Modernising our tiny kitchen.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Back in 2006, after 2 years together, Barry and I took the plunge and contacted AFL Wealth Management to see if we could get a mortgage. After a meeting with a helpful Financial Advisor we finally got the green light - exciting times!

After contacting some local estate agents p, we quickly realised there really wasn't a lot available in our local area, so we knew we were going to have to sacrifice some aspect of our "dream house" in order to stay in the village we both grew up in.

After viewing for a few weeks, we finally narrowed our viable options down to two.

The first option was a lovely two bed terraced house complete with a quirky attic bedroom, newly fitted (albeit super tiny) kitchen. It was decorated in neutral colours throughout, including the carpets and nothing really needed doing before moving in. The only downside we could see was the garden was completely separate from the house. You literally had to go out of the back door, walk 2 minutes until you came to a big patch of grass separated into sections by chain link fencing. No privacy at all and unsurprisingly the majority of them where over grown and generally not looked after. Not ideal at all.

The second was again a two bed terrace, slightly bigger than the first - even the kitchen! Also decorated neutrally throughout with lovely flooring and a small, attached back yard - bonus!

This is where the fun started, Barry liked the first house purely because of the quirky bedroom, while I argued that as we wanted a Dog and a Family someday, not only would the attached yard be better but also the wooden flooring.

Of course he finally saw sense and I won the debate! We placed an offer and bought a house! We still live in the same house now and I must say it has served us well.

Over the last few years, a dog and a Daughter later, we have painted, wallpapered, added and taken away many things but one thing that we have never really been happy with is the tiny kitchen. We are under no illusion that extending is an option - we know that is way out of our budget and would also take up the only garden area we have. Instead we would love to start with a blank canvas and design the space ourselves as we honestly believe the space although small could have been utilized in a much better (and modern) way.

After much deliberating we have decided to finally start putting our ideas into action, so I have started spending my evenings scouring the web for modernising and space saving solutions.


Finding ideas is the easy part, making the fit the budget is another story! A cash loan is always an option, we know we can pay it back, it's just getting the lump sum that is difficult, something else always comes up doesn't it? 


Here is my favourite option so far, light and airy - perfect for our tiny kitchen, while not being so modern that it will need redoing in a few years. What do you think? 



If anyone has any experience with maximising a small kitchen I would really appreciate any suggestions or tips.

Happy Easter!

Easter crafting and baking - which is your favourite?

Easter with Liv!

 Does your Family have any Easter traditions?
We always went off to my Nana's static caravan for Easter when I was Younger, armed with lots of chocolate from aunts and grandparents of course!
We have always done Easter crafts and an egg hunt with Liv. As she has so many people buying for her, some of the family get her little gifts instead of eggs. So far she has had some play make up and nail polish, a bunny teddy bear and a voucher for Chester Zoo, lucky girl she is!
She is off to my parents caravan for Easter this year so we have already started her Easter bonnet and fabulous chick glasses, what do you think?


We usually make some biscuits or chocolate nests with mini eggs in, but this year I have found three AMAZING looking Cadburys Crème egg recipes from Georgia's cakes. We have decided to give the cheesecake a try - it looks fantastic but fairly easy too with me not being the best baker!

Which would you like to try?


Cracking Creme Egg Macarons by Georgia’s Cakes




Makes 20-25 macarons

Ingredients:

5 large Cadbury Creme Eggs
125g icing sugar
65g ground almonds
60g egg whites
12g caster sugar
10g cocoa powder
100g double cream
100g dark chocolate, chopped up

Method:

· Sieve together almonds, cocoa powder and icing sugar into a bowl

· Whisk up egg whites and gradually add sugar in stages

· Whisk eggs until stiff peaks have formed

· Fold the egg white into the dry mix in 3 stages

· Fill a piping bag attached with a round nozzle

· Line a tray with baking paper and pipe £2 coin sized circles, leaving about a 2cm gap in between
 each one

· Leave for about 20 mins to skin

· Dust with a small amount of cocoa powder just to achieve a slight pattern on the surface

· Turn on the oven to 135°C and bake for 10-12 mins

· Make the filling by heating the cream and pouring it over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate has melted in

· Leave the ganache to cool and thicken (stir every now and then)

· Once the macaron shells have cooked, remove from oven and leave to cool completely before taking them off the tray

· Heat up a knife in hot water and slice the Cadbury Creme Eggs widthways into 5-6 circular pieces

· Once ganache has thickened and is at a spreadable consistency, fill a piping bag

· Pair up the matching macaron shells

· Place a piece of Cadbury Creme egg into the centre of one side of the shell, and pipe a ring around it with ganache

· Sandwich the other side onto it to form the macaron – and voila. Delicious cracking Creme egg
macarons


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Cadbury Creme egg cheesecake by Georgia’s Cakes






Ingredients:

· 10 Cadbury Creme Eggs
· 6 mini Cadbury Creme Eggs
· 150g digestive biscuits
· 75g melted butter
· 750g full fat cream cheese
· 150g icing sugar
· 1 vanilla pod
· 300ml double cream
· White chocolate, melted
· Dark Chocolate, melted
· Caramel sauce


Utensils

· 8 inch cake ring or spring form tin
· Acetate

Method:

