Homemade Gift Idea – The Scent of Christmas

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What comes to mind for you when you think of Christmas? Mince pies, Santa, mistletoe, cheesy Christmas songs…?

For me, Christmas is defined by one thing; the smell. As soon as I smell “Christmas”, I feel festive. And everything else is borne from there; mulled wine, family memories, food… I could go on. Christmas is, without doubt, my favourite time of year. There’s nothing I don’t like about it!

Every year I seem to spend lots of money, burning scented candle after scented candle, keeping that smell alive. Until I came across this idea on the Internet, and what an amazing idea.

This is a great gift to make and give to someone, it’s easy to make and cheap to boot.

So what is it? Well, essentially, it’s the smell of Christmas in a jar, which can be used over and over again.

You will need:

One sliced orange
One sliced lemon
4 cinnamon sticks
2 tablespoons whole cloves
4 bay leaves
1/2 tsp red food colouring

Put all ingredients into a saucepan, with 1 litre of water. Simmer the whole lot on a low heat until the ingredients begin to release their fragrance. It will smell AMAZING. The cinnamon, cloves and fruit combined become the perfect Christmas smell.

When you’re done, pour into four jars, top up with water, and seal. Then give to your recipients with a little label of how to use them. These can be used over and over again, just add a little more water each time to stop it from getting too dry.

I think this is a lovely idea, and other than the jars it’ll cost you about 20p per gift! Bargain.

I’m very excited for our WI Christmas Feast meeting this Wednesday night and have to decide what sweet treat to bake to take with me… Decisions decisions! Can’t wait to fill my face with lots of nice food though – I’ll update you later in the week with how the night went.

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Payday Pizza – A Stonebaked Experience

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In our house, we try to eat relatively healthily. Most of the time. Which is not easy when you have a serious baking addiction. We try to cook meals from scratch using fresh ingredients and don’t really have many takeaways.

The one time we make an exception is on payday!

Once a month we treat ourselves to a takeaway pizza from our local takeaway.

This is not your average pizza takeaway though. In our opinion it’s the best pizza takeaway this side of… Well… Italy, I guess. None of your deep-pan mass produced pizzas here, it’s all about the stone baked. Yum scrum.

Cafe Grounded is actually, as the name suggests, a Cafe! In fact, it’s a group of 4 independent cafes in Redfield, Bedminster, Horfield and Brislington in Bristol, UK.

The cafes all have a daily menu, including specials. Their lunchtime panini and sweet potato jackets are the bomb, and they have an amazing range of stone baked pizzas which cater for every taste. The cafes, if you eat in, have a great environment and often have live music. They are also licensed so you can have a beer or two with your pizza!

Anyway. These pizzas. Man, they are good. They do an awesome deal Sunday – Wednesday. Buy a large pizza and get a free garlic bread (more like an Italian focaccia) PLUS a salad. We normally get a Red Rocket (mozzarella, caramelised red onion, sun dried tomatoes, capers, olives, rocket and Parmesan) which for a large is only £11.75. Between the two of us we struggle to finish off all of that food so sometimes have cold pizza for lunch the next day – a bargain for 3 meals!

If you are too lazy to leave the house (we often are!) they deliver for an extra £2 and the food is always piping hot on arrival.

And that’s exactly what we did a few nights ago to treat ourselves following payday. Hence – Payday Pizza! We actually had it whilst putting up our christmas decorations (I talked about our decorations in my post “O, Christmas Tree”).

We have been visiting Grounded for a few years now and have never had a bad meal. If you are local to Bristol it’s a great place to eat or have a coffee so pop along and see what you think!

Check out their website, menu and special offers here

**This post is not sponsored, I just genuinely love Grounded’s food!**

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O, Christmas Tree!

This evening I thought I’d share with you our 2013 Christmas decorations. We moved into our new cottage a few months ago and are slowly working through each room, decorating it to our style. I’m sure there will be many more posts to come about that!

One of the rooms we are almost done with is our living room and we’re just putting together the finishing touches. We have painted one wall a golden mustard colour and the rest of the walls are a pale grey.

Most years we buy a real Christmas tree. But as lovely as they are, we found that spending £50 a time for a real tree wasn’t very economical. So we did a bit of research and found the Eiger Christmas tree from B&Q. It’s 7ft 6 so you need a decent height ceiling. The tree is a very realistic colour and the branches are in proportion and look even. There are different shades of green and textures within it to make it look a little more realistic.

The Eiger tree has a nice, sturdy base and is easy peasy to put together. It’s also great to store – this is our second year of using it and it’s just as good this year as last!

Even better, it’s currently on offer with 40% off – it’s normally £70 and is reduced to only £40!! Snap it up quick, it’s a fab deal. Find it at the link below:

http://www.diy.com/nav/christmas/christmas-trees/classic_trees/7ft-6in-Eiger-Christmas-tree-12959170?skuId=13469876

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This year we have gone for a pink and silver theme. We used soft white fairy lights around the tree (we needed two packs as it’s a fair sized tree!), then used various pink, silver and clear baubles and decorations. My favourites are probably the multicoloured spotty baubles or the crystal drops (these were a bargain from Asda last year – check out their range this year too as they are really reasonable).

http://m.direct.asda.com/on/demandware.store/Sites-ASDA-Site/default/Search-Show?cgid=AD050904

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I also had to add some of the Lindt Christmas tree chocolates which Mike treated me to yesterday – these must be the best Christmas chocolates ever!!

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I love to have lots of fairy lights around, so hooked them around the picture frame. I think these look so pretty, what do you think?

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To finish it off we added our cheeky, happy, stuffed reindeer who has seen us through a few Christmases now. Lola our bulldog is desperate to eat him up!

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All that was left was to pop on our nice warm log fire and prepare to feel festive… Perfect.

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The countdown has begun!

How have you decorated your home?

Kitchenaid Bargain Plus Freebies

I had a very exciting delivery today – my first ever Kitchenaid! As a keen (but very amateur) baker, and a slightly obsessive fan of The Great British Bake Off, the Kitchenaid is the holy grail of baking equipment. I got the Raspberry Artisan Kitchenaid, and oh. It. Is. So. Pretty. Bright pink with a lovely sheen to it. Not everybody’s cup of tea in that colour, granted, but absolutely perfect for me. Yay!!

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Kitchenaids are not cheap at the best of times, normally retailing at around £430, however there are a few really good deals at the moment. Most places (for example John Lewis, Debenhams and Lakeland) are giving away a free Kitchenaid Ice Cream Maker Attachment worth £77 when you buy the Artisan Stand Mixer. I haven’t used this yet but have read a few reviews and it is apparently one of the best ice cream makers on the market.

Harts of Stur are doing an amazing deal, some of the mixers are as little as £349.00. The delivery is free and not only do you still get the free ice cream attachment, on top of all this you get a free knife block with 6 knives! Could you need any more incentives?! I got my mixer from this website, so I know it’s no con. The freebies are fab and the item was delivered with no issues the very next day.

If you’re interested click on the link below. The offer is valid until 24th December 2014, or until stocks run out. Hurry!!

I’ve been searching through my recipe books trying to decide what to make first and will make sure I post my first cake made with my new toy! Any suggestions?!

http://www.hartsofstur.com/acatalog/Kitchenaid_Artisan_Mixer.html

FYI – This post isn’t sponsored, I just thought it was an amazing deal 🙂