At this time of year there are often not only more mouths to feed, but there’s also heaps more candy and chocolate around. We thought we’d gather up some easy, delicious recipes to see you through the holidays and to provide an alternative to the usual festive fare. Some of these dishes are bound to become family traditions, things that come to symbolise the advent of Christmas and that you make every year. Others are things to reach for when you’re time and energy-poor, or want to escape into the kitchen away from the hurly burly of Charades or tussles over the TV remote.
For taking to a friend’s house
The social calendar can get pretty hectic over the Christmas holidays, so it’s good to have a simple but delicious recipe that you can make and take over to friends for pudding. This clementine cake has become a staple in our house: it’s so easy to make, and the smell of the cooking clementines fills the house with the most gorgeous Christmassy scents. Make it the day before your social event – it tastes even better the next day. It’s moist, flourless and tastes light and fruity, unlike the traditional heavy Christmas cake. Due to the damp stickiness of this cake it’s useful to have some linen napkins on standby.
For serving on a cold day
A pot of delicious wassail or mulled cider warming gently on the stove in the background makes the perfect drink for a gathering. There’s nothing quite so welcoming as a fuggy kitchen filled with spice-scents and cupfuls of hot deliciousness. This recipe is straightforward and contains all the festive favourites: cloves, ginger, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. Yum. For a non-alcoholic version just simmer apple juice with a spoonful of brown sugar, a cinnamon stick, cloves, a clementine and some allspice berries. Kids love it.
For giving as Christmas gifts
If you like to give homemade treats to friends, neighbours, the postman or teachers, whip up a batch of these fig and orange shortbread biscuits. A ball of sweet fig paste is tucked into light, nutty shortbread rounds for a melt-in-the-mouth snack with a little surprise inside. Fill a box and decorate with seasonal stamps or wrap with red and white butcher’s twine for a lovely gift.
For a stunning dinner centrepiece
(pic via seedsandstitches.com)
If you’re hosting a dinner party or having people over to lunch and you want a vegetarian alternative to counter all the turkey and sausages you’ve been eating, try this. Made with sweet garlic and celeriac encased in a flaky, cheesy pastry crust, this pie is worthy of Christmas lunch itself. Dress your table in your best linen tablecloth and napkins, decorate with greenery and seasonal, foraged leaves and place the pie proudly in the middle.
For munching in front of a festive film
When the Toblerone has all gone and you can’t face another mince pie, reach for a jar of spiced nuts. These are so tasty, and great if you don’t want all the hassle of cracking your own nuts and finding pieces of stray walnut shell down the back of the sofa for the next three weeks. They also make ideal gifts – simply pour into a Kilner jar or pop into pretty bags and and tie with a ribbon. For a vegan version make a syrup by heating sugar and water until the sugar has dissolved, instead of using honey.
Do you have any Christmas go-to recipes? We’d love to hear what they are in the comments below.
If you’ve had enough of the feeding frenzy of Black Friday and instead want some to support local businesses and retailers who are trying to trade in an ethical, mindful way, you’re in the right place. Here at Linenbeauty we like to take things slow, to buy quality pieces that will stand the test of time and to invest in timeless homewares and clothes that aren’t swayed by fast fashion. It’s not always easy to resist the lure of huge markdowns and seemingly endless bargains. But when you take a closer look it makes so much more sense to step back from the Black Friday mayhem and to really think about how you can use your purchase power for good.
So, if you’re steering clear of the malls and multinational retailers’ ever-crashing websites, here’s five ways to avoid Black Friday but still get hold of some beautiful Christmas gifts for your loved ones.
1.Make things yourself
Thanks to Pinterest and numerous brilliant crafting websites it’s so much easier to find inspiration for homemade gifts. Whether you’re a knitter, baker or have never dabbled in crafts at all you can find a project that will be fun and rewarding, as well as cost-effective. Last year we bought a stash of brown paper potato sacks and followed this tutorial to create goodie-bags for extended family. Each family received a pretty yet sturdy bag filled with DIY cookie-making kits, homemade lavender linen spray, luxurious bath salts and rustic bird feeders. Something for every age. And who doesn’t love the idea of rootling about for treasures in a Christmas sack full of gifts made with love?
2.Give a subscription
Rather than add to your loved ones’ clutter, why not give a subscription instead? Many bookshops run subscription schemes where you get sent a certain number of books per month. And you can even gift someone their very own bespoke literary prescription: for her bibliotherapy service Ella Bertoud asks pertinent questions to discover which books will enhance your life and give you maximum enjoyment or challenge, depending on what you’re looking for.
For non-bookish types great subscription gifts could be a subscription to their favourite magazine, membership of their local football club, a gym subscription or, for the wine connoisseur, membership of a wine society.
