Sunday, 26 December 2010

A Little Break

Just to let you know I'm not dropping off the edge of the earth.  Rather, Dh is home for a few weeks of summer holiday.  It is a good time to step back and enjoy a break from lots of things that happen in regular life and blogging, for me, is one of those things.

I plan to catch up on a pile of reading.  I plan to stitch with Miss Mischief.  I plan to bead with Miss Sunshine. I plan to sit and enjoy a pot of tea with my husband and just enjoy sitting.  And I plan to watch Mr Busy wizz by on his bike or play with his cars and a new garage.

I'm going to enjoy this one last summer before I begin my degree.  One last summer of ignorant bliss.

To each of you who pop in here regularly, or stumble over my blog by accident, to each of you who leave your  precious comments and thoughts I want to thank you for what you add to my life and the joy you leave here for me. I look forward to catching up with you all next year. 

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Wishing Each of You....

...a very joyous and blessed Christmas.

The List Complete: A Pictorial Tick-Off

I completed my list, all bar the cleaning in fine time yesterday. I even had an hour to sit and have a cuppa with a friend before spending the evening with my friend Rel's family and a couple of other friends as well. I can tell you, I was happy to sit!!!!

Let's see what I managed to do!

Two chickens, deboned and stuffed and all ready for the oven.  One has cranberry and lemon thyme, and one has apricot and parsley.

Stuffed Pork Roast
Here is the pork, stuffed and ready for the oven as well. This one is filled with cherry and bacon, with both lemon thyme and parsley within. Yum..can't wait.

'Granny' Pav
A pavlova was the last thing into the oven, as it then sat to cool when its cooking time was done. I'm pretty sure my Granny, from whence the recipe comes, would indeed be proud that her mantle has been passed on successfully. And the rest of the family will continue to indulge with great enthusiasm and deligh.. This will be filled with lemon curd cream and topped with sliced stawberries.

Meat for the Freezer
Meat was prepared in various marinades and placed in the freezer.

A Mountain of Biscuits
I also baked two double batches of biscuits. Dh is home for a few weeks' holiday now, so having extra things to nibble on always helps avoid the demands that come out when hungry people can't just dip their hand into some vessel holding something delicious.

There you have it.  A very productive day spent in the kitchen!

Friday, 24 December 2010

Christmas Eve and the Long To-Do List

Can you believe that we've reach Christmas Eve already?  Again?!  I'd had such plans for a sedate week at home and thought I'd be all serene and calm today.  Rather, I've woken and decided a list must be made if I'm to stay sane!  Actually, I think it's not going to be so bad....but I need that list to keep my head on straight.  You know how it is ~ things fall out of your brain when you try to keep too much in there at once. list:
  • debone & stuff two chickens and pork roast; roast them
  • make double batches of choc chip bikkies and gingerbread
  • make a pavlova
  • prepare meat for the next week to freeze in marinades and such
  • prepare for a BBQ dinner with friends
  • clean the bathroom and sweep floors
  • finish wrapping presents
The first half needs to be done this morning!  Just as well I'm an early riser.

Our Christmas Eve always ends with children in bed, presents and Christmas stockings placed under a glittering tree and a cup of tea whilst watching Carols by Candlelight.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

To Santa or Not To Santa

It seems that this is the greatest modern controversy facing Christian parents.  It is a subject rarely spoken of without some very emotional responses when differing opinions collide within one family.

My husband and I both grew up in homes that included the Santa element of Christmas.  I think it was just what our parent's generation did, without much questioning.  It was simply the way Christmas was and few would have been inclined to veer from it.  A generation later the world had become quite a different place and as parents, we were being confronted with all manner of issues to scrutinise, including this one.  We chose to take Santa out of our Christmas, and I'll explain why in a moment.  Our choice did, however, cause a bit of a stir.  Once my parents returned to Victoria and my brothers began their families we realised that we'd made quite a controversial decision.  They all expressed some version of dismay that we would deprive our children of one of the most important things of Christmas and felt that we were judging their choice.  It was a sticky conversation and one I vowed never to repeat within my family. This year, it was raised in Dh's family.  Quietly.  Not amongst the large throng that is our family.  One member of the family was genuinely interested in why we made our choice.  One member of the family was horrified.  I chose to direct my comments to the one who had inquired and moved on quickly.

