Things I love about Christmas!

It’s the festive season, here in Australia, and the other day, while explaining to someone how much I love Celine Dion, I got onto discussing all the things I bloody love about this time of year. Sure, there are a few speed bumps to having a perfect Christmas, such as family dynamics that make walking through a mine field look easy. And there’s the fact it doesn’t snow here. Just about all our Christmas cards depict snow, but it’s summer on this side of the world, and we often have hideous heatwaves, which are no fun when you are trying to roast a turkey and a whole bunch of vegetables. But it’s excellent if you want to go to the beach and swim, and there’s always the option of cold ham and salad for lunch if it’s too hot to cook.

However, in the spirit of ‘what would Celine do?’ if faced with such issues, I’ve decided she would look around at all the things she loves at this time of year. So I’ve decided to list all the great things I love about Christmas,

  • Glittery things are everywhere. You can’t turn around without running into some glitter-covered hanging orb or weird and wonderful Christmas decoration. My muse has no choice except to submit to five strings of fairy lights going up around the interior of the house, not to mention all the Christmas lights people put on the outside of their houses. Ordinary goes out the door, as our bit of the universe turns into a wonderland of Christmas-themed mismatched decorations that are frankly, fabulous.
  • People are in a party mood, and suddenly it’s easy to put your friends and family first on the list, rather than doing the washing or some other onerous chore like vacuuming. Meeting friends for a cocktail, or a bite to eat becomes the norm, as parties pop up around you. It’s also a great excuse to dress up and not cook dinner, because you are going out.
  • Food. We had a Christmas party sausage sizzle followed by an ice-cream truck dispensing soft-serve with a flake bar in it, all before Christmas carol choir practice the other day at work. Who is going to say ‘not for me thanks, I’m just eating superfoods this week’ when presented with those sort of options?
  • Clothing. You can wear super bright, silly jewellery, loud fabrics or tee shirts with stupid Christmas jokes on them, and people think you look great. Even headbands for your hair with reindeer antlers, and a string of flashing mini pineapple lights are acceptable work wear.
  • Christmas trees. In my book, nothing beats a well decorated tree, festooned with enough fairy lights to make you question if  you’ve died and reincarnated back into a 70s disco. I personally have a 6 foot, white Christmas tree in the lounge, covered in lights and baubles, which goes up on November 1st. It’s especially strange to have a white Christmas tree, given it has never snowed in my neck of the woods, and never will because it’s summer, but I love it.

I know Christmas can be a rough time for many, far different from the cookie-cutter family we are served up on ads on TV, but I’ve also come to the conclusion that there’s a bit of magic around at Christmas, that is well worth looking for. So, wherever you are this Christmas, and whatever you are doing, have a great day. After all, it’s what Celine would do.

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When it’s as hot as hell…

I sometimes wonder what it must be like to live in a place where it snows. In my mind, it would be a pretty experience, like walking around in a postcard. It would be fun, cool to walk around in, and I love the idea of wearing winter clothes for months on end (because I have some awesome fake furs in my vintage wardrobe). I never think about melting puddles, getting the washing dry or where you would get fresh vegetables.

temp

And I suppose, people think that way about being in a hot climate. Endless summer evenings eating outside under shady trees, trips to the beach and not a care in the world. Well, today it’s been super hot in Adelaide, South Australia. As in 41C which is 106F, so I thought I’d share a bit about what it’s like.

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 13: Beachgoers cool off during a heat wave at Glenelg beach on January 13, 2014 in Adelaide, Australia. Temperatures are expected to be over 40 degrees celsius all week with health authorities warning the young and elderly to remain indoors.  (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 13: Beachgoers cool off during a heat wave at Glenelg beach on January 13, 2014 in Adelaide, Australia. Temperatures are expected to be over 40 degrees celsius all week with health authorities warning the young and elderly to remain indoors. (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

Firstly, you can’t go to the beach. Mainly because you would die of heat stroke, and also because getting to the beach involves driving in  your car. If you can’t find a park in the shade, your car ends up being around 150F if you leave it in the sun.

The evenings are too hot to eat outside and there are heaps of flies. Your makeup can’t stay on, and all your clothes get sweaty and disgusting.

Even turning on the cold water tap can be dangerous. The water can come out super hot and burn you if it’s been sitting in the pipes in the sun.

Leaving your washing out all day can wreck fabrics, but on the other hand, everything dries in about 15 minutes.

And you can’t sleep at night. Lying in a pool of sweat is gross and everyone gets tired and grumpy.

On the plus side, you can stay inside and watch lots of TV. It’s almost impossible to use an oven, as it heats up the house too much, so you can slink around the corner to the local pub and not have to cook. Everyone talks about nothing but the weather, so you have a mutual ground to talk about.

I find myself counting down the days till autumn, wishing I lived in a cold climate. So to everyone around the globe experiencing extremes of weather, good luck. Do your best to keep sane, and know that this season too will pass…

hot

 

It was the night before Christmas…

photo-76The day before Christmas…

Today is the equivalent of going on a complicated overseas holiday, to a destination you are not entirely sure how you should pack for. You get to the immigration gate and you can no longer pack another pair of knickers, or some more sunblock. All the shops are closed, and suddenly it’s too late to post anymore Christmas cards, or buy anymore gifts.

