Christmas Decorating with Forest Gatherings

 

Hello,

We are nearing the finish line with our Christmas preparations and during this busy time of year many of you are busy finishing your shopping, baking, cooking or perhaps already starting to enjoy the festivities. I’m currently in the midst of Christmas baking and preparing for our Christmas Eve dinner. While my poppy seed is soaking and my dough is proofing, I have taken a moment for a little rest and would love to share with you a decorating idea for your Christmas gathering.

During our first Christmas living in Stirling, we decided to decorate using mostly elements of nature, which initially was a fun celebration of our new forest life. Rustic wooden decorations are inadvertently trending recently, so I thought you may find value in seeing how easy they are to make yourself. My aspiring lumberjack husband made a few wood slices using pine logs lying around our garden, using a simple handsaw. A chainsaw can speed up the process, but a handsaw does the job just fine. 

I went for a little forage into our garden and collected some pine needle branches, pinecones and a few Hydrangea blooms. Naturally I extended my foraging for an excuse to wander around town and I was excited to discover Christmas Holly growing in the wild. This was the first time I had ever encountered real Holly, realising it’s not just a mythical plant featured on Christmas card illustrations. I found some thin burlap ribbon that I had saved from a previous gift, to wrap the pine needles around the napkins.

I find store-bought Christmas bonbons always so wasteful and lacking any real value, so our children handmade them for a fun Christmas craft project. We found some plain gold wrapping paper and my son wrapped them around cardboard rolls and filled them with hand-written jokes. I personally found these jokes more sweet and funny than what the standard bonbons contain! They also added some chocolates and sweets and wrapped them in foil ribbon. We loved these so much and I hope making these will continue to be a very special tradition in years to come.

To decorate I used a plain white table cloth, cloth napkins and candles that we already had and arranged all our garden gatherings on top in a rustic style. Christmas Holly is very prickly so I didn’t want to use too much on the table. I made a simple hanging wreath wrapped in this Holly to hang above our table which looked quite pretty and kept fresh for a long time. Be sure to use gloves though, as those leaves can be quite sharp. Also, I found a gold sleigh that was the packaging for an old gift and reused it to display some pinecones. For our Christmas tree I purchased a few wooden decorations and mixed them with some golden glittery ones for a unique look. Ideally I would love to make my own wooden Christmas decorations from the garden in the future!

Our family really enjoyed the creative process of gathering and making these simple nature inspired decorations. This little decorating project became a talking point with family during the festivities. The decorations were appreciated for being environmentally friendly and a sustainable alternative during a time of year where excess and waste is often paramount. What started as a celebration of our new garden has now become a new tradition that we all are eager to continue, for many Christmases to come.

 I’m yet to forage for our table decorations this year. Perhaps tomorrow morning I will go for a wander when the weather is cooler. If you don’t have a garden then perhaps as a suggestion you could go for a nature walk somewhere locally. The idea is to look around your own natural environment and use what inspires you. For those living near the coast; frangipani and palm leaves would be so lovely too. I hope you have found some value in our idea that Christmas can still be wonderful with less excess. For us it presents an opportunity to express personal values, such as our journey to a more sustainable and mindful lifestyle.

Wishing you all a wonderful and peaceful Christmas,

Jacqueline

  

dsc_2857

dsc_2858

dsc_2852

dsc_2847

dsc_2859

dsc_2845

dsc_5471

dsc_5470

dsc_5472

dsc_2836

 

Exploring Roadside Farmer Stalls in the Adelaide Hills

Hello again,

Autumn is coming to an end here in the Adelaide Hills and the cold crisp air has arrived! Wanting to get out of the house last weekend, we decided to jump into the car and explore the towns surrounding us. My little boy has been sick at home for a few days, and I wasn’t prepared to risk extending his illness in this cold. Our solution was to go on a little family adventure searching for the best roadside farm stalls while he remained rugged up in the car.

We decided on our route by simply choosing the prettiest and most scenic roads at each intersection, enjoying the charm of discovering new places and views along the way. Our first find was in Uraidla, where we found such a cute roadside stall filled with seasonal autumn produce such as pumpkins, cabbages, oranges and rhubarb to name a few. We bought some cabbages, leeks and beautiful bunch of beetroot that will be perfect for making one of my favourite Polish soups called Barszcz (Borsch). As we were taking some photos of the stall, a farmer on a giant tractor drove right up to us from nowhere and with a cheeky grin said “Hello there, I see you are admiring my golden beets?” A little embarrassed, we were unsuspecting of anyone watching us, and felt like such city folk with our SLR camera taking photos of vegetables on the side of the road.

DSC_4112
DSC_4111
DSC_4115
Several windy roads took us through lush green meadows dotted with gum and pine trees, stopping briefly to say hello to some grazing cows. Our little adventure led us to Summertown, Piccadilly, Balhannah, Oakbank, Woodside and Bridgewater. Fields of apple orchards and endless bare grapevines stretched across these country towns. I loved seeing the old rustic farm equipment displayed near the roadside as an ode to the past, and the afternoon sun peering over the gentle rolling hills; quite iconic for the Adelaide Hills!
DSC_0531
DSC_4159
DSC_4161
DSC_4121
DSC_4119
DSC_4179
DSC_4181
DSC_4152
DSC_0490
The excitement of being the first the spot the next stall along the road made a great afternoon and we were spoilt for choice spotting several little stalls on the outskirts of towns. The Apple Orchard shop was a small store that sold some delightful Fuji apples, so fresh and crisp, it was not hard to imagine them being picked the previous day. Some great fruit preserves from seasonal local fruit can also be found throughout the Adelaide Hills.  We particularly enjoyed a delicious combination of rhubarb and raspberry jam by Naturally Nice Jams that we found in Lenswood, perfect on toast!

Springwood Farm in Summertown was also a great find, they grow raspberries, figs and other berries and produce Granny May’s Jams. Their raspberry jam has such a perfect balance of sweetness and tartness with such a juicy raspberry flavour, that is well worth the trip over!  Friendly farmer David spotted us leaving his stall and chatted to us about his farm and told us that during the peak season in summer, they sell their own ice cream made with their fresh raspberries and blackberries! Find more details about Springwood Farm here.
DSC_4146
DSC_4128
DSC_4124
DSC_4155
DSC_4170
DSC_4185On our way back we found some gorgeous flower stalls, and one cannot end a trip around the hills without stocking up on some horse manure for the garden! The kids found it quite amusing we were searching for bags of horse poo and the trip was such a nice family adventure with many laughs all afternoon.
DSC_4149_01
DSC_4166
DSC_4144
In our busy lives it is nice to take a step back sometimes and spend a day like this just wandering and exploring with no real expectations and schedule. It was lovely experiencing good old country values such as farmer’s trusting our honesty to pay at unmanned stalls, and knowing we are still able to make a difference in supporting local farms. Additionally it was a good educational lesson for our children in understanding seasonal farm production and essentially where our food comes from.
DSC_4127
So if you are looking for something different and fun to do this weekend with friends, family or even a cool date idea, head up to the hills and explore a little. You will create some fun memories, meet some inspiring country folk and collect a bounty of goodies along the way!

Stay warm and have a lovely day,

Jacqueline