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The Better Living Series#4: Make Me A Happy Home

Our houses are so much more than just shelter from the elements. It’s the place where we expect to find peace; feel safe; be ourselves; relax; represent who we are; have friends over, and most of all, be happy!

Image from pixabay.com

Image from pixabay.com

As an excited first-time homeowner, it’s so important that the place that Mr.D and I call home is somewhere that brings us a lot of peace and happiness – a place that we can’t wait to come home to every day. And happiness doesn’t always come from designer kitchens, finished basements, and Olympic sized pools – although I wouldn’t say no to any of those! But quite often it’s the simple things that that make a house a home and bring a sense of peace, happiness, and well-being. These are the things that make mine a happy home.

1. LET’S GET PERSONAL

Many of us would like to live in the kind of home that wouldn’t look out of place among the pages of Home and Garden – or in my case, MTV Cribs! But in trying to do so, we get so bogged down with the details concerning our chosen theme or colour scheme that we discard anything that doesn’t ‘go’ with the decor – even though quite often these are the very things that reflect our personality and gives the home we live in a sense of identity and signs of life.

A few of your favourite things

A few of your favourite things

I’m often quite underwhelmed by homes that don’t seem to contain anything personal or tell me anything about the people who live there. To me it feels a little soulless. So I love to see photographs, artwork, holiday souvenirs, collections on display, a library of well-loved books, home made furnishings, home-grown flowers in a vase… anything that tells a story and says something about the habits, interests and personality about the owner of the house.

True there should be some flow between personal objects and the style of the house but with a little imagination, you can bring together the most eclectic of objects bound together in your own inimitable style. So our house is most definitely going to refect our love of travel, rock music, food, family and friends, 1980s nostalgia, angels and… Lego! Now that’s some story to tell!

2. DISPLAY PHOTOS

There’s hardly anyone out there who doesn’t carry some kind of device for taking photos which means that they can literally snap away any time, any place, anywhere. Taking photos has never been easier. But unfortunately most people have a tendency to just leave the photos on their phones or tablets or upload them on to social media and then just forget about them. When I worked in a gift shop, most of my customers would only really buy photo frames or albums as a last resort. “Well that’s what Facebook’s for,” they’d say.

Well I personally think that’s a waste of a good photo.

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When I lived at home with my family, I was photo mad. My room was a shrine to me and Mr.D. which some people found nauseating but who cares! Then I framed photos and put them all over the house which annoyed my family as they kept knocking them over. Which in turn annoyed me if the photos were just left lying there, or worse the frame was broken. And when we moved to the States, I couldn’t bring my mammoth collection with me but I made sure I had enough to put all over the apartment.

I love displaying photos and I don’t think a home feels complete without them. There’s nothing like seeing the faces of the people you love most every day, especially when they can’t be with you in person as often as you’d like. Each photo tells a story and gives you the chance to relive memories. I’ve also found that photos can be a real talking point when you have guests over – especially with people you don’t know very well.

And there’s an array of gorgeous frames available to suit everyone’s taste, to simple and elegant to colourful and funky. Yep, I’ve got the lot!

3. A SOFT SPOT FOR SOFT FURNISHINGS

As the child of parents who own a soft furnishings business, I definitely have a liking for soft furnishings – much more than Mr. D does. I think they add a touch of luxury and a lot of comfort and really make a house feel like a home. True, I’m not into doilies, you’ll never find chairbacks or armcaps on my sofa, and I’m not sure how fussed I am about tablecloths. 

 

But I know that I’m most definitely a fan of curtains. I appreciate the beauty of a well dressed window as well as the practicalities of providing privacy and retaining warmth. Beautiful bedding is a must; beanbags and floor cushions provide extra, informal seating for guests, and I don’t believe that a couch is really a couch unless is got throws – perfect for snuggling under when you’re watching TV or surfing the net – and a truckload of cushions. Not that Mr. D would agree with me!

And what I love most about soft furnishings is that it really is the quickest, most convenient, and possibly the cheapest way of instantly changing the appearance of a room.

