some handmade, organic love has just arrived through the post that means a lot to me.

i can't wait to brew it -
thank you, my dear paula!



in amongst the great + traditional christmas sugar rush we discovered jamie's inspired december scones. you have 3 days left to make them - though i suspect they'd taste just as good in january.

makes 20

grated zest + juice of 2 large clementines
4 cloves
150g dried cranberries
500g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp golden caster sugar
150g cold unsalted butter, chopped
2 eggs
4 tbsp milk, plus extra for brushing
3 tbsp cranberry sauce (shop bought is fine)

filling (we made half):
200ml double cream, whipped
grated zest of 1 clementine
1 tsp almond extract (me: optional!)
2 heaped tbsp icing sugar

>  preheat oven to 200c. add grated zest to a food processor + set aside. squeeze all the juice into a small pan, add cloves + simmer over a low heat, 4-5 mins, then remove cloves. add cranberries + cook until fully rehydrated, having sucked up all the juice. leave to cool a little.

> meanwhile, add flour, baking powder, sugar, butter + pinch of salt + pulse to fine breadcrumbs with zest in food processor. crack in the eggs + pulse again. add milk a splash at a time + pulse until it comes together into a dough, then tip out onto a floured board. return blade to processor.

> when the cranberries have cooled slightly, blitz in food processor until finely chopped. tip onto dough + gently knead, handling dough as little as possible. add a touch more flour as you go, if needed.

> line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper. roll dough out to 2cm thick, then stamp out scones with a round 5cm fluted pastry cutter. poke the middle of each scone with your floured finger to make a well, brush the top with milk +add a little cranberry sauce. bake for 10-12 minutes.

> for filling, gently whip cream into soft peaks, then fold through the clementine zest, almond extract + icing sugar. refrigerate until needed.



from our garden today
a christmas wish for pure life

have a beautiful day!



paper house ornaments instead of cards*
the greetings are under the floorboards .   .  .

the end of term involved much glitter + tinsel,
snowflakes in huge boots + angels in pink gym shoes
+ festive songs in uncertain little voices

while here at home, santa is almost ready .   .   .

*template adapted from the internet. and, yes, they would make a lovely advent calendar but before you commit have a look at this snowcapped mountain scenery



the tree is up
and a child's eyes quickly filled with stardust . . .



/ last night's dinner table the morning after

// candles out

/// my mother's bread - from a day's wood-fire baking with friends at the seaside



one of the last pomegranates from the garden
and i laugh at my compulsion to photograph every single one
of them, they're so round-perfect that i can't resist.

it looked pretty tonight dotted about in the green leaf salad
with a scattering of walnut pieces. a beautiful evening with family.



in the meantime, this year's olive crop is slowly being harvested,
branches pruned to let air and light in for the trees to breathe.

something seasonal, almost festive, to make with them, from here:

serves 4

350g mixed olives in brine (one kind only works just as well)
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 garlic clove, very thinly sliced
zest and juice of 1 orange
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
a few black peppercorns
1 large fresh chilli, halved lengthways, seeded and finely chopped
(we usually just sprinkle in a few dried chilli flakes instead)
1/2 small bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil

drain the olives of their brine, rinse briefly, and place in a bowl with all the other ingredients. stir well and leave to marinate for at least an hour.

[they make a nice lunch snack with warm pita bread and hummus . . .]



they came again this year, a whole choir of neighbourhood kids at night,
hushed excitement behind the door as they wait for it to open
so they can sing their christmas song and get their coin . . .

[children's tags made :: air drying clay, ikea biscuit cutters]



we haven't exactly decked the halls yet
we're all still struggling with that shrek-coloured cold
but at least a gentle snowfall is building up in a.'s room

- although not even that will make her part with her summer
  cherry hat.



but, of course,
if i were the mummy i aspire to be

i would make her everything she needs to play with
like this lightness, this bunny, this house and this house,
this mobile, this garage, this twirly toy, this igloo  .   .   .

and how to justify expensive gifts when others are going hungry?

so this post doubles up as a new year's resolution
off to the paint shop tomorrow .  .  .

[lightness by sergio dias]


if i were a little girl
uncontaminated by disney
and a very generous santa were to ask...

