Sunday, 9 December 2018

Gingerbread House


Cooking: 20-30 mins


125g brown sugar

14 teaspoon salt

270 golden syrup (or substitute with a small amount of honey)

1 1/4 tablespoons ground ginger

80g soft butter

520g  plain flour

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

extra flour for rolling


Preheat oven to 170C.

In a large bowl, beat the sugar, salt, treacle or golden syrup, ginger and butter together with an electric mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and whisk until mixture forms a thick dough.

Place on floured work surface. Roll out to 7-8mm thick. Cut to template shape or use cutters or moulds. Place on a baking tray and bake in oven for 25-35 minutes or until slightly firm to touch and becoming golden. 

Let almost cool on tray and with a hard sharp large flat spatula move to flat surface. Do not move while hot.

Royal Icing for decorating

500g pure icing sugar 

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

3 small egg whites


Place sugar and cream of tartar in medium bowl, add egg whites, mix with an electric mixer until a thick, stiff and white paste, add more icing sugar if necessary. Put in piping bag and use to ensemble house.


Add icing to the base of the pieces, start with the front and lean against side walls. Use heavy glasses to prop up until icing starts to harden. then add the back wall. Allow to harden for approx 30 minutes. The add roof. You can use wooden skewers as beams to brace the roof. Sometimes if you roof is too thick and heavy this us necessary.


Use whatever lollies you like to create the look you want and use the icing to glue them on and create patterns. 

Also try cookie cutters or making mini gingerbread houses.

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Halloween Cookies and Customs

I love Halloween, the dressing up, the spiritual significance, the whimsy and the food. As a family with strong Scottish Celtic and Gaelic roots it’s great to keep this bit of history and tradition alive. 

One of my traditions is to bake my Halloween cookies. I use my sister Melindas recipe and my son and I decorate them together. I’ve added the recipe below. 

However what is Halloween all about? Well it’s certainly not about scary movies and blood and guts as Hollywood movies might have us believe. It has much more spiritual significance and is quite a lovely tradition to share with your children. 

So as children and adults participate in the fun of Halloween on the night of October 31st, few will be aware of its historic Celtic roots in the Samhain (Samain) festival. In Celtic Ireland about 2,000 years ago, Samhain was the division of the year between the lighter half (summer) and the darker half (winter). It is believed at Samhain the division between this world and the otherworld was at its thinnest, allowing spirits to pass through.

Hence family's ancestors were honoured and invited home whilst harmful spirits were warded off. 

People wore costumes and masks to disguise themselves as harmful spirits and thus avoiding harm. Bonfires and food played a large part in the harvest festivities. Food was prepared for the living and the dead, food for the passed ancestors was ritually shared with the less well off, and shared with the children who often collected food for the festivities.


Christianity incorporated the honouring of the dead into the Christian calendar with All Saints (All Hallows) on November 1st, followed by All Souls on November 2nd. The wearing of costumes and masks to ward off harmful spirits survived as Halloween customs. 

So why is it considered such an American custom? The Irish emigrated to America in great numbers during the 19th century especially around the time of famine in Ireland during the 1840's. The Irish carried their Halloween traditions to America. Over time other traditions have blended into Halloween, for example the American harvest time tradition of carving pumpkins. 

So whether you’re from Scottish Gaelic and Celtic ancestors as my family are or Irish, Italian, American we all feel a connection to this celebration and it’s a great way to keep tradition and history alive for our children whilst honouring our departed loved ones. 


Have fun on Halloween, honour your departed loved ones and enjoy the festivities. 

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Add some Cosy Touches to your Minimalist Industrial Look

Let’s face it the minimalist, industrial, urban, Scandinavian decorating style has been done to death....but let’s face it people still love it...I don’t know about you but I’m far more fond of a space that feels cosy and inviting....but before you go and rethink your minimalist look and throw out all your white steel stools let’s have a look at how to capture 
the ultimate blend of cool urban styling with beautiful bohemian warmth. 


The Kitchen Dining Area 

As always the kitchen is the Heart of the home, so adding some warmth where we create memories is vital.
The Dining Table 

This Mango Wood Dining Table adds some weight to an otherwise very white kitchen dining area adding an earth element and grounding the room. Imagine a less solid table, would  that cosy feeling still emanate from this room, I think not. Too much white can feel cold and too many hard surfaces don’t absorb sound so mix it up a bit to rid a space of a stark feeling. 

