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.

Where had the year gone?!!!

img_1054

Am I the only one asking, ‘where did the bloody year go?’ Last time I looked, it was July and now they are saying it’s only three weeks till Christmas. Luckily I have the Xmas tree up. Although, I’ve had to mount it on a very high coffee table, because we have a ferret who has made it her personal mission to pull the tree over… Well Jane, I hear you say, what fun things do you have to share with us?

img_1053-1

I’ve decided to only keep things around me which give me joy (thanks Marie Kondo). I was early for an appointment yesterday, and there happened to be a big junk shop near by. Look what I found!! It’s meant to be a butter dish, but I’m going to use it to store my pins for my sewing projects.

img_1050

Then I found this. It’s an 80 year old cooking book. I couldn’t resist, especially when I opened it up and saw this.

img_1051

To Mother, from the boys, 1936.’ If that didn’t tug on the heart strings, nothing else would. Anyway, I purchased it, then discovered lots of loose recipes, and scribbled notes within the book. What a treasure, a real echo from the past. I think I might even do some cooking from it and see how it turns out. So on that note, let the countdown to Christmas begin, and may you keep cool, calm and collected and enjoy what is left of 2016.

 

 

A change of season

img_1396

This is not what you want to greet you when you walk into your wardrobe, amongst your carefully collected, much loved vintage clothes. My wee ferret Lottie has a climbing fixation, and it’s driving me crazy. But I digress. Winter is drifting into spring here in South Australia, and it’s been an exciting time. We had a TOTAL blackout of our whole state two weeks ago. Everywhere!! There was chaos in the city because all the traffic lights, ATMs, petrol stations and shops were closed down. All the country towns were blacked out – we were the laughing stock of Australia. I think over 1.2 million people were without power.

Us oldies knew what to do though. Luckily my muse and I have a gas powered stove. We hung a torch above the oven and proceeded to cook every evil, fattening, fabulous thing in our deep freeze and fridge (because by the morning it would probably be off). We had a feast of curry puffs, minced beef with bacon and a bottle of tequila. On reflection, the tequila probably would have kept if it had been thawed a little, but nonetheless. I still have an ancient landline, connected to a phone that doesn’t run off electricity. I called friends interstate, and they told me what was happening from their news updates on the TV. It was great. I also sat in my car in the garage (I wasn’t going out into the mayhem of the roads), and listened to the AM radio, which was still broadcasting. A fairly early, fat-fuelled, drunken night was had by all. I’m thinking the maternity wards will be very busy nine months from now…

Last week we had a week of hot, hot temperatures. I packed up my winter wardrobe – dry cleaned all my coats, washed and packed away all my winter tops and dresses – only to have us plunge back into freezing temperatures this week. I’m wandering around in the only two outfits I can be bothered to wash again. Life is so unpredictable.

So, as we slide into summer and Christmas, I’m left to ponder yet again, where did the year go? And what did I do in this year? But before I answer those questions, I need to figure out how I’m going to keep Lottie from climbing up the Christmas tree next month. Yup, I put the tree up on November 1st. I bloody love all the decorations and it takes so long to put them all away, I want to enjoy them. I’m thinking I’m going to have to find a really big box to perch the tree on. I wonder what Jesus would make of it? And Lottie! Well on that note…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

 

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!