Sunday, 22 November 2015

Winter Walks in January

December 2014 & and a recipe not just for Chritsmas

The Christmas Wreath... very popular here in the UK. Walking around a neighbouring village, they where everywhere. I rather like this tradition, it is not something I know from back home. And I, usually, really go for it. There have been years when I had 3..... plus the obligatory Advent wreath indoors...

This year however I made so many (we sell at Christmas Fairs and do 'made to order') I never got round to doing one for us...

At work we ran Christmas Wreath Workshops and I was totally out of my compfort zone. You see, I am not very good at talking and standing in front of people. But sometimes coming out of your zone is not a bad thing... and in the end, I really really enjoyed doing them! It did help that we had lovely ladies and seeing them walk away with a beautiful wreath was just so much fun!

A little break before Christmas...

...took us up to North Norfolk again. Escaping the pre-Christmas stress was such a brilliant idea that this might become a yearly thing. First stop, as always, the beach.

We stayed at a little barn conversion in Langham.

Cannot do Norfolk without visiting Holkam Beach...

...or stopping for coffee at Stiffky

 As lovely as it is to be is even lovelier to come home....


...always find their way into my shopping basket in December. When I buy them I usually have no plans for them at all, just love having them. This year some went into our red cabbage and most into a delicious chocolate cake. And as I always buy too many, there are still some in the deep freeze... so I will make this again soon. We actually had it instead of Christmas Pudding (not  a fan) and then for the next few days too....soooo good!! Its like a giant chocolate brownie with a boozy cranberry filling.... Try it!!! (Recipe from the Waitrose Kitchen Magazine, December 2013)

  1. Preparation time:
    30 minutes plus cooling
  2. Cooking time:
    40 minutes
  1. Total time:
    1 hour 10 minutes 
Serves: 12
375g plain chocolate, (70% cocoa solids)
150g unsalted butter, softened
150g golden caster sugar
200g ground almonds
50g plain flour
3 tbsp cocoa powder
4 eggs, lightly beaten
170g low fat greek yogurt
2 tbsp of icing sugar, for dusting
Cranberry filling
300g cranberries
4 ½ tbsp caster sugar
5 tbsp crème de cassis
1 x ½ tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4. Start by making the cranberry filling. Stir the cranberries, caster sugar and crème de cassis over a medium heat until thick and jam-like. Add the vanilla extract and set aside to cool.
2. Meanwhile, break the chocolate into pieces and melt gently in a large bowl over a pan of simmering water. Set aside to cool.
3. Line the base of a 25cm loose-bottomed cake tin with greaseproof paper. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy, then beat in the remaining ingredients. Fold in the cooled melted chocolate. Tip half the batter into the tin, then top with the cranberry mixture, spreading it evenly and leaving a 3cm border. Top with the remaining batter and bake for 35-40 minutes until set. Leave to cool in the tin.
4. Serve warm or at room temperature. Remove the cake from the tin, dust with icing sugar and serve with double cream or vanilla ice cream, if liked.

And that was Deember...


Nicola x

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Last Christmas

Just like last year I am finding it tricky to get into the Christmas mood...with only a few days to go I'd better get my decorations up....It's not that I have not decorated at all, there are bits and pieces up around the is more that I still have not found my 'style' for this year.

Last year it looked like this, I mixed it all up a bit in the end and quite like the end result  - maybe this it what should happen again? -  just get it all out and do not worry about a certain style...:

Pink? For Christmas? 

Are you all ready and decorated yet?

Love Nicola x

p.s.  Crumbs LOVES presents - SO much fun!! Found her 'silly bum' toy in a flower bed last summer...gave me quite a shock as I had NO idea what I had just dug up.....

September 2014

We are more than half way through October...September seems AGES ago. My plan was to have more time for the things I love doing during October, so far that has not happened. ...:) Time is still flying.  But back to last month and it feels like I have written this post before...back in May...I guess this is the late summer/early autumn version of that post back then...

We started September with our home-made Music Festival, B Natural is now in its 4th year. With a vide variety of music in our lovely square, at the pubs and in private gardens, there really was something for every taste. The weekend was again great fun and a lot of work too :)

A day trip to Mersea Island in Essex. I had been here before a very, very long time ago and was surprised to find so many buildings, boats memory was of a sleepy place with higgelty piggelty houses and shacks, a few fishing boats...I felt it was almost too busy now...Still, we had a lovely time wandering around.

I LOVE all the weatherboarded houses!

We had a delicious fish & chip lunch, right on the water's edge, had the tide been a little higher that day our feet would have actually been in the water. It did feel a bit like being on holiday. And no, we did not go to the (famous) Company Shed!

A walk along the bay after lunch took us past all these fun house boats:

Mearsea Island is actually a proper island, one needs to look up the tides and will be stuck there until the next low tide. We got off in the afternoon and went on to pretty Wivenhoe.

Again, we had visited before and here we were surprised to see a lot of new developments all along the port and old quay. I am normally not that keen on these new houses, often they have no character and the estates are far too big for my liking. Here, however, it seemed to work. What I loved was, almost every house had tables and chairs and benches and flower pots right outside their front doors. As there are no front gardens, these sit right on the quay and I can imagine it on a warm evening, everyone sitting out, having their meals or just relaxing...very un-english (I find, anyway!)

And what a lovely, every changeing view!

We strolled through the little town too, all very pretty - I could spend a weekend here, I kept thinking!

Mid-September and it was back to Helmingham Hall for the Autumn Plant Fair, I came away with a huge hydrengea and very pretty allium bulbs. I always visit the gardens, every time I go, and each visit is wonderful!

Their Dahlia border is such a splash of colout - I think I need to re-think my big border for next year...

Isn't it this just lovely?

Another garden visit with the Suffolk Gardener's Guild...Polstead Mill gardens were a real treat and a pleasure for the eye. It all started off with coffee and home-baked cakes in the vegetable garden...the green house alone was just lovely...I loved the outside kitchen too!

And then there was the house....

Just lovely!!!

The autumn exhibition of the Boule-in opened its gates again, the Festival de la Coing...

Can you tell I am rushing now....:)....oh well....

Looking forward to a lovely autumn!!!!


Nicola x