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  • Posted on March 23, 2017

    Sweet ideas for Mother's Day gifts

    Don’t forget it’s Mother’s Day this weekend!  We know that she deserves something special, so for this week’s blog we’ve picked three fantastic recipes that will make the perfect homemade gifts…

    This peanut butter fudge recipe is so simple to make, it’s perfect if you’re running a bit short on time! Topped with chocolate chips and peanuts, it looks so tempting… just make sure you leave time for it to set!

    Peanut butter fudge from Miracle Mug Cakes

    Cheat's Peanut Butter Fudge

    500 g/2 ¼ cups smooth peanut butter (you want the least oily peanut butter that you can find)

    1 x 397-g/14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk

    a pinch of salt

    100 g/2/3 cup icing/ confectioners’ sugar, sifted

    100 g/2/3 cup dark/bittersweet chocolate chips

    100 g/1 cup chopped peanuts

    a 28 x 18 x 4-cm /11 x 7 x 1.5-inch cake pan, lined with overhanging baking parchment

    MAKES 64 PIECES

    In a large saucepan, melt together the peanut butter, condensed milk and salt over a medium heat.

    Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir to loosen the mixture.

    Carefully add in the sifted icing/confectioners’ sugar and stir until fully combined and very thick.

    Empty the mixture into the prepared cake pan, making sure it covers the whole of the base – the weight of the mixture will hold down the baking parchment. It will be quite oily and you will need to use the back of a spoon to smooth the fudge out.

    Sprinkle over the dark chocolate chips, making sure they are spread out and push them in to the fudge slightly. They may melt a little but this is okay.

    Sprinkle over the chopped peanuts, pushing them in to the fudge, too.

    Allow the fudge to cool, then pop it in to the fridge to set for at least 4 hours or overnight.

    Once set, use the overhanging baking parchment to lift the fudge out of the pan.

    Slice the fudge into small squares and enjoy.

    NOTE You can store this fudge for around 2 weeks in an airtight container in the fridge, but it is best eaten at room temperature.

     

    For something a little bit more grown up, why not try these Pina Colada Jellies? These heavenly cubes, flecked with cherry and pineapple are the best part of a cocktail in a mouthful.

    Pina Colada Jellies from Party-Perfect Bites

    Pina Colada Jellies

    700 ml/scant 3 cups pineapple juice (not from concentrate)

    34 sheets of gelatine, softened in cold water for 5–10 minutes

    350 ml/1 ½ cups cherry juice

    400 g /14 oz. sweetened condensed milk

    300 ml/1 ¼  cups Malibu or other coconut-flavoured white rum

    80 ml/ 1/3 cup coconut cream

    25 x 18-cm/10 x 7-inch and 12 x 9-cm/4 ½ x 3 ½ -inch containers, lined with clingfilm/ plastic wrap

    makes about 120 cubes

    Heat 120 ml/ ½ cup pineapple juice to a simmer in a saucepan. Take off the heat, squeeze the water out of 11 sheets of gelatine, add to the juice and whisk. Add this to the remaining pineapple juice and whisk. Pour into the large prepared container and set in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.

    Heat 60 ml/ ¼ cup of the cherry juice to a simmer in a saucepan. Take off the heat, squeeze the water out of 6 sheets of gelatine, add to the juice and whisk. Add this to the remaining cherry juice and whisk. Pour into the small prepared container and set in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.

    Once both jellies are set, heat 180 ml/ ¾ cup water to a simmer in a saucepan. Take off the heat. Squeeze the water out of 17 sheets of gelatine, add to the water and whisk. Add this to the condensed milk, along with the rum, 150 ml/generous ó cup water and the coconut cream. Mix, then let cool, but don’t allow it to set.

    Cut the pineapple and cherry jellies into 1.5-cm/ ¾ -inch cubes. Arrange the cubes in a container large enough to hold them all, then cover with the cooled coconut jelly to a depth of 2.5 cm/1 inch. Set in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, cut into 2.5-cm/1-inch cubes to serve.

