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Thursday, 24 December 2015

Twelve Days of Christmas - Christmas Eve

christmas eve
{Our treats for guests tomorrow}

It's Christmas Eve! 

For the first time in I'm not sure how many years we made it home early from delivering gifts to everyone and I can't tell you how happy it's made me! We've managed to prep some bits for Christmas dinner and all the gifts are wrapped and under the tree.

Before we go and enjoy the rest of our night I just wanted to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and I hope you all have a wonderful day tomorrow! I'm signing off for a few days to enjoy everything that there is to enjoy but I'm sure I won't be able to resist Twitter or Instagram so feel free to follow me here or here.

Now, I'm off to eat chinese food and later maybe some snowman cookies and gingerbread tea.

Only One More Sleep To Go!
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Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Twelve Days of Christmas - Cookie Mix Jar

cookie mix in jar

If you're still in need of last minute gift ideas, then these cookies jars are perfect to give to friends and family. We made them for the first time a few years ago to give out with hampers and they were a huge hit...the cookies are pretty tasty too. 

Most of these ingredients can be found in your cupboard, especially around this time of year, and the additions to the cookies of chocolate and pecans can be changed to what ever you like. Perfect for last minute presents.

cookie mix in jar
cookie mix in jar
cookie mix in jar

You need:
An airtight glass jar
Plain gift tag (for instructions)
180g of plain flour
60g of caster sugar
100g of packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
80g of nuts or chocolate chips

-To make your cookie mix jars, weigh out all of your ingredients into separate dishes.

-Start to spoon different ingredients in to your jar, each time adding enough to make a layer of it. I find it a good idea to press them down with the back of the spoon to help make them level. Keep going until you've added all the ingredients.

When you've finished your layers all you have to do now is decorate your jar. I like to use the brown paper luggage tags to write a little message, also as they are big enough to write some instructions on the back for how to make the cookies. I finished off this jar with some raffia bows - I think it looks lovely with the brown paper tags - very rustic. It also matches our wrapping this year which pleases me greatly.

The instructions for the cookies are very simple:

-Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

-Add one egg and 100g of soft butter, and mix with your hands until it all comes together -it will be a very thick dough.

-Make golf ball sized balls of dough and put them on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. (If you make them this size you'll get around 10 cookies.

-Bake for 10-13 minutes until they are golden brown then take them out and leave them to cool on the tray.

Even if you aren't in need of last minute Christmas gifts, I'd still recommend giving these cookies ago, they're great with a cup of tea.

cookie mix in jar
cookie mix in jar
cookie mix in jar
cookie mix in jar

Two Sleeps To Go!


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Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Twelve Days of Christmas - Christmas Day Make-Up

christmas make up
christmas make up

I think there are two kinds of people when it comes to getting ready on Christmas day. There are those people who stay in their pyjamas all day, then there are those who get dressed in something pretty and do their makeup a little fancier than normal. I think I fall somewhere in the middle of that. 

I love taking a little longer to get ready on Christmas morning, it's so relaxed with no need to rush and I always like to spent that bit longer with my make-up. It's also the only day where I know I'm not leaving the house that I'll apply false lashes.

While I may start the day off in a pretty dress with well done make up, by the end I'm sure I'll end up with a messy top-knot, back in my pyjamas, stretched out on the sofa. What other way is there really to end Christmas day? 

I've already decided on a few products I'd like to use come the 25th, and as I'm really rather pleased with my picks I thought I'd round them all up here.

christmas make up

For Base - I don't always use a primer, but for a day of cooking with a lot of time spent beside an oven I thought it'd be a good idea. Also this one is lovely and light and wont leave your skin feeling heavy before you've applied anything else.

For Face - I'll be using my very much loved and possible favourite foundation which I'm sure I've mentioned a hundred times before, Revlon Colourstay. It gives me great coverage and lasts for most of the day and night - though I've never timed it to be honest. 

For Blush - I've no idea what this blush is called but it came in a glossy box a couple of years ago. It's a beautiful matte plumy pink -perfect for winter time I think.

For Highlight - I'll be using the Clinique Chubby Stick, it gives the most beautiful glow to the cheek bones without large amounts of glitter.

For Eyes - I new as soon as I got the Gwen Stefani palette that I'd use it most days and the glittery, sparkly shadows in the palette will be lovely for Christmas day make up. The selection of shades allows you to create anything from neutral to dramatic looks. Even though I'll be using mascara, this time in the form of Urban Decays Perversion (which is amazing), I still want to add some lashes and this set from Fleur De Force for Eylure are fast becoming my favourites.

