two thousand and thirteen in review

This is, without a doubt, the most unique New Years Eve I've ever experienced I think... and especially given the last few years where the day has been spent putting the house in order and making sure everything is neat and tidy for the start of the new year.

However, this year I'm sitting here surrounded by a plethora of boxes and general detritus as I pack up the last 17 years of my life. But it's good... it's all about new beginnings for the new year, and it will also mean that I will go through every single thing I own as I unpack (I really don't have time to do it in enough detail while I'm packing, although there are a range of things that are getting the boot) and work out exactly what needs to stay in the new apartment.

Every year around this time I do the "First Post of the Month" meme I started in 2006, but like last year I'm going to add a few other thoughts to the end of the post just summing up where my year has been at.

January: Welcome to 2013, the International Year of Water Cooperation and the International Year of Quinoa.

February: Since Monday was a public holiday and I had the aforementioned toilet dramas between Sunday night and Wednesday, this week feels like nothing has happened.

March: Following on from the previous Lego accessories template... I decided to try something minifig related for the Autumn template.

April: The Croods truly is one of the most beautiful animated movies I've ever seen.

May: April was music month on Lifescouts...

June: It's been one dark grey day today...

July: Given today's date and it's significance to The Land of the Free and The Home of the Brave, this seemed to be the right way to go with Random Hotness, even though I featured the same model about three weeks ago.

August: June on Lifescouts was Carnival Month, but there weren't any badges that I could claim... however this month was the final month for a while, and didn't have a theme, it was just a free-for-all... which was better, since I managed to claim five different badges, bringing the grand total to 32 out of a possible 100.

September: Today has been busy and emotional and just plain weird.

October: First Pixar brought us Cars, then came Cars 2... and now we have Planes.

November: Today has been...well... weirder than the previous few weeks, that's for sure.

December: I spent most of the morning on Friday going through the Adelaide Fringe program and making a list... then yesterday afternoon Ma and I went through the list and came up with the final version of the list and picked out dates and whatnot.

And oddly enough some of the things I was going to mention actually feature in the first line of the month by month posts.... it even reminded me of a couple of things.

2013 in review

In a lot of ways 2013 has been a year of endings... the end of my job at the Nut House, the end of living in this apartment, the end for the bookcases I've had since I was a teenager along with the end of a lot of other random detritus (not to mention starting the year out with a replacement toilet)... but that's good because it leaves space in my life for some new beginnings once the calendar flicks over to 2014.

It wasn't all endings though, this year also saw the birth of the Lifescouts phenomenon, and by the end of the year I'd accumulated 33 badges... hopefully there should be some new badges/challenges at the beginning of next year (and I'd also like to actually earn my archery badge next year... I'd intended to do it this year but it just never happened).

Ma and I took two trips, one to Sydney in April and the other to Melbourne in August. And rain featured quite prominently in both trips. I still much prefer Sydney to Melbourne though... especially after this last trip.

As far as theatre goes, other than the twenty shows for the Fringe, there wasn't quite as much to report this year. However we did finally get to go and see Adam Hills live (and he's definitely somebody I'll go and see any time he comes back with a new show), plus I got my yearly dose of Macbeth thanks to the Urban Myth Theatre Company.

And we also stepped out at the March, May, June, August, September and November editions of Fork on the Road.

My birthday this year was an 18 hour extravaganza (if you include the working day) whereas Ma's birthday was a relatively calm occasion.

Also continuing this year was my ongoing love affair with Espionage Gallery and the expansion of my art collection by about 17 new pieces.

So while 2013 has had a few moments I could have lived without, on reflection it's not been all that bad... but here's to a whole lot of new beginnings next year!

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movies: frozen

I know there have been a few Disney movies in the last few years that have contained singing, but Frozen is the first one in a good long while that's structured like a musical... and to be honest I'm not sure how I feel about it.

Don't get me wrong, the movie is absolutely gorgeous to look at (and I would imagine doubly so in 3D) and the major relationship at the heart of the movie (quite literally) is between two sisters, which while it isn't a first for Disney (Lilo and Stitch takes that honour), it's a very different kind of relationship.

However the portions of the movie where the characters were half-singing what probably should have been straight dialogue (or else a full blown song) bugged me.

It's a pet hate of mine... if you're going to do a musical, do a musical properly. Have a song, start the song, move the character development or plot along as required with the song, stop singing the song, move on with actual dialogue... not this namby pamby speak-singing half a song thing that it seems like the majority of modern musicals go in for.

And venturing a little into spoiler territory, I also had a bit of an issue with the song the character of Elsa sings after she runs away from the castle and creates an ice palace in the wilderness... not the song itself, that was fine, but the fact that in the space of this one song she goes from a character who has lived her entire life being fearful of her powers, thinking there's something wrong with her because of them and repressing both her power and her emotions. And in the space of one walk up a mountain and one song she goes from that to revelling in her powers. It just didn't sit right with me.

Yes it's supposed to be a positive, uplifting song, but I just couldn't see someone that emotionally damaged essentially fixing herself in a couple of minutes.

I will say that overall the story held more than a few surprises... I don't know the original story, The Snow Queen, that the movie is (loosely, I'm guessing) based on, so I didn't really see any of the twists and turns coming... well other than the fact that the two leads were going to fall in love, that's pretty much a given.

And I can't help thinking the trolls were hideously underused... and only really in the movie because the original story had trolls... the same role could have easily have been filled by the old magical woman in the woods, but maybe they didn't want to do that after Brave (or to a lesser degree, Tangled).

Speaking of the leads, it was nice to hear one of my favourite actresses, Kristen Bell, as Princess Anna, but it was also nice that, to me at least, the rest of the cast were either mostly unrecognisable or else relatively unknown.

The visual style of the movie was incredibly beautiful, from the design of the town and the costumes, through to the ice and snow effects... once again, I can only imagine that they would be even more impressive in 3D.

It's also nice that Disney has finally had a female director (although technically Jennifer Lee does share a co-director credit with Chris Buck) and the first female screenwriter since Beauty and the Beast... especially on a story that is based around a female relationship.

yani's rating: 3 carrot noses out of 5

having a very cardboard saturday

Okay, now the fact that I'm moving house in nine days has really hit me... mostly because my apartment is half full of cardboard...

Plus the fact that my fridge is cleared of all the usual magnetic detritus, the painting over my teevee is gone... and there's a giant roll of bubble wrap leaning up against the bookcases.

