Last Christmassy bits

Top of Christmas cake

The ham is all but finished, the tree is swiftly desiccating, the presents have been well and truly played with and we have travelled a scenic coastal route for about 1300 kms in the last few days to be in Sydney with dear friends for New Year’s Eve.

I do loves me a brand spanking new year. A fresh slate, endless opportunities and possibilities. Makes me itch with anticipation.

Just before 2013 dissolves into a shiny new dawn, I did just want to show you the last Christmas-related bits.

We had our big family Christmas on Christmas Eve this year which may well become a new thing for us as it leaves Christmas Day to really relax. It felt kind of European and somehow extra Christmassy and there’s nothing like a twinkling light or two and flickering candle to really up the atmosphere.

We did the whole shebang: 8 kilo turkey and whole leg of ham with all the trimmings. The ham was, if I do say so myself, spectacular this year. I brought it to a festive sheen with a quince paste, honey and mustard glaze. Delish.

whole baked ham with calico handle

My mum always makes Christmas cakes and plum pudding to an old family recipe. This year I decorated the top of our cake with the cutest snowman ever (made by Sophia a couple of Christmases ago), some paint chip pine trees (the colour, appropriately, “fir green”) and a sprinkling of icing sugar snow.

Christmas cake with snowman and pine trees

This was one of the most treasured gifts this year: a new blankie. Think she likes it?

Olive with her blankie

Despite the slightly Euro feel to this year’s celebrations, we went with an Australian bush Christmas theme for the table eating. Mum and I spray-painted gum leaves and gum nuts silver which combined with the minty greens and coral of fresh gum and blossoms made a beautiful centre-piece.

Gum tree Christmas table centre piece

The girls made gifts for each other and this year Sophia’s form Olive was, well, unintentionally hilarious.

The only thing Olive loves more than baby dolls is the thought of herself as a baby. So we combined the two. I printed a photo of Olive’s baby face onto some fabric and then Sophia drew in the other details. After that we cut it out, I sewed it together and Sophia stuffed it. I should have left a slightly larger seam allowance around the head of the doll. Because this is not what Olive looked like as a babe!

Olive doll sibling present

The irony is that her head was more like a pumpkin than this pin-headed weirdo would have you believe.

From this angle she looks slightly closer to herself. But still like an alien.

Olive doll

I made a desultory attempt to talk Soph into us making another but she was happy with it. And, more importantly, as the next photo attests, Olive was delighted. I love the way Soph is looking at her to gauge her reaction.

Olive opening her sibling present

Olive did remarkably well despite her enormous cast in decorating this mug for her big sister using ceramic pens. Sophia fancies herself quite the tea drinker (even though the tea is never actually consumed in any vaster quantities than a sip or two) so she was thrilled to have her very own cup for that purpose.

Sophia's sibling present mug

Last of all, I wanted to show you these sweet little panforte. A heavily spiced dense cake, I used to overdose on these regularly when we lived in Italy. This was my first go at making them myself and they worked beautifully. And my kitchen smelled like Christmas on a stick from grinding all the fresh spices: whole nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, cardamom seeds and vanilla pods.


Panforte in little cake tin

wrapped this one as a gift for a girlfriend and put it on the Christmas-set the table just to get quick shot but next year I think I might try to make a heap of these in advance and use them as take-home place settings. Tell her she’s dreaming….sighs a voice in the background!

Homemade panettone

See you on the flip side my darlings. Have a fabulous start to 2014.

10 thoughts on “Last Christmassy bits

  1. Thank you so much for sharing snippets of your life with us, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog this year. Best wishes for the New Year and like you I love a new beginning.

    • Nanette, what a beautiful comment – thank you so much for reading. Best wishes to you too and here’s to a calendar full of crisp, unused days. xx

  2. What a send off for 2013! Loved the whole “snippet” (nice way to describe individual pieces of a blog”) especially the photos of Sophia and Olive~they are growing up so beautifully. Can just smell the panforte, mmmmmm! Love the girls MAKING gifts for each other, especially ones each so appropriate! May the new year bring yinz the best of everything, especially good health.

  3. Happy New Year…although there are times when I’m overtaken with feelings of complete inadequacy reading your blog e.g. Sibling gifts…I still feel very happy. Looking forward to 2014 x

    • Don’t feel inadequate – you surely realise (having seen me) that while that stuff gets done, hair remains unbrushed, goals unachieved and the odd swear word. Okay, copious swear words. x

  4. So perfect, all of it. And you know, once I saw the panforte on the plate, I thought, “She’s going to do it. She’s going to try to make a hundred of them for place settings next time.” Weren’t we talking once about how easy it is to get caught up and go overboard? 😉 Happy new year, Christen!

    • Your comment made me laugh so much. You’re so right. How is it you can read me from afar as though I’m an open book? I am trying every so hard to pull pull back…but I do get excited. Happy New Year to you too Gretchen. I hope 2014 is genuinely amazing for you and your all your loved ones. xx

  5. Love your blog. Love seeing all your amazingly beautiful creations. Love hearing your stories. And love you even more for coming to see us in Sydney for NYE. Here’s to a wonderful 2014!

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