4. SIMPLY SCENTSATIONAL

Like songs, certain aromas are highly evocative and have an effect on our moods, feelings and well-being. But quite often how fab  – or unfab – your home smells is often overlooked.

When I used to live in a house-share, some of the highly pungent foods that my housemates used to cook would make me want to gag. I would have to hold my breath as I walked into the kitchen and I would be afraid that the not-so-sweet fragrances would be lingering on my clothes. And I couldn’t even escape it in my bedroom where the dreaded smell would be wafting up into my room. So even though I do have happy memories of my time in the house-share, this was not one of them!

But pleasant aromas can have a positive effect on us and can make us feel refreshed, calm, energised and can induce sleep. Everyone knows why people eager to sell their homes are keen to have the aroma of freshly baked goodies wafting around their home, and its that same smell that can be delightfully welcoming to a guest visiting your home. That and freshly ground coffee, and beautifully-scented cut flowers.

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I’m not really a fan of air freshener or highly fragranced cleaning products with that ghastly synthetic smell, so I wouldn’t use those. But I do love good quality scented candles and incense sticks; good old-fashioned drawer liners and lavender sachets; essential oils being used in oil burners, floral-scented water spritzed over bedding, and an aromatic bath doesn’t just do wonders for you but also makes your bathroom smell divine.

And although I wouldn’t normally have it in the house the rest of the year, I really don’t think Christmas is Christmas without some festive-looking and festival smelling pot pourri!

5. MAKE TEA-TIME A REAL TREAT

It wasn’t anything as grand as afternoon tea in a posh hotel or quaint tea-room but growing up, tea-time was a pretty big deal in my family – especially when I went to Granddad’s house. Everything stopped for tea! I guess that’s where I get my love of afternoon tea from.

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Unfortunately with the hours most of us work, tea at four o’clock every day is impossible. It would however make a fabulous,  relaxing weekend treat – just what’s needed to help you unwind. And why not go to town by using real china, cake stands and serving lots of scrumptious, sweet, creamy delicacies?

There’s no reason why tea-time at home shouldn’t be every bit as enjoyable as at your local tea shop.

6.  HAVE A BAKE-IN!

Closely linked to number five, baking used to be regarded as something that your mum or gran would do especially if you needed cheering up or deserved a treat. But for a long time it wasn’t really considered cool or especially trendy. When we wanted a birthday cake or fresh bread, we headed over to our local bakery rather than whip something up ourselves. We all live such hectic lives that when we get home after a hard day’s work, the last thing we feel like doing is creaming butter and sugar!

I knead to bake!

I knead to bake!

But baking can be relaxing, enjoyable and therapeutic.  And shows such as Great British Bake Off, Masterchef and Next Great Baker have reignited our enthusiasm  for baking and enabled us to get happy with the mixing bowl again.

Baking is an activity which involves all five of the senses. Who doesn’t love the sight of prettily iced cupcakes; the texture of bread as it’s being kneaded; the taste of choc chip cookies; the aroma of delicious home baking, and best of all, the sound of everyone happily tucking in!

7. CANDLELIGHT

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If there’s something else I think that makes a home complete other than framed photos out on display, it’s candles – and lots of them. And if they’re scented candles then that’s even better. There’s nothing like the cosy, warm glow of candlelight to bring that touch of magic into your home. It’s great for when you want to unwind, meditate, or get romantic. Candlelight is also great to fall asleep to but for this I would strongly recommend the common sense option of battery operated candles.

8. CREATE YOUR OWN SPACE

When Mr.D and I lived in London, we had to make do with a flat that was a little on the cosy side! But despite this, Mr.D and I both marked out places that were our ‘spots.’ These were places where we could put our feet up; watch a bit of telly; read; have a cuppa; blog or do crafts (me!) play computer games (definitely Mr. D!) and have it looking the way we wanted it to look.

