Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Two Peas In A Pod Giveaway Winners

Good afternoon! Just popped back to announce the winners of the Two Peas In A Pod sewing class giveaway.  There are two winners, so drum roll please............

Winner no.1 is .......... Patti

Winner no.2 is...........Heidi Liz

Congratulations ladies! I wil try to conatct you both but please email me so I can forward your details to Trish so that she can send your log in details to the sewing class.

Thank you to everyone who has entered.


Offers from Our Sponsors

Morning! I hope you're all well and managed to negoiate childcare dilemmas due to the strikes without too many problems.  Thankfully my chidlrens teachers have not gone on strike so they are all at school today.  I just wanted to quickly share some great one day offers from a couple of our blog sponsors.  (These are affiliate partners so I earn a tiny amount from each sale that is made by using the links on my blog, just being honest here!). 

Cath Kidston (UK)
15% OFF entire Cath Kidston website
Use code XMAS

25% OFF Online
I have also created a page specifically to keep you updated with offers from our sponsors.  There are some great discounts in the run up to Christmas so be sure to check the Offers Page reguarly!
Happy shopping!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Independant Shops and the Rise of Handmade Products

Morning! I hope you are all well today and  I hope my friends further north don't suffer too much disruption today due to the heavy rain causing flooding.  Yesterday on Twitter I got involved with a chat started by Maryann of One Stop Pamper Shop about how the increase in sales of handmade goods is affecting the high street.  The main question being did we think that because more and more people are choosing to buy beautiful handmade products would this see a rise in independant retailers filling the empty shop fronts on our high streets? 

White Christmas Creamer from One Stop Pamper Shop

 Personally I think the trend to buy handcrafted goods is still very much on the rise and believe this can only be good for independent retailers.  The Telegraph and Mary Portas are championing independent shops at the moment in their 'Best Small Shops in Britain' awards, inviting us all to vote for our favourite local shops.  I know more and more high streets are becoming an eclectic mix of indie shops and the mainstay big retailers which can only be good for the creative industry.  Whilst some designer makers also hanker after owning their own beautiful shop stocked with their own and other designers products, there are also other people determined to stock handmade products in their shops.
Flouncy Clutch from Poppy Treffry

Without independent reatailers sharing handmade products in their high street stores it may seem that designer makers products are destined to the cyber shelves only.  However there are several creatives who have sucessfully taken the big retailer route and have also managed to keep their businesses relatively small and close to their homes.  Obviosuly Poppy Treffry is the perfect example of this as her products are stocked by many big businesses including Selfridges.  Yet Poppy also has a small shop close to her studio and she has kept her studio close to home, in Cornwall and Poppy still runs her own stand at Country Living Christmas Fair. 

Mummy Birthstone Necklace from Poppy Sparkles

Another thought shared yesterday in this discussion on twitter came from Viv, at Poppy Sparkles, that the popularity of crafting was also making people think more about their purchases.  After many years of a creating a throw away society I think the corner has been turned and more and more people actually want to know who made their new purchase or where it was made.  Could we be seeing people actually embracing handmade products?  Yes, I genuinely believe that the rise in popularity of crafting is making more people buy handmade.  We all know that we cannot make everything ourselves so as designer makers we look to other talented makers to buy the things we cannot make ourselves.  Then for the people who simply do not have time to make things but want to support British craft are looking to independent retailers to stock handmade goods.

What do you think? Will we see a rise in independent retailers on the high street stocking handmade goods?  Do you own an independent shop that sells handmade products? I would love to hear from you, in the comments below or email me

Hope you have a fab day!

Monday, 28 November 2011

Deck The Halls - Christmas Decorations in Our Etsy Shop

Morning! It's been a manic Monday here again, one day my children may understand the benefit of getting everything packed for school the night before.  Nevermind, that's what mums are for, nagging and getting everyone organised! So today is Cyber Monday which means there are some amazing offers to be had from the big stores and small businesses alike.  I've already seen plenty of tweets from Etsy & Not On The High Street sellers offering discounts today.  From now until midnight on Wednesday (30th) you can get free postage on everything in our Etsy shop, using the promotional code FREEPOSTNOV. 

