Chocolate Pine Nut Tart

I was recently made an honorary Dutch citizen, sounds exciting, right? Yeah, this means I was hit by a car whilst on my bike (if it weren’t for bad luck, I’d literally have no luck at all). Luckily it wasn’t my fault even though the car driver really wanted me to think that it was (insert several expletives) but it most certainly bruised my ego more than my legs (which were most certainly 50 shades of bruising). Im very lucky that I wasn’t seriously hurt, my legs were covered in bruises and I broke a nail (which upset me more than the bruising). I naturally heal slowly, so being covered in bruises whilst the weather has been nice has added insult to injury, all I really wanted to do is get out my lovely bronzed legs and show them off and three weeks later I was still in black tights. Ive now shed the tights, with a bit of bruising to show my roadkill survival.

One of my colleagues brought me a load of pine nuts on the basis ‘you bake, make something sweet with these’! Awesome… was not the first thought that I had. Ive never worked with pine nuts and was slightly clueless, however, this did not deter me. I have the ultimate sweet tooth and love a challenge to make new sweet things.

My Pinterest search began and I came across this awesome recipe, Chocolate Tart with Pine Nuts and decided to jazz it up and make it more to my taste.  Heres the step by step tutorial on how to make this rich chocolate tart, which was enjoyed by many colleagues. They seriously love the fact that every Monday I bring in something different, new and something that most of them have never tried.

Chocolate Pine Nut Tart

Makes: 8-12 portions   Prep time: 3.5 hours Bake time: 25 mins Total time: 4 hours approx

Crust ingredients:

  • 1 cup (128g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (43g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup (100g) ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup (67g) ground toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup (35g) toasted pine nuts
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup (225g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon dried instant espresso grounds

Chocolate filling ingredients:

  • 6 ounces (150g) dark chocolate
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup (40g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch sea salt 
  • 1 shot espresso

Now to make this very nice and delicious tart:

For the crust:

1. Grind the pine nuts down, I found that they went into a paste, which was unexpected but understandable (and made a bloody awful mess in my coffee grinder). I would suggest maybe using a pestle and mortar to grind the pine nuts down.

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2. In a bowl, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy. Add in the flour, cocoa, ground almonds, pine nuts (ground and whole), dried espresso and sea salt, mix at low speed until combined.

3. Roll the dough between sheets of parchment (greaseproof) paper to about 1/8-inch thickness. Refrigerate for a minimum of2 hours or overnight.

4. Once your dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 350°F (180° C). Coat a 10-inch tart or springform pan with a removable bottom with butter or line a springform pan with greaseproof paper (like I did).

5. Carefully press the dough onto the bottom and sides of the pan (not going to lie, this was beyond tricky and difficult for me). Bake for 15 minutes (I let mine go for 25 mins because it just didnt look ‘done), until firm to the touch. Be prepared – the crust will slouch/fall down the edge of the pan a little as it bakes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool whilst making your chocolate filling.

For the chocolate filling

6. Melt the chocolate slowly over a bain marie (double boiler). Remove from the heat and let it cool slightly.

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7. Using an electric mixer (or kitchen mixer) whip the eggs and sugar on high speed until very pale and thick, about 5 minutes. Add in the vanilla, espresso shot and sea salt. Gently fold a third of the egg mixture into the chocolate just until incorporated to lighten the mixture, then gently fold in the remaining egg mixture.

8. Immediately pour the filling over the cooled crust and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until puffed and set. A skewer or toothpick stuck into the center of the tart should show some crumbs but not a runny filling. Let cool before slicing into wedges.

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9. Refrigerate any cake that you do not eat and consume within 3 days, if it lasts that long!

 

Verdict: Im not going to lie, it was a LOT of effort that took hours to make and the taste was like a very rich brownie. You cant taste the coffee, as it just enhances the chocolate flavour, which is amazing. Part of me was like, ‘seriously, its just easier to make brownies’ but my colleagues were very impressed and asked for the recipe. I get the feeling once they realise how much effort it takes, they will be less keen to make it. Having said that, it did make an absolutely awesome Monday treat in the office.

