Just Christmas Things

Ahh Christmas arrived! And since I’m on leave, I got to celebrate Christmas at home with my family.

It’s summer in New Zealand! So, since Auckland is always so faithful, It poured all day. Effectively ruining any plans of going out. My dad, sister, and I still drove down to our favourite beach in West Auckland, only to find the road to it was closed due to flooding. And surprisingly, we weren’t the only ones going that far and turning back.

So we returned home and lounged around with our presents as I prepped for dinner. Every year, it is tradition that I try a new recipe for dinner and dessert. This year, my sister requested to take over dinner and I would do dessert. She and my dad requested I make Tiramisu as a tribute to our trip this time last year. So I took on the challenge.

I wanted to make it as authentic as possible. Many recipes suggested buying pre-made Savoiardi biscuits for the base of the Tiramisu but I decided to make my own. They actually turned out pretty good!

Et Voila!

They look kinda flat, but trust me they had risen the right amount.

I hadn’t worked with mascarpone cheese before so it was all a bit challenging to get the consistencies and ratios right.

 

Here is the finished product.

My sister and dad liked it a lot. The cream was brilliant! I was worried I had too much coffee in it. But oh well. If we stay up late all caffeinated, it could be worse. Overall I think it was a success.

Here is my tree and assorted decoration macro photos. As I had promised myself last year and on HD’s advice, I had bought a whole new tree with new decorations. The gold and blue were quite Christmas-y and lit up, the tree actually looked pretty great. I had splurged for a big tree this year. Retail therapy is a real thing, kids.

And I also got a great Christmas present this year from secret Santa at work. My secret Santa was one of my friends from med school. He had given me this.

A lucky bamboo plant. It is an indoor plant that needs very little light or water to grow. It is supposed to bring you peace and luck. He of all people knew I could use some luck and good vibes. He also mentioned that this plant was the perfect metaphor for our friendship. “Low maintenance, and strong” he had said. I loved that. It made me feel special. He really does know me. ^^

Hope everyone else has had a great Christmas! ūüėÄ

Buon Natale 

Merry Christmas to all!! And buon Natale is apparently merry Christmas in Italian! 

Yes I’m fluent in Italian now. 

No I’m kidding. I don’t even pretend to speak it. So. Sorry for my absence and lack of updates from Florence but it was an extremely tiring few days. The tuscany region including something called Cinque Terre is incredibly unexciting in winter. Nothing but nothing is open this close to Xmas. And that was immensely disappointing. Basically went on hikes where I froze to death and saw several things that looked the same repeatedly. 

Not the best time.

I am currently in Milan! Yes that’s right! The fashion capital of the world! Unfortunately, same problem. Everything closes by 7 and it’s freezing but NOT snowing.  My dreams of a white Christmas were dashed! But Milan is festive! The galleria and cathedral are lovely!

So! In order to get some white-ness into my holiday, we took a train to Zurich! It’s gotta be snowing there right?? Well…No. sadly. It was snowing in cities all the way to Zurich. But not exactly in it. That’s right. And it was Christmas eve. And it was a Sunday. Nearly everything was closed and the city was pretty dead. 

This was on the way to Zurich.

I did manage to have hot chocolate at this amazing place called Sprungli. It’s supposed to have the best hot chocolate in all of Switzerland apparently! Oh but they also had amazing chocolates in general. And the best macarons I’ve ever had in my life.

 

If you’re ever in Zurich, I definitely recommend this place! 

So it was a Merry Christmas after all!

Hope everyone else has a fabulous Natale wherever you are and whatever you do! :)) 

The Vatican

On my second day in Rome, the sun was out! It was a brilliant day and I had the chance to visit the Vatican.

It was so incredibly surreal to be standing inside and outside the St. Peter’s Basilica. The architecture and artwork in every part of that building was so humbling.

I’m not a particularly religious person. But once I was in the Sistine chapel, something about the energy and ambience there really filled me with faith and gratitude. Can’t really explain that feeling. But it was amazing.