     

    These mini chocolate cheesecakes are sure to go down a treat with any chocoholic! This recipe uses vanilla and orange flavours, but you could choose any flavour you like to make these the perfect gift.

    Mini chocolate cheesecakes from Cheesecake

    FOR THE CAKE BASES

    55 g/4 tablespoons butter

    55 g/4 ½ tablespoons caster/ white sugar

    1 egg

    55 g/scant 1⁄2 cup self-raising flour

    grated zest of 1 orange

    FOR THE DRIZZLING SYRUP

    freshly squeezed juice of 1 orange

    1 tablespoon icing/confectioners’ sugar

    FOR THE FILLING

    170 g/ ¾ cup mascarpone cheese

    170 ml/ ¾ cup crème fraîche

    1 tablespoon icing/confectioners’ sugar

    1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

    TO ASSEMBLE

    400 g/14 oz. dark spiced chocolate (such as Green & Black’s Maya Gold)

    24 sugar flowers

    a 24-hole square mini brownie pan, greased

    a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle/tip (optional)

    24 paper petit fours cases

    MAKES 24

    Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF) Gas 4.

    To make the cake bases, whisk together the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl, until light and creamy. Beat in the egg and whisk again. Sift in the flour, add half of the orange zest and stir through again. Put a small spoonful of mixture into each of the holes of the prepared brownie pan. (This is easiest done with a piping bag.) You only want a little cake mixture in each hole as when the cakes are baked you still need room to add the cheesecake mixture on top. Bake in the preheated oven for 10–12 minutes until the sponges spring back when you press with a clean finger.

    Simmer the orange juice and sugar in a saucepan until the sugar has dissolved, then drizzle a little of the syrup over each of the cakes. Leave the cakes to cool, then press the cakes down so that there is room for the filling on top.

    For the cheesecake filling, whisk together the mascarpone, crème fraîche, icing/confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and the remaining orange zest until smooth. Spoon the mixture over the cake bases, spreading in tightly using a pallet knife or spatula so that all the holes of the brownie pan are filled completely. Transfer the pan to the freezer and freeze until the cheesecake is solid, which will take about 30 minutes.

    When the cheesecakes are frozen, melt the dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring until the chocolate has melted. Remove the frozen cheesecakes from the freezer and, one at a time, dip them into the warm chocolate. Transfer to a wire rack to set, with a sheet of foil underneath to catch any chocolate drips. Before the chocolate sets, affix a sugar flower to the top of each cheesecake. The chocolate will set quickly given the frozen temperatures of the cheesecakes – if it sets too quickly you can simply attach the flowers using a little extra chocolate. Once set, place each chocolate in a petit fours case and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve, by which time the cheesecake will have defrosted.

     

    In order, these recipes have been taken from,

    Miracle Mug Cakes by Suzy Pelta, available here.

    Miracle Mug Cakes by Suzy Pelta

    Party-Perfect Bites by Milli Taylor, available here.

    Party-perfect bites by Milli Taylor

    Cheesecake by Hannah Miles, available here.

    Cheesecake by Hannah Miles

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    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, News, Recipes, Recipes, What's new, What's new and was tagged with homemade, baking, Mother's Day, gift, chocolate, quick, sweet, recipe, gift ideas, cheesecake, fudge

  • Posted on March 7, 2017

    Win a Hotpoint Microwave and 'Miracle Mug Cakes and other Cheat's Bakes'

    In celebration of the brilliant new baking book by Suzy Pelta, Miracle Mug Cakes and other Cheat's Bakes, we've teamed up with our friends at Hotpoint to offer you a piping hot prize!

    Miracle Mug Cakes and other Cheat's Bakes Hotpoint Microwave

    For your chance to win this gorgeous Hotpoint Ultimate Collection microwave and a signed copy of Suzy's book, simply enter your name and email below before Tuesday 14th March. This is the perfect prize for anyone who enjoys tasty treats but loves recipes that can be whipped up in no time!