Remember to share with friends (or colleagues) and enjoy! 🙂

Bath soak for dry or sunburnt skin

I was recently over excited by the prospect of sun and happily sizzled and fried to the point of no return and am now suffering the after effects, as I basically do every year. Normally I’m in Spain and just buy diaper rash cream (true story) and suffer it out. This time, I’ve decided to take a more holistic approach. I recently made a body butter for sunburns, whilst it has helped, it didn’t reverse my stupidity entirely. Some lessons you have to learn the hard way, even if it means learning the same lesson every year and somehow seem to unlearn it over the next 10-12 months.

I am trying a serious variety of DIY sunburn stupidity fixers, I opted to try a oatmeal soak bath. I’m really not into baths, at all. Its one of the key signs that I’m sick actually, it’s the twice a year phenomenon when I say ‘I want to take a bath’ and that’s it, showers otherwise for me. I just hate the idea of sitting in your own muck, eugh, it doesn’t agree with my germ OCD. Clearly it means I’m sick enough that I don’t care. 

So when all else fails, aloe vera and body butters aren’t providing the instant healthy brown glow (I live in a fantasy world of false hope), I decided to go for a bath, because I mean I’m already every shade of red and in pain, chances of a bath killing me are slim and I can shower afterwards = win win.

DIY Bath soak for dry or sunburnt skin

Makes: 4 – 1/2C portions Prep time: 10 mins

  • 1 C (125g) Dried whole milk
  • 1/4 C (45g) Baking soda
  • 1/4 C (25g) Ground oats
  • 5 tea bags of 100% Chamomile tea
  • 1 teaspoon (5mg) of sweet almond oil
  • 3 drops of Lavender essential oil
  • 3 drops of Tea Tree essential oil

Now to make this happy healthy skin bath soak:

1. Using a coffee grinder (I have one specifically for my DIY body stuff), open your Chamomile tea bags and pour them into the grinder. Grind it down until it no longer breaks down the Chamomile, I found it ground about half the mixture and the rest were still whole size. Add in your oats to the ground Chamomile and grind until a fine powder.

 

2. Next take your essential oils and mix them in with your sweet almond oil. Once this is stirred together, pour it into your baking soda and mix it well, you are rubbing the oils into the soda to give an even mixture. I would suggest you do this in a separate bowl, I did it in a tiny bowl and made a horrific mess.

3. It was at this stage that I realised my tiny container wasn’t going to be anywhere big enough to hold the mixture (which is over 2 cups). I transferred the mixture to a Tupperware container that would allow me to properly mix and then added in the milk powder. I then put the lid on the container and shook it until it was completely mixed.

4. To use, add 1/2 cup of the oatmeal milk mixture to warm water and stir to dissolve. This will give you murky water. Soak in the bath for a minimum of 30 minutes to get the benefits of this mixture. You will need to rinse yourself and the bath off after the soak, as you will have bits of oatmeal and chamomile on you and can you can see, the bath gets  covered too.

 

My skin did feel better after this soak, however, this wasn’t quite the sunburn remedy that I had hoped it would be. I think when you’re red, in pain and utterly impatient in general, you hope for miracle cures and sadly this wasn’t one of them. I absolutely believe there are benefits to this bath soak, its just not a instant remedy for sunburn.  I think this is probably more of a winter dry skin soak, to help beat winter dryness and I would recommend it for that.

Facts that make this soak great:

  • Dried milk provides moisturising and softening benefits for skin
  • Both oatmeal and baking soda reduce inflammation and soothe the skin
  • Chamomile and tea tree essential oils are anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and antibacterial.

I’d like to add that I’ve now also tried a bath with apple cider vinegar, not going to lie, it smelt horrific, it did sting and another remedy that didn’t quite live up to the internet speculation of sunburn cure.

Day 3, Im slowly starting to turn a shade of brown but still very much so have red painful to touch areas. Sadly my face has also started to peel, urgh. Im going to carry on with my regime of lotions, potions and soaks but I think the answer is… time. The body needs to adjust and heal naturally.

I feel like over the last 3 days Ive debunked a number of internet ‘answers’ to sunburn, none of which provide an instant cure, sadly.

The burn – sunburn, whipped body butter for sunburns

I am what is called a sun worshipper, give me any excuse to lie in the sun and catch a tan, I’m all over it. Theres something about Casper the Ghost white that’s just not for me, understandable for the winter months but not in Spring/Summer. Yes, I know that skin cancer is a real thing and that what I do is dangerous, this is not lost on me and I would encourage everyone to use high SPF levels of sunscreen whilst out in the sun. Naturally, this means that Im a do as I say, not as a do kind of person.

