Thursday, 25 December 2014

Christmas Capers, made, bought and found!

Our fake Christmas tree which we bought when we celebrated our first
New Zealand Christmas, that has stood the test of 20 years!
 Sitting beside to our 20yr old Christmas tree, decorated by our daughter, I reflect on the Christmases past and what it means for us as a family.  It's a time of giving and receiving, of loving and being loved, of remembering special people in our lives, of feeling blessed, grateful and restful.  All this, surrounded by tokens of familiarity - decorations reflecting a person having given it or made it, or a time - often representing the ages of our rapidly growing children.  The presents under the tree - made or bought, with a loved one in mind. The anticipation of their reaction.  Christmas.  It's all that, and more.

The cut-off legs for denim jeans-shorts and a
re-used coffee pouch star (my favourite recycling project)

Simple, naive tags.  Gift tags for pressies, 
sewn together with scraps,
recycled bits and made with love!

Quick to make and all materials used are "throw-away" stuff, re-purposed.
I have always asked my children to make our Christmas presents.  I told them to save their pocket money, and to show us how much they appreciated us, to make us a gift instead.  This has seen us receiving the most unusual, well-thought out and unique gifts over the years.  A lot of them are still in use, or displayed with pride.  There was a gumboot rack, shaped cedar wood necklaces, neck pillows, recipe book holder, paintings on canvas and even a record, tie-dyed t-shirts, ukulele stand and more.  From their angle, our children have enjoyed sneaking off to the shed, or barricading themselves in their rooms for a week or two before Christmas, making the family tokens of love.  We have in return, bought items which were useful, items we knew they needed (never just what they wanted), along with tokens of our love - hand-made, of course.  This resulted in them being impatient for the opening of their hand-made gifts - to see our reactions, rather than their being impatient to open their own presents for themselves!  The joy of giving reinforced!

This year, I created a new kitchen gift:

GreeNZ Nut Salt Recipe
3 cups un-washed, natural sea salt (with minerals still intact)
1 cup almonds
1 cup sesame seeds
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 tspn green leaf stevia powder
1/2 cup Brewer's Yeast (good source of B vitamins)
1/2 cup dried Basil
Roast nuts in oven for 1/2 hour on 160deg.C  (optional)  Blend first the cooled nuts, then add the rest of the ingredients in a food processor to mix.  Package in wide-mouthed jars and use a teaspoon to sprinkle liberally over food.  Why not get your protein hit, alongside your condiment shakings??

Beautiful rhubarb 
While our citrus harvest has declined in magnitude (still a few oranges left), we have found ourselves without much fruit on our trees during the last 2-3 weeks.  Luckily rhubarb has come to the rescue, with black currants ripening enough to pick a bowl-ful this morning.  Strawberries are fattening up nicely, but unfortunately, time has been against me in regards to building strawberry bed enclosures.  The minute they ripen, the birds get them - here today - gone tomorrow!  So it is with delight, that my helpxchange friends, Rodrigo and Maria, from Chile, managed to build an enclosure this morning before leaving on their next travel adventure.  I can sense some strawberry delights coming in the next 3 days or so!

To make rhubarb compote, I wash and chop my rhubarb stems up into 1 cm pieces, add them into the pot and pour 1/2 to 3/4 cup of sugar over.  Simmer with a lid on, until they soften.  Do not add any water to the pot.
A great little treat; rhubarb and yoghurt for breakfast or dessert!
 We have enjoyed a few spring artichoke treats.  Not your average culinary treat in NZ - most people don't know what to do with them or simply can't be bothered by the fiddliness of getting to the heart of the matter ('scuse the pun!).  They are a token of Spring, and should really be eaten before they open fully to reveal such breath-taking beauty that I don't mind losing a few to experience this floral beauty!

Globe Artichokes

Artichoke Lunch, with garlic butter lemon dipping sauce, and salad.

There'll be days like this, now that the sun has finally decided to Shine!!
Time at home over Christmas means I can get all those 101 little chores done that I never get time to do during term time.  Like repainting the outdoor table which we have had for ages and needs a new paint job every 2 years to extend it's life!  This facilitates spending time outdoors eating al fresco.  I have recently had a few surprise gifts - someone else's discarded unwanted goods give me a thrill when I can find use for them in my world!  Like a new little handbag that fits over my shoulder and leaves me 2 free hands when out and about.  I spied it at the local opp shop for $4, and a beautiful red scarf for $2!  What a gift!  A thrill!  I can't bear to enter a shop where everything on the racks are multiple clones of one another!  Finding an Opp Shop treasure is like being in Aladdin's cave of wonders and picking something that speaks to you!  Often, the items SCREAM to me!  Pick me, pick me!

My newly aquired pre-loved handbag and scarf.
The other little treasure I found brings me much joy and is also so functional!  Driving down one of our side streets, I spied a little table on the kerbside.  Aha, I thought, that would do nicely for my student daughter when she goes flatting.  Stopped to pick it up and gasped in surprise as I saw the intricate inlaid woodwork masterpiece that was the table top!  Perhaps I won't give it away, I think I shall keep it - Love at First Sight!  Reminds me of a Dutch painting!  There is a small piece that is lifting and a missing piece but hardly noticeable.  Looks like a museum piece!  LOVE my piece of street art!!  Makes a handy little coffee table!  A Christmas gift to myself, from the Universe of Abundance!
My street-gifted Christmas pressie
My 4 week term break will see me out there in the garden, with the birds and bees, flowers and trees.... sowing seeds, planting summer veggies, harvesting yummy plums and nectarines (mid January), painting and maintaining our little paradise. 
 Oh, reading too!

Merry Christmas Everyone!!


  1. "Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas" :)

    1. Indeed! Loved the gift of time we shared together in NZ!