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How to keep warm this winter.

As the nights draw in and the days grow colder, it’s tempting to crank up the heater and toast your toes. But if you’d like to manage your electricity bill, we suggest trying these other ways to stay warm before you reach for that switch...

Get your home winter-ready

Design expert Carolyn Burns-McCrave shared some tips with us on how to make your home cosier this winter. She recommends incorporating textures that you can touch and see. For example, big chunky cable knit throws on the sofa, or new cushion covers in soft, luxurious fabrics like velvet. But perhaps the best way to make your home winter-ready is to break out your soft flannelette sheets, to make the winter nights that little bit warmer and cosier.

Dress for winter success

It’s pretty simple – before you put on the heater; put on a jumper. Fluffy socks or slippers are another winter essential, to keep your toes toasty. Treat yourself to a pair of merino wool slippers; or some Australian-made Ugg boots.

Don’t play draughts

Winter draughts can significantly lower the temperature in your home – and most homes have gaps around doors and windows where cold winds can slip through. Check out this handy guide to draught proofing from Sustainability Victoria. Invest in some draught excluders from your local hardware store, or make your own.

Invest in a hot water bottle

Before you turn on that electric blanket, reach for a hot water bottle instead. Once the domain of old ladies in rollers and flannelette nighties, hot water bottles are having a renaissance. With a wide range of stylish and practical designs on offer, your hot water bottle will warm you up, and look great in your bedroom.

Go for a walk or a workout

A brisk walk or workout will get your heart pumping and put ‘roses in your cheeks’. Just half an hour walking each day can increase cardiovascular fitness, strengthen bones, reduce excess body fat and boost your metabolism. Exercise scientists have found that you’ll feel warmer for as long as seven hours after a hard workout.   

Cuddle up

Sharing body heat is a survival strategy for people at risk of hypothermia, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try it on your sofa at home. Snuggling up to your significant other, your dog or even your housemate (if they’ll let you!) can stop you from feeling the chill this winter.

Have a warm drink

Try one of our winter spiced coffee recipes to warm you up on a frosty morning – spices like ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon have a wide range of health benefits, as well as helping you feel warmer. In the evening, indulge in a luxurious hot chocolate for a bit of added heat, you could add some chilli. Here’s a recipe to make your own chilli hot chocolate.

If all else fails

If you’ve tried everything and you’re still freezing, it may be time to pop your heater on. There‘s a wide range of energy efficient, highly effective heaters on the market today. If you choose one with a timer, you can set it to come on just before you get up in the morning, making it a little easier to get up.
If you find condensation is a problem in your home, we suggest either opening windows while you’re out during the day, or investing in a dehumidifier. Condensation can lead to mould that may irritate asthma and allergies.

De’Longhi Oil Heaters
De’Longhi Dehumidifiers

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118

School holiday activities the kids will love

As the school holidays loom, kids are tired, grumpy, and looking forward to a break. Parents, on the other hand, are racking their brains for ways to keep the little ones entertained for an entire two weeks. Outings and day trips are great fun, but can be hard on the wallet. So we've put together some suggestions for craft and cooking adventures you can enjoy with the kids – better still, you won't even have to leave the house!

HOLIDAY COOKING IDEAS

Kids love to roll up their sleeves and get into the kitchen, and despite the inevitable mess, they learn life skills that set them up for long-term health and wellbeing.

Make your own pizza
So simple, yet so delicious. Kids love getting involved with making the dough, choosing the toppings and decorating their own pizza. For the pizza base, you can follow these straightforward instructions from Jamie Oliver. As for the toppings – the choice is yours. The more traditional-minded will spread tomato sauce over the base, then add mozzarella cheese and ham. For the more adventurous, the world is your oyster. Raspberry and mascarpone pizza, anyone?

Pssst! If you own the De'Longhi MultiCuisine it's even easier to make a pizza that's evenly cooked - here's the recipe.

