December 25, 2012

merry happy twinkle day

It's the end of a hot, sunny, long and marvellous Gold Coast Christmas Day.  Our children are asleep, after a 5.10am wake up (thank you garbage men).  My early morning crankiness soon passed and we enjoyed a tremendous day, playing with side-loading garbage trucks and cement trucks, splashing in a pool, riding scooters on a golf course.  We made a tiramisu to end all tiramisu.  We ate Christmas pudding.  I cried when I spoke to my parents and sisters on Christmas morning.  My children had a genuinely fantastic time with their many cousins.  Tuckered out, happy babies, it is a relief Christmas came when it did because we were all ready for it.

One last mince pie, a dollop of cream a little tipple of vin santo, and then time for a very, very welcome sleep.

Merry Christmas to those that celebrate it, and Happy Mince Pie Day to those that don't.

December 23, 2012

fudgy spiced gingerbread chocolate brownies

It's hard to improve on a good basic brownie recipe, and Nigella's recipe from Domestic Goddess is my favourite, but here is something we tried last night because we had the ingredients and it felt like a nice, festive thing to do.  We weren't disappointed.  These were VERY rich, VERY chocolatey, VERY fudgy and maybe just a bit too grown up for the kids, although it didn't stop them from scoffing them at breakfast this morning.  We used Leslie Keating's recipe and I added more fresh ginger than the recipe called for, which left a pleasant hum of warm ginger after each bite.  I also reduced the amount of sugar, just slightly, because the mound I'd poured out seemed like a lot.  We didn't miss it but I added a few white choc chunks so maybe that was why.  Next time, I'm going to add a teaspoon of orange zest.

We ate them warm with cheap vanilla ice cream, which balanced out the intensity just nicely.


important yuletide message

December 21, 2012

festive AND summery

This recipe (from this book) takes fresh but slightly under ripe peaches and steeps them in pinot noir and a little sugar.  They are left in the fridge overnight and then brought back to room temperature before serving.  We adapted the recipe slightly in that we used vanilla sugar (inspired), added a cinnamon stick (inspired) and drank/ate the peaches chilled (inspired) and we were not disappointed with the festive but summery outcome.  And by not disappointed, I mean completely delighted.

It's not really a mulled wine as we know it because the very definition of mulled means whatever you are mulling should be warmed, but it's an alternative I suppose, for those of us that love mulled wine and the festive feelings it invokes, but can't bear to drink it in the middle of an Australian summer, which is French for not-Christmassy-not-at-all.

December 19, 2012


It's my husband's 33rd birthday today, which means a legitimate excuse to splurge on takeaway and drink good wine mid week.  Happy birthday, my dear.

December 18, 2012

another epic straddie weekend

Sometimes, I don't do stuff because it's too much work.  This means I end up not doing stuff that could be good fun, but the idea of doing it with three kids that mightn't appreciate it means I would much rather just put my feet up and watch some imported English tv show.  I'm probably not being all that fair because actually we do a lot, a LOT of stuff, but mostly it's things like endless chores trips to the park, walks to the bakery, gardening and playing at the local water park.  Nothing too fancy.

But Straddie, it's different.  It's very hard work to pack and organise all five of us for a weekend, a military operation in fact, so much so that I insist Will takes a day off so we can go over for at least three nights otherwise it hardly feels worth it.  The list making, the food organising, the Tetris style packing of the car that takes place (secretly I think Will likes that bit), it's all exhausting before we've even buckled up and hit the road, but for Straddie, it's worth it.  Especially when the weather is as blissful as it was a couple of weeks ago.  I mean it's fine if it rains, quite beautiful in fact (I am English after all), but the days of Will and I whiling away rainy afternoons with dvds and chips and wine aren't really an option with three babies.  

So yes, good weather makes it and thankfully, the weather for our last trip was fantastic, and the weekend was made all the more special because it was Hugo's first.  It was by no means perfect but gelato every day made up for the time-outs at the beach, the occasional tantrums, the packing and sun protection that needs to happen every time we want to go to the beach... and oh yes, we even had our first triple-all-boys-at-once meltdown, in the car too, so it was in proper Dolby surround sound - no escape.  And then there was watching the kids play on the beach, chuckling to ourselves that they were only a few metres away but the sound of the surf made them so quiet; even if they were arguing over their buckets and spades, we didn't hear it.  And did I mention it was all bloody hard work?  Then I must have mentioned too, it was totally worth it.

Ah Straddie, you are a beauty.  I'm going to miss you when I finally convince myself to move back to Europe for the snowy winters.  I might even regret it because of you.

December 17, 2012

opting out

This is Max, sitting with the gifts of unused and brand new books, clothes and toys that we donated to the kindy wishing tree.  Doesn't he look pleased with himself?  He should be.  Whether he realised it or not, he spent an hour very patiently wrapping them with me, while I tried to explain that they weren't for him, or his brothers, but for children that don't have a lot of toys and books.  I think he got it eventually.

This Christmas, we have decided (like last year) to opt out of the wider gift giving.  We have been quite generous with the children and included Ollie and Max in Will's family's Secret Santa, but Hugo, Will and I have decided that we need or want for little, and that we would rather not spend money that might be better utilised elsewhere and would rather not create stress where it needn't be.  So we've opted out of Secret Santa, and further decided that there'll be no presents for anyone other than the kids and a modest gift for each other.

It's been rather nice to again not have to worry about who we are buying for and what they should receive and I felt very smug when we made the somewhat crazy decision to go to our local shopping centre two Saturdays before Christmas to return library books, to see the somewhat miserable looking shoppers, hauling around bags of stuff you know nobody wants and knowing we didn't have to do any of that.  The two cousins that the boys are playing Santa to will receive (what we think) well thought out presents, our boys will be very happy with their little collection of gifts (there will be wheels and books, enough said) and in lieu of gifts for my own family, we are making a donation that we can afford to Unicef.  

I love the gift giving, the receiving, the wrapping, the piles of gifts under the tree and I want to spoil our children, especially when they are being as sweet as they are today, but this year, and from hereon the only tradition I want for me, my husband and my children is that the festive season should be about being with each other, having chocolate for breakfast and our goodwill to those that need it.

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