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House Curious

Lifestyle and interior shop. Social workshops for the creatively curious.

Food Stories: Autumnal Halloween Recipes and Creative Table Centrepieces

Sommer Pyne

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On Thursday we launched our very first live food stories on instagram with the lovely girls from Spread London, which was very exciting but a little scary. The concept is simple, we invite friends to come and cook for us every month and we share it all with you live. Think cooking demonstrations, cocktail making and stunning curated table designs plus lots of helpful tips along the way. Jess and Emma cooked up an Autumnal storm to get us all in the Halloween spirit.

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First up on the menu was the pumpkin risotto with sage, smoked pancetta and hazelnut. This was hands-down the best risotto I've ever had. I mean it was seriously that good. It's so versatile too and can be switched up for vegetarians by using veggie stock and excluding the pancetta and you can either serve it as a starter or main. In the spirit of Halloween and to add a little more fun for the kids we served the risotto in a pumpkin. If you don't have time for this simlpy serve it in a lovely bowl from the Nordic Sand range, available at House Curious.

Roast Pumpkin, Smoked Pancetta and Crispy Sage Risotto with Hazelnuts

This is a really fantastic way to use any pumpkin left over from Halloween. A hearty and warm Autumn dish that works really well as a starter followed by a delicious rare beef or steak with rocket and gremolata sauce or as main course in itself.

To serve 4

1 small pumpkin

300g Arborio Rice

1 stick of celery, finely diced

2 shallots, finely diced

1 clove of garlic, crushed

100ml white wine

500ml chicken stock

6 slices of smoked pancetta

100g hazelnuts

1 bunch fresh sage

200g butter

Sea salt

Black pepper

Olive oil

Parmesan to serve

1.     Prepare your pumpkin by slicing it in half and scooping out the seeds with a spoon. Slice your halves into chunks, coating them in some olive oil, salt and pepper and pop them in the oven on 180c for approximately 30min. When the pumpkin is starting to brown and is soft throughout then remove and set aside.

2.     Whilst the risotto is cooking, or your pumpkin is in the oven, pop your pancetta under the grill and keep an eye on it until it’s superbly crispy and bubbling. The hazelnuts need to go on a plain baking tray for 10mins so you could always pop these in at the same time as the pumpkin.

3.     To make the risotto base, melt 100g of butter in a large heavy bottom pan on a medium to high heat. Add the clove of garlic, shallots and celery and sweat down for approx. 5 mins until the onions and celery have become soft. Be careful not to let the butter burn and add a splash of olive oil if it starts to turn a little brown.

4.     Add in the risotto rice and stir thoroughly until the grains are well coated. After another couple of minutes pour in the wine and let bubble on a high heat until it has reduced by 1/3.

5.     Reduce the temperature to a simmer - you are now ready to start adding you stock in small amounts and stirring thoroughly after each addition. Your risotto may need a little more, or a little less liquid – you’re looking for al dente rice with all the liquid absorbed.

6.     Put half of the pre roasted pumpkin aside and chop the remaining half finely, until almost a paste. Mix the well chopped pumpkin in with the risotto until piping hot again and get ready to serve!

7.     To make the crispy sage butter, simply melt the remaining 100g of butter in a small sauce pan and add the sage leaves individually. The butter will foam and the leaves darken, which is when it is best to either remove them and dry on a piece of kitchen roll (for very crispy sage) or to pour the delicious sage butter over your finished risotto.

8.     To serve, place the risotto in the bottom of a bowl (or hollowed out pumpkin) and lay some of the roasted larger pieces of pumpkin on top along with a few shards of pancetta, the sage butter and some chopped toasted hazelnuts. Add parmesan to taste and enjoy!

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Something for the kids and big kids alike. These gorgeous marshmallows were so good, although I think my fav was the salted caramel. I love the extra touch of dipping them into the chocolate fondue, I mean witches cauldron of course! Hmmm yum, that's right here's your excuse to dust off your fondue set.

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Vanilla Marshmallow

This is our basic recipe which you can add different essences and flavors to in order to create your perfect marshmallow! We find this recipe sets quite quickly which is great for baking, but don’t hesitate on transferring the mix from bowl to tin or you might find yourself eating set marshmallow straight from the bowl.

