Christmas

32 fingers and 8 thumbs.

by Elizabeth on December 8, 2013 · 1 comment

in Christmas, Music, Videos

Angels We Have Heard on High – The Piano Guys

I’ve been a bit slow getting into the Christmas spirit this year, but I’m glad I took a few minutes out of my scroogecave to watch this video.  These guys are good, and all those string and hammer stunts remind me of Ben Folds when he performs live.

Except I bet Ben swears a bit more than these guys.

 

(Sidenote: I miss my piano.)

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Task #57 on my list of 101 Things in 1001 Days is ‘Build a gingerbread house’.

Build a gingerbread house, they said.
It will be fun, they said…

They must have been from the Northern Hemisphere, making their gingerbread houses in the chill of a frosty winter.  In winter royal icing hardens quickly and acts like glue, allowing you to build incredible sculptures without fear of gravity or satan or kardashians.

I did not build my gingerbread house in winter.  I was not rugged up in a Christmas sweater, there was no egg-nog and I didn’t once contemplate the beauty of the snowflakes falling outside my window.  There was no wood popping in the fireplace because there was no fire.

And that’s because I made my gingerbread house in Austrayyylia mate, g’day!, in the middle of December, in the middle of summer, on a day that turned out to be the first 40C/104F day of the year.

Crikey dingo.  I was a bloody idiot.

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I chose that day to build my gingerbread house because it was on my list, and because I was running out of time to do it before Christmas.  I had grand plans of doing the entire thing from scratch, but when I ran my recipe past a workmate of mine (in her spare time, a gingerbread house master) she told me to STOP RIGHT THERE and PUT THE RECIPE DOWN and hey also, ARE YOU INSANE?

Because apparently making gingerbread in summer – much like making royal icing in summer – is a really dumb move.  She explained to me how gingerbread will sag in the middle if it’s not cooked properly, and then your house will come crashing down taking with it all of your hopes and dreams.  She reminded me that my house was not airconditioned, that I’m constantly complaining about the uneven heat in my oven, and that I have a crippling slight issue in the overachievement department.

She made me promise with my hand over my heart that I would go and buy a kit and just have fun decorating it.  Promise me, Elizabeth.  Swear to me that you will not overachieve.  LOOK ME IN THE EYE.

I looked her in the eye. I bought a kit.

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I considered buying two kits! Because, you see, then I could use the second kit to build a second floor! And there would be a little verandah and a carport and maybe a treehouse with a ladder.  And later, when I found myself wondering how to build a simple circuit to power a tiny gingerbread chandelier, I agreed that my friend was maybe pretty insightful after all.

So, just the one then.

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It would be fair to say that during the construction of this gingerbread house I said a number of things that I’m not entirely proud of.  There are all sorts of ways to soundproof a room these days if you want to protect the people you love from your violent outbursts, but that’s a whole other blog post.

Here are some things I learned.

  • Buy a kit.  For the love of God, buy a kit.
  • Add a bunch of extra powdered sugar to your usual royal icing recipe or all that shit will slide off your house.  It should be thick like toothpaste, even on a 40C day.
  • Go ahead and build a fence out of pretzel sticks, but not before kissing the rest of your day goodbye.
  • If you find a miniature sugar Christmas tree and snowman at a supermarket go ahead and buy them and stick them down.  Later, when your family asks how you made them just shrug and offer to show them someday.  Then change your name and move to another city.
  • I built the shingles on the roof from wafer biscuits, splitting the layers and then breaking them into thirds.  You definitely want to do this before gluing your roof in place because otherwise?  Crying.
  • Ask yourself whether your house really needs a fence.  However, if your gingerbread family has a gingerbread dog you should be a responsible pet owner and build a secure yard.
  • There will come a point during the construction of your house when you realise that for every piece of candy on your creation, there are another fifteen in your belly.  Ensure that you have plenty of salty snacks on hand to counter the sugar you have eaten because that was the secret to my dietary success last weekend.
  • You may think that you want to build a teeny tiny wreath for your front door but that’s just your diabetes destroying the brain cells in your frontal lobe.

I also learned that there are other ways to have fun at Christmas, like for instance not building gingerbread houses.

I was so relieved when it survived the 45 minute drive to my cousin’s house on Christmas Day, perched precariously on my lap.  I made Tim take every corner carefully and cushioned every bump in the road.

I needn’t have worried, because later in the day when I armed my little cousin with a meat tenderizer and asked her to smash it it turned out to be stronger than a piñata.  My cousin’s struggle against my gingerbread house was more horrifying than that scene in Breaking Bad with the ATM and I’m not even kidding.

It tasted really good.

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Home for Christmas

by Elizabeth on December 28, 2012 · 7 comments

in Christmas, Family, Harry, Life

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Tim and I are pretty accustomed to big Christmases.  Our very first Christmas together was spent with his family on the other side of the world, and since then we’ve usually hosted one or both sets of families with us.  This Christmas (our sixth?  geez!) was pretty quiet in comparison to the others.  We saw my extended Melbourne family for lunch (an incredible feast which featured three roasts, baked fish and salads) and lavished attention on my cousin’s new baby girl.

The rest of the time we were on our own.  Christmas felt different this year, and not really in a good way.  In previous years I’ve kind of craved a quiet Christmas for just the two of us but the truth is, the reality was less exciting than the idea.  I missed my family; I missed Tim’s family.  We’ve spent so much time with all of them this year that it felt weird to be without them on such an important day.  We had phonecalls and skype, but what we really needed was our people – for realsies.