When you live with others, I think it’s important for you to pick a place in the house that you can call your own: a place where you can talk on the phone; read a novel; write etc. and generally just slow down, enjoy your own company and be lost in your own thoughts. Absolutely nothing wrong with that!

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Your own space could be a comfy armchair by the window; a window seat with a nearby bookcase containing your fave novels; a corner of the room with bean bags, floor cushions and a side table with all your fave knick-knacks on it. In fact who even says it has to be indoors? Maybe you could relax on a blanket beside gorgeous, sweetly scented rose bushes in your garden, or a bench under a tree.

In one episode of Wife Swap, I came across a lady who had built a thirty thousand dollar meditation feature in her garden, which she never used for meditating but she did like sitting out there and admiring it (admittedly, we don’t all have the budget for that!)

9. TO READ OR NOT TO READ

Knowing that printed literature is fast becoming obsolete makes me feel sad as just looking at a book puts me in a better mood. To say that I am a bookworm is something of an understatement. I grew up with books, newspapers, and magazines and I cannot imagine a world without them.

Yes, I know that E-readers are all the rage and that everyone reads newspapers and magazines online these days. But when I was growing up, the focal point of the sitting room were the bookshelves that contained Dad’s vast collection of books which he used to sit and read most evenings in ‘his space’. And I like the fact that some kind of reading material perched on a coffee table gives a home a nice ‘lived-in’ feel.

 

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And taking a look at people’s bookshelves also tells you a lot about them. Mine reveal my love of crafts, writing, studying languages and chick lit. My mum’s extensive collection of recipe books gives away her love of cooking, being a bit of a feeder, and ambition to be the next Masterchef! My brother’s books show that he’s sports mad, while Mr. D’s reading material point towards being a Trekkie and avid watcher of Game Of Thrones and that he loved Brian Jacques books as a kid.

10. WHERE THE MAGIC HAPPENS

Sleep: the one thing that most of us can’t get enough of and would never say no to more of – if only we had the time!

When I’m sleep deprived I am not a happy bunny but then, who is? That’s why it’s so important that your bedroom is a tranquil haven where you can nod off easily and get adequate hours of peaceful slumber. And when I’m not sleeping, my bedroom is the place where I lounge around, read, and meditate, so it really is the place where I get some much needed rest and relaxation.

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That’s one of the reasons why I firmly believe that, if it can be helped, you should never use your bedroom for working or studying in. It should ideally be kept clutter-free and as device- free as possible which, yes I know is hard, but we all know how technological gadgets interfere with our sleep. And if you suffer from allergies like Mr. D and me, then its important to keep your sleeping area clean, tidy and dust-free.

Even though my bedroom when I lived at home was pretty loud (which wasn’t a problem for me) most people would generally decorate their rooms in calming, serene colours or darker colours which help them to nod off more easily. Use adequate blinds, curtains and poles for windows as early morning sunlight seeping into your room might cause you to wake up sooner than you would like.

11. PEOPLE!

You can decorate your home any way you like but it’s the people we love who bring the happiness and laughter into our homes. And being a born hostess who loves nothing better than to entertain, I love having friends over to watch movies, major sports games or to stay for the weekend. I enjoy throwing parties and gatherings; hosting formal dinner parties or informal supper nights, and my famous cocktail and canapés events.

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After all what’s the point of having a beautiful home of you can’t share it with your amazing family and friends?

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Happy New Year from Chez Mrs. D!

I cannot believe that another new year is about to descend upon us in just over two hours time. I could have sworn we saw 2014 in last week! How has the year gone by so quickly? Mind you, I probably say that every year. Moreover how is it that Christmas has gone within the blink of an eye? We spend all year waiting for it, months preparing for it, days rushing around in a blind panic and then – it’s gone! My two week Christmas break has gone by so quickly and I’ll be back at work in a few days time. I’m sure I’ll be writing a post for 2016 tomorrow!

