Monday, 28 November 2016

Christmas Cake - A Tip

Happy Monday Friends!!

I hope you have had a restful weekend, or maybe you have already started putting up the Christmas decorations because you can't contain your excitement. Although, I am definitely holding off until this coming weekend, as personally four weeks is long enough to have them up before they come down after the New Years celebrations.

Anyways, on to today's post. My daughter brought home the Christmas cake she had made a while ago at college, as they got to decorate it last week. Today's post is a tip for those of you who may have made your very own Christmas cake.

My daughters Christmas cake in the making at college.


I am loving the little robins she made for it.


This tip actually comes from a top London patisserie chef who is currently teaching my daughter.
Once made, your cake can be stored in a cool dry place (not the fridge),  for up to 1 year (and absolutely no longer than this). However, if your not going to get round to eating it, or maybe you have had the joys of making more than one, you can actually freeze your cake for up to 4 years.

I hope you have found this tip useful, as I have.

Have a lovely week, until next time!!

Maria


Friday, 25 November 2016

December Daily

Not to scare you, but in one month exactly, it will be Christmas Day... yiipppppppppppeeee.  So before, I go into too much detail on this post, I should explain something about me.  Firstly, I'm a crafter.  All things creative call to me, and I dabble in them all. A typical crafter, has a million and one projects on the go, and sometimes we feel like our heads will explode with all the creative ideas running around.  Next thing about me, is that I'm totally obsessed with Christmas.  So, putting both those things together, the project that I love at this time of the year, is the brainchild of the very talented Ali Edwards, called December Daily.

The idea is to capture and document the stories that make up this magical season.  Now, you can do it in anyway that works for you, most tend to create a separate album and maybe make up a basic work station with the supplies you need to work on the album each day.

Often the album can be made in advance, so that each day, all you need to do is write up your daily story, and maybe print out a photo to insert.  Sounds good, but lets face it, its one of the busiest times of the year and the last thing on your mind is crafting.  So this year, I'm actually using my Midori as my album and I'm not going to over think things either (yeah, yeah, I laughed at that too) but I want to stop and not rush the season.  Which I'm very aware, is something I tend to do .... so I want to document the everyday fun things.  If nothing much happens on a particular day, then I'll write in a quote. Something that when I look back at my journal in future years, I'll remember to slow down and enjoy the process, and remember where I am, right now.

There you have it a bit of a long winded post from me today, but I do hope it maybe inspires you to join in and really think about the season, and if you do, please drop back and let us know so we can have a look.  Let me share with you here, the front of my journal.


Wishing you all a lovely weekend 
Sandra
xx


Monday, 21 November 2016

Homemade Chocolate Stirrers For Hot Chocolate Lovers

Happy Monday Friends!!

With the weather decidedly cooler,  and the evenings dark and gloomy, we all seek a little bit of comfort.  So today's post is for those chocolate lovers out there, or if that isn't you, maybe for someone you know is a bit of a chocoholic.

Chocolate Hot Shots are the perfect way to indulge your love of chocolate with a drink. I have been making some to give for Christmas as a little extra homemade love, so I thought I would share with you today how I make mine.



You will need a shot glass, 1 large bar of chocolate per shot, unsalted butter to line the glass, some sticks (mine are from Lakelands cake pop section) or you could use a wooden skewer with the point cut off.



First up, you will need to melt a small amount of unsalted butter, (just enough to line your shot glasses to prevent the chocolate from becoming stuck to your glass).


My daughter's tip is to brush the butter upwards to ensure even coverage. Once you have done this, pop them into the fridge for about an hour.


Whilst waiting for the butter to set in the glasses, melt your bars of chocolate. Remember it works out approximately 1 large bar to each shot glass. It will, of course, depend on the size of the shot glass you are using, but mine are an average size. If yours are smaller, you will, need less chocolate, and vice versa. 



 Once the chocolate is melted pour into the shot glass and add your stick.



Then place in the fridge to harden.

Once the chocolate has set, place the shot glass in some hot water for a few seconds and then gently pull on the stick and your choc shot will pop out.