1 egg white

50g icing sugar

50g corn flour

1 tbsp vegetable oil

200g sugar

200ml water

1 tsp golden syrup

12g powdered gelatin

1.     Whisk the egg white until stiff peaks appear and place aside. Prepare a 20cm square baking tin by oiling it and dusting with corn flour and icing sugar.

2.     Put the sugar, 100ml of water and golden syrup in a heavy bottomed saucepan and mix with a wooden spoon. Bring to the boil and continue to heat until the sugar reaches the hard ball stage (121c).

3.     Meanwhile, gently melt the gelatin in 100ml water until dissolved, this will only take a few seconds so best to do it right before the sugar reaches temperature.

4.     When the sugar is at temperature, remove from the heat and slowly pour in the gelatin, stirring all the time. It will spit and foam so do be careful. Next, pour the hot liquid in a steady stream into the egg whites, whisking continuously with an electric hand whisk. Continue to whisk until the mixture thickens.

5.     Pour the mixture into the pre prepared baking tin and set aside to cool for approx. 1 hour or until the marshmallow has set. To remove them simply pull gently at the edge of the tin and the marshmallow should roll out as a sheet which you can put on a board dusted with icing sugar to slice up into squares, remember to dust the raw edges of the cut marshmallow so that it doesn’t all stick together again!

To decorate:

Salted Caramel

Who doesn’t love salted caramel on absolutely everything?

Makes one 300g jar

200g caster sugar

100g unsalted butter, cubed

120ml double cream

Large pinch of salt to taste

1.     Melt sugar on a medium to high heat, until it turns into a golden liquid whisking with a hand whisk all the time.

2.     Add the butter and continue to stir, the mixture will foam so do be careful.

3.     When all is melted, turn to a low heat and pour in the double cream slowly as it will spit and foam again, then just add the salt!

4.     Leave the salted caramel to cool and then drizzle on your marshmallows. If you have left overs, you can always refrigerate it and put back in a saucepan to make it liquid again.

Cherry Compote

This bright red cherry sauce makes the marshmallows look rather gory – perfect for Halloween!

Makes 1 400g jar
1.5kg cherries, pitted
300g sugar
Zest and juice of 1 lemon

1.     Put all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the fruit has softened.

2.     Stir the compote with a wooden spoon and continue to simmer until thickened, approx. 30-40mins

3.     Leave the cherry compote to cool and then drizzle on your marshmallows. If you have left overs, you can always store it in sterilized jars to be used in other baking adventures.

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Chocolate Fondue

Makes enough for a full fondue ‘cauldron’ of chocolate sauce. This can also be easily served in small bowls for children or along with some fruit for dipping.

400g dark chocolate

85g unsalted butter

280ml carton double cream

300ml milk

1.     Melt the ingredients in a saucepan and transfer to your fondue ‘cauldron’ for kids and big kids to dunk in to.

Mulled Cider with Amontillado Sherry

Hot booze is one of our favourite things about Autumn. Getting a thermos filled and sharing with friends around a bonfire is an absolute treat and a great alternative to mulled wine, which we can worry about in December!

Makes 4 glasses

1L good-quality English medium cider

6 cloves

¼ nutmeg , finely grated

1 cinnamon stick

1 vanilla pod

2 orange, juice of

200ml apple juice

200ml Amontillado sherry

Sugar or maple syrup to taste

1.     Pour the cider into a large pan on a low heat and let it warm through, then add all the spices and turn the heat up.

2.     Add a few strips of orange peel and the juice from both fruits, and the apple juice and bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and leave to infuse on a simmer for approx. 10mins.

3.     Taste test and see if you’d like to sweeten the cider a little, sometimes they can be very dry. To serve mix through the sherry at the last moment to finish and serve with a slice of orange. This is really an adaptable recipe – so seasonal and mull away until you’ve found your sweet spot, it will only get tastier!

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White Hot Chocolate with Cardamom and Orange

Jess is truly obsessed with hot chocolate, it’s official and this is her favourite seasonal twist on a white chocolate comfort-in-a-cup.

