Tag Archives: Christmas

Reflections on Christmas, by a Doula (me), and not a Theologian (the hub).

I love Christmas. There is so much to love about it – the food, the festivities, the giving, the joy. Only this year did I calculate exactly how many family traditions (or events) we shmoosh into this beautiful period of celebration. There are many.

Between my husband and my family, I could count over 10. From baking our own mince pies, to acting the nativity scene (dressed up and with specific roles!), to Uncle Paul’s Christmas Party and Carols at Kirstenbosch. This season is full – and wonderful.

And so full of WONDER. For so many years we celebrated Jesus’s birth – in the manger, with angels and shepherds and that all important star – all so neat and tidy and lovely sitting in the church pew thinking ‘let’s hurry home now and open presents’ (a firm childhood memory of mine)…

Only after having my own kids (and falling in love with birth) have I begun to imagine that birth differently. I love to imagine how hard it must’ve been for Mary and Joseph to (physically) escape to Bethlehem. (If you’ve had those STABBING pains UP your vajay-jay as if you’re about to give birth there and then can you imagine what that must have been like for Mary). I wonder how often she thought she might not make it – with the bobbing up and down on a donkey and Jesus most likely decending into position, pushing on her bladder. I imagine her fear and desperation not finding a place to stay, and then the mix of relief and discomfort finding a stable, a place to finally sit down, and then ‘prepare for the birth’. I wonder how long her birth was, how long did she push for (birth-nerd talk), and how the baby was delivered? At what point did her waters break? Was he breach? Was he posterior? How did Joseph handle it all? Did he freak out? Had either of them seen birth before – they were young… What did they do with the umbilical cord? Was there a moment of divine intervention from heaven above, or was it all really… human. This is BIRTH. Real, raw, scary, beautiful, empowering BIRTH. Yet the birth of a King.

Was there a split second of Peace on Earth? I doubt Mary was wearing white cloths neatly wrapped around her body (for one, there was no Aerial or Omo back in that day). If you’ve seen birth, nothing remains white. The cloth Jesus was wrapped in must have been covered with amniotic fluid, vernix and blood. This was the very messy, very real, very on-the-run birth of Christ. The Christ, the Saviour of the World. I wonder how long Mary and Joseph stared at Jesus wondering if he really was their Saviour.

And so as I reflect this Christmas, I think what I’m realising is that things often don’t look ‘right’. Surely Jesus should’ve had more to wear than swaddling cloths and a more comfy bed than a used animal trough? This picture is nothing like immaculately wrapped up gifts under the tree and the perfectly roasted gammon presented on a Pinterest worthy dining room table. There is nothing wrong with those things – I too love to celebrate WELL – but it seems the picture of Jesus’ birth and the deeper truth sometimes don’t seem to match up in ways we might imagine. This messy birth, and our Saviour on earth. This confusion leads us to Trust; to have Faith – two things it seems we need to possess in larger and larger quantities nowadays, in a world spinning off its axis and one in which we control far less than what we like to believe. Life is hard, and life can be scary; there are unknowns, and mess seems to be everywhere. In our humanness, we cannot understand it – well, I sure can’t.

Luke 2:12: “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, Glory to God in the Highest and on earth, peace, good will toward men.”

Wherever you find yourself currently… It’s coming. He is Hope. Be it in your heart, or here again in his Creation, we await his coming. We sit in the labour pains of the mysteries to come.

It’s almost time. Keep pushing, keep breathing. Behold, He is coming soon.

Image Credit: Photo by Jaimie Trueblood/newline.wireimage.com, https://brandonacox.com/advent-always-hope/.

This Years Homemade Christmas Gift – Red Onion Marmalade

I know what you’re thinking… most delicious homemade christmas gift, you were thinking of my fudge recipe were you not? Well, you were close, but this year, I branched out and decided to make something savoury (ish – depending on if adding 1/4 cup of sugar to anything can be considered savoury).

We try in our family, to include the homemade element over Christmas, for personal and somewhat anti-consumerism-Christmassy reasons – so I’m super pumped to have this all made up, in my fridge and ready to throw on a cheese plate.