Outside St Peter’s square, there was a big huge Christmas tree! Luckily I was there after dark to catch it being lit up. Very festive 

Got everything in view so that the tree could be appreciated properly. 

Lovely place, this.

December Happenings

Heyyyy it’s December!! How do I know this? Because it’s officially summer in Auckland! Well not really because the actual equinox is not until 21st of December, but let’s not focus on that.

How else do I know it’s December? Everyone has their Christmas tree up! I guess I’m late! Malls have had their trees up since November of course. So they¬† don’t count. But anyway! Time to get my Xmas tree up and get into that good ol’ Xmas cheer!

I had a great time decorating my tree. It’s always good fun. Especially when more people are involved. My mum turned on some Christmas carols, and when¬†Jingle Bell Rock¬†came on (which is my favourite carol), I actually started dancing around in the middle of my living room as I decorated my tree. Embarrassing as heck. But good fun!

et Voila! My tree!

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(I love taking macro shots of my tree decorations)

This tree is 6ft tall and is kind of sparse. So it was very important to make sure I filled it up with as much decoration as possible! Previously I had multi-coloured fairy lights but this year I decided they looked tacky beyond reason and went instead, with the more sophisticated, monochrome, gold icicle lights. They match, and give the whole tree a nice glow, I think! And yes, the decorations are all red and gold. I’ve had these decorations for a few years now. HD commented that they are so….bland. So…normal. Christmas = red and gold…. how original…

Which I agree with. But in my defense, as I have mentioned before, I am BIG on observing Christmas in a very traditional way. And at the time I bought these decorations, I wanted the perfect postcard-type Christmas tree. So that is definitely red and gold. Truth be told, however, I am getting a bit tired of this dull, bi-chrome decoration thing. Hence I vow, next year I shall have new, more multi-coloured baubles and other Christmas-y things on my tree!

(by the way, a big thing happened for HD the other day, so mini celebration of his awesomeness!)

You may ask, why not go get new decorations this year? I mean, there’s still a good 20 days before Christmas! Well in fact, I am not going to be home for Christmas!

Yep! As part of this being my last ever holidays, my family decided to organise a trip away over Christmas! We’re going to Italy!

This means a few things, but the most important thing is that for the first time in my 22 year life, I will be experiencing a white Christmas!! I mean, I love the summery Xmas in New Zealand and the awesomeness of going to the beach and having ice cream, but for someone who is big on traditional Christmas, snowy whiteness is a big big excitement!

I cannot wait!

Plus, it’s Italy so there shall be Italian food, things to see, and places to shop at. Which is why I am not springing for new decorations this year.

But I still had to put a tree up. I just had to. It’s a must in December. Even if I’m not going to be home on Xmas day.

Hope everyone has their tree up and are doing fabulous Christmas-type things! ^^

Christmas Lights

Christmas has always been my favourite time of the year. And I’m pretty big on traditions.

In my city- Auckland, is a place called Franklin Road where all the houses put up lights as part of a street competition. (wouldn’t be a joyous holiday without a little “my house is better than thou”, now would it?)

Anyway, it’s quite a gimmick and worth going to see every year. For me anyway. I thought I’d share some of the sights I saw.

Santa in a train with presents! Very Christmas-y

But the house on the right is the clear winner here.

Now this one, is my favourite display on Franklin road. It’s been around for 2 years and is just stunning. But I cannot take credit for this particular shot. I think I’ve talked about my inability to explore different angles in photography. My original shot of this display looked more like this:

I was more focused on the deer rather than the whole scene. But a friend took a photo similar to the first 1 above. I was inspired and this year I just had to recreate it. So. Credit to HD and his unparalleled angle sense.

Just some other assorted decorations that put a smile on my face.

Overall, it was a pleasant night stroll. Oh and it was raining. Pleasant Christmas stroll indeed.