Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve

All week long, people have been asking what we're doing for New Year's. It's a simple enough small talk question mostly, but no one seems to like the honest answer of "not much, really." We're simple, stay-at-home celebrators. We avoid the roads and those who may have imbibed a bit too much at the various parties they visit. We don't drink champagne and stay up 'til midnight (ok, sometimes I do). We will probably play Scrabble or watch a DVD before heading to bed, and that is fine with us. But it doesn't particularly smack of "New Year".

This year, we decided to reflect a bit as a family on 2011. There are some great questions at Simple Mom to get you going. It was a fun exercise, and we enjoyed recording our answers. Our older girl chimed in for several questions, which was fantastic! When we were done, we made up some questions of our own about the coming year:
What do you most look forward to for 2012?
What would you want to do differently than in the past year?
What would you like to do more of?
What would you like to learn?

Happy New Year, everyone! Wishing you a fantastic start to 2012!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Christmas morning in Perth, Australia, looked a bit like this...

And of course this...

We opted to forego the traditional shrimp on the barbie and enjoyed our favorite summertime pasta recipe and a nice Margaret River chardonnay for lunch. The red and green worked with the day nicely!

Wishing you and yours a wonderfully merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

How to get a new iPhone for Christmas

Starting weeks before the new iPhone is released, casually mention that your 3-year-plus-old original iPhone is trying to die. Be sure to mention this often enough that it isn't ignored but irregularly enough not to look devious.

Appear nonplussed when the new iPhone hits the shops and the masses scramble to buy them.

Occasionally mention that you hope your phone doesn't die completely anytime soon since an international move seems inevitable, meaning a new phone might have to be replaced soon thereafter.

Say you don't want any new electronic items until said move...and mean it.

On a sunny Sunday morning, take your children to the playground.
Duck into the public toilets.
Set your sun hat on the ledge behind a toilet.
Place phone on sun hat.
Arrange for gust of wind to whip through the toilet block, lifting your hat just enough at just the right angle to drop your phone into the toilet.

Voila! New iPhone for Christmas!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas countdown

I finally packaged up three of my international gifts and sent them out today.
As I finished the labeling, my big girl was looking over the advent calendar. Suddenly, she screamed with glee and announced there were only 9 days left!

Methinks these gifts will not be on time...

Perfect muffins

My wee girl wanted to bake raspberry muffins today. We've been doing a lot of muffin baking lately, and I admit many efforts have been less than satisfactory. One recipe had too much sugar (a whole cup between 12 muffins), another required too much butter (more than a tablespoon per muffin), others were too dry... It was time for reliability. I turned to Smitten Kitchen and tried out Deb's perfect blueberry muffins, because really, Deb is to be trusted completely in the food department (especially when it comes to treats). She has never let me down. Not once.
These muffins.

I swapped raspberries for blueberries, added white chocolate chunks and omitted the lemon zest. Then, I tasted them to be sure I could write to you with authority. I ate three to be sure (ahem).

I am tempted to make several batches and leave them on the doorsteps of all my neighbors to surprise them on Christmas morning.
Happy Baking to you!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dawn chorus

It's summertime in Australia. The days are long. The sky is well-lit by 5am. But before the sun come the birds. The dawn chorus.
If you happen to wake at 4am (or worse, your small child does), good luck getting back to sleep when the birds are so very clearly awake and ready for the day.

This morning, it was the Australian ravens. I've always had a dread of crows. There is something very Edgar Allen Poe about them (strange harbingers of death), and they make me uncomfortable. But Australian ravens...they are simply harbingers of sloth.

Have you ever heard them? "WAH! WAH! Waaaaaaaaaawwwwwww...."
They remind me of (incredibly loud) toys that mimic the cow noise when you flip them upside down, the long drawn out "waaaaaaawwwwww" fading to nothingness as the air leaks out.
And they were at it in vast numbers outside my window at 4am today.

I'll take another cup of tea, please.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Rewards of raising kids internationally

Over lunch, my 3 year old asked me, "Mama, can we go to the restaurant with the kitties? Because I really love the restaurant with the kitties!"
(me:) Do you remember where that restaurant is? No? Chiang Mai, Thailand.
"Oh yeah! I love Thailand! We can go there and play with the kitties and ride in tuk-tuks. Can't we just go there again?"
At which point my 6 year old chimed in and the enthusiasm was unending.
I couldn't help feeling thrilled.

The expat lifestyle is not an easy road. It brings a host of extra challenges to parenting, on top of all the typical challenges of parenting. Different cultures, different languages, different faces, far from family...but so much benefit. Sometimes, I even get to see it in unexpected places, like at the lunch table.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Today: the good, the bad and the ugly

Great way to spend a Sunday
...go out for brunch at the river a movie at home
...relax on the couch and play with the kidlets
...late afternoon trip to the beach with lots of swimming
...evening cuppa from Mama's advent calendar

Such a Sunday would be even better if preceding these wonderful moments is not the horror of maggots falling from a light fixture in the dining room ceiling.
Countless maggots.
Meaning the source, when found, will be far worse (and it was).

Silver lining?
At least this isn't what we awoke to find (it only started around 9).
At least we were well and done with our early breakfast.
And at least is wasn't on a weekday morning. Then I would have had to deal with said source myself instead of praising the heroism of my hubby.

We still enjoyed a wonderful family weekend, and I hope you did too!
(Certainly hoping your Sunday start was/is more ideal!)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

You tell me

Do you think the ban in that headline refers to the pants?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Vintage nana apron

Check out what I found for 50 cents at the op-shop:

I feel like it was my grandma's. It must have been someone's grandma's. It is just right for even the most reluctant of housekeepers (me), keeping that environmentally-friendly but quite-white-and-smeary baking soda off my front when I'm giving the bath a scrub. The pockets are such a simple way to cart about a dust cloth or clothespins or little bits one so often finds scattered throughout the house. Yes, it's a bit worn out; I prefer to call that "pre-loved." The enjoyment and functionality I get from it far outweigh the investment.
For 50 cents, it's hard to go wrong.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December 1st

Being a Northern Hemisphere person living a Southern Hemisphere life, I struggle with feeling Christmas-y when the temperatures climb towards summer. My girls, however, do not have this problem. They were up bright and early, decorating the tree in their pajamas before we could even persuade them to eat breakfast.

My mom selected the perfect advent calendar for our family, which arrived in the post just in time (yesterday afternoon!) not to miss a single day of advent fun.

And then my so-very-thoughtful friend turned up at our door last night with a gift in hand: a daily tea advent calendar just for me!

This Christmas season is off to a beautiful start!