November 17th, 2011 | | permalink
You know it’s nearly Christmas when… The Pogue’s Fairytale of New York comes blasting out on the radio, Starbucks start making eggnog latte again – and, of course, when Crabtree & Evelyn’s Noel range arrives back in store.
But for me, the festive season only really kicks off when I have my first glass of mulled wine. Not that I’m rocking around like Noddy Holder, or an elf after too many candy canes – everything in moderation.
One of my favourite recipes is Jamie Oliver’s take on mulled wine. That said, ever since my friend, David, gave me his special Scandinavian recipe for glögg, I’ve been using that. Sorry Jamie! David has kindly let me share his recipe with you – and you can adapt it to your own taste*.
- 1 bottle of red wine
- 2 sticks of cinnamon
- 8 cloves
- 12 cardamom pods, crushed
- 1 orange rind
- 2-3 tablespoons of sugar
- Choose a spirit of your choice: vodka, brandy, rum or whisky, and add a generous glug.
- A handful of blanched and flaked almonds
- A handful of raisins
- *Personally, I like to add half a vanilla pod.
1. Pour the wine into a saucepan on a medium heat, and roughly break up the
cinnamon sticks into it. Add the cloves, orange rind and the crushed cardamom pods
(including the shells, it doesn’t matter about tidiness!)
2. As the mixture heats up, start stirring in sugar using a tablespoon at a time –taste it and if you have a sweet tooth, add more sugar.
3. When the mixture is about to hit boiling point, turn off the heat(don’t let it boil). Add in a dash of your desired spirit, then cover the pan and let it cool. Transfer to a jug or bottle and leave it for at least 2 days, preferably 4 or 5.
4. Before serving the glögg, sprinkle a few flaked
almonds and raisins in your mugs. Top up the glögg with a dash of the spirit you used before and heat it up – again, don’t boil it. Use a sieve to transfer the wine into the mugs (or a jug to make it easier to pour). Serve with a spoon so you can eat the almonds and raisins after you’ve drunk the glögg!
November 16th, 2011 | | permalink
Party season is almost upon us, and there’s no way I want to miss out by getting the festive lurgy. So my plan is to boost my immune system and keep germs at bay – check out operation Don’t Let The Germs Bring You Down…
Getting your requisite eight hours of sleep per night is important for your physical and mental wellbeing. Enjoy a relaxing Crabtree & Evelyn lavender bubble bath before you hit the hay and spray Lavender Linen Mist on your pillows – it’ll help you drift off.
Eat and drink well
Don’t just pop vitamin pills and hope for the best – always start with a healthy diet and get your 5 a day. Also, remember to keep your body hydrated. At the moment, I’m in love with Vita Coco coconut water – it’s more hydrating that water and is packed full of goodies. It’s also low calorie and fat free. Madonna is a big fan of coconut water, and is looking pretty good for it.
One of my New Year’s resolutions was to swim more and I haven’t kept it up, so I’m going to jump in the pool more often. I know what you’re thinking – yes, swimming pools can be associated with picking up germs, but until I have my cottage near the sea, it’s my only option. Stress can be a contributing factor to getting ill, so any activity that helps de-stress you is a good thing.
Taking time to relax and pamper is important – and it’s a stress buster. Now winter is here, skin is prone to drying out, so make sure you moisturise well. I have been – in fact, I’m almost out of Crabtree & Evelyn’s Citron, Honey & Coriander Body Souffle *hint*. Always carry a good lip balm on you to keep lips from cracking – and if you haven’t tried them yet, give Crabtree & Evelyn’s lip butters a whirl.
At this time of year, Crabtree & Evelyn’s Antibacterial Gel Hand Wash is my best friend. I’ve got my Inside Soap magazine colleagues into it too. Offices are a hot bed of germs – and don’t get me started on public transport! Antibacterial hand gel helps zap those viral nasties – and the best thing is it doesn’t dry your hands out.
Good luck in beating those Grinch-y winter germs people. May the force be with you!
November 14th, 2011 | | permalink
It’s still too early to put up the Christmas tree – but it’s the perfect time to start making festive decorations. I’ve been busy creating Christmas hearts for my tree – and I’ll give some as gifts too.
My inspiration came from my parents’ neighbour, Anne Marie, who gave my mum a gorgeous heart tree decoration last Christmas. Anne Marie had made the little heart with fabric, stuffed it and sewn on a hanging loop. She also told Mum to make a Christmas wish before she hung up the heart, which I thought was a nice touch.
Here’s how to make Christmas hearts…
1. Choose some pretty fabric – you don’t need to rush out and buy something. See what scraps you have at home first – I used some vintage material from my gran’s dress-making supplies. Fold the fabric so it’s double-sided and then cut into a heart shape. I free styled with the scissors, but you could use a template.
2. Sew the two hearts together – either on a sewing machine or by hand, using a hemming stitch. Make sure you sew the hearts on the reverse side of the fabric – leave a gap at the pointy end of the heart, and then turn it inside out before stuffing with wadding or cotton. This makes the heart look neater and you won’t be able to see the stitches. Also, leave a little gap in the middle of the heart so that you can sew in a loop of ribbon that can be used to hang up the decoration.
3. If you like, you could make a scented heart – just mix the fragrance with the wadding. You could use cloves and orange blossom essential oil, dried lavender or dried rose petals. You could also add some Crabtree & Evelyn Smoky Amber Home Fragrance Oil or spritz the heart with your favourite Crabtree & Evelyn fragrance – I love Rosewater. Once the heart is stuffed, carefully sew up the end and attach the hanging loop.
4. Add sparkle. As a final touch, add some extra glitz by sewing on festive sequins – or if you have any odd earrings or broken jewellery sew them on instead.
Happy crafting, readers! If you’ve made any festive decorations, I’d love to hear about them…