Sunday, December 30, 2007

Another Christmas Down

Does anyone else feel like Christmas is just one big anti-climax lately? It starts off with lots of enthusiasm and excitement and ends in a lot of spending, eating and sitting around!

I have avoided writing about my Christmas for fear of total boredom! Not that I found it particularly boring, but that it's just the same old thing, every year. But out of a total inability to think of anything else to goes......

The highlight for me was probably Christmas Eve when we all went to the local church for the traditional family mass. Miss 8 decided that she was going to be in the children's choir this year and so she had been to a few practices beforehand (yep, she is the very religious one amongst us, I'm sure!). She also scored the part of an angel during the gospel reading - 3 seconds of altar fame - and sang her little heart out from up behind the priest. Naturally, like any good choir singer, she insisted on having her hair straightened beforehand so the lead up to our getting there was a bathroom makeover session for 8 year olds! *sigh* Girls!

After the obligatory ceremony of leaving out milk for santa and water and carrots for reindeer, it was off to bed....only to be woken at 6 am by delighted squeals that santa had left a pink Nintendo DS Lite. And not only that, he'd also happened to drop off a Nintendogs to go with it! Yahoo....8 year old dreams come true! The 12 year old got a truckload of cricket gear. He has now hit adult sizes so a small men's bat was needed and you know how much those suckers cost???!!! Sheesh, I hope he is earning his own money before his next size up is due! Oh and Dear Husband pulled out his work pressie and at 7am was awakening all the neighbours with a very huge and noisy remote control truck!

Christmas breakfast in our house is always seafood. Dear Husband always travels for miles at his own insistence to find the very best (according to him) seafood in town. This year, he ventured home on Christmas eve with lobster, prawns and oysters! Yummo!

After breakfast it was time to tear the kids away from their new goodies and head to my brother's place for lunch. Because Christmas is usually hot here, we have a combined hot (turkey, roast veges) and cold (ham, salad) meal. Oh, and as the pic above will tell you....we are always fully stocked on liquid refreshments as well!

The afternoon was a seriously important time when the kids played with their new toys and we adults plopped down on the lounge, exhausted, to recuperate! The bigger boys went off for a game of backyard cricket at one stage and we did all play a game of Australian trivia (12 year old's Christmas pressie) that provided a few laughs (like I knew who Australia's second prime minister was! Pft!).

By evening, we were full, fat and fatigued! And naturally, we went to bed early that night so that we could be up in time for all of the Boxing Day sales at the shops the next day! Another Christmas down and another new year lining up to face! Here's hoping that next year doesn't come around so quickly, eh!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Bored With Summer Television???

Take heart! There is a fantastic new series on Channel 9 on Wednesday nights at 9.30pm called 'Moonlight'! Now, our US friends reading this will probably already know quite a bit about it as it's been on tv there for a few months now, but here we are up to episode 4 and it's all good stuff!

Now don't be completely put off by the fact that this series is about a vampire. Not being a vampire-genre lover, I was initially, but after giving it a fair viewing, I am hooked on the vampire private investigator who spends my Wednesday evenings trying to solve crimes of both the human and vampire nature.

And Australian viewers may not be surprised to find that they recognise the hunky lead on the show. He is, after all, one of us who's taken up his actor's rite of passage and voyaged over the Pacific to find fame and fortune in Hollywood. Alex O'Loughlin is his name and I have been a fan since watching him a couple of years ago in The Incredible Journey of Mary Bryant (yep, that great Channel 10 convict drama that we sat glued to for two weeks running a few years back!) and the movie Oyster Farmer, amongst other things!

So, despite initial trepidations, after viewing the episodes to date (and admittedly having a few sneak peeks at o/s eps), I am a fan of this show. I know, I know, you are sitting there thinking to yourself that I am an eternal romantic and could not possibly be into such a series, but trust me, this show is full of romance and chemistry - especially between O'Loughlin's character of Mick St John and Beth Turner (played by Sophia Miles).

My only fear though, after searching a few web sites on Moonlight is that it is in jeopardy of not being picked up by its CBS network due to the on-going writer's strike, despite it's growing success on tv over there. What a pity that would be! A show with so much potential, a fantastic lead actor - not to mention other actors in the show and a really interesting plot. I know that I'll be tuning in each week to keep up with all episodes available and I hope that you do, too!

And to give you a taste of what to expect, here is a sneak look (don't forget to turn the music player off to your right before viewing!)

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Grandad Present Saga!