Oh, and I'm now officially freaking out just a tiny bit.

This morning was a bit of an early start... not that I needed to get up that much earlier, but given the fact that the moving company was supposed to be delivering my packing supplies at some stage between 7am and 5pm, I figured it was a good idea to be organised nice and early.

I did ask that they give me a call half an hour before though, so it wasn't like it was going to be a complete surprise.

When Ma arrived she brought some other boxes with her for the stuff I'm not going to get the professionals to move (there's just a bunch of stuff that I'd rather be responsible for, or that won't fit nicely into the official moving boxes) and after she brought it all in we headed off to the supermarket.

I didn't end up buying all that much stuff, and I think I'm probably going to run out of groceries part way through the week, which is fine, plus I need to go through the fridge and throw away anything I don't want anymore...

We'd finished up the grocery shopping, had a quick look in Target at their very meagre Christmas leftovers and as we were headed across the street when the moving company called me to tell me that the guy would be dropping stuff off in about half an hour so we headed back here.

Which would have been perfect if he hadn't shown up over an hour later. But on the up side at least we were here and now I have a metric ton of boxes.

Given that it was still only 10am by the time the box guy left we decided to head down to Arndale and see a movie since we didn't go on Christmas Eve due to, you know, Christmas Eveness. The movie wasn't until noon, so we had a bit of a wander around Arndale first, had a quick look at the Christmas detritus in Big W, grabbed a gigantic roll of bubble wrap from one of the cheap shops and stopped off for a beverage before wandering along to the movies.

Afterwards we headed back here, went down the street to grab a late lunch and then loaded up the car with some of the things that are destined to be donated to charity. I wanted to show Ma the apartment, since all she's seen so far is photos, although since I don't have the keys we could only look at the outside.

It's going to be different as far as Ma coming to visit, if only because there are only a couple of parks out the front and there's a lot of three hour parking zones, but fortunately they're only from 9am to 5:30pm, but we'll work something out.

We had a bit of a poke around the block, and other than one guy sitting on his balcony at the front when we got there I neither saw nor heard anybody the whole time we were there. So that will be a very nice change from my current apartment block. Then, once we were finished investigating, we jumped back in the car and Ma dropped me back off here.

I'm not completely sure whether or not I'll start packing boxes tonight... if not I'm pretty sure that will be what happens for a reasonable chunk of tomorrow... and the day after that, and the day after that. So New Years is going to be essentially me surrounded by boxes, but at least the weather is going to be better for packing over the next few days.

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photo friday: edges

tensionjetty legs

waterlinesteel sail
A great weight was lifted off my shoulders (actually more like off my chest, let's just say the general torso region shall we) this morning at 10:30...

But backtracking a little, on Monday I was panicking a little about the fact that landlord in the place I went to look at last week was being a little... difficult. Okay, maybe not difficult, but it wasn't all slotting into place easily like I hoped it would do.

So I spent the majority of Monday morning looking at other possible properties online, only to find that Christmas is really the worst possible time to be looking at real estate. So a double pox of my current landlord for choosing to throw everyone out two weeks before Christmas. But there were a couple of places... one of which is literally down the road and around the corner (okay, and then down another road and around another corner, stop being so literal) from me. And it's in an apartment block that I somehow feel weirdly connected to, if only because every time I drive that way (more so when I'm a passenger), I tend to look at that block as we go past.

True, you could say that about a number of places, but that one tends to stick in my mind more.

Anyway, I called the land agent and made an appointment to take a look at it that afternoon.

Turned out to be the smartest phonecall I've made in a while. The apartment is kind of enormous! All the other places I've been looking at just look like you could stand in the living room and touch both walls, whereas this one has room to spare... enough room for a little kitchen table, and few other bits and pieces. True, it's on the third/top floor of the block, but it's at the back and separate from the other apartments and the top floor means no upstairs neighbours, and it has aircon. And yes, the bathroom isn't so much a bathroom as it is a laundry that happens to have a shower cubicle in it, but, seriously, what more do I need.

And the fact that it wasn't hugely more expensive than the place that was half the size much further out of the city. Plus it's still in North Adelaide, so I don't have to completely discombobulate my life and recreate all my routines... but it's far enough away from my current place that if I choose to never walk past this block again, I could probably do it.

The fact that I had to fill out another rental application (this one without the slight security of having spoken to the landlord beforehand) was, I think, what woke me up at around 3:30am on Christmas Eve and really wouldn't let me go back to sleep. So in the end I gave up around 5am, got up, went for my walk, came back and did the application, scanned it and my 100 points of ID and sent it off.

Unfortunately the land agent from the other property also called me on Christmas Eve to tell me that the landlord was willing to get rid of all the crappy furniture from the other place and I could have the apartment. Great, so at this point I have an application in for a place I really want that I won't hear about until after Christmas and a place I don't really want but can have.

Some fast talking and my (seemingly) general likeability meant that I had until today to get all my little ducks in a row, and at 10:30 this morning the land agent from the place in North Adelaide called me to tell me that I could have it.

And, to be honest, I think that decision was based pretty solidly on the fact that I've been in this apartment for the last seventeen years (which makes it around 1996 that I moved in here). Which really means that I shouldn't have been quite so panicked in the first place about putting in applications.

Now I have nine days to pack everything I own and get ready to move some 800m around the corner. Which is it's own new set of associated stress... between having to remember to change my address everywhere, to organise for all the utilities to be switched off/on, to being without internet for up to ten days (yeah, that's actually going to be the really hard one... there may be a number of walks down to O'Connell Street to make use of the free wifi)... thankfully I get to keep the same phone number so I've already organised that and the internet and the movers this morning.

And booking with those particular movers comes with a whole set of moving boxes, which should be delivered tomorrow some time, after which I'll be spending my days either packing boxes or surrounded by them.

There will also be a lot of throwing things out... although thankfully I did a LOT of that both before and after I put the bookcases together. I just need to be ruthless both during the packing and after the move. More-so at the packing stage though.

It's also a new beginning of a new year, and it'll be followed very closely by a new tattoo and then not lagging too far behind, a new job.

That seems to have been the only thing going on in my week this week... well, other than Christmas squatting in the middle of the week like some sort of festive, tinsel spinning spider.

