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Thursday 28 March 2013

Top Ten Easter Recipes

Easter weekend is all about eating brilliant food with lovely people. Not sure what to cook? We've done the hard work for you (except the actual cooking) and compiled our top ten recipes for Easter.

Creme egg cupcakes (pictured, looking more fabulous than anything you've seen in your entire life). This is one of our most popular recipes EVER. Understandable, when you see just how blimmin' amazing these cakes look.

Mini egg chocolate cookies. There's always a pack of Mini Eggs leftover after Easter. This is what you do with them.

Hot cross buns. You can't have an Easter feast (Feaster?) without hot cross buns.

Hot cross butter pudding. And when you've made too many, you can turn them into this brilliant pudding.

Cakes in eggshells. They're gluten free, and IN EGGSHELLS. Ain't nothing more Eastery than that.

Rolled herby lamb breast.  Obviously you have to have lamb on Sunday, and this lamb breast recipe is perfect if you don't want to go through the faff of roasting an entire leg. Then with the leftovers, make these Lamb fritters for lunch on bank holiday Monday.

Boozy chocolate fudge trifle. Look, it's an Easter recipe if we've decorated it with fluffy chicks, OK?

Dippy eggs and soldiers. This is GENIUS. Not eggs and soldiers at all, instead it's a white chocolate mousse with mango coulis made to look a boiled egg, served with shortbread fingers for dipping.

Mini simnel cakes. These traditional cakes are so tasty. They're made with marzipan balls to represent the disciples. Not Judas, He doesn't get a go on tasty cakes.

Caramel cup. Long weekends need some booze. Of the chocolate variety.

Check out more of our top ten recipes and whatever you're eating, have a fabulous long weekend.

Baking for Beginners: Mini Egg Chocolate Cookies

Mini Egg Chocolate Cookies
Cadbury Mini Eggs. God love 'em, they seem like such a bargain before the Easter break. You can buy a hundred-weight for the price of a discount bottle of rosé, but my gosh do they hang around.

The problem is, once you've seen beautiful chocolate eggs and swooned over their fancy charms, the humble Mini Egg doesn't seem quite so enticing.

Never fear. This recipe will use them up in one fell, chocolatey swoop. In fact, that goes for any hang-around chocolate. Smarties would be work perfectly, as would M&Ms, Revels, chocolate raisins, nuts... anything that takes your fancy really. Just smash it up with the rolling pin and throw it in. Although if you're eyeing a left-over bag of crisps, I recommend you head over to Laura B's recipe.

These cookies are a piece of cake, (groan) so are perfect for baking fun with little people over the long weekend: even if that does mean some seriously chocolately faces/hands/clothes. The recipe is based on Mary Berry's Giant Cookies. In my opinion, a big biscuit is always a welcome biscuit, but for kids you can reduce the size, and thus the likelihood of sugar rushes.

Mini Egg Chocolate Cookies (makes 6-8 huge or 10-14 small)
You will need:
For the cookies
  • 125g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 75g brown sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 free-range egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp cream cheese
  • 100g plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 100g Cadbury Mini Eggs
For the topping (optional)
  • 75g milk chocolate
  • More Mini Eggs, to decorate
Make it!
The cookies:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Line a baking tray with baking parchment or greaseproof paper, and grease lightly. 
  2. Cream together the butter and both sugars until pale and fluffy. 
  3. Add the vanilla extract and the egg and beat well to combine. 
  4. Stir in the tablespoon of cream cheese. 
  5. Add half the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder to the mixture, and fold in using a metal spoon. When combined, add the other half of the flour and fold in again. 
  6. Place the Mini Eggs in a ziplock bag - unless you've resisted opening the packet - and break up into small pieces using a rolling pin, ladle, shoe, mallet or whatever is handy. (Mind fingers!)
  7. Stir the pieces into the cookie mixture. 
  8. Scoop out the dough and roll into a rough ball using your hands, about the size of a tennis ball for giant cookies, a golf ball for smaller ones. 
  9. Place on the baking sheet and flatten slightly, leaving a good three or four inches of space between them to expand. 
  10. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the edges are starting to crisp and the middles have set. 
  11. Place the cookies on a wire rack to cool. Try not to burn your tongue by eating them straight out of the oven.* 
The topping:
  1. Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a microwaveable bowl. Melt in 20 second blasts. 
  2. Smother, drizzle or splodge over the cookies, depending on how lazy you're feeling.
  3. Decorate with whole or crushed Mini Eggs.
* A lesson learned the hard way...

