I've said it before and I'll say it again - I am not a "girly" girl.
Neither am I Susie Homemaker. Life is too damn short to stuff a mushroom.
But this year...
I've come over all Nigella.
I have spent the best part of 2 hours scouring Northwich for cloves (not a sniff - good job I have half a jiffy bag of the little blighters left over from a Tudor history project c.1999 that still have a strong aroma. Thank you Cathy at Schwartz, for your overwhelming generosity - 7 years later and I still haven't found the bottom of the bag), star anise and whole allspice(finally tracked down in the Health food shop), maple syrup (last bottle retreived from the back of a 6 ft high, 4 ft deep shelf by a gangly youth at Sainsbury's), chestnuts (scraped from the bottom of the last basket at Tesco) and semolina (none left at all anywhere). Anyone who knows Northwich will know that 2 hours usually gives you a chance to explore every nook and cranny, so it's a sign of how far the fragrant Nigella has invaded our consciousness this Christmas.
Saying that, I've just made my own cranberry sauce and it took no time at all. No, really... by the time I'd got the packet of mince pies open, they were ready to pour into a bowl!
I also have everything I need for the gingerbread stuffing and a brand new bucket to give the turkey its spicy brine bath tonight, in readiness for our own Christmas dinner tomorrow (we always have one on our own before we set out visiting).
Now if only I could look as gorgeous as Nigella in my dressing gown, I'll have cracked it. I'm not sure blue toweling covered in cat hair quite creates the impression I'm after, but heigh-ho...