Red & green paper bunting will be added later today aswell as these cute Penguin invitations

Are you planning a Superhero party? These Superhero invitations & decorations are perfect!

Our 'She Sells Seashells' paper bunting makes a great stocking filler for girls who like to decorate their bedrooms!

Are you offering a Cyber Monday promotion? Leave details in the comments or tweet me & I'm more than happy to share, well we all love a bargain don't we!

See you soon & hope your Monday is filled with orders

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

National Freelancers Day

Morning! Bit of  a chilly start, but at least it's not snowing yet, unlike this time last year.  Today is National Freelancers Day. It makes me think I should be having a nice leisurely day but of course that is not the case for most freelancers today. And to add to the constant juggling act of freelancing I have Kitty at home, feeling a bit tired and poorly with a nasty cold. 

I love the flexibility freelancing allows me but just as a small business owner always looks at making improvements I am always looking at how I can improve what I do and how I do it.  The new year is usually a time for reflection and making plans but I have already decided on four things I need to do next year to improve what I do and how I do it.

Coffee is an essential part of freelancing!
Ceramic Coffee Pot from Caroline McGrath

Firstly I need to book myself on to a fantastic new e-course run by Flourish.  I was so excited when Fiona let me know that she was starting a new branding e-course next Spring as I have desperately wanted to attend her workshops this year but the logistics of physically attending proved too much.  With Fiona as the course leader/mentor I just know this will be an amazing course, she is an amazingly inspiring lady, who I hope with this course will help me narrow down my ideas and finally get on track in 2012.

Oh how I dream of a beautiful workspace!
image source - Decor 8

Secondly I need to get registered on Holly Becker's Blogging Your Way e-course.  I read Holly's blog, Decor 8 everyday and again she is an incredibly inspiring lady.  Having read rave reviews and spoken to some people who have already completed the Blogging Your Way course I know it would be perfect for me and actually a necessity for what I do.
I should probably update my camera too!
Olympus Camera from John Lewis

Thirdly I need to buy Photoshop! Probably have to be Photoshop Elements due to cost but I need this and I must make sure I spend time learning to use it properly and not just buying it and being too afraid to try.

Cushion from Rachel Taylor Designs

Lastly I want to join Rachel Taylor's Surface Pattern e-course.  I long to get back to screen printing and think this course might be just the push I need.  However this will have to wait until later in 2012 as I will be very busy with the other two courses!

So I guess the benefit of National Freelancers Day for me is that I have stopped and thought about what I need to make me a better freelancer, to help me provide an even more professional service for my clients.  Now all I need to do is earn enough money to fund these improvements. Back to it then!!

Have a fab day everyone,

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Christmas Kitchen - Vanilla Shortbread

There is something about freshly baked shortbread which feels distinctly in tune with Christmas.  I'm not sure whether it's the lovely smell which escapes from the kitchen and through the house, or maybe the thought of curling up in front of the fire with a couple of pieces and a hot drink.  This particular recipe has been a favorite in our house for a number of years and produces delicious results while still being simple to make.  We often make it as presents for the children's teachers at Christmas time, which makes a lovely gift, but the best bit is always eating it ourselves.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.


200g Chilled salted butter
325g Plain flour
125g Caster sugar (Golden preferably, but normal is just fine)
2 tsp Vanilla extract
2 large Egg yolks

This makes around 24 pieces of shortbread

1.  Chop the butter into small pieces and place in a large bowl with the flour.  Rub together until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  You can use a food processor for this stage, but it doesn't take long with your hands.

2.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix into a dough.  I normally start this off with a knife and then get my hands in the bowl to make a nice pliable dough.

