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Friday, 30 May 2014

birthday wishlist

It's my birthday on Tuesday, so I figured I'd put together a wishlist of all the things I've been lusting over of late.  The boy's actually really good at buying birthday presents, but just in case he's stuck this year...this might give him a last minute opportunity to buy a couple of extras.

1 & 4.  Can I just take a moment to applaud Boohoo and say a big 'well done' on their festival range,  I recommend you head over there right now to check it out.  When the email landed in my inbox promoting the new range, this white dress immediately jumped out at me...absolute festival perfection.  I whittled it down to these two items as my favourites, but the reality is that there's a much more substantial list that I really want to add to basket.

2.  I first spotted these shoes on Sarah's instagram feed, although in the coral shade, imagine how excited I was to discover they're also available in yellow.  I've always been a big yellow fan, but I'm loving that fact it's all over the high street at the moment.

3.  I've got my eye on this dress for a wedding I have coming up in August, teaming it with white heels and a clutch, I'm envisaging Cannes-chique.  I've made that 'phrase' up but I don't care, I'm going with it.

5. Always have been, and always will be a Dahlia fan, you only have to do a search on this blog to know that for sure.  However, no longer working round the corner from their Carnaby Street boutique store means  I'm not quite so up to date with their latest ranges, ok that's a lie, I follow them on Twitter, Instagram and I'm signed up to their email newsletters, but you know..it's not the same as sticking your head in the shop.  I digress, a co-ord set in blue floral print? The co-ord of dreams.

6.  Oh Boden, why do you tempt me so with your beautiful catalogue.  Unfortunately this parka is going to have to stay on the wishlist, but if this bad boy ever hits the sales I'll be the first to head over there.  I love how quite a masculine styled jacket can be made to look super cute and feminine in that soft blue shade, and the addition of a polka dot.

7.  My ever increasing collection of Converse just needs this leather pair to be added.  I'm currently awaiting delivery of this pair (mint green? Yes please) but this leather pair will be perfect for English rainy days, it's acceptable to get two pairs in one week, right?  

Turning 29 isn't something I'd usually be excited about, but I figured I have to make the most of it before hitting the big 3-0 next year.

Plus, I'm spending my birthday in Seahouses with all my family to celebrate my parents Ruby Wedding Anniversary, 40 years?! I can't even comprehend how long that is!

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

pink hair don't care


I don't know why it has taken me so long to get on the 'hair chalk' bandwagon, as soon as they came out I knew it would be something I'd love, and a mere 6, 7, 12 (who knows?) months later I've finally given them a go.  And I was right, it's love...I'm hooked.

I've often toyed with dying my hair pink.  It's not a colour in any other sense that I'm a big fan of, I never wear it, in fact I often go out my way to avoid it, as I don't want to come across too girly, with blonde hair and blue eyes, I just envisage the 6 year old me having never grown up.  But pink hair? That is something different altogether, in my head it sums up images of rock chicks, chilled out hippies, and ultimately someone much cooler than me!

In fact when pink ombre was doing the rounds in the ol' blogosphere, I seriously contemplated it...check out this post.  And yet it never happened, and look I really am behind the times, that was over a year and a half a go.

But anyway, I digress, I'm only 2 years behind the times, which in effect almost makes me cool, yeah? I decided to take the plunge and give The Body Shop's Hair Chalk a go, Sally kindly gave me some tips on how best to apply it...I ignored her, and was left with pink hands for the rest of the day, but hey, whose looking at your hands with hair that looks like this?  

And do you know what? I'm loving it SO much, I'm considering the real dye job. 
In other news, have you noticed the smokey eye make up I'm sporting in this pictures? So it would seem the battle I've been having with watery eyes for the last few years is all down to my beloved Estee Lauder Double Wear foundation.  After a colleague suggested that might be the cause, I tweeted about it and was surprised to hear I'm not the only one.  Estee Lauder have asked me to drop them an email, and I'm just waiting to hear back from their customer care team.

If any of you have been suffering with the same problem, I'd love to hear from you, as I'm sure Estee Lauder would like to know if their products are causing problems.  I'm still a HUGE Double Wear fan, and I'll continue to use it, it just means I'll be avoiding using it around the eye area...which is kind of a pain, but a pain I'm willing to put up with.

Friday, 23 May 2014

vintage chocolate chip cookies

This week's bake off was chocolate chip cookies, super simple and pretty damn delicious. My only comment on making these even better if I was to make them again? Don't squash them before they go in the oven. I don't know why I always feel the need to press my mixture with a fork when making cookies, but it's an impulse I really need to get out of...the recipe didn't even tell me too. It meant this biccies were a little crisp around the edges, and they would have been much nicer super squidgy, and warm when still fresh out the oven.
If you want to find the original recipe, you can see it here, but I'm reproducing it exactly the same below:

Ingredients
150g salted butter, softened
80g light brown muscovado sugar
80g granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
225g plain flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
¼ tsp salt
200g plain chocolate chips or chunks


Method

1. Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Line two baking trays with non-stick baking paper.

