Saturday, 21 December 2013

DIY Christmas Gift Ideas

How is everyone's Christmas shopping going? I was very organised this year and started buying a few presents back in August. Whenever I saw something I thought would make a good present for someone on my list, I just bought it and put it away in the cupboard. Of course, there are always those people who are hard to buy for, and in the days leading up to Christmas I usually end up picking up some sort of gift set or a box of chocolates. 

If this sounds anything like you, why not make a few gifts yourself this year? A homemade gift is much more thoughtful than the generic box of chocolates, and they're pretty fun to make! Here are some ideas:

This DIY mint and honey lip scrub by A Little Glass Box makes my mouth water, and is so nicely packaged.

Edible goodies are always a good idea! Why not make this brownie mix from Call me Cupcake, or a delicious lemon loaf.
These personalised coffee mugs from A Beautiful Mess are an awesome idea!
I can smell these delicious bamb bombs from Spreading Sunshine already! 

I've always wanted to try making soap, and these orange and tea-tree soaps from Offbeat and Inspired would make this perfect Christmas gift. 

You could also think about making my DIY teacup candles, DIY Christmas muesli, or my cute Shrewsbury Drops. My macarons would also make a great gift and can be packaged up so nicely!

Are you still doing last-minute shopping? The crowds get crazy this time of year!


Monday, 11 November 2013

Lavender Macarons with Honey Earl-Grey Buttercream

There is something soothing about making macarons. I enjoy spending a weekend afternoon mixing, piping, baking and then filling the delicate shells, and experimenting with different flavour combinations. This time I decided to make lightly-flavoured lavender macarons using lavender sugar, and I paired them with a basic buttercream infused with earl-grey tea and clover honey. I decided to use the same recipe as I used to make my raspberry macarons with raspberry buttercream filling, with a few tweaks.

1 cup icing sugar
3/4 cup ground almonds
2 large egg whites
Pinch of cream of tartar
1/4 cup lavender sugar
1/2 tsp purple food colouring 

Honey earl-grey buttercream:
100g butter, softened
1 cup icing sugar
1 Tbsp honey
2 tsp earl-grey tea leaves steeped in 2 Tbsp boiling water

To make the lavender sugar:
Measure out 1/4 cup caster sugar into a bowl. Add several sprigs of lavender and leave, covered, overnight. The lavender oils will infuse into the sugar to make a lovely lightly-flavoured lavender sugar. Discard the lavender and sift before using to get rid of any left-over lavender.  


1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius (roughly 325 degrees Fahrenheit). Line oven trays with good quality baking paper, or if the baking paper is thin use two layers.

2. Process the ground almonds and icing sugar in a food processor until fine. Sift three times, each time leaving out the lumps of almond that is left in the sieve. 

3. Beat the eggs with an electric mixer on medium speed until frothy. Add the cream of tartar. Mix on high speed until soft peaks form. Add the food colouring and lavender sugar. Continue mixing until stiff peaks form.

4. Sift the almond mixture into the egg mixture. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the two mixtures together. This step is very important. If you fold too little, the macarons will crack. If you fold too much, the macarons will flatten and merge together into a sticky mess. In order to have a nice smooth macaron with a slight cap, and the all-important feet, you need to fold the mixture just right. Depending on your folding, this may take 50-80 folds. When you lift the spatula from the batter, the batter should flow off the spatula in a continuous line of the batter. 

5. Once this step is done, the batter should be spooned into a piping bag with a 1/2 inch round tip. Pipe 3/4 inch rounds onto the baking paper, one inch apart. It may be helpful to draw circles onto the baking paper before you start this step. Once the macarons are piped out, give each tray a good firm tap on the bench to release any trapped air, which would cause the macarons to turn out hollow. 

6. The next step is important. The macarons should be left at air temperature for 30-45 minutes to form a skin. The macarons should lose their shine and appear dull. When touched, they should not be sticky because a skin has formed. 

7. Meanwhile, make the buttercream filling by mixing the softened butter and icing sugar in a bowl. Microwave the honey for 20 seconds to soften it slightly, and add this to the buttercream mixture. Make a strong brew of earl-grey tea using 2 tsp tea leaves steeped in 2 Tbsp boiling water, and stir this in to the buttercream. 

8. Bake the macarons a tray at a time in the oven for 15 minutes, being careful not to burn them. See oven temperature tips here.