3.  Roll the dough out on a floured surface into a sausage shape, about 9 or 10 inches long, then wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge to chill for an hour.  (You can freeze the dough at this stage for up to 6 weeks.  Thaw out at room temperature for about an hour before slicing).

4.  Preheat the oven to 180'C/160'C (fan)/Gas 4 and grease two large baking trays.  Remove the dough from the fridge and slice into 24 pieces, about 5mm thick, place them on the prepared trays and bake for 20 minutes, by which time the edges of the slices should be lightly golden.

5.  Cool on a rack, then dust lightly with icing sugar and enjoy.

If you don't finish the shortbread in a day, it should keep for about a week in an airtight container.

Have a nice weekend everyone.


Friday, 18 November 2011

Fabric Friday - Amy Butler New Collection - Lark

Morning! Friday again already? Bit of a mixed up day here today as my daughters have a day off from school as it's a PD Day (Professional Development for teachers) but I think it's just a special Christmas shopping day for the teachers really!  Anyway it's Friday and that means we can indulge in some fabric heaven here and I realised earlier this week that Amy Butler's new collection, Lark, had hit out shores and the virtual shelves of many fabric websites here in the UK.  You all know how much I love Amy Butler designs but I am going to admit I am now entirely convinced I like the new collection.  I'm not sure why and maybe it will grow on me.  Although I do like some of the designs just not all of them.

The Lark collection is split into two, Glamour and Dreamer, with the designs in the Dreamer collection are more preferable.  I usually love Amy's designs but feel maybe one reason I haven't automatically fallen in love with them is that the colour palette is bright and bold but my thoughts are for warm colours of winter.  Perhaps I will like Lark more in the Spring when I want an injection of colour?

I would love to know wat you think of the new Amy Butler collection.  Do you love or loathe it? 

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.


Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Review & Giveaway - Sewing Class with Two Peas In A Pod

Morning! I hope this post finds you warm and well.  It's turned very chilly here, time to find my slippers to keep my toes warm whilst sat at my desk!  I am delighted today to review a new online sewing class with you, courtesy of Trish at Two Peas In A Pod.  Trish contacted me recently to ask if I would like to review her new tie front tote sewing class and of course I said yes.

I love the concept of an online sewing class but was concerned how it would work regarding the pattern.  However my concerns were soon eased by clear instructions from Trish on measurements for each piece required.  She even shares her own personal tips which makes it more personal and like you are attending an actual sewing class.  The sewing class for the tie front tote is split into three seperate lessons, which is perfect if you are short on time and like to work on a project in stages. 

Two Peas In Pod Patterns are available in their Etsy shop very soon.

The instructions are clear and concise and each class is accompanied with a video, again making it feel like a proper sewing class and not just you trying to work through creating a bag from a pattern.  Trish explains at the start of the class that yes there is actually rain in the first video and her cat even makes an appearance!  I love the fact that you can stop and start making your bag, watch the video over and over to check you are doigng it right. How many times have you longed for somebody to actually show you how to do something when following a pattern? I know I have often wished for some actual help on several occassions!  I really do think this might be the way forward in craft and sewing lessons and think the course is worth every penny. 

Available very soon in Two Peas in a Pod Etsy Shop


Trish has very kindly offered two class registrations to give you the chance to enjoy her sewing class aswell.    Each winner will be provided with their own personal password to view the class.  Trish allows everyone using her tutorials from her sewing class to use the pattern to make bags to sell.  However the class content is copyrighted and you are not allowed to share your password with 50 of your closest friends!

To win this sewing class registration there are a number of things you can do to enter.

In order for your entry to count you must leave a comment below. Please leave a seperate comment for EACH action you take. 
  • Visit Two Peas In A Pod and leave a comment below and tell me which of the Sprouts patterns you like most.
  • Blog about this giveaway and link back to this post.
  • Tweet "I've entered the @trishpreston giveaway on @ZoeandDrew blog"
This giveaway is open to everyone, wherever you are in the world as it is an online class and will be open until midnight on Tuesday 29 November 2011.  The winners will be announced on Wednesday 29 November on this blog.

