Ok, so it’s not a luxury pudding, it’s not stylish, it doesn’t even have a fancy name, but I think it does have merits. It makes good use of a staple most of us have languishing in our cupboards, it is warm, stodgy and filling and it quivers and squeaks gently on removal from the oven. It’s been a sturdy, thrifty classic bake for many a year now.
The recipe I’m sharing today is the slightly sophisticated relative to the basic bread and butter pud. We always just made it with milk and eggs when I was a child, but this one contains a whole carton of cream. We just had sugar and raisins for flavour whereas this recipe adds the zest of an orange to cut through the richness of all that cream. This is how it looked pre-oven:
It is Mary Berry’s Mother’s recipe ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/mary_berrys_mothers_97161 ) and who am I to argue with such a lady? It was a lovely rich alternative to my usual recipe and the addition of orange zest was delicious. I sprinkled light brown sugar on top, which formed a nice crust.
The Dr and I disagreed on whether it needed to be served with custard. I said no, because it had all that cream and those eggs in it, surely forming something akin to custard? I always feel it’s a pudding that can stand on it’s own two feet without accompaniment. What do you serve yours with?
Back in the summer I decided to hand make some of my Xmas gifts. I’d been told by my midwife to be organised this Christmas, in case Baby came early.aeeiving in Christmas Eve, Baby G didn’t actually impact on my Christmas preparations too much, but I was all ready just in case!
I have a vintage sewing machine which I’m slowly getting to grips with. It’s rather temperamental and I’ve had it serviced and looked at a few times during this project, making it rather a lengthy job to complete for such a small item.
Cloudy man was a present for my sister. She likes things with clouds on them and I thought this little plushie project was quite cute with his little welly boot legs. I got the pattern from Miss Daisy Patterns (https://missdaisypatterns.com/cloud-baby-free-sewing-pattern-tutorial/ ) and found it super easy to follow – even for someone like me who’s pretty hopeless at sewing! The only thing I changed was using those little mirror sequins for the cheeks. I had them in my sewing box and thought I’d use them up. Cloudy Man was very well received and now lives on my sister’s bed.
When we got our first VCR (quite late to the party – in about 1990?) we only had a few videos to watch, one of which – for some reason – was the musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. We watched it a lot, had favourite characters, loved the songs, found certain scenes dull (fast forward!) and can all quote much of the film verbatim. This gift was for my brother – a quote from the film and the signature shirts worn by the brothers. I’m quite proud of this as I used a cross stitch generator for the lettering, but made up the pattern for the shirts myself.
I like the trend for displaying cross stitch patterns in these frames. It’s rather quaint and somehow fitting. I made a couple of others for family – just silly quotes. They’re very simple to do, but satisfying.
It’s such an old tradition to hand make gifts. You do need to allow time, I started my projects in the summer, but still ended up putting finishing touches to them in December! I always think it means so much more knowing someone has gone to the effort of making something from scratch. They’re often very well received and result in a sense of achievement you won’t get from buying all your presents in Primark. Go on – give it a go!
It’s not often you get to pass things from one generation to the next. Especially in these times of disposable goods and cheaply bought Primark specials. My Mum and I were most delighted this week to pop my little man in a babygro that was bought for my brother. It’s a Mothercare one and still in pretty good nick. Uncle Sam says he remembers it well and we thought Albie looked rather snazzy in it.
It kept him warm on our first jaunt into the city centre on the bus. It’s obviously good quality and robust enough to last a few more washes and wears.
I wonder which of Albert’s outfits I will be able to keep and pass on…
The ceramic checkerboard tiles on the floor look great and the silver grout really sets them off. The subway tiles on the wall look classy, so pleased I chose them.