The reign of the 11th Doctor did come to an end, and even though I haven't always been a big fan of this particular Doctor (or moreso his choice in Companions) but, even though the story itself had a few issues (mostly due to bad writing/stupid ideas from the previous seasons) the emotional heart of the story was fairly strong and I did shed a little tear or two.

Now we just need to wait and see how the 12th Doctor turns out.

Oh, and there wasn't a Random Hotness yesterday because I clean forgot about it...

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post christmas roundup 2013

ma's little white tree, complete with presents
All things considered, yesterday was a remarkably relaxing and seemingly easy example of the Christmas oeuvre.

I woke up fairly early (although not as easy as Christmas Eve, but that's a story for another day), somewhere in the post 4am, pre 5am bracket, but lay around for a while before giving in a playing with my phone a bit until I figured it was time to get up.

This is the first Christmas since 2009 where I actually went for a walk first thing in the morning. There were later Christmases where I was still doing my walk, but they fell on weekends. So it was nice to get out of the house and into the fresh air for a walk to clear my head while listening to the Hollywood Babble-On Christmas episode (granted it was the 2011 one, but I'm still catching up).

When I got back I still had some time up my sleeve, so I didn't really rush around getting ready, but in due course I got dressed in my new green polo shirt, the most interesting/comfortable Aussiebum underwear I've bought yet (as a side note, I've always wondered how that particular kind of underwear would work, turns out the answer is incredibly well, and it's also very convenient) and my new leather thongs (flip-flops) which may not be as comfortable as I previously thought but they do look pretty good.

Once I was ready, I loaded up the car, shot Ma a message to let you know I was on my way and trundled up the road.

As usual on Christmas morning the roads were fairly quiet and when I got to Ma's she was deep in the zone of making a seemingly metric ton of Ham Hearts and Mince Tarts to take to La Cousina's place. I threw the last couple of batches into the oven for her while she went and had a shower and put on her pretty party dress she bought for her work Christmas do but which also worked nicely as her Christmas Day outfit. The Ham Hearts were followed into the oven by our standard Christmas breakfast, croissants. And as usually happens, we left them in a tiny bit too long... they weren't burned, they were just really, really brown. They still tasted good though.

After we tidied up and Ma had boxed up the appropriate Christmas goodies and presents for La Cousina and Co we packed up Ma's car (I'm still not completely sure why she wanted to go in her car... normally we take mine because it's easier) and headed up the road.

I've mentioned in the past that I don't normally sit down when we're at La Cousina's... but for some reason this time I did... maybe just because she put a dining chair right behind me and it would have felt like a bit of a dick move not to sit in it. But my theory that not sitting reduces the amount of time we spend there kind of holds up... it wasn't an excessively additional amount of time, but we did end up staying for just under two hours.

Of course part of that was reciting my recent apartment dramas but the more enjoyable part was suggesting possible Fringe shows to La Cousina and Princess T since they both got Fringe vouchers for Christmas (from other people).

By the time we got back it was just before 11, so Ma fired up the Weber BBQ, and once it was in we got down to the serious business of unwrapping presents.

my presents 2013
I always find it interesting to look back at the presents I give Ma and the presents I get at Christmas as it's often a pretty good indicator of whereabouts I was both financially and just as a general milestone at the end of any given year.

This year saw the return of a stack of DVDs, which hasn't really been a feature since about 2010. To be honest, most of my presents are a mixture of stuff I bought myself, stuff I bought and then Ma gave me money for and stuff Ma bought. But that's pretty much the same every year.

Not shown in the photo is the new microwave I bought the same day Ma bought her party dress, as well as the cash I got from La Cousina to pay for Fringe tickets we've already bought.

So my presents this year break down like this...
  • Lego Ninjago Temple of Light (70505)
  • Bel Ami Rebels 2014 Calendar by Joan Crisol
  • Artwork from Skimming Stones
  • Doctor Who Titans Blind Boxed Vinyl Figure - Clockwork Robot
  • Heartwood Creek toy soldier ornament
  • Blue polo shirt (green polo shirt that I was wearing for Christmas not shown)
  • Thongs (the ones that I was looking for last Saturday but couldn't find in the Big W near me)
  • Kiehl's Facial Fuel moisturiser (plus free samples)
Then there were the DVDs...
There weren't really any surprises in amongst my presents, although there were a couple of things that I'd completely forgotten about until I opened them... but that's okay, to be honest I don't really mind the lack of surprise.

Ma liked her calendar a lot, which is always good... I'm never worried that she's going to turn around and say that she hates it, but I do enjoy watching her reactions to it as she flicks through it for the first time.

Once we'd finished with the presents, Ma checked the turkey in the Weber while I did my usual presents photoshoot and then set the table, which was a little different given the fact that a) Ma now has a completely new table and b) we were having something different for Christmas lunch, which meant that inclusion of the bowls in the photo below.

Given the fact that neither of us is really all that big on roast dinners (or for that matter, seafood), we've been saying for a few years now that we should investigate a new option for Christmas, so this year I decided to adapt the warm salad I have quite often in the summer months and turn it into Christmas Salad.

This involved a bunch of basil leaves, a lot of Kipfler potatoes roasted in the Weber, some green beans, several slices of prosciutto, a block of haloumi, some tomatoes and the usual turkey and sausage meat we do every year.

What was really great about it was that overall, there was less prep work beforehand, it was more about last minute prep and construction.

And an additional bonus was that I made so much of it (which I always do... but I was trying to make a lot and made a LOT) that there was not only enough for us to have a bowl each for dinner (granted neither of us really wanted all that much), but there was enough for me to bring some home and Ma to keep some.

The turkey was amazingly moist, so whatever turkey roll thing was that we bought this time we definitely have to buy again next time. I did chop the tomatoes a little too small, but that was because they were full sized rather than being cherry tomatoes. So it's still a little bit of a work in progress, but it's definitely an improvement over what we used to end up with (or perhaps just that I always felt vaguely disappointed once regular Christmas lunch was over and done with).

Of course it was also about 2pm by the time we sat down to eat and it was very filling, so neither of us were rushing to have dessert.

Instead after doing the dishes really quickly (another bonus of the warm salad idea, less washing up) we popped in the Adam Hills DVD, because god knows I need a laugh just at present, and we spend an enjoyable couple of hours laughing our asses off to Mr Hills. The DVD was recorded in London back in February, so it was interesting to try and pick up the differences between the Australian and UK versions of the show (I only spotted one obvious one). And given Adam's predilection for talking to the audience for the first fifteen minutes of any show it was interesting to see who he interacted with.