2. Put the butter and sugars into a bowl and beat until creamy. Beat in the vanilla extract and egg. Sieve the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt over the mixture and mix in with a wooden spoon. Add the chocolate chips and stir well.



















































































































3. Using a teaspoon, place small mounds of the mixture well apart on the baking trays. Bake in the oven for 8–10 mins until light brown on the edges and still slightly soft in the centre.





































































4. Leave on the tray for a couple of minutes to firm up and then transfer to a cooling rack.


Happy Baking peeps...and if you do decide to give any of the recipes a go that you've seen on my blog, I'd love it if you dropped me a comment below, or a tweet...would make my day it would!


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Tuesday, 20 May 2014

sunshine, burgers and animals


























It was the boy's birthday on Saturday, and as he gets older he seems to get more and more disinterested in celebrating.  I can't quite get my head round this, any excuse for cake and presents is worth celebrating in my eyes.  Anyway, I decided I'd treat him to a jolly jaunt to help him realise that getting older isn't all that bad...and hopefully he'll return the favour in three weeks when it's my big day!

We started the day with presents and a special birthday breakfast baked by me.  Spanish style eggs with chorizo...but more of those at a later date, they're were so good (even if I do say so myself), that I'm going to dedicate a blog post to them.

We then hoped in the car and headed to Keswick, if you don't know it, it's a beautiful market town in the Lake District.  The sun was shining, and the tourists were out in their hoards.  A leisurely wander round the street, and a bargain picnic blanket purchased, we headed to the lake.  As you can see we took one terrible photo, with the camera balanced on a rock, and facing directly into the sunshine, does not a good photo make.
Next stop was The Filling Station Cafe.  I heard some rave reviews about this place (including the very lovely Jo's) and had wanted to go for a while.  I figure the best way to get to go the places I want to is to disguise them as a treat for the boy, but as soon as I mentioned milkshakes, burgers and pancakes he didn't look too disappointed.






















This retro style cafe is just off the A66 and so biker friendly, expect to see a big row of motorbikes as you pull up.  Having heard that both the burgers and pancakes were amazing, we opted to share a burger and nachos with good intentions of a second course of pancakes.  Perhaps choosing a milkshake on the side wasn't the wisest idea as it meant once we'd cleared our plates, there definitely wasn't room for pancakes.  

But I'm putting the chilli nachos up there as one of the best nachos I've ever had, and the burger wasn't far behind.  And what's even better?! The boy has since suggested we go back this weekend to give the pancakes a go...result.

We then hoped back in the car and started heading to Bassenthwaite with plans to find a nice, gentle walk to burn off some of those fries (who am I kidding), but instead got distracted by the Lake District Wildlife Park, which was much more fun...plus we got to see some animals I never even knew existed.  We must have looked like a couple of big kids, as the only adults there without children, but hey, life's too short to not enjoy a good zoo!





























We ended the day with (one too many) drinks with friends, and a hefty portion of homemade Guiness Cake...again, blog post to come at a later date because darn is this cake good!

Friday, 16 May 2014

mint chocolate cupcakes

These cupcakes were a bit of an experiment.  The original recipe was one of good ol' Nigella's, but thanks to a poorly stocked local shop, I had to make do without the peppermint essence and I substituted it for mint chocolate, it worked...in a fashion.

If you want the official recipe, then you can find it here, but if you want to give mine a go, then read on!

Ingredients

CUPCAKES
225g self-raising flour
4 tbsps cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
225g caster sugar
225g unsalted butter
4 eggs
2 packets of After Eights
70g plain chocolate
A packet of Aero Bubbles

ICING
115g unsalted butter
225g icing sugar
Chocolate to decorate
As you can see...these cupcakes are super healthy!

Method
1. Preheat over to 160C.  Place 18 paper cases into muffin tins.

2. In a bowl sieve flour, baking powder and cocoa.

3. Beat butter and sugar together in another bowl.  Add eggs one at a time and beat together.  Add flour mixture gradually.

4. Melt plain chocolate, approx. 4 After Eights and 4 Aero bubbles (I just guessed these numbers).

5.  Spoon half the mixture into cases and add an after eight into the centre.
 6.  Then add the remaining mixture.  Bake for 25 minutes.
7.  To make the icing, beat icing sugar and butter in a bowl, and add just enough food colouring to make the icing mint green.

8.  Ice the cooled cupcakes and decorate with your choice of chocolate.  (I added Aero bubbles as I'd bought a packet for the mixture).

So, I added the After Eights to the centre of the cupcake, hoping that when you bit into it, you'd have a delicious, gooey minty centre.  That didn't go quite to plan, the chocolates remained whole and went kind of chewy.  I wasn't too convinced, but everyone I gave them too said they liked the chewy centre.
What I can say though, is the actual cupcake texture was perfect, probably the best cupcakes I've made, so now I really want to give them another go..without the after eight surprise in the middle.

Do you think you'll be giving these a go? If you do, please let me know how they go, and what you think of the chewy centre.
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