For Lips - While I have to admit that the lipstick probably wont last long, I thought I'd start the day with some and this Clinique lipstick in Nude Pop is one of those your-lips-but-better-shades. And seeing as my eyes may have a little more drama than normal, I wanted to stay quite neutral on the lips -for as long as it lasts anyway. 

Are you a relaxed Christmas Day person, or a dressed up Christmas Day person?

Three Sleeps To Go!
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Monday, 21 December 2015

Twelve Days of Christmas - New Pyjamas

new christmas pyjamas
new christmas pyjamas
new christmas pyjamas

It's a simple little thing, but each December I like to get new pyjamas for Christmas. When we were little, every Christmas Eve my mum would let my little brother and I open one present each before bed. It was always new pyjamas, and I still remember how exciting it used to be! We'd open them, get ready for bed, have hot milk or hot chocolate and try so hard to get to sleep because Santa wouldn't come until we had.

While I'm now old enough to know that Santa doesn't actually deliver our presents, and even though we stopped that Christmas Eve tradition as we got older and moved out -I still love having new pyjamas for this time. It still feels special somehow, even if they are now for the month of December and not just Christmas Eve.

Like last year, my new pyjamas for this Christmas are from Next. They do some of the best pj's I've tried, and their Christmas range gets better every year -I have to be restrained!

This year I wouldn't say what I went for was particularly festive, so you wouldn't feel silly wearing it in March -but it is exactly what I was looking for. You can buy this in either a shirt and trousers set, or like I have, the nightshirt. The material is so soft you'll never want to take it off, and as it's not tight or restrictive so you feel incredibly comfortable.

My teddy bear slipper socks pictured are from Primark and they keep your feet warm and cosy. You can still pick them up in stores for only £5, they'd also make a great stocking filler.

new christmas pyjamas


Four Sleeps To Go!
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Sunday, 20 December 2015

Twelve Days of Christmas - Snowball Cupcakes

snowball cupcakes
snowball cupcakes
snowball cupcakes

I love that this time of year allows me so many excuses to bake! -not that I need much persuading for the rest of the year.

These cupcakes are something I've been wanting to make for months now after falling back in love with Raffaello's, the white chocolate cousin of Ferrero Rocher -and in my opinion...the better ones. I thought of making these way back in summer, but they felt much more suited to winter, so I've been waiting patiently impatiently to make them for this series. The only thing that could make them better is if it were actually snowing outside, but sadly no -there's just more rain.

snowball cupcakes
snowball cupcakes

Ingredients: (for 12 cupcakes)
120g of Stork
200g of caster sugar
2 eggs -beaten
1 teaspoon of vanilla
100ml of milk
80g of plain flour
95g of self raising flour
12 Raffaello

Ingredients: (for chocolate cream)
200g of Stork
200g of white chocolate -melted
200g of icing sugar

snowball cupcakes
snowball cupcakes

-Pre-heat your oven to 170°C and line your cupcake or muffin tin with cases.

-In a large mixing bowl add your stork and caster sugar. With an electric mixer (or stand mixer), beat these together until they're smooth and creamy -around 3-4 minutes.

-Pour in your beaten eggs and vanilla extract then mix for 2-3 minutes more. Then add in your milk and continue mixing until it's combined. It can sometimes curdle (usually due to something being too cold) at this point but don't worry, the flour fixes everything if this happens.

-Add in your flour, about half at a time and with your mixer on slow, beat until everything has just come together and you're left with a lovely smooth batter.

-Add one spoonful of batter into the bottom of each of your cases and place a Raffaello sweet in the middle. When you've added your secret sweet to each of your cases, pour a second spoonful of batter on top to cover them. Distribute any remaining batter you may have left evenly between your cases - they should be about 3/4 full.

-Bake in your pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes. I usually find somewhere around 23 to be perfect.

-When your cakes are ready, take them out and leave them to cool completely before you ice them.

snowball cupcakes
snowball cupcakes

For the Icing:

-In a large bowl, add your Stork and icing sugar and mix together until smooth.

-Melt your white chocolate, I find it easiest to give it short blasts in the microwave. Around 10 seconds at a time so it doesn't burn.

-Allow your chocolate to cool down, but not so cold it starts to set again. When cooled, add this into your Stork and sugar and mix together until smooth.

