Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve... Fireworks

Tonight is the night.  People all over the world will countdown to midnight, kiss someone and sing Auld Lang Syne.  Australia will be among the first in the world to celebrate New Years as the clock strikes midnight tonight.  Sydney New South Wales, will have one of the first fireworks displays of the year 2012 (link here for info).  There is a great deal of excitement hanging about.  There are many (some would say silly) Aussie's and tourists alike camping out in the harbour in order to stake out and hold a perfect viewing position.  I can't see why, but that's me. 

We have the Chinese to thank for the spectacle of fireworks.  They were the first known to "discover" the explosive properties of bamboo and use it in celebrations.  According to pyrouniverse.com it is estimated that the first fireworks dates back to approximately 200 BC.  The story goes that dry fire fuel ran short and someone threw on a chunk or two of green bamboo (you don't put green wood on a fire, even I know that).  Because of the relatively unique way that bamboo grows there is a lot of air pockets and sap inside the trunks.  When it heats up, it makes a loud sound that could be described as a "BANG" and the light show in the fire is a sight to see.  The loud noise is obviously scary and the Chinese began to use pao chuk (bursting bamboo) to scare away evil spirits at celebrations such as New Years and weddings. 

Eventually fireworks as we know them today were developed with the use of gunpowder (another Chinese discovery/invention around 700AD.  The focus was on the loud noise made by the cannons to scare away evil spirits and, in warfare, to harm the enemy.  These days the emphasis is on the light show and millions of dollars is spent on the visual elements added to the rockets and the timing of the explosions to create an artistic display (more about this). 

Fireworks for the Sydney displays for 2009-2010 NYE celebrations cost in excess of $5 million.  I wonder how much it will cost this year.  I also wonder what "carbon footprint" is created by fireworks displays and the media circus surrounding them. 

On a lighter note, I wonder if they will ever invent silent fireworks?  The celebratory light show without the unnecessary noise and fright. 

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! 
:) M

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Chewing Gum

December 28, 1869: Chewing Gum was patented. 

I had no idea that chewing gum was so old.  I wonder what the inventor was thinking as he walked to the patent office.  Did he imagine that his lovely little invention would become such an annoying part of the school routine? "Please line up, put away your phone and remove your gum before entering the classroom." 

I had a teacher who, if he saw us chewing, would look us squarely in the eye, point at us and say, "swallow".  He would then stand and stare until he was satisfied that whatever was in our mouth was making its way to our stomach.  A teacher at my school stands at the door with a bin and instructs students to spit it out before they enter.  Quite a sight to see. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Day.... Christmas Day.... Christmas Day

All I want for Christmas...

I know that nothing is perfect, but if it is possible to have a perfect Christmas I had one yesterday. We went to church together, we had lunch at a restaurant and we opened presents at home.  Everyone was home in time for a nap and that was that.  :)

Okay, the restaurant... we were welcomed by a peppy little teenager with a santa hat and we ate to our little hearts content.  Then Santa came! :D He handed out presents for the kids and I got a photo with him and he hugged me.  I know, I shouldn't be gushing, but I forgot how warm and fuzzy Santa is.  I finished flirting with Santa and then we had dessert. 

Back at home, we opened our presents and the kids played with balloons with their Grandma while my sister and I hung out on the lounge.  The kids got Dad a "bald mans' brush" it is a polishing cloth.  LOL
I think I must have got everything on my wishlist.  I have: new sheets, John Green books, dvds, a diary, Graeme Base books and the list goes on. 

My sister did something kind of outrageous.  She wrote to my all time favourite author, Nora Ephron and told her all about me.  She asked Nora if she could talk to me on the phone AND told her about my blog.  So, I guess I better step up my game. 

But more importantly, I had a peaceful day with my family and I talked to my bestie.  So, there was my perfect Christmas. Food, Family and Friends. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

For Christmas Eve... A letter to Santa

Poor Santa, he must get millions of letters each year and to top it all off, this year his flight over Australia is going to require some giant kind of rain coat.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

M :)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I said I would show you one day

Today, you get to see my "gift box" in action.  Sort of. 

