Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!!!

Two and a half shelves (and a freezer!) full of alcohol, check!  Hangover breakfast ingredients, check!

We're ready for the festivities.

Happy New Year everybody! I hope whatever you do tonight, that you have an absolute BLAST! Be sensible and stay safe.

Look forward to seeing you in 2012!! xxx

Thursday, December 29, 2011

And so this is Christmas

I woke up unintentionally early at 6:45am on Christmas morning - must have been excited!  I tried to lay in bed quietly for a little while, but I'm not very good at this patience thing.  After a while Liam became aware of my fidgeting and fussing and woke up not too long after.  By the time we got out of bed and emerged for the day, my Aunt had arrived and her and mum were already getting down to business in the kitchen. 

Mum had set the table with candles, and a cute little Christmas napkin for each place setting.  My Uncle, who has worked in restaurants for years, decided to take each napkin and fold them so that they fanned out across the plate.  I busied myself chilling all the bottles of champagne, and mixing cocktails in the cute little drinks dispenser which Liam had bought me earlier in the week.  Turns out most of my cousins were driving, and the one who wasn't had a little announcement to make upon arrival, which meant she couldn't drink.  How exciting!!

So then, it was time to EAT!!!!

My mother is never one to under-cater. Instead, we end up with mountains of food leftover after any event.  I'm not complaining though! Whatever she makes is always delish, and I can be sure that I will be craving for more!

The food... oh, the food! We had turkey, ham (of course, must-haves for Christmas!), rosemary lamb, tender roast pork, a green salad with mangoes & nectarines tossed through, tangy tomato chutney, asparagus & snowpea salad with artichoke hearts and a balsamic glaze, roasted vegetable & couscous salad,  crunchy coleslaw, creamy potato salad with lots of crispy bacon bits, and last but not least, crusty bread rolls slathered liberally with butter.

The whole time we were eating, Mitzi planted herself firmly by my feet, willing me to share tasty morsels with her.  Let's just say she enjoyed Christmas lunch too - I can't say no to those puppy dog eyes!

Really - could you resist?

Now, if we weren't full after lunch (believe me, I was!) there was a vast range of desserts to choose from to end the meal with.

Mum's homemade boozy fruitcake, a log of mango pudding, plum pudding with brandy custard, hummingbird cake slathered in passionfruit frosting, black forest cake, an assorted fruit platter, and bowls full of cherries & strawberries perhaps for the more health-conscious!

I could not eat another bite. Lucky for me, meal time was over which meant there were PRESENTS to be opened!

My little cousin, Adeline, wasted no time in ripping into them! She also took it upon herself to "help" open her baby brother's gifts also. He didn't seem too fussed though! He was quite happy helping Liam put his Christmas gifts to good use.

Here he shows us how to play the Atari! He's such a happy smiley baby. <3

Adeline on the other hand is an absolute live wire! She never seems to run out of steam and is just go go go all the time! She discovered my brother's drum set and decided she'd give it a crack, true rock star style!

I do adore Christmas.

This just about sums it up for me, it's what Christmas is all about.  Enjoying good food and sharing with the people that you love.  Spending time with your family and friends, enjoying a laugh, a little bit of extravagance, a lot of giving and a whole lot of loving.

I can't wait to do it all again next year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

T'was The Night Before Christmas...

Just an advance warning, you're probably going to notice a plethora of posts in the next couple of weeks! At the best of times I try to update at least every couple of days, if not daily.  However I am (sadly!) back at work whilst the rest of the site is still shut down for Christmas break, so I am relying on this blog to keep myself occupied!

So we spent Christmas Eve with Liam's family, it was a lovely hot day and we spent the evening out on the back porch in shorts and singlets.  What a vast contrast to the floods the next day, which only narrowly missed the porch where we were basking in the heat just the night before!

We snacked on dips, cheese, crackers and nuts while we waited for Liam's sister to arrive.  Liam's mum and Grandma also made these -


Brandy Alexanders.  These were divine! Creamy and rich, with a strong alcoholic kick.  Perfect way to start off the festive season.  I wonder if Santa would appreciate it if I left one of these by the fireplace for him, instead of the traditional milk and cookies!

Let me tell you, Liam's mother and my own mummy dearest are EXCEPTIONAL cooks.  I know everyone says that, but it is absolutely 100% true.  Between the two, as well as my gorgeous grandparents, we are never short of delicious food. We are truly well-fed!

For dinner this night, Liam's mum and grandmother had prepared a sort of make-your-own souvlaki set up.  We helped ourselves to gorgeous thick tortilla wraps, slathered them with hommus or homemade garlic sauce, then filled them with our choice of salads before piling on tasty, tasty chunks of chicken and lamb.  Also on offer were potatoes roasted in dripping from the chicken, and wonderful homemade coleslaw and tabouleh. 

I ate so much that I was sure there wouldn't be any space left for Christmas lunch the next day!

But of course there was dessert! The caramel tarts were sooo good that I wish I could have fit in more than one.  Liam's mum also plated up some of the mini Christmas puddings I made as part of her present.