Sluttishly Savoury: Lamb Fritters

One of the best things about Easter eating is lots of lamb and here at Domestic Sluttery we have LOADS of brilliant lamb recipes to get stuck into. I roasted a leg of hogget earlier this week (that's a lamb that's over a year old) and used the leftovers to make these lamb fritters.

These are great to make if you don't have enough lamb leftover to make a big dish like shepherd's pie or moussaka. You can re-heat them in the oven but I still really like them cold dunked into the sweet chilli sauce. You really can play around lots with the herbs and spices, an Indian spiced version would be brilliant, dipped into some sweet mango chutney and for a veggie version substitute the lamb for tinned sweetcorn.

Lamb Fritters (makes about 10 fritters)
You will need:
  • 175g self raising flour
  • 2 tsp dried onion granules
  • 2 tsp dried garlic granules
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • pinch each of salt and pepper
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 200ml milk 
  • 300g leftover lamb, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • Sweet chilli sauce to serve
Make it!
  1. Combine the dry ingredients in a big bowl, add the eggs and milk and mix well.
  2. Stir in the lamb pieces. Heat a pan and shallow fry a bit of the mixture to check for seasoning and adjust if needed, when happy fry the fritters over a medium heat for a few minutes each side until the centre is properly cooked in small batches. You can jeep them warm in the oven.
  3. Serve dipped in the sweet chilli sauce.

Gluten Free: Cakes in Eggshells

We don't have a lot of Easter traditions in my family, but there's one that we would do, rain, hail, sun or snow. Rolling our decorated hard boiled eggs down a hill to break the shell, then eating them with the assistance of salt and pepper from my mum's little Tupperware cruet set (or sachets my Aunt Linda stockpiled from service stations for the occasion). As children, my brother and I were always in awe of my dad and Uncle's artistically decorated eggs, while ours looked like the packet of felt pens had exploded near the eggs. This year, I won't be rolling eggs down any hills, which is a shame, because I think I've found the best eggs ever. Cake eggs. Imagine cracking that open while everyone else is eating plain old hard boiled egg! 

That's right, cake, Inside eggshells. This, frankly genius, idea came from Delicious Days blog a few years ago. I've added my own honey and orange cake recipe and some food colourings to make the eggs look as brightly decorated as the ones I rolled as a child. This cake uses honey in place of sugar which keeps the cake brilliantly moist, no crumbly gluten free cakes here. It also means that it's practically a health food.

Honey and Orange Egg-cakes
You'll need:
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • a few tsp vegetable oil
  • 85g butter, melted
  • 120g runny honey
  • 50ml milk
  • 1 tsp orange extract (or the zest of half an orange)
  • 150g gluten free plain flour mix
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • a few drops of food colouring
Make it!
Preparing the egg shells:
  1. Using a skewer, poke a hole in the bottom of the egg (the widest part of the egg), that part of the egg has an air pocket so you should be able to break the shell without throwing egg everywhere.
  2. Break off pieces of shell to make a hole about 1cm in diameter, break the membrane inside the egg and pour the contents into a bowl. You'll need 3 egg yolks for this recipe so reserve them.
  3. Rinse the empty shells in plenty of cold water.
  4. Put about 1 litre of hot water in bowl and dissolve the salt in it. Submerge the eggs in the water and leave for 30 minutes. This helps to sterilise the shells, chicken poo in cake is a Bad Thing.
  5. Rinse the egg shells again and leave, holes facing down, to dry.