Neither my husband nor I made our choice based upon looking back over our childhoods and deciding things needed to be improved or that our parents had been less than diligent.  Certainly, that never entered my thinking as we considered what choice we would make concerning Santa.  Our choice to exclude Santa from our festivities was made for two reasons.

Firstly, we wanted to focus on the real reason for Christmas.  We wanted to be able to celebrate the birth of Christ with our children without having to navigate a maze of distractions in the process.  Our world is filled with opposing worldviews and religious sects that skew the Word of God just enough to confuse us.  For me, the wonder of Christmas is not a jolly old man in a red suit coming down my chimney (yes, I do have one!), but rather that God chose to send His son to us as a helpless and very human baby because He wanted us to have a very personal relationship with our Creator.  This post at Couragous Homekeeping includes an excerpt from 'God Came Near' by Max Lucado.  It is this sense of wonder that I most want my children to connect with.

Secondly we considered the issue of parental integrity.  Please don't misunderstand me here.  I'm not saying that my parents, or my in-laws, were not people of integrity.  As I mentioned, the world is a different place now than it was when we were young.  It is because of the changes in our society that this became something for us to consider when deciding on whether or not to have Santa.  It was (and still is) very important to me that our children know that we don't lie to them.  About anything.  Even things like Santa.  I believe that as we conduct ourselves, as parents, with an integrity and authenticity that is not swayed by popular culture our children will have an added measure of certainty in the way they are parented by us.  Of course they won't always like our decisions, but we will always have that firm foundation on which our children can rely.

Finally, I want to make one thing very clear.  I do not believe there is any judgement to be made based upon whether or not a family should include Santa in their festivities.  Whenever we disucss this with our children I am very concerned that they too refrain from making judgements and they receive very strict instructions not to spoil things for other families.  I believe this to be an issue of personal choice and should never be reduced to 'right' or 'wrong'. 

And just so you know, the kids still get a Christmas stocking and all of the fun that we enjoyed as children.  They don't miss out on a thing.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

The Exciting Parts of Christmas

After experiencing the difficulties that precede Christmas, last week, we've had the joy of experiencing the wonderful things that come with it.  And all before Christmas Day itself!

We've had our Christmas celebration with one side of the family, including a 'family camp'.  Two full days of relaxing together and watching cousins play together happily, no matter whether they're 20 years old or four years old.  The X-Box is an amazing equaliser of ages!

About half the family tripped into Costco yesterday, as if we needed to further entertain ourselves.  We all got into our cars after a couple of hours declaring that to have been a fun outing.  Of course it included a very cost efficient lunch at the end, after a tour around the taste testing tables throughout the store, so of course, the non-shoppers amongst the children were placated throughout the trip.  I found my much-desired Cashew Clusters as well as a few other well-priced items.

And then last night, our family had our family Christmas present.  We went to see Mary Poppins.  What an amazing show.  Mr Busy had been quite dubious about swapping full-on Christmas for a seat at the theatre.  About half way through the first half he decided it was worth it.  When I inquired after their favourite parts, they each declared the whole thing magnificent and unable to pick out one bit.  Personally, the 'Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious' moment was my favourite.  A very intricate choreography accompanied the song and was 'practically perfectly' executed.  Of course, the whole thing was great and scattered with plenty of humour.  Verity Hunt-Ballard did a grand job of playing Mary Poppins and Matt Lee was the perfect Bert.  They did the roles justice and then some.

I think the kids will opt for a 'theatre Christmas' in the future if there is an opportunity to see something they'll enjoy.  It was a truly magical evening that was worth every cent.  Mr Busy is wandering about the house gently chanting "Mary Poppins" in a perfect English accent!

Now we're ready to rest.  And prepare for a simple Christmas at home.  Beautiful food, time together.  I found free sheet music for Amy Grant's 'Breath of Heaven'.  So whenever I need a little bit of focus for the true heart and reason for Christmas, I have it right there at my piano.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

The Excruciating Part of Christmas

If you think this is going to be a whine about family, you're wrong!  Although for some of us this may be the most painful part of Christmas, I have found something far worse than any family disagreement.  And believe me, our families are not immune.

The most excruciating thing for me is shopping.  In December.  I've one stop left to make and I'm dreading it.  I only have to go into one store, but the thought of going anywhere near a shopping centre is not a pleasant thought.

