Saturday, 10 December 2016

A Guide to Christmas Decorations - Part 2 - Crystal Clear




Naturally, when we think of Christmas we think of over-stated, over the top, over-crowed decorations. Everything is loud, nothing really matches and your lovely home decor is completely overshadowed by the Christmas chaos


It's a beautiful time of the year, and there's no reason why the decorations cannot match the rest of your decor. But it's far easier said than done, but with so many Christmas decorations with all sorts of colours, it's hard to create an under-stated look.


Well, that's where whites and lights come in. 



We know what you're thinking. 'That's not Christmas, it's too boring!', well, we are here to tell you to re-think your decorating habits. White is still really Christmassy (think of the white Christmas that never actually happens here in the UK), and is the perfect primary colour. 

White: 


White ornaments, baubles, flowers, candles and lights are the ultimate way to achieve the simplicity that will match your interior


Crystal & Silver: 

 

Christmas is all about glitter; you can never have too much of it. We know you won't be able to resist some sparkle, it is Christmas after all! Silver is about to become your favourite colour. Add plenty of silvers to your decorations and you will have a bit of magic that will blend perfectly. Or, if glitter really isn't your thing (we know there are some of you out there!) then you can opt for a subtle decorate approach through the use of crystal. It's plain, yet decorative and will compliment a white theme beautifully. 

Chrome and gold:

Now, you will be pleased to know that 'all-white' doesn't really mean that everything has to be white. The trick is to add colours that compliment a plain theme; chrome and gold do this perfectly. It's a great way to add the traditions you love, without drowning out the plain theme. 















Lights: 

The best way to brighten up your decorations, without adding too much. is to use lights with a warm colour. White lights with white decor may be too harsh, but warm lights will soften the decor and make a far more homely look


So there you have it, a truly white Christmas (we can't rely on the snow now can we!?) 


All decorations can be found at Nocutts

Saturday, 3 December 2016

A Guide to Christmas Decorations - Part 1 - Vintage Elegance


Christmas is all about tradition. Naturally, we are guilty of pulling out the same old decorations box each year, just to make it feel like a 'real' Christmas. But it would come as no surprise if the mismatch tree sticks out like a sore thumb in your the midst of your elegant interior.

There's no reason why your decorations can't still feel Christmassy, as well as complimenting the style of your home. Often, we associate decorating for Christmas with the brightest colours we can find (none of which compliment each other!). But you can still have a traditional, Christmassy decoration using pastels, neutrals and shine that is slightly more subtle than the loud tinsel you are used to using.



Not convinced? Still feel yourself itching to get down the Christmas box that is buried in the depths of your loft? 

Here's some inspiration to persuade you to decorate your home with 'vintage elegance' this year.

Silvers: 

The absolute key to Vintage Elegance is to make silver your primary colour. Starting with a simple, plain base adds elegance, which can be layered upon to add vintage character. 

Make sure large decorations are silver, your lights have a white cord with a warm coloured bulb and you will have the perfect start to your theme. 



Purple: 

Deep purples are the perfect compliment to your silver base. Mix a range of purple, violet and dark pink's and an elegance is naturally created. 

Natural, pastel colours create a serene atmosphere within your decor and create fabulous sophistication as a result. 

White: 


Too much silver and purple can take away from the softer feel and create a look that is too 'busy'. Add in whites and you can have the best of both worlds; colour and simplicity. 

Whether you opt for white lights or white decorations, a little bit of plain acts at the perfect balance to your elegant look





Flowers:

Use of floral design elements is the most important decoration when it comes to vintage elegance. Pretty, decorative and subtle they offer the desired look with little effort. 

Simply creating flower arrangements, using pastels and purples, or placing them in your tree you can achieve an expensive look at a low cost

Mix complimenting colours, creating a contrast of soft and dark, add silver for sparkle and you have a beautiful, simple arrangement




So there you have it, a few little shopping changes and you can turn your old-fashioned, dated Christmas into one that is modern, yet beautifully elegant.

All decorations can be found at Nocutts


Sunday, 20 November 2016

Party Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes


Peanut butter, great. Chocolate, great. But together? Mixed and spread on top of a delicious vanilla cupcake. What could be better?

These cupcakes are full of crunch, flavour and yep you guessed it... are as sickly as you would want them to be!

The finished result looks great fun and would be the perfect treat for a children's birthday party (or an adult one too!). They are super easy to make and the ultimate cake for the messy baker (you don't have to worry about your icing skills here, the fun topping hides it all anyway!).