Dining Area Lighting 

Lighting makes a huge impact but especially don’t underestimate the impact of an oversized or quirky statement pendant light that does not conform to the minimalist decor, this simple trick can completely change the feel of the room.


 Dining Chairs 

Don’t play it safe with dining chairs...why? Let’s face it, chair styles can truly define an era. Haven’t you noticed everybody seems to have the same 5 or 6 styles. So pick something totally unique that fits with your style and personality but make sure it does not add to a starkness in the dining area. 

Accents with a story

If you have created the quintessential urban, minimalist pad, you might have noticed a resulting atmosphere of a doctors waiting room. The multiple hard flat surfaces combined with minimal colour and texture can create a rather hard and cold environment. So an absolute must is to create some nooks and vignettes that break the newness. This can be achieved stunningly  with contemporary textures, colour and decor but to create a focal point, but to add a sense of history, yesteryear or renascence  creates a level of coziness often difficult to achieve with more modern decor choices.

The addition of recycled and worn looking materials like the below oversized mirror frame, the well loved looking occasional chair and the large urns add both warmth and character. You can also try a theme like a few nautical accents or Middle Eastern style hurricane lamps. Be bold with your choices, as the contrast of the minimalist space with these accents  has far more impact when its oversized or on a rather grand scale.

Some oversized planters, lanterns and candelabra that evoke a slightly archeological reference look stunning in a simple setting. Try some of these ideas. 

Add some drama

A careful selection of dramatic art and accents goes a long way in a minimalist space. 
In a simple white space a piece of art can be truly showcased so choose well.

Alternatively choose a mix of vintage, botanical and life nude line drawing, these look stunning in a simple clean space.


Creating a cosy feel in a minimalist space is achievable with these simple ideas. Try them and tell me how you went. We’d love to see your pictures

Friday, 24 August 2018

3 Spring Fashion Trends we Love

Spring Fashion is about having fun. Following the trends is about finding what makes you look and feel great. 

Click on Shop to purchase 

  Shop dress,  Shop jacket,  Shop top
 satin wrap dress      

Shop dress

 Shop top, Shop dress, Shop Bodysuit


Shop top

 Shop dress, Shop romper, Shop skirt



Friday, 20 April 2018

Green Tea ... a miracle cure in a tea pot!

In recent years information and articles on the incredible benefits of natural plants seem to be almost a daily occurrence. Tea’s made from plants particularly piqued my interest.   Green Tea has long  been touted as a miracle drink and is something that I drink almost daily so I'm often asked why I drink it? Many people tell me that they don't like Green Tea but I often explain that it's not about liking it, it's about liking yourself. The immense benefits outweigh any unpleasantness that a little honey or sugar can fix, it's also worth noting that if your Green Tea sits for too long I find it goes bitter, so drink it fresh. Also choose a good quality organic tea, never underestimate how important your choice of tea is, I've had some awful tasting conventional Brand Green Teas in my time.

Sadly much of the clinical research I found and referenced use animals in what was otherwise very positive research outcomes. The upside, research on this beneficial tea and its compounds isn't quite so awful for our furry friends and what is good enough for them is good enough for me. So I've endeavoured to down a pot of green tea each day and see if I felt any different.

My terribly scientific study resulted in me managing to boost my energy levels enough to now walk 8 km a day with a step average of about 18,000 steps a day. I've lost 2 kg and 2 inches off my waist, 1 inch off my bust (not so happy about that) and another inch off my hips. Even more interesting was that I managed to escape the dreaded flu despite my household being struck down with the most ghastly illness…whilst I on the other hand was skipping and whistling in great spirits, feeling energetic and ready to conquered the world. Surely that's got to count for something in clinical research terms. Ok maybe not, but certainly the information I gathered below goes a long way to supporting the notion that anyone wanting to improve their health, fitness, weight, disease prevention and longevity certainly need to take the time to explore potential life altering Herbal Tea options. I know I’ll be keeping Green Tea as part of my lifestyle choices.

