Monday, December 23, 2013

Phoebe Kittington and The Nightmare Before Christmas!

Wishing health and happiness to all my wonderful friends in Blogland over the holidays!

Thank you to my buddy Dawn, from lostsentiments, for making Phoebe's Mini Santa Hat.  Many thanks also to the delightful Alynn, from Wooly Topic, who created Phoebe's The Nightmare Before Christmas Felted Wool Balls.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Lexa and Julie's Dream Destination Blog-Hop!

Photo Sources: Chris Kirk and Weasley-Detectives

I couldn't possibly resist joining this blog hop hosted by Lexa and Julie. Travelling anywhere is simply not on the cards just at the moment, so why not indulge in a little travel daydreaming instead?

My husband and I travelled quite a bit when we were in our early twenties. We spent time in Japan, France, Italy, Croatia, and England. I'd love to revisit Europe, and if we get to Italy again, where my husband's family is from, I'd definitely slip across the border to Austria to visit my friend, Maynard, from the Horror Movie Diary.

During our travels, back in the day, we ended up getting jobs in London and I think experiencing London as a resident was even more rewarding than as a tourist. The downside however, was that we probably got a little complacent. You think you've got all the time in the world to see the sights... until you don't. We ended up returning to Australia sooner than we expected (long story), so sadly, I missed a couple of dream destinations in England like the beautiful Highgate Cemetery in North London, and the seaside town of Whitby, in Yorkshire, that featured in Bram Stoker's novel, Dracula (both pictured above). I will have to go back one day so that I can tick them off my "must see" list.

The Dream Destinations 

I have never been to the USA and I have a list of things I would desperately love to do there. Of course, it would be simply imperative that this trip take place in October, so I could experience some of the American Halloween festivities. I'm laughing to myself now because I'm imagining a normal person having the Grand Canyon or Disneyland or New York City on their travel itinerary, but these are my dream destinations in the United States:

Photo Sources: The Sydney Morning Herald and The Edward Gorey House

Charles Addams, Edgar Allan Poe, and Edward Gorey 

Okay, I could easily devote an entire monster post just to Mr Addams, but suffice to say, I'd want to see absolutely anything and everything I could find that was Charles Addams or Addams Family related. I would also visit the Poe Museums in Baltimore, Maryland, and Richmond, Virginia. The other must would be a trip to The Edward Gorey House in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  It was the home of the late artist and writer, and now functions as a museum dedicated to his work and charitable endeavours.

Photo Sources: Roadtrippers, OTIS, and Fat Orange Cat Sudio

Salem and Marblehead, Massachusetts 

As well as soaking up the general beauty and history of these towns, I'd go Hocus Pocus crazy and visit film locations like the Dennison's house, Allison's house, the Old Burial Hill Cemetery, and the town hall, which was the setting for the Halloween dance (all pictured above).

Photo Sources: Historic Hudson Valley and Julie Altebrando

Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown, New York 

And last but not least, I would absolutely love to visit Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown, home to author Washington Irving and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. (Pictured above: Washington Irving's house in Tarrytown and the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.)

Thank you, Lexa and Julie, for this opportunity to luxuriate in a little virtual travelling. Just click on their names for more dream destinations and to enter their Rafflecopter Giveaway.

Monday, December 2, 2013

How do you celebrate? Blog Challenge

Ms Misantropia has challenged the inhabitants of Blogland to share some of the different ways we celebrate during the festive season. I live in Australia and I would say that Christmas is fairly universally celebrated as a cultural custom by people of many different spiritual traditions here, and also by those with none whatsoever. The Yuletide season also means summertime and hot weather, and although Australia is a multicultural country, our Christmas rituals are British in origin, so many of us still swelter through a traditional Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, albeit with air conditioners running on maximum. Ironically, northern hemisphere seasonal motifs, like snowflakes for example, are still a huge part of Christmas imagery here.

Most Aussie homes would have a Christmas tree, and Christmas crackers (or bon bons) have always been part of the festivities. If you're not familiar with them, Christmas crackers are basically tubes of brightly coloured paper with a twist at each end and they usually contain silly things like a paper crown, a cheesy joke and a little toy or trinket. At the dinner table, two people grab an end each,  pulling the cracker until it breaks with a bang (caused by a strip of card that functions in a way similar to a cap gun) and the person with the larger half gets the cracker's contents.

[Image Source]

Christmas also marks the beginning of the school summer vacation here, and it is common practice for children to hand out peppermint candy canes, cards, and other goodies to their friends on the last days of the school year.

The heat means that cold seafood, like prawns, lobster, or smoked salmon, is often served either instead of, or alongside, the customary roast turkeys and hams. Some Aussies barbecue outdoors rather than having a formal indoor meal, or even have picnics at the beach.

We don't do eggnog in Australia. Champagne is the beverage I associate with Christmas. Also, Christmas happens to coincide with the cherry season here, so cherries are absolutely synonymous with Christmas in Australia. I can't even imagine Christmas Day without a bowl of cherries on the table.

Many Australians (like my parents) stick resolutely to traditional British fare for dessert like Christmas cake (fruitcake), plum pudding, and mince pies (none of which I happen to like), but fresh, summery desserts, especially Pavlova, are served at Christmas as well. Pavlova is a dish that originated in Australia and New Zealand, and there is actually enormous rivalry over which country came up with it first. It was named in honour of the Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova, who toured Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s. Basically, it consists of a meringue base that has a crisp, fine outer shell, and a marshmallowy centre. The base is then topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit. I usually top a "pav" with strawberries and/or raspberries, and then sprinkle some chocolate shavings over the top.

I hope I've given you a bit of an idea about how my family, and many other Australians, celebrate at this time of year. Thank you for hosting this blog fest, Ms Misantropia! Hop on over to the Ms Misantropia blog to find the links to all the other participants sharing the way they celebrate the festive season.