Twelve sleeps til Christmas!

Janes_23.2.1611107 Seafood Spread.jpg

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, or so the carol begins…
I’ve never really been an early bird when it comes to the Christmas season. I’m certainly not one to have designated cupboard space set aside for those perfect gifts, purchased months in advance, preferably on sale, wrapped, labeled and stored away, perched ready for Santa’s sack when it’s time to load up the sleigh. I’m also not a big fan of shopping malls and the idea of racing out to compete, queue and carry on with the crowds, trawling through stores full of cheap, imported, factory line favourites, to give to those we love. I’m more of a “it’s the thought that counts” kinda girl, simply hoping for a hand-written card, accompanied by a jar of home-made jam or a lush chunk of rocky road made with love. So for this reason, in more recent years I’ve taken to cooking, baking, preserving and making many of the gifts we love to give to those we love. This does of course require me to begin such activities at least a couple of weeks out from the big day of gift giving; let’s face it, no one wants to be still bottling the jam, in a sticky mess, on Christmas morning.
Fortunately over the last few years, ever since I wrote that first cookbook, I’ve been learning a great life skill known as living one day at a time! It has proven to be such a useful card to have up your sleeve in this game of life, especially this year, when life threw our family an unexpected curve ball, right on the doorstep of December. Just as I was getting my head into the Christmas game and beginning to think about the making of gifts, we found ourselves instead discussing immediate open-heart surgery for our dear mum. In that moment all my priorities changed.
So this year I’ll not be doing the cooking, baking, preserving and making of gifts – instead I’m simmering stocks, stewing fruit, making chicken soup and rhubarb crumble, to help nourish and heal the very, very brave patient. Grateful for the gift of being able to have Christmas with mum, I’ve decided to outsource the making of our gifts this year. The criteria for choosing what to give is simple, they’ll still be handmade with love, from small family-owned Australian and local businesses, many founded and owned by our dear friends. With just twelve sleeps til Christmas, I thought you might like to know what twelve things are on my list to give!

Handmade goodness for the Christmas table:
1. Delicious grass-fed Smoked Leg Ham on the bone from Linga Longa Farm and my Christmas glaze here. Order now online for pick up Christmas week.
2. Gorgeous Australian wines with heritage seed packet labels from Spring Seed Certified Organic Wines Willunga, SA. Online orders with free shipping Australia wide when you use the coupon code Xmas2017.
3. Australia's best Certified Organic Kalamata Olives, Figs, and Olive Oil from Rosnay Organics
4. Christmas Collection Sweetness - including Italian Christmas Cake, Raspberry and Rose Rocky Road, Sour Cherry, Hazelnut and Dark Chocolate Nougat and Christmas Mince Tarts from Flour and Stone Bakery 
5. Hand-made bon bons, locally made Panaforte, Bourbon and Orange Ham Glaze, and all things to make your table oh so pretty from The Lost and Found Department. Online or in-store with extended Saturday trading this weekend.
6. Old cordial recipes handed down from generation to generation, using Australian fruit plus some uniquely Australian bush ingredients. Milla Cordial from Orange, NSW.

Created with love for under (or on!) the Christmas tree:
7. '52' Poetry and Art by Annette Kelsey - a beautiful collection of poetry and watercolours. Bound in natural linen and printed on deluxe art paper, it contains a poem for each week of the year, capturing moments in time, feelings of hope, and the beauty of nature. 
8. Two wonderful books to live on your kitchen shelf - Ferment by Holly Davis, and Not Just Jam by Matthew Evans and Michelle Crawford.
9. A subscription to one (or both!) of my two favourite independent magazines. Peppermint - telling the stories of people doing good in the world; Peppermint is an Australian quarterly print magazine focused on style, sustainability and substance. Covering slow food, ethical fashion, natural living, health and beauty, diversity, social entrepreneurs and more. Travel Play Live - The Women's Adventure Lifestyle magazine; four beautifully inspiring, empowering and adventurous copies delivered to your door, full of great seasonal ideas to inspire you to travel, play, live each and every year.
10. Hand-made wooden Christmas decorations from Mr & Mrs White.
11. Delightful children's books by Kirrily Lowe with illustrations by Henry Smith, Invisible Tree Books - with such a plethora of children’s books on the market today it’s refreshing to find this new series by Kirrily Lowe, which not only include stunning illustrations and rhythmic prose, which children love, but great life principles of kindness, thankfulness and hope.
12. Gorgeous linen aprons and tea towels, featuring the beautiful pastel drawings of local Avalon artist Nicky Hodgson, which also appear in my cookbooks, Naked Food and Our Delicious Adventure. Cool oatmeal linen to be enjoyed as you spend time in the kitchen. Designed and made in Australia. Available here!

So have yourselves a merry Christmas, and treasure those you love. We'll be having delicious ham rolls and a slice of mum's Christmas cake (because she's always been organised enough to make the cake early each year, just in case of curve balls!) wherever we find ourselves this Christmas day! x j