all things christmas #1 – gingerbread

I am a true Christmas lover once again. I have never wavered in my love of the reason for the season, but the season itself took a fair beating during my uni days when I worked at Target.

But let’s not take a trip down that particular red and white memory lane in which poor Christmas music is played on a one hour loop from 1 November…

In my next few blog posts I’m planning to share some of the things I love about Christmas!

Gingerbread houses

This year I made two gingerbread houses in the space of one weekend. I helped organise a gingerbread making night for the women from church and friends. I picked up the kits from Jordans Cakes at Riverstone, which is pretty devoted to gingerbread houses (to the extent that there were only 4 loaves of bread on the shelf). Roofs and walls lay cooling on tray after tray and in the short time I was there two others popped in to pick up their orders!  Well priced kits…will have to find out about the taste from my boss since I gave that first house to her!

On the night I enjoyed hearing my friend Fiona speak. She shared a little history of gingerbread, and also gave a challenge to consider those without ‘homes’ at Christmas – like refugees, and homeless people.  It was also refreshing to be reminded of God’s promise to us through Jesus that He is preparing a place – a home – for those who call Him Lord, for all eternity.

I made my second house at GBHMD (Ginger Bread House Making Day) – a tradition organised by two of my friends who are sisters – and both passionate Christmas lovers. I have been making houses (and one gingerbread train in 2008) with them for a few years now. GBHMD has always been a fun tradition of Mariah Carey carols, catching up with friends, lolly sharing and eating, decorating, and potluck lunch.

my gingerbread house...to be eaten on Christmas Day!

House #2 is currently atop the bookshelf waiting for Christmas Day to ‘smash’ it open – that’s Adam’s job.

Gingerbread biscuits

A couple of years ago, I realised that just decorating the gingerbread wasn’t enough… I wanted to bake it too! My Christmas loving friend (same one as above) emailed me her recipe – complete with an instruction to buy a rolling pin!

In my first batch this year I made some stars, trees, bells and some mini gingerbread men. I then found a bigger gingerbread man cutter and (to my delight) a gingerbread woman! Apart from looking cool, I was hoping that the bigger cutters might speed up the baking process so I could get on with icing and lollies. But the little arms, legs and heads tended to break off easily and therefore required delicate transportation from pastry sheet to baking tray. I learned that the more I kneaded the dough, the more likely the biscuit would stay together after being cut out.

Decorating…is…fun. Piping bag essential!

ginger stars!
gingerbread girl!

Well as much as Adam and I love gingerbread, we couldn’t eat all two batches of bikkies. I bundled some up (as per photo) as gifts for my colleagues at International Teams and sent Adam off to work with a container as well.

gingerbread biscuits gift wrapped for my colleagues

Aside from being tasty, looking fun and being good gifts at Christmas, I really love making and decorating gingerbread for the same reason I like gardening. Whether covered in dirt or dough, my own hands are working to create something new. Something real and tangible. And that’s satisfying! I wonder if that’s my farming heritage on my Dad’s side coming out?!

Next post: the tree!

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one saturday in september

Back in the day I had the privilege of leading a girls bible study group at St Paul’s in Castle Hill. I got to be a part of these girls lives from their mid teens until they were a few years into uni. I caught up with some of them for lunch today and loved hearing where life is taking them these days and stories of the challenges of leading their own youth bible study groups!

The afternoon was spent at Toby and Kim’s wedding – what a joy to celebrate with those guys! And I spent my evening baking up a storm while watching the swans final on tv. A bit sad that they lost. Here are my baking efforts…for morning tea tomorrow at Redfern Anglican.

choc chip cookies. just reliably awesome!

Mum's lemon slice. Always a winner!

iced bikkies for the kiddies. Used to love these when I was little.