Tag Archives: Christmas tree

A Sydney Christmas.

Although it’s not quite Christmas yet, I thought I’d share some of the Christmas scenes I encountered on some recent trips into the Sydney CBD. To be honest, by day these decorations as a whole, are very lack lustre compared to what I’ve been seeing from friends currently touring Europe and New York. Indeed, I feel a bit sheepish about presenting them at all, and rather apologetic. However, our beaches are beautiful this time of year, and who needs Christmas lights when you can have the sun.

My personal favourite has to be the window displays in David Jones’s Elizabeth Street Store. Although to be honest, I’ve only viewed them twice and haven’t entered the realms of Christmas traditions, even though I vowed they would when I took the kids there for their Santa photos when they were very small and our daughter was still terrified of Santa.

Here’s a few of my pics this year:

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Star Wars Display at David Jones

 

Walking across Hyde Park, you’ll come across St Mary’s Cathedral with it’s large nativity displays both inside and out:

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St Mary’s Indoor Nativity Scene 2018

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St Mary’s Outdoor Nativity Scene 2018.

Above: the dazzling Christmas tree in the Queen Victoria Building at Town Hall made of Swarovski crystals.

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The two photos above were taken at Haig’s Chocolate Shop in the Queen Victoria Building. As much as I was tempted to but a chocolate bell of Christmas tree, I was concerned about them melting in the heat going home. That’s an unfortunate reality of a Summer Christmas.

Last and perhaps least and I hope it truly lights up into something dazzling as it currently looks very small and pathetic, is the Christmas Tree at Sydney’s Town Hall.

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After all that walking around, Elf and I needed to sit down.

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Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse of a Sydney Christmas by day. It doesn’t look like we’re going to get in there to view the lights.

Wishing you and yours a very Merry and Blessed Christmas and a wonder-filled New Year.

Best wishes,

Rowena and family

No Room At the Inn…A Tale of Christmas Angst.

What type of Christmas are you having this year?  Perhaps, you haven’t thought about it like that before, but as your life stage changes, so does your take on Christmas. For those of you with a new baby, there’s the Baby in the Manger Christmas. Or, if your kids or grandkids are a little older, there’s the Shepherd and Angel Christmas. I’m sure somebody out there must’ve had the Three Wise Men Christmas, while the Three Wise Monkeys always seem to turn up here. I wonder if they also found gold, frankinscence and myrrhr under their tree instead of socks and undies? It’s Not that I’m ungrateful, but who wouldn’t like to hit the jackpot?!!

Well, this year, our Christmas story is…”No Room At the Inn”.

Firstly, we had to find room for the Christmas Tree. We buy a real one every year, and we put it up originally to keep it safe from the kids, but this Christmas we have puppies in the house. Indeed, we have four puppies in the house and I don’t know if pups can climb Christmas trees quite as deftly as a cat, but I don’t want to find out. Our tree is behind bars.

Speaking of pups, there’s no room left in the kennels anymore. We currently have five dogs…our original dog, Lady, our Border Collie x pups Isaac and Rosie and the micro pups, Dobby and Yoda.

Next, I’ve had to clear the shelves of clutterolly to make room for the Christmas decorations. I don’t know where all this stuff came from, and much of it is related to my research project on the Irish Famine Orphans and I’m concerned that if I put it away, I’ll forget all about my project and move onto something else simply because “out of sight, is out of mind”.

The other thing experiencing “No room at the inn” is my blog. Beyond the Flow is full and I need to upgrade my package, which I’ll do after Christmas. I just need to balance the pennies, and unlike the inn, the bank account is closer to empty.  Of course, I swear it was a hacker and not a certain person wanting to spread Christmas cheer a little too far, too enthusiastically and might have got just a little carried away with all that Christmas sparkle. Happiness doesn’t have a price tag, and yet I know I’m not the only one who weaken, crumble and fall into a rising tide of debt just to make everyone and their dog’s dog happy around me. I just can’t help myself. I know each of us

So, the challenge continues…trying to make room for Christmas in a full house.

Are you having any struggles making room for Christmas in your house? I’d love to hear from you.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Christmas Post.

We hope you and yours had a Merry Christmas.

Ours was a wonderful Christmas. Indeed, what I think was my best Christmas in quite a few years. My health is really good. I’ve been in remission for almost 3 years now without having the blood transfusions of IVIG I’d been having every 3 weeks for the preceding 5 years. Finally, I was actually able to raise my head off the tarmac and enjoy take off…yippee!

