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Christmas cake

So earlier this year I baked my Christmas cake in August and have been feeding it religiously through out the autumn months so it is now ready for icing… WOW!!! Sorry that is my fantasy land perfect other self who is ultra organised and always on top of things. The reality is the absolute opposite! Now I may not have made my Christmas cake in August like Little Miss Perfect, but I still wanted to make one. And while I realise that the whole dribbling booze into a cake at carefully timed intervals is a little beyond my day to day scheduling (lets face it, who wouldn’t like 36 hours every day?) I’m not above sloshing in the booze at the beginning.

I was given a Boiled Fruit Cake recipe by my very good friend’s mama – Granny Aggie. Granny Aggie is a feisty Northern Irish lady, who has, I am sure, made a fair few cakes in her time. It came highly recommended so I thought I would give it a go.

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It turned out very well. Lovely and glossy on the top, and super moist.

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Recipe as follows:

250ml Water

900g dried mixed fruit

225g caster sugar

170g butter

230g plain flour

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon mixed spice

2 eggs beaten.

Preheat oven to 150 C or Gas mark 2. The recipe says to cook in a loaf tin, but Aggie suggested that a brownie (square) tin would be good. So I went with that one. Greased and lined with parchment.

Combine the water, sugar, fruit and butter in a large pan and bring to the boil. Boil gently for about 10 minutes. After boiling I added in a good slosh (technical term) of rum, well it is Christmas!

Sift the flour, bicarb and mixed spice in a large bowl. Add in the fruit mixture and stir well. It may froth a little because of the bicarb, then add in the beaten eggs. Give it a good mix.

Pour into the greased tin and into the oven. It says to cook for 90 minutes, but after about an hour I had a check and covered the top with some tin foil to stop it burning, then checked with knife to see if it came out clean. When the knife comes out clean, take the cake out of the oven and let it rest in the pan for about 10 minutes.

It does say that it is better to eat this the next day – yeah right!!! like I can wait a whole day.

It is absolutely delicious. I can’t see this one lasting until Christmas, so I will definitely be making another one for the holidays. Plus the bonus is it doesn’t really need decorating, just a sprinkling of icing sugar snow and a few trees will do very nicely.

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Emma x

 

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Pinch, Punch, first of the month!

Well it’s the first of December and the big countdown has started. Even at 12 my girlie still gets excited about Christmas, well don’t we all secretly? I thought I would share with you this year’s version of our advent calendar.

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I have been collecting the little birds for the past few years and now have quite a flock! The little presents are just small tokens with some chocolate treats too. But when you wrap them in pretty colours and put in little bags and dress up with scraps of ribbon, suddenly they seem so much more!

Happy first of December!

Emma x

 

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Copper handles everywhere!

When I was originally planning the design and look of our new kitchen I naturally went onto my favourite place, Pinterest, and honed my ideas there. So as you also know if you follow my blog (sporadically I am sure, as I’m not the most consistent blogger!) but I have been a fan of the copper trend for quite a while. So naturally I was going to get copper into my kitchen somehow. Below are a few inspirational pins from my Pinterest boards.

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I loved these handles against the dark grey units, from this blog.

And these cup handles from this blog.

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And then I saw this kitchen which was just perfect…from ohidesignblog.com

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Buuuuttttt. (and that’s a big but!) the price of brass handles is shocking! and I needed 45! YES 45!!! Now if each handle costs £12 and upwards… that was going to be way too much for the Handy Husband to indulge me in.

So, in order to get what I wanted, I needed to find an alternative. You can pick up cheap bar handles from Howdens for a couple of quid… which I did, and then I looked into getting them coppered.

So after researching, I found that you can electroplate copper onto pretty much anything metal. Woo hoo!. So the amazing guys from Hampshire Electroplating Co put the copper onto my cheap as chips handles – oh boy did they look the bees knees (the handles…!!). Then of course I had to get these beauties lacquered. So I took them to another local company, Trestan, who do powder coating on all things metal. Again they are stars and did a wonderful job on my handles. I am sure the lads at both these companies rue the day I walked into their businesses, but I want to say thank you so much to them all for being patient and for doing such an amazing job.

But before the big reveal I just wanted to show you what we have been living with. (SO last Christmas!)

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So here are my babies now. Please don’t dribble all over the screen, cos I know you are jealous.

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I also have cup pulls and knobs on the dresser part of the kitchen, just to make the unit seem more like a piece of furniture.

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And these little brackets I got on Ebay, I had the guys copper them too. They support the little shelf above the sink, and more importantly, my radio.

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Well, we got there in the end, as you all know with me, it’s all in the detail.

Have a good weekend

Emma x

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Seeds, beams and raspberries, Oh my!

Well It has been a few weeks since I last gave y’all an update, we have been busy over the Easter holidays, visiting family and friends and just generally doing stuff. The handy husband and I have been busy paving the pottager with the reclaimed house bricks and it’s looking really great. I have dug over the raised beds and transplanted my rhubarb, red currants, gooseberries and of course my raspberries.

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Also the girlie and I have been sowing seeds in some newspaper pots. There is a great tutorial on how to make the origami pots on this YouTube tutorial. We have sown red peppers, chilli peppers, tomatoes and some pumpkins. It has been fun to talk about how small the seeds are and what they are going to turn into. We shall see if they grow well in the new potting shed.

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I have also potted up some dahlias and peonies and lilies, some for the cutting garden I am hoping to create and some for pots on the new patio. I got these from Sarah Raven’s website. The bulbs and tubers were very nicely packaged and so far they are doing nicely. The seeds we sowed also came from her site as she had some alternative unusual seeds that I though would be fun to try.

