Jem has *got* Christmas this year. She knows it’s coming, she’s singing the songs, and she refuses to put up with any guff about how many decorations on the tree are handmade by her big sister, thus is claiming that she is personally responsible for anything with a ribbon on it.
Did I mention singing songs?
This is her version of a certain Christmas classic:
On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
Eight maids a milking
Seven swans a swimming
FIVE GOLD RINGS
Four calling birds
Three fresh hens
Two turtle dogs
And a partridge in a pear tree!
A home-made Adipose from Glammer to Raeli
OK this is my favourite news article of the week – a Womble performer traumatised a nation (well, the six year old portion of the nation) when he accidentally removed his head during a live webfeed. Now, my first reaction was basically that it’s awesome that the Wombles are a THING again for today’s kiddies. As a mother of a six year old myself (who broke my heart with her reaction to finding out about the Santa thing last year)… seriously?
“Parents from around the UK said the ‘damage had already been done’ and that they had been forced to come up with ‘all kinds of explanations’ about why there was a human inside a Womble.”
HOW MANY KINDS OF EXPLANATION ARE THERE?
Elsewhere in the world, Aqueduct Press continue their marvellous blog series of posts about the Best Reading, Listening, Viewing, etc. in 2011. I like especially that the contributors are asked to talk about what they enjoyed, but not limit themselves to work published this calendar year. And I was honoured to be asked to talk about my own favourite things of 2011. I forgot lots of things, of course, but that’s what my own blog is for!
Also, Brit Mandelo of Tor.com blogs about her new reprint anthology, Beyond Binary, which includes a story by MEEEEE as well as a whole bunch of more famous and wonderful writers. Hooray for genderqueer SF being talked about!
Nnedi Okorafor blogs powerfully about her discomfort in discovering, in the wake of her marvellous World Fantasy win for Best Novel, that the trophy depicts the head of a very racist, unpleasant person. Ie. H.P. Lovecraft. Which has led to all kinds of conversations across Twitter and other forums about, you know, what kind of alternative trophy could better represent excellence in fantasy fiction, or the history of fantasy literature. I suspect TRADITION is going to win out on this one, or at least a combination of tradition and resistance to change, which are not entirely the same things, but personally I can think of a whole bunch of other unpleasant heads which could take his place. Like Medusa!
I always think of Connie Willis at Christmas time. One of my favourite of her books is a collection of short fiction, Miracle and Other Christmas Stories, many of which were written for Asimov’s December issues over a decade or so. The title story feels like quintessential Willis short stories, because it is a romantic comedy with speculative elements, and includes references classic pop culture of some kind. In this case, it is a debate between which Christmas film is superior, Miracle on 42nd Street (the original) or It’s a Wonderful Life. At the time I first read this story, I hadn’t seen either film. They occasionally screen in Australia, more often now than when I was growing up, but they’re not as pervasive as they apparently are in the US at this time of year!
I went out and watched both movies, as I usually do when Connie Willis structures a story around a piece of Classic Hollywood. They’re both very good movies. But neither of them, for me, has a patch on the personal resonance of, say, Bernard and the Genie, which I adore beyond all reason, or even the resonance of “Miracle” itself.
It’s all personal, though. Christmas cultural texts come from our childhood, from happy moments in our lives, or they just happen like lightning – like anything else that becomes a new, instant favourite. But really, I didn’t start thinking about Christmas texts until I read “Miracle.” So it’s rather meta that, at Christmas time, I start getting the urge to re-read that story.
Well, Tumblr and Nanowrimo are joint culprits, I think. I’m about 500 posts behind on my blog reading for the week, so no Friday links today!
Instead, I give you FESTIVE FRIDAY LINKS IN PICTURES!
So I finished Nanowrimo and ‘won’ in that I completed 50,000 words of novel this month (though I think it doesn’t technically count as a win because I wrote them on two different novels, too bad, I’m counting it). I didn’t do much ELSE this month, of course, but I also was glad to feel that I didn’t completely neglect my house, children, reading obligations, etc. It’s almost like I’m getting the hang of this novel thing. Only the first week was teeth-grindingly hard.