Good luck everyone!


Monday, 14 November 2011

Country Living Christmas Fair - Part 2

Good afternoon, I hope you all had a fab weekend.  I have finally found a few minutes to share with you my lovely finds and thoughts about my recent visit to Country Living Christmas Fair.  Firstly I had a fantastic day with Gabs of Moobaacluck and was thrilled to finally meet her.  We had a lovely day browsing stands, chatting to designers we knew from Twitter and collecting business cards to help us remember who we had seen and who did what! I'm hoping to find some time soon to look at all the websites for all the business cards, postcards and brochures I collected.

from Poppy Treffry

It was lovely to chat with Poppy Treffry and her sister Faye and to be able to personally thank them for donating a prize to Riot Raffle.  Whilst at their stand I picked up a little present for Lucy that was on her Christmas list.  We also met Charlotte Macey and Julia Davey who were sharing a stand and it looked gorgeous, with their products perfectly complimenting each other.  I was delighted to be introduced to Lucy Loveheart by Gabs, who's work is exquisite and clients include Liberty, Cafe rouge, Osborne and Little, Habitat and many more.

Plate from Julia Davey

I was impressed with the printed textiles from Zeena and had a lovely chat about screen printing, which I long to try again.  I made a small purchase from Atelier Contemporary Craft Gallery for Drew for Christmas.  It was lovely to chat with Julia from Red Hen Originals who uses potato printing to create beautiful prints of animals. I remember reading about her in Country Living earlier this year and these prints really do not look like a potato has been involved!!

Linen Dress from Treefall Designs

We also went to say hello to Penny Lindop, Molly Mac and Treefall Design who's stands all looked fantatic. I especially loved the wallpaper Manda at Treefall had chosen from Roddy & Ginger.  then we had a lovely chat with Sally from Cream Orkney, who's sons lamps made from old wooden squash rackets were amazing and even his business cards were made using old racket covers, now that's super clever branding.

logpile wallpaper from Roddy & Ginger

Of course I had to buy Lucy, Amber and Kitty a little something, apart from Christmas gifts, otherwise I may not have been allowed back in the house! so i brought them each a beautiful porcelain fairy to hang on the christmas tree. I had brought them each one last year from Kate Hackett Ceramics and so was delighted to find her there again this year so I could add to the fairy collection.

The dress I dreaming about!
from Poppy

I also absolutely loved the adult dresses from Poppy, maybe I'll treat myself in the new year.  We also made sure we popped by to see Caroline of Twice and had a lovely chat.

All in all it was a lovely sociable day and I hope next time to meet even more fabulous people I reguarly chat to on Twitter.  I feel inspired to get making again as I have been spending far too much time tap tapping at my laptop.

Did you visit Country Living Christmas Fair? I hope you had as much fun as we did!

Take care

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Christmas Kitchen - Christmas Cake

Good aftermoon, a bit delayed today as I've been to watch my sons play rugby.  Unfortunately they both lost but thankfully came home without major injuries.  I find it scarier the older they get to watch them as it just seems so dangerous.  Anyway back to business and todays Christmas Kitchen post! I know Christmas cake is a little bit like Marmite, you either love it or hate it and I absolutley love it.  As a child I remember helping my mum mix in the fruit and making a wish and have made my own Christmas cake for the past fifteen years. Ohh I now feel old!! I did try a different recipe a couple of years ago but was disappointed with the result so stick to Mary Berry's Classic Rich Christmas Cake.  Yet I do vary the ingredients slightly as she has seperate weights for differents dried fruits, including apricots, which I don't like, so I just buy a good quality mixed dried fruit and still add the mixed peel and glace cherries. I guess you could also add a different spirit instead of brandy, I know Contrieau makes for a delicious tasting cake. The important thing with Christmas cake is to make it early so it has time to sit and that you can feed it more brandy in the run up to Christmas!  Also be prepared with the length of time the cake requires in the oven. 

