Leaving work sooner than I had initially planned, and the vagaries of Vicky's freelancing has meant that I worried more about money this month than I have all year. We haven't exactly been broke or come quite close to it, but I suspect that I like worrying about money. Like a hobby perhaps. Nothing else explains why I do it with such passion and for so little reason.
Anyway, so my thrifty thinking this month had some unexpected benefits:
I baked and baked and baked. I didn't know I could make all these things. When we went to New Market with the girls, Evie took me to a shop which had the most adorable baking ware. Pans and tins of all shapes and sizes, with loose bottoms and without... I bought myself a dozen cupcake cases only, because I was feeling broke. (Otherwise my soul has been yearning to try out souffles and as we all know, those need wee glass ramekins... hmm, I do have an anniversary coming up!) The cupcake cases came in very handy this Christmas together with the silicone cupcake cases Ma got me from Vizag because all I did for Christmas was bake cupcakes by the dozens. I experimented with a choco-bourbon bundt recipe from Dot to make chocolate rum'n'raisin cupcakes which are only getting better with age. I baked mocha chocolate chip muffins which raised my eyebrows by the amount of choco chips they called for but turned out better than anything I've had from a bakery along those lines. My last batch was eggless brownie cupcakes which disappointed me a bit because they were the very first things I had baked with oil instead of butter and I could taste the difference. They were very chocolate-y though, so I will probably give them another shot with butter.
The joy of all this baking was counting what it cost me to make these forty cakes. Yes, chocolate and cocoa and sugar and butter are all very expensive but considering that I not only fed guests and ourselves but also sent out cakes to friends and family, I think it was all very cost effective. In addition, this time I finally got around to using local cooking butter which was cheaper and made no difference to the taste.
I have also cooked a bit more in recent times than I would have otherwise. I ended up making things like chilli chicken and pasta and keema sandwiches which I haven't made in a long time and obviously, since I made them at home, they were the healthier alternative to restaurant food. (I tend to go easy on the oil etc when I cook.)
The other area in which I did not go overboard was Christmas gifts. Last year Rahul had a boatload of gifts under his tree. This year, my only contribution was adding my handful of Mr Men books to the two Aunty Ro (and Ayaan and Tarana) had brought him. Apart from this he got a 3D Cars book from the Mad Momma, a 'big boy' book of poetry and a Santhal bow and arrows from Li'lpet, Payal Jethima and Suhrid jethu. He also got a small gift at the tree decorating party on Christmas Eve, not to mention cartloads of gifts when Christmas came early, so I didn't feel particularly bad for him. But he did mention to his dad that there were fewer gifts this year. :)
And what did I get? A clean fishbowl -- my only request to 'Santa'! -- and a sleep in on Christmas morning. Diamonds wouldn't have made me grin bigger when I finally did get up.
Here is a pic of our tree that I took this morning. Funnily enough, it looked taller somehow last year when the boy was shorter. This year he hasn't quite towered over it, but next year he will.
We decided to anchor it inside Rahul's little tub this year, held in place by Louis the Bear and Srinivas Teddy, ringed around by Rahul's new anaconda toy. You can see the Santa Claus Vicky made last year, Art's Jagannath at the base (it's too heavy for this tree's branches) and a sock ornament and a moon higher up from Ro last year. It's funny how we have only had our tree for two years and already it has its own set of traditions. Breaking with these 'traditions' we did not have the angel on top, but stuck a star with its own little story up there instead. Keeping with the 'tradition', Li'lpet and her parents came over to help us decorate the tree. It's all lopsided from the kids' efforts but it's damn cute.
It has been a good Christmas. A good month. A good rounding off to a year that has seen more good than bad.