Red Onion Marmalade. Yum guys. Yum.

This pressie has been made and has been/will be distributed to parents, in-laws and teachers alike. And it’s easy and so very, very delicious.

I tried a few recipes, and this one is by far my best (thanks to All Recipes):


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 large red onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • salt to taste

Tip: Genius Debbie remembered she had a slicing attachment on her food processor, and so no onion-tears for me. Boom.


Heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat; cook and stir onions and sugar in hot oil until onions start to caramelize, about 15 minutes. Stir red wine and balsamic vinegar into onion mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until liquid is evaporated, 15 to 20 minutes more. Season with salt.


All you need are some jars (I get mine from Bonpak), and some brown paper (PNA/MerryPak) and some twine/string. I attached a little card with a note and onion marmalade ingredients. How cute, and HOW simple?

What is your fave homemade treat?

The Annual Parental Boast

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – right? The madness of nativity plays and Christmas shopping, decorating, holiday biscuit making, red nose reindeer foot-printing, credit card maxing, food, festivities, and EXTREME BUSY-NESS. You see it everywhere.

Parental boasing hits an all time high this season (well-meaning boasting of course 🙂). The “here’s Johnny’s graduation day in Gr 000”, and “Awwww… Polly is a reindeer hoof in the school play” and “look at how beautiful Sammy’s homemade Christmas toilet paper angel is”, and and aaaaaaaaand. I can understand why these pictures can be a bit irritating for those without a reindeer hoof, toilet roll thingy-magig or Grade 000 graduation certificate. I mean I’m a parent, and I feel bombarded by FB’s plethora of random kid accomplishments.

DIGRESSION WARNING: Let me stop here to say I have numerous friends who are longing for children. LONGING to the point where communities have prayed and pleaded with God, and where I have physically and emotionally ached for them. Friends who have blessed MY family and MY children more so than I have ever properly acknowledged. Many are still walking this journey. This post is NOT for/directed at you. Please forgive our ignorant slapping of pictures onto Facebook which, I can only imagine, may cause a deep sting. May we all open our hearts, minds and homes to those who we know are walking this road… You are loved. May you feel this deeply this Christmas.

Back to the kids and their random kids accomplishments. Oh friends, they’re not. THEY ARE NOT.

You moms and dads out there: you’re Heroes. The relentlessness of parenting and the never-ending need experienced day-on-day… there are not many appropriate words to describe it, other to say that parenting is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done. There are not enough adverbs, both good and bad for how unbelievably intensely, beautifully, damn-bloody difficult it is. From the mental strain of remembering every single tiny little thing (darn you ‘show and tell’, why do you ALWAYS sneak up on me), to the physical exhaustion of a baby on a hip, broken sleep for the rest of our lives, the driving to and fro, sheltering your kids so you can get caught in the rain, the stepping on LEGO, to the emotions around playground talk, to emergency hospital visits, a scary diagnosis, indescribable fears…

Guys, the reality is that kids are insane. “They are tiny little dictators with unpredictable mood swings afraid of the most absurd things and cry for no apparent logical reason whatsoever”. How are you supposed to appropriately deal with that? It is like that ‘putting a jersey onto a octopus’ analogy. A bit like breastfeeding the baby while you’re on the toilet explaining to the sibling why you can’t butter their toast simultaneously. No wonder parenting is a big fat guessing game to which we all question whether we’re doing it right? There is no easy answer, ever, and we’re left wondering if all our impatient screaming has undone all the nail-bitingly difficult intentional “let’s make homemade Christmas paper with these potatoes and paint” moments. And I have a theory.

Those moments; when your kids eyes light up seeing Father Christmas, or when that Donkey (who is a kind, gentle, introverted thinker) actually sings a solo on the stage in front of 100+ people, or that ‘i love you’ they’re able to scribble for the very.first.time – that’s it. That’s the affirmation us parents are CRYING for. For the every-day, never-stopping, never-giving up day-in and day-out thing we do called Parenting. That’s it. That’s the glimpse of beautiful BRIGHT HOPE that we’re doing something, maybe very little, but something… right. They are it. It’s in these kids, and these moments that we see it. There is a tiny voice whispering from that graduation certificate/toilet roll angel/reindeer hoof performance proclaiming “well done mom/dad, you did okay, in fact you’re doing freakin’ awesome”.

