Tuesday, 30 October 2012

A whole new world

Howdy! I'm super excited to let you know that I will be hopefully moving house in approximately 3 weeks!
Pending credit checks, I will be moving in with my fiance into a lovely 2 bedroom house with garden, near to our workplace. What could be more exciting than that???
Well, for me, the fact that with only one more day of October I am tantalisingly close to 5000 page views for this month. Not every body's dream achievement but nonetheless, it's great for me!

Also, November is my birthday month. Suhweet! I didn't think I really needed anything but there are so many lovely things in the shops at this time of year......and I can only take a certain number of bits from the house I currently share with my ex so I made some random stuff like bath mats and cutlery!

So there you go. My life update for you in a few sentences. I'm currently watching GeorgeClarke's Amazing Spaces and I'm extremely tired and worn down at the moment so certain words may be spelt incorrectly (apparently mispelt is not a word) or make no sense. No apologies. X

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Sally Hansen Love Letter Nail stickers at Poundland

I bought some really great things today! I had decided a few weeks ago that I didn't really need any more things and certainly no clothes, but what can I say? It's my birthday in November and then it's Christmas and I just LOVE all the "stuff" in the shops at this time of year.

But anyway, I digress. I went to Poundland to get some insoles for my Primark studded boots (got some memory foam ones that seem to do the job) but ended up spotting some Sally Hansen nail foils/ stickers/ wraps.

I hunted through the pile on the shelf and nearly bought a blue, glittery set but then I found some "love letter" script ones at the back! I absolutely adore them.

Sally Hansen nail wraps at Poundland.
They aren't perfect but they were pretty east to apply. It probably took me about 15 minutes.

The Batiste "grafitti" wasn't from Poundland but they do sell the mini cans in there. I just fancied giving it a try.

You also get a small nail file and cuticle stick in the box and a couple of spare foils.

I would really recommend them and I think it's well worth a trip to your local, larger Poundland.
(I also saw a pack of Wedding cake slice boxes that I might have to invest in!)

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Oh winter!

Hello! I was going to write a post about Garnier Olia hair dye but after writing a few lines, I thought it was a little boring. And if I find it boring to write then you will probably find it boring to read! The hair dye was pretty good. That's all you really need to know.

So instead, I thought I'd tell you about all the things I love when winter comes around....

1) Starbucks seasonal flavoured lattes
Although this year I am a little disappointed by the flavours! I adored the toffee nut latte that they did for a few years. So far this year I have tried the salted caramel mocha which was not good. Really sickly and a bit bitter. I'm holding out my hopes that the pumpkin spice flavour is better. (And they've ditched my favourite skinny peach and raspberry muffin. Sort it out.)

2) Wearing scarves, hats and gloves
I have sooo many scarves that I can't realistically justify another one this year! But that doesn't stop my drooling over faux fur snoods. If I wasn't in my thirties, I would also get a hat with fluffy pom pom ears.....cute.


3) Roasting chestnuts
Mmmm. Nuff said.

Roast chestnuts

4) Curling up in a warm bed when it's raining outside
Preferably with a good book in my hands or Instagram and Pinterest on my phone!

(Image co Flipside Finds blog)

5) Buying a new winter coat
If I wasn't banned form buying yet more coats, I would buy myself a military style coat with medals attached and embossed gold buttons (and I'd bid for military badges on ebay to attach to it.) A girl can dream.

Kate Middleton in Mc Queen!

What makes winter happen for you?

Monday, 15 October 2012

Maison Martin Margiela for H and M

Let me start by saying that I'm not a huge fan of H and M's designer collaborations.....If I'm honest, I'm not a fan of H and M full stop. The Southampton branch (which is my local) is always over full and unshopable, and I find that the fabrics they use on most of their clothes look a bit cheap for my taste. I think you can get better clothing for a cheaper price at Primark.

For the fashion unaware amongst you, H and M's latest collaboration will be with the design house "Maison Martin Margiela" and will be in stores from November the 15th. They have released a few teaser images from the campaign - which are just completely bizarre.

Maison Martin Margiela H&M
Lady in sleeping bag gets attacked by pigeon.
Did she leave the coat hanger in her jacket before putting it on?!
 I just don't see how these clothes are going to be wearable? I fully understand that fashion doesn't always need to be wearable and I can appreciate it from an artistic point of view more than your average person.....but when you are putting clothing into a high street fashion chain, isn't the point to sell hundreds? I can only see die hard fashionistas (with little common sense) buying these expensive items! (Average cost: around £100 - £150 for a coat or dress.)

