Monday, 25 January 2010

Home-made Gift Set Ideas

I love home-made presents. They are specialized for the individual, and show that you have put thought and effort into them.

Here are two home-made present sets that we gave away at Christmas time, but they would work well for birthdays, etc. as well.

This set has a jar of rose sugar. I love flavoured sugars as they are such an easy but impressive way of adding flavour to your baking. This rose sugar is made from caster sugar and dried pink rose petals (picked from our garden and dehydrated), and is stored in an air-tight jar (I bought it at Ikea). I also included some pink cupcake cases and a recipe for rose cupcakes. To tie it all together, we used pink ribbon to embellish everything. We wrapped it in tissue paper (the kind of hand-made paper with flower petals in it) and put it in a gift bag. Easy, and relatively cheap, to make, it still looks romantic and attractive. This is perfect for people who love to bake.

This was a garden oriented gift set. I grew lavender plants from seed, and included one of the little plants (it smells fantastic). We made a little sign to put in the pot from a cut down wooden skewer left over from last summer's barbecues, and some paper and a sticker from my scrapbooking supplies. We also included a nicer ceramic pot (bought in a multi-pack at Tescos and decorated with another scrapbooking sticker). The cool part of this present are the little paper envelopes. I harvested seeds from our garden and saved them. I included a selection of seeds for "cottage garden flowers", including poppies and daisies, and a packet of broccoli seeds. I saved seeds for my own garden, as well, so I'm excited to find out how well they grow this summer.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Baking Biscotti

In case you haven't noticed, I love food. This little blog of mine tries to share my love of food with some recipes, pictures, and other musings. I am just an enthusiastic amateur. If you want a real food connoisseur, visit the website Cannelle et Vanille. It is my absolute favourite blog. The recipes are amazing, and the food styling and photography is absolutely stunning. I also love the small personal revelations and mentions of family. This blog is everything that I aspire to when I blog about food.

So when my husband felt like baking recently (I have to admit that he is the better baker in our kitchen), I suggested one of the recipes from Cannille et Vanille: Double Chocolate and Crystallized Ginger Biscotti. To visit the post with the recipe, click here. We had never tried baking biscotti before, and overall I was very pleased iwth the result. It was the perfect texture and looked great.

if you try it, I would recommend a few variations on the recipe though. We baked it exactly as the recipe instructed, and although the texture was perfect and they looked great, the taste could be perfected a bit more. The orange peel was overpowering, and the ginger taste became lost in the other strong flavours. If I were to make it again, I would halve the amount of orange zest, and double the amount of crystallized ginger.

I haven't bothered adding many photos this time around because Aran's photography is just so stunning that there' no way I could compete with her beautiful images. Just visit her website for yourself.

Home-made biscotti is a great sophisticated treat for a cold winter's day. The gingery, chocolatey, orangey aroma will fill your home, and make everything seem warm and delicious. They taste best when served with a hot drink.

Saturday, 9 January 2010


So the bad news is, the first competition was kind of a dud. I know people are reading this little blogging expedition of mine, because I can look at how many page views I'm getting, but apparently nobody wants to participate. There was no winner for the first Hidden Domestic Competition (The Scrapbooking Challenge). Sadly, I didn't receive any entries for the scrapbooking competition. Not a single one.

The good news is, I got to keep the prize. It was a very cute set of wooden mini alphabet stamps and a stamp pad. They are absolutely adorable and we used them to print on gift tags for Christmas presents.

I'm not giving up on everybody yet though. So here's the new competition. Enter it. Tell your friends and family to enter it.

The Hidden Domestic Easter Competition

Entries will be accepted from now until Thursday the 1st of April, 2010. The winner will be announced by the 10th of April.

There will be a prize. It will not be a cash prize, but something fantastic and domesticy. Also, the winners and runners-up will--with permission--be published on the website.

I want your best Easter recipes. Please include pictures if you can, because presentation will be taken into account if applicable. There are a few catches: it must be a vegetarian recipe (because I'm vegetarian and want to be able to judge fairly by trying them out if needs be), and you must explain why it's an Easter recipe. Sweet or savoury is fine.

Entries should be emailed to with "Hidden Domestic Easter Competition" in the subject line.

Good luck to everybody and I look forward to your recipes.