I had to finish up 'main' gifts and buy food yesterday.  We arrived at 9.10am, when it was lovely and quiet.  Normal, even.  By the time we left two hours later the place was a zoo.  And not a pleasant experience like wandering about the beautiful Melbourne Zoo, or Healesville Sanctuary.  I came home exhausted.  The kind of exhaustion I felt the week after the Year 6 graduation, when I'd been at work full time for a few weeks without a day off.  Trouble is, I was only at the shops for two hours. Those two hours rendered me useless for the rest of the day!  By the time I got into the last supermarket I was nearly in tears....and not because Mr Busy was being his usual shopping-difficult self.  He was being completely lovely.

After yesterday's experience I'm appreciating some things and planning on making some changes .  The staff at Our School are a very generous group of people.  On the last two days of school, our pigeon holes need to be cleared constantly, for the gifts and cards that arrive there.  Chocolate is often the gift of choice.  But this year I received two little gifts that really spoke to me on many levels.  One was a card from TEAR that indicated the gift of school supplies had been purchased in my name.  I am still so excited about that gift that I keep going back to it to read the card!  The second was a little Christmas tree decoration, in the shape of a Christmas tree.  This decoration was so much more special, though.  It is made in Kenya under a project that tries to help people find alternative ways to earn income whilst preserving the native wildlife.  My beaded Christmas tree is absolutely exquisite.  As I hold it I wonder about the person (presumably a woman) who made it and I am in awe of the workmanship that went into this little piece.

Neither of these gifts are terribly expensive and yet they speak to my heart more than any other.  These are gifts that have built a community up, rather than tearing people apart as they selfishly push and shove their way around a shopping centre that is designed to relieve us of our money so that others can become richer.

So what am I going to change in my approach to gift purchasing next year?  Two things.
  1. I am going to seek out gifts that build up and provide hope to the communities from which they come.
  2. Like one of my colleagues, I will aim to be done by Grand Final Day.  This lady does all her shopping on Grand Final Day, when the shopping centres are empty.  Oh yes...that's my kind of shopping!

I realise that this is not a perfect world, and not every recipient will be receptive to the idea.  But where I can, that's where I'm aiming.

If you're after some ideas of organisations that sell gifts that make a difference, here's what I've found on my very quick little google search:
Beaded Hope
Baptist World Aid
World Vision
Ethical Gifts
Global Exchange Store

Please note, that I have not investigated each of these organisations and do not necessarily endorse their philosophies.  This list is merely an example of what is available.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Culture and Hospitality Post Script

To each of you who have left comments about your farewelling experiences, thank you.  I have enjoyed hearing of how things are done in the South of the USA, South Africa....other's experiences here in Australia.  Such a mixed and varied collection of responses.

As I was certain would be the case, my nephew's observation and experience was not widespread.  I didn't think it would be.  I was certainly surprised that plenty of Aussies don't walk their guests out.  I was surprised, because I only know one family in our wide circle of friends who don't....but they do things so very differently to us, I thought it was just 'them'!

Since I ate lunch out today I will no doubt be suffering insomnia in the wee small hours of night and you can be sure this will consume some of my wakeful hours.  My encouragement and challenge to us all (including myself) would be this:  Let's determine to be intentional and deliberate about caring for our guests, from the moment the enter our homes, until the moment they drive away. 

Will you join me in my quest to be a blessing 
to the guests who grace us with the blessing of their company?

Endings and Beginnings

Yesterday marked the end of the school year at Our School.  What a fabulous year it has been, too.  Fast.  Even the kids think it has gone fast.  And as excited as I was yesterday morning about it being the last day, I know I will be equally excited about the first day next year.  I love that school goes in seasons and that when you're tired and can't wait for the end, the end comes.  And after a short rest we're all ready to get on with a new term. 

Today is our final staff day.  It is a delightful way to finish up.  It's nice to relax and not be mindful of bells and routines and playground complaints.  Of course, there are kids around.  It is inevitable when about a third of your staff are also parents at the school!  My children have begged to spend the morning at with me before going with their Dad.  My boss's kids being the main draw-card.  And teachers have already started to 'bags' children for their extra helping hands.  It is one of the very special things I love about Our School.  'Staff kids' spend many more hours at school than the rest of their peers.  But one of the most precious outcomes is that they grow amazing relationships with their teachers, beyond what happens in a classroom.  It is a time when school is less about 'teachers and students' and more about working together with a common goal and enjoying one another's company.

