Saturday, December 29, 2012

Paris, Family, Jesus, Santa Claus, Friends, Society and Food

A lot of not much is going on around here, but a little of a great deal happened to.

It was like this.

Paris is now 3.  She woke up one Friday and she was three, a number she has been anticipating for quite some time.  She opened her eyes, and her attitude and her understanding and her membership and her lifestyle and she markedly and absolutely turned the cog to three.

A party was held.  I thought I was super organised, with cupcakes and party bags and gluten-free options and the sandpit finished (the latter was all V's doing, actually).

In fact, I only overlooked a few tiny, weeny little things.

The first was realised in the weeks before as Spring waned and Summer approached - the party had been organised for the morning (I was thinking of naps and over-and-done-withs when I concocted that little time-bomb), and it spanned exactly the period of time that 100% sunshine is available in 93.7% of the back yard, otherwise known as the venue.

The second was realised the night prior, but not enacted upon until 1/2 an hour before the start time - no drinks organised.  Slight oversight.  Possibly could have played that one better.

Especially when in conjunction with the fact that time I had written on all of the invitations for the party did not exactly match the time I had stuck in my head that I had written on all of the invitations.

Major expletive-deleted synapse error there.

This meant that the 1/2 an hour before the start time that the drinks absense was acted upon was in actual written fact the start time of the party said drinks were for.

Might strike project management from my career prospects.

(I did crisis-manage that one though, by roping arriving guests into erecting ye-olde tarp-over-clothes-line shelter while juggling the watermelon my sister had brought (thank you BB and see - I can do long-distance organising at times) with the coffee and toast I still hadn't started from breakfast.

We had corralled off an area of under the house so that tools and bikes and powertools weren't subject to little hands.

We seriously underestimated some little hands and the deviousness of their methods to get into anything that someone challenged with a no.

Don't get me wrong - not to the level of "losing a limb or a little child" type of underestimation.

More a "oh my goodness, my poor friend having to be on that level of alertness at all times just to keep up with that monkey" wrestle of the party bags from prying fingers that had discovered one stash of chocolate frogs and was intent on sniffing out as much trouble as he was able.

'Salina and I had cooked up a storm on the actual day of Paris' birthday, and had great delight in litres (kilos? metres cubed?) of exotically coloured buttercream icing and a new piping set to explore.

First, there was the gluten-free option - Not Quite Nigella's Vanessa's Simplest Chocolate Apple Gluten Free Cake - which got the Mama Me Gluten Free's Buttercream Frosting in apple green.

Then I found an Orange Chocolate-Chip Cupcake recipe (the address is but the site no longer seems to exist) - which got orange buttercream.

I made a double-batch of our current favourite chocolate cake, Stay at Home Mum's Moist Chocolate Cake - half went towards the actual birthday cake in pink buttercream for the day of the birthday and the other half became cupcakes and were blessed with purple buttercream.

The night prior, I suddenly did the maths and thought I might not have enough cupcakes, so I did a batch of Banana Cupcakes from a book I currently have from the library - which got buttercream au naturel.

The party bags had been done - with names and all.  Of course, there were a few kids whose names I didn't know or indeed didn't know were set to attend or wasn't sure whether they would be there or not - nothing like having a kids party near Christmas to make you start doubting the validity of an RSVP option.

There were chips, dips, biscuits - the before-mentioned watermelon and indeed, many dozen fine gluten-free sausages.  Oops.  Forgot the bread.

Activities had been planned.  Firstly, there was the sandpit - unfortunately 100% of it fit in the 93.7% of the back yard receiving 100% sunshine, and while there were enough chairs to fit the adult bottoms of the 9.07am arrivals and enough of the 6.3% of the back yard receiving only 85-90% sunshine to dapple the chairs with a dash of bottle-brush, I think the adult members whose bottoms were set to sit around their 100% sunbathed children looked at me and thought I was crazy.

