Tuesday, May 11, 2010

an italian escape

if, like us, you are dreaming of an italian escape from the winter, but pesky earthly constraints (like work and money. and time. curses) are hindering you, then let us introduce you to our never-fail winter-greys cure-all: il papiro.

il papiro is a company based in florence which creates hand-decorated paper items, using traditional tuscan techniques. it is also the best way of transporting yourself to florence (or anywhere else in italy you might fancy, actually) without having to suffer from jetlag.

they make a whole range of truly gorgeous paper products from journals, to pens, to highly desirable hatboxes (and who cares if you don’t have a hat to put in them? you can fill them with old socks and they’d still look stunning on the outside).

but our favourites are their papers. each of them is intricately detailed and depicts a scene you really feel you could fall in to. we’ve got them up all around the little brown house and they are doing a marvellous job at keeping the winter greys at bay. hooray!


meet ruby and ben

a couple of days ago we heard the words "cupcake! cupcake" waft through the little brown house door and we knew it could be only one person: ruby, our cupcake queen.

lo and behold, two minutes later, ruby came through the door with her brother ben (who we will dub lord of the thunderbird planes) and her mum debbie. ruby was wearing a truly marvellous knitted coat made especially for her by her grammy. can we just say: ruby's grammy, you are very clever to knit a coat so worthy of cupcakely royalty. can you please make us one?


p.s. please forgive us for the photo which doesn't do justice to ruby's marvellous coat at all. we tried, but the big complicated camera (which was the only one we had on hand) got the better of us. you'll just have to let your imagination fill things in for you. which is always more fun anyway.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

yum yum gingerbread

with the onset of the cold weather, we're experiencing an onset of cravings for soul-warming foods. along with crumble, gingerbread is one of those foods. just the smell of it baking in your home will be enough to scare away the chillies tapping at your window.

eat it warm with lashings of butter or, if you have the patience of mother teresa, let it cool and leave it in the tin for a few days so the flavour intensifies. then, to reward your saintliness, place a hearty slab of blue vein cheese on an equally hearty slice of gingerbread and float away to your happy place.

little brown house gingerbread

250 grams butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup treacle
1 cup milk
3 cups plain flour
a little salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 dessertspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons mixed spice
1 tablespoon ground ginger

preheat your oven to 180 degrees celcius. cream the butter and sugar together in an electric mixer until light and fluffy. then add the treacle, followed by the milk. stir in the remaining ingredients (add a little more milk, if you need to). pour the batter into a greased, shallow tin and bake for 45 minutes. leave to cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. when cool, store in an airtight container.

and, if you're feeling adventurous and want to make your gingerbread look pretty, you can ice it with lemon icing (lemon juice, icing sugar and hot water) like we do. yummy!