Making the cakes:
  1. Preheat your oven to 165°C/325°F/Gas mark 3.
  2. Pour a little vegetable oil into each eggshell and swirl it around to coat the inside, pour out any excess. Use some pieces of scrunched foil to sit the eggshells in a bun tray (see the photo above).
  3. Combine the butter and honey in a bowl until they are well mixed and add the milk and orange extract.
  4. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, stirring all the time (if the mixture starts to split you can add a tablespoon of flour to bring it back together).
  5. Sift the flour mix and baking powder into the bowl and fold in until you have a smooth, runny batter. (If you're using orange zest, add it now.)
  6. Divide the mixture between two (or more) bowls and stir in some food colouring.
  7. Use a jug or a piping bag to fill the egg shells full of cake batter, layering the different colours.
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a skewer come out cleanly from the middle of the cake. The cake might have spilled out the top of the shells, you can remove that when they're cool. Those bits of cake are for you, my gift.
  9. Once cooled, you can tidy up any cake overflow and then crack the egg, peel the shell and reveal your cake!

Something Old, Something New: Timeless Lighting

What's fashionable in the world of lighting in 2013 is mainly be what was fashionable way back when. Like the shift dresses I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, new light designs seem to be looking to the last century for inspiration. That's no bad thing, if you like vintage style, because you can usually pick up the originals cheaply. Changing a light shade gives a quick update to a space without breaking the bank. And, unless you go all out and buy a lava lamp, lighting tends to weather passing fads and fashions quite well, making it a fairly trend-proof investment.

Here's five lighting looks that are very now ... and that were also very then ...


It's hard to escape the industrial look at the moment. That's great if you want to buy vintage - there's an abundance of original light fittings available which keeps the costs fairly reasonable. Rockett St George have a good selection in stock, including the white shade pictured, complete - as their own blurb puts it - with "lumps and bumps". For lump-free lighting, the John Lewis Penelope light is a good alternative for £45, and available in several pretty colours. 

Scandi chic
TOP, NEW: Kami pendant shade, Habitat, £60; BOTTOM, OLD: White ceiling lamp, Chase & Sorensen, £85

It's not just Scandinavian crime thrillers or woolly jumpers that are making their impact felt in Britain, it's the Scandi pared-back interior style too. Chase & Sorensen specialise in Danish vintage and can help you towards gaining many style points for not too many pennies. The lamp shown at the bottom of the image above dates back to the 1960s. The shade at the top is Habitat's more sophisticated take on the classic paper shade. 

French Fancies

NEW: Lyon Pendant Lamp, Graham & Green, £45; OLD: Milk glass lampshade, Avec-des-si, £45

The 'shabby chic' look is another trend which shows no signs of fading away. Graham & Green's Lyon Lamp is inspired by classic French ceramic lights and is yours for £45. For exactly the same price, you can get the real thing, though you'll need to replace some of the fittings (If you're nervous about this, Avec-des-si say they can help advise). 

Seventies Style

Not the lava lamp, but some of the 70s less outre designs are getting their turn in the spotlight again. On the left are some original smoked glass lampshades; on the right is one of the many high street alternatives - a £20 glass shade from Linea at House of Fraser

Ornamental impact

OLD: Glass and steel pendants, The French House, £80; NEW: Crystal bulb by Lee Broom, Nest, £109

Domestic Sluttery are long term fans of Lee Broom's lights. Rather than slavishly copy an old design, he always succeeds in adding a really contemporary feel to a vintage look. Take, for example, his crystal bulb where he uses traditional crystal cutting techniques to jazz up the humble light bulb. Much as I love him, Lee's designs are beyond my usual shopping budget, starting at £109. It's possible to get similarly dramatic designs secondhand too. The French House always seems to have fabulous vintage chandeliers and glass shades in stock, but trendspotters might want to snap up these glass and steel pendants for £80 each. If not, you're bound to see them illuminating your favourite fashionable eatery soon...

Wednesday 27 March 2013

Plus Size Shopping: Girly treats to brighten up Easter

There is something about Easter that brings out the cutesy in me. I go a bit Stepford Wife, imagining myself cooking a leg of lamb whilst dressed in a 50s frock with a polka dot apron, dancing around my country kitchen to music written by Cole Porter. The truth is I'll probably be in my PJs, shoving something into the slow cooker in my tiny kitchenette, with Britney blaring in the background. But let's entertain the myth a little bit with this fortnight's plus size picks, a crop of Spring-like dresses that will brighten up what's looking to be a bit of a dull, miserable weekend. Most of these will work just as well right now with black tights and a blazer as they will with bare legs and wedges later in the year.