To ice the cupcakes I used a piping bag without a nozzle. You can be a fancy as you like with it, but I was going for something very simple and rounded, kind of snowball like. I also cut out some snowflakes to add on top, in various sizes. You can pick these cutters up on eBay or Amazon for very little, I'm sure my set cost around £1.50.

snowball cupcakes
snowball cupcakes


Five Sleeps To Go!
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Saturday, 19 December 2015

Twelve Days of Christmas - Favourite Christmas Films

favourite christmas films
favourite christmas films

Is there anyone out there that doesn't enjoy a good Christmas film, surely not?

I have to be honest with you all, I do start watching Christmas films pretty early -I'm talking before Halloween. But that should come as no real shock to you by now. This year we've already made our way through a good selection of the Christmas films we own and we've had many a discussion on which are the best and why. I can never narrow mine down to one all time favourite, so I thought I'd share the ones we own and love, and that we watch each year.

One thing that has become a small but wonderful tradition of ours that I couldn't be without now, is The Muppets Christmas Carol. Every Christmas Eve, when we're home from playing Santa and delivering hampers and presents, we eat chinese food and watch the muppets. The songs in that film are some of my favourite.

It's one of the best things about this time of year, and one of the best ways to make sure you're in the Christmas spirit. So, in no particular order, here are some of my favourite...

Elf
The Muppet Christmas Carol
Miracle on 34th Street
Love Actually
Arthur Christmas
Home Alone
Home Alone 2
Christmas with the Kranks
Scrooged
The Santa Clause
The Santa Clause 2
The Grinch

Have I missed any of your favourites?

Six Sleeps To Go!
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Friday, 18 December 2015

Made Me Happy This Week

made me happy this week

I'm going to say something right now that even as I type it, doesn't seem as if it can be true - "this time next week it'll be Christmas night"! Containing my excitement is getting harder and harder but I guess we're at that time now when I don't really have to! Because next Friday is Christmas day there won't be a post going up...I hope you don't mind, I'll be back with one of these on the 1st of January. Presumably when I'm sick of leftovers and cheese.

1. Gingerbread lattes from The Bluebird Tea co. are my new love in life! They are warm and tasty and I'm going to be left a little devastated if they are a Christmas only thing.

2. First Dates. I'm such a romantic, I love to see people find their other half -it genuinely warms my heart. This week however was even better, there was a proposal and she said yes! *all the feels

3. Coffee dates with my mum and grandma. It was an impromptu outing this afternoon but it was full of Christmas music and coffee

4. Picking up the softest throw from our little fluff ball. It's a Christmas present so she won't get it until next week but I'm sure shes going to love it.

5. Phone call catch ups with my little brother. This weeks been so busy I feel as if I've seen no one but my laptop so it was nice to chat. And of course, as usual the conversation turns to nonsense.

6. The occasional Merry Christmas you get from strangers, it always puts a smile on my face.

7. Prepping for Christmas dinner. I like to have some things cooked and in the freezer ready to go. It makes sure the days goes much smoother and takes away lots of the stress.

8. My Christmas card from Paul this year. Both the card and message he'd written inside are beautiful.
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Twelve Days of Christmas - Copper Glasses DIY

copper glasses diy
copper glasses diy

This year, I wanted to add some new glasses to our Christmas dinner table. While the shops are full of many different designs -more than enough to choose from, I thought it would be fun to make some of my own. I knew I wanted to do something with copper and after finding glasses in Ikea that I love I decided I wanted my designs to have sharp edges. The shape of the glass is quite soft so I thought they'd compliment each other quite nicely.

They were incredibly simple to do, so much so that I started thinking something was most definitely going to go wrong. In fact, they turned out better than I expected and I'm really pleased with my finished set of four. They will take pride of place on our dinner table...second to the turkey of course.

copper glasses diy
copper glasses diy

You will need:
glasses you like
masking tape
paint colour of your choice
small paint brushes

-To start, give your glasses a good clean and make sure there is no fluff or residue of any kind left on them. You can use something like vodka or nail polish remover, or simply give them a wash with hot soapy water.

-With your tape, carefully mark out your design -leaving the area you want to paint clear. You could of course always free hand your design -it depends on the look you're going for. 

-When your happy with how you've applied your tape you can begin to paint. I find it best to build up thin layers instead of trying to get too much on at one time.

