Advent wreath – Christmas!

Advent wreath Each Christmas I love to make an Advent wreath for the centre of our kitchen table. I like to include four candles on the outside and a fifth central candle. The order and names of the outside candles vary between churches, but I have them representing hope, love, joy and peace. The central candle represents Christ. The candles are on a wreath of evergreen, symbolising the eternity of God. One candle is lit each Sunday in Advent as we prepare for Christmas (over the course of four weeks). The central Christ candle is lit either Christmas eve or Christmas day, reminding us that Jesus is the light of the world.

How to make your Advent wreath

I always use a platter or large tray to hold the wreath. Sometimes I use foliage from the garden to make up the wreath. In the wreath pictured (the one I made last Advent) I actually used a furry kind of wool. This was quite effective and I inserted little gum nuts, fake cherries and pinecone things among the wool to make it look more natural.

Next comes something to hold the candles.  I used little teacups last time (just the right size for my candles) but little jars or other candle holders work well. In the past I have used thick stumpy candles that haven’t needed a holder. The candles I used last year happened to be red but I think they should be purple really. ☺ The central Christ candle can be bigger or set up higher than the others. I like this candle to be white, pure like Jesus. Last year I made cute little tags for each outside candle but I don’t always do this.

This is a great activity to make with your children as your home and family prepares for Christmas. Each week everyone looks forward to lighting the new candle (as well as lighting the previous weeks’ candles) and talking about the theme for that week. You can find lots of great family devotions and Bible readings on the internet to suit your family and age of children.  I tend to use something different each year. Your church may even produce some material you can use.

Make your Advent wreath a beautiful,  meaningful Christmas decoration for your family this year.

Trina xx

Christmas Lists

If you are a list-maker like me then this is the blog post for you!  I have made up some Christmas lists here for you to print out and use this year.

These lists are very simple and hopefully you will find them easy to use.  You may not need all the pages I have included here.  Feel free to just print out the ones relevant to how you do things. You can even print out multiples if you run out of space on the first page.

With December being so crazy busy, I have included this calendar page for you to fill in and put on the fridge.  This will allow all your family members to add to it and see what’s happening each day of December. Hopefully this will keep your family more organised and “on the same page” 😀

december-2016-calendar

Of course you will want to make sure you have your Christmas shopping done.  Next is a gift list.  This is an idea I have mentioned before in my post called “The present cupboard”. If you fill in this list and keep it, you will be able to check and see if you have given that gift or something similar to that person before. Very handy! It’s this page that you might want to print multiples of if you buy for lots of people or if each person in your family gets lots of gifts!

gift-list

Now for the food.  This is really important. In this house we like to bake goodies and treats during the month of December to have on hand when people come over or if we are going to visit friends……or if we are just staying home and get peckish. This list is also a good one to keep for future years.  You can note down the recipes you use and which recipe book it came from (include page number) or website.

The food for Christmas Day requires a page of it’s own. If you don’t like to bake much during December then you could just print out the Christmas Day page. I have included a DATE column here because sometimes I like to prepare food ahead of time for Christmas Day.  I might bake something and freeze it or make something a couple days before. This column will help you to see exactly what needs to be made and when.

christmas-food

Lastly, I have included a list for Christmas cards and messages.  Christmas cards are so special and I love receiving them and having them around the house.  I am not good at sending them anymore though!  Over the last few years I have been sending a brief update of what’s been happening over the year with our family and adding on a Christmas message, sending it all via email.  There are only a few I still snail mail out. I still require a list for this though!

christmas-cards-messages

Do you have any different lists you like to make for Christmas?

I hope you find some of these lists helpful as you plan your Christmas this year.

Trina xx

 

Camping tips

I have been wanting to give you a post about our camping tips for a long time now.  And here it is!

We have been camping for many years now so have developed lots of little tricks to make life a bit easier. Our champion camping friends have shared their tips with us too and now we have more tips!

Tenting

When we first started camping, we bought ourselves a big canvas tent:Canvas tent set up

My criteria for this tent was that I wanted to be able to stand up in it.  Not crawling around in there, trying to get changed lying down!  This tent was really roomy inside and we could all stand up in there and get changed easily.  The downside: it was very heavy and took quite a long time to erect and all four of us had to be involved in putting it up. The poles were heavy and got hot quickly in the sun. Putting it up was a super big job on a 40 degree day!