3.Get a monogrammed set of linen
Because we love linen so much it always features on our own wish-lists, but it is also a beautiful gift to give someone else. To make it super special, get your gift monogrammed so your loved one can lie back on personalised bedlinen, or decorate their dining table with individualised linen napkins. A set of luxe linen bathroom towels with a couple’s initials embroidered on is a lovely present for someone setting up home or who needs a bit of luxury in their life. Linen is so durable and timelessly stylish that a gift like this will be treasured for years, and may become a family heirloom.
4.Go on vacation
Some people decide to not buy gifts at all over the holiday period and instead put the money they’ve saved towards a vacation or special trip. If you want to avoid any Christmas shopping at all and have the urge for adventure, this can be a really special way to celebrate the season. If you want the whole winter wonderland experience, head somewhere snowy like Scandinavia. You could even stay in this stunning ice hotel!
Local, independent retailers are worth supporting, and this time of year is often their main source of revenue. Support your home town and small businesses by buying locally. You’ll also avoid all the queues and crowds at the out-of-town shopping centres and malls. Done this way Christmas shopping can even be a pleasurable experience! Many towns have a late night shopping evening at the beginning of December, with shops offering drinks and refreshments and often some discounts. Make an evening of it and nail all your shopping in one go, fuelled by mince pies and mulled wine!
It’s not often that you meet someone with a cv as rich and varied as this month’s guest on A Simple Path. We are delighted to be joined by Kamin Mohammadi, whose many talents are outlined below, along with her thoughts on the importance of meditation, the slow living Italian-style and her beloved slipper collection. Kamin managed to turn her life around, from a point of feeling overworked, overwrought and lonely, to living a life of fulfilment and peace in Tuscany.
Prepare to be inspired. Here’s Kamin’s Simple Path:
Can you tell us what you do and how you came to be doing it?
I am a writer, a journalist, an editor, a broadcaster, yoga teacher, Reiki healer, massage therapist, olive oil farmer and organic skincare producer! I have always wanted to write and been passionate about words and communication, working in magazines for many years until I was brave enough to go freelance and then tackle my first book. As a journalist I started commentating on the radio, noticed I liked it. After publishing my first book I was asked to present a Radio 4 show I had appeared on as a guest. All the other stuff has happened organically, born out of my various interests, passions and studies. I love to keep educating myself.
If you had one piece of advice or wisdom to pass on to your younger self, what would it be?
Don’t waste so much energy on angsting about men! And START MEDITATING NOW!!
What is it about slow living and the simple life that you find appealing?
(Image by Olivia Rutherford)
I have always been a super-fast city girl, very impatient. At the same time, I am an artist and need a lot of solitude to digest the experience of every day otherwise my creativity can’t flow, and I go a bit crazy! So over the years, in order to write my books and create my products, I have had to slow down. There is a lovely way of putting it in Italy – being essential. I think it sums it up: it’s about that paring back, letting go of excess and uncluttering – be it the house or the mind. It is out of the simplicity, the quiet, that new ideas are born. My latest book Bella Figura: How to Live, Love and Eat the Italian Way (published by Bloomsbury, more info here) is my attempt to share what I have learnt about the delights of slow living, the Italian way.
How can we counter the pulls of content-sharing and curating images of our lives with the need for being in the moment?
I’m not sure I have worked this one out yet but I suspect the answer lies in that magic word – balance! Social media is wonderful and seductive. But my goodness, can it ever replace a great face-to-face conversation with a good friend? I don’t think so.
Who inspires you?
My husband, for his energy and zest for life. My mother, because of her strength, elegance and generosity. My editor Alexandra Pringle because she is the perfect mixture of heart, soul and brain, and has given me a writing family to feel part of. My yoga teacher of the past 20 years who embodies love and devotion in action.
What are your essential homeware items/ things you couldn’t do without?
Ah, my silk pillow cases – my agent’s gift to me when I turned 40, an anti-ageing tip that I love! My moka coffee maker comes with me wherever I travel, and I always need lots of incense burners because I’m crazy about Nag Champa. I treasure my Persian carpets passed down through my family, especially the Kurdish kelims of my grandmother – I terrorise people who try to walk on them in their shoes! Which brings us to my big and varied slipper collection…
What would you like to be doing in 10 years’ time?
More of the same please! Just expanded, with new experiences added in.
What’s the wildest thing you’ve ever done?
That’s hard! Maybe going to Italy for 6 weeks not knowing a soul, without a word of Italian, with no income or home, but staying 10 years (and counting)?