About half way through the DVD we stopped for a little dessert... and kind of like lunch, it was a big old mash up of things. The mince pie ice cream (which I want to make every single Christmas now, because it tastes AMAZING), some crumbled up meringues, berries and some of the chocolate shards I made last Sunday with leftover chocolate. Tasty as hell!

The remainder of the afternoon consisted of whatever random crap was on TV until it was time for the repeat of last year's Doctor Who Christmas special, followed by an episode of QI and then I called it quits around 8:30 or so, we divvied up the leftovers and I left all of my presents except the DVDs at Ma's place (I'm only going to have to pack and move them all in the next couple of weeks, so I figured there really isn't any point) and headed home.

Other than the ongoing sense of general dread that has been the background to every I've done for the last couple of week, the day itself was pretty good.

So that's pretty much that for another year!

I hope everyone else had a Christmas that was as stress free as these things are able to be, and got at least one really nice present.

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ma's presents 2013

ma's presents 2013 - beforema's presents 2013 - after
It's reached that time of the year when I needed to buckle down and wrap Ma's Christmas presents.

And, to be honest, this year it's kind of the first time that Christmas feels really real... yes, I've put the tree up at Ma's place and we've made some Christmas goodies, and I've watched a few Christmas movies, but it all feels a little distant this year. Other things on my mind and all that.

But opening up the giant square Matryoshka bag and pulling everything out of the "Away For Christmas/Birthdays" box in my wardrobe and wrapping things in tissue paper and rummaging through the bag of ribbon we recycle from year to year looking for a piece that will go around the present in question has put me in a somewhat better frame of mind and actually made it feel like Christmas a little bit more.

To be honest, Ma and I have been suffering from the same problem for a while now... neither of us really NEEDS anything at Christmas time, so the presents mostly end up being a little bit of this and that and a few returning standards (like the calendar and the nougat)...
  • Maxwell Williams Kris Kringle stackable snowman mugs
  • Nanoblock Snowman
  • Wind-up hopping Snowman
  • Snowman gift tag
  • Quartet DVD
  • Doctor Who Series 7 (Part 2) box set
  • Doctor Who vinyl toy
  • Eastern 2014 calendar (and USB with iPhone wallpapers)
  • Red resin seahorse brooch
  • Wooden fox brooch
  • Harajuku Lovers Wicked Style perfume (Music, Lil Angel and G)
  • Cherry Cranberry Pistachio Nougat
Sadly I think this may be the last year of the Matryoshka bag as it's developing a rip along one of the fold lines. Although it hasn't had too bad a run since I've used it for the last three Christmases, as well as the original usage for her birthday in 2009.

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abbreviated christmas goodie making

the naughty baker
I've been going down to Ma's to whip up a metric ton of chocolate for the Annual Christmas Goodies since 2006, and on every occasion we've either changed or increased the number of individual varieties until we were cranking out nine different types for the last two years.

Then most of the goodies ended up in little white Chinese takeaway containers, dressed with ribbon and bound for the desks of my co-workers.

However given that I don't have to take over 100 of the goodies for my purposes, Ma and I decided to take it easy this year.

And because I was never really a fan of the majority of the varieties we made (I'd eat them if I had them in the fridge, but wasn't bothered otherwise), we figured we'd keep it mostly to ones we actually liked... with a couple of favourites of other family members thrown in for good measure.

The result of all of that was an incredibly relaxed day... I mean I got to Ma's place around 8, but I managed to leave at about 4... and that without rushing around like crazy all day. In fact we were essentially finished by around 1:30.

When I got to Ma's place she had a batch of Ham Hearts (and I finally found the original Delia Smith recipe they're based on, although it turns out that we've been making them in our own unique way for years and years and years) fresh out of the oven for breakfast, which is always nice. We chatted a bit about this, that and the other, I caught her up on the ongoing housing drama and we got down to work.

As always, first up was my home-made Rocky Road. I think I used a little too much Turkish Delight this time around, the finished pieces seem to be much gooier than in previous years. Not that that's necessarily a problem, but I have a feeling a lot of pieces are going to end up stuck together.

Then while Ma was putting together the Chocolate Balls I started putting the Peanut Butter Balls that were our new addition from last year, but I think perhaps there was a little bit too much butter in this batch (it's always something) or something. And I remembered them as being a little more orgasmicly tasty even at the mixture stage than they seemed to be this time... the mix was good, don't get me wrong, but I remembered it differently.

I also mixed up a tub of vanilla ice cream with a jar of Robinson's Fruit Mince for dessert on Christmas Day... and proceeded to ALMOST drop the whole thing on the floor a little later. But it should be interesting.

I think Ma was still working on the Chocolate Balls (the mixture needs to cool before it can be rolled, so there's the stove-top portion and then a delay before the ball portion) at that stage, while I started working on the horrific Brandy Apricot Truffles. Urgh, white chocolate, it's a travesty... plus the truffles aren't one of the easiest recipes. But people in the family like it, they may be out of luck in the future though, as I'd much rather make some of the Rum Balls or Sherry Truffles instead.

Usually I have an ongoing relationship with Ma's food processor for the majority of the morning, but all I had to do today was chop the macadamia nuts... it was almost not even worth getting it out. But at least I only had to wash it the once.

Once the mixture was done and in the fridge we were actually ready to coat the Peanut Butter Balls in chocolate... which, given that it was still before noon, is frankly unheard of when it comes to the way the day usually runs.

I ended up coating all the balls myself, the truffle scoop I usually try using (and then give up and go back to chopsticks) was actually working pretty damn well this time around, so I got into a groove and coated the balls and added the sprinkle of salt (actually I may have gotten a little over excited with salt on a couple of them, but they're mostly for Ma and I with a few others for other people, so they can deal with it).

We'd intended to go straight from there to coating the Brandy Apricot Truffles, but when Ma went to roll them up the mixture was still too runny... and I don't know why but it never really improved, I ended up having to add a whole lot more coconut (probably twice what the recipe originally called for) until the mixture firmed up enough.

In the past we've used some little silver nonpareils to decorate them, but this year we found some little golden stars at the supermarket and with the white chocolate, they actually look quite pretty... we did end up using almost the whole tube so we'll have to grab some more after Christmas.