Fellow (parenting) Comrades, You are PHENOMENAL. Post those end of year pictures everywhere you possibly can. Bombard us with them. Lock in those seemingly-absurd achievements… those joyful memories.

Celebrate loudly, celebrate richly, celebrate well. Because, man alive. You deserve it. 


All gushy titles seemed lame – just read this won’t you? 

So, my mom is awesome. She made this beautiful advent calendar and she pops fun goodies in it every night. Each morning the boys wake up and run across the back garden to gran and grandpas for their surprise treat in the advent calendar. Then there are the mornings I can see their alarm is still on and Clay has to wait in the kitchen. DISASTER. If I say he can’t yet run across, he literally melts into a puddle on the floor. And my morning starts with my bucket of patience being stabbed with a searing knife.

You’d swear I’d never mentioned or explained the words contentment or patience to him hey? (The word brat may or may not have also entered the conversation).

To be honest I’m eagerly anticipating the end of all this sugar-filled advent fun. It brings such joy to my folks and the boys, but it’s become an expectation. And you can’t blame them. They’re 2 and 4.

This present giving stuff is complicated man. Family gifts, or individual, or BOTH. Experiences or STUFF, fulfilling needs or wants? Extravagant or minimalistic? Homemade or store bought? So many people I chat to just wish we didn’t have to do it. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE receiving presents, and I love giving presents. But the stress, financial pressure, time, energy and is-it-enough thinking it involves… meh.

I’m inspired by Joshua Beckers take on a lot of it, but as I intentionally slow down towards Christmas I’m more and more inspired to be people orientated. And that looks very different in each situation. Sure I’m personally trying to move towards minimalism, and not over-clutter or store things so deep in cupboards I don’t even know they’re there. Boom. Conviction. You feeling it?

How about donating to the fund of that young mom battling cancer, or cooking a delicious feast for someone who doesn’t have. How about donating to that that crowd-funding project and help someone live their dream (or support local businesses with interest free loans) . What about giving extra thought to the one who is anticipating her first Christmas without a loved one or the single parent who is not really coping right now…

(Because when family, friends and strangers gave money to us as we raised funds for Clay’s first eye op – it.changed.our.world).

How about instead of (like on autopilot) heading to the store to buy, wrap and throw gifts under the tree, challenge yourself to try give differently. WHAT does that look like? Because this intentional stuff CHANGES LIVES. It’s not a toy that’s played with for 17 seconds and then tossed aside.

Think about it…

We’re eating Snowballs this Christmas

It is snowing in Vancouver. Thick, beautiful, soft, quiet snow. And I looooved the snow when we were there so I’m in full on jealous mode.

Our beautiful Vancouver home.

Paging through a recipe book made by one of the communities on campus at Regent I was reminded of this most delicious sugary treat – Snowballs. Perfect for a hot summery Christmas in Cape Town, right?


  • 1 Pkt digestive biscuits (400g)
  • Bag marshmallows (cut in half, or half again for smaller snowballs)
  • 100g Butter
  • 1 Tin sweetened condensed milk (350g)
  • Coconut to coat


Melt the butter, add the condensed milk and then the crushed digestive biscuits. With wet hands, pack the butter/condensed milk/biscuit mixture around the marshmallow halves (or quarters). Roll the balls through the coconut.

If I was HARDCORE green (like this blog was called ‘our VERY BRIGHT GREEN life’ then I would’ve milked the cow and churned the butter, shredded the coconut myself and made my own healthy homemade marshmallows. But now I have 3 kids, so go easy on me will you.?

And EAT. And Merry Christmas xxx

What I’ve wrapped up for my 3 month old this Christmas

It’s Christmas. Again! WHAT? You may have read that I enjoy personal challenges – such as running half marathons (shortly post baby) and dramatically cutting down our water consumption. Another challenge I love, is having all our Christmas pressies wrapped and tagged by mid November.

