Monday, December 27, 2010

Well hello. Hope your Christmas day and aftermath was lovely.

I la la LOVE Christmas!

I love the once-a-year only traditions and starting new ones.

Every year about 10 days before Christmas day, mum and I make Pepparkakor. It takes a whole day of rolling and cutting and chatting. We make many tins worth and then I guard mine like a mother wolf from the ravenous hordes to make sure we still have a few left by Christmas day. We have had helpers over the years with varying degrees of enthusiasm for the task (as opposed to enthusiasm for the eating of the dough or finished product). Astrid is certainly looking like the heir apparent, as at five years old she is already demonstrating good staying power, rolling pin and gossiping skills.

We always have a real tree as the smell is so important to the sense of the season for me. Every year there are more funny little child-made adornments to add. It's like a nice smelling, twinkly, shiny time capsule of creativity.

And this year Linus, Astrid and I painted on our dining room window. That's a new tradition for this new house that we'll definitely continue.


I love the food and drinks. The Jansson, the Glögg, the Sill and Snaps and songs that go with them. My job has been to make the rye bread for Julafton but I have also recently added into the mix a ginger and nectarine tart . The ginger flavour teamed with the in-season nectarines make this a brilliant fusion of Swedish and Australian Christmases. Not that we really have room for dessert! And we may have finally hit on a winner for vegetarian köttbullar
using Quorn.

I also made Saffransbullar or Lussekatter for the first time this year for home (mum makes them every year and they are our traditional breakfast on Christmas morning with black coffee and orange juice - with or without a hangover from the snaps of the night before - while we wait for Father Christmas to make an appearance).

Speaking of whom. I also love my dad immensely for dressing up as probably the dodgiest looking Father Christmas in the world under extreme conditions (Australian summer). I love my children for suspending disbelief and wholeheartedly believing that he makes a special appearance just for them. We suspect that there might be small cracks appearing in the illusion for Linus (he said quietly to us later that, "I didn't want to say anything at the time but he looked a bit like he had a pillow shoved up his top".)

Here are some photos to show you just how much disbelief has to be suspended here. I'm crying with laughter at these....
Pillow? What Pillow?
Look at his wonderful little face. Complete belief. If we can sort out the wardrobe problems we may be able to keep this going a bit longer!

Christmas day was a lovely relaxing time with nowhere to be but at home...building an Eiffel Tower and trying to solve the Rubik's Cube...bliss. We had a lovely, simple meal on our deck and a visit from the friendliest of Singing Honeyeaters...

That's me feeding her a raisin. She actually got on my arm and let me stroke her with my finger while she closed her eyes contentedly.We also whizzed up some grapes that she drank from a medicine cup. We can only assume she was hand-reared by humans? She's either the bravest/smartest or dumbest wild bird in the garden! We're calling her Fizz and are prepared to give her whatever she wants to eat (lovingly our kitchen appliances) so, I'd say she's probably the smartest bird.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

"Santa" doesn't come to our house. Father Christmas is very welcome though!

Here's a little rant. Apologies in advance.

With every passing year as I get older and more crotchety, my blood boils a little as our traditions are eroded and transplanted by those of the US.

You must be told that I'm not in any way anti-US, far from it. It is just that our culture is constantly bombarded by the pop culture of the US, through film, TV, internet and we lose a bit of our own in the process.

Astrid goes around saying, "that's how I roll", which, I must admit is so cute coming out of her 5 year old mouth that I let it be. There are however, no "Cookies" or "Trashcans" here (Sesame Street is highly censored for appropriate language) and we like our "U"s in our words too (colour, flavour, RANCOUR! Go away little red squiggly line!). We already have opportunistic teenagers "trick or treating" for Halloween (they get no "candy" here, just a lecture) and if marketers could figure out a way to do it, we'd be celebrating Thanksgiving and the 4th of July!

One of my pet hates at this time of year is the exponentially increasing use of "SANTA"...I'm sorry, but the jolly fat man has always previously been FATHER CHRISTMAS. We are (apologies to Traditional Owners) an English colony with "Australian" Christmas traditions following those of Mother England, even when these traditions are patently inappropriate like full roast Christmas lunches on 40C days.

We are also a multicultural society where all important traditions are welcomed and encouraged. We happily celebrate an amalgam of Swedish and Australian Christmas traditions ourselves. If you want to call him Jultomten, Babbo Natale, St Nicholas or Fatso that's just fine but our dominant culture traditionally calls him Father Christmas. The country's media and retail outlets should do the same!

The expat US population is absolutely free to call him Santa Claus, all 0.3% of them according to the 2006 census.

End of rant.

P.S. I do love you all, even if you do call him Santa, really..

Monday, December 20, 2010


Phew, really busy time of year, huh?

Well, the Historian's family all came for early Christmas lunch on the weekend and things have been mega-hectic leading up to that! The good news is that our outdoor deck has been well and truly stress tested with 24 adults sitting on it and not a creak!

While the lunch was in full swing I got the news that my brother had been bitten by a Dugite!
He's just fine, thank goodness, and we're all extremely glad. He spent the night in hospital under constant observation but it appears that he was extraordinarily lucky and didn't get enough venom in him to have any ill effects. In fact, I suspect the 30 minute observations and lying on a skinny, hard emergency bed all night had a worse affect on him, poor thing.

There is however a sort of amusing side to this (now that it's all OK of course). 

Australia has a bit of a reputation internationally as a dangerous place where deadly creatures abound. It's true that there are deadly spiders, highly venomous snakes and jellyfish, crocodiles and sharks but in reality the risk of encountering these things is extremely rare, unless you're a drunk trying to ride a crocodile (idiot!).

We have recently had my cousin and his friend living with my parents (Hej Jonas and Tomas) and they were very concerned about this reputation. We allayed their fears with the fact that we know no-one that has been bitten by any of these creatures. In fact, even the people we know and the people they know and the people they know (and so on), know no-one that has had a run in with dangerous Australian wildlife. 

Now this happens to someone so close to us . . . while they have now returned to Sweden, they can now say with conviction that they were living in the constant real threat of DEATH from creepy crawly while here!


I'll post our Christmas decorations and such in a little while. In the meantime check out this Moomin gingerbread house! I am DEFINITELY making this for next Christmas.