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Day Thirteen: Christmas Morning Breakfast Menu

Day Thirteen: Christmas Morning Breakfast Menu

When I think of Christmas morning, what tends to come to mind first are the smells that come with it. The smell of the real Christmas tree, the smell of fresh coffee grinds and steamed milk, the smell of bacon and slightly burnt toast and […]

Gnocchi Arrabiata, baby!

Gnocchi Arrabiata, baby!

Last week on my lunch break I was craving my usual chicken and salad banh mi with extra salad and no onion. This particular craving has lasted about six weeks so far with no end in sight. My friend and colleague Mika, on this particular […]

Day Six: Best Christmas Reads for Kids and Adults

Day Six: Best Christmas Reads for Kids and Adults

Christmas and books and books about Christmas – THIS POST HAS IT ALL. I have always wanted to have a tradition where I read Christmas books throughout December. Until now, this has remained but a thought and a wish.. this year however, I plan on changing that. As well as that, for the years to come, I want our little man to get excited for Christmas – just like his Mama – and I want him to have Christmas books surrounding him to get him in the festive spirit!

Adults

The Harry Potter Series

This probably wouldn’t be your first guess or go-to for a Christmas read, but for me, the Harry Potter series holds a special place in my happy little Christmas heart.

This could definitely go in the kid’s section as well, but I am including it in the adult section because just a few years ago at Christmas time, I bought myself the entire Harry Potter collection (the editions picture – SO PRETTY) and it got me through a terrible breakup. I churned through the entire series in a matter of days. Much like the movies, the magic, whimsy and wonder of the wizarding world that J.K. Rowling has created absolutely screams Christmas to me. The rugs in the Gryffindor common room and the log fire and the Christmas feast that Dumbledore makes appear is everything I want for Christmas and more. I am of the firm belief that the Harry Potter series are the most immersive books I have ever read. I lost myself in the world of Hogwarts and, at a time where I felt like I didn’t belong anywhere, especially around Christmas time, it felt like the huge, festive, end-of-year hug that I needed.

A Christmas Carol

Possibly the most well-known, influential Christmas stories of our time. First published in 1843, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a man who has no time for festivities, who is cruel and selfish, who is only interested in his own wealth and who detests Christmas. On the night of Christmas Eve, Scrooge’s life is changed by a series of ghostly visitations that show him the bitter truth about his choices and his life. This is an absolute classic; a funny, heartwarming and beautifully told story about the true meaning of Christmas.

Christmas Days: Twelve Stories and Twelve Feasts for Twelve Days

This book really intrigued me when I first heard about it. I don’t know how I hadn’t heard of Jeanette Winterson – a New York Times best-selling author – before, but I am glad I know of her now. Christmas Days: Twelve Stories and Twelve Feasts for Twelve Days is a festive season must-have as far as I am concerned. Winterson brings together twelve of her brilliantly imaginative, funny and bold tales as well as a personal and incredibly introspective story of her own Christmas memories. These tales give the reader a portal into the spirit of the season, where time slows down and magic starts to happen – and seriously, what more could you want from a Christmas book, or any book really?! What’s more is that to accompany the twelve Christmas tales, Winterson has included twelve festive recipes including some traditional Yuletide favourites: red cabbage, gravlax, turkey biryani, sherry trifle, Winterson’s own mince pies and more.

Buy. It. Now.

Bridget Jones’s Diary

Whenever the subject of Bridget Jones comes up (which happens more than you may think, in my world), the first thing I think of her mum’s annual Christmas turkey curry buffet. What even is that?! Anyway, I digress. Much like the movie, Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding is a standard, reliable go-to for Christmas. It is a light, humorous and fun read that you will churn through quickly, but with the undercurrent of Pride & Prejudice and the backdrop of cold, white London in December, you will always finish this book feeling entertained, romanced and Christmas-sy.

Letters from Father Christmas

Most famously known for The Lord of the Rings series and The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien is a worldwide literary favourite. It was only when I started doing a bit of further research for this post that I discovered he wrote Letters from Father Christmas, and, when I learned what it was about my heart completely swelled in adoration for the late writer. Get this, every December an envelope bearing a stamp from the North Pole would arrive for J.R.R. Tolkien’s children. Inside would be a letter in a strange, spidery handwriting and a beautiful coloured drawing or painting – the letters were from Father Christmas. (SWOON, RIGHT? I am definitely doing this for my little man. Cheers, Tolkien).

