Friday, 26 December 2008

Christmas Eve in the kitchen

Santa didn't go hungry. Despite previous baking disasters, I can actually scrape by in the kitchen – and Berry loves to "help" me cook.

We built a gingerbread house ("Can I stick it? Can I help? This so much fun, my mommy!") and baked chocolate chip bikkies for Santa ("Can I stir it? Can I pour it? You a good little yady, mommy...") and we made a rum cake with a wonderfully alarming amount of spiced rum in it.

There are pictures of the house and the cookies. As for the rum cake, you'll just have to trust us that it was outstanding.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Round and round the Christmas Tree

It's Christmas Eve back home in Australia, so the koala on our tree is going to demand a beer and some cold chicken any minute now.

This one was never intended to be a Christmas decoration. Five years ago a drunken sailor in New Orleans heard my accent, and he grandly and determinedly presented me with the koala. He insisted I keep it. Because every Australian needs another clip-on koala...

...but I've become quite attached to him in my homesick times and he clings so neatly to the tree. Berry loves to put him on a different branch whenever she walks by.

I'm very fond of our tree and its eclectic (ok, odd) mix of ornaments. Apart from the koala, some of the highlights are the inscribed 1980 Christmas ball ("I was about to chuck this out," Nathan said, "but then I saw 1980 and I thought whoa, that's old.")

We have the mouse painted on a glass triangle with 'Nathan 1979' gold-penned on the bottom, and Berry's Hello Kitty snow-globe ornament is a new addition this year.

Then there's Santa painted on a crab shell, from Louisiana.

Below we have the photo-frame ornament with the picture of Berry in Germany when she was one year old, rugged up in her baby polar bear jacket (shame you can't see the ears).

And my husband's in the gallery of photo ornaments too – at 11 years old. Vintage, baby.

The old ceramic pony in the glass bell is just one of scores of other ...interesting... ornaments we have around here. Don't even get me started on Nathan's 1980s shrinky-dink holly wreath or his 1970s paper-and-wool constructions.

But the weirdest decoration of all – the crowning glory of all that is bizarre and inappropriate in ornament-world – has to take a long break from Christmas appearances. That's right, Berry is still frightened of our tree-topper, the inherited Feral Rabbit-Angel.

Weird, pasty little human hands. Leering hare face. In an angel costume. She's right to be scared, isn't she. She caught one glimpse of his awful little head poking out of the Christmas box and started a rapid-fire, "No scary reindeer, mommy! No scary reindeer!"

So Feral Rabbit-Angel is banished to a box in the garage until next year, or the year after, or the year after that, or whenever he can learn to STOP TERRIFYING THE CHILDREN, ALREADY.

Okay now. That's better.


Saturday, 20 December 2008

Triumphantly merry and bright!

My first Christmas cards on the letterpress! Now that everyone has theirs, I won't be spoiling any surprises by showing them here.

I printed these on my trusty Chandler & Price Old Style letterpress using polymer plates I designed myself.

The midnight blue and the silver are printed on separate print runs (and separate days, as it turned out) with a complete press clean-up and oiling in between.

Nothing like some silver ink on the press to get things feeling festive...

Special care has to be taken with two-colour jobs, to make sure the registration is right. A little misalignment will have the elements of the design printing in the wrong places, and that's never a happy thing.

But these worked really well! After a bit of fiddling round with the gauge pins to get the registration spot on, we were away.

Last step: print the press name and web site on the back (being careful, again, to keep the weight of the impression from showing through on the other side).

And ta-da! A whole stack of shiny letterpress happiness!

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Ruh roh

A couple of weeks ago I was joking that Kickbaby might learn to crawl properly before Christmas, and then the tree would be in grave danger.

Yeah. Why did I think that was funny?


Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Cut and paste!

You don't even want to know (and nor do I) how many hours I spent on this design, but I was really happy with the way it turned out.

Kristen and Brian wanted another custom Christmas card reflecting their lives and pets and passions, and I was a long way down the making-a-collage path before I realised I was in pretty deep.

I spent days scrapping various drafts and living in a blizzard of paper bits. Eventually I dug my way out of the photos and magazines and catalogues – Crate & Barrel, J.Crew, Paper Source, Land of Nod – and put the finishing touches on this scene. Delight!

(I should say: these cards were finished back at Thanksgiving, but I didn't want to spoil any surprises by posting them here too soon!)

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Why we need a Sunday School...

Tried to introduce a bit of the real reason for Christmas to Adelaide this morning. I got about three sentences in before she interrupted, hands firmly on hips.

"Dammit! I don't wike baby Jesus in books! That scary. [Pause.] Baby Jesus is kangaroo? I don't want to wisten to it. It scary."

I clapped my hand over my mouth so I wouldn't laugh, I told her we don't say "dammit" and I said baby Jesus is our friend, not scary. I went to the computer to see if I could quickly find a more effective Christmas story. She sidled up next to me.

"Look mommy – Google! I wike Google."


Helen as a good Episcopalian mother: FAIL.


Monday, 15 December 2008

Complete chaos.

Yes, Kickbaby is triumphantly crawling now, and he achieved this level of wreckage in about seven minutes flat. He was so pleased with himself.

I assume I have about eighteen more years of this to look forward to...


Friday, 12 December 2008

Totally tangential

Berry, looking at my Facebook page:

"Mommy, who that girl is?"
"That's Jodie."
"Is she your friend?"
"Yes, she's my friend."
"Is she nice?"
"She's very nice."
"Oh. [Pause] Does she have a purple penguin?"
"No, she doesn't have a purple penguin."
"Oh. What happened to it?"

You know, because everyone starts out with a purple penguin. Some just get lost along the way.


Thursday, 11 December 2008

Santa with an "Rrr"

Uh-oh! Berry has just clipped her first hurdle in adjusting her pronunciations to account for her mother's Australian accent.

Surrounded by Americans, she's learned to automatically add "rrr" sounds to the words I pronounce as "pahk" and "freeza" and "cah" and "dishwasha". She does it even for words she's never heard before.

It's a nice compensation – pretty seamless, helps her blend in with everyone else. Unfortunately, it means she now calls the jolly fat man "Santerrrrr". You know, because obviously mummy just forgot the "r".


Monday, 8 December 2008


Last night Berry told me, "Mommy, I setting the table be-cause, when I not working I get sad and cross."

This morning, Kickbaby is crawling backwards, and crying piteously because he's not getting any closer to the elephant he's trying to reach.

I'm now taking bets on who's going to need therapy first, and how much I should be setting aside to pay for it.


Saturday, 6 December 2008

Orange, pink and pretty

This email from my sister-in-law Shelley, in London, made my day:

"I accidentally bought orange flowers, when I knew I only had pink wrapping paper at home. For a few moments, I thought my present would clash... but then I went to my card drawer. I am chuffed, chuffed, chuffed."

Brilliant use of the Ciao Bella card!

(I should tell you the Vespa on the card is bright pink; for some reason it's looking decidedly un-pink on my screen...)