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October 21st  
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Mad about baking? Discover the top 10 essential baking accessories that every home baker needs in their kitchen

Glued to Great British Bake Off? If so, you’re not alone – the show’s been credited with getting us back into the kitchen as a nation. The first series aired in 2010 and attracted only two million viewers, but now an impressive 12.5 million of us watch it every week.

If you haven’t yet succumbed to the temptation to get your pinny out, what are you waiting for? Baking’s very therapeutic, and you can control the recipes for healthier bakes. If  you’re starting from scratch, here’s what you need to equip your kitchen!

1. Baking essentials set, Garden Trading

Baking essentials st, £42.50

A set of three essentials to help you turn out the perfect cupcake. The Louella Measuring Cup is made of thick glass and measures one cup exactly – great for American recipes. Keep eggs safely in the egg run, which helps you store in date order. Finally, the glass jug and juicer is useful for all sorts of things from measuring to squeezing. £42.50 for the set, available from Garden Trading.

2. Ceramic mixing bowls set, Rice DK

Mixing bowl set, £47.50

A colourful nest of ceramic mixing bowls in yellow, blue, coral, and soft jade, there’s a size for every need from Monday mornings scrambled eggs to rainy day Sundays baking cakes. Each bowl has a handy lip to help pour out batters and liquids. £47.50, available from Sisters Guild.

3. Typhoon vintage kitchen scales, Red Candy

Kitchen scales, £29.95

We love these 1950s retro red designer weighing scales, complete with glossy red enamel coated steel with silver accents and silver bowl. It displays weight in both kg/g and lbs/oz, and costs £29.95 (was £34) from Red Candy.

4. Jane Asher wooden spoons three pack, Poundland

Wooden spoons set, £1

Getting the right kit doesn’t have to cost a fortune! This set of three traditional wooden spoons is great for scooping or stirring foods whilst cooking or baking – the different heights allow you to vary the size of bowl. £1, available from Poundland.

5. Set of five cookie cutters, Zeal

Set of cookie cutters, £2.85

This set of five cutters will produce perfect biscuits and cookies as well as marzipan and fondant icing. It comes in five different colours of different sizes, complete with a storage box. They’re dishwasher safe, as well! Was £3 now £2.85, available from Amaroni.

6. Set of three cake tins, Sophie Allport

Set of three cake tins, £35

After all that hard work, you’ll need somewhere to store the results of your labours. We love these sturdy, airtight tins with a pretty chicken and egg design. St of three tins, £35, available from Sophie Allport.

7. Roost oven gloves, Cottage in the Hills

Double oven gloves, £15

Sturdy oven gloves are a must if you’re baking, and these organic cotton double oven gloves are both stylish and practical. They have a handy loop in the middle of the glove so you can hang them up, ready for grabbing when you need them. £15, available from Cottage in the Hills.

8. Klippan shorebirds blue apron, Cloudberry Living

Kitchen apron, £24

From an original Swedish design, this apron features fresh, cheerful birds highlighted with greys, blues and shades of yellow for a burst of sunshine. It’ll help make baking even more enjoyable – and keep you from getting splattered into the bargain. £24, available from Cloudberry Living.

9. Ceramic lace two tier cake stand, live laugh love

Ceramic cake stand, £9.95

Show off your creations in style with this two tier vintage style cake stand with lovely fret work detail. Flat packs for easy storage, and at just £9.95 from live laugh love it won’t break the bank.

10. Candy stripe baking cups, Candle and Cake

Paper baking cases, £2.49

These pretty, scalloped edge baking cups are perfect for use as baking cups, treat pots, jelly pots, ice cream bowls, fruit cups, whatever you like. You can put the cake mixture straight into them and stand them on a baking tray, so there’s no need for a muffin tin. £2.49 for 12, available from Candle and Cake.


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October 12th  
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Celebrate the natural wonder of wool in your home, with super cosy woollen home accessories

Nothing says ‘cosy’ like pure natural wool. It’s warm, breathable and deeply comforting, and it’s the perfect time to invest in some woolly accessories ready for the colder weather.