Makes 4 mugs

800ml full fat milk (or substitution of your choice eg. coconut, almond etc)

200g good quality white chocolate, broken into small pieces

8 cardamom pods

4 strips of orange peel

Cinnamon to garnish

1.     Bring the milk, zest and cardamom up to a vibrant simmer on a high heat. Once the milk is warmed through and infused approx. 10min (be careful not to let it burn on the bottom of the pan or over boil) then simply strain into a jug, add the chocolate pieces and mix thoroughly until the chocolate has melted.

2.     Serve immediately with a pinch of cinnamon to garnish.

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Charcoal Cocktail

We mentioned in the live video that we love this cocktail not only because it’s delicious but because it looks really cool - something a bit different for a Halloween party. Don’t be tempted to go overboard on the charcoal as it can make your teeth feel squeaky clean – we have found that the below gives great colour and taste.

50ml Caol Ilsa (or other peat rich) whisky

1 tsp of activated charcoal powder (available from health food shops)

10ml chamomile syrup

Chamomile syrup:

100ml water

100g sugar

4 tsp loose chamomile or 4 tea bags

1.     To make the chamomile syrup, combine the sugar and water in pan over a high heat until the sugar dissolves. Whilst the mix is still hot, steep the tea for approx. 20mins and leave to cool.

2.     Mix the whisky and charcoal in a glass to dissolve then add the chamomile syrup and serve over lots of ice. You could scale up this mix and keep in the fridge in a bottle, then shake it up before guests arrive and pour out over ice! 

Table Design Inspiration

Here are my top tips to create an awe-inspiring table centrepiece with Autumnal cues with a nod to Halloween.

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So lets talk about the table.... I love to get creative when I'm entertaining. The food needs to be on point but equally the ambiance is just as important. From the smell that greets your guests to the ambient lighting and table decor. You're guests are going to spend a lot of time around the table so use this as your focal point when thinking about decorating for any occasion.  I wanted the table to feel enchanting and have nods to Halloween and Autumn without being cheesy or tacky... hopefully I pulled it off.

1. Choose your colour theme - on this occasion I went for muted tones, using sage greens with hints of muted reds and soft yellows.

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2. Take flowers out of vases and lay them flat on the table. It's way cooler and looks more like a magical forest floor with lots of hidden treasures.

3. Start with a base - I used eucalyptus as my base, which is one of my favourites. The smell is amazing and it gives you a contemporary look and feel. Scatter the candles and pumpkins and any decorative items. Once I was happy with the placement I added in all my greenery and flowers.

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4. Create different heights and layers to create a magical and enchanting look. When you think you've added enough botanicals, add more. Runners and table cloths are also good to create different looks and add layers. Layer your plates and bowls for a more dramatic look, with napkins placed underneath.

5. When placing all your decorative items and botanicals make sure you move around the table and check that it looks good from all angles - remember every guest with have a different view.

6. Hidden presents - I like to surprise my guest and hide fun or silly gifts amongst the botanicals and leave little messages for people to find throughout the night. It's a great talking point and can be lots of fun.

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7. Don't forget candles - a flickery candle is a great way to set the tone. Mix them up and use different candles at various heights. Here I used large pillar candles, tea lights and made pumpkin tea lights. 

8. Table names are great if you want your dinner guest to sit in a particular place or for more formal occasions. In the spirit of Halloween I sprayed small pumpkins white and added a tag.

9. Above all just have fun with it and get creative.  Use dry ice for a bit of drama, gold spray paint or even glitter. There are so many fun ways to dress a table and I'm sure with a little thought you'll come up with something amazing.

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10. Mix and match your crockery - We used our Nordic Sand and Sea range from Broste Copenhagen. There are so many ways you can do this using vintage crockery or mix and matching different colours. All matching crockery can be a bit predictable so I say go bold and mix it up.

11. Prep is key - create your centrepiece the day before and lay your table out the night before so that on the day you can focus on the food. Depending on the type of botanicals you use it should last for a day or two.

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How to guides

Pumpkin planter with succulents

Pumpkin planter with succulents

Pumpkin Planter With Succulents

1. Choose your pumpkin - there are so many varieties and I particularly like this sage colour that I bought from Planet Organic. The ghost pumpkins also look great.

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2. Use a round object to make a circle on the top of the pumpkin. Using a pumpkin cutting tool cut around the circle and remove the lid and flesh. Tip - keep the flesh and use it in the pumpkin risotto.

