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A Book, A Shop, A Garden and Roasted Ham-Wrapped Dates

Some dreams come to pass right away. Some change or end. Others take years and years of work and dreaming and set backs and trying, trying, trying.

This week a dream came true for me that I’ve been cherishing since I was a little girl. I’ve been commissioned to write an Australian history book on a town called Freestone. A real, honest-to-goodness book with pages you can turn and photos you can trace with a helpful finger. I’m so excited.

I started initial research last year and was immediately drawn to the place, the way the stories of its citizens captured the history of the settling of Australia by immigrants from all around the world. I’ve loved learning where these early settlers came from, how they forged a life out of bushland and related to their Aboriginal neighbors, how they preserved food, traveled from place to place, and connected as a community.

I’ve been fascinated by the changes that have taken place over the last nearly two hundred years, changes in transport, communication, and education, how some things have changed completely while others have steadily endured. I’ve especially enjoyed interviewing community members whose family members have lived in this area since the early 1800’s, hearing their stories both heart-breaking and laugh-out-loud hilarious. I can’t wait to put their words and memories to paper and preserve their stories for generations to come.

I will be sure to let you know when it is published in case any of you would like to learn about the history of this part of Australia.

I had another dream come true when I opened my very own store to sell my custom designed, hand-burned artwork. I’d love it if you stop by for a visit and let me know what you think: http://ramblingtart.tictail.com/

To celebrate the opening I’ve added a new item: pint-sized, personalized wooden mixing spoons for children. They make me smile.

My other happy bit of news is that Bear surprised me with a chunk of land just for me to build my very own Secret Garden. Not for veggies or anything practical, simply a place where I can let my imagination run wild and hide away in whenever the fancy takes me.

We’ve plotted out the area, a lovely rambling spot under the huge gum trees in our back yard that overlooks the pond and distant woods.

I’ve been leafing through gardening books and scrolling through Pinterest finding all sorts of lovely things that make my heart skip a beat.

Over cuppas we chat and plan and discuss and I think this might be the best part of all.

I’ve been squirreling away seeds and building stacks of lovely fallen branches in beautiful twisted shapes that will be wonderful for making sculptures or rustic bits of fencing for moon flowers and morning glories to clamber over.

I’ve got heaps of seedlings in my kitchen garden getting nice and sturdy, ready to be transplanted whenever we’re ready for them.

It’s been such an inspiring project and I can’t wait to get started.

Our favorite treats this week are Roasted Ham-wrapped Dates. How we love them! Simply wrap nice plump dates in thin slices of cured Black Forest Ham or Prosciutto, roast for 15-20 minutes until they’re nice and crispy, then devour most happily. It would be lovely with all sorts of different fruits: figs, peaches, etc. Any fruit that will stand up to roasting and give a delicious caramelized balance to the saltiness of the meat.

Have you had any dreams come true lately? I’d love to hear about any you’re working towards. xo

Roasted Ham Wrapped Dates


10 slices cured Black Forest Ham or Prosciutto
10 plump dates


  1. Preheat oven to 400 F (205 C).
  2. Lay out strips of ham with one date at one end.
  3. Starting at date end, roll up until all of ham is used.
  4. Place each roll loose side down on paper-lined baking sheet.
  5. Roast for 10-20 minutes until ham is browned and crispy.
  6. Serve warm or cold.
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Kitchen Butterfly - I am so so so thrilled for you my love. On the book. On your store. On everything else. Thrilled.

Lauryl Lane - Sweet! Big congrats! Oh… And we do bacon-wrapped dares, but we slide a little chunk of Gouda cheese into the date first (where the pit was) before wrapping in bacon. Soooooo good!

Krista - Thank you so much, @disqus_WseMqaTPwi:disqus šŸ™‚ It is lovely to feel myself getting braver and stronger. šŸ™‚ XO

Jackie Smith - Live the dream! That is the way we all should be approaching life! Glad you’ve grabbed it by the horns and are running with it! Congrats and hugs to you! xo Jackie

Krista - Thank you so much, Tracy! šŸ™‚ I really appreciate your encouragement and support. šŸ™‚

Tracy A - How very exciting, from the book right through to your shared recipe! I hope that this trend continues!

Krista - I absolutely will share with you, @disqus_v9uRgGTGfe:disqus šŸ™‚ It’s mostly in planning stages at the moment while I finish up working on my veggie gardens. I’ve been digging out piles of rocks this weekend. Great exercise but boy oh boy do my muscles ache. šŸ™‚

Krista - I’m so glad you like them too, Shirley. šŸ™‚

Maureen Shaw - I can’t wait to peek at your garden if you decide to share it with us. It will be spectacular I know. These dates look pretty spectacular too!

Shirley from Rhubarb Whine - This is also a favourite here. So simple, yet so, so good.

