Christmas Crafting

Having a bit more time on my hands this year, I managed to get round to some Christmassy crafting for myself! Not nearly as much as I’d hoped still….hopefully I’ll be more organised still next year! I thought I’d share some of my projects though, now that all the gifts have been given and no surprises will be spoiled!…..

Hand stitched personalised Christmas tree ornament gift idea Hand stitched personalised Christmas tree ornament gift idea

First of all, I got my stitch on to make some little embroidered Christmas tree ornaments. It being the year Adam and I got married, I made a little tartan-backed heart which I embroidered with ‘Mr and Mrs McDowall’s First Christmas’….and finding myself rather pleased with it I made another for our friends Claire and Matthew who also got married this year (Claire is Christmas mad like me too!), as well as one for our new niece!

Hand painted salt and pepper shakers with Capybaras

We had some prints made up from the wedding, and the usual doggy calendars for our Mums featuring our own hounds as gifts too. I got a bit more hands on though making some hand painted salt and pepper pots for my Father in Law….annoyingly I forgot to photograph them, but they work on the same principal as the Capybara ones I sell on my Etsy shop, but featuring a gold finch and a green finch as they’re his favourites!

Quick and easy home baked Christmas dog treats; cheese, parsnip and swede stars Quick and easy home baked Christmas dog treats; cheese, parsnip and swede stars

The dogs are never left out in this house, and so I baked some yummy (yes, I tried them myself!) cheese, parsnip and swede star biccies for the six McDowall dogs who live in the UK (I will make it up to Bree in the US I hope one day!). They were super easy to make, so I’ll be making more again soon I’m sure.

Home made Advent calendar idea; a riddle and treasure hunt for each day

I have made some sort of alternative Advent calendar for Adam for a few years now, and this year has been his favourite by far! I wrote out a riddle for each day, giving a clue as to where he could find that day’s treat! He loved working them all out, and searching the house for chocolates and little gifts…his first day’s treat was a pair of tweezers as he’s always pinching mine!

Home made Christmas cards with pet portraits

I also tend to make our Christmas cards too, and this year I painted portraits of our beloved hounds which I turned into cards….I scanned in the paintings, then we had them printed before I attached each to a pretty pastel card with silver photo corners. I was really rather pleased with them actually….not least because I managed to get them out in time for them to be delivered at the start of December this year!

Very easy, home made Christmas crackers in candy stripe

I took to making our own crackers a few years ago, and like to put new and fun things inside each year, as well as changing the way they look. I have been crazy about candy stripes this year, so used that to wrap them (as well as our gifts), then wrote out little jokes to go inside as well as funny stick-on moustaches for everyone to wear in place of hats!

Candy stripe Christmas nail art

Festoon lights Christmas nail art Snowflake Christmas nail art Christmas pudding nail art

I’ve also had more chance to decorate my nails in a festive fashion this year too….not least because they’ve not been covered in glue all the time! I painted tiny festoon lights, little Christmas puddings, pretty snowflakes and of course some candy stripes too….now for a New Year’s Eve design!

Christmas tree at home

I didn’t get round to making a wreath this year as I often do, in part because there wasn’t really anywhere suitable to hang one. I’m rather pleased with our tree though, and the other bits and bobs we’ve decorated with….but mostly I’m looking forward to being in our ‘forever home’ next Christmas so that I can really go to town!

Ems x













Lately…..enjoying the festive season!

A very happy festive season to you all! I do hope you’ve had a great Christmas with lots of relaxing and food and whatnot!

We’ve been enjoying a pretty chilled week on holiday, seeing family, eating lots and slobbing around a fair bit too. It’s been a lovely respite after several weeks of busyness, which I thought I’d quickly catch up on now….

Hand painted Capybara Christmas card by Under a Glass Sky on Etsy

The run up to Christmas is always busy for me, like for lots of people. This year I was better prepared for it though, and managed to stay on top of my orders really well, leaving enough time to enjoy the season too!


