A Gift that Counts

June 28th, 2012

Apart from being warm and toasty dry, this week has been filled with the sweet goodness of babies.  Two dear friends have recently had babies and so we have been cooing and cuddling and burping up a storm.  Between hilarious and scary birthing stories and discussing whose chin/nose/hair they have, I thought it would be nice to do a post about what to give your friends when they have just given birth.  A lot of my friends have kids so I have been down this road many, many times and, while I have previously bought the cute outfit, the soft teddy bear, the educational (or not so educational) toy, I have realised that there really is something better you can give – FOOD.  We all have our own taste and each mother I know is very individual about how she wants to raise her baby. So much so that sometimes that cute outfit isn’t actually cute or that soft teddy bear isn’t made of non-allergenic organic wool, or that educational toy is really a just-recalled death trap!  Food, on the other hand, can really help your friends out.  After 24 hours of a screaming, feeding, fussy baby there is nothing better than reaching into the fridge for a homemade meal that someone ELSE made for you!!!  Before you embark on this project make sure you know what your friend is eating or not – some nursing mothers avoid certain foods so make sure you have a suitable receipe to start.  And because this is me we are talking about – packaging is also a major part of the process.  Here we go:

I put this box together with an Italian theme.  My friends love to eat well and everyone can throw a pot of water on the boil to make pasta – even in their darkest, sleep deprived hour!  First up, the sauce!

I make puttanesca sauce pretty regularly around here.  Please don’t let the anchoivies put you off making it – they simply melt into the sauce and make it taste even better.  Most of the Italian food you would have eaten in restaurants has anchovies in it – that is their secret ingredient, trust me!  My friends happen to LOVE anchovies so I went to town and added extra.

Pasta Puttanesca


2 tins of diced tomatoes

5 or 6 anchovies

2 generous handfuls of black olives, pitted and chopped

couple of teaspoons but it depends on your tolerance of heat of dried chilli flakes

1 handful of bottled baby capers

1 onion, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, pressed

olive oil

Chop and dice one onion and get your pan on the hob over a medium heat – you don’t want it too hot as it can burn the garlic and that won’t taste very nice AT ALL!  Pour in olive oil so that the pan is covered and put in the anchovies and let them melt so that there is no actually fishy bit – and once it is dissolved throw the onions in.  Cook until translucent and then turn the heat down a bit and throw in the garlic crushed and the chilli flakes.  Swirl it around and then throw in the olives, capers and mix so it is all coated and let it fry for a bit.  Put in the tinned tomatoes and crank the heat up to high so it gets to a boil.  Then turn it down to a good simmer (you will probably need a simmer mat to make sure you don’t end up with tomato on your ceiling) and cook until it is quite thick and most of the liquid has evaporated.  About now you need to check that you have a good amount of olives and caper and if not add some more – also if you need chilli add it also.  Bottle and refrigerate.

This is just regular pasta I repackaged in oven bags and tied with twine to look a little prettier.  Everyone has a favourite pasta shape so I went for rigatoni and fettuccine but any shape you want is fine.

Next I added a bottle of wine (for dad) and mineral water (for mum).  Mind you I’m pretty sure mum would like a glass of wine as well!!  Or maybe two, on some days!
It wouldn’t be an Italian meal without bread (again repackaged) and I also included a wedge of real parmesan cheese.  Yum!
Last but not least I included a few blocks of chocolate because….well, you all know why!

All thrown together in this cute basket (which can house baby’s toys or act as storage under the change table once it is empty) tied up with the letter A and a bow.  Welcome baby Ava – I’ll help look after your parents while they look after you!

And then there was fire

June 25th, 2012

I mentioned in my last post that we had a fireplace installed.  What I didn’t mention was how much I am in love with this sexy beast.  So in love that I am making up excuses to my friends so I don’t have to leave the house.  All day, every day – in front of the fireplace.  Anyone out there who lives in a Queenslander will know how bitterly cold they are in winter.  No insulation and gaps in the floor boards and walls – there is really nothing worse on a cold windy day.  Since we moved into our house I have spent my winter days rugged up in two jumpers, a ski jacket, beanie and knee high ugg boots and still manage to complain about the cold.  Our house is sometimes colder than it is outside!!!  And once I get cold, I stay cold.  No amount of extra layering can help me and I can only be rescued by a warm boiling hot shower.  But now with this little beauty in place I went to bed last night in shorts and a singlet…I KID YOU NOT!  Are you jealous yet?

Our great friend (and fabulous builder if you are looking for one) Anthony Potter installed the fireplace for us.  I am seriously fussy about builders and installation as I have had some pretty bad experiences in the past.  (One example – the workmen who were installing our bench tops for the kitchen laid out all their filthy, wet tools on my beige, leather lounge! Grrrr!)  But Anthony, Anthony was AMAZING – he asked me questions (questions people! that is something I have never experienced from  builder) and then – GASP – listened to my concerns.  He was clean, and thoughtful, and efficient.  Just look at the cardboard he laid out for all his tools lie on – I was gobsmacked.  Not only was I getting my fireplace but I was getting it installed by a perfectionist!  What more could I ask for?  Thanks so much Anthony!!!  I know I was a very annoying challenging client (it all comes down to my unrelenting standards, what can I say?)

And BAM – there she is!  The hearth we chose was Carrara marble and don’t get me started on how difficult that was!  How thick, how long, how wide – all had to be worked out in relation to the space, the fireplace and the hearth requirements.  Now that it is in (and with the benefit of hindsight) it sure does look pretty though.  The fireplace we chose was from a company in Melbourne, Aranbe Heat.   They have been excellent to deal with and I love the simple lines of their heaters.  The wooden handle is really lovely to use and the matt black colour perfect.  (We also decided to paint our walls darker to help the fireplace blend in.  The colour we chose was Baltic Sea by Resene.  I am in love with that too!!)  The fireplace model we chose was the 160R because we were looking for a heater with very close clearances (that means it can get really close to the wall) and was small enough to heat our house without having to leave all the doors and windows open (so far so good.)

This is the first time in 8 years that Anthony used his plum bob!  We were so glad to give him that opportunity!

Crinkle helping out as best she can!

And we are now on the roof installing the flue.  When you buy a fireplace you then need to buy a flue.  We just had the standard flue kit but I asked that they paint it black so it would match.  I’m glad I didn’t have to climb up there – it looks mighty steep!

And here it is – in all its glory – do you see now why I’m not leaving the house until September?


Studio Sixty Photography is Brisbane wedding photographer Jason Starr, and studio manager Sally Ogilvie.

Well known for creative, natural, candid photographs of both local and international weddings, Studio Sixty Photography is capturing now and forever.

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