Krista - Thank you so much, dear @Jacqueline_at_Bliss:disqus XO I’m so glad I could bring a bit of summer and sunshine into your dark, cold winter days. Wishing you an early Spring this year full of sunshine. šŸ™‚

Krista - I love that plate too, Hotly Spiced. šŸ™‚ It is my most recent find at an antiques store in town. šŸ™‚ Thanks so much for your encouragement regarding the book. Australian history is so interesting to me and I’m thrilled to get to write about it. šŸ™‚

Krista - Thank you so much, @joanneeatswellwithothers:disqus šŸ™‚ I really appreciate that. šŸ™‚ XO

Jacqueline_at_Bliss - Great congratulations, Krista, on your commission! How incredibly exciting. I’m so proud of you, my friend. Your garden plans have made me smile on a day when we seem to be receiving record levels of snow … I always head over here when the sun’s disappeared and I need to find it. XX

Hotly Spiced - I love the plate you have served the dates on. And the dates look pretty good too – a great appetiser. Your new garden sounds like it will be amazing. But huge congrats on being asked to write a book about an Australian country town. It sounds like the book will be full of interesting stories and make a great read – good luck! xx

Joanne (eats well with others) - I’m so so so happy for you!! So much exciting news!

budgetjan - Thanks for the tip Krista. It was dried figs that they stuffed with walnuts šŸ™‚

Krista - I don’t know if changing the setting would help, but I keep my white balance on cloudy most of the time, even when it’s sunny, and that seems to make things more clear. Otherwise they tend to look washed out and blurry. I hate that. šŸ™‚ I’ve never tried stuffing dates with walnuts before, but that sounds delicious. I will try it for sure. šŸ™‚

budgetjan - You are amazing. I use a Canon S95 and Marty uses an older but better Pentax K200. Then I use Pic Monkey (the free version). But your photos are so much clearer than ours! Yes I was thinking an almond to stuff it with. In Turkey they stuff figs with walnuts šŸ™‚

Krista - šŸ™‚

Krista - Stuffing with nuts is a marvelous idea, @budgetjan:disqus šŸ™‚ Mm, like a roasted almond or something? šŸ™‚ I don’t mind you asking at all! I just use a little Nikon Coolpix – http://amzn.to/MGQO1v – and then use http://www.picmonkey.com to sharpen and make the color right. šŸ™‚

budgetjan - I know I would love these morsels. You could value add by stuffing the dates with something first, maybe a nut. If you don’t mind me asking, what sort of camera do you use Krista. I just drool over your photos šŸ™‚

Andrea and John - We will be watching for your gardening tips šŸ˜‰ Speak to you soon!

Krista - You are right, dear @lizposmyk:disqus šŸ™‚ They do indeed. šŸ™‚

Krista - I love that post, @adrianaclassicalquest:disqus šŸ™‚ She has such a lovely way of describing the writing process for those of us who don’t have unlimited hours to just sit and write. šŸ™‚

Krista - Thank you so much for your amazing support, @inspiringtravellers:disqus (and for your lovely email yesterday!! I will write back soon XO) I really, really appreciate it. šŸ™‚ I’m finally excited about my garden too. It has really helped to study a lot and learn about soil and mulch and planting and all that sort of thing. I’m understanding a lot more now and that makes it much more pleasurable. šŸ™‚ Wishing you a home and garden of your own very soon. XO All that organic veg can only do us good. šŸ™‚

Krista - Thank you so much, @breannemosher:disqus XO I’m having the loveliest times dreaming too!! Who knew you could have so much fun discussing fencing and drainage and how to root willow trees? šŸ™‚

Krista - There really are, @jenny_atasteoftravel:disqus šŸ™‚ I’ve always been impressed by Australian ingenuity, but learning how the original settlers kept meat cold or cooled off their homes in the blistering summer is so delightful to me. šŸ™‚ Clever, clever people. šŸ™‚

Krista - Thank you so much, @tandysinclair:disqus šŸ™‚ I’m having fun setting up an office just for this project, getting all my maps and timelines and photos up on the wall where I can see them and keep everything sorted. šŸ™‚

Liz Posmyk - Such exciting news for you Krista. See, dreams do come true!

Adriana @ Classical Quest - I thought of you when I wrote this post today, Krista!

Andrea and John - Oh my gosh, Krista – this is all so exciting!!! I know your book will be amazing – you really know how to tell a story. Your spoons are beautiful — and I can’t wait until we buy our own house so I can start a garden…I’m super jealous of the latter. Wishing you the best of luck with all of it – I know you’ll do great! ~Andrea.

Breanne @ This Vintage Moment - This all makes me so very, very happy. I am in love with the idea of your secret garden and have been escaping through your pins on Pinterest. What delightful projects to dream over and work on and see come to life. XO

A Book, A Shop, A Garden and Roasted Ham-Wrapped Dates - […] I started initial research last year and was immediately drawn to the …read more on Rambling Tart […]

jenny_atasteoftravel - I was very excited for you Krista when I read your news on Facebook! There must be some fascinating stories to be told!

Tandy Sinclair - Have a super time writing the book! Well done and good luck šŸ™‚

Krista - Thank you so much, dear @bellini:disqus XO You are so right about dreams.

bellini - When I read about it on Facebook Krista I was so happy for you. We should all be able to live our dream whatever they may be,.

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