Christmas upon us…………

I am not a religious person, but I love the way the Christmas period enables us to merge families and friends together to celebrate and share each others company. I am a chronic lover of certain traditions of which Christmas is one. I love seeing the sparkly lights on the tree, the smell of once a year foods being prepared and the planning to make sure everyone is sated and comfortable.

Sadly as families grow and develop into  their own independent units we find ourselves at a turning point where we must compromise to make sure we catch up with as many as possible and not necessarily all be  together for the ‘BIG’ bash on Christmas day.

As we welcome new family members and say farewell to others, some things will stay the same. These are and as long as I’m able to are:

  • Make a Christmas Pudding using only Australian grown dried fruit.
  • Make a gingerbread house, which I have done since 1982 before the ghastly things that now appear everywhere were available! The ‘smashing’ of the house is now a much loved tradition.
  • Ensure as many of us that are able, will spend some time together
  • Only have a real tree-Ours is quite bare of decorations these days because I made sure every year, we had the kids pick an ornament at our annual Christmas trek to the city, so that when they left home they could decorate their own trees! Lovely idea, but a little sad when we pull out the old dud ones remaining that no one else claimed as theirs when they left!
  • Attempt to refrain from the commercial hype that is so often the case.
  • Endeavour to encourage people to keep it small (gift wise), and to not spend money on ‘stuff’ that just gets thrown into the garbage after the event.

This weekend I made the Christmas puddings, one to eat at home, one to take to my sister-in-laws and one because I just love ‘pud’ and wanted to be able to have more for me to eat! I really feel let down when we celebrate Christmas elsewhere and I don’t have any leftovers to indulge in for days after.

My mum was a fussy pudding maker so I use her recipe, soak the fruit in alcohol in the basin/bowl she used for many years, mix the pudding with Great Grandma‘s beautiful old, worn down by years of stirring, wooden spoon, and use my MIL’s pudding bowls.

pudding mix

I always reminisce about these people while preparing the ‘pud’ and it is a lovely time.

I always get very nervous that the ‘pud’ will be a failure because you cant see the final product, but so far so good!

Birthday cheer.

With my daughters birthday this weekend we had an easy lunch of warm chicken salad and enjoyed a few glasses of bubbly with my ‘new best friend’ Wild Hibiscus added to the glasses. This product is just beautiful, the most glorious cheery colour of a hibiscus flower in syrup added to your glass and it not only tasted great it just looks sensational.

champers

Didn’t get to do too much done in the garden but spent a fair amount of time moving the old greenhouse to the ‘new old house’ to use as a temporary shed under the mulberry tree.IMG_0671

This old greenhouse served my sister and her husband well for many years and us for many more. It may even have another life as a shade house in the future!

Weekend Wrap.

Sold!

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The sale of the house we have lived in for app 23 years has now become unconditional so we are having to face both preparing to leave and preparing the ‘old new house’ for living in. The list is endless and I seem to be adding to it every hour. With the move scheduled for mid January and Christmas slap bang in the middle we could be in for some long shifts. Oh well, keeps me off the streets!

Silver beet rolls.

At the end of another long day cleaning, painting and weeding I tried throwing a few items I had on hand together and was well rewarded. We traditionally have nibbles and drinks when doing the Christmas tree so this served the occasion well.

Picked some silver beet,

Silver beet

Blanched till just wilted, chopped finely and added to a bowl with some ricotta, feta nutmeg, spring onion and an egg. Added a small knob of grated parmesan cheese and mixed all together well.

Ready to roll

Spread onto sheets of puff pastry and rolled as for sausage rolls. Into the oven for 20 minutes and we had some lovely silver beet rolls to eat while we decorated the tree for the last time at this house, enjoyed along with a glass of bubbly of course!

Done!

Will have to get to the final of the Christmas decorating touches another night, after  I have rested up from this weekend’s efforts.

Xmas tree

Oooh, exciting PS! Picked 2 raspberries of the new canes I planted at the ‘new old house’. If I had to choose from all the things you can grow, raspberries would be in my top 5.

Tomatoes & Reminiscing

The tomatoes are going ‘gangbusters’ at the moment and setting fruit beautifully. I have never quite decided on whether or not pruning them of laterals is worthwhile or not, so this year I am going to experiment and chart the outcome. I know I always feel like I am not making the most of the plant’s potential when I trim off those laterals with little flowers forming even though the so-called experts recommend doing so.

Because the San Marzano tomatoes are in a wicking bed, the staking system I usually use is not going to work because driving stakes into the bed  will damage the plastic pond liner. I am going to use the system I use in the greenhouse and see how that goes. This is basically a wire hook with twine spooled around it like a bobbin. The end of the twine has a clip which is attached to the tomato base and the twine is wrapped around the stem as is grows and anchored into an overhead support.

Tomato supports

Using some of the poles I retrieved from the tip last week I constructed a support to rest some PVC pipe on which is what the hooks will lock into. I drilled a small hole into the PVC pipe so hook would fit in neatly.

Tomato frame

I then proceeded to prune laterals from plants on one side of the bed before winding the twine support around the stem and on the other side of the bed I just wound twine around the whole plant and hooked it up.

Comparing methods
Comparing methods-Plants on left have been pruned of laterals, those on right haven’t.

Reminiscing

We had a bit of a birthday celebration on Saturday, and with the imminent (hopefully, find out tomorrow if our sale becomes unconditional) sale of our house two of the 3 kids now 24 and 25 decided that they would revisit their childhood and climb the tree in the back yard, while at the same time get down a car tow rope that has been hanging there for about 12 years. We have done a lot of work over the years and it is very sad to be leaving such a lovely setting.

Cam retrieving rope

Friends & family anxiously await hoping he won't fall!
Friends & family anxiously await hoping he won’t fall!
Has been fun.......cheers!
Has been fun…….cheers!

This is a photo of a photo of the same yard with the same kids taken about 18 years ago. Little bit more vegetation now!

Kids backyard

Have to start building new memories at the ‘new old house’ now!