22 December 2014

Christmas Vignette

We have made it to the holidays! By the skin of our teeth. Right now my brain is in decompression mode. This means not a lot of thought is going on in the old brain. Hopefully it will get its act together in a day or two. In the mean time, there is food to prepare, books to read, presents to wrap, and a hundred other little things.

I realized I hadn't shared any photos of our tree yet, so here it is in all its glory:


My mother gave me a big bunch of Christmas bush when we were up in the mountains. It doesn't grow around here, but it just says Christmas to me.


Are you ready for Christmas? Do you have Christmas bush?

17 December 2014

Ten

Ten years ago, this girl made me a mother. What a roller coaster ride motherhood is. High highs; Low lows; boy it is worth it though. 

On Sunday night I watched her as she sat on the stage at the front of the village hall, playing her guitar for the village carols, and my heart nearly burst with love and pride. I love how she faces her fears. I love how she always wants to do her absolute best. I love how she looks out for her sister and brother. I love how creative and crazy she is. I love that she does the right thing, even when others don't.






 Happy Birthday Hannah. May God bless you always. We love you!


14 December 2014

Four Easy-To-Make, Tasty Gifts

Between now and Christmas, there is always lots on. Lots of gifts to organise, menus to plan, end of year activities to go to. If you are needing some last minute gifts, here are four easy-to-cook recipes, that are tasty, and a little different to usual rum balls.


Raspberry Curd - made in a similar way to lemon curd, but using raspberry juice. It has a beautiful colour that just goes with Christmas.

Mint Meringues - you could easily pipe these into Christmas tree shapes or drizzle them with dark chocolate before popping them in a basket of sweet treats.

Spiced Plum Paste - Who doesn't love a cheese platter? This is the perfect addition.

Homemade Marshmallow - these are much nicer than the shop version. You could also make them peppermint flavoured, and swirl red colouring through to make them look like candy canes.


11 December 2014

The First Fruit

On Saturday, Country Boy came in and told me to come down to the orchard to see something. I got all excited thinking that an amazing harvest had started and I hadn't noticed. When we got down there he showed me this:


So perhaps my expectations were a little too high, but it was exciting to pick the very first fruits from our orchard. Three sour cherries.


While we were down there I had a poke around. There is lots more fruit growing.



 We are definitely on our way!

10 December 2014

Keeping It Simple | Use Fewer Products

In October I had a sort through our laundry. Now let me preface this by saying that our laundry is a much neglected room. It is in dire need of a paint, and is our central storage area. So it is jam packed with all kinds of bits and pieces including canned and packet foods, spare toiletries, a freezer, our vacuum cleaner and all our cleaning supplies.

Anyhoo... one of the things I did was to go through the cleaning products we had. There were products that we have had sitting there since we arrived on the farm, but have never used. It got me thinking about how we can simplify the type and amount of products we use, not only when cleaning, but in other parts of our lives as well.


Here are some ideas:

- Pick products that suit all the members of your household - In the bathroom, we had already limited the amount of different products we use. We use one type of shampoo and conditioner for the whole family; one type of toothpaste, one type of shaving cream and razor  (for CB and I anyway).

I'm not suggesting going without shampoo (though some people do), but having different shampoos for every family member takes up a lot of space in the bathroom, costs a lot more to buy, and takes more time to keep up.

- Choose products that can suit more than one task - The more jobs that one product can do, the less products you need. Just because a cleaner says it is for the kitchen, doesn't mean that it can't be used in the rest of the house. We use the same type of hand wash in the bathroom, kitchen and laundry. We bulk buy vinegar which we can use for both preserving and cleaning.

- Be intentional about how many products you purchase - Avoid the impulse purchases and consider how many products you actually use. Do you really need seven lipsticks? Seven different pasta shapes? I rarely wear makeup - it isn't compatible with my job - so I own very little.