So what's all the fuss about Green Tea

Green Tea is loaded with powerful antioxidants, but did you know these substances can reduce the formation of free radicals in the body, protecting cells and molecules from damage. Free radicals are known to play a role in ageing and growth of diseases, so it only makes sense to include green tea in your daily diet.

Further investigation uncovered it fights health problems, ageing and disease including breast cancer, prostate cancer and colorectal cancer, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, even the common flu and oral hygiene issues, Type 2 Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, abdominal fat and it has been proven to assist longevity.

Research has found that women who drank the most green tea had a 22% lower risk of developing breast cancer, the most common cancer in women. One study found that men drinking green tea had a 48% lower risk of developing prostate cancer, which is the most common cancer in men. A study of 69,710 Chinese women found that green tea drinkers had a 57% lower risk of colorectal cancer.

If that's not enough the benefits of the bioactive compounds in green tea can have various protective effects on neurons and may reduce the risk of both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Studies show that the water-soluble polyphenols (frequently referred to as catechins) in Green Tea can kill bacteria and inhibit viruses like the influenza virus, potentially lowering your risk of infections. This anti bacterial property also help prevent plaque formation on the teeth which is a leading contributor to cavities and tooth decay. Further studies have shown Green Tea is effective at reducing bad breath. 

Studies show that green tea can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels. One study in Japanese individuals found that those who drank the most green tea had a 42% lower risk of developing type II diabetes. According to a review of 7 studies with a total of 286,701 individuals, green tea drinkers had an 18% lower risk of becoming diabetic.

Improves brain function and may reduce anxiety

Green Tea contains Caffeine (so don't do what I've done on occasion and had one near bedtime). Caffeine has been intensively studied and consistently leads to improvements in various aspects of brain function, including improved mood, vigilance, reaction time and memory. However... green tea also contains the amino acid L-theanine, which is able to cross the blood-brain barrier and great news for many is that it has anti-anxiety effects. It also increases dopamine and the production of alpha waves in the brain and can actually improve brain function. So if you've got a big report to write, or stress at home and work, maybe choose a Green Tea rather than a coffee to help get you through. 

Helps you Burn Fat

Green tea has been shown to increase fat burning and boost the metabolic rate, in human controlled trials. According The the American Journal of Psychology (Addressing the increase in the global prevalence of obesity) ‘Tools for obesity management include caffeine, ephedrine, capsaicin, and green tea have been proposed as strategies for weight loss and weight maintenance, since they may increase energy expenditure and have been proposed to counteract the decrease in metabolic rate that is present during weight loss.

In fact according to a study published in the NCBI, National Centre for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Information, in 2008 called ‘Green tea extract ingestion, fat oxidation, and glucose tolerance in healthy humans’ the study showed that fat oxidation was increased by 17%, indicating that green tea may selectively increase the burning of fat.

Several studies show that green tea leads to decreases in body fat, especially in the abdominal area. One of these studies was a randomised controlled trial in 240 men and women. It demonstrated that green tea had significant decreases in body fat percentage, body weight, waist circumference and abdominal fat. 

Protects against heart disease

Green tea has been shown to lower total and LDL cholesterol, as well as protect the LDL particles from oxidation. Observational studies show that green tea drinkers have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. In fact green tea drinkers have up to a 31% lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

Increases longevity

Obviously with the amount of health benefits already listed above naturally green tea drinkers increased longevity is a given, however additionally a study of 40,530 Japanese adults (who drank 5 or more cups of green tea per day) were significantly less likely to die during an 11 year period. In fact 23% lower in women, 12% lower in men and death from heart disease: 31% lower in women, 22% lower in men and death from stroke: 42% lower in women.  Another study of 14,001 elderly Japanese men and women aged 65-84 years found that those who drank the most green tea were 76% less likely to die during the 6 year study period.

It’s important to note that higher quality teas may have better quality leaves and greater benefit. Plus research indicates adding milk to tea reduces the benefits. 