I obviously don’t know what Christmas was like at your place, but it was chaos at ours. Yet, amidst the multifarious layers of ripped Christmas rap rolling around like tumbleweed underneath the Christmas Tree, there was some structure, tradition and a respect for the true meaning of Christmas.dsc_5189

I won’t go into all of the presents but my husband bought us a double hammock each in a frame for Christmas. This will be great for getting through all the books I gave the rest of the family, some I must confess with a vested interest. After loving The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, I gave my husband The Best of Adam Sharp. Of course, he was cynically wondering whether this book was going to live up to his first two novels. I bought my daughter an intriguing book with some text but largely drawings which had been recommended by my friend’s teenage daughter. My Dad thought the book was a crock and that her “gums were flapping”. However, when it comes to picking a book for my daughter, a girl a couple of years older is a better judge in my mind.

Gee, isn’t Christmas fun?!

Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself because we haven’t left the house yet and I’ve accelerated right through Christmas lunch, afternoon tea, the pool, the royal splinter. I’d better watch out. I’m accelerating so fast, that I’m about to get a speeding fine and double demerits are in force. Just as well Santa’s already been, or I’d be at Number 2 on his Naughty List. That is after Lady, who is still sitting at Number 1 after devouring our home-made Christmas Cake last week.

Somehow, we managed to force the front door shut without the rising tide of pre and post Christmas whatsymecallits falling out the door. Actually, make that a tsunami, not that I’m being melodramatic and pushing the limits of exaggeration beyond all credibility. I’d never ever do anything like that!

Our approach to cleaning up for Christmas? Abandon house!

The dogs didn’t even get a bath and did I hear the roar of lawn mowers somewhere in the distance? Well, they mysteriously by-passed our place as well. Then again, you need to have a lawn to mow. I haven’t had time to give our lawn much of an inspection lately, but I think it’s been burned to a crisp. Incinerated by the hot Australian sun… a bit like a snag on a BBQ. They’re supposed to be charcoal, aren’t they?

Next, we all piled in the car to drive down to Sydney via the M1 Freeway.

Every year, we regret leaving late and think about the dream run we would’ve had if only we’d left an hour earlier. However, it turned out that leaving our neck of the woods, was pretty much as bad as it got apart from a small stretch of bumper to bumper traffic right near my aunt’s place. By this stage, the turn off was in sight and we could cope with that. By the way, I’d packed two books by Dodinsky for the trip, and they were done and dusted by the end. Have you ever read Dodinsky? I highly recommend it!

My Dad is one of seven and we celebrate Christmas with his family at my aunt’s place. While you’d be excused for thinking there was no structure or order amongst the throng, our day runs like clockwork. My aunt sets the arrival time and the rest of us operate on our own clock. Yet, we somehow conform to the same routine every year. There are the lunchers, the afternoon tea crowd, the early departures, and the lingerers. Among the cousins, there’s also the turn taking now they’ve got married. My husband’s parents have passed away, so we spend Christmas with my extended family every year. A small Christmas isn’t Christmas to me.

I’m not going to go into a blow-by-blow account of Christmas Day, but there were a few stories worth a special mention.

Firstly, beyond the dinner table, my aunt’s swimmhumouring pool becomes the epicentre of our Christmas. Funny that, because it’s been at least a decade since I last made it into the pool. I did take my swimmers yesterday, which was a step forward. However, for some reason, I couldn’t get in.   Didn’t even try. Although it was a hot day, I seriously didn’t want to get wet. Moreover, I wasn’t too sure about revealing so much of my royal whiteness either. Some things are meant to be left covered up.

However, my kids had a ball in the pool. Two of my cousins do a great job entertaining them every year and there’s loads of rough play, horsing around and they really appreciate their exuberance. Naturally, Geoff and I are always most grateful for this…my parents as well. We are well and truly past all of this and much in need of deck chairs instead.

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My cousin approved the use of this photo.

After all my discussions lately about Christmas traditions, Christmas tree decorations and even Christmas Decoration OCD (CDOCD), I thought I’d share my cousin’s addition to the family Christmas Tree. We’re a creative family and a few years ago, my cousin did a course in making theatrical props. By the way, we’re not talking about making sets out of MDF and slapping on a coat of paint either. I don’ t even know what you call it but he make a few hands  and painted them up and over the years, they’ve found their way into the Christmas decorations. So, I wasn’t surprised to spot the hand at the top of the Christmas Tree this year. Apparently, it’s become tradition. I like that because Christmas can become so stiff and stifled by perfectionists getting it uber-right that it’s tied Christmas up in a straight jacket and has no sense of fun. No place for anybody even slightly lateral-minded. This tree was like a celebration of the individual, being yourself and accepted no matter who or what that might be, and almost giving the judgement crew “the bird”.