    Double Choc Brownie Mug Cake

    One lucky winner will be selected at random to win both items. More details about the microwave and Suzy's book below. Good luck!

    ABOUT THE MICROWAVE

    The Hotpoint Ultimate Collection MWH 33343B combination microwave performs like a best-in-class oven for supreme cooking in your home. Boasting Hotpoint's Multiwave Technology, the Ultimate Microwave boasts two emission plates that guarantee full heat distribution for quick, evenly cooked food.The microwave also includes Dynamic Technology so you can crisp or steam meals at the touch of a button. There's even a hot fan-aired cooking option for Sunday roasts.

    Hotpoint Microwave open Hotpoint Microwave side view

    The Hotpoint Ultimate Microwave makes the most of your kitchen space with a vertical opening door, offering additional practicality in your home.For a complete, high quality solution to microwaveable cooking, the Hotpoint MWH33343B is the perfect choice.

     

    ABOUT THE BOOK

    Indulge your inner child (or your actual children) with these 28 recipes for mug cakes and cheat's bakes. The book includes recipes for Nutella and Peanut Butter, Crushed-up Cookie, and Hidden Oreo mug cakes so there's plenty to delight little ones; while the Boozy Strawberry Center, After Dinner Mint and Café Latte mug cakes put a sophisticated twist on these simple bakes, making them perfect dinner party desserts!

    Miracle Mug Cakes Signed Copy

    Suzy guides you through with plenty of handy tips and tricks and has included ideas for fridge cakes, ice cream sandwiches, garbage cookies and other cheat's bakes too. Whatever sweet treat your craving and whatever the occasion, you will be able to whip something up in a matter of minutes - making this the ultimate quick baking book for sugar lovers everywhere! Find out more here

     

    Suzy Pelta Logo   Hotpoint logo Black - container

    Huge thanks to Suzy Pelta and Hotpoint for teaming up with us on this fantastic prize!


    This post was posted in Competitions, Featured, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with baking, kids, sweet

  • Posted on February 23, 2017

    'Treat don't Cheat' Green Tea Coconut Chicken

    No need to call a takeaway this weekend, this green tea coconut chicken is a curry like no other! It’s perfect for a Friday night in, with the extra bonus that it is super good for you! Green tea is a powerful antioxidant, helping to protect the skin, boost energy levels and detoxify the body. It also adds a wonderful colour and flavour to this super simple dish.

    Coconut chicken recipe with matcha green tea

    Green Tea Coconut Chicken

    2 tablespoon coconut oil

    ½ cup finely chopped onion

    450g / 1 lb chicken breast pieces

    1 – 2 teaspoon matcha green tea powder, plus extra to serve

    1 tablespoon honey

    about 200ml / ¾ cup coconut milk

    a pinch of sea salt and white pepper

    steamed rice, to serve

    toasted flaked/slivered almonds, to serve

    SERVES 2

    Heat the coconut oil in a saucepan, over low-medium heat. Add the chopped onions and cook gently for 2-3 minutes until soft. Add the chicken and cook until they are white all over, then stir in the green tea powder, honey and coconut milk. Simmer gently for a further 7-8 minutes until the chicken is cooked all the way through. If you like more sauce, you can add a dash more coconut milk or a little water to slacken the mixture.

    Season the dish with salt and white pepper and serve, sprinkled with a little extra matcha green tea powder, on a bed of steamed rice with a sprinkle of toasted flaked / silvered almonds on top.

    This recipe is from Beauty Foods by Caroline Artiss, available here.