9. Once out of the oven, leave for 2-3 minutes before removing each shell from the tray. Cool, and then play a matchmaking game! Find each macaron shell a matching shell of the same size and shape, then spread one side with the buttercream filling and sandwich together. 

10. Your macarons are ready! Take your first bite before everyone else swoops in. Even better, hide them away and don't tell anyone you made them! Macarons? What macarons?!

Before you start baking, have a look at my tips and tricks for making macarons. But remember - the second most important step in the macaron-making process is getting the macaronage right. If you fold too much or not enough, your macarons will not turn out with feet and a nice smooth cap. 

The first most important step? Just do it! Don't be put off by all the articles around the net stating the do's and don't's of making macarons. Just have a go, and if they don't work out the first time try to work out what went wrong, and have another go! Making a whole batch of macarons is much cheaper, and more satisfying, than buying them one at a time from that little french bakery. 


Friday, 25 October 2013

A rainy spring day and a cat dress

What I'm wearing: Temt dress, Glassons anorak, thrifted satchel, shoes from Number One Shoes

How cool is it that there are so many cat-related clothes, shoes and even hats out there at the moment? Speaking of cats, these shoes are no longer wearable because Smudge attacked them! He's ruined my best two pairs of shoes now, but he's such a sweetie I can't stay angry with him for long. 

Hope you all have a lovely weekend, its a long one for us here in Kiwi-land!


Wednesday, 9 October 2013

DIY Coconut and Lemon Body Scrub

My skin is in dire need of some TLC after being covered up all winter, so I thought I'd make some sugar scrub. I love the feel of my skin after having a good scrub in the shower, and then smothering it with body butter. 

The best thing about making your own body scrub is that you know exactly what goes in to it, and you probably have most of the ingredients in your house already. With all the chemicals I put onto my body and face daily, its good to be able to use some natural products for a change.

Coconut and Lemon Body Scrub

You will need:

2 C sugar
1/4 C coconut oil
1/4 C olive oil
1/4 C shredded coconut
Juice and rind of one lemon


1. Add the sugar, coconut, and lemon zest to a mixing bowl.

2. Add the oils and the lemon juice and mix it all up. 
3. Find a pretty jar for your sugar scrub4. Fill the jar with your scrub and get scrubbing! Its as easy as that.

Smooth legs, feet and hands are only minutes away! 



Monday, 7 October 2013

Stuff I Luff #14

1. How cute are these tassel pillows? See the step-by-step instructions on Paper Umbrella
2. Mmm roasted fig and ricotta crostini. Need I say more?
3. So into monochrome right now! This dress is from Asos
4. Love this simple painted kitchen utensils DIY by Sincerely, Kinsey
5. Summer is nearly here, and that means its time for fruity cocktails. This raspberry bourbon lemonade will do the trick!
6. How cute are these chocolate amaretto cupcakes with white chocolate dipped cherries? I bet they are delicious too
7. I could hang out in this space all day


Thursday, 3 October 2013

Clean eating: Home made banana and coconut ice cream

Banana and Coconut Ice Cream

Per person: 
1 banana
1 Tbsp shredded coconut
1 tsp cinnamon

Optional extras: Peanut butter, nutella, anything else you can dream up!

Peel the banana, slice it up, and put it in a plastic bag or container in the freezer. 

Once frozen, simply place the banana and coconut into a food processor or blender, along with the other ingredients. Stop and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula every so often. 

Blend until smooth, then serve up and enjoy!

This is super easy, and a nice way to replace store-bought ice cream if you are trying to cut down on your sugar and fat intake. 

Ice cream can now be a guilt-free, mid-afternoon snack!

Let me know if you try it.


Sunday, 29 September 2013

Daffodil season

Spring is in the air! The blossoms are out (finally), spring bulbs are up in full force, and the trees are coming out in new growth. I love this time of year! 

The best part though - we started daylight savings today here in NZ, and while today seems to have gone super fast because we lost an hour, it means we can start enjoying after dinner walks and bike rides!


Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Girl behind the blue door

I'm in love with this new collection from Australian label, Casper & Pearl. The label was started by an 18 year old self-taught designer, and is now available in Australia, New Zealand and the US (read the full story here).

These pictures have me dreaming of long, carefree summer days, and makes me nostalgic for a bygone era. 

Do you like?


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