I’m proud to be a part of this family with all its flotsam and jetsam where we’re all accepted for whoever we are in all our creative or otherwise glory.

So far, we’ve covered the pool and the Christmas tree and next we’re moving onto the royal splinter.

A splinter? How does a splinter become newsworthy?

Well, when my son is involved, even breathing can easily be turned into a drama of epic proportions. Since he was not the recipient of the royal splinter, there was bound to be some form of “interesting” live entertainment. As he’s now almost thirteen years old, it takes more than a small splinter to get the waterworks going. Yet, oh ye of little faith, there was still plenty of scope for drama. Well, he was actually rather restrained, especially for him but there was still the matter of getting the splinter out and not being at home, this was naturally more complicated. We needed implements…needle, tweezers and we were in luck. After my aunt offered to remove the splinter, we announced “we have two doctors in the house, why am I doing this?” So, the royal splinter, which was a couple of millimetres in length and lodged at the very end of his finger behind the fingernail, was to be removed by my uncle the plastic surgeon borrowing my aunt’s reading glasses. My son was in good hands. This uncle is a plastic surgeon who’s known for reattaching and no doubt detaching all sorts of bits and pieces in very extensive operations. Yet, although the royal splinter was obviously well beneath his capabilities, he approached it with the very same thought and concern. We were given a thorough report and advised to apply antiseptic when we arrived home. It was touching to see my uncle at work and appreciate his bedside manner and compassion. That we’re never too big or too great to help out with life’s splinters with love, compassion and respect.

By the time we went back to my parents’ place for “dinner” and presents we were more stuffed than the Christmas turkey itself. So, all I managed to squeeze and I mean SQUEEZE in was a small slice of pudding, with Mum’s homemade hard brandy sauce and equally homemade custard.

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Aside from the long drive home, Christmas 2016 was done and dusted. Well, we still had a Gingerbread House to demolish but that could wait.

How was your Christmas? Hope you had a great one but if yours was reflective and touched by sadness, I send my love and hugs. Take care.

Love & Christmas Blessings,

Rowena

 

Christmas Tree personality Quiz

In case you didn’t already know, your Christmas tree is the mirror to your soul.A blank canvas of green where you paint your very own self-portrait in tinsel, baubles and lights.

As you make all those decisions involved with both choosing and decorating your tree, you’re actually oozing your personality all over its branches

Your Christmas Tree is your inner self-portrait.

For every year this Christmas tree,
Brings to us such joy and glee.
Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree,
Such pleasure do you bring me!

So what does your Christmas Tree say about you?

Well, I’d be curious to know and perhaps if I show you mine, you might even find the courage to show me yours!

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Our Christmas Tree is cluttered with memories, meaning and love.

 

  1. Is your tree real or fake? Why?

All my life, we have always had a real Christmas tree, which we’ve bought from a local fruit shop. We have always loved the fresh pine scent of a real tree. That is that distinctive smell of Christmas. That said, I’m not so keen on the pine needles which constantly fall on the floor, reminding me of that other scourge which is dog hair.

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2) Do you have matching ornaments? A colour theme?

No, we do not have any theme or style for our Christmas tree. Rather, we have a mish-mash of ornaments which date as far back as my childhood. There’s a patchwork Christmas stocking which I hand-stitched back when I was 12 and it shows. Made with enthusiasm, rather than precision. We have an ornament which we bought in New Zealand on our honeymoon and a beaded star from South Africa bought to support an orphanage. I have also cleaned off the piano and that’s where I’ve put our nativity set and more Santas than I care to mention. I’m a real sucker for Christmas ornaments.

Each shining light
Each silver bell
No one alive spreads cheer so well

Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree,
You’ll ever be unchanging

3) What is at the top of your tree?

We currently have an angel who is playing the violin at the top of our tree. I did buy quite a lovely star to go up there but it really looked like it needed to sit on top of a broom handle and was probably designed to go on a fake tree.

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4)Do you have any hand-made decorations?

We have quite a few hand-made decorations. There are decorations I made when I was a kid and by our children as well. Christmas craft, for me, is an important part of the lead-up to Christmas. Or, at least it used to be. I seem to be too busy these days to even get to the essentials.

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Miss and I made this angel together in 2010. We traced around her hands to make the wings.

5) Do you have any Christmas traditions?

My mother’s family has German heritage, although some of my German roots date back as far as the first shiploads of Germans to arrive in South Australia in 1838.

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Handcarved German Erzgebirge Christmas tree, which I bought in my grandfather’s home town, Hahndorf, in South Australia. I handpainted the teddy bears.

