Our Christmas this year was simple and so delightful. The day was overcast and unusually cold which meant we spent most of our time inside, stretched out on the living room rugs and cuddled into sofas, reading the back covers of new books. I hardly took any photos and instead just watched as Saskia played with her small cousins and charmed the adults.
*The view at Christmas lunch out towards the Brindabellas. We spent Christmas day out on my aunt and uncle's property just outside Canberra. I never grow tired of this outlook. **Saskia was lucky to receive a little table and chair set, and some other small gifts from us including these beautifully designed flash cards (she has a credit card obsession and these are a great substitute!), some special crayons and a few farm animals to begin a collection (most definitely the biggest hit). We also donated money in Saskia's name to this amazing organisation (after reading about it on Kylie's blog). The small amount of money we gave will help a family in rural Fiji purchase chickens so they can sell chicks and improve their nutrition with daily eggs. I was too late to wish you all a merry Christmas, but I do hope there were moments of true happiness. Thank you for all your kind words over the past year. I get a little kick out of each and every comment you leave x Last year's Christmas
...entertains us with her animal sounds - oink (with a crazy tongue roll) and roar (always whispered) are some of the favourites
...astounds us with her words (hat, apple, shoe, por favor, teddy, agua) and song lines (e-i-e-i-o, row row, roll over)
...has a fire in her (Brazilian) belly, and has thrown some thoroughly dramatic tantrums (just like her mama, I'm told)
...loves to play lady (wear a necklace, carry a bag or poach mama's hat)
...understands more than we realise
...sometimes wakes us up with noisy kisses
...will happily eat weetbix, lentil burgers and pikelets
...went on her first $2 ride (and I guess there's no turning back...)
...makes her mama and dada feel oh so lucky, oh so grateful
*Can you tell I've given up trying to get a shot where she's looking into the camera? These photos taken in JanMa's front yard, where again, there are many little friends to say hello to, hiding about the place. The wombat family near the front steps are clear favourites and they each get a kiss.
These are my favourite ever biscuit. Big call, right? Crunchy on the outside, gooey on the inside. They are super easy to make it's almost not worth putting on an apron...but I still do (I may have a teeny collection of Anthropologie aprons). And the uncooked mixture keeps for up to a month in the fridge so you can bake them fresh when friends pop in. Yet another reason to love them so.
Or, like me, you can make a batch mid-December and bake them the night before you see your friends and present them wrapped in tea towels or popped in jars for Christmas gifts.
I snipped the recipe from a Karen Martini column in the Sunday magazine years ago, when I lived in a beautiful art deco building in Elizabeth Bay with my dearest friend. I think of that wonderful year in our shoebox apartment with the window boxes that overlooking Rushcutters Bay and the miniscule kitchen with standing room for one, when the breakfast table was always set and tea was brewed with mint leaves, late night runs for coconut gelato and sunrises spent on the lawns of Elizabeth Bay House in last night's clothes. I had known K for many years, but it was in that apartment that we were brought together again, and I fell in love.
Isn't it magic that just the making of these biscuits has set about a little montage of my past to play out in my mind?
*I was going to type out the recipe from my book, but I found the recipe online here - with some clever modifications to lower the sugar content. **Don't you think an uncooked batch would make a handy little present to a new mama with an endless stream of visitors?
Lately, in the kitchen...
...I've been brewing leaf tea every morning, and including a few sprigs of mint (reminds me of my best friend)
...Summer fruits are arranged in bowls or ceramic punnets on the breakfast bar, where they stay in sight and I remember snack on them throughout the day (I'm terrible at eating fruit)
...We're aiming to try a different 15 Minute Jamie recipe each week to move beyond the rather tired meals that have been on rotation
...I've been converted to knitted wash cloths for a while now (I bought mine from here)
...Used lemon halves are tossed in the sink with the washing up to add a little natural disinfectant to the dish water
...I've taken to hiding vegetables (sigh)...this is a delicious little banana loaf full of goodness which freezes well - and these healthy muffins are always a hit with the little one (I also add a heap of frozen spinach to the mix)
...Batches of biscotti were made for thank you presents - and I found some sweet japanese glass jars in the goldmine that is Top Dollar (gift tags were inspired by this crafty lady)
...I've stocked up on ingredients for the Great Christmas Bake-off (gingerbread men, pinolates, and dark chocolate rum balls)
Our Christmas branch went up yesterday. I added a few more ornaments to the collection, and keeping with the tradition I started last year, there was a new decoration for Saskia (the Paper Boat Press bird pictured), one for me (a small photo frame with a picture of my Granny), and this year, as it will be the first without K's father, I bought him a ceramic 'remember' star (also from Paper Boat Press). We're going to light 3 little tea lights underneath the branch every night until Christmas Eve, and there are a few strands of solar powered fairy lights strung up along the balcony and around our tree sculpture (a bare cherry blossom) in the back courtyard. It's as simple as that.
