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Hello sunshine

August 26, 2014

house warming decorations

strawberries in our garden

lavender in our garden

laundry in our garden

lilies in our garden

house warming desserts

The day we moved into our new house was super sunny.  The poor movers kept having to stop to rest in the shade while I dashed about with glasses of cold water!  I think the first few weeks after we moved saw a lot of sun too, but we were too busy unpacking and assembling and rearranging to witness it ourselves.  By the time we were ready to hang the bunting and make the most of our new garden with some housewarming BBQs, Scotland was over summer and the wind and rain had arrived!  I did manage to grab some photographs of what was flowering a few weeks ago though.  The previous owner left us a veggie patch complete with strawberries, potatoes, rhubarb, lettuce and mint so that’s been an unexpected delight, as have the new flowers that have popped up every week or so since we moved in.  And long time readers will know just how much I love hanging laundry on the line!

We Scots are made of hardy stuff so we persevered with our parties in spite of the weather.  We just grabbed jumpers and brollies, and have now hosted two BBQ parties, complete with last minute rainbow decorations and the above desserts (Nigella’s London cheesecake and my favourite chocolate berry pavlova, and a Very Big Mac cake inspired by Coco Cake Land).  So our house is now feeling thoroughly warmed; it’s just a shame the garden is so chilly!

Could it be magic

August 4, 2014

Magic Kingdom


Magic Kingdom and EPCOT

Disney's FriendShip

Aquatica's Dolphin Plunge

Hollywood Studios

Seaworld and Magic Kingdom

I don’t quite know where to start when talking about Orlando.  It was brilliant and bonkers and absolutely amazing, even more so because we were celebrating our brand shiny new engagement while we were there!  Yes, the boyfriend-now-fiance proposed at the end of May so we are now happily planning our wedding as well as still recovering from Florida and the big house move.  It’s all been a bit overwhelming, in a wonderful way.  I feel ridiculously lucky to be where I am (as I did in June, when we were in this magical place, with Mickey and Minnie and numerous princesses, and Harry and Hermione, and dolphins and lions and tigers and many many minions).

Home sweet home

May 26, 2014

Home sweet home

Just popping in to say sorry for the absence, and to give notice of more absence to come.  No need to worry; all is well, and also exciting, overwhelming, and very busy as we are having not one but two holidays in June, and in between the two we are collecting the keys to our new home!

Yes, we have bought a house (a little by accident as we weren’t really looking, we were just doing some vague research and of course we found somewhere we love when we least expected to) and will be moving in July.  So we’ll be leaving this fabulous city flat with its big windows and spotty floors, brilliant wallpaper and yellow doors, and moving to a lovely little house in a nearby seaside town.  We’ll have a driveway, a conservatory and a garden, as well as some rooms and windows and things.  All very grown-up-feeling, and super exciting, but it is going to be a bit hectic as we move to our new home sweet home!  I’ll be back once things have quietened down a bit (and we’ve got an internet connection).

In the meantime I’ll still be around on twitter and instagram (and I’m pinning like crazy) so feel free to follow me elsewhere!

Because I’m happy

May 6, 2014


100 happy days (76-100)

My 100 happy days finished over Easter weekend (so I’m only two weeks late posting this!).  The final 25 days saw spring arrive in full force, plenty of time with family and friends, some stunning skies, some terrible weather, some brilliant breakfasts, and the start of what will hopefully be a summer of many ice creams!

I’ve already written about the joy of doing 100 happy days, and how it has helped me in my efforts to look on the bright side.  I honestly can’t recommend it enough, and it’s been so lovely to see other friends picking it up during my 100 days.  It’s also lovely to look back over the past 100 days, from the dark depths of January to a sparkly, sunny Easter weekend.

Speaking of Easter (and in a seamless segue), I promised you a  hot cross cupcake recipe, so here it is!

Hot Cross Cupcakes (recipe from Twigg studios)

1.  Melt 175g unsalted butter and allow to cool a little.  Add the melted butter to a bowl with 3 large eggs, beaten, and 100 ml buttermilk (I just added some white wine vinegar to some normal milk and let it sit for a few minutes).  Add zest of 1 orange and mix it all together.

2.  In another bowl sift 175g self raising flour, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 175g light brown sugar, 2 tsp mixed spice and 70g ground almonds and mix.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well.

3.  Fold in 100g dried mixed fruit (I used sultanas, raisins and mixed peel but you could do something much more exciting) and divide the mixture between 12 muffin cases.  Bake at 180 c for 18-20 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.

4.  Once the cupcakes have cooled, make the topping.  Mix 60g cream cheese, 20g butter, softened, and 60g icing sugar until smooth.  Pipe crosses on top of the cupcakes (ideally using something like this, which makes it so much easier and less messy!).


