??Journey or destination??

Exploring life experiences at home and beyond – Destination Happiness


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Sunset Dinner and Show Cruise – Robinson Crusoe Island, Fiji

After a lazy day poolside, following a huge ( as always) buffet breakfast, we dressed up for a 4:15pm pick up for a sunset dinner cruise and show. The show was to be held on a small nearby island – obviously Robinson Crusoe Island.


The brochure promised us –
• 30 minute Jungle Cruise to the island

• Welcome Kava Ceremony

• Fijian “Lovo” (earth oven) Buffet

• Fire Walking Demonstration

• South Pacific Performance featuring Fire & Knife dancers

• Island bonfire and string band serenaders

and I must say it delivered!!

The bus arrived on time and after about a 45 minute bus trip we arrived at the Robinson Crusoe Island Ferry Jetty , with a few other mini buses and a coach.


We swapped our ticket vouchers for boarding passes and watched the first boat start its trip down the river. Our boat filled quickly. We were assured there was no deadly wildlife in the river, given instructions on the use of life jackets, then with a loud ‘BULA’ off we sped.


Our trip took us through the mangrove lined Tuva River. At the mouth of the river the sunset painted a glorious picture of orange glow. Small boats,the other ferry and palm trees cast silhouettes against the strong glow.



Docked on the island we were met by a serenade and we were led to the meeting area.


First we were told the story of chiefs and kava ceremonies. We watched a ceremony then all were invited to partake in Kava.

A bonfire on the beach followed. Songs were sung as hungry tummies awaited the final cooking stage of the Lovo. We soon watched the foods removed from their rock under earth oven.While the rocks were still sizzle hot we witnessed some Fijians walk on them. This must take a lot of mind psyching.


Dinner was served- a delicious menu of tender beef, chicken and an assortment of vegetables. With full plates on our tables ( and soon very full tummies) the performers serenaded us- melodic and peaceful.

The end of dinner signalled the start of the show- I was captivated from the beginning to the end. We watched as women and men performed traditional dances with a variety of costume changes. The knife dance was impressive but the fire twirling was what thrilled me the most- I have long been intrigued by watching the flicker of its dance. The finale is on the beach and without ruining it ,let’s say it was totally riveting and a spectacular visual.


To the strains of Isa Lei – The Fijian Farewell Song, our dinner show ended and we headed back to our buses via another trip in the island ferry.

It was a little unnerving wondering how the trip would be, aware we had seen no navigational poles but had seen tree stumps exposed in the rivers while on the daylight leg. The light turned out to be from someone sitting up on the roof with a large torchlight beam. A little concerning at first, but YOLO. The trip with the sparkling star sky canvas and the roaming floodlight beam added to the adventure.

Would thoroughly recommend this to Fijian visitors. It was an amazing evening! Money well spent 😀

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Old, new, different

I’m really enjoying my time being dictated by me now rather than work driven. I’ve had a chance to read and now I’m taking time to write.

This Christmas was a new experience for me. It was the first where both my kidults no longer live in the family home. They have spread their wings and I must admit I’m proud of the responsible, caring adults they have become- not that I expected less 🙂 This year Christmas was organised around sharing their time with their new families too. Traditions were broken but new events filled the spaces.

The changes started Christmas Eve. As my elderly FIL had decide he would do Christmas with friends at his retirement home ( rather than our home), my husband and his brother visited him Christmas Eve. This meant I had the opportunity to hold the tv remote and chose to watch the carols broadcast from interstate ( Melbourne). By the time the carols ended it was too late to watch our traditional DVD of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

We kept our traditional Christmas breakfast going of pancakes and berries then set up the table filled with nibbles, in anticipation of the kidult visits. We were all here for that then my daughter and her partner left to visit his family. After lunch my son and his partner left to do more family visits leaving my husband and his brother watching ( what I’d call uninteresting) DVDs and me curled up in my ‘forbidden room’ reading and playing with my ( well my kids’ but I’m minding them) pets.
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It turned out to be a relaxing day. I love traditions and must admit the thought of changes had bothered me. However I focused less on the preparation and presentation and more on time with the family. It was especially magical having my kids here, watching them both in a new light. I think this day made me really understand what I had been parenting for. I know I will always have that role ( in some minor way) but on this day it truly felt like friends – my best friends all together. I always thought my best Christmases were those watching my kids open sacks brimming with every new toy known to Santa. Maybe it’s a thing about getting older but the best gift I received this Christmas was love.
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                                                                                  My family :))
In the true tradition of Christmas in my home wasn’t really gone. Our tradition is spending time together, it’s just taken me a while to work it out. The other activities are the trimmings on the tree- and I won’t dispute they really add the edge to the tree 🙂
Christmas night, when the tables were cleared, dishwasher was churning away, the lounges back in place, my husband and I watched National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. We still recited most of it and laughed before parts happened. The dog snored peacefully at my feet and the cat…well she was off on her own, relishing the peace of the night.

