Gimme Five! Firewood essentials

February 27th, 2015

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selection of 5 firewood essentials | H is for Home

We removed what was left of our rotting, ramshackle garden shed last week. It left a nice big space for our new log preparation area – yes, that’s right, our new log preparation area!

We’re about to have two new wood-burning stoves installed and Justin is gearing himself up for the big day. He’s had his chainsaw sharpened and has been trawling the internet for other products to make a steady flow of logs easier. Here are five firewood essentials:

  1. Wooden saw horse: £34.99, Shedstore
  2. Log carrier with stand: £39.99, Presents for Men
  3. Lump hammer & log splitting bomb wedge set: £13.95, eBay
  4. BillyOh log store: from £119.99, Gardenbuildingsdirect
  5. Log splitting maul axe: £20.90, Amazon

Cakes & Bakes: Pitta and hummus

February 26th, 2015

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home made pitta and hummus | H is for Home

You can say one thing for our recipe posts – they’re definitely international!

pitta and hummus ingredients | H is for Home

We’ve gone from China, via the USA to this week where we’re in the North Africa/Middle East region with pitta and hummus recipes.

yeast & water mixture | H is for Home

Pitta and hummus is a mainstay in our house. It’s a quick, healthy snack when you don’t feel like cooking.

pitta dough | H is for Home

They’re both fairly inexpensive to buy – both less than a pound for a standard pack.

mixing olive oil and salt into pitta dough | H is for Home

Being so easy to pick up in the shops, I’ve never really thought to make my own at home.

rinsed chickpeas | H is for Home

What was I waiting for? Home made versus shop bought – now I know – there’s no comparison, home made wins hands down!

husked chickpeas | H is for Home

So long as there’s a tin of chickpeas in the larder and a jar of tahini in the fridge, you can whip up a delicious batch of hummus in 5 minutes flat… and make it just to your taste. As much or as little lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper as you like – and the consistency you prefer.

hummus mixture | H is for Home

Lots of people insist on making hummus using dried peas. Yes, it will probably turn out even better – but unless you own a pressure cooker (I don’t) which will cook the beans in under half an hour, that quick snack will have to wait until tomorrow. I’ll make some using dried beans some day soon to see how it compares.

hummus mixture in a bowl | H is for Home

You can spice things up a little (or as they say on the X Factor, “Make it your own”). Add a little smoked paprika, ground cumin, caramelised onions, sun dried tomatoes, chopped chillies, coriander or parsley – just not all at once mind!

pitta dough preparation | H is for Home

You can make and cook off a big batch of pitta and store the excess in the freezer  – just defrost as needed and pop them in the toaster.

pitta cooking on a stone in the oven | H is for Home

 I have to say that they were delicious straight from the oven though…

pitta sliced with bowl of hummus | H is for Home

… and there weren’t any left from this batch for the freezer!!

Pitta and hummus
Yields 8
so much better than shop bought!
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Print
for the pitta
  1. 1tbs instant dried yeast
  2. 350ml/12 fl oz lukewarm water
  3. 375g/13oz wholemeal bread flour
for the hummus
  1. 1tbs tahini
  2. ½tbsp olive oil
  3. 1 300g/10½ tin chickpeas
  4. 1 small clove garlic
  5. ½tbsp lemon juice
  6. ½tbsp sea salt
  7. pinch of ground black pepper
  8. pinch of smoked paprika or ground cumin (optional)
  9. few sprigs of coriander or flat leaf parsley (optional)
For the pitta
  1. In a measuring jug, sprinkle the yeast over the water and stir to dissolve
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add flour and form a well in the centre and add the yeast mixture
  3. Bring the flour and yeast mixture together to form a dough
  4. Leave the mixture to rest for 15 minutes before adding the olive oil and salt and mixing well again until the dough begins to stiffen
  5. Using the dough hook mix on a low speed for 5 minutes (or knead by hand for 8-10 minutes) until smooth & elastic
  6. Cover the bowl in cling film and leave in a warm place to prove until doubled in size (at least an hour)
  7. - You can use this time to make the hummus -
  8. Once risen, preheat the oven to the highest setting, placing a knock back before dividing the dough in half
  9. Divide each half into 4 equal pieces and flatten each piece into a ovals around ½cm thick
  10. Layer & wrap the ovals loosely in a clean, damp tea towel preheat your oven to the highest setting and put a baking stone or griddle pan inside to heat up
  11. Carefully put 2-3 pitta ovals onto the stone/pan leaving space between each
  12. Bake for 3-5 minutes until the bread has puffed up like a balloon
  13. Allow to cool on a wire rack for a few minutes before serving
for the hummus
  1. Put the tahini & olive oil into a mini food processor and whiz for 30 seconds
  2. Rinse the chickpeas under cold running water and, if you have the patience, pinch the husks from each chickpea (it took me about 15 minutes); this gives the hummus a smoother consistency
  3. Add the chickpeas, garlic and lemon juice to the mini food processor and purée for 30 seconds
  4. Take the lid off the processor and scrape the mixture down off the sides and whiz again to remove any lumps. If the mixture is stiff, add a tablespoon of water and pulse for a few of seconds
  5. Add salt & pepper and adjust to taste
  6. Sprinkle with smoked paprika or ground cumin, drizzle with olive oil, garnish with coriander or flat leaf parsley and serve
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

7 steps to make the most of a small bathroom

February 24th, 2015

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arial view of a compact bathroom image credit: Lushome

Small, cramped bathrooms make your morning routine completely unenjoyable. An ideal solution is to make the space bigger, but this isn’t always possible. If you’re stuck with a teeny tiny bathroom, there are ways to make the room appear more spacious without knocking walls down.

