Ah, the serenity………

0nce again the house is still. The vacuum cleaner is full of dog fur and I suspect a couple of Scrabble tiles. There are still 12 blocks of various cheeses, olives and a carton of Cab Sav in the fridge so I have no need to cook till February nor visit a supermarket. I did nine loads of washing yesterday which only confirmed that putting the ironing board out in a garage sale twenty years ago was the right decision. The silence is golden.

In between three weeks of playing Mummy Dearest – but not in a Joan Crawford kind of way – I did squeeze in a little binge watching, sashaying around the kitchen with Yul Brynner as the King of Siam and crawling through air conditioning ducts with Bruce Willis in the greatest Christmas movie ever made in movies 1,2,3,4 and 5 (watching the receding hairline with glee).

Young Cat Balou gifted me with a DVD of the television mini series Feud : Bette and Joan, as in Davis and Crawford, and based on the making of the movie “Whatever Happened To Baby Jane”. Starring Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange respectively I adored this muck in all its depressing detail about the treatment of women particularly by the Hollywood machine during the so-called Golden Years. My viewing partner found the bitchiness between these two “stars” too brutal to watch and scampered after Part 4 which was okay as it meant sharing the Toblerone (and plonk) was no longer required for the final 4 parts. Besides, if I’m invested allow me to view in peace. Does that work for you too?

My favourite viewing was an obscure little Australian flick (1998) which I am adding to my list of favourite Xmas movies, right up there with Die Hard, and Joyeux Noel. It made such a little ripple upon its release that I’m giving you all 12 months to locate a copy for December 2022.

Crackers is a Christmas movie that will resonate with many as it includes much of our Aussie culture including dog poop, a pub brawl, weed in the mince pies, and grandpa, an old Rat Of Tobruk, who hits the turps and is an ex con. The aesthetics are straight from Christmas’s past: the wooden spoon and fork hanging on the wall, the painted tyres turned into swan planters on the front lawn, the aboveground swimming pool. It’s every bit as chaotic as Christmas always tends to be, yet amongst all the dysfunction it’s about a family who cares about each other.

The only actor I recognised was a younger, trimmer Peter Rowsthorn, 15 years before he played Kim’s doormat husband in Kath And Kim.

Before we move away from the movie theme did you know that LEGO are considering a kit for the house from It’s A Wonderful Life? I want three.

Ah, the serenity.

How To Make Gravy & Granita For Xmas

It’s December 21st which means that it is time “to make gravy”.

It is also time to watch the best ever Christmas movie ever : Die Hard. I ‘m going to order this decoration for next years Xmas tree.

The house is spic and span and has been totally rearranged to avoid any accidents and collisions. Smashed wine glasses on a toddlers head conjures up such awful visions. Likewise I don’t fancy a trip to the vets so the garden too has been organised so that the grandfurbaby is unable to munch on chillis.

I will however be making a canine version of a croquembouque using meat balls and peanut butter to occupy the pup and I also have an oversupply of palm fronds for him to chew. The only issue is that he likes to play with the possums during the night which means I’ll be getting up three or four times a night with him. It’s harder than having a newborn in the house.

Meet Paulini and her joey

It remains wickedly hot here. Argghhhh, the memories of Christmas’ Past when the paper hats from the bonbons disintegrated on your head through perspiration…….

Not a sweets cook, never have been, so the Lychee and Coconut Granita sorely tested my skillset. I served with mint leaves, though my guests suggested berries or passionfruit as an accompaniment.

Blend together : 1 x tin of lychees including juice
1 x tin of coconut milk.
Pour into a metal tray and freeze.

( Tip: I froze over night. Do not serve immediately to anyone with dental issues. 3 hours in the freezer is probably sufficient. )

Dessert complimented my Xmas Placemats beautifully.

Merry Christmas and remember…..

It’s Beginning To Look Like Christmas…

So, to borrow a phrase, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas….The days are long and hot, cicadas chirp throughout the evening, and the kookaburras and magpies start their birdsong from 3.30am onwards. Oh, and the grass needs cutting on a weekly basis. It’s exhausting I tell you.

Ronan Keating’s version…..

Refusing to go anywhere near a shopping centre and the humidity is preventing any reading of real worth. This means resorting to DVD’s because I just cannot view anymore tragedy on the telly. Thank goodness for the local Op Shop which also serves coffee and Hummingbird Cake for $8.