What traditions do you follow at this time of the year? Have they been added to or changed with time? Any you just couldn’t imagine going without?


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Rush the mall and buy the shops out …falalalalalalalala

Christmas stress
I ‘penned’ this after reading this blog post on mybrownpaperpackages.com .

Christmas… I know it’s coming for a whole year so why then am I scrambling to get organised just 3 days out from the event? Truth is I enjoy the rush, I’m the type of person who works best under pressure.

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My last minute dashes are chaotic to others but to me they are stress free. I must admit I love the thrill of arriving early to get parking. I feel a sense of smug. I choose my car space so I can just drive out after my busy purchasing rather than reversing out trying to avoid pedestrians and (by that time ) illegally parked cars making it more than a challenge to leave.

 

 

 

Yesterday my arrival was timed perfectly. I glided around the shopping centre, my only list the names of my family and I hold that safe in my head. This year it’s gifts only for my immediate family. For the rest of the family it will be the getting together (sometime between mid December until mid January). With families spread and the circle widened as children become adults, this is the only way we can accommodate things.

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This event is meant to signify joy but if the faces and antics of many are what we judge I’d say the significance of the event is being overlooked…big time!! People glare angrily as they push past, curse loudly in queues, snatch rudely to select a product and ensure their frown lines get a really great workout.

Me, I smile a lot, wish people a Merry Christmas as I wait in lines and enjoy the opportunity to chat with friends as I bump ( sometimes literally) into them in my travels. Most of them are happy to stop for a chat but to some they are on a mission and sadly being friendly isn’t what this season brings out in them.

Maybe I’m getting old but I believe the best and perfect gift is time…time to enjoy shopping if you want to buy gifts , time to enjoy selecting the food you want to share with your loved ones and most importantly time spent with those loved ones creating and reliving the memories. Christmas seems to be an exercise in irony for many.

Can’t wait until tomorrow (Christmas Eve) to join the lines at the supermarket for food for my family. I’ll be there ‘crack of dawn’. You will recognise me by my huge smile and pleasant conversations :))

So, while I’m the calm , yet last minute organiser , just watch my stress levels on the day. Oh did I tell you I’m a perfectionist in presentation? Will hold that for another post.

 


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Thank you Anna Jarvis

Googling Mother’s Day I learned that today is the centenary anniversary of the first official Mother’s Day. I read on the National Geographic story about how Anna Jarvis (its ‘founder’) was inspired to have this occasion to celebrate her mother’s life. For this reason it’s written in the singular form – Mother’s.
“ It wasn’t to celebrate all mothers. It was to celebrate the best mother you’ve ever known—your mother—as a son or a daughter.”

Anna_jarvis Anna Jarvis –Creative Commons
U.S. President Woodrow Wilson officially set aside the second Sunday in May in 1914 for the holiday. And so it was… from that year on.
Unfortunately every so often the calendar is cruel to me. It turns itself so the second Sunday of May, that should be my celebration day as a mother, coincides with my husband’s birthday. Today the planets aligned to cause this phenomenon.
Double celebration you may be thinking – no it’s more like ‘Who draws the short straw on their celebration’. It certainly meant greater juggling when I first became a mum and my mum was alive. Like Christmas, we began a new tradition of ignoring dates. Mother’s Day became ‘A Sunday in May’. As the kids grew it became ‘A Day in May that didn’t coincide with children’s sport or a birthday’– though both birthdays and Mother’s day became insignificant in this period. Now we have added into the equation kids that work shifts.
But we still have birthday cake together, small gifts and most of all time together even if it’s in the evening. It feels like Mother’s day every day to me as I do have great kidults. I am so proud of who they have grown to be and the relationship we have. I think Anna Jarvis would approve of our celebration style.

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The chrysanthemum always reminds me of Mother’s Day. We grew these at home and had large bunches in the house. When I had my kids they used to give me a bunch purchased at a roadside stall from a local grower. Today I have a small pot of them on my dining table. I’m going to give it a go at growing them in my garden.


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Guaranteed Pan Envy!

