mardi 16 décembre 2014

DIY Planet Friendly Christmas Tree

Last year we bought a Christmas tree. I couldn’t resist it, no matter how not-environmentally friendly it was, Christmas without a Christmas tree was not really Christmas. We bought a small tree in a pot though, in the hope of keeping it alive until the next Christmas, and the one after. Unfortunately, and predictably, after a few months, and despite our best efforts, our tree died. What a waste.

The traditional Christmas song in France sings about how beautiful the tree is in the forest, all lush and green and tall and proud :

Mon beau sapin
Mon beau sapin, roi des forêts
Que j'aime ta verdure
Quand par l'hiver, bois et guérets
Sont dépouillés de leurs attraits
Mon beau sapin, roi des forêts
Tu gardes ta parure
Toi que Noël
Planta chez nous
Au saint-anniversaire
Joli sapin, comme ils sont doux
Et tes bonbons et tes joujoux
Toi que Noël
Planta chez nous
Tout brillant de lumière
Mon beau sapin
Tes verts sommets
Et leur fidèle ombrage
De la foi qui ne ment jamais
De la constance et de la paix
Mon beau sapin
Tes verts sommets
M'offrent la douce image

I think we all know through experience that our Christmas trees don't stay lush and green and proud very long once they are in our living rooms!

So, this year, we made it ourselves. From scrtach. And it looks lovely and just as Christmassy as the real thing, while the trees can peacefully live outside where they belong.

You can find tons of ideas of crafted and home-made Christmas trees all over the internet: here and here for example. Ours is one option in a million.

  • Cylinders of any kind (from posters, woodsticks…). Ours came from a bin right outside a theatre, where they get sets and discard the packages.
  • Paint with any colour (we already had white and gold at home so used those but be as creative as you care to be!).
  • Solid strings
  • Lights and decorations

  • Measure and cut the cylinders with a saw to obtain a pyramid when you pile them up (ours get smaller by 5 cm on each sides).
  • Paint the cylinders as you wish. We haven't done it but you can create stencils and add patterns on the cylinders.
  • Wait patiently while it all dries.
  • Set up your cylinders on the floor in the right order and pass through the strings. Start by passing one end through the longest cylinder. Just like for a necklace. Then you need to cross them over in the next cylinder, passing the string ending on the right of the cylinder to the left of the next one and vice versa. In case my fantastic explanations are not very clear (hum), there is a sketch below.
  •  (You’ve just got to admire my drawing skills!)
  • If your cylinders are heavy, make sure you keep the strings tights, they will space themselves out automatically with their weight. If you are using pieces of wood, you might want to tie the strings to the ends of each woodstick separately on each side.

Hang it up and add on your decorations and lights !


lundi 1 décembre 2014

A quick cake : the banana bread

With my friend A. we decided to meet for dinner at the last minute. We have to plan a party in a few months and the best moment to discus for us is around a meal.

A. got the idea to bake a cake which is very popular in Australia and he already had old bananas in the kitchen.

His kitchen is nice but missing the weighting scale. With this important piece missing we arranged to make our own weighting. Needless to say this was very approximation. The cake was delicious however so there you go, easy AND no particular cooking skills needed.


200 g of white flour
1 tsp of baking soda (we used a sachet)
1/3 tsp of salt (a big pinch)
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3 ripped bananas
1/2 pack of butter (125 g) unsalted, melted
150 g of sugar
2 eggs
A pinch of Vanilla

Pre-heat the oven at 180C /gas 6.

First in a bowl reduce to a pulp the bananas, add the butter, eggs and vanilla.
Time to add the dry ingredients: the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

We blended everything together and it was looking good to us. We poured the dough in a backing dish.

Place in the oven for 60 minutes.

Check after 45 min just in case. It is ready when the knife comes clean after being inserted in the middle of the cake.

We added a scoop of ice cream.

With such a desert you can only take good decisions when planning your next party.


ps : The original recipe Classic-banana-bread