Camping tips for tenting:

  • pack everything in plastic tubs (actually, even in our camper trailer we pack our clothes in plastic tubs). Plastic tubs stack well, keep your clothes and food dry and free from ants and bugs and koalas and wombats (you may think I’m joking but in some parts of Australia these animals can be very curious!).Plastic tubs for camping
  • when you first get your tent, set it up in the backyard so that you know what to do.  Laminate your instructions so that if you need to put it up in the rain, your instructions will be protected. Also, when you have put it up in the back yard, write with permanent marker on the poles a code or description (like “roof” or “awning”).  You will thank yourself when you empty the bag of poles out on the ground at your camp site.
  • always put your tent away dry.  If you are packing up in the rain or if the tent is wet underneath, always lay it out at home to dry completely before you put it away.
  • set up your tent over the top of a tarpaulin to stop any moisture coming in underneath and protecting the floor of the tent.
  • when your tent is set up, put a big tarpaulin over the top of it and secure with rope and tent pegs. This protects the tent roof from any sap or other things that drop out of the trees you are camping under.  It also keeps the tent roof dry if it rains.
  • freeze things like bolognese sauce, rice dishes and other meals you made ahead of time in square containers (ice-cream containers work).  Then use these containers as ice blocks in your esky.  (Frozen milk works too.) They help keep everything cold without wasting space on ice.  Then, as they thaw, eat them!
  • forego the gas cooktop and take a microwave instead if you are on a powered site.  You won’t need a gas bottle and you can zap your thawed out meals quickly and easily. “Bing!” dinner’s ready!
  • store your camping gear in your trailer at home so that you are always nearly ready to go! (We bought a builder’s style trailer and it was fantastic for keeping our camping gear in at home and using as a “cupboard” while we camped.)
  • take a gazebo for extra living space. We always use shadecloth (folded in half to create a double layer) on the ground (pegged) to help keep the living space clean. It’s easy to sweep each day.

Camper Trailer

So, after seven years of camping in our tent, we decided to invest in a camper trailer. We haven’t had this for long and only taken it on three short camping trips so far.  I will probably come up with a few more camping tips for camper trailer camping as we go.

 Camper trailer

But here are my camping tips for our camper trailer:

  • again, laminate the instructions!
  • get a camper trailer with an annex.  Use the annex to store plastic tubs, wetsuits, shoes, etc, during your stay. We use black foam mats that slot together as the floor for the annex.  We also use a doormat at the entrance to the camper and another one at the entrance to the annex.
  • we converted what was meant to be the wardrobe into a pantry by installing shelves like this:Wardrobe converted to pantry
  • pack in plastic tubs (they stack really well).  Keep your clothes in plastic tubs in the annex so that the camper doesn’t have so much clutter inside.  Pack the food in plastic tubs for travelling and then transfer to the pantry upon arrival. This allows me to start packing in advance at home. We travel with the tubs packed in the floor of the camper trailer.
  • when it’s brand new and you take off the plastic covering the matresses, cut it carefully and keep it.  Use it to cover the matresses when packing up to protect them, especially if it’s a wet day.
  • place a lid from a plastic tub under the dish drainer to catch water and make cleaning up the sink area easier.
  • try to avoid frying food on the stove inside the camper.  Do it outside on a BBQ or gas cooktop.  This will prevent cooking smells becoming trapped in your bedding and camper walls.

One important general camping tip:

When you are going to the shower block, take your clean clothes, towel, etc., in a plastic bag.  When you get in the shower cubicle, put the plastic bag on the hook behind the door. As you get undressed, put your clothes in the bag. This will keep your clothes clean and dry. It’s also easy to carry everything back to your camp site and you are less likely to leave things behind.

Of course there are lots of things you need to pack.  I might post our packing list one of these days.

Camping can be hard work but you get to see some beautiful places. Follow our camping tips and see if they help make your camping trip easier. If you have some camping tips to share, please leave them in the comments below!

Murray River at Moama, Vic

Happy camping.

Trina xx

Trina’s Roast Potato & Salmon Salad

This recipe for Trina’s Roast Potato & Salmon Salad is especially for you, made up by me!

I was inspired by a salad recipe I found in a magazine that called for a complicated curry mayonnaise and a few salad ingredients that I didn’t have on hand, so I endeavoured to make up my own salad using things I found in my pantry. I had originally ripped out that recipe because I had visions of myself whipping it up at a moment’s notice to accompany our dinner. However, when I read though the recipe and realised that not only would it require a special trip to the shops, it would take ages to prepare….let’s just say that page is now enjoying the comforts of the recycle bin.

Anyway, Trina’s Roast Potato & Salmon Salad is a winner and I will be making this all summer long this year.  It is a crowd-pleaser.

