My 10 Favourite Christmas Movies

close up photo of gold and silver christmas ornaments
Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com

Christmas movies, are there ever too many?! The answer is no, oh and that is a non-negotiable stand-point on the matter.

Christmas movies are the best, they are my favourite, some people wait for Bublé to crawl out of his cave, some wait for Mariah to step off that swivel chair she is dragged around on…I wait for the Griswold’s, the McCallister’s, John McClane, for Billy Mack to offend all that is Christmas music and for Aurelia’s family to think Jamie has come to kill her.

Christmas movies are my sugar-hit when it comes to December. That and putting up my tree, which looks freaking amazing this year just quietly. #rosegold for the win on that won!

So, without further delay – here they are, my top 10.

10. Die Hard

9. Office Christmas Party

8. Four Holiday’s

7. The Family Stone

6. Bad Santa

5. The Holiday

4. Home Alone 2

3. Home Alone

2. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

1. Love Actually

I have to know, what are your favourite Christmas or holiday movies?

Courtney Gaye Signature copy

 

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Christmas + mental health

Not another mental health post, some of you may be thinking. Where are the pretty travel pictures and travel stories, others of you may ask.

They’re here. I’ve got them. I cannot wait to share them, but with only nine days to go until Christmas I have something else on my mind.

Mental health. Not mental illness, not mental disorder, and certainly not mental problems. Mental health.

Christmas to my family is incredibly important, we love Christmas. We love being together and cooking and sharing thoughtful gifts, blasting Christmas music and wearing silly hats and telling terrible jokes from our Christmas crackers. My favourite memory of many of my christmases will always be that moment when I simply could not continue, I was full and exhausted, I’d had a day of fun and it was finally time for bed. I will always hear my mum and dad saying Merry Christmas darlin’ as I headed to bed each year. That is my favourite Christmas memory.

The holiday season is not always a happy time for some, for some people it brings with it memories of loss, a time of grieving, feelings of sadness and confusion. For some it means nothing but anxiety and uncontrollable thoughts.

Christmas is hectic. The holidays can be a real trigger for many people out there and we have a responsibility to check in on others.

For one of my friends, she lost her Mother on Christmas Eve. Another lost her best friend to depression on Christmas Day. Some people no longer have anyone to put their tree up with them. There are families who cannot afford to eat. Families without homes. Families doing their best to keep everything together, even though it seems impossible.

My favourite Big Issue vendor in Brisbane, Nathan is someone who stands outside of the 7/11 on Adelaide Street and wishes a Merry Christmas to ever single person who walks past him. I always make the time to stop and ask him how he is and have a chat. December brings with it a lot of hurt and sadness to his life. Not only is he homeless, but he lost his Mother, Step-Dad and his brother in various December’s. Still he wishes you a Merry Christmas. When I see people ignore him or even scowl at him I feel nothing but disgrace for the human race.

Last year, the week before Christmas, Nathan was telling everyone it would be his last week in Brisbane, he was moving to Hervey Bay to be with his son. His happiness was contagious, he hadn’t been that genuinely happy in months. I was silently rooting for him.

When I saw him on that same corner in January, my heart broke for him.

Missing out on the Portman’s dress you wanted for Christmas is not a tragedy. Working Christmas Eve instead of partying with your friends is not sad. Spending Christmas with your family-in-law or annoying Uncle / Cousin / Sibling is not depressing. They are all circumstantial situations.

I want you to enjoy your Christmas, be kind to everyone. Forget misgivings, remove toxic people from your life. Remember the reason for the season and practice kindness. Smile at your Big Issue vendor, if you have $7, buy a magazine. Chat with them. Ask how are you and be ready to listen and to mean it. Be socially aware.

Christmas is not shopping. Christmas is not presents. Christmas is not enduring Christmas with family, it’s an honour.

Christmas is love.

Practice love, always.

Sydney sunsets – the end of our Christmas holiday <3

On our second last night in Sydney we went out for a family meal, the kids picked China town and so we went to Marigold restaurant, it isn’t the cheapest Chinese in town, but it was wonderful to eat in a place with the big fish tank at the back, white tablecloths and the freshest, lightest and tastiest fried rice and honey chicken I have had in a long time!

After over-indulging in our meals, little R asked if we could walk home. This was pretty impressive, given we had had a lot of trouble convincing the kids to walk anywhere in such heat and with so many hills.

