It’s New Year’s Eve!

Wow – what happened to 2015?

It’s been a great year – we’ve been to new places, seen some cool stuff, made a few things, shared some recipes and campaigned to save Norton Folgate in the East End of London. And you’ve dropped by from all over the place: North America, South America, Europe, Australia, China  and the Middle East! Thanks for coming – we love it when you visit (and especially so when you leave comments)! With luck there will be more of the same in 2016 too and we really hope you’ll be joining us. There’ll be some new things too, like an interview with a great interior designer we have lined up for January.

When it comes to you, wherever you are, Happy New Year! Of course, if you are one of our visitors from Australia you’re a couple of hours in already – in which case, hope you’ve had a good start to a wonderful year!




Apple roses

Do you remember we said that we had tried out some new recipes for Thanksgiving? (And was that really just two weeks ago?)

Well, one of them was for these apple roses, which we thought would be a cute version of apple pie:


They should really have some icing sugar sprinkled over them, but more about that later…

We’d seen several recipes for these on Pinterest so decided to give them a go. They seemed pretty simple – but we all know about things that seem simple on Pinterest….

Anyway, these are actually pretty simple. This is our recipe, which is based on a mixture of several that we found online, but sadly doesn’t have the same fancy photography as any of them! These would be equally good for Christmas.


2 or 3 eating apples (preferably with red peel)

squeeze of lemon juice

sheet of ready rolled puff pastry

2 teaspoons of jam (apricot for preference but a ginger preserve would be delicious) mixed with 1 teaspoon of water and heated

ground cinnamon

icing sugar for dusting



Heat the oven to 375°/190°.

Grease a non-stick muffin tin with some butter.

Core the apples, cut them in half, put the cut side down and slice across. The slices must be really thin. Put the slices into a microwaveable bowl of water with a squeeze of lemon in it.


Microwave for about a minute – just until the slices are floppy.

Unroll the puff pastry, roll out slightly more with a rolling pin and then cut into 8 strips.


Then spread a little of the jam/water mix on one strip, sprinkle with a little cinnamon. (If you wanted to make them especially Christmassy, you could use mincemeat, which wouldn’t need mixing with water.)


Then place overlapping slices of apple along the top length and fold the pasty over like this:


You’ll need 7 or 8 slices of apple for each one. Then just roll up from top to bottom – this is actually easier than it sounds because the slices of apple are floppy – and place in the tin.

Then bake for 30 – 40 minutes. keep an eye on them though – because the apple slices are so thin, they burn easily. If it looks like the apple will burn before the pastry is cooked, cover them with some greaseproof paper. It’s important that the pasty is cooked all the way through.

Ours came out looking like the picture at the top. When they are cold, sprinkle with icing sugar. Sadly we don’t have a picture of that stage because we were running late and by the time the roses were cold, our guests had arrived so we prioritised drinks and canapés instead. And then when it was time to serve them, it didn’t really seem appropriate to start taking photos!

But they went down very well. If you left one of these for Father Christmas with a glass of the Christmas pudding spiced rum, he would either think you were very nice or that you had been very naughty indeed and were trying to make up for it at the last minute!






A seasonal use for the coffee machine

Did you have a lovely Thanksgiving? Us too, thanks – and we tried some new recipes which went down really well with our guests, so that was a relief. And now that Thanksgiving is over we are officially in the run up to Christmas! (Although if you are Scottish you might be thinking about St Andrew’s Day, which is November 30, first.)

So here we would like to unveil a seasonal and rather clever use for a coffee machine. Because that’s not coffee in the picture below… oh no. It’s mulled wine. Just make the mulled wine as normal and pour it into the  jug of the machine to keep warm! Two pieces of advice, though. First of all, unlike coffee, don’t actually make the mulled wine in the machine because that’s likely to ruin it. Secondly, and again unlike coffee, it’s probably not a great idea to make a big pot to have on the go all morning.


You can’t do that with one of those fancy capsule-type machines.

So now suitably fortified, it’s time to venture to the back of the cupboard to get out the decorations. It’s only 27 sleeps now, people!


Happy Winter Day!

We’ve already said that it’s too early for Christmas. It’s not even December yet. 35 sleeps is a long time. So we were delighted to see this gorgeous tin full of panettone which doesn’t mention Christmas at all and so could be bought and enjoyed in a totally seasonally appropriate manner. Just look!




Love the style and the colours and the skating girl, although she doesn’t look like she has much time for ‘delicious desserts’. Hhmmmm. The panettone in the tin really is delicious but maybe we’d better stick to just the one slice then.

The Winter Day tin is available from Tickled Fig.

What could possibly go wrong?

Yay – it’s Bonfire Night! A night when people in the UK celebrate that in 1605, parliament was not blown up by Guy Fawkes. Traditionally, people light a bonfire, sometimes burning an effigy of Guy on the top (although his old school refuse to do so), and let off fireworks. Some historians think that Guy Fawkes and his fellow ‘conspirators’ were actually set up but there’s no need to let historical accuracy stand in the way of a party!