Right aprons on and let's make a cake!


725g of good quality mixed dried fruit
100g  glace cherries
50g mixed candied peel
3 tablespoons brandy
225g plain flour
1 tsp mixed spice
225g softened margerine or softened butter
225g dark muscavado sugar
4 extra large eggs
50g whole blanched almonds
1 scant tbsp black treacle
grated rind of 1 lemon
grated rind of 1 orange

These ingredients are to make an eight inch (20cm) cake.

1. This cake needs to be started the night before you want to bake it.  Place all the dried fruit, including glace cherries and peel in to a large bowl, mix in the brandy, cover and leave overnight.

2. Preheat the oven to 140C/275F/gas mark 1.  Grease and line an 8" (20cm) deep round cake tin with a double layer of greased greaseproof paper. 

3. Measure the flour, spice, margerine or butter, sugar, eggs, amonds, treacle and lemon and orange rinds in a large bowl. 

4. Beat together to mix thoroughly.

5. Fold in the soaked fruits a couple of spoonfuls at a time, making sure everybody in your home/family has a turn and makes a wish.

6. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and spread out evenly using  the back of a spoon.  Cover the top of the cake loosely with a double layer of greaseproof paper.

7. Bake in the preheated oven for 4 1/2 to 4 3/4 hours or until the cak feels firm to the touch and if you insert a skewer into the centre and it should come out clean when the cake is cooked.  I always write the time the cake went into the oven, the first check time at 4 1/2 hours and final time of 4 3/4hours and stick it on the fridge so I don't forget when to check the cake!

8. When the cake has cooled pierce a few tiny holes in to it and pour a little more brandy onto it. 

9. I now leave my cake in it's greaseproof paper that it baked in and wrap in a layer of foil and store in a box in a cool place.  The cake will be fine stored for up to three months.  Make sure you feed it at intervals with a little more brandy.

I will share a recipe for marzipan in the next cuple of weeks and icing and decorating ideas before Christmas.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.


PS If you want to make a bigger cake send me an email or tweet me and I'll give you the ingredients weights as they vary depending on the size of your cake!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Advent Calendars

Good Afternoon! Two posts in the same day, I'm on a roll!! As promised I am back to share some pretty advent calendar ideas with you.  We have a tradition in our own house to make a different kind of advent calendar each year.  Lucy, my ten year old and I have been chatting about what to do this year and have been browsing various Christmas and interiors magazines for inspiration.  Our current favourite is a selection of stocking and little sacks, numbered 1-24, in spotty and stripy red and white fabric, hung on twine.  I will share our final decision and how we made it closer to December.

I have been busy collecting ideas over on Pinterest for advent calendars for various posts for other blogs and I thought I'd share a few of my favourites here.  I'm hoping to share some ideas for DIY advent calendars in the next few days aswell, if you fancy starting your own tradition of making your own each year!

Do you make and sell advent calendars? Please leave a link in the comments.  Or maybe you would like to share a tutorial here on the blog? I'm always happy to share fab tutorials so please get in touch.   Also today I have posted some fabulous ideas for a personalised Christmas on Let's Plan A Party. 

Be sure to follow my tweets tomorrow from Country Living Christmas Fair.

See you soon

Holiday Competitions and Large Families

Good morning, I hope you're all well.  I had planned on posting some pretty advent calender ideas, which I'll try and post later, but needed to have a little rant instead. This morning I saw Great Little Trading Company tweet a competition they are running in conjunction with Ski Famille to win a wonderful family Ski holiday.  So of course I clicked through to take a look but knew that I would be unable to enter before looking. Why? I have five children, of course this competition would be for two adults and two children.