From 10 to 16 October 2016 The Campaign for Wool (yes, really) holds its 7th UK Wool Week, designed to promote the use of wool as a bi0degradable, renewable, safe  material that’s suitable for a wide range of uses.

So here are top 10 wool picks for a Cosy Home!

1. Hand woven wool throw, IN-SPACES

This hand-woven, naturally dyed throw will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It’s made of pure sheep’s wool and it’s fair trade as well! It uses two different colours of naturally dyed yard. ln a herringbone weave, the throw is available in grey, blue & grey, and red & purple. £120, available from IN-SPACES.

2. Moorland wool rug in taupe, The Rug Seller

This plain and simple rug has a deep taupe border and subtle self-coloured stripes to add interest and texture. Made from thick, soft, 100% wool yarns and woven in India using cut and loop techniques, it’s soft and warm to the touch. Available in different sizes, prices start at £69 from The Rug Seller.

3. Wolesley storage ottoman in wool tweed, MADE

With heritage-feel fabric, autumnal colour scheme and accent piping, this UK made ottoman will complement any interior and provide useful storage in a bedroom or living room. You can use the padded top as an occasional seat, as well. £369, available from MADE.

4. Klippan Polka wool blanket/throw, Eclect

The Klippan brand combines Swedish design with traditional methods of working with natural textiles. These 100% lambs wool blankets/throws are thick and warm, but are also springy and light in weight and make an ideal for snuggling up on a winter’s night. Each blanket comes with its own natural wood wool comb for care. £64, available from Eclect.

5. Merino wool sailor knit cushion, Louise Roe

This tactile cushion is made from 100% Merino wool and would be perfect for adding subtle texture and warmth to an armchair or bed. The cover is removable for spot cleaning. £78, available from A Splash of Colour.

6. Berries natural and blue wool and jute pouffe, Harley and Lola

Blending elements of classic design and chic trends, the ‘Berries’ pouffe is perfect as an occasional seat or footstool.Made from hand woven wool and natural fibres of jute, it costs £99.99 from Harley and Lola.

7. Devon lightweight wool duvet, The French Bedroom Company

Wool is an ideal material for duvets, as it’s breathable so cool in summer and warm in winter. It helps to regulate body temperature throughout the night. The unique natural properties of wool are resistant to dust mites, so wool duvets are anti-allergy as well.  These are hand made in Devon, using wool from pure breed flocks of Texel sheep and are a natural alternative to a down filled duvet. Available from the French Bedroom Company, prices start at £100.

8. Embroidered wool blanket, Reste

This virgin wool blanket is made in Central Mexico using the highest quality softest wool. The blankets are loomed by artisans, hand-drawn and then hand-embroidered by women in Malinalco Mexico in a minimal pattern of triangles and lines and the edges blanket stitched in contrasting thread. £155, available from Reste.

9. Etawah stone and navy wool cushion cover, Nkuku

These stylish cushion covers are soft and tactile, finished with a row of pretty wooden buttons to add an individual detail. £32.95 for the cover only, available from Nkuku.

10. Rouen stool in olive wood, Swoon Editions

This little French-style stool is upholstered in olive herringbone wool, while antiqued brass studding completes the look. Perfect at a dressing table or as an accent in the corner of a bedroom or bathroom. £179, available from Swoon Editions.


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September 8th  
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There’s nothing like proper, traditional wicker baskets for giving a home a cosy feel. They’re attractive as well as practical, and will find uses all over the house. Use in the kitchen to hold fruit and vegetables, in the bathroom to hold rolled towels and spare loo roll, and in the sitting room to store magazines and remote controls.

They’re perfect for using in the garden to hold carry cut flowers or tools, and you can even take them to the shops!

If traditional isn’t your thing, we’ve thrown in a couple of different choices as well.

Here are our favourite finds:

Cosy home guide to storage baskets

1. Hanging wall baskets, Monty’s Vintage Shop

These heavily braided wall baskets are a bit different, and ideal if you don’t have much space and prefer to keep clutter off the worktops and floors. These would be handy in any room, but particularly in the kitchen for storing teatowels and bathroom for toiletries. £12 from Monty’s Vintage Shop.

