Easter Baking at Home

03 April, 2020

Not only a fun and rewarding activity to do as a family, baking can definitely be relaxing too. Just the thing to take a little break from our new, hectic schedules and as the Easter holidays are here again, now is the perfect time to get the kids involved and whip up a few treats to celebrate this special time.

Free from home lessons but faced with no fun places to go for the next couple of weeks, children are bound to feel a bit frustrated and need a creative outlet. Help them learn an important life skill and enjoy some bonding time together with this fantastic recipe for Easter Bunny’s Carrot Cake Cupcakes – a twist on the classic that’s ideal for smaller hands and tummies. Helped along by the delicious sweet flavours, the healthy fruit and veg even goes towards their five-a-day!

 

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What You’ll Need to Make 12 Tasty Cupcakes:

2 eggs
300g grated carrot
250g self-raising flour
200g soft brown sugar
150ml oil (vegetable or sunflower)
100g raisins
1tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp mixed spices
Bun cases

For the Icing:
300g icing sugar
150g softened butter
1-2 tbsp milk

Method:
1. Preheat your oven to 150°C.

2. Pour the oil into a large mixing bowl, add the eggs and whisk until well-blended.

3. Add the grated carrot, raisins and brown sugar and mix well.

4. Sift in the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and mixed spices, and stir well to combine.

5. Put the bun cases into cupcake tins and evenly distribute the mixture between the cases with a spoon.

6. Pop the tray in the oven for 25-35 minutes. Keep checking them towards the end to make sure they don't burn. You can even put a skewer in to the middle to check, and it will come out clean if they’re cooked!

7. When fully cooked, place the cupcakes on a wire rack to cool.

8. Whilst they’re cooling, place the butter, milk and icing sugar in a bowl and mix together well until you get a smooth butter cream mixture (this can take a while). You can also add a few drops of food colouring if you want coloured icing.

9. When the cupcakes are completely cooled, spread the icing on the top, and decorate with grated orange zest or fondant carrots (have a go at making these yourself if you want to practise your skills!)

 

Baking at Easter has been a popular tradition for centuries, to bring families together in celebration. And it’s fair to say that the humble Hot Cross Bun is a favourite with plenty of people (it’s definitely mine!) To spice things up a bit, I thought I’d give this seasonal classic a bit of a modern twist; the Hot Cross Bun Bread and Butter Pudding is great for those who want to try something a little bit different.

 

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What You’ll Need to make Hot Cross Bun Bread and Butter Pudding:
6 hot cross buns
3 eggs
60g of caster sugar
50g of butter, soft enough to spread
250ml of milk
150ml of double cream
1 tsp vanilla essence

Method:
1. Preheat your oven to 170°C and butter an ovenproof dish while it’s warming up.

2. Slice the hot cross buns in half, butter both sides of the bottom halves and then arrange in the dish.

3. Whisk together the remaining ingredients and slowly pour half the mixture over the bottom halves, ensuring everything is well-covered.

4. Butter the top halves of the buns, place on top of the bottoms. Dot with a few bits of butter to make sure the tops don't get too dark.


5. Pour the rest of the mixture over the buns. Ideally leave to soak for about an hour but it’s fine if you don’t have the time.

6. Bake for about 45 minutes or until puffy and a rich dark brown colour.

 

For those who are hopeless at baking, or simply looking to relax with something a bit more restorative, don’t worry – I haven’t forgotten about you. Between ourselves, I’m more likely to be found with a cheeky tipple and enjoying something my partner has baked than in the kitchen myself – so I’ve included a recipe for a homemade Easter Buck’s Fizz. Perfect for a refreshing drink in the Spring sunshine!

 

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What You’ll Need to make Easter Buck's Fizz:

4oz Champagne, Prosecco or other sparkling wine.
1oz Carrot juice
1oz Orange juice
Carrot or orange for garnish

Method:
Simply pour them all into your favourite glass, decorate with the garnish, sit back and enjoy!

Enjoy, Charlotte x

 

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Invite Wildlife into your Garden

27 March, 2020

Now that Spring has officially arrived, the Sun seems to shine a little brighter and the skies are a little clearer every day – which is just what we all need to inject some positivity into our lives.

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As more and more of us have switched our focus from the hectic bustle of our day to day routine to a healthy, peaceful and safe home for our families, now it’s more important than ever to extend this care to our gardens – and their inhabitants!

Not only creating a lovely, eye-catching feature that makes our outdoor spaces feel as cosy as our living rooms, hanging a bird house or wildlife feeder provides essential shelter and food for our feathered (and buzzing) friends.

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To attract plenty of creatures and get maximum benefit, it’s important to display any decorations in appropriate areas of your garden, so they’re as close to a natural habitat as possible.


Placement doesn’t need to be too limited when it comes to birds, as they’re happy whether on the ground or in the air! However, depending on the kinds of birds that are most often around, or if you want to attract any new species, you do have to bear a few things in mind.