I actually think many holiday competitions are predjudiced against large families.  Is the average family really only two children? Maybe it is but it's not just these competitions that limit family size, many holiday companies offer rooms for small families only.  I know by having more than the average sized family I created logistical problems in the size of car required or holiday accomadation available, but I still get cross that we are not able to enter holiday competitions or have to pay room supplements to have adjoining rooms because the hotel doesn't have a room big enough for us. This actually includes Disneyland Paris, who I thought were the most family friendly holiday company in the world!

Thankfully we still have some options, we can rent a big cottage or house and Centre Parcs offer 4 bedroomed houses that we fit in! Just a shame that so many family holiday companies still do not cater for larger families. 

Anyway rant over, I'll pop back later with the planned prettiness!!

Take care

Monday, 7 November 2011

Country Living Christmas Fair

Morning! I can't believe it's Monday again already, the weekends just disappear.  However I did have some exciting news this weekend, my lovely husband, Drew, had entered to win some Country Living Christmas Fair tickets as he knows how much I love this and he won! So I was very excited to receive these two tickets on Saturday in the post, but who to take?  Well I was very lucky to have been given a ticket by a dear Twitter friend earlier this year, but due to illness couldn't make it down to London. So to return the lovely offer I asked Gabs of Moobaacluck to join me on a trip to this years fair.  There are so many of my Twitter friends I really, really want to meet, so am so looking forward to finally meeting Gabs.  I only wish I had more tickets so I could have so many more of you join us! Apparently Drew has entered a couple more competitions to win tickets so watch this space, just incase!!

I will of course be tweeting from Country Living, but not too much as there is just sooooo much to look at.  And I promise there will be lots of lovely posts to follow as I will want to share some fabulous finds and designer makers with you all. 

Are you heading to London this week for Country Living Christmas Fair? Maybe you have a stand, let me know & I'll make sure I pop by & say hello. 

To make up for not being to take you all I do have a discount for you with one of our partners.  Boden are having one of their diminishing discount promotions and by entering DDCC at the checkout until Thursday you will receive 20% off almost everything! A perfect opportunity to start the Christmas shopping, they do haev lovely nighties for girls or maybe a new hat & scarf set?

Hope you have a good start to the week,

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Sunday Bookclub - Jaqueline Wilson

This weeks book club has been taken over by Lucy, our ten year old daughter.  Lucy is a bookworm and reads book after book and often rereads some of her favourites.  She reguarly swaps books with friends and we make lots of use of the library aswell as Lucy already having a large shelf jam packed with books.  Today I have asked Lucy to share one of her favourite authors with us.  Welcome Lucy!

Jacqueline Wilson is a fun, creative writer.  She writes about children with problems.  When people write about fantasy it can take you to that place whilst Jacqueline Wilson takes you on an adventure which follows a childs problem.  I like her books because they teach you that not every child is as lucky as I am.  My particular favourite is Hetty Feather.  The main character, Hetty Feather is only a couple of months old when her mother gives her away to the hospital.  The book teaches you about Victorian times and the cruelty towards children then. 

Another of Jacqueline Wilsons books I really enjoy is Lily Alone.  Lily's mum keeps 'hooking up with new guys' and when she meets yet another she's invited to go to Spain, leaving Lily alone to look after her brother and sisters.  This teaches me not everybodys parents care about them.  Overall Jacqueline Wilson is one of my favourite readers.

Thank you Lucy.  Jacqueline Wilson also writes books for younger children, but I think her books for the 9+ age range offer a fantastic insight into the lives of the less fortunate children in our society, in both modern and past times. 

So is your daughter a Jacqueline Wilson fan? Which book is on her Christmas list?

Enjoy the rest of the weekend,

Images sourced via Amazon

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Christmas Kitchen - Mince Pies

Good Morning and welcome to my first Christmas Kitchen post.  Earlier this week I discovered a jar of mincemeat in the cupboard and as it was now November I thought it seemed only right to make a batch of mince pies. Obviously they didn't last long in my house but mince pies can be frozen once they are cooked and cooled, so are perfect for a make ahead Christmas staple. 

