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April 23rd 2014
WILD AT HEART HERO

WILD AT HEART: CARING FOR YOUR BLOOMS

Revealing the best way to care for your flowers, Nikki Tibbles from Wild at Heart shares all…

Nothing spells spring like fresh flowers dotted around your humble abode. Housed in an elegant vase, a bunch of your most-loved florals will instantly brighten your home and create a sense of wellbeing. Whether freshly cut from the garden or from your local florist, we are all about making the most of our floral arrangements.

 

Calling in a little help from the experts, Nikki the founder of Wild at Heart shares her top tips in prolonging the life of your beautiful blooms…

 

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If I had my way, flowers would live forever.  There’s nothing more spectacular and special than watching them flourish into a gorgeous vision of colour and beauty. One of the most common questions I’m always asked by customers is how to increase the longevity of florals.  Unfortunately, there’s no magic sprinkle which makes them live on for eternity (I’m working on it!) but there are some tips you can follow on how best to care for your flowers – and help them stay fabulous for longer…

 

       Strip stems clear of any excess foliage which will be below the water line, this will allow the water to reach the flower bud first.

 

-        Cut stems at an angle to give a larger surface area for them to drink from.

 

-        Add sterilizers – such as Milton – to the water to keep them fresh.

 

-        Always cut the stems as soon as you receive them and again when they start to look tired.

 

       Keep in a cool place, away from direct sunlight and any heat such as radiators.

 

-        Most importantly, love them!

 

Why not display your blooms in style with our range of elegant vases…

 

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Embossed Ceramic Bowl / Floral Corsage Ceramic Vase / Clear Glass Fan Vase / Set of Three Bud Vases 

 

Do you have any top tips for caring for your blooms, we would love to know in the comments below.

Browse Laura Ashley’s full range of vases here.

Don’t forget Wild At Heart’s blog to keep up to date with the floral world.

April 22nd 2014
Pin Wheels hero

TAKE A SPIN AROUND THE WORLD: MAP PINWHEELS

Homemaker magazine celebrates our nation’s history by upcycling old maps…

With the invasion of sat‑navs and in‑built tracking devices on our mobile phones, the need for the humble paper map has slowly dwindled. Relegated to the boot with the other odds and ends that accumulate during car journeys, they are quickly forgotten and cast aside as old‑fashioned and unnecessary. However, there can be another use for those old atlases, as demonstrated by our stylish project. Turn the faded pages into chic accessories for your home, and dream of exotic places that you’d like to enjoy someday.

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You will need:

- Map and spotted paper

- Pearl-headed pins

- Round beads

- Wooden skewer

- Eyelet and setting tool

- Washi tape

- Snipe-nosed pliers

 

Instructions:

1. Glue a 10cm square of map paper to one of the spotted so the right sides face out. Mark the centre and draw a 1.5cm diameter circle around it.

2.  Trim diagonal lines from each corner of the square to the edge of the circle. Punch holes in each alternate point and the centre of the square. Use an eyelet to secure the points to the hole in the centre.

3. Thread a bead onto a pearl headed pin and pass through the eyelet. Place a second bead on the back and push through the top of a wooden skewer. Use pliers to bend the end of the pin and fix with washi tape. Cover the rest of the skewer with washi wrap to decorate.

 

Feeling inspired by the atlas theme? Keen explorers and globe trotters will love our map-inspired homeware pieces – let’s take a trip around the world..

Print

Antique Map Print Cushion / Antique Style World Framed Map / Globe (in-store) / Wood Panel World Map

 

Don’t forget to subscribe to Homemaker magazine, jam-packed full of making, baking and styling – click here to get three issues for only £6!

 

 

Issue 18

 

 

April 15th 2014
Bunny hero

HOP TO IT! EASTER BUNNY CROCHET

Rachel from our home buying team shows us how to re-create her adorable crochet bunnies for Easter…

Just in time for the Easter celebrations, our very own crochet expert Rachel from the Laura Ashley home buying team, has spun these adorable crochet bunnies. A sweet addition to your Easter décor, it’s not too late to tap into your crafty side for the egg-citing celebrations! Whether you’re a dab hand at crochet or looking for a beginner project, now’s your chance….

