Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Happy Homemade Christmas - part 4 - All over Red Rover

And so, the Silly Season is over for another year. Though I didn’t achieve perfection (by a long shot) in my Quest for an entirely Handmade Christmas, I was happy with my efforts.

I made the salads for our Xmas lunch. I supported local business by getting the chutneys and pickles at the markets.  I wrapped my presents up in lovely rustic twine and brown paper. I bought handmade for some of my gifts.

Brown paper packages tied up with string... #xmas
It wasn’t easy though. Particularly the gift side – I’ve discovered not everybody can be catered for by the handmade or locavore movement.

Books, for example. You have to buy them, you can’t make them or get one from your friendly local author. You CAN, however, support authors by buying from independent bookshops. Or DVDs. Again, something you can’t hand make or buy local. But you CAN purchase them legitimately from a shop or online retailer, thus ensuring everyone involved in their production receives their cut of the profits. Piracy helps nobody.

So what did I learn? Well, I found that handmade gifts for the men in my family are extremely difficult. They just don’t want or need leather hip flask covers, stamped silver bottle opener keyrings or manscaping smelly things to splash on their chiseled jaws. They’re not into fashion, and wear no jewelry. Thus, sites like Etsy are a little of a lost cause for me when shopping for males. The one exception is t-shirts – there are some great, original artwork tees out there.

I also learned that you just can’t do everything and work full-time. I worked right up to Xmas Eve, and found that hand-making gift tags, co-coordinating a decorative colour theme for the dining room and trialing a tablescaping idea were not within my abilities. However, I found some lovely handmade-looking tags, bought crackers that matched the baubles on my tree and threw some pinecones in a wire basket for a centerpiece. And it worked out ok.

The loveliest part of the day was having the chance to bring out and use some of my vintage Pyrex. I used a divided casserole dish, an old amber glass pie dish and a large mixing bowl for the salads.

I hope your Christmas was just as nice as mine. x

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Happy Homemade Christmas - Part 3 - Food

I've been thinking about Christmas lunch for a few months now. I've done one Christmas lunch before, and that was with my brother and his girlfriend. This year, it will just be us, my mum and maybe my dad (he works out west, doesn't know if he'll be back yet).


Somewhere along the line I've got it into my head that I want to do a "cool" lunch.  that is, no cooking. I do not want to turn my oven on. This is problematic.

I've discovered, that even though in Australia we tend not to do the whole hot roast and all the trimmings thing any more, a lot of our traditional Christmas food still requires cooking. And all the northern hemisphere recipes are, of course, great for winter when the oven is cosily warming the kitchen while your children play in the snow. But not so fab when it's 40 degrees outside and the sweat is dripping into your eyes as you check if the roast veges are done.

Christmas food that requires heat:
Glazed ham
Roast beef
Roast chicken
Roast Veges
Steamed beans, peas and carrots
Seafood that needs cooking
Christmas pudding
Mince tarts
Salads involving rice, cous cous, quinoa, roast veges or pasta
Potato salad

So here's the flip side - "cool" Christmas food:
Cold chicken
Cold leg ham
Rum balls
Prawns & other raw seafood

I've spent hours surfing food websites looking for ideas, and come to the conclusion you could get lost in the world of salads, for example. More than I would have thought involve a cooking element too!


Another things pissing me off - articles like this one, titled "Beginner's Christmas", that actually involves a recipe where you have to stuff a bloody turkey. Stuff that.

So here's what I'm planning - No entree. Why fill up on hors d'ouvres when the main event is so yummy? Lunch will be a cold roast chicken, leg ham off the bone, a tomato salad, potato salad, (cooked the night before!), peas and corn ,chutney and mustard. Dessert is pavlova and bought Christmas pudding with cold custard.

My mother-in-law suggested nipping down to Woolies and picking up a few containers of their potato or pasta salad and some pre-made coleslaw. But my pride won't allow for that! (Note my pride will allow for bought custard and pudding as these are far beyond my meagre cooking skills...)

Now, as that's lunch taken care of... does this mean I can focus on my tablescaping? *maniacal laugh*

Sites browsed that I found helpful in writing this blog: Recipes+, Super Food Ideas, Coles, Feast, Martha Stewart, Jamie Oliver

What's on your Christmas menu? Are you doing a roast? 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Happy Homemade Christmas part 2 - handmade gifts

I am quite jealous of people that make things. I dabble - I try to cook, try to be crafty with my scrapbooking and so forth but have come to recognise my limitations. I'm no artist.

However, I love supporting people that are, and turn what was a hobby, passion or talent into their livelihood.

Here are some nice handmade things I've been browsing lately on Etsy. My guide for choosing presents for other people is: pick something I would want someone to give me!

Clockwise from top:

Floaty Feather Tea Towel Citron - from ElkhornDesign 

Vintage map organic cotton cushion cover - from mybeardedpigion

Funky teapots bag cotton hand stenciled print - from PrintingPretty

Resin bangle. pink orange yellow. sunrise. gloss. - from whizzbangle

Scarf Dahlia Wrap in espresso - from ElkhornDesign

Bec's Hummingbird fine art print - from kittensandcrumpets


So I think it's clear that I like things like vintage maps, tea, linen, birds and bright colours! 

Do you have a favourite handmade or bespoke crafter or artist? Tell me in the comments!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Happy Homemade Christmas - part 1

Welcome to a series of blogs I'm going to be doing sporadically over the holiday season. It's going to be about planning and having a Happy, Homemade Christmas. Or my attempts to do so!

I have a different perspective on Christmas this year. My growing interest in all things vintage and my focus on "reduce, reuse, recycle" and trying to integrate this mantra into my everyday life has had a great effect on me. I'm starting to have an adverse reaction to what has become near-normal for this time of year - a commercialised orgy of spending, focused on buying new things and conspicuous consumption.

I only have to look at the growing pile of junk mail that is accumulating in my recycling bin to realise that I could get very wrapped up in spending money not only on gifts for others (that they probably don't really need) but also on myself right now.

Please don't think of me as ready to throw off the shackles of chain store shopping just yet, but I am ready to refocus my perspective of the season onto stuff that feels more right than just spending money on "things".

I'm going to try to do things "homemade" where possible, and get my gifts locally or from small business. Ideally, I would love to source all my gifts from Etsy! It will not be easy, but I'm going to give it a crack, and be sharing with you the lovely things I discover along the way.

It's not all going to be about gifts either. Other things I want to try to do the Homemade Way:
  • cooking and baking
  • cardmaking
  • giftwrapping
  • decorating
 I am hosting Christmas lunch for our family this year, so I'll be trying to serve up not only a lovely meal, but decorate the house nicely as well.  No tinsel. I've decided I'm allergic.

source: pinterest

What do you think about Christmas? Do we get too focused on buying stuff?


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