Monday, 19 December 2016

Merry Christmas and a Thank you

Maria and I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas.  We're going to take a little break over this festive period but will be back at the beginning of 2017.

We'd like to take this opportunity to thank you all, for your kind comments and for supporting us in our venture.

May 2017 bring you much happiness

Friday, 16 December 2016

Marzipan Cake

Happy Friday friends, I'm sharing with you today a cake recipe that I get asked for a lot.
Its actually a Nigella one and from her How to be a Domestic Goddess book. Its a true favorite in our home and so it seems with all those I bake it for.  Now I'm not a lover of fruit cake normally ... but this one, and maybe because its full of marzipan, I just love.

So here it is;

150 g sultanas
100 g glace cherries - halved
150 g dried pears, chopped
100 ml white run
250 g marzipan
50 g ground almonds
zest of 1 lemon
175 g plain flour
100 g caster sugar
100 g butter
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon orange-flower water
20 cm spring form cake tin .. buttered and lined.

Start the night before, and mix the sultanas, glace cherries and pears in a large bowl and cover with the rum.  Dice the marzipan and put in the freezer. Leave both to soak and freeze overnight.
Now ... this is something I've learned.  Firstly, if you can't get pears (and goodness, are they hard to get hold off) I have used apricots which work just as well.  I have tried mango's ... and no, they don't seem to work as well.

Also, the marzipan.  I now dice it and freeze it like this.  Otherwise, when I used to put it in a grip seal bag with some icing sugar to keep it apart, I still often ended up with a big lump of marzipan which I then had to chisel apart lol.
When you come to make the cake, preheat the oven to 140C/gas mark 1.  Beat together the almonds, lemon zest, flour, sugar, butter and eggs.  Add the drained fruit, orange flower (I have used Rose water, which also works) and the frozen marzipan.  Put the cake mix into the tin, leveling the surface and making a slight indent in the middle to get an even surface when cooked.  Bake for 2-2.5 hours or until a cake tester comes out clean.  Don't overcook, as it will continue to cook in its own warmth as it cools.  But nor should you worry too much at it; there's enough fruit and marzipanny squidge to make sure this golden cake doesn't easily turn dry.
Allow the cake to cool in the tin before re-wrapping in parchment and foil to store for about a week. Feed with a little more rum before you wrap for a richer taste if you want (just puncture the top of the cake a few times and slowly dribble a few spoons or rum over)

Ok ... the last part, I've never done. I've allowed it to cool, and then tucked in.  Seriously, why wait, its a yummy cake.
I hope you enjoy it as much as we do, and if you're making it ... just remember to invite me around for a slice or two.

Monday, 12 December 2016

How To Make Your Own Fresh Door Wreath

Happy Monday Friends!!

Todays post is a little late as I have been busy making door wreaths, and I thought I'd share with you how I make mine.

Heres How.....

I like to use a 10" oasis wreath ring. You can get these from your local florist or Amazon. It does look pretty small, but its easy to create a good sized door wreath with this size.

Ask your local garden centre for the off cuts to the christmas trees they sell. You should be able to get these for virtually free. Also if you are fortunate to have a garden have a forage round. Mixing up foliage makes for a more natural interesting looking wreath. We are fortunate enough to have a couple of conifer trees in our garden so this combined with the blue pine off cuts from our local garden centre, and a few other evergreen plants, meant that there was no expense laid out on the foliage for my door wreaths.

You will need to thoroughly soak your ring in cold water. It should feel quite heavy when you have soaked it. Once you have done this you will need to attach a length of string or ribbon. This will be the top position of your door wreath and it needs to be long enough to be able to hang it to your door. I'd recommend using more rather than less as you can at least cut it to length when hanging it. 

TIP: Always ensure your stems of your cut foliage are clean of leaves/needles. This ensures that the foliage can drink the water in the oasis and won't dry out. 

Start at the top of your ring and work your way around it pushing in each piece of foliage into the oasis.

You should be left with something that looks like this. You can mix up your foliage to create more interest.

TIP:  Flat foliage such as conifer and pine work best as the basis to your wreath as it will sit flat against your door. 

 You can then start to add more foliage to the ring. The trick here is to ensure that all the foliage is placed into the oasis in a clockwise direction.

Once you have finished with the foliage (ensuring that no oasis green is showing), you can then start to have fun adding your accessories. 