However, I had a plan, and moved into action moving the cubby-house to beneath the banana grove behind the adult bottoms, dragged the swingset to beneath the frangipani and offered a prayer to avert any serious ant attacks from the ferocious insects should the wrong section of the frangipani tree be approached, although which section that should be changed often and thus they had the element of surprise on their sides.

Again, I will skip to the end at this part and advise that no incidents of this nature were reported during or since the party, and therefore I will assume that my prayer worked.  Just in case you were worried.  About the children.  You know.  I appreciate your concern - they did cross my mind.  It may not look like it, but I was aware that children would be in attendance of this party.  Indeed, I am the parent of one such children, and the level of attention and care that I exhibit in my primal party planning skills are in keeping with the level of attention and care that I use in every day parenting.  As I have one that has survived until adolescence I feel it is an endorsement of this strategy.

 'Salina and a friend of hers and some older children pulled out the buckets of play dough we had created (This link is for Natural Parenting Tip's Easy Peasy No Cook Play Dough) and various cutters and they played cooking and mixing colours - we now have 3 full buckets of multi-coloured (but gradually morphing into new conglomerations) play dough that no-one will relieve us of (its only a bad thing in the way that we have a half a shelf devoted entirely to play dough, and if you think Christmas and leftovers and watermelon and suddenly a half a shelf is a valuable piece of real estate).

We (read people who looked at me and took over organising for me at this point) then handed out watermelon (we had drinks available by this stage - we weren't THAT bad) and iced water and cleaned up the play dough and I got the cupcake holder and bevy of cupcakes and candles organised and the older kids set up a bubble-blowing station and bubbles were blown and cakes were artistically arranged and candles were inserted.

I was amazed that Paris did as well as she did - she is not the centre of attention seeker by any stretch of the imagination, and even noticing that she is singing or dancing by one person can send her into a fit of shyness, let alone the virtual turning inside out of self that can occur when total strangers' attention is brought toward her in any shape or form - the fact that she accepted the singing and attention with grace, and she (with a little bit of help from her big sister) blew out the candles was beautiful and astonishing.  They all fell upon the cakes.

We then opened presents - she was very much blessed with all manner of toys and clothing and delights and accoutrements - Dora was suitably celebrated, as were the colours purple and pink, and tutus.

After this, a craft table was made (I am just realising how much work 'Salina did) and sausages were cooking (ditto for V), party bags were finalised (and there were still enough chocolate frogs - victory) and I found my discarded coffee with chips floating in it and some not-so-ferocious (yes, we do co-habitate with several varieties of varying intensities of ferociousness ants) ants swarming on my breakfast toast.

At some point my mother went out to get the bread, people left to travel far afield for Christmas, "frogs in the pond" (aka massive sugar-rush - little hands managed to toke about a half-dozen of them before my friend could pounce), party bags were handed out, balloons were blown and busted, whistles were blown, sausages were devoured (with bread) (or without, in the case of the gluten-free requirees), farewells were exchanged, party bags were handed out, messes were tidied, naps were ensured, dishes were stacked, shut down was achieved - and there were still 2 hours until it was all set to start again...

(I know the title does somewhat suggest that this post might also have touched upon the subjects of Family, Jesus, Santa Claus, Friends and Society, but I am exhausted - and the next party hasn't even started, so although these were all very worthy subjects, I think we all need a bex and a good lie down.  Don't you?)

(You may have noticed that all but one of the photos accompanying the post were indeed taken by My sister, mainly due to the fact that I hadn't found the camera to charge the batteries to take photos - and my mobile, which is the current camera of choice due to the first excuse, whilst on my person, neither took photos nor indeed noticed messages from various guests advising their timing - I am typing this and thinking WT expletive-initial-deleted was I doing while running around "ko kokosh bez glave"!!! )

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mother Knows Best

or does she?

I wrote the following in 2005 - well before I moved to Paradise, before I met V, before Paris was even a twinkle in anyone's eye...

(I was actually trying to find a poem I wrote many years prior to put up, but don't have it on disk here - and found this.  It was in response to a friend on a board feeling shattered by the judgements of others.)

