Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holiday Road

[image: mine]

I've had the song from National Lampoon's Vacation running through my head all day. You know the one. It goes "Holiday roooooooooooaaaaaad, holiday roooooooaaaaaaaad!" I'm sure it's now stuck in your head too. You're welcome.

Last night was the night we should have started packing the truck for our Christmas roadtrip. We managed to collect all of the stuff from our friends' house that belongs to C's parents - boxes of their knick-knacks that we have been asked to take north. Today C will be playing a big game of Tetris with these boxes, our luggage and various other items like Xmas presents, trying to fit them into the truck.

At least the trip soundtrack is sorted out. I gave some monies to Apple and now have a lovely current chart playlist to crank up, plus have burned about 20 of our other CDs onto iTunes. C has obtained the technology to wirelessly transmit our iPod/iPhone music into the car radio and through the subs. Fun.

This morning I have been trying to think of more domestic things that need taking care of (besides packing our clothes). Twitter has agreed I should change the bed to fresh sheets before we go, so I can come back to that lovely fresh-sheet feeling. I also vaguely recall someone telling me that you should put plugs in your sinks when you go away, fill them with water and put your pot plants in. This also prevents spiders and ants from crawling up your drains. I cannot find a single thing about the spider/ant thing on google though, maybe it is an urban myth?

In my googling I also came across a lot of home security tips for those going on holidays. There was some really good advice that I would never have thought of myself, such as this link from the NSW Dept of Justice called "What to Consider When You Are Going on Holidays".

Some things regarding home security are quite obvious - lock your doors and windows. Others are not things I would have thought of on my own! My fave tips from this document are below.

  • Use timers to automatically switch on lights and radios while you are away.

  • Turn down the volume on your telephone ringer and don’t leave a message on your answering machine
    that tells callers you are away.

  • Hang some old clothes on the washing line and leave a pair of old shoes outside the front door to give your house a lived in look.

  • Do not post your holiday plans online (whoops!)

  • Mow the lawn and water the plants so the house doesn’t look empty.

  • Remove items that can be climbed to access second storey balconies and windows.

  • Put away all tools and other items that could be stolen or used to gain access to your property.

  • Conceal valuables such as laptops and jewellery so they are not visible from the outside. (I'll be putting everything in the safe)

  • Check if your local police offer a patrol service for unoccupied residences

Do you have any tips for home security or peace of mind while you're away on holiday? Feel free to share!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A post about presents that ended up being about dessert

Yesterday on Twitter I confessed that I had not bought a single Christmas present. I was reassured by some that they, too, had not gotten started.

I had grand intentions this year of starting in months, doing everything online and effectively eliminating the stress of the entire epic saga that is Buying Presents. It was not to be.

I think my problem is that I am a champion procrastinator, plus I totally over-think things (see previous posts about my Christmas Crisis).

I am happy to report, however, that yesterday I bought two gifts! And my darling other half has volunteered to get his mother's present, the one that really has me stumped. So what am I buying for everyone else this year?

Gift cards.

I know. I KNOW WHAT YOU'RE THINKING. Cop-out. But I just don't care any more. I'd rather concentrate on the food and drink, actually.

I want to make a gorgeous dessert but can't decide between trifle, tiramisu and cassata. Oh my goodness. Here's some recipes I've been eyeing off...

Actually I just remembered my mother has an amazing recipe for cassata. I must steal it.

What's your favourite dessert at Xmas?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Piquing my Pinterest - Men

Disclaimer: This post is shameless eye-candy. If you're looking for a pretty post though, you've found it. It's just not about interior decorating or crafting :)

This week I was admiring some black and white photography on Pinterest and it got me thinking about how everyone looks somehow better, more arty, in monochrome.

I decided to search for some of my fave actors and boy, did I come up with a few corkers! Here are some of the men I most admire on film, for your viewing pleasure. No drooling, please.

Oh gawd, Ryan Reynolds, why did you have to bite your thumb? Funny AND cute, plus a body to write home about. What more can a lady ask?

Of course he'll always be Mr Darcy, but Colin Firth is just lovely, good looking and an amazing actor in his own right. Another Love Actually alumni, his storyline in that film is my favourite.