Note: Children should be supervised when cooking with the Multicuisine and any appliance.

Crazy chocolate cake
This cake has no eggs, milk, or butter and you don't need a mixer or even a bowl. Don't believe us? We're not pulling your leg, promise. Crazy cake stems from the time of the Great Depression, when fresh ingredients were in short supply.

To make your very own crazy cake, mix your dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, sugar and baking soda) in a cake tin, then make three depressions in the mixture. Fill one hole with vinegar, the second with vanilla and the third with vegetable oil. Pop it in the oven, and hey presto – a deliciously moist chocolate cake. This is a fun one to make with the kids and has the advantage of minimising mess.

For a fun alternative, try a chocolate mug cake, which can be made in less than five minutes. Keep the kids occupied decorating and eating them!

HOLIDAY CRAFT IDEAS

Kids love art and craft activities, and flexing their creative muscles is even more fun when they get to hang out with mum or dad at the same time.

Make your own play dough
It's easy to make play dough at home, and it costs a mere fraction of the store-bought variety. If you have some basic baking ingredients in your cupboard, including food colouring, you won't even have to make a trip to the store. The kids will love combining the food colouring to make every shade of the rainbow, and you can make enough to keep little fingers busy for hours. As an added bonus, this no-cook play dough recipe lasts six months in the fridge.

Make a crafty zoo
We think the key to a good craft activity is creating something the kids want to play with all afternoon (and that ideally won't have you cleaning up for hours). We love the idea of a miniature zoo, populated by cute animals the kids have made themselves.

You will need a few craft supplies for this one – K-Mart has a good selection, or you could pay a visit your local art supplies store. Try these animals for starters, we think they'd look great around the watering hole together.

For time-poor parents, we love Clever Patch – an Aussie website where you can choose from a wide range of crafty ideas, together with instructions and templates. Simply select your preferred craft activity, and click a button to add the necessary materials to your cart. Easy-peasy.

Are you trying any of these activities? Head over to our Facebook page and let us know.

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115

Five steps to perfect afternoon tea etiquette

As the Queen’s birthday approaches, we’ve been wondering how she might choose to celebrate. Of course we can’t know for sure – but our guess is that she’d choose tea and cake. Taking afternoon tea is, after all, a quintessentially British pastime.

If you’d like to enjoy a delicious afternoon tea in Her Majesty’s honour, you should be aware of the rules of etiquette that govern this very British tradition. To help you avoid any embarrassing blunders, we’ve put together this handy five-step guide.

Step 1. Know your tea. Afternoon tea, high tea or low tea?

The first thing to know is that afternoon tea is not high tea. Traditionally, high tea was an early evening meal for working people or servants, and was quite a substantial meal with bread, meat and ale. Afternoon tea is what most people mean when they say, ‘high tea’.

This dainty meal of finger sandwiches and tiny cakes is served with tea in porcelain cups. It was invented in the 1700s as a mid-afternoon meal to help aristocrats make it through to a late dinner, perhaps after the theatre or a card game. Afternoon tea was also called ‘low tea’, as it was eaten in the sitting room at a low table, rather than in the formal dining room.    

Step 2. Know what to do with your napkin.

Your napkin should be placed, unfolded, on your lap. Never tuck it into your collar – and never refer to it as a ‘serviette’! It’s also considered a faux pas to put your used napkin on the table before everyone has finished eating.


Step 3. Pass the tea test.

The tea itself is obviously an important part of any afternoon tea. And the way you take it is important too. Firstly, the milk always goes in last. Secondly, you should never stir in a circular motion, but always back and forth (without touching the sides of the cup). Thirdly, you should always use loose leaf tea – never tea bags. And finally – never, ever stick your little pinkie out as you take a sip!

Step 4. Get the order right.

Afternoon tea is traditionally served on a layered stand, and you should work from the bottom upwards. This means you’ll eat your sandwiches first, then scones and pastries or cakes come last. 

Step 5. All about scones. 