And at that point we were essentially done! So we had some lunch, chilled out for a bit, tidied up and started to pack the goodies up into tins... which also involved me chopping the Rocky Road into small pieces, which is always a major workout.

Once we were all finished with that I had to take the final beauty shot of the goodies.

portrait of christmas goodies as a two by two grid, 2013
Portrait of Christmas goodies as a two by two grid, 2013

Clockwise, from the top left... Brandy Apricot Truffles, Chocolate Balls, Peanut Butter Balls and my Rocky Road.

This also has to be the year where I've eaten the least amount of chocolate... granted half of the chocolate was white, but I did have a piece of Rocky Road and shared one of the Peanut Butter Balls with Ma. That was seriously it though.

I also made use of the leftover chocolate from the Peanut Butter Balls and spread it out thinly on a bit of baking paper, then when it was set, broke it into shards to add to the Fruit Mince Ice Cream on Wednesday.

I probably could have left Ma's place by around 3, but as always seems to happen, the bottom of my feet were completely black from Ma's floors (I don't know why, but it always seems to happen... even when Ma's mopped the floors the day before, it's weird) so she made me soak my feet while we watched the beginning of The Holiday. Once the water was black, my feet were pink again and Cameron Diaz had had sex with a drunk Jude Law, I called it a day.

So a decidedly simpler day than we're used to... and I very much enjoyed the reduced line-up (although the apricot ones have to go) plus the fact I didn't overdose on chocolate.

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proximal christmas saturday shopping

sexy shirtless santa with his sack
The only way to go shopping on the Saturday before Christmas is to a) be early, b) have a specific target that you're looking for and c) mostly be looking for stuff for yourself.

Tomorrow is the annual goodie making, which if I'm being honest, I'm totally not in the mood for, but it does mean that I have the day to myself today. And that turned out to be a good thing for a number of reasons.

I got up reasonably early to open up the house to try and pull more of the cooler air indoors... although technically once I'd done that I went back to bed for a while.

I didn't really rush around much but I was ready to go by about 8 and headed down the road. The supermarket portion of the morning was about the same as usual... there did seem to be slightly more people around but it was still early enough that I made it around reasonably quickly. Then I took a quick wander around Target... I had a couple of things in mind, but couldn't find either of them, but I did find a couple of cheap bowls that I think will work perfectly for Christmas lunch next week.

As I was driving home again I realised I'd forgotten about half a dozen things, which is always irritating... but not enough to turn around and go back.

Once I got home and unpacked I had a message from a young gentleman who I've been texting back and forth with for about a week or so... I was planning to head straight back out again to run a couple of other errands, but I delayed a little as he was headed in my general direction. It was worth the delay.

Pretty much as soon as he left I tidied up a little and then headed back out the door and drove down to Arndale. I was hoping that Big W had some more of the thongs (flip-flops) that I've bought from there in the past since they're super comfortable and were reasonably cheap... sadly they didn't, but they did have the first season of The Newsroom on DVD, so I snapped that up instead.

I had a little bit of a wander around Arndale, discovered that I didn't win any part of the $40 million Powerball draw (seriously I would have been happy with $400,000, but no, nothing), but there wasn't anything else that I needed. But I still wanted to find some new thongs so I headed back to Northpark to take another look in Target. They turned out to have some that cost a little more than I was intending to spend, but they fit really well and were quite comfortable, plus they didn't look cheap, so I decided to go with them. Plus they're actually leather straps, so they should last pretty well.

I also wanted a pumice stone because my feet tend to get all dry and cracked in the summer due to the aforementioned thong wearing... what I did end up finding was a tiny cheese grater for feet... okay, technically it's not really a cheese grater, but it should last longer than a pumice stone usually lasts.

I could have headed back into Foodland to pick up the stuff I forgot earlier, but I wanted to grab some stuff from the North Adelaide Village so I headed back home and took a quick detour there for some bits and pieces.

And that was pretty much that... all in all a pretty easy day, especially given the proximity to Christmas.

Current Mood:

photo friday: not really feeling it

ferry boyferry rope

wheels and brickscamera phone

surfer guysurf board
I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that this Christmas is shaping up to be quite probably the worst Christmas season I've experienced thus far in my thirty nine years...

I know I've said in previous years that I didn't feel particularly in the Christmas spirit in the lead up to the big day, but this year definitely takes the cake as far as that's concerned because there's currently a million other things on my mind that have absolutely nothing to do with the season, but are all currently unresolved and up in the air and weighing on my mind.

You know, things like finding a new apartment and packing all my possessions and moving house and potentially moving to the opposite site of the city where I've never lived so everything would be a major upheaval and reshuffle and that always terrifies me living shit out of me.

Seemingly so much so that I've forgotten how to write sentences that don't keep going and going and going.

I went out to see the property that the land agent called me about on Saturday... and, in a word, I was disappointed. The location is reasonable, if a little further out than I thought, the front of the place looks great, it's a small group of eight units, but the access to the upstairs units is quite narrow and the unit itself just felt really dark and dingy and essentially a bit of a mess.

Yes it has an airconditioner, which is a major bonus, and the carpets have just been replaced and there's a new cooker going in, and the bedroom is a good size, but the place is full of furniture that the landlord doesn't seem to want to part with, even though some of it is clearly crap, and I have no need for any of it. Plus it didn't feel so much like the previous tenant had moved out as much as fled in the night with a suitcase full of clothes. There was still salt and soy sauce and other random detritus in the cupboard in the kitchen and a bunch of towels in the wardrobe.

It didn't help that the agent who came out of the inspection wasn't the one I'd spoken to and couldn't answer some of the questions I had.

But I took an application anyway, called the agent I had spoken to on Wednesday morning to get some details straight, then submitted the application on Thursday morning.

That was a bit of a debacle of it's own... The office was in a shopping centre, and it turned out to be in the very far corner and it took me a while to find. Of course, because I'm already at a high level of freak out on a semi permanent basis for the last couple of weeks, it doesn't take a lot to set me off... so I was a little flustered.

For reasons that don't necessarily make all that much sense, the land agent I've been talking to has decided that she quite likes me... I have no idea why the hell that might be, since I think she'd made that decision based on the incredibly brief phonecall on Saturday (she said as much when I spoke to her on Wednesday)...