As well as all my online sales, I hosted a little stall at a Christmas craft fair at the Otley Courthouse… was a great excuse to break out my Christmas jumper early!

Edinburgh castle on a bright winter's day

At the end of November, Adam drove us up to visit friends in Edinburgh, where we spent a really fun weekend. It was my first ever trip to Scotland (can you believe it?!) so we did all the touristy sightseeing things!

Tourist spots of Edinburgh; Greyfriar's Bobby

Everywhere was getting super Christmassy, with a couple of big Christmas markets in town…it was a wonderful way to start feeling all festive!

Giant Christmas Nutcracker

The following weekend we met up with some friends for a lovely long dog walk at Bolton Abbey. There was even a little Christmas market there, and it was great to catch up with people and enjoy the gorgeous surroundings too.

Bolton Abbey

We also took a Christmassy trip to Harrogate, where a friend was hosting a stall at the big Country Living Christmas Fair. We also stopped in at the Christmas market in the Montpelier Quarter, although it was rather too busy for us to enjoy properly!

Harrogate Christmas Market

December began, of course, with advent calendars! Adam’s Mum always buys us the Cadbury’s ones, and I love having the chocolate with my morning coffee! I made for Adam a treasure hunt advent, whereby he had to solve a riddle each day to find each day’s treat. And for the first time we treated the hounds to a rather specical advent calendar each from Barney’s Biscuit Boxes, which were sold to raise funds for Pup Aid! They were filled with lots of yummy natural treats, which the boys just loved!

Advent calendars for all the family, including the dogs

The Christmas Fair at Leeds Donkey Sanctuary was a great excuse to go and visit, so we went with Adam’s parents, Brother, Sister in Law, and our little niece. We got to meet some of the donkeys who Adam’s Mum adopts, and we adopted some as Christmas gifts and one for ourselves too! There was a donkey ride to see Father Christmas for the children, lots of donkeys to fuss over, and a wonderful cake stall to boot!

Leeds Donkey Sanctuary

The scones from the fair were to die for, and it being the season of frivolity and all, we had some for breakfast the following morning!

Home made scones with tea

We finally got around to hanging our huge map in the living room, which along with the Christmas tree and other decorations made the place look a whole lot brighter!

Giant London map, posing dog

In exchange for help hanging the map, we cooked up a pork belly for friends, which was a good warm up to all the Christmas eating! We also took advantage of the holidays to do lots of baking and cooking, which I always enjoy when we get chance.

Pork belly roasted with maple and fennel

Otley holds a big Victorian Christmas Fayre every year, and so we went to see all that was going on. There were tombolas, crafty things to buy, school choirs on the stage, a Punch and Judy, and several beautiful fair organs which played wonderful Christmas music! We treated ourselves to a hog roast after Adam had tried his luck with most of the tombolas!

Antique Fair Organ

We did a little more exploring locally, looking for places that we might like to call home, and also took our first proper trip into Leeds since we moved! We met up with some local friends and had a wonderful supper at Little Tokyo, then were lucky enough to get the last four tickets to see The Wood Beneath The World….set underneath Leeds Town Hall, the installation-come-promenade experience was incredibly chilling, but also very exciting and inspiring.

The Wood Beneath The World, alternative Christmas experience at Leeds Town Hall crypt

Then on Christmas Eve we bought a house! We’d seen it the weekend prior, and viewed it a second time before making an offer….and some time in the new year we’ll be moving into our very own first home! We are extremely excited to own our own place and have lots of plans for when we get there!

Georgian, double fronted house in West Yorkshire

Christmas morning saw a lovely dog walk, gift unwrapping and a yummy breakfast of duck eggs. Then we went over to Adam’s parents’ place for a big Christmas lunch, with more gifts and festivities.