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I really can’t complain about this year. 2014 has been very good to us. Sure there have been some not so pleasant bits but that’s only to be expected. On the whole, life’s been pretty good. I truly hope that 2015 will be every bit as awesome not just for me but for all of us. I have so many plans for next year in terms of my personal and professional life, and there’s still plenty of things that I would like to do with this blog. I’m disappointed that I wasn’t able to fulfil everything I planned to do for Chez Mrs. D.  this year and I aim to complete these goals next year.

But I have to say I saw some pretty awesome things happen this year for Chez Mrs. D. From wondering if anyone would ever discover this blog to get tons of hits a day, a bunch of loyal followers and over a hundred fellow bloggers following this blog. And it’s all thanks to one blog post about Father Ray Kelly, the Catholic priest who sang a delightful rendition of Hallelujah. Thank you Fr. Kelly! I’ve seriously enjoyed every second of blogging this year and working on Chez Mrs. D. I’ve come across some fantastic blogs, interacted with some very talented bloggers, and of course as you all know, I met my first fellow blogger, Chitra from Chitra’s Healthy Kitchen just before Christmas. Definitely one of the highlights of this year. I’m really excited about what 2015 has in store for us all.

Now I’m going to enjoy what’s left of this year with a glass of something sparkling but before I do, I would just like to thank everyone for their support this year and wish you all a very peaceful and happy new year. I hope 2015 brings some fantastic things your way! xx

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Afternoon Tea Christmas Style!

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Christmas day may be over but that doesn’t mean that the fun times should stop!

I absolutely love Christmas. It’s my favourite time of year and I don’t care what anyone says – it’s not just for kids! One of the things I love about Christmas is the chance to eat, drink and be merry (is that three things?) It’s also great that you have the chance to catch up with people you might not see a great deal of throughout the year, and that you have time to relax. Furthermore, could there be a more aesthetically pleasing time of the year that Christmas?  This year I’m super lucky that I will have two glorious weeks off work. Yes, I know it’ll fly by but right now I’m just going to wallow in my super relaxed state of bliss!

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So I think that the Christmas break is the perfect opportunity to indulge in a festive themed afternoon tea party. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a huge fan of afternoon tea. In fact, I’m a huge fan of anything that involves, food, drink, people and conversation. But there’s something extra special about having afternoon tea. I suppose that it’s because we don’t often find the time to have a real, proper afternoon tea so it’s become something of a treat.

And when you combine afternoon tea with my most favourite event of the whole year, Christmas, then you have a delightfully themed tea.

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Of course, I’m not suggesting you have a Christmas afternoon tea on Christmas Day itself. By the time you’ve devoured the turkey with all the trimmings followed by a helping of Christmas pudding, tea will be the last thing on your mind! But the good news is that you can hold your Christmas themed tea at any time during the Christmas holidays which generally last for twelve days beginning on Christmas Day.

The beauty of hosting a Christmas afternoon tea during the season is that many of your family and friends are likely to be in town in order to celebrate the holidays, so it will be a lovely way to spend more time with them before they go home. There’s also no need to buy decorations for your tea – because it’ll already be there: the tree and other decorations will still be up; you might have poinsettias on the table; your fancy Christmas table cloth is likely to be adorning the table, and you may have lots of accessories in traditional Christmas colours.

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Furthermore, it’s also a great way to use up any leftovers that you might have. Everyone knows that when it comes to Christmas, we really go town, buying/baking/cooking as though we’re facing the apocalypse. So there’s no need to prepare too much food, and in addition, any Christmas type food items that need to be bought are likely to be reduced in supermarkets after Christmas.