- Skip free samples - just because the product is free, doesn't mean that it is useful, or that you need it. Several years back I got a free bottle of moisturising cream in a gift bag. When I sorted out the bathroom last year, it was still there. I had packed and moved house with it. Needless to say it got tossed, but it would have been easier if I just never taken it.

- Consider what products you can do without. We don't use room deodorisers, or bug killers. We try to avoid to many aerosols and chemicals for health reasons, but it also means less products to buy. store, and manage.

- Be ruthless, and get rid of products you are keeping "just in case". This rule applies to any decluttering task, but is always good to remember. I would much rather have to buy a product I need in three years time, rather than have one sit there "just in case". Be realistic and ruthless!

Using fewer cleaners, beauty products and other household products just make sense. Less money spent. Less stuff to store and manage, and less waste.

What products do you do without? Do you have anything you couldn't live with out? Share your tips!

9 December 2014

DIY | Subway Christmas Art - Free Printable

So it's no secret that I am a fan of Christmas decorating. Though I like to keep it simple, I wouldn't describe my style as "minimalist". After all, we are celebrating the birth of our saviour, so I think that is worth a bit of a fuss.


I'm not sure exactly where I got the idea from (but there are loads of simlar things around), but I decided to have a go at making some subway Christmas art using Canva.

I picked a verse from the Bible that sums up Christmas to us, but you could equally use the lyrics from another Christmas carol, or just some Christmas words.


This fits into a 25cm by 30cm frame. I just printed it onto regular A4 paper and cut it out before popping it into the frame.

If you want your own copy, you can your own here. I also created one with red writing on a white background. Just click on edit, then download as pdf to print it. Or you can make your own - I'd love to see some more!


I did think of putting some of my fave Christmas movie quotes into a poster too (There was more than one lobster at the birth of Jesus??? Duh!). Maybe another time!
What is your favourite Christmas Quote? Bonus points if you know which movie that quote comes from!

8 December 2014

Rhubarb Chocolate Tart

This last weekend has been the first weekend in a month with nothing extra planned. No guests. No big events. No trips away. We relaxed, and boy did we need it. The kids lay around and read, a movie was watched, the tree was decorated, and a little cooking was done.


I whipped this up to take to church on Sunday afternoon, based on the fact that at this time of year, there isn't much ready for harvesting, but there is always plenty of rhubarb on hand. Meg came out and helped me harvest it.

Pastry
1 1/2c flour
1/3c icing sugar
125g butter
1 egg yolk
2T cold water

Filling
250ml cream
200g dark chocolate
zest of one orange
8 stalks of rhubarb
2T sugar
1t vanilla


Method
1. Place the flour, icing sugar, and butter in a food processor and process until the mixture resembles bread crumbs.
2. With the processor running, add in the egg yolk followed by the water.
3. When the mixture forms a ball, wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
4. Roll the dough 1/2cm thick and line a greased flan tin with it.
5. Trim the excess pastry off, then prick the base with a fork.
6. Blind bake at 200*c for 15 minutes. Allow to cool.


7. Wash and cut the rhubarb into 10cm lengths.
8. Place the rhubarb in a baking tray, sprinkle with sugar and drizzle with vanilla.
9. Place in the oven and roast for 15 minutes or until the rhubarb is soft but not collapsed. Allow to cool.
10. In a microwave proof jug, heat the cream for 1 minute in the microwave.
11. Pour the cream over the chocolate in a bowl. Stir until all the chocolate is smooth and dissolved. 12. Stir the orange zest through the chocolate mixture.
13. Allow the chocolate mixture to cool and thicken in the fridge (I popped mine in the freezer for 10 minutes and stirred it twice).
14. Pour the chocolate mixture into the pastry and smooth it out.
15. Carefully place the rhubarb over the chocolate.
16. Allow to set in the fridge before serving.


I took it to church, but none came home with us (much to my disappointment).

What was your weekend like? Bake anything yummy??
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