Traditions : New & Old


When I was a child the dinner table was the source of good food for nourishment of the body as well as the venue to share the days events, whether they be local, national, or international, as nourishment for the mind. That hasn’t changed any with a number of visitors sharing my table over the past few weeks to celebrate and commiserate the last 12 months. We’ve been able to solve the problems of the world over Turkey Pies, play Trivia over Ham Croissants and to solve each and every crisis in the world over Sweet Potato Casserole ( courtesy of blogger Murisopsis).

No Christmas seafood this year as the thought of queuing for three hours in the middle of a Pandemic held no appeal. Cross that Christmas tradition off the List.

We were sharing our earliest memories of Christmas one night and my brain went back fifty years to making White Christmas with a cousin on Christmas Eve. Never ate the stuff myself – far too sugary – but the memories of mixing, taste testing, and family are vivid. It was a tradition throughout childhood.

With the arrival of the first grandchild the mother was interested in instigating such a tradition for little Harry Kilom for next December when he is more human and less  “pooh-and-spew.” A tradition is “a belief or behavior passed down within a group or society with symbolic meaning or special significance with origins in the past.”

The child’s aunt, Cat Balou, last year instigated a calendar featuring said child with a new meme for every month which was distributed amongst the family.

It seems we have a new family tradition with the creation of another calendar with a monthly meme for the coming year.

Here’s to Family, Fun and Tradition, both new and old, for the New Year. Blogging Family included.

Salute!

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…..

Christmas Flick Faves

Winding down with less commitments and a party atmosphere means it’s time to turn to movies with a Christmas theme to see us through those hot summer nights – just as soon as this cyclonic rainfall ceases of course.

Here are my faves :

Die Hard (1988) which requires no explanation.

We’re No Angels (1955)

A fun flick starring Humphrey Bogart, Aldo Ray and Peter Ustinov ( who makes me feel uncomfortable when he’s not wearing a toga). This hapless trio of prison escapees intend to start a new life with funds stolen from an unlikely business man and his family. Instead, the lads end up cooking Christmas dinner and saving the family from ruination with the aid of a pet snake.

Never Say Goodbye (1946)

Errol Flynn, Eleanor Parker and Forrest Tucker contribute to the fun and mayhem of this movie. Critics mauled it of course, though it’s light and shows Errol at his comedic best. Just love the Bogart spoof ! Errol and Eleanor are splitsville though Tucker arriving on the scene as a thick as a brick marine eventually reunites them.

Expecting to be told that I don’t watch any current movies. Dead Wrong. I clearly remember going to see The Muppet Christmas Carol.

My house is full for the duration so I will away to clean it in preparation. Enjoy your holiday season, whatever these strange times may bring, and hold tight those for whom you care. Remember, if the Doctor has advised you to include more fruit and vegetables in your diet Lychees and/or Mango in your champagne is acceptable. Salute!

Finding Joy

Christmas in Australia falls in summer meaning that it is generally uncomfortably hot. Beach picnics, salads and seafood tend to be the order of the day. One year Christmas was so hot that the paper hats from the middle of the bon bons disintegrated from the perspiration from our heads over lunch. This year looks like being another stinker.

In a year short in the Joy Department a drive around the local streets this evening indicated that many neighbours have gone to more than the usual effort with their Christmas decorations. It was cheerful and fun especially for this big kid.

One neighbour has gone to an amazing amount of work having created a Teddy Town Hunt on his front lawn amongst the sparkling Xmas lights and a 6ft tall Santa that waves.

For a gold coin donation that goes to the Queensland Country Women’s Drought Fund you are given a pencil and a list of celebrity characters to identify as you walk around enjoying the display, essentially hunting down the toys on your list, from the thousands exhibited.

There are stuffed toys dating back to the 1930’s as well as from recent movies and TV shows, such as Bluey. Buzz Lightyear, Wonder Woman, Bananas in Pyjamas, Peter Rabbit and Peppa Pig were only some of the toys represented. Every item on display has a story and Beryl and Rod are only too pleased to share them with you.

Many family groups were enjoying reminiscing about the characters from their childhoods and younger folk were having great fun locating Gru from Despicable Me and Shi Fu from Kung Fu Panda.

I admit to feeling a bit nostalgic when I saw Jemima Puddleduck and Little Ragged Blossom from my own childhood and look forward to returning with my daughter and young Harry Kilometres in coming days.

I can’t tell you how good it was to at last find the Joy.

Bub’s Books For Xmas

If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” — Albert Einstein

My daughter, Pocohontas, has already read six week old Harry Kilometres this years Booker Prize Winner. So of course I have been having great fun at local bookstores finding more appropriate literature for the child for Christmas.

This is Harry’s major Christmas parcel from his Meemaw:

I’m a firm believer that you cannot begin your Classic Movie education too early.

Aunt Cat Balou is gifting a copy of the movie Calamity Jane and a book about Audrey Hepburn. (Have I done well with my kids, or what!)

“You don’t have enough money to be considered eccentric. You’re just weird.” – my friend, Bernadette Mercer.

This one’s going into the babe’s Christmas stocking :

Harry’s Dad, a military boyo, has also been reading to young Harry : books on international conflict and aviation strategy.

And they think I’m weird…………..

NOTE :

Discovered a great website which encourages young girls to follow their interest in STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and maths. Go to http://www.amightygirl.com

For fairy tales starring clever and courageous girls, you can find over 180 girl-empowering books of fairy tales in A Mighty Girl’s “Fairy Tale Collection” at https://www.amightygirl.com/books/fiction/fairy-tales-folktales

If you’re looking for princess stories that break the ‘damsel in distress’ mold, A Mighty Girl’s “Ultimate Guide to the Independent Princess” collection features 100 books starring princesses who are smart, daring, and aren’t waiting around to be rescued at https://www.amightygirl.com/mighty-girl-picks/independent-princess

I’ll share these purchases soon with no guilt. Helping both the economy and the sisterhood.