We need to do something about that next year.

Anyway, it wasn’t doom and gloom.  Tim and I had a fun Christmas morning opening our presents, and we were both pretty spoiled.  Tim gave me the Manfrotto tripod I’d been lusting after, and something I had no idea I wanted – a SodaStream!  That thing is FUN and although I’m not a big soda/soft drink fan I do love my water carbonated so it’s going to get a workout this Summer.  Tim got some boy stuff – a Playstation game, a voucher for some new running shoes and a big pile of books that he’d been hoping for.

Mum & Dad gave us a Sony HD handycam.  It was probably their way of saying, “HEY. Give us back our video camera!” but that doesn’t matter because it’s awesome.  It has a cool little projector on it too so that you can play back your footage in a dark room.  It’s probably the closest thing to super 8 film that my generation will ever see again.

So that was Christmas.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was still a reminder of how incredibly lucky we are.  Just a 30 min drive from my house one of my best workmates was facing her first Christmas without her husband.  Somebody else I care about spent the day watching their relationship unravel before their eyes.  Tim and I had each other, our silly dog and some thoughtful gifts, and our loved ones were just a phonecall away.  We know we’re pretty blessed.

Hoping that your Christmas was wonderful, even if for you it just means a bit of a rest from the everyday grind.  I can’t quite believe that we’re about to head into a new year but I have a really good feeling about 2013.

And I’m never wrong about this sort of thing.

* No reindogs were harmed in the making of this blog post.

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Merry Chr…, December 28!

by Elizabeth on December 28, 2012 · 0 comments

in Christmas, Videos

Choreography: Elf Yourself
Music: Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer (Malibu Remix) by Billy May

 

We were going to have this ready for Christmas Day, but Tim was a little bit slow to learn the choreography.  Not his fault I guess, that kid just has two left feet.  However, I think you’ll notice that what he lacks in natural dancing talent he makes up for in enthusiasm.

Also, you are right to feel sorry for the dog in this video.

I’ll be back really soon with a proper, grown-up blog post which will hopefully make up for the weeks of silence around here!

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Our little Christmas

by Elizabeth on December 28, 2011 · 1 comment

in Christmas, Family, Life

Whew!  What a month this has been.

Our little Christmas was perfect, but just a few days later it’s hard to believe that it’s all over!  This month has been full of preparations – not only for Christmas Day itself, but for the enormous party that we threw for our extended Melbourne family on December 23.  Plans for our outdoor candlelit dinner party were thrown into disarray at the last minute when the forecast mentioned thunderstorms and a heatwave, so we quickly sourced some trestle tables and turned our living room into a Christmas wonderland instead.

But, in true Melbourne style the forecast wasn’t correct.  There were no thunderstorms that night, although they would have been very welcome to break the sticky humidity!  It didn’t really matter though, we still had a lovely meal in front of the airconditioner and it was a really happy night.  My cousin broke some exciting news too, so there was an extra reason to celebrate (although she had to toast with a glass of water!)

Once the happy chaos of the big family dinner was behind us things were a lot more relaxed.  We celebrated Christmas Day with my parents, who are staying with us for 2 weeks, and it was such a perfect day.  We all had a great sleep-in, I made breakfast, and while we opened our presents we had phone calls from my brother in London, my grandmother in Brisbane, and Tim’s family in the States.  The presents were thoughtful and it was great to have our little group together.

 

 

I had hoped to be writing here more while my parents are in town, but I’m finding that I’m enjoying having them around too much to spend time on my computer!  We’ve been doing lots of shopping, day tripping, eating and catching up on each others’ lives.  Dad has been doing odd jobs around the house that we have ignored (hooray!) and the furmonster has been desperately trying to track the movements of the extra two members of the household.

It’s all very exhausting, but it’s lovely.

Aside from all of the festivities I’ve also been thinking a lot about next year, and making some plans. One of my big projects will be another round of 101 Things in 1001 Days and I am working very hard to complete my list before January 1! I’m going to have a section of my site devoted to my new list, but it might be a few weeks before I will find time to build it. My 1001 Days begins next week though, eek!

Anyway, it feels good to have checked in here and to share some news. My parents are here for another 8 days, and then my little cousin arrives with her tiny baby for a week-long visit! So excited about meeting baby Archie and kissing those chubby cheeks of his. Also? Look out Chapel St, my cousin is on a mission and that girl intends to SHOP.

I hope your Christmas has been as wonderful as ours!

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Your attention please.

by Elizabeth on December 17, 2011 · 5 comments

in Christmas, Cool stuff, Videos

 

Can anybody think of a single good reason why I don’t have a pet owl?

 

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A tenuous link

by Elizabeth on December 2, 2011 · 0 comments

in Christmas, Photo Posts

Day 20 of the 30 Day Photo Challenge is landscape.  The photo above is clearly not a landscape – it’s a photo of my homemade Christmas crackers which have been filled with cute things for Christmas Day.  I totally recommend doing this by the way – just steal some cracker snaps from the cheap store-bought versions and fill some tubes with stuff that people actually want!

So anyway, no.  It’s not a landscape.  But, it is an example of landscape orientation!

 

… I know.  I’m disappointed in me too.

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