It goes without saying that I err on the side of beautiful presents. Wooden, classic, minimal plastic, meaningful, educational and long lasting gifts.

want need wear read

I’ve also taken this 4 present rule for my kids really, really literally this year. Something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read. Sure, the extended family will no doubt shower them with gifts and the stockings will be stuffed (it’s a family tradition), but as each year passes by, our house remains the same size, and the gifts seem to take up more and more space… (Fighting my inner minimalist here).

I LOVE gift giving. I love wrapping up pressies, using ribbon and raffia, stamping names on the gift wrap, baking a little something to include and adding personal touches. I love giving gifts, and I love receiving gifts. But WHICH gift, is where I become a little neurotic (not really, but kinda).

wrapped presents

Recently at a new moms group, I met a lovely woman called Rosa. We connected over chatting about our love for cloth nappies. Ha! Obviously the conversation turned to ‘all things green’. Turns out she is a family therapist with a huge heart for children and families. Being a therapist (with her partner an environmentalist) she told me she was always on the hunt for well made and beautifully designed toys and games that had both therapeutic value and at the same time were appealing to all children (not limited to those with special needs).

Chatting with her, she had said that it was important to her that the toys were gentle on the environment during the production process and not exploitative of people involved in their production, as well as being safe and non toxic. Basically, safe for children, the environment and those who manufacture them. (Not obvious why we connected so easily).

Many of her colleagues and the families she was working with started asking where they could purchase these similar toys and games, and ‘taaa-daaaaaa’ the online store Carenect Kids was born. Carenect Kids (an amalgamation of the words care and connect) now stocks a beautiful range of educational, functional, environmentally friendly, hard-wearing and all round great quality and long lasting toys and games.


Back to how this makes my heart happy… Try find a pressie for a 3 month old baby girl who has a million toys to grow into. It’s HARD. I’m becoming more passionate about minimalism every day, which makes these decisions all the harder… and I’ve been stumped about what to buy my newest born – ideally something meaningful, and symbolic for her first Christmas. This store has totally given me refreshed hope. Rosa has answered this dilemma for me and it’s exactly what I’ve been looking for. And, I think it’s what you’re looking for too. It is jam packed full of awesome gift ideas – puzzles, board games, and toys from incredibly reputable and well known names, including Moulin Roty, Seedling and Le Toy Van. So, these are the goodies I’ll be popping under our (yet to be dressed) Christmas tree. A beautiful ‘Bashful Bunny’ from Jellycat (read this fascinating link about the importance of teddy bears) and a 3 piece baby bear puzzle ‘for little hands’… awwww.

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How stinkin’ gorgeous? Now… I’m sure you’re as keen as I was to get your hands on some of these amazing gifts for baby this Christmas… Well luckily for you, Carenect Kids and Our Greenish Life are spreading the JOY (and the awesome, honest, enviro friendly goods)! A Carenect Baby Bundle is up for grabs – and it’s AWE-SOME! The prize is worth over R715. Yes, please.

AND (bonus!!), if you don’t win, don’t fear! Carenect Kids is offering R100 off all orders R500 or above. Just type in 6462A78kxuWq in the discount code box as you checkout.

The Baby Bundle up for grabs is:

1 x Small Bashful Cream Bunny from Jellycat,
1 x Le Toy Van Baby Bear 3-piece puzzle, AND
1 x Pack of Baby Milestone Cards

How to Enter:

  • Like Carenect Kids on Facebook,
  • Like Our Greenish Life on Facebook,
  • Comment below OR on the Facebook post with which Carenect Kids toy or game you would choose to buy for your fave ‘lil person… (clue: take a peek here)

Share this competition on Facebook for an extra entry. Dooooo it. Doooooo it now!!

Thanks for entering. Good Luck!

Contact Carenect Kids
(t) 082 358 4152
(e) hello@carenectkids.co.za
Web: www.carenectkids.co.za

Terms and Conditions

The competition runs from Saturday 19 November – Friday 25 November 2016.
This competition is South African residents only.
The winner will be chosen randomly and contacted via email.
Winner will be announced on the Our Greenish Life website and social media channels on Friday 25 November 2016.