My mother’s mother used to make Honey Biscuits each Christmas, which is also known as Lebkuchen. These biscuits were round and had half a blanched almond on top. I really loved those biscuits. However, it has been difficult to replicate them myself. For many years, I made an alternative recipe but then tried her recipe. Unfortunately, she’d left out much of the detail as i think it was only there to jog her memory. The only time I made them, they made great rocks. I’ll have to have another go.

We go to Church ideally on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Growing up, we had the Church Christmas Tree Service where the kids got all dressed up and recreated the birth of Baby Jesus in the manger. Such nativity services aren’t as common here as they used to be and unfortunately I fell asleep and missed ours last Friday night after a busy week.

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Of course, I’d like to acknowledge those with different faiths and the importance of their celebrations and traditions at this time of year. I liked what Dale wrote in her blog which covered this well:

“Merry Christmas to those of you who do celebrate it and Happy Holidays to those of you who celebrate something else!”

Love and Best wishes,

Rowena , Geoff, Mister, Miss, Bilbo and Lady!

Inner Beauty Therapy.

Yesterday, my daughter treated me to the works at the beauty salon. The salon as such was our bathroom and my daughter was my Beauty Therapist. It was the most awesome experience. As she  gently stroked my face for the very first time, I felt the rains fall in a remote part of my heart which rarely gets a drop.It’s not that I don’t feel and know that I’m loved but we’re so busy and there are the usual challenges of getting the kids to do anything and of course, I’m running after them. I’m sure you can understand and appreciate the ups and downs of parenthood.

My daughter is 8 almost 9 and she’s growing up fast…especially whenever she struts around the house in the silver diamante high heels which I picked up for her from the charity shop. They’re not a huge size but they almost fit. Yikes! I’m not prepared for all of this. Not at all!!

Relationships of any sort are challenging and complex. Even when we’re trying to be caring, loving and thoughtful it can be difficult to synchronise our watches. Create that blank space where we can actually just “be” together. Build the bubble and somehow step inside and be with one another… one on one…no distractions, disturbances, mobiles, texts, or @#$%!!!!

Yesterday, my daughter and I managed to do just that. It was only for about an hour but it was an hour I’ll never forget!!

Miss... an inner beauty therapist!!

Miss… an inner beauty therapist!!

We escaped the to-do list, the mountains of stuff desperately needing to be re-housed and even the lingering Christmas tree, which long been begging and indeed pleading to be taken down and hauled outside to the green recycling bin and we found each other.

Yes, I know you all probably pulled your Christmas trees down weeks ago but I always find this something of a heartbreak and put it off as long as possible. Each Christmas when we set up a real Christmas tree in our home, I am transported back to the world Hans Christian Andersen’s: The Little Fir-Tree.  We all fall in love with our tree and fall under its spell. Now, how can I just throw out all of that love and wonder and stick our tree out beside the road to be crushed up into splinters?

Yet, we can’t start the new school year with our Christmas tree still up either.

The kids go back to school next week and as I’m sure you can appreciate, the start of the new school year heralds all sorts of miraculous happenings. Forget getting the kids organised, I’m still stuck on my own list of resolutions. This year, we are all going to be on time, organised, neat and tidy and homework done on time. We will also plan ahead. Be prepared. We will. I have list, schedules, strategies, tactics and the only thing now standing in my way is …me and of course, the kids!!

Anyway, my daughter has a real knack for ignoring my rising tide of jobs and my blogging commitments and going for the jugular: “Mummy! Mummy!!!!! MUMMY!!!!!!!”

This becomes pretty hard to ignore and indeed, you instinctively know you have to get moving or else your child will be in therapy for the term of their natural life.

My daughter painting my nails.

My daughter painting my nails. Don’t you just love the newspaper?!!

So, I was off to the beauty salon for the works…nails, facial and make-up. Well, it was a beauty salon with a difference… set up in our bathroom. Miss had arranged something like 50 bottles of nail polish I’d bought over something like the last 20 years on the stool in neat little rows, looking quite the professional beauty therapist. Some of these bottles, I must admit, are quite ancient and date back to a very different era before marriage, kids and skin sensitivities. They represent all sorts of hopes, dreams and special events, which have long since merged into the kaleidoscope of memory. Fortunately, it looks like nail polish withstands the tests of time and doesn’t go off.

So there I was transformed from a mere mortal into Her Royal Highness Queen Mummy perched upon my royal throne with newspaper underneath my hands and feet as Miss artistically painted my nails rainbow colours: red, orange, yellow, green and blue. That was my choice!!