In high society, scone is pronounced to rhyme with ‘gone’, not ‘cone’. When eating your scones, it’s important that you don’t use your knife to cut the scone in half – instead, break it apart with your fingers. Surprisingly, whether you put the cream on first, or the jam, doesn’t matter; it’s entirely up to you.

So now you know how to take afternoon tea like a Downton Abbey doyenne, what’s next? Perhaps you could join the select few who are lucky enough to actually break bread with the Queen.

If you do receive an invitation from the palace, there’s a whole new world of etiquette you’ll need to master. For starters, don’t make the mistake of hugging the Queen, talking to the person on the wrong side of you; or toasting Her Majesty at the wrong moment. Cringe!

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114

Winter coffee recipes

Brrrrr! There’s a chill in the air, and at De’Longhi HQ our thoughts are turning to wintery walks and cosy firesides. There’s so much to love about crisp, cold winter mornings – especially after a scorching hot summer. But, when it’s dark and cold outside, it’s a wee bit harder to get out of bed in the morning. If you need a little extra motivation, why not try a spiced coffee to warm you up on those mornings when you just want to stay under the doona?

Most coffee shops have flavoured syrups in a variety of flavours, from gingerbread to cinnamon and nutmeg. Another option is to buy a syrup in your favourite flavour, and make your own at home. You could try Australian-made syrup from Alchemy, or the brand you see in most coffee shops – Monin.   

But, even better (in our humble opinion) is to make your spiced coffee from scratch. Fresh spices like ginger and cinnamon taste great and have a multitude of health benefits. We think the extra effort involved is completely worth it. Here are our favourite recipes for you to try:

Cinnamon Latte

Cinnamon contains antioxidants and has been shown to lower blood sugar levels. This recipe is incredibly simple – you probably already have the ingredients in your spice cupboard (make sure your cinnamon is no more than six months old, or it will lack flavour). We like the variation with cloves and cardamom pods as well as cinnamon – yum! If you prefer to keep your sugar intake to a minimum, you can reduce the amount of sugar by at least half.

Get the recipe

Gingerbread Latte

Ginger has been used to aid digestion for thousands of years. It also has anti-inflammatory qualities that can relieve swelling and pain (such as sore throats). This gingerbread latte recipe is one of the healthier ones we’ve come across, as it uses less sugar than many others – instead, it uses molasses as a sweetener.
Molasses is a dark syrup which can be found in most grocery stores. Unlike sugar, molasses contains vitamins and minerals.  
   
Get the recipe

Pumpkin Spice Latte

The pumpkin spice latte is a very American invention, which means that if you want to make one at home in Australia, you’ll have to be committed to going the extra mile. Firstly, the recipe calls for pumpkin pie spice, which you probably won’t find in your local grocery. But, fear not, as it’s very easy to make with a few store-cupboard ingredients. Here’s a simple pumpkin pie spice recipe. Canned pumpkin puree is another ingredient that’s difficult to find in Australia. We suggest making a batch of puree pumpkin and freezing it, so you have it readily on hand. Once you’ve got your ingredients ready, the recipe is quite simple, and very delicious.

Get the recipe

Masala Spiced Coffee

Masala coffee is a great alternative to the more familiar Chai spiced tea. This simple recipe contains cinnamon and cardamom. Cardamom is a good source of minerals, and it’s thought to help control heart rate and blood pressure. What’s more, it tastes delicious!

Get the recipe

We hope you have fun making these delicious winter-spiced coffees. Head to our Facebook page to share your favourite winter coffee recipe.   

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111

Coffee Alchemy: using natural sugars in your coffee

As we’ve described in our other Coffee Alchemy articles on the grind of your beans and the water you use in your coffee, your perfect cup shouldn’t be bitter but even the perfect cup isn’t exactly sweet. Those with a sweet tooth may enjoy a mocha or they may simply add a teaspoon of white sugar. In either case, these aren’t the only ways to satisfy your sweet tooth. Take a look through our list of alternative sweeteners.