Lady Vintage, a brand I know a lot of Domestic Sluts will be familiar with, have just bought out a new line of beautiful limited edition plus size dresses, modelled by the one and only Georgina. They come in sizes 16 - 28 and there are loads of great prints available, my fave is this red rose print (£50). Everyone should have a Lady Vintage dress in their wardrobe. I have four.

Grab yourself a bargain with this Ruby Rocks butterfly print dress, which is down to £33 (saving £22) in sizes 14 - 32 at Simply Be. The lower collar is a bit more wearable than full-on peter pan collars which I know many people think are best left to Alexa Chung. As for the print...who doesn't love butterflies? Actually, don't answer that.

It's bright yellow, it's got birds on it...the only way this frock could be more Easter-appropriate is if those birds were actual chicks, but we can't have everything. This zip-detail cap sleeved dress is from AX Paris Curve, yours for a tiddly £17.99 in sizes 16 - 26 (though stock is limited as it's in the sale).
Now for a bit of pastel, which the kids at work tell me is 'bang on trend' this season. Modcloth have come up with the goods (a lot cheaper than usual, too) with this lovely lace insert 'Rosemary to the Occasion' dress, for $49.99 (they ship internationally). Sizing seems to be a bit odd on this one, but the brilliant customer reviews should make it easier for you to work out how many X's you need!

Finally, it's the Pretty Woman dress! £35 will get you this fab homage to Vivian's famous polka dot polo dress, available in sizes 16 - 28. Nothing says Spring like polka dots (except maybe some SUN??!) and this Yours Clothing number is a total bargain. It's such a timeless shape I couldn't resist!

Gifts From The Black Rabbit

While Easter bunnies are all very well and good (especially if they're made of chocolate...), bunnies should be for life, not just for Easter. Especially if they are as snuggly and winsome as Little Lapin from The Black Rabbit.
Bonjour Little Lapin! Wouldn't it be nice if Little Lapin had a friend? An elephant friend? Yes. This is Little Nel.
Little Lapin and Little Nel are knitted from lambswool and come in three colourways (the stripes will vary) and cost £27.50 each. If all your friends are suddenly popping out babies like mine seem to be, Little Lapin or Nel would make a lovely present.

Of course, you should always buy yourself presents. Presents like this dog on wheels brooch.
It comes in black or red and costs £17.50. I'm not sure I can resist it. Shipping in the UK on orders over £30 is free which is a nice thing indeed.

As for dogs on wheels, I can't leave you without showing you this sausage dog getting some "wheelchair legs" so it can run around properly.

Sluttishly Sweet: Hot Cross Butter Pudding

Am I allowed to admit that I don't like bread and butter pudding that much? It's always too... bready. But I do love hot cross buns, and this hot cross butter pudding was something of a revelation. It's loosely based on this Krispy Kreme recipe (if I have a dozen Krispy Kremes, I'm not going to cook them), but the spices and flavours in the buns mean that you don't have to add any more. Except booze. Always add booze.

You could make your own hot cross buns (which means you can make this gluten free). I bought mine from the supermarket. The cat stole one. He really should have waited until I was finished cooking, this tastes amazing. The condensed milk goes gooey and sticky and soaks right into the buns keeping the spiced pudding perfectly moist.

Hot Cross Butter Pudding (serves 6, even though it looks like it'll serve 4)
You'll need:
  • 6 hot cross buns
  • 1 can of condensed milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 25g mixed peel
  • 2 tbsp Cointreau (rum would also work)
Make it!
  • Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4
  • Break the hot cross buns into quarters, try not to tear the tops.
  • Stir the pieces in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients until they're covered in the mixture.
  • Pop aside to soak for half an hour of so (you might not need this long, I was catching up on Broadchurch).
  • Pour mixture into a rectangular oven dish, getting as many of the bun tops facing upwards as you can. 
  • Cook in the oven for about 40 minutes, or until the bun tops are golden brown.

Fabulous Flasks

Some days, you just need to wrap up warm, pack a book and a thermos, and wander off to read in the peace of the park while you wait for spring. Today is one of those days.

Another of my perk-me-up failsafes is shopping, so I've been browsing for a beautiful flask to accompany me on my caffeine-and-reading adventures.