The letters told wonderful stories about life in the North Pole such as how the reindeer got loose and scattered presents all over the place, how the accident-prone North Polar Bear climbed the North Pole and fell through the roof of Father Christmas’s house into the dining room or how there were wars with the troublesome horde of goblins who lived in the caves beneath the house, and many more. The book includes photographs of Tolkien’s original letters to his children and it is all very charming and lovely and heartwarming and oh-so-Christmas.

The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus

The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus is the story of Santa Claus, from boy to jolly old fellow, as imagined by L. Frank Baum, the creator of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Every one of us has, at some point in our lives, wondered about the man in the big red suit – why does Santa travel via reindeer? How does he fit through the chimney? How does he deliver all those toys in one single night? First published in 1902, Baum creates a world full of charm and whimsy as we are taken deep into the forest where a wood nymph discovers an abandoned baby. Raised among mythical forest creatures, the child learns to outwit evil as he grows towards adulthood and must discover how to re-enter the human world, which leaves him determined to share gifts and spread love to his fellow man. SO. GOOD.

Kids

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

From the master of children’s books, Dr. Seuss introduced us to the Grinch in his Christmas classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas. This book has gone on to be made into two movies (the Jim Carrey one being the obvious superior film), as well as the name Grinch now being used to describe anyone who is a bit of a grump around the holiday season. With a heart two sizes too small, the Grinch is the meanest creature you’ll ever meet. He hates Christmas and the whole festive season. But when he hatches a dastardly plot to steal Christmas, he’s in for a big surprise! The story’s heart and soul lies in its catchy, sing-songy rhyming text which takes readers on a journey, watching the Grinch’s heart grow a few sizes just in time for Christmas.

The Jolly Christmas Postman

I remember picking this book up from my primary school library and absolutely falling in love with it. From the award-winning husband and wife team of Janet and Allan Ahlberg comes the Christmas favourite The Jolly Christmas Postman. It’s Christmas Eve and the Jolly Postman is hand-delivering letters and cards to all of our favourite fairy tale characters – there’s a card for Baby Bear, a game appropriately called ‘Beware’ for Red Riding Hood from Mr Wolf, a get-well jigsaw for hospitalised Humpty Dumpty and three more surprise envelopes! The magic of this book lies in it’s removable and completely interactive cards, letters and games. It is the perfect read-aloud book that marries great children’s fiction writing, Christmas AND fairy tales.

Merry Christmas, Mary Christmas!

I can’t remember where I picked this book up from, but the moment that I flicked through it’s pages I loved it. The illustrations are the absolute winner for me when it comes to Merry Christmas, Mary Christmas! The spreads are bold and bright in colour and I have always loved a picture book where there are multiple things to look at, point out and discoverMary Christmas’ family goes above and beyond for Christmas – they always have the biggest tree, the brightest lights and the most amount of presents. Mary Christmas wishes that her family celebrated a little bit differently. When Mary confides in Santa about her feelings, he suggests that maybe she can find a way to embrace (and spread) her family’s enthusiasm. She does so by persuading them to share their celebration with the larger community in the local park—tree, gifts, and all.

Madeline’s Christmas

I have always been a big fan of Ludwig Bemelman’s Madeline. Always. I loved the television series and every single one of the books. Madeline was the curious, adventurous and inquisitive girl that I always wanted to be. Madeline’s Christmas was actually the authors sixth and last book that he wrote, illustrated and published before his passing in 1962. It’s the night before Christmas and everyone is sick in bed. All except brave Madeline, who is up and about and feeling just fine. Taking care of eleven little girls and Miss Clavel is hard work, but Madeline finds help from a magical merchant peddling flying carpet door-to-door. Now the girls are going on a Christmas journey that will surely make them forget all about their sniffles and sneezes.

Dear Santa

With hard-wearing, durable lift-the-flap pages, Rod Campbell’s Dear Santa is the perfect book to share with your little one this Christmas. With big, bold illustrations and minimal text it is ideal for a read-aloud where parents can add their own spin to the simple story. A letter to Santa asking for a Christmas present starts off a merry chain of gift-wrapping, but nothing seems quite right and each time he thinks better of his choice. Get your tiny human to lift the flaps to unwrap a present and find out how Santa chooses the perfect gift. There’s a special surprise at the end!

