Price Points: Emergency overnight kits

Emergency overnight kits | H is for Home

Unfortunately, Justin’s mum had a stroke recently so we’ve been doing lots of hospital visiting during the past fortnight. It’s at unexpected times like this that emergency overnight kits seem like a very wise precaution.

Whether you’re grabbing it yourself or asking a relative or friend to pick it up for you, it can be a godsend. No scrabbling about at short notice – or in unfamiliar surroundings if someone’s doing it for you. They’re perfect for hospital stays – or hastily arranged short breaks or business trips.

My basic kit would contain pyjamas, undergarments, tent mules, toothbrush & toothpaste, soap, deodorant, reading glasses and hair bands.  What would go into your overnight emergency kit?

  1. Travel Essentials overnight emergency kit: Amazon (US)
  2. Vintage TWA airline overnight kit: £9.99, eBay
  3. Stow Away travel grooming kit by Men’s Society: £25, Notonthehighstreet

Cakes & Bakes: Viennese fingers

Home-made Viennese fingers | H is for Home

Making these Viennese fingers made me realise just how poor my piping skills are! 🙂

Piping Viennese fingers on to baking sheet lined with parchment paper | H is for Home

Not just that, but also a reminder of how cold our kitchen is – it’s a rubbish environment for doing things things like proving bread and sourdough starter. The biscuit dough cooled and hardened inside the piping bag making it a nightmare to squeeze out through the nozzle. My first batch was a disaster! I piped them out to the 10cm that was stated in the recipe but they seemed way too long. They were also too thin and weedy. My second batch were better, I piped them to 5cm and the dough was beginning to warm up a little so flowed more smoothly. But I still have to put in some more practice.

Viennese fingers cooked and cooling on a wire rack | H is for Home

As well as dunking the Viennese fingers in chocolate, you can dip them into chopped mixed nuts or dessicated coconut. But take care when you’re doing it – these are so crumbly they break easily (as I found out quite a few times).

Viennese fingers being dipped in chocolate, chopped nuts and dessicated coconut | H is for Home

Next time I make them, I’ll have a go at sandwiching two fingers together with layers of vanilla buttercream and my mixed berry jelly.

Home-made Viennese fingers and vintage tea set | H is for Home

Having mentioned a few problems, the resulting biscuits were both pretty and delicious. We’ll have to have a few delicate afternoon tea breaks this week!

Viennese fingers
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Cook Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
  1. 100g/3½oz unsalted butter, softened
  2. 25g/1oz icing sugar
  3. 1tsp vanilla extract
  4. 100g/3½oz plain flour
  5. 1tsp cornflour
  6. ¼tsp baking powder
  7. 100g/3½oz milk chocolate, chopped
  9. Home-made Viennese fingers ingredients
  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas mark 3
  2. Tip the butter and sugar into the bowl of a free-standing mixer and beat until pale and light
  3. Add the vanilla extract and mix again
  4. Sift the flour, cornflour and baking powder into the bowl and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined
  5. Spoon the dough into a piping bag fitted with a medium star nozzle and pipe 5cm-long fingers onto the prepared baking tray. Bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes until pale golden
  6. Remove from the oven and cool on the baking trays for 5 minutes
  7. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack until completely cold
  8. Tip the milk chocolate into a heatproof bowl and melt either in the microwave on a low setting or over a pan of barely simmering water
  9. Remove from the heat and stir until smooth
  10. Dip both ends of the Viennese fingers into the chocolate and leave to set on baking parchment
Adapted from A Passion for Baking
H is for Home Harbinger

Get their look: Monochrome walk-in wardrobe

Monochrome walk-in wardrobe

Have you ever looked in your cupboard stuffed full of clothes and declared, “I’ve got nothing to wear!”? I know I have. This monochrome walk-in wardrobe is just the antidote to that little problem.

I’d love to be able to walk into a room and all my shoes, clothes and handbags are set out in neat rows – all colour coordinated – dresses together, trousers together, blouses together… I also love the way she has all her specs and sunglasses on display inside an elevated glass case.

You don’t actually have to shop on Bond Street and Sloane Street to get this look. You can buy Chanel, Celine and other designer shopping bags ‘pre-used’ on Etsy and eBay.