Because I am giving mine as gifts, I have written a tag with instructions on.




I found some Xmas cello bags in lakeland, added the choc shot, instructions and some snowy white marshmallows.

And now to hide them from my daughter who is a complete and utter chocoholic!!!

Have a great week Friends!!

Maria xx


Friday, 18 November 2016

Product Review

I have a couple of products to share with you this week, that I've been using over the past couple of months.
First up, is a new primer.  You may remember from a past post, I normally wear Bare Minerals, but since Maria and I started this blog, I've been trying out different products to review (its a tough job, but someone has to do it lol).

So, I did a little research, and I came across a brand new to me, called, Laura Mercier. From my research, everything I read was good, including being against animal testing.  This brand is available from John Lewis, and the sales assistant was most helpful.  Its a primer that is meant to illuminate and highlight your base, you can as well use it on its own, without foundation. Now at first, I must admit, I struggled with it, but I think that was because I was maybe using too much.  Its a less is more type of product, and once I realised that, I found it much easier to work with.  The one thing I would say, is be careful when using it under the eye as it can get a little dry.  Overall, I certainly would go back to this brand, and I've found it a good base.

Next is a product that I just came across in Superdrug several months ago.  Pantene Hair Perfector.  Its got multi uses, and can be used on both wet and dry hair. Again, only one pump is needed as it can get a little sticky, if too much is used.  A nice non offence smell, and is a good heat protector when using your hairdryer or styling wands.  Its certainly helped my fly away hair, keep its shape through the day.  My only issue I've had with it, is that I've struggled to find it again.  Luckily, I still have a fair bit left, but I'd certainly recommend this product, if you're looking for a reasonably priced hair primer.

So, this month, I've been lucky ... two products, I've had success with.

Have a lovely weekend friends.
Sandra x

Monday, 14 November 2016

Good To Know - Dining Out

Happy Monday Friends!!

I hope you have had a great weekend :D

Today's post is about a good to know tip I have learnt from my daughter, who has been studying Patisserie at college. As part of her qualification she has had to do Front of House training, and she certainly knows her stuff. I am proud to say she impressed Albert Roux with her skills last year at the Queens Stand. Want to know what it is?

It's a mistake that quite a few of us do, and I have been guilty of it too.  It is when we stack our plates at the end of the meal thinking we are actually helping. This might be a natural instinct, but in a restaurant it is a complete no no. Front of house staff are trained on how to stack and carry as many plates as they possibly can. There is a certain way to do it and by trying to be helpful, we are in fact causing hindrance. So my advice to you is leave the plates, cutlery etc for the waiters and waitresses. They will more grateful if you do, and you will make their lifes so much easier.



Another good to thing to know is that, front of house staff should never, ever clear plates until everyone on your table has finished. This is a complete no, no and if they do, it shows that the restaurant's staff have not been properly trained.

Have a great week Friends!!

Until next time....

Maria xx

Friday, 11 November 2016

Cleaning Tip

Now, I will hold my hand up to say I am an advertising man's dream, if they say the words, new and improved on anything to do with cleaning products and I'm straight off to Sainsbury's to buy it.

I love my home to be clean and tidy, which I know with two mud magnets running in and out of the garden, especially in this weather, isn't always easy, but I have a close friend called Emma, who could put Kim and Aggie to shame. Seriously, she knows everything there is to know about cleaning.
Well recently, I had a stain on a top which was dry clean only, but the dry cleaners, didn't think they could help me.  So, whats a girl to do? .... Yup, she rings her friend.  Now the tip she gave me was brilliant, and I'd like to share it with you. 

Baby Wipes! .... Yup, that easy.  Never did I think to use them on any stain, other than cleaning my crafting stamps.  It really works, although, don't go buying the more expensive ones, no the cheap own brand ones, are apparently the best.  They even work if you drop make up on the carpet! ... and the fact that my husband reads our blog, I'd like to note that it wasn't in our house, don't panic Simon, no, Emma has a teenage daughter, and this has worked.