Tomorrow....we'll take it slow.  Perhaps we'll put the Christmas tree up!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Of Culture and Hospitality

My 11yo nephew made an interesting observation when they were here for dinner the other night.  As they were leaving, we walked them out to their car and said farewell, as we always do when we have guests over.  I try and slip on some shoes as we wander out because our driveway is gravel and my feet are no longer the tough things they were in my youth.  We hover somewhere between the end of the verandah and the driveway, depending on the shoe situation.  Once our guests have driven away we head back inside.

My nephew's comment to his Dad?  "Wow, they came out to say good-bye.  In America they sent us out the door and shut it on us once we were out".

I've been thinking, pondering and grappling with this for a few days now. I am fascinated by such a small but significant difference in the culture of hospitality.  I am swivelling, in my mind, between what the Bible tells us about offering hospitality and what it looks like 'on the ground'.  Believers are encouraged to offer and practise hospitality.  It is one way we can care for each other's needs.  We show our love for one another as a tangible action that blesses others richly.  It is also a way that we serve one another.

I always come away blessed when we have been invited to share a meal in a friend's home.  There is nothing more delicious than a meal, whether it be toasted cheese sandwiches or a three course dinner party, that has been prepared by someone else with us in mind.  The fact that they have given of their time and resources is the blessing.  It looks like food on the table but there is a far deeper blessing at work. 

Those final moments together, however, seem as important to me as the way guests are greeted when they arrive and the meal and the company that is enjoyed throughout the visit.  It's like the dessert at the end of a meal.  That final taste that leaves a sweet and lasting impression of friendship.  As I think back, I have fond memories of being waved off.  That feeling that those last moments are as important as all the moments that have been shared throughout the visit.

We will continue to wave our guests off from the end of the verandah, or the driveway, because it's what we've always done.  And I think, for the most part, it is what Aussies do.  But I will do it with a greater appreciation, now, for what it says to our guests.  It is the final moment for blessing those who visit our home.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Monday Menu Planning: Week Beginning 15 December

Blissfully, this week begins with the very last three days of our school year, before six weeks of summer holiday.  Six short weeks, I suspect.  It's going to fly.  And I am going to revel and enjoy the first week. The calm before the storm, if you will. By then I will be prepared and able to ignore the crazed world of last minute gift shopping and just think about cooking.

Our menu looks different from the picture above:
Monday:  Oven fried chicken, vegies
Tuesday:  Lasagna, salad
Wednesday:  Quiche, vegies or salad
Thursday:  Chicken noodle stir fry
Friday:  Ricotta fritters, vegies
Saturday:  Chicken wings (BBQ or stir fry vegies & rice)
Sunday:  Dh's Christmas Family Gathering

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Christmas Menu on a Budget


My Mum asked me weeks ago what our menu would be for Christmas Day. Unfortunately for Mum I've become very "one thing at a time", and Christmas hadn't yet made it to the top of my list of things to focus on.  Two weeks before Christmas and I'm nearly organised.  My mind has finally turned to the menu.  Of course, for me, this goes hand-in-hand with the delicate task of budget balancing.  After all summer holidays come with their own set of expenses!

I have two delicious meals to organise and prepare.  We're having our own little family lunch at home this year and then my extended family will join us for dinner.  At least half of us will have enjoyed a substantial lunch, so dinner needs to be light but still special and still filling enough for those for whom dinner will be the main meal.

~ Lunch ~
Baked Glazed Ham
Stuffed Chicken Roll
Roasted Potatoes
Honey Carrots
Broccoli & Cauliflower Au Gratin

~ Dinner ~
Stuffed Chicken Roll
Glazed Ham
Garden Salad
Potato Salad

My secret weapon in maintaining our budget will be shopping at Aldi.  All of the meats can be purchased there at very reasonable prices.  I need two hams for this Christmas season (one for each extended family) and Aldi had smaller shoulder hams at very reasonable prices.  I balked at the size and price of the leg hams!  We're not great turkey eaters here, hence the lack of one to grace our table.  This is also a budget helper!  I will be deboning whole chickens and stuffing those myself.  Whilst the deboning process is a little tedious, I love the freedom of choosing my own stuffing ingredients.  The effort is worth it, in my opinion.  I can also do this in advance and freeze the stuffed, chicken roll before cooking.

Our lunch will be sized to suit our family and therefore not overly expensive, except for the addition of the ham.  I will be organising family members to contribute to our dinner meal, thereby spreading the workload and expense amongst us all. 

