Love and hearts and a bit more love

Pink heart-shaped lamington

My handsome husband never buys me Valentine’s gifts. Which is just the way I like it. I just don’t believe in all the hyped-up commercialism of V-Day. What I do believe in, however, is love. And while I like to shower my peeps in it on any given day, I like positively saturating them on Feb 14th with little tokens to remind them that my love for them runs deeper than Dolly Parton’s cleavage.

Jar of candy hearts

Yep. Deep.

This year I was inspired by a picture I bought ages ago from beautiful Etsy artist Golly Bard.

Jar of Love

Jar of Love hangs in my study and I love it every bit as much as I did when I bought it 4 years ago.

So I made the baby Bettys their own little jars chockfull of love.

Jar of hearts birdseye views

I also like to go totally overboard with their lunches and pack those full of love too. 

Love lunch

Frankly, I defy anyone to tell me that anything says “I love you” more than a pink, heart-shaped lamington.

My grandmother, Betty, used to make these lamos as a treat for us when  we would visit her in the school holidays. We looked forward to them like mad things.

I made this card (from this Photojojo tutorial) for my most handsome of husbands. It’s a shot from our wedding in Bali.

Valentine's card with cut-out heart

I love that pic however, in a startling coincidence, I do appear to be sporting horrifyingly over-sculpted eyebrows very similar to those of a certain infamous Australian who has just been released from a Balinese prison this week.  Well, at least I have the excuse that it was 2001.

I hope your Valentine’s Day and life in general is brimming with that many splendoured thing.

jar of hearts with hearts spilling out

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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

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.

Someone forgot to tell the berries…

Pav 2

that Autumn has arrived.

Poor berries can’t be blamed; temps will continue in the 30s (celsius) for the next week and are predicted to reach 37 degrees next Wednesday.

I hate to wish a season away but I am SO ready to have a night under the covers instead of on top of them. And a slow-cooked stew. And a snuggle under a blanket on the couch.

In the meantime, though, I’ll keep making the most of summer’s bounty. Even if raspberries have suddenly shot back up to Autumnal prices of $7 a punnet!

Pav

I actually don’t even like pavlova. Which potentially makes me un-Australian. But I do love cooking meringue. So perhaps that earns me a pardon.