Take, for instance, the amazing robot flask picture above. Doesn't he look sweet? This flask is on the small side, which means less cups of tea but more room in my bag for books. It's £25 from Berry Red.

A wonderful scrabble thermos combines my love of reading and hot liquids perfectly. It's even got me-appropriate words on it, like 'zesty' and 'beer'. You can get your mitts on one at House Envy for £16.95.

Next up, naturally, is another book-related masterpiece: as part of their never-ending list of merchanidse, Penguin Classics do a Kerouac 'On The Road' flask! I have excelled myself in my quest to blend literature and coffee. It's £16.95 from their online shop.

Liberty do a lovely floral flask number for £18.95, and it makes me very happy indeed. I may have to squirrel that one away for when it's sunnier, though.

Speaking of squirrels, the robot flask makers also do one with squirrels on it. I am utterly smitten, even if it is £23.50 from The Little Baby Company, which means I can't afford both that and the robot one.

Kat showed you some lovely Disaster Designs flasks last week, but this is my favourite of the range. It's the delightfully dainty songbird flask, and is an impressive £14 with free delivery from Lisa Angel.

Lastly, but very much not least, is another offering from my favourite at Wild and Wolf: the "Qwerty" flask, which is £16.95 from Amazon.  The two-dimensional owner of the two-dimensional typewriter appears to have spent the day writing and re-writing the line 'All work and no play make Jack a dull boy'. Too right - all the more reason for me to head to the park to read RIGHT NOW.

Tuesday 26 March 2013

Amazing Animal Clock from Graham and Green

Recently, I took my 3 year old niece to the zoo for her birthday. I say this in the full knowledge that most of the reason I took her to the zoo was so I got to go to the zoo. The zoo is the best!

Now you know this (and are probably, quite rightly, judging me for being a bit of a selfish present-giver) you won't be surprised to learn how head over heels in love I am with the Clyde animal clock from Graham and Green.

Every hour of the day has an animal attached. Oh, how I wish this was true for real life - a rabbit could come hopping by at 7, an elephant could march past at 3... okay, perhaps not really feasible, but it totally works in my head.

From now on, elevenses shall be known as giraffeses, and I will sing "She gets too hungry for ostrich at eight". The possibilities for animal/time fusion is just too much.

I suppose technically it's aimed at children (but then, so is the zoo), however I think it's actually really pretty, so I definitely wouldn't mind it adorning my kitchen wall.

The slight downside is it's £79, which I think may be on the pricey side for what it is, BUT WAIT: it has a swinging monkey pendulum! Surely that's worth all of my money. Oh yes.

Sluttishly Sweet: Boozy Chocolate Fudge Trifle

Having had so much fun decorating my triple chocolate fudge cake with soldiers last week I've gone all Easter themed today and broken out the fluffy chicks and mini eggs for this Easter themed trifle. I've also used up some leftover fudge cake (leftover cake...WHAT???) but you can substitute any rich chocolate cake, go for one thats got chocolate icing though or even chocolate swiss roll would be great.

This is a super rich, decadent trifle and it really does need a bit of booze to cut through all the creaminess, I've used Cointreau but you could use, amaretto, brandy, rum, Baileys (their orange truffle or biscotti flavours would be amazing but be warned it will be mega creamy) or marsala would be bloody wonderful also. I also added maple syrup to my chocolate custard layer, it's maple syrup season right now and what better way to celebrate than by piling it into a trifle. This trifle can be eaten straight away but it's even better made the day before and decorated just before serving (as the mini eggs will stain colour into the cream)

Boozy Chocolate Fudge Trifle (serves 4-5)
You will need:
  • 200g leftover chocolate cake (or enough to cover the bottom of your trifle bowl)
  • 50ml Cointreau (or your preferred booze)
  • 200g raspberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 500ml fresh custard
  • 100g plain dark chocolate (I used Green & Black's Maya Gold to continue the orange theme)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup (optional)
  • 300ml double cream
  • Seeds from half a vanilla pod
  • Mini eggs and fluffy chicks to decorate (cute fluffy chicks definitely optional)
Make it!
  1. Cover the bottom of your trifle bowl with chocolate cake, you want a layer of at least 3cm and pack it quite densely.
  2. Pour over your booze then a layer of raspberries. Use half of the custard to add a layer of vanilla custard over the fruit.
  3. Pour the remaining custard in a saucepan, chop the chocolate into small pieces (or grate it) then add the pan and heat gently whilst stirring until the chocolate has melted, stir in the maple syrup (or even more booze if you wish) remove from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes before pouring over the vanilla custard.
  4. Put the cream in a bowl, add the vanilla seeds and beat until quite firm. Once the chocolate custard is completely cold spoon over the whipped cream then decorate. 

