Monday, December 22, 2008

A Christmas Poem

What will this Christmas mean to you as pressures come your way?
The shops all hope for bumper sales, but notice what they say:
'Use credit cards for purchases with their extended pay',
But then your debts will quickly mount right up to Christmas Day.

We ask ourselves what food to eat and what gifts shall we buy?
And what can we afford to spend when prices seem so high?
We need to plan for everything for everything costs more.
These are the Christmas questions that we really can't ignore.

The Christmas cards are on display and there are special stamps.
The travel agents focus on their fine resorts and camps.
It's good to get away a while and share a family break,
But do be sure to pay your way for everybody's sake.

We trim our Christmas trees and use our other decorations.
We really are so busy making all these preparations.
We welcome family and friends to show we really care,
And catch up on each other's news which we are glad to share.

But pause awhile and be aware that Christmas was foretold,
For in the Bible we may read the prophecies of old.
The saviours life, also his death, are forecast and fulfilled.
The gospels then record it; that's the base on which to build!

It's nice to hear the carols but do grasp the words expressed,
For in that 'lowly cattle-shed' God gave his very best.
He sent his own beloved Son, His precious gift to all,
His 'shelter was a stable and his cradle was a stall'.

What did the angel really say? Whatever was the reason?
The 'good news of great joy' explained the reason for the season.
'A Saviour has been born to you' and 'He is Christ the Lord'.
He's 'ever to be worshipped', to be 'trusted and adored'.

The angel choir then praised the Lord and sang of 'peace on earth',
But that hope seems in vain without response to Jesus' birth.
Our 'peace with God' is found through Him; for that we need to pray,
Then there is hope for human peace when Jesus is 'The Way'

Ask God to help you understand His special revelation,
How Jesus came, lived, died and rose, to offer us salvation.
And if we really understand the Bible's presentation,
Then we will have the focus for our Christmas celebration.

Remember those across the world who face such desperate need.
The aiding agencies all help and for donations plead.
Lets count our blessings in our land and generously give.
Live simply so that you can help the ones who barely live!

Poem written by Rev Perry Smith of Belmont NSW. He is a dear friend of our family and gave me the poem he wrote for his christmas cards this year. I thought it was worth sharing.

Merry Christmas All,

The alphabet will continue after Christmas.

Love Hannah

Monday, December 15, 2008

E is for Eggs

Eggs aren't the only reason I keep chickens, but they sure are a good thing! I have 3 Barnevelder Chooks *who feature in the picture up above called Milly, Molly and Mandy (but don't ask me to tell them apart and two bantams (an aracauna and a leghorn) named Speckles and Sadie.

I love having chooks and have written about the benefits before on another blog. I have the big three in the run, and occasionally let them out in the evening, when I can be there to supervise (any mulched area is gone, which is okay when it's around a tree, but somewhat of a problem when it's my potato bed)

The bantams live in the chook tractor, and after my first attempt to let them have a wander ended with me chasing Sadie around the garden looking like a headless chook myself. I move them every two weeks, letting the spot rest for a week or two and then digging some new garden bed. I am currently just planting heavy feeders like corn in there, perhaps some brocoletti, or silverbeet next, and eventually that will be the area of the garden that is rotated each year.

The brown egg is from the Barnevelders, they were bred to lay these lovely brown eggs, and I usually get one from each every second day. The little white one is much smaller than the bantams usually lay, but they had stopped for a week or so altogether, and were to the point of getting threats of going in the pot when this weeun appeared. They are back to normal size again now (about 40g)

The chooks are also just great characters, always say good morning, interact with humans as well as each other and process my lawn clippings and vege scraps into dark rich soil which I put into the vege garden.

If you have any questions about keeping chooks, send them my way.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

D is for Decorating

I bit the bullet and got out the christmas decorations over the weekend. Oh and I did buy some cinnamon spice candles and some star lights. I don't think the lights will come down after christmas finishes, they're too nice.

This is my dining room, with the star lights over the curtain railing and an advent decoration on the table, four candles to symbolise the four weeks leading up to christmas.
I decided not to get out the christmas tree, as there's nowhere to put it where you can see it from the road. If I was having Christmas at my house I'd put it up in the back room though.