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3. Add succulent soil to the pumpkin and then simply select and arrange your succulent plants.

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Pumpkin tea lights

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1. Buy the smallest pumpkin you can find that will snugly fit a tea light. I bought mine from Sainsburys.

2. Use the base of the tea light to draw a circle on top and cut using the pumpkin tool. Remove flesh.

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3. You can either add the tea light or you can paint the pumpkin for a more dramatic effect. I went for white but gold, silver or glitter would also look good.

Name Holder

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1. Simply buy a small pumpkin and spray paint your desired colour and add a name tag. How simple is that?

I hope you enjoyed our Food Stories Halloween special as much as we did. I hope you got some inspiration from this post; please comment below with any tips you have for entertaining this season. Have fun creating!

Sommer x

Sommer Pyne

Since we opened our doors in June 2016 we've had some amazing creative workshops. Along the way I've met so many talented and wonderful people. The original concept of House Curious was to bring like minded folk together with the hope that they form friendships over shared passions. We open our doors to the creatively curious to come and learn a new skill; there's always food involved, and let's not forget the importance of a glass of wine! We always have so much fun and I know that everyone that has joined us has come away feeling refreshed and inspired. 

Lately we've had so many requests about the food we've rustled up in the House Curious kitchen so we thought we would share some of our favourite recipes with you. Our aim is to bring tasty and mostly healthy food (excluding our indulgent cheesecake recipe) to our menu that’s straight forward and delicious.

Superfood salad

This salad is so delicious and healthy its one of my favourites. Whenever I serve this salad people always ask for the recipe. It could be a meal on its own and is great if you have vegetarian guests. I borrowed this dish from the man himself, Jamie Oliver. This salad has a wonderful combination of textures and flavours and is such a beautiful dish to bring to the table; perfect with a slow roast lamb or by itself with some fresh bread and hummus.

Prep Time: 10 minutes & Baking time: 40 minutes 

INGREDIENTS

700g sweet potatoes

1 pinch dried chilli flakes, coriander & ground cinnamon 

Olive oil & extra virgin olive oil 

200g quinoa

320g broccoli

35g mixed nuts

1 pomegranate

2 limes

1 splash of balsamic vinegar 

40g mixed sprouts

1 punnet of salad cress

1 bunch fresh coriander 

1 fresh red chilli 

1 ripe avocado 

20g feta cheese

INSTRUCTIONS:

1) Preheat the oven to 200ºC 

2) Scrub and chop the sweet potatoes into 2.5 cm chunks. Place into a roasting tray with chilli flakes, ground coriander and cinnamon, drizzle of olive oil and a little sea salt and black pepper, then toss well. 

3) Spread into an even layer and place in a hot oven for 15-20 minutes until golden.

4) Meanwhile, cook the quinoa in boiling salted water as per instructions. 

5) Slice the broccoli into small florets, then halve and finely slice the stalk. Place into a heatproof colander and rest it over the quinoa pan. Cover and steam for 3 minutes, until just tender. 

6) Once cooked, drain/rinse the quinoa under cold water and then leave to cool along with the broccoli. Remove the sweet potato from the oven and leave it to cool. 

7) Meanwhile, toast the nuts in a dry frying pan over a medium to high heat for 2-3 minutes, then transfer to a pestle and mortar and crush lightly. 

8) Half the pomegranate and squeeze half the juice into a large bowl. Add 3 times as much extra virgin olive oil, the lime juice and balsamic vinegar. Whisk well and season to taste. 

9) Add the cooled broccoli and sprouts to the dressing, then snip in the cress. Roughly chop the coriander (stalks too!) finely slice the chilli and add to the bowl along with the quinoa and sweet potato. 

10) Toss well and spread onto a serving platter, then scoop out and dot the avocado flesh over the salad. 

11) Finish off with the remaining pomegranate seeds, sprinkle of nuts, watercress and crumble the feta! 

Slow Roasted Lamb

This simple but tasty dish brings a definite wow factor to any dinner party. We've taken our friend Anna Barnett's famous slow roast lamb recipe (as pictured above and below) that was part of our Ultimate Dinner Party Menu workshop and added our own twist. Adding herbs, garlic and lemon juice. The lamb is so tender it literally falls off the bone and has such a wonderful depth of flavour. The great thing about this dish is that you can serve it in so many ways. Serve on it's own with a salad or follow Anna's black rice recipe and either mix the meat in with the salad or serve with soft tacos as pictured below. 