    Beauty Foods recipe book by Caroline Artiss

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    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, News, News, Recipes, Recipes, UK, US and was tagged with savoury, recipe for the weekend, healthy, curry, green tea, beauty foods, matcha

  • Posted on February 16, 2017

    'Treat don't Cheat' Beef and Oxtail Ragu

    It’s been so cold this week, all we want is some hearty, comforting food to keep us cosy, and this beef and oxtail ragù recipe ticks all the boxes. The rich sauce makes it a great winter warmer and serving it with spiralized sweet potato makes it the perfect guilt-free comfort food!

    beef ragu with spiralized sweet potato

    Beef and Oxtail Ragù with Spiralized Sweet Potato

     

    beef dripping, for cooking

    600 g/21 oz. oxtail (on the bone)

    600 g/21 oz. beef short rib arrowroot, to coat

    3 smoked garlic cloves, finely chopped

    2 carrots, finely diced

    1 large white onion, finely diced

    2 celery stalks/ribs, finely diced

    2 fresh rosemary sprigs

    2 bay leaves

    400 ml/1 ¾ cups chicken stock (or water)

    11/2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard

    3 tablespoons good-quality balsamic vinegar

    225 g/8 oz. baby plum tomatoes

    salt and black pepper, to season

    to serve

    2–3 large sweet potatoes

    chopped fresh parsley

    mixed green salad

    SERVES 4–6

     

    Set a large casserole dish over medium heat and add 1–2 tablespoons of beef dripping. Coat the meat in arrowroot and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add the meat to the dish – any fatty bits need to take priority on the heat. Once the meat is coloured and sealed, remove from the pan.

    Put all the vegetables and herbs except the tomatoes in the dish and sauté for a few minutes. Return the meat to the pan, stir everything together, add the stock, mustard and balsamic, and cover with a lid. Simmer for 40 minutes.

    Remove the lid and stir everything together. Cover the dish with baking parchment, and simmer over low–medium heat for another 1–2 hours, stirring occasionally. If the ragù sauce is reducing too much, add a little water and put the lid over the baking parchment.

    Add the tomatoes for the last 30–40 minutes.

    The meat should fall apart and fall off the bone; the sauce should be reduced and thickened. Remove the bones from the dish and keep warm.

    Spiralize the sweet potato. Set a frying pan/skillet over medium heat and sauté the sweet potato with a little water for a few minutes until softened.

    Serve the sweet potato with the ragù, sprinkled with chopped fresh parsley, and a side salad.

     

    This recipe is from Perfectly Paleo by Rosa Rigby, available from Amazon UK and Amazon US, as well as other retailers and bookstores.

    Perfectly Paleo by Rosa Rigby

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    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, News, News, Recipes, Recipes, UK, What's new, What's new and was tagged with winter warmer, savoury, recipe for the weekend, paleo, healthy

  • Posted on January 25, 2017

    Win a gluten-free baking bundle!

    We’re completely thrilled to be publishing a beautiful gluten-free baking book by Victoria Hall at the end of this month and are celebrating the release with a bundle giveaway in partnership with Real Foods!

    Simply answer the baking question below for your chance to win This is Gluten-Free by Victoria Hall and a selection of Real Foods ingredients needed for making Victoria’s delicious gluten-free Florentines.

    Gluten free baking bundle giveaway prize

    Selling a huge selection of naturally healthy and ethically sourced ingredients, Real Foods are one of Victoria’s favourite websites for buying gluten-free flours and other baking ingredients, such as nuts, seeds, chocolate, dried fruit and more. This brilliant baking prize bundle includes Doves Farm all-purpose gluten-free flour, Equal Exchange dark chocolate and If You Care baking parchment; as well as light brown sugar, flaked almonds, chopped walnuts, mixed peel, glacé cherries and a re-usable cotton organic bag from Real Foods with beautiful artwork by Edinburgh Sketcher.

    The competition closes on Tuesday 31st January and there will be one lucky winner. Good luck!

    Florentines

    Florentines are not quite a traditional cookie, more a suspension of nuts and fruit in a crisp but ever-so-slightly chewy caramel. Swathe the underside of these discs in dark chocolate and you have yourself a very elegant addition to your cup of tea. As robust as they are pretty-looking (thanks to being set with both caramel and chocolate), once completely cooled, they can be easily packaged up in a cellophane bag, decorated with a ribbon and given as a gift. My mum, in particular, would thank you for them.

