Category Archives: DIY

DIY: Gingerbread Christmas Puddings

Happy Christmas Eve Eve! This season I have been wanting to make these little puds and thought that today was the day to do so. I am not a huge fan of Christmas Puddings – I don’t like dried fruit – but I love the traditional look they have on the Christmas table. When thinking of another desert that could work, I felt gingerbread muffins were just as warm and festive because they use cinnamon and ginger. Cinnamon has such a wonderfully Christmassy scent! And, of course, they are brown and could disguise themselves as puddings.  I hope you all have a lovely Christmas!x

What you’ll need:
250g Self Raising Flour                    1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
½ Tsp Bicarb                                        175ml Milk
½ Tsp Salt                                              Pinch Nutmeg
2 Tsp Ground Ginger                         150g Soft Light Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Syrup                         1 Tablespoon Treacle
85g Unsalted Butter                           1 Egg

For the icing:
Ready to roll royal icing in White, Green and Red                      Scallop Circle Cookie Cutter
Holly and Berries Cutter                              Apricot Jam

Step One:
Preheat your oven to 190°C and line your muffin tin with cases.

Step Two:
In a large bowl, measure out and add in the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt, ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar. Use your hands to combine your dry ingredients.


Step Three:
Put your wet ingredients into a small saucepan and heat until the butter has melted and mixed with the milk and syrups. At this stage I recommend not adding the egg – to avoid a scrambled mess!! Coming from experience, scrambled egg muffins are not nice. ;)

Step Four:
Add your wet ingredients to the dry ingredients in your large bowl. Whisk your egg in a little bowl and then add into your mixture.

Step Five:
Spoon your batter into your muffin cases! I used an ice cream scoop to make sure they are all even. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Step Six:
Allow your muffins to cool completely before starting to ice. Royal icing heats up quickly and becomes extremely hard to use!

Step Seven:
Add a dollop of Apricot Jam into a saucepan and heat up until warm and pliable. Then roll out your white icing until about 2mm thick. Cut out your little circles. On the reverse side, paint on some hot apricot jam to your white circle. This acts as a glue!

Step Eight:
Take the cases off your muffins ready for assembly. Then place on your white sticky icing circle and pat down gently.

 

Step Nine:
Next, roll out and prepare your green icing. Cut out your holly and berry shapes and apply some jam to the reverse side also. Stick onto your white icing! Then just roll some tiny little berries using your red icing. And ta-dah!

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Magical Pom-Poms

Ta-dah! Today I spent the day creating tissue paper pom poms for around our fireplace. It is Ruby’s first Christmas and we want to make everything magical for her. Tissue poms are simple to make and look so beautifully abundant.
All in all – including tinsel and twinkle lights – this decoration only cost about £15 and an afternoon of making. The perfect way to decorate and to really ‘wow’ your guests!

I will post a little DIY tomorrow on how to make these wonderful pom-poms. I hope you are all well and getting ready for Christmas with your families.xx

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DIY: Chilli Jam

Chilli jam is a key ingredient in our household because we love everything spicy. I am a spice fiend and practically add chilli flakes or fresh chillies to every meal (no exaggeration there). Chilli jam is a savoury preserve which is excellent with cheeses, meats and really comes into it’s own in the Festive period. Leftovers on boxing day have a true companion in Chilli jam. I tend to use chilli jam when making curries to add a little sweetness to balance out the curry powder. It also adds a wonderful tang/sharpness from the cider vinegar.. which makes a curry sauce extremely delicious.

It’s pretty simple to make, which always surprised me. When making jams, you need to use a traditional jam sugar. Jam sugar contains a natural pectin which encourages the jam to set and thicken.

Ingredients:
300g Long fresh red chillies.
1kg Jam Sugar
600ml Cider Vinegar

Firstly, select some jars that you will be storing your chilli jam in. I have used little Kilner jars which you get from any cooking equipment shop – they are sealable and will keep the jam fresh. Sterilise the jars before use.