Over the years I have developed my own sweet pastry recipe, which I will share with you today.  However you can use ready to roll pastry available in the fridge and freezer sections at the supermarket, infact I think you can even buy sweet pastry these days!   So grab an apron and your rolling pin and lets's make mince pies.


250g Self Raising Flour (and extra for dusting your board & rolling pin)
125g Butter
2 tbsp Light Muscavado Sugar
2tbsp Cold Water
Jar of Mincemeat


Mixing Bowl
Palette Knife
Kitchen Scales
Bun Tin (like you would use for fairy cakes)
Round Pastry Cutter (or a small plastic cup would work)
Small Holly Leaf Cutter (or other christmas shapes or smaller round cutter)
Rolling Pin
Mat or Board to roll our your pastry

This recipe makes about 12 mince pies

1. Put your flour and butter into your mixing bowl and rub together to make fine breadcrumbs.  I'm     always telling my children you just need your fingertips not your whole hands to make a breadcrumb mixture!  Once you think you're done give the bowl a little shake and any large lumps will rise to the top so you can rub these in too.

2. Using your fingers stir the sugar in to the breadcumb mixture.  Muscavado sugar does tend to be a little lumpy so will need to be rubbed in to your breadcrumbs.  For a lighter pastry try using icing sugar instead.

3. Now add one tbsp of cold water and stir into the breadcrumb mixture using a palette knife.  I guess you could use a metal spoon but I have always used a metal pallette knife.  Add the second tablespoon of cold water and stir in to your mixture.  It may now be necessary to bring the mixture together with your hands.  If the mixture is a little too crumbly add a few drops of cold water, but only add tiny amounts as this can make a big difference in the texture of your pastry. 

4. Sprinkle some flour on your mat or board and your rolling pin.  Take half of your pastry and roll out to about 5mm (1/2cm) thickness.  Cut out as many circles as you can and put these in to your bun tray.  Pop the bits of pastry back into a ball and roll out again and cut out circles again. 

5. Once you have filled your bun tray with pie bases add roughly a teaspoon of mincemeat to each pie.  The trick is not to overload your pie bases!

6. Roll out some more pastry and cut your pie tops.  I prefer to have little christmas shapes, like bells, christmas trees or holly leaves and found my tiny cutters in a kitchen shop for about 50p each.  However you can make smaller circle tops for your mince pies if you prefer.  Pop your pie tops on top of the mincemeat filled pie bases.

7. Put the tray of mince pies into the oven for about 15-20 mins on 160 degrees C (that's for a fan oven), so 180 for a normal electric oven and gas mark 4.  The pastry should be a golden brown colour when cooked. 

(these were golden brown honest!)

8. Leave the mince pies to cool in their tray for a short while, about 10 minutes is fine, then remove from the tray and pop on a cooling tray.  Don't worry if one accidentaly breaks as you get it out of hte tim and you have to eat it! 

Once cooled the mince pies should be stored in an airtight container and will last for at least a week.  Alternatively you can freeze them in a box or bag for a month or two. 

These mince pies are delicious warm and served with brandy butter or cream. 

Other ideas for your mince pies

When you have made your breadcrumbs keep a small amount aside and use these as a crumble topping instead of a pie top.

Add a small ball of marzipan to your mince pies before putting their tops on.

Add extra cherries and/or nuts to your jar of mincemeat. 

Bake your mince pies open then add a circle of fondant icing as a top when the pies have cooled.

To make a bigger batch the general rules for pastry are half fat to flour, a tbsp of sugar for each 125g of flour and a tablespoon of cold water for each 125g of flour.

I hope you have fun making these, they really are delicious.  I'm off now to prepare the dried fruit and nuts for our Christmas Cake and leave them to soak in brandy over night ready to make the cake tomorrow.

Have a fab Saturday,

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