So where to get started?



The good news is that while these cupcakes make look super impressive, they are actually really basic. The cupcake itself is just your plain, old cupcake recipe. We got ours from here. But as we are talking peanut butter cupcakes here, feel free to opt for a peanut butter cupcake recipe like this one


What's different about these little delights, is the all important icing. Usually, peanut butter cupcakes combine peanut butter with icing sugar to get the peanut flavour. We say that's nowhere near as indulgent as we would like it to be! Mix it with chocolate instead. 

Chocolate icing is super easy to make, give it a go with this simple recipe. Or, you can be lazy like us (we just had leftovers okay!) and use the good old Betty Crocker chocolate fudge icing

For this recipe you will need half a tub. Or, for those of you making your icing at home 395g. 

Next up, the peanut butter. 



5-6 teaspoons of natural peanut butter needs to be mixed in with the chocolate icing. It is worth bearing in mind that the peanut butter really should be natural (made entirely of peanuts and nothing else), due to the excess oils making it mix better with the fudgey chocolate (yep that does taste as good as it sounds!). Keep tasting (the hardest part of the recipe right there!) until you think you have the perfect/peanut butter balance... 

Next add the icing into a piping bag. 


You want to use the biggest nozzle you have if you are using crunchy peanut butter with large chunks of nuts (we jammed a few of the smaller ones before realising this!). 

Like we said, don't worry too much about perfect icing. You're going to cover it with a lot of good stuff anyway! 

Finally, add your toppings. 

For this recipe, we used 2 packets of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups chopped up into messy pieces, but Reese's  Miniatures or Pieces would work great too! For a second topping we opted for M&M's peanut butter flavour. If you haven't had these already then you need to! If not, the original peanut m&m's would work well too!  






So there you have it... a truly sickly but great party treat. It's easy, fun to make and taste so much better than your average cupcake! 








Sunday, 6 November 2016

Sugar Free Banana Muffins: Tried and Tested!

There is nothing quite like the comfort of a nice, moist banana bread. It's the perfect combination of sweet and savory, making us feel as though it's the ultimate healthy snack; in reality, we know it's not! Until now.



'Sugar free' is a huge craze that is nothing new to the world of baking (thank you Pinterest!). But with our traditional baking recipes being so dear to us (who else has a go-to banana bread recipe they just can't let go of? Guilty!) it just feels too precious to trade. There's always the thought in the back of our head that a sugar free recipe might be healthier, but will it be as good?

Now, we know what you are thinking. It's impossible. But with banana's containing sugar (yes, the really healthy ones amongst you will say that this means it can't be 'sugar free'), it's actually super easy to make healthy changes that don't sacrifice taste. Are you tempted yet?

Taking basics from this BBC recipe, we have made some little changes to create a banana muffins that everyone will house the ingredients to make!

All you need is: 


  • 125g of self-raising flour (wholemeal or normal work well, just how healthy do you really want to be?) 
  • 1/2 tsp of baking powder - you may consider slightly more than this 
  • 2tsp of vanilla essence 
  • 1 egg 
  • 1tsp of milk - may need slightly more if you opt for less banana 
  • 2/3 ripe bananas mashed - 2, create a firmer muffin, 3 is more of a gooey texture 
  • Optional: sugar free syrup 
  • Optional: 2tsp of cinnamon - if you really cannot stand the taste of cinnamon you can omit
  • Optional: 70g of nuts/sultanas 
  • Optional: sugar free chocolate 
Preheat the oven to 180c /160c fan gas mark 4


Method: 

The best bit about this recipe (even better than the sugar free)? It's the ultimate 'chuck it all in the bowl' method, making it the perfect child-proof recipe! 


Add the flour, butter, baking powder and essence into the bowl and mix. 

Add in the egg, and mix. 


Add in the banana and your chosen added ingredient, we opted for chocolate and nuts! 


This recipe is really versatile. It's up to you whether you place the mix in a loaf tin (450g, 1lb is required), or make mini banana muffins! We opted for the muffins to make perfect, transportable snacks! It makes 12 really mini ones or 9 slightly bigger.


Check the muffins after 20 minutes and then after 30. Cook until 40 minutes if you are making bread or larger muffins. When the tops of the muffins start to go golden, they are good to eat! 




Super easy, quick and a great snack that is healthier than your beloved recipe and maybe even easier! Great to make a snack for those mid-morning hunger pangs or an alternative to that 3pm chocolate binge! 

Give them a go and let us know what you think! x