With this in mind, my party and the weekend celebrations were wonderful, if not entirely to plan. Fortunately, ever since my wedding when I was but a mere slip of a lass at 26, I learned the lifelong lesson that "the best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley" translation: the best laid plans of the big and the small can go awry, no matter what you do. It was a great wedding but things went awry ; things I couldn't change, things I couldn't know; I went with the flow as I realised quickly that that which cannot be changed must be accepted. Plus nobody would ever tolerate a braying, bridezilla beastie in my family and they'd soon begin plying me with whisky.
Having spent weeks on the children's rooms, my plan was to spend another few weeks on some home improvements, painting and organising, in time for the party and Christmas, as is the way of women and men everywhere. I wanted the house fresh, spotless and myself rested, having spent a leisurely few days cooking, with possibly some light dusting and a polish the day before. Of course, this was before swine flu hit me like a brick wall and floored me for several weeks, but still, I recovered well enough to continue.
That's when the little things came; a day off school here and there as the children became ill, unexpected visitors. A leak, a break down, a mistake and a job. All these things led to things going ever so slightly not to plan. Thursday, my 40th birthday, I let it all go and was woken to tea in bed, flowers, gifts and was taken for breakfast by Shona where I consumed pastries and lovely coffee before heading to the spa for my massage. My sis and I floated out of our treatment rooms, happy and relaxed as we got ready to go to The Dining Room on Bath Street for lunch.
Susan and I had the pate starter while Louise, Susan's friend went for the soup. I had expertly cooked salmon with a sweet chilli dressing but still looked longingly at the chicken with black pudding mash on the girl's plates until Susan took pity and gave me some to taste. Both the salmon and chicken were lovely and was washed down by a nice bottle of the house white.
Susan and Louise headed to the hotel as they'd booked rooms for the night because her party was being held there. I wandered round a few shops on my way to the train station, where I was to find myself stuck for ages due to a random flower petal hovering over the line or somesuch nonsense but the wine had had a pleasant, soporific effect and I sat staring at the pigeons until the train eventually arrived.
The entire family, including my mum, father in law, big sis, Brian and the kids all went to Di Maggios for pasta and pizza before heading over to Susan's party. The DJ played some good old classics and the place was packed with those helping her to celebrate. We stayed for a while, leaving early for a party but late for the kids and headed home, contented and tired.
The Friday, despite my best intentions, more Little Things came and we arrived at our friend's, Ricky and Irene's house late for the planned fireworks party. We stayed only a few hours but despite the amount of things I wanted to get done on my return, I was too tired and conked out at the sight of my lovely, beautiful bed.
We worked hard all Saturday and the house was transformed into a mellow, candlelit abode with flowers everywhere, and the smell of spices, curry and mint filling the street. As everyone arrived, we hadn't quite finished making all the cocktails although there was a table full of pink, green and yellow drinks. We calmly answered the door and greeted our lovely guests with hugs, drinks and chat, then frantically ran to the kitchen to make more French Martinis, Mojitos and Champagne cocktails. The table was laden with spicy onions, mango dips, poppadums, spicy almonds, chilli snacks, pickles and rice crackers.
The pakora-chicken which had been marinated in yoghurt and spices, mushroom and potato was placed in the oven and the onion bhajis too. I had made a yoghurt dip to accompany them and it looked delicious. By the time I went to try some, it was all gone, surely a good sign; this made me happy and I hope it was nice. As I went to heat up the curries, I suddenly realised something as I searched for my bread: I had missed out an entire afternoon of preparation and it slowly donned on me that I had crossed it off the list, in my tired state on Friday night and that, in fact, there was things still to do.
After the initial cold shiver from my head to my toes, I thought about it for a moment to understand what had not been done; no bread...I was to cook paratha, poori and peshwari naan...I hadn't finished my lamb sauce although the lamb was cooked and I hadn't even tasted the korma. The chicken stew was refrigerated before cooking had been finished and my chickpea stew was nowhere to be found. This was a freakin disaster! I took a few deep breathes and spoke to Brian:
Him: "There is plenty of food; do you have time to cook at least the bread now?"
Him: "Is there rice?"
Me: "Yes, lots"
Him: "Then we're fine".
With that, I served two large bowls of rice, lamb curry, which had enough lamb in it to feed a small army, what with four legs of lamb being cooked, with tasty enough sauce, despite it not being finished to my liking, tender chicken korma, again, it was finished by the time I got to the table which I was again happy about because I can assume it was good, having never made it before, Rajasthani chicken, baked after marinading twice and a nice vegetable curry with my own sauce served with mushrooms, courgettes, onions and homemade muttar paneer (cheese).
The tikka bites, chicken stew, chickpea stew with dumplings, breads and tomato and cucumber salad did not get served. The best laid schemes o' mice and men....
Once the food was served, I poured a large glass of champagne and settled in with my friends to talk, laugh and enjoy their company. A good time was had by all. I had managed to prepare fruit petit fours; strawberries, raspberries and tangerine slices dipped in chocolate, some with nuts or coconut in little petit four cases for a wee dessert before moving on to Sam's amazing birthday cake which she had made for me.
I do have to add that the Sunday was total bliss; nursing a little hangover, I lay on the couch napping ,watching The Wizard of Oz with the kids, Brian waking me from my various slumbers with bacon rolls, Lucozade and Irn Bru, mugs of tea and chocolate. When ready, I opened my beautiful, wonderful gifts and Brian pottered about all day, cleaning up the mess. It was like Boxing Day; Christmas is wonderful but Boxing Day is for the mums.
Unfortunately, not a lot of pics were taken of the food, despite me reminding the photographers of my food blog...yes, you! But still....