Eggciting Easter Treats

Tis the time to celebrate! Roast lamb, four day weekends and a great big load of chocolate. Here are the pick of the best chocolate eggs around. Some of them will need ordering today if you want the Easter bunny to deliver them by Friday.

Hotel Chocolat have gone all sophisticated with their very dapper Easter bunny. This little chocolate egg and egg cup set is a tenner, or you can buy two for £18.

The suited up rabbit also featured on this box of Easter egg chocolates, they've got tasty fillings like champagne truffle and pecan praline. You can have my orange ones. Bleurgh.

I want a honeycomb disco egg! It's £14.95 from Lick the Spoon.

The selection at Fortnum's is surprisingly rubbish, so instead let's have a look at what poshness Selfridge's have on offer. They're stocking Booja Booja, which is great news for coeliac readers as they're gluten free. And they look blimmin' lovely. This giant egg is £29.99 and it's filled with organic truffles. Smaller Booja Booja eggs start at £12.99.

This raspberry milk chocolate egg is full of praline mini eggs. I don't want any part of Easter eggs that don't have anything in them. You can buy this egg for £25 from The Chocolate Tree.

Don't fancy an egg? Then this dark chocolate bunny is the perfect option. He's £22 from Madame Oiseau.

Or how about an old spot pig?

This is the poshest, prettiest Easter egg (and the priciest at £39.99). It's by Farga and the outer shell is decorated with a gorgeous antique design. Inside there's a chocolate egg filled with mini eggs. It's like the Russian doll of the Easter world.

But instead, I'm opting for this Harrods sweetie egg. It's got fried eggs and gummy bears in it! It's £24,95 and will give you a sugar high until the bank holiday Monday.

Monday 25 March 2013

Shop in the Spotlight: Everything Begins

I moved house this weekend (yes, again). I've moved to a beautiful flat about five minutes from my old place but this one has gorgeous parquet floors and it's right by the river and my local pub. Obviously the second we started flat hunting got the place, I started mentally redecorating. Most of my mental redecoration has taken place in Everything Begins. They've already got my favourites like this WeLoveKarou breakfast set and Chloe Croft cushions.

Yep, I'd like a batshit crazy bookshelf please. Oh. This is a millionty pounds and after moving an entire library of books this weekend, the argument for a Kindle is getting stronger. Luckily there are lots of gorgeous and affordable pieces to drool over.

Flamingos are quite clearly the new owls.

These are some sexy, sexy cushions. I don't actually have a sofa to put them on yet, but I don't care.

Also needed: one rainy day cushion. Pro tip: don't move house in the snow. It makes everything a bit shit.

If I had more floor space (it's covered in boxes), I'd be hankering after this Matisse rug.

We only broke two mugs in the move, which is pretty good going. Still, any excuse...

Bag Lust: Flamingo Satchel by Zatchels

I must admit that I've not been bowled over by the whole satchel thing but that was before I saw you can get one with flamingoes on.

Zatchels have managed to make a bag that's both girly and sturdy. The contrast between the cream leather and pink kissing flamingoes reminds me of ice cream. Or rhubarb and custard sweets. Basically, Good Things. I also like the symmetrical flamingo pattern. They're not too in your face and at a distance, they look like a random pattern. Made in Britain from top quality leather, it's big enough to fit in an A5 notebook or an iPad should you be so technologically inclined. I want mine to hold sunglasses, a good book and hopefully tickets to somewhere nice. As long as I have enough pennies for an ice cream to go with it, I'll be happy.

Need a bag with flamingoes on? You can get it for £120 from Oliver Bonas.