1. a handmade doll (or 3) from pip-squeak chapeau
2. anything dangling (or not) from cocon
3. kedublock cylinders
4. one of paulina temmes' animals to hug and adopt
5. a paloma's nest wooden crown
6. villa sibi dolls house
7. les toiles blanches cat mask
8. naef ornabo blocks

but i'm only mummy - what do i know?
and anyway all she's asked for is a dvd!



in her room
for me a beautiful object* to look at
for her a challenging code to break

she's on the verge

*thank you, you-know-who!


subdued by a cold
thoughts turned inward
to grow a carapace, shrink
+ shelter underneath

or one of these tiny houses would do . . .



the household is slowly moving into christmas mode
printing wrapping paper, tags . . .



i love
my friend lily's ethereal drawings
for the latest issue of small magazine



when the little friends gathered on sunday morning there was pink lemonade and the sun was kind. even the princess castle cake defied the force of gravity and held onto its towers until the very end.

the birthday festivities are officially over.  now it's time for peering into tiny advent windows . . .



a muddy puddle cake; a sleeping beauty outfit; a doll that sucks its dummy; a pair of walkie talkies; a scooter; a polka dot dress; a barbie on points; etc: a little girl turns 4.

 or, as my grandmother liked to say, 4 is now closed, and she is embarking on 5.






we need 4 candles for tomorrow. and an explanation about where time goes when it flies . . .



peppa pig is partly responsible
but then it has been raining for a week + a half solid
it would have been a shame to waste all those muddy puddles.

now we can retrace our walk mentally
and live off its murky memory for the next 48 hours,
having just joined the gastro pandemic victims' queue!



a grey-sky landscape for the sofa
+ a first gesture towards reclaiming the living room
as a reading/viewing space

[from six and a half stitches]



to pull over little shoulders
as winter closes in

"what fairies wear when they get cold"

handmade in new zealand
with new vintage fabrics


to look at + listen to as the rain plip-plops outside
the yellow umbrella
(here in chinese but irrelevant, there are no words)

i could almost hear
a.'s imagination fly around the room.



so the cake
a torta di noci
old, bitter and deep
from parma
that we have been making forever
but only now with our own walnuts
is a flourless triumph - try it
even with other people's walnuts.

from giuliano bugialli's 'classic techniques of italian cooking'

6 ounces unsalted butter
6 ounces shelled walnuts
6 ounces sugar
4 ounces unsweetened cocoa powder
2 or 3 drops vanilla extract
5 large eggs
2 ounces glaceed citron, cut into small pieces (bergamot preserved sweet/ γλυκό is a perfect local alternative)
3 tablespoons unseasoned breadcrumbs, preferably homemade

> melt butter in a small metal bowl improvising a double boiler. Remove form heat and let stand until needed.

> chop shelled walnuts and sugar very finely on a board using a mezzaluna, transfer to a large bowl, add cocoa powder and vanilla and mix well with a wooden spoon.

> separate the yolks from the egg whites and add the yolks to the bowl. keep the whites in a crockery or glass bowl for later.

> add citron and pour over the melted and cooled butter. mix thoroughly until the mixture has a thick but smooth texture. beat the egg whites until stiff. (to remove the egg whites left on the whisk do not bang it against the bowl but gently tap the whisk above the bowl with your hand).

> scrape all the egg whites with a spatula into the bowl with the nuts. with a wooden spoon, fold the egg whites into the nut mixture until homogeneous.

> preheat oven to 190 degrees celsius. butter a 10-inch ring mold well and line it with breadcrumbs. shake out any excess and reserve them. gently spoon the mixture into the prepared mold and sprinkle on remaining breadcrumbs.

>bake for about 40 minutes, then unmold and leave to cool on a rack.



hmm, no cake today.

[this caught my breath .  .  .]

maybe tomorrow.

[fukuhara shinzo]



a quiet week
gathering thoughts and forces
nibbling cake (more on that tomorrow) and
pausing to catch a sun ray on the face


good to reunite
with this ring - it looks like marble but it's actually plastic -
that just crawled out from under a cupboard
(having been missing, presumed lost, for years)
to remind us of a little street on a cold afternoon
in venice.