It’s quite bizarre that the way to celebrate something not being blown up is just to go down to the grocery shop or the newsagents and buy explosives (fireworks are category 2 and 3 explosives which anyone can buy as long as they are over 18). These days organised firework displays are becoming more popular because they are safer and better value. Which is probably a good thing, right? Because, you know, people buying actual explosives and then let them off  in their back garden … (And sadly, there are injuries every year.  About 500 people each year have required hospital treatment for firework injuries which happened at family or private parties.) And professionals are allowed to buy bigger and more spectacular fireworks which are not available to the public – let’s be honest, the average back garden firework display is just a tiny bit lame in comparison!

And letting off fireworks is not the craziest thing that happens – at the celebrations held at Ottery St Mary in Devon, where people carry  burning tar-soaked barrels through the town. Again, what could possibly go wrong?

But (and you know we don’t usually like to get political) democracy is always a good thing to celebrate and hey, it’s been nearly a week since Halloween and the last chance for a party, so Bonfire Party On!

Safely, though. Just stand back a bit there…

Yay – ir’s Bonfire Night!

A little idea we had brewing…


We couldn’t help but notice that recently the boot cupboard… how can we put this? We’re friends, so let’s just be honest about this. It’s a bit smelly in there. So when we saw this cool idea for making   a scented bag using a coffee filter, we decided to have a go. Here’s what we did.

First, get together the ingredients:


As you can see, a coffee filter, some bicarbonate of soda, some rosemary and a ribbon. Although we used rosemary, you could use any herbs or spices – lavender or cinnamon would be good too! Then you just add two teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda and whatever herb/spice you are using to the filter:


Then you just tie it all up with the ribbon. We also added a longer loop of ribbon too so that the bag could be hung up in the cupboard:


And that’s it. In fact, it took less time to make than it would have done to use one of those filters to make coffee! And so far, it seems to be effective. You’re just lucky that you’ll have to take our word for that!

Marcella Wylie


A few days ago we spotted this beautiful cushion cover and had to investigate further!

The design is by an artist called Marcella Wylie, who produces as well as beautiful illustrations and paintings (many of which can be bought as prints), printed items like phone cases, plates, bags, scarves and, of course, cushion covers. Most designs feature flowers and/or animals and use really vividly coloured inks to create striking images. We loved the contrast of the bright realism of the  orchids with the black and white flower outlines and the splash of, err, leopard print. (Because they are leopard orchids, right? We know!)

Marcella’s gorgeous designs are available on items from her Etsy shop. And that lovely cushion is only £50, which considering they are handmade to order, seems like very good value indeed! What a pity it’s still too early to think about Christmas…

It’s too early!


It is, isn’t it? It’s not us being Grinchy (you know we love Christmas) but it’s only October! Only the first week in October!

That means that there are 11 weeks until Christmas – that’s one fifth of the  year still left to go! The trouble is if we start thinking about Christmas too early, we’ll be bored by the time it gets here. It’s like a kind of systematic desensitisation – it starts with a few baubles appearing in the shops in late September and then builds and builds so that by 25 December, we are so used to it all that the decorations have just become part of the background. The problem is, systematic desensitisation is used to help people overcome phobias and extreme fears – not to help them enjoy ‘the most marvellous time of the year’. (Although if you do suffer from christougenniatiko dentrophobia*, we hope that you are getting some help – but from a proper source, not the mall!)

So we’ll be throwing ourselves into the Christmas preparations, but not until December. There’s too much to enjoy now to be wishing it away:


And there’s only 78 sleeps to go!

*Fear of Christmas trees

A Morris Moment

Embed from Getty Images

We’ve recently noticed that William Morris, iconic designer of prints like those above and associate of the Pre-Raphaelites,  is having a bit of a moment – a minor Morris moment, if you will! He is the man who said ‘have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful’ – which is a fine principle to follow.

You know how we firmly believe House of Hackney prints to be beautiful? Well, they have brought out a range of prints in collaboration with the William Morris Gallery, taking three original patterns (Peacock and Dragon, Hyacinth and Blackthorn) and developing an entirely new one: Artemis.  This is the lovely Hyacinth wallpaper in teal (it come in a range of colours):


And this is the stunning Artemis wallpaper in grape (also comes in a range of other colours):


As well as wallpapers, the prints are also featured in House of Hackney’s soft furnishing and clothing ranges. (Please note that House of Hackney own all copyright in the two pictures of its wallpaper above).

But it’s not just House of Hackney. Barbour have just brought out a range of jackets lined with Morris prints! Here is the Ruskin jacket, lined with the Acanthus print (one of the original working drawings for Acanthus is shown on the left in the picture at the top of this post):


We love the way the lining is also let into the sleeve:


Useful and beautiful indeed!