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It’s getting to that loved up time of year again.  Valentine’s Day is a few short weeks away and florists are preparing for one of the busiest days of the year.  If you are normally rushing on the way home from work, you’ll probably still find a florist open as they tend to stay open later on busy days, but you might not find much left to choose from.

All good florists will have Valentines flowers on their website to choose from now.  The easiest way to organise flowers is to have them delivered, all you have to do is pick what you want and order them, job done.  This will probably get you the most brownie points too, especially if you have flowers delivered to your partner’s workplace, everyone secretly loves to receive flowers in front of their colleagues.

If you want something more individual you can phone the florist and ask for their advice.  Florists stock all the usual flowers at Valentines Day as well as plenty of red roses.  But don’t automatically think you have to go down the red roses route.  It’s true red roses cost more during Valentines week than the rest of the year, because the whole world wants them that day, the price at the auction goes up. Florists usually stock lots of different coloured roses around Valentine’s Day, why not pick a bouquet of roses in your partners favourite colour.  Other colours of roses usually cost a bit less than red roses too at Valentine’s Day.

vintage peach rose

There are so many other options available, think about what your loved one would like to receive. Do they like roses? not everyone does.  Most people have a favourite flower, it is far more personal to receive a bouquet of your favourite flowers and it shows more thought has gone into your gift.  If you are stuck for ideas ask the florist, they will be more than happy to tell you what pretties they will be stocking that week.  Seasonal flowers are always fabulous quality and Valentines Day is perfect for spring flowers, plus they smell gorgeous.  A mixed bouquet with a single velvety red rose in the centre is another favourite.

Beware the last minute supermarket dash on Valentine’s Day.  You might think you can pick up something for dinner and a bunch of flowers at the same time.  Big mistake, supermarket flowers will not compare to a florists bouquet, most often squashed together in a bit of clear plastic.  They may be a bit cheaper but will definitely look it and your loved one will know they required all of two seconds thought.  Even the posh supermarkets don’t cut it for flowers at Christmas and Valentine’s Day, their flowers will cost the same as a florist but the quality grade will be lower and the stems a lot shorter.  Last year I told you how the length of flowers relates to the quality.

spring bouquet

If you only have two minutes spare to sort your valentines flowers, phone your local florist, ask for a bouquet to be made to your budget and collect it on the way home.  Infinitely better than a sad supermarket bunch.

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These are lovely gifts for anyone with a sweet tooth like me, or maybe someone who doesn’t have time to faff about baking from scratch.  Nothing beats homemade cakes and cookies.  The original recipe is from Bakerella, but I’ve made a few tweaks, as I found the original recipe a little too sweet. They are delicious chocolaty oaty cookies, I left the pecans out as I’m not a fan of nutty things (I baked a batch of cookies first before making a jar up just to sample a couple or five)

You’ll need:

1 1/3 cup of self-raising flour or 165 grams

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup oats or 95 grams

¾ cup of smarties (which worked out at 4 tubes)

½ cup of brown sugar or 75g

½ cup of golden sugar or 75g

measuring cups

You’ll also need a large glass jar, a small piece of fabric and some ribbon to decorate your jar.  I used a Large Douwe Egberts jar, but you can buy glass jars from TK Max or supermarkets.  I set up a piping bag rolled down to funnel the ingredients through, if you don’t have a piping bag you could make a funnel with some baking parchment.

I played around with the order of the layers and finally decided on flour first, then oats, smarties, brown sugar and caster sugar.  Make sure you pack each layer down really well, or it won’t all fit in the jar.  My ingredients just about fit in a large Douwe Egberts jar, you can buy plain glass jars from supermarkets too.  The ingredients should be flush to the top of the jar.

You’ll need to make labels and instructions for making the cookies.  You can design your own labels or use the ones on Bakerella’s site like I did, they are very cute.  I stuck the Cowboy cookies labels on the front and the instructions on the back of the jar.  Finish off your jars with a square of pretty fabric tied over the top of the jar with co-ordinating ribbon.

If you want to make these cookies yourself it is very easy using the jar mix.  First preheat your oven to 180 degrees or gas mark 4.  Mix the contents of the jar together in a large bowl.  Then add the beaten egg and softened butter and stir to form the cookie dough.  You might need to press the mixture together with your hands to get all the last bits to stick together, your hands will get sticky soon anyway.  Line a baking tray with baking parchment, then roll 1 ½ inch balls of cookie dough and place about 2 inches apart on the baking tray.  As the balls bake they will flatten into lovely cookies.

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Red Rose bouquet

We know that size isn’t always the most important factor, like a small bottle of fine perfume is better than a huge bottle of eau de toilette, but St. Valentines Day isn’t one of those times.

You could pick up a small bunch of short roses with your weekly shop, but they won’t get you many brownie points and may in fact have the opposite effect.  It’s hardly the world’s most romantic gesture, grabbing a bunch of flowers  between your newspaper and veg.

You may be thinking, but I can’t afford a bouquet from a fabulous expert florist – rubbish!  All florists cater for a range of budgets, from a single silky rose in a vase, to bouquets of mixed flowers in gorgeous romantic tones.  But if you are going to do roses…don’t get it wrong, buy the best you can afford.

The science bit is that roses are graded by length.  The length of the stem indicates the size of the flower head.  So if you buy very short stems, you are going to get very small flower heads.  Florists actually buy their roses by length, they pay extra to get long stems which equal big luscious flower heads and happy customers all round.  There are lots rose varieties and they all have their own names like Black Baccara, Ruby Red and Amore.  Two of biggest and most luscious are Grand Prix and Red Naomi.  Grand Prix is famed for it’s large flower size and velvet like petals.  Red Naomi has a very large flower head and an impossible number of petals.

Red Roses

Most good florists have an online shop on their website nowadays, have a look at your local florist’s and if you need any help give them a ring. They are the experts, pick their brains for suggestions, and they will probably tell you which lovely varieties they will be stocking this St. Valentines Day.   If you can’t go the whole hog why not send half a dozen roses or bouquet of mixed flowers with a red rose in the centre.

A bouquet from a real florist, will not only have the best quality flowers money can buy.  It will be arranged by a skilled expert, have lush foliages like palm leaves to hold the flowers perfectly, and it will be finished with gorgeous gift wrappings and a pretty bow.

Make sure you’re not in the dog’s house on St. Valentines Day, put your trust in the experts and go to your local florist.

Red Rose

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Christmas table arrangement

This year my Christmas table will be decorated with this contemporary cinnamon arrangement. The table will be jam packed with delicious goodies at Christmas so the compact shape of this arrangement is perfect.  It contains cinnamon scented candles, spruce from the tree, orange slices, red ribbon and holly, sprinkled with a few gold stars.  The spruce and holly is arranged in oasis so it will last well over Christmas.

Christmas table arrangement

Happy Christmas! May you be merry and eat lots of cake.

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Gingerbread house

A gingerbread house to be exact.  It smells very scrumptious all spicy and sweet.  It’s entirely edible and I’m fending off naughty elves who want to eat it on a daily basis.



Gingerbread house

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