A hound and his Christmas present

Then in the evening we slobbed out at home….Adam got me lots of Wes Anderson films for Christmas and we started to make our way through those whilst I enjoyed  coffee and cognac (one of my favourites!).


Coffee, Delamain cognac and Wes Anderson films

We headed back to Adam’s parents for a big leftover lunch on boxing day, and today I made us all a cottage pie lunch. In between it’s been more lounging about, eating chocolates and running a few errands. We’ve started watching the extended version of the Lord of the Rings films, which will keep us busy, and we have more plans for the week ahead to look forward to.

I hope you’ve had a great Christmas too!

Ems x





















Our first month in Otley

Hello! From Yorkshire!

Yes, a month ago today we made the move from Hitchin in Hertfordshire, all the way up to the little market town of Otley in West Yorkshire. It was a horrendous move….we collected so much stuff living in such a big place in Hitchin, especially with all the wedding things. Plus it was our first move with the dogs, who have a lot more luggage than you might expect! Still, they were as good as gold during the move and really did us proud.

Dogs in the car on move day

Are we nearly there yet?

Dogs on moving day

All in!

We’re finally getting sorted in the new place though, and have a place for most things and most things in their place….it has been a great opportunity for some serious sorting though and we’ve had lots to Freecycle, donate to charity shops and box up for the car boot sale. And hopefully the next move will be much easier as it won’t be so far away….we very much intend to stay in Yorkshire as we have so many friends and family here, not to mention the fact that we’ll be able to afford a much nicer house than in pricey Hitchin!

My home studio

My new studio….still a bit of sorting to do but I can work in it at least!

We’d not been to Otley ever before our move day, and hadn’t even seen our new house! With such a busy summer we just couldn’t get the time together to do a proper scout as we usually would, and were lucky enough to have some family and friends view a few places for us. Our dear friend Craig actually came to see this place and said we’d love it….and we do! Thanks Craig!

Otley is a lot like Hitchin really. It’s a market town with lots going on, but also has the advantage of quick and easy access to the countryside. My morning walk with the dogs is just perfect….we’re a few moments away from a playing field which we walk through first, then a little river side park before we get to the gorgeous formal gardens (and playground!) and then wonderful fields for the hounds to race around, as well as lots of places for them to dip into the river….Digby has even had his first proper swim (so proud!)! We’ve seen Kingfishers along the river and I’m told you can see otters if you’re out early enough too….fingers crossed!

Swimming dog in the River Wharfe

Digby taking a swim in the goregous river Wharfe

Being a little more remote we decided we’d finally have to get a car, which means we can explore other places for our walks too. We’ve taken to driving to the stunning Chevin Forest, just two minutes away, for our afternoon walk. The dogs love exploring all the winding paths, and we adore the views from up there. There’s even an ice cream van waiting at the summit, which is a great treat after the climb! The Chevin is actually thought to have been an inspiration for some of Turner’s paintings, and I love having that connection!

The view of Otley from the Chevin Forest

The view of Otley from the Chevin Forest

We’re hoping to explore some of the nearby places too before long….I love Skipton and the Dales which are now very close, and then there’s the Keighley Railway (famous for appearing in the Railway Children!), Bronte country in the pretty village of Haworth, nearby Ilkley and its Darwin Gardens and stunning moorland, plus more of Leeds which I love for food and shopping.

There’s plenty to do in Otley too, and we’ve been enjoying getting to know it. There’s a regular market which I’ve been going to for our fruit and vegetables, plus a monthly Farmer’s market which is just wonderful, and a craft market in the Old Courthouse. There are stacks of tea rooms and plenty of good pubs….all of which we have vowed to try out, although that may take us some time!