My cupcakes bring all the ducks to the yard

April 29, 2014

duck ragu

The results are in and it’s a tie!  Just as many of you wanted the hot cross cupcake recipe as wanted the duck ragu!  There were some special requests for the duck though so I’m posting it first (unfortunately with the exact same photo as before as by the time I sat down to eat this I was hungry so prioritised my fork over my camera).  I’ll be back with the cupcakes later in the week.

My sister introduced me to this recipe as something a bit special that requires little effort.  A perfect prepare-ahead recipe, you have to simmer the duck legs for two hours so it’s handy to make it the night before you need it, and doesn’t take long to finish off on the day.

Duck ragu (serves 6)

1.  Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large pan, then brown 4 duck legs on all sides for about 10 mins.  Transfer the duck legs to a plate and set aside.  Finely chop 2 onions and soften in the pan for 5 mins.  Add 2 crushed garlic cloves and cook for another minute, then stir in 2 tsp ground cinnamon and 2 tsp plain flour for another minute.

2.  Return the duck legs to the pan along with 250ml red wine, 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes, 250ml chicken stock, 3 rosemary sprigs, leaves picked and chopped, 2 bay leaves and 1 tsp sugar.  Season with salt and pepper.

3.  Bring the pan to a simmer then lower the heat, cover and leave to cook for 2 hours.  You’ll need to check on it every so often and move the duck legs around a bit so they don’t stick to the pan.

4. After 2 hours, take the pan off the heat and lift out the duck legs, which will be very tender.  Pull off any skin and fat, then shred the meat with 2 forks.  Add the shredded duck to the sauce.  If you’re preparing ahead, this is where to stop, allow the ragu to cool, and pop it in the fridge until you need it.

5.  15 minutes before serving, add 2 tbsp milk to the ragu and simmer, uncovered, while you cook the pasta.  It’s lovely with something big and ribbony, like tagliatelle, a little bit of parmesan and a green salad on the side, and feels special enough to serve to guests (as we did this weekend, with this to start and this for afters).

Easter in pictures

April 25, 2014



hot cross cupcakes

chocolate pecan pie

Easter lunch

duck ragu

Edinburgh Castle

What a brilliant Easter weekend.  It’s hard to beat four whole days of food, family and sunshine.  This week has been a bit of a slog after all that fun, and the grey, drizzly days aren’t helping; the BBC weather headline for today was “mist and murk” which sums it up perfectly!  The lovely long weekend already feels like a lifetime away.

We had a bit of a family-fest over Easter, so of course it was also a bit of a cook-a-thon for me.  In between walks in the Botanics and along the John Muir Way (of which more later), a visit to a Lego Exhibition (sadly now finished), playing with Jenga, cellos, Monopoly and dolls houses, and multiple treasure hunts, ice creams and conversations about bodily functions (that’s what happens when two of your company are aged 3 years and 10 months!) we fitted in a lot of food.  Above are hot cross cupcakes, chocolate pecan pie, Easter Sunday roast chicken and a prepare ahead dinner of duck ragu for two.  There was so much food that I can’t quite decide which recipe to share with you, so I’m putting it to a vote!  Let me know which recipe you want to see and I’ll post it ASAP.


Give a blogger a cookie stamp

April 15, 2014

Chef'n cookie stamp

Chefn cookie stamp

Chef'n cookie stamp

Chef'n cookie stamp

Chef'n cookie stamp

Chef'n cookie stamp

Chef'n cookie stamp

Chef'n cookie stamp

… and she’s bound to bake cookies!

When the lovely people at Chef’n got in touch to ask if I wanted to try their new cookie stamp I immediately thought of this peanut butter biscuit recipe I’d pinned.  Never one to turn down new kitchenware, I accepted their offer and this is the result: cute, and tasty too!

The cookie stamp arrived in a handy little plastic pot to keep all the bits together rather than them rolling all over your baking drawer, which is genius.  I currently keep my most used cutters in a ziplock bag but this is much snazzier!  The cutter doubles up as the lid, so once you pop that off you just select your stamp shape and screw it in to place inside the cutter.  Then it’s just a case of cut, stamp, repeat.  There are five stamps to choose from: flower, star, heart, crown and butterfly.  I stuck to the three simpler shapes for this test and they all worked well, although the heart stamp didn’t screw into place very well so had a tendency to fall out whilst stamping which was a bit of a faff.  The others were brilliant though, overall it felt sturdy and the results were great!

As I made peanut butter biscuits I opted to decorate with jam, chocolate, and chocolate sprinkles so nothing too fancy.  They would work really well with plain old water icing and other sprinkly bits too, or the stamps alone would jazz up some plain shortbread.  I’ll definitely be using it again!


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