Boozy hot chocolate

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Here’s something warm, soothing and boozy to sip on while you stick up your Christmas deco’s or start writing your cards. After all, we’re almost in December, peeps, and now is the time to put on two stone.

We like this boozy hot chocolate a lot. It’s like the sort of hot chocolate you’d get on a ski holiday: rich, thick, indulgent and guaranteed to leave you feeling a little rosy-cheeked and squiffy.

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Here’s what you need for four people: 1 pint of milk; 50g of good dark chocolate – grated; 2 tbsp of quality hot chocolate; 1 tbsp of cornflour; 2tbsp of icing sugar; a bottle of chocolate cream liqueur or Irish cream/Baileys.

Here’s what you do:

1.Grate your chocolate into fine flakes – keep a few flakes back for decoration

2.Pour milk into pan on medium heat

3.Tip your grated chocolate, hot chocolate, cornflour and icing sugar into a jar and shake to mix

4.When milk is starting to bubble gently, spoon in your dry ingredients mixture

5.Turn down the heat a bit and keep stirring until your chocolatey milk becomes smooth

6.Pour a good glug of your creamy liqueur into glass mugs – or hefty tumblers with stems. We went for M&S’s Chocolate Yule Log Cream because it seemed rude not to

7.Carefully pour in your hot choc

8.Sprinkle on your leftover chocolate flakes

9.Drink while doing Christmas errands/watching Christmas 24

10.Pour some more when finished and get gently sozzled because it’s nearly Christmaaaaaaas!

 

 

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Make a Pawsome Christmas Card

Christmas is on its way, John Lewis said so. And with it, the impulse to get creative. Or drunk. We’ll do both.

First, however, we decided to get creative and make our own Christmas cards. With a dog theme, because why not.

So if you’re feeling festively crafty and craftily festive and want a bit of Scotty Dog Christmas card-making action of your own, here’s a nice how-to – courtesy of Alice. Who came up with this cute dog design in her very own brain.

Want to make this bugger now? Here’s how…

You’ll need: Plain white card/s and envelope/s; a piece of festive material; thin ribbon for the dog collar; cotton wool for stuffing; tracing paper; needle; thread; pins; scissors; nice pen; chopstick, and glue or a fancy glue gun – Alice does creative things for Topshop so if she didn’t have one she should probably be sacked but don’t feel bad if you only have a tube of Super Glue

  1. Create a dog template. If you’re a great artist, freestyle. If you can’t draw for toffee it’s time to go dogging. The best tip is to Google-image ‘Scotty dog silhouette’. If you’re not into Scotties, search for the dog of your choice

2. When you’ve found a dog you like, that’s the right size for your card, print it off and trace it. Then add 5mm around the edge for your seam allowance. Cut neatly along your line

3. Now fold your fabric in half and pin on your tracing paper dog. Next, cut around your template

4. You’ll be left with two little flat dogs (Sheila and Sandra). Put them right side together so the inside of your fabric is facing out

5. Start stitching anti-clockwise from the top of your dog’s right paw. Don’t worry if you’re no Vivienne Westwood, or even one of the workers from Underworld in Coronation Street.

The stitches don’t need to be ultra neat; they just need to be very, very close together – because you’ll be stuffing this bad boy and you don’t want its innards spilling out

6. Stitch all the way around until you reach Scotty’s belly. Then stop abruptly, tie a neat little knot and cut your cotton. Now turn your fabric right side out

7. It’s time to get stuffed. Rip your cotton wool into teeny pieces and start stuffing your mutt with the help of your chopstick, which will get into those hard-to-reach nooks and crannies

8. All nice and stuffed? 

9. It’s time to stitch up your Scotty’s tum

10. Let get this pooch dressed up. Tie the ribbon around her neck in a fancy festive bow

11. Cute, huh?

12. Now add blobs of superglue to your Scotty and whack it on your card. FYI, we bought a pack of 25 ready-made cards and envelopes from John Lewis’s craft department (hey, JL, fancy sponsoring us? That’s your second mention today)

13. Woo hoo, it’s pun time. “Have a Woof-ly Christmas”, perhaps. “A Winter’s Tail”? “Have a Pawfect Christmas”? “The Most Woof-derful Time of the Year”, “Dog Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”? “Bone Noël”? Let’s stop there. Time to proffer this thing to someone special.

14. Et, voila. A handmade original for Christmas, which your nearest and dearest will go ruddy barking mad for.

Will anyone else be crafting anything unique for Christmas? We’d love to hear from you…

Hot Spiced Apple

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Halloween and Bonfire Night are over for another year –  now it’s four more Sundays until December. What to fill them with? Warming drinks and River on iPlayer, we say.

And here’s a hot piece of toddy you might like to try for yourself. It contains spices that will fill your kitchen with autumnal/Christmassy smells and you can drink it ‘nice’ or ‘naughty’.

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Ingredients: 1 litre of apple juice (more if you’re sharing with more than 6 people); cinnamon stick; 3 star anise; 2 cloves; orange and lemon slices; something medicinal – we used dark rum for a fruity kick but whisky would work just as well

Method:

Slice an orange and lemon into wheels and gather together your spices

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Pour apple juice into pan and turn on hob to a moderate heat.

Plonk in your fruit and spices and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes

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If you’re going medicinal, pour a glug of your something naughty into a glass mug

– or just any old mug if you haven’t got the glass variety

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Now ladle in your spiced apple juice along with some of the fruit slices, for a grey-day take on sangria

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Remove mugs of hot spiced apple from kitchen, along with yourself. Position yourself on sofa, grab a throw and cover yourself with it. Find gritty yet poignant thriller on catch-up TV. Slurp hot spiced apple.

And continue until glass is finished. Then return to kitchen and repeat.

What are your favourite seasonal tipples? We’re thinking of trying a boozy take on a hot chocolate next. It may or may not involve Baileys. Watch this space…

REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY POPPY PROJECT

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The owners of one our favourite local pubs, The Famous Royal Oak in Muswell Hill, north London, commissioned us with a special project for Remembrance Sunday. Landlord, Colm, and his daughter, Meg, wanted 8 metres (count ’em) of poppy bunting to commemorate the occasion.

They left the specifics up to us. What was essential, howevz, was that we came up with something that fitted the look of this hidden gem-pub to a tee. As you’ll see from the pics, it’s brilliantly eclectic and crammed full with fab curios and family trinkets.

So WMBL’s Maria researched real and abstract poppy designs and came up with a shape and style that resembles the famous paper poppy pin. She ventured out to Hobbycraft and stocked up on red and green felt, shiny red cord and black buttons for the poppy-middle.

After a sterling start from Maz, who knocked up the first couple of metres solo, it was all hands to the deck with even baby Jasmine helping out with the task. Once complete, Alice hand-delivered it to the pub and helped Meg with the festooning.

Check out the pics…

BEFORE…

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Lovely wooden bar with pretty stained glass

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Books, clocks and birds

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Penguin classics and a model Armada

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Loads of lovely stuff

IN PROGRESS…

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A poppy close up (and some scissors)

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Alice, Maria and Jasmine hard at it

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Jasmine concentrating deeply on the task in hand

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She really should get a lot of credit for this

AFTER…

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Hello, poppet

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Booze and bunting: what a combo

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These babies run the length of the bar

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Like flowers down a black board

We loved working on this project and we’re pleased/relieved to say that Colm and Meg are chuffed to bits with the result and already considering future themed-bunting. “We all love them!” Meg told us. Yay. Phew.

What do you think? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Fancy a visit to this beautiful boozer? You can find it here: The Famous Royal Oak, 73 St James’s Ln, London N10 3QY