Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Eve

I don't really do New Years Eve, but Kaitlyn and Ashley are having friends over tonight, so there is the usual mad panic beforehand: compounded by the expected top temp of 42 degrees celcius in the City and a *milder* 39 down here! ARGH!!!!!!!

The clash of preparation and preparing in and around normal life means short tempers and frustrated outbursts - "Beam me up, Scotty!" I just want to lie on my bed with the fan on, but who knows what bedlam would result? Likely all the perishables would be removed from the fridge, to make way for Jelly Shots!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Peace and Quiet!

It is so lovely here atm. Rodney is back at work, so he left about half an hour ago. Everyone else is still in bed and I have everything to myself! Bliss!

It is going to be hot today, but on the lower end of hot, before the temps soar over the next few days. So I think I might pop out and do some bits and bobs today, so I don’t need to go out when it is horribly hot. I have to go and spend my voucher at the book shop – what joy! – and I have $50 burning a hole in my pocket – MIL gave everyone cash this year! We each got $50, except Ashley, who got half, because he is only half in, as she said! I am going to spend mine on something scrapping related – possibly some shelving for the wall above my current shelf unit. That might involve a trip to Ikea … sigh!

Kaitlyn is sleeping in after seeing Priscilla last night, with Ashley’s mum, sister and – reluctantly – father! Ashley got to miss it, as he has gone away on a boys trip! He will be back in time for the NYE gathering they are planning at our house.

Melissa worked last night so she can have a sleep in until she needs to get ready for work this afternoon. She is still coming off the high of seeing the Golden Compass – she has read all the books and is desperate that they make the rest into films. She is on top of the world, with Prince Caspian to look forward to and the news that Peter Jackson has (finally) got permission to make TWO films based on The Hobbit!!

Kieran has finished the Xbox game he got for Christmas so last night the Dr Who epic began. It is a hard life …

Anyway, that is about it for now. Might do some scrapping – made a mini album of the family photos yesterday and did a LO of one of the pics I took of Melissa at the park. Must take some photos and upload.

Have a nice day!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Family Christmas

Here is the clan who I *forced* to have photos taken together!

I had to photoshop the full group pic – someone moved behind someone else, but there was nobody behind the camera to see! It is my first attempt at such digital editing – tempting to add Santa too!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve

With a simple dinner out of the way, it was time to prepare for Carols By Candlelight on TV, my traditional Christmas Eve activity. Every candle, every tea light holder is lit around the lounge room and my bedroom. The Christmas lights are on, all other lights are off.

With Kaitlyn spending the evening with friends, there were only four of us to share an indlugence - chocolate fondue, served with marshmallows, biscotti, fresh cherries and strawberries, plus a plate of the cookies I baked.

I ended up watching Carols in bed, while they all watched part two of Terry Pratchett's Hogwatch. That's what I like about our kind of Christmas - everyone can treat themselves to their own delights!

Finally, off to bed ... the stockings were hung by the ... um, no chimney, just a cupboard!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Breakfast Menu - Christmas Morning

Some years ago, we decided to make Breakfast our special meal together on Christmas Day. Last year, we had it for dinner on Christmas Eve, but this year it is back to morning!

The menu is ever-evolving, as we find new things to add to our list. Some we will prepare the day before, to save work on the day.

Here is the menu for 2007.

Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice
Your Choice from a range of hot beverages
Eggs - cooked to your requirements
Bacon - traditional or glazed with maple syrup
Warm croissants with butter and your choice of jam
Buttermilk Pancakes with Blueberry Syrup and/or fresh berries
Freshly Baked Plum Pudding Muffins
French Toast - with optional Choc Chip Panetone or Traditional Bread

to be followed by full roast dinner at Nana and Pa's! So be warned - best not linger too long in bed!