IMG_7868[1]We chose to walk down towards Circular Quay, through Martin Place and Pitt Street and enjoyed the left over Christmas decorations. Little C practiced her polaroids again and I was able to get some really lovely captures of the area.

Once we got to Circular Quay we had a look at the beautiful Sydney Harbour Bridge, all lit up with her beautiful lighting and enjoyed the ferries coming in and out of the area. We ended up calling it an early night, we were beyond exhausted at this point and it was dawning on us that our holiday was coming to an end.

IMG_7865[1]On our last day in Sydney, we took the kids into the original Commonwealth Bank so they could cash in their money box savings for the year – which was really exciting for them, until the bank charged them 10% to exchange their money for cash. It gave us a pretty good reason to discuss how banks work and prepare them for tax, rates etc.,

They both had some pretty good ideas on how to spend their money and they both actually wanted to open savings accounts which was music to our ears, given they are so young!

IMG_7866[1]We spent our last night in the Botanical Gardens for a BBQ and some ballgames with our friends and we also were able to enjoy the incredible weather and watch a Carnival cruise ship leave the harbour.

IMG_7872[1]All in all, Sydney was such a lovely break for the family and we enjoyed each and every day. We had spent months wondering whether or not we had enough money to participate in so many exciting activities but really, the best moments for most of us were when we were just laughing with one another and chatting on our walks.

We left with very happy hearts and a memory bank full of wonderful moments.

x C x

Christmas in Sydney!

Christmas morning we woke up to the madness that is Santa and present deliveries, lollies and excitement in deciding which of Santa’s goodies will be making it to Grandma’s for Christmas day!DSC08075

We had the car packed and a fresh bag of fancy croissants and were on the road by 9am and heading out to the western suburbs. Once we got to our destination it was time for celebratory drinks and cuddles and putting the family gifts under the Christmas tree.

I had the excellent idea to have matching Christmas t-shirts, which quite frankly has to be one of my better ideas to date! 🙂

Christmas was filled with far too much food, amazing drinks, a sea of Christmas paper and presents for days!

As I was away from my family for the day, I needed to have a bit of my families Christmas tradition and so I decided to cook my annual Christmas ham.

IMG_8086Quite a bit of pressure to pull of the perfect Christmas ham in front of 16 members of another family!

Thankfully it worked out beautifully and even though my sister has referred to me as a #hamwhore – I truly believe it was worth the risk ;).

IMG_8223Christmas went off without a hitch – the kids came home with a truck load of presents, I scored a new 24mm pancake camera lens for my Canon and G loved his new GoPro!

A wonderful day and a reminder that Christmas is about each other and good times and we cannot afford to forget the reason for the season :).

I don’t think there is anything in this world quite as cute as my husband with his Grandma Ivy – just gorgeous ❤ x

x C x

Christmas Eve in Sydney!

Day Three – Christmas Eve in Sydney.

This morning we decided to explore Hyde Park – we forgot to check the weather and the four of us were basically dripping balls of sweat in 36+ degree heat for the morning. Which, considering the Christmas feed we intended on eating over the course of the next few days!

Hyde Park is one of Australia’s oldest public playgrounds and covers 40 acres. It is famed for it’s amazing fig-lined avenues and on a 36 degree day, the shade from these beauties was well appreciated! The efforts which has gone into the manicured gardens and the perfect rows of flowers shows the dedication Sydney has towards preserving the garden and their public areas.

We wandered around the park for an hour or so and then we grabbed coffee and watched a gorgeous elderly man playing chess on the oversized chess board in the park. We then walked back to our apartment and got ready to prepare for Christmas Eve!

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St Mary’s Cathedral had some absolutely beautiful Christmas Carols outside the front of the church during several different sessions. There was a pretty scary looking set of clouds coming on over but it was amazingly cool – which was a delightful break from the heat we had all day!

After the carols I wanted to try and see the church service, as it is something I do with my family each year, normally on Christmas morning. No luck there, far too many people (obviously!) – so we headed into the back of the room and listened to the first part and then headed home.

Once home it was Christmas carols, lollies and shortbread biscuits, getting ready for Santa with the kids, drinking adorable little apple juice shots on the rooftop looking at the sky and of course singing Christmas carols, drinking ginger beer/chocolate milk out of wine glasses and then having a midnight bedtime.

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When we woke up in the morning….look who had visited us?

Merry Christmas everyone!

x C x

It is the season to sparkle! Day 2 – Sydney :)

Good morning everyone!