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For example, smaller birds like sparrows and tits prefer somewhere slightly elevated – a couple of meters up a wall or tree is ideal. Hanging a bird house among the branches of a tree is a great idea, as it provides double the space to land, and the leaves offer shade from direct sunlight.

Doubling up your bird houses is also a fantastic way to bring in several species at once – especially those who like to feed and nest together!

It wouldn’t do to forget the insects, who need looking after too! Setting out a bug hotel is a great activity to do with younger children, and teaches them a lot about the natural world too.

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A great favourite is the ladybird, which is actually a friend to the gardener, as they feed on aphids (better known as plant-destroyers!) and aid with pollinating flowers. Bees are also incredibly important, and they need as much help as we can give them.
To give them a cosy place to hibernate and lay their eggs, keep your insect houses closer to the ground – within 30cm is ideal – and in a sheltered spot like a flowerbed or a tree trunk.

A wildlife house with plenty of twigs, or cosy pine cones and grass provides excellent coverage, and a little bit of sun helps the bugs flourish.

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Charlotte x

How to Love Working from Home

23 March, 2020

With the news that more of us will have to work from home for the foreseeable future, many people are starting to worry that they’ll be unable to work as productively as normal.

 

With a lack of routine, no colleagues to keep you on track and a multitude of distractions, the prospect of working from home for such a long time can seem daunting. However, with the right tricks and tips to help you maximise your output, you may find that staying at home is just as easy as working from the office.

Get started early

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When we don’t have to travel to work, it can be too easy to stay in bed for longer to put off starting the workday. However, by starting your day early, you’ll find that you get into the rhythm of the day much more quickly, and your output will increase.

Enjoy an early morning coffee or tea in your favourite mug to start the day off right and give you the boost of energy that you need.

Choose a dedicated workspace

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It’s easier to be distracted from your work if you don’t have a dedicated workspace. Trying to work from a room with a television is never a good idea, and even using your laptop from the sofa isn’t always the best plan of action.

Use the largest table or surface you have to set up your computer, your notepads and any other writing materials that you use during the day. The kitchen or dining table is often a good idea as it is usually large, free of clutter, and away from the main household distractions.

Get organised

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Organising yourself is one of the best ways to ensure you can work quickly and efficiently, whether you’re in the office or at home. Plan your day with a calendar, diary or checklist to make sure you can work methodically.

Keep any notepads and pens organised and close to hand to avoid losing time searching the house for something to write with.

Prepare your meals in advance

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Planning your meals and preparing them in advance is a great way to help stick to your usual routine. When we’re working from the office, we take our sandwiches ready wrapped, and our pre-cooked meals ready to microwave, so why should it be any different when we’re working from home?

Prepare your meals the night before so you don’t have to spend any time planning and making food during the workday.


Homemade soups are a great idea for weekday lunches at home. Easy to prepare, soup chills and even freezes really well, so you can have plenty made in advance ready to microwave or warm in a pan the next day for a quick and healthy lunch.

Declutter your desk

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An untidy desk is the enemy of efficiency at work. Not only does it make things more difficult to find, it can reduce your motivation and make the workday seem more of a chore than it needs to be.

By using wall mounted and free-standing storage baskets, you can organise your files efficiently, and remove paperwork from your desk to free up a large workspace.
Label each of your storage baskets for an even more efficient home filing system.

Add some fun to your workspace

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Let’s be honest – workspaces can often be very dull and boring, leading to a lack of motivation and the need to find something more interesting to do.

Adding a fun or colourful item to your workspace can be a great way to brighten up your desk and, in turn, brighten up your mood, making the day seem less tedious than it did before.

Bring the outdoors in

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Bringing life into your home is a great way to create a light and airy atmosphere.

Plants not only add colour and brightness which lightens our mood, they have also been proven to boost productivity by releasing oxygen, which increases brain power. Place a vase of fresh flowers or a potted house plant close to your desk to really liven up the space.

Get comfortable

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One of the most difficult parts of working from home is missing your comfortable office seat and spending all day perched on a hard dining chair.

Instead of counting down the minutes until you can get up from your hard chair and have a rest on the sofa, try softening up your seating with a thick seat pad, perfect for reducing any uncomfortable pains and keeping your focus on the job.

Keep track of time

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Although clock watching is never a good way to help the day go by, planning your day by time and keeping track of how long each task is taking is a really good way to stay on track and make sure you hit any deadlines.

Placing a large wall clock near to your table or desk is a handy way of making sure you’re always aware of the time passing, and far more effective than a tiny desk clock.

 

Although it doesn’t look as though most of us will be able to return to the office any time soon, there’s no need to despair over the situation.

By following these handy tips for keeping motivated and efficient, we believe that you can not only be great at working from home, but you can really learn to love it.

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