Bill Granger's Buttermilk Pancakes

Buttermilk Pancakes
Chef: Bill Granger

You need:
250 g (2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
750 ml (3 cups) buttermilk
75 g (2½ oz) unsalted butter, melted
unsalted butter, extra, for greasing the pan

1. Stir the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together in a bowl.
2. Add the eggs, buttermilk and melted butter and whisk to combine.
3. Heat a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and brush a small portion of butter over the base.
4. For each pancake, ladle 80 ml (1/3 cup) of batter into the pan and cook for about 2 minutes, until bubbles appear on the surface.
5. Turn the pancakes over and cook for another minute.
6. Transfer to a plate and keep warm while cooking the rest of the pancakes.

Corinna Chapman's Plum Pudding Muffins

As found in Kerry Greenwood's mystery novel, earthly delights:


2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons bicarb of soda
1 cup chopped candies peel, sultunas, dried fruit
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of allspice
1 beaten egg
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons melted butter
tablespoon rum or brandy

Heat the oven to 300 degrees celcius. Spray the muffin tins with oil. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Mix the egg, milk, butter and alcohol together. Pour it all at once into the muffin mix, stir with a fork and put into the prepared tins. Bake for about 15 mins until they smell cooked but before they are burned on the bottom.

Nigella's cookie recipe

Okay, Nigella Lawson drives me nutty to watch, but nonetheless, this looks like a good recipe, so I am going to give it a whirl and make cookies!

Cookies: 6 tablespoons soft unsalted butter 1/2 cup sugar 1 large egg 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt

Icing: 2 to 3 tablespoons just-boiled water 1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted Food coloring, preferably pastes

Special equipment: cookie cutters

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and moving towards moussiness, then beat in the egg and vanilla. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter and eggs, and mix gently but surely. If you think the finished mixture is too sticky to be rolled out, add more flour, but do so sparingly as too much will make the dough tough. Form into a fat disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Sprinkle a suitable surface with flour, place disk of dough on it, and sprinkle a little more flour on top of that. Then roll it out to a thickness of about 1/4-inch. Cut into shapes, dipping the cutter into flour as you go, and place the cookies a little apart on 2 parchment or silpat lined baking sheets.

Bake for 8 to 12 minutes; obviously it depends on the shape you're using and whether they are on the upper or lower shelf, though you can swap them around after about 5 minutes. When they're ready expect them to be tinged a pronounced gold around the edges; they'll be softish still in the middle, but set while they cool.

Remove the cookies with a flat, preferably flexible, spatula to a wire rack. When they are fully cooled, you can get on with the icing. Put a couple of tablespoons of not-quite-boiling water into a large bowl, add the sieved confectioners sugar and mix together, adding more water as you need to form a thick paste. Color,as desired. I think pastes are much better than liquid, not just because the range of colors is better but because they don't dilute the icing as they tint. Ice cooled cookies, as desired.

Friday, December 21, 2007

My Morning

I have just spent an hour or so restoring order to our fridge and pantry: the lunatics have been in charge of the asylum! Rodney put the months shopping away last weekend and totally ignored the labels on shelves and Tupperware. The result – overflowing shelfs and “nowhere to bloody put anything”.

I took everything out and then put it back on the correct shelves. Packets emptied into Tupperware. Result? Everything put away AND spare shelf space. Can I say anything? No, of course I can’t, because when a man does housework they must be treated with admiration and praise. Will he say anything? No of course not, because when a woman does housework it must be ignored and overlooked.

I prefer it when Kieran puts the shopping away – his slight OCD tendencies shine through! But you should see him in charge of the shopping trollies (yes, plural) – like a major general barking at us if we buck his system! LOL!

So now Mother Hubbard can see what is in her cupboard (bugger, I was sure there was plenty of flour!), make a small dash to the little supermarket at the end of our street (for said flour) and actually tackle some baking on the weekend: I feel like Christmas cookies! Maybe some muffins for our breakfast extravaganza Christmas Day! I had a recipe for some Plum Pudding Muffins … last year? Mmm …google!!!!