... I remember how judgemental I found other people (and especially other mothers) when I had a young baby.

No matter what aspect of motherhood you look at, there are MAJOR judgement calls being made.

Do you breastfeed? Do you formula feed? Are you using fast or slow flowing teats? Do you use a dummy? Do you let your baby cry? Do you pick your baby up at the first whimper? Do you carry your baby everywhere? Do you leave your baby in the pram? Do you let your baby have the required amount of tummy time each day? Do you put your baby in the sun? Do you put sunscreen on your baby? Do you dress you baby warmly enough? Do you give your baby nappy free time? Do you use cloth or disposable? When are you going to toilet train?

Can your baby roll/crawl/walk yet? Is s/he still using a dummy? Can s/he climb stairs? Has s/he said their first word? Do you use a sipper or a cup? Does s/he like the water? Can s/he swim? Are you going to lessons? Do you get in the water?

Does s/he sleep in a cot or a bed yet? (Your bed?) How come you separated? Is his/her father in his/her life? Do you get child support? Do you have a job? Do you use childcare? A centre or in home? (A relative?) Do you go out at night? Have you got a good babysitter? Are you drinking too much? Is s/he still using baby language? Are you toilet-trained yet? Do you leave a light on at night? Does s/he sleep in his/her own bed all night? Is his/her father in his/her life? Does s/he miss him much? You're still single?

Are you going to have any more? Can s/he stand on one leg? Does s/he like The Wiggles or Hi-5? Do you let your child watch videos? Can s/he concentrate through a whole movie? Are you still giving him/her baby food? Do you feed your child junk food? Do you let your child have lollies? Do you give your child softdrink? Do you let your child go on the rides? Do you have a pet? Does your daughter/son want a sibling? Oh? Is his/her father in his/her life? You're still single? Why did you separate?

Does your child go to kindergarten? Do you work? What do you do for fun? Do you get to talk to any other adults? Do you reminisce about the old days? Do you recognize yourself in the mirror? Is s/he swimming yet? Can't s/he control her anger/crying/words/body? Does s/he recognize the alphabet? Can you chase away the monsters? Do you know about Jesus? Why do people die? Can I have a new mummy?

Does your child go to preschool? Are you on a committee? Do you work? What do you do for fun? Why do old people have wrinkles? Isn't it sad your family aren't nearer? Why can't you accept help? Do you always make your quiches runny? Why did you separate? Does my nose twitch? Is Black Beauty a boy or a girl? Can I marry you? Why can't sons/daughters marry their mothers? Have you ever gone camping while s/he was younger?

How do you do it? Are you going to home-school? Can your child read? Can s/he sing? Play a team sport? Play chess? Play? Do you let him/her watch The Simpsons? Do you let them bathe and dress themselves? Do you make him/her cut the sandwiches? Do you give him/her full cream milk? Do you still have his/her bottle? Do you give him/her logo'd clothes? Does s/he tie his/her own shoelaces? Do you use velcro still? What do you do for fun? Have you ever wanted another one? Are you still single?

Why can't the whole class come over to have a party? Why can't we have a kitten? Why is that man so short? Why can't I come in your bed? Do you work? Do you use Before and After School Care? Are you on a committee? Can you make something for a stall? his/her father in his/her life? Does s/he miss him much? How come you know those people? Have you ever seen a triple rainbow? Do you speak English at home? Is your family close? Why did you chose that school? Should I say something? What should I do? Did you ever hear from that guy again? Why can't I have an icecream now? Do you let your child eat icecream? At 10 in the morning? At 9.30 at night? Do you have a bedtime?

