19 Dec 2014

17 Dec 2014

Spaghetti - An easy way to light lots of candles

If you don't have any long matches and need to light candles in jars or lots of candles at once did you know you can light raw spaghetti! Once you've lit the end it works like a long stick match. 

Candles are so great for Christmas, light them and they instantly provide a warm cosy atmosphere. Scented ones also cover up any suggestion on burnt turkey!

15 Dec 2014

Non Alcoholic Options For Kids And Grown-Ups

My fella doesn't really drink (alcohol) and at Christmas people tend to a fair bit! Coke, lemonade and orange juice can become a bit repetitive so I've come up with a few alternatives to serve to other T (ish) total guests, drivers, teens and kids.

When everyone's on Mulled Wine or cider you can make mulled apple juice. Cloudy apple juice works best, you can pick up really tasty bottles from farmers markets and farm shops.  In previous posts I added a recipe, dead easy, add the spices or spice sachets and leave to simmer. No need to add sugar.

Cocio chocolate milk is delicious, has 1% sweetener and 1% fat - my kind of chocolate! (Although probably has considerably more calories when I add a shot of Baileys). You can serve over ice as you would Baileys, which is great for drivers and teens. Or you can jazz up the bottle and serve with a straw for a bit of fun. I just tied a bit of red ribbon around the bottle neck and added 3 blobs of white tac to the body of the bottle to look like a snowman. Can pick it up at Asda, Tesco or Waitrose.

Mocktails are always great too.  Loads of recipes out there. You don't need to mix too many flavours for a yummy drink. Pomegranate and elderflower is a favourite of mine. Elderflower for the sweet taste, Pomegranate juice for great colour and Soda to give it a bit of sparkle. I also add a few pomegranate seeds or fresh raspberries for a fancy edge. 

There are a range of non alcoholic beers and wines available as well the fizzy grape drinks such as Shloer. Mix it up for those who don't drink this Christmas. I'm sure they'll be impressed.

14 Dec 2014

Christmas Cards And Posting Dates

Get Christmas card writing because the last dates for posting are coming up.

I write mine on the train to make use of what would be dead time.  If you don't have one, I'd recommend getting an address book. Before I had one I used to franticly ring my mum and text people for their addresses.   Now I have them all in an address book sending cards is a breeze (a long winded, fun at first finger cramping breeze, but still it's nice to send cards).

Last date for 2nd class is Thursday 18th December.

Last date for 1st class is Saturday 20th December.

Last date to be used to emergencies only because it's very expensive is Royal Mail's Special Delivery Tuesday 23rd December.

Try to buy charity cards from charity shops, if possible.  Normally means 100% of profits go to charity as opposed to 10p.

Get posting!

12 Dec 2014

Dried Oranges Cheap And Pretty Way To Decorate Your Tree And Make YourHouse Smell Amazing

These dried oranges are so easy to make and smell so good. Can decorate your tree with them or leave them in bowls around the house as pou pourie.

Cut the tops and bottoms off of the oranges. Then cut them into slices just under 1cm thick.  Make sure you cut them so you can see through all the segments (like the picture).

You need to press the excess juice out of the orange slices. You can use kitchen roll but I prefer using tea towels as they absorb more. Lay them all on a tea towel folded in half. Place another tea towel folded in half over the top of the oranges and press gently. 

Heat your oven to 90 degrees and lay the oranges out on clean wire racks (oven shelves). You can put them on a baking tray but they take longer. Bake them for about 2 & 1/2 hrs. Keep checking in them to make sure they don't burn. If they haven't dried out after about 3 hrs you can put them on radiators to dry out slowly. 

That's it! Sprinkle some fine glitter on them if you want and you have some beautifully smelling Christmas decorations.

I use 'invisible' hooks to hang them. I picked them up in the poundshop. They're thin wire hooks you can pierce through the orange flesh pretty easily. You can hang with ribbon or raffia instead if you have the time.


9 Dec 2014

Yummy Christmas Bakes - 2 Delicious Christmas Themed Cakes

These two cupcake recipes are really delicious and taste like Christmas!
I wasn't sure about the mince pie ones at first but I'm glad Shelly (my mate) said to give them a go. Oh my they were delicious. You add some mince meat (not beef! The fruity kind from a jar) to the cupcake recipe and it shot or two of brandy, it makes them really moist and flavorsome.

We added shots of brandy to the buttercream to give it a bit of a kick. Took the sweetness off a bit without being over powering. 

The Christmas spiced ones were also fabulous, nice to change it up from my usual vanilla, lemon or chocolate.  I used the brandy buttercream for these too and think it worked really well.

Give them a go and send me your pics!


7 Dec 2014

Gingerbread Heart German Style

The Germans know how to do Christmas. Gingerbread hearts are traditional to have in German homes, I think they look really pretty and festive. I got one in Winter Wonderland last year but it cost a bomb! Asda are doing them this year for a couple quid. Comes with icing pipped around the edge already, a red ribbon to hang it up and a little white icing pen for you to write on your own message. If kids are drawing on it, let them run wild. If you're a bit of a perfectionist I'd mark out your lettering first. I tried free styling and it all went a bit wonky. My mate Mick however scored it all out with a bamboo stick and wrote over the top. Was a great tip, much easier. Added some edible glitter to the holly and the stars, think this really set it off.


6 Dec 2014

Fortnam and Mason's Hamper £45 Great Gift For Partners Parents


At £45 I think this is a great gift for someone when you want to look a bit fancy! Maybe your partners parents, grandparents or boss?

Normally I think hampers can be a bit of a rip off but I think this one seems pretty good value.  You're paying for the brand of course, but it comes with a fab basket which could definitely be a picnic basket in the summer.  Fortnam and Masons is known for quality so you know the goodies inside will be good.  Pair with an English Heritage recyclable wool blanket to complete the gift if you can.

Watch out for other hampers going into sale during the week before Christmas.  BHS often have there's half price.  The contents might not match up to F&M but will still be a lovely gift.

5 Dec 2014

Knowledge Is Beautiful - An Amazing Beautiful Book. Great For MostAdults

This book is beautiful, It's by David McCandless. Filled with amazing facts laid out in a fun and interesting way. It's not page after page of linear text but filled graphics and colour. Anyone who loves a science or nature documentary will love this book. Actually scrap that most people will love this book!

Next time you're in a book shop check it out.  As soon as you start to flick through you'll find yourself reading one of the many cool facts or turning every page to see what the next looks like.

It's big, hard back and will look great on a coffee table. 

Retails at £25 but can get from you-bookshop.co.uk for £17.50


3 Dec 2014

Tea Lovers!

I think this tea pot is really sweet and looks great with fruity tea bags in. Only £7 from Tiger Stores.  You can pair the pot with some beautiful looking packs of tea from Whittards, Harrods or Fortnam and Masons (any fancy food halls really) to make a cute thoughtful gift for any tea lover. It won't cost you a bomb either.