I have also corralled the coffee shop also known as a corner of the kitchen bench (rivalled only by the tea shop in another corner!) Apparently, you cannot have too much coffee! I don’t drink it, just Rodney and Kaitlyn, so I have no idea what is what, let alone how to use the machine that makes noise!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I am officially on holidays :)

Okay, so today was my last paid working day until at least February, but I prefer to see it as about SIX WEEKS of gloriously free time!

I love my job, but it is still a job and means dragging myself out of bed and into the car to drive an hour to my office. Not always appealing when life is busy and my body craves more sleep.

My To Do list is full … of things I WANT to do. Of course, it includes a mountain of books and some serious scrapbooking (including an exciting L.O.A.D. challenge for January – LayOut A Day), but I also plan to declutter and organise, get the garden back in shape and play with both my new camera and photoshop and coax their secrets from them!

I also hope to make a few local expeditions – holiday at home – and maybe even take my favourite ferry ride to Queenscliff for a day.

Most of all, I look forward to getting up when I want to, not when I have to! BLISS!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Such a busy year!

I sat down to write our annual Christmas letter this year, but it was just too hard!

We have all had such a busy year and have such diverse lives, how do you sum that up in a few lines for far-flung family and friends?

So - I didn't! Instead, I want to let everyone know that we are well and healthy and busily pursuing all sorts of activity at home and outside. Melissa is back in the nest, Kaitlyn and her partner Ashley have been together for two years now and Kieran is about to enter Year 11 at school. Rodney continues to work in medical imaging and Yvette has worked 18 hrs pw this year in a paid role for ABA.

Rather than waffle on, I want you to know that YOU are all in our thoughts, although we may not always have time to stop and say so.

I hope everyone can find time to stop and enjoy the next week or so.

I hope everyone takes some time to nurture themselves, as well as making everything perfect!

I hope everyone remembers it is just another day! A nice one, but just one day!

I hope everyone spends time with those they love.

School Presentation Night

We unexpectedly got to attend our high school presentation night last night, as Kieran was awarded an Optima Sempa award (the school motto, Best Always). Our school community is far to large for the biggest auditorium in our twon, so there is a limit of two tickets per family and only those actually getting awards can attend.

I was really thrilled for Kieran to recieve this award. He has worked really hard to address some of his learning challenges and has had a good academic year. So good on him!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Raymond Briggs "The Snowman"

One of our all-time favourites :)

Christmas Questions

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Wrapping paper - no peeking!

2. Real or artificial?
Real and personally chosen by the family and cut for us at the same tree farm.

3. When do you put up the tree?
The first weekend after December 1st that we can all arrange to be available!

4. When do you take the tree down?
January 6th, even though it is bugging me from NY!

5. Do you like eggnog?
I haven't had it since we made it in Home Ec at school! Too hot in Australia at Christmas.

6. Favorite gift received as a child?
My tricycle or my scooter - can't decide between them. Both red!

7. Do you have a Nativity scene?
Yes and we now own two sets of figures, so I guess they will take it in turns - unless I ever get the Willow Tree set, then they will take sole centre stage!

8. Hardest person to buy for?
The Outlaws - the have whatever they want/need, and if they haven't they can buy it easily. And we have very different tastes, so ...

9. Easiest person to buy for?
My daughters - too easy!Hardest part is stopping!

10. Worst Christmas present ever received?
I can't name it here in case it gets back to the giver!

11. Email or Christmas card?
I am at a transition point. Cards only to those whom it is especially important to (like aunts!) and emails to everyone else.

12. Favorite Christmas movie?
Original Miracle on 34th Street, though I haven't watched it for years.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
I might pick up bits and pieces prior but after Kaitlyn's end of October birthday is when it becomes a priority, though December is the peak.

14. Have you ever recycled/regifted a Christmas present?
I have donated them straight to the op shop.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
Christmas pudding, turkey with cranberry sauce.

