Thursday, December 31, 2009

Party Like it's 1999

Out. Of. Control.

Yep. Let's end the 'Naughties' being wild. Uhuh. I said to Brad the Tradie..."Hon, tonight let's party like it's 1999."

We're pretty wild when we get going you know. We've both done... well... stuff. I remember quite an inebriated night when the Aussie GST came in...whenever that was. A bourbon and diet coke was five bucks before midnight, five-fifty after. There will be people reading this who were there that night dancing on the tables celebrating (???) the introduction of a new sales tax. We were young. We celebrated everything. Just it being Friday used to be reason enough.

Firstly, Brad the Tradie and I had to remember what we actually did when we saw in the 2000 New Year. The new millenium. We looked at each other with anticipation of sharing memory of a brilliant night. Then, simultaneously, we remembered NYE 1999. Bugger. That was the one when the BHG was three years old and it'd been a really hot day and she'd been a total craphead (as three year olds are want to do on occasion), there'd been copious vomit and we'd managed to get her asleep (Phenergan probably), and then we flopped out the sofabed and watched the fireworks from around the world on the tiny little cheap telly we owned, hoping to God that what was happening outside in our nasty Bogan townhouse-land wouldn't wake her up or make her spew...again. Happy New Millenium honey.

We've had better New Year's Eves. Melbourne, Perth, L.A. 1999 just wasn't our best. How is that night ten years ago? How is it now two thousand and nine? The BHG has gone to a party. Without us. The parting conversation ended with "don't drink too much", to which she rolled her eyes and answered "oh AS IF." Naturally. She doesn't do drugs at the park, dance on tables or let strangers buy her bourbon. The wildest thing she's done recently is stay up past 10pm watching Animal Planet.

We've been packing away ten years worth of crap.

We think we're 'ten year' people. BtT got all sentimental the other arve when packing our photo box (yes, before digital cameras). There was a great pic of him digging up our front garden (nice arse!) and he was... THIRTY. And wearing jeans that no one should own or fit into. There was our big silver birch tree... all... little. Was it ever little? Nah... really? There was BHG in all her glory, wearing that cute size three denim jacket with the leopard print cuffs (yes, when she still let me choose her clothes obviously). Apparently I owned a Nissan Pulsar at some point. A PULSAR!??!!! Good grief!

We, feeling a little boring at not having organised to do anything for NYE 2009 asked a neighbour what he and fam were doing tonight. Nothing apparently. ("Got anymore plums off the tree? The kids really like them and they eat like locusts". "Yeah, we know. Ours does too. Here's some peaches as well. Happy New Year".)

So what about resolutions then?
Yeah, even boring old farts like us can have those, right? And i have time to think it through. BtT is watching a scintillating two hour series on street racing in America. I think the oldies next door have already gone to bed (or died) and I've already finished the DVD I'd allocated for today (Cashmere Mafia... yeah, not bad, only seven episodes though and no real ending... anyway, you can borrow it...) Apparently, something like 99% of people don't keep their resolutions. Pfft. They obviously don't structure them correctly. They want stuff that just isn't do-able, like... exercising and eating right. So, on my terribly exciting NYE 2009, here are my resolutions, in writing, for all to see.
In 2010, I intend to:
1. Let the skin grow back on my feet. It's been nearly a couple of weeks since I last sinned and wore unwearable shoes. Yes, the black ones with the perspex leopard wedge heel. But they looked SO GOOD. And there were like, all those end of school year events in a row. Several pairs of unwearable shoes. Yes i know I could wear boring shoes, but really.... with gold sequins? NO! The scars really aren't that bad if you don't look at them in the direct sunlight.
2. Drink a range of beverages. Yes, i think it's important not to neglect hydration.

