Archive: Feb 2015

  1. The perfect Mother’s Day gift

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    Just for mum

    My memories of Mother’s Day when I was younger are a little fuzzy. I remember gathering wildflowers to make bouquets and making increasingly elaborate cards every year. But I didn’t grasp just how much my mum did for me until I became a mother myself – and the recipient of sticky hugs and works of ‘art’ on Mother’s Day. Chocolates and flowers are always a welcome gift but you can make them even more personal by making delicious chocolate truffles yourself. They are ridiculously quick and easy to make so younger children can get involved and help out, too.

    Chocolates

    Made with love

    In a microwave-safe jug, heat 95ml double cream and a couple of drops of coconut extract (or vanilla if you prefer) in a microwave for 30 seconds. Chop 300g good quality white chocolate into small pieces, put in a microwave-safe bowl and pour over the warm cream mixture. Let it stand for a couple of minutes then stir and microwave for another 30 seconds and stir again until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Chill in the fridge for 1 hour until you are ready to gift them. Mix together 100g desiccated coconut and 1-2 tsp edible glitter (optional) in a shallow bowl. Quickly roll a teaspoon of the chocolate mixture in the palm of your hand to make a small ball then quickly roll in the coconut – you must work fast. Put on a baking tray and repeat until you have 30 truffles. Chill in the fridge until you’re ready to wrap them up for your mum.

    Chocolates in a mug

    The perfect gift for mum

    Homemade truffles are so pretty when presented in something your mum can use again and again. I’ve popped mine in a mug inscribed with a heartfelt message and heart-shaped ceramic measuring cups and spoons, and have arranged a bunch of pretty flowers in a floral mug. Wrap the truffle gifts in clear cellophane and tie with a ribbon – elaborate handmade card, optional!

    1. In bloom mug, £4 | 2. ‘Thanks for all the lovely things you do for me’ mug, £4 | 3. Set of 4 heart-shaped measuring cups, £8 | 4. Set of 4 heart-shaped measuring spoons, £6 Available in selected stores.

    See more ideas on Lucy Parissi’s website.

  2. How to… make perfect pancakes on Shrove Tuesday

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    Ready, set, flip!

    I’ve yet to meet a person who doesn’t love a pancake – and Pancake Day is one of the more fun, family-friendly events on the foodie calendar. The secret to getting perfect pancakes every time is having a failsafe pancake recipe and the right tools for the job – starting, of course, with the pan itself.

    You can’t have a pancake without a pan, and the nonstick, enamel coating on this induction frying pan ensures they slide out perfectly every time – plus, you won’t need as much oil or butter. It even has an ergonomically designed soft-touch handle – just the thing for all that flipping!

    Pancake in a frying pan

    Essential pancake-making kit

    For perfect classic pancakes every time you’ll need just four ingredients (flour, eggs, milk and baking powder) and four clever bits of kitchen kit (a mixing bowl, whisk, spatula and citrus reamer for squeezing over lemon juice).

    1. Soft-grip whisk, £4 | 2. Large non-slip mixing bowl with pourer, £6 | 3. Soft-grip turner, £4 | 4. Wooden citrus reamer, £2.50

    Pancake accessories

    Top it off

    The beauty of pancakes lies in their simplicity – get the recipe right and you can go to town flavouring your batter and experimenting with toppings. Whether you like sweet or savoury, rolled up or folded, make your pancakes as unique as you are. Try these wholemeal pancakes with spinach, bacon and cheese, or cinnamon pancakes with apple and blackberries.

    Pancake recipes

  3. How to… celebrate Chinese New Year 2015 in style

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    Set a stylish table

    It’s time to raise a glass to the sheep! Chinese New Year, the Year of the Sheep, falls on 19 February and I’ll be cooking up a special family feast to celebrate. To make it a bit more special, I’ll serve my family’s favourite Chinese dishes on oriental themed crockery, and brew some traditional green tea to serve with the meal.

    1. Set of 4 ceramic spoons, £8 | 2. Large bowl, £7 | 3. Oval platter, £12. Available in selected stores

    Chine New Year Homeware

    Paper table decorations

    One of the best bits about Chinese New Year celebrations are all those paper decorations – the lanterns, fans and envelopes – so I’ve taken inspiration from them to add a personal touch to my table. I start by layering brightly coloured paper to use as placemats, then use the paper trimmings to create matching accessories.

