Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Simply Beautiful Christmas

Christmas 2012 was simple and beautiful. Simple because I chose to keep it simple - no new decorations or updated colour schemes as much as I loved the woodland themes that kept popping up on blogs and pinterest that would have been perfect for our home in its forest setting. So once again my tree was decked out in traditional red, green and gold. It was meant to be because someone bought my twins outfits that matched the tree!

My Christmas had to be simple because I have been so busy this past year and especially in the weeks prior to Christmas having set up a business making handcrafted cake stands and soy candles in vintage teacups that took me to markets all over the region. I did not have time or the inclination to spend hours in busy malls so I was glad that we had decided to keep gifts simple. I had bought a few gifts throughout the year for the children - puzzles, books and games. On one of the few occasions that I did venture into Target I found new swimmers and rash vests for the girls discounted by forty percent. This was something they needed and over summer they are spending lots of time in the pool. Even the most humble of gifts brought delight to the faces of children on Christmas morning!

Our beautiful boy celebrated his third birthday just before Christmas. He was thrilled with the big, beautiful quality Tonka fire engine with its moving ladder, bells and whistles. I don't think he minds at all that I found it at a garage sale for just ten dollars - in perfect, as new condition!

He didn't mind at all that his birthday cake was not elaborately decorated and looked nothing like the racing car and 'Lightning McQueen' cakes his sister had shown him on pinterest! He was more impressed with the sparklers I think!

Christmas Dinner was simple and beautiful. Simple because I chose to use what I already owned to set the table which was from the collection of vintage china I have gathered over the past year. All the plates, silver cutlery and table linen were found in garage sales! The cake stands are ones I have made for hiring out. The only new addition to the table was a set of pastel wine goblets and pale blue tumblers - the pale blue tumblers were found at Big W - 12 for $10 and the beautiful goblets were my Christmas gift from my children and were purchased online, days before Christmas. I was so thrilled when they they arrived at the Post Office on Christmas Eve. They made my table look extra special and setting a beautiful table is something I just delight in! And once again, I made the crackers from kits and recycled trims from previous years - mine were assembled on Christmas Eve as I had already made one set for a friend and almost ran out of time to make my own!

We set the tables up outside on the patio under the veranda. Three extra guests joined us - my son's girlfriend, my friend's son from Germany who is staying with us over Christmas and New Year and we managed to persuade a work colleague of my husband to come along who would have spent Christmas Day on his own. Initially, he was reluctant, he didn't want to impose but on Christmas morning we sent him this message - 1PM, Menu : Roast Turkey with pear cider gravy, lemon duck, maple roasted vegetables, spinach and paw paw salad. Dessert - pavlova. He sent a text back immediately 'I'll be there, what can I bring?'

The only menu item that did not eventuate was the spinach and paw paw salad because the spinach wilted in the intense heat of Christmas Day but the turkey which had sat in a brine overnight and then cooked in pear cider was just amazing. The most tender, moist and delicious turkey you could imagine thanks to the brine and the second consecutive year we have enjoyed this on Christmas Day - thanks to Annabel Langbein's fantastic recipes and tips which have made me a better cook.

 Pavlova was a must have dessert with having an overseas guest but I confess I did not make my own pavlova base but didn't want to buy one that had preservative in its ingredients. Most supermarket pavlova bases do but Aldi's to my surprise didn't and it was actually very good if not better than the ones I have made in the past. It saved me lots of time this year and all that was needed was to whip up some cream and pile on fresh fruit - simple and beautiful because of the fruit which is in season at Christmas time in Australia - peaches, blueberries, strawberries and mango!

Our Christmas was also beautiful because it was spent in a beautiful place. How blessed I felt as we sat down to dinner at home and looked out over the trees - the green of the forest seemed even more intense on a day filled with radiant sunshine. The cicadas were deafening but this is the sound of summer in Australia!

On Boxing Day we took our guest from Germany out for the day and showed him the World Heritage rainforest that is not too far from where we live. We debated over which waterfall to walk to as we had several we could choose from. We opted for the one which you are able to walk behind! After our walk we had a picnic lunch and met other people we knew who were also showing their family and friends from the city the beautiful corner of the world that we live in!

 It has been a simply beautiful Christmas and New Year. We have enjoyed picnics, dinners, movies, church services and outreaches, firework displays, hot days at the beach and cool days at the ice rink. We stayed away from the shopping malls except to buy groceries and essentials. The children and young adults have been bushwalking, surfing, swimming, ice skating and fishing. We have visited our new neighbours on two occasions - just popping in to say hello and spending two to three hours talking with them each time is a good sign that we are going to get along isn't it!

