Saturday, December 28, 2013

Very Aussie Christmas

When I was a child I desperately wanted to experience a white Christmas, with snow and candles and twinkly lights in the dark, and crisp cold and knitted sweaters with hot chocolate.. and all the other trimmings and trappings of story book northern Christmasses, but now I think I might just pass on all those things, and keep enjoying our lovely Aussie Christmas season. I really can't imagine it would be properly Christmas without cricket, a BBQ and a glass of wine at the school oval for the school Christmas carols as the children sing about Christmas Among the Gumtrees, as well as Dashing Through the Snow.. then there is seafood for Christmas lunch, and dark chocolate pavlova drenched in cream and fresh raspberries out in the courtyard under the umbrella, and all the dads and kids in the pool after lunch, while the mums drink martinis under the pear tree (this year the recipe included lime juice and pomegranate juice, cointreau and vodka. We try a new one every year..). Then all the kids bash the gingerbread house with the wooden meat mallet and we all sit around on the lawn eating gingerbread and the dads have little naps until the children come and sit on them...
and of course, after the guests go home, the grown ups get to have another little nap, because who needs dinner? and there are always Christmas chocolates if one is getting a little peckish..

Hope your Christmas was as cruisy as ours. Now of course, I have promised to redecorate the girls' bedrooms as part of their Christmas present. I think I will just have another Christmas chocolate. For energy..

Thursday, December 19, 2013

'Twas the Week Before Christmas, and All Through the House..

Well, let me see:

One of the cats is climbing the Christmas tree and eating the Christmas decorations.
The other one has entered in to the spirit of Christmas by bringing us a perfectly disembowelled rat kidney as a present.
It is the sticky season, ie gingerbread is us. The entire floor is coated in a lovely veneer of butter and icing sugar. This year we had a traditional offering (above), and an Australian interpretation (below). Note the grass and the kangaroo.

I had a green and thrifty gingerbread moment this morning. Usually I buy giant sheets of cellophane from the florist to wrap up the houses until Christmas Day to keep the nasty flies off them, but today I realised I could store them in the glass-fronted cupboard in the dining room to keep them safe instead.

Our other gingerbread save involved finding a recipe for a tiny family friend who is severely allergic to dairy, eggs and nuts. I found this useful vegan gingerbread recipe which made gorgeous little gingerbread men, and I think I like them better than butter gingerbread. The coconut oil made them crispy, like gingernut biscuits. Yum. We substituted lemon juice for the soy milk. We don't believe in soy milk.

We have had ballet concerts, choir concerts, Speech Night, end of year assemblies, the last of which I get to attend in an hour from now, after which the last of the girls will be on school holidays, and apart from a break-up pool party in our backyard this afternoon, there will be peace, perfect Christmas peace.

I can't wait.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Advent Contemplation

So I was at the school carol service last night, thinking, 'This is the moment where I can meditate on the meaning of Christmas.' The lovely old chapel with stained glass windows, lit with candles, and the the choir (including The Girl) singing like angels up in the gallery. What could be more conducive to calm thoughts about peace on earth? I was just settling in to a state of quiet contemplation when half way through the third lesson I felt a jab in the ribs from a sharp little elbow.

'Mum!' hissed Posy, 'What was Jesus' surname?'

Mood of calm contemplation punctured in an instant. Several carols and lessons later I decided that Jesus' surname was likely Carpenter, at least for the first thirty years, after which it was probably something like Dangerous Dissident or Hope of the World, depending on who you asked.

That is as far as I got with my meditating.
Is anyone else achieving meaningful Christmas contemplations?

Friday, December 6, 2013

The December Ambush

You know, some months are just a little too much, and December is that month for me. End of the school year, exams, graduations, ballet concerts, plus Christmas concerts, carol services and the rest of Christmas, the trappings! The trimmings! That may possibly be a paraphrase of The Grinch, or I may be making it up. The Man is away, The Boy gone of course, which means it is girls' night in, every night, except when it is girls' night out, for ballet rehearsals, choir practice etc.

Because it is the end of the school year, exams are over, there is no homework, and it is very tempting to slump on the couch in front of the telly every night. I have attempted to circumvent this reprehensible sloth by instigating epic Upwords battles, played over days, before and after school. We got out the hammock, and in the brief three days of warm weather last week, the girls were to be seen gently rocking with a book, only feet visible over the edge. Then they discovered what a marvellous swing it made, and started playing games with names like, 'who can swing high enough to kick a cherry plum?', and then, 'who can swing high enough to pluck a cherry plum with their teeth?' at which point the hammock and the tree had had enough, and down they all came, hammock and all. I have promised to buy some new rope. Eventually.

I must admit to being in a bit of a slump. We made the Christmas cake a couple of weeks ago, doused it in brandy for days, but it is still sitting on the kitchen bench in its tin, under a tea towel. I am wondering if there is any actual point in wrapping it up, this close to Christmas. Maybe it could just stay on the bench? I was making fried rice for Posy's school lunch the other morning at eight o'clock, which is really way to early for cooking, and I dropped the bottle of fish sauce, which started leaking. I put it on its side on the bench, and it is still there, waiting for an efficient person to come along and decant it into something else. There are no efficient persons noticeably rushing to do this.

I have decided that delegation will be my new 'thing'. I have appointed Rosy Captain of Fruit. She goes to a school where there are Captains for everything. Not only School Captains and House Captains, but Captains of all the sports, Hockey, Rowing, Cricket... Badminton for all I know. There is an Art Captain, and possibly even a Chess Captain. Rosy can hone her future leadership skills by keeping an eagle eye on all the fruit over the summer, making sure that slightly squishy pears and dodgy bananas get used up. She will be extra good at this because she creates giant salads and fruit salads for herself on a regular basis, and gets very cross when we run out of key ingredients. She is also now in charge of the fruit and veg shopping list. She has also been heard enquiring if she will get more pocket money if she cooks three meals a week over the summer? I am thinking we could come to some arrangement.

Last week when the hammock was still intact and Posy and I were swinging on it before school she said, 'What is as gentle as a butterfly and can make the whole world disappear?'
The answer, of course, is your eyelids.

 I will be going to make the world disappear now.

Please do tell me about your December. Are you swanning through it gracefully, or are you hitting that December wall along with me? If the former, please share secrets, or maybe pop over and help me with the fish sauce?