5 December

Gift tag accounting

This evening (St Nicholas Eve), Sinterklaas leaves presents for Dutch children. Sometimes he hides them in the house and leaves a clue behind; sometimes he leaves them in a sack on the doorstep, knocks on the door and runs away before the door is opened.[1]

Perhaps you’re starting to receive presents now even if your family doesn’t come from the Netherlands? As you unwrap each, keep the gift tag, write what the present was on the back of it (as if you were your own bridesmaid) and put them in a Christmas tin to help you write your present list for next year.[2]

Tickets on yourself.

I ducked out to get presents for Gemma and Paul today and was glad that my present shopping is usually finished by now because the crowds are starting to hot up. I found a scarf for her, in a shade of turquoise she wears a lot, and a Guide Dogs calendar for him because the puppies were so darn cute. (I haven’t actually met him and all I know of his tastes is that he likes indoor cricket, but who can resist puppies?)

[1] Is he hiding something, is he merely shy, or is he on the spectrum?

[2] My cousin Peter used to also do a price check on the gifts he received and then use the dollar amount as an input to his present budget for the following year, but he dropped that tit-for-tat approach when he moved to his one-book-for-all model.

3 November


If you’re growing herbs for hampers, they may be ready for drying now. Hanging them upside down in bunches and letting nature take its course is traditional but doing them in the oven is faster and less risky.[1]

Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (and oregano, chives and spearmint).

I’ve persuaded Gemma to volunteer for the social club committee. I think the party cubs will enjoy working with her because she’s fun-loving and young but she also understands that a beer budget can’t be stretched to champagne cocktails. Provided she doesn’t propose anything to do with indoor cricket, I think we’ll all be very happy with her.

[1] My friend Fiona was drying bunches of parsley in the sun in her bay window and she walked in one morning to find them covered with caterpillars. She said the creatures were the same colour as the swirls on her couch so it took her days before she was convinced that she’d got them all out.