Babar and Father Christmas 

Much like MadelineBabar was a HUGE part of my childhood. I used to surround myself with the books while I watched the animated version on television. Not your average Christmas story, Babar and Father Christmas is a unique and imaginative story from Jean de Brunhoff. Babar’s children have caught wind of a fellow in Man’s country named Father Christmas who brings joy and toys to little children. “If only we could bring him here,” they wish. So they write the Christmas saint a letter inviting him to visit them. When they get no reply, Babar, ever the good father, rushes out to find the red-suited one. After much searching, and with the help of a dog named Duck, Babar reaches Father Christmas’s workshop in the snow. Can Babar find a way to bring him to Elephants’ country?

Maisy’s Christmas Collection – Maisy’s Christmas Presents, Maisy’s Christmas Day, Maisy’s Christmas Tree, Maisy’s Christmas Eve

From setting up a Christmas tree to Christmas Eve celebrations, from preparing a Christmas dinner and buying presents for your friends the collection of Maisy Christmas stories is a must-have for parents of little ones everywhere. There are lift-the-flap pages and tabs that your children can pull to reveal surprises as well as Lucy Cousins signature bold illustrations and simple, fun text. The board books are hard-wearing so that you can be sure that these will last you one Christmas after another, after another.

The Smallest Gift of Christmas

Peter H. Reynolds’ The Smallest Gift of Christmas is an incredibly sweet tale about a little boy called Roland who, after waiting ALL YEAR for a Christmas present, discovered that his was very, very small. TOO SMALL. It had to be the smallest gift he had ever seen! So Roland wishes for something bigger, and bigger, and bigger. But he’s still convinced there must be a bigger gift somewhere in the universe. Will he know it when he sees it? The illustrations are beautiful (especially the shade of green he uses – STUNNING) and the premise is utterly heartwarming.

Dear Father Christmas

Dear Father Christmas by Alan Durant is another touching and delightful lift-the-flap book FULL of letters and a surprise gift at the end! When Holly sees a man who looks like Father Christmas, she decides to write him a letter: “Dear Father Christmas – is it snowing in Lapland? Please answer. Love Holly.” And so begins the start of a touching pen pal friendship with Father Christmas himself in which Holly learns about the magic of elves, reindeer and life in Lapland, as well as getting some very special Christmas surprises.

The illustrations and edge-to-edge spreads make me so freaking happy. The colours are so festive and fun and, once again, there is so much to look at and discover and discuss on each page. Dear Father Christmas includes so much more than removable letters! You’ll discover an advent calendar, a Santa Claus ornament, a foldout reindeer guide (with answers to common questions, plus favourite reindeer jokes), and one last, special treasure that Holly finally dares to wish for.

 Christmas Cookies! A Holiday Cookbook

Christmas? Yes. Baking? Yes. Baking Christmas themed treats? Yes. Baking Christmas themed treats with my little man? Yes. Baking Christmas themed treats with my little man with this cute book that includes Christmas stories? YES. This very sweetly illustrated cookbook is the perfect way to get your kids involved in preparing Christmas treats and getting into holiday mode! Clearly presented, these seventeen recipes — from shortbread to snickerdoodles to stained-glass Christmas trees — are accented with useful tips and intriguing bits of Christmas lore!

The (Oblivious) New Mama’s 25 Days of Christmas

The (Oblivious) New Mama’s 25 Days of Christmas

It’s December! It’s Summer! It’s the festive season! Our Christmas tree is up! Our cat has discovered a love of tearing baubles off the tree and waking us up at 5am by chasing them down the hallway! Seriously though, I am so freaking excited that […]

The (Oblivious) New Mama Personalised Baby Shower Cookies

The (Oblivious) New Mama Personalised Baby Shower Cookies

This coming Saturday is our baby shower, and over the weekend Pete and I were all systems go. Over the weekend, Shari and I did a huge shop for all of the food for next weekend, as well as ordering the balloon bouquets and buying […]

Homemade Meat Pies

Homemade Meat Pies

Meat pies – one of the staples of the Australian way. Four n’ Twenty, Mrs. Mac’s Pies and Harry’s Cafe de Wheels, collectively as a nation, we appreciate the meat pie in all of its simple, wonderful glory. Me, as a pregnant woman and someone with common sense very much appreciates every single thing about a meat pie. Especially party pies smothered in tomato sauce (those of you who know my family and I know that we love two things above all else in this life, soda water and sauce, both in high quantities).

I digress.

I went through a stage where I was really into American barbeque flavours and meats (I don’t think it is a coincidence that I was in the thick of a pretty full on Man vs. Food obsession) and found myself making a lot of ribs and experimenting with wet and dry rubs. One night when I couldn’t figure out what to make for dinner, I remembered a pie that mum made years ago and immediately knew that yes, yes I felt like pie. I was living by myself so I didn’t want to make one of those huge ones, so instead, I opted to make mini ones that I could store for consumption at a later date. Using what I had learned and discovered in my USA MEAT PHASE, instead of going for traditional pie flavours, I wanted the filling to be bold and punchy.