Traditional Homemade Christmas Mince Pies 

From as early as I can remember, Christmas time tasted like homemade mince pies. Mom made the best! I struggle to buy them from the shops because it’s just not the same… I also love life-rhythms and traditions and this one is tops!

So, here’s the recipe: 

Now to be fair – I do buy the fruit mince from the shops, it’s the pie pastry I make myself (see my great-grandmothers recipe for the real deal fruit mince below).

Christmas Mince Pie Pastry


225g flour
150g butter
1T ground almonds
1T castor sugar
1T water
Pinch salt


Put everything in the blender, and then once it’s all mixed together and pastry-looking, divide in two, wrap the balls in cling wrap and refrigerate.

Use one ball at a time. Roll the pastry on a floury surface and cut out the shapes. We use a squiggly edged circle for the base and a 8 pointed stard for the top. Put the bases in your cupcake tin and spoon in the fruit mince. Lightly beat an egg and submerge the top star shape in the egg mixture and pop it on top.

Put these in the oven at 180 degrees for around 10-15 minutes. Once they turn a light golden brown, take them out, let them cool and sprinkle icing sugar over the top through a sieve.

Hello Christmas!

Hang on! If you want to SERIOUSLY impress your in-laws, you can make the actual fruit mince. Whaaaaaaat! I’ve never made this myself but this is my great-grandmothers recipe.

Great Granny’s Fruit Mince:


250g suet
250g peeled and cored apples
500g seedless raisins
250g currents
125g mixed peel (can buy it in a box like you do cherries)


Mix together with 250g sugar and 1t mixed spice. Rinse bottles with brandy (let it coat the bottle) and when bottling leave hollow at top for brandy.

Let me know how it goes!

Gorgeous DIY Pallet Christmas Tree

So one day at work, we got a Christmassy bee in our bonnet (so to speak) and started looking for some cool Christmas decor that was eco(ish) and that wasn’t typical Christmas. After a quick Google search I found myself reading the blog Redhead Can Decorate and I fell in love with this pallet idea. (Who doesn’t love a worn, rustic pallet?)

Wooden pallets are so versatile – and so beautifully textured and rough. I’m sure I’ll be posting more DIY projects about them but for now – a Christmas Tree!

A Facebook shout out resulted in picking up a free pallet from a school friend I hadn’t seen in about 10 years – BONUS! Building community… and homemade Christmas trees.

And then I got going… 

I found some old beige paint and did a rough slap-on go of it. I then got hubby to scuff it down for me – he’s good like that.

I measured it (drew the shape with pencil), grabbed some nails and pinned one about every 20cm(ish) down the sides of the tree, starting at the top.

I decided on a silver and gold theme (okay fine, I pretty much copied Redhead Can Decorate, because I loved hers – gold and silver together – who would’ve thought?). And then I threw on the decoration:

– a gold foil star garland (I found tinsel too chunky and overwhelming)
– a string (or 2) of gold/silver beads
– 60 count outdoor white Christmas lights (with a battery pack) which I found at Checkers for R120
– something to pop on top – a star/angel etc. Ours is an angel we bought in Banff, Canada. Beautiful memories
– silver, gold and black Christmas balls (and paper clips).

The decor worked really well and it was easy and quick to wrap around the nails.

I started zig-zagging the lights on from the bottom so I could hide the battery pack behind the right hand corner. Then, I strung the star foil garland from nail to nail, allowing some of it to coil or curl here and there (go with your artistic gut). I hung the Christmas balls on the garland and beads with unfolded paper clips. And ta-da!!

Check that little hand trying to grab something sparky.

I’m in love with this tree! It looks even more beautiful in real life. So simple, so rustic, but also not overloaded with Christmas Kitch. Win.

(We’ve wrapped the battery pack in a ziplock and put it outside the front of the house). I hope to look back on this as something we bring out every year and that it carries many memories for my family…

Do you do anything unconventional when it comes to Christmas decorating? Tell tell!