Tonight I cooked dinner. Nothing so special in that I hear your mind thinking .  But, picture the scene…Oven – long dead; Stove top – one working hotplate; Enthusiasm – ZERO .

Typical conversation starts with my daughter. It’s only us tonight, my son’s gone to dinner with his girlfriend, and my husband’s gone to dinner with his dad. We list the take away choices only to find we are now at the point where (due to overkill) we turn our noses up at every variety of take away. We decide on Fettuccine Carbonara something we both enjoy.

New dilemma…Which sauce brand did we like (most weren’t to our liking). My daughter then utters those words that usually see me dive for the nearest take away menu and rapidly start phoning an order – “Can you make real carbonara from scratch?”

For some odd reason (Am I running a temperature? Am I delirious? ) I see myself calmly opening my iPad and googling a recipe. How hard could it be? I start reading the recipes with her and she discovers most contain eggs ( a dislike of hers), usually I just omit reading such ingredients but the word had slipped out too quickly and no way could I swallow it back just as she wouldn’t swallow a dish with 3 eggs in it.

Then I remembered the recipe a work colleague had given me and his dish was always tasty (yes I’d conned him to bring me lunch leftovers when he’d cooked this for dinner the evening before). Off I went to the supermarket armed with a mental note of ingredients. Although it only needed fettuccine, cream, bacon, mushrooms, onions, shallots and garlic somehow or other my trolley also featured frozen dessert pies of several flavours, Cornettos in a 4 box (Ice cream in a wafer cone) and some vanilla ice cream.

It all turned out too easy! I cooked the fettuccine to perfection using the method I gained from a favourite TV show (not Master chef or My kitchen Rules but rather Honey Boo Boo ) of tossing a piece of pasta onto a cupboard – if it sticks it’s cooked. Still only using the one hotplate that works , I sautéed (I speak the cooking lingo lol)onions with bacon then added mushrooms. I stirred this over a low heat (well, like I had much option on the hotplate) then added the cream, garlic and shallots. After simmering for a few minutes I tossed the fettuccine into the pan and we had FETTUCCINE CARBONARA!! I must admit while it looked inviting my daughter and I were somewhat hesitant in our first mouthful. The look of amazement on her face was priceless. It tasted fantastic!

Maybe now I have a signature main dish and dessert (rainbow layered cake). Better start working on an entrée.

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carb fett

And RAINBOW CAKE cake


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Good from bad

For my regular visitor you know I was wishing the last year away from the moment it arrived. Such is the life of a triskaidekaphobic. Last year I watched the year heralded in, viewing fireworks from Sydney on TV in the company of my husband and a few friends. I made a promise to myself then and there, vowing I would see this year out with a bang in some special way, which I did. At the time I was secretly planning to do this in Sydney which I hadn’t done since welcoming 2000.

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As the year progressed I attributed every bad event to this number. On my home front to name a few, my son injured his knee, my daughter seemed to have a series of throat and chest infections as did I, our puppy was hospitalised twice – once ill, the other due to a paralysis tick. My niece had an insect bite requiring hospital treatment as the reaction was extreme. Then, as the year almost disappeared, my father in law took a tumble resulting in horrendous injuries and bleeding within his lung and almost 4 weeks later he is just moving into a rehab hospital. I also watched my friends face tragedies of illness and injury to their loved ones, marriages dissolving, families breaking down, jobs lost. The country was ravaged by fires, floods, storms and in November a TORNADO even ripped through Hornsby ( a suburb of Sydney!!). Oh and we can’t forget the shambles of the federal politics either!

Yes, these things happen in life but my sensitive to the year made them seem bigger and somehow almost expected. Then, as the individual and national event lists climbed, others began joining me in saying the year was a bad one, adding fuel to my belief .

But, it wasn’t all bad ( thank goodness). Good seems to have a way of out shining bad. My kidadults had a happy year. My son enjoyed the opportunity to branch out in his job, my daughter had a successful study year and they both had some great holidays away. My kids are always my happiness. I made some new friendships meeting totally by chance. My sister found out she is to become a grandma and a dear friend became a grandma only days before the year end ( trust me 2013 dabbled its finger here making the pregnancy so hard for my friend’s daughter – but good still did reign supreme). My sister in law got engaged and bought a new home with her fiancé.

And, for me, I decluttered my home something I had never been able to achieve before and got rid of my clothes replacing them with 3 sizes smaller ones ( not sure this is a positive on the bank front though as I can now buy so many extra clothes hahahaha). I thank 2013 for these two achievements. I felt I the year was controlling everything and as a controller I had to find something I could hold strong to.