Otley Farmers Market

Shopping at Otley Farmers Market

All natural dog treat

Cooper ready for a treat from the Farmers Market!

giant yorkshire pudding filled with chips and gravy

My kinda grub….local ‘delicacy’ of giant yorkshire pudding filled with chips and gravy

Otley Folk Festival

Dancers outside the Court House Project for the Otley Folk Festival

Adam has joined the Otley Camera Club, which is celebrating its 75th year, and we’re hoping to find local dance classes and an archery club too. I’ve been loving all the gorgeous galleries in town, and there’s a Sunday car boot within walking distance, plus several more we can explore in the car. We’re looking forward to some upcoming events as well….there’s a science fair and beer festival very soon and a Victorian fair at Christmas, plus food festivals, arts events and all sorts in the new year. Oh, and we checked out the Vintage Transport Extravaganza too which was super!

Otley Old Grammar School gallery

Art this way, at The Old Grammar School gallery

Ice cream at the Otley car boot sale

Me with my ice cream at the car boot sale. There’s ice cream everywhere here!

Otley Vintage Transport Extravaganza

At the Otley Vintage Transport Extravaganza

We’re celebrating our first month here with a trip to the wonderful sounding vegetarian restaurant, The Cheerful Chilli, up on the Chevin tomorrow night….it’ll be such a treat to have so much to choose from for a change and I’m looking forward to trying it out! Then it’ll be more exploring for potential places for us to settle down in….the plan is to buy a place within the next year, so we want to get a flavour for where in Yorkshire should get to keep us!

That’s all for now, but I’m sure I’ll have lots to share about our new town soon. Have a lush weekend!

Ems x

Twelfth Night

That’s it. All over again for another year.

I hate this bit. The Christmas come-down. Yesterday was spent packing away the decorations, finishing off the festive treats and generally de-Christmassing the place. So sad.

I thought though to help perk me up a bit, I’d look back over the Christmas snaps I took. Here’s how I spent the last couple of weeks…..


Our tree in all its glory!


I was also allowed a second tree this year….for all my tacky decorations!


I wrapped gifts in pretty bright colours this year, labelled with my new label maker and finished off with all-important glitter tape!


Gifts for our friends ready ahead of our annual Christmas party.


We made extremely yummy Sloe chocolate for friends, made from the sloes we used in last year’s gin and this year’s port! Boozy!


We added home made Cinnamon and Frankinsence vodkas to the chocolate, and topped off with a home stitched tree decoration, they became our little Christmas mini-hampers this year.


Hitchin got a German style Christmas market this year, but I was disappointed they didn’t have Lebkuchen or Kartoffelpuffer!


We made up for that slightly by drinking lots of lush Gluhwein in the mugs we got at the Christkindlmarkts in Vienna last year!


And of course, MUCH chocolate was consumed. Including this smug looking Milky Bar Kid.


My Mummy came to visit over Christmas, as did Adam’s parents, eldest brother and sister in law. The dogs enjoyed the extra attention no end!


Father Christmas made a HUGE delivery to our house!


My haul! And it was the first Christmas I didn’t have to wish for a puppy!

Hope you had a fabulously festive time too!

Ems x

Living for the weekend….dealing with the post Christmas blues

That sky is grey again. And it’s all cold out there (and not in a Christmassy-winter-wonderland way). Still, the weekend is already here, and so I’ve been thinking of ways to fill it with fun stuff to take my mind off the fact it’s no longer Christmas. (Yes, I *am* still talking about Christmas, sorry)…..

Planning for the year

January is always full of the dulls. Everyone is shattered after the festivities, low on funds, and trying to catch up and get back to normal. But I find that there’s nothing like having something to look forward to to cheer me up, so I’ve been enjoying making lots of plans. I’ve bought tickets, made bookings, and started organising fun adventures to keep me busy and excited for the months to come. Get your diaries out!


DIY Projects

With all the Christmas decorations gone, I know I’m looking forward to sprucing up the house a bit and starting work on some little DIY projects I’ve been planning. We have a Welsh dresser to sand and paint, and a few little tables and plant stands that I want to make-over. It’s a cheap and fun way to spend time, and you get the reward of something pretty to brighten your home at the end of it!