At least the menswear is classic and sensible!


I'd rather buy the men's camel coat than look like a tit in the womenswear pieces!!

What do you think? Have you bought anything from the past collaborations? And do these "designer" pieces hold their value as well as say, a £30 Marc Jacobs phone cover would?

Madness if you ask me.

(And whilst I'm having a rant, what's with Melanie Masson getting voted off the X Factor?!! She had the best voice and the best 70's hippie style clothing! I'm not watching anymore.)

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Making macaroons - tips and tricks and my favourite recipe!

Wow, where did my day go? I have spent the whole day making macaroons/ macarons. The first batch went horrendously wrong as I accidentally mixed in the wrong dry ingredients to the egg whites and killed the mixture. So I chucked them away and bought some more ingredients and hey presto. Good macaroons. Not perfect, but good enough!

Chocolate macaroons with a blue strawberry filling
Ok, ok. They have cracked tops and no "feet" but they taste good and they have flat bottoms. That's all I could hope for after this mornings disaster!

Here's what you do!

Gather ingredients:

You will need:
  1. 175g icing sugar
  2. 125g ground almonds
  3. 3 large free-range egg whites
  4. 75g caster sugar

For the filling:

  1. 150g butter, softened
  2. 75g icing sugar

Firstly, draw out your templates on grease proof paper using a milk carton top and a pen. Cut the paper to the size of your baking tray.

The template above actually has the circles too close together. They do need quite a large gap between circles as they spread when forming the skin.

Measure out all your ingredients; you will need them handy so that you can work quickly.
Sift the almonds and icing sugar into one bowl, have the caster sugar in a small bowl and the egg whites in a large bowl.

Caster sugar on the left, almonds and icing sugar on the right.
(You are supposed to mix the icing sugar and almonds in a food processor to get them really fine but I don't have one and I'm lazy. Also, my sugar was granulated as I couldn't afford to buy yet more ingredients! Neither of these things made a huge difference in my opinion!)

Whisk the egg whites until they are stiff and have increased substantially in volume. Gradually whisk in the caster sugar. The mixture should be glossy and smooth. If in doubt, keep whisking!

Now is the time to add any flavourings or colourings. I find the gel food colours keep their colour much better after baking than the liquid ones...

Next, gently fold in some of the almond/ icing sugar mixture. Gradually fold in all the dry mixture until no pockets of dry ingredients can be seen. Don't overdo it or you'll knock the air out of the mixture!

My blue mixture looked like this:

This was the mixture I messed up! It looks ok in the bowl but it didn't cook properly. In my second mixture, I used 40g of cocoa powder and only 135g of icing sugar so that the macaroons were chocolate flavoured! That batter looked much more dense and piped more easily.

A tip for piping bags:
Piping bags can be messy to fill. I open mine out over a pint glass so that the top is wide open and I don't have to hold it as I fill it!

My piping bag and nozzle set was from Sainsbury's £3
When the bag is full of batter, push down on the baking tray to pipe your mixture into circles. Mine needed four baking trays and then some! Ideally I think I would need five....this is not for the faint hearted or short of space!

Give them plenty of room!
Tap the tray on the work surface a few times to remove air bubbles and then leave them for about fifteen minutes to half an hour to form a slight skin. This sometimes seems to take ages....but you do need it in order to get a smooth top and "feet."

(Feet are the little ruffly, bubbly bits around the edge of the macaroon!)

Whilst they are getting their skin, this is a good time to quickly wash up and pre-heat the oven. I set mine to 150 degrees but my oven door doesn't close properly so they take about 20mins to cook properly. The recommended temperature is 160°C/fan140°C/gas 3 for about 12 mins. You'll just have to experiment with that, ok?

When you can press them gently on the top without breaking the shell, they're cooked. Immediately take the paper off the baking sheet and leave them to cool (on the paper) over a wire rack. Cook the other batches in the same way.

They should lift easily off the paper if they have been cooked long enough. There are loads of reasons why they can stick, be hollow, crack etc - there are many websites that will guide you with this. I'm not going to go into it as they do it so well!

