Monday, December 30, 2013

This Years Garden Challenge - Part 2

Well I sprayed all around the outside fence of the garden including the hen house. Wasn't sure if the hens would cope but they are still all alive!

But a lot of the weeds aren't! 

And then to my surprise I discovered something left over from some plantings a few months ago that I thought had all died.
Mind you it doesn't look too happy but we will nurture it and see how it goes.

So after pulling out all the dead weeds and finding the edge of the garden, Harry helped to spread out eight bags of stable scrapings (Horse poo) over the area I had cleared for the first plantings. Not the nicest of jobs as the bags were well and truly starting to "mature" and the flies were thick. We had added this to our veggie garden for years now and find it so good, not just for fertilizer and mulching but for just building the garden up.

Then comes the hard part. It took forty minutes to dig it all in and rake it over, taking care not to destroy or disturb the little seedling that might grow. Sounds a bit like the little engine who could.

I rescued the seedlings from my kitchen window box that I had grown from seed and the lettuce seedlings I had recently purchased and then got to work planting out.

Tomatoes, lettuces (fancy and heading), bell peppers, cabbage and broccoli (or were they cauliflowers - only time will tell!), a zucchini and a row of carrots and a few radishes.

I also had two pumpkin plants I planted down the other end of the garden.
I found my old slug and snail bait holder (the frog) and set it up. I know it looks silly but it holds the bait as well as little reservoirs for the slugs to die in. It's covered so animals can't get at the baits and stops the rain making the bait soggy.

And all this in a mornings work in the garden as the weather report predicted rain in the evening and more the next day. How ever the rain didn't come that evening but it certainly did the next day. In fact over the ranges there was flooding.

So I may be late in getting the garden going and there is still an awful lot to be done to restore it to a thriving plot, but it's a start and little by little it will improve.

I miss not being able to pop out to the garden to gather fresh veggie for meals, or to preserve or bake with.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas 2013

The year of 2013 saw Harry and I experience the empty nest syndrome.

OK it happens to every Mum and Dad who have children when the last one leaves home. Now unlike my parents (My elder brother left home when he was about 40!) it was a long time for this to happen to us. We have five grandchildren already with another on the way, but Christmas this year was the first time in 33 years that we have woken on Christmas morning with no children - what ever age - in the house - and it was odd.
In fact I didn't like it.

Some will read this and think, get over it; I've had that for years; Its not just about kids; I can't wait for it! What ever you response, for us as a family of five children we felt a little bereft. My other brother once said that at Christmas he wanted to be where ever there was children (he hasn't any of his own ) and that often meant our home as there were always some children around.
I now know what he means.

I had known this was going to happen and had even contemplated not putting up the tree (also because the last few months have been so busy and full there just hasn't been time) but in the end I did. In fact I put up two. One with my usual gold decorations and Angel theme and another in reds with a children theme.

But there haven't even been any grandchildren arrive so the candy canes and chocolate still hang uneaten.

I didn't even do any baking apart from my Christmas Cake and Daniel's favourite white chocolate clusters.

But God has been gracious. Harry and I have enjoyed time together and I was blessed with four boxes of mini Christmas mince pies, shortbread, coconut ice, chocolate, nuts and other treats, just for us to munch on. Harry's not into sweet treats really and so if I make any and there is no-one here to share them, I end up eating them all myself.

We have also had the freedom to do what we want, when we want and not having to check if others mind or need to come with us. Harry only has a couple of weeks off and then he is back to work so - like the rest of the year - we are learning to live Christmas as a "couple" again.

I 'asked' a question in our church newsletter:
"When you look in the manger what do you see?"

Little did I know that it was really a question for me.

No matter what your situation, where you are, the 'arrangement's' around you, the people you are with, the question still remains...
"When you look in the manger what do you see?"

The birth of Jesus and the fact that this is what we celebrate each Christmas is the reason for the season. 

I txt all my family on Christmas day "Happy Christmas" and Jason txted me back to say that my grandson Jacob had just blown out the candle and sung Happy Birthday to Jesus.