 

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You will need:

  • Wool
  • 4mm crochet hook
  • Wadding (Or can use anything for stuffing)
  • Needle

Abbreviations:

Sc = Single crochet

Ch = Chain

Sc2tog = Single crochet 2 together (Decrease)

Instructions:

The Body

Row 1: Chain 7

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Row 2: Sc in 2nd ch from hook. 1 sc in each ch across. Ch 1, turn (6sc)

Row 3: 2 sc in first st, 1 sc in the next 4 sc, 2 sc in the last st. Ch 1, turn (8)

Row 4: 2 sc in first st, 1 sc in the next 6 sc, 2 sc in the last st. Ch 1, turn (10)

Row 5: 2 sc in first st, 1 sc in the next 8 sc, 2 sc in the last st. Ch 1, turn (12)

Row 6: 1 sc in each st across. Ch 1, turn (12)

Row 7-9: Repeat row 6

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Row 10: sc2tog, 1 sc in the next 8 sc, sc2tog. Ch 1, turn (10)

 

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Row 11: sc2tog, 1 sc in the next 6 sc, sc2tog. Ch 1, turn (8)

Row 12: sc2tog, 1 sc in the next 4 sc, sc2tog. Ch 1, turn (6)

Row 13: 2sc in the first st, 1 sc in the next 4 sc, 2 sc in the last st. Ch 1, turn (8)

Row 14: 2sc in the first st, 1 sc in the next 6 sc, 2 sc in the last st. Ch 1, turn (10)

 

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Row 15: 2sc in the first st, 1 sc in the next 8 sc, 2 sc in the last st. Ch 1, turn (12)

Row 16: 1 sc in each st across. Ch 1, turn (12)

Row 17: sc2tog, 1 sc in the next 8 sc, sc2tog. Ch 1, turn (10)

Row 18: sc2tog, 1 sc in the next 6 sc, sc2tog. Ch 1, turn (8)

Row 19: sc2tog, 1 sc in the next 4 sc, sc2tog. Ch 1, turn (6)

 

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Row 20: sc2tog, 1 sc in the next 2 sc, sc2tog. Ch 1, turn (4)

The Ears

Row 21: sc in first 2 sts. Ch 1, turn (2sc)

Row 22: 2 sc in first st, 2sc in second st. Ch 1, turn (4sc)

Row 23: sc in each st across. Ch 1, turn (4sc)

Row 24 – 26: Repeat row 23

Row 27: sc2tog, sc2 tog. Ch 1

 

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Tie off.

Attach the yarn again at row 21 and repeat steps to complete the other ear.

Now you have a completed bunny shape! Repeat pattern again to make the second side.

 

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Construction

Cut and tidy any loose threads – make sure they are secure.

Lay the two bunny shapes on top of each other, starting at the bottom of once side sew around the outside using a needle and yarn. Don’t sew all the way around, leave the bottom open.

 

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Turn the bunny inside out so all the stitching is on the inside and now you are ready to fill.

 

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I am using wadding but you can use any filling of choice. Starting with smaller bits, start to stuff the ears and then the body. You can shape the bunny as you go, using more or less stuffing in parts.

 

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Now sew up the bottom.

 

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Once finished you can decorate your bunnies however you like. Maybe add some eyes or fabric bow ties!

 

We couldn’t resist hopping on the Easter celebrations early, how do you like our bunny scene below?

 

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Whitby Camomile Check Lined Basket / Mini Egg Chocolates / Easter Egg Hunt Kit  - All available in-store.

 

Will you be trying your hand at Rachel’s crochet Easter bunnies? We love to see a snap if you do, tweet us at @LauraAshleyUK

March 21st 2014
HERO

Set your Easter table with Homemaker magazine

Homemaker Magazine shares it’s ideas for a stylish Easter celebration

Set the scene this Easter with a touch of handmade. Tap into your crafty side and hop on the celebrations with our buffet of DIY decs. Create mini bird nests, print onto duck eggs and whip up a ten minute display to place on a windowsill or sideboard, all in one afternoon.

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Duck eggs

 

You’ll need:

- White duck eggs

- Black ink-pad

- Mini alphabet stamps

 

Using black ink, carefully stamp individual letters onto the egg shell to create inspirational words. Set aside to dry and then display as a table centrepiece.

