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Sunday, 22 December 2013


This hop, for me, is necessary.

And I don't feel it's too arrogant to say that I reckon there are more than just I who feel this way. It is absolutely the most wonderful thing, that folks around the world have taken this exercise, this tool - this hop - and turned it into a functioning, integral part of their lives, and are seeking the Thankfuls even without a hop to post it on! I am blown away by this.

The exercise of actively combatting the crap in life (and believe me, at the moment I've got more shit to deal with than a care assistant in a hospital full of Norovirus...) by seeking out the Good Things and shifting the focus, even for half an hour, into the lovely, the wonderful, the noble, the right and the awesome, is a game-changer.

It's like taking NOS for pain. The pain is still there, but you get hopped up on the drug and you care less.

Today I care less. Good stuff happened.

1. I eventually was persuaded to ignore the fact that I looked like shit from crying all evening, and entered into a spirit of (hesitant at first) fun on the Wakefield Doctrine Midnight Snackette VidChat. Because in an unprecedented turn of events, Jak and Kate showed up! WAHEY!. They're so CUTE. And we had an awesome time.

2. Michelle was there, trying to put Cloudy on her head (I think, or was I asleep again?), taking us on a tour of Singapore and laughing with guys on the subway as I yelled "HELP! I'M STUCK IN THIS LADY'S PHONE", sending everyone close to her into fits of giggles.

3. Clark and Denise were by turns insightful, hilarious, wonderful, that's all. I'll stop at wonderful. I was gonna say creepy, what with the references to the Secret Book of Rules and the GuardVirgins and the ritual dances and vaguely incestu...NO! You'd really have to join us on VidChat to see that honestly, only Clark is creepy*, and Denise is just gorgeouswonderful.

4. Zoe was there. She said "Schnookered" for me in that accent she has. She said it several times because I begged her to. Because I love when she says it. I dunno what it is - whether it's the inherent funniness of the word or the awesomeness of her accent, but as a bit of a lingophile (okay, a lot of a lingophile) it just *does* something to me and I can't hear it enough. Just exactly that combination.

5. State champion Kristi was there, too, and absolutely made my night with dirty jokes, tales of indiscretion (not *always* hers), sweary fights, giggling-out-loud-hilariousness and masses and masses of wonderfulness. She's awesome on paper (you've read her, right? Mindblowing) and in person just exceeds every expectation.I cannot speak highly enough of this awesome lady.

6. I had a lie-in this morning. Til midday. It was a beautiful thing. Silver linings, yo!

7. Husby and I have decided (with tongues very firmly in cheeks) that we're going to be DINKs (that's 'Double Income, No Kids'). We're going to both join gyms and start wearing designer clothes. I'm going to have a couple of plastic surgeries to correct those few little things that even losing a load of weight won't fix. And we're going to go on lots of fabulous holidays to wonderful places, and sneer and look bored when someone starts on about their kids, because our lives are going to be JUST TOO FULL AND IMPORTANT to fit any in.

8. Husby wrote all the Christmas cards I've been hiding from. And addressed all the envelopes. All I had to do was sign my name. The man is amazing. I sat in my t-shirt in my warm-enough-without-heating flat, rocking out to James Brown, signing my name at arm's length, and knowing that I COULD do this.

And this before my awesome friend Starr sent me the following picture, which is utterly perfect. She Knows. She also has Holiday-related no-baby trauma. She has it worse than I do, in many ways. And we're both counting down those final four days until it's over and we can breathe again. The concept, the season, and the pressure will be done with. And we can go on at our less-intense levels of dysfunction. Huzzah!

9. We picked up Niece and Neff for a pre-Christmas sleepover. They are SO adorable. We got a new headlight bulb for my car, fitted by the wonderful car-guy at Halfords (though I always hate Halfords and swear never to go back, paying for a guy in head-to-toe neon orange waterproofs and a bad-ass goatee to fix my headlight, rather than struggling with it myself, is an absolute no-brainer). We got some shopping in, and ingredients to make dessert. A local charity were there in the entrance to the store, with their (legendary in my city) Santa And Reindeer On A Trailer, which they tow through the streets, blaring Christmas carols, collecting money for a homeless charity.

As a kid, their visit used to be one of the high points of Christmas. Even if we'd gone to bed, we'd hear the Christmas carols as they slowly moved down the street, and we'd wait, breath bated and the air thick with excitement, until we were finally called downstairs, to stand on the doorstep, shivering with cold in our nighties, to put a coin in the collection bucket and look out at the street and see the tinsel-wrapped Santa, listen to the carols, and see the fairy lights around the trailer making the dark street full of wonder and magic. I think sometimes there were lollipops, too.