So she just called to say that the landlord would prefer to rent the place "furnished", which to be honest is all kinds of nuts... I'm pretty sure I was the only person to bother coming out to look at it on Tuesday (I got there early and after I left spent the rest of the time talking to Ma on the phone outside, and didn't see anyone else turn up), so she wants to have another inspection, but that'll be Tuesday, also known as Christmas Eve... so, yeah, we'll see.

But the agent said that my application was good (I'm not sure exactly what made her say that, since I'm not working currently) and that if I didn't get this one I shouldn't have any trouble with another property. Which kinda makes me wonder what the hell she's on about... but I decided that if she liked me, I may as well make use of that and suggested that if they had any other properties on their books, maybe I could be considered for those instead.

I hate uncertainty more than anything else on the face of the planet. It just completely fucks me over... so not knowing where I am in regards to my housing situation is doing my head in more than a little bit.

I even stopped off and bought a lottery ticket yesterday, you know, just on the off-chance the universe decides to gift me with $40 million. I haven't checked the ticket yet, and I doubt it will amount to anything, but stranger things have happened. Generally they don't happen to me, but they do happen.

I think I may also be losing my mind slightly due to the fact it's been very hot the last few days... the week started out reasonably okay, but then went up around 40C, which is never fun. The cool change has mostly come in now, and hopefully the strong wind will help blow some of the hot air out of my apartment and make sleeping a lot more pleasant.

Yesterday was also my pre-Christmas haircut with Tink... which was very pleasant as always, not least of all because my house was about ninety one thousand degrees by that point and she has air-con.

The haircut was the same as always, shorter and blonder and we chatted about this and that and the other like we usually do.

I also dived into the first season of Aaron Sorkin's new (well, newish) series, The Newsroom. I was hooked on it before the end of the first episode. It reminds me of The West Wing in so many ways, it's smartly written, the characters are instantly intriguing and engaging, and the issues reflect the same desire to make the world a better place. I'm very much looking to hitting the second season after Christmas.

And other than a couple of mostly inconsequential, if enjoyable, slutty adventures at the beginning of the week, that's pretty much where I'm at on the Friday before Christmas. Which is essentially nowhere at all...

Current Mood:

random bow hotness

Ah, Australian Christmas... where at some point in the lead up to Christmas or the period between Christmas and New Year it becomes too damn hot to function.

Which exactly what the weather is like currently... so this week's pre-Christmas Random Hotness, pornstar Marcus Mojo's interpretation of a Christmas outfit seems like a winner!

naked christmas bow

And, as always, the Ghosts of Hotness Past make an appearance about this time of year...
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yuletide errands saturday shopping

all the xmas trimmings, plus bulgy longjohns
I really wish I could shake this general feeling of nausea... sadly though I think it may be sticking around until I get this whole apartment mess sorted out. Hopefully that happens sooner rather than later (specifically before Christmas Day).

But no, we're thinking upbeat thoughts... happy, Peter Pan flying, Harry Potter Patronus, positive The Secret type thoughts... and everything, as they say, will be coming up Milhouse.

Anyway, this morning was fairly average as far as these things go... I didn't buy all that much stuff at the supermarket since I still had a fridge full of stuff, but we did buy a bunch of supplies for making (severely reduced amounts of) Christmas goodies next weekend.

After the usual unpacking montage we headed down Prospect Road as there was a "Handmade and Vintage" market happening by the Town Hall... there were actually quite a few interesting things, Ma lost her mind a little at one of the jewellery stalls and started collecting greeting cards for La Cousina's Christmas present next year (in place of those big boxes of cards La Cousina likes/usually gets). I was tempted by a couple of things, but nothing enough to actually make a purchase.

From there we headed across to Arndale to do a couple of errands, spray Ma's arms with a bunch of different perfumes to test them out (and instant karma means that my fingers now smell like the One Direction perfume after I sprayed it on Ma for shits and giggles) and poked around looking for something for La Cousina's partner.

Ma thought of something from Kmart, so we chuffed down the road to Anzac Highway for that.

But when we got in the car at Arndale I realised that there was a message on my phone from the land agent about the new apartment... I called her back and there's an open inspection on Tuesday evening. But it still seems like I'm slightly on the inside track... so if everyone can keep their fingers, limbs and associated activities crossed until/on Tuesday, that'd be great.

The trip to Kmart didn't take too long, Ma got what she needed and after a detour to the North Adelaide Village for a couple of bibs and bobs we called it a day.

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photo friday: outside my front door

my noise feathered neighboursstormclouds outside my front door
There are three quotes that have been flying around in my head for the majority of this week...
"My life happens to, on occasion, suck beyond the telling of it. Sometimes more than I can handle." - Buffy
"I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they’re right." - Marilyn Monroe
"Equi donati dentes non inspiciuntur." (Don't look a gift horse in the mouth.) - St Jerome
On top of having my head full of quotes I've been somewhere between feeling like I want to throw up and wanting to break down in tears for most of the week.

Thankfully I haven't done either, yet anyway.

Mostly it's because I'm not that great at dealing with change, but I'm getting a little ahead of myself.

It all started on Monday evening when there was a knock at the door... now generally I don't have many visitors who just drop in unannounced, so I knew it was something out of the ordinary. It turned out to be the woman from the land agent's office and she was serving everyone in the apartment block with eviction notices.

Yes, because that's what everybody needs just before Christmas, an eviction notice. Thank you Scrooge McFuckface, the worst landlord I've ever had the misfortune to be involved with.

Technically I wasn't completely blind-sided by it... there have been people turning up in the courtyard from time to time pointing at things and the whole "refurbishment" thing has been on the cards for a good couple of years... plus the same woman from the land agent showed up the other week "just to check who was still here". So it's been clear that things have been afoot. But like I said, it's been on the cards and afoot for a good long while now, so you never exactly expect that it's going to be happening right now.

And, to be honest, it kind of couldn't have come at a worse time in the general fabric of my life (for example, if this had happened this time last year, I would have been applying for apartments left, right and centre)... I've been slack about looking for more work, so when it comes to filling out rental applications, as I found later in the week, I look like a bad risk. Which I'm not, given the length of time I've lived here and the fact that I've never missed a rent payment because I didn't have the money.

It also made me kick myself somewhat for not bothering to put in an application for the place down the road from me back in August.

So even though I went through the online real estate guides and found a bunch of places that looked promising, I wasn't overly enthusiastic about the process.

