Friday, December 10, 2010

Summer Heat is here finally...

Whoa, today the temp has hit 31deg C. For those in the north, who count in Farenheit ... that's WARM. The sun is shining and for the first time this summer the air conditioner is ON. I think once lunch is over we might adjourn to the pool. 
Hopefully this sunshine and breeze is drying out some of the floods across the state and not blowing more rain their way.
Meanwhile Christmas shopping is almost done and the cupboards are filling fast.
Prayers going out to our Muse friends who are facing rough days this Christmas.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas Downunder as seen on Museitup Publishing Blog

Living on the underside of the world gives us Aussies a different perspective on Christmas and the festive season. Rather than conform to tradition, our family has taken the opportunity to set our own parameters for celebrating Christmas.

Here Christmas arrives in Summer and the weather is usually perfect. Friends return to be with family and there is often not a spare bed in the house over the holidays.
Sunshine, afternoon thunderstorms, sea breezes and balmy evenings make for perfect holiday conditions. With the golden sand and harbor less than a mile away, and an in-ground pool in the back yard and air conditioning, there is little excuse for overheating in the humid conditions. Each afternoon a sea breeze makes life pleasant if the day’s heat has been exhausting.

On the lead up to Christmas we decorate the house with lights and enjoy having the neighbors’ kids come and view our efforts. Santa often cruises the local streets, riding on the local Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade truck. Santa is always red faced and often attired in open sandals rather than big black boots.
Shopping is probably the same the world over.

So, Christmas day arrives. It can often be a scorching day, with temperatures over 30 deg C. Baking is not recommended in the heat. Even so there is way too much food, drink and conversation. Family, extended family and friends gather to celebrate. That’s pretty much what happens everywhere I guess.

We don’t go for the traditional baked dinner. Ample amounts of cold ham, turkey, chicken, seafood, salads, bacon and banana rolls, a new favorite: Peter Evan’s bbq spare ribs in rum and coke, ambrosia, avocado, fresh fruit and lots of cold drink are consumed during lunch. Desserts tend to extend into the afternoon between swims and relaxation. Family members bring their specialty dishes for both courses.

Unless it is cool, desserts are often not Christmas puddings or cake, but homemade pavlova, trifle, ice cream Christmas cake, homemade tiramisu. Again fresh fruit is popular. Mango, peach, nectarine, kiwi fruit, cherries and the ever popular strawberry all are bountiful at this time.

Christmas tends to mean beach, surf, sunburn, sunscreen and mosquito repellant. The sounds of cicadas, blowflies, rolling surf, thunderstorms, mosquitoes and guitars strumming while the kids sing are all part of the Christmas spirit. Although the smell of sunscreen and mossie coils burning are overpowered by the mouthwatering aroma of barbequed onions and marinated  spare ribs.

Lying in a hammock, sipping a cold drink and listening to the drone of conversation, pleasantly cool from a swim and taking time out between meals… it doesn’t get better than this.

Remember to pace yourself because Boxing day is a huge picnic day.

Among friends here the tradition here is to venture out on Boxing day into the heat and sunshine and play Cricket, emulating our national test team. My sons’ friends gather to remember one of the boy’s mother who passed away a few years ago. During their childhood she used to host a memorable cricket match. These days the event is still memorable. Everyone enjoys the picnic atmosphere while the brave manage to play some sort of a game while imbibing varying amounts of alcohol. Sunburn, hangover and muscle aches are guaranteed for players and on every occasion Cricket wins the day.
I guess that’s pretty much how our family celebrates Christmas downunder.
Happy Christmas.

For those interested in the tastes:
Ambrosia is sour cream mixed with marshmallows and mandarin segments. Sounds sweet? It is! Believe me. It is served as a salad though, rather than a dessert. 
Peter Evans’ Barbequed Spare Ribs in Rum and Coke… American style spare ribs marinated for two days in a mix of rum and coke and various sauces. Rum and Coke Ribs  The only problem with these is not having enough.
Bacon and Banana rolls. Wrap bacon around a cut banana and barbeque it till the bacon is cooked.
Christmas ice cream cake. In a large domed mixing bowl take 4litres (gallon) of vanilla ice cream, soften and mix in dried fruit mix and a dash of your favorite liqueur. Mix and re freeze. Serve dome side up. For kids you could leave out the alcohol.
Trifle; sponge cake soaked in jelly, sherry (or your choice of alcohol), set with fruit, covered in custard and cream.
Pavlova; A meringue base covered with cream and fresh fruit. Great for summer time.

Recipes for Ribs and Tiramisu are more complex. Follow the links here or visit my blog at

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Twice bitten...

Recently I revisited a cafe where we celebrated Mother's day, but after leaving the place discovered they had overcharged us $37. Despite a lovely meal with three generations of Mum, the discrepancy left a bitter taste. The money was refunded with apologies and smiles.
So now months later I tried again, and sadly found that a simple order for morning tea was over charged by $10 on a $12 order. Now that is either unethical or very very careless.
Needless to say, we will not return.

I guess the moral of the story is: check your receipts before you leave.
Even if it means getting out that other pair of glasses and actually READING the fine print.

Friday, December 3, 2010

My hero...

This week on the Museitup Readers forum the topic for discussion came around to 'eye candy'.
I thought I would share a pic of Matt modelling as my novel's hero. My idea of 'hot'. Thanks for bearing with me. Thanks Matt and Rachel for providing the photos.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas Downunder on Museitup Publishing Blog today

 Today Wendy Laharnar and I are guests on Museitup Publishing Blog, talking about Christmas here in Australia. Please visit us there.

Museitup Publishing has launched their December Celebrations.

Drop by the Museitup Publishing blog for their Christmas Festival posts.
Wendy Laharnar and I are guests today.  ;) Please visit and leave a comment!
Meanwhile if you are in the crafty Christmas mood, I know of a great blog with some great ideas.
 Crafty Christmas on a Budget

 Hope you are all enjoying Summer... We are looking for some sunshine! Enough with the rain, thanks!
Or Winter. Hope it snows if that is what you wish for.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ginger Simpson's... 'Hurricane Warning'. John Russo's... Grounds for Murder and Krista D Ball's... Harvest Moon

Had a great evening reading three short stories from Museitup Publishing. I am saving reviews for my new website... coming soon. Still... for a heads up:
Hurricane Warning is a delightful romance. Complete with storm and tempestuous emotions. A fun read especially with the rain we are having here.
Grounds for Murder manages to introduce a gathering of characters and interesting encounters. The twisting plot works well in this mystery.
Harvest Moon explores a girl's insecurity and her search for self worth. An interesting look into gender confusion written with a rich cultural background.
Thanks to Museitup authors, Ginger, John and Krista for a lovely evening reading.