Tuesday 29 December 2020

Dutch Oven Cinnamon Rolls

Photo by Edgar Castrejon on Unsplash

 {This is a collaborative post, the recipe had been provided to me for publishing}

Cinnamon rolls are an excellent breakfast alternative to porridge or cereal - everyone loves them, and it's easier than you might think to make them.

This cinnamon roll recipe can easily be prepared in your Dutch oven. If you aren't familiar with a Dutch oven, don't be fooled into thinking it is a massive piece of equipment that you need. You might just know it as an enamelled cast-iron casserole dish. Dutch ovens are fabulous for baking as well as making main courses, as they distribute the heat evenly.

You can make this cinnamon roll recipe at home or even on your next camping trip. You can also make these rolls in advance and chill them overnight for baking the next day if that suits your plans better.

This recipe serves 4-6 people.

Ingredients for the dough

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk, any kind
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant active yeast (typically one packet)

Ingredients for the filling

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

Ingredients for the Icing

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

Tuesday 22 December 2020

Pre-Christmas Reasons to be Cheerful

Having just gone into tier 4 (practically lockdown) this past weekend it seems extra pertinent to write a Reasons to be Cheerful post and to try to focus on the good things going on in my life.

First off, the biggies - my family are all well, my friends are well, we have a lovely home, our heating got fixed and we are warm, we have enough food to eat and we can afford to pay our bills. In this time when people are losing loved ones, jobs and homes, I know we are very lucky to have all of those things still.

Then the next thing I am giving thanks for, is that I know Jesus. My faith makes a massive difference in my life and it is so much richer for it. We are also part of a super community-spirited church and we've had some great zoom church services, a quiz and met some other members online for a chat recently. 

I'll share a few photos from other precious moments in the last couple of weeks -

*  Decorating the tree with Miss E. Going for the mismatched but full of memories look

Friday 18 December 2020

Tips for enjoying Christmas during a Pandemic

Tips for enjoying christmas 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic.
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

I did wonder if I should title this post - tips for surviving Christmas during a pandemic - but no, I figured I should be positive. For the great majority of us, we CAN enjoy Christmas and not just have to survive, endure or get through it this year. 

We're still a week away from Christmas day and there is plenty of time for each of us to check ourselves and start changing our mindset from negative to positive. We know now that the rate of spread in the UK is still high and for many areas (especially London, the South East and Wales) the spread is rising exponentially. So, it is time for every one of us to act responsibly and to have the smallest, safest gathering possible this Christmas. 

It won't be normal - there won't be boozy nights with friends, trips to the panto, ice skating with the kids or frantic sale shopping and now we know that for sure, it is time for us to accept it and make the best of what we have left. I'd like to suggest that we can still have a good time or even a great time and I wanted to share some tips for doing so. 

Take a Positive View

My first suggestion and it applies to everyone is to look on the bright side. I know from personal experience and from being involved with the Reasons to be Cheerful gang for over a decade that looking for the good in a situation makes a difference. When you choose to be grateful and offer thanks for the things that you do have, it changes your mindset and it can easily become a habit. Of course, you have to be willing to put in the effort and I think it is good to write down each day the things you are thankful for. Aim for three a day and when you are struggling just seek one positive thing, even if it is as simple as - you have a home, warm clothes, food to eat. Start with the basics and keep recording what you are grateful for and your list and your heart will grow, I promise you. 

A few years ago I wrote a post titled 'Keeping perspective: It's Just One Day After All!' where I talked about not following the crowd and remembering that Christmas is just a short snippet in time, and I think it is more important than ever this year to remember that. Don't spend money you don't have, mourn the things that are missing or be anxious over whether the turkey will be perfect. Try instead, to be calm, loving and present in the moment.

Oh and on the note of being positive, make a concerted effort to stay away from negative people during this time. You don't need anyone to steal your joy! You really can control your own thoughts and positive affirmations go a long way. I have a typed sheet on my mirror that reminds me of who I am, for me, it is about being a child of God and I focus on His promises but for you it might be more general affirmations like - I am a beautiful woman with a good heart, I am generous, I am loving, I will have a great Christmas day, I treasure time by myself. All the things you want to believe and need to hear, write down and say them aloud to yourself as you start the day.

Ideas to Refresh your Garden for Spring

Photo by Savvas Kalimeris on Unsplash

{This is a collaborative post}

It might be dark and gloomy outside right now, but it won’t be long before the nights start to draw out again and the first signs of Spring arrive.  So, even though you might not be spending much time outside now, it’s worth thinking about giving your garden a refresh ready for spring, you'll want some glorious colour to cheer you up by then.

You might be nodding right now and thinking, yes this is what I should be doing.  If so, here are some ideas to help you along.

Lay a patio or deck

If you don’t have a patio or decked area in your garden, this might be worth considering.  It creates a handy area for socialising, BBQs, and just having a quiet cuppa.  When laying a patio or decking, make sure you’ve planned enough space to accommodate things like seating, plants and your BBQ. Or you might even want to install a hot tub to enjoy. 

Create a pond or water feature

Water features have a nice calming effect and are always pleasing to look at.  If you have time to create and maintain one, a pond is an excellent feature to have in the garden and you can enjoy the wildlife that a pond attracts too.  But if you’re looking for something easier to manage, then a small water feature can work just as well, and they often add a very pleasant water trickle sound to your garden too.

Friday 11 December 2020

Building a New Home? Things to Consider Before Starting

Photo by Lex Photography from Pexels

{This is a collaborative post}

Taking the decision to go down the self-build route to achieve the home of your dreams is an important one. Around 8% of all homes built are self-build according to Government statistics. There are several things to consider if you are going to go down this route; the following should help you make the project as smooth running as possible.

Consider your Budget

While your design is important, if you don’t know the expected cost of building a new home, you may be left with an unfinished property or worse, you need to request a loan to finish the property off. This is especially worrisome if your budget goes way above what you can afford. Things to consider in your budget include professional fees for architects, surveys of your proposed site, fees for planning permission as well as the building materials, tradespeople, and any connections you need to make to utilities. Then, of course, there is the cost of decoration and getting the perfect finish for your dream home.

Thursday 3 December 2020

Reasons to be Cheerful - Advent, Cakes and Walks

It's time to share another cheery update. I find this such a good practise to record all the things that I'm grateful for and I was listening to a podcast this week that reminded me that counting your blessings is one of the antidotes to leading a bitter life. I certainly don't want to go through life bitter, and I know I have a tendency for that, so here is my next gratitude instalment.

1. Beautiful winters days, with amazing skies but not too cold.

2.  Lockdown has finished and we are welcoming guests back to the centre where I live.

3.  I had a great walk with a friend along Bexhill seafront, it was good to chat and enjoy a hot chocolate.

4.  My girls filled an advent calendar  for me and the first day was a little note saying 'I love you', it's very cute