    From start to serve: 1 hour l Prep: 10 minutes l Bake: 6–8 minutes

    Florentines

    30 g/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

    75 g/ ⅓ cup soft light brown sugar

    30 g/2½ tablespoons plain/all-purpose gluten-free flour

    50 g/3 tablespoons double/heavy cream

    75 g/¾ cup flaked/slivered almonds

    25 g/3 tablespoons chopped walnuts, almonds or hazelnuts

    50 g/3 tablespoons mixed peel, chopped

    75 g/¾cup glacé cherries, chopped

    200 g/6½ oz. dark/bittersweet chocolate

    2 baking sheets lined with baking parchment or silicone baking sheets

    MAKES 12

     

    Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) Gas 4.

    In a saucepan set over a low heat, melt together the butter, sugar and flour. Add the cream to the pan, a little at a time, stirring after each addition. The mixture should be smooth and caramel in colour when you remove it from the heat.

    Stir in the almonds, chopped nuts, mixed peel and cherries until evenly distributed and everything is coated in the caramel.

    Allow the mixture to rest for 5 minutes; this will allow it to cool slightly and prevent over-spreading in the oven.

    Drop tablespoons of the mixture onto the prepared baking sheets, spaced well apart – they will spread to about 10 cm/4 inches in diameter. Flatten each mound slightly, then bake in the preheated oven for 6–8 minutes until golden all over and the edges begin to darken.

    Remove from the oven. Using the tip of a spoon, gently push the lacy edges of the Florentines towards the centre to create a more circular shape. Be very careful not to touch them at this stage, as the sugar will be extremely hot.

    Allow to cool completely on the baking sheets.

    Once cool, melt the chocolate in a jug/pitcher in the microwave, or in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir to combine until molten and smooth and then coat the underside of each Florentine with a good layer of chocolate, setting upside down on a wire rack to cool.

    As the chocolate begins to set, use a fork to create the traditional wavy pattern on the underside of each Florentine and then allow to harden completely before serving. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week.

     

    This is Gluten Free by Victoria Hall

    This recipe is taken from This is Gluten-Free by Victoria Hall. Available now to pre-order.


    This post was posted in Competitions, Featured, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with baking, chocolate, 2017

  • Posted on January 5, 2017

    Chickpea and Vegetable Curry for Veganuary

    If you're trying out Veganuary this year (going Vegan for January!) and you need some inspiration then look no further! This curry is very simple to make and you can change any of the vegetables to suit availability. As with all curries this one can be made in advance and left overnight for the flavours to deepen and intensify. Perfect for warming up those cold January evenings.

    Chickpea and Vegetable Curry

    3 tablespoons of vegetable oil

    2 garlic cloves, crushed

    2 red onions, chopped

    4cm fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped

    1 tablespoon curry powder

    2 teaspoons ground coriander

    ½ teaspoon fenugreek

    ½ teaspoon crushed dried chillies

    410g canned chopped tomatoes

    800g potatoes, cut into 2.5cm pieces

    1 cauliflower, cut into florets

    800g canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed

    500g spinach, chopped

    250g okra, halved lengthways

    SERVES 12

    Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the garlic, onion and ginger and cook over low heat for 10 minutes until softened. Add the curry powder, coriander, fenugreek and dried chillies, mix well and cook for a further 4 minutes.

    Add the tomatoes and 100ml of water, then add the potatoes cauliflower and chickpeas. Mix well and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently.

    Add the spinach and okra, mix well and simmer for a further 5 minutes. You  may need a little extra water at this final stage.

    This recipe is taken from Easy Vegetarian, available here.

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    This post was posted in Featured, News, Recipes, What's new and was tagged with january, vegan, recipe for the weekend, vegetarian, healthy, curry

  • Posted on December 20, 2016

    7 Recipes You Need To Cook This Christmas!

    To finish up our Christmas round-ups, we’re thinking Christmas Food today on the blog. From food for the main event to Boxing Day leftovers to New Year’s Eve nibbles, we’ve got recipes to take you right through the festive season. And if you’re still in need of some present inspiration, check out our Homemade Gifts Round-Up here.

