Tuesday, 5 April 2022

A long break

Work got in the way and I have not been updating this blog... but would you believe it, we got some building work done! Here is a photo of a sunny day in the back garden. 

However the kitchen is still needing a makeover. It's nice to have a lighter room downstairs and we can have dinner overlooking the garden now.

This is how the house looked before... Builders used the same brick so it's not a visible join, apart for the new windows...

Monday, 6 May 2019

Healthy chocolate cake - easy to make and delicious

Healthy chocolate cake, easy to make - original recipe - tried and tested

I have been toying with the idea of a healthy cake for a long while. That's why I love a pandan chiffon cake, but not everyone is a fan, so I have tried to do a fruity healthy cake, which was very nice but still did not convert the hardcore cake crowd. Today I have refined the recipe and added cocoa (and a chocolate cover) to that recipe, removed some of the ingredients that would clash and voila' a cake low in sugar and fat (as much as possible but still tasting good). It is not very sweet and if you want sweetness, you can add a chocolate topping (I will use dark chocolate to keep on the healthy side on top of some berry jam, a twist on the Sacher torte, but you can use milk chocolate or even buttercream frosting or plain icing to give it a sweeter flavour).

Recipe for easy (but healthy) chocolate cake

Preheat oven to gas 4 or 180C

In a bowl, mix 200l coconut milk, 3 eggs, 70g butter (melted and cooled), 1tsp vanilla essence, 100g sugar, 30g mix of superseeds (chia, linseed, poppy, sesame, flax), 3 pinches of coriander seeds, 30g ground hazelnuts, 30g bitter cocoa powder. Whip to combine.

Add chopped glaced cherries (how many as you like), 11g of baking powder (it's a French sachet), 1/2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda, 1tsp maple syrup (or any syrup but maple syrup is less sweet), 1tsp of water, chopped dark chocolate (avoid if you are having a chocolate cover).

Bake 40-45 minutes until the toothpick comes out clean and the cake looks firm. If you are anxious, check after 35 minutes and allow for extra time if the toothpick comes out sticky.

I have used two small tins for this cake, you can do too and have a two-tier cake with something in the middle for extra naughtiness...

This cake keeps well in a tin - perhaps three-four days. If you put buttercream in it or on it, best to have it in the fridge.

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Long time no see: an update

Remember my second pond? The one I built because pond No.1 is going to disappear when we start building works? We finally got planning permission and we are going to fix the house. Now for choosing builders, which is not easy. I started this blog several years ago, the garden has come a long way, the house has not. Things are changing. I will post again with developments!

Have a Happy Summer.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Crafting, cooking and gardening

The waterlily has flowered in the new pond
The house has not been renovated yet... I know, I have been waiting since 2011 and we only ended up doing very modest changes to it. The garden, however, has changed a lot. I have now closed the pond and created a second pond. The old pond is now a bog garden, a bit boggy today as it rained a bit on Monday... The frogs and newts have moved to the new one. I did offer a relocation service, too, courtesy of a huge bucket.

Entrance to the back garden

The old pond is a bog garden

My sweet peas... lovely and scented

The new pond with bobbing frog
If you are interested in the crafting and cooking, please visit these blogs: Rat Racer & Ecothrifter/Cambridge Cheapskate.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Fixing old furniture with new technology...

Happy spring everyone,
It is a bit chilly despite the sun shining most days, so I am enjoying sewing and crafting in my spare time. I am preparing activities for my daughter's birthday party, cleaning and fixing things around the house... so it was just timely to receive a Create & Craft kit from Sugru (which incidentally is crowdfunding further investment).

Antiques purists close your eyes now, because I am going to show pictures of a fix on a 150 year old wardrobe my father restored in his Italian workshop several years ago. It is all very well to be authentic but we did not know what to buy to fix it that would hold. The only professional option would have been welding.

These are pewter handles and the round element holding the handle had detached itself. It would have been a case of welding to fix it, there is no hole to insert a screw or other DIY equivalent. We took a big breath and my partner opened Sugru silver, carefully spread it on the shallow hole that held the supporting bit and then built a collar around the supporting bit to fit it back in place. I took a close-up photo and you can hardly see the fix. It had to be a strong one as the drawer is heavy so when you pull the handles they have to hold... We left it 24 hours and it's holding. Hurrah!

Before the fix
After the fix

Monday, 10 April 2017


Pond No.2

Pond No.2 : closeup of resident

Dear all,
Thank you for bearing with me. I am still waiting for the green light for the renovation to start from my partner (waiting since around 2012). I guess we hit makeover fatigue as we both revamped (if not nearly rebuilt) a few houses before this one, albeit in London.

This is a bigger job and we need to think carefully, I suppose. In the meantime, I have been doing a lot of gardening...

I am building a second pond as the first one will have to go once the frog spawn has grown enough to be encouraged to move. The extension will be too close to it, which is a pity. We had another pruning session and this is what I built using the long branches of pussy willow and two buddleias. I have sewn the fabric cover of the tepee and it will be unveiled at my daughter's birthday party.

Tepee's fabric cover is waiting for a special occasion

I have neglected this blog a bit because aside work, I am doing one for a public garden, here are a few photos and a link to the amazing Empty Common Garden.