Which isn't really surprising, given the fact that I worked out during the course of the week that I've been in this apartment for approximately 17 years, give or take a year. And given that Ma and I moved house when I was 17 or 18, it's either the longest or second longest I've lived in a place (keeping in mind I've only lived in five different houses in my whole life). It's also made me think quite a lot about what has happened in this apartment, but that's a longer post all of it's own for a later date.

But because Ma's general role in the Universe is looking out for my best interests, even when I'm not, she emailed me on Tuesday (because, of course, she was the very first person I called once I got the news about the eviction) saying that she works with a guy who knows a woman who's looking to rent her place... but my brain initially rebelled at the idea (don't even ask, I have no idea why)... that was before I tried completing an existing rental application.

That's when the gift horse and Marilyn quotes came into play and I realised that I was resisting this opportunity that had fallen into my lap for no logical or reasonable excuse, so I called the woman on Wednesday afternoon and left a message on her voicemail. And she called me back yesterday morning and we had a chat about the place (interestingly enough one of the other places in the block is also on the market, so I'd seen the photos of that place online). While she hasn't definitely said I can have it, I have been able to explain my whole situation to her and I'm just waiting for her agent to get in touch with me about going to see the place.

It's not a done deal, but if everyone reading this could please cross their fingers, toes and other appendages as appropriate, I would be incredibly appreciative.

And of course, this all comes right after I've spent the time fixing the place up all nice... although to be honest, I think half the reason I delayed putting bookcases up even after I'd started getting rid of stuff was because in the back of my mind I thought there might be a move coming up. I'm still glad I did it, but now I just have to pack it all up again.

On the plus side of things it means that I'll be able to get rid of a bunch of other stuff before or during the move that I haven't gotten around to yet. I've actually been sitting here this week thinking "well that can go... and I won't need that or that... and do I really want that?" about a whole range of stuff. And since I've been in that clear out mode for a while now I'm going to be able to be ruthless when it comes to packing for the move.

To be honest, I will be very glad to see the back of 2013 and if shutting the door on a year that wasn't one of my finest comes with a side order of moving into a new apartment in a completely new location at the beginning of 2014, even better!

It currently doesn't make me feel any less like I might throw up however, and I don't expect that to go away until I know for certain what's happening.

The other (good) thing that will be happening at the beginning of 2014, no matter what else is going on, is my new tattoo. I got the finalised artwork from Cameron this morning and it looks AMAZING, so once I know what the hell else is going on in my life at the beginning of January, I'll schedule a session at the tattoo studio.

So I'm going to make a positive declaration here and now... 2014 is going to be a better year for me, a brand new beginning. And good things will happen!

In other news, the retro video game show opening, Arcade Allstars, at Espionage on Thursday went off... when I got there around quarter past yesterday the place was more packed than I think of seen it outside of Gary Seaman's last solo show.

Josh said he wanted to pick my brains about the Lego show he wants to do next year, so given that I had a chiro appointment this afternoon I went in an hour early and had a good long chat with him about things of a Lego persuasion and then we moved on to some general chat about the gallery. It felt good to be useful and full of information, since I haven't really felt like that the past few months.

Oh, and given the general thrust of the post, the two images at the top were both taken from inside my apartment through the open front door.

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random peacock hotness

Today's Random Hotness takes a visit to the Christmas Hotness folder...

And the blonde, shirtless, bearded, athletic Hotness in question is 20 year old English sprint runner and Paralympic gold medal winner, Jonnie Peacock.

Current Mood:

movies: cloudy with a chance of meatballs 2

cloudy with a chance of meatballs 2 - something big was leftover
There's something about the style of comedy in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 and it's predecessor that really appeals to me.

With both movies, they're not afraid to go to an absurd or stylised place with the humour but it never feels like it goes too far.

The sequel picks up quite literally where the previous movie leaves off and all the characters return.

The voice cast is excellent, although none of them are the type of actors where you automatically recognise their voices... in fact even though I've seen both movies, I didn't realise that James Caan and Benjamin Bratt voice Tim and Manny respectively.

This movie revolves around the characters returning to the island of Swallow Falls to find it inundated with sentient fruit animals (or foodimals). And this is where the movie really gets creative... there's flamangos, hippotatomus, shrimpanzees, susheep, watermelonphants, tacodiles and the cutest collection of big eyed strawberries ever.

A number of the scenes involving the foodimals directly reference Jurassic Park but the combination of the creature designs and the gorgeous backgrounds make for some amazing sequences. It's also definitely a movie where I found myself watching some of the secondary characters, particularly Steve the monkey, Barb the orangutan and Barry the strawberry.

I also can't help but think that the character of Chester V may be based a little bit on Steve Jobs... it's not a direct parody, but there's just something about the way he's portrayed.

The story itself is quite simple, but to be honest, it's all about both the visual spectacle and the jokes, both of which work really well.

Oh and the end credits are worth watching, if only because there seems to be a number of art styles at play, from what look like stop motion puppets to the kind of art work you usually see in those "behind the scenes" clips of the development of animated movies, very loose but still capturing the major element of each character.

yani's rating: 3 apple piethons out of 5

one bright christmas tree

the launch of the bright white christmas tree
See, now it feels like Christmas...

It just doesn't feel completely seasonally appropriate until I've spent a twelve hour day up at Ma's place putting together the Christmas tree and wrapping whatever presents Ma has organised.

And this year definitely involved a lot of getting organised.

I was up, and out the door but just after 7:30 this morning, stopped off briefly at the bakery in North Adelaide to pick up some stuff for lunch and I would have been down at Ma's not long after 8. And once we'd had some breakfast we got started on the yuletide decorating.

First off, we had the new white tree for the first time... and, you know what, it works... it's fucking perfect for Ma's place. And with the coloured lights, the whole tree glows. In fact, when I took a couple of photos of it on my iPhone before we'd even put the lights or the baubles on, it looked like it was glowing from the inside because the light from the window was falling on the back of the tree and shining through the gaps.

This time around we just went with the usual scatter approach with the baubles but I did mention to Ma that at some point I may turn the tree into a big gay rainbow tree... and she actually liked that as a plan, so we might try that next year.

It is a much cheaper tree than the one we previously had and that shows up in the quality of the branches and the components in general, but once it's up it looks pretty good.

The only thing that I really don't like about it is the fact that the top almost looks like it's been chopped off about three inches before it should have been. It may partly be the way we styled the branches, but yeah, the top is a little stubby.