 

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Bird Nests

 

You’ll need:

- Coconut hanging basket liner

- Small feathers in yellow, natural and white, Hobbycraft

- Natural twine and darning needle

- Shredded paper

- Small twigs from the garden

- Decorative eggs

- Small polystyrene eggs

 

1. Pull a length of coconut fibre from the liner and wind it into a nest shape. Thread the darning needle with a length of twine, then weave it in a circle fairly near to the base. Pull up the twine to secure the nest shape, then tie the two ends together.

2. Push small twigs into the coconut fibres; line the nest with an assortment of feathers in your colour scheme, shredded tissue paper and then a couple of eggs to finish. Use as a table centrepiece, or pop one on each plate to create a pretty place setting for each person.

Frame on a windowsill

 

Art display

You’ll need:

- Cream wooden frame

- Music tissue paper

- Turquoise paper

- Twig from the garden

- Small polystyrene eggs

- Coconut hanging basket liner

- Small feathers in yellow, natural and white

- Cream spray paint

- Spray adhesive

- Hot glue gun

 

1. Find a small twig from your garden, let it dry out, then spray the twig with cream paint – it may need a couple of coats. Whilst the twig is drying, using the spray adhesive, stick music tissue paper to turquoise paper. Cut to fit the back of the frame.

2. Dismantle the frame, removing the glass, and re-assemble with the music paper. Stick the sprayed twig into the inside edge of the frame using a hot glue gun; you may find you have to position and stick extra pieces of twig to create a pleasing shape. Finally, make a tiny nest from coconut fibre, place a few feathers into it along with an egg covered in music tissue paper.

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Create beautiful lunch settings for your guests to really set the scene. First, we started with Laura Ashley’s Seaspray Fabric Placemats, then we personalised each napkin with pretty ribbons and a hand-stamped tag, and finally displayed delicate daffs in sweet milk bottles.

 

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Want more? You can find the rest of this series (plus so much more!) in issue 17 of Homemaker, out today. If you like the sound of Homemaker magazine, don’t forget to subscribe! Why not treat yourself to three issues for only £6 by clicking here.

Browse the Laura Ashley range of Easter goodies here.

March 20th 2014
curtains hero

FILM: OUR BESPOKE CURTAINS & BLINDS

Go inside the factory and meet the conscientious people who make our curtains & blinds…

The attention to detail and craft that goes into each and every one of our bespoke made to order curtains and blinds is second to none. In this short film, meet the highly talented people that invest their time and talent into making items, which are entirely unique to our customer, in our factory in Wales…

Shop Made To Measure Curtains here
Shop Made To Measure Blinds here

March 11th 2014
Hero

DISCOVERING THE ROMANCE OF VINTAGE FLORISTRY

We uncover the beauty of vintage floristry at the Covent Garden Academy of Flowers…

Neatly tucked away in London’s St Martins courtyard is the charming Covent Garden Academy of Flowers. A beautiful sight to behold, chances are if you’ve stumbled across this hidden nook of Covent Garden you will have spotted the romantic blooms that dot the florist’s entrance. Peering in a little closer, we were delighted to spy that they also run a variety of classes, for those who wish to brush up their flower arranging skills or those who fancy stepping into the world of floristry.

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Intrigued by the Vintage Flowers day course, our Social Media Assistant Sarah was excited to don her pinny (floral, of course) and fashion together a charming bouquet of her own..

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Making our way down the spiraling staircase, we were met by the fragrant aroma of fresh blooms that are flown in especially from Holland. Taking our seat in the main workshop, we were in full admiration of the floristry team, passionately piecing together their next floral masterpiece around us.

As a beginner to floristry and unsure of what to expect, Gillian, the Principal of the academy, put the intimate class at ease as we each introduced ourselves. Talking us through her wealth of experience and what the day would entail, we were captivated by Gillian’s passion for all things floral..

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Similar to fashion trends, the floristry world has its own distinct styles that come and go, more recently the charming appeal of vintage floral arrangements. Embracing the meaning behind vintage, we were talked through the elegance, glamour and romance associated with this beautiful style.

Getting started, Gillian talked us through the importance of conditioning the flowers in preparation. From stripping the roses and greenery of excess leaves to trimming stems, we discussed the best way to nurture and preserve your blooms (insider tip: fresh water!).

