I watched the last moon set and the last sun rise of the year with my son this morning.
Packed up the car and drove down to Hamilton yesterday. The car was full of presents, and there was a whole lot more under Mums tree. Pretty much all of them are for Max.
We're away now for about ten days. Hamilton now, Tauranga tomorrow and then to the beach. The beach! Feels so good to have a proper summery warm Christmas. Swimming in the sea, BBQs, family and pavlova. Toby made the pavs last night and they look amazing. YEAH.
A DIY present project- I found this puzzle in a second-hand shop for a dollar. I love wooden puzzles, but this was a little worn, the colours were a bit dated and it used to belong to DAVID.
So I sanded it down, painted it up and revarnished it. I used New Zealands' native blue duck, whose Maori name is Whio, as loose inspiration. Underneath the pieces, naughty David had scribbled all over the wood, so I painted it and traced the shapes in white to make it a bit easier for Max. A bit of work involved but it turned out really well. Max loves ducks, like most kids, so this should be a hit.
Making gingerbread for little Christmas presents. I used this excellent recipe from Smitten Kitchen, with a few minor adjustments. Basically I added teaspoon of nutmeg, and I substituted golden syrup for molasses. If I made them again I'd probably up the spices even more - these are meant to be spicy, but they could've been spicier.
Inspired by Beci Orpin's new book, Matta and Ellie made a couple of sets of wooden blocks. We had a bit of a painting session late one night and voilá! Max is getting his very own handpainted, one of a kind, rather hip blocks for Christmas. I up-cycled a beer box to package them up and Toby did his type magic on it. Totally fun project, thanks Matta and Ellie!
This does smell amazing. I checked out some online tutorials- kind of googled a bunch and then did it the way I thought best, which is pretty much just tying on the ribbon first, use a skewer to poke holes in the orange and then push in your cloves. One tutorial did mention "you should do this over a tray, or you might lose cloves in the sheets." Good tip lady.
I attended the Auckland Art and Craft fair last weekend and had the pleasure of catching up with Melissa from Tiny Happy. And I bought one of her beautiful hand-stitched needle books to keep my needles in order. Her exciting news is that she is publishing a book early next year called Sweet & Simple handmade. Such awesome news. I really admire Melissa's embroidery- and obviously I wasn't too subtle about it because she gave me one of her lovely brooches. Thank you Melissa!
This was a fun piece to work on. I busted out the gold leaf and some wooden beads that I had stashed away. The contrast of the natural wood and the gold is subtle, but beautiful. It's lacquered with gold size, so it's pretty durable. I kept the cord long so it can be worn short or long- it's more formal worn short I think.
It's lovely and light to wear too. It's so satisfying to put things together that work.
The wedding planning has begun. My mother got out her wedding dress for me to look at. I love the heavy lace, it's so beautiful.
I understand a little now about wedding craziness. It's a bit bizarre, all the ideas, and pressure and expectations of so many people. But it's fun too, it's just every now and then, I need to think back to what I originally wanted. And remind myself why I'm doing it.
A little late, but better late than never right? I was inspired by these cool stamps to make this advent calendar bunting, which I just finished this morning. Max woke up from his nap and was most surprised to see it hanging in the lounge. Even more surprised when we opened a little pocket to find a tiny giraffe. I've filled up the pockets with little zoo animals for him, and a few other little treats like balloons.
I hope this will be a little tradition for us at Christmas, and so I wanted it to be well made. So it was worth the extra time to really do a proper job. Next up: child proof christmas tree ornaments.
To a little explorer, our garden is a new adventure everyday. Somehow it's December already and the countdown to Christmas is on. And the strawberries are ripe!
I've got a cool project that I've been working on which I'm looking forward to sharing with you in the next day or two. There's so many things I want to make for Christmas! What are you working on?
Louise Cake (from the book Ladies, a plate)
For the base:
70 g butter
55 g sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tblsp lemon juice
140 g flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
For the topping:
5 tblsp raspberry jam (or other tart, red jam - I used my homemade plum jam this time)
2 egg whites
115 g caster sugar
55 g desiccated coconut
Preheat oven to 180C. Line a shallow 30 x 20 cm tin with baking paper.
Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Add egg yolks and beat well. Add lemon juice, sift flour and baking powder over and mix to stiff dough.
Press dough evenly into prepared tin. At this stage it will only be a thin layer, but it puffs up during cooking. Spread the jam evenly over the base.
Beat egg whites till stiff, then gently fold in caster sugar and coconut using a metal spoon.
Spread coconut meringue mixture over the jam, trying to keep it an even thickness. Sprinkle with a little extra coconut if you like.
Bake for 25 mins or until the coconut meringue is just turning golden brown.
Remove from oven and cut into squares or fingers while still warm. Leave in tin to cool. Store airtight.
I've got an article, some photos and some illustrations in there this time- and I helped out Jo with the tutorial. It was great to work on a few pieces, rather than be in the editor's seat... phew! Full credit to Ellie- so much blood, sweat, tears and love goes into every issue.
Everyone featured in this issue (and everyone who contributed) are all super people, doing super stuff. Now off with you, get a copy here and read all about them.