Sunday, December 22

unwind christmas time

Since we last spoke I have been in New York, Hong Kong, Bang Kok, Shanghai........
needless to say I am looking forward to some quiet family time over the holidays 
I predict I will be spending a lot of time here  
(image from pinterest source unknown)

 wearing something like this
image and pyjamas from Sleepy Jones

and well, if i must arise then maybe i will throw this on
lounge robe Zara 

I may even wander here 

and do a little of this 

whatever you are up to this Holiday season
I hope it is wonderful 
see you on the new year 

x Helen 

Friday, November 15


I bought my first piping bag last week 
While I have been an avid baker for more years than I would like to mention
For some reason piping bags intimidated me

But now I feel like we are going to become best friends 

What could be better than combining two of my favourite things 
Cakes and Flowers
Vanilla cupcakes with Vanilla icing

All photos by Helen James 
Copyright Helen James

Monday, October 28


Lemony, Buttery, Sugary
............. no more explanation needed 


100g sugar
200g flour
100g fine polenta (cornmeal)
zest 1 lemon
pinch salt
200g cold butter

If you have a food processor
dump all ingredients and whizz for approx 5 minutes until mixture clumps
otherwise put all of the dry ingredients in to a bowl 
add butter and rub in until mixture clumps together

tip mixture out on to a sheet of cling film (seran wrap)
bring together into a large sausage shape
wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least 1 hour

remove from fridge and slice into 1 cm discs
if the mixture crumbles you can just squidge it back together 
but a few more minutes in the fridge will make it easier 

bake for 30 minutes
until edges are just turning
turn oven off and allow cookies to cool in the oven with door ajar
(this makes them really crisp and crumbly)

Sunday, October 20


What do you want to wear this winter ?

Are you lusting after a teddy bear coat?

 Or maybe a fur collar
A gilet ?
in orange?

Or maybe an orange oversize handbag
This is one of my favourite hues

although all shades of camel come a close second

teamed with metallic shoes?
instant update 

 cosy oversized cardigan

 Always love me a scarf 
never thought to combine scarf and fur collar together 

Is this the IT sweater for Winter 2013 
an IT sweater now that is a sign of the times 

 How do you feel about winter white ?

and a winter suit ?
slim cut

or loose fit 

you cant beat black 
which is having a come back........ did it really go away?

love the idea of wearing all black but with a brown belt 

All photos from PINTEREST
for original links go to my pinterest page 

Sunday, October 13


As the garden offers up her final fruits
The days are that beautiful autumnal crisp and heavy with the scent of damp leaves
Fire is now a ritual every evening as opposed to an occasional occurance
The seasons are vivid in the Irish Countryside
 and so much of the season is about what we eat 

and right now hearty soups with warm brown bread feel just about right
The thing about soup is, to me it feels a little contradictorary to offer a recipe 
as really soup, in this house, is usually about what is available or waiting to be used up 
So the following "recipe" is a guide and you should substitute the contents of your own larder


2 onions chopped 
A 1" piece of fresh ginger
2 large carrots
2 sticks celery
2 cups red lentils
1 tsp salt
1 stock cube 

put onion in pan and sprinkle with salt, sautee until soft, 
add chopped carrots, celery and finely chopped ginger
sautee for 5 mins
add 2 cups of lentils 
add 3 pints of cold water and stock cube
simmer for 45 mins until everything is soft 
Blend until smooth

serve as is or with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkled with chive flowers 

(sweet potato, butternut squash and parsnip would all be welcome additions)

This was one of those occassions where I didn't have everything the recipe called for,
made some substitutes and the results were better than the original


225g coarse wholemeal flour
100g whole spelt flour*
150g plain flour
1 tspn salt
1 tspn bread soda
25g butter
1 tbspn dark brown sugar
300 ml milk
100ml plain yoghurt
1 egg
seeds (optional)

*if you do not have spelt flour simply divide the 100g between the other 2 making it 
275g wholemeal and 200g plain

Pre heat oven to 200c
line a loaf pan with a sheet of grease proof paper
Place flours, salt, bread soda into bowl
add cold butter 
rub in 
sprinkle in brown sugar
put the egg, milk and yoghurt in a jug and combine
add the wet to the dry mix and combine 
add a handful of seeds if desired, pumpkin, sunflower, poppy all work well
pour mixture into loaf pan

Bake for 40-45 mins 
allow to cool completely before cutting

Sunday, October 6

Falling into Autumn

Autumn has well and truly wrapped her temperate hands around Ireland 

The balmy days of summer are a distant memory 

Although the days are shorter 
There is something wonderful about the onset of this new season 

This was a bumper year for our Apples
If you happened to visit me in the last few weeks no doubt you were sent 
home clutching a paper bag of these beauties
The excess were carefully wrapped in newspaper and stored in the outhouse 
I do foresee quite a few Apple crumbles, pies, tarts in our future 

were you surprised when you took a bite and the pink tinged flesh revealed itself
The name of this Apple is 

The menu has changed 
From Tarts and salads to 

Steak and Guinness Pie
made for a visiting Brother 

With an Autumnal Pavlova to finish 

Honeycomb, chocolate Pavolva with toasted almonds and toffee sauce

On the weekends
Planting Spring bulbs 

or maybe a walk in the woods 

Spiderman costume optional 

So many mushrooms around right now 
Unfortunately I am not a confident Mushroom connoisseur 
Not a risk worth taking !

Conkers, on the other hand provide little danger 
and we filled our pockets 

Hope you are enjoying the new season too

Monday, September 9

Rose bakery, Merci Paris

I Can't believe that it has taken me up until now to visit
I was pretty sure I was going to love it 
and guess what 
I did 

I was in Paris for Maison et Objet 
as were the rest of the design world 
and Merci was teaming with japanese, Americans, Northern Europeans 
This is where the inspirers go to get inspired 

After a spot of shopping 
We made our way to Le Bon Marche 
and the highlight here was I also finally got to eat lunch at a Rose Bakery outpost
and the cakes......
I purchased the cook book 
and I have already begun working my way through it 
Highly recommended 

Sunday, August 25

Salted Butter Ice Cream

Ice Cream + Butter + Sea Salt = AAAHHH DELICIOUS

Salted Butter Ice Cream 

400 ml milk 
320 ml double cream 
100g butter
4 egg yolks 
130g sugar
big pinch sea salt

heat milk and cream,
In a mixing bowl whisk egg yolks and sugar until pale

remove milk and cream from the heat and add butter 
let stand for 2 minutes until butter has melted
pour mixture slowly over eggs stirring continuosly
pour mixture back into pan and heat until thickened
leave to cool completely
preferably in the fridge overnight (but ok to just leave for a few hours)

Pour into ice cream machine 
or freeze in a container and remove every hour to whisk away ice crystals 



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