2. Set of two graphic maize baskets, Idyll Home

The strikingly attractive grey and natural grass diamond pattern, combined with the broad weave construction, makes these baskets stand out from the crowd. They sport leather carry handles for ease, and cost £42 for the set from Idyll Home.

3. Kelp laundry basket, House Doctor DK

This generous laundry basket is pretty enough to keep outside the cupboard. From House Doctor DK, known for their beautiful Nordic interiors, it will make you feel a little better about this regular chore. £35.40 from Sisters Guild.

4. Navajo seagrass baskets, ALSO Home

These unusual, pretty white-washed baskets with lids would make ideal sewing or knitting baskets. Hand-woven by Vietnamese artisans from natural seagrass with a soft white finish, they’d also be useful for holding cosmetics. Prices start at £35 from ALSO Home.

5. Picnic basket, Grace & Glory

Get ready for the great outdoors with this chunky rattan picnic basket. The open top design means you have plenty of room for bottles and containers, and it’s easy to carry them upright. The sturdy design means this basket will last for years. £42 from Grace & Glory.

6. Market basket, Bohemia Design

This rustic market basket has been handwoven in Morocco from sustainable palm leaf and makes a stylish and eco-friendly alternative to plastic bags and storage boxes. Its size makes it perfect for storing shoes, fire wood, newspapers, wrapping paper and any other odds and ends cluttering up the house. Or fill it with towels and suncream and head to the beach. £20 from Postcards Home.

7. Bloomingville baskets in black,

Beautiful and rustic, these baskets are ideal for holding indoor plants or  for storage. Each basket is handmade using natural raffia, woven and twirled around to create a basket shape. Part of the basket is painted in white or black, with the other half showing off the natural raffia finish. £165 for a pair, from

8. Kindling basket, Annemarie O’Sullivan

Make going outside for firewood a doddle with this handwoven willow basket with a fixed hazel handle. The willow has been coppiced after one year’s growth, dried and then re-soaked ready for weaving. £310 from Made By Hand Online.

9. Pair of wire Grille baskets, Loaf

Inspired by the humble shopping basket (but classier), these sturdy baskets are ideal for storing magazines, papers and correspondence. £65 for a pair (one of each size) from Loaf.

10. Natural rattan shopping basket, Marquis & Dawe

A traditional style shopping basket, made from sturdy willow with a grey wash finish, this would be ideal for storing fruit or vegetables or taking to the market with you. £30 from Marquis and Dawe.

By Sara Walker


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August 20th  
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This year, with the combination of sun and rain it seems that everything in the garden’s gone a little crazy. We’re on course to have a bumper crop of soft fruit, and plums and apples are coming into season earlier than usual.

If you’re lucky enough to have your own plum tree, or to know someone who has, then it’s time to start dealing with the glut! Plum jam is always popular, and is a great way of dealing with large quantities of fruit.

If you’re not confident about making your own jam, though, this simple cake and compote are a sure-fire winner and will both freeze well.

To make both these recipes, we used approximately one kilo of plums.

Fresh plum pudding cake

This cake is packed full of fresh, seasonal tastes.

This is a squidgy, puddingy cake and the fresh fruit keeps it very moist. It’s ideal served as a dessert with a spoonful of compote, some plain yoghurt or creme fraiche or vanilla icecream. If you’d prefer to serve it for afternoon tea, you’ll need to hand some forks out!

You’ll need:

  • 110g butter or margarine
  • 3 tablespoons plain yoghurt
  • 100g white sugar
  • 70g dark brown sugar
  • 3 freerange eggs
  • 170g self raising flour
  • 8 to 10 plums
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 180 degree Celsius. Grease a 20cm square baking tin, and line the bottom and sides with greaseproof paper (don’t be tempted to skip this step, or that cake will never come out of the tin!)

Mix the yoghurt and margarine together and beat in both the sugars until fully combined. Beat in the eggs, then gradually fold in the flour until you have a smooth batter. Add the mixed spice.