Your Gift Guide for a Green Christmas

Ahhhhhh! PANIC. It is 4 weeks until Christmas. In a moment of spontaneous and wild personal challenge, I imagined myself making ALL of my family’s Christmas presents this year. Be it bake, DIY, grow (plants) or create. I’m still (very) hesitant to commit to that, and if I’m honest, it’s a rather ridiculous ask, so should I go the store bought route (as I’m typing this I know I’m headed down that road, let’s be honest) I thought I’d put together a gift guide for a Green Christmas.

First prize: I LOVE the idea of homemade Christmas presents. Besides following the idea of minimalism and collecting/giving away less ‘stuff’ and needless clutter, it is thoughtful, intentional, meaningful and can cost you less than rushing out in a panic and spending WAY more than what you imagined. Also, you can avoid the malls. WIN.

christmas deliousness

You can go wild making homemade edibles such as jams, biscuits, chutneys, salsa or jars of cookie dough premix. Then you could always get creative with things such as face scrubs, Christmas ornaments, a reusable heat pack, bath fizzies, homemade Christmas stockings and and and. Honestly, Pinterest has an overwhelmingly intimidating array of ideas.

But, should you not be Martha Stewart or feel your hand is happier holding that shiny credit card, here are a few green gift ideas for you to browse… from the light green to the dark green – feast your eyes on these beauties.

Hold up! I must emphasise and encourage something. Can we mix it up a little this Christmas and think about where we are shopping and where our money is going? How about this year you put more thought into buying local, be it from a market, a neighbour or even an online store.

I love this quote:

“When you buy from a small business, you’re not helping a CEO buy a third vacation home. You are helping a little girl get dance lessons, a little boy get his team jersey, a mom put food on the table, a dad pay his mortgage or a student pay for college.”

Isn’t that so true?

And now that you’ve been suitably inspired – let’s shop!



My parents always filled my stocking with necessary things for the upcoming year, my favorite being a small pink calculator I received when I was about 8. How I loved that thing. So in keeping with that tradition, here are some of my favourite fairly innexpensive, everyday goodies. (I’ve already purchased my entire family new toothbrushes for the upcoming year).

Green Lite Eco Fire Lighters – R21
The Environmental Toothbrush (adult or child)
– R39
SOiL Organic Relax/Revive/Relief Remedy Roller
– R34
oh-lief Natural Lip Balm (Grapefruit)
Pure Simple Castile Soap



Africa Organics Baobab Clay Wash – R46
Africa Organics Kalahari Melon Body Wash (200ml)
– R42
SOiL Organic Relax/Revive/Relief Remedy Roller
– R34
oh-lief Roman Chamomile Body Lotion (200ml)
– R145
oh-lief Natural Lip Balm (Grapefruit)
oh-lief Roman Chamomile Natural Hand Lotion
The Victorian Garden Watermelon & Cucumber Eye Makeup Remover (100ml)
– R69.



Pure Beginnings Shave Crème (150ml) – R74,
Beaucience Facial Wash
– R60,
Green Lite Eco Fire Lighters
– R21,
The Environmental Toothbrush (adult or child)
– R39,
Beaucience Facial Scrub
– R70,
Pure Simple Shaving Soap
– R29.50.



Pure Beginnings Kids Hygiene Hand Wash – R59.50
GreenKid Toddler Sippy – R149
Pure Beginnings Soothing Baby Lotion – R73
GreenKid Glass Baby Bottle – R139
oh-lief Baby Gift Set – R185
Soywax Happy Crayons – R98
The Environmental Toothbrush (child) – R39
GreenKid Silicon Sleeve (for Glass Bottle) – R59

Then, there are always other gorgeous brands I love which have a stunning range of perfect Christmas gifts. Such as SOiL Essential Oils,(R45 up) – GROWbags (R195 – R305), and the good old Wonderbag (R195 – R320).

Soil Essential Oil


soup in wonderbag

While writing and sending cards can be a timely and tedious task, it is so thoughtfully and sincerely enjoyed by more and more people in our techno-savvy and disconnected world. Remember the good old days when your family received heaps of cards at Christmas time? Why not bring the tradition back and write to those you love? Send it snail mail with a good old stamp (remember those?)

And that’s about it. Shopping done! I aim to please…

Have a very merry Christmas friends,

Picture credit: Anyone Can Decorate Blog