Can your child read? Can you spot a bully? Is your child a bully? Is your child being bullied? Are you a bully to your child? Do you let your child bully you? Is that the same outfit? Is that new? Can you afford that? Do you work? Are you on a committee? What do you do for fun? Do you drink? Do you find yourself drinking more? More often? Alone? Do you talk to strangers? Why can't we talk to strangers? Do you know that stranger? Do you recognize yourself in the mirror? Does your child do drama? Do ballet? Play team sports? Run? Exercise? Watch television? Talk to him/herself? Bite their nails? Pick their nose? Cry at a pinprick? Never laugh? Are you overprotective? Do you know where your child is? What is your child doing?

Hopefully sleeping right now - as should I be... The problem with the questions are, there are always several ways to answer - and generally whichever way you chose there is a risk of condemnation... It doesn't necessarily get any better - but you train/trade in your friends, you ignore the obvious scolds and you get selective hearing.

Now I have a teenager and a husband, some of the questions have changed - as have some answers - but one things remains the same. 

In some sectors of matronly society (not all, thank goodness, or I would have NO friends), competition is fierce, and the quickest way to win is the cut your competition down.

Have you ever felt judged (or judgey)?  And what is your pet peeve?

(I will fess up - apparently mine is Candy Canes...)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Cayenne V Sauce

If you lived inside my head, you would automatically say the above to the tune of "Bob the Builder" - as it is a tune that has been heard several times today, and therefore is on high-rotation repeat.  Ah the joys.

I do not have the photos to prove it, but as well as the bumper basil crop I am dealing with here, there is a cayenne bush* that is as prolific.

In search of recipes that use vast quantities of cayenne peppers, I did discover Mom's Cafe Home Cooking, where she tweaked Frank's RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce Copycat Recipe.

The first time I did this recipe, I used 20 red chillies (I actually harvested over 100 chillies that round - I also made a VERY hot sweet chilli sauce and an unpalatable chilli oil), minced garlic, salt and vinegar - and boiled for about 1.5 hours, so only got a small bottle of intensely concentrated sauce that V declared "as good as Tabasco".

The last harvest that I did yielded 40 chillies, of which only a half dozen were red - so I decided today to try for a "verde" variety.

Per the original instructions, I chopped the stems off - the original called for aged, so the few days on the window sill was "preparation" and not "procrastination"

I put these into a saucepan with a few good pinches of salt, 6 cloves of Australian Garlic ** and as much white vinegar as I had on hand in the kitchen *** - about 3 1/2 cups.

I then brought it to the boil and simmered it for about 45 minutes (as we had someone coming for dinner and I didn't want the gravy getting mixed up with the hot sauce and causing conniptions).

I then chucked it all into the food processor and gave it a good whizz.

Then sieved it and jarred it - voila.

I have had a preliminary tip-of-the-finger-taste-test - It ticks the "blow your cotton socks off" box, but without that "water, water, I need water" finish.  The proof, of course, will be in the rate of usage by the V man.

As this is Friday, I am linking this up at Mummy's Undeserved Blessings  weekly recipe round up.


So - do you have any good recipes for me to test on the crop next go around?

* To add to the cayenne bush's wonder, it was one of a 50c punnet in the sadly unloved and neglected "take these home or we will turf them" section at the local hardware.  I love a bargain that works...

** Australian Garlic (I have to specify, as getting the domestic product is as rare as hens teeth, and unless you find a good farmers market the supermarket believes it is selling you gold).  I do believe I have refrained from political rants in the past, and will continue to do so but press the button and I can give you a good garlic diatribe.

*** I could have used my legs and got some more from the laundry - I am a Shannon Lush devotee, and so Bicarb and Vinegar are used in a variety of rooms for a variety of tasks.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

No translation required - I can pig (and babelfish) it...

As you know, I receive spam. A lot. In fact, I have a folder of blog fodder called "spamalot" and one day I will use it.

Last night , I received a peach. I don't understand it, but as it is spam, that doesn't matter. I think it is bits of someone's thesis they have used to pad out their links (and if it is your thesis, I am so sorry the bad guys have sullied it).

Do they actually think ANYONE clicks on their links amidst unrelated sentences. Strike that.  Do they actually THINK?