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The house is coming on great guns too. The chippies are on site and they are putting in the beams and joists for the first floor.

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It occurred to me that all these photos of the house, probably don’t make much sense. So I thought I would show you a plan.

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The blue area shows where we will have the kitchen, dining room and the sitting room. The photo below is taken through the window at the bottom of the blue area, across the room towards the french doors at the back.

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The blue are above shows the entrance hall with the new relocated staircase on the left. The photo below is taken standing in the new front door looking across to the snug room.

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I am sure it is all SO much clearer!

Well I hope you all had a great Easter and enjoyed the lovely sunshine as much as we did.

Emma x

 

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Progress report

Well things are progressing at a pace… not quite rocket launcher pace, but well enough. The padstones are going in to take the steel work that will hold the first floor joists and beams.

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These are stronger blocks with a higher density so they can take the loads on the steel beams. Fingers crossed the beams are going in by the end of next week, which means that the chippies can get in and start with the woodwork and prep for the roof going back on. Things should really pick up then.

Meanwhile I thought I would show you round the progress on the ground floor.

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This is the view from the new front door, across the hall towards the new snug room. Really pleased about the size of this. The staircase is going on the left and the door to the kitchen/sittingroom is on the right.

This is the view from the snug doorway. I have put the door in to give you an idea of how it will look. The stairs will be to the right of the door.

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Then through to the kitchen diner and sitting room. I have given you an idea of how the kitchen will look, minus the island in the middle. I found a great site online diykitchens.com. You have to design the kitchen yourself, but the price is good.

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To the right of the kitchen is the dining area and the french doors that lead out into the back garden. It should be really lovely and sunny in this room, as it faces west-ish.

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This is other end of the room. You can see the foundation where one of the old fireplace was. Along the wall that is half block and brickwork, is where we are putting the new log burner. That should make the room really cosy.

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Here is where the dining table is going. The handy husband hopes to build in some seating around the bay window here.

Finally the view down the corridor from the utility room past the downstairs bedroom and our office.

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And the view down the corridor from the entrance hall.

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Well hope you had a good weekend.

Emma x

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Budgies everywhere!

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I have been wanting to use this wallpaper from Blendworth for a while now and so as it is a bit mad I felt it would do nicely in the new cloakroom. So because it is just a little bit mad – not as mad as a box of frogs – it needs the rest of the room to be fairly simple. Below I have put together a quick mood board for this smallest of rooms.

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Have a great weekend y’all!

Emma x

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Soup, soup, glorious soup!

There is something very comforting about soup on a wintry day and you can’t beat a nice leek and potato. Now I firmly believe you are either a smoothie or a chunkie soup lover, and I sit firmly in the smooth camp. (Of course the handy husband is on the other side). The other great thing about leek & potato is it is just SO simple to whip up just before lunch.

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One large potato cubed, about three leeks cut into rounds, a big blob of butter and a couple of pints of chicken stock.

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I know I have been quite vague with quantities, but it’s Friday and that’s just the way I generally cook! Give it 20 mins-ish and blitz it up. Voila!

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Now I can hear the dairy police tutting about the added cream, but it’s only a couple of teaspoons and it’s just not as nice without it. Don’t forget plenty of pepper! Yum.
Hope y’all have a good end to the week.
Emma x

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Trends: Copper

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This trend has been running for a while now, and I am glad to say that it could be here for a while longer. While it is verging a bit on the bling side, it has a wonderful warmth to it, which in my opinion makes it easier to live with. If you just want to add in some small touches to a room the high street has lots to offer. I think I need to make those beautiful copper sprayed black feathers to add into a copper pot – so beautiful!

  1. DIY copper pipe hooks from here
  2. Tolix-esq bar stool from here
  3. Kitchen-Aid artisan mixer in copper from here
  4. Copper sprayed feathers – sorry I can’t find where these originate from, but they are on my to do list!
  5. Tealight holder and candlestick from here
  6. Copper coloured foil cushion from here

Emma x

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Halloween in Burley

It’s never too early to start dressing up for Halloween. So we have come to the quaint village of Burley in the New Forest to join in with their Halloween festival. Lots of folks dress up. There are witch hunts. Doughnut bobbing pumpkin carving and general ghoulish behaviour.

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This is such a family event with everyone from small to old dressing up. My girlie and her best friend dressed up as black witches cats.
Burley is reported to have had witches living there in the past and there is certainly much evidence of the folklore alive. Many shops sell witchie (I’m sure that is a real word!) items, nic-nacks and souvenirs. There are also shoos selling hand made fudge and sweets and a great bicycle shop. There are a few very nice looking tea shops and a pub right in the middle of it all. Burley is a lovely little village in an idyllic part of the New Forest, well worth a visit.

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Emma x

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Breakfast at… (Tiffani’s) Foxcroft & Ginger

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The handy husband and I came up to London to celebrate our brother in laws significant birthday. We had a great evening drinking some great cocktails in the Freud Bar and then in Browns on St Martins lane.

So the next morning we needed some good food. Well you can’t get better than this! We are in Foxcroft and Ginger and I just wish I could keep eating. All the delicious looking breads and pastriare made on site. The coffee passes the handy husband test and even the vibe is relaxed.
I had the French toast with banana, bacon and maple! Perfection. HH had the meatie feast. With loads if veg. Highly recommend and will bring the girlie here sometime soon.

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Emma x

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