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…..

Sure Beats Vegemite

My youngest daughter will be playing tourist in Agra over Christmas. Loving her work stint in India she is making sure she clocks up as many experiences as possible.

Cat Balou is loving sampling the Indian foods and spices and I guess being a vegetarian (for medical reasons) helps. She is off to a Celebration of Rice this weekend which should be fascinating.

She disappeared to Sri Lanka for a break recently so my (early) Xmas gift to her was a cooking class whilst in Colombo. Both my daughters undertake cooking classes when travelling through other countries – somewhat surprising given that for many years as University students a Vegemite sandwich was the extent of their culinary expertise.

When they flew the nest to pursue their careers in different parts of the country cooking a seafood paella together on their return home became a family tradition. Well, Cat Balou and I cook paella – Pocahontas was in charge of the sangria

In Australia, there’s this practise of judging a pub meal by the standard of its chicken schnitzel, affectionately known as a schnitty. It just is. When my daughters and I travel outside the country we judge by the paella we consume.

Cait’s Sri Lankan cooking class included Coconut Cassava Chips and a Beetroot Curry which she promises to repeat when she arrives home. I’m not sure what wine goes with a beetroot or jackfruit curry. I’m not even sure what a jackfruit is, or where to buy one, though I am looking forward to the experience.

Daughter of mine always immerses herself into the cultures she visits including delving into the literature. It’s a habit she’s had since childhood: diving in head first from one interest till the next. Here’s Cat Balou’s tip for the next great Indian writer:

I’m a little anxious about any new cooking skill Pocahontas may bring back from her time in remote Nhulunbuy……………

Last Christmas (2019)

In an effort to escape the heat, smoke, and continual images of destruction by bushfire plaguing the TV I went to the flicks to see Last Christmas currently being promoted as the “christmas movie of the decade”.

Admittedly I am not, and never have been, a fan of George Michael and his music. Not much chop with the RomCom genre either.

In my mind Emilia Clarke will forever be Daenerys from Game Of Thrones and I will never forget that Jon Snow, over whom I wept tears of both joy and blood for seven long seasons, lost the plot over this blond bimbo with boobs. You dipstick Snow.

So Daenerys, oops Kate, is having a tough time of it: couch surfing, one night stands, too much booze, narcissistic and lazy. She’s been unwell you see. I blame the tattoos on her knuckles.

She meets Tom, played by tall, dark and altogether too perfect Henry Golding who provides her with another view of life and helps her to find herself. Their repartee tries so hard to be slick like that in a John Green novel but fails due to Kate’s schoolgirl giggle.

You just know there is going to be a twist. Fifteen minutes before the end Kate does have an attitude readjustment though she’s stuck with the tats, poor love. For all but those last 900 seconds this was a pretty depressing rom-com. 

A crazy Asian actress, Michelle Yeoh, gets her 15 minutes of fame and her love interest is even loopier.

And it doesn’t matter how many times the song “Last Christmas” plays in the background there is just no emotional connection whatsoever. Where’s Michael Bauble when you need him. ( * There’s a spoiler in the words of the song.)

Actress Emma Thompson and her husband are the architects of the story and she earned her dough playing Kate’s mother with a East European accent laid on as thick as jam and cream at a Devonshire Tea.

I’ve been reliably informed Clarke makes a “hot as” elf. I just don’t get it. Maybe it’s another Millennial / Boomer thing.

For a little Christmas lovin’ my advice is to avoid elves and stick with Die Hard. Or When You Were Sleeping.

Rating: Not one tissue required and sent sub-conscience memo to Jon Snow: matey, your sword work needs to improve.

An Early Xmas With Bentley

My Christmas daughter and her military boy have left to follow the Inca Trail. This leaves me safely ensconced in the Hunter Valley on house and dog sitting duties, on a crusade to save the indoor plants.

If you think minding a Labrador is an easy task, think again. Bentley failed both Puppy School and Obedience Classes before it was discovered he was as deaf as a doorpost. I wailed like a banshee when he was finally diagnosed, happier to think he was merely recalcitrant. A “ revenge is sweet” kind of thing……Thankfully, it took only months to master canine sign language.

So this spoilt pup, who has been my daughter’s companion for the last two years with the partner on deployment and elsewhere, has been dining on scrambled eggs and salmon for breakfast on weekends, and fish and chips after his weekly half marathon.

Guess what ?

I love this pup like you wouldn’t believe but I refuse to feed him salmon and half marathons, any marathons at all, are definitely out of the question.

The plan is to entertain Bentley at the beach early every morning for a run and or/a swim, and hopefully he will practice patience whilst I lose an hour with the surf rod. Because of his hearing impediment I cannot let him off the lead – he is renowned locally for helping himself to both picnic baskets and eskys. His beautiful nature means that people laugh rather than fume.

No doubt Bentley will be weighed upon his parents return. My lean, mean fighting machine child likes her Labrador the same way.( A lean Lab – is that an oxymoron?).

This mother-of-the -bride’s main job was to find an outfit for Bentley to wear walking Josie down the aisle. It wasn’t easy finding a bow tie to match the bride’s shoes I tell you….

Back home blinds will be closed and the pup and I will enjoy the book and movie collection. And Netflix too if I can work out the instructions. The washing machine is proving a major challenge as well……..

It’s going to be a long six weeks. Thankfully, the Calvary arrives in a week in the form of the other daughter.

Warm Wishes for the Season, whatever that may mean to you.

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.