Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Loft Insulation

This may appear to be boring premise for a post, but bear with me here.

Did you know that you can get loft insulation entirely free of charge? Installed and everything. If you receive certain benefits you may even be paid for it to be fitted. This is because energy companies need to meet certain targets and this is the easiest way for them to do it. Money Saving Expert has a really useful guide to who offers what.

I got mine installed by British Gas, it was quick and easy and there has been a noticeable improvement already, hurrah!

Best of all, you can now buy 'stilts' designed to fit to your joists and support boards, so you can still use the loft for storage.

I can't stress enough how much of a difference this makes for absolutely no cost.

Here's our loft (halfway through the boarding process):

PS How nice is the brick arch in our loft, what a shame to have it hidden away!

Monday, 5 November 2012

Saying 'thank you' with cake

'Thank you' is something that I find myself needing to say on a very regular basis at the moment. Thank you for letting us use your shower, thank you for giving us a lovely off-cut of wood, thank you for feeding us dinner, thank you for the lift to work... and so the list goes on!

My favourite way to say thank you is with cake, so I thought I'd share this caramel shortcake recipe, which is an easy thank you favourite!

For the shortbread:
125g plain flour
50g caster sugar
100g butter, softened

For the caramel:
50g unsalted butter
50g light brown soft sugar
1 x 397g tin condensed milk

For the topping:
100g milk chocolate

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180℃/350℉/Gas Mark 4 and grease a 15cm square oven proof dish. Mix the flour and caster sugar in a bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

2. Knead into a dough and then flatten into the tray, using a potato masher to help press it firmly down. Bake in the centre of the pre-heated oven for approximately 20 minutes or until lightly golden, then leave to cool.

3. To make the caramel, gently melt the butter, sugar and condensed milk in a pan until the mixture begins to boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until it has thickened slightly. Pour over the shortbread and leave to cool.

4. Melt the chocolate slowly in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, or in the microwave. Pour over the caramel, which should be almost set.

5. Cut into squares.

6. Wrap up and pop in the post/on someone's desk/through a kind friend's letterbox.

THANK YOU everyone who has helped out so far with the house in any way, shape or form, I am very grateful (and promise to make you cake too soon!)