Do you have someone who is impossible to buy a Christmas present for? Someone whose present you have been stressing over for months? Someone who has everything and asks for nothing? That is my father! If you ask him outright what he would like his response is usually, "Oh, just buy me a shirt"! Now, there are always conditions to his 'shirts' they have to be long-sleeved, must have 2 pockets only etc etc. And my mother is always complaining about his shirts that she irons! So no shirts! Now every Christmas, birthday, Father's Day etc, I stress and worry for months before about what to buy him. And this year was no exception. I had had deep discussions with mum, brother etc for ideas...none came up. I scrutinised his every move, hoping for a hint...nothing! Then, last Monday, I took my children to the shops when this conversation came up!

Me: Right kids.....look out for a pressie for Grandad for Christmas. I don't suppose you have any ideas!

The 8 year old: Nup!

The 12 year old: Buy him an approach wedge!

Stunned silence.

Me: A whaaaat?

The 12 year old: An approach wedge!

Me: What is an 'approach wedge'?

The 12 year old: You know....a golf club!

More stunned silence.

Me: How do you know that grandad needs this 'approach wedge' thingy?

The 12 year old: Well, I was asking him the other day what 'AW' meant on Mario Golf on the Gamecube and he said that it meant 'approach wedge' and then he said that he didn't have one of those.

More incredulous silence!

Me: Are you sure?

The 12 year old: Yep...that's what he said!

Me: O...m....g!!!! You may have just solved this huge pressie problem for me! If you have, I'll give you a big kiss!

The 12 year old: Humpf! What's so special about that! I can get one of them anytime. See......

And with that he puckered up in the middle of Target and kissed me on the cheek!

Gawd, I love that boy!!!!!

Oh and if you are reading this and know my father, it's secret squirrel until Christmas! We want him to have a big surprise!!!!

Also, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has visited my little blog site since its inception in May! Who would have guessed that I would have kept it going and actually have people read what I had to say! I hope that you all have a restful, joyous and safe Christmas and I look forward to having you visit in 2008!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas Pudding!

I didn't make this last year as it was just too painful and I wasn't going to make it this year either. But I had started contemplating it over a week or so ago and today, after an epiphany (or message from above) on how to solve a few previous minor issues I'd had when cooking it previously, I decided to have a go at my nanna's flour bag Christmas pudding recipe.

For years I looked forward to having this pudding. When I was young, nanna used to make it and hide old style coins inside. At the Christmas (or slightly post Christmas, depending on when we made it up to see her) table, no matter how full from mains we were, we'd always make extra room for some pud in the hopes of finding one of the special coins that nanna would swap for real money. As kids, we would always chew it extra carefully so that no teeth were broken nor coins swallowed and if you found a larger size one, you got a whole ten cents and thought you'd struck gold!

Over the years, Christmas pudding has never ever been a favourite of mine but nanna's pudding was always special. That is why, at one stage some years ago, I had asked her for the recipe and somehow she'd managed to hand write it out for me and a few other pudding lovers in the family. I have made it a few times before when she was alive although never as well as nanna and never with the special silver coins that were so reminiscent of my youth.

So tonight, as I'm sitting here waiting for the pudding to boil and watching it steam away in it's own little bag, I can feel the tears welling up in my eyes. I don't know if it's the result of a stressful day with the kids, the build-up of a long, hard year or if perhaps...just perhaps.....while turning the spoon through the golden fruit and reading her handwritten notes, I felt just the teeniest bit closer to my nanna as I'm sure she was watching over me from somewhere above as I was doing it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Is This Merely Towels and Floor Mess?

No! When you are an eight year old who has suddenly 'discovered' the High School Musical phenomenon, the towels make the perfect lounge room stage and and the large cardboard cylinder makes a great imaginary microphone! Of course, you need the dvd cover and remote handy so that you can pause the movie to fix your moves once in a while!

And this was the scene in front of my television today! I could do nothing but laugh as I caught her prancing up and down on the towels and performing to her favourite songs!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Is It Some Type of Coming Of Age..

....when you are old enough to be trusted to mow the lawn!?

Ok, Dear Husband and I were watching him the whole time and we had given him the lecture on how to mow safely etc etc, but there is something kind of special about your very first lawn mowing time!

And of course, now the 12 year old has a new way to earn money from us! ;)

Washing Machine Saga Part 3

The TEN DAY OLD and broken washing machine is now back at the dealers (where hopefully they will give it the good kick that I was longing to do!).

We now have a new Fisher & Paykel 8kg aquasmart washing machine sitting proudly in our laundry.

