High Fives: Winter Tunes

I don’t know why, but I habitually purchase more albums in winter. I get a great thrill out of owning a cd rather than downloading – probably because it’s so rare.

Below are five albums I have put in the car and listened to from beginning to end and on repeat, as they compliment the weather and the cold nights so well.

 

Cloud Control – Bliss Release

 

‘Meditation Song’ sounds so familiar, almost like I’ve turned on something that used to play in dad’s garage when I was a kid. I love it when songs do that, even when you hear them for the first time – they take you back to the time it reminds you of. ‘Gold Canary’ summons my bellowing vocals and I actually feel like it’s dangerous to drive to this song for fear that I will clap along instead of steering. My other favourite is ‘My fear #2’ – a melancholy melody that makes you close your eyes – also dangerous.

 

Bon Iver – Bon Iver

 

Justin Vernon has done it again. Not like we didn’t know he would. The first time I heard Michicant on the radio it was raining and subsequently I got goose bumps from the two combined. It’s the best thing I’ve heard since Roslyn.

 

City and Colour – Little Hell

 

Just such a beautiful voice. I am forever thankful Dallas Green did something so completely opposite to Alexisonfire (which is probably the only band of that genre that I ever gave my full attention to purely because I’d heard Save Your Scissors so long ago. Kudos to you, sir). He seems to have grown a bit; Little Hell is generously magnificent, like you’ve walked in to a grand old house and you’re instantly welcome.

Jamie Woon – Mirror Writing

 

It’s sort of a despondent beat, I find myself tapping my feet to but pondering my years at the same time. It actually blows my mind that he’s supported Amy Winehouse. Dear God man. This thought aside, the song Blue Truth is a really eclectic mix of soft melodys and an almost edge of R&B, and then an almost Middle Eastern ambiance. All I can say is it’s soo good.

Foals – Total Life Forever

 

Blue Blood makes my blood turn blue. It’s enchanting. The whole album is. 2 Trees brings that feeling of when the party’s over and you’re home and warm but all you want to do is go back to the night. Maybe because I did come back to my warm home after a party and put this song on, but it will forever remind me of that.

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High Fives: Winter Wonderfuls

Winter can be absolutely ghastly. There are things I thoroughly detest about it, namely getting out of my warm bed in the morning and then going through the same horrific departure with my shower. But there are few things that I do adore. Here are my top 5:


1.

Winter Sun

A sunny winter morning, preferably a Sunday, where one has slept in. It is such a treat soaking up winter rays with a cuppa tea and the Sunday paper. I love feeling the sun warm your skin after when the morning can be so brutally chilly! Team with a pair of ugg boots (which one should never, I repeat, NEVER leave the house in) and a cosy knit and you’ve got your morning sorted.

2.

Baking

My humble abode is on par with Baker’s Delight in winter. Apple pies, warm moist muffins (I can’t believe I just said the M word… and I don’t mean muffins), scones with jam and cream…ahhhhh. But there is one thing I look forward to every chilly June. And that is My Mother’s Sticky Date Pudding. I cannot stress the brilliance that is this pud. I was fortunate enough to experience it in double quantities this year, as we used it to celebrate my brother’s winter 21st birthday. This is one of the only dishes in my 23 years of life that give me a true foodgasm… all the other times I’m just faking it. Recipe to come!

3.

Tea Not Made Yourself

When someone brings you an unexpected cup of tea to warm you up. I’m a huge tea drinker, I drink more tea than water. So that feeling when you’re all comfy and cosy and someone delivers you a steaming hot cuppa… well it’s just dandy! My darling companion bought me this one and it brings a smile to my face every time I sip from it.

4.

Winter Cuddles

If there’s no one appropriate to snuggle your pet/pillow/blankie will suffice.

the same tree two weeks apart

5.

Leaves on the Ground.

It just looks so pretty, and I love that crunching sound when you walk over a scattered pile of them. Winter can be absolutely beautiful.

