New Years Resolution

It might be a tad late for a New Years Resolution but I had far too many cakes, biscuits and other treats leftover to want to start any earlier than now. Plus better late than never (and other awesome clichés) but from here on out I’m on a mission. A healthy, mindful mission to get back to good proper food, which hasn’t been roasted in fat, smothered in sugar or otherwise improved made unhealthy. Initially (and because I lack super willpower) I just want to swap to healthier options of things I already use. Such as swapping vegetable oil for Olive, or white bread for wholemeal which sounds easy enough.

Several years ago I went on a fun filled trip to London to learn all about the virtues of Olives (they’re even great for your skin!) but despite significant enthusiasm at the time I’ll admit I’d all but forgotten most of the things I learned. In fact about the only knowledge I retained was that the vast majority of Olives come from Spain. However I do have this handy little guide from Jamie’s Italian restaurant to help me.

The only downside of that guide is it’s making me feel like having a snack! I have a couple of great olive based recipes in the blog archives if you’re feeling similarly inspired.

For the Tortilla De Patatas , aceitunas espanolas y chorizo (Spanish tortilla with Spanish Olives and Chorizo) recipe click here. Or you could try the Queen Spanish Olives Stuffed With Fried Manchego Recipe here. I even have a slightly less healthy Trufas de chocolate y aceitunas espanolas (Chocolate and Spanish Olive Truffles) Recipe here, although I suppose that one does slightly fly in the face of my healthier eating resolution 😀

Have you tried swapping for healthier alternatives to welcome in the new year?

Unique Craft Idea for New Year – Promise Pot Tutorial

pots1a The New Year is seen as a time of fresh starts and new beginnings. As we say farewell to the old year we pledge to leave behind traits that we no longer find desirable. Unfortunately many people, myself included find that keeping resolutions is harder than we might have thought. Rather than viewing forgotten resolutions as a mark of failure, my family decided to make the whole experience more positive from the outset with this unique craft idea for New Year. It was with this in mind that the ‘Promise Pot’ was born. Instead of resolving not to do certain things, the idea is that you pledge to do something positive for yourself or your family. This could be anything you like, perhaps you dream of visiting a new country and this year you promise to make that wish come true. Or maybe your needs are smaller and this year you pledge to read more books. The only condition is that your promise must be positive. So if you have a very particular goal such as weight loss, rather than vowing to loose a set number of pounds, perhaps you could resolve to treat yourself more healthily over the coming months instead.

This tutorial was originally created and written by myself for the Boden community in 2011 (hence the date on the flags 🙂 ).

Promise Pots can be large or small. A large one can cover a whole family and be kept the year round as a reminder. Smaller pots are perfect as place settings which guests can take home.

6finishedSmall Promise Pots


Florists Oasis

Organza Fabric


Decoration (such as ribbon or lace)

Disposable Kebab Sticks

Thin Card



1flowerpotI made the smaller pots using tiny flowerpots bought from a local garden centre, I believe they are intended for small cacti.Oasis

Once you’ve chosen the pots you’ll need to fill them with florists oasis. I find the easiest way to do this is to take a big chunk and slowly shave it down using a kitchen knife.Organza

Once the oasis fits snugly into the pot it needs to be covered with fabric. I like to use gold organza, it’s thin, sparkly and perfect for the job. Gather the fabric around the Oasis and tie at the bottom, trim off any excess fabric. Turn the Oasis over and push into the pot.

Next it’s time to decorate! I used red lace, but ribbon, sequins and glitter all look fabulous stuck around the edge of your pot.6stick-in-pot

Take a Kebab stick and cut in half. Cut a small piece of card 1½cm wide by 9cm long. Fold the card in half and write the year on both sides. Glue the folded card around the top of the cut kebab stick, then push into the centre of your pot.

Next cut a square of Organza fabric, approximately 28cm square. Place the pot into the middle of the fabric and pull up the corners towards the centre stick. Tie the fabric in place around the stick using a piece of ribbon.

Take some more kebab sticks and cut in half, make more cardboard flags to attach to the top. Put 4 flags into each pot. Your guests can now write their promises onto the flags and keep the pots to inspire them.

shot-glassShot Glass Promise Pot

Using a shot glass is a quick and simple variation for individual pots. The only difference is the Oasis is not covered with fabric, it is pushed into the glass and then a small circle of kitchen foil used to cover the top. Then glue some ribbon around the glass to hide the Oasis. The flags in this picture already have some promises written on.

large-potLarge Promise Pot

To make the large version for your family or to give as a gift, use a larger Terracotta flowerpot. In my example here the Oasis is only covered at the top using a couple of pieces of Hessian fabric. Any fabric will do but it must have a loose weave to allow the sticks to be pushed in. I then used some cocktail sticks to secure the fabric at the edge of the pot. You will need to cut off one pointed end to do this, thus creating giant pins. Glue some ribbon around the edge of the pot and then fill the fabric with sweets to add a bit of colour. The flags are made in the same way as before but will need to be longer in length.

I hope you all have a fabulous New Year with many wonderful times ahead of you!


My Festive Fireplace!

I thought it fitting to write a small post on this the last day of 2014. I know I have been rather quiet of late but hopefully with the new year we’ll be settled comfortably into our new home and I’ll be able to find some more time 🙂

We’ve had a wonderful, if slightly chaotic Christmas complete with a heavy dusting of snow on Boxing day, which is still with us (much to the children’s delight). I’ve decorated around boxes and wrapped around suitcases but slowly everything has come together and Christmas day itself was actually very relaxed. We like to celebrate the full 12 days through and have built our own set of traditions around various days. A new tradition this year though has been gathering around our fireplace after playing in the snow and coming inside wet through. We never actually had a fire of any kind at our previous home and it’s been a very welcome addition.

Unfortunately the fire is rather old fashioned and not quite to my personal taste, I’ve already managed to paint the surround that was originally a deep cherry colour but really I’d like to replace the whole lot completely. I’d love a multi fuel burner, or a limestone surround with granite hearth. I heard that Cast Fire Places were running a festive competition and I couldn’t help but give it a shot. They wanted to see a photo of my festive fireplace, so here’s mine by Christmas tree light complete with Dalmatian admiring the tree. Fingers crossed they like it and I can show you all a lovely new fire soon 😀dogfiresmall

For now though I’d like to wish you all a very happy new year and may 2015 (gosh that doesn’t sound real, it may take me a while to get used to writing that!) bring you much happiness and peace.

Festive Fire Competition Entry