Matthew Macfadyen - the OTHER Mr Darcy. And my favourite of the two. He broods even better than Firth in my humble opinion.

Aussie boy made good - Eric Bana. Australians can still remember him on Fast Forward doing skits as Ray Martin and Poita, but foreigners don't believe us when we tell them he's a goddamn piss-funny comedian. I wish he would do more comedy films. Oh, and if you get the chance, check out the movie he made himself - Love the Beast. Even if you're not into cars, it's pretty good.

My love for Ewan McGregor goes back many, many years and knows no bounds. He's fond of getting his kit off on-film too.

Matthew Gray Gubler from Criminal Minds. I just. I don't even know. He's just so goddamn cute. Helps that his character is crazy intelligent too. Nothing as sexy as a smart brain.

Have you seenBenedict Cumberbatch in Sherlock yet? I was a latecomer to the series but was suitably blown away. If I could recommend you only two things to watch this year it would be Game of Thrones and this guy in Sherlock. He's mesmerising onscreen.

And what would Sherlock be without Dr Watson? But I've been a fan of Martin Freeman since The Office. My fave of his is Love Actually.

Oh Nathan Fillion. A man who could photobomb for the Olympics and whose crooked smile makes me melt. And he can do dramatic too. If you could watch him in one thing, I recommend the episode Shindig from Firefly.

I'm not even going to say anything about Johnny Depp. Just enjoy.

Linking up with
Tina Gray {dot} Me

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sun and Rain

I’m beginning to believe that I run on solar energy. When there’s no sun, like today, I feel drained and lethargic. I feel like staying in bed under the covers and just daydreaming the daylight (or more accurately, murklight) hours away.

This morning I woke to the sound of rain on the roof – good, steady rain of the sort that we need. The garden and lawns have been crying out for some moisture for some months now. The sky was grey and has remained so all day. Sitting in my little office block, I am periodically peeking out the window, hoping for a patch of blue. But the sky remains steadfastly dark and forbidding. I have a good view across the Brisbane River and south towards Logan, and I can’t even see the suburbs today for the mist of rainclouds.

My mood is as gloomy as the weather. I know I should be grateful for the life-giving water and the wonderful greening effect it will have on my lawn, but I can’t help it – I just crave the sun. Sunlight warms my bones, recharges my spirit. Sun is life just as much as water is, and a hot summer’s day reminds me of my childhood and holidays at the Gold Coast filled with sand, the ocean, ice cream and afternoon naps.

Sometimes on a hot day when I’ve been sitting shivering in my (too old, never working properly) office air-conditioning for a few hours, I escape. I burst out of the elevators and propel myself forth, out onto the concrete footpath and into the light. I immediately feel better. I love feeling the warmth seeping up from the concrete below my feet, and basking in the sun’s rays shining down from above. My feet will inevitably take me to the nearest corner store, to get a cold iced tea or frozen slushie to enjoy back at my desk.

With the weather forecast predicting quite a few days of rain, I also have this strange sense of foreboding that I’m finding hard to shake. It’s this vague feeling of dread that when I really examine, I have to admit to myself is related to the Big Wet. The January Floods left an indelible mark on our state, and my brain is trying to remind me that all started like this. With the rain. The unrelenting, unforgiving, never-ending rain. It rained in December and out West flooded. It stopped for a few days over New Year but then it started raining again with a vengeance. And it didn’t stop for two weeks. What happened after was just so terrible, it must not, CANNOT happen again.

Here’s hoping it won’t rain like that again this year. Here’s hoping the sun will come out again soon and we have one of those long, hot summers that I remember from my childhood. Besides, I want to swim in my pool… and eat ice cream… and go to the beach… and nap in the afternoon…

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My Christmas Crisis

Christmas is really doing my head in this year. I have been thinking about it since October but not actually done anything, besides some in-my-head gift ideas. For some reason, this year I’m becoming fixated on the presents.

I want to give everybody the best, most perfect, amazing presents ever. I want them to grin hugely when they open them and really appreciate the time and thought I’ve put into each one. We've got a tight budget but am determined to do the best I can with it.

