#517 Some Red with Hubbie

“Red, red wine

Goes to my head…

Makes me forget that I

Still need her so…”

I love a good drop of red. Another Saturday night, another takeaway night, another night cosied up on the couch… and yet all amplified by a couple of decent of glasses to put you in right form.

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I don’t have photos of full glasses, because we drank it all didn’t we? And you know those people who are all “I love the Red wine song!” and they don’t even drink red wine?! Like, who are you?! You can’t proclaim love for something only to straight out deny it! That’s like, a Lion denying the sunshine.

Is that even possible?!?!

That’s my Saturday night red wine intoxicated rant over. And what’s so good about a drop of red, you might ask?

Drinking a good drop of red, with company. The type of company that like the colour of the liquid, is symbolic of all things love, passion and fiery combustion.

“Red, red wine

It’s up to you

All I can do I’ve done

Memories won’t go… memories won’t go.”

Cheers.

#475 Saturday Night In no.2

Last weekend, I was absolutely HANGING to get to this weekend.

Birthday bash? Big par-tay? Night out with girls? Wait, no – night out with Hubbie?

No, no, no, and NO.

I’ve been looking forward to this weekend, all week, because all I’ve really wanted to do was nothing.

Absolutely, positively, NOTHING.

I have embraced Winter in its entirety and officially started hibernating, you may think. And this is part true. In fact, a post about how great Winter is will follow in due course (true story).

But all I wanted this weekend, was to have no plans. Nothing to do. Nothing to rush and be busy about. I’m actually feeling quite anti-social, in that I’ve been looking forward to nothing else but hanging out and spending some quality time with Hubbie and baby girl. The madness of May, with all of its big celebrations and festivities, and just as many stresses and headaches, although all for a good cause, has just left me tired. Just needing me time. Just needing, ME, to do NOTHING.

Just for a little while. I know that in a week or so, or a few if this cold perseveres, I’ll be up and at it again, and partying just as hard as any 21 year old, as hyped up as any kid that’s just eaten a bag full of smarties, and buzzing just as hard as a beekeeper’s pants. I assume they buzz sometimes, you know.

But tonight, was bliss. It was so much nothing, that it really was the perfect remedy for any previous party sores and shenanigans.

I made a herbal tea when I got home from work, and sat with baby girl on my lap, watching Paw Patrol. She leant her head back against me as we sat watching animated dogs on TV. I breathed.

Later we got takeaway – where along with my Pad Thai I snuck in some cheeky Nutella Puffs (basically deep-fried pastry filled with a slab of yours truly), and along with a delicious glass (or two, or more) of 2014 cab sav, I inhaled. Again.

Later again, baby girl sat on the couch with me after I had taken a hot shower, and now while watching Dora, leant her head on my shoulder. Awww 🙂

A picture perfect night. Just what the doctor ordered. And still, the night ain’t over yet…

 

#419 Spaghetti bolognaise

Phil Collins again. “I’ve been waiting for this moment all my life…”

No, not really. About a week. But I could look forward to it EVERY DAY.

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I love pasta. I was craving a simple spaghetti bolognaise since last week, and I knew this would go down well with baby girl, as she too, LOVES pasta.

She insisted on it plain, which doesn’t faze me much I have to say. I like her preference for simple things, the fact that she doesn’t need much hoo ha, much salt, much sugar… yeah, she’ll still eat it. But her first preference is plain.

Plain and simple.

Yet even she too, upon later tasting the ‘saucy’ pasta, rubbed her tummy and did “mmm” sounds to confirm that it was, yes, YUM.

Beautiful spaghetti on a weeknight, a glass of red, Prince’s Purple Rain in the background with next-generation-fan baby girl swaying to and fro, surrounded by my family… that’s a pretty perfect night for me 🙂

#121 Hot Rakija

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This is the stuff I grew up with. About as common to me as milk, cheese and bread. Of course, being an extremely high volume alcoholic drink, I didn’t drink it, although that didn’t stop my Dad when I was about 4-5, with a few of his male friends, jokingly telling me to dip my finger in the shot glass and taste it, chuckling at my grimacing face when I did.

That story there, is quite indicative of the backgrounds of those who grew up with this drink.

Rakija. A spirit. Specifically, a fruit brandy, popular in the Balkans that is typically made from grapes or plums. Most rakijas average at 40% alcohol. The most well known Croatian rakija would have to be the “Sljivovica” which basically means ‘plum drink,’ as it is derived from plums.