That's pretty much it. I'm going to ensure my feet have enough skin on them and drink a lot. Can I have some optional ones? Yes, they're my damn resolutions, so I bloody well will.
In 2010, I would very much like to:
1. Learn to surf. Could actually be possible seeing as though I'll be living near an actual beach. Although, this might be like the year i said I'd like to learn Spanish because we'd booked a 7 day cruise to Mexico. But anyway, I can see myself in one of those... thingies that look cool with Lane Beachley hair hanging fifteen or whatever, on a surfboard. Yes. Definitely.
2. Use anti-wrinkle cream. Just every now and then. If I miss a few days, i'll just slather it on extra thick. Like spack filler.
3. Not buy any Britney Spears or Miley Cyrus albums. Since when do their songs make 'the top 100 songs of the Naughties?' Geezzz!!!
4. Try not to accidently hit myself in the head with my laptop screen. Yes. Really.

So, we all see in another year. At least I'm not at 'that age' where my goal for 2010 is to live to see 2011. Actually, it's 10:30pm and I might not physically see in 2010 if that's OK. It'll be there tomorrow, right?
Getting a bit tired.
Typical really.
I'm never an insomniac when it counts.

Party like it's 1999, Prince, 1982.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Little Boxes

I think the concept of Boxing Day has morphed a little over the centuries.

You see, the name of this public holiday (yes, in Commonwealth countries... apologies to my American readers....) derives from the English aristocratic tradition of giving seasonal gifts, on the day after Christmas, to less wealthy people and social inferiors. If I was a wealthy type, I would expect visits today from my tradespeople and servants to collect boxes of goods in exchange for excellent service in the year to come.

Indulge me in a Bogan interpretation for a moment. Is this in ANY way linked to my annual Boxing Day tradition of taking loads of crap to the Vinnies bin? Like today, we packed up Brad's polyester microfibre double-breasted black suit (circa 1993 in a lovely undertaker-style) and took it to the Vinnie's bin at Izzy shops. Actually, there was an inebriated, scruffy looking chap using the bin as a comfort stop and the thought did cross my mind to offer him the suit on the spot. Didn't though because I doubt he'd have a job interview or funeral to attend in the next little while, but that could just be me being judgemental.

How strange would it be to have tradespeople and 'servants' turn up on your doorstep on Boxing Day to collect boxed gifts? No different to the stream of friends and family turning up to do the same I guess, and at least the servants aren't going to scoff all the cheese and wine like locusts. Perhaps I should leave a gift out for the garbo tonight. Maybe a box of baked goods for the guy who comes to spray the house for spiders, pests and the like. He'd probably like a boxed gift. The Australia Post parcel guy has become a regular... I wonder what he'd like? Fruit cake and a stubbie like Santa? A new pair of sneakers and a puzzle book? Perhaps I should leave little boxes (made of 'ticky-tacky') with tags all neatly lined up (looking 'just the same') for my equivalent of tradespeople and servants.

Nowadays, rather than giving crap away on Boxing Day we seem to be buying more of it.
I was at the Boxing Day sales this morning at the Hippodome. Nice and early in order to undertake some research. Whilst my data possibly isn't a totally valid sample, I didn't find ANYONE who was queueing for ages in Target in order to buy gifts to box for their servants. More like a bunch of salad-dodging Bogans staggering around with armfuls of multi-pack Tontine pillows, half price Chrissy deco's and waaaaaaay too many packets of chocolate-covered almonds ("ahhhh, excuse me... a word of advice... unless you're planning to box up those chockies for your servants today then your arse and thighs could do with a trip to the fruit & veg section...just sayin'...")  You can hardly blame people though for succumbing to the temptation of the Boxing Day sales. I myself even got a new pair of bamboo undies (mmm... absorbent...), some shorts that promise to shape my body (and that just can't be a bad thing in summer, right?) and two-for-twenty-bucks boxes of Lindor Balls.

When I was young my parents tricked me.
Yes, I know that concept is nothing new but I totally fell for it. They told me that Boxing Day was the day that people had to clean up every room in their house and put things away in boxes that they weren't going to use for a while. Pffft. Sounded perfectly plausible when I was eight. And after years and years of this TRICK, I am conditioned to the need to box something on Boxing Day. As well as donating Brad the Tradie's ugly clothes to charity (hope they're not fussy...) today I packed away my winter boots. Some habits die hard. If I'm ever at your house on Boxing Day, look out. There's cleaning to be done.