Beyond those small complaints though, it's excellent. And the combination of the white branches and the lights means that it basically lights up the whole room at night.

Because it's a new tree though, I'm not into the groove of where to put all of the baubles and how many is too many and whatnot... but that'll come... unless we decide to look for a more expensive white tree now that we know it works as a concept... but I get the feeling we'll be rocking this tree for a while.

Ma worked out that if the silver hangers we were using came in the same size of pack as another pack she had, then the tree has 102 baubles on it. No, I tell a lie, 103, she put the Merry Christmas bauble I bought her in 2011 on after I took the photos.

Which is pretty much me wandering around the tree 103 times trying to work out where to put a bauble so that isn't too close to others of the same colour (and I know there are a ton of times that didn't quite work out this time around).

Once we were finished with trimming the tree, we tidied up the boxes and dithered about a little putting up the Nativity and messing around with part of Ma's snowman collection.

By that point it was around noon, so we stopped for some lunch before moving on to the wrapping portion of the day.

Before we wrapped anything though, Ma wanted to cull her collection of wrapping, boxes, bags and associated fru-fru, so I channelled my inner "clutter/organisational coach" and we powered through the not inconsiderable collection and dumped all the stuff we no longer had a use for into one gigantic bag... seriously, by the time we were finished, it looked like the world's most uncomfortable beanbag.

Once everything had been sorted and we'd found some new boxes for some of the ribbons and gift tags and whatnot, we dragged all of the presents out of Ma's spare room.

I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but Ma is one of those people who will often buy things and then put them away with the idea that they could work for a Christmas present for someone without having a clear recipient in mind. So the amount of stuff we dragged out of the spare room exceeded her actual list of presents by about 50%.

And I was still channelling my organisational coach (plus I wanted to avoid as much dithering and indecisiveness once we actually started wrapping things), so I suggested that we group all the presents she had for people into whatever spare bags she had lying around. Turned out to be a good idea... it was much easier to make all the decisions before anything got wrapped. That's definitely an idea that will see a return next year I think.

As I mentioned last year, I'd much rather wrap something based on either who the person is that's getting it or else what the gift itself is, so when we finally got down to the wrapping we did hit some untraditional wrapping, specifically black paper with white and pink ribbon for La Cousina... we may have wrapped it differently, but Ma was also giving her once of those little wooden Japanese dolls (Kokeshi) that I'm pretty sure used to be mine. And that was black and white and pink... hence where we got the colours from.

That was probably the most interesting of all the parcels we wrapped, a lot of them were little kids parcels, so we don't tend to go crazy on those ones as there isn't a lot of point.

I fell into my usual routine of suggesting paper choices, selecting ribbon colours and gift tags, cutting sticky tape and generally putting my finger on parcels as required.

Sadly Ma's new dining chairs aren't any more comfortable then her old chairs, so after a while I ended up standing up, which was somewhat better although I am pretty sure I'm going to be all kinds of sore in the morning.

When we finally finished up wrapping everything, it was about 6pm, so we tried to tidy up as much of the Christmas related mess as we could before making some dinner. Well, not so much "make" as "put items from the fridge into small bowls and browse accordingly".

By the time we'd eaten, washed the dishes, sorted the giant beanbag of unwanted Christmas products into smaller, manageable bags and put them into the boot of Ma's car so she can donate them to charity, we were both fairly shattered, so after watching a little bit of Kung Fu Panda 2, I called it a day. A very long, twelve hour day.

But like I said at the start of this, at least now the "Christmas" switch has been flipped in my brain properly, and the new tree looks excellent.So definitely twelve hours well spent.

Current Mood:

low-key saturday shopping

beach santa
Normally on the Saturday before I go down to Ma's to put up the Christmas tree and commence the "srs bsns" of seasonal prep.

But things just haven't worked out that way this year, which is fine, it's not like I don't have spare time on my hands just presently.

So today was pretty much a normal Saturday...

Although this is definitely the last Saturday before Christmas that I want to have anything to do with shops other than supermarkets.

I was up and organised fairly early this morning, although there did come a point where I was pretty much wandering from one room to another and made myself go and take a shower instead of dithering around.

After Ma got here we headed off to the supermarket as per usual.

We ended up hitting all three supermarkets... we did the majority of the shopping at the usual place, but the two major chains had specific things on special so we did a quick visit to both.

Once we'd finished the supermarket portion of the morning we headed back here for the unpacking portion. Neither of us had any particularly urgent need for more shopping, but we decided to head down to West Lakes for some general wandering and a couple of last minute odds and sods.

And we hadn't been down there since they opened the new section so it was interesting to take a look at the new stores, particularly the Target which looks really bright, open and airy (not that Target stores are generally dark and oppressive, but within the frame of reference it seemed especially bright).

One thing I did notice, and not really for the first time, is that Westfields (and to a lesser extent all shopping centres) are becoming incredibly interchangeable, right down to the exterior shop designs... it's all wood veneers and open latticework and dark shiny surfaces with asymmetrical designs and the occasional faux brickwork. Not that I'm overly complaining, I tend to like the designs... it's just a little bit cookie cutter.

While we were in Target Ma spotted these really cheap (as in $5 cheap) but very cute and reasonably sized teddy bears... and on the spot I just suggested we buy a couple and put them under the charity/gift tree thing at the front. I sometimes wonder with those particular charity things if young guys in the 13-17 range get overlooked... it's easy to buy things for little kids of both genders, and older girls... but yeah, I wonder if they struggle for things for young guys.

Anyway... I've also been half on the lookout for a clear bauble to make Ma a "melted snowman" ornament... but unfortunately, unlike the US, there don't seem to be the same kind of cheap plastic baubles... but I did end up finding an actual glass one at one of those "we'll decorate the bauble of your choice with ugly glitter glue stuff" stalls in the middle of the centre, so now I just need a couple of other bits and pieces and I'm good to go.

Speaking of ornaments, I do so hate it when somewhere like David Jones don't have price tickets on all of their Christmas decorations... so we ended up standing around while the woman behind the counter was trying to find the particular ornament Ma wanted in their book of Christmas products. Turned out if she'd paid more attention to the book she would have worked it out... urgh.

That was pretty much it though, so we grabbed some lunch and then called it a day.

But yeah, I really want to stay away from shopping centres for the next couple of weekends.

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