-Leave a good few hours between coats and keep going until you're happy with the finished colour.

-After your last coat has fully dried you can peel off your tape, go slowly as you do so you don't pull of any paint along with it. 

-Wash off any sticky residue from the tape and then your glasses are finished! 

This paint claims to be dishwasher safe on glass, we don't have a dishwasher so I can't say if this is true, but I have used and washed these with hot soapy water a few times now and they still look perfect. 

I did a fair bit of research before ordering this paint -which, turns out to be rather hard to find in the UK, but if you'd like to order some I found it here for a good price. I've been told you can pick this up easily in the states so when we go in April I'll definitely be bringing some home with me. 

copper glasses diy
copper glasses diy
copper glasses diy
copper glasses diy
copper glasses diy

Seven Sleeps To Go!


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Thursday, 17 December 2015

Twelve Days of Christmas - Parmesan and Rosemary Biscuits

parmesan and rosemary biscuits
parmesan and rosemary biscuits

Each year we have a tradition of making hampers to give out to friends and family at Christmas time. They're full of tasty homemade treats, everything from shortbread to coffee syrup and people seem to really appreciate the thought behind them. Because we do them each year, we like to change up the contents a little and this time wanted to add a savoury biscuit.

We've had this recipe written down for quite some time, so long in fact -I've no idea where it originally came from, but it seemed like the perfect addition to this years hampers. They would also make a lovely hostess gift for any festive parties you might be going to.

They couldn't be simpler to make and will keep for a week or two in an airtight container. But I warn you -they'll be gone before then. 

parmesan and rosemary biscuits
parmesan and rosemary biscuits

Ingredients:
100g of butter -softened
100g of grated parmesan cheese
100g of plain flour
1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary - finely chopped
pinch of salt
pinch of ground black pepper

parmesan and rosemary biscuits
parmesan and rosemary biscuits

-In a large bowl add all of your ingredients and start to rub them together with your finger tips until it resemble breadcrumbs. If you have a food processor then you can use that if you'd prefer, just pulse all the ingredients until they come together.

-When your mixture starts looking like breadcrumbs you can tip it out onto a clean surface and knead or press it until it forms a dough.

-Take your dough and start to roll it into a sausage shape, keep rolling until it's about 20cm long. Wrap it in clingfilm and put in the fridge to chill for at least 1 hour. You can also freeze this dough, it freezes really well -then you can take it out to bake whenever you'd like fresh biscuits. 

-When your dough is properly chilled and you're ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 180°C and line two baking trays with greaseproof paper. 

- Slice up your stick of dough into slices about 1/4 of an inch thick, I usually end up with between 24-26 biscuits. Line them up on your trays -they don't spread much so don't worry, and bake for 6-8 minutes. It'll depend on your oven but I find about 8 to be perfect, you're looking for them to be golden brown.

-When they're done, let them cool for 5 minutes on the baking trays before transferring them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Now all that's left to do is enjoy them with your festive cheese and chutneys :)

parmesan and rosemary biscuits
parmesan and rosemary biscuits

Eight Sleeps To Go!
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Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Twelve Days of Christmas - Candy Cane Hot Chocolate

candy cane hot chocolate
candy cane hot chocolate
candy cane hot chocolate

Christmas is a time for many different things, everything from festive parties to cosy nights in, and enormous piles of cheese that at any other time of year would be ridiculous. It's also a time for chocolate in every form you can think of, and what better way to serve it than steaming hot in your favourite mug, topped with marshmallows and cream -obviously!

I feel a little bit cheeky calling this a recipe because it's so simple, but that's what you want at this time of year, right? 

To make your candy cane hot chocolate, measure the amount of milk you need for your favourite mug and add to a pan on a medium heat -you don't want it to boil over or worse...burn. Also, this really does taste better with milk than it does with water -trust me on that. Add your hot chocolate powder of choice to the milk, mine is Cadburys and you now want to add one crushed up candy cane per person. Stir your peppermint creation until all the sugary shards have melted and then you're ready to pour into your mug and top with any and all the extras you like.

I like to top mine with marshmallows first (so they melt), then cream (so it doesn't melt as fast) and some crushed up candy canes, well...just because. I think it's also quite nice to serve them with an extra candy cane hung on the side. It will slowly melt, giving you a little extra peppermint -plus, you can use it to help you eat your mallows.

What's your favourite drink for Christmas time?

Nine Sleeps To Go!
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