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He Who Rejects Change is the Architect of Decay

I have just been spread all over life’s sandwich like tomato chutney, had some succulent ham and salad thrown on top of me, squished between two pieces of deliciously fresh grain bread, shoved into life’s mouth and chewed by life’s sharp yet impeccably manicured teeth, swallowed, bathed in life’s oesophagus, churned and squished in life’s stomach, and eventually been shat out of life’s anus like an almighty quantity of excremental factors, defecation, faeces, poo, shit.

Before I started talking about poop that sounded like a top-notch sandwich. It even made me a little peckish. But the journey from sandwich to poo is an excursion I have recently endeavoured. Not a smelly poo, don’t worry.

I do realise this is a ridiculous analogy. (Get it…?…Anal?)

But I have recently split with my partner of (nearly) five years, quit my job of four, cancelled a year – long awaited trip / move to London, thrown myself into a new career working ridiculous hours… and sometimes the sandwich looks so good. Looking back on things after they’ve been and gone can give it a positive light. Like how people are forever forgiving those goddamn 3am kebabs that make them viciously ill.

No doubt this lack of sandwich has significantly increased my consumption of alcohol (also thanks to a job in media you’re basically payed to drink – amazing), crushed every plans of diet and exercise, violently abolished all commitments to family and friends with a happy smiley face – instead I’m a grumpy, grouchy old woman pointing her finger at the youth of today. I not so suddenly feel so suddenly old.

It appears I’m not alone in this series of humungous changes. It has been pointed out to me that from here on in, life is just change after change after change. It is very easy to get used to regularity; to be humble in the same trip to the same job, seeing the same people, doing the same things, eating the same sandwich. I feel like the decisions we’re making now have immeasurable impacts on our future. And how sudden these impacts can become evident.

I do have this hovering ambition to grab life by the balls at the moment, but, pessimistically, I don’t quite know how to do it! There is a lot I take for granted, particularly the company of my very wonderful chums, my family, the beauty of the city I live in and the things I have access to; my health and happiness… but naturally we always want more.

This feeling of wanting more or seeking change is seen by many as selfish, but I think if you stop wanting more then you’ve lost your desire to live.

Bowie knew it.

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iFine Dining.

I would like you to consider the process one embarks on each time they assemble themselves for a nice meal out on the town.

  1. You greet your companions / dining associates
  2. Perform the awkward Rebecca Black fashioned which-seat-do-I-take dance,
  3. Park yourself down with an ‘aaaahhh isn’t this nice’ and mutter other related comments on the décor
  4. Place your napkin on your lap, not forgetting that recent orange-curry-white- jeans incident
  5. Pull out your phone from your handbag / pocket / jacket and delicately place it in a position where if it should vibrate / ring / light up / alert you of any changes in the atmosphere – you will be able to respond, post haste.

Don’t deny it. I do it. You do it. The fellow three tables down does it. The couple over in the corner aren’t even looking at each other – they’re checking themselves in on facebook. Example: “OMG this shnitzel is like, a-m-a-z-i-n-g….@The Pub.” And half an hour later, “Sooooo drunk, schnit was a bad choooice @The Pub.”

Eff off.

But,  your head nodding in agreement with the annoyingness that is checking in to eat schnitzel confirms and verifies my point: we need to put the iPhone DOWN. Soon every eatery’s table in town will possess be a position especially designed for the accommodation of your particular communications device. It goes fork, knife, spoon, phone. Scan the mennnuuuu, scroll through Twitteeerrrrrr, prepare witty retort to Facebook comments, respond to Words With Friends, aaaannnd finally decide what to order the fourth time poor waitress has approached you.

I’m not advocating a Logies-style Twitter / mobile ban in all restaurants or anything, my question is more along the lines of this: Why can’t we just be happy with the experience we’re having at the present time, instead of needing to tell the world what we’re doing before we’ve even done it?

I’m not the only one who thinks table manners are of high importance. See here, my wonderful friend at Love That Red agrees.

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Goodness Gracious Me

I beg of you, your pardon.

 

If you don’t mind, it would bring me much joy if you’d let me enlighten you about the importance, nay, the magnitude of the concept of manners.

mãnn’er n. social bearing, compliance with conventions of behaviour.