That’s how I feel about Christmas. As for the food situation, I blame all the stupid Christmas specials they put on TV in Australia for the mess in my fridge.

Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson (OMG, what a year she’s had. Love her to bits), Gordon Ramsay and Rick Stein. I’m so confused… We don’t have snow in summer, so why are we roasting a chicken tomorrow, and boiling a pudding in a big pot on the stove?

Well Jane, I hear you say, what’s so hard about that? What’s so bloody hard is that we just went through two days of the hottest temperatures in December ever on record – 43C degrees (110F). Sitting inside a house about to burst into flames from the sheer heat outside, while watching Jamie Oliver cooking in the snow (and everyone else mentioned above), is just wrong. I feel like I should be bounding out my front door, to carol singers, snow, and a hundred things roasting in the oven, while surrounded by loving family members, who never make you so angry you could murder them. Instead, we should all be at the beach, bounding out of the surf in our bikinis (another fantasy which won’t be happening,) drinking martinis and eating prawns with salad.

However, a gal and her Muse can make the best of any situation and we have a lovely Christmas day planned, with some friends, food which won’t need hours in the oven, and some bubbles in a glass (we can’t call it champagne anymore – Australian sparkling!)

On that note, I’m going to give the recipe for a lovely Christmas Day.

1. Forget your diet

2. Drink some nice bubbles

3. Hide when the cleaning up needs to be done

4. Listen to some Celine Dion

Have a great Christmas, and remember… the mince pies, Christmas pudding and brandy cream will all be gone for another year, this time next week, so enjoy.

xxx

 

Tribal Wives and Husbands

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo, I was watching Tribal Wives this evening, after making dinner for my Muse. For anyone who hasn’t seen this fab show, it involves plonking women from England, into a tribal setting in places like Africa, to see how they fare. They usually have a nervous breakdown.

I said “I think I should go on this show.” (Even though I’m an Australian, which makes us pretty tribal at the best of times).

“Why?” he asks.

“Because I’m in my forties, I don’t have children, I have issues with my mother, and I would probably cry a lot.” That makes good viewing for this particular show.

“They would send you home the next day. You are too neurotic, and you can’t stand the heat.”

I start thinking about my Muse. “Well, if they had a show for Tribal Husbands, they would send you home the next day, because you don’t do anything. They don’t have computers and sports channels in the tribes. You would be considered useless.”

After ten minutes of me laughing so hard I cried, my Muse stormed off to do the dinner dishes. But seriously. Let’s just get down to business and post a great recipe for the heat, which should descend on us any day now, considering it is summer in Australia. Having said that, it was 32 degrees today, and tomorrow it’s going to be 20 degrees. What the???? And by the way, that photo is of me, in 40 degrees of heat at 9pm on New Year’s Eve at a party, in a hotel where the air conditioning failed. I’m just saying, when it comes to survival in the tribe, I was the last one standing…

Gin and Tonic

Take a really big glass out of the cupboard and put it in the deep freeze.

Put your gin bottle in the deep freeze

Make sure there are ice cubes in the deep freeze

Lemon

Tonic (in the fridge)

Method:  Place four ice cubes in your chilled glass. Pour yourself a sturdy measure of gin into said glass and top up the glass with tonic. Garnish with lemon.

Public Health Disclaimer: Don’t do this at breakfast. This is a strictly over the yard-arm drink.

 

It’s starting to look a lot like Christmas!

imageIt’s December 2nd, which in Australia mean a few important things in my world.

1) I am going to have to wear shorts, tee shirts and a bathing suit in the next few weeks as it is getting super hot.

2) Christmas mince pies are on sale in the supermarkets. They are friggin delicious, and will only be around for another month, so I’m giving myself the excuse to go for it, bearing in mind I have to get into shorts, tee shirts and a bathing suit.

3)  The Christmas tree is up, and fully decorated (it’s been up for a month, in fact).

Having said that about my Christmas tree, I feel like every year, Christmas pounces on me out of nowhere. Already, it is impossible to find a park at shopping malls, as they are filled with stampeding people from 9am onwards. People get so stressed before Christmas, and then from Christmas to the New Year, it’s like a ghost town.

At Christmas, I hardly have any family around (in fact I have no family apart from my muse and the ferrets this year), and I have no permanent job, being a writer and a casual nurse. So that cuts out two very important aspects of the lead up to Christmas: family meltdowns and the office Christmas party.

All that aside it’s a magical time of year, and to celebrate the magic I’m going to share an easy to make, tasty and nutritious soup that will get you through any mad herd of crazed shoppers, any family meltdown, and any hangover if you disgrace yourself at the office Christmas party.

It’s also vegan (if you make it with vegetable stock,), gluten free and just about every other label you can stick on a food that sounds good.

EASY CHRISTMAS SURVIVAL SOUP

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 cups chopped onions

2 cups chopped carrots

1-1/2 cups of dried yellow split peas

6 cups of chicken or vegetable stock

Method: In a big saucepan, heat up the olive oil, then add the onion and chopped carrot, and cook for about eight minutes until softened. Chuck in the lentils with the stock, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about forty minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils go soft and start to break up. Puree with a blender, adding a bit more water if it is too thick in consistency, then add salt and black pepper to taste. Yum!