Throw a Baby Shower

Once my friends and family started having babies I organised and ran Baby Showers. Baby Showers are an American tradition, I believe that has become more common in Europe in the past few years. What it does is give the family having the new baby a special celebration and can provide them with starter tools such as nappies and baby outfits to support them financially in the early days of the baby being born.Picture1.png

Firstly, don’t throw the too early just in case something happens to the mum to be in the process of being pregnant. It’s unusual but can happen so you don’t want to have it too early just in case. Tradition dictates a month before the birth date is sensible.

Agree with the mum to be the best location because they may want to not have to clean their house for guests when heavily pregnant or equally may want to stay at home close to the birth of their child.

Send out invites to the family and friends desired with the mum to be and advise everyone if gifts are desired. Gifts don’t need to cost anything if that’s not an option but can be words of wisdom or advice to family on raising children.

I like to organise games or quizzes at the shower itself as they are traditional. There’s a huge range now online you can download or buy items for. Traditional ones include getting a piece of string and tying it round the mum’s bump and then everyone guesses the size; or filling nappies with different smells and textures such as chocolate and then everyone has to guess what’s in the nappy!

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If you are organising drinks remember the mum to be can’t drink alcohol so I organise some big jugs of fruity non-alcoholic cocktails so everyone feels excited drinking the different drinks and the guests who can drink can add alcohol without the mum to be feeling left out.

Good Links to cocktails I’ve tried. I highly recommend the Margharita Mocktail:

https://www.tablespoon.com/posts/20-non-alcoholic-party-drinks-everyone-will-love

https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/advice/how-to-reduce-your-drinking/how-to-cut-down/mocktails/?gclid=CjwKEAjwq5LHBRCN0YLf9-GyywYSJAAhOw6mvwBSbFjDnUd4Sh5nj2-no4gfcTDh1a_CigJ8dX5pphoCUI3w_wcB

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Growing Sunflowers

Sunflowers

Sunflowers are super easy and look amazing once they grow large. Once you’ve planted your seedlings make sure to not transplant them to outside until they are between 10cm and 20cm large because from experience I will tell you that slugs adore them. Also, once they grow you’ll need to support them with canes or tie them to a wall or some trellis because some of the varieties can get taller than you! Sunflowers

At the end of the summer once the flower heads have dried up I like to cut them off the stem and hang them in the garden via string as birds adore them. I read an article once whereby a lady hang strung them into a wreath shape and hung it on her garden shed for the birds and it looked amazing.

https://www.britishbirdfood.co.uk/blog/dried-sunflower-heads-just-the-ticket

If you want more information on planting seeds and planting out please see my Book section. https://modernmrsbeeton.blog/buy-books

Good sources for seeds:

http://www.burpee.com/flowers/sunflowers/?cid=PPC&gclid=CjwKEAjwq5LHBRCN0YLf9-GyywYSJAAhOw6mtkdICWnACxxUdcPKrySRxK0mB3Z5HFeWtICEFgMJvRoC3Dnw_wcB

https://www.amazon.co.uk/SUNFLOWER-GIANT-Yellow-metre-seeds/dp/B001UQ1WIW

 

 

 

Cheat’s Sausage Rolls

Cheat’s Sausage Rolls

I adore sausage rolls but I’m not a fan of the shop bought ones. I am however a fan of cheating by making homemade ones. Who has time to make puff pastry anyway. You can also make these as a whole in advance and freeze them so when anyone arrives you can quickly pop them in the oven and instant gorgeous snacks.

Ingredients:

  1. Cover your baking tray with a tiny bit of olive oil just so the sausage rolls don’t stick.
  2. Set the oven to 180 degrees c.
  3. Using scissors cut the skins away from the sausage meat leaving the sausages intact.
  4. Open up the puff pastry packet and let it defrost in the fridge until cold but pliable.
  5. Position the sausages on the pastry in long strips with enough pastry on each side so you’ll be able to wrap the sausage.
  6. Slice down the pastry and wrap the sausages.
  7. Cut the sausages into small snack sizes or larger lunch size.
  8. Brush the pastry with the egg wash.
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  10. Serve warm.

Sausage

If you really want to make them fancy you can add spices or fruit to the sausage mix. Apple sauce or sage spices work really well.

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Candle Making

Candle Making

Candle Making is a really simple craft that you can adapt with whatever fragrances; colours, moulds or containers you like best. Try to use the professional materials because just adding your favourite perfume does not necessarily make a nice smelling scented candle. Trust me on this one. You can however mix fragrances and colours to make really unique gifts. It’s also very frugal to learn how to melt down candle wax properly because if you buy an expensive shop bought candle you know how to ‘rewick’ it and get best value out of it and the jar/tin it comes in.