Anyhow, I figure I will do some translation of it to try and make sense - as I don't speak French, this could be interesting. Buckle in?
Aussi, un MiLu est a&f. Printanière. Au consommateur, jeffrey, des jeunes de qualité, émanation de mentalité. Impériale des états-Unis classique de tissus en coton, ShouGan élasticité très confortable aération. La lettre est positive, attirer LOGO broderie khan, également désignés, un mode novateur en tout les sentiments naturels. Par limited inc. et de vêtements en 1992 en tant que sociétés par chlamydia délabrés et étudiants d’importants itinéraires de style.
I think it says - "Aussie, one Mother-in-Law is a spring.  If you consume Jeffrey, exude quality and can think, then you need cotton tissue and possibly elasticised well aerated underpants.  A positive letter, dressed with a lacy pakistani logo, its new head and natural sentiments.  With the clothing of 1992, the society had chlamydia and itineraries of style".

So really, spam in French makes a much sense as in English.

I saved myself the hassle of trying out my one year of French (coincidentally in 1992) on the rest of the letter, and put Babelfish to the test.  (BTW - do you know where the term "Babelfish" comes from?)
Bien que des dissertations sur les vêtements et sa fonctionnalité sont trouvés à partir du 19ème siècle que les pays colonisateurs traités avec de nouveaux environnements,  la recherche scientifique concertée sur les fonctions. 
hollister france psycho-sociaux, physiologiques et d'autres vêtements (emblem in the first place normal exemple de keeping, de bewitch) s'est produite dans la première moitié de du 20ème siècle, avec des publications telles que la psychologie Flugel de vêtements en 1930,  et de physiologie séminal Newburgh, du règlement de chaleur et La Expertise de vêtements en 1949.  En 1968, le domaine de la physiologie de l'environnement avait avancé et élargi de manière significative, mais la branch of appreciation de vêtements 
Although dissertations on clothing and its functionality are found from the 19th century that the colonizing countries treated with new environments, scientific research on the function.

Hollister france psychosocial, physiological and d' other clothing (emblem in the first place normal example of keeping of bewitch) brother ' is produced in the first half of the 20th century, with publications such as psychology Flügel's clothing in 1930, and of seminal Physiology Newburgh, heat regulation and the Expertise of clothing in 1949.  In 1968, the area of the physiology of how ' environment had advanced and expanded significantly, but the branch of appreciation of clothing.

So, in the end, I am none the wiser - foreign spam is just the same as our spam.

(For fun, I then set Babelfish on to my profile - on the top right of this post - and put it through

Spanish: Madre, amante, poeta, procrastinater a tiempo parcial, esposa, hija, hermana, tía, cocinar, limpiador (ha ha ha), programador, escritor. Aspirantes a sobresalir en todo, pero disfrutando de la vida de formación es tirar mi camino

French: Mère, amante, poète, procrastinater à temps partiel, femme, fille, sœur, tante, cuire, nettoyant (a a été), programmeur, écrivain. Aspirant à Excel dans tous les domaines, mais profiter de la vie de

German: Mutter, Geliebte, Dichter, Teilzeit-Procrastinater, Frau, Tochter, Schwester, Tante, Cook, Reiniger (war), Programmierer, Schriftsteller. Anwärter auf Excel in allen Bereichen, sondern das Leben genießen
Italian:  Madre, amante, poeta, Procrastinater part-time, moglie, figlia, sorella, zia, Cook, cleaner (era), programmatore, scrittore. Aspirando a Excel in tutte le zone, ma la vita di un genio

Japanese:  母、恋人、詩人、非常勤 Procrastinater、妻、娘、姉妹、叔母、クック、クリーナー (時代)、プログラマ、ライター。Excel のすべての領域が天才の生活を目指す

Ukranian: Матері, коханець, поет і неповний робочий день Procrastinater, дружина, дочка, сестрою, тіткою, Кука, чистіше (ера), програміст і письменник. Всі райони Excel, спрямованих на життя геніїв

 and back to English: The mother, the lover, the poet and part-time Procrastinater, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, Cook, cleaner (era), a programmer and writer. All areas, aimed at living geniuses.