I have fulfilled a long held dream and I have a roll top bath! It really is lovely and so comfy too. I have had a quite a few baths – and to be honest, whilst pregnant it was a real treat to have soothing soaks in my gorgeous new tub! It has a raindrop shower above it and the builders sealed the bathroom floor so in the unlikely event we have any spills or floods the floor timbers and electrics are safe! I love my bath caddy (a gift from Sam and El) and it’s currently housing my Christmas bath ballistics from Lush and Albie’s ducks.
My vintage cistern has come into its own when combined with a nice Burleigh toilet bowl and mahogany seat. It looks better than I could have hoped and love the fact it cost me a tenner! I bought this copper basket to store my toiletries in, and tucked a black towel in front so it doesn’t look messy. I continued the copper theme by adding a copper posser as a loo roll holder.
Another incredible eBay find was this lovely and bargainous sink – £10. It’s in perfect condition and my builder said it would have been around the £200 mark when new so I’m very happy. I love the chrome towel rail at the front. This ladder works rather well and fits perfectly into this nook next to the sink.
This vintage sheet music was also from eBay a while back and I’ve been saving it. I love the fact it’s a Howard Hughes film and the ‘Underwater’ theme makes it perfect for my bathroom. The light pull was left by previous owners, with a clean and polish it looks great.
A mirror and shelf and I think we’re done. These were both eBay finds that my brother put up for me when he came to meet Albie.
It was a long time in the making and cost more than we’d hoped but it’s well worth it and will be the family bathroom we wanted – I can’t wait to bath Albie in here when he’s a bit bigger, singing songs and playing with his bath toys!
It hasn’t taken me long to fall in love with a retro inspired range of clothing for kids. Albert is just 3 weeks old and I’ve already discovered the Little Bird range of clothes, designed my Jools Oliver and stocked by Mothercare.
I think I like the range because it reminds me of the kinds of clothes I was wearing when I was teeny. Photos depict me in 70s styles, despite the fact I was born at the beginning of the 80s. My Mum, like most new Mums, took all the hand-me-downs she was offered, knowing that you can never have too many outfits in those early days. This meant I was in my cousin’s 70s outfits for the first few years.
It seems traditional to put babies in pastels, but I think I rather like these 70s inspired rainbow brights.
I particularly love these rainbow cot sheets – how cute!
I think Baby G is going to look cute as a little 1970s rainbow…
I’d like to introduce my latest homemade creation: Albert Aneurin Grace.
Albert was an early Christmas gift – born on Christmas Eve at midday, weighing a healthy 8lb 5oz.
My little thinker is a delight and we’re enjoying getting to know him. He brings with him – I hope – a whole host of new vintage experiences. Vintage toys, vintage boys clothes, vintage children’s books and lots more. He’s going to fit right in! Can’t wait to add him to my vintage journey and see what new adventures are out there.
Here’s my yearly round up of the decorations in my house.
I did debate whether to have a fresh tree this year or just to put up a fake one I have. I thought dealing with the aftermath of a real tree might be one less thing to worry about with a newborn in the house, but my Mum was so horrified when I mentioned this that we went ahead with a real one. Must admit I don’t regret it – it looks and smells so lovely. My friend Becca helped me decorate it, doing the crawling around on the floor and the positioning of the lights etc – things I’m struggling with whilst heavily pregnant! It has my two strings of vintage lights and mostly vintage baubles too. I love it!
I’d wanted a vintage sledge for ages and finally found a local vintage seller on Instagram who had some available. I fell in love with this one and I think I paid £40 for it, but it’s well made, in lovely condition and – who knows – there might be a little person who wants to use it for its real purpose next winter. That would rely on us having enough snow to actually go sledging, which is unlikely in the South but I can dream! For now Mr. Sledge is our coffee table for the festive period…
My three vintage Christmas themed prints in the dining room have been flipped! I literally have these back to back with other images that I can just rotate during December. Makes life easy!
As with lots of jobs this year, I’m just glad I’ve managed to get it done before my Baby arrives and other things take over! Baby is currently two days overdue and who knows when they may finally appear. We’re trying to relax and be philosophical about it! At least the house is cosy and welcoming – this may be the most exciting (and demanding) guest we’ve had in a while!