Other country versions and comparisons can be found in Macedonia’s Mastika, a drink made from mastic, which is the natural resin of a small Mediterranean tree; Turkey’s closely named Raki, also composed of grapes but with a touch of anise; and Greece’s Ouzo, made of similar ingredients with the additions of various other herbs and berries.

But enough on the crash course of alcohol in Mediterranean Europe. I grew up with this stuff all around me – and as is usual, when that happens, it’s not very interesting to you. People around you, friends and those who don’t share your similar background, freak out that your parents have this drink, let alone would let you have a sip of it… and you’re 14. But that’s the relaxed European standard. That’s the way it was done. It is done.

I drink alcohol now, but this stuff is strong. I have it on special occasions. I ‘cheers’d to it with my parents the morning of my wedding day. I’ve had it on many other special occasions, not questioning whether I should or not, because it is ‘a special day.’ You don’t decline rakija for a big event. That’s like telling the person serving you that you will not accept happiness. It’s like ‘what now?’

I’ve also learnt that you can’t just have ANY homemade rakija. Yes, it can be homemade, and most of it that I’ve tried has been just that. But homemade doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better than store-bought ones. Homemade ones can be burnt in the distilling process, burning your throat as you drink it on the ‘X,’ and others load it with sugar. You gotta know your supplier, you know ?

😉

Hubbie decided we were having one together last night. As I’ve reiterated, this isn’t my drink of choice or something I have a lot of, despite it’s strong presence in my upbringing. But not one to say no to drinking in company (we are so bad) I agreed, and in response asked him “before, or after dinner?”

It was to be before. But, being Winter, it was to be heated. You should really ALL try this at home:

First, get yourself some Rakija. Dan Murphy’s sells loads of brands, but I recommend a plum derivative.

Second, pour two shots of the spirit (for two people) into a little pot and add about a teaspoon of sugar.

Third, bring to the boil, keeping a close eye on it. It’s meant to boil and bubble and foam, rising to the top. You can turn it off as it rises, or you can lift the pot up, letting the bubbles subside, and then return the pot to the heat, letting it rise again, doing this about 3 times.

The rakija can’t burn you, even when it’s this hot. The worst that will happen is like me, you will be fearful of it burning you, and in going to slowly and tentatively take a sip of the hot drink, you will in your mouth inhalation actually breathe in more fumes than necessary and cough like a dickhead. That is all.

This warm drink, is amazing. I think alongside my regular red, it will be my ‘occasional’ (it is 40% after all) drink of choice in these cold months.

I’m grateful that after all this time, I am rediscovering a drink I have had alongside me this whole time, and appreciating its qualities in a completely new way. It’s like discovering treasure. I am that friend now: ‘what? You have rakija? Get out!’

 

#109 A day spent with faves

It’s hard to pinpoint one item of gratitude, when your day has been spent with some of your most favourite people, with many beautiful memories, laughter, hugs, kisses, warmth, and good vibes shared. I’m lucky.

Having said all of the above, it’s been an emotionally draining day too, a day in memory of a loved one not with us anymore.

I guess that makes you appreciate all the more the love you have in your life due to the people who are there for you in thick, and thin. The people with us today, my faves? They have been with us through thick. We have been with them through thick. And we are with each other through the easy times of course, to celebrate all that we’ve accomplished and all that we’ve gone through.

I love these guys, and I’m pretty sure they love me 🙂

Thick and thin. Hard and easy. Love does not measure. It does not justify. It does not calculate. It does not ask.

It is. It does. It creates.

It should be clear to you, where the love is in your life. Who the love is in your life. Where does your heart lead you when you speak the words? Where does it lead you when you hear the words? What picture does it show you when breathe the unspoken thoughts?

Go there. Go to love. Don’t bother with the bullshit. Life is short. Live love. Love life.

 

 

#99 Cheap wine

We’ve always had an abundance of wine in our house. Leading up to and after our wedding, we received a zillion bottles. Add to that, one time Hubbie bought a box of 12 cheap wines from the bottle shop because they were on special… cleanskin. Generic label,, not necessarily a ‘label.’ I don’t know, maybe it was $20, $30 for the lot? He said we could drink it as an everyday wine, and even use it in my special pastas and what-not.

The box of cheap wine sat in the corner of our garage. And the other bottles got drunk, slowly throughout the years.