It was always a late-night moment of sheer fantasy, and this evening, I got to witness the joy as the magic was passed down to the next generation. Niece and Neff's faces were pictures of delight as they clamoured to donate their coin, and then stared in wonder at the plastic, tinsel-wrapped Santa. They swung around a nearby lamp-post in fits of excitement and happiness, and Neff was so overcome that he jumped down to do a quick boogie of the Oppa Gangnam Style dance for Santa.

And I stood, and felt Husby reach for my shoulder and just rest his hand there. I turned in time to bury my head in his shoulder as the rapid tears came and the bitter knife twisted in both our hearts simultaneously - that in the midst of such a sweet family moment, the children weren't ours. And that as wonderful as it was to see Niece and Neff so transported with delight...this might be the extent of our passing-on of such a gorgeous part of Christmas.

But I grabbed their hands and dried my tears and we went home. Neff and Husby played toy soldiers (I hate them less when Husby's got Neff hooked in and excited and learning and loving it) and Niece and I made a no-bake banana creme pie (milk free - try figuring THAT one out!). Niece ended up absolutely coated in the creme - I think she thought it was face cream...- and when we ate it later, it was rich and scrumptious.

Sweet, sassy girl
Then it was kinda late. So we skipped bathtime and went straight for the surprise - a bundled in PJs, snuggled in blankets drive around the city, an hour after bedtime, to see the Christmas lights everyone had put up. They. Loved. It.

AND got to stay up late. We are the best Aunty and Uncle ever (and perhaps the worse Sister and Brother-In-Law....). And at the moment, as I write, I have the delicious luxury of knowing that there are two darling children asleep in my home, and they're both a little bit mine.

10. I danced my way past the 7 GuardVirgins and gave them the secret handshake. I got to the Secret Book of Rules. #15b says that there was enough thankful in my ninth. I'm done.

Oh alright! I'll give you the recipe.

Milk-Free Banana Creme Pie

DISCLAIMER: If you're not a good cook by nature, or are a strict follower of The Recipe, I apologise. This is not the thing for you.

For the pie crust
2/3ish of a packet of crushed sweet, dry biscuits. We used Rich Tea
1 mashed banana
2 tblsp vanilla Fluff
3-4 pours of soya cream

For the creme
The rest of the jar of vanilla Fluff
Enough soya cream to make it gloopy but not too runny. Judge for yourself. And learn how to be 'cheffy'.

1 banana, finely sliced.
Toffee ice-cream sauce. And strawberry, for when you discover too late that the toffee flavour has milk in it, rendering the whole 'no milk' exercise pointless. Or toffeeless.


Add the mashed banana, Fluff and soya cream to the crushed biscuits. Stir until absorbed, then stir harder until you get a lumpyish mixture, then get in there with your hands and force it to become one and turn into biscuit dough. Press it into a pie tin with a pop-uppable base, and chill, ensuring that you have sufficient crust up the edges of the tin to hold the filling.

Dump out the rest of the jar of Fluff into a bowl and add a dash or two of cream, whisking until you're happy with the consistency. Take the pie crust out of the fridge, discover it's not solid yet and go ahead anyway, layering the base with the sliced banana and oozing the creme over the top.

Place pie in freezer for at least until the kids have scarfed down their sausages and are clamouring for dessert.

Release from tin, slice, scoop and enjoy. And eat their portions when they get silly about it being too sweet. Replace the rest in the freezer to continue chilling.

And then have some more right after writing the recipe and remembering how awesome it was. And discover that frozen, the creme turns to marshmallow ice-cream, and the banana slices are frozen heaven, and the crust is incredible and I'm sorry, but this beats even the Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark for amazingness...!

*And doubtless only to see how far he can push the envelope before one of us takes the bait...

Ten Things of Thankful


  1. There's so much take-away from this post and so many things I want to say to you, but at the end, all I can think about, all I can say is that you look so ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL in that picture.

    Lizzi, I've never seen you so bright eyed, smiling so much like you really mean the smile. Dare I say you look . . . happy?


    1. D'awwwwwh *blushes furiously*

      Fanx. You're the sweetest :) *hugs*

      And yes, I really did mean it. I had two contented, gorgeous, kindasortamine children at my table, ready to be filled with food we cooked together, before going on an adventure in the dark, seeking some Christmas magic.

      For a few precious hours, my cup of joy has been full. It's been a flavour of what I want...

  2. it was one of the better ones!

    the vid chat is turning out to be a very cool live adjunct to this here blog hop here!

    don't forget tomorrow half twelve!