  1. LIATORP glass-topped console table
  2. SINNERLIG Bamboo pendant lamp
  3. Celine paper shopping bag
  4. Chanel paper shopping bag
  5. PAX wardrobe
  6. Homemaker faux fur sheep shape rug
  7. Knitted pouffe
  8. Natural chunky jute rug

Get their look: Monochrome walk-in wardrobe | H is for Home

Designer Desire: Alvar Aalto

Mosaic of Alvar Aalto designs | H is for Home

We think this might be the first time we’ve featured a designer who is also an accomplished architect. Alvar Aalto (1898-1976) was a Finnish product designer who worked in furniture, textiles, glass and lighting.

He designed many buildings that are located all over the world  and include churches, museums, hospitals, private homes, a sanatorium, a library and an event venue.

Many of his products are still in production today. We’ve linked to a couple of the places you can find them below.

Alvar Aaltocredit

Image credits:

Aram | Arch Daily | Finnish Design Shop

Price Points: Home cinema sound systems

Home cinema sound systems | H is for Home

We always begin our annual hibernation right about now – around the time Strictly Come Dancing hits its stride! When given the choice between going out to socialise on a cold, dark wet evening or staying in with a bottle of wine, chuffing wood-burner and a Scandi drama we almost always choose the latter… you’d almost have to physically drag us out of the house kicking and screaming!

We always read user/buyer/expert reviews and recommendations to get a handle on electronic and tech products. These are the three home cinema sound systems we’ve short-listed…

We start with the Canton DM55. It has had the highest review on the Which? website to date (84% – 1 percent higher than the Sonos Playbar). According to their expert:

The DM55 is easy to use, and sounds great, with a strong dynamic range and convincing surround-sound effect… While it’s pricey, it’s also the best sound base we’ve tested, and gives Canton another Best Buy to add to it’s collection.

Coming in at a hefty thousand pounds (down from £1,400), the BOSE SoundTouch 130 is a system that not only includes a soundbar but also an Acoustimass module and control console.

We’ll be saving up to get ourselves the Sonos Playbar. Not only can we enjoy using it to watch live and recorded TV, we can also listen to music and digital radio through it via Spotify. We  already have a couple of Sonos Play:1s and a Play:3 – the sound they emit is amazing and connecting Sonos speakers to the wi-fi network and Spotify is a complete doddle.

  1. Canton DM55 2.1 virtual surround system – black glass: £329.00, Amazon (4.2 out of 5 – 35 reviews)
  2. Sonos Playbar: £599.00, Sonos (4.5 out of 5 – 710 reviews)
  3. BOSE SoundTouch 130 wireless home cinema system: £999.95, Currys (9.7 out of 10 – 18 reviews)

Cakes & Bakes: Date and walnut loaf

Home-made date and walnut loaf | H is for Home

This date and walnut loaf is outstanding as an afternoon tea cake. It’s like a cross between malt loaf, a Yorkshire tea loaf and sticky toffee pudding.

Date and walnut loaf tins | H is for Home

Justin can never get enough of teatime loaf cakes, so this was made with him in mind.

Date and walnut loaf tins | H is for Home

So, if you’ve got a packet of dates lurking at the back of your food cupboard (perhaps from Christmas) this is the perfect way to use them all up.

Date and walnut loaf
Yields 2
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Cook Time
1 hr
Cook Time
1 hr
  1. 450g/1lb stoned dates
  2. 1½tsp bicarbonate of soda
  3. 280ml/½pt boiling water or black tea
  4. 60g/2oz butter, softened
  5. 300g/12oz demerara sugar
  6. 2tbsp black treacle
  7. 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  8. 450g/1lb plain flour
  9. pinch of salt
  10. 60g/2oz chopped walnuts
  12. Home-made date and walnut loaf ingredients
  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4
  2. Line two loaf tins with parchment paper
  3. Mix the bicarbonate of soda into the boiling water/black tea and pour over the dates making sure they're all covered. Leave until it goes cold
  4. Beat together the butter and sugar
  5. Add the beaten eggs
  6. Gradually add the flour, salt and chopped nuts
  7. Add the dates and the liquid they were soaking in. Combine thoroughly
  8. Divide the mixture between the two lined loaf tins
  9. Bake in the middle of the oven for an hour. Check on them after 45 minutes to make sure that their tops aren't cooking too quickly. If they start appearing too brown, cover the tops over with tin foil for the final 15 minutes cooking time
  10. Allow to cool on a wire rack
  11. To eat, slice and spread with butter
Adapted from Yorkshire W. I. Recipe book
Adapted from Yorkshire W. I. Recipe book
H is for Home Harbinger