Sometimes it takes the beautiful innocence of a child to bring it all home to us.

Edited to change what Katrina said on facebook "Yo, you need to correct manger. You've spelled it as manager so everyone is looking in the manager and trying to see something."

Thursday, December 26, 2013

24th December

The white Candle in the center of the Advent Wreath is the Christ Candle.
It is usually lit on Christmas Eve to symbolize the birth of Jesus.

Advent comes to its glorious fulfilment this day as we celebrate the coming of the King of Kings. It's a wonderful time to relish Christ's final victory and the hope that victory brings to the entire world.

The white Christ candle is a reminder that Christ brings Hope, Peace, Joy and Love, and wise men still follow Him.

Even the tiniest flame can dispel darkness and fear.
What ever is happening in your life right now - whether good, bad or indifferent - focus on the true meaning of Christmas.

Luke 2:11-12
11 Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’

Find a white candle and in a quiet place light it and focus on what Jesus means to you in your life... Maybe it is a time to give Him your worries, disappointments or concerns.
Maybe it is a time to give Him your life and ask Him into yours.
Maybe it is a time to just relax and thank Him for the goodness He has done for you.

22nd December

I know this is late but...

The fourth Sunday in Advent is when the candle for love is lit.

Jesus was the way God showed us how much He loved His world and everyone single person in it. The birth of Jesus was good news for everyone, not just the important people. God's greatest promise was that He would send a saviour, and this saviour came wrapped up in God’s love. Christmas is about celebrating the best gift ever! Like the angels and the shepherds before us, we sing “O come let us adore him”. Faith Box

Jeremiah 31:3
I John 4:9-10
John 3:16-17
Jude 1:21

The true meaning of Christmas is Love.
It's only because of God's great Love that we even have Christmas.
With out it there is nothing to celebrate at this time each year.
And because of that great Love from God in sending His son as a baby we can receive it and in turn, give to others.
Come and give the gift of Love.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

15th December

The third Sunday in Advent is called Joy.

I discovered for the first time that most people use a pink candle for the third Sunday.

Traditionally the color representing Advent is purple or blue. This symbolizes the color of the sky just before dawn. The third week of Advent is represented by the color pink for Joy.

I hadn't known this so next year I will make sure we do the same.

Little did they know that the baby God was giving them would bring so much Joy, freedom and love to the entire world! In fact, God sent hundreds of angels to sing and announce “I have come to bring happy news for everyone –everywhere!” Jesus’ birth into the world was so important that God sent a special star to light up the darkness like a spotlight to lead people to the infant Jesus. Faith Box

Isaiah 25:8-9
Luke 2:10-11
Hebrews 12:2
1 Peter 1:8-9

What does joy do?
How do I recognize it?
Like an underground spring bubbling up from deep in the earth causing a river to form,
like the lift of a heart at a baby’s coo,
like the touch of Spirit on spirit in our deepest prayer, or our shallowest excitement,
joy comes from our recognition of the divine being within, without, around, about, above and below
making our living worthwhile and recognizing us as persons loved by this incredible Creator of all things.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

8th December

The second Sunday in Advent is when the candle of peace is lit.

God gave Mary a great sense of Peace in her heart as she and Joseph set out together on the long journey to Bethlehem because everyone had been ordered to go back to their hometown to be counted for a census. Faith Box

Isaiah 9:6
John 14:27 
John 16:33

God promises us inner peace.
No matter what outward storms we see in the world around us or we are facing, we can experience an inner peace which is beyond human understanding.

I have finally started to put the Christmas tree up. Sarah called around briefly on Sunday and Carl helped Harry get the tree out of the arches in the garage. I vacuumed first but now I can see that was a waste of time. It's an artificial tree but its still shedding its needles!
I now need Harry to get up in the attic to get the boxes of decorations down.
Don't panic!
It will all be fine in time.

Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Orange Jaffa Muffins

This is a recipe from Alison Holst's "More Marvellous Muffins" book called Golden Orange Muffins but I have changed them slightly - as, if you follow my blog you will know I do regularly!