I might be a supposedly sensible, mature 40 something wife, mother of two kids and two dogs but that doesn’t mean I have to conform. Be boring. Muted and lose all sense of colour. After all, just because we’ve grown up, that doesn’t mean we have to stop growing and stop living. No one is forcing us to to stick to the safe, the conservative and socially expected. I am, we’re all allowed to take a walk on the wild side. Besides, when it’s school holidays, the rules all go out the window. You can do whatever you like and just blame the kids. Guaranteed, even the stiffest conservative will break into a loving smile when I tell her that my daughter painted my nails and of course, they’ll blame her for the rainbow colours and think I’m the best Mum in the whole wide world!

 

Tapping away with rainbow nails.

Tapping away with rainbow nails.

Having my nails painted was fun and I also appreciated having Miss there to paint my toe nails. It’s not the easiest thing to do yourself and who doesn’t like to be pampered?!! Actually, you’d be surprised. Almost everybody is too busy and or too serious for a bit of self-indulgent pampering, which isn’t just frivolous, superficial beauty but also love in action.

The Body Shop's Warming Mineral Mask. Yum! I mean wow!

The Body Shop’s Warming Mineral Mask. Yum! I mean wow!

 

Anyway, the pampering ramped up a notch when it came to the facial. I can’t remember the last time I had any kind of facial but I’m thinking it was definitely BK (before kids). Well, I had this tube of the Body Shop’s  Warming Mineral Mask. It’s the most amazing stuff. You wet your face and when this stuff comes into contact with water, it heats up and feels so amazingly soothing. For those of you who are into facials, it is a clay based mask which promises to remove impurities. Hmm… I wonder if it can also remove all my faults and idiosyncrasies and make me a better person? Somehow, it will take more than just a face mask to pull that off!!

 

Here I am with cucumber eyes and face mask on.

Here I am with cucumber eyes and face mask on.

 

So there I was with my eyes closed and my daughter somehow managed to find a cucumber in our fridge and applied a slice of cucumber to each weary eyelid. Ooh! I’ve never experienced that before and the effect was immediate, relaxing and cooling. Wow it felt good. Not just the cucumber either. I am so deeply touched that my daughter has been so loving and spontaneously thoughtful. She has even brought in a newspaper for me to read, although I preferred for us to talk. She had thought of so many small details…I can’t tell you how that made me feel. As we all know, parenting isn’t always easy and we all make mistakes and press all the wrong buttons and instead of saying or showing “I love you”, it is all to easy to say: “Not now”, “I’m too busy”, “Go away!!” “Can’t you play by yourself?” or “Can I phone a friend to come and play with you?”

 

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Miss in bliss.

We’re all guilty of that.

Anyway, as my daughter gently stroked my face as she applied the mask (in between patting and occasionally rubbing it like an orbital sander), I felt drops of rain fall on a very thirsty, dry and parched desert soil. I lapped up that tenderness like a kitten thirstily lapping up a much loved saucer of milk and feeling totally satisfied.

Miss also enjoyed being pampered herself, although I suspect she preferred running her own beauty salon. She loved it.

We’re already planning our next session. Next time, we’ll be over at Palm Beach and indulging ourselves by the sea in a place that surely must be close to heaven on Earth.

I encourage you to take the time out for a bit of pampering, heart warming love.

Who knows? Perhaps, you too might start smelling the roses. I can assure you they smell fabulous!!

Love,

Rowena & Miss xxoo

 

 

 

Angels and Shepherds Smile at the Camera

We might have had a real baby playing baby Jesus this year but there weren’t even any dress-up sheep this year for the shepherds to round up…just toddlers. Once again we were late for Church even though I was doing a reading and Mister was a shepherd and Amelia an angel. But we made it… Didn’t break any bones before this “performance” and the cough behaved itself as well. Even managed to photographed the children afterwards in costume in front of the tree.

I almost forgot to mention that we drove home via a scenic tour of the Christmas lights. decorating your house in Christmas lights isn’t huge here but some people really have gone all out. Being summer and daylights savings time over here, the kids are usually in bed before you can really get a good look at the lights. Hence, it’s become a bit of a tradition to have a look at the lights after the Christmas Eve Service.

Anyway, we could like to wish you and yours a loving and blessed Christmas and a peace-filled New Year. Let’s see if we can really set the Golden Rule in motion in 2015!

Love & God Bless,

Rowena Geoff, Mister, Miss, Bilbo and Lady xxoo

Angel and shepherd smiling at Mummy's camera.

Angel and shepherd smiling at Mummy’s camera.