To measure the 300g of chillies:  cut the tops off and weigh them topless. I like to keep the seeds in them, because I want the jam to have a real kick. And, to be frank, I have become so immune to chillies.. maybe a little over exposure?!
*For less heat, deseed the chillies. You could also substitute 150g for red peppers.*

Add your chillies to a food processor and blitz until fine.

Dissolve the jam sugar with the cider vinegar over a low heat. Use a large pan. Larger than you think! It will bubble over! The jam will typically take about 30 minutes to dissolve on a low heat. Let it do it’s thing and occasionally shake the pan from side to side to encourage it to melt. Don’t stir your sugar – you will crystallise it and make it like caramel.

Take your finely chopped chilli mixture and add it to the pan. Bring it to the boil and leave it boiling furiously for about 10 minutes.

Take the pan off the heat and allow it to cool completely. After about 40 minutes of cooling and setting, you will see that the chilli seeds and flecks will have distributed evenly. Spoon your mixture into your jars, I use a jam funnel. Seal your jars!

A great thing to do is to make the jam in advance. Make on a cold November day and leave to settle in a cool, dark place until Christmas. Perfect for your left overs and any meal you want to add a little punch to!

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DIY Sweetie Bag Decoration

This Mother’s day, we bought a selection of sweets from our local sweet shop in our village as a gift for my Gran. They had simple red ties on them to keep them sealed but I thought it would be lovely to add a piece of colourful card instead.  A sweet and simple DIY that took about 2 minutes to complete. Enjoy!

You will need:

– Scrapbooking card/paper or coloured paper.
– Glue. Roll on adhesive or even pritt stick!
– Scissors.
– Bag of delicious sweets.

What to do:

Cut your piece of card into a long rectangle. I cut mine 2cm x 9cm. Turn on to the reverse side and put a bit of glue on one end of the rectangle.

Scrunch together the bag of sweet so that the neck of the bag is as thin as possible. Wrap the strip of card around the bag. Lining up the edges and sticking together each end.

And voila! A little extra detail to a somewhat simple bag of sweets. Making them more personable and almost too pretty to eat. (But I am sure we can just rip them open and endulge!). x

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DIY Cocktail Stick Flags

When baking cakes, I like to spruce up each with a little decoration. Whether it be shop bought sugar roses or handmade paper-craft items. Today I had a notion to bake a Banana Cake and eat it with a large mug of coffee. I haven’t baked in ages and I was in a bit of a funk about it. I had lost my baking mojo that I had last year when I started my 52 Weeks of Baking Challenge – which is still incomplete because life got in the way. But making banana loaf/ cake/ cupcakes is incredibly simple, so I thought it would be a good way to ease myself back into baking.

And to mark the official beginning of spring, I thought yellow flags were perfect to finish off my cake.

You will need:

– Scrapbooking card. Or alternatively you could use any colourful card you can get your hands on.
– Cocktail Sticks.
– Scissors.
– Glue. Good old fashioned pritt stick will do!
– Paper trimmer is optional.

What to do:

Take a piece of scrapbooking paper and cut it into a long rectangle. I cut mine 2.5cm x 6cm. Measure it in proportion to your cocktail stick.

Cut out a triangle of your paper. Now you have your flag shape!

Turn your piece of card onto the reverse side. And apply your glue to the opposite end of your cut out triangle. Apply the glue to about 2cm of the card. Place the cocktail stick onto the glued section on the edge. Roll the card with the cocktail stick in it, until there is no glue to be seen.

Do the same to a few flags depending on how many you want to create! I used two patterns, but it would be lovely in a mixture of colours and patterns too.. especially for a handmade birthday party. Or simply to decorate everyday life.

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DIY Valentine’s Day Heart Garland

Valentine’s day is upon us and whether you celebrate it or not, it’s always nice to spread some holiday cheer with a little DIY. This loveheart garland is easy to make and takes about 15 minutes from start to finish. It’s made with love and would be perfect to gussy up your romantic meal for Thursday!