The weather in the Netherlands has been AMAZING this week, which is rare, unusual and unprecedented, which means that I naturally had to take advantage of it (I can’t begin to express how happy that I am winter is over and hopefully all the grey with it). It started out with a farmers tan, sitting in the back garden with the cats whilst reading, if the cats are happy in the sun, then I’m happy in the sun.

I had a light bulb moment of realising that I’m not far from the coast or the beach, hooray! Given that the hottest day of the year to date was being predicted, I decided to take advantage of it and go to the beach, that’s probably where I should have realised it was a bad idea and I would have been better in the garden with the cats.

I am a pampered princess, I can’t deny it. I’m a creature of luxury and camping or roughing it in any form has never been for me. My mother taught me at a young age that ‘camping’ was staying in a 2 star hotel or a motel and this is something that has been ingrained me in since a young child, which probably explains a lot about me.

I opted for what is considered to be the most popular beach near Amsterdam, Zandvoort aan Zee. I have to say that I was disappointed because it just wasn’t as nice as I was expecting. I understand that after spending a lot of time in Spain, its clean beaches and nice pools have ruined me. I just wasnt expecting dog excrement amongst the debris on the beach, it just added an extra level of grossness for me, which then heightened my germ OCD. I spent a few hours at the beach, quite literally sizzling like bacon in the sun and long enough to be utterly covered in sand, despite never leaving my blanket. I havent been quite so happy to get home and take a shower in a long time.

On the way home I was feeling ‘warm’, my skin was starting to feel more tender than wagyu beef and a tenderloin put together. I hoped that it was my skin turning into a healthy brown glow… no, no it was not. By the time I got home, I realised that I needed to start applying moisturisers and lotions and basically anything that would make it less ouchy (technical term). I decided to have a look too, you know, in the mirror to see how bad it was…. So I did my own version of The Scream by Edvard Munch and realised why it hurt when I sat down, because my legs (and all other areas) were various shades of red. I can already tell that I’m going to peel, which does not give me something to look forward to.

 

Sometimes aloe vera isn’t enough and that Id decided to make a body butter specifically for sunburns. Heres my body butter for sunburn, whilst it did help, it sadly wasn’t the overnight remedy I was looking for. I’m currently on day 2 of rubbing various potions into my skin to make it better. Yes the red is less, which is good but it does still hurt to sleep/lay down/move or wear any form of form-fitting clothing. Best decision made on the day was not to opt for the nudist beach because quite frankly, no one needs burnt bits!

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DIY Whipped Body Butter For Sunburn

Makes: 240g(ish) Prep time: 5 mins Cooling time: 3+ hours Overall time: 4 hours minimum

  • 1/3 C (75g) Shea butter
  • 1/3 C (75g) Cocoa butter
  • 3 tablespoons (45g) Mango butter
  • 1/8 cup (25g) Coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) Sweet almond oil
  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) Castor oil – I use camomile infused version that I’ve made myself
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) Advocado oil
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) Apricot Kernel Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Vitamin E oil
  • 1 tablespoon of cornstarch (this takes out some of the greasy feel but not entirely)
  • 3 drops of each of the essential oils– Peppermint, Lavender, Tea tree, Frankincense, Eucalyptus and Lemon
  • Clean pots to put your product into or when all else fails, Tupperware!

How to make this burn healing body butter:

1. Over a double boiler combine the shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil, mango butter, sweet almond oil, castor oil, avocado oil and apricot kernel oil. Once its all completely melted, combined and no lumps at all, remove from the heat.

2. Allow your mixture to cool for 15-20 minutes. Once it has cooled down, add in your essential oils, vitamin e oil and cornstarch (you may want to sieve this in to avoid any lumps or beat very vigorously until they have all been mixed). If you add the essential oil whilst your butters and oils are melting or still very hot, they will be damaged by temperatures in excess of 100F (38C). This can result in reducing their therapeutic value and may cause skin irritation.