The list below gives food ideas of what you can include on your afternoon tea party menu which include typically Christmassy give festive flavours of Christmas:

SANDWICHES

Smoked salmon and cream cheese

Turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce

Ham and chutney

Ham, brie and apple

Bacon and chipolata

Cream cheese and cranberry

Cheddar cheese and chutney

Ricotta and orange marmalade

SAVOURIES

Mini sausage rolls

Mini Yorkshire puddings with turkey, stuffing and gravy

Filo parcels with cheese and cranberry sauce

Pigs in blankets

Baked brie with cranberries

Cheese scones

Cheese and bacon vol-au-vents

SWEET SCONES/TOASTED BREADS

Fruit loaf

Teacakes

English muffins

Slices of Panettone

Cranberry and dark chocolate scones

Orange and cranberry scones

CAKES, TARTS AND OTHER SWEET TREATS:

Christmas cake

Rum cake

Ginger cake

Mince pies

Spiced apple pies

Stollen

Mini yule logs

Orange and walnut cake

Cranberry and orange jelly in shot glasses

Sherry trifle served in teacups

DRINKS:

Mulled wine

Spiced tea

Ginger and cinnamon tea

Apple and cranberry fruit tea

Eggnog

Hot apple toddy

Spiced pumpkin latte

Shot glasses of thick hot chocolate flavoured with rum or Bailey’s

Remember to serve butter and jams such as fig, mulled plum or orange curd to go with the toasted breads and scones, and you might need some clotted cream if you’re serving scones which you could flavour with spices, orange zest or brandy if you wish. You might also need some chutneys and sauces to go with the savouries.

I found a delightful recipe for chocolate and orange scones, by Ellie Simmonds, which I have tried before so  know it’s delicious and would be perfect as part of your Christmas tea.

CHOCOLATE AND ORANGE SCONES

Ingredients

  • 700g/1lb 9oz self-raising flour

  • 150g/5½oz butter

  • 150g/5½oz caster sugar

  • 2 large oranges, finely grated zest of both and juice of one orange

  • 150g/5½oz chocolate drops

  • 200ml/7fl oz whole milk, plus extra for brushing

To serve

  • clotted cream

  • 2 satsumas

Preparation method

  1. Preheat the oven to 210C/400F/Gas 6.
  2. Lightly butter two baking trays.
  3. Sift the flour into a bowl.
  4. Rub in the butter using your hands until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  5. Stir in the sugar, chocolate drops and orange zest.
  6. In a measuring jug, mix the milk with the juice of one orange.
  7. Add to the flour mixture gradually until the dough just comes together.
  8. You may not need all the liquid. Be careful not to overwork the scone dough.
  9. Roll out the dough to approximately 2cm/1in thickness and cut out scones using a 5-6cm/2-2½in cutter.
  10. Transfer the scones to the buttered baking trays, brush the tops with milk and bake in the centre of the oven for 10-12 minutes, or until risen and golden-brown.
  11. Remove from the oven and cool on wire rack.
  12. Serve with clotted cream and satsumas.

 

Enjoy!

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Merry Christmas From Mrs. D

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Christmas is almost over. After all those weeks of planning and running around, driving ourselves crazy, and getting ourselves into near debt, Christmas is drawing to a close. But it’s been so worth it!

Christmas for us began at midnight when  managed to drag Mr. D. out for mass. I  love midnight mass – have done ever since my parents took us to our first midnight mass service when we were kids. There’s nothing wrong with going to mass on Christmas morning but for me it’s always been a midnight thing!

However Mr. D. and I woke up mega late today. Under normal circumstances, I would have got myself into a bit of a tizz but not  was determined to relax and enjoy the day. And we did. We had a late breakfast; opened a mountain of presents; got started on dinner, and cuddled up while watching a movie with a box of chocs. Bliss!

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I then watched Eastenders even though I no longer watch the soap. But Christmas Eastenders has always been a family tradition so I couldn’t not watch it. And what an explosive episode it was! I’ll definitely be tuning in tomorrow.

As I’m sure you’ve gathered, we had dinner very, very late but then that’s pretty much a tradition in this household. Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners are always served later than most people would sit down to eat, but that’s always been our thing and I’m guessing that’s how it’s going to stay.

So I hope you’ve all had a really fun time with all your loved ones and that you’re celebrating in a way that suits you.

Merry Christmas everyone xx

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Please Rain On My Parade!

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We’re still in August but the cooler temperature of the last few days has been an indicator that Autumn will be here before we know it – and I couldn’t be more thrilled! It’s pelting down with rain as I’m writing this post but instead of feeling dismayed at the grey skies I cannot wait for Autumn to arrive which is most definitely my favourite season.