One of the things we love about linen is its durability. There’s a reason why linens have traditionally been passed down through generations: quite simply, it looks great for years and years. But every linen sheet or tablecloth will eventually come to the end of its life. If you’re trying to follow a sustainable lifestyle you’ll be glad to know that linen is biodegradable and so leaves no waste. And if you keep old linens for scraps, you can create anything from cleaning cloths to easy Halloween DIY crafts.
There’s no need to buy loads of plastic tat to decorate your house over Halloween (unless that’s your thing, in which case go for it). Instead, you can have fun making your own seasonal decorations, and keep things looking classy too.
Here are some ideas for Halloween decorations and costumes that you can make from any household linens that are past their best.
As summer turns gently into fall we’re thinking about different ways to mark the changing season in our homes. Fall brings with it spectacular displays of fiery red leaves, delicious autumnal vegetables, dew-spun cobwebs and hedgerows bursting with berries. Here’s 7 easy things you can do to bring some of this sense of bounty and colour into your home.
1.Invest in new linen bedlinen
Why linen? Well, because it’s perfect for transitional seasons, regulating your body temperature so you always stay comfortable. Ideal for fall, when one minute the sun is shining and the next there’s a distinct chill in the air. Whilst in summer we’re all about whites and cool neutrals, fall brings a chance to add some warmth and texture to your home. A great way of doing this without the hassle of redecorating is simply to use some new bedlinen in earthy browns, jewel tones or rich greens to give a seasonal feel to your bedroom.
Fancy a footloose road trip but life keeps getting in the way? No problem, you can live vicariously through the adventures of this month’s A Simple Path guest, Leney Breeden. A photographer, artist and writer Leney is a free spirit and has lots to teach us about resisting the urge to over-plan or keep a tight grip on life. You may have come across Leney’s stunning images on Instagram, or read her gorgeous slow living blog A Girl Named Leney. Now’s your chance to learn more about what drives her, what she would say to her younger self, and much, much more.
Read on for some much-needed inspiration on going with life’s flow. Thanks so much for joining us, Leney!
We are so excited to be joined on A Simple Path this month by designer Marianne Vigtel Holland. We came across Marianne’s beautiful images on Instagram and were immediately captivated by the way she captures the beauty in everyday things, and how she uses texture and light in her interior styling. We thought you’d love to hear more about her work, and her thoughts on the importance of using natural materials – like mineral paints that are not only environmentally friendly they also create a unique sense of tranquility, and the many ways she uses linen fabric. Marianne refers to her work as ‘slow design’, which makes it a perfect fit with our slow living ethos here at Linenbeauty.
Read on to hear more about finding the poetry and beauty in the things we surround ourselves with, and how to go with the flow.
The menopause is still something of a taboo subject for many people. Shrouded in mysterious language like, ‘The Change’, there are misconceptions and misunderstandings about just how this life event could affect us. Some women sail through with very few difficulties, but for others it can be a very challenging time. Menopause can cause changes in your body shape, mood swings, hot flashes, skin breakouts, aches and pains, ‘brain fog’ and tiredness. Pile these on top of your normal everyday tasks and worries, and this can be a stressful and painful time for many of us. The more we talk about it, the more we can help others understand what’s going on for their friends, their mothers, their sisters and their colleagues.
We thought we’d apply our slow living philosophy to thinking about the menopause, and offer simple suggestions that might help relieve some of the symptoms. Obviously, we aren’t offering medical advice, but there are lifestyle changes you can make to ease the transition and to support any other treatments you choose to have.
We are beyond delighted to be joined for A Simple Path this month by writer and outdoor artist (more on that in a mo) Tanya Shadrick.
Tanya is someone whose life and work embody the values of simplicity and slow living. She is both a writer and an artist, finding ways to connect with people in new and meaningful ways through words and her physical presence. We think you’re going to love this interview: read on to hear about how a vandalised tree changed Tanya’s life and career, the lessons she learnt from her frugal, resourceful grandmother, and for her incredibly inspiring outlook on how we can live more connectedly and happily.
Put the kettle on, pull up a blanket – or better still, in the spirit of Tanya, take this outdoors to read under a big sky – and dive into Tanya’s thoughts on slow living, art and family.
It’s hard to stay cool at this time of year. Whether on a long journey or the daily commute a refreshing facial spritz, or mist, can be the perfect way to lower your body temperature and keep your skin feeling clean. To give your laundry and house that fresh-from-the-fields feeling you can also use scented waters. Spray onto linens before ironing to release their delicious fragrances, or spritz around the house.
Herbs and botanical scents can also help you relax. If you’re finding it hard to sleep, spray some lavender water on your pillow or eye mask for a soothing aroma that will help you drift off.
We’ve got a simple DIY for you, with step-by-step instructions, so you can make your own. Just throw a bottle into your bag, suitcase or purse and you’re good to go – wherever your summer adventures take you.