This is what I came up with and I am rather damn pleased with the results.

Ingredients – 

beef mince

1 brown onion

minced garlic

passata

barbeque sauce

worcestershire sauce

smokey paprika

salt and pepper

puff pastry

1 egg

 

Method – 

Preheat oven to 180 degrees

Take three sheets of puff pastry out from the freezer to thaw

In a pan, cook sliced onion with olive oil, salt, pepper, two tablespoons of minced garlic and a generous amount of smokey paprika until onion in soft and translucent

Add the beef mince and cook until slightly browned

Add about 250ml of passata, a generous amount of worcestershire and barbeque sauce and stir (feel free to add more paprika, salt and pepper at this stage as well)

Let simmer for half an hour, adding small amount of water if the mix is looking dry

While the meat is simmering, grease a muffin tray and cut each sheet of puff pastry into quarters (square)

Gently press pastry into the muffin try ready to fill with the pie filling

Whisk one egg with a fork and set aside

Spoon mixture into each pie and fold the corners of the pastry to their centre, brush with egg

Once every pie is sealed and brushed with the egg, place in the oven until pastry is golden brown (about fifteen minutes)

Devour and lick plate

Gingerbread Voodoo Dolls à la T(O)NM

Gingerbread Voodoo Dolls à la T(O)NM

Halloween has never been a big deal for me however I never need an excuse to participate in some themed baking.. I looked online for some inspiration and absolutely fell in love with Donna Hay’s Gingerbread Skeletons – but, I am a realist and I […]

Wholemeal Pasta Salad

Wholemeal Pasta Salad

Pete and I eat very differently when it comes to lunches throughout the week. At the moment, all his body wants and needs is carbs and protein which means a lot of rice and pasta and meat and big, hearty meals. I, on the other […]

My Kind o’ Big Breakfast

My Kind o’ Big Breakfast

As all of you are probably aware of by now, being pregnant has not curbed any of my eating habits. Sure there are days where I will desperately feel like one thing in particular, however the very next day that same thing could repulse me. Besides the ad hoc cravings, there are no foods that I am actively avoiding (THE HORROR). If my body is craving something, I am of the belief that it is then okay to consume that thing.

For instance, a few weeks ago I was craving smoked salmon. I could not get enough of the oily beast. I had it on toast in the morning and then in my sandwiches at lunch. I ate so much salmon that I became salmon. The next week? Just the thought of smoked salmon turned my stomach and I could not believe that I had consumed such a large quantity of the foul fish. This week, I feel neither here nor there.

I am premising this recipe with that fun little anecdote because this meal does include a deli meat (the best one in my opinion) and I know that many mamas out there will be warned to steer clear of it. Fuck that, I say. Eat all the food.

Poached eggs on toast with pesto and prosciutto

Now, the best recipes to me are those that have simple ingredients but that are put together with OTHER simple ingredients for one delicious culinary experience. This recipe may seem simple and you say to yourself, “Well I could have come up with that,” – GOOD! Those are the best recipes, and you will come to realise that I am right about that.

Ingredients – 

sourdough

two eggs

butter

prosciutto

basil pesto (homemade – see below for recipe – or store bought)

goats cheese

cherry tomatoes

balsamic vinegar

 

Method – 

Toast your toast

Bring water, with a splash of white vinegar, to a simmer and crack your eggs into the water slowly for poaching

Butter toast and then lather the goats cheese on (all of it)

Check your eggs

Place prosciutto on top of goats cheese (again, just use all of it because it’s delicious)

Roughly chop cherry tomatoes and place on top of prosciutto (feel free to soften them in a frying pan with some oil, salt and pepper if that’s your thing)

Grab the eggs out of the water with a spoon, pat dry with a kitchen towel and place on toast (don’t forget to season with salt, pepper and a splash of olive oil)

Spoon a HUGE dollop of pesto on top

Top with balsamic vinegar

DEVOUR

 

Homemade Basil Pesto –

two bunches of fresh basil

olive oil

salt

pepper

pine nuts (I like to dry toast mine in a pan first)

lemon

In a food processor, or with a stick blender, or in a blender, place both bunches of basil, a generous amount of olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper, a handful of pine nuts and a squeeze of lemon. Blend until combined, but leave it kinda chunky! Taste as you go and season however you see fit!