2012 was somewhat of an unexpected journey for me and yes, that is a direct reference to the Hobbit for I tend to identify with Bilbo Baggins for there is nothing I would rather do than stay in my hobbit hole with my  pantry, my garden, my china and my doilies. Oh how I loved and laughed out loud at that part of the script in the movie and thought of the ever growing doily mountain in my home which is inevitable if you love vintage tables! And I could just blog about that and be happy but God knocked on my door this year and prompted me to go on a bit of an adventure. I have met a lot of people through starting up a little home based business which took me into the marketplace and the very heart of our community. We have started attending a bigger church which we love and feel very much a part of. The Lord has expanded our horizons, opened many doors and shown us the people around us who need to see and experience this life in Christ that we live as a family where every member loves Jesus and seeks to honour Him in everything that they do. What a joy it has been to welcome so many people into our home over the past few weeks. What a privilege to serve the Lord in this beautiful place where we endeavour with God's help to raise our beautiful children in the fear and admonition of the Lord.

And as for 2013 and this blog. I have been seeking the Lord. It takes so much time to blog when your internet connection runs at snails pace. This post took a ridiculous amount of time today because of photos taking forever to upload. I'm still working out how to fit it all in and really appreciated the post  by Amy at Homestead Revival on her priorities for 2013. She is so on my page! So like her I will blog when I am able. I will not write guest posts or accept guest posts. Giveaways will be few and far between. Adverts will be unlikely to appear here unless it is my own endorsement for someone or something that I believe will truly be of benefit to others. As Amy stated 'I must be diligent about living it first' and I believe she is right, otherwise our message is empty and hypocritical. The theme of my blog will always be 'Raising beautiful Children in a Beautiful Place' for that is what God has called me to do. I cannot do that from the confines of an office from behind a computer even though my family are just metres away and home during the day - I am drawn away from them into another world when I am online.  My blog was always intended to be a family journal but one that would encourage others to cherish and sow into the life of their family and the people around them, so I must return to sowing in order to be able to share with you the harvest to encourage you to be a sower that you may also reap. That is my heartfelt prayer. I invite you to join me on this journey again in 2013 and when I am not here know that I am at work in my eight acres of eden.

May your 2013 be a year when you sow and reap. Your family will grow up before your eyes and if they are still living at home it may only be for a season. It is a year for getting our priorities in order fellow bloggers.
May God bless you and all your beautiful families.


Niki Jones said...

What a lovely post.
Loved it all.
Sure was a busy year for you.
Well done at having a crack at new things.
I think that is amazing.
But the most shocking thing of all-How can that baby boy be 3. Seriously.
That went by in a flash.
I hope you have a wonderful year & I'll see you along the way, Niki x

Pam said...

I loved your update. Your Christmas table looked beautiful. I loved that you used all your vintage dishes.... and it was a great idea, since you have them all in stock. You know that is all right up my alley. We have done a lot of simplifying these last two Christmas's as well. Mostly because of having our income greatly reduced. I have gotten gifts from garage sales and second hand stores also.. when they looked "like new". The kids don't mind, and the older ones are all doing the same things... we often delight in the treasures we find at those places. I have also gone shopping at my own home for the big kids. I look through my house and say" what would they like that I have". Everything from dishes to books have been great presents for them, especially when they are far from home. They are a like treasures from home to them. And of course, I have also made gifts; jewelry and more whenever I can, and that is a success as well. It is nice to be able to get comfortable doing things that way isn't it?.

Your children are all beautiful. The Smiler is getting big. The twins are precious in their Christmas outfits. They remind me so much of my girls when they were that age; the way they pose and hold on to each other... I can imagine the giggling. I love their delight in the simple things.

I certainly understand the "busy-ness" at Christmas time and how it can challenge you and your family.
I didn't get to the mall much this year either. Oh... I was interested to see that you had Target over there,
as we have it here (I imagine it to be the same store). Also, I am always interested to remember that you are sweltering in heat and we are freezing... I think yours sounds a little better right now... I am actually dreaming about islands of late. I would love to take Steve to some beach and let him recover lol.

I can relate to the slow internet problem... we have had that in past... it is a little faster now, and has been up-graded and a new computer has really helped that, but I almost always needed to go the Chiropractor when I finished posting lol. Well, it has been a nice update Anne; I could chat all day I think, and I didn't even get to everything yet, but I have chatted here as if I were posting a post as well, so I will say good bye for now. Many Blessings to you and your family for the New Year.

Much Love,

living from glory to glory said...