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As a Summer baby, the irony that I don’t ‘do hot weather’ isn’t lost on me. I put it down to the fact that I’m a Londoner, and that the cold and the rain is what I’m used to but then I know that that doesn’t count for much as most Londoners crave the sun – mainly because we don’t usually have any! But I’m most definitely an Autumn-bordering-on-Winter kind of girl. When planning our wedding, the original date was to be in Winter (Mr. D’s birthday to be  exact) but the reaction from our guests – who acted as though we’d just announced that our wedding was gong to be held in a morgue – made us reconsider. So as a compromise, we held our wedding in the twilight month of September: technically Summer but with a more Autumn feel.

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I understand that to say you don’t like hot weather is like saying you don’t like chocolate, can’t stand Friends or never listen to music! I’m not totally sure where my negativity regarding the Summer comes from because I’m quite sure I loved it when I was a child.  I put it down to the fact that as I got older I became less tolerant to the sun (or maybe the sun became less tolerant towards me!) But I don’t see anything great about sweating like a spa; having your make-up slide off your face; getting heat rash  and sunstroke… I could go on and on. Sure we get to indulge in ice-cream, barbecues, picnics, give our summer clothes an airing, and drive with the top down if we’re lucky enough to own a convertible. But for me, the colder months have more appeal.

So why do I love Autumn so much? Well…

1. If it gets too cold, you just put on extra layers. What do you do when it’s too hot? I don’t live near Miami Beach so running around in a bikini is not an option!

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2. I’m very much a jeans and boots kind of girl, but who can wear boots in scorching hot weather? I love the ballet style pumps I live in throughout the warmer months but it feels so good to be back in a pair of knee-high boots!

b4e6a25b83ef8c80e736e40fc392ece53. I love my snug, cosy jumpers, sweaters and cardis.

b6d50e938049e42d1175d6ed956511464. The colder temperature means lots of frothy, hot drinks. I love the wonderfully flavoured hot chocolates and coffees that are available. Gingerbread, eggnog, pumpkin pie lattes… bring it on!

9dac74f8b853b89380b8696fdc948ac55. All the best holidays – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Bonfire Night, Christmas and Valentine’s Day – take place during Autumn and Winter.

91ef87c27baacc591457da8c505abb1b6. There’s no denying that blossom looks gorgeous in Spring but there’s just something naturally stunning about the simplicity of Fall colours. Plus walking ankle-deep in fallen leaves reminds me of my childhood.

e0e4af7801503de99673e4e9991824ec7.  It’s the perfect excuse to lie around in cosy pjs, with a warm blanket watching movies all day (providing it’s the weekend of course!)

jam8. Comforting soups, stews and stodgy puds were made for this weather!

c22bf7b45c460be365672c6fdcc6810d9. There’s something quite beautiful about a  dark city street, after it’s been raining and seeing the street lights reflected on the glistening ground.

imagesHAY40OMF10. If you think miserable weather means being cooped up indoors, think again. Some of my best nights out have occurred during cold and wet weather.

imagesJNYNTT8111. …but if you do decide to stay in, sofa Saturday nights with takeaways, booze, movies and mates are fab.

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12. You can ditch the exercise plan as you won’t be getting your bikini bod out for a while!

images52SLUESX13. It’s great news for holidaymakers and soon-to-be-marrieds as everything tends to be cheaper around this time.

919cba7fcc60496198876a96b44c36ad14. No one wants to be stuck indoors during the Summer, especially not in a hot kitchen, but Autumn’s great for practising your baking skills.

af17f96ebd70102e575eadee310cb16815. There’s an extra hour in bed!

child-sleeping16. It’s great to fall asleep to the sound of falling rain.

swr17. The crisp, cool weather makes for great walks.