Ingredients: (You can either buy as a kit or separately from shops such as ‘Hobby Craft’ locally or via ‘eBay’ online) (http://www.ebay.co.uk/) (http://www.hobbycraft.co.uk/advancedsearchresults.aspx?query=candle)

  • Candle sand or wax pellets
  • Moulds or glass jars or even tea cups
  • Fragrances
  • Candle wicks
  • Colours
  • You will also need:
  • A small pan or microwavable bowl
  • A spoon for stirring

Optional:

  • An apron
  • String
  • Lollipop sticks and ‘Blue tack’
  • Stick on labels for the jars

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Method:

  1. Using a pan or microwavable bowl melt half of the candle sand until liquid form, but not boiling. On a hob only use a gentle to medium heat for a few minutes. In the microwave, heat on medium in 30 second bursts.
  2. Once melted remove from the heat and add 2-3 drops fragrance and a block of colour dye. Stir.
  3. Pour your mixture into the moulds provided and give them a little tap to release air bubbles. Retain a little wax (about 20% of total) in the pan for top ups later.
  4. Allow to cool slowly.
  5. Cut the wicks so they are the same or slightly higher height than the moulds.
  6. After about 15 minutes add the wicks in the centre of the moulds and hold them for 60 seconds until they stand by themselves.
  7. After another 20 minutes transfer to fridge to cool completely.
  8. Your candles will be ready after a few hours dependent on the temperature of your fridge.
  9. You will find the candle will have a little dip in the top. Re-heat the wax you left over and pour carefully into the candles to fill the dips.
  10. Put back in the fridge ideally overnight.
  11. Remove from the mould.
  12. Repeat using the other half of the candle sand with a different colour.

Helpful Tips:

  • Be careful with the hot wax mixture and do not let it boil. It can burn if you get it on your skin.
  • Do not add more than 2-3 drops of fragrance or the candle will be very strong and unpleasant.
  • I recommend buying a small pan from a value store for £1 and reusing this pan over and over again.
  • Use old jars or teacups for really pretty candle holders. Jars will pretty lids make great presents.
  • If you haven’t got time to let the wax cool before inserting the wicks you can put them in at the beginning and tie your wick to a lollipop stick and ‘Blue tack’ it to the horizontally across the top of the mould. This suspends the wick in the centre of the candle whilst it cools.

Elderflower Champagne

Elderflower Champagne

This is the simplest and cheapest recipe to make your own alcohol and also it’s super lovely; fragrant and is fizzy. With the fashion for ‘Prosecco’ at the moment this made excellent Christmas gifts for my family and I’ve also heard of people making it for the start of their wedding reception as a cheaper and more personal version of ‘Champagne’ to toast with.image01

You really don’t need to buy any expensive home brewing kits for this one but if you do buy one, you can always move onto different hedgerow varieties such as ‘Nettle Beer’ or even store boughts kits which are great fun to try out.

Also, if you really get into making alcohol at home it’s a good idea to buy a hydrometer (even supermarkets sell these now) as it will tell you the percentage of alcohol you make but if you are just trying a few basic recipes it’s not really worth it.

Ingredients:

  • 4 litres hot water
  • 2 litres cold water
  • 700g sugar
  • Juice and zest of 4 lemons
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 15 elderflower heads
  • Pinch dried yeast
  • Large bucket or professional fermenting container (You can buy online)
  • Some bottles. I like the ones with the pressure release tops as Elderflower wine can produce a lot of gas so it’s a bit safer than screw top or sealed glass bottles (http://www.ebay.co.uk/)

Method:

  1. In Springtime head to the local park and look for the Elderflower trees. They have a spray of flowers out from one stem and the leaves have serrated edges. They are best when they are white and pick heads from about shoulder height, that way you’ll ensure you get an Elderflower and nothing toxic as Elderflowers grow from bushes and not directly from the ground. Collect around 20 heads cutting them off with scissors/shears.download (1)
  2. Dissolve the sugar in the hot water.
  3. Add the cold water and the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Stir.
  5. Leave to ferment with either a pressure lid or a piece of cloth covering the top for about a week. Stirring occasionally.
  6. After a week the sediment should have sunk to the bottom so decant either very carefully with a jug or with a syphon (tube or pipe straw).
  7. Pour into bottles and seal.
  8. It can be drunk immediately or kept for a couple of months.

I’d also highly recommend The River Cottage method as that’s the first place I ever saw someone make this lovely brew (https://www.rivercottage.net/recipes/sparkling-elderflower-wine).

Growing Basket Herbs

Growing Basket Herbs

image16I love cooking with herbs but buying them is so expensive. I have a large array of dried herbs but fresh herbs are really useful for pastas or even cocktails such as minty ‘Mojitos’. You can grown herbs in anything really.

Good recipe: (http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/mojito_85338)

I like to have a couple of pots on my window sill and a nice basket outside because outside they water themselves.  Also, you can cheat if you want to and buy some herbs from the supermarket that are in little pots already and plant them up. Instant herb garden. I will say though, be careful with mint. I love it but it takes over anything you grow, so keep that one in its own little pot.

Don’t grow what you think you should, but grow what you actually like to eat or drink with. I had a lovely coriander once, only to realise I hate coriander. It tastes of soap.

If you start an outside basket in the Winter or early Springtime I’d recommend starting off the seeds indoors first until they are few cm large.

Ingredients:

  • A basket with some form of liner (you can buy the liner or use paper) or plant pot on the kitchen window
  • Compost or good soil
  • Seeds for the herbs you like e.g. parsley, basil, chives
  • Watering can

Method:

  1. Fill your lined basket with some compost.
  2. Add the seeds and water.
  3. The more the you cut back the herbs and use them, the healthier the plant becomes so I’d recommend doing it regularly. If you have excess herbs you can always freeze them in ice cube trays in water to preserve them until you have a recipe ready for them.