Monthly Archives: December 2016

Christmas Coffee Share!

Welcome to our Christmas, I mean Boxing Day, Weekend Coffee Share.

We hope you and yours have had a wonderful Christmas, celebrating the season.

Not quite sure what to other you in the way of drinks this week. I’m leaning towards tea or coffee with a slice of Christmas Cake or toasted Stollen.

We celebrated Christmas Day with lunch at my aunt’s place with the extended family and then back to my parent’s place for “dinner”. The kids spent much of the day in the pool mucking around with my cousins. I didn’t get in yesterday, although I did manage a pre-Christmas dip in my parents’ pool.

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Never too old for pool toys!

It’s now Boxing Day Monday and we’re perched in front of the TV set watching the start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. Winds are currently 10-15 knots yet to the untrained eye, they appear stronger. The yachts are keeling over at about a 45 degree angle. While I’m no veteran of the race, they seem to leaning over more than usual.

Yesterday, my aunt asked our son when he’s going into the Sydney-to-Hobart. Give him a few years. He starts racing locally in January.

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Start Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race 2016.

By the way, Perpetual Loyal made it out of Sydney Heads first. We’re still watching, listening to all the sailing talk and giving our son a few lessons. I know watching sailing is no compensation for being out there yourself. However, this is his chance to learn from the masters…and my husband who is providing us with arm chair commentary.

Today, I’m following my father’s Boxing Day Tradition and not doing anything. Well, I am writing and jotting down all the snippets from yesterday.I know writing isn’t doing anything but it’s letting energy out, rather than taking energy in and that’s what I need. So, although I’m in my writing chair surrounded by the family and dogs glancing at the yacht race, I’m still in my own little space bubble. I need to breath. Stretch my wings again. I feel like I’ve been locked in a matchbox and I need to break free. I suspect that’s all the built-up pressure of the end of the year and I’m now  finding myself needing to reflect and debrief. Let myself flow. It’s been so stop start lately that I’ve become jammed somewhere in  between the accelerator and the brakes (if that makes any sense). That description makes a lot of sense to me.

By the way, the camera people were just catapulted off the back of the yachts as they leave Sydney Harbour, picked up by the rescue boat. It sure looked odd and more of an emergency than a planned operation, especially as there are sharks in Sydney Harbour.

Christmas Eve we went to Church and then off to a pot luck dinner. By the way, they were giving away hampers at Church and they were offering them to the person with the loudest voice. No surprises there. My son’s voice boomed out and we’re now feasting on chippies, fruit mince pies etc watching the race. Yum! I’m about to head out to the kitchen for a piece of toasted stollen . More yum. Couldn’t fit in half the goodies yesterday. So while I’m explicitly doing nothing today, I am feasting away.

We went to my aunt’s place in Sydney for the usual big, extended family Christmas and went to my parents’ place afterwards. No one was hungry although I did manage to squeeze in another piece of pudding, custard and brandy butter but only just!

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Lego Santa Loves Christmas Cake.

I’ve been blogging about the lead up to Christmas, which I thought you might enjoy. I wrote about The Meaning of Christmas Cake. After finally making my Christmas Cake, I’d packed it up to take to my parents’ place mid-week and the dog got in and ate it…Christmas Dogastrophy. Bilbo just asked me to clarify that it wasn’t him. It was Lady, who naturally ended up at the very top of Santa’s naughty list…not that it bothered her. She kept wagging her tail and looking up at us with her huge brown irresistible Cavalier spaniel eyes showing no remorse whatsoever.She very good at that!

Bilbo & Lady

Bilbo & Lady

I also ended up making a second Christmas Cake…the Aussie Harvest Cake. This adventure and indeed, it did turn into an adventure started out with driving round and round trying to find a bottle shop which was open at 10.00PM…All For A Sozzled Christmas Cake. If you’re not into making your own Christmas Cake, you might not appreciate that they’re very heavy drinkers. This one was demanding an entire cup of brandy. I’d be sozzled.

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Yet the adventures didn’t end there. I should’ve realized that3 kgs of dried fruit was hugely excessive and that this recipe would produce a monster cake to feed an army. Obviously, I didn’t and that’s how I came to develop the Christmas Cake Workout .

In addition to all the Christmas preparations, I also took part in Friday Fictioneers again. I’m really enjoying these challenges and have been thrilled with the results. If you haven’t tried writing flash fiction, I encourage you to have a go. You might also surprise yourself. American Diner Down Under.