There is more than a workload-and-money motive behind sharing out the provision of food for such a feast.  There is something special about each family bringing something that is created out of love for those joining together at the table.  I love that each of us makes our salads a little differently and each is able to contribute their 'version' and share the joy they have in their creation.  Each of us makes our dishes the way we like them and it is a blessing to be able to bring that joy to the rest of us.

Have you organised your Christmas menu yet?
If you blog about it, sharing your link!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Modern Modesty

Last week I saw a blogging furor happen on another dear blogger's site.  The kerfuffle was a result of a post about SAHM's dressing nicely.  The guest poster used a adjective that was not well received by many of those who read this lady's blog.  And it all got me to thinking.

Modest dressing is quite the topic on many blogs.  Particularly by those who are conservative and believe that modest Christian women should wear dresses rather than pants of any kind.  This approach has always fascinated me.  What would you tell a Scotsman whose traditional dress is a kilt? And what about the men of Fiji who wear a straight skirt type of garment?  Then there are the men of PNG, whose idea of modesty and wearing men's attire is grass over their behind and a length of fabric hung over a wide belt thing in the front.  No doubt the traditional costumes of the women there would have the conservatives amongst us in a dead faint.  Having lived in a cross cultural situation, I find statements about what is appropriate and what is not to be quite odd.  It appears to me that each culture has their idea of what should and should not be worn and what constitutes modesty.  I think it would be wrong for any of us to impose our views on other cultures when it comes to dress code.

Of course, our culture has it's own sense of what is modest and appropriate and what is not.  I am quite tired of seeing the top bit of lace of young woman's bras.  And I'm tired of seeing the tops of their undies.  I'm really sick and tired of seeing most of a young male's backside.  Really...underwear is exactly that.  Items that are worn UNDER clothing.  Recently when we were visiting some friends I sent both my daughters back to change before we left.  Our friends have a mid-teenaged son and strappy straps and shorty shorts were, I felt, inappropriate.  Dh recently told the father of this boy of the conversation we'd had at home before visiting them and he thanked Dh for our sensitivity and the care we had shown for his son.

There are many items of clothing that I find difficult to understand as being appropriate. I'm not sure if I'm just getting old, but since most of my friends (both older and younger than I) agree I think I'm not too far off track.  Jeans that are painted on, too much cleavage, leggings with no skirt over the top...I promise you there are a number of things my daughters will not be leaving our house wearing! 

I think modesty is more than just a collection of rules and opinions.  Modesty is about respect.  Respect for ourselves and respect for those around us.  We show no respect for ourselves if we are showing personal attire or parts of our bodies that are not meant for public viewing. Our peers will have little respect for us either.  Indeed people who dress like this often earn pity rather than a positive reputation.  They could be the nicest person in the world, yet the way they dress will colour how others view them.

Likewise we should respect others in the way we dress. It is not fair on those around us when we insist on wearing whatever we feel like, knowing that what we wear will impact on those we are with.  While, in simplistic terms, we may have the right to do so, it shows no regard whatsoever for those around us.  Our responsibility to those around us must surely be more important than our rights as individuals.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Monday Menu Plan: Week Beginning 6 December

What a week it has been!  Between a Graduation, an Excursion, a Breakfast and a Supper (after dinner/evening) it's been a busy few days.  I'm really looking forward to a 'regular' week ahead.  You know, one where I work only the days I'm meant to work.  Ahhh, bliss!  I may even find some time to do the last of my Christmas shopping without having to take the whole family with me.  Surely gifts for four adults can't be too hard to figure out.

Over the weekend we had some friends over for dinner.  Unexpectedly.  Wonton Soup is not really what I would consider guest-worthy from the point of view that it is a VERY light meal.  One we tend to have on days when we've been home and done very little or when we've had a big lunch.  Consequently some of my meals this week are ones that didn't happen...but they will!!!!

Monday:  Roast chicken, salad
Tuesday:  Chicken wonton soup, prawn crackers
Wednesday: Redcurrant lamb chops, vegies/salad (crockpot)
Thursday:  Oven Fried Chicken, vegies/salad (a la Miss Mischief)
Friday:  Lasagna, salad (freeze half of the lasagna)
Saturday:  Scotch fillet for adults, something else for kids
Sunday:  BBQ, salad

* * * * * * * * * *
I've had a few little 'moments' lately, usually when I'm really tired, where I've felt overwhelmed by the magnitude of what next year is going to look like for me.  My academic semesters will be 13 weeks long ~ just over a normal school term.  My girls will be doing a little more cooking in each of those 13 week stretches, I think.  They're always keen, so some simple 'go-to' recipes will be my mission in the coming months.  I'm sure the novelty will wear off quicker than they expect.  I think we'll all look forward to the end of those 13-week semesters!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

The Wheat Free Life

Frances commented on Monday's post about my comments regarding my avoidance of wheat.  I found myself wanting to say so many things in response, that I thought a post might be better.  After all, I know how often I go in search of information about gluten free living that perhaps my experiences might help someone else.