    1. YESS! Can't wait. I'm hooking people in - they're all getting geared up for it :D It's gonna be EPIC.

  3. Sounds like I was schnookered too early....dammit...although jak and kate were adorable.

    I am pretty cheffy...I am also fairly gutless (no.not like you think...I got internal organs...) that said I pick and choose what I cosume very carefully (eg I still have a diet coke from two weeks ago...time to dump it)...anyway...I digress...I would totally take a fork to that concocction!

    1. You were! It was so sad you left.

      It sounds as though this pie would be RIGHT up your street. It's incredible. And I once drank a 'full fat' coke which had been in the fridge for about 2 months. It was fine. I can't bear waste. I will nearly always eat something rather than throw it away - you heard about my bread-and-butter pudding, didn't you? We had an entire loaf going moldy, so I chopped the mold off the outsides and used it to make the pudding. But apparently I didn't quite get ALL the mold. So it tastes delicious...and then sometimes kinda funky. But it's edible and has been baked, so I'm sure it's fine...

  4. I'd read your first post earlier today and then I read this one. And I'm so glad I did. You holding your pie and counting your able to make a joke about the things that are hurting the most, brought a grin to my face. I'm so glad. Also, I finally stopped being a lazy git (Did I do it right?) and wrote a post for this hop. :D

    1. I'm glad I was able to write this one, to counterbalance the other. It truly needed it. My LIFE truly needed it - a little influx of positivity and humour.

      LOL @ 'lazy git' - you did it perfectly. And I'm really looking forward to your post :)

  5. Yay for all of these things! I absolutely LOVE the snuggled in blankets and jammies drive around town to see the Christmas lights - what fun! No doubt your Niece and Neff know they are well loved. :)

    1. It was another rare high point left over from when I was little. We used to do that sometimes, and it was always amazing. I love that I got to pass it on - another family tradition. Just a shame I don't get to do it properly. But this is HALF of one of the really wonderful things about family. So there's that.

  6. Wait a minute! Bread and butter pudding?! 2 of my favorite things:)

    Well, well, welly Ms. Lizter. You and your blog are a respite always. A joy even in the "dark times". I so love to read your words. But then, I've said that before haven't I?

    No one makes a better aunty than a clarklike female:) Sorry all you scottian and rogerian ladies out there! I know for a fact, you were feeling the magic as if transported your own damn self back to childhood. Niece and Neff are lucky to have you both.

    No. 7 sounds like a fabulous idea. Do it! You know, as I was standing in the post office yesterday, I found myself staring at the area with the signs about all the passport regs. passport has expired. Perhaps get another?

    Hey Zoe! It's funny, when you first uttered "schnookered" on that vid chat, I was thinking how I hadn't heard that term in ages. Nice one, sharing with the younger generation:)

    Later baby. Later.

    1. Have you ever tried it? The proper, English one? It's amazing. I am SUCH a bread-head. It's truly my weakness. More so even than crisps....

      Why thank you, dear - yes you have told me before, but I am vain and am always delighted to hear you say it again :D

      I do so adore being their Aunty. They're the most wonderful, gorgeous children ever. Even when they're being little toads! And yes. I was totally back there. Especially with the Santa-and-Reindeer-on-a-trailer thing. I was right back there, on my doorstep, in my nightie, shivering with excitement as the men in Santa hats with the collection buckets got closer and closer (going up each garden path to each glowing, open door to receive their donations), and finally it being our turn, and watching the sleigh go by in all its glory and blaze of lights and heavenly music.... Loved every moment, apart from all the sadness.

      Sounds like a plan - get another passport and become a jet-setter. I'm going to renew mine into my married name when it runs out. You see how much of a traveller I'm really NOT!

      *grins* I have HEARD the term before, but just never used by a real person. Or spoken so wonderfully.

      And, by the way, NOW! (I hope *checks clock*)

  7. Oh. My. Goodness. This made my morning as I made my way over to see the other weekend renegades! What a difference in you! You look so beautiful in your picture and it has made my day to see that smile! I especially loved the part about Santa and Reindeer sighting that has made it's way to another generation and that you got to share that with Niece and Neff. So glad for all the good you got yesterday :)

    1. That's my "I've got a beautiful pie" smile ;)

      I'm glad you enjoyed reading it. It was so, SO lovely to be able to write it, and know that once again, I've been dragged up from the Abyss and plopped back into a world which holds humour and wonder and happiness and love.

      I'm truly glad and honoured to be able to pass these traditions down through our family. Not without pangs, but I loved doing it.