 
The first two pictures show my gift wrapping essentials.  These are the main staples of my gift wrapping box.  Unfortunately my rolls of wrapping paper don't fit in any of my boxes so they are located in a different cupboard.  So here is the list of essentials:
  • pencil case with scissors and an assortment of pens
  • sticky tape (with dispenser)
  • spare rolls of sticky tape
  • gift tags (stickers and cards)
  • curling ribbon and bows (various colours and sizes)
  • blank birthday cards
  • blank cards with a range of colours and pictures
  • small thank you cards
  • Christmas cards
  • sympathy cards
  • wrapping paper (for all occasions as well as generic colours and patterns)
Remember the key to a good gift organising box is having everything in the same place and accounting for all occasions.  I use this box all year round.  There are specific Christmas items as well as all the other stuff. 


 
The pictures above show my plastic crate where everything goes.  Also, you can see some of the extra things that I keep in the crate as standby gifts.  Some of the gifts I purchased for specific people, but bought an extra one or two, just in case.  Perfect standby gifts (or items that are easy to purchase in bulk and store) include:
  • books (Dr Seuss is a favourite with the kids) that come in packs of four or five for $15-$20.  Keep an eye out for the specials.
  • monster hand tattoos (temporary tattoos for the kids, sort of like a hand puppet) are about $10 for a box of 8 and are available online.  These are perfect to buy in bulk to save on postage.
  • calendars, while these have a specific shelf life it is always good to buy an extra couple just in case there is someone you have forgotten.
  • bath gel or lotions.
  • stress balls (who doesn't need one of these)
  • slinkies (mini ones are cute and are great to bulk up a smaller kids gift)
  • small photo albums are especially good for new parents and even teachers.
  • some hidden cash, might just save the day if you need to purchase something at the last minute. 
I was talking to the BFF yesterday and said that it is too late to show off Christmas ideas and wrapping, as the organised people should be done by now.  I know I am.  But, you can set up a gift box anytime of year.  It is not necessary to fill it immediately, but as you find things pick them up and store them somewhere safe. 

Another important tip: make sure to clean out your box at least once a year.  Throw away any wrapping paper that is no longer pretty (or find another use for it).  Check use by dates on lotions or other perishables.  Make sure items are not broken.  Try to keep it tidy and neat (easier said than done) so that you are not caught in a gift crisis and find that your box is filled with useless bits of paper, broken trinkets or no sticky tape.  Oh the Horror.

Only a few days until Christmas. 














































































Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A few days before Christmas

The wrapping is almost done. 

I am about to go carolling with the muso's from church.  Old folks love us. I can't find my shoes.

The BFF is pacing the house waiting for her lift to the airport.  I think she is excited about leaving me for a week.  I can't think why. 

My neck hurts.

It is really hot.  Should I say, I AM really hot.

I have so much to tell you that I am having another one of those brain explosion episodes.  You know the ones, where I think my brain is going to explode as a result of the brilliance that is overflowing and bouncing in a desperate attempt to extricate itself from my person. 

Watch out... I think you might be in the splash zone. 

More later.  :)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas vs Holidays and Stupid Emails

Okay People, I'm a bit ticked off! 

I just received an email from my mother.  While, it is not all that unusual for an email from my mother to tick me off, this time it is not her fault.  I kid, I love my mum, she doesn't tick me off that often.  But today, the email she sent me did tick me off... a lot!

Apparently a big fancy news reader, Ben Stein from CBS gave the world a bit of a rant.  The subject of which, was about Christmas Trees, and how they are now being called "Holiday" trees.  Something tells me this is a bigger deal in the US than it is here in Australia.  Apparently it is a big kerfuffle because Jewish people celebrate Hanukka and then there are Muslim people and atheists and they might get offended.  I wonder if the calendar will begin calling it Holiday Eve?  But you know what, I don't care what you call the trees or the event itself and you probably don't care what I call it either.  Haven't we grown up about this stuff yet?

