About Nicole

Who am I? In short, I am a translator, wife and mother of two who has experience in cooking, DIY, gardening, bringing up kids (in no particular order), that's the one good thing about getting older. I am not a great spender, I don’t like waste and I am not keen on ready-made meals and restaurant food as my motto is: "I can do it better and cheaper". What can I do for you? Share with you the experience I have collected over the years so that you can turn it to your advantage. We all want to make our own mistakes but sometimes, it is nice to learn the easy way through others.

Wet room – How to find the right slope before tiling the shower floor

Before starting to tile the shower area of my wet room, I needed to know how much slope was required for the water to drain properly. So, I searched on the Internet and found that the right slope was between 1.5% and 3%. What????? What does that mean in practical terms??? As I had no idea, I had to work it out another way. My wet room is finished and I am pleased to say that my system works well. So, I would like to share it with you in the hope that you will find useful for your own project! Continue reading

Raw tomatoes, what to eat, how to cut the stem scar

Everything in a raw tomato can be eaten except maybe the stem scar which is a little tough and bitter.

Below is how to quickly remove the tomato stem scar:

cutting tomato close to tomatot stem scar to remove itremoving tomato stem scar by diagonal incision

My mum used to remove skin, seeds and the white inner flesh when she made tomato salads. Personally, I don’t think it is worth the hassle. Just cut them in half and serve in the plate like that.

How to prepare and cook a trout / whole fish

Ask your fishmonger to descale and gutter the fish. This will considerably reduce the amount of waste, save you a time and keep your wall clean (scales tend to fly around when I descale a fish…) but it will probably not be sufficient. Below is a picture of a fish cleaned by my local supermarket. The fish would not taste very nice if you cooked it in this condition.

view inside of shop-gutted trout

Before cleaning the fish some more, get some Continue reading

How to fix your squirrel-damaged peanut feeder

If a squirrel manages to open your bird feeder, try and fix it before running to the shop to buy a new one. I did that already but my squirrels did not take long before destroying my second one even though it looked so much stronger than the first one…

close up of a peanut feeder showing damaged wire caused by a squirrel

So, get a small length of Continue reading

Ways to re-use your glass jars

infusion bags inside jars with name sellotaped on glass

Place the content of each of your different infusions (green tea, peppermint, etc.) inside a glass jar. This will help your infusions stay fresh longer and also take less space in your cupboard.

Tip: to remember which is which, simply cut out the name from the infusion box and sellotape it on the side of the jar.

Wheat intolerance – Rice flour Crumble

You don’t need to make crumble with wheat flour. Having a friend who is wheat intolerant, I had to study the problem and I found that rice flour works just as well when making crumble. Use the same proportions: 1 part butter, 1 part sugar and 2 parts rice flour plus whatever par-cooked fruit such apple, rhubarb etc.


How to design and tile a shower floor in a wet room

That tiling task was not as bad as I thought it would be. First, I had many sleepless nights worrying about it and did a lot of planning.. I used a 120cm x 90cm shower former and 60cm x 30cm porcelain tiles. Please note, they are all multiple of 30 which I think helps when tiling the shower former.

1. Work out where to place your tiles to get the most pleasing end result, laying them on the floor as accurately as possible and making sure you would not end up with very small pieces of cut tile along the edge.IMG_3329 (1024x683) Below, you can see what Continue reading

Chocolate and caramel cheesecake

Follow this picture guide to make this easy and delicious chocolate and caramel cheesecake. Perfect for dinner parties as it is best prepared the day before. Serves 6-8.IMG_1725 (1024x683)

  • 200g digestive biscuits
  • 100g butter melted
  • 100g good quality dark chocolate (I use 70% cocoa Lindt chocolate)
  • 300g Philadelphia cheese
  • 100g granulated sugar (vanilla scented or add a couple of drops of vanilla essence)
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 200ml double cream (or 1/2 double cream, 1/2 yogurt)
  • 1 tin of Carnation caramel

Continue reading

Use cheap pears to make upside-down pie / tarte Tatin

IMG_3125 (1024x683)

If you see a packet of pears at reduced price at your supermarket, grab it! They are usually quite hard and tasteless (that’s why they are on sale) but they make the perfect ingredient for an easy-to-make delicious upside-down pie or, as we French people call it, tarte Tatin. In fact, Continue reading

How to grow a pine tree

I went to Italy last October and picked up 2 pine nuts that had found on the ground. I crushed the shell of one with a large stone and ate the nut inside and put the other one in my pocket. When I got home, I decided to try and grow a pine tree so I placed the whole shell in the freezer for a few days (one week maybe) to make the seed “believe” it was winter. Then, I took it out of the freezer and loosely wrapped the shell inside some very wet cotton wool, pouring water on it regularly to ensure it never dried. After a couple of weeks, the shell started to split.

cone pine 10-28

A couple of days later, Continue reading

Ways to reuse sliced bread plastic bags – fresher tea bags

reuse plastic bread bag 750g tea packet


Tea bags are cheaper to buy in large packs but they would take too much space in the food cupboard for day-to-day use. So, I fill a handy-size container with a few handful of tea bags and, to keep the remaining tea bags fresh, I place the pack inside an old sliced bread plastic bag sealed at the top. To give you an idea of sizes, you can fit a 750g pack of Yorshire Tea tea bags inside a Hovis bag.

Used fresh lemon slices to clean your sink

reuse lemon slices from drinks

Don’t throw out fresh lemon slices that were used in drinks or any left-over fresh lemon. Keep them in a separate glass by the sink and use them to wipe the sink and prevent any build-up of lime scale. They are antibacterial too!

Also use fresh lemon to Continue reading

Keep spare buttons safe

When buying new clothes, you will often get a small plastic bag fixed inside the garment containing spare button(s). Don’t just pull it out and store it in a drawer or throw it out. Take a needle and threat and sew the spare buttons to an inside hem, somewhere out of the way which is not going to be annoying on your skin. You don’t need to make it look neat because it is out of sight anyway. You never know, you might need that spare button one day!IMG_1250 (1024x683)