I like to use a mixture of real and artificial accessories for my wreaths. This year, I chose a gorgeous artificial flower head as the focal point to my wreath.

As well as using real foliage, I also like to mix it up with artificial foliage just to add a different texture to it. You need to break down artificial leaves and rewire them by using florist wires. You can tape them with florist tape if you want but its not essential. 

Make sure you leave enough wire to insert it into your wreath. You can always cut it shorter.

Once I have wired my artificial embellishments, I start to build up my wreath by positioning them and putting them into the oasis ring.

Close up of my door wreath showing real and artificial.

TIP: To get a good view your wreath, its always a good to pop it on the floor so you can have good look at it from above, and make sure you are happy with the positioning of your accessories as well as it's shape. 

Once your happy with your arrangement, the next step is to secure all your accessories by using a glue gun. Take one piece out at a time and cover with hot glue and place it back into the ring. This will ensure that nothing will fall out especially with all the visitors coming and going and the front door in constant use!

Then you are free to hang it to your door and enjoy!!

TIP: The oasis wreath rings do have bumper patches on the back of them so they won't damage your door, but its always good to add small pieces of blueback to the back. This prevents the ring from coming away from the door when it's opened and shut.

Every year, I make our friends a door wreath too. The possibilities are endless as to what you can use and the different looks you can create. 

Have a great week Friends!

Maria xx


Friday, 9 December 2016

IKEA hack

Happy Friday friends. I hope you've had a good week. 

I thought today, I'd share with you a little project that we did a couple of months ago in our living room. 
This pretty shelf started life quite happily as an IKEA floating shelf.  Nothing wrong with it at all, just that it had been up since must be 2004 once we finished our extension. 
See, nothing wrong.  I just felt they weren't quite fitting into our home the way they used to.  The problem is, they're useful and changing them would have meant redecorating the whole room.  As, the holes needed for the screws to hold them up, are rather large, so to carry all the weight on put on them.  

So hubby took them down, and off to his workshop in the garden. 
He found some old architrave that he had, and attached it all around the shelf with nails and wood glue. 

I then gave them a lick of paint.
and voila ... new shelves
I'm so pleased with how they've turned out. 

That's it from me today, have a super weekend 

Monday, 5 December 2016

Daily Greatness Journal - A Review

Happy Monday Friends!!

Today's post is a review on the Daily Greatness Journal, I bought a while back.

Here is what I found out......

Unfortunately, I managed a whole 3 weeks, before I had to abandon this journal, and it had nothing to do with the journal itself. It boiled down to the fact that I just didn't have the time to fill it in. The main reason for this was that you need to fill it in twice a day. Once in the morning and once at night.  For me, sadly, running a family home, and family commitments meant that this wasn't possible.

However, time aside, I did enjoy using it for the three weeks and will definitely be going back to it. at a future date.

Personally, I think it is a great tool to get to know yourself better. It really is a thought provoking journal.

Example of questions are......

"What did I enjoy about today?"
"What would I like to create instead?"
"What new habit do I want to adopt into my life?"
"How did I give value today?"

It asks you to assess yourself, your day, your goals, whilst appreciating and being grateful for the good things in life. There is no focus on any negatives that might have happened.

To use this journal to its optimum, you will need to set aside the time to think, and digress before filling in each individual day, and the coming week ahead.

I will go back to it (it isn't dated, so not a problem), when I am ready and able to, and will keep you posted.

There will be many of you that this journal will work for, and I do recommend it if you are looking for self improvement and self appreciation.

Have a great week Friends!

Maria x

Friday, 2 December 2016

Kitchen Tip

Happy Friday friends.  I want to share with you, a tip using the most basic of kitchen appliances. The humble wooden spoon.
Actually, the tip was found by hubby, and when he told me, I didn't think it would work, but it really does. 

If you place a wooden spoon over a pan of water, it won't boil over!!! It will come to the boil from cold, or even if you put boiling water in a pan, it will work. It just won't bubble over. 
I tried it on the boiling plate of the Aga, which trust me, boils at a rapid rate. I can never take my eyes off it.  I'm also still slightly obsessed with any mess on my Aga (she's my baby lol) ... So trying this took, an awful lot of guts.  

It really worked.  I was going to give in, and take it off the heat when it started to look like it would boil over, but I kept my nerve and it just carried on boiling without spilling. 

Isn't it funny the strange things you learn. I haven't a clue why it works, I'm just glad it does. 

Wishing you all a fabulous weekend.