Bring in the Spring!

I don’t know about you, but I’m aching for the new season already! I’m bored of the cold and grey, and I want to see the Spring flowers come up. I’ve instigated this ahead of schedule by buying some lovely stocks to brighten up and scent the house…they look great in the Moomin Papa hat vase that I got for Christmas!


Baking and Cooking

I know that every other person is on some kind of diet or detox, but I firmly believe that in order not to go cold turkey, you need to slowly wind down from the festive gluttony. I’m still not used to *not* having a pudding after every meal (yes, including breakfast) and being surrounded by naughty treats. And so to ween myself off, and hopefully shed a few of the holiday pounds, I think it’s only sensible to get doing some good home cooking and baking. You’re more in control when you make it yourself, so you can start to think more healthy and reduce portions, whilst still technically treating yourself and avoiding going into complete withdrawal! I have had some success with new recipes, including making French Onion soup for the first time in years….yum!


Check on those resolutions!

It’s not too late to revise them, so have another look at whatever list you may have made and think about how realistic it all is. If you’re getting on well, well done you! If not so much, there’s no shame in re-working your list….you’ll do better for it in the end! I have done OK so far…..I have started getting myself sorted by way of a spider diagram (LOVE THEM), as well as playing around with the new pop-up studio Adam gave me for Christmas to help with my photography!



Go for a walk

I’d much rather kick off the new year with a nice country walk than a fad diet or detox. It’s far more fun and much easier to stick with too! The weather has been pretty gruesome all told, but the rain seems to be staying away rather more at the minute so why not take a nice long stroll this weekend? Extra points for finding a pub lunch along your way!

Whatever you get up to, I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Happy adventuring,

Ems x

Most depressing day of the year?!….packing up Christmas

So that’s it. Over. *Actually* over. Today is Epiphany, and so the Christmas decorations are down and packed away. How. Very. Dull.

I always find this time of year rather gloomy….all the excitement of Christmas has passed, and the house looks really empty and blank with all the decorations gone. I know it’ll feel like home again soon, but I can’t help but miss having the place full of Christmas cheer.

And so, I thought I’d immortalise our Christmas decorations by sharing them here…..


I was rather pleased with our wreath, which we made from scratch using off-cuts from the tree. It was lots of fun to make and lasted really well, so I’ll definitely make ours again next year.


We brought the greenery indoors too, as is a tradition of mine, filling the mantlepiece in the sitting room with holly from our garden.


Things got moved around a bit to make room for the tree, so the sewing table took a holiday in the sitting room, and got decorated with pretty little birds and the starlight we got from Vienna.


I always think this little chap looks a bit grumpy. He’s still pretty Festive though.


As well as the holly, we put candlesticks and my mini pine cone Christmas tree on the mantle, and I made a little festoon of tartan hearts too.


Because I still had foliage left over after the wreath and the mantelpieces, I made up some little flower filled jam jars to dot about.


I was probably most sad of all to take down the paper chains we made. They were so fun and festive in red, white, gold and green. The sitting room looks very plain now without them….we must get some pictures up in here!


I made some short strings of bunting using Christmas cards to go over the doors and across the mantelpieces in the upstairs rooms. I do love my bunting.


Our tree took pride of place in the front bay window and was decked out in all manner of home made decorations I’ve collected over the years. It was a massive eight-footer…the biggest I’ve ever had! Our fairy was a gift from Adam’s mum, a stunning Victorian china doll kitted out with wings and (real!) curly red hair. I love her, but most people find her a bit scary!


I made these 2012 tree ornaments as gifts, but left us one spare to keep ourselves!


Capybaras are Adam’s favourite, so I made him this ornament which he found in the advent calender I made for him too.


As well as the tartan hearts, I made us lots of little hearts from a wonderful vintage fabric I was given. I just love all the clashing colours!


There wasn’t enough room to keep my cloche collection on the dining table as usual, so they got moved to a side table and filled with a little laser cut tree and some pine cones.