I cannot stress how valuable a good set of manners is. I truly believe that – being a model of politeness myself – a set of manners has given me a more contented perspective on societal issues. It is stupendous to have a door held open for you, implausible to have your drink poured first at the table, absolutely marvellous to have someone say ‘thankyou’ when you do something for them. I may be talking to you, you hoon drivers – for eff’s sake, if I let you in my lane, I’ve sat with my foot on the effing brake out of the goodness of my heart, GIVE ME AN EFFING WAVE. THANKYOU.

A few nights ago, some dear friends and myself were subject to a ghastly exposé of social etiquette at the hands of a grumpy and grouchy waitress. I know being a waitress can sometimes suck, not that I’ve got the experience to support this. But as a person who has been in customer service since I was legally allowed to work, I do believe that being polite can make yours and your customers experience far less painful. Nevertheless, our evening went by with service that was unquestionably rude, to the point of being offensive. And we paid for it.

Perhaps the concept of manners should be legally enforced. A further punishment than the simple tut tut’s that a nanna may mutter in the presence of an unmannered perpetrator. In my opinion, pleases, thankyous and you’re welcomes are invaluable.

Ahem. I am a lady, therefore you should let me order my drink first. (I don’t really think that, but it would be nice.) BUT if you are a gentleman, you should indeed offer any lady / the disabled / the old hunchbacked lady / miss pregnant with a pram the seat on the train. I actually saw this happen. Scene: Macquarie University station, Sydney. Enter, Miss Pregnant With A Pram. All seats with available pram room are occupied. Not   one   person   stood   up. My mouth almost hit that disgustingly unhygienic and likely to be contaminated excuse for a floor. It made me realise how much we as human beings suck at polite behaviour. When did we stop caring about each other?

Being polite is good for your heart. Even Oprah said so here. Being kind makes you feel better about yourself, and people are therefore more likely to show you respect. Why would you treat people any other way?

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A Ramble of Hugs & Cupcakes

Now, I’m not an outstandingly huge advocate of any form of affection. (For proof of this, see here.) In fact, quite often I shy away from it unless I’ve got a few drinks under the belt. But there are occasions that call for a big fat bear hug. A display of love, comfort and friendship. I’m not particularly good at hugs, which is something I’m not proud of. I am one who prefers to offer other things that demonstrate my fondness. For example, today I made my dear mother cupcakes. Which she will probably hate me for.

But it got me thinking, how effective something like a hug can be. My heart has just felt shattered seeing the most horrific images of the recent natural disasters. To have your whole life literally swept away from you or crushed, your friends and family, your home, your pets, your belongings, heck – I get upset when I can’t get the internet working on my darn phone, I just cannot imagine the gravity of the position these poor people are in.

It really has made me reconsider the magnitude of any of my own tiny problems. My problems can mostly be bandaged with a cuddle. Suffice to say, of course I’ve donated my ‘love’ (i.e. moolah) to several charities. [send your love to Japan here, to Christchurch here, to Queensland here] But it doesn’t really seem enough. There should be a way to send them a hug.

Off the somber subject, here is the delightful recipe to the cupcakes I offered my mother as a substitute for a hug.

Hazelnut Chocolate Cupcakes.

I’m not a huge fan of Nutella on toast. I’d eat it from the jar as a kid, which was a real no-no in my house. But wack it on a slice of Tip Top and you send me running. It does absolutely nothing for my appetite. However, I’ve never been to France. Apparently Nutella is enormously popular on anything from crepes to croissants. This I’d be up for. Mostly because I am more likely to trust what the French are doing to my plate than anyone else.

But this recipe is not from France, it happens to be taken from the beautiful Hummingbird Bakery cookbook, which my darling friend brought me back from London. And oh, my god, they are amazing. If I do say so myself.

You will need:

100g plain flour

20g cocoa powder

140g caster sugar

1 ½  teaspoons baking powder

a pinch of salt

40g butter, at room temperature

120ml whole milk

1 egg

120g chocolate hazelnut spread (such as Nutella)

about 36 whole, shelled hazelnuts to decorate

hazelnut and chocolate frosting:

250g icing sugar, sifted

80g unsalted butter, at room temperature

25ml of whole milk

80g hazelnut and chocolate spread (Nutella)

Makes 12

Preheat the oven to 170 °C

Put the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (I unfortunately do not own one of these so had to use my lame old electric whisk) and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined.