This is the advent decoration up close, some christmas cloth underneath, and a couple of decorations on top. They are real pine branches from a tree near church, it was happy to have the prune, and they make it smell like Christmas :)
But my favourite is this, a dutch nativity. The top is like a fan, and it twirls around by the air movement created by the candles, a lot slower than it looks in this photo, creating gorgeous patterns in the room, and although you can't see it, inside there is a complete nativity scene, mary joseph and baby jesus, the wise men, shepherds and the angels. One of my brilliant sisters found this for me, and I love it.

Monday, December 1, 2008

C is for Circus

Three weekends ago (Was it only that long ago?) my family went to see Cirque de Soleil in Canberra. It was our birthday presents from mum. My Brother Bohdan and his girflfriend Kate and I went down the dirt road through Nerriga and stopped at Bungendore for breakfast...Yum

Bohdan and Kate

Then mum shouted us all lunch at the national library cafe. Yum again.

Me with my grandy's. See the stained glass windows in the back. Well, I had to go into the library and check who did them, because I recognised them from the art gallery in Melbourne. I was right. They have amazing designs, kind of medieval art slash indigenous inspired. Bold colours and shapes.
My other grandma and great aunty audry came too!
Me and my siblings Jonina, me, BIL Glyn, Miriam, Kate and Bohdan outside the tent.
Funny story about Jonina and the Icecream man, remember to ask me when you see me next.

The show itself was amazing as usual... the human body is an amazing thing. Music, costumes, muscles...
This girl was a one handed balancing contortionist. It was amazing what she could do.

There's a lot of drama in the shows, clowns, characters, song and dance. All in french so you don't understand the word, but you don't really need to.

This is the Dralion. Combination of chinese dragon and a lion.

On the way home we caught up with Rae and Duane and Xavier Green, fresh off the plane from NZ. great to see them and have a meal together.

B is for Bread

I have been wanting to start baking my own bread for a while, but the whole hours of work and kneading was not the most appealing thing in the world.

So when I came across the idea of no-knead bread with next to no effort involved, just a bit of time to do all the work, I had to give it a go. I found this website to be the most helpful, as it explains the why not just the how.

Basically put 3 cups plain flour, (I have been using 2 cups no-name and one cup of wholemeal organic flour) 1.5-2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp dried yeast in a bowl and mix. Now add 1.5 cups water and mix (I find I have to add just a bit more water to make it all come together. It should be sticky to touch, with no dry bits of flour left.

Cover this with gladwrap and leave overnight (I do the first step before going to bed at night, it takes less than 5 mins)

Optional step - in the morning get a spoon and beat the mixture down before covering again. Last loaf I made I forgot to do this and it had no discernable impact on the loaf.

The Yeast doing all the work
The following evening I heat up my baking dish - a rectangular cast iron casserole dish in a very hot oven, around 250 degrees celcius. It must be a dish with a lid. Initially I used two smaller dishes, hence the two loaves below, but now am just using one larger one, it's about 4 litres in size I'm guessing.
While that heats, I shake flour over the dough in the bowl, use a wooden spoon to pull it away from the sides and then tip it out onto a floured piece of baking paper. I roll it around a little to ensure that the whole loaf is floured and then when the dish is hot I flop the lot into it, cover and leave in the oven 30 mins.
Using the lid creates a steam like effect, that gives you a loaf like a bread artisan would make. After 30 mins take the lid off and cook for a further 15-20 mins at the same heat. Tip it out onto a wooden board, and listen to the crust crackle as it cools. It will be hard to wait, but if you can leave it for at least an hour it will be the best loaf you've ever eaten. Delicious plain, toasted, with oil and dukkah....oh the possibilities.
Loaves just out of the oven. (Can you hear them crackle)
Just looking at them is making me hungry, oh and the fact that it's lunch time

And this is the inside of a loaf. We have a woodfired sourdough place that sells loaves which don't taste much different to these for 6-7 dollars a piece. I reckon this one costs under a dollar and takes about 15 mins maximum time to make (plus 24 hours where you are not involved.)
I gave Allison some last night, and she said it was amazing. So amazing that she doesn't want the recipe, she just wants me to make it for her. Anyhow, hope some of you try it out. It really is failsafe. Well so far at least, and i'm on my third loaf and more coming!