You will need:


– Floral card. You could use scrapbooking card stock, old valentine’s cards or anything that is pretty!
– A heart shape cutter. (Or alternatively, you could cut out the hearts free hand)
– String, tapestry thread or sewing thread.
– Darning Needle.
– Sharp Pin.
*Optional* Roses or buttons for either end.

What to do:


Cut out your heart shapes, as many as you like to make the garland as long as you wish. My heart shaped cutter is from X-cuts and was about £6 from a craft store. I recommend using card rather than paper, just to make sure the hearts don’t rip when you pierce them. Pierce two holes in the heart at the top and bottom. I used a cutting mat for this, but you could also use a spongey surface that doesn’t show the pin pricks!

Thread your string or thread through your darning needle and thread through the front of the heart. Then go in the hole at the bottom of the heart and bring your thread out to the front. Leave a gap and then thread your next heart in the same way.

Continue this process, moving the hearts up the string as you add more.

Once you feel you have enough hearts, snip either end of the string.. leaving about a 10cm tail at each end. I added little cream roses to the ends of my garland for extra decoration. But you could add buttons, bells or just leave it plain. You can get little roses from any haberdashery shop for about 5p per flower.

Once you are happy with your garland, choose a beautiful place to display! Happy Valentine’s Day all. x

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Our helpful tips for keeping happy and healthy hens!

Having hens has been the most enjoyable experience of moving to a house with a garden. They are great pets – I know people suggest that you shouldn’t name or get too attached to your hens, but we did. We named them all and loved them like we do any of our pets. And they have all thrived, produce eggs daily and are our biggest fans. Infact, they are even a bit too cheeky now that they all live in luxury. We have an extra-large garden, which means we have made an enclosure for them so they can run around free (but safely) all day long.

We have both battery hens and a range of farm hens. And have been keeping them for 2 years now. We have picked up some hints and tips along the way which I thought would be great to share with you!

You really don’t need a lot of room for hens.  A patch of grass will do! They are so rewarding. They provide such fun and great eggs. Nothing beats free range eggs than from your own garden:

  • Apple cider vinegar : put a dash into their water once every so often perks up your hens, gives a feeling of refreshed wellbeing and also cleans them out from the inside. It gets rid of any bacteria.
  • Egg shells : Bake and crush your eggs shells once you use them. They are a great substitute for buying pigeon grit. (Which is hard to get). The shells are good for their gullets, they have no teeth and often need assistance to help their food digest.
  • Invest in a good quality house.  Perches have to be higher than the laying boxes, which often isn’t the case with cheaper hen houses. A good quality house is beneficial for safety and also shelter.
  • Don’t over crowd the houses. Houses that are too full may cause friction within the hen group and aggression. We have three houses for 13 hens which gives them space and choice.
  • Sunflower seeds and dried corn are a great afternoon treat. It gives them something to forage for.. something they are built to do. It keeps them busy and their minds busy too! We also give them fresh corn as a weekly treat which helps produce bright yokes! (no yoke enhancers needed here!)
  • Fox proofing. This seems like a silly thing to mention, but foxes are cleverer than we even know. We have our chicken wire dug deep down into the soil to prevent the fox digging under. Always check over your wire to make sure there are no breakages or gaps.
  • A bail of fresh straw will give them hours of pleasure. They tear it apart themselves (again to forage) and they will spread it around the way they like it. An afternoon of fun.
  • Worm your hens once a year. Keep them healthy.
  • If you have a broody hen.. remove the hen as many times as you can from the nesting box. Try cool them down and make sure they eat and drink. Lift them up and let them flap their wings. Hens can overheat and dehydrate in their broody process. Broodyness generally lasts 21 days. (from experience)
  • Teach them to sit on your shoulder. There is no greater party trick than teaching your little hen to sit on your shoulder like a trusty pirate parrot.
Happy hen keeping!x

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