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With our flowers and foliage at the ready, we watched in awe as Gillian pieced together her bouquet in a spiraling fashion. With an assortment of antique roses, lemon balm and eucalyptus, Gillian worked together the greenery and foliage before adding in her chosen flowers.

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Now it was our turn! Inspired by Gillian’s creation and drawing on our ideas of vintage, we were free to choose whichever flowers that took our fancy. Not being able to take our eyes off the large white and pink roses, it was soon decided that these were to be the basis of our Laura Ashley vintage bouquet. Gathering a rich green foliage mixed with spray and wax flowers, it was now time to put our newly learnt skills into practice.

Easier said than done, Gillian and her team were on hand to guide us through. With a desired bouquet taking shape, we then adopted the academy’s step-by-step approach to presentation, complete with their signature ribbon!

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Placing our bouquets to one side, we talked through the various ways to present your vintage floral arrangements. Collectable items such as elegant crockery to period teapots, retro glassware and vintage bottles; we picked the pretty Rose Hill China cup and saucer for the basis of our next floral display.

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Taking any left over greenery and small buds, we placed a square chunk of oasis in our cup and set about creating a pretty tea-cup posy.  To complement the duck egg blue of the Laura Ashley Rose Hill design, we snipped stems short and slotted in our pink rose buds and foliage cuts.

A beautiful way of arranging any left overs, this unique arrangement would work wonderfully at tea parties or even used as a place setting at a wedding.

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Rose Hill China Cup and Saucer 

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Now it was time for the technical part, creating a floral corsage. Snipping a cream rose, a sprig of spray flowers and dark green leaves, we followed Gillian as she fashioned through a thin piece of wire into the leaves and secured the corsage with stretchy green tape. After trial and error, we eventually created our own button-hole arrangement..

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What do you think? Not bad for a first time!

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An enchanting day all round, the Vintage Floristry course was truly inspiring and provided us with the need-to-know tips on rustling up our own bouquet. With the vintage style being the trend of the moment, it was interesting to understand the specifics of which flowers embody this look. Working step-by-step under Gillian’s guidance, each of us in the class worked at our own leisurely pace, joining together to share our ideas and understanding of vintage floristry.

 

With our beautiful bouquets in hand, we left fully inspired with our minds whirring with what our next floral arrangement might be…

For more information on the range of courses at the Covent Garden Academy of Flowers click here.

To browse our china Rose Hill range click here.

March 5th 2014
BLOGGER OF THE MONTH HERO

MONTHLY BLOGGER CRUSH: MARCH

Introducing Aimiee, our go-to cookery and craft blogger at Wallflower Girl…

Now that we find ourselves in the month of March, our healthy eating plans are becoming a little more challenging. Rekindling our love affair with all things sweet, our blogger crush of the moment has certainly swayed us with her delicious baking treats and mouthwatering recipes.

With her creative flair and culinary creations, let us warmly introduce our March blogger crush… Aimee the author behind the blog Wallflower Girl.

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Almond & Rose ‘Hidden Heart’ Cookies

‘Cookery, craft and hobbies of a homebody’ is the mantra behind Aimee’s blog. An all round lover of food and all things homely, Aimee has opened up a world of wonderful foodie masterpieces, introducing us to new ingredients, creative ideas and noteworthy tips. Bursting onto our blogger radar, Wallflower Girl first caught our attention when we spotted her famous Ned Flanders flan recipe (yes really! see here), we later stumbled across her genius gluten-free and vegan recipes – in fact she has a whole section devoted to specialist dietary recipes. Easy to follow and undoubtedly delicious, Wallflower Girl is our first stop for inspiring sweet treats.

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Her camera work is second to none, beautifully shot and styled to perfection.

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Forget penpals, its all about the foodie pal! Aimee introduces us to her network of Foodie Parcels where like-minded bloggers send each other culinary boxes filled with a range of weird and wonderful foodie snacks.

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We caught up with Aimee to hear all about Wallflower Girl…

How did ‘Wallflower Girl’ come about?