The dining room mantlepiece was adorned with ivy I collected from the garden, and finished with swags of red satin ribbon and poinsettias. It was rather Lady Havisham-esque!


I laid the table for Christmas lunch with our deep purple table linen, our mis-matched china, cutlery and glasses, and hand made crackers with personalised gifts in them.


In the hallway I had some more flowers, and found a home for one of my favourite decorations….my super-glittery red reindeer!


And over the door to the boot cupboard, beneath our ‘Capybaras in love’ picture, I hung a big bunch of mistletoe with a pretty checked ribbon.

Have you packed Christmas up? Have you run out of Christmas treats yet?! We are about to eat the last two mince pies (not counting the batch I have in the freezer!).

Ems x


Festive Salutations!

I trust you all had a splendid Christmas?! What did you get up to? Did Father Christmas bring you nice things? And did you gorge yourself on Christmassy foods as tradition dictates?!

Well what a fabulous Christmas I’ve had! I was so delighted to be able to host Christmas in our new home and to have all of Adam’s family over to share it with us….it’s been wonderful! Adam’s brother and sister-in-law arrived late last week, along with their two gorgeous dogs (Peanut and Buddy, both darling little Staffies) and since then we’ve been scoffing ourselves silly on various meals and snacks, walking the dogs, and lazing about.

For Christmas day ‘proper’ we also had Adam’s parents over for the day, and Adam and I made our first Christmas lunch together! We cooked a huge gammon joint (thanks Jo at Breakheart Hill Farm!), a monstrous chicken, roasties, pigs in blankets, and stacks of veg….all followed by my home made Christmas pudding (my first one!). Everything was super yummy, and the house felt so wonderfully Christmassy full of people (and dogs!) and with all the decorations we put up.

I was a very lucky girl and received some gorgeous gifts, including (but not limited to!)…… a pretty Rob Ryan mug, a Moomin Papa hat vase, an amazing antique writing set (which Adam’s Dad had actually put toegther for me), a Lindor fondue set, some books and my favourite….a Totoro onesie!

Me modelling my beloved Totoro onesie by the tree!

It’s traditional in my family to have a yummy Christmas Day supper, despite having a huge lunch and various treats throughout the day! Adam promised me that his family never even thought about eating such a meal and that I needn’t go to any trouble to serve up any more food after lunch. However, I went ahead and brought out the cold meats left over from lunch, as well as pickles and cheese and whatnot, and everyone was delighted to tuck into a little something alongside a glass of Port! Adam and his brother also whipped up some delicious eggnogs for us, which went down very well….especially with the dogs! The rest of the evening was spent lazing around in the living room, having cuddles with the dogs and watching Lord of the Rings. It was such a blissful day all in all!

Super delish eggnog!

Begging for a share in my Christmas supper!

Boxing Day morning saw our sad farewell to our house guests (we were saddest of all to see the dogs go!)….I will miss snuggly warm cuddles with them, their excellent begging skills, walks in the countryside and even their early morning wake up calls / assaults (they took to sneaking upstairs first thing and jumping on our bed to give us lots of kisses!). We weren’t lonely for long though, as our dear friend Hannah popped over for a cuppa and some Lebkuchen, as well as a tour of the new house. Hannah had also made us a marvelous hamper full of home made treats including sea salt crackers, fig and walnut balls, quince jelly, spiced peaches, preserved tomatoes, chocolate fudge and almond biscuits! I can’t wait to dive in and try them all!

Afterwards, I sat and wrote some thank you notes using my gorgeous new writing set, whilst drinking lots more tea and scoffing left overs (one of my favourite bits of Christmas!). Later we’re off out for our dinner so we’ll not have to bother cooking, then I think it’ll be a nice loungey evening with a film and an early night before we head out for some sales shopping tomorrow….Hobbycraft look out!

