A splash of sunshine on a dull afternoon

The weather just lately has been so dreary, dull and grey – it seems to start getting dark at about 2 pm.  Though we are all very happy and excited here (awaiting our new family member!), this afternoon I definitely felt the need to add a little colour to my day.  So I decided to make my (rather delicious although I say so myself) chocolate orange shortbreads, and the afternoon was soon looking a lot brighter as I grated orange zest into my mixture – it felt as though a splash of sunshine had entered my kitchen.  And the smell was wonderful ….


Soon it was time to roll out the dough.  I have cookie cutters of all shapes and sizes but somehow I am always drawn to return to my old and much beloved family set …


No messing around with the smaller sizes here – straight to the second to largest.  After all, these shortbreads must be good for you – all that orange goodness means plenty of vitamin C!  I was being closely supervised of course ….


“Mum …. Mum!  You really should give some to me! Look, I am so sad and hungry!”

Hmmm ….. Nice try Miss Daisy, but I am wise to you.  I know exactly who stole Ben’s chew and hid it under the cushions.  You are not sad and hungry at all!

The shortbreads need to be chilled for 30 minutes or so before baking for around 15 mins.  When they’re cool, I simply smother their tops in melted chocolate.  Then rather than instantly scoff these two, I took their picture first …


I’m definitely not the world’s best food stylist – I think I might have been a little anxious to skip the photography and start the eating haha!!

If you’d like to try your own, then here’s the recipe …

  • 340 g butter
  • 125 g sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • zest of two large oranges
  • 450 g plain flour

Beat the butter and sugar together until combined, then stir in the vanilla extract and orange zest.  Add the flour then mix until the dough begins to come together.  Roll out to 1 cm thick on a clean lightly floured surface. Cut out your biscuit shapes and place on lightly greased baking trays.  Chill for 20 minutes before baking at 180 degrees C for 12 -15 mins.  You’ll know they’re done when the edges begin to brown.  Cool on the trays for 10 minutes or so, then transfer to wire racks.  When cool brush with melted chocolate.

And after enjoying my cookies with a nice cup of tea it was back to sewing for me.  Very appropriately I was working on the next project for the December issue of the magazine – a food mixer cover ….


Freestyle machine applique combined with some easy hand stitching – it would make the perfect gift for a keen baker – or to keep for yourself of course!


Thanks Diana, yes she’s doing very well indeed. She’s down to only 5 tablets each day (but they are the expensive ones of course) and is much more like her old self again! xx

Glenna Denman

I am feeling as sad and hungry as Daisy looks, wanting some of your shortbread. They look as delicious as they sound. I must try the recipe!


They are really easy Glenna, and nice and light and refreshing too (and I’m sure the vitamin C in the oranges makes up for the thick layer of chocolate haha!!). And don’t be fooled by Daisy’s sad face – she can put it on in an instant if she thinks it will get her what she wants xx


Hi Helen,
I am in love with your little site, projects, and your sweet soothing voice!
I love all things UK and look forward to visiting your beautiful country one day.
The first project I made from a pattern of yours were the Birds on a Wire. I loved how they sewed up so quickly and I told my husband that other than our children, these are the cutest things I have ever created! I love them!
You are so creative and I look forward to making up more of your patterns in the future. Have a Happy Day!

Missouri, USA


Aw, that’s so kind of you Linda, I’m delighted you’re enjoying Bustle & Sew – thanks so much for letting me know. xx


And I forgot to tell you that your dog..Miss Daisy?.. looks like she is one ornery pup! I bet she gives you a time doesn’t she-so cute though and such sweet puppy eyes…


Yes, she got very spoiled when she was so ill – now she thinks she’s a puppy princess! xx


Well, Helen, it is definitely time for me to tell you how much I look forward to checking my email on Sunday….because your newsletter is always there to inspire me! I enjoy every aspect…your creativity, the Newfies, news of your family….even your recent move. It is like hearing from a dear friend who lives far, far away, and then I have to retreat to my sewing room, and try something you have shown me. Please, never stop.


Aw, thanks so much Carol, that’s really lovely of you. It has been a privilege for me to have “met” so many lovely people through Bustle & Sew, and that’s one of the reasons I enjoy it so much xx


These shortbread cookies are perfect for my tea parties! Now to convert them to US measurements!

I’m excited to try some of your animal projects with my 2nd and 4th grade great nieces. The 4th grader quilts.
Betsy from Napa


Thanks Betsy – there’s a conversion chart in every issue of the Bustle & Sew Magazine if you’re a subscriber. xx


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