Wash the plums, remove the stones and chop them into quarters, or into eighths if they’re large. Tip them into the batter,a nd mix roughly to combine, taking care not to break the fruit up too much.

Don’t try and turn the cake out while it’s too hot, let it rest in the tin first.

Tip it all into the tin, and smooth it out with the back of a spoon. Bake for 25 to 30 mins until well risen and golden on top. A skewer inserted through the thickest part of the cake should come out clean.

Leave the cake in the tin to cool for a few minutes before turning it out and removing the paper. Let it cool again until just warm before cutting into squares and serving.

This will keep for 3 to 4 days in the fridge, or can be frozen.

Plum and apple compote

Plum and apple compote makes a perfect weekend breakfast

This compote recipe couldn’t be easier, and it makes an ideal accompaniment to the plum cake. Alternative, serve it for breakfast with plain yoghurt and granola.

You’ll need:

  • The remaining plums from the 1kg quantity
  • 1 large Bramley cooking apple
  • 75ml orange juice
  • sugar

Prepare the plums by washing them, removing the stones and cutting them into quarters. Peel and core the apple, and cut it into chunks.

Put everything in a pan with 75ml water, and bring it to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and add the orange juice.

Let it cook, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is really soft and pulpy. Remove from the heat and let it cool.

Add sugar to taste – this can vary a lot depending on the ripeness of the fruit, so add it a little at a time and taste between additions.

This will keep for up to a week in the fridge, or will freeze.

TIP: Add a cinnamon stick or vanilla pod along with the orange juice for a different flavour.

By Sara Walker

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August 14th  
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In the warmer weather, nothing beats a lazy afternoon relaxing in the garden with friends and a long, cool drink.

Here are our top five homemade drinks for summer – put them in a thermos flask with some ice to take on picnics or journeys, as well.

Homemade St Clements

A refreshing mixture of orange and lemon juice, this is tangy and refreshing. You’ll need:

  • 2 unwaxed lemons
  • 2 large oranges
  • around 100g sugar
  • 1 litre of water

Zest the oranges and lemons and put the zest in a pan with 100ml of the water and the sugar. Heat gently, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved.

Leave to cool. Meanwhile, juice the lemons and oranges, removing the seeds but keeping the pulp.

Combine the syrup, remaining water and fruit juice and pulp. Serve with ice and a slice of orange on the side of the glass.

This is best enjoyed fresh, but will keep in the fridge for a few days. Store it in a bottle with a lid, and shake the bottle before serving.

Homemade elderflower cordial

Collecting the elderflowers for this cordial is all part of the fun! For a more adult drink, mix a measure of gin with sparkling water and add cordial to taste.

You’ll need:

  • 2kg white sugar
  • 2 unwaxed lemons
  • 20 to 25 fresh elderflower heads, washed and checked for insects!
  • 85g citric acid (available from chemists)

Trim the elderflower stalks right up to the base. Put the sugar in a large pan with 1.5 litres of water, and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Chop the lemons into small pieces, skin and all. Put the flowers, lemon and citric acid in the pan with the sugar, cover it with a clean tea towel and leave to infuse for 24 hours.

If you have a jelly bag, put the flower mixture into that and let it drip through into a clean bowl. If not, line a colander with a muslin or clean tea towel.

Discard anything left in the towel or bag, and bottle the cordial into clean, sterilised jars or bottles.

To use, dilute with water to taste. The cordial will keep in the fridge for several weeks

Iced mint tea

This one really couldn’t be simpler – particularly if you have lots of mint in your garden.

All you need is two good handfuls of mint leaves (with no pesticides), washed and stripped from the stalks.

Put them in a teapot, fill the pot with boiling water and leave to infuse. You can drink it hot, but if you leave it to cool and serve it over ice it tastes like summer in a glass!

Sweeten to taste.

Blackberry syrup

This syrup is delicious topped up with sparkling water as a drink, but also works well poured over ice cream.

You’ll need:
250g blackberries
125g sugar

Put the sugar and 250ml water in a pan and stir gently over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved.

Add the blackberries, and bring the pan to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for around 5 to 7 minutes until the fruit is soft and pulpy.