Slowly pour the milk into the flour mixture, beating well until all the ingredients are well mixed. Add the egg and beat well (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula).

Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until the sponge bounces back when touched. Leave the cupcakes to cook slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooking rack to cool completely.

When the cupcakes are cool, hollow out a small section in the centre of each one and fill with a dollop of hazelnut and chocolate spread.

For the hazelnut and chocolate frosting:

Beat the icing sugar and butter together, on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Turn the mixer down to a slower speed. Slowly pour in the milk, then when it is all incorporated, turn the mixer up to high speed. Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. The longer the frosting is beaten, the fluffier and lighter it becomes.

Stir in the hazelnut and chocolate spread by hand until evenly mixed into the frosting. When the cupcakes are cold, spoon the frosting on top and finish with about 3 hazelnuts per cupcake.

Perfect with a cup of black tea.

P.S. Speaking of hugs, remember this? Love it.

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What’s in a Valentine…

What I am about to say may come as a shock, as I happen to be notorious for being outrageously unromantic i.e. I cringe when poor Boyfriend attempts to convey any sort of affection, I loathe PDA’s, I think cupid is stupid, I despise those abhorrent pet names, I think a bunch of flowers is a waste of a bunch of money. Boyfriend and I don’t go out on dates for fear of partaking in the ‘couples convention’ and looking like those wanky swingers holding hands through the most unnecessary circumstances – for example, you do NOT need someone to hold your hand when you are riding escalator. Some people are on tight schedules and need to get to the next floor in a jiffy and your handholding is BLOCKING MY WAY.

This all said, I’m just going to put my bipolar opinion out there: I have a bit of a crush on Valentines Day. Not even Boyfriend knows this. After all, it celebrates everything that I am repulsed by i.e. affection, devotion, romance etc. Ew. But every February 14th, I find myself craving those stupid heart shaped chocolates, pining over roses, hungry for a dinner date and following perhaps a rom com. All of these darling gestures that just make you feel LOVED. And who doesn’t love to feel loved. However, Valentines Day for the coupled up does have the potential to be the most pitiful day of the year.

  1. Your significant other actually paid money for one of those appallingly tacky teddy bears from the local 7 Eleven which probably had ‘I Wuv You’ written on it.
  2. Your partner decides that V-day is el lamo and doesn’t want to celebrate it and/or even bother to see you even though you already went out and purchased some la-la lingerie. Humf. Just saying.
  3. Your boyfriend and/or girlfriend forgets that it’s Valentines Day. I don’t know how anyone could do this unless they have been walking around with their eyes closed for the past 4 weeks. Which some people do, clearly.
  4. You think you’re masterchef and cook your other half a batch of inedible, vulgar and in fact sickening batch of cupcakes. Inedible because they did not include egg, or the correct sugar to flour ratio. Vulgar in that the icing was a ridiculous lumpy texture. Sickening, as I had actually thought that Valentines Day cupcakes were cute and adorable and that boyfriend would think so too. Clearly this lovey-dovey pressure got the better of me.

Whilst, evidently, I adore the idea of it and take a lot of pleasure putting effort into making the day special in the form of a cupcake, V-day can sometimes be a little sobering. Perhaps it’s that grim reminder that a. you don’t have someone to celebrate it with or b. you don’t have any romance in your current relationship to rejoice in.

But the day of Valentine’s doesn’t have to be honoring romantic love. I love love. Love of all kinds. I love Boyfriend, of course, but I also love my chums, my buddies, my ma & pa, my dog, my bed, my cupcakes (when recipe is dutifully followed), my morning coffee, my afternoon coffee, my pajamas, my Macbook, my Dior perfume, the list goes on. Hence I have come to the conclusion that V-day should just be a reminder of the things we love, and one should express their love to all things listed above on this day. Christmas in February basically.

Love the day. Love, Cait. xoxoxoxoxo

P.S. Do note that I will never ever give ex’s or oh’s ever again on this blog.

P.P.S. Boyfriend, all I want is some effing chocolate.

Here’s a treat:

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