Speaking of presents, there were plenty!

These are the hampers which we put together for Liam's parents.  And YES, that is a 2 litre stubby of beer! It was so cool that I want to get one for myself so that I can keep the bottle!

So that, my dears, was Christmas Eve.  Next up will be Christmas Day, which was even more of an indulgent affair!

I do adore Christmas!!!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Boxing Day Clean Up :(

So I hope everyone had an awesome Christmas!  I apologise in advance for the quality of this blog post, but have consumed a number of beverages at this point.

Boxing Day did not quite turn out as I'd hoped.  I had in mind a lovely sleep in and then heading to the shops for a bit of hectic bargain-hunting.  Instead I ended up knee-deep in mud, soaked to the bone and shovelling up debris for the day.

If you were in Melbourne, you probably know some of the shocking weather we experienced.  There were hail stones the size of golf balls, there was epic rain, there were thunderstorms and spectacular lighting displays.  Worst of all, there was flooding.

Bizarrely enough, whilst my parents place experienced only heavy rain, Liam's parents were flooded through and serious damage was done.  Above is the sight that greeted us in the back room. Even with all the havoc caused there, they could be considered lucky.  The water caused the next-door neighbours kitchen window to shatter, the window frame was ripped out and the entire house is now unlivable.  When we arrived at the house this morning to help out, SES were swarming out front trying to clear up the place and tape up the window until a builder could come out and repair the damage.

Liam's old car, the Valiant, actually got picked up by the water and moved approx. two metres across!  Luckily there was a tree blocking the way, which stopped it, otherwise it is quite likely that the car would have been pushed through the fence and into the house next door.

It was a pretty heavy clean up job.  Liam's parents, Liam, myself, his sister and her boyfriend spent over six hour just sweeping, collecting mud, picking up debris and we've still got a long ways to go yet before it is back to normal!

Caddy the dog had the right idea though.  She found a little spot of sunshine amongst the mess and enjoyed it!

We finally called it quits for the day though, and managed to get home in time to have some friends over for a catch up and a few drinks.  The boys have put the Atari Flashback, which was one of Liam's Christmas gifts from me, to good use! Rocket seemed pretty entranced with it too! (in reality, he's keeping an eye on his rats who were sitting above the television!)

Rocket-boy and I are now chilling under the starlight by the fire and catching up on blogs, whilst the boys play oldschool Atari games in the bar!

I hope you've all had a less hectic Boxing Day than me! Did anyone manage to hit the shops and score a bargain? :) xx

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Seasons Greetings!

Just a quick note to wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas!

Here's wishing you the most wonderful of days! I hope you are spoilt with lots of pressies, eat plenty of good food, but most importantly are surrounded by loved ones and stay safe! xxx

The presents are all wrapped under the tree, and the table is set for eighteen people! The family will be here soon to start our Christmas lunch celebrations - I can't wait! And yes, that is a little Tiffany bag under the tree for me! Liam and I were a little too impatient to wait for our presents so like little kiddies we ripped into them this morning! Yay for Christmas! 

Wishing you the most blessed Christmas, everyone! xxxxx

Saturday, December 24, 2011

My Waters are Marbled with Xmas Spirit!

So I tried to get a little festive with my nails this Christmas.  I had red, green and gold polish however the gold didn't quite show up so I ditched it since it just came out white otherwise.

I'm not entirely happy with how they turned out.  I was rushing as I had to hurry to the shops to meet Liam after his gym session for some last minute Christmas shopping.  I didn't give them enough time to settle in between coats or dry before I started the clean up process, which resulted in mass smudging and random bits of polish falling on them.

Oh well, it could be worse. And considering that this is one of my first few attempts at water marbling I guess I'm pleased! I certainly do feel very festive when I look at my fingers now! :)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Mum's Christmas Present Update

Sooo... the Canvas Factory aren't returning my emails, but they have told me as much that they have not started manufacturing my canvas yet so I'm not sure when the heck it is going to reach me! 

Crisis averted however.  I stopped into Kmart and bought her a little coffee pack to unwrap on Christmas morning and a card in which to enclose an IOU. On a side note, how cheap is Kmart these days?! Then we started trawling the shops to cross some names off Liam's Christmas shopping list.  Whilst I have been all organised this year, and done the bulk of my Christmas shopping in November, he has not done quite as well.  Like your typical boy, he has left it all to the last minute! 

Anyway, on my advice he decided to get this for my mum.

Over the years, while sitting in front of the TV watching Masterchef mum would comment how easy making pasta looks, and she should totally give it a go.  I always mention that my aunt and uncle were gifted a pasta maker for their wedding which they never use and have offered to me to use, but her reply is always the same. "No point, I'll just buy my own." Till this day, she is still yet to buy her own. 

Now she has no excuse! Go on - make me fresh pasta, woman! Chop chop!

At the cash registers, I had a bit of a sulky moment.

"I was meant to have an awesome gift to give mum on Christmas morning! Now YOU'RE going to be giving her something cool and I'm just going to be giving her a measly pack of stupid coffee. What if she doesn't have milk? How about if the kettle is broken? What if she doesn't even WANT coffee?! What if she wants TEA?!?! I hate you. YOU'RE NOT BETTER THAN ME!"