This week I found a copy of all time favourite, Valiant, a delightful computer generated epic set during World War 2, and covering the exploits of carrier pigeons. With its references to the White Cliffs of Dover, Andrews Sisters, the Dambuster theme song, and a cute white mouse working with the Resistance called Charles De Girl it goes way over children’s heads.

The movie ends with Valiant and his fellow members from Squad F being awarded the Dickin Medal with a message then displayed commending all the animals that in real life saved thousands of lives during World War II.

Forty five minutes of pure pleasure. Chew on that, Spiderman.


I did venture to the dark side, also known as having crossed the Brisbane River in a northerly direction, to enjoy carols performed by the Brisbane Army Band. Brilliant and a great wake up call to get into the mood.

This weekend a friend has volunteered to play guinea pig as I attempt fellow blogger’s ( Valerie AKA Muriopsis) Sweet Potato Casserole recipe as well as a tropical Coconut and Lychee Granita.

If all else fails I have this to fall back on. $5. Bargain.

In Recognition of the Xmas Ham

The pile of books at the end of the bed continues to grow. Alarmingly. Blame all the house guests.

I’ve been cooking up a storm these past few weeks. Lots of fresh seafood, all products of Australia. Why would you buy anything else I have to ask?

Today the house walls have stopped shaking and all is quiet. It is eerily still. I keep listening for a baby ‘s cry. So do we put our feet up on the couch and spend the day reading? Not when there is a ham bone waiting to be boiled for the makings of a hearty broth.

Bizarre really. Millions of Aussies whip up batches of Pea and Ham Soup during the hottest and longest days of summer. Waste not, want not. Everything left over in the fridge gets tossed into the mix, even the scrapings from the Vegemite jar.

I’ve been participating in this Ham Soup ritual since very young. I used to help my mother by pushing the vegetables through the old cast iron mouli attached to the kitchen table top.

Some things have changed over time. Our family ham soup had to be so thick that a spoon could stand up in it. My father would insist. My version is thinner and comes with dumplings. Delicious.

Going into hibernation for the next 72 hours. No tv, blinds drawn, and I will survive on toast and tea, weepy movies and some good books.

Bruschetta is essentially toast, right?

Another Xmas Read : Golah Sing

Christmas is done and dusted and Boxing Day was just a blur with six loads of washing and a mammoth effort sucking prawn shells up off the floor with the vacuum cleaner. It’s eerily quiet without a baby in the house though I still tend to wake up at 2 am to check if he’s still breathing. Baby’s mother is 34 today. That about indicates the length of time between nappies and projectile vomiting in my home.

My other Christmas read has been an anthology of award-winning short stories submitted to the Stringybark Times Past Writing Competition where writers were asked to take a particular historical incident and weave a story around it. What’s not to enjoy? Australian historical fiction in short bursts which I could manage between food prep, fridge maintenance, and entertaining an 11 week old with healthy lungs. (It’s been a long time between screaming too.)

Perhaps the reason behind my enjoyment of these short stories is that several have piqued my interest enough to research further. There is a 1500 word story about WW2 Nurse Vivian Bullwinkel who survived the sinking of the SS Vyner Brooke by the Japanese and was only one of three (including two soldiers) who survived the Bangka Island Massacre. Fascinating reading.

Another covers a train crash in Victoria which I’de never heard of and Torres Strait At War introduces readers to a battalion formed during WW2 of up to 800 men, infantry and pioneers, from inhabitants of all the Torres Strait Islands and their subsequent treatment by the Government.

Golah Sing is great reading. Just wish retirement actually allowed for more research time.

Santa was particularly thoughtful this year with a face mask for the Pandemic with an Errol Flynn theme. Now ain’t that the way to a girls heart…..

Christmas Reading

In recovery mode so just finished reading Di Morrissey’s Rain Music. Massive disappointment though I shouldn’t be surprised as I selected it purely for its pretty front cover. I’m generally not one to take any notice of book covers but the flowering Poincianas are very familiar and line the streets where I live.

Tip: Give it a miss.

Doesn’t matter. Fluff is acceptable after too much merriment, isn’t it?

My previous read was Peace by Australian author Garry Disher.