    Chinese New Year

    Make it yourself

    To make chopstick holders, I cut rectangles of paper measuring 20cm x 7cm and fold them to make a narrow envelope that’s sealed at the bottom with tape. Next, I insert a contrasting paper rectangle in the fold and secure with string then slot the chopsticks into the top. I also wrap strips of paper around small glass jars – they make great vases and tea light holders.

    Kettle

  4. Fancy doing something different to celebrate Valentine’s Day?

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    I love Valentine’s Day. It’s the perfect excuse to spoil – and be spoilt – by the one you love. It’s a shame the day is sometimes associated with pressure to impress when it should be about nothing more than small gestures of appreciation. I have a young son, so I look forward to spending my ‘date night’ as a family with
    a tasty home-cooked meal in the evening, but there are loads of other unique ways to make it special.

    Start the day with a romantic breakfast

    Having someone cook for you at home is such a lovely, relaxing way to celebrate Valentine’s Day so don’t underestimate it – especially when it involves a lie-in! Serve an elegant breakfast in bed on our heart-shaped crockery – the tiered cake stand is perfect for a Parisian-themed feast of croissants and pains au chocolat.
    1. Heart cake stand, £10 | 2. Heart dinner plate, £8 | 3. Heart teapot, £6

    Moules

    Plan a date night at home

    Going out in the evening on Valentine’s can be an expensive, crowded nightmare. If, like me, you have a little one to tuck up in bed, staying in is far more appealing. But there’s no reason why you can’t make a night at home special. Food you can share is ultra-romantic – serve mussels for two in our special moules pot. Afterwards, recreate a trip to the cinema by lighting a few candles, streaming a romantic film from sainsburysentertainment.co.uk and snuggling up together on the sofa.

    Valentine's Day gifts

    Choose a gift with year-round appeal

    True love lasts well beyond Valentine’s Day so choose a gift that won’t look out of place once Cupid has hung up his bow. Heart motifs are a big homewares trend in 2015 and we have a fab range of wall plaques and decorative wooden blocks that will add a romantic touch to your home all year round. Typography is also a lasting trend for 2015 – these wooden blocks look great on a mantelpiece, side table or bookshelf.

    1. Large stackable blocks, £15 | 2. ‘Morning gorgeous’ and ‘Morning handsome’ plates, £4 | 3. Hand-painted ‘Love you’ mug, £4 | 4. ‘You & Me’ wooden blocks, £8

  5. Hot trend… hanging pictures in groups

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    Via apartmenttherapy.com

    Get the hang of arranging frames

    The days of hanging identical frames in neat and tidy rows are long gone. Displaying an eclectic jumble of frames showing off everything from photos, artworks, memorabilia and even pressed flowers is a key look for 2015. The trick to pulling it off so it looks less jumble sale and more style success lies in a few simple rules.

    • •For a sense of order without appearing too formal, arrange different or odd-shaped frames within an invisible square or rectangle ‘border’.
    • Don’t worry about the spacing between each frame – it doesn’t have to be even, but leave enough space between so it’s not too hard on the eyes. Also, avoid unbroken paths of space running between the frames.
    • If you find yourself with a large gap at the end, simply hang something other than a frame. A sprig of faux flowers, a pretty garland, candle sconces and decorative wooden shapes all look great.

    Best buy picture frames

    Mix and match frames

    There are as many different frames around as there are pictures to go in them. Although varying the frames themselves adds a lot of impact, they should all have a cohesive feel so as not to distract too much from what’s inside the frame. A canny trick is to mix and match the thickness, size and shape of the frames but keep one element the same. For example, keep the colour of the mount boards the same or select frames made from the same finish such as warming wood (see above) or reflective metal (see below, available in selected stores).

    1. Large rectangle wood frame, £20 (available in selected stores | 2. Set of 3 carved hanging hearts, £10 (available in selected stores | 3. Carved hanging star, £8 | 4. Open wood frame, £12

    Mirrored picture frame