Yesterday morning we flew down to Sydney, how lucky we are to only have an hour and a bit to fly to Sydney! As we were heading to the airport, we realised we had left something at home and had to turn around (whoops!). Thanks to our amazing Uber driver who drove us all the way home to pick it up and head back to the airport!

Our flight was amazing, thanks Qantas for the delicious yoghurt and snacks and thanks to G who once again gave me the window seat (even though it was his 🙂 – that’s love <3.

IMG_7909We were welcomed by the most amazing Uber driver Ross, who took us in to Darlinghurst, excited to talk about his city and it’s Christmas pride :). Sydney has absolutely turned on the weather! It is gorgeous!

I spent the morning walking around Darlinghurst and admiring all of the amazing big and beautiful trees and wide streets. I then went to the Green Park Tavern and waited for G to return with a car. I did spot the Four Pillars Christmas gin which I am keen to try as well! Hopefully sometime this trip I can!IMG_7872

Our Air BnB has an amazing view and is right near King’s Cross – it’s large and my MIL has given us a Christmas tree and decorations so we can get a jump on decorating the place for the kids!

We hit the shops for food and some drinks and then two of my amazing girlfriends came over for some rooftop drinks. Far too many wheels of cheese, salmon, prosciutto and dips was consumed – and now we are solid Aldi converts! I think Natalie should probably get some of your shares though because she sold it!

IMG_7874By the end of the night we had the speaker on the roof, dancing to Apple’s ‘Party Hit’s and then singing along to Chicken Fried and there were some Spice Girls. At the end of the day, I spent my youth in the 90’s, with what I believe was some of the BEST music for basic white girl shenanigans on top of a roof, over looking somewhere amazing and drinking Rosé ;).

This morning we are doing last minute present wrapping, waiting to go do a K-Mart run for the rest of our Santa pressies (just to help the guy out, you know?) and then we pick the kids up!

Tonight we are going to the Sydney Observatory Night Tour and I am SOOOO excited! It is a two hour tour and we will be able to enjoy our beautiful Southern Sky, visit the planetarium and do a dome tour. I think it is going to be absolutely brilliant!

IMG_7908I hope to take the new camera out and really get a feel for it – new cameras are always hard for me to wrap my head around!

Wishing you all a lovely day, I hope you are all preparing for your Christmas and you have finally finished work for the week!

x C x

Christmas Eve-Eve-Eve…and we are off to Sydney!

Good morning! Happy Christmas Eve-Eve-Eve!!! So I woke up and thought I would get a jump on my phone back up/last minute packing/trying not to stress about leaving my house for a week…..annnnd my Husband has just come out and told me that 5:30am is not awake time and I should go back to bed…

IMG_6681Anyways (I won’t be going back to bed) – I am sooo excited because today – we finally leave for our Christmas holiday/vacation! We are going inter-state for my Husband’s side of the families Christmas. My family and G and I live up in Queensland and his family lives in New South Wales…so it means many inter-state trips to Sydney etc., (and who could possibly be made about that?!).

IMG_6714Our trip this time is a little different and much more Christmas-on-steroids, because we will be sharing Christmas day with a very enthusiastic and kind 11 year old and a curious and sweet 9 year old. We have a few different things planned for them for the next week and I thought I would share them!

I had a bit of an incident with ‘Betty’, my beloved Canon 550D – the incident being she just stopped turning on (after I spent $80 on a brand new battery charger – of course). It was going to cost $200-$400 to have someone look at her to see what was wrong, but given she is nearly 8 years old and I could buy the same model for around $400-$500, sadly it just does not seem financially reasonable.

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So…my plans to purchase a new camera ahead of our Scandi-trip next year have been brought forward and I am now the proud owner of Dorothy (‘Dotty) – my new Canon 80D. Look I will be honest, Dotty and I haven’t quite worked each other out yet (in the words of Mariah ‘I don’t know her’), but I plan on becoming her BFFF over this next week (watch this space…).

Packing has been somewhat of a nightmare, honestly my own personal set of luggage scales has been an absolute life-changer!

We have some really cool things planned for Sydney, I cannot wait to share them with you. This trip is going to be really different because we are doing it as a family – so cannot wait to see how that goes in terms of activities and lines etc.,

Our flight leaves in a couple of hours, we will get into Sydney around lunch time and then we can make our way to Darlinghurst to check into our amazing lookingIMG_7816 Air BnB – its then time to Christmas the apartment up, before the little ones arrive tomorrow :).

