Wednesday 16 December 2015

DIY Copper Leaf Plant Pots

There's a super easy and low cost way to add some of this season's must-have metallic look into your home.  These plant posts are so simple to make for your home or as stylish Christmas gifts.

Applying copper leaf is very straight forward.  You will need some specialist glue which you can buy in art stores and copper leaf.  I purchased mine from Amazon and the service was excellent with it arriving the next day.  For less than £5 you will get 25 pages of copper leaf, enough to do tonnes of pots - set up a production line to make your Christmas presents!

There's a useful guide to applying the metallic leaf here, but it's really simple.  Just clean your pots (I used vintage terracotta plant pots I'd picked up at car boots), apply the adhesive size in the pattern you want, then gently lay the sheet over the top, rubbing gently on the reverse.  Leave to dry for an hour or so, then use a clean soft brush to brush away any excess.

You can go for bold geometric patters, or simple banding like I did, but I'm really pleased with the finished effect.  It brings my houseplants bang up to date!

Have you used copper leaf?  What do you think of it as an idea for adding the copper trend to your home?

Monday 14 December 2015

Eco-Friendly Stocking Fillers - Ten under £10

Are you still looking for a few last minute stocking-fillers for that hard-to-buy for eco-warrior in your life?  I've rounded up some of my favourite festive treats for those environmentally conscious folks.

Edible Shoe Cream from Po-Zu £7.50

Just because they care about the planet, doesn't mean they'll dress like Swampy. Eco-savvy can be stylish too and with this shoe cream they'll keep their natural leather footwear buffed and polished.  Because it's made from natural coconut oil, its use doesn't end at shoe shining.  It is certified organic, 100% edible, can be used as hair/beard wax; skin moisturiser; teeth whitener; hair conditioner or even spread on toast!

Recycled phone cover - £6.49

A stylish eco solution to protecting your phone, this cover is made from 100% recycled plastic and is impregnated with silver ions to reduce levels of bacteria keeping it naturally germ free!

Grandpa's Fire Fork- £3.95

An ingenious gift for outdoor lovers and campers, this device turns any stick into a toasting fork for campfire marshmallows, toast or bangers.

Cubed Earwax Fudge £5.00

For those with a sick sense of humour, this 'ear wax fudge' and other delights in the range including 'thickest human snot preserve' and 'salt made from the tears of anger' will tickle the taste buds too. Hoxton Street Monster Supplies make this fudge using traditional methods in copper pans over gas flames.  Profits go to support Ministry of Stories, a  voluntary organisation who work with young people aged 8-18 to mentor them and encourage them to write.

Bee Friendly Seeds - £2.89

Any greeny knows that one of the most pressing issues facing our planet is the decline of the bees.  This pack of seed can be grown to encourage and support bee life in our environment.  The seeds can be sown in gardens, open spaces or even a window box and are free from pesticides and insecticides.   100% British wildflower mix.

Oyster Mushroom Windowsill Kit - £9.99

What better way to reduce your food miles than growing you own.  This kit allows you to grow exotic oyster mushrooms on your kitchen windowsill, reducing reliance on supermarkets and excess packaging.

The Green Book - £9.99

Perfect for budding planet-savers this little book is packed with ideas of small, simple changes which will make a big difference.  It's American so there are lots of US references, but that same advice applies anywhere and there are interesting celebrity contributions from the likes of Robert Redford, Will Ferrell, Jennifer Aniston, Martha Stewart, and Justin Timberlake of all people.

Bamboo Thermal Mug - £4.99

Available in a huge range of designs to suit all tastes, this re-usable yet ultimately biodegradable cup will encourage users to ditch the plastic or polystyrene takeaway cups and drink their skinny soya latte with a clean conscience. 

Milk Chocolate Coins - £2

No stocking would be complete without some gold coins.  Although the true eco-warrior may be less than impressed with the excessive packaging of foil wrappers and netting, you can at least make sure they are ethically sourced and fairly traded like these from Divine. Find them in stockists nationwide including supermarkets, Lakeland, health food shops and online.

Catch Up Lessons for a Working Child - £10

For true anti-consumerist and ethical sorts, rather than buying more 'stuff' why not give a charity gift instead?  World Vision offer a few options at £10 including these education lessons for children who have to support their families during normal school hours, or 2 months supply of vital vitamins for a child or pregnant mother, or a blanket to provide vital warmth and comfort. Your gift will come with a card you can pass on to show what you've donated on your recipient's behalf.  Find out more at World Vision.