I have made the original recipe which has half a cup each of chopped dates (or sultanas) and walnuts, and I have made just the plain orange muffin with no added fruit of nuts.

This recipe is plain with the added treat of chocolate chips on the top to give it a jaffa flavour.

They will go in the freezer for the Christmas season when I need a plate or friends call.

1 orange (or more to approx 200gr)
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
½ cup milk
100g butter, melted

1 ½ cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
⅓ cup of chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 200°C.
Grease a 12 hole muffin tin.
Wash and weigh orange (s)
Cut unpeeled orange into quarters and then each quarter into half again.
Removing any seeds, and cutting off any damaged parts, add to a food processor (all the orange including skin and pith) with the sugar and process until orange is very finely chopped.
Add egg, milk and butter; process until just combined.
Sift dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Fold in orange mixture gently until just mixed (a few lumps of flour are fine).
Spoon mixture into prepared 12-hole muffin tins.
Sprinkle with chocolate chips and bake for 12-14 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Trina’s Terribly Tasty Triple Chocolate Cookies

Our youngest has been known as Rina, (eldest sister) Missy Moo, (Father) Treeny, (best friend) Trinaaaaa (eldest nephew calling across a cafĂ© and it’s kind of stuck) hence the name of these biscuits - but I will always call her Katrina.

She rung the other day and asked me to make ‘her’ cookies and post them on here so she could have the recipe.
So here they are and because they are so bad cos they have so much chocolate in them I will have to post most of them down to her!

The original recipe had raisins and chopped macadamia nuts instead of the white chocolate buttons but as our house tends to be one where we change recipes to suit our tastes and what is in the pantry, Katrina made this recipe for her chocolate fix.

125g butter, chopped
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
1¼ cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup plain flour
¼ cup self-raising flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
⅓ cup cocoa powder
½ cup white chocolate buttons
½ cup dark choc chips
½ cup dark chocolate buttons

Preheat oven to 180 °C.
Line two oven trays with baking paper.
Cream the butter, essence, sugar and egg in medium bowl with electric mixer until smooth.
Beat in all the chocolates so they are chopped by the mixer blades a bit.
Stir in combined sifted flours, soda and cocoa powder.
Roll about a tablespoon of mixture into balls and place onto prepared trays about 4cm apart.
Press each with your hand to flatten slightly.
Bake about 10 minutes. Watch them as they can burn without you noticing (my first tray did and these in the pic are from the second tray!)
Stand 5 minutes; transfer cookies to wire rack to cool.

Monday, December 2, 2013

This Years Garden Challenge

It's that time of the year again - well actually it has well and truly passed it.... but I have entered into the Yates Garden Challenge again and I realize now that with being so busy with the retreat I am no where near completing anything.

In fact this is what my garden looks like!

But because some of you like to see how I go (Hi Lynda!) I will blog it on here and it will make me get onto it.

I have seedlings already to go - lettuce, tomatoes, capsicums and some other greens. I even have some seed potatoes but you can see there needs to be some major work down over the next few days to even get at the ground!

My aim over the next few weeks is to get a little bit of the things I like to do done each day
  • gardening
  • reading
  • knitting
  • sewing
  • baking
  • 1 Christmas thing
Posting here will help me make sure I do it!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

1st December

Today is December the first, and also the first Sunday in Advent as we lead up to Christmas.

This morning in our 8.00am service we lit the first candle; the candle symbolizing Hope.

The first thing that anyone knew about the coming of Jesus was when the angel visited Mary to tell her that she was going to have a baby. Mary could hardly believe it, but she trusted God more than her eyes could see. Faith Box

Isaiah 11
Isaiah 42
Romans 15:13
Remember God gives us hope
Christmas is about God’s gift of hope to us but not just for us
Take some time to think about how God gives you hope.

I have been so busy over the last couple of months organising and running a women's retreat for women at our Church that I have not even thought about the coming Advent and Christmas season.

Last night I made our Christmas cake, so I am starting to prepare.

I want to reflect as I go thorough this time.

I love this quote from the faith box page:

 “Let’s approach Christmas with an expectant hush, rather than a last-minute rush”