Wising you all a wonderful December 22 – cannot wait to hear what you are all up to over Christmas!

x C x

 

Our Journey to beautiful SanFran <3

Brisbane – Auckland – San Franciso

 

My boyfriend (now Husband!) and I had been planning our incredible 10-day adventure for six or so months and we were so excited it was finally here. We had an amazing Christmas with my family, in 35+degree heat, absolutely sweating bullets – so were really looking forward to a cooler time in San Francisco!

26 & 27 December, 2014

My blog posts are seriously delayed, but I feel like the mania of life is now sorting itself out and I am excited to get my travel posts up to date! We have some pretty amazing holiday plans in the works for the next 12 months, so in anticipation of those, I thought it might be nice to look at our last trips :).

We had our flight on Boxing Day at around 4pm, so plenty of time to get our bags packed and get to the airport and have a couple of celebratory drinks. We had both worked so hard that year and my Husband worked two out of three weekends, so we had not spent too much time together.

We flew Air New Zealand, because they are one of my favourite airlines, our first leg was just to Auckland, where we would spend the night and then head off to San Francisco the next night. We were both excited for our trip, once we were through customs the reality of our trip set-in.

We had a room upgrade once we were in Auckland, thanks to my Husband’s Accor membership, so that was a nice start and we could see Sky Tower from our room. The next day we went on the hunt for breakfast and went up Sky Tower, Auckland had beautiful weather and it was nice to spend the day there. We then packed up and headed to Auckland airport.

We had purchased the 3 hour lounge passes for the Emperor Lounge. It does not matter what class you are flying, anyone is welcome. I have used it a few times, they even have showers available, WiFi, food and booze.  A nice way to relax before your flight! I would highly recommend it, I think it offers excellent value and gets you out of the mania of the general airport waiting areas.

We had managed to score two seats together on the plane, so no strangers near us. We got on the plane and loaded up our menu’s of what we were going to watch on the flight, I generally don’t sleep that well on planes as I find it hard to get comfortable. I am 5″9, my Husband is 6″2 and we are not small people, so 14 hour flights are horrifying. It turns out I didn’t have to worry, because I slept on my Husband for 9 hours of the flight! I had always flown solo or with my girlfriend, so that level of comfort is not the same, whereas your partner does not mind if you lay your legs on them (well, he didn’t verbalise it if he did mind).

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Seeing the beautiful early morning sunrise over the San Francisco coast on Boxing Day (repeat for us Southern Hemisphere’rs!) was so exciting! The line off of the plane through to customs was insane! I have never seen so many people in an airport, but it was Christmas season, it must have taken close to three hours to get out of the airport. I love San Fran, I just feel happy there and have always had positive experiences in this airport.

First thing is first, coffee!!!!!!! Coffee and then the train into the city. We had booked to stay at Hotel Diva at Union Square – we had booked it for a great price, we stayed for three nights. Hotel Diva was centrally located, affordable and clean. It was only once we checked in I became suspicious. To be honest the entire chain of events was hilarious as we were both delirious from our travels. To start with, when we checked in the artwork in the hotel was, um, risque? IMG_0457_2

All of which was hilarious, I thought the hotel was amazing but maybe it was a sex-hotel and I hadn’t worked that out? The jury is still out ;). I would recommend the hotel it was fun, young, really well located and clean. There is also a Starbucks directly beneath it and Union Square is only a 5 minute walk.

I was pretty excited to be able to see the beautiful big Christmas tree in Union Square, I LOVE Christmas and I had always wanted to see Christmas in the States – we couldn’t quite make it for Christmas day but in the days afterwards, it still felt pretty special.

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Our journey had absolutely shattered us, so we went on the hunt for food and ate at a little diner just up the road, black coffee, cheese sticks, wings, you name it. If it was bad for us and warm in any way, we were eating it.

The reality of our long-awaited holiday had kicked in! It was quickly getting dark and we were exhausted so aside from some snacks and checking out Union Square – we grabbed a bag of junk food and headed back to our room for much awaited sleep in a bed!

We had the next day to explore SanFran on our own timeline and could not be any more excited about it!

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Our holiday was finally here! We had worked out that perhaps our packing of clothing was completely wrong – given it was 7 degrees. We immediately started laughing because we knew our next stop was New York which was definitely going to be colder!

I couldn’t wait to explore this gorgeous city, especially with my boyfriend at such a magical time of the year! Was sleep even possible with this much excitement? Turns out yes, and apparently I snored my head off!

Thanks for reading –SanFran post TBC!

x