What a relaxing, but in the same breath, hectic time we have had over the last few days.
On Christmas Eve, Kim got into the swing of things and made some beautiful shortbread biscuits in the shape of trees, and Ben helped to decorate them with melted chocolate, smarties (M&M's), and sprinkles. Here are some of the finished products. They made about 24, and I have never tasted a shortbread so nice and melt in the mouth.
Consequently, there are now none left!
We also made up "Care Baskets" for each of the older kids. We used a practical container to hold it all in. For the girls we used wicker baskets that they can reuse as laundry baskets and Adam got a big blue carry basket that if you put a bin liner inside you can turn it into a drink cooler for parties. Inside their baskets we placed items that we knew they used over the course of a year. Things like shampoo (organic), razors, sunscreen, bamboo socks, deodorant, hair brushes, a 2009 diary for school/work. Have a look for yourself. Click to enlarge.
This single gift for each of the older kids only cost about $50 each. I even slipped in a jar of home-made strawberry jam into Amy's basket. Kim then wrapped them in newspaper to hide the contents. I believe they were all pleased with their gifts. We made sure that all the plastic items were recyclable. I would have liked to go fully organic with these gifts but the price would have been horrendous.
Our lovely neighbours gave us a special present. They were chocolate brownies in a jar! I have never seen this concept before.
The idea is simple. You put the contents of the jar into a large bowl. Add a teaspoon of vanilla extract, ⅔ cup of vegetable oil & 3 eggs. Mix and pour into a 20 x 20 cm square pan. Bake at 180° C for 25 to 30 minutes. We haven't tried it yet, but will do in the next few days. We gave them a book made by the Diggers Club titled, "The Australian Vegetable Garden - What's new is old". I hope it helps to enhance their gardening knowledge. I have never met a pair of budding gardeners so excited about their patch in such a short amount of time. Well done neighbours!
I received some great gifts from family and friends. A cook book from Megan, "The food of the world", some organic cotton T-shirts from Amy with cool stuff printed on them like, Ride Don't Drive, Get Real Banana Peel! (yellow of course), and Far Out Brussels Sprout! (green). From Adam, some Divine Calm relaxing massage oil, and from Ben and Kim a Sushi Express kit. From Teresa, a coffee mug and from our friends Phil & Stacey some Solar powered LED Chinese lanterns which I charged up yesterday. They stayed on all night. Don't they look cool? Yes, it is dark because I purposely turned the flash off on the camera.
Here is what they look like with the flash on.
They give out a great ambient glow, and I could actually walk around the deck area without bumping into anything. You can also see them hanging off of the only Christmas lights I have which are also LED. I keep them permanently strung and switch them on when the mood strikes me. I think I mentioned it before but they only use 7 watts or 0.007 kWh!
On Christmas Day, Megan and Amy helped me cook a traditional roast dinner. I bought two organic free-range chickens, and stuffed them with home-grown/made sage and onion stuffing. Yummy, and served with roast potatoes, pumpkin, and onions, steamed broccoli and carrots and Yorkshire puddings, and pan gravy. What a feast, and I am glad that it was on 22° C on the day. Imagine if it was over 35° C like is was in some parts of the country. I think I would have resorted to a BBQ lunch if it was that hot. Most of the home-made crackers were pulled, but we still have about 6 left. I will devour the contents of the spares over the next few nights!
The rest of the day was spent swimming, drinking a cold beverage or two, and watching the kids play "Guitar Hero World Tour" for a few hours. Kim and the girls even had a go at ABBA Sing Star! If you had have told me 25 years ago that we would be singing ABBA songs on Christmas Day in 2008, I would not have believed you! We also had a nap in the afternoon. What would Christmas day be without an afternoon nap after dinner? I know that after a couple of hours rest, you are re-energised to carry on with the remainder of the days festivities.
Well, that about sums up our Christmas. We attempted to be green where we could, and reduced waste by using newspaper as wrapping paper on the majority of the presents to family. We also used the left overs from Christmas Dinner the next day with Kim making about 20 Chicken and vegetable burgers. They went down very well during the traditional Boxing Day BBQ! Not a thing was wasted, and we are very proud that we got through the day without rampant consumerism and wastefulness, but still had a fantastic time.
As I was going to bed on Christmas night, Ben said to me that it was the best Christmas he has ever had! I though it was as well.
A simple yet joyful day.