Festive Debris

We have been back and forth to the beach making ‘holiday’. Each time leaving a little more clutter and chaos. There is still remnants of Christmas lying around. A card, the odd stray oranament or a present and its package. It is time to move the festive debris. Have you completely packed up your Christmas decos? 

The Joy

As you prepare for your Christmas celebration,

Don’t lose the joy.

The joy of what this celebration is all about. Jesus was born.

Humble. Lowly. Ordinary.

So He could be exalted and extraordinary.

For you and me. Today.

May you know the joy this Christmas.

– sweet tune by my brother. Xx

Christmas Carols

The school year is almost over and tonight we are privileged to hear our kids take part in the Christmas Carol Service. It is an hour of extraordinary music, readings and prayers. We focus our attention on the Christmas story and join in one voice in worship. Those who believe and those who don’t are united in this space and place. Music has the ability to transcend and transform. To uplift and soothe the soul. This is the church where we will gather. Home to a small congregation most weeks it too becomes a new body, as it heaves with people overflowing in pews and out the door.

If only we would turn our face to Him every week, not just on this special day.


You really had vowed last year to give away many of your material possessions. You had decided last New Year to declutter your physical and emotional life. But as Santa and the merriment rolled around again this year you looked around to find stuff everywhere.

Ok, so you have unwrapped many presents this Christmas and it is in the unwrapping that the all too familiar feeling has overwhelmed you again. Not wanting to be a joy kill you find yourself annoyed and even angry. Why did Uncle Bobbie think I would like a mug covered with dogs in Santa hats? Didn’t sister darling remember I had have done the whole “I quit sugar program, twice now” when she purchased the bulk Lindt Chocolate gift pack for me? Even the nice stuff – some of the gifts were obviously expensive but you either just don’t like them or you have one/two/three of them already.

This is a common response to the season of giving – a feeling of disappointment when you unwrap a gift and realise that the person who has purchased for you, really does not know you very well at all. Is it the thought that counts? Hmmm, I wrestle with this one. As my kids have made purchases for their siblings this year I have tried to persuade them to look for useful gifts, adding to what he or she might really need and use. They have done ok, albeit the annual tub of slime made it into someone’s sack this year.

So do you regift? Recycle? Reuse?

Charity and thrift stores are great places to visit after Christmas because everyone has made a quick dash to pass off their unwanted presents. But is it ok to keep the dog in the Santa hat mug and pass it on as a Kris Kringle gift next year?

This is a dilemma. Have I re-gifted? Yes. Have I received a regift? Yes….I think so.

The give away and the wake up call was when I received a book with the inscription made out to another friend. This was a difficult one to process!! Perhaps a mistake.

Some would argue that if the gift is new, in perfection condition, not ugly or offensive and not a family heirloom then re-gifting is acceptable. Think chocolates, wine, books.

However, I think that the reason this has even become an issue and a hopelessly first world issue at that is because we have too much stuff. We need very little. One solution to this problem is to give services or experiences – a voucher for the hairdresser, beautician, a car detailer, local theatre company or cinema. And you can do all this in your local area. Fabulous. Alternatively, give your time and bless the ones you love and live with, by being present. Babysit for them, visit with them, garden with them, wash their pet with them, exercise with them.

I would hope that your presence with those you love is something to be gifted, over and over again.

Ridiculous, everything all at once.

Are you still with me? Maybe you have not been checking in on me either! It has been a crazy December here in the Southern Hemisphere. We like to do EVERYTHING at once. Truly.

We do the end of school break ups, teacher presents, class parties while simultaneously having our small people performing in nativity plays, carol services and special end of year assemblies. The end of the school year is an important occasion to mark and celebrate, however it coincides with a ridiculous number of Christmas parties for work, committees, volunteer groups, sports and church groups, book clubs and of course your friends! Then there is Advent (we tried and have officially failed this year!), Christmas shopping, wrapping, decorating and much Christmas baking. After the third night in a row in early December when I was juggling royal icing at 10 pm I did wonder what I was doing!? We had accumulated a crazy amount of white poison (icing sugar).  Little people had sampled gingerbreads, fudge, chocolate truffles and Christmas cakes and as they ate and licked and rubbed their tummies trails of sugar were left all through the house.

We also decided that December was a good month to complete the upstairs renovation and install carpet into all the bedrooms. Now it has been an amazing transformation. I cannot tell you how good it is not to be living with dusty, rickety floors anymore. But this mini ‘project’ meant that we had days of moving furniture and kids camping in strange places.

On top of it all we have had more illness, a birthday, friends visit and crazy busy work demands.
My own research is a faint memory of something I do/did/will do after Summer holidays, perhaps.
So as we rapidly approach Christmas day I want to wish you a blessed celebration of Jesus’ birth. May your day be peaceful and may there be joy and hope to follow the busyness and stress on Xmas day. Cheers. S xx

Christmas Baking

Christmas baking. I am about to scan my files and recipe books, blogs and Pinterest for some Xmas baking inspiration. The interesting thing as my family gets older is that I have more volunteers for help with the baking and a few bigger girls who want to cook on their own. Think family kitchen in chaos, covered with dirty utensils and layered in a fine dust of icing sugar!

In the past favourites have been homemade fudge, shortbread, biscotti, coconut ice, chocolate bark, gingerbread and mini fruit cakes. This year I need to find something that fits the gluten and dairy free, but sweet and decadent category. Plus I need to make bulk of a few things – so we have gifts for family, friends and neighbours. How are you going with that Christmas baking? I have soaked my fruit for our Christmas cake but have not made it…yet. If you have a great idea or recipe are you happy to share? We could have a plan for Christmas baking by the end of the week.

Overall, I think the fun is in sharing the cooking time with others and then making the most of your bounty by wrapping them in boxes, bags and bows. But I know that cooking is not for everyone. And I love this image that came via Pinterest. Huh! Has this ever happened to you?

Last Minute Advent Ideas

Advent chaos. It gets to the last day of November and I am overwhelmed by all of the fabulous things I have not done in preparation for advent. Decorations, Jesse tree and a new and inventive advent calendar….. So here are some last minute ideas I have been collecting on Pinterest. The last one is for the grown ups!
 Variations on the small paper bag theme are endless. Find some great advent readings online and print them out and add a small treat.
 Super fast way to reuse your muffin tray!

 If you are good with a hot glue gun and spray paint, here is the peg and board idea.

Covered rolls are simple and fun, especially if you are trying to theme your Xmas decorations and use natural products – linen, brown paper and string.
 This idea is super cute and one I can imagine leaving up after the event.

More paper bags – it is all in the way you hang them. Different lengths add visual interest and caters for small kiddies and slightly older teens wanting to participate.

Really simple use of newspaper and wash tape. Possibilities are endless here, but I like their uniform size and shape. Find a great box or container to hold them all.

 I am sure you have seen this one on social media. Advent for grown ups. You could substitute anything really for the wine. Boutique beers, small bottles from the mini bar,  a new coffee bean or cordial favour?
Here is hoping you get your Advent ideas organised today.

Avoid Advent Disappointment

….and start your handmade advent calendar now. Each year I have great plans, intentions, ideas….and at the end of November I find myself a little panicked. In 2011 we had a ‘uber’ cool advent calendar made of black paper coffee cups, threaded with brown twine and decorated with red numbers. Each cup contained a special advent verse and a sweet treat.

I have found so much inspiration on pinterest. Have you planned your advent?