Serving board available at the House Curious shop in the kitchen section.

Serving board available at the House Curious shop in the kitchen section.

Prep Time: 10 minutes & Cooking Time: 5 hours

INGREDIENTS

1.5kg good quality organic shoulder of lamb 

Glug of olive oil

Garlic Bulb (crushed)

Thyme & rosemary (optional)

Sprinkle of sea salt & pepper

Squeeze of lemon 

INSTRUCTIONS:

1) Preheat oven to 160ºC. Place lamb in a roasting dish and drizzle with oil and rub all over the lamb. Add crushed garlic to the pan and sprigs of rosemary or thyme, season well with sea salt and pepper and half the juice of a lemon.

2) Cover with foil and roast for 4 hours. 

3) After 4 hours remove foil and turn heat up to 190ºC to allow the skin to crisp for the final 30 - 40 mins.

4) Once cooked, again cover with foil and least to rest for up to one hour. 

Salad bowl and apron available at the House Curious shop in the kitchen section.

Salad bowl and apron available at the House Curious shop in the kitchen section.

Anna's Black Rice Salad with Green Harissa 

This salad goes beautifully with the slow roast lamb or is delicious by itself. This dish looks so beautiful but is also very tasty. The Green Hariss is pretty special too and again its one of those recipes that everyone wants to know.  The great thing about this salad is that you can make it the night before.

Preparation time: 15 minutes & Cooking time: 30-40 minutes

Servings: 4-6

INGREDIENTS

Black rice Salad:

250g Black rice

Salt salt flakes

½ red onion- finely sliced

½ pomegranate

Handful of fresh mint leaves- roughly chopped

Handful of fresh parsley- roughly chopped

Juice from half a lemon

Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

(Optional: soft tacos to serve)

Green Harissa:

2 shallots

3 tbsp of pickled jalapenos

Handful of fresh coriander

Handful fresh parsley

2 birdseye green chillies (use one chilly if you want less of a kick)

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground cumin

zest of a lemon

¼ tsp sugar

Several good glugs of olive oil  

INSTRUCTIONS:

1) Pour 250g black rice into a saucepan with 500ml of water, add a sprinkle of salt and bring to the boil.

2) Once boiled, reduce the temperature and allow to simmer for 35-45 minutes or until the rice is soft but with a little bite to it and allow to cool.

3) Mix in the chopped red onion, radishes, pomegranate and chopped fresh mint or parsley.

4) Add in the fresh lemon juice a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and seasoning to taste.

5) For the Harissa simply blitz all the ingredients together then check for seasoning and spice, adjusting if necessary. You can mix some of the sauce directly in to the salad and also have some to serve. This goes beautifully with the lamb.

Plates available at the House Curious shop in the kitchen section.

Plates available at the House Curious shop in the kitchen section.

Gluten Free White chocolate Cheesecake

This cheesecake is a real hit and is a family fav. It's gluten free and suitably indulgent for a dinner party. 

Prep Time: 50 minute & Cooking Time: 1.5 hours

PORTIONS: 16 portions

INGREDIENTS 

For the Base:

75g Butter, extra to grease

300g gluten free milk chocolate digestives, crushed

2 tbsp demerara sugar (alternative coconut sugar) 

For the Cheesecake:

300g Belgian white chocolate 

900g cream cheese (full fat)

3tbsp plain flour 

1tbsp Vanilla bean paste or extract 

3 large eggs + 1 egg yolk 

200ml soured cream or crème fraiche

Decoration: 

Mixed berries

Icing sugar to dust

Shaved white chocolate

INSTRUCTIONS

1) Preheat oven to 180C, fan 160C. Line base of a round 23cm tin (7cm deep) with baking paper.

2) For the base, melt the butter in a pan then stir in the biscuit crumbs and demerara sugar. Press into the base of the tin in an even layer. Bake for 10 minutes then set aside to cool. 

3) Increase oven to 240C, fan 220C and grease sides of the tin with a little extra butter. 