Happy New Year!
I really agree with how often you may be blogging, as to blog and not be present in the now is really a poor way to manage our time.
My children our grown, but my hubby still needs me. And my time with the Lord has to come first, and as I get older I desire to be with him in longer portions.
Everything did look really amazing and so cozy in your Christmas day.
I pray God's favor and blessings upon everything you set your hand to!

A Bite of Country Cupcakes said...

Ann how much I enjoyed that post! Be assured the time when your able to post is really uplifting for us who read along!Your Christmas sounds just perfect! You make it all seem so easy as it should be. How quickly your babies are growing.
Also last years Trampoline....How did it fair a year later??...We got the 14 ft VUly this Christmas too...And My Bub is 2 in 3 weeks and he too is getting two tonka trucks,but the old school yellow type xo to you and yours Ann

Ann at eightacresofeden said...

Hi Kylie,
Lovely to hear from you. I was just thinking about you yesterday and wondering how you were. The Vuly is going great ... it has handled a year of almost daily jumping/leaping with ease by my family and all their friends. You should have seen all the Chinese students who visited us enjoying themselves on it! It was an investment we haven't regretted and their after sales service is excellent. Will email you when I have some free time!
Love to you and yours.

A Bite of Country Cupcakes said...

Good to hear Ann that is reassuring!
I too think of you often and hoped to post a little car and some goodies for the kids but the loss of my nephew has had our family in a spin and life is crazy!!!I will email you too...and love the odd post...Your doing better than I !!! lol!!

Beth said...

Wow...I can't believe that your "baby boy" is three!! I remember when you were just expecting him!!! We have been fine...just busy with our new precious little boy of our own, Israel! Blessings to you...I think of you a lot but rarely have time to post!!

Unknown said...

Looks like a lovely Christmas, I love your plates, I very rarely see pretty plates like those in my travels except for big bucks which I don't have!

Camille said...

Dear Ann ~ Yes, the important things...I can wholeheartedly agree with you there my friend! I find it very interesting that your Christmas Day was HOT and we had a dusting of snow. Isn't it amazing to think we live on opposite sides of this globe?? God is Good. HE leads and directs. And, yes...HE has called us to this life of motherhood. We will keep in touch whether here or in letters...what a blessing to know that you are on this journey too.

Much Love,

P.S. Emma enjoyed seeing the photos of the girls....

Joolz said...

Hello Anne, such a calm, enjoyable post to read. What a beautiful Christmas and New Year you had. Our Christmas was a shambles this year - certainly no beautiful table setting! My first Christmas I'd rather forget. The past few days have been much better though.

If you can't find time to blog regularly (especially with blogger taking forever to load pics), perhaps try a 'month in review' type post at the start of each new month. A few bloggers do that and it takes the pressure off of having to blog regularly.

Blessings to you and your lovely family,


Anonymous said...

What a delight to stop in and read your update Ann! I've missed your optimism, photos and the inspiration your blog provides. Look at your beautiful twins, and your little man - how they've grown!!! Much love and blessings in the new year.
I am blogging again... my new blog is certainly different from my last, reflecting the differences in my life now. But I'm pleased to tell you that the children are all thriving, happy, healthy, loving, bright and doing better than I could have ever hoped or imagined, praise God. His love really does prevail and He continues to bless and support us each day. Hugs xx

Queen Of The Armchair aka Dzintra Stitcheries said...

Hi Ann...I saw you over at Joolz' and your name intrigued me....I see that you have read the book Christy....Oh I absolutely love that book!

Bless you and your family and all the best for 2013 xo

Anonymous said...

Hi again Ann, just letting you know that I did reply to your comment over at my blog. This "reply" to comments thing must have appeared during my blogging break - do you get some kind of notification? Just curious! Anyway, hope you're having a very happy Tuesday morning so far. :) xx

Renata said...

Dear Ann
A very belated Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to you my friend! I have missed reading here so I finally have some time to catch up on what I've missed!
Your little boy is such a cutie & growing fast ~ wasn't he just born yesterday;)
I recently read 'almost amish' & was challenged about my technology use. Then Amy's post came & I could only agree. Unfortunately ( or fortunately) I am now on the Old Schoolhouse Review Crew & while I get to look at loads of fun home schooling curriculum, it means I have to keep my blog going ( I was ready to throw it in ~ especially after a critical comment I received). I love seeing your beautiful Christmas table ~ so inspiring. Our Christmas was very busy with 14 people here, but it went well. A whole lot of work though!!
Have a wonderful holidays & I'm glad you are continuing to blog ~ when you find time!
God bless


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