Sluttishly Sweet: Dippy Egg and Soldiers

It wouldn't be Easter in Domestic Sluttery HQ without a ludicrous themed recipe from us. Last year, I brought you Creme Egg Surprise Cupcakes (look at that photo! Taken in the sunshine! Sob). This year, it's dippy egg and soldiers - made of chocolate mousse, mango coulis, and shortbread biscuits. As well as being seriously easy, it's also deeply comforting to eat and better suited to this endless winter. The mango cuts through the mousse to add a fresh, sharp note.

The mousse is adapted from Nigella's recipe and uses marshmallows rather than egg whites. It sets faster, there's no raw egg in the mix, and no need to spend ages separating and whipping eggs. I've used shortbread biscuits as the 'toast' for dipping - feel free to make your own, but I bought a packet and feel no shame.

Dippy Egg and Soldiers (serves 2)
You will need:

For the white chocolate mousse
  • 75g mini marshmallows
  • 125g white chocolate, chopped into small pieces
  • 30ml boiling water
  • 150ml double cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
For the mango coulis
  • 1 mango, cubed
For the biscuits
  • Packet of shortbread biscuits, opened
Make it!
  1. Start with the white chocolate mousse. Put the marshmallows, chocolate and boiling water into a heavy saucepan and melt over a low heat, stirring occasionally. Once it's melted, take it off the heat.
  2. Whip the double cream with the vanilla until it thickens. Fold it into the cooling chocolate mix until smooth. Divide the mousse between two tumblers and pop into the fridge to set.
  3. To make the coulis, put the mango pieces in a saucepan with a splash of water and gently heat until they're very soft. Squish them through a sieve to make a smooth coulis.
  4. Assemble your pudding by making a small hollow in the top of the mousse (insert teaspoon, remove mousse, insert spoon into mouth) and drizzling on the mango coulis. 
  5. Serve with some biscuits on the side for dipping.

You Look Great Today

Yes, you do.

Everyone loves a sincerely meant compliment don't they? They're one of those things which are just as much fun to give as to receive when you get to witness your lucky recipient's happiness levels increase tenfold. If only you could box up that feeling and sell it.

Well, of course you can - almost. Meet Random Notes of Appreciation. It's a neat box set of compliment cards, ready to dish out as you go about your day. There are eight in a set with four different designs to pick from. Whether you want to tell someone they've made your day or to keep their chin up buttercup, there's a card for it.

You can buy the set for a tenner from Nook and Cranny who are encouraging us to do some stealthy complimenting by slipping one in someone's bag or popping one onto someone's desk. Or you could boldly hand one of the cards over in person. Either way, the happy result is the same and, goodness knows, the world could always do with some more random appreciation.

For the next set, I'd love to have some cards to tell someone how pretty her dress is or how great her make-up looks. While for the moment I'm going to have to do that bit all by myself, for just about everything else there's a random compliment card.

(And really, you do look fantastic today.)

Friday 22 March 2013

Friday Five: cool cosmetics bags

It's Friday, it's half three. That means one of my most important rituals of the week is about to begin: my transformation from work weary wage slave into glamorous (well, I try) girl about town. An unsung hero in this ritual? The humble cosmetic bag reliably carting my make-up about town. And if you're making yourself pretty, surely your bag should be pretty too. Here's five of my favourites.

Sew Lomax makes exquisitely embroidered bags, such as this nail varnish make-up bag. It's certainly more attractive than my nail varnish collection. Joy of joys it's wipe clean. It's yours for £30.

I love the bright colours on this stained glass bag from Etoile (added bonus is that if your lip stain leaks accidentally, it'll blend right into the design). Prices start at £27.

Lisa Levis (the designer originally behind Lisa Stickley) has just launched Ada Rose, a range of beautifully patterned bags and scarves. Feminine without being too girlie, this tea rose design is better known as Edith, and is £30.

Want to look the best on show? Take some tips from the best in show with these perfectly posed pooches. Michelle Mason's poodle make-up bag is priced at £15.

Another of my favourite designer ladies, Snowden Flood, has produced this gorgeous Art Deco-inspired Diving Lady Wash Bag. It's £22 and the perfect accessory for Kat's local pool outings. Or a night on the tiles. Happy Friday fun times.
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