It hasn't come without a few glitches though. Firstly, Dear Husband came storming in to tell me that they had given him the wrong machine model. Apparently, the returned one had some type of water leveller underneath the lid (like I even saw it!!) and this one didn't. A few calls to the supplier soon sorted out that apparently F&P no longer include the water leveller because it gave too many problems. that means that we got older stock originally anyway!!!!

Then this morning, I went to put on my first load. The water started flowing into the machine and stopped after about a minute or two. *insert shock and horror feelings here!* Dear Husband and I fled to the machine handbook and were frantically reading it for about 15 minutes when it dawned on me......we didn't have the hot water tap on (I usually wash in cold water only) and yet the machine was set to have warm water in it. The silence from the machine was only it trying to insert the hot water that wasn't connected! Phew! A quick adjustment of the settings on the machine soon had the water flowing again!

So, the saga of the washing machine has hopefully been put to rest. I will say though that I am no longer excited and proud of our new purchase and that a part of me does not trust Fisher & Paykel products, given what we've been through. Perhaps if this new machine gives us no grief, I may learn to regain that trust, but still it has been a very sorry experience all round.

Oh and can I recommend anyone who is contemplating buying an electrical product to shop at The Good Guys. They were the ones who gave us absolutely no grief and the ones who happily returned our broken ten day old machine with no stress. Well done, Good Guys!!!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Jane Eyre

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will note that I have mentioned the enjoyable BBC series already and how much I loved watching it.

Since then, I decided to do what every screen lover does when they can't get a show out of their heads.....they read the book!

For some reason, reading Jane Eyre was not something that I ever undertook at high school. My English teacher did insist on us reading Tess of the D'Urbervilles and Oedipus Rex along with numerous Shakespearean plays, to name a few, but Jane Eyre was never a pick of his.

I really think that perhaps some of these books are best left to the wisdom of middle age to read. Certainly, life experience and a want to read, rather than having to for some high school English literature essay, mean that true appreciation of the themes of these stories are of far greater value. That is certainly the case with Jane Eyre.

I really enjoyed this book. A deeper understanding of Jane's upbringing, along with the character of Rochester are gleaned through the text. The concepts of gender independence and morality are at a fore. And I was so amazed to see such modern (timeless) themes addressed. I particularly loved Bronte's intimate style of writing in the first person. I thought perhaps that I might find the older style language tedious to read when in fact the opposite was true. And I don't think that you can ever really escape the fact that Jane Eyre, at heart, is a love story....perfect for a romanticist like me!

But the perfect part of all of this is that during reading and when it is finished, I have the new dvd to watch over and over again! *sigh* Yep....seriously tragic! ;)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Washing Machine Hell!!!!

Remember that new and fancy washing machine that I was gloating about a few days ago????

Well, I put a load in today, turned it on and it spits out at me 'Call for service. Error 49!' Whaaaatttttttt??????!!!!!!

Yes, my TEN DAY OLD Fisher & Paykel washing machine is kaput! It's not working and I'm seriously not happy. I haven't even done a handful of washes in it and I've done all of the right things....even went out and bought front loading washing powder for it!

I rang the Fisher & Paykel service line today and their response was that error 49 is an electrical fault. Had I had a power surge???? Ummmmm....NO!!!! At no time in the last 10 days has there been a power surge. All the other electrical goods in this house are working ok....including the blawdy big LCD television.....and at no time have even the digital clocks flashed (always a good indicator of an outside electrical condition affecting the house!).

My next step was to point out to the F&P service lady that I am working tomorrow and Friday and cannot take time off work at this, the busiest time of year. I also pointed out that I had a washing machine full of dirty clothes - clothes which my husband needs for work and my children need to wear, not to mention me!

So, did this Fisher & Paykel service person apologise profusely and swear to me that she would have someone out this afternoon to fix it??? No! Instead she told me that it would then have to be next week as I could not have anyone home tomorrow or Friday to let the service repairer in! She then even slightly admonished me for not having sent in my warranty yet (did I mention that I had only had the thing for TEN DAYS)!

My response to this, I think, was very controlled under the circumstances! I pointed out that in good faith we had bought a $1000 washing machine - our first ever Fisher & Paykel product - and that I was so angry with her attitude at that point in time that I could not speak to her at all and that I would get my husband to call back! She then continued that I would have to make an appointment for the service person so that I didn't miss the time that I wanted! Ummmmm...hang on...the time I wanted for their disgustingly faulty product was TODAY!!! At some point I also did mention that I had had a Simpson washing machine for 20 years and not once did it break down!