Agave Nectar

Agave (pronounced uh-gah-vay) is a natural sweetener that comes from a succulent plant in Southern Mexico. Agave is popular due to its pleasant taste and low glucose levels.

The taste: Agave will give your coffee a slightly caramel taste, as well as some slight bitterness compared with sugar. Being a syrup, it needs some stirring to get it to disperse.

The verdict: Switching to agave instead of sugar probably isn’t going to make your daily coffee healthier. However, it does add sweetness without overwhelming flavour.

Raw Honey

Raw honey is not pasteurised or chemically refined, unlike commercial honey. This means it retains propolis, bee pollen and bee wax. For this reason, it’s thought that eating locally-produced raw honey could help those who suffer from allergies to air-borne pollen.

Raw honey also contains antibacterial agents and contains a wide range of vitamins and minerals.

The taste: Raw honey has a strong taste that can be very noticeable in your coffee.

The verdict: Honey, raw or otherwise, is very high in sugar. Since honey tastes sweeter than table sugar and is quite a strong flavour, you may find you need to use less in your coffee, which could reduce your overall sugar intake.

Stevia

Stevia is enjoying a surge of popularity, as a plant-based, calorie-free sweetener that has no effect on blood sugar levels. Stevia comes from a native South American herb, and it’s 100 to 200 times sweeter than sugar.

Stevia is available from organic websites and stores in a green powder, which is less processed than the white stevia you can buy in the supermarket. It’s also available in a dropper if you’re feeling adventurous.

The taste: Stevia is certainly sweet, but it does have a bitter aftertaste that you may dislike.

The verdict: If you’ve been using artificial sweeteners in your coffee until now, give stevia a try. Although it does have an after taste, using it in moderation can still help take the edge off your coffee.

Rapadura Sugar

Rapadura is a brown sugar that comes from sugar cane, just like your typical table sugar. However, it’s much less processed, making it slightly richer in nutrients and relatively high in iron. It can be used exactly like white sugar, making it easy to know how much to use.

The taste: Rapadura has a rich caramel flavour that’s quite pleasant in coffee.

The verdict: Rapadura has a slightly better nutritional profile than white sugar, but it’s still sugar and should therefore be used in moderation.

Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar is made by collecting sap from the flower buds of a coconut tree. The sap is boiled until it thickens and crystallises into sugar.

According to Sarah Wilson of I Quit Sugar, coconut sugar has some advantages. It is the most nutritious of sugars; it’s sustainably produced; and it has a low glycaemic index. However, she points out that it is still high in fructose (the part of sugar thought to be responsible for most negative health effects) - and therefore best avoided.

The taste: Like rapadura, coconut sugar has a pleasant caramel flavour, which is light and tasty in coffee.

The verdict: Coconut sugar tastes good and is slightly better for you than white sugar, but it's high in fructose.

Rice Malt Syrup

Rice Malt Syrup is produced by fermenting brown rice with enzymes that break down the starches, creating a thick, sugary syrup. Rice Malt Syrup contains maltotriose, maltose and glucose – but not fructose. This means it finds favour with David Gillespie, author of Sweet Poison and Big Fat Lies; and Sarah Wilson of I Quit Sugar, who both condemn fructose as the cause of sugar’s negative effects on the body.

Rice Malt Syrup is a pleasant-tasting, sweet syrup which is relatively light in comparison to golden syrup.

The taste: You’ll definitely notice the difference if you substitute Rice Malt Syrup for sugar in your coffee. The taste is quite pleasant, but being a syrup it tends to sink to the bottom.

The verdict: Rice Malt Syrup performs well both in taste and in health benefits compared with table sugar.

We hope you enjoyed reading our roundup of sugar alternatives for your coffee. We certainly enjoyed researching it! Why not head to our Facebook page and let us know your favourite sugar substitute for coffee?

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