On life lately {and why making Easter bonnets is good for the soul}

I began this blog 4 years, 5 months and 8 days ago. To the day. When I started writing I had no idea that it would become such a permanent fixture in our lives. Or be the bearer of so many amazing and wonderful experiences and life-changing opportunities. It was just an online diary, to share my thoughts and feelings. A cathartic escape, if you will. But over time, it’s become the keeper of our big family milestones and ordinary moments. A place to document the boys’ early years; for them to look back on when they’re a little older. I don’t tend to write about sad or negative things on here. This is my happy place after all. But when life-changing things happen, I do occasionally cover them on the blog. I wrote about the time my dad was gravely ill and rushed to hospital — and about losing our furry faced child Widget. I wrote about the death of my grandad and losing my nana. So whilst this little corner of the internet is mostly about the good things, it does occasionally bear witness to the bad too. Accidents Will Happen If you don’t follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you may not know that I fell on… Read More

How to make a turbo gin and tonic

I’ve spoken often about my love of gin. I’ve created a little gin bar at home; made sloe gin, gin cocktails — including a little one called The Jubarb; a gin and rhubarb cocktail, perfect for balmy summer evenings. There’s been such a resurgence recently, it’s definitely the drink of the moment. Which is great for a gin-head like me. Instead of being faced with the limited option of Gordons or Bombay Sapphire (if you’re lucky); and I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with either but it’s always nice to have a little more choice. These days even the tiniest, most rural, watering hole or restaurant has a good selection of artisan gins behind the bar. So where I’ve tried a myriad of different types of gin — containing various different botanicals — generally speaking I drink it very simply. With tonic and ice. And lemon, lime or cucumber; depending on what suits. So imagine my excitement, reading an article a few weeks ago,  that declared that there was a new kid in town. The turbo gin and tonic Gin, tonic and coffee. Coffee? Whaaa?? Cue mucho excited discussion between me and Mr D, debating on which would be the best of our gins to try this… Read More

Operation She Shed | #4 The Build {Boarding & Insulating}

Part 4 of ‘Operation She Shed’ — and this time round I’m talking about boarding and insulating. Now, I warn you, this isn’t going to be the sexiest post in the world. The pictures are not the best quality and the content is more function than form. That said, I never intended to just show a finished garden office, so it’s important to show the ‘before’ as well as the ‘after’. Plus I really wanted to show all the work that has gone into creating my she-shed and demonstrate that you can create an amazing garden building from scratch — without having to to buy a very expensive off the peg version. In my last post we’d just erected the structure. It was a very basic once it was up it and looked, essentially, like a very large garden shed. Which it was. But to take it to the next level — away from your common or garden shed to garden office — requires a little bit more than a lick of paint. First task: insulating. We used the same kind of insulation that is used in lofts; it almost looks like the inside of a teddy bear — a thick woolly material… Read More

Mini Hasselback Potatoes with Garlic and Chilli

As I’m typing this, the rain is beating down on the roof and it’s the coldest, greyest  winter day imaginable. The sort of day for staying indoors; lighting a fire and cosying up on the sofa with an emergency blanket and a film. The kind of day that calls for steaming mugs of hot chocolate. I really struggle during the winter months. Endless grey days play havoc with my usually bright and happy spirit and I definitely turn to food to cheer myself up. This is potentially bad — when there are cakes and chocolates in the house it’s definitely bad — my restraint is poor; particularly when my mood is low. The Christmas chocolates barely even lasted until the new year. When faced with the temptation of Quality Street and Matchmakers my strategy is to eat them all as quickly as humanly possible, so they’re no longer an issue. That’s ridiculous right? Who does that?? Although, chatting to a couple of girlfriends over the festive period, it seems that I’m not alone. Although the best way of ensuring that I don’t end up piling on the pounds over the winter is to eat healthily but — especially on cold days like this — comfort food is… Read More