So, give it a go, it may surprise you.

Have a lovely weekend friends, I hope the weather is kind to you .... but apparently, I'm in for more muddy paw prints tomorrow.
Sandra
xxx

Monday, 7 November 2016

A Quick & Easy Stocking Filler - Relaxing Sea Salt Bath Bottles

Happy Monday Friends!!

Today, finds me starting to get organised for Christmas. At this time of year, I always like to make a few gifts in advance.

I like to include some "me time" gifts for my close friends in my homemade gift baskets, as we all need to take time out to pamper and indulge ourselves.  In previous years, I have used kilner jars or upcycled some pretty jars that I have saved throughout the year for these relaxing bath salts. However, this year, I thought I would use some of these pretty little Alice In Wonderland type drink me bottles which can be reused after. They make a gift in themselves as they could be used for say as a mini flower vase afterwards.



To make your relaxing bath scented salts or you need is some good quality sea salts such as Spa Magik,  some pure essential oils such as lavender or in this case I've chosen peppermint, and a container. Dependent on the size of your chosen container, add several drops of your essential oil to the sea salts, mix and pour into your container. Its as simple as that. Add a label and your done.


Have a great week Friends!!

Maria x




Friday, 4 November 2016

A Life Hack - Kitchen Dispenser

Last week I got a WhatsApp from Maria, asking if she could borrow an oxo cube! Yes, it was part of her blog post. So in true Friends over the Fence style, I handed it over in the garden, and this is where we got chatting about Life Hacks.

So I'll share this one with you; its something I never really looked at before, until it was on a tv show.  Apparently most foil, cling film etc., come with these helpful tabs.

So do as it says on the packaging lol
And the tabs hold the insides in place
 Which make using so much easier.
If you know of any of these so called Life Hacks, we'd love to hear them.

Happy Friday friends, and have a fabulous weekend.
Sandra
xx

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

A Top Tip for Shopping for Gluten & Wheat Free Food

Happy Tuesday Friends!!

I hope you had fun with the Halloween celebrations that seem to be getting bigger each year. I'm a day late with todays post, but have good reason as our eldest son traveled down from Bristol to celebrate his 21st birthday (he is our Halloween baby).

Back to todays topic of some tips for gluten, wheat and dairy free shopping. I was diagnosed with an intolerance to gluten, wheat and dairy about five years ago, and wanted to pass on a tip for those of you who may be newly diagnosed, or have a friend or family member that you are having to cook for.

You may be fooled into thinking that you will only ever be able to shop down the "special aisle" of your local supermarket or that you have to choose ingredients that only has a label plastered with gluten or dairy free all over it. If you go down this route, you will be increasing the amount you spend on your food shop considerably!! There are, in fact, lots of everyday products that are perfectly acceptable if you happen to be intolerant, like myself. If you are a celiac, you will have to be more careful as some products are manufactured in a gluten or wheat environment.

My tip to you is simple, check out the ingredients label on 'normal' products, and you will be pleasantly surprised to find that they are gluten or wheat free.

Here are a couple of  examples for everyday ingredients.

Cornflour



Doves Cornflour, labeled gluten free costs £1.59 for 110g (£1.45 per 100g). As an everyday ingredients, this is a huge increase of cost over the course of time. 


As you can see from the packaging, there is no label purporting to this particular brand being gluten free. The price £1.05 for 250g (42p per 100g). 


Gravy

This gluten free brand is priced at £1.69 or only 30g, which equates to £5.63 per 100g!!! 



Whereas this well known brand, although not advertising itself as gluten free, actually doesn't contain wheat or gluten in its ingredients!! It is also much, much cheaper at £2 for a 200g jar. 

Obviously, there will be ingredients or food that you will need to buy with the gluten, wheat or dairy free label on, and they will be down the special aisle, but from personal experience, there are so many products that are perfectly suitable for anyone with an intolerance, you just have to look at the ingredients. 

On an end note, my advice don't be fooled by packaging because you will end up spending way too much!!!

Have a great week Friends!!

Maria xx