Friday 11 December 2015

Flower Sprouts - A new addition to the veg scene

It's not often you can announce a new vegetable on the block, but Flower Sprouts are hitting the supermarkets after 15 years of hard work by the team at Tozer Seeds.

Flower Sprout is a non-GMO veg developed through a traditional process of hybridization rather than genetic modification.  Blending together the characteristics of kale and brussels sprouts, the end result is a beautiful new green, resembling a tiny cabbage with frilly leaves and hints of purple colouring.

For anyone who doesn't like traditional sprouts on their Christmas plate, this is the ideal alternative with its sweet and nutty flavour.  They are packed with vitamins too, containing twice the amount of both vitamin B6 and vitamin C compared to traditional sprouts.

They are easy to cook and versatile to use in a host of recipes, they can be steamed, stir-fried, sautéed, roasted or eaten raw.

We've used them as a tasty and pretty accompaniment to our Sunday roast, I've used some to make a delicious, hearty and healthy soup, and I used it as the base for these fun Christmas canapés.

Blending with pancetta and wasabi, these little bite sized treats have the perfect mix of salty bacon, warmth from the wasabi and sweet nutty flavour from the flower sprouts.  You could use this mix to fill ready-made vol au vents or mini savoury tarts for a quick and easy festive nibble.


1 pack Flower Sprouts
65g pancetta
1/2 tsp wasabi paste
1 tsp cream cheese
10 ready made vol au vent cases

Steam the flower spouts for 5 minutes.  Heat your vol au vent cases in the oven following the pack instructions.  Meanwhile pan fry the pancetta until crispy and golden brown.  Drain off excess oil.

Blend the remaining ingredients before filling your cases.

Super-simple, takes less than 10 minutes and even my brussels sprout hating daughter enjoyed these.

Disclosure: I was sent a couple of packs of fresh Flower Sprouts to experiment with.

Monday 7 December 2015

Flavours of Greece - Yiayia's Greek Kitchen Recipe Book Giveaway

A few month's back my lovely friend blogger Sarah Pylas excitedly told me about her plans to publish a recipe book of her Greek family's favourite recipes.  Having sampled some of this amazing food at blogger get-togethers and also at her book launch party, it was a book I couldn't wait to see.

It was fascinating hearing the process and the hurdles a cookery writer has to get through from concept; design; styling; translating and testing right up to getting the book on sale.

It must have been no easy feat actually penning all these recipes which have been handed down through the generations, and usually made by eye and taste rather than with specific measurements, but I'm so glad they did because now not only will their family secrets live on through the coming years, but we get to share in them too.

Flicking through the book I'm instantly taken back to happy holiday memories, sat on cobbled pavements at tavernas on balmy evenings.  Many of the recipes are foods I enjoyed in Cyprus this summer and even just looking at the photos makes me smile.

But don't be fooled into thinking this is a summer recipe book.  The hearty soups are great winter warmers and the meze and dips are perfect for entertaining this Christmas.

Our fallback weekend lunch is usually meze and various dips (picky lunch my daughter calls it), although if I'm being honest I totally cheat and buy it from the supermarket.  With this new book in my clutches I've got no excuse now for not making authentic, additive-free homemade versions of our favourites -taramosalata, tzatziki and houmous.

This weekend I whipped up a batch of melintzanosalata (aubergine dip) and I was delighted how easy snd quick it was to make.  The recipe was simple to follow and easy to adapt - I don't think our non-Greek taste buds are up to quite so much garlic!  It went down very well for lunch and I loved that I could make it with what I had in the fridge without any fancy ingredients, and best of all it was healthy and wholesome with no hidden additives like you'd get in the supermarkets.

Other Greek specialities in the book include keftedakia (meatballs), bourekia (mince filo rolls), calamari (squid), dolmades (stuffed vine leaves) and spanakopita (spinach and cheese pie).

Reading through the book written by Sarah Pylas and her sister-in-law Eva Ryan, you get a real sense of family through the stories and anecdotes that punctuate each dish, and understand that Yiayia (grandmother) is absolutely at the heart of it.  This is the first time that Vasso, the family matriarch has disclosed the secrets of her kitchen, and dishes that have been passed down through the generations.  You feel like you're actually being welcomed into the bosom of the family through this book.

The book is available to purchase now through Amazon. This is definitely one to add to your cookbook shelf, and I'm delighted to say I have a copy to give away to one lucky reader.  Simple complete the rafflecopter below for your chance to win.

Find more information on the website Yiayia's Kouzina.

Giveaway ands midnight Sunday 20th December 2015, open to UK entrants only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway