Christmas & I: party week!




The village is complete!

The house is decorated.
Yep that is a fake fireplace, we go all out here.

Party treats are baked.

But before the party it was necessary for a strong dose of distraction in the form of some Triple R fun time. A visit to a friend’s fill-in of Film Buffs Forecast followed immediately by Grande Ole Twang! Here’s Tim Thorpe’s video from Grande Ole Twang III from his vitalbits YouTube channel:

Sunday, party day.
I must say that the weather was perfect for a Christmas party. Cold, wet and wintery in the middle of summer. What more could you ask?
It is of course safe to say that I prepared far too much food and there were ridiculous quantities of drinks, though due to an (un)fortunate incident involving Tara letting her car battery run flat outside the Astor Theatre the “we’ll get there at 5” gang didn’t arrive until 6 and were hankering for dinner-like savoury food – which I still had in heavy supply and encouraged them to munch through. (no room in the fridge!)
It was lots of fun having people over a week before Christmas to eat, drink and be merry. I’m thinking this should be a new tradition.

Today is a rest day then Tuesday the madness can begin again; there’s still all of the gifts to bake!

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Christmas & I: moving right along

A week ago today I made a toffee lake and stream! That’s something I won’t get to say too often. Ok not just me, Tish and I did it. Turns out it’s a challenge to slowly increase the colour of the toffee (blue/green) while preventing it from getting too hard – so you can still bend and stretch it, altering the shape when set.

You might have guessed by now that I’m talking about the gingerbread village. Here’s a quick sketch of the “first round” layout which naturally was flipped, reversed and altered as soon as we started placing fake props on the board.

 

It turns out life got in the way of the village last week and all that was done by the close of the weekend was the toffee, the creation of pattern pieces for the gingerbread structures and finally the baking of the gingerbread pieces. It will have to be all hands on deck next week to have everything done by mid-week.

Did I mention we are having a Christmas party on the weekend?

Life. It’s easy to go crazy on Christmas plans and preparation plus still run around having a busy social life. No not Meredith, but stuff back in the city.

Last week I was lucky enough to see Broadcast play at the Hi-Fi Bar and I was so very happy to be there. Their music and live show is the type of gig that envelops you, completely surrounds you. The images, the sounds, Trish’s sweet, sweet voice. You are drawn into their world for that brief moment in time. It’s a beautiful world.

No sleep in though, the following morning was the OB for the 3RRR Breakfasters at The Corner Hotel. Lots of my friends present and accounted for this year but overall numbers looked a bit down. Perhaps the bad weather for Meredith saw people leaving earlier to pitch their tents? Anyway – fun and hilarity was had.

Saturday saw a day of volunteer work. The Australian Film Institute (AFI) Industry Awards were the night before and Saturday is the main telecast & awards night, also the big after party. I was allocated to assist with the set up for the after party in the Regent Ballroom. I must say I did very much enjoy wandering around in the guts of the Regent – a bit of a maze that I mastered by the end of the day. There were so many flowers too; gorgeous big vases of blue hydrangeas. The entire ballroom smelt like a florist and looked amazing by the time the guests moved downstairs.

Christmas & I

I like Christmas. It’s the one annual consumer festivity I’ve given a “leave pass” to. The others tend to get the bah! humbug! treatment from me.
I think my love affair with Christmas started at an early age, as it was the organiser in me that got to kick into overdrive. Not only was there cooking, decorating and crafting to do but since the grown ups in the house found Christmas a chore I pretty much got to take over.

  • A gift list of who to buy for and how much to spend and I did the shopping,
  • Write & send Christmas cards for family and friends,
  • Tidy, put up the tree and decorate the house,
  • Select and bake each year’s additional breads and desserts,
  • Perfectly wrap all the presents while carols by candlelight serenades the household in the background.

Yeah, that was me…

It should come as no surprise that as an adult I now take this time of year very seriously. I have a routine that is a healthy balance between enjoyment and insanity/anxiety. I consider it to be healthy anyway, “a fly on the wall” might question this assessment.

The tree MUST go up on December 1st. I’m a collector in nature and I’ve been collecting Christmas ornaments for a long time now. Some years ago I was gifted a box of lovely vintage glass ornaments that my nanna brought to Australia with her, on the boat in 1954. There are about 50 of these that I adore. Their colours fit beautifully with the other ornaments I had been slowly acquiring and with those I have continued to add (one to five a year) since receiving my nanna’s highly appreciated gift.

I love to bake and at some point in time it became tradition for me to start baking gifts. I’m not sure when this began but the gingerbread biscuit recipe I adapted was from a December 1999 Gourmet Traveller. Now these gingerbread biscuits have developed a bit of a following (not bragging, being serious) in that I get requests for them right throughout the year. I even have a friend that sometimes asks for “just some gingerbread biscuits” for his mid-year birthday! I find this all a bit strange, as gingerbread really isn’t my thing but each to their own.

The other items that have over time become part of the Christmas baking staples would be shortbread (specifically a hazelnut shortbread variation), panforte, fruit mince pies with a twist and more recently nut brittle. There are additional recipes I throw in on occasion that can rotate in and out plus “on the day” or for a party there might be a berry trifle or spiced cupcakes to share.

At a later stage to the gift baking a new baking exercise was added to the Christmas repertoire – the gingerbread house! It was LOTS of fun to make but naturally after a year or two a house was no longer adequate and little village squares were the go. It started with just me wanting to add something extra to the festive feel of the house but after that first year the entire household got involved with the planning, baking and decorating of the house/village. This year we are going for something different. Still a village you could say but not the town centre. There’s going to be a town fair along a pathway and we’ll be making a toffee lake, a stream and a gingerbread bridge to cross it. Hopefully. This may all start tomorrow. Lolly shopping happened in the heat today and the board to construct it on was brought home tonight. First step is laying out a map to scale then drawing up the patterns for the gingerbread pieces. Let the fun begin!