3. Now the waiting game starts, you need to wait for the mixture to cool down to the point that it has solidified before you can start whipping it. For me, this literally took HOURS (and given that I was feeling the burn, it felt much longer!). You want the mixture to be more of a solid and have no liquid like texture, so when you put the beaters in your mixture, you can visibly see where the beaters touched. Once it is good to go, use your hand mixer and whip it good! I whipped mine for easily 5 minutes but probably closer to 10, you want medium peaks but not soft floppy peaks.

4. Now to take your whipped body butter and put it in a pot and label them. I made two pots of 60g and one pot of 120g. When putting it in the pot, you will need to tap the air out of the pot where you’re putting it in the pot. I lightly (or not so lightly) tap the pot against a counter top to release any air bubbles in the pot, yes, this does make the lotion slightly less airy but not enough to make a difference and it ensures you fill your pot entirely.

 

Why I used the essential oils that I did?

  • Peppermint: is a natural painkiller and helps soothe burnt areas by providing a cooling sensation.
  • Lavender: reduces the sting of burns and reduces redness. Due to its antimicrobial properties, it’ll speed up healing, allowing your body to recover faster.
  • Frankincense: helps to rejuvenate the skin by hydrating and providing the necessary moisture (and is generally awesome for skin).
  • Eucalyptus:  it numbs the pain, has antibacterial properties that protect the sensitive, sunburned skin from infection.
  • Lemon: speeds up healing
  • Tea tree: has anti-inflammatory properties which help to prevent infection and swelling following a sunburn.

Honestly there are tons of other essential oils that you could add, so you can play around with it and swap out different oils if you wanted or didn’t like the scent of a specific one.

*Notes: you do not have to whip this body butter, you can use it as is once it’s solidified, however, whipping it gives it a fluffier and lighter texture. This body butter does have a greasy texture

*When making body butters, potions, lotions, soaps or any body product, always make sure that the equipment, spoons, bowls etc you use will NEVER be used for edible purposes again and are only used to make body products with.

*When using any essential oils directly or indirectly on skin, ensure that you stay out of sunlight or UV rays for up to 12 hours after application. This might sound quirky but as per this article, the combination of sun and essential oils can cause the skin to severely burn and blister.

Remember to share with friends or just keep it all for yourself! 🙂

Loaded chocolate chip cookies

I honestly believe in starting off the week right by taking sweet treats to work on a Monday, true story! Mondays are pretty awful and anything you can do to make them better, do it! Ive been doing this for years if not well over a decade now. British colleagues thought it was great and never questioned the motive behind the baked good because well free baked goods. Dutch colleagues, this is a different matter and every week they ask me if its my birthday, as apparently you only bring something to the office if its your birthday. I find this entire concept strange, bringing in your own cakes for your birthday, I dont know, it seems slightly usual and kind of cruel. I think I will soon quit explaining its not my birthday and just say ‘yes’ every week instead.

Whats the difference between a biscuit and a cookie? This is only ever a question asked in the UK and possibly Europe but absolutely never asked in the States. Cookies are soft and slightly fluffy, generally melt in your mouth when you eat them. Biscuits (I refer to the British edible) is a very hard cookie that you are forced to dunk into tea/coffee to make it soft enough to chew without damaging any dental work. Given that my childhood was in the States, I prefer cookies and find British biscuits, well, sad.

I happened across these cookies and kind of feel in love with them, they are fully pimped out chocolate chip cookies that are over loaded everything but the kitchen sink.

Overloaded everything but the kitchen sink chocolate chip cookies

Makes: 25 cookies   Prep time: 15 mins Bake time: 12 mins per batch Total time: 60 mins approx

Required Ingredients:

  • 1.5 (195g) cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (170g) butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150g) Caster sugar
  • 3/4 cup (150g) brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1.5 cups (265g) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1.5 cups (135g) old fashioned oatmeal
  • 1 cups (60g) toasted coconut
  • 3/4 cup (95g) chopped pecans
  • 1 box (4oz/113g) Reese’s Pieces

Now to make these super delicious cookies

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F and line a baking/cookie sheet with parchment/greaseproof paper.