Wallflower Girl came about nearly two years ago when I was stuck at home recovering from illness. I had a lot of time on my hands, so I turned to my hobbies (cooking and crafts) to keep me occupied. My friends and family then encouraged me to start blogging my creations, so I did and have enjoyed doing it ever since!

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DIY Floral Cupcakes

Whilst her passion for all things scrumptious, Aimee’s blog also plays host to her other crafty creations. From a make-your-own oil candle lamp to flower arranging, her all-round crafty spirit has us truly inspired.

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Lemon Drizzle Slices 

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Apple & Cheddar Soft Pretzels

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DIY Gingerbread Scrub

What do you enjoy most about blogging?

Having a blog is a great motivator to do creative things. It keeps you thinking of new ideas and keeps you engaged with your hobbies and passions – that’s what I enjoy most, and find the most rewarding about blogging.

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Vegan Mushroom and Chestnut Pie

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Gluten Free Jaffa Cakes

What inspires you to write?

My desire to make, bake and photograph things! If I’m running low on food inspiration, I turn to my old cookbooks or see what people are cooking on Pinterest, Foodgawker and food blogs for some ideas. I’m also inspired by the challenge of making recipes that are allergy and diet-friendly – and that takes a lot of experimentation but it’s very rewarding when it goes to plan.

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Chocolate & Lavender Cupcakes 

 

What are your top bookmarked blogs?

- Call Me Cupcake, beautiful baking recipes & inspiration.

- My Little Fabric, lovely DIY & food inspiration with gorgeous photography.

- Frolic blog,  lots of floral goodness and more wonderful photography.

 

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Strawberry Milkshake Fudge 

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Chocolate, Blackberry & Ginger Crunch Cake

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Danish Butter Cookies

 

What is your must-have item from Laura Ashley?

I am in love with the Bramley Rocking Chair, I’ve always had a fondness for rocking chairs and this one is beautiful!

Be sure to bookmark Aimee’s blog Wallflower Girl to never miss one of her scrumptious posts! Don’t forget to follow her Pinterest either, it’s a goldmine of recipes.

February 21st 2014
Desk Tidy Hero

SPRING CLEAN: MAKE & DO A DESK TIDY

Homemaker magazine celebrates our nation’s history by upcycling old magazines…

Flicking through old mags is like peering through a keyhole into an era gone by; the language, content and even advertisements all speak of what the reader, and by extension, society, held as important. We’ve devised this project to bring vintage magazines into the forefront of the home, so others may benefit from these little snippets of the past. And who knows, in forty years time, perhaps you’ll be cutting up an issue of Homemaker for the exact same purpose!

Main Image

 

You’ll need:

- Old magazines,

- Self-assembly letter rack,

- Kaisercraft

- Acrylic paint

- PVA

 

Instructions: 

 

1. Paint the edges of each piece of the desk tidy with coloured acrylic paint.

2. Trim magazine pages to size and paste in place with PVA.

3. Leave the glue to dry before carefully trimming away any overhang with a craft knife. Remember to cut away any paper that is covering the assembly slots.

4. Cover the other side of each panel in the same way, then glaze the completed collages with PVA.

5. Reassemble the desk tidy when dry, using a thick PVA to strengthen the joins.

 

The desk tidy is certainly motivating us to spring clean our desks, clearing away the clutter and storing all our  pretty stationary neat and organised. Never fear if you haven’t got any old magazines available, why not use wallpaper instead? We’ve hand-picked our top printed wallpapers that would work perfectly for this project…

WALLPAPER

Marchmont Linen Pearlescent Wallpaper / Lanterns Patterned Wallpaper / Floral Trellis Dove Grey Patterned Wallpaper / Aviary Garden Apple Green Wallpaper 

 

Like the sound of Homemaker magazine crafts? Don’t forget to subscribe! Why not treat yourself to three issues for only £6 by clicking here.

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February 10th 2014
Valentines Hero

VALENTINE’S RECIPE: Love Hearts with Rhubarb & Stem Ginger

Show your love with this delicious Meringue Girls Valentine’s recipe…

If a home cooked dinner is on the cards for Valentine’s Day, why not make things even sweeter with this utterly adorable recipe from The Meringue Girls? Re-create these delicious Meringue Love Hearts with Rhubarb and Stem Ginger for that very special someone this Valentines Day…

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Before you can get started constructing your hearts, you need to whip together our basic Meringue Girls Mixture. Our meringue to sugar ratio is very easy to remember – it is double the amount of sugar to egg whites. A medium egg white weights 30g – so use 60g of caster sugar. This is failproof mixture we use for both kisses, big meringues and pavlovas.

