I love Christmas…

I love my new wreath…

With added fairy lights…

Mostly I love our tree… I like having a real tree, despite the needles, and I like having lots of mis-matched decorations… no stylised tree for me… I think they are for offices and shops, not my house… I like growing my collection of decorations each year…

I love my snowflake lights…

This year I have added the blue and white baubles which are from the Tate from my birthday visit… and the gingerbread man and toy soldier are from Georgia Brown on Park Row in Bristol I had previously banned myself from this shop but someone tweeted this little man and I had to have him!

The porcelain decorations are from a Christmas craft market, they are very delicate!

These lovely stockings are from White Company (who do amazing christmas decorations) were my secret santa gift at work, result!

Biggie the cat loves it too, he is very good though and doesn’t play with the decorations, he just looks…

I made a little pom pom garland too…

I also treated us to some lovely bunting from Toast… it goes well with our new picture and might well stay up all year round… we have one set each side…

I love the bunting so much and had so much card and paint left over from the Christmas cards I decided to make some more!

I also have some holly and random leaf garlands going up the stairs with red and green ribbon… love this!

And finally tissue paper pom poms!

I got instructions from Martha Stewart and the idea from a shop on Etsy, mine were not as perfect as them but they looked great above the dining table!

Anyway enough with the decorations… what you really want to hear is what I made to eat!

Here is a cute cookie recipe I got from another blog I love With Style and Grace, which I made as party favours for my guests… so I made the teeny so I got lots from the recipe!

You need;
1 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 3oz package of cream cheese
2 eggs
2 Tbsp grated orange peel
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate pieces – Often times I just throw in the whole 11.5 oz bag of the semi-sweet chocolates.

Preheat oven 350 degrees. Cover baking sheet with parchment paper.

Using either a hand mixer or Kitchen Aid, cream shortening, sugar and cream cheese. Add eggs, one at a time, orange peel and vanilla. Mix well. In a separate bowl, sift flour and salt. Add flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Mix well. Carefully stir in chocolate pieces.

Using an ice cream scooper (or a spoon), drop one scoop at a time and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool for about 5 minutes before removing from the pan. Enjoy!

I had to work out measurements using the internet as ‘cup’ is actually a measurement… so I think mine may have been a bit off as they turned out very soft, and I added more orange zest to the quantities so yours can be more orangey!

I gave these out as favours at my party…

And I put them under the tree for people to take home!

However once everyone was here I completely forgot they were there!! Only a few people got one, sorry party guests, the thought was there!


Last week my friends Abigail and Matthews twins turned one!

To celebrate they threw them a big party at Abbie’s Mum’s beautiful cottage just outside of the city…

I wanted to make something special as it was going to be a special party and there were going to be lots of people so it needed to be big, so I volunteered to make the birthday cake…

It was going to be a challenge but Biggie the cat was there to help (not really)

… here is the recipe!

At the request of the Mum I used organic ingredients, this was her only request and with so many kids eating all that sugar, it was a great idea… but you don’t have to…

You need;
For each layer… (total amounts are at the bottom for shopping purposes)
175g soft unsalted butter
3 large eggs
150g self-raising flour
175g castor sugar
30g of cocoa powder
1 tsp of vanilla essence
2 tbsp of milk

Mix the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl using an electric mixer and beat until creamy, light and fluffy.

Then break the eggs into another bowl and add the vanilla essence then beat together with a fork until light and frothy.
Pour this mixture a bit at a time into the bowl containing the butter and sugar mixture.
Take time to add the mixture to beat thoroughly, and go easy.

Sift the flour and cocoa powder together over the butter, sugar and egg mixture.
At any point in making this recipe, the more air you can trap in the mixture the better, the more you knock out by mixing roughly, the harder the cake will be.

Now gently mix it all together until completely blended… now taste… good right!

Pur into your baking tin (20cm lined with greaseproof paper) and bake for 25-35 minutes at 180, it’s ready when browning around the edges and when the middle springs back to your touch.

Repeat this three times
– This might sounds like a long way to do this, and you could cheat by doing all three together, with such large quantities and as I am a novice backer I wanted it to be perfect so I did each layer separately.

I am glad I did because the first layer was not good, as I had different quantities for that, it was very dry so I halved the flour and used 1/3 of the cocoa powder and it was amazing… this is the recipe I have given you.

For the icing;
75g unsalted butter, very soft
250g icing sugar (sifted)
75g sweetened condensed milk
75ml double cream

Get the butter as soft as possible without melting, then put in a bowl with the other ingredients.

Whisk until smooth and fluffy, then top each cupcake with a thick swirl. The sugar in the frosting means it will keep at cool room temperature

Again I did this twice (second time I mixed two quantities together which was fine, if a bit messy!)

Then just spread it over each layer…

Then spread it all over the sides… to do this better than I did maybe make one more quantity of icing; if you want a perfect white cake as mine got a bit thin… I loved how it looked though with little chocolate crumbs mixed in to the icing… also it’s quite a rich cake and the icing is so sweet I think making it thicker might be sugar over-load!

 I was very proud of this cake… I even brought a special banner decoration for the topping…

I arrived and put it on the table amongst home-made cupcakes and scones, crisps and sandwiches and the most amazing sausage rolls… the perfect children’s party spread…

And when they cut it open… it looked goooood, I hope everyone enjoyed it!

And everyone just ran around the huge lawn, with lots of balloon and bunting (made by hand by Abigail!)

Happy Birthday Twins!!

Such a great party, cannot wait till next year when they are old enough to run around as well!

Total ingrediants;
525g soft unsalted butter
9 large eggs
450g self-raising flour
525g castor sugar
90g of cocoa powder
3 tsp of vanilla essence
6 tbsp of milk

225g unsalted butter, very soft
750g icing sugar (sifted)
225g sweetened condensed milk
225ml double cream

This week I had yet another food gift from a friend at work, yellow courgettes, I just love colourful food… 

I then saw a recipe although I cannot remember where (a newspaper supplement, I cannot be more specific sorry!) which I wanted to try, luckily it’s a simple idea so I managed to recreate something like it… 

Griddled Courgettes with mint and goats cheese on toast, yummy… 

I used;
2 smallish courgettes, sliced as thinly as you possibly can
75 g soft goats cheese
6-7 fresh mint leaves
olive oil
sea salt and cracked black pepper
some nice bread (I used a plain ciabatta)

 1. Drizzle your bread with olive oil and bake in the oven for 5-10 minutes
2. At the same time griddle your courgette slices on a very hot griddle pan until you get the nice grill markings, making sure to salt them first 

3. Once baked I also griddled the bread, for that grilled look but there is no need 

4. Arrange the courgettes on the toast, crumble the goats cheese on with the mint leaves, and finally drizzle with olive oil and lots of black pepper 

As you can see I also made a tomato bruschetta, for this I literally just roasted about 15 baby plum tomatoes in the oven at the same time as I baked the bread then tossed with some torn basil leaves, chopped garlic, salt and pepper. 

Another 10 minute dinner, with thanks to Nicola for the Courgettes!