Posts from December 2015.

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Gift Wrapping Ideas

December 21st  •  Posted in Craft

Gift Wrapping Ideas

Not sure how, but this time every year things start to become stressful and frantic, between the whole organizing Christmas day and buying the last few presents and then wrapping them up. So seeing your Christmas tree all surrounded with beautifully wrapped gifts, perhaps that’s the view I most enjoy about the Holiday season. Or perhaps it’s about the process of putting wrapping paper and bows together that I truly enjoy, that’s when the Christmas spirit starts feeling alive for real.

I do enjoy a beautifully wrapped present when I spot it, but I also reckon most people usually don’t care about the packaging and all that pretty paper just goes destroyed in minutes after the gifts are exchanged. So to me it’s more about the process in itself: picking up a pretty wrapping paper, combining colours and patterns, learning new ways to tie a bow, or just getting creative and appreciate the atmosphere. And then getting to enjoy the view of all that glitter-y ribbons between the tree fairy lights.

Even though I do believe getting creative is the way to go in these cases, today I wanted to share some simple but effective gift wrapping ideas if you need some inspiration!

Gift Wrapping Ideas

Gift Wrapping Ideas

Add some branches

This is the simplest, most inexpensive yet very effective idea: just go outside, pick up some branches of holly, pine or small red berries like the ones we got from our backyard, and tie them between the knots of your red and white twine to add a festive feel to your gifts! This is so simple but makes for the perfect winter-y gift and your presents will smell very festive too!

Gift Wrapping Ideas

Gift Wrapping Ideas

Decorate with bells and candy cane

For a fun and different touch, I’ve bought a pack of cute little bells, that not only make the presents all jingling, but once the gifts will be unwrapped they can be hung or used as Christmas tree ornaments! While for kids or any sweet tooth in your life, think about tying a colourful candy cane between the knots of your twine.

Gift Wrapping Ideas

Use a box

If you’ve created a themed gift set, consider buying a cute Christmassy box (that can be easily re-used to store objects), fill it with shredded paper and place your pieces in it. Add a cute bow on top and your gift tags and you’re settled!

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Homemade Hazelnut Brittle

December 20th  •  Posted in Recipe

Homemade Hazelnut Brittle

Is brittle even a Christmas tradition anywhere? Not sure why but I keep associating brittle or, how we call it here in Italy, ‘croccante’ with the festive season, yet I’m sure it’s not purely restricted to Christmas. It must be that handmade brittle starts appearing every so often in Christmas markets especially, or that we tend to associate nuts with wintertime, or that again its sweet caramel-y flavour, enriched with a few drops of citrusy lemon juice, fits so perfectly with this period of the year.

It’s surely a food that starts appearing very often on Italian tables during this time of the year, and even though we eat brittle on a regular basis every year in December, it only touched my mind around a couple of weeks ago to give it a proper try and make my own brittle from scratch at home. I mean, how difficult could it be? Not considering the fact that I have read a million recipes before deciding how to proceed, it’s a pretty simple process indeed!

Homemade Hazelnut Brittle

Homemade Hazelnut Brittle

Homemade Hazelnut Brittle

Homemade Hazelnut Brittle

Being such an easy, customizable recipe, homemade brittle is just about finding the perfect balance between the sweetness of caramelized sugar and the citrusy flavor of lemon combined with the toasted nuts. It’s about picking your favourite nuts, whether they are hazelnuts, almonds or a mix of both and others if you fancy, and combining them into a thick block of sweetness. It’s about cracking your block into small pieces and wrap them up into food paper bags and a pretty bow to give as a gift on the season of giving.

It’s about filling your kitchen with the aroma of caramel and toasted nuts while you’re making it, picking up the most yellow lemon from your own tree and squeezing its freshest juice, whose scent will only be revealed while you’re melting it down with the finest sugar.

Homemade Hazelnut Brittle

Homemade Hazelnut Brittle

Homemade Hazelnut Brittle

Homemade Hazelnut Christmas Brittle

Homemade Hazelnut Christmas Brittle

Ingredients

  • 130g peeled hazelnuts
  • 130g caster sugar
  • juice of 1/4 lemon

Instructions

1 :: Measure out the hazelnuts and cut each one of them in half to ensure that the brittle won't be too thick in the end. Then place all the halves in a large pan and toast them on a medium heat for a few minutes, until they start smelling nutty and toasted.

2 :: Combine the sugar and the lemon juice in a medium-sized saucepan, then place on a very low heat and allow the sugar to slowly melt completely. Start stirring with a non-stick spatula to ensure the sugar is all melted down but it's not sticking to the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat when the caramel has turned to a nice amber color - do not over heat it or you may risk to burn it and it may taste a bit too bitter in the end.

