CHRISTMAS ESSENCE … how to give your home the fragrance of Christmas

The days before Christmas should be long and lingering.  Days to enjoy.   One needs to treasure the simple things.    In an unhurried manner.  No frantic trips to crowded malls.  I start my Christmas  in November.     Creating Christmas cards.   Gathering wrapping paper and ribbons.  Unpacking the boxes of Christmas ornaments and decorations – all in a leisurely manner.

This is the time to enjoy treasured memories.  I still have the Santa my son made in kindergarten forty-five years ago.  Battered and faded it always graces our tree front and centre.      The polar bear cookie jar appears on my kitchen counter.  His name is lorek Byrnison, from the book The Golden Compass.       This is how you slow down in the days before December 25th.

To give our home the perfume of Christmas preparations I  simmer an all natural Christmas essence on the stove.  You’ ll love the fresh, crisp, spicy fragrance, and you probably have everything to create it right in your kitchen.


Chop the peel of a large orange and a large lemon.    Into a medium sized saucepan put the peel, plus 2 sticks of cinnamon broken, 12 whole cloves and 4 bay leaves.  Add 4 cups of water and bring to the boil.  Immediately reduce heat to a very slow simmer.  A word of caution, don’t let it simmer dry.  Just keep adding more water.




A repository of dreams.

This intense  emotional sense of colour.

This one colour  contains a multitude of memories

This colour orange.

It takes me to a place.

It is the colour of the bag I clutch as I hurry down rue de Fauberg.


There is music.   Poignant thin strains.  An accordion.

Hold me close and hold me fast

The magic spell you cast

This is la vie en rose.

When you kiss me,

Heaven sighs and though I close my eyes

I see la vie en rose.


In the garden I cut  orange flowers.

The colour is personal.




There is this.

Orange is the colour of memories.

It is the repository of dreams.



 BEL’OCCHIO   …   the beautiful eye





I absolutely adore making quick breads.  True to their name you can whip them up quickly and serve them with morning coffee, afternoon tea, or as a midnight snack.

This oh so scrumptious bread  is a dynamite  combination of flavours.  The roasted walnuts are rich and crunchy, and the tart cranberries and orange zest create an explosion for your taste buds.   The recipe makes two loaves – one to enjoy fresh out of the oven the other to tuck in your freezer or share with a friend.   Click on WALNUT CRANBERRY ORANGE BREAD and fill your kitchen with the heady baking aroma of this gorgeous quick bread.