Writing my thank yous with my beautiful antique writing set

Finally getting around to using my letter seal!

Catching up…. a week (or so) in Instagram

It’s been a busy couple of weeks with Christmas orders, preparations and hosting, hence the radio silence here on my blog. Still, there’s been plenty going on, and so I thought I’d catch you up with a round up of my latest Instagram posts…..

I enjoyed baking up a batch of Lebkuchen for the Domestic Sluttery Just Desserts club….we devoured most of them ourselves but managed to save a few to share with guests!

We had our Christmas party and house warming the weekend before last, and loved having more guests to stay over as well as a very merry bunch for a festive supper. There were crackers too.

We spotted Father Christmas himself at the market whilst out doing some Christmas shopping. I was worried he was leaving it a bit late!

We met (again) and fell in love with (again) the local Greyhound Rescue bunch….the dogs were all kitted out for the festive season!

I spent lots of time last week readying the house for our guests as well as making last minute Christmas gifts and orders. I most enjoyed making a little Wonderland inspired jam jar, as I’ve been meaning to do one for ages!

You know it’s Christmas time when you have jelly beans for breakfast (thanks Mark!)……

…..and cupcakes for lunch! (thanks Brigitte!)

I painted my nails all Christmassy for a friend’s Christmas party, but we couldn’t go in the end because the trains were all cancelled into London!

Despite my busyness, we still popped to the antiques market on Friday, where I was lucky enough to find this wonderful haul of vintage cameras!

I also fell in love with this gorgeous little cruet set I got…super cute!

We’ve been spying our chances in between the rain to go out for walks with the dogs….we have two staying with us for Christmas along with their owners, Adam’s brother and sister in law

Adam got rather stuck in the mud on one walk though as it had been so rainy! He was stranded for a while and nearly lost a boot!

I made up the mince pies with the mince meat I prepared months ago, and have been feeding weekly with brandy! They are pretty good!

We’ve been loving having the ‘young uns’ to stay…..they got giant knuckles or ‘Postman’s Knee Caps’ as early Christmas pressies!

Buddy has been loving our nice long garden, and my throwing lots of balls for him!

Adam’s brother and sister in law brought LOTS of treats with them, so we have been gorging ourselves!

Yesterday I planned out our Christmas lunch, noting down a time line of when to do everything and sticking labels onto pots and pans and dishes to reserve them!

We went over to Adam’s parents’ last night for a roast lamb dinner….Peanut enjoyed meeting a very attractive new friend there!

Supper was concluded with a delicious pudding of Bannoffee Pie and Butter Cream Meringues. I am still full!

I hope you have been enjoying the build up to Christmas and you’re all set for the big day too!

Ems x

Domestic Sluttery Just Desserts Club….. Christmas Lebkuchen


I was so excited to have another great excuse to do some baking, in the shape of Domestic Sluttery’s Just Desserts Club. Not that I usually struggle for an excuse….there’s always one to be found somehow! Still, with a Christmassy theme of ‘Cinnamon’ I just couldn’t pass up the chance to get involved again!

I had initially thought I’d bake the yummy German biscuits we had made after our trip to Berlin last year (we bought Ampelmann cookie cutters and had to try them out!) as they are deliciously filled with festive cinnamon. We have also been making cinnamon flavoured vodka, but that’s not *really* a dessert, and it’s not really a recipe when all you do is shove some cinnamon sticks into a bottle of vodka! So, after scoffing up lots of the wonderfully Christmassy offerings on our recent trip to Vienna, I couldn’t think of anything more fitting (or tempting) to bake than Lebkuchen. I absolutely adore their wintery spice flavour, and love the soft texture and crisp sugary coating. The ones we brought back from Vienna lasted no time at all, so I was more than happy to get baking some!