Which of course has made me raise the bar of expectations as to how many words I can put on the plate when I am officially writing a novel – the old 1000 words 5 times a week is starting to look somewhat shabby. Still… no use thinking about that now, I have months and months before I can be actively writing new words every day again. Though the collaborative novel I am writing with the magnificent Kate will continue on and off over the next month or two I guess… at least I get whole days when I am not actively supposed to be working on it!
AKA “Over My Dead Body I’m Going To Waste These Nice Leftovers Making Bubble N Squeak, Jamie Oliver!”
500g or so of turkey mince
Leftover roast vegetables
Leftover fresh herbs from Christmas cooking
Two thick slices each of cold turkey & ham, diced roughly
1 small carton chicken stock
Half a handful of plain flour.
2 sheets frozen puff pastry
Brown mince in frying pan with a dollop of olive oil. Chop leftover vegies roughly and mix into the mince along with leftover stuffing, fresh herbs, and meat. Pour stock over the top and let it all bubble away nicely for some time, sprinkling the flour over the top and stirring through to thicken the sauce. Pour all contents into a baking dish and make a lattice on top of pastry strips.
Bake in oven at about 170º (fan forced) or 180º (normal) for half an hourish or until pastry is brown and crackly. Serve with steamed greens & yesterday’s gravy.
I have been domesticking up a storm this week, shopping, making things, cooking, and planning more cooking. Surely earned a Mother of the Year award this morning by entirely forgetting to take the baby to daycare – for her ONE full day this week, the one I had made many plans with Raeli for. At 10:30 (after a bad night’s sleep because someone had nightmares and had to climb in with us) I suddenly blinked, stared at the baby and said “we forgot to take Jem to daycare!”
Cue mass hilarity all around.
Once we had rectified that mistake, Raeli and I had brunch at the local cafe and then went down to Meredith’s Orchard to stock up on fruit and vegies for the Christmas weekend. Got a good deal on raspberries, picked today! Back home to rehabilitate her dolls house in return for putting away or chucking away a whole lot of old toys. And then it was icecream concoction construction (or possibly deconstruction). Using silicon cupcake cases & chocolate mould trays, we made vanilla penguins, turkish delight hearts, and mince pies, all by stirring interesting things into icecream. I also made the outside layer of the icecream pudding (Christmas Bombe!). I was going to have a Turkish Delight core but now I’m thinking raspberry-doctored vanilla.
Sadly I think the creativity overstretched practicality. The results were delicious but messy, and I don’t think the freezer is cold enough for the icecreams in the moulds to harden properly. The best results were the mince pies: brandied fruit stirred into vanilla icecream and scooped into star-shaped silicon cases to serve.
Oh, and I whipped up a lasagne too 😀 Though I managed to split the bechamel sauce like a bad hollandaise, leading to huge amounts of delicious but strangely lumpy cheeseness over the dish. Turns out that an extra large fruitcake pan is actually excellent for making lasagne in. Once again, messy but tasty. (actually that pretty much sums up most of what emerges from my kitchen)
Raeli and I alternated between bonding beautifully and grouching at each other, largely because her vocabulary seems to have reduced sharply to ‘BUT MUUUUUUM’ which drives me wild with irritation, especially when she follows up ‘don’t say that to me again’ with “BUUUUUT MUUUUUUUUUM.” There were times when I thought my head would explode!
She’s still only five, right? Not fifteen?
Tomorrow’s plan is to make it to Pilates for the first time in a month (a succession of disasters and babysitting letdowns have prevented me), to pick up a few groceries (no big pre-Christmas shop for me, I can’t face the queues), check the postbox and then come HOME and pretty much stay here until the holiday hits. Still need to finish the Christmas Bombe, bake a gingerbread cake, and probably make christmas muffins with Raeli because she desperately wants to.
Sigh. Baking with children is fun, but takes FIVE TIMES LONGER.
I should really wrap presents.
Kind of sleepy, actually.