Here are seven things that will help you make the most of your small bathroom.

bathroom with suspended sink unit and overhead mirrored cabinetimage credit: Kia Designs

Suspended vanity

Many bathrooms suffer from significant amounts of wasted room due to irregular-shaped fittings and fixtures. Suspended vanity units above fittings such as the sink or toilet will help make the most of the space. A deep vanity unit can help store everything from spare cleaning products to hair care items and toilet rolls – incorporating all your storage needs in one convenient place.

mirrored bathroom wallimage credit: Heather Cooper Designs

Increase mirror size

Particularly useful in bathrooms which are dark (especially in mornings when it’s hard enough to wake up anyway), large mirrors can help spread any natural light the room enjoys via the reflective surface. A large mirror on the wall which receives the most natural light throughout the day will make the bathroom appear significantly larger.

Reflective bathroom fittings and wall tilesimage credit: Sarah Richardson Design

Use reflective fittings

On a related note – reflective taps, towel racks and other fittings will bounce light around the room, acting in the same way as the mirror.

The team at bathroom specialists, John Louis Bathrooms, enthuses about reflective fittings:

“Fixtures such as chrome taps are ideal for small bathrooms, helping to brighten the room and creating a simple contemporary appearance.”

Recessed bathroom lighting image credit: Topps Tiles

Recessed lighting

Removing obtrusive light fittings without compromising the quality of light spread around the room can help create an impressive modern appearance and open up additional space in the bathroom. Recessed lighting can be positioned almost everywhere in the bathroom – wherever it fits most subtly and attractively.

John Cullen Lighting offers a selection of lighting options including LED lights behind a bath or above a mirror. Eschewing traditional lighting positions can help you utilise the full available space of the bathroom.

walk-in shower image credit: Nils Koenning

Walk-in shower

Removing the bath and implementing a walk-in shower can immediately save significant space in the bathroom. Consider how the door will open up into the space of the small bathroom to avoid obtrusive space-consumption. A high power shower head can make up for the romantic opportunities lost when the bathtub is ripped out.

Modern monochrome bathroomimage credit: Boscolo Ltd

Simplify feature colours

A myriad of colours used throughout the bathroom can create a clustered appearance in the bathroom – so it may be prudent to use a simple, single tone feature colour throughout features and additions. A fixed colour scheme throughout towels, tiles and more can create an attractive yet minimalistic consistency, helping you make the most of your small bathroom.

Chrome hanging towel racksimage credit: Shell Vacations Hospitality

Hanging towel racks

Large, cumbersome towel racks are a completely unnecessary use of space. Small, subtle towel racks can be hung on almost any surface – ideal for small bathrooms. Hanging towel racks on the back of the bathroom door can help you fully utilise otherwise wasted space – freeing up floor space for other fixtures or just to remove any cramped feelings.

Etsy List: Sewing the Seeds

February 23rd, 2015

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'Sewing the Seeds' Etsy List curated by H is for Home

We’re getting lots of seed catalogues & special offers coming through the letterbox at the moment. It’s quite an exciting time for gardeners, planning their growing year ahead. We’ve just started planting and chitting ourselves – the kitchen windowsills are groaning! This week’s Etsy List has everything you’ll need.

Sewing the Seeds
Curated by H is for Home

Monthly Mood Board: Out of Africa

February 22nd, 2015

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'Out of Africa' mood board | H is for Home

Africa is a huge place – containing over 50 countries if you include the island nations. A myriad of landscapes is contained within their borders – savannah, desert, rainforests, mountains & sea coasts – from remote wilderness to urban hubs.

How can you sum it up in 8 items? Well, you can’t of course, but after browsing offerings on the web, here’s our choice of items with a distinct African flavour.

  1. Moroccan vintage candle tea light holder: £12.95, Bouf
  2. TWA Africa vintage airline travel advert print: £51.90, Zazzle
  3. Shabba bowl: £160, Clippings
  4. Maroc white tagine: £20, Habitat
  5. Ankara print cushion: £30.02, Etsy
  6. Africa wooden figures: £29, Scandinavian Design Centre
  7. Fabric by the metre – Herds by Skinny laMinx: £43.37, Etsy
  8. Cowhide – zebra beige rug: £389, Modern Rugs