1. Line the inside of the tin or ring with some acetate - this will make it easier to remove the cheesecake after it’s been set

2. Crush the biscuits into fine crumbs and stir the melted butter in

3. Pour into the cake tin and press around the bottom of the tin so the whole surface is covered and compact

4. Put in the fridge to set

5. Chop 5 of the Cadbury Creme Eggs up into small chunks and set to one side

6. In a bowl, beat together the cream cheese, vanilla seeds from the vanilla pod and sifted icing sugar

7. In a separate bowl, whisk the double cream until it’s just started to firm up

8. Gently fold the cream into the cream cheese mix until it’s combined

9. Add the chopped up Creme Eggs and mix in

10. Take out the cake tin with the biscuit case

11. Cut the remaining Cadbury Creme Eggs in half - length ways - and arrange them facing out around the sides of the cake tin (use the goo to make them stick to the sides!)

12. Pour in the cheesecake mix and flatten off the top with a spatula or palette knife

13. Set in refrigerator for at least 1 hour

14. Once set, take out the fridge and remove the tin being careful with the outside of the cake

15. If applied, remove the acetate too

16. Drizzle over some white chocolate, dark chocolate and caramel sauce in a criss cross pattern

17. Cut the mini Creme Eggs in half - length ways and - arrange around the outside of the cheesecake



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Chocolate Crème Egg cake by Georgia's Cakes


Serves 20

INGREDIENTS:

· 5 Cadbury Creme Egg halves to decorate
· 250g butter
· 250g caster sugar
· 200g eggs
· 225g self-raising flour
· 25g cocoa powder
· 1tsp vanilla paste

For the buttercream
· 150g softened butter
· 60ml milk
· 425g icing sugar
· 75g cocoa powder

For the chocolate drips
· 50g double cream
· 40g dark chocolate


METHOD (FOR THE CAKE)

18. Melt the butter and mix in the caster sugar
19. Add the eggs and mix through
20. Then add the flour and vanilla and mix until incorporated
21. Divide equally into 2 x 6 inch lined cake tins and bake at 180°C for 30-40 minutes until they are cooked through
22. Leave to cool on cooling racks


METHOD (FOR THE BUTTERCREAM)

1. Beat together the icing sugar, cocoa powder, butter and milk
2. Keep beating until the mixture is light and fluffy

METHOD (FOR THE ASSEMBLY)

1. Level each cake off on the top and cut both in half so you have 4 equal layers of cake. Make sure you save one of the ‘bottoms’ as the last layer

2. Spread a layer of buttercream onto one layer and place the second layer on top

3. Repeat on the second and third layer. When you get to the fourth, make sure the top layer is facing down so you have the flattest side on the top

4. Place the last layer on and encase the whole cake with buttercream

5. Scrape off the excess buttercream and leave in the fridge/ freezer until the buttercream is set firm

6. Heat up the cream and pour over the dark chocolate and mix until it’s melted through

7. Pour this melted chocolate mixture over the cake and push towards the edges with a palette knife. Let it gently drip down the cake

8. Use the leftover buttercream to assemble the top of the cake, placing 5 Cadbury Creme Egg halves on top alongside meringue kisses

I found a quick video for this one which may help if you are giving it a try.

Please share your work if you do attempt any of the recipes!

Happy Easter!

Five small changes to improve your life.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

We all want to improve our quality of life, but making changes can often be more trouble than they're worth. Here are five quick and easy ways you can improve your life, instantly:

1. Join a new club... alone

As we get older, we often forget the fun we can have trying new things and making new friends. Whether it’s a book club, a weird new sport, or an art class, your life can be dramatically improved by taking the plunge and trying something new. You never know, you might uncover a talent you never knew you had!

If you’re brave enough, resisting bullying a friend into doing it with you can make a huge impact. You might feel nervous and shy at first, but it can allow you to be free to socialise with strangers (just friends you haven’t met yet!) without worrying about leaving someone out. 


2. Keep a diary

It might sound a bit sappy, but it’s been proven that writing down your thoughts and emotions from the day before bed helps you get a good night’s sleep and generally makes you happier. It’s a brilliant way of processing stress and anxiety, and can be a wonderful memento to look back on years later. Every day things that you take for granted now may seem wonderfully quaint or special fifty years in the future!

3. Spend less time in phone queues!

Using Contact Number UK will save your precious time being wasted in phone queues listening to cheesy music. They aim to provide you with a quick way of getting through to all of the UK’s major companies and organizations, ranging from Sky or Amazon, and even HMRC. By using the numbers found on Contact Number UK's site you will be able to start talking with customer service much quicker, leaving you with more time on your hands - who doesn't need that?!

4. Listen to new music

Discovering new artists or even genres can be a wonderful experience. Going outside of your comfort zone and picking a different radio station to have on in the background while you’re de-cluttering your house or cooking dinner is a simple way of broadening your musical knowledge. Good for pub quizzes, great for general happiness. 





5. Move more

It would be lovely if we all had a passion for exercise, but if we’re honest the sofa is kind of better. Even so, gradually increasing exercise into your everyday routine can be an effective way to improve your life and general health. From half an hour copying pilates videos on YouTube, to enthusiastically dancing while doing the hovering (combine number four, perhaps?), just a little extra movement every day can create big changes!