Liam, being the patient man that he is, patted me on the head and calmly offered a solution.  Why don't we pool our resources and just gift all of our presents from both of us instead? Which is realistically what we've decided to do for almost everyone else, but I had chosen cute little presents for my parents ages ago so had thought I'd do their gifts on my own. 

I'm pretty sure that Liam's just struggling to find a suitable present for my dad, so the arrangement benefits him as much as it does me but all's well ends well and everyone is happy!

Now... just TWO more sleeps til Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Myer Christmas Windows

We went into the city to see the infamous Myer Christmas windows.  I used to love going every year as a child, and remember the excitement lining up and then finally getting to see the pretty decorations and the moving Christmas displays! 

Santa wonders whether Liam has been naughty or nice? I see he's on the elf's Christmas list! :)

When I was a child though, the windows seemed much fancier and so much longer. I remember impatiently waiting to get to the next window and they seemed to stretch for miiiiiiiles.  This visit was all over and done with in about 15 minutes.  

To be honest, the models on display creeped me out a little! They were scary and reminded me of Mr Wood from the Goosebumps books.  Wow, that's a weird memory awakening right there! I hadn't thought about those books in years.  Must see if I can dig them up and give them a read! 

Anyway, I make the Christmas windows sound terrible.  They're not. They're the spirit of Christmas, and part of a holiday tradition I grew up with, and I'm sure many people will remember fondly.

I'm glad we went to see them, it was so nice to hear all the excitable kids watching the displays and chattering and laughing about their Christmas plans.  Impatiently counting down the sleeps til Christmas, and what Santa will bring them!

I just love this time of year, and all the excitement and joy that surrounds it!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Rant : The Canvas Factory

I'm here to warn you that if you want any sort of service or reliability, do NOT use the Canvas Factory! []

There have been many deals popping up on group buy sites lately, like Cudo, OurDeal, Spreets etc.  I made the mistake of thinking this would be a good way to get a lovely Christmas present for my mum.  Turns out I was WRONG.  Instead, I will now have to spend the next couple of days running around frantically trying to find the perfect substitute gift for my mum, or she will have nothing to open on Christmas Day except an IOU. 

Knowing there would be a rush for Christmas, I tried to get my order in early.  I checked the Canvas Factory website and upon seeing that there was a 1 - 3 week turnaround I decided to buy a Cudo deal for a half metre canvas print.  I sent them a copy of the photo I wanted printed and asked them to send me back a preview. When they did so I was quite happy with the image so I sent in my order with a copy of the photo re-attached and instructions to print as per the preview.  I did this late-November thinking that 4+ weeks would be plenty of time to have the canvas returned to me.


I waited the 3 weeks expected, and nothing came so I emailed them to enquire the status of my order.  What I received was an automated reply thanking me for my email and stating that around Christmas time there could be a 2 - 6 week wait.   


At the time of placing the order I checked the delivery time which was 1 - 3 weeks. Given this, I had allowed for 4 weeks for the canvas to be delivered thinking I'd be safe.  

This morning (2 days after sending my enquiry email) I received an email from the Canvas Factory asking me to please check my preview.  The same one I'd already checked and confirmed 4 weeks ago, you mean?!

This means that not only is my canvas NOT on its way, it has not even been produced yet! It has taken them FOUR WEEKS to get in touch to begin work on my canvas?! 

I am not happy, and I am so disappointed that my mother's awesome present will not be wrapped under the tree for her to open on Christmas morning.

The Canvas Factory is the Grinch who has stolen my Christmas.

Secret Santa

Today at work we had (yet another!) morning tea for our Christmas celebrations. 

Today was also the day to exchange presents (YAY!) for our department Kris Kringle.
I have no idea who pulled my name out of the hat, but this person clearly knows me well!

On second thoughts, it is no secret around the office that I am a footy nut and a major Essendon fan! During the footy season, Liam and I pretty much spend all of our weekends at the MCG or Etihad Stadium.  One of his major downfalls is that he is a mad Hawks supporter, so each weekend we have to coordinate our plans around when both the Hawthorn and Essendon matches are being played.  Often we manage to have two days of AFL per weekend, although there have been occasions where we have rushed straight from one team's match to the next. 

The theme for our presents was that it had to start with a 'D' - check out how my KK made sure that my present fit in with this theme!

I decided to go with the easy option of "drink" for my KK! I was initially going to buy a nice bottle of wine, but after a little research I discovered he was not a huge fan of wine, preferring whiskey or scotch as his tipple.  I purchased two mini bottles of Johnny Walker and decided to team them with homemade "dark" chocolate mini-Christmas puddings!

I bought a box that was wayyyy too big, so I had to stuff half of the box with paper towel so that the puddings and mini-bottles wouldn't roll all over the place! Whoops..

I love Christmas, and giving presents! I can't wait for Christmas day to watch my family open their gifts!

What gorgeous gifts have you bought for your loved ones?