To be clear, I do not require a fully gluten free diet.  For me, it's just the wheat that is the problem.  As I mentioned on Monday, it causes insomnia, indigestion and a really fuzzy brain.  Each symptom on its own is reason enough to propel a person to seek a remedy.  To have the three within 6-12 hours of eating wheat is no fun.  Ask anyone I work with these response when pressed to accept something I need to steer clear of is "No thanks.  I would really rather sleep well tonight".

The biggest impact of avoiding wheat comes at dinner time.  Breakfast and lunch are rather individual affairs in our household.  Each gets his or her own breakfast and school lunches are standard sandwiches.  I buy an organic rye bread that has only 4% wheat which is actually the gluten and that works well.  So I still eat my favourite breakfast of toast and jam, and can have a sandwich if I want.  I also often I have leftovers, or rice thins with flavoured tuna for lunch.  That part of the day is rather easy.

Dinner can be a different story.  I have come to the point where I cook our dinners to be gluten free and the rest of the family just have to eat along with me!  I use gluten free flour in anything that requires flour, whether it be homemade gravy (my family won't eat any other kind), crustless name it, I replace the flour with what suits me.  If we have pasta I have two pots going ~ one for everyone else and a little one for me.  Then I ladle the sauce in appropriate quantities into each pot and serve from there.  I do the same thing if I'm making pancakes ~ the first batch for everyone else and the second batch is gluten free.  Same recipe, different flour.  For the most part, the rest of the family don't notice the difference anyway.  Gluten free flour is a pretty good product these days.

I bake quite separately.  Gluten free flour is $7/kg.  Regular flour is 95c/kg.  Obviously it is not practical or cost efficient to bake gluten free goods if you don't need to!  So most of the baking that everyone else eats is done with regular flour.  If I decide I'd like to nibble on something sweet I'll bake one batch of whatever takes my fancy.  I usually freeze the batch of whatever-it-is so that no one else is tempted!

The only things I've not mastered are scones and pastry.  I've tried everything I can think of.  Scones I can do without.  But the pasty I eventually also gave up on.  Not even half regular & gluten free flour makes the dough easy to work with.  It's too fragile and frustrating to make it do what it should.  I'm told there is a product available in Coles, but I've not been there to find out yet.  Coles is out of my way so I'd have to be determined if I wanted to find out.

The other time that my dietary needs can be an issue is often at family gatherings.  Particularly when the hostess is providing all the food.  I try and find out what the food situation will be and then just bring things to suit myself...a sausage sizzle requires bread.  Dips need crackers.  Birthday cake requires an alternative sweet thing to enjoy.

It's really not so bad.  It's just a matter of getting your head around how you do what you want to do, and finding good alternatives to regular items.  There are some really good products in Australia and our restaurants are pretty good about catering to this particular need.

In Mourning for my Vegie Garden

I made a firm decision just recently.  I decided that I cannot put time and effort into a vegie garden.  Not this year, and not next year either.  Indeed, possibly not until I have finished my degree.  Between work and Uni, I think my cup will be running over without adding to the things that need to be tended to at home.  I'd rather spend my time at home with my family, than worrying over the garden.  We still have our lemon tree, and the rhubarb plant dies off and regenerates every year without us being involved.  That will have to do.

You know what I'm going to miss the most?  Homegrown tomatoes.  I love the joy of eating something freshly picked from the garden and knowing I grew it myself.  But homegrown tomatoes bring with them an added measure of joy.  They are sweet and flavourful, never refrigerated and eaten in abundance in salads.  Mr Busy loves a little boxful of cherry tomatoes in his lunch box.  And it's not problem ~ there are plenty during the height of the season.  My favourite thing though, is sliced tomatoes with basil and bocconcini.  Mmmmm, now there's a summer treat!

So I'm feeling a little mournful over the thought of missing out on that summer pleasure.  If you're growing summer vegies this year, have a tomato and think of me!