16. Favorite Christmas tradition?
Getting the kid's photo taken with Santa (23 years so far!)

17. Favorite Christmas song?
Real, proper, old Carols.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
Stay home! All the family live locally.

19. Can you name Santa's reindeer?
Dasher, Dance, Donder and Blitzen, Cupid and Comet, Prancer and Vixen ... and Rudolph! Thanks, Bing!)

20. Do you have an angel at the top of the tree or a star?
An angel and the kids take it in turns to put her up as the very last decoration.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?
Christmas morning, before breakfast, in jammies. Bah humbug to anyone who makes their kids dress and eat first.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?
The end of school year wrapped up in the middle of it all and the uncaring school whose (next year) fees are due in the same pay period as Christmas. Shame! And it is a government school - so much for free education.

23. Best thing about Christmas?
Seeing the reaction to the gifts you have chosen with so much care and being with your family.

Monday, December 17, 2007

January To Do List ...

I tell you what, I reckon I am going to be flat out throughout January ... or maybe out flat!
Our library has closed for two weeks for renovations and to console us poor addicts,
we were allowed to borrow as many books as we wished for 8 weeks!

This is what I have narrowed it down to!
All due to be returned by the end of January 2008 ... that is, um 12 books in five weeks ...
better get started now!!!!

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One week to go!

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

I am just about finished!

Got the last major pressies today and did the monthly grocery shop! I think I now only have a few small stocking stuffers which I can pick up through the week, so apart from the fruit, veg, meat and other fresh stuff, hopefully I won't need to brave the shopping centres again!

Mind you, I don't mind crowds so I don't find the shops the horrendous experience that some do, but it does seem to drain your energy more when there are more people about.

So I think everyone is getting something they will like and that is all you can ask for. A couple more to wrap (if I ever get the place to myself!) and then it is all over bar the waiting.

Off to lunch with The Girls tomorrow and then just three more work days (ever?) before I am officially on holidays. I imagine next weekend will go fairly quickly with just the everyday stuff!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Our Trip to the Big Smoke

Here are the photos from our annual trip to the City.

We took two cars to fit us all in and I had the *joy* of supervising Melissa driving in – yay! It was very exciting on the highway, as a huge cloud of smoke caught everyone’s attention – it was a factory fire in Moorabbin. After we passed it and got closer to the City, we counted NINE fire trucks roaring past in the other direction. Very disturbing. (Are supervising drivers meant to play photographer? No?)

We had a lovely time wandering and shopping and eating and this year, Ashley researched exactly where ACDC lane is (last year he had us aimlessly wandering) so we indulged his request and staggered up hill to take his photo. A bonus on the way back was seeing Brian Mannix having drink on the footpath!!!

We did the Block and Royal Arcades. Melissa had to be surgically removed from Spellbox, but the lure of iced chocolates finally coaxed her out!

The Myer windows are lovely – I had managed not to hear what the theme was and we were delighted to find it is Graham Base’s book Uno’s Garden – Animalia and The Eleventh Hour were big favourites around here when the kids were younger. We bought the book on our way back to the car as we passed through Myer!

Of course, part of the whole visit is seeing Santa and having the annual photo taken!
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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Well, the countdown is in earnest now, with wrapping paper littering the house and frantic shuffling and hiding of shopping bags and whispered converstaions that stop when you enter the room (or is that just me?)

Suddenly I have only the rest of this week and next week to finish everything off at work and shut down the office for summer. Whether I shut it down for ever after January remains in the hands of the government department who hold the purse strings for our funding. Regardless, the new year will involve packing up the office as we need to find a new home!

Lots of scrapbooking happening, in amongst all the rest! If you haven't checked it out lately, pop over to and have a look - there are lots of family albums online too, so have fun!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Deck the Halls

Okay, today we (finally) went to the Christmas Tree Farm on our annual pilgrimage.

Apart from the flies (it is going to be a bad summer for them!) we had a great time.

Then home to put the tree in place and decorate it - smiles all round!

Decking the Halls