And so, as the clock struck midnight on Hamilton Island ( yes, I achieved my goal of being somewhere special) I literally waved that year out while shouting “Begone 2013! Shoo! You aren’t welcome anymore! “. Auld Lang Syne was played and I don’t deny I had tears in my eyes. Those around me were too caught up in their own celebrations to care ( as they should be) and if someone was watching I’m sure they thought I had just over-imbibed. I was drunk, but not on alcohol. Rather I was drunk on the elation my family, friends and I had struggled through and made it on the flip side and my tears were ones of joy.

Shadows of 2013. See us on the brick wall 🙂 

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With a salute 2013 moved away making room for new beginnings

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Welcome 2014, here’s hoping for a year full of positive achievements and much happiness for everyone.


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Christmas Day and Boxing Day

Christmas Day for me was very joyful.

I was the only one up from 6:45 am until about 8:45am. I used this time to get things ready for breakfast and lunch. When everyone was up we sat in the forbidden room to exchange gifts. We all write lists of gifts we would like before Christmas then we all choose from them. I always like to add a few ‘surprises’ not on the lists to the gifts. The animals got gifts too. Sheldon got a Santa sack full of doggy goodies while Blacky got a new Christmas outfit.

imageBlacky in her outfit

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Sheldon thrashing a duck toy

Then we moved to the dining room for our traditional breakfast , pancakes within strawberries and blueberries with lashings of butter and soaked in maple syrup and an assortment of juices. This year we added bacon to the menu and I took time to make an effort on setting the table.

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The kitchen bench was laid out with a variety of cheeses, pastes, cracker biscuits, nuts ( from the Christmas Eve mad dash) and lollies. Our guests were just three – my kid’s girlfriend and boyfriend and my brother in law. My BIL brought us a lot of interesting cheeses. Already full we squashed more food in for lunch.

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The kids went with their gf and bf to visit their families and my husband and brother went to visit their dad in hospital at around 3:30 pm leaving me in a quiet room that had been filled with laughter and talking. The place seemed empty but I enjoyed the solitude , a chance to read then have a little nap until my husband returned home 4 hours later.

We watched four holidays and then our home filled with laughter and talk again as my son and his gf and her parents and siblings popped by. This us the spirit of Christmas to me, lots of talking, laughter and love.

We awoke to Boxing Day. Again I was up hours before everyone and created my traditional ham cheese and tomato toasted sandwich washed down with coffee with cream. I love leftovers! I was reading about why we have Boxing Day and found there was no real reason given consistently . However it’s St Stephen’s Day in Ireland and apparently their tradition is that people dress up in old clothes, wear straw hats and travel from door to door with fake wrens (previously real wrens were killed) and they dance, sing and play music. This tradition is less common than it was a couple of generations ago apparently ( one can only ponder why hahaha).

I’m exhausted from all the preparation and the constant full tummy from eating. It’s time girl me to go to bed and read for a whole ( if my eyes will stay open).

How were your celebrations?


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Christmas Eve

Today is Christmas Eve
And what have I done?
I’ve shopped for the groceries
I had lots of fun.

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I started real early
I queued for seafood
I filled up two trolleys
Was in a good mood.

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Then  I had breakfast
With my helping son
We ate eggs and bacon
Our work was all done!

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And then time for cleaning,
I vaccuumed and scrubbed,
I sparkled the windows,
I gumptioned the tub!

Out came the presents,
The paper and cards,
The scissors and tinsel,
Finding the tape end was hard.

 

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Gift wrapped they looked special

Adorning the tree

They add to the magic

Of all we can see!

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I thought I had finished

But as the shops almost shut

Again I was shopping
Buying more dips and nuts!!!

Lucky this year I broke with tradition and started gift shopping yesterday!

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas !


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Oh Christmas Tree , Oh Christmas Tree

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in my home …finally . However, this is is a HUGE variation from our norm.

Last year as per usual we had our traditional tree in the forbidden room. It is festooned with multiple coloured lights , gold and red baubles, matching bows, tinsel and the tinsel thread they call icicles. Least it did have icicles until the cat decided she liked the taste of them.

Enjoying tasty tinsel icicles.

Enjoying tasty tinsel icicles.

This year Sheldon the dog is into everything new . I have visions of returning home after work, to a broken tree, shattered baubles, chewed branches and a sick puppy so we have changed our decorating style somewhat this year. Last year he still had a healthy respect for the world.