2. In large bowl or kitchen mixer, beat your room temperature butter until soft. Gradually add in the sugars and mix until light and fluffy. (this is me forgetting to take a picture when between putting in the caster sugar and the brown sugar)

 

3. Add in the eggs, vanilla and cinnamon. Mix until fully combined. Technically you should add in the eggs one at a time but Im lazy and think its easier just to chuck them all in.20180415_150537

4. If using a kitchen mixer or electric mixer, switch over to a wooden spoon at this point. Stir in the flour and salt until just combined ( I forgot the cinnamon in the previous step, hence the extra brown colour). You NEVER want to over mix a cookie dough, as this can create hard cookies (or the ultimate insult, it can your your cookie into a biscuit, OH THE HORROR).

5. Stir in chocolate chips, oats, coconut, Reeces Pieces and pecans. Mix until just combined and no more (see note above).

6. I use a medium sized ice cream scoop for cookie portioning, as this allows for each portion to be roughly the same weight and size. Otherwise use two large tablespoons and place cookie dough 3 inches apart on baking sheet. The dough is super wet/sticky, so dont try rolling it between your hands, you’ll just make a mess. I do also flatten the tops slightly with a spoon. As you can see Im rather heavy handed with my scoop and rarely are my cookies ever the same weight/size/shape etc, I like to think they are all unique differently with a homemade look about them.

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7. Bake for 12 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. The middles should appear slightly under done. Remove cookies from rack to cool.

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These are the super delicious overloaded everything but the kitchen sink chocolate chip cookies. I have to say Im kind of impressed with myself and these cookies. My colleagues and friends also liked them, so Id say these are a bit of a success.

Notes: I dont use baking powder or baking soda in my cookies, as this makes them too fluffy and more cake like than cookie like. You can also make an adult version of this cookie buy mixing in 1 shot of espresso into the batter, which will enhance the flavour. You can substitute peanut butter chips for the Reece’s Pieces. You can basically throw in anything you like to this recipe, such as dried banana chips, chopped up pretzels, or even mini marshmallows.

Remember to share with friends and enjoy! 🙂

 

 

 

8 months in…

… and I’m still not entirely convinced. Every week my mother asks me vaguely the same four questions: Am I settled? Do I miss the UK? Do I consider the Netherlands home? and lastly, am I dating anyone? – for the purpose of this blog and much like every time she asks this question, I’ll avoid giving any response and change the subject.

Am I settled? I think so? I’ve most certainly created a life here, have met great people and created a incredibly varied social circle. I’ve had experiences here that I wouldn’t have otherwise had.  I was quite anti-social in the UK, as I already had the social circle, a routine and I never needed break outside of that. Where as here, its starting from scratch and being more social in the last 6 months than I had been in the last 10 years. I host local social gatherings, dinner parties, coffee and chat, give baking lessons, and everything in between that means I’m now very approachable (I’m not always sure about this) and social. It’s very different for me and some days I do feel like I spend half my day on Whatsapp but its fine and its nice to be needed. I purchased a museum card which gives me access to over 400 museums across the Netherlands and I’m enjoying it, seeing all the culture that the Netherlands has. I guess one of my quirks is that I have 4 boxes in my bedroom that I refuse to unpack, yes, over 8 months in and I still have boxes unpacked. I refuse to unpack them on the basis that once its done, theres no going back and its official that I’m here, making it a done deal. Theres just something monumental about these last four boxes and I refuse to cave in. It probably helps that I don’t need/use anything that’s in the boxes.

Do I miss the UK? No. There are elements of the life that I had in England that I miss but they could easily be replicated anywhere. Honestly I’m surprised that I don’t miss it more, having spent the last 16 years there, I was expecting more attachment to it. For me Brexit changed everything and I now see a country that I dont recognise. It has changed as a whole and not for the better and it’s not a country I want to live in. The irony is that Im in the Netherlands on a British passport and based on current discussions I would have to return to the UK, as my EU residential status would no longer exist. This is something that absolutely concerns me on many levels but worrying about it wont change it (quite the bold statement for me) and its something that totally outside of my control. Provisionally in my head, I’ve decided that if the worst happens and I go back, that I would relocate to Scotland. Plan B sorted.

Do I consider the Netherlands home? No. It’s absolutely where I live, work, socialise and have my life but it absolutely misses the ‘home’ feel factor for me. I will most likely always be a foreigner here, that’s not a problem. It’s a feeling that I’m familiar with and have no matter what country Im in, even the ones that I hold passports for. The Dutch are also not keen on their citizens holding multiple citizenships, if I wanted to eventually apply for Dutch citizenship, I would have to renounce of my other citizenships and thats not something Im ok with or agree to. So for me, the question is can a country be considered home that I could never be a citizen of? Im going to say no. Watch this space, lets see how I feel about this in another 6 to 18 months time.