So what's the story with cricket on Boxing Day?
Were the aristocrats so bored once they'd tended the servants that they felt the need to go play a game whilst waiting for ham sandwiches? Although... we also have the annual Sydney to Hobart yacht race on Boxing Day, but maybe that's so that the uncoordinated folk have something to do. Apparently Boxing Day sport was originally designed to be played between local rivals as a friendly post-Christmas community gathering (read: so you don't have to spend ANOTHER day exclusively with your family.) Again, I think this tradition may have gotten a little side-tracked, seeing as though this year Australia's 'local rival' for the Boxing Day cricket test are the team from Pakistan. Ahhh, bugger it, as long as we smash them, who cares which team we're playing...right?

So as we stagger towards stumps on Day One of the Boxing Day Aus-Pak test and we all head to the fridge to turn leftovers into toasted sandwiches, I feel the need for just one more box. Pass the Lindor Balls darl.

Little Boxes. Malvina Reynolds, 1962.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Whip It!

There's a whole lot of cooking goin' on.

It's Christmas, that's why. Christmas - the holiday that celebrates the birth of Santa and consumerism. 'Tis the season to be indulgent. Ever noticed how festively coloured Campari is? Pass the Lindor Balls please. I've got baking to do. I'm going to need my strength.

My particular Christmas faves have mostly been passed down from my mother, who could easily medal in several Olympic cooking events, from the Boiled Pudding Marathon to the 100 metres Trifle Dash (dash of sherry that is...when I make it, it's more like a slosh than a dash). I'm not quite as impressive, and becoming less so with age and agnosticism. Really, is there anything wrong with KFC for Christmas?

Over the years I've collated these little recipe treasures into a cooking scrapbook, dated from 1993 when I obviously had too much time on my hands and got very organised. My penmanship and depth of instruction-writing has deteriorated over the years. What was once 'gradually add teaspoon fulls of castor sugar to fluffy eggwhite mix' for mum's champion pavlova recipe is now 'after you've whipped it, chuck in the sugar and stand back'.

The important thing I've learned about Christmas cooking is that you have to whip it. Whip it good. Whip it REAL good. Which is possibly why I received a Sunbeam mixmaster for my 21st birthday, right about the time my arm was going to fall off from beating batters and mixtures.  So that from afar, I could hear my mother screeching "No... WHIP IT!" when I'd prefer merely to stir or beat the pavlova mix. "Do we have to do a Pav?", I'd say. "EVERYONE likes Pav for Christmas!! It's AUSTRALIAN!!!" Mum (a Dutch immigrant ironically) would say. So, once again, I'd whip it. Whip it good.

My friend, Smurfette of the Outlets, is also an Olympic-standard Christmas cooker. She made miniature puddings for all the  Front Office Ladies at work. She gave her friends a copy of her own self-published cookbook as a gift. It doesn't look like my cookbook, all scribbles copied from my mum's books, photocopies from friends ("OMG! I HAVE to have that recipe!") pasted-in magazine snippets and 'side of the cream cheese box' concoctions. Smurfette's book even has a laminated front cover. AND clip-art.

I love flogging recipes from friends, family and random strangers. This is how you get those great finds. I have the BEST chocolate cake recipe, obtained from a Texan exchange student that came to Gunnedah when I was in Year 10 (circa 1987). She stayed with the Hobbs family across the road from us, and knew how to do things with sour cream. Ahhhhh.... we'd been wondering about that funny smelling stuff! You see, about that time Woolworths came to town, replacing corner grocery stores, and all these new and wonderful food products graced our trolleys. Like sour cream. Texan-girl had a chocolate cake recipe that used sour cream. "Makes it moiiiiiiiiist". A HA!!! So THAT'S what sour cream does! Had the recipe ever since. About that time we also discovered oyster sauce, got an electric wok and stopped making choko relish. Them was exciting times in the North-West.