4) For the cheesecake mixture, break the white chocolate into a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Don’t let the bowl come into contact with the water, stir the chocolate as it melts until its smooth, then remove the bowl and set aside. 

5) Scoop the cream cheese into a large mixing bowl and beat with a hand held electric mixer/good old fashioned arm power until smooth and creamy. Beat in the flour, a pinch of salt and the vanilla bean paste, followed by the eggs one at a time and then finally the egg yolk. Stir in the cooled melted chocolate and soured cream (or the crème fraiche) 

6) Pour the cheesecake mixture into the tin and bake for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 110C, fan 90C and bake for a further 40 minutes until just set/still a bit wobbly. Once cooled this sets nicely to produce a cheesecake with a smooth texture. Turn off the oven, leave door ajar and leave to cool inside. When completely cooled carefully run a rounded knife/blade around the side of the tin to release the cheesecake and remove the sides of the tin. 

7) For decoration we love to use mixed berries- sliced strawberries, blueberries and raspberries and dust with a sprinkling of icing sugar and shaved white chocolate. 

We hope you like the recipes we've shared with you today. Please like or comment if you like the post and also be sure to share your creations with us.

Sommer x

Sommer Pyne

I love celebrating Valentines Day so to all the hopeless romantics out there here is my guide to setting hearts on fire this Valentines. Forget about tacky pink hearts and red flowers and over priced meals with thousands of other punters. No that’s not our style at all. We would much prefer to hide away from the world, cook a meal because let’s face it, you can't beat home cooking from the heart. It doesn’t have to be fancy pants either, simple fresh ingredients, mood lighting and music are all winners. The company and setting will set the tone and your lover will be so bowled over with all the effort you've gone to that the food will taste extra delicious.

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Start the day right. Who doesn’t love getting brekkie in bed?? What a way to start the day with breakfast in bed, sweet note and flowers. Just think of your partners fav breakfast or use my go to recipe below. If you have kids its also a great way to get them involved. 

Egg in a nest with a side of bacon, avo.

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil or butter

2 large slices of bread (I like to use sourdough)

2 eggs ( I used duck eggs)

2 large pinches of smoked paprika 

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Optional - side of bacon, avo and baked cherry tomatoes. For the cherry tomatoes I toss in olive oil with balsamic vinegar, thyme and bake until soft and a little gooey. Another alternative is to sprinkle truffle oil over the bread and egg at the end. 

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Instructions

Cut out holes in the the bread with a cookie cutter or you can use the top of a glass. You want to make the hole big enough to hold an egg. Place olive oil or butter in a hot frying pan and place one side of the bread down in the pan for a minute or until the bread has turned a lovely golden colour. Crack the egg and place the yolk in the centre of the hole. Try and get some of the egg white over the bread. Let the egg fry a little and then flip over and season with smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Cook until golden for 2min depending on how runny you like your egg. Remove and place on the plate. Add bacon, baked tomatoes or any little extras that  your lover might like.

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Add a fresh smoothie or juice. My fav smoothie is frozen banana, fresh pineapple juice, lime, greek yogurt and a little honey with sprinkling of bee pollen. Or for a juice try beetroot, apple, celery and cucumber. It's delicious, trust me.

If dinner is more your thing then check out some of my favourite places to get inspiration. I like my food spicy and will no doubt have seafood and meat on the menu. For the vegetarians Anna Barnett always has some good alternatives.

Gift ideas

Gifts are a great way to make someone feel special and let's be honest with our workloads and busy social life sometimes we forget to let that someone special know how much we care about them. As soppy as Valentines may be it's a great way to spend a litte more time on the ones we love and make them feel special for a day. For me I love to buy a gift that will be cherished forever or something my hubby can use daily that reminds him of me. I've put together a gift guide from House Curious to help give you some inspiration. One little tip - don't leave it to the last minute get in early. Today is a good day to start planning and getting those pressies ordered.

Our limited addition art prints from Blacklist Studio from Sydney are a lovely keepsake that will be cherished forever. Add some romantic drama to your lovers wall.

These cards are so different from your typical Valentines cards. If you're sentimental like me a handwritten card means the world. 

Our selection of stationery makes the perfect gift this valentines. Pop a little note inside that your loveer can cherish forever.