... And then I read a wonderful blog about appreciating what you have (at Seven Cherubs). Got a fantastically inspiring email about buying local, supporting the local economy, not clogging yours and others' homes with plastic crap you don’t need, appliances you never use and DVDs you never watch. About not contributing the wealth of rapidly industrializing countries where labour is cheap (and sometimes exploitative) and manufacturing is environmentally harmful when your local hairdresser or lawn mowing business is struggling to make a dollar. Or seeing wonderful crafty ideas on Pinterest, and thinking about how homemade is so much better than a box of Ferrero Rochers I bought at the supermarket because I didn’t know what to give.

I’m also really interested in charitable giving, however am wary of giving people the gift of a goat for Xmas (see Oxfam Unwrapped) in case they don’t “get” what the gift really is about (and don’t have actually any "THING" to keep for themselves). Seems like kind of a mean gift, if you think about it that way. I KNOW that’s not the point, but am still not completely a fan of giving charity gifts of this kind unless I know the person is a big supporter of that particular organization, or of charity generally.

At least I am blessed in that I have a circle of family and friends who really don’t place a lot of value on material possessions, or monetary worth (so different from some I know). I know my parents won’t mind what they get from us and my partner C assures me his parents won’t either. I’m going to suggest a no-presents-this-year deal with my brother and his partner, as we both are struggling with mortgages. For my friends, I’m undecided – perhaps they would like to agree to a no-gifts-year this year too?

So I’m busy in my mind trying to reconcile all this mess in my head, and yet STILL trying to think of the perfect, most amazing gifts that a) are Australian-made, b) won’t end up as expensive clutter and c) are friendly to our planet.

And don’t even get me started on Christmas cards. (There's a minefield that's possibly best navigated by me just not sending any).

So now after all my resolutions to give ethical, suitable gifts this year, the original post I was going to write today about what I want for Christmas looks pretty damn selfish. So I’m not going to post it, and be grateful for what people decide to give me on The Big Day.

Do you have a gift-giving ethos this year? What is it?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

FNQ Fashion

We're going to the tropics for Christmas.

I know, I know. It's going to be perishingly hot and humid. But C's parents live there and this is their year to have us. I know his mum will be taking care of the food, so I've been left to worry about other things.

Oddly for me, I've been fixating on clothes. Because I remembered the last time we were up there two years ago, I was warm and uncomfortable pretty much the entire time. My wardrobe was not designed to cope with that kind of weather.

So I've been trying to think about what would be suitable, and wondering if it's in my budget to get a few more items. Clothes to suit the heat and mugginess of Far North Queensland!

Of course, I turned to Polyvore. I present three ideal outfits for three different occasions, though in FNQ you can pretty much wear the same wardrobe to a restaurant as you would to the beach.

FNQ casual - beige

FNQ - shopping

FNQ Evening

What do you think? I am VERY aware that I am obsessed with the beige, the bone, the off-white, the cream, the ivory... What I was aiming for was breath-ability and present-ability. I don't want to be rocking board shorts and a tank top the whole week I'm there.

What do you wear when it's hot?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tough Life Lessons

[image source]

I haven’t blogged for a while because I have been adhering to my current blog philosophy – don’t blog unless you feel like it. I’ve had a tough week, with a hugely emotional thing happening to me which I vented onto Twitter.

I was both surprised and touched by the reaction that my personal crisis evoked from my Tweeps – many of them reached out to me to ask if I was ok, and offer a friendly shoulder or ear. This was despite the fact that I was doing something that I personally abhor, which is “vague-tweeting” (my own term, derived from the brilliant phrase “vague-booking” for those posts on Facebook that are obvious cries for attention).

I am not going to go into great detail of my crisis here on my blog, not being comfortable with airing my relationship laundry on the internet, but suffice to say, it felt like my sky was falling. In fact, those are my exact words to my partner when we were working things out.

It was horrible, confronting and emotionally draining. All I can say is, I’m glad it’s over. I learnt one important lesson though:

In relationships, always ASK. Never ACCUSE.

What relationship wisdom have you learnt the hard way?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pinteresting - wreaths

This week I've been thinking more and more about Christmas. One thing I've been wanting to do for a long time is to make my own Christmas wreath. Pinterest, as usual, was a wealth of inspiration. I like the different media used in the ones I found - everything from paper to baubles to fabric.



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