Constable Paul Hirschhausen runs a one-cop station in the dry farming country south of the Flinders Ranges. He’s still new in town but the community work—welfare checks and working bees—is starting to pay off. Now Christmas is here and, apart from a grass fire, two boys stealing a ute and Brenda Flann entering the front bar of the pub without exiting her car, Hirsch’s life has been peaceful. Until he’s called to a strange, vicious incident in Kitchener Street. And Sydney police ask him to look in on a family living outside town on a forgotten back road.Suddenly, it doesn’t look like a season of goodwill at all.

Crime books are not my forte and so I battled through the first few chapters with Constable Plod slowly negotiating his way around his rural precinct. Then it clicked. Plod is working at the pace of the heat and the dry which is so draining on the edge of the Flinders Rangers in South Australia. Beautiful, but the only things that move fast are the flies.

A great read and of course I had no chance in predicting who was the culprit.

Tip: Well worth the effort.

I need a new Reading Challenge for the New Year. I’ve loved discovering more Australian authors, especially indie writers, but I need to up the anti.

Any suggestions?

I blame the chocolates.

Bushfires and Birthdays

Lugarno, 1963

My daughter has an awkward birthday in a few days. Each year she admonishes me because she has never had a dedicated birthday party. I retaliate with a reminder about the Christmas I was unable to drink anything cold and bubbly and suffered much discomfort.

Instead of a gift each birthday my daughter enjoyed an “experience” each year with a gold charm for a bracelet as a reminder of her special day. Boat trips up the river, trips to the theatre or to the aquarium: her charm bracelet, a gift for her 18th, is a beautiful piece of jewellery and memorabilia.

I’m reminded of this watching the bushfire news on the television. Cudlee Creek in the Adelaide Hills in South Australia has been ravaged by flames.

Pocohontas celebrated her sixth birthday at Cudlee Creek Wildlife Park. She remembers vividly that an emu stole her picnic lunch and she’s suffered ornithophobia ever since.

The fires remain out of control across several states.

I haven’t sent Xmas cards this year, and I haven’t written any letters, which as the product of parents who stored much importance in penmanship hurts. It doesn’t seem appropriate to send fun news to family and friends caught up in the fires.

A girlfriend doesn’t look like getting home to her loved ones for Christmas. Another had flames in her suburb yesterday where two homes were lost. A cousin in the Blue Mountains remains vigilant. It doesn’t feel like Christmas. It is smokey, hot and the mood is sombre.

And then this. Totally uplifting. These guys were rescued from the Cudlee Creek blaze by members of our Rural Fire Service. Makes the heart sing.

Figures obtained by AAP revealed police had dealt with 98 people – 31 adults and 67 juveniles – for deliberately setting fires in Queensland alone.

Don’t give me “mental health” or “broken home” BS. This is simply criminal.

See you in a few days my beautiful girl. There is a bottle on ice with your name on it.

Here’s to a better days for all…..

Christmas Rituals…..Are Meant To Be Broken

I have been responsible for the Christmas Day cooking since I was 16 years of age. Despite all the time and effort, ( and yes, stress), I’ve always enjoyed the process particularly coming up with a new recipe and something different to add to the menu of Cold Meat and Salads each and every year.

Except for last Christmas. Hottest December 25th on record and both my Smashed Brussel Sprouts With Parmesan and Cous Cous with Bok Choy were an epic fail. As in Epic Fail. I dined on left overs for days.

This year I have retired. Retired on so many levels. No cooking for this little black duck. I’m heading south for a stint in our prime wine producing region with Christmas lunch booked somewhere swish. I might even wear makeup, something I’ve not done for years. Makeup in Brisbane mid summer is redundant as it slides off your face…….

(LIFE LESSON 35. Wearing a white frock mid summer in Brisi and wearing makeup is just asking for trouble. Oh, and do not drink red wine when wearing white either).

Being retired doesn’t mean I’ve slowed down at all. Indeed, these little legs keep moving. It just means my priorities have changed. So much to do, so little time….

I’ve not been to a shopping centre this Festive Centre which has improved any blood pressure issues considerably. I’ve avoided car park rage, school kids on holidays, and curmudgeonly old men who don’t like queuing and aren’t afraid to tell you. Can I tell you how good this all feels ? Any carols that I hear are ones I have chosen to listen too – such as Aussie, Tim Minchin, who makes me smile – and I’ve made Xmas Gifts that are natural and chemical free, including a Make Your Own Lip Balm Kit for those who want Angelina Jolie lips without the collagen. And who doesn’t? Be honest…..

Let’s see what other habits we can break, shall we?

Personal Challenge Accepted.