Saturday, 24 December 2016

Old-fashioned Xmas treats with an Italian Twist

Hazelnut Macaroons


Iced gingerbreads

More iced biscuits
We are at home and with a young child, it's fun to make festive biscuits and decorate them too... Here are the recipes...

Gingerbread biscuits

75g brown sugar
3tbsp maple syrup
1tsp cinnamon
1tsp ginger
1tsp nutmeg
1-2tbsp water
100g unsalted butter, softened
1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
220g plain flour

Preheat oven at gas mark 4 or 180 degrees. Place sugar, syrup, spices and water into a non-stick pan. Heat the mixture and stir until it's bubbling. Take pan off heat and add butter, bicarbonate and flour until you get a slightly sticky dough. If it does not stay together, add a bit of water. If you add too much water, then add flour to make a dough ball. Wrap dough in clear film or put in plastic bag and leave in fridge for 20 minutes. Line a flat tray with clear film, place the dough ball on it, cover with another sheet of clear film and roll to thickness of 3-4cm. Bake for 20-30 mins until firm. If you like them really dry and crunchy, wait until they are a nice brown colour rather than golden. Cool the biscuits and then decorate with icing sugar and sugar shapes.

Hazelnut macaroons

2 egg whites
1/2tsp lemon juice
pinch of salt
150g icing sugar
120g ground hazelnuts

Preheat oven to gas mark 2 or 150 degrees. Whisk the whites like you are making a meringue. Fold in lemon juice, salt, icing sugar and hazelnuts gradually trying to keep it smooth and fluffy. Spoon mixture on tray covered with strong baking paper (thin ones will get stuck to the bottom of macaroons and will be difficult to remove). Cook for 30 mins.


icing sugar, white sugar, brown sugar, your choice (or mix them)
very little amount of water
nuts of choice

Cook the sugar with the water until it gets pale gold, keep stirring. Place nuts on greaseproof paper and pour the burnt sugar on top. Let it cool and enjoy. You need good teeth for this.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Happy Christmas from the 1930s house... still awaiting renovation....

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Quick update!

I have not posted in a long while as I have been working full time and then catching up with a long list of things that needed doing. Here is a photo of my garden (half of it) so you can see it has changed a lot. Sadly still no changes in the house so that's another reason I have not posted updates as we have not renovated the indoors yet, aside minor cosmetics and the new boiler.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Where does the time go?

I have been so busy with work and family things that of course the DIY has taken a back step as I barely manage to clean the house.

Outside it's another thing as I love to spend time in the garden as much as I can. There is still a lot to do. Last week I managed to finish off a paved area by myself using a pickaxe. You should see my muscles now.

The old glass MiniBrite greenhouse has been dismantled and taken away (class of 1963, gone to a good home at a neighbour's allotment) and my partner is erecting the new child-friendly polycarbonate one, which is not an easy job. He took over the job and he is progressing slowly but surely as he is only around at weekends.

I have not photographed the back of the garden yet as I have not planted much outside. Seedlings are still inside the wooden summerhouse, which is serving as nursery for the time being. However the apple trees are all in bloom and the rhubarb is growing well. Strawberry plants are dotted with white flowers, let's hope we get a nice crop soon.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Happy Christmas - homemade decorations

This year I made my own Christmas wreath using the garden's greenery and berries. We even have some mistletoe! The base is made with forsythia stems, which bend without snapping. All I needed then was gardening wire and a screw-on hook for the door!

I also made a tree decoration using wire and plastic beads. You need six pieces of wire and enough beads to do a pattern. The pieces of wire are joined in the middle. I used a cheap jewellery tool to make the loop that keeps the beads in at the bottom of each strand.

I am entering both makes in a competition sponsored by Able Skills. If you wish to enter, details are here

Happy Homemade Xmas!