crystal's capers

one girl's international adventures

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Company's Coming

The holidays are off to a roaring start. In our three days off alone together, Riccardo and I have conquered the following:
  • chocolate chip cookies
  • chorizo & manchego puffs
  • almond/cinnamon stars
  • mini quiches
  • ham & cheese logs
  • chocolate maccaroons
  • decorated sugar cookies
  • crab & cream cheese filo triangles
  • cherry tarts
All this in preparation for our Three Weeks of Family, as I've named Christmas, 2009. What's more, I'm currently making homemade spinach soup and fish pie. Hopefully this all means I can pretty much avoid the kitchen, apart from The Christmas Feast!

So the in-laws arrive this afternoon. The sister-and-brother-in-law tomorrow morning. They'll all stay through to the 28th, and on the 29th my sisters, mom and niece arrive. Can't wait!

We've got loads of activities planned: a visit to the Frankfurt Christmas Market in Birmingham (so awesome!); two visits to Stratford; Boxing Day at the Dog Races; fondue; a day trip to Windsor Castle; raclette; bowling with family and friends; and probably, loads of board games, movies, snowy walks, and eating thrown in for good measure. I love Christmas!

Well folks, since this is probably the last internet time I'll have to myself in the coming days/weeks,


Wishing you and yours health and happiness this holiday season.
Love Crystal & Riccardo

P.S. Inevitably, pictures will follow in the new year.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Pantomime and stuff

The ole Panto is infamous in these here parts. It's not a mime, btw. It's just a really silly type of play, usually put on around Christmastime, and generally requiring a great deal of audience participation.

It's school tradition for the teachers to put on a Panto for the pupils every year. This year we're doing our rendition of 'Cinderella'. Good fun. I'm only really in two of the five acts, and only have about ten lines, but I quite like strutting my stuff as 'Cheryl Mole' - a spin off of Cheryl Cole, for those of you who don't know. She's known for being one of the ladies in Girls Aloud (I think that's the one), and for being a judge on X-Factor, the British version of American Idol, along side Simon Cowel and Kylie Minogue - and yes, two colleagues are playing spin-offs of those characters as well: Simon Foul and Doilie Monologue.

So that's fun. We had dress rehearsal tonight, and all went well. Three showings tomorrow, all to the kids - let's hope they like it!

What else am I doing now? Well, wrapping presents. Adding to my Christmas grocery order (which is closely approaching 300 quid! Ahhh!). Waiting for Riccardo to get home in the morning (he's been in Shanghai this week, planning his company's involvement in Expo 2010).

Tomorrow we break up for Christmas. Two weeks well deserved, I think. This term has been manic. Riccardo's family arrives on Tuesday and then it's three weeks of full-on family. Woo-hoo!

Sadly though, at this point what I'm looking forward to the most is SLEEPING.

Happy Christmas to you all!
xx C


Monday, December 07, 2009

'At the dogs'

The festive season has officially begun. It seems our Christmastime engagements multiply exponentially year on year. So far, I think this is a good thing, but wait.

To kick of the holiday festivities, on Saturday we attended a party hosted by one of Riccardo's suppliers from work. In true British style, it was located, 'at the dogs', which means, at the dog races.

You heard me. Never thought I'd find my way to the greyhound track, but somehow it happened.

Actually, it was a riot! The people were lovely, the food delicious, the bar open ('nuff said) and our executive box gave us a view of the whole track. The hosts even provided us with 10 pounds betting money to get started. And thanks to me, 10 quid was all we needed!

At the dogs, people tend to stick with low bets; the fun is in the winning, not in the winnings, if ya get me. So that's what I did. I'm not really into gambling anyway. In the first couple races, I tried my hand at a variety of techniques, such as betting on dogs to place (come in the top three) and splitting my odds (betting on a couple possible dogs to win, either/or). But my real luck came through when I started betting to win. My technique: pick the dog with the funniest name. And it worked, by golly! I managed to pick the winning dog in 6 out of 12 races! - there were 13 races, but we sat one out; and there are 6 different dogs per race. Woo-hoo!

So despite Riccardo losing much of my horde through his closely-analysed statistical betting technique, we still left with nearly 25 quid - 15 more than they gave us in the first place! Such a good time.

Yeah, there are already plans in the works to return: it's been suggested that we take the in-laws when they visit, on Boxing Day! hahaha!


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