My Christmas Inconsistencies

Christmas: special time of the year? Perhaps for some. Maybe not for everyone.

I often wonder where I was and what I was doing when they were passing around the Christmas genes. I think I picked up some but clearly not others. For example –

Things about Christmas I loathe with a fiery passion:

  • Christmas carols
  • Secret Santa (work edition)
  • Christmas decorations (especially tinsel)
  • Navigating shopping centres, searching for gifts
  • Large parties or gatherings where my dietary choices are loudly called into question. And judged.

But I love, love, love:

  • Christmas movies (I can and often will watch them year-round)
  • Secret Santa (online friends edition)
  • Online shopping for gifts
  • Christmas lights (my exception to the no Christmas decorations rule)
  • Champagne for breakfast (my own personal Christmas tradition)

So basically, as a way of coping with Christmas this year, I’ll be the one walking around in public with my noise-cancelling headphones on to drown out the Christmas carols that are playing everywhere and carrying an EpiPen in case I accidentally touch tinsel. And then rushing home so I can watch Love Actually for the millionth time.

I’d be excited about the Christmas season ending if it didn’t send a signal to the Powers That Be that it’s now time to stock the grocery stores with hot cross buns.

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Tanks for the Rain

I’m currently house and cat sitting for one of my friends who lives in a beautiful house in the beautiful mountains. There’s lots of beautiful birds everywhere, and the solitude is really beautiful.

But, her sole source of water is tank water. Now, I live in Brisbane and I was around when the big drought of 2007 was on. Or was it 2008? I can’t remember. Anyway, every household was issued with a suction cap 4 minute shower timer and we all had to limit our daily water usage to 140 litres or else the Water Police would fine you. Since then, I don’t think I’m one of those people who wastes water willy nilly.

However, I had a conundrum today about using the dishwasher. Do I use it or do I hand wash? It seems a bit wasteful when it’s just me, even though there are dishes in there from yesterday. In my household, I am the dishwasher, so it’s always a treat when I can press a button and a machine does this chore for me. But I didn’t want to waste water.

Having said that, it’s raining up here at the moment. Quite a lot and it has been for about a day. And I wondered how much rain it takes to actually fill a tank. I’m confident the tank isn’t 100% empty, otherwise last night’s shower was a mirage. So I turned to google.

I selected the very first search result. I’m a busy girl and I have no time for complicated water-related research. The good people from http://www.envirowatertanks.com.au gave me the following information in their FAQ’s section:

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This means absolutely nothing to me when I have no idea how big the tank is or what the surface area of the roof is. And I have no way of measuring the volume of rainfall. So I’m just going to trust that the tank is already pretty full and today’s rain is just topping things up.

And I used the dishwasher.

My Inner Child

There is an inner child inside me. I suspect there’s one inside everyone but sometimes my inner child is hiding, or is too scared to come out and play lest it be laughed at and judged. I’ve been trying to encourage my inner child to play out in the open a bit more. Why should everyone else’s inner child have all the fun?

My inner child made an appearance the other night when I was brushing my teeth. I’d forgotten to plug in the charger to my electric toothbrush and the battery was getting pretty low. The sound it made was a deep, low buzzing sound. Before I knew it, my inner child was belting out a terrible impression of Tibetan throat singing to match the low pitch of the toothbrush.

I thought it was hilarious. My cat just looked at me like I’d lost my mind. I reminded him that I once saw him fall off the top platform of his scratching post cause he was trying to catch his own tale. He walked away. That’ll teach him to judge the Food Provider for having fun.

Binge Cooking

I’ve been on a bit of a cooking binge lately, which is weird for me. As an ex-chef I find that my enthusiasm for cooking comes in waves. I’m either really excited to get into the kitchen and create something, or I’m online trying to find someplace that will deliver without a minimum charge that only a family of four could meet.

I love to eat but sometimes I can’t muster the energy to cook for myself. After all, it’s just me. If I’ve come home from a particularly gruelling day at work, the last thing I feel like doing is making a mess in the kitchen that I’ll only have to clean up. What I really feel like doing is taking the lid off and eating straight from a plastic takeaway container while I down a glass of wine.

Lately, I’ve found that two things tend to get me excited about cooking something for myself:

  • A visit with one of my friends who loves to cook. She gets me inspired and tells me about a new ingredient she’s discovered or a new recipe she’s tried. Very often, I will leave with a scribbled-down recipe and a zip-lock bag of a new spice blend she’s made.
  • The purchase of a new cookbook.