3 :: Quickly add the nuts in the saucepan and stir the melted sugar around them until they're coated in a nice layer of caramel. Then transfer onto a flat surface, covered in parchment paper, and flatten out the brittle as much as you can.

4 :: Leave to cool completely (it requires around 10-15 minutes), then crack the block into shards with your hands and enjoy!

http://www.miel-cafe.com/2015/12/homemade-hazelnut-brittle.html

Homemade Hazelnut Brittle

Homemade Hazelnut Brittle

Homemade Hazelnut Brittle

I’m definitely a fan of how my homemade hazelnut brittle has turned out and am sure I’ll make more to give as handmade gift at Christmas this year! Let me know if you decide to try out this recipe (and if you eat brittle at Christmas too!)! x

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Holiday Movie Night

December 18th  •  Posted in Lifestyle

Holiday Movie Night

Even though I’ve never been a massive movies lover, over the past year or so I’ve come to love occasional movie nights, especially impromptu ones that include homemade popcorns or, around this time of the year, an indulgent whipped cream topped hot chocolate. I’ve never been one that loves to sit in front of the TV for more than one hour and watch something that will be soon done and dusted (I much more prefer TV series, that’s it), but this year there have been so many movies with a lovely intriguing plot I wanted to watch, hence why we installed out movie night blanket + pillow nest quite often on those lazy Saturday evenings!

But if there’s one time of the year when I just don’t care how many hours I’m spending in front of the TV, it must be the Holidays. I’m such a sucker for Holiday movies, anything that includes Christmas trees, fairy lights, Holiday-related plots, snow, it’s just right up my street (all year round, really, but especially) around this time of the year! Between the many installments, we have surely mastered the whole thing like pros, so here are the things I think a perfect Holiday Movie Night can’t really lack on…

Holiday Movie Night

Holiday Movie Night

Holiday Movie Night

Holiday Movie Night

Make hot chocolate fancy

If one thing is mandatory on a Holiday movie night, that’s hot chocolate, even better, fancy hot chocolate! One of those thick, indulgent, decadent hot chocolates topped with soft whipped cream and all fancy chocolate flakes. Whilst I’ve always been a lover of head-to-toe dairy hot chocolate + whipped cream (who isn’t anyway?), the one pictured above it’s probably the most delicious, glorious hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted – and it’s dairy free! Completely! … I know.

Coconut milk makes the most creamy, soft, sweet whipped cream that has ever been. And is there a better combo than chocolate + coconut anyway? To make it, I’ve used the recipe I’ve shared here recently (adding an extra teaspoon of cocoa powder for a thicker hot chocolate, replacing the whole milk with soy or rise milk for a non-dairy option); as for the whipped cream, I’ve refrigerated my coconut milk (200ml) overnight, then separated the solid component from the liquid one (which I’ve stored in the fridge – perfect for a healthy smoothie!), added 4 teaspoons of white sugar, and whisked all up until soft and fluffy. Placed in the fridge for around 10 minutes. That’s it!

You’ll hardly believe how delicious it is, I’m telling you! I’ve said goodbye to dairy hot chocolate toppings already!

Holiday Movie Night

Holiday Movie Night

Festive pjs + hot water bottle

You cannot join a Holiday movie night without festive PJs. You just can’t. Plus I have a feeling that wearing festive PJs non-stop kind of enhance the excitement for the festive season. And yes, I’m living in those PJs since I got them – because why not! Also, a must-have of mine during wintertime, but especially while cozying up in bed or on the couch, is a hot water bottle and piles of blankets and pillows all around. It’s just the perfect excuse for building a nest – next up, a blankets tent.

Holiday Movie Night

Must-watch Holiday movies

Last but not at least, the Holiday movies. Because I actually watch them, it’s not just an excuse to drink hot chocolate and cover myself under piles of cozy blankets (even if I’m one of those who falls asleep quite too easily…). But on my Holiday season to-watch list there surely are a couple of rom-com like Love Actually and The Holiday (love this one especially!) but also we’re fan of classical like Home Alone and How The Grinch Stole Christmas (my all time personal favourite, I just love it! Anyone else?!).

Next on our list: Happy Christmas and A Very Murray Christmas. But we’re very open to suggestions!

Holiday Movie Night

Holiday Movie Night

The checklist

For the occasion I’ve put together a cute and very festive hand-designed little ‘Holiday Movie Night Essentials’ checklist for you to download for free – just use as you like: print, frame or just get inspired! Click the button below and follow the link to download ;).

Grab your free download!

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We want to know what your favourite Holiday movies are! As well as all your movie night essentials! Let’s chat in the comments x

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