Whilst I have many complaints in my daily Dutch life, I also know that I’m incredibly privileged within my life and I don’t have to worry about female rights, religion limiting  what individuals are allowed to do, or famine and war. I live in a country that is safe, considered to be incredibly weathly (I wont comment on my 54% tax rate) and where people are happy.

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When the sun is out, its a truly stunning country.

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DIY Lantern Light

I have a slight obsession with lights and lamps but not your traditional kind. I’m quirky in every sense of the word and every aspect of my life. In the last 8 months I’ve taken to making my own lamps, where possible. It helps that Im quite creative and can envision what I want to make. In reality, it’s rarely as straightforward or easy (Pinterest fail) as I thought it would be but this adds to the ‘fun’ of making each item (and to my vocabulary of swear words).

I love fairy lights (or as the American in me says ‘Christmas lights’ because Christmas is awesome any time of year!), so combining the two makes me very happy.  What I don’t like is sad looking lamps/lanterns with about 10 fairy lights, that have no functionality or give off any actual light. Google image search ‘fairy light lanterns’ and you get matches to what I’m referring to. I’ve envision this light for about a year, which means that my expectations were wildly more exciting and fantastic than the lantern could ever turn out to be but it was also awesome to think through the aspects and to see items and how I could use them.

What you’ll need for your light house lamps

  • Wooden lantern with extended centre roof
  • Fairy lights
  • Pipe – the height of the lamp
  • 6 screws
  • Power Drill
  • Drill bit

I found my lamps at Lidls (however, they are widely available at lots of stores), they had 2 versions available and I went for the white version, as my living room is white and the windowsill the lamp is going in is white. Naturally I bought two, because why have one of anything when you can have two and they are going in a massive window. The extended roof is also really important when making this project, as the pipe will sit within it, giving it stability to ensure that it doesn’t fall over.IMG-20171003-WA0000

The first step is taking your pipe and putting your screws in. Use your power drill and drill bit to put holes into the pipe, I made 6 holes on 3 levels, alternating each side. This makes it easier when you are wrapping your fairy lights around the pipe. Measure out the top of the roof and then put the screw below this (naturally I didn’t do this bit and then wondered why my pipe wouldn’t fit in). I think I bought plumbing pipe. I’m a total girl when it comes to DIY shops, I walk around and think of ways of using things without any knowledge or idea of what it’s actually for or how it should properly be used. 20171006_173746

This was take two, after I realised that I hadn’t measured for the metal roof and had to redo the highest screws. It does show the importance of having the raised roof in the middle and how it acts to stabilise the pipe to stop it from falling over. 20171006_174035

Next step is to wrap your fairy lights around the pipe. I believe I used 125 lights on each pipe. The screws at the top help to hold the lights at the top of the pipe and make it easier to fit on the overall length of the pipe. 20171006_174412

Once the pipe is entirely wrapped, place it within your lantern and you’re almost done! Shut the door, plug it in and see the end result. 20171006_174511

This is what it looks like finished, admittedly the left picture was in the day light literally after I had finished it and doesn’t look very exciting at all. Right hand picture was in the evening in the dark and what a difference!

This is both of my lamps in the evening in the window that they were always destined for. I also put light switches on them to make them easier to turn on and off but not necessary to have. I’m pleased that they came out as an actual lantern giving off actual light, it’s the small things in life.20171017_205403

I think overall the project took me less than an hour and that was even with a few mistakes along the way with the overall cost being around €40ish, €20 for the lanterns, €15 for the LED fairy lights and around €5 for the pipe and light switches.

Citrus Shower Steamers

I’m in love with shower steamers, a few weeks ago I posted about Shower Steamers for congestion. They work really well and I even use one in the shower if I’m not congested. I’ve gotten a lot of postive feedback on them and they seem to perfect for winter (and a great party favour!).