Both have happened recently which have led to my increased interest in getting into the kitchen. And it’s summer in Brisbane, too. A time when I generally tend to survive on hastily thrown together salads as opposed to heating up the kitchen with the oven and stove.

The cookbook in question is the new Eat Vegan book. Recipes and photos from one of my favourite Melbourne restaurants called Smith & Daughters. If you live in Melbourne, or are travelling through Melbourne, or you are a person who likes food in general then I recommend that you do whatever it takes to get yourself there. The food is delicious, so I was very excited to get my hands on some of their recipes/secrets.

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May I recommend the Hot Cheddar and Pickled Jalepeno Dip on page 46? It’s the first thing I tried on their menu the last time I dined there and it will rock your world. The Brazilian Black Bean Soup is pretty tasty too and was on the menu at Chez Jocelyn last night.

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Now I’m shopping online at Gewürzhaus for the Ancho chillies I can’t find in Brisbane and planning my meals for the coming week. Strange (and spicy) times ahead.

The Dreaded Friend Request

A few weeks ago, I attended a weekend writing workshop. I learned a lot and had a great time in the process. At the end of the weekend, someone set up a closed Facebook group so attendees of the weekend could keep in touch with one another. The idea was to share information, opportunities, success stories, etc., and so far it’s been as promised. But then one day, I received the Dreaded Friend Request from one of the attendees.

Cue awkward feeling.

I’m not an anti-social person, don’t get me wrong, it’s just that if I were to accept this friend request, then this person would see the kind of things I share on my Facebook page. Hence the awkwardness. I’m not on there all that often, but when I am, you can be sure I’ve found the cutest cat videos or gifs and hit the share button. I also most likely came across a post from Peta or Animals Australia about one of the many unfortunate cases of animal cruelty and shared that as well. My current celebrity crush posted a picture on his page? Throw that into the mix as well. Its a veritable bouillabaisse of mixed interests.

While my closest friends and cat-loving relatives may find this endearing, it’s sure to scare off everyone else who stumbles across my posts. For a few days I toyed with the idea of setting up a separate Facebook profile, a sort of public page for ‘professional’ use, information, connections, etc. But this seems like far too much effort involved for someone who’s rarely on Facebook.

So, I hope that the kind person who thought to reach out to me and send the request isn’t too offended. I’m only trying to spare you, believe me!

Do people still buy DVDs?

This question was asked of me recently with the distinct flavour of, “Do YOU still buy DVDs?”

And the answer is yes, yes I do. I realise there is this thing now called Netflix, where, for a small monthly subscription fee, you have access to a plethora of TV shows, movies, documentaries, and what have you. But there are two challenges I face with Netflix:

1. Australian Netflix < US Netflix.

There’s a lot of content on Australian Netflix, don’t get me wrong, and I’ll probably never watch all that’s on offer. Nor do I want to. But US Netflix has more choices. Oh, you have a sudden urge to watch an episode of Seinfeld? Too bad! We don’t have Seinfeld available for your viewing pleasure. It is available on DVD though…

2. I live in the mini Dark Ages when it comes to my internet.

I have 12GB per month on my mobile broadband plan and believe it or not this is just not enough to binge-watch a season of Arrested Development AND leave me enough data left over for general internet activities. I have found that about an hour of Netflix will chew up just under a GB of my data. I do have 20GB per month on my mobile plan and on occasion, I will watch the odd episode of something while on the bus on the way to work. But the majority of this data is allocated to downloading podcasts and audiobooks, and social media usage (don’t judge me).

So, yeah, I buy DVDs.

DVDs are great. You can re-watch an episode without using up more data. Very often there are special features included on the DVD. My personal favourite is the Blooper Reel and I firmly believe that every single DVD sold should include a Blooper Reel, whether it’s a comedy or not. I recently bought Season 5 of New Girl and at the end of watching the season finale, I flicked back to the main screen, excited to watch the Blooper Reel and any other exciting extras that had been included. But I was horrified to find that there was nothing. Not even a behind the scenes. Not cool.

Recently though, I’ve purchased season passes to Upper Middle Bogan (season 3) and the first season of Rosehaven (two hilarious Aussie comedies) on iTunes. Sure, downloading them chews up my quota, but I can re-watch episodes or parts of episodes whenever I need a giggle. AND both shows include a Blooper Reel. Win win!

So, yes, I buy DVDs. And I’ll be going out today to buy a couple more (box sets). And judging by the huge selection on offer at my local DVD store, many others buy DVDs too. I don’t think the DVD will be obsolete any time soon.

Now I just need to shop for more DVD storage.