Anyway, my rant is not going to be about the Christmas or the Holiday debate.  My rant is really about stupid emails.  You see, Mr Stein gave his little speech on CBS Sunday Morning Show (I'm assuming only a few days ago) and now I am sitting at my laptop opening my emails and I read this.  Admittedly, I had the choice to stop reading and press the delete button.  But it came from my Mum who wouldn't waste my time, so I thought that maybe I should read to the end. 

But the bit at the end was what made me mad!

Mr Stein, started talking about how Christians don't send on these emails because they don't know what their friends believe and they don't want to offend anyone.  Then he said that "we" care more about what other people think of us, than what God thinks of us and then he sets a challenge:

Pass it on if you think it has merit.If not, then just discard  it.... no one will know you did.  But, if you discard this thought  process, don't sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is  in.

How dare you Mr Stein.  How dare you try to tell me that I am a lousy Christian because I don't agree with you.  I don't care about the name of the trees.  I feel that there are big issues in this world and if my friends want to discuss that with me, I am here to discuss it.  But, I will not fill their inboxes with propaganda.  I will not insult my Christian friends by demanding they pass on an email that happens to mention God. 

God loves everyone and we should too.  So, tonight I will pray for you.

To all my readers and the passersby,
I hope your day is wonderful.  I hope that whatever you are celebrating this week, you do it with family and with friends.  I hope that you are blessed and drawn closer to God.  I hope that you send happy emails to the people in your address book.  I hope that you have a good night's sleep in a safe place.  I hope so much more for you than a "happy holiday" I hope for you a happy lifetime. 
:)M

PS. Mr Stein, I suggest you get yourself a blog. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Wrights reach the sky

On 17 December 1903, the Wright brothers made their first flight.  Brothers, Orville and Wilbur had worked for a long time and must have had many faliures.  Unfortunately the brothers, while very famous, seem to be cast into the shadows.  They have acheived a great thing.  This Christmas season millions of people will use the mode of transport that has eventuated from that first flight of less than two hundred feet.  People will travel thousands of miles to visit family and friends on opposite sides of the world.  They will holiday in exotic destinations after sitting in an aeroplane, drinking soft drink and snacking on nuts. 

I wonder if the Wright brothers could ever have imagined the monumental change that their flying machine would make.  I am sure that they knew it was significant.  I am sure that they realised how they had truly defied gravity.  I am sure that they we incredibly proud of their acheivement.  But did they really know for sure that their little invention would change the world? 

People would have laughed at them.  People would have told them to stop wasting their time on childish dreams.  They would have been ignored.  But on 17 December 1903, they flew in their air and their dream came true.  It wasn't just a brilliant acheivement for themselves, but for all of mankind.

Christmas is celebrated all over the world.  It has changed the world considerable.  Christmas celebrations in themselves have changed considerably since the first celebration.  It occurs to me that the real ife characters of the Christmas story knew that they were part of something amazing.  Could they have imagined that the events of that special night would be told and retold again and again in hundreds of languages in hundreds of lands?  Could they have possibly understood the true magnitude of the night?

Let me get to the point.  We all have a part to play.  We can not possibly understand what a huge difference our little life may make.  So, never underestimate what you do, or how it can effect others.  At the same time, don't dwell on the consquences.  You can never know what a difference you can make, so don't try to predict it.  We all can make a difference! 

You may not invent an aeroplane, or give birth to the Son of God, but you just might do something amazing. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

More Cakes

Last time, for now.  :)

Marshmallow Frosting.  YUM

Mini Mouse is back.

Na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na, Elmo Cake.