An alternative Christmas tree

This idea for an alternative Christmas tree has been in the making for a few weeks’ now. I had been chatting to a friend about Christmas and getting a bit over-excited about our annual tree buying day. The fact we always have a fairly large, real tree; the tradition of decorating it. The scent of the pine needles. And she said, much as she’d love to have a tree in their sitting room at Christmas — real or otherwise — they simply didn’t have the space for one. Instead, they had a tiny fake tree that sat upon the window ledge. She said they always made an effort to decorate the rest of the room but were sadly lacking in the tree department, due to floorspace being in short supply. Which got me thinking. Now I’ve seen a fair few non traditional Christmas trees on Pinterest but really wanted to create something that would work in their home. I’ve spotted some fab ladder versions but they’d potentially take up as much (if not more) room as a regular tree. And I’ve seen lots of lovely wall-hanging trees made of twigs and twine. But they’re a bit rustic for my friend’s taste. So my idea for an alternative Christmas… Read More

How to make edible Christmas decorations

Happy December everyone! We’re in the home straight now, just one month away from a brand new year. Silly season is properly underway. Following the success of the iced biscuits I made for our Halloween party, I thought I’d have a go at making some edible Christmas decorations this year. Discovering Aquafaba — egg free royal icing — is literally one of the best things I’ve come across recently. Having a child with an egg allergy is pretty restrictive when it comes to certain foods. Royal icing is top of the ‘banned substances’ list for Bertie, as it’s made with raw egg white. Finding a decent alternative that works — and he’s able to eat  — is a real game changer. You can find the recipe for the biscuits and the Aquafaba icing here — no point repeating it again — but this time round, instead of skull shaped cutters, you’ll need star ones, some bakers twine and little sweets to decorate your biscuits (although that’s not totally necessary). Making edible Christmas decorations After cutting, I made a little hole in each one with a skewer. Then popped them in the oven to bake. Once the biscuits were cooked and fully cooled I set to with… Read More

A Halloween party & Sugar Skull Biscuits {with egg free royal icing}

Well, Summer is definitely over for another year. I’ve desperately been trying to hold on to it — refusing to wear proper shoes in favour of my flip flops — but, try as I might, autumn is upon us once more. The leaves are already beginning to change colour, the air smells fresher and I *might* (OK, I actually did) put the heating on the other night because I was so cold). So autumn — let’s not dwell on the onset of winter and cherish the here and now. Let’s think of things about autumn that we do like. Crunchy leaves that just beg to be jumped in. Tick. Wearing cosy socks and snuggling on the sofa under an emergency blanket (anyone else have one of those by the way?). Colourful opaque tights and chunky knits? Lovely. And Halloween. Aaah Halloween. Anything that gives a valid excuse for a party is good for me. I’m there with bells on or — in this instance — a witches hat ;) So to cheer myself up about the passing of summer, I’ve been busying myself and preparing  for a Halloween party. Not 100% sure of the theme yet but I’ve had my head turned by Day Of The Dead themed decorations. I love that it’s a little bit… Read More

Wallpaper #1 | How to make a circle fan decoration

When my sister and her husband sold their house recently they couldn’t find anywhere they wanted to buy and — as a stop gap —  they rented a house until one they liked came on the market. Funnily enough, we did exactly the same when we moved to our village and it reminded me how tricky landlords can be sometimes — and how annoying it is when you’re not allowed to change the wall colour or do very much to make the property really feel like home. So I’ve been having a little think about the things that we can do, to make a rented house feel homely and completely change the look and feel of a room with wallpaper. Without actually sticking it to the walls. This first little tutorial shows how to make a circle fan. I’ve always used shop bought versions of these — to style my products when I photograph them — but when I was looking at one recently, it struck me how easy they’d be to make and how cool they’d look in various patterns, rather than the block colours that they’re usually sold in. So here we go — super simple and they look a million dollars! How to make a circle fan You will… Read More