322594c5e6154444c0e2aacd2bec075918. Who wouldn’t like to sit in front of a real log fire?

imagesBS01HPVG19. Packed tubes, trains and buses are way more bearable when it’s cold.

efee4-imagescap4210j20. I can wear my beloved scarves and not look like an idiot!

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I can’t wait to say

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Bring it on!

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Keep Calm And Stay Hydrated

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Summer has officially descended upon us and the weather is just making me want to drink… and drink… and drink! Forget food, I just want something to quench my thirst so no prizes for guessing what’s going to make up most of this week’s shopping list!

 

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I came across some delicious sounding recipes for drinks which I thought I’d share with you, including one for a hot coffee drink which may not sound ideal for the warmer weather, but a girl always has to get her early morning coffee fix!

HAZELNUT LATTE

One of my fave coffee flavours – hazelnut!

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INGREDIENTS:

Hazelnut syrup

A cup of whisked, warmed milk

1 tsp. coffee powder

A swirl of cream

METHOD:

  1. Put coffee powder into a latte cup.
  2. Add a tbsp. of boiling water to coffee and stir.
  3. Add hazelnut syrup.
  4. Top up with whisked, warmed milk.
  5. Add a swirl of cream.

 

MANGO LASSI

(serves 6)

I love mangoes and anything made from this delicious fruit so it’s no surprise that it’s something I always order when I go to an Indian restaurant – although I have yet to make it myself! This version also includes mint – something I’ve never tried in a lassi.

Image from mealmotivation.com

Image from mealmotivation.com

INGREDIENTS:

A small bunch of mint leaves

100ml milk

1 ripe mango, peeled, stoned and chopped

2tbsp. low-fat yogurt

1tsp. runny honey

METHOD:

  1. Whizz all the ingredients in a blender until smooth.
  2. Fill a tall glass with some ice.
  3. Pour lassi over ice – and serve!

 

CLEMENTINE FIZZ

Pretty much Bucks Fizz – something I usually have with breakfast Christmas morning but I bet an ice-cold glass of Clementine Fizz would go down very well on a hot day.

Image from channel4.com

Image from channel4.com

INGREDIENTS:

Juice of 1 Clementine

1tsp. triple sec

Prosecco or Cava

METHOD:

  1. Put the juice in a champagne flute.
  2. Add the triple sec.
  3. Top with Prosecco or cava.

 

CHAMPAGNE COCKTAIL

Who wouldn’t like a glass of champers?

Image from bbc.co.uk

Image from bbc.co.uk

INGREDIENTS:

1 sugar cube

A dash of Angostura bitters

10ml brandy or cognac

Champagne or your favourite sparkling wine

METHOD:

  1. Place sugar cube in a fluted glass.
  2. Add Angostura bitters and brandy or cognac.
  3. Top with Champagne or sparkling wine.

 

WASABI BLOODY MARY

(makes 6)

Image from fresh.co.nz-

Image from fresh.co.nz-

usually made with tobacco sauce, this version uses wasabi for an even more powerful kick!

INGREDIENTS:

1ltr tomato juice

3tbsp. wasabi powder

6 shots vodka

1tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

3 lemons, halved

6 celery sticks

Handful of ice

METHOD:

  1. Place ice in glasses.
  2. Put all other ingredients – except celery –  into a large jug.
  3. Stir well.
  4. Pour into glasses over the ice.
  5. Serve with celery sticks.

Enjoy these gorgeous drinks. Enjoy the Summer!

All recipes from Woman’s Own, March 2014

All recipes serve one unless otherwise stated.

imagesCAHZOS9O

2014 Is HERE!!!

 

In the run up to Christmas when we were running ourselves ragged, I knew that Christmas and New Year would be over within the blink of an eye. And I wasn’t wrong! I can’t believe the holidays are over and I return tomorrow. Not that I can complain too much as most people went back to work ages ago. Furthermore I do like my job a lot so it will be cool to head back and hang out with my colleagues and students again. Oh and teach English of course!

