Oops, better go. We have to go into town to return some DVDs, and the bus will be here any minute. Part two of the Christmas story will resume after this short break…

Pretty Sparkles

(Note the cat stocking lytteltonwitch sent us from the UK, hanging in pride of place on the fireplace. I keep hinting to MrPloppy that stockings should always contain chocolates by Christmas morning…)

New to the tree this year:

I bought this one when I was supposed to be buying an ornament for the BC Ornament Exchange. I loved this one, but it’s made of glass, so would have been impossible to ship, so I bought my exchangee a kiwi with a santa hat instead, but I couldn’t resist buying my first choice for myself.

Mum always buys us a decoration or two every year (and she totally gets my quirky taste!). We actually got this (and the next one) last Christmas, but they arrived too late to put them on the tree last year, so they’ve had to wait until this year for their début.

(I keep reading her banner as “Peace One Earth”)

This and the next one came from the BC Ornament Exchange.

(Sorry for the awful photo – it was hanging from a low branch in an awkward spot to photograph (yeah, I could have just moved it while I took the photo, but where’s the challenge in that? :-)). And in case you can’t tell, it’s the silver bell you’re supposed to be looking at.)

This one was a present from the rest of the convention organising committee – at the farewell they presented lytteltonwitch and I with baskets filled with all sorts of wonderful goodies.

(I really will write more real stuff sometime soon, I promise, but things have been just so incredibly busy at work I haven’t been able to get up any enthusiasm for sitting at a computer when I get home. But hey, an entry full of photos has got to be better than nothing at all…)

Only two and a half more days of work!