Reading Smurfette's book got me thinking about some of the recipes i'd put in MY cookbook, Tez's Tasty Treats, if I took out all the ones I'd flogged from other people. You know, my very own creations.
* Woolies Greek Salad-in-a-bag. Very much a family favourite. We even have a designated salad-in-a-bag bowl that we know fits the salad JUST right. You can dress the salad up for company by putting cucumber in it. Genius.
* Mixed-up Plate. This clever creation was invented when the BHG was about five years old and we went through that 'fussy' phase. We'd chuck a tiny morsel of everything we could find onto a plate so she wouldn't whine "How many mouthfuls? I hate this!! I don't want my dinner!" Half a sausage roll, some grapes, crackers and dip, half a cheese toastie, vegemite as dipping sauce. It stuck, and now the Mixed-Up Plate is often known as dinner. You know, kind of like a Mezze plate for Bogans.
* Campari & watermelon slushie. Yep, just as it sounds. Ahh, the delights of the modern blender and its ice-crushing abilities.

This Christmas we're not whipping it.
Brad the Tradie concedes that he might not be a true Aussie in that he can't stand pavlova. What a bloody great sigh of relief that is. This Christmas all he wanted was vegemite on toast, some Jim Beam and to make a dent on the lounge watching a foxtel marathon. Hoorah!!!

This Christmas the BHG is fizzing it.
She got a Soda Stream. All very retro and all. Once upon a time at least one Aussie family in the street had a Soda Stream and the rest of us would all want to 'play at their house', especially if they also had a pool. You'd open a soda stream bottle (remember the glass ones?), close your eyes and it'd almost taste like Fanta.  In 2009, having a Soda Stream is environmentally conscious. Saves fizzy drink packaging waste. Comes in flavours like sugar-free Cranberry Fizz and has additives like guarana and ginseng. You practically get an enviro-medal by using it.

Hmmm... Campari and watermelon Soda stream. Fizz it. Fizz it good...I think I'm onto something there...
'Whip It' - Devo, 1980.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Hit me with your Best Shot

It's a form of masochism. 

Like standing still in front of a group of ten year olds armed with water bombs. Hit me with your best shot. Fire away.

I obtained BRUISES at the mall yesterday. I was run over by a Jeep-sized stroller with shopping bags hanging off the sides and a screaming baby inside operated by a mangy-haired hippopotamother. I, naturally, said "OWWWWWW!!!" really loudly to which I earned a filthy glare from Ms Elephantitus and her two accompanying sprogs as she manoevered her Jeep onto the escalator near the chemist, narrowly missing the Salvation Army man's stall. (No, I'm fine, don't bother checking. Even though I have skin missing from my toes, I'll just pull over and search through my bag for that emergency elastoplast I carry for JUST these occasions! COW!)

Brad the Tradie reminded me later, when I was whining, that I didn't really have to go to the shops. All I had to do was post the Christmas cards. And a parcel for my new nephew both of which could've been done at the Postal Depot. But i HAD to pop into Coles.  And check out the DVD sale at Sanity (I'm on holidays... i need movies... an essential stop). And try to get the electric little-Dutch-pancake-maker in the K-Mart catalogue for my mother's birthday (Sold out by 9:25am? Please. You didn't have any did you? What about the Mr Avalanche icecrusher? OHHHHH, sold out already too? Glad I got out of bed and rushed down here so that you, underpaid as you are oh 16 year old shop assistant, could tell me they're sold out just because you don't know where they are! No, don't bother offering to look out the back. By the time you come back I'll be in a NURSING HOME! Yes, my toe's bleeding onto the floor, stop LOOKING at it!)