I’ve increased my enjoyment and consumption of red since then. It took absolute ages to get through the stuff, because I tended to mix drinks and drink other, sweeter stuff. During that time, my tastebuds matured, and so I started to seek out more refined, bolder flavours. Something quite significant also happened to make me start drinking more red: I got pregnant.

Now before you arrive on my door with pitchforks, let me make clear, I started to drink more of it after my pregnancy, and still then, after I finished breastfeeding. So, in total, I had been off alcohol completely for 22 months.

Almost 2 years. I have always enjoyed drinking a few with company, at a party. Since recommencing though, I will now have a glass of red almost every night.

Part of it has to do with being off it for so long. I’m making up for lost time. Part of it has to do with knowing I’ll be off it in the future when I get pregnant again. I’m getting ready for future lost time. Additionally, it’s warming, and I enjoy it with my meal. I’m not going crazy. But I am having fun with it.

Since starting the red again, we’ve been going through our alcohol cabinet. Drink some of those, buy some ‘nice’ ones for an occasion. Get given some more. Drink cabinet wines, buy new ones, get ones. Continuous cycle on repeat.

Wednesday night Hubbie pulled out a beer. I can’t not have a glass if he’s having a drink. I won’t have anything if he’s having a dry night… again, it’s a company thing. I went to the cabinet… and came up with two expensive bottles of wine.

After all these years, that was ALL that was left, and yet I didn’t feel quite right opening them. I’m not a hoarder of fine things that don’t get used… I drink these lovely bottles. But at that moment, I just wanted any old bottle, and would rather have saved the $$$ ones for a Saturday night with Hubbie, or when we had company over.

Then Hubbie remembered. The box of cheap wine in the garage.

He took one out, this cleanskin, and we looked it over.

WE 3 Cabernet Merlot 2009. Wine of Australia. Exclusive to Dan Murphy’s. Mulgrave address.

Hmmm. Seemed ok. Taste-test required.

Both of us had a sip. Not bad. Not bad AT ALL.

Hubbie went back into the garage, and took out all the bottles we had there, filling up our cabinet with 11-12 of them. They had hardly ever been used. Until now.

Tonight, as I again sipped on the regular red, I realised I was chatting a lot. Not in a tipsy way… I was just happy. This red put me in a happy state. I don’t know what it is about it… but it’s good. It tastes good, the colour is nice, and the price back then was way good.

I’m grateful for great-tasting, cheap wine. Affordable to most. Simple. Clean. Fun.

Just another reminder to not judge a book by it’s cover…

#97 May 31st

This is a weird one for me, very unusual being that here in Australia, May 31st is the last day of Autumn. This in itself is not particularly unusual, but the fact I am happy for the fact of it being the end of Autumn, means that I may just be consequently happy for the start of Winter…

Right?

Right?

Right???

???

Let’s take things one step at a time folks. I’m not entirely sure I will ever be happy, or feel overly joyous at the thought of 3 plus months (because Melbourne Weather, that’s why) of freezing cold, windy and just stupid hell-bent crap weather. But since I’ve been doing this gratitude thing, it’s as if I’m seeing things in a newer, different light. Suddenly, parts of Winter don’t seem so bad. Suddenly, parts of Winter I’m becoming appreciative of, and even, maybe, grateful for.

Woah. Hold on there. Appreciating, Winter? I know I know. No, no one has slipped anything into my drink. I only had one glass of red for dinner, it’s alright. My little ideas of Winter not being so bad will follow in due course. Maybe it’s only because of this challenge, and being aware of thoughts of gratitude, that I’m even feeling this way inclined towards this most miserable of months. But even if so… isn’t that the point? Doesn’t it then mean, that this whole thing is actually working?

And that, excites me 🙂

But, I am happy, and yes, relieved, even slightly grateful, that today is May 31st… only because the damn waiting and dread leading up to June 1st will soon be over. That’s one of the worst bits you know. Knowing something dark and cold is looming around the corner, and just waiting for it to hit. That’s what I’ve been doing these last few weeks… on edge… just waiting… bracing myself.

But, in approximately 1 hour 14 minutes, Winter will be here. The wait will be over. And then we can just put on our coats, turn up our heaters to full-ball, and get on with it.

I have my sleep socks on, my flannel pyjamas, and my cuddly sleeping gown as I write this on the couch… yep Winter, I’m ready for you.

1 hour 13. Who’s counting?