Watching the Christmas tree 2012

Watching the Christmas tree 2012

So anticipating the worst, I’ve made some adaptions.

We purchased a new tree for our forbidden room this Christmas. It’s small enough to stand on the dining table and is decorated with gold and silver baubles. Usually we have a battery operated train that runs around on a track beneath the big Christmas tree. This year I bought a small train with carriages being the words HO HO HO. This one keeps a count of the days left until Christmas. It goes nowhere.

We also usually light up our house Griswold style. Our claim to fame is one year we actually won a prize of a large gift voucher to a Christmas light warehouse, coming 2nd in a local radio ‘Best Lights ‘ competition. Apparently a neighbour nominated us. But this year, with my FIL having an accident, my husband hasn’t the time now, to climb the roof to smother adorn it with lights.

Determined not to be totally light- free and not wanting to have inviting ‘Gnaw on me please’ cords at animal level, I found some battery operated lights. I have I draped them on the little tree and a few on our windows…a poor display but better than nothing in my opinion.

 

 

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Least packing it all up in January is going to be an easy job .

How do you decorate your home at Christmas?


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Modus Operandi

I love Christmas. It’s a time of family for me, a time to be together, laugh and eat excessively. I love the Christmas lights at night, the house being dressed up, singing Christmas Carols and the excitement and magic this all creates.

I was reading a blog I follow Part Time Monster and the post was about shopping efficiently at Christmas with some great ideas. It got me thinking about the way Christmas preparation has changed over the years for me.

                     So, just how do I prepare to create Christmas?

I’m a Christmas Eve girl. I love nothing more than battling the stores, smiling and greeting those other shoppers (many wearing a grimace) as they pass by me.

When my kids were younger I had to help Santa out in the toy department. As we never start Christmas organisation until December (due to my son’s November birthday) the first few days of December were a mad rush to fill the Santa List. I would scour the stores after work and on the first weekends of December and always found what was needed, even if it meant driving from shopping centre to shopping centres.

 One year stands in my mind as I hunted down Bratz doll heads. My daughter wanted Yasmin ( the princess of Bratzs)  but as a popular gift, I was having trouble finding it. I found Chloe first (blonde head) and decided a Bratz head in the wardrobe was worth two in a store and so purchased it and popped it up in the wardrobe (I’d return it for a refund if I found Yasmin). Hit the stores again still searching for Yasmin but found Sascha ( dark brown hair). Bought her and popped her up on the top wardrobe shelf. Again I trudged the eternal Yasmin search and found Jade ( black hair) – yes by now my wardrobe was an eerie place to walk into! This was when I began phoning frantically, finding Yasmin in a store far away. Hit the road purchased her with great delight (stashed her on arrival home in the wardrobe) and began the ‘returning of the Bratz Head’ pilgrimage.

Yasmin Bratz Head          yasmin                                            

                   ( You can imagine the creepy wardrobe loaded with these )

 Fortunately for me, Santa never visited again, so precision in gift choice was replaced with gifts purchased from a very long list. When Santa gave the gifts the children were very specific with their wants. Let’s face it, this man was magical so how could he not find a Yasmin or a Star Wars toy or a Thunderbird Island or a Barbie car.

And so my Christmas Eve food AND gift extravaganza was born. I only do a cold Christmas fare and so doing it on Christmas Eve seemed logical (it’s a true shopaholic’s delight in my opinion). Christmas Eve tradition started at literal crack of dawn. Our local Woolworths opened then and so I would push one trolley around and my kids would push another, loading them with all delights from seafood to ham to salads and treats. After that, with the cold food in eskies, we would have a quick breakfast at Maccas and then head home to organise the food into cupboards and fridges. I’d trek back to the stores then (this is still before 9 am so parking wasn’t an issue ) alone to purchase gifts. I lie a little about doing it all on Christmas Eve because sometimes I would purchase my children’s main gifts the day before. But, it was Christmas Eve for everyone else.

Picture 799Lunch Feast

I still do it all Christmas Eve and I must admit I love the excitement – I always work best with a close deadline. My daughter gave up the food pilgrimage two years after Santa stopped visiting, in preference for extra sleep. My son and I still do the run, but the Maccas breakfast is replaced with a nice café one and then he drives off to work and I head home to unpack it.

Then in the evening I sit wrapping gifts before the whole family gather to watch Griswold’s Christmas Vacation. We are ‘Griswold’ in our own rights. 

P1010091 (2) These are my pets dressed up for Christmas 2012

What’s your modus operandi for Christmas preparation?