Festive TV stand refresh

You can’t beat a traditional fireplace for creating a cosy atmosphere at Christmas time. But for those of us who don’t have a roaring log (or gas) fire in our living rooms to adorn with stockings, it’s still possible to get that festive feeling. I've teamed up with home brand Wayfair to create this simple TV stand upcycle.

Head over to Wayfair for the full project!



Bake | Cranberry and orange winter muffins

It's been far too long since there's been some baking around these parts. So to rectify this somewhat unacceptable oversight I spent Saturday afternoon making these delicious cranberry and orange muffins. The seasonally appropriate flavours keep them festive but the simple decoration avoids early Christmas overload - I’m holding out until 1st December at least before starting on the mince pies.
You could argue that the cranberries and oranges make them better for you than some other Christmassy treats, chocolate log I’m looking at you, but y’know it’s still cake. Everything in moderation and all that. One thing I have discovered recently from British Lion Eggs is that there are surprisingly few calories in an egg* and we’ve been incorporating them into our meals a lot recently, always free range of course.

175g (6oz) butter
175g (6oz) caster sugar
4 eggs
300g (10oz) self-raising flour
100g (3½oz) dried cranberries 
100g (3½oz) candied orange peel
50g (2oz) ground almonds
grated zest 1 orange
For the glaze
2 tbl spoons caster sugar
2 tbl spoons orange juice 


Heat your oven to Gas 3, 160°C, fan 140°C. Set out the muffin/cupcake cases.

Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy then gradually beat in the eggs. 

Stir in the flour with the cranberries, orange peel, almonds and orange zest.

Spoon into muffin cases and bake for 20 minutes or until golden and a knife comes out clean. Allow to cool.

To decorate put 2 tablespoons orange juice and 2 tablespoons of the sugar into a small pan and boil for 2 minutes until syrupy. Then drizzle over the cakes and decorate with a few leftover cranberries.

Enjoy with a big cup of tea. Fairy lights optional.

*sponsored link



DIY | Turn a napkin into a cheap cushion

What do you do when you fall in love with a cushion that's over your budget? We'll you find a way to DIY one! Cushions are really easy to sew, great for beginners like me, and this pattern has a simple envelope back so there's no need for a zip.

If you've found the perfect cushion, lots of stores do whole ranges in the same fabric so keep browsing and see if you can find tea towels or napkins in the same print. Luckily despite falling head over heels for Thornback & Peel's gorgeous rabbit and cabbage cushions, which are completely beyond my price range, they also do napkins for a fraction of the cost. And even better, they are 43cm square - the ideal size for a cushion!

You will need:
Fabric for the front of your cushion (ie. your napkin or tea towel)
Fabric for the back of your cushion (I used a plain white cotton to match the background of the front fabric and to keep costs down)
Sewing machine
Tape measure
Cushion pad 
How to:

Not bad for a couple of hours work and I made two in that time! I'm really pleased with them - they complement the blues of our sofa and vintage trunk coffee table, add a slightly country look and kept to our limited budget. 

p.s. I wasn't able to take step-by-step images while making these so created the graphics above, I'd love to know what you think of them.



How to regrow basil from a cutting

Did you know you can regrow basil from a cutting? No, well I'm glad it wasn't just me who missed the memo on that one! It's so easy to do and saves spending money on a new plant for the kitchen every few months. Basil is one of my favourite herbs and although it comes into its own in the summer, you can't beat a tomato and basil soup or stew topped with some fresh basil in the winter. So I’m pretty pleased to have discovered this little trick.

Here's how to turn your fresh basil plant into an endless supply:

First, cut a stem of basil roughly 10cm long, making the cut underneath a leaf node, which is a part on the stem where new leaves sprout – the close up picture shows an example. Then remove most of the leaves, leaving only the top ones. 

I cut two stems, but you could do more if you like and share among friends and family when they’re potted.

Place in a glass jar full of water and leave on a windowsill in sunlight. Try and change the water every few days. 

After a week or two (I'd almost given up, but hang on in there) you should start to notice new roots sprouting from the stem! Leave on the windowsill for another couple of weeks until the roots are starting to fill the glass like below.

Then pot into individual pots and leave in a bright sunny place - I'm hoping all the cloudy days we're having won't affect these little fellas too much. Make sure to water them regularly and try not to pick any leaves until they've gown a bit bigger.

Easy and no more need to buy new basil plants! 



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