That is me - aimed at living geniuses...

Friday, December 07, 2012

A Short Post with Shortbread Recipe (and stuff)

I discovered Mummy's Undeserved Blessings some time ago through Digital Parents, and she does a Weekend Cookbook (every week - I am just not quite switched on enough to blog on such a regular basis) - so today, I shall share a bit of what is going through my kitchen.


On Wednesday, I had social engagements (I know, knock down with tailfeather and all of that, but it is Christmas and even the grinch gets out occasionally).

I have been in a bit of a focaccia mood of late, and although I discovered this awesome focaccia recipe, I don't have that secret power in going back in time by a day to start a recipe - so bookmarked it for later.  
I did make a quick focaccia recipe that I found (I think it might need a second rise before going into the oven for future reference) and served half of it toasted with a tomato and basil side-dish for topping, the other half I spread with home-made pesto, grilled zucchini, grilled capsicum and cheese.  I also used up some leftover chicken and tortillas making "pizza bites" for kids to enjoy - the good news is the taste tests I gave to my kids went down well, the other news is that they went so quickly at the party that that was the only taste that my kids had of them!!

Wednesday evening later had come so I began the awesome focaccia - of course, I did not do the photography required - but this is the finished product about lunchtime yesterday.
We had our neighbours come to visit for afternoon tea, so I served this with an eggplant dip, another tomato/basil salad, some grilled zucchini and capsicum, varieties of ham, cheese and pickles and watermelon and chips - guess who didn't have dinner last night!!  Our neighbour is Italian (he has only been here since 1960) but his "girl" is Australian - and they both pronounced this very good, so fairly high praise for my third ever focaccia attempt.

I am about to cook cooking just cooked (while V takes the kids to the beach) my new favourite chocolate cake 
(but as mini-cupcakes to save hassles) and probably another batch of these shortbread as the last piece was eaten last night.
The Shortbread Recipe can be found on the side of the McKenzies Rice Flour packet, but in case you have thrown your packaging away (or live in an inferior part of the world where there is no McKenzies Rice Flour), here is the most easy and fantastic shortbread recipe in the world.

Traditional Shortbread (courtesy of the Rice Flour packet)
225g/8oz plain flour
115g/4oz rice flour
115g/4oz caster sugar
225g/8oz butter
pinch salt
(for those numerically minded, this is - 1 part each rice flour and caster sugar, 2 parts plain flour and butter - and a pinch of salt - no more wondering if your scales are accurate!!!)
Sift the dry stuff, rub in the butter, knead until smooth (don't overwork - it will hold if slightly crumby).  Roll gently on a floured bench and cut shapes.  Prick all over with a fork (and sprinkle with raw sugar if desired).

Cook in a  slow oven (I set mine at 150 C/300 F) for 3/4 - 1 hour until pale brown.
Our neighbour on the other side shared with us the sad news of her husband's passing during the week - I will give you the story of the amazing Jean (and her Ron) one day, but this afternoon I will take her a goodies pack to help her cater for the relatives who are set to invade.

Monday, December 03, 2012

A post in which my artistic side gets a look

and fails miserably.

I have a sister who is a photographer.  I have a sister-in-law who is a photographer.  I have an aunt who is a photographer.  My mother can paint.  My brother can carve.

I can rhyme or unrhyme, I can cook and I can compute.  But that whole visual artistic malarkey - FAIL.

Tonight I cooked shortbread.  It smells divine.  Going by last year's batches, I can do shortbread.  Just not prettily.

Ah well. V gave it the thumbs up.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

2 - day of the Christmas approach

Don't you just hate it when you get all inspired and such about making new resolutions and then, kerplunk, the next day comes and just muddies all your inspiration juices and leaves footprints on your resolve?
Nah?  Good think I am here then, so that I can reflect that experience without you having to search for such to occur.