 

Ingredients

For the meringue:

- 150g egg whites (5 eggs)
- 300g caster sugar

 

For the whipped cream:

- 250ml double cream

- 1 ½ tbsp. icing sugar

 

To decorate:

- 2-3 stems of fresh rhubarb

- 2-3 balls of stem ginger

- A tbsp. of icing sugar

- A tbsp. of caster sugar

 

Method

 

1) Start by lining a large flat baking tray with baking paper.

2) Preheat oven to 200c. Line a deep roasting tray with baking paper, pour in caster sugar and put it in the oven for about 5 minutes until the edges are just beginning to caramelise. Heating the sugar helps to create a glossy, stable mixture.

3) Meanwhile, crack the egg whites into your Kitchen Aid bowl, or a non-plastic bowl. Make sure your bowl and whisk are free from grease. At first whisk slowly allowing small stabilising bubbles to form, then increase the speed until the egg whites form stiff peaks.

4) The sugar should be ready to take out of the oven at this point.

5) Turn your oven down to 100˚C.

6) While you whisk at full speed, slowly, big spoon by spoon, add the hot sugar to the meringue mixture.  Once you have added all of the sugar, continue to whisk on full speed for about 5-7 minutes. Feel a bit of the mixture between your fingers, if you can still feel the gritty sugar keep whisking at full speed until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is smooth, stiff and glossy.

7) Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 100˚C/gas ¼ , and line 2 baking sheets with baking paper. Fill a piping bag with your meringue mixture and cut a 20p-sized hole in the tip, then dollop the corners of the baking paper with some mixture and use like glue to keep the paper nice and secure on the baking sheet.

8) Start by piping a medium heart shape, and then fill in the middle with more meringue mixture. Build up the walls of the heart by piping around the edges two more times. For a smoother, more natural shape, use damp fingers to smooth the base and edges before baking. Continue to pipe the rest of the hearts.

9) Bake for 45 minutes or until the meringues lift off the baking paper with their bases intact. If the bases of the hearts are still gooey, turn off the oven and place them back in the oven to cool for another 15 minutes.

10) Once cooked, leave to cool. If you’re not quite ready to serve them, store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

11) When you are ready to serve, preheat your oven to 180c, then chop the rhubarb into small fingers, place in a small roasting tray and sprinkle with 1 tbsp of caster sugar. Bake for 6-8 minutes, or until the rhubarb pieces are soft but still holding their shape.

12) Chop the stem ginger into neat slithers, then whip the double cream with some icing sugar until it holds soft peaks.

 13) To finish then decorate your hearts with the pink rhubarb and fiery stem ginger.

 

The perfect way to win over your loved one’s sweet tooth! Let us know if you re-create this scrumptious recipe, we would love to see a snap on twitter @LauraAshleyUK.

If you fancy whipping up more Meringue Girls recipes check out their new book, jam-packed full of delicious creations.

February 6th 2014
facebook fans hero

THANK YOU – WE’VE REACHED 100,000 FANS ON FB!

A thank you to our facebook fans: £10 OFF WHEN YOU SPEND £75* ONLINE

We couldn’t quite believe our eyes when we reached 100,000 fans on Facebook. Wiping a huge smile across our social media team’s face goes without saying but first and foremost we’re just ecstatic that you are feeling the Laura Ashley facebook love! As a thank you we decided to spell it out in flowers, carefully selected fresh from Covent Garden Flower Market our visual team set about creating a giant 100k made up of blooms. To mark this mutual affection we’d also like to offer you £10 off when you spend £75* online with the code N575 until Friday 14th February…

*TERMS & CONDITIONS APPLY: £10 off when you spend £75 until 14th February 2014. Available online at www.lauraashley.com only with the code N575. £10 off when you spend £75 cannot be used in conjunction with any other discount. This offer is not redeemable instore. Not open to Laura Ashley employees. Excludes Guardsman, Design Service Fee, Delivery charges, Giftcards and licensing products.