Sunday, November 29, 2009

A challenge

Do you think you could spend one year only buying or making handmade, or secondhand goods for yourself, your friends and family? Tough one, hey? This is a challenge I am seriously thinking about undertaking. Dottie Angel is doing it, and so are a couple of my friends.

It would be a wonderfully economical way to get through a year, and gift giving would be a beautifully personal thing. I could make use of my new crafty skills and I would get to spend more time on websites like Etsy and MadeIt. My kids would have unique toys to play with and gorgeous handmade clothes. I would be helping the planet and I would be helping my hip pocket!

There are some anomalies though. There are some things that just need to be brand new! I guess I need to ruminate on the idea for a while. Maybe I just need to set myself an amended challenge. One that is achievable for me. I don't want to be stressing myself out now, do I??

So how would you tackle this? Would you even consider attempting a challenge such as this? Why is it a good/bad idea? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Simple Celebration

I love Christmas. I really do. What I don't like though, is the assault to my senses that I encounter everywhere! I'm all for getting into the 'spirit', but must we have tinsel, lights, Christmas trees, fake presents, baubles, horrible tinny sounding Christmas carols, and the feeling that we need to buy, buy, buy...drummed into us at every waking moment!?!?!? It's just all a bit much for me. The part that saddens me the most though, is that the meaning of Christmas has really and truly been lost on the majority of people.

For Christians, the celebration of Christmas is a time to remember the birth of their saviour, Jesus Christ, and a time to honor the gifts of salvation he bestowed on those who follow his Way. However, long before Christ, Yule was celebrated by most of Northern Europe, and this is where the majority of our Christmas traditions began. The Yule tree (now known as the Christmas tree) was decorated, the ceremonial yule log was burned and allowed to smoulder for 12 days (perhaps the origins of 'The 12 Days of Christmas' carol?), holly was hung on the doors of homes to snag or ward off evil spirits, and even kissing under the mistletoe has it's Pagan origins. Yule is the Winter Solstice, or the time when the dark half of the year surrenders to the light half, and the warmer weather, and her gifts, are welcomed. It was a time when people gave thanks to the gods and goddesses for their part in the cyclical nature of life, death and rebirth. Ultimately, it was another excuse for feasting and being surrounded by loved ones!

So for me, Christmas has so much more meaning than just the hype and rabble we see on TV and in the shopping centres. I intend this year to keep it simple and unadulterated. We will have a Christmas tree, but this year it will be a native tree in a pot. The decorations chosen will be special, preferably made by my children, and as natural as possible. We have a beautiful knitted Nativity set that will have pride of place on our entry table, and each day we will remember the story of the birth of baby Jesus, as we enter our home. A couple of years ago I made a felted advent calendar that we will use to count down the days, and I will teach the children about the Four Kingdoms of Life that I recently learned about. Thank you Mama Moontime! My children are still young, and Santa is a big part of Christmas for them, so of course they will get presents, but only a few well chosen, top quality gifts will be under the tree. Living in the Southern Hemisphere means that for us Christmas time falls around the Summer Solstice, so with my burgeoning knowledge of the sabats, we will also try to understand and celebrate this the best way we can.

It is my wish that my children will grow up with a deeper understanding of the blessings of the season, and so for this reason Christmas for us will be a time of reflection, of thanks and gratitude, of peace, and of love.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My favourite photos...

I've been going through all my photos so far for 2009, with the intention of creating a photo book for the year. I have so many photos! What on earth did we do before digital photography?! Here are just a few of my favourites...

Mummy and Isla ready for a big walk!

Fireman Caleb!

Caleb aka Harry Potter!

This is possibly my favourite! His big brother is always the protector.

Simon and the boys watching the massive waves at Burleigh.

Isla dressed up and ready to go out for a Chinese New Year feast.

If this isn't a look of utter joy, then I don't know what is. Caleb on his 5th birthday.

Brother and sister bonding over Yakult.

Jai demonstrating the Falun Dafa exercises at Queensland's 150th birthday celebrations.

My little Joey Scout on induction night.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Springtime lamb..

This is what we ate for dinner last night. EVERYONE loved it, including fussy Little Miss! It's not your usual roast lamb. The recipe comes from my favourite recipe book, Falling Cloudberries, and it has a distinct Greek flavour. It was honestly one of the most flavoursome dishes I have ever cooked. Simple and easy too.

Leg of Lamb with Oregano and Lemon

Serves 5-6
1.5kg leg of lamb (on the bone)
Juice of two lemons (if you don't like things overly lemon, I would use one lemon and some stock)
1 tablespoon dried oregano
50g butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
5 large potatoes

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Rinse and trim the lamb of any excess fat and put it in a large baking dish. Rub the lamb all over with the lemon juice, season well with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the oregano, crushing it between your fingers to cover the meat. Dot the butter over the top. Pour 250ml water around the lamb and drizzle the olive oil around it as well. Bake for about 15 minutes on each side, until it is browned all over.

Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and cut them into bite sized pieces. Scatter them in the baking dish around the browned lamb, add some salt and turn them over with a wooden spoon to coat them in the juice. Add a little more water if it has evaporated. Cover the baking tray with foil, lower the heat to about 160 degrees and bake for another 2 hours or so, turning the lamb over at least once during this time and shufflling the potatoes.

Serve on a huge platter with a salad or some simply cooked greens. This is also nice with some tzatziki on the side.

NB. This lamb will be well cooked and tender (not pink like some people prefer). If you prefer it to be less cooked, just reduce the cooking time. I served fresh green beans with ours and they were a perfect accompaniment. I also took Tessa's advice and served tzatziki with it. The lamb is crispy and crunchy on the outside with a tender inside, and the lemon juice caramelises the potatoes to perfection. It was scrumptious!

(Picture was scanned from Falling Cloudberries - A world of family recipes, by Tessa Kiros)