  8. Love to see your beautiful picture, my dear. Sounds like a glorious day. Glad you had such a lovely visit with Niece and Neff, and that everyone got to sleep in (I have NEVER been one to sleep in...even as a kiddo I would be up by about 6 every morning. Old habits die hard!)

    And happy as I am for you, I take umbrage by the comment about Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark. I hate to correct you, but I believe you are slightly mistaken. But your smile holding it is BEAUTIFUL so I suppose I'll let the comment stand. :)


    1. It was really, really lovely, thanks :)

      How on EARTH would you get up so early?

      I've been a night-owl since forever. As a wee babe I had colic with push-button timing every night until late. It set a precedent I have yet to want to escape from. Late night is MY time. My brain is alive and buzzing and I'm ready to reach out, connect with others and start having fun. Mornings leave me muzzy-headed and ready for nothing.

      That said, the sleep was much diminished with the kiddies here - one with a nasty cough which required constant tending. *sigh* STILL. I know from long experience how good I can last on 2 hours...

      Ack! I was hoping that a pretty picture might mitigate what was bound to be perceived as a slight...but hold on there a minute, Milady - I have a proposal. Because I've tried and tested both recipes. And you haven't, so I everso-slightly feel that you might not yet be qualified to make that call.

      *slaps you gently around the face with an oven glove* I hereby challenge thee to a taste test!

      *HUGS* :D :D :D

  9. Just so happy to read that you have had a great few days in spite of how you have been feeling at this time of the year. Loved seeing the picture of you with your beautiful smile. And the pie looks and sounds amazing. May have to try soon and thank you for sharing!! :)

    1. It was a great day. It was very good :D

      Glad you liked the pic - and YES! Do try the pie. It's sooooo yummy

  10. Making delicious desserts with adorable Niece certainly helps a heart feel lighter. I concur. It's a great photo.
    Sounds like another fabulous vidchat. And Jak showed up!?!? Never thought I'd see day. Where has he been, anyway?
    I think my favorite part of this post is the interactions with you and Husby. You are a team. You are experiencing these things differently but together. Together. Truly. You two can do this. (I love that photo of the little boy.)

    1. It was so much fun. The kid done well at making.

      Jak has showed up THRICE now, and he's SO MUCH FUN! Where have you ever been when he's there?? C'mon - you're lagging! He's been busy being a good boyfriend, I think.

      I'm glad you liked what you saw. We are a team...we are a team...we are a team...


  11. I haven't finished reading this whole post but I scrolled down to make it quicker because it's 3 p.m. and I haven't taken a shower!! I will come back later to finish reading it but I had to comment on how pretty you look on that picture girl!!!

    1. Thanks. I wish that still helped :) *sigh*

      Enjoy your shower, and hope you enjoy the rest of this later.

  12. Love this silver linings list! Sending love and hugs...

  13. Re-read all of this over and over again... those moments. THOSE moments. There are more of them. Good ones. Those precious moments- that are all yours. Despite the sadness and the anger...
    And you guys will be SO rich you will come to this land of ours and have a celebration of incredible friendships!!
    Go back to all of your posts when you fall. They will remind you that there is light in your life, radiating if you let it.

    1. If I let it. Yes. There is, and that's very true.

      I should definitely do that.

  14. I so wish you would've lived near me when my kids were little. They needed someone like you in their life. It sounds like (maybe) you are healing (a little teeny tiny bit?) in this post. I'm happy to read that there are molehill ups in your world. Still thinking about you and hoping for some sort of peace in you and husby's world.

    1. This was a particularly good day and I thoroughly enjoyed and needed it.

      Healing *is* happening, in a very small way, I think. It's not consistent yet, but it is different.

      Thanks Linda.

  15. I'm not cheffy (nice word) but that pie looks worth the time and effort! What a great memory for you and the kids, you ARE the best Auntie!
    I like your DINK plan except.the surgery part, not needed!

    1. It's a goooooood pie! Well worth doing.

      I do hope they remember and enjoy what we did :) It was really lovely to be able to do this for them.

      The DINK plan is looking more likely. And we'll see. I'd love a new nose...

  16. Lizzy, I can really almost see the joy in the kid's faces as you described the magic that unfolded in the car. I am sorry that it was such a bittersweet experience.

    I cannot tell you enough how I wish and pray that, some day, you will have kids who will be completely yours (that sentence really broke my heart). xoxoxo

    1. They had such an amazing time. Just like I hoped. It just underlined how sad it is that they're not mine, and that I might well never get to do that with mine...

      We'll see. We have til February. And then one shot at treatment. And then all of our chances are gone. My heart breaks every day about that. *HUGS*


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