I decided to make a alternative that isn’t specific for congestion. Ive decided to go for a blend of citrus, a burst of freshness in the shower. Shower steamers really work based on aromatherapy and citrus is awesome with lots of benefits. Several benefits to citrus essential oils are, they can help to alleviate headaches and fever, are a quick mood enhancer, can relieve fatigue and relieve seasonal allergies. Thus making citrus oils a awesome win! I think these shower steamers are great for people who take showers in the morning, they will give you a boost to start the day off right.

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Citrus Shower Steamers

Makes: Approximately 60 small cubes  Prep time: 10 mins  Making time: 10 mins Setting time: 5-8 hours (best over night)  Total time: 5 hours 20 mins minimum

  • 1 cup Baking soda
  • 1/2 cup Citric Acid
  • 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol
  • 1 teaspoon menthol crystals that have been dissolved in 2-3 teaspoons of rubbing alcohol (not to be left out, these are the MAGIC ingredient that makes these so good)
  • 1 teaspoon sweet orange essential oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon essential Oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon lime essential Oil
  • Mica- colour of your choice, I went for light orange (optional)
  • Mini ice cube tray – I bought mine on Wish
  • A seperate small cup disposable cup for your menthol crystals (seriously the crystals will continue to grow and its best to have something you can throw away or purposely dedicate just to THIS project)

For safety purposes you should also have: dust mask and gloves

1. Take your teaspoon of menthol crystals and dissolve them in 2-3 teaspoons of rubbing alcohol. They wont just dissolve on their own, you will need to stir them, it will take a few minutes. I tend to give them a bit of a crush before I mix them in the alcohol, I assume I’m making my life easier by doing this. I use a toothpick or straw to stir. As the menthol WILL form crystals on the cup and whatever you are using to stir it with, make sure that you have no commitment to said item and its disposable (as per the right picture, its the same cup I use for this recipe, forming crystals). Menthol crystals are NOT water soluble, so simply crushing them up and adding them to this mixture will not work or give you the desired results.

2. Put on your mask and gloves. In a bowl, combine your citric acid, baking soda and mica (if using), breaking any lumps. I put mine through a sieve to help with lumps. Give it a good mix with your hand, this helps to evenly disperse the colour (wont lie, forgot this step and it did make a difference at the end when mixing).

3. Add in your essential oils and crystal menthol mixture and mix throughly. At this point your mixture is either ready to use or isn’t. If you are able to get it to form in your hand when you squeeze it, you’re on to a winner (far right picture). If it doesn’t hold it form when you squeeze it, then add in the rest of your rubbing alcohol, mix again and it should now hold its form when you squeeze it.

4. Now to put the shower steam mixture in your moulds. Try for the middle of the mould and work your way out. Ensure to press your mixture into each individual mould, you want it to be packed in and solid, I use my thumb to press in the mixture in EACH individual mould.

5. Leave them to dry, honestly I think over night is best. If you’re in a rush or made them in the morning, give them at least 5-6 hours to set. As it is alcohol which was used to combine them, it will evaporate on its own over time.

6. Once dry, turn out and ideally place them in a air tight box/container. Ive got mine in jars in my bathroom. You want to keep them dry from humidity. You can also make gifts with them and put them in clear bags (10 per bag) and jars (25ish per jar), with the following instructions:

TO USE: Place 1-3 steamers on the floor of your shower, where it will get wet but not directly under the water. Let the aromas clear your sinuses/congestion as you breathe in deeply. Store in an airtight container. Humidity will cause them to break down. Use within 1 month for best scent and results. WARNINGS: Not to be used in the bath as a bath bomb or to have direct contact with skin. Keep out of reach of children.

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These are my shower steamers, the white ones are for congestion and the orange are the citrus. Ideally Ill have matching jars but this is what happens when you go to the store for matching jars, get to the till to pay and realise you’ve forgotten your wallet on the sofa.

Notes: These are not bath bombs and should not be treated as such, whilst the ingredients are similar, I wouldn’t recommend or tell anyone to use them in the bath, if you want a bath bomb, make/buy a bath bomb, if you want a shower steamer, then THIS is the recipe for you!

Other shower steamers/melts/fizzy/bomb use water in it, why doesn’t this recipe? This is a conscious choice that I have made NOT to use water. Water, no matter how much, reacts with the citric acid causing it to fizz and puff instantly, adding too much water can RUIN any steamers/melts/fizzy/bomb recipe, which is something that I have done MORE than once.

Remember to save some for yourself and share with friends! 🙂