In mid November Kelly and I sent a special package across the seas. This year will be the first time that our dearest friend (and my cousin) will be overseas for Christmas, away from family and friends...and she's carrying a little baby. We gathered, thrifted and crafted 24 little gifts (for her and the little one), wrapped them in brown paper and twine, and attached cards with 4-letter hints for each present. We had so much fun planning the advent gift and bundling up the package, but the real joy is in knowing that our friend will feel loved (and missed) every day.
(J, if you are reading, stop now! Spoiler alert!)...
A sleepy coastal town with oodles of character, a cabin on the hillside with views of the ocean (and just a few steps down to a great beachfront cafe), lazy birthday breakfasts, a rainy day movie date in an art deco cinema, a calm inlet beach dotted with children in floppy hats, a (play) shop window with built in calculator buttons at the local park, a little one with ringlets gone wild, doting grandparents who make killer sandcastles, and a misty coastline.
*We stayed on the South Coast at Narooma - a sweet little town to take young children. Even the public toilets are bound to be a hit with the little ones (see my instagram feed). **On Saturday we celebrated K's 32nd birthday. He was given Jamie's 15 Minute Meals, 1001 Movies to See Before You Die, a seafood lunch, a steering wheel cover from the USA and a jar of notes (32 reasons why we love you, as told to Mama by Saskia). Meu Amor, happy birthday. You carry my heart x
13 (and a bit) months and the Little One...
...no longer walks, she runs
...has settled into a blissful daytime nap routine (for now!)
...sings along to 5 Little Ducks (wack, wack, wack, wack), 10 in the Bed (wol o wa, wol o wa), Fish and Mice (barks out little sounds when the children repeat the words Holly sings)
...is right into lids (on, off, on, off), her new tea set, the yellow Fisher Price bus, Teddy Oswald (teddor), the hose or watering can, listening to her two cds (this and this), and of course, the camera
...dances, oh she dances (every time Dada walks through the door we've started doing a little jig)
...loves scrambled eggs, happy cow cheese, yakult (sugar and mini bottle = what a combo!), and steamed broccoli (finally, a win)
...met her Uncle Rich for the first time and charmed the pants off him
...thinks jumping is the funniest. thing. ever.
...delights and amuses her parents every day
*I hope you can see the little animated photo at the bottom? I just love the look she gives in the third photo of the sequence...I'm not a technical person at all, but that was super easy to do. Watch out! I'm addicted! **The perfectionist in me wants to point out that a (retrospective) 12 month post is coming soon!
It's the first thing she looks for when she comes upstairs in the morning. It hangs on the tea trolley so she tugs at the strap then swings it over her head. Her camera, a birthday gift from her little best friend, goes everywhere with us at the moment. Bumping around on that belly.
This was the garden I played in as a child. I know where the pavers become bumpy near the shed, where the spiders love to spin webs, where garden sculptures rest. And I love that Saskia is now discovering this little backyard world.
We spent the weekend outdoors: planting seedling baskets and herb pots at home, and here, amongst the shade in JanMa's garden. The Little One delighted in running down the grassy hill as fast as her little legs would carry her and I would scoop her up and swirl her around just before she'd reach the hedge. It was all a bit Huggies commercial but I couldn't resist. We ate mini gelato cones (Sassy insisting on tucking into hers cone first), slipped down the slide, hunted for strawberries and patted the family of (stone) wombats by front path. The kind of spring afternoon that you'd look back on and remember how blissfully happy and content you were.