I started out with this recipe on BBC Good Food, which was recommended to me by a fellow Lebkuchen lover. She did warn that the texture would be a little different to what we’d bought in Austria, so I tweaked the recipe to make them more like I enjoy them, and of course I just had to add an extra chocolate coating to make them more authentic still. Here’s my version of the recipe and how I made them…..

You will need (to make about 30 little biscuits)…..

  • 250g plain flour
  • 85g ground almonds
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 heaped teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 8 cloves, ground fine
  • 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 200ml clear, runny honey
  • 85g salted butter
  • The finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 100g dark melting / cooking chocolate
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 1 egg white

How to make them…..

  1. Tip all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix
  2. Melt the butter into the honey, either in a pan over a low heat or in a measuring jug in the microwave
  3. Pour the wet mixture into the dry and mix well
  4. Stir in the lemon zest and combine to form a solid dough
  5. Cover the dough and pop in the fridge to cool for 15 to 20 minutes
  6. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius / Gas Mark 4, and line two baking sheets with baking parchment
  7. Once cooled, roll the dough into little 3cm diameter balls with your hands…. you should get around 30
  8. Place them on the baking parchment lined trays, at least 5cm apart (you may need a third tray to ensure they are spread out enough)
  9. Squash each one down to flatten it into a disc, about 1.5 cm deep
  10. Bake them in the oven for about 12 minutes, or until they are golden brown
  11. Whilst they cool a little on a wire rack, melt your chocolate over a Bain Marie
  12. Lay your biscuits face down on the wire rack and coat the flat underside of each with the melted chocolate using a teaspoon
  13. Once they have cooled again and the chocolate has gone solid, flip them back over the right way up ready to ice them
  14. Whisk together the icing sugar and egg white, adding about 1 tablespoon of water so that you have a smooth and runny mixture
  15. Using a teaspoon again, coat each biscuit with the icing, spreading it over the face of each one so that you have a nice fine coating
  16. Decorate if you like with more melted chocolate or hundreds and thousands….you can even add a little colouring to the icing to make pink ones like we had in Vienna!

Happy baking!

Ems x

Wednesday Wants….. Christmas Tree Ornaments

I’m afraid I’m not one of those people who carefully styles their themed Christmas tree in matching colours and with perfectly chosen decorations. My tree always has been, and always will be, a mish-mash of home made bits and bobs of all shapes, sizes and colours. If I ever have a second tree for Christmas, I will no doubt dress it immaculately in coordinated adornments, but until then it’s home-made charm all the way! And so, with that in mind, I’ve been spying a few Christmas tree ornaments that would fit nicely with my no-theme theme……

I think these are just brilliant. Cute and funny, and sort of traditional in a quirky way, these sets of Victorian style chenille dog and cat ornaments are handmade and designed by Old World Primitives and sold on Etsy. Each little face is a Victorian era image, mounted onto little chenile bodies. They are just so wonderfully different and charming…..and they’d fit in with my other ornaments beautifully! The cats are £6.37 for a set of two (plus £4.43 shipping to the UK) and the dogs come as a set of three for £7.64 (plus the same shipping). I love them!

There’s something so wonderfully decadent about this beaded bauble by Creative Treasures on Folksy. Hand woven using tiny seed beads in a Russian Leaf design, it’s brilliantly Deco and rather reminds me of a 30s chandelier or head dress! Its utter glitzyness would definitely make it at home with my other decorations! It’s £8.50 with £2.70 shipping to the UK.

This last one is just so much fun! I love the idea of Father Christmas delivering presents on his own space rocket! The design rather reminds me of the little ornaments I made from model clay a few years ago….I made jolly, fat Father Christmases, snow men and reindeer….unfortunately they are all a little damaged now after moving house a few times so they need some TLC! In the mean time though, this personalised one by Chantal Davenport on Not on the High Street would fill the gap brilliantly! It’s £11.50 with UK shipping at £2.75.

How do you like to decorate your tree? Do you have lots of hand-made ornaments, or do you have a proper colour scheme and theme?!
Ems x