My chocolate shells had good, flat bottoms. Hollow macaroons are not the end of the world although they need more filling to sandwich them together!

For the filling, I mixed the butter and icing sugar until smooth and soft and then added strawberry flavouring and blue colouring. You can also use Nutella or fruit curds as fillings.

Here they are in all their glory!

Some of my previous efforts have been better in some ways, some have been worse. Macaroons are tricky.

My gorgeous new cake stand came as a free gift with a new baking magazine for only £1.99. The rest of the series will have vintage china with it to collect and will be £7.99 I think, but as this is the first issue, it was cheaper.

Vintage tea party issue 1.
Another top tip is to leave your macaroons in the fridge overnight before eating them as it makes the butter or Nutella filling more solid and the fillings will have absorbed into the shells. They taste better this way, promise!

So, are you going to give macaroons a try? Or have I put you off?!!

Monday, 8 October 2012

Polka dots and studs

Warning: this post does not contain pictures of hot men. The aforementioned "studs" are of the spiky variety.
Well, now we've cleared that up, I thought I'd share with you my outfit of the other day. It's never going to be an "outfit of the day" - I'm just not that organised!
The weather was pretty darn good on Saturday so I decided to take some al fresco pictures in my garden. Unfortunately, the sun was in my eyes...blah blah blah....and the photos weren't great. But here are the best of a bad bunch!

Polka dot dress - Dorothy Perkins, Tights - Primark, Studded boots - Primark
Leather Jacket - Muubaa.
You might have noticed that my hair is a little bit darker. I used the Garnier Olia hair dye I bought in Boots - it worked really well and was easy to use. Highly recommended. If I ever find the Garnier Multi Lights kit (number 4) for sale then I'll put my highlights back in, but at the moment I can only find it on Ebay. Maybe next month...

We decided to make use of the good weather and headed for Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth. However, we got stuck in a huge traffic jam just outside Portsmouth centre and had to do a detour via a petrol station so I could go to the loo! I haven't been that desperate for the loo and stuck in a car since I was about five! Then, when we got to Gunwharf, there wasn't actually anything worth buying. Bit of a fail day out.

Yesterday, I dressed "like I was going horse riding" apparently and made macarons / macaroons at home. I had another fail when I realised the only piping bags I had in the house were made of grease proof paper. The nozzle and bag ended up separately in the mixture and I had to use a teaspoon to get the circles of batter onto the baking trays. They actually turned out really well considering!

I used some strawberry flavouring, some peach colouring and a nutella filling. I would not recommend making your own macaroons as it's actually quite manageable and highly addictive. They will lead to cravings.

Dressing like a jockey...polo shirt - Lacoste, coloured skinny jeans - Primark
boots - Oasis, glasses - Fcuk at Specsavers.
Strawberry and nutella macarons / macaroons
(Look! They have glossy tops and "feet." My go-to recipe is here )

And just in case you're not totally bored of my polka dot dress, here's how I styled it up to go out for the day!

Leather jacket - Gap, leather bag - boutique in Venice.
I had to include that photo because for some reason, photos taken in my mirror are much more flattering!

Coming up on the blog soon: easy Xmas diy's like homemade wreaths and handmade gifts.

Friday, 5 October 2012

A fun day out at Thorpe Park!

Guess where I went the other day?? The title kind of gives it away...

We got free tickets through "The Sun" newspaper and took a packed lunch so it was a pretty cheap day out! The weather was good which was a bonus...

A couple of the rides were closed but we got to go on the newest ride - The Swarm. It was awesome! We also spent a few pounds playing on the arcade machines - who doesn't love the 10p machines?!
We won our first ever "crane toy" - George from Peppa Pig. I had wanted one since we saw them at Alton Towers and after 6 goes we managed to get him to fall down the hole. More by luck than judgement and skill I think!

George and his dinosaur - Peppa Pig
All in all, an exciting day out. I did begrudge having to pay £4 for parking though. Sort it out!

I'm currently on a six day holiday so I've got lots of things to get on with - mainly sending out the Save The Dates that I made a few weeks back.

I've also been washing my kitten.....he wasn't overly impressed but he smells lush now! I got some pet shampoo from Tk Maxx for £4....

Thomas looking soggy!

So what have you got planned for the weekend?

P.s No kittens were harmed in the making of this post. He received lots of hugs and cuddles after his wash and got some extra food too. He even purred at one point...promise!