Well, I hope you and yours have had a Merry Christmas and we also wish you a Happy and wonder-filled New Year!

This has been another Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Diana at Part-Time Monster and here’s the Link-Up

Love,

Rowena, Geoff, Mr, Miss, Bilbo and Lady.

For those who have been following the growth of the sunflower seeds, which were salvaged from the MH17 crash site site in the Ukraine, two are flowering for Christmas.

 

 

 

 

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you all a Merry and Blessed Christmas!

Love & God Bless,

Rowena & Family

PS We’re about to evacuate to my Aunty’s place. This is my solution to not being about the get the house, kids, dogs, self Christmas-ready.

Now, we’re off to jump in our sardine tin to  join the conveyor belt to Sydney.

Bilbo & Lady

Bilbo & Lady

That Christmas Black Rain Cloud.

“There is a little black rain cloud,
Hovering over my Christmas tree.
There is a little black rain cloud
paying too much attention to little me.”

Words adapted by Rowena Curtin  and sung to Winnie The Pooh – Little Black Rain Cloud.

Is it just me? Or, are you also feeling that despite all the joy, Christmas cheer, tinsel and flashing lights, there’s something not quite right with your “Ho! Ho! Ho!” That you’re struggling to squeeze into the spirit of Christmas and it doesn’t quite fit.

Not that I’m all dark, gloomy or in anyway Scrooge or Grinch-like. It’s just that sometimes, I can get really annoyed with Christmas. I don’t know whether there’s a term like “Christmas Rage”, or the “Christmas Depths”, and that’s before I even get to absent friends. Of course, no one likes an empty seat or any form of change at Christmas, even if it is only the discontinuation of Molly O’Rourke’s famous Irish Whisky Cakes 1945-2014 RIP.

Anyway, today I thought I’d just  run through a few of the dark shadows, which can jump out and bite us  at Christmas:

A Few Shadows of Christmas.

Christmas OCD

This describes that desperate pursuit of the perfect Christmas. It’s characterised by that uber-achieving Christmas newsletter, mowed lawns, dogs washed, groomed and teeth brushed; tree with matching decorations, colour-coordinated Christmas clothes. You get the drift.

CDOCD- Christmas Decoration OCD.

This relates to the meticulous selection and placement of Christmas decorations, particularly in the Christmas tree. Generally characterised by having a colour theme and having one decorator in charge, while the rest of the household spectates or evacuates to watch TV.

Ghosts of Christmas Past

No one likes an empty seat at Christmas.

SAD- Seasonal Affective Disorder.

This is where your mood is affected by the seasons. In the Northern Hemisphere, it’s due to the shortened hours of day length. In Australia, it’s caused by excessive sun baking, insufficient sunscreen leaving your skin redder than a Santa suit.

Failure

Christmas is a really difficult time of year to be unemployed, sick, homeless, dumped or even just being your little old self. Having to face family and friends when you’re feeling like @#$% can be the last straw. Been there. Done that. Sort of stuck in this gear and have now acclimatized, but would still love to be a Big Shot or at least get a book published. At this point, even A Little Golden Book would do.

Silent Night

Unfortunately, this relates to so much more than the Christmas carol. There’s the silence of not being able to find your CD of Christmas carols. Then there’s the silence of spending Christmas alone. Worse still, there are those broken relationships where the walls have become so high, that even the Spirit of Christmas can’t get through.

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On a much lighter note, after finishing off my wrapping today, I’m adding Stickytape-Itis to the list.

Does stickytape-itis need any introductions or explanations? Of course not. We’ve all battled to find the stickytape, cellotape or whatever you might call that stuff which sticks to your fingers and just about everything else except the wrapping tape. Meanwhile, the end of the sticky tape goes missing and you’re going round and round in circles like a dog chasing its tail.

It’s enough to drive you crazy and could very well be that tipping point, which pushes a normally sane and sensible person over the edge of madness.

……

So having brought up all these issues, I guess you’re wanting me to come up with some preventative measures or kind of treatment. However, I’m sorry. I’m just the messenger and I have no psychological credentials whatsoever.