Delightful or Dangerous? Shopping Online

This Christmas I have been converted; not to Christianity, that happened years ago.  I have been converted to Online Shopping.  A few years ago I purchased a few books online and have, on occasion, purchased a book or two via the internet and my visa debit card.  But, this year I have purchased quite a few gifts online.  I think I still purchased the majority of my gifts at real life shops as opposed to virtual ones. 

I love online shopping because I can find almost anything for almost anyone in my pj's.  I searched a number of jewellery and gift stores for a brooch for my Nan.  I couldn't find what I wanted, but a few quick searches online and I was able to find the perfect cubic zirconia silver brooch.  Better yet, it was an Australian store and was delivered to my front door within two days.  It was wrapped and under the tree with very little hassle. 

I also found some very cute 'hand puppet tattoos' for the kids.  I purchased three varieties for numbers 2-4 and Entropy (also an Aussie store) delivered them to the door as well.  No fuss.  As you can probably tell, I am very happy.  My feet are not sore, my hands are not swollen (well they are, but that is another story) and I didn't waste hours and hours searching shops and battling crowds to settle on a less than perfect gift simply so I could go home. 

So it seems that the online shopping is truly a delight.  Unfortunately, all good things seem to have a downside.  Online shopping comes with a number of safety concerns regarding credit card numbers and security settings.  There are ways around this for the ultra concerned shopper.  Other issues relate to postage and handling costs which, can be astronomical.  But these are nothing compared to the danger of impulse purchasing.  While people who do their grocery shopping online report that they are far less likely to buy unnecessary items such as magazines, I think gift shopping is different.  Spending money on the internet is as easy as the click of a button and it is easy to lose track of one's spending.  Everytime I bought something cute for a friend, I found at least two cute things I wanted for myself. 

So, if it is convenient, then jump online and click to your little heart's content.  But still follow my top tips for shopping trips (especially gift shopping).  Have a plan and a budget and stick to it.

:)M

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A great title title is One!

Tuesday, 13th December was the first birthday of "A great title" and we all know what birthday means.  CAKE. 

I see lots of photos of awesome cakes.  Some I would eat and some I would just like to look at for a long long time.  MMMMM Cake :)

Baaa-ram-ewe

Monsters Inc?

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Ding Dong the witch is dead.

Books you can eat.  I'm in heaven.

Hehehehe

Just Keep swimming, just keep swimming.

Don't Forget to Be Awesome.  A nerdfighter cake. 

Yes, this really is an Xbox controller made of cake. 

Yes, this is a cake too.

This is a cake tribute to some computer game. 

I love Ronald Weasly and he should have millions of cakes made in his honour.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Faith can be funny

I have heard quite a few jokes about Noah, but I heave never heard this one.  Gotta laugh. :)

Friday, December 9, 2011

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!!!

Today it's my birthday!  I am 28.  There are some wonderful things about a birthday so close to Christmas.  There are also some not so wonderful things about a Christmas birthday.  However, there are plenty of people who have it worse than me.  For example: my aunty and my BFF were both born on Christmas Eve.  It wasn't the same Christmas Eve obviously. 

I decided that today I was not going to do anything that I didn't want to do.  Just for today anyway.  But even that doesn't quite work.  I have work stuff bouncing about in my head.  I don't want to think about work... I am not at work.  I am on holidays.  So whenever work stuff gets into my head I get rather ticked off.  But then I think about something else... like I'm on holidays!  or It's my birthday! 

I am having a lovely day!  I have had some calls from friends and family which has been great.    I have been reflecting a bit on the past year and I will share about that another day.

Sigh... holidays. 

:)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A picture or two

I love the internet and the amazing images you can find there. 






Friday, December 2, 2011

My Report Cards are FINISHED!!!

Yes!  I finally finished them and only a few hours after the deadline.  I think this is the first time ever that I have not submitted my reports ahead of schedule.  Cest la vie!

I have a few more pics for you below.  The next week is going to be hectic.  So you may not see me around much.  But there are some things coming up which I look forward to with great excitement and A Great Title will be celebrating them, so stay tuned. 
:) nap time :)

M