So enter Dear Husband! Not quite on his white steed, I might add, as he did ring me at one point and said that I should see their side and that we might have to do our usual 5+ loads of washing by hand this weekend just to fit in with the almighty F&P! After pointing out to Dear Husband that he would be sleeping in the shed until I got the washing machine that I paid for TEN DAYS AGO, he quickly got the message that chief clothes washer was not happy and that he'd better ring them back! A few phone calls later sent him back to the original shop that we bought it from who have now offered to replace it fully! Thank goodness someone, somewhere had some sense!

So, if you are a Fisher & Paykel employer or even employee reading this, take note! No matter what reputation your product may have, a thousand dollar washing machine should last longer than TEN DAYS! And I have since been told today by a friend that we are not the first person that she's heard of who has had difficulties with post sales service from this company! If only I'd known this earlier!

So stay tuned for the next installment of my Fisher & Paykel washing machine saga! It's pathetic really, isn't it! When all I want to do is have clean clothes!

Friday, December 7, 2007

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas!

And how do I know????

* Well school has finished or is in the process of finishing! Kids are lining shopping centres everywhere hassling their parents to buy them more stuff or complaining that they are bored!

* It's become hot! And I mean hot! Not quite into the February 40s but still, we have passed 30 degrees celsius (no idea what that is for you overseas fahrenheit people, sorry!) a couple of times this week. I haven't quite turned the air conditioner on yet, but no doubt, it isn't far off!

* Mangoes are everywhere! Christmas in Australia means mango season! Yum, yum!!! We buy them by the tray load here and they get eaten faster than we can buy them!

* The Christmas lights are out. Take a look at the gorgeous street, a short drive from me, which wins awards every year for best lighting display. Every house in the street has lights on it usually and as it gets closer to Christmas, the traffic around there is chaotic. They even hire people to direct traffic at the bottom of the street and many people park streets away and walk up it! (And yes, wish I was a better photographer, too!)

* It's time to dust off the Christmas tree. Well, in our case, we broke open the box with the new Christmas tree in that I bought in the post-Christmas sales last year. This year I also abandoned messy tinsel for elegant beads. Sweet!

* Australia Post is unreachable! Don't bother going down to buy a few stamps unless you are prepared to take a cut lunch and water bag to consume in the huge queue snaking outside of it full of people waiting to buy Christmas stamps!

* Television peaks then rapidly declines so that we are left with utter rubbish on tv in the 'off' season! Mind you, I do like the look of The Starter Wife but then again, I love Debra Messing! She's so sassy! And I'd love to have her hair!

* And I'm stuffed....full of chocolates and candy canes and stuffed as in exhausted!

Roll on holidays, I say! Full steam ahead to roast turkey, prawns and Christmas pudding!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Is It A Sign of My Tragic Life?

Is it a sign of my tragic life that I am very excited over a new washing machine? I have been looking at them for ages but finally decided that I could put up with the clunking, grinding and non-washing of the 20 year old one no longer!

Certainly, the old one had done its duty....had been averaging 5-6 loads of dirty clothes each week for many years now. But recently, it was telling us that it was time to put it out to retirement....the noisy wash cycle, the leaking water from underneath, the way it refused to actually spin the clothes so that most of the water was out of them! was definitely time! In fact, when Dear Husband actually looked underneath it, apart from finding lots of dust bunnies and a few odd socks (yep, had been looking for those suckers for ages and had long since abandoned their lonely companions!) he found cracks and rust! Goodbye old have served us well!

But my, how washing machines have changed over 20 years! Not only do they spit written words out at you and tell you to 'have a nice day', they also lock their own lids ( more tossing almost forgotten items in at the last minute!), they sense how high the water should be, they are 'eco-smart' enough to save water, they tell you how long they are going to take to wash the clothes and mine doesn't have one of those big stick thingies in the middle of the drum! So how on earth I empty the lint filter, I have no idea....hmmmm...may have to actually go and read the instruction book!

Oh and for the curious among you, it is a Fisher & Paykel 8kg Aquasmart! As much as I was tempted by a front loader for water saving, I just cannot bring myself to be patient enough for long cycles and I also have back issues so the upright water saver was the way to go! And it is a water saving washing machine, we are also eligible for a small government rebate! Double woo-hoo!

Now, when I work out how to work the thing properly (I have fluked one load so far!), I'll let you know how it goes!!!