    For the main event we obviously turn to Miranda Ballard and her Modern Meat Kitchen. Click here for her Roast Turkey recipe, and here for what you HAVE to do with your leftovers on Boxing Day.

    Just the words salmon caviar and canapé are enough to get us drooling! You can find the recipe here.

    Or how about Christmas dinner in a mouthful? Click here for the recipe.

    Tiny pizza anyone? You’ll find the recipe here.

    Brontë Aurell’s Ginger Biscuits & Glögg are so quick to make, they’re perfect to have a batch on hand for any unexpected guests this festive season. Click here for the video tutorial and recipe.

    And last, but very much not least, don’t forget Team TWISTED’s Camembert Hedgehog Bread for the ultimate in cheesey goodness – perfect for any party this festive season! Head here for the recipe.

    Happy eating!

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    This post was posted in Featured, News, News, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with New Year, christmas, salmon, drinks, canapes, savoury, recipe for the weekend, cheese, sweet, 2016, turkey

  • Posted on December 13, 2016

    5 Homemade Gifts To Make This Christmas

    Next up in our Christmas round-ups, we’re thinking about homemade gifts.  As we mentioned in this post, we’re doing a Homemade Secret Santa this year, but whether you’re after a little stocking filler, or something personal for a friend or loved one, we’ve got you covered.

    Grocery shopping will no longer be a chore, thanks to this gorgeous tote bag from our new book Hygge Knits (this book is published in January, but you can preorder it here). Find the pattern for the bag over on MAKEetc here.

    These home-infused oils make a lovely stocking-filler for your favourite foodie. Click here for the recipes.

    If you know someone celebrating their first Christmas this year, Laura Strutt’s Bunting Baby Blanket would make a lovely gift. Find the knitting pattern here.

    Make these notebooks to kickstart a year of writing for any budding author. You can find a printable PDF project here.

    These lavender bags make sweet little stocking fillers. The project is available here.

    And as a bonus, homemade cards and gift tags can add a personal twist to any gift. We’ve got a video tutorial for these stocking cards here, and the instructions for homemade gift tags on the blog here.

    We hope you’re feeling inspired, but don’t forget to check out our Top 10 Gifts for Crafters blog post on MAKEetc here.

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    This post was posted in Craft Projects, Featured, News, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with christmas, homemade, handmade, gift, photos, 2016

  • Posted on December 12, 2016

    Sherlock Returns!

    I don't know about you, but we're very excited to greet the new year with the return of our favourite detective and the long awaited series 4 of Sherlock Holmes! Thank you BBC and Mr. Cumberbatch, you have saved us from the January blues! So to get ready for the big day we wanted to share with you an extract from our book, Sherlock Holmes’s London by Rose Shepherd, in which she introduces the city Sherlock would have known. Over to Rose...

    The London of Sherlock Holmes is a city of the imagination. Arthur Conan Doyle did not extend himself in describing it. With a few deft pen strokes he gave us fog and gas lamps, hansom cabs, gentlemen’s clubs and opera, pawnbrokers and gin palaces, wily street urchins and dull-witted “Scotland Yarders”—which, for us, the avid readers, is enough. We know that London of the 1890s, capital of Great Britain, of Empire and Commonwealth, in the last gasp of the Victorian era. We can see the teeming thoroughfares, the horses drawing carts, landaus, roughams, the diffused glow from shop windows, the swirling “pea-soupers.” We can hear the ring of iron horseshoes, the clatter of wheels on cobbles, the music of an organ-grinder, the cries of hawkers selling nostrums, matches, posies, whelks. It’s a little bit edgy, dirty, smelly, but always exciting.

    Nor has it all vanished. On the contrary, it is astonishing how much of today’s London would be recognizable to Holmes and Watson. Here and there are survivors from the Middle Ages—remnants even of Roman times. Tudor black-and-white abuts Jacobean grace and Georgian elegance, alongside 1960s Brutalism.

    In the shadow of great towers of glass and steel are important public buildings of bygone ages, ancient churches, impressive monuments, venerable hotels, restaurants, and stores. If we raise our eyes above plate glass and fluorescence, above nail bar and tanning salon, burger joint and mobile phone emporium, we see how handsomely historic London has accommodated the 21st century. The very lack of unity makes for endless fascination.

    In this book we set out upon a tour of the London of the world’s first consulting detective. We visit his haunts and walk the streets in his footsteps, admire stupendous edifices, poke into nooks and corners and back alleys. We can shop, as he would have done, for snuff, shooting sticks, game birds for the table, fine wine, top hats, swords, and country tweeds. We can venture into his favorite restaurant and onto his crime scenes, and find out where justice was dispensed and where the villains whom Holmes brought to book would have languished.

    But a city is more than just a built environment, it is a milieu, it is its people—or, rather, its people are its lifeblood. London in the late 1800s was home to four and a quarter million souls. It was a city of extremes of rich and poor: carriage folk in their Regency mansions, the poor in workhouses and slums, the destitute in rags, under arches, and an emerging middle class colonizing the Victorian pattern-book redbrick terrace homes (row houses) that are such a large part of current housing stock. Masters, servants, wharfingers and wherrymen, shopkeepers, laundresses, flower girls, pen-pushers, publicans, costermongers, cabbies, stable boys, actors, loafers, beggars, harlots, hucksters… All human life was here, giving voice to what Tennyson called “the central roar,” and Robert Louis Stevenson “the low growl” of London.

    Here too, of course, were the criminals whose vile pursuits furnished Doyle with such rich material. Most infamous of all was “Jack the Ripper,” the fiend who stalked the squalid streets of Whitechapel. While he still exercises the minds of investigators who speculate as to his true identity, he remains a faceless figure, almost a figment.

    By contrast, Sherlock Holmes, a character of fiction, is entirely real and present. Let us now get on his case.

    This is extracted from Sherlock Holmes's London by Rose Shepherd which is available here. AND don't forget to tune into BBC One at 9pm on January 1st to see Sherlock's next adventure!


    This post was posted in Featured, News, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with New Year, christmas, 2015, Rose Shepherd

  • Posted on December 6, 2016

    5 Projects You Need To Make This Christmas!

    Taking a cursory glance at social media over the weekend, it seemed as if all of our friends simultaneously put up Christmas trees and started decorating their houses. Well, yipeee! We are fully embracing the holiday spirit here at RPS and CICO Books towers, and if there’s one thing we like even more than Christmas decorations, it’s handmade Christmas decorations. Here’s 5 of our favourite projects that will ensure you have a lovely, unique home this year!

    Decorate your tree with Elspeth Jackson’s rag rug Christmas baubles. These are so cute, we’re considering keeping them up all year round…we won’t tell if you don’t! There's a video tutorial here.

    We shared this cute reindeer decoration to make with the kids last week over on instagram stories, and you all loved it so we popped the instructions up on our MAKEetc. blog. Check them out here.

    A garland of these silver stars would look lovely slung across a mantelpiece, or you could hang single stars in your tree to just catch the light like Juliet’s done here. Find the project here.

    This Succulent Wreath looks super effective, and you’ll stand out on a street of holly wreaths! Find the instructions here.

    Jazz up jam jars as tea-light holders with this project from Hester van Overbeek’s first book, Furniture Hacks. You could even use sparkly beads for an extra party feel!

    For more inspiration, check out our book Handmade Christmas and make sure you keep an eye on MAKEetc. for a free project or two over the next few weeks.

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    This post was posted in Craft Projects, Featured, News, News, UK, Videos, What's new and was tagged with christmas, christmas decorations, christmas craft, handmade, paper crafts, activities for kids, winter living, winter, 2016

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