However, what I can suggest is letting all the expectations go…just like a helium balloon floating way across the sky until it’s out of sight. This might take a bit of practice, but you’ll soon find out that you won’t die if someone adds a green decoration to your purple and silver themed tree. That it’s not the end of the world when the dog eats your handmade Christmas Cake leaving you nothing but crumbs. That is doesn’t matter if you neither give nor receive Christmas Cards, presents, pudding whatever. I am thankful that God sent us Jesus at Christmas time and I am also mindful that we can’t take the ones we love for granted. That while it might be hard to focus on each other every single day, that we can at least be more conscious of family and friends at Christmas and truly savour the people who mean the world to us.

Life is too short to let anything get in the way of that.

We but not only carpe diem seize the day but also make the most of each other.

Love & Blessings for Christmas and the New Year,

Rowena

PS When it comes to dealing with little black rain clouds, especially ones hanging over our special moments like Christmas, perhaps we should simply borrow cupid’s bow and arrow and shoot the darned thing down. One pop…and it’s gone!

 

New…the Christmas Cake Work Out.

Tonight, I’m announcing the Christmas Cake Workout.

Launching a weight loss campaign with only two sleeps til Christmas, has to be the definition of insanity. The ultimate in reverse psychology, going against the flow, being “unique” and dare I say (drum roll)… being a real “individual”!

Yet, that’s me. I’m always blazing my own trail, without the slightest regard for wherever the flow is going. No wonder I often end up “all by myself.”

So, this afternoon  I found myself doing the Christmas Cake Workout.

You must think I’ve got rocks in my head thinking that eating Christmas Cake is going to give me that elusive bikini body. After all, Christmas Cake with all that butter, sugar and boozy dried fruit, is  guaranteed to turn you into a pudding instead.

So, this is a good time for me to point out the fine print. It’s just a minor detail, but with the Christmas Cake Workout, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

Success is all in the mixing. Indeed, it’s mixing this huge, monster cake which builds up serious muscle. I can guarantee you’ll be lifting weights at the Olympics afterwards. The mixture is so dense, that just getting the spoon through is hard going.

Given that we’ve only got a small family, you’re probably wondering why I was making a Christmas Cake big enough to feed the entire Australian cricket team and the WAGS (wives & girlfriends). We’re not huge fruitcake fans and certainly have no desire to eat Christmas Cake for breakfast, lunch and dinner, especially after Christmas. Indeed, I much prefer chocolate cake and I only have a few slices of Christmas Cake for tradition’s sake.

So, what on earth was I thinking?

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Preparing the Dried Fruits.

Well, to be perfectly honest, I wasn’t thinking. I should’ve known that 3 kilos of dried fruit, 8 eggs and 500g of melted butter, signified a huge cake. Indeed, the cake also called for an entire cup of brandy, which either makes it very big, or a seriously heavy drinker. I’d be sozzled if I drank all of that!

Well, the story goes that this recipe was on the back of my Christmas cards. It was quite different to my usual Christmas Cake recipe with walnuts and grated apple in the mix, and looked quite interesting. As I said, it called for 3kg of dried fruit and I thought I’d venture out of my comfort zone and added some dried figs. At this point, I was still well short so I also added some dates. This cake was starting to sound quite exotic.

Anyway, depending on your viewpoint, you could say making this cake was serendipity, divine intervention or meant to be. That’s because Lady, our scoundrel of a dog, ate almost all of the Christmas Cake I’d made using my mother’s recipe. We were just lucky that my Dad has a peculiar aversion to cinnamon and I’d made a dozen smaller cakes for him. They’re all that’s left. So, he’ll now have to share. Sorry, Dad!

Anyway, getting back to the monster cake, the dried fruit and brandy have been stewing in my largest mixing bowl in the fridge for the last 2 days. It might not be a bath tub, but it’s big…and it was full. No room for any other ingredients whatsoever.

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So, I decided to mix all the other ingredients together in my large mix master bowl and then split it into three equally large bowls. I divided up the drunk fruits and started stirring. Heave-ho! Yes, those biceps were already starting to pop!

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That’s why I’ve called this process: “The Christmas Cake Workout”. This stirring was seriously hard work. In  the end, the mixing spoon couldn’t cope. There was no alternative. It was a case of using the equipment God gave me. I sunk my hands deep into the dough, using my fingers to blend the mixture through the fruit. Once mixed, I managed to get all the dough into one bowl, even if it did require 3 tins to bake.

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They now need to rest for three weeks, making them post-Christmas Cakes. Or, perhaps even a cake for next Christmas. Howzat! Imagine being a whole year ahead with my Christmas Cake…

I must’ve wandered into someone else’s life!

Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year!

Love,

Rowena

 

Christmas Cake Dogastrophy

If you look into those irresistible, chocolate brown eyes, you would never suspect that cute as a button dog could be capable of such wickedness.

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The Christmas Cake.

That she could sit there licking her lips seemingly asking for more when she’s all but devoured our homemade Christmas Cake. That’s right. The very same Christmas Cake I made using my mother’s recipe, which has been part of my Christmas every year for at least 45 years or thereabouts (I doubt a 5 month old baby would’ve eaten Christmas Cake, but you never know.)

The world was very different then and so many of our family traditions have disappeared. So, this Christmas Cake is special. Of course, it doesn’t replace the true meaning of Christmas but it was made with love and the dog gutsed all that love all by herself.

Well, fortunately, she didn’t get all the cake. Thanks to my Dad’s rather peculiar aversion to cinnamon, I’d made a tray of mini Christmas Cakes for him, which I’d safely sealed away in a plastic box.So, it looks like Dad will be sharing.

As for Lady, she showed absolutely no remorse and has shot up to the very top of Santa’s Naughty List.

So, there’ll be no pressies for her…except a potentially nasty tummy ache!

Do you have any Christmas disasters to report? After all, as much as we strive towards a perfect Christmas, most of us are only human and we’re left to blame our mistakes on the dog.

xx  Rowena

Christmas By the Pool.

If I could write a letter from my 7 year old self to my 47 year old alter ego refusing to dip a toe in the swimming pool, it would be pretty direct:

“Dive in, you idiot!! Stop that crazed chicken dance and get wet. You’re soooo embarrassing!”

When I’ve waxed lyrically about how Australians spend Christmas in the pool, you probably haven’t noticed a certain lack of photographic proof. That you’ve never seen ME in the pool. Or, maybe you have and you’ve kept quiet.

Perhaps, you’ve assumed that as a photographer, that person eternally living life vicariously through the lens in lieu of living it, I simply haven’t been photographed.

Or, that I’m too self-conscious. That I don’t  want a photo of me in my swimming costume all over the World Wide Web.

Well, you’d be barking up the wrong tree!

You see, when it comes to the pool, I’m more of an observer. I’m not mad keen on getting wet and no matter how stinking hot it might be out of the pool, it’s always freezing in.

So, if by some miracle I do find myself getting into the pool, much to my acute embarrassment, I’m that old lady edging into the pool.  Is there anything worse?

I distinctly remember tell myself as a kid, that was never going to be me. That I was never going to become that person.

Now, I have.

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Despite buying myself a pink flamingo pool toy for Christmas, getting into the pool is still torturous…worse than going to the dentist.

So, well you might ask why I bought myself a pink flamingo pool toy for Christmas if I had intention of getting wet? That’s an excellent question.

For some reason, I was so dazzled by all that flamingo, that I didn’t notice the body was shaped into a donut with a huge hole to fall through.So, this flamingo isn’t one of those luxurious lounging around, stay-dry pool toys. You know the ones when you can just drift along in like a princess sipping on your glass of champagne. (Indeed, we have a bottle of Moet this Christmas thanks to Geoff’s work.)

So, there I was standing in the shallow end with my feet clinging to the top step. Geoff has the video camera rolling and the kids are also watching. Indeed, all eyes  were focused on me and I’d become the backyard entertainment. Hip! Hip! Hurray!

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Some people actually get left alone each Christmas with no one stretching and stretching them out of their comfort zone and filming every cruel chicken step along the way.

Yet, as much as I might hanker after peace and quiet this time of year, this is Christmas and for the first time in many years, I’ll be packing my swimmers and with a very full stomach, heading for the bottle of my aunt’s swimming pool.

How do you plan to spend Christmas Day?

xx Rowena

Playing the Bagpipe Flamingo.

While a lovely group of local bagpipers used to visit my late Mother-in-Law every Christmas Eve, my husband took up playing the flamingo last night.

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An unconventional playing position???

Turns out that my parents didn’t have a pump to inflate my Christmas pool toy…this stunning, inimitable pink flamingo.

So, we passed the flamingo round the family, taking turns.

Yet, my husband truly played the flamingo like a professional!

Shame he couldn’t get a note…I think!

Merry Christmas! Ho! Ho! Ho!

xx Rowena