Mulled Ale and Mulled Wine

Mulled wine
Mulled Wine
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I don't know if there is anything as good as some mulled wine on a cold winter evening. Wine not exactly your cup of tea? No fear mulled ale is here!

What you will need to make these mulled drinks:

Mulled Ale (enough for 2.8L or 5 pints):

  • 2.5 L (4.5 pints) of strong ale
  • 300 ml (10 fl oz) of brandy
  • 2 tbsp of caster sugar
  • Large pinch of ground cloves
  • Large pinch of ground ginger

Mulled Wine (enough for 3.3 L or 5.75 pints):

  • 2 L (3.5 pints) of red wine
  • 850 ml (1.5 pints) of water 
  • 150 ml (5 fl oz) of brandy
  • 115 g (4 oz) of caster sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 5 oranges
  • 50 cloves
  • Thinly pared rind and juice of 4 lemons
Mulled Ale
Mulled Ale
Photo Credit:

How to make mulled ale:
Put all of the ingredients in a heavy saucepan and heat gently, making sure to stir until the sugar has dissolved. Continue to heat so that its simmering but not boiling. Now remove the saucepan from the heat and serve the ale straight away in heatproof glasses.

Mulled Wine
Mulled Wine
Photo Credit:

How to make the mulled wine:

Prick the skins of three of the oranges all over with a fork or a knife. Stuff the cloves into them like studs and put aside. Thinly pare the rind of the rest of the oranges and squeeze the juice from them.

Put the lemon and orange rind and juice, water, sugar, and cinnamon in a heavy saucepan and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Make sure to stir occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Boil for about 2 minutes without any stirring, remove from heat, stir it once and leave to sit for 10 minutes.

Strain the liquid into a heatproof jug. Make sure to press down on the contents of the sieve to extract all the juice and flavor.

Pour the wine into a separate saucepan and add the strained spiced juice, the brandy and the clove studded oranges that you set aside earlier. 

Simmer gently without boiling, then remove the saucepan from the heat.

Strain into heatproof glasses and serve hot.


The Tradition of the Christmas Tree

The Tradition Of The Christmas Tree: Decorated Trees In Your Home

Christmas Tree
Christmas Tree

Evergreens were used to decorate homes during winter long before Christmas became a holiday. Evergreens were believed to keep witches, ghosts, evil spirits and illnesses
away from homes where they were displayed.

Germany is credited with the traditional Christmas Tree celebration of decorating trees and bringing them into their homes. It is believed that Martin Luther,
the 16th century Protestant reformer was the first to add lighted candles to the tree. He wanted to recapture the sparkling stars on a dark night and how the stars
illuminated his walk home, so he brought a tree into his home and placed it in the center of the room. He then wired the tree branches with lighted candles.

By 1890, Christmas ornaments were arriving in America from Germany and the Christmas tree became popular in the U.S. In the early 20th century most Americans
were using homemade ornaments on their trees. While Europeans liked their trees to be small, Americans liked their trees to reach from floor to ceiling. Popular homemade
ornaments included popcorn strings decorated by being dyed bright colors and laced with berries and nuts. Electricity changed the tree to include electric lights and trees
began to glow in town squares and in homes all across America, making the Christmas Tree, a American tradition.

Many cities claim to be the first city to have a Christmas tree in America including: Windsor Locks, a city in Connecticut. They claim that a Hessian soldier put up a
Christmas tree in 1777 while he was imprisoned at the Noden-Reed House, making it the first Christmas tree in New England.

Easton, Pennsylvania also claims that German settlers put up a Christmas tree in 1816. There is a diary entry made by Matthew Zahm, of Lancaster Pennsylvania,
which says a Christmas tree was put up in 1832.

A German immigrant living in Boston, Charles Follen, claimed the custom itself of decorating the Christmas tree. Another German immigrant from Wooster, Ohio
is said to have made popular the practice of decorating the Christmas tree by cutting down spruce trees from a wooded area by his town, and having a tinsmith
construct a star, he placed the tree in his house, decorating it with paper ornaments and candy canes. He was recognized by the National Confectioners' Association as
being the first to put candy canes on a Christmas tree. Those first candy canes were all white though and had no red stripes.

The Christmas tree today is a very important part of the celebration of Christmas. The tree symbolizes life.


Alternative eco friendly gift wrap ideas

Wrapping gifts with alternatives to the pricey gift wrap is inexpensive but it does not by any means have to come across as “cheap”! Instead you could be the artistic one who’s skill and craftiness everyone admires. There are many ways to gift wrap without actually buying the pricey stuff. A lot of times you can re- use the wrapping material (no not the wrinkled ripped up wrapping paper with tape still stuck to it!) you already have or create wrap from non conventional methods.
I love using pages from the magazines to wrap gifts. We all have random magazines and papers lying around the house that are most likely collecting dust. Leaf through them, chances are they have random cool looking pages, some are ads, some photo shoots, it doesn't matter. Test try wrapping a book up in one of them, it comes out quite nice. Make sure the wrap is appropriate for a recipient, you don’t want to wrap your guys video game with something that has pretty butterflies on it, or that little girls hair set wrapped up with a cool biker dude on it.
Here are a few quick samples which I made for this article ... CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

Tasty Rum Cookies recipe

These simple, yet delicious cookies are something that definitely doesn't get skipped in my household.

I think we all need a bit of alcohol in us from time to time, this goes for cookies too!

What you will need to make spiced rum cookies:

- 175g (6oz) of unsalted butter, softened and a bit extra for greasing
- 175g (6oz) dark muscovado sugar
- 225g (8oz) plain flour
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 2 tbsp dark rum

How to make spiced rum cookies:

To see the full recipe please click HERE.


Make your own gift tags this season

Christmas Gift Tags
DIY Gift Tags


  • 300 gsm white, red or green card
  • Red and sage-green felt
  • Sewing needle and deep red embroidery thread
  • Holly leaves
  • Deep red silk fabric scraps
  • Red ribbon
  • Craft knife, steel edged ruler, cutting mat, hole punch and double sided tape

  1.  Choose any color card paper to make your gift tags to the size you require. Cute out a rectangle shape with a craft knife and a steel edged ruler on a cutting mat (or if you are not stocked up with all the crazy crafts equipment improvise with scissors). 
  2. Punch a hole in the corner.
  3. Repeat the steps until you have as many rectangular cards as you need (one per tag).
  4. Attach the red felt to half of the card and the green felt to the other half of the cards using a double sided tape.
  5. Trim any excess off.
  6. Using a sewing needle and embroidery thread, sew holly leaves to the felt side of the red felt cards with one cross- stitch, tying the thread at the back and trimming the excess.
  7. Cut three small squares off the silk and using double sided tape, glue it to the felt side of the green felt cards overlapping them at jaunty angles.
  8. Add a small sage green felt heart to one of the silk squares with double sided tape.
  9. Thread a length of red ribbon through each hole and make a knot in the ribbon.