Trina’s Roast Potato & Salmon Salad

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

40 minutes

Trina’s Roast Potato & Salmon Salad

Ingredients

  • 3 potatoes, washed and chopped into 2cm cubes
  • 1/2 a sweet potato, peeled and chopped into 2cm cubes
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 8 leaves of cos lettuce
  • handful of baby spinach leaves
  • 2 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp sour cream
  • 2 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 415g can pink salmon, drained, flaked (I take out the big spine bones)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C.
  2. Place potatoes and sweet potatoes in a microwave safe container with 1 Tbsp water. Lid on. Microwave until potatoes are soft. Drain.
  3. Add vegetable oil to potatoes, replace lid and shake to coat the potatoes in oil and scruff them up a bit.
  4. Arrange potatoes on a flat tray in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt.
  5. Place tray in oven to roast potatoes for around 30 minutes or until tender and golden brown.
  6. Meanwhile, chop lettuce and parsley and place in a salad bowl with baby spinach.
  7. Combine mayonnaise, sour cream and mustard in a small bowl with a spoon.
  8. When potatoes are ready, tip them into the salad bowl with the leaves and add the mayonnaise mixture. Mix to combine.
  9. Top with salmon.
  10. Serve at once. Can sprinkle with some reserved parsley as a garnish if you like.

Notes

Note: Could substitute cooked chicken or tuna for the salmon. You could also top with poached eggs to make this into a stand-alone meal.

http://trinamichellehouse.com/trinas-roast-potato-salmon-salad/

This recipe uses a tin of pink salmon, but you could use tuna or leftover cold chicken if it’s in your fridge. The salmon did taste very good in this salad though, so I will be keeping a can of that on hand from now on.

I must remember this recipe for when we go to church lunches or have people over for a bbq this summer.  It’s a really good side dish and goes well with quiche or a rice or pasta salad. You could even poach a couple of eggs and sit them on the top if you wanted to use this as a stand-alone meal. The kids will like that idea!

I hope you like this recipe.  It was developed in the TrinaMichelleHouse kitchen. Share in the comments if you have a favourite salad recipe at the moment.  What will you be taking to a bbq at your friend’s house this summer?

Trina xx

Portuguese Banana Yoghurt Cake

I got this Portuguese Banana Yoghurt Cake recipe from over here. As usual I wanted a really easy, quick cake recipe and this one does not disappoint. It is such a quick one to prepare.  One bowl, one spoon (and a fork)…that’s my kind of recipe! The recipe states that in a ring cake mould it should only take 20 minutes to cook in the oven, but mine took more like 50 minutes to 1 hour. If you made this recipe into cupcakes you would get away with 20 minutes in the oven, but not a big cake.

I used a silicon ring cake mould. You can see the pattern on the top when the cake came out of the oven and I turned it out onto the cooling rack.

Portuguese Banana Yoghurt Cake

The texture of this cake is fantastic.  It’s quite moist and dense. I mashed the bananas with a fork and wasn’t too fussed about making it smooth.  A few banana chunks make this cake more interesting, I think. By all means, make your banana smooth if you prefer it that way.

I have rewritten the recipe in this post just because I prefer my measurements in cups, not grams as the original recipe states. I have kept the rest of the recipe basically the same as the original.

Portuguese Banana Yoghurt Cake

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

1 hour

Portuguese Banana Yoghurt Cake

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Greek style Yoghurt
  • 2 bananas, mashed with a fork (chunky is okay)
  • 2 cups Plain flour
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 80ml vegetable/canola oil
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • For the Icing:
  • 1/4 cup Greek style yoghurt
  • 1 cup (or more as required)
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  2. Grease a 24cm ring cake mould or use a large loaf tin (or cupcake tin).
  3. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir well to remove lumps.
  4. Pour the cake batter into the mould and place in the centre of the oven for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  5. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before turning out on a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Make the icing: beat all ingredients well (adding enough icing sugar to make right consistency). Pour icing over the cake and leave to set.
  7. Store in an airtight container.
http://trinamichellehouse.com/portuguese-banana-yoghurt-cake/

The best part about this Portuguese Banana Yoghurt Cake recipe is the icing!  It’s genius! I must remember to use this icing recipe for other cakes.  The tang of the yoghurt makes this icing really delicious. It’s very smooth and beautifully white and shiney.

Make this cake and impress your friends! They will want the recipe when you tell them it only took you 10 minutes to mix up.  Then when you tell them about the icing……..minds blown. 🙂

Let me know how you go with this one.

Trina xx