Take a really long bubble bath
Camille Saint-Saens' The Carnival of the Animals, The Harry Potter Soundtracks (for a very magical bath), and this 'Coffee Table Jazz' playlist. You can also add in other options like candles, a good book, and a glass of wine for optimum destressing.
Make flavoured syrups
For this one you will need one cup of sugar & one cup of water. That's basically all syrup is. You can fancy it up by adding vanilla, lavender, cinnamon, cardamom pods, rosemary. Basically you can experiment with whatever you have in your cupboard. It's one part syrup to one part water, in a saucepan, heated and stirred until the sugar dissolves/the ingredients infuse flavour into it. You can use the syrup in coffee both hot & iced, but it's great in all sorts of things like on top of ice cream or pancakes, or in cocktails. Once it's cooled your can put it in a glass bottle or jar in the fridge and it keeps for up to one month. It also kinda feels like you're a domestic goddess but really you're just dissolving sugar in water.
Make a blanket fort
Paint your nails all fancy
I've posted here about how to make a dotting tool from an old cork and a pin but if you do have a spare pound or two, Poundland sell lots of nail art supplies that are great! I've gotten brushes, striping tape and gem/stud wheels from there before! They have some lovely glittery topcoats too. Once you have a mini collection built up from a bit here and there every month you can whip out your tools and have sparkly, dotty, colourful nails in no time.
Make bread & soup from scratch.
in this post. My favourite bread recipe is from Great British Bake Off: How To Bake. I am going to post it here for you now because I can't find it online & it's basically the only bread recipe I've found that doesn't put butter, oil or sugar in the bread, which are totally not necessary. I've placed it after a cut because it's kind of long! Happy Cheap Baking!
Makes 2 Medium Loaves
700g strong white bread flour
2 tsp crushed sea salt flakes (or 1 tsp of table salt would do the job if you're cheap like me)
1 x 7g sachet of fast action dried yeast
roughly 450 ml lukewarm water (NOT too hot, it should be around body temp)
- Put the flour & salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the sachet of yeast. Mix well, then make a well in the centre.
- Pour the lukewarm water into the well.
- Mix the flour into the water to make a soft but not sticky dough. If it feels kinda dry add a touch more water. Too sticky/sloppy? Add more flour.
- Turn out the dough onto a floured surface (when I make bread I have to keep re-flouring my surface. The book doesn't say this but I need to once it starts to stick to my hands/the worktop and it hasn't affected my bread in any negative way. ) Knead thoroughly for 10 minutes- the idea is to stretch out the gluten so you want to stretch & fold your dough so it gains elasticity and becomes silkier- you'll notice the difference. 10 mins feels like ages so put on some jazzy music and set a timer. You'll feel kinda zen afterwards.
- Return the ball of dough to the mixing bowl and cover with cling film. Leave to rise until doubled in size. It'll take 1-2 hours depending on the temperature of the room. DON'T let the dough rise & stick to the cling film. I speak from personal experience, sigh.
- Once your dough has grown in size, 'punch' it back down, ie, knock some of the air out of it. Knead it lightly on a floured surface for a couple of minutes to evenly distribute the gas bubbles, then divide your dough into 2 equal portions and form each one into a smooth ball.
- Dust some baking paper with flour and place your loaves on them (not too close together or they'll stick to one another as they grow)- dust them with flour on top & cover loosely with clingfilm. Leave until the loaves have doubled in size. Towards the end of the second rise preheat your oven to 230C and put two baking sheets/trays in the oven to warm up, PLUS a roasting tin at the very bottom of the oven.
- Once your loaves have doubled, uncover them, sprinkle with more flour (and some seeds if you're feeling fancy), slash the tops with a sharp knife (you can do a few slashes or a cross if you want it's up to you). Transfer them, on the paper, to the hot baking sheets/trays and put in the oven. Pour a cup of cold water into the hot roasting tin (this creates a burst of steam and helps the crust get nice and crisp). Bake for 15 mins then reduce the oven temp to 200C and bake for a further 15-20 mins until your loaves are golden brown (use your best judgement because sometimes I find this takes longer than the books says, sometimes even up to 40 mins). Leave to cool. Sometimes the crusts will crackle as they cool and this is THE BEST THING EVER.