I’m sure we’re all wondering what this year will have in store for us. 2013 was a pretty good year for Mr.D and I and I’m hoping we’ll be equally fortunate this year. I don’t really make resolutions because like the vast majority of people I rarely stick to them. However, I have simply made a promise to myself to be happier, healthier, enjoy life more – and get my finances in order! Now that I know I can stick to!

And of course, I’ll be continuing with Chez Mrs. D. Time was very much against me towards the end of last year so I didn’t get to post as much as I would have liked. Furthermore, I wasn’t able to do much with The Better Living Series so that is very much a priority for this year. That and interacting with my followers and fellow bloggers a lot more in order to get to know the people whose work I admire.

I hope everyone’s new year got off to a brilliant start.

 

Happy New Year Everyone!

 

 

 

 

Where did Christmas go? One minute I was shopping like there was no tomorrow in anticipation for the big day and now it’s NYE! Mr. D and I have had an awesome Christmas break. We’ve just been chilling, eating, drinking (perhaps a bit too much!) watching movies, snuggling, sleeping til whenever we want, waking up whenever we want and generally hiding away from the rest of the world – and we’ve loved it! And yes, I have written a few blog posts in that time. I’m thrilled that I took the initiative to book a few extra days off work so I don’t have to return straight after New Year’s Day. Yay me! Although talking of work, I don’t mind having to return and catch up with my colleagues and students again.  I wonder what awaits us this term…

I’m getting a little emotional realising that this is going to be my last blog post of 2013. I started this blog six months ago and I have had an absolute blast. I promised that Mrs. D’s house would be full of fun – and I think I might have been right!

It took several attempts to get Chez Mrs. D just right. I realised that the blog host was not right for me and I tried about a million times to get the style and design right. Once I’d done that I just had to wait for inspiration for writing my blog posts. Well I didn’t have to wait for very long because there was inspiration EVERYWHERE! If I’d managed to write all the posts I’d wanted to this year, I’d have had to give up my job!

I really enjoy writing for Chez Mrs. D. because it’s such a versatile blog and I can write about absolutely anything. What’s awesome is that there are many of you out there who seem to like Chez Mrs. D and appreciate the effort I put into each blog post. So a big thank you to everyone who has followed, liked or commented on this blog. It’s you guys who make it worthwhile.

Happy new year everyone. See you in 2014! xx

 

 

 

Merry Christmas!

 

It’s my favourite holiday of the year so I would like to wish each and everyone of you a very merry Christmas. And I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who follows, reads, comments on and likes this blog. It’s a pleasure to put together but sometimes it can be hard work. And I’m thrilled that my efforts are appreciated.

Have a great Christmas – and go easy on the Christmas pudding! xx

 

How Cool Is That! Make Your Own Ice Ice-Bucket!

 

It’s Christmas; time for eating drinking and being very, very merry! Socialising is one of the best things about the festive season, and I love having a full house.

Of course, along with drinks comes the need to keep them cool. I found this method for making a beautiful ice- bucket using a plastic bottle and water! You can decorate it however you like using a range of materials. The end result is stunning – and costs virtually tuppence!

 

You Will Need:

Empty 2ltr plastic bottle

Empty 1ltr glass bottle

Water

Decorative materials for ice-bucket e.g:

flowers

leaves

fruit slices

petals

sprigs of herbs

berries

food colouring etc.

METHOD:

  1. Cut the top off empty plastic bottle.
  2. Place glass bottle inside.
  3. Fill two-thirds of bottle with water.
  4. Push decorative materials around the sides (or add food colouring. Do not stir if you want a marbled effect.)
  5. Stand the bottle in the freezer for 4-5 hours until frozen.
  6. When ready to use, run glass bottle quickly under a hot tap so that it slides off.
  7. Place hand-crafted, highly original ice-bucket on the table along with drinks and mixers.
  8. Wait for admiring comments!

TOP TIPS:

  • Use boiled, slightly cooled water for a crystal clear finish.

 

  • You can also apply the method to making ice-bowls to serve ice-cream (place a smaller bowl inside a large one) or make shot glasses.

 

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