Monday, April 30

Peter Reinhart bagels

Homemade Bagels!
I love a good bagel
toasted, chewy, doughy goodness
In NYC ...... not a problem, nip out walk for 30 seconds,
order bagel
..... In the middle of Ireland
...... well, not so easy
so after seeing these pictures last week 
I couldn't wait to get stuck in and try my hand at making my own 
The results were delicious

This is a Peter Reinhart recipe
It is not difficult  
it is time consuming,
although, worth it!

You could double the batch and freeze the majority
which I would highly recommend
 I didn't have any poppy or sesame seeds in house so I sprinkled 
sunflower seeds, 
just for decoration.
I recommend an egg wash before baking and after boiling
even if you are not sprinkling seeds, 
as it makes the surface glossy and brown

This recipe makes 8 large bagels 
next time i think i would make 10 slightly smaller ones 
I followed this version of the recipe 
but there is a great version here with step by step pictures 

I will add the note that my dough was not shiny and did not pass the window pane test
it was lumpy and ugly but I carried on and made the balls of dough 
and the end result was pretty great although it did take more than 20 mins of prooving for them to pass the float test , more like 40 mins 

good luck and let me know how you get on 

Friday, April 27


It has taken me a long time to embrace Twitter

The same for Pinterest, although, I am warming up to it 

but Instagram had me at Hello

Are you an Instagrammer yet?

click on the button below to follow me
helenjamesdesign on Instagram

Christ Church Cathedral Tiles

The other night I was in Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin at an event
I was struck by the incredible encaustic tiles on the floor
I have been to Christ Church before
but somehow had forgotten the beauty of the tiles
The above geometric patterns were my favourite but the animal representations
 are quite famous and popular



I would love to tile my kitchen floor
These tiles are quite costly
but they will last a lifetime, actually longer than a lifetime

Love this patchwork floor from HERE

and this one from HERE 

They are also used a lot in hallways
 image from Architect Design

was thinking these more geometric ones from
 Abbergavenny reclamation
for my kitchen floor?

one day !

Wednesday, April 25

Louis le Brocquy

One of Ireland's greatest Artists has passed away aged 95
Louis le Brocquy

Tuesday, April 24

Louesa Roebuck

Following on with another interesting job title
"Renegade Florist"
is the title 
Louesa Roebuck goes by 
Another to add to my wishlist 
I was enchanted by the article and images on remodilista

image via remodilista

 Those waxy leaves and the large Magnolia's
simplicity and abundance

There is an attitude 
an un-precious aura in all of her work 
that feels very fresh and unfussy 
and yet somehow incredibly glamorous 

Friday, April 20

Dana Tanamachi

Wouldn't it be fun to reply
"chalk Letterer"
when asked at a party 
"what do you do?"
Well, that is exactly what Dana Tanamachi can say

I love the idea of a backdrop for your wedding pics 

found via  HERE

visit website  Dana Tanamachi

Thursday, April 19

Flowering Crab Apple

Flowering Crab apple branches from the garden

Wednesday, April 18

Caramel Shortbread

Loosen your belt 
crumbly shortbread, creamy caramel and chocolate 


100g sugar
200g butter
250g Self raising flour
50g cornflour (cornstarch)
400 ml can condensed milk
200g choc- milk or dark (I use half milk and half dark)


Heat oven to 180'c
Line a 20cm x 30cm swiss roll tin with parchment paper
combine butter, sugar, s r flour and cornflour in a food precessor until it comes together in a dough
Press into tin evenly and bake for 20 mins
remove to cool
Meanwhile you want to make your caramel 
Place your tin of condensed milk in a pot and boil for 2 hours 

When caramel is ready and shortbread is cooled tip caramel into a bowl and stir vigorously until it becomes smooth
I find half a tin is enough but you can use the whole tin if you wish (it can be a bit sickly and too much of a good thing, 
you can store the remainder in the fridge and use for a delicious ice cream topping !) 
melt your chocolate ( I melt it in the microwave, the trick to this is to take it out while there are still lumps and then stir until smooth)
Spread over caramel, leave to cool 
Place in fridge
If you want to cut it into even squares you will need to let it come to room temperature before cutting

heavily adapted from Rachel Allen's Chocolate peanut squares

Saturday, April 14

Country Garden

When I left my garden in 2010 to go to NY, It was looking like this 

When I returned in 2011, It looked like this

Clearly things were in need of attention!
I thought a lot about what to do,
start again?..... but there were so many plants in there
dig everything out ?.... where would I put them , would they survive?
In the end I decided
to divide the bed into sections and tackle a patch at a time

So I have been using the beautiful weather we have been having in Ireland 
as the perfect opportunity to get stuck in 

Digging out the path
-above I have laid the first lot of sand over the soil 

laying the path

and more path
The paving slabs are recycled from my Mum

I also moved a lot of plants 
splitting them in half or transplanting

I acquired some new ones too

nasturtiums, Lobelia, sweet pea
waiting to be planted 

Delphiniums, Lupins, and sage all waiting to be planted

I buy most of my plants from a local gardener
he propogates everything himself....... but never knows what colour the flowers will be
So, it is a bit of a pot luck
The delphiniums he says are white to pale blue
The Lupins you can tell by their stem if they will be pale or dark
(pale having a green stem ,dark having a reddish tinge)
so It is a bit of an experiment
but that's ok
My garden will be the kind of garden that it won't matter 
I also moved things to add a little bit of formality 
like planting Alchemilla Mollis all around the edge of the path

image via Here

I want it to billow over and soften the edges 
and repeat planting the same species 
Things look better en masse 
A garden is always a work in progress
Here is some of my inspiration

Image via escapade

Image via house to home

Lots of colour , and variety but a little more structure 
thats the plan

This Gentleman's garden is one of my absolute favourites a real inspiration

I will show you some updates over the season

Monday, April 9

Food Blogging baking

The loveliest thing about having a few free days 
Is having some time to bake 
The first thing on my list was 
Imen from
I Married an Irish Farmer's

and I can attest that this is a perfect brown soda bread
moist and crumbly
and full of flavour
I added sunflower seeds to mine

Imen has been nominated for the
Saveur food blog awards
you can vote for her here
It would be a much deserved win in my opinion
Yesterday evening Imen tweeted about 
a baking blog that is also nominated for an award

What a beautiful blog!
Maybe you already know about it
and if so .... why didn't you tell me !
The photography is stunning
so late last night I just had to try the recipes
-as great photography is all well and good but if the recipes don't work? 
pufh! well I wouldn't like to send you there and 
not be able to back up my recommendation.
So, in the spirit of blog research and authenticity 
I fired up the stove yesterday evening

As I had an abundance of chocolate left from Easter
I decided to make the 

(actually there is no chocolate in the cake, but there is in the frosting)

Oh goodness these were delicious
so moist 
I couldn't believe that I had made them myself

I halved the frosting recipe and still had way too much 
but they were truly delicious cupcakes 

NOTE* in call me cupcake recipes 1dl = 100 ml 
and is a volume measure
in case, like me, you had no idea what is was 

all images Helen James

Sunday, April 8

Easter hunt

Easter eggs were hidden

lists were given out

The hunt was on

checking his loot

Then it was time for breakfast ..........

Well, it is Easter Sunday
Hope you have a lovely one


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