I was going to do my whole reverse advent thing for you, and had the perfect scenario planned, as it had been decreed that I should be on the volunteer roster at my daughter's school for the markets this morning.

But - there is one problem with being "on the volunteer roster" and that is the actual market participation is zip, because I instead got to spend several hours with lovely people serving many other market attendees food and drinks, and completely failed to do the whole sashay through the markets and admire (and report) for people...

I did get tomatoes at $1 a kilo though - and Australian garlic for $1 a head*.
'Salina got an iPad **.  Paris got some lollies ***.  V and I cleaned the fridge and freezers.  Not at all adventish.  Necessary, but not festive.

Still - we now have an upright tree!!

* Please note - large rant regarding local garlic and imported garlic and the whole global conspiracy to the detriment of local industry was contemplated, instigated and expunged, because I don't do economic political rants without getting a little red in the face and exasperated in the mind.

** Part of her "inheritance" from the Croatian grandfather was land, and with the Croatian family micro-economy she got a small amount of cashola which I was advised she could "spend however she wanted".  This is what she wanted.

***  At a jewellery stall lucky dip.  Go figure.  Cue tantrums - from V for that stroke of luck, from Paris because the pink star one didn't work out the way she planned.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

On the first day of Christmas...

Okay, so technically it isn't the first day of Christmas - but in this house, it is the first day all of the elves get to make merry with carols, get tizzy with tinsel and generally anticipate the birthday party of Jesus (the birthday party of Paris has been anticipated heavily for about a month already, and although Christ's birthday is only a few days later we have decided that we can anticipate both simultaneously - yeah, go us!!)

I put a shout out on my facebook page (yeah - I have a facebook page for the blog now - how very 2012ish of me, I know - you can even go directly to it and like it right here folks! *) asking what the first of December represented in the lead up to Christmas.

People FAR MORE ORGANISED than I (they do exist in abundance) advised me of boiling plum puddings and advent calendars (the excuse I used for that oversight was "I always forget them and so we get them (slightly cheaper) about a week later - chocolate high from catch up day and then the rest of the time explaining why you can't eat in advance..") and transgressions on the "no tree until 1/12" rule.

As I am incredibly crafty (but have an organisational gene mutation which means I plan much better in hindsight) I have decided that we are going to do a REVERSE ADVENT calendar here this year.

That is right - we are going to try and share/find/explore/discover something out there in the big bad world - real world or internetty - every single day...

The first thing that we found this morning was this:
Not hard to find when you live in  Paradise, and the good news is Paris can now walk all the way there by herself!  In fact, she can now walk there all by herself WITHOUT whinging!!
(I also learned that if you decide to walk with phone and water bottle only, you are missing something that is vital to swimming enjoyment without care - and that is the whole something to put  your phone and water bottle in while engaging in the whole swimming enjoyment malarkey.  Luckily, 'Salina and Paris have had me as a mother for a while now and can entertain themselves gainfully while waiting for Super V to come to the rescue...)
As we are set to do tree decorations today, it was apt that we also discovered upon our return from said beach (and amidst threat of Parisian meltdown) that there is an online advent calendar - fair enough, sans chocolate but with entertainment potential.  I figure if you are going to be annoyed by the shenanigans of this porcine entertainer snort, then you might as well let her entertain away from the idiot box for free.  The 2012 Peppa Pig Advent Calendar Courtesy of ABC for Kids 
Part of the whole "we are going to do tree decorations today" entails a meal plan - and tonight we are having burgers from the  local butcher on these Foccacia Hamburger Buns from Sarah Cucina Bella - a blog I just discovered courtesy of Google.

I also found (at a blog I have known for many a moon) some great crafty decorating ideas should I ever get my ducks lined up in a row: Ten Christmas Decorations from Picklebums

So - what are your rituals for Christmas, and are they triggered by a certain date? 

* Disclaimer - for all of the spambots who think they might want to be my friend there as well as here, I will still delete your sorry butts and use you as fodder - capiche?