Pass the mixture through a sieve, and leave to cool. Mix with still or sparkling water and a dash of lemon juice, to taste. The syrup will keep in the fridge for a week or so.

Raspberry peach iced tea

A delicious, fruity twist on an American classic. Frozen or tinned raspberries will work as well if you can’t get fresh.

You’ll need:

2 English breakfast tea bags
150g raspberries
2 ripe peaches, skinned, stoned and cut into quarters
3 tablespoons sugar, or to taste

Brew the tea to the strength you like it, using around 1 litre of water.

Remove the tea bags and let it cool. Put the peaches, raspberries and sugar in a blender and blend until smooth, then pass the mixture through a sieve.

Mix the sieved mixture into the tea, and refrigerate until cold. Best enjoyed immediately.

By Sara Walker
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August 8th  
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Using warm tones of copper, brass and gold to add texture and interest is a trick you can use right through the house. Here’s how:


To help your kitchen look like an expensive, handmade version, paint kitchen cupboards and cabinets and add brass or copper handles and hooks. Mismatched handles look quirky and individual – collect what you need via salvage fairs or online auction sites and mix traditional round brass knobs with pull handles and bars. Don’t be afraid to mix vintage, antique and contemporary for an individual result.

If you suffer from lack of light in your kitchen, add a couple of copper vases on the windowsill or shelves. They’ll help reflect light with a soft, sparkling tone and provide a pretty focal point for potted herbs or cut flowers. Bronze and copper tealight holders work well for the same reason.

If you’d like to take it a step further, a brass kitchen tap looks stunning against a marble worksurface – they are harder to take care of than stainless steel, though!

For a traditional farmhouse kitchen look, arrange vintage copper pans on plain white shelves or hang them from the ceiling. You can pick up vintage pans in antique shops or at fairs, but keep them for display only. Modern versions, with a copper outer and a stainless steel lining, are a better choice if you want to actually use them for cooking with!

Dining room

On a crisp, white tablecloth, bronze rimmed glasses, decorative plates, serving spoons and napkin rings will all make a real impact.

A bronze or copper toned jug in the middle of the table, filled with bright pink flowers, will make a real centre piece.

In the same way, bronze-coloured curtains of artificial silk look really eye-catching in a dining room – have them slightly too long so they pool slight on the floor.

Artificial silk is a more practical choice than the real thing, as it’s cheaper, washable and doesn’t rot in strong sunlight. Keep walls to a plain off-white or soft grey colour for maximum impact.


For an opulent, slightly Eastern feel, look for tiles with warm metal accents.

Don’t overdo it, or you’ll end up with a fussy look – just put a row of tiles behind sinks or baths, then add bottles of rich, golden shower gel and liquid soap to pick up the colours.


Warm metal tones are fantastic for bedrooms, helping you create a cosy haven.

Try gold-coloured throws and covers on the bed and bronze-coloured cushions and rugs. To add a soft, golden glow to the whole room, choose bronze fabric lampshades.

Living room

Use bold, gold toned wallpaper on one wall to create a feature, and match it with plain paint in warm grey on the other walls.

Frame pictures in mis-matched, metallic frames and add lots of candles in brass candlesticks.

Other colours that tone well with metallic shades are rich plums and browns, so incorporate these as cushions and rugs to create a really opulent feel.

Here’s our pick of the top pieces to help you get the look.

1. Bell-shaped hanging copper lamp, £110 from Out There Interiors.

2. Copper and concrete Howarthia pot, £21 from Oh What’s This

3. Copper and black espresso mugs, £25 from Marquis and Dawe

4. Brass fish mirror, £108 from Mia Fleur

5. Brass crocodile hook, £14 from Monty’s Vintage Shop

6. Gold metal globe on stand, £69 from Artisanti

7. Gold gilt classic ornate mirror, £45 from Ayers and Graces

8. Gold dipped glass vase, £14 from Marquis and Dawe

9. Bronze decorative tea light holder, £1 from Poundland

10. Bronze ribbed jug, £10.50 from The Contemporary Home

By Sara Walker


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