It is with a whole new level of Christmas excitement I say:
The thing about baking is that it’s rather disappointing when a recipe doesn’t go to plan. I always research and try to choose recipes carefully but I do struggle to commit to new challenges – preferring to rely on a tried and trusted friend who I know will perform as I expect and rise beautifully!
In terms of festive baking I’ve cracked a mince pie recipe, and last year I made Nigella’s Christmas Rocky Road for the first time which was a real winner! One of my favourite Christmas flavours is gingerbread – I love the rich dark flavours combined with the spices and so I thought I should find something with these characteristics to add to my repertoire.
I read lots of recipes for gingerbread biscuits, but many of them seemed flawed – people reported dough that was flaky and difficult to work with. Too risky! This sent me in search of a gingerbread muffin – you know the big overblown kind of thing you get in coffee shops. Sometimes dry and bland and not actually something I choose very often, but perhaps a higher success rate than a biscuit?
Again I looked at some different recipes and found this one from Seasons and Suppers: http://38d.gs/2hoiriL . I adapted it slightly – substituted some of the honey for golden syrup, added nutmeg instead of ground cloves. I have to say, it says ‘easy’ and it really was easy. It would be a good one to do with kids as it doesn’t involve any heating or melting, just measuring the dry ingredients and mixing, then measuring the wet ingredients and mixing, then combining and popping in to your muffin cases.
The flavour is great: sweet and rich from the honey and treacle, but with a nice spiced edge from the generous teaspoons of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. When I make them again I might add some finely chopped crystallised ginger for extra texture and moisture. With a sprinkle of icing sugar these were lovely with a hot drink and have a nice warming flavour – not in the least bit dry or bland! Definitely adding these to my December bakes!
It is with an increasing repertoire of Christmas bakes I say:
It’s all taken longer than it should (not the builder’s fault) and gone way over budget, but finally! I can share it with you! I’m starting with the downstairs bathroom.
My brother was here at the weekend and he put the finishing touches to the downstairs bathroom. He is essentially Handy Andy to my Laurence Llewelyn Bowen. I come up with odd ideas, he shakes his head and then makes them a reality… This is my long wanted floating shelf. Slice of tree from eBay and rope from The Range. This is a vintage copper posser – it’s for agitating your washing, but I’m using it as a loo roll dispenser… another eBay find!
I absolutely love these tiles! A guy on eBay had a couple of dozen to sell and he wanted £9 each for them. I asked if he’d do me a deal on 6 and he said £30. Bargain! I have to say, I’ve often been pleasantly surprised when haggling with people – if you have the cheek to ask for a deal or a couple of quid off, the response is favourable. My bruv chipped off some very uninspiring and poorly laid plain grey tiles and I think these have so much more character!
This copper towel rail came from jacobre_123 on eBay (http://www.ebay.co.uk/usr/jacobre_123). I liked the raw look of the copper and it’s not lacquered so it can be polished or allowed to tarnish depending on the look you’re going for.
I think the vintage tiles were a great find, they blend well with the copper towel rail and I’m so chuffed to finally make the hanging shelf a reality.
I’m not sure if it’s too early or not but I made my Christmas cake this week. Last year I made a 20cm fruit cake using a Mary Berry recipe. It was lovely but rather bigger than I anticipated (I’m terrible at judging sizes!) and most of it ended up in the staff room come January. Why does no one like fruit cake?
Last year in the January sales I bought these cake decorations:
We loved the Raymond Briggs books The Snowman and Father Christmas when we were little so these were a must for me. They’re a nice quality ceramic so will hopefully be an investment and can be reused year after year.
I need to spend a few weeks feeding my cake spirits before I marzipan and ice it. This year it’ll all get eaten!
It is with a tablespoon and a bottle of value brandy in hand I say: