Easy apple crumble

What’s better than a good apple crumble? It may be an easy recipe to master filled with fond memories of home life, but satisfying it most definitely is. You may remember I purchased some lovely, locally-grown bramley apples from Studley Car Boot sale on Sunday, which made for a lovely base to a homely crumble. The recipe I used is from an equally traditional cook book and is one that will last me a long time to come yet. The only change I made is to double the crumble mix for extra crunch. If you’ve got a spare hour or so and some apples to use up, why not give it a go…and don’t forget to let me know how it turns out.

Five bramley apples picked from a local orchard - only £1. Perfect for an apple crumble

Five bramley apples picked from a local orchard – only £1. Perfect for an apple crumble


Good Housekeeping’s Easy To Make Complete Cookbook will be a feature in my new kitchen

You will need:

250g plain flour
100g unsalted butter
100g sugar
5 large apples

Here’s how:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (160 fan). Put the flour, butter and sugar in a bowl and rub with your fingertips until the mix resembles breadcrumbs.
2. Arrange the apples in an oven-proof dish of your choice, sprinkle with one tablespoon of sugar. Sprinkle the crumble mix evenly on top and finish with an optional dusting of cinnamon.
3. Bake for around 45 minutes until the fruit is soft and the topping is golden brown.


The result: tasty and homely. Perfect for a Bank Holiday

Since it was a Bank Holiday, I was feeling particularly brave and decided to try my hand at making custard from scratch. I found a great BBC Food recipe which seemed easy enough and with plenty of whisking turned out well.

The results went down a treat with the Mr and my current housemate and proved that the car boot sale can have great (and tasty) rewards indeed.


Car booty

So far, my quest for bargain furniture and home accessories has led me to many clearances, antique fairs and charity shops, but this morning was the turn of the humble car boot. Instead of a lie in, Sunday breakfast and nice cup of coffee in front of the tele watching Saturday Kitchen Best Bites on BBC2, I made my way up the road to Studley Car Boot Sale in Stratford-On-Avon. The Mr decided he would sit this one out so off I went in search of cheap bits and bobs and ideas of what you can get from the boot sale if you look hard enough.


There were plenty of stalls to mooch around at Studley Car Boot Sale

I found a few things to add to my list of ideas for the new house

I found a few things to add to my list of ideas for the new house

The place was huge. It was definitely the biggest car boot I have ever been to and was filled with eager bargain hunters like myself. There was plenty of tat, as you would expect, but among the old books, DVDs, kids toys and Playstation 1s, I found a real reindeer hide rug (very on trend), a bright purple retro-style phone, and a lot of nest table sets that would have looked great after a lick of paint.

But what I was really after was a plain old cork board to satisfy my craft craving to make a lovely notice board for the kitchen. Having looked in three different stationery shops yesterday with no luck, I was delighted to find one for 50p. I also picked up some bramley apples for a £1 and a Breton-style top that will be good for work (after a wash!).

The phone I saw was like this but in purple, I wouldn't mind one of these too

The phone I saw was like this but in purple, I wouldn’t mind one of these too

I found one! It may seem simple, but I was after a cork board for my next craft project

I found one! It may seem simple, but I was after a cork board for my next craft project

Five bramley apples picked from a local orchard - only £1. Perfect for an apple crumble

Five bramley apples picked from a local orchard – only £1. Perfect for an apple crumble

So now I have all I need for a productive afternoon including a crafty project to turn my cork board into a stylish notice board and a few locally-grown apples to bake a nice crumble – I’m sure the Mr will appreciated that car boot find after all. As for Studley Car Boot Sale, I’m sure I’ll be back in the new few weeks to continue my bargain hunt.

Video: Update furniture with decoupage

Following on from my post about different ways to use wallpaper, I came across this great video from Clas Ohlson on using leftover bits of wallpaper to create a unique piece of furniture. I am going to try this idea out for myself as all you need if a couple of paint brushes, wallpaper (or even old wrapping paper or newspaper cuttings), PVA glue and some time – and a piece of furniture of course. I remember seeing an old episode of Kirstie Allsopp’s Kirstie’s Vintage Home where she used cuttings to cover the back of a bedside cabinet and loved the idea then too. What do you think?


Kirstie Allsopp transformed this bedside cabinet using old scraps of wallpaper (Image: Daily Mail extract of Kirstie’s Vintage Home)

How To Hang a Picture Frame

Came across this little gem of a blog post today and thought it would be criminal not to share it. I have loads of photo frames I want to hang in the new house, but couldn’t think of a way of getting around hanging ones that are currently just designed to stand on mantle pieces and window sills. Well, thanks to Budget Gal From So Cal, I can now enjoy all my snaps and create a lovely display in the hallway. I better get some cans of pop in though!

Budget Gal From So Cal

Goodmorning, today’s project is when you have the dilemma of wanting to hang a cute snapshot on the wall in a picture frame you have laying around the house, however this frame has no way of hanging.  All you need is a flip top aluminum soda can and a small screw and screwdriver… check it out! Image

This is great for sitting on the table, but not for hanging on wall…




Now that was easy!!!   I can’t take the credit, I saw this posted a while back on romance on a dime website. 

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Ways with wallpaper

Thought wallpaper was just for your walls? Think again. Inspired by my colleagues on Period Living magazine, who turned the office into a haberdashery of late, I decided to get my craft head on and revitalise some not-so-stylish items found around the house. Whether you have old books, disused hat boxes, photo frames that are a bit dated or even an art print that you don’t like any more, you can bring it back to life with a few bits of wallpaper. I was cheeky and made my way around B&Q getting plenty of samples, but you could use this as an opportunity to use up leftover rolls of wallpaper – or if you’re feeling nifty, you could opt for fabric samples instead.

Uses for wallpaper

I’ve built up a little collection of wallpaper samples for future projects

Uses for wallpaper

This box started life as a VERY glittery silver Christmas gift box – now it’s a stylish storage box, which will go lovely in the new living room scheme

Lampshade redesign

I turned a beige (boring) lampshade into a statement piece with scraps of this lovely blue and silver wallpaper


While time consuming, I was very pleased with the finished results

Convinced that wallpapering everything is the way forward for savvy, purse-friendly interior makeovers, I was pleased to see that my friend Emily had also adopted the technique when decorating her son’s room. The papier mache letters look great and it is a simple concept with plenty of design impact. I will definitely be stealing this idea!


Emily’s idea for alternative artwork works really well

UPDATE: I love this idea from Laura Ashley, and is definitely something I will try when I come to decorating my living room for Christmas.

Project #1: Sideboard makeover

You may remember my post about losing out on the best John Lewis bargain sofa ever, but I must tell you that every cloud does indeed have a silver lining. I didn’t walk away from the furniture clearance in Warwick empty handed after all and managed to buy myself a lovely mid-century style sideboard for the neat little price of £15. Filled with the disappointment of losing said sofa, I plucked up the courage to ask the kind seller to give me a fiver off the £20 asking price and he said yes! You might say I am cheap, but you never know if you never ask.

photo copyphoto1photo

The sideboard would look great as a storage solution, dressing table or chest of drawers, but after watching Kirstie’s Fill Your House For Free last night on Channel 4, I have been inspired to use it as a media unit for the television we have yet to buy.

It needs a good sanding down and lick of paint before we can do anything with it, so the plan is to strip and prime it before the move and add colour when we have definitely decided what we will use it for. I would like to do it up in the style of the lovely Oliver Bonas furniture range that was launched recently and am swaying towards the idea of doing it grey with yellow and darker grey drawers. I may even remove one of the drawers completely and have it as an open shelf.

Mavis Chest, £515, Oliver Bonas

Mavis Chest, £515, Oliver Bonas

As for the handles, they will be coming off too to be replaced with some lovely decorative ones – I love the ones from Anthropologie.

Want to see the finished result? Tell me what you think…

Lesson one: Don’t take a chance with a bargain

Have you ever heard the phrase ‘never look a gift horse in the mouth’? The first lesson I learned about buying bargain furniture was exactly that. Soon after we had put down the deposit to take our new rental off the market, I found myself at a great little furniture clearance warehouse just outside the centre of Warwick where there were plenty of items to send my imagination into a spin. There was a beautiful Laura Ashley bedroom set, Marks & Spencer plum-coloured sofa, Content by Conran armchair (for £200!) and a lovely pebble grey John Lewis two-seater sofa that would have looked perfect in our new living room. Oh, and it was reduced to £75. Yes, £75!

The John Lewis piece usually retails at £699 and the lovely folk at the clearance were selling it for a measly 75 quid. And I walked away without handing over the money. What a mistake.

JL sofa1

Caruso Medium Sofa in grey, £699, John Lewis

For the next week I kept thinking about the sofa, how it would look in the house, what would go with it and I even began to build a scheme around it. I convinced myself (against the better judgement of the girls at work and the Mr) that it would still be there when I went back the following weekend, waiting for me to love it. But, like most suspected and to my bitter disappointment, it had been snapped up by another couple just before I got there. The nice shopkeeper told me that the young couple who bought it were ‘nearly crying with excitement’ at how cheap the piece was. I, however, was nearly crying with utter frustration at the fact I hadn’t coughed up the cash the week before.

Now, a week later, I have come to terms with my loss and am on the look out for a similar style sofa. Although, I know I won’t find one of such high bargain quality, I have well and truly learned my lesson.

Gift horse – I’m waiting for you, purse open.