Over an extra-hot skim chai latte and a caramel creme brulee frappacino this morning (at a shopping mall of course), my friend Melon and I grappled with our choices when it comes to going near the shops this week. We, of course, were masochistic to the max by being at the busiest mall in Canberra whilst undertaking this analysis, and practically had to yell at each other over the din of pissed-off shoppers passing by our table. Why do we do this to ourselves?

Catching up with friends, then doing that extra bit of shopping is, in theory, a really good idea. Two birds, one carpark. Need a couple of loaves of bread, some extra Santa stuff ("Where DO you get those stick-on earring things that four year olds like?"), exchange gifts, have a latte... But as we noticed the lack of 'ho ho ho' around we got to looking at alternatives to being mallrats the week of Christmas.

Online shopping is really convenient (once you memorise your credit card number and get friendly with the Australia Post guy so that he only gently throws your purchases under the gate). But, as Melon pointed out, you can't TOUCH the stuff before you buy it. And you have to make your own latte. Good for books, giftcards... beige gifts that don't need to be touched, shaken, tried on or examined internally.

Another alternative is to outsource.

I'd kind of like having a personal assistant (actually, four bodyguards like Britney would just about do the job!) after my friend Organica made, assembled, tagged and delivered most of my presents this year. All I had to do was wrap them. Which I totally buggered up, because in a moment of stupidity I bought orange cellophane and turned all my work colleagues' presents into parcels that more resembled bushfires than gifts. Never mind. Lesson learned... obviously Organica has to WRAP them for me next year too. She keeps a list of who I give to and what those people like. Yeah, I know it's not healthy. But she takes Mastercard so it's a guilty habit I have no intention of giving up.

Given that we like touching things, Melon and I did deem 'the markets' worth the Chrissy shopping risk. If you like dried flower arrangements, knitted pigs, glass figurines and wood carvings. And the lattes at the markets are just SO not OK. A lot of hand-made stuff is at the markets. Melon makes her presents because she has a valuable little personality trait called patience. Gorgeous tree shaped shortbread with those cool little silver balls on them, all in rows. Sigh...maybe in my next life.

Which leaves... the shopping malls. Especially for getting the presents for the kids. And you kind of HAVE to leave that to the last minute, because you just don't get 'the right gifts' otherwise. So, here I was today in that little piece of teenage girl heaven known as Supre. The BHG (Better Homes & Gardens girl) has had a thing for Supre for a few years now. I've tried doing the Christmas Supre thing a few different ways. I've tried the obvious... gift voucher. But then I had to go back there so I could 'help' spend the voucher (read: approve) the purchases so that she didn't come home with fifty bucks worth of fluoro yellow dresses and shirts that say 'you know you want me' (yes, I do get a bit funny about thirteen year olds wearing that stuff, I don't CARE if it's got a dolphin picture on it, it's STILL skanky!) We hit a new record last year with nearly 90 minutes in Supre. With DOOF DOOF music belting, bobble-headed shop assistants screeching on their mobile phones instead of getting us the next size up ("yeah, like... right.. and like i KNOW right!!!!"), I vowed not to do the Supre gift voucher 'thang' again.

So today I went in there... with trepidation... to purchase a pair of tie-dyed shorts ("the SHORT ones, not the OTHER ones. Otherwise my life is... like... OVA!!!!") and a matching tank top. BHG and the Glamazons are ALL wearing them. I managed to knock over a mannequin (an anorexic looking one with an oversized head, obviously lacking in strength and unable to stay upright for long periods), slosh some of my Boost Juice Slushie onto the tank top display (what am I... an octopus? The cup had to be put down whilst I searched for an XS top. As I said to the the bobble-head after the death-glare, if she'd been bothered to help me rather than touch up her mascara, or even sort the damn tops into piles by size, then the 'incident' wouldn't have occurred. I then had to show another bobblehead how to use the EFTPOS machine. I wish Supre had self-serve kiosks like Big W so I didn't have to talk to anyone during Christmas shopping. Needless to say, the shorts had better bloody well fit, because they ain't goin' back.

Unless I need to pop in tomorrow for something...