For people with anaemia, especially during chemotherapy, it’s important to know that green tea may lower the absorption of iron. This can be avoided by drinking green tea at a time separate from meals, and waiting at least one hour after meals to drink your tea

Helps kill Cancer Stem Cells 

According to papers by Dr. Ajay Goe a Professor and Director of the Center for Gastrointestinal Research and Director of the Center for Translational Genomics and Oncology at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. “Chemo resistance is the Achilles’ heel of cancer treatment, mostly because of cancer stem cells. While chemotherapies kill tumour cells, they leave the cancer stem cells unharmed. With time — anywhere from six months to a few years — those stem cells can cause a relapse. By then, the tumour is usually more aggressive and harder to treat, and the stem cells become “superman” cells because of their resilience. So, since the cancer is stronger, it can come back with a vengeance and patients may not respond to chemotherapy at all. Green tea, though, helps kill these resilient cells because of unique properties in its active ingredient, EGCG.” He recommend that patients with colorectal cancer take EGCG/green tea supplements, or drink the tea as a natural protection.

Improves Postmenopausal Bone Mineral Density

 According to epidemiological studies the bone mineral density (BMD) of postmenopausal women with a habit of tea drinking was higher than that of women without habitual green tea consumption. 

The active ingredient in green tea, EGCG, can prevent and repair cell damage, including stem cells,  green tea can stimulate the genes that activate stem cells.

The benefits of Green Tea as part of our healthy lifestyle is quite evident. Below I've listed just some of the research papers I found if you would like further information. 

(Note: This article is for information purposes only, seek medical or professional advice prior to changing your lifestyle and diet).

Green tea research

In vivo antioxidant effect of green and black tea in man.

Fluoride content in tea and its relationship with tea quality.

The impact of caffeine on mood, cognitive function, performance and hydration: a review of benefits and risks

L-theanine—a unique amino acid of green tea and its relaxation effect in humans

The neuropharmacology of L-theanine(N-ethyl-L-glutamine): a possible neuroprotective and cognitive enhancing agent.

L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state.

Involvement of GABAA Receptors in the Neuroprotective Effect of Theanine on Focal Cerebral Ischemia in Mice

Obesity and thermogenesis related to the consumption of caffeine, ephedrine, capsaicin, and green tea

Green tea extract ingestion, fat oxidation, and glucose tolerance in healthy humans.

Green tea, black tea and breast cancer risk: a meta-analysis of epidemiological studies.


Prospective cohort study of green tea consumption and colorectal cancer risk in women.

Neurological mechanisms of green tea polyphenols in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.

Simultaneous manipulation of multiple brain targets by green tea catechins: a potential neuroprotective strategy for Alzheimer and Parkinson diseases.

Potential Therapeutic Properties of Green Tea Polyphenols in Parkinson’s Disease

The bactericidal activity of tea and coffee

Antimicrobial effects of green tea polyphenols on thermophilic spore-forming bacteria

Anti-influenza virus activity of green tea by-products in vitro and efficacy against influenza virus infection in chickens.

Antiviral effect of catechins in green tea on influenza virus.

Green tea catechins, EGCG and burning fat

Anticaries Effects of Polyphenolic

Combination effects of antibacterial compounds in green tea flavor against Streptococcus mutans

Antibacterial Activity of Iranian Green and Black Tea on Streptococcus Mutans: An In Vitro Study

Green tea: a promising natural product in oral health.

Anticariogenic effects of green tea.

Effect of green tea on volatile sulfur compounds in mouth air.

Effect of tea catechins for halitosis and their application to chewing gum  [1991]

Inhibitory effect of Chinese green tea on endothelial cell-induced LDL oxidation

Inhibitory effect of jasmine green tea epicatechin isomers on LDL-oxidation

Influence of green tea and its three major components upon low-density lipoprotein oxidation

The Relation between Green Tea Consumption and Cardiovascular Disease as Evidenced by Epidemiological Studies

Dietary patterns and cardiovascular disease mortality in Japan: a prospective cohort study

Does Tea Affect Cardiovascular Disease? A Meta-Analysis

A Green Tea Extract High in Catechins Reduces Body Fat and Cardiovascular Risks in Humans

Effects of catechin enriched green tea on body composition.

Effectiveness of green tea on weight reduction in obese Thais: A randomized, controlled trial

Green tea consumption and mortality due to cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all causes in Japan: the Ohsaki study.

Green Tea Consumption and Mortality among Japanese Elderly People: The Prospective Shizuoka Elderly Cohort

How Green Tea kills cancer stem cells

Green Tea helps fight lung cancer

Green tea catechin enhances osteogenesis in a bone marrow mesenchymal stem cell line