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Friday, 31 July 2015

Made Me Happy This Week

happy

Happy Friday! It doesn't feel like a Friday if I'm being honest, we spent yesterday berry picking -(look at that haul!!) so I've been in weekend mode since yesterday. Then today I've mostly spent cooking -one of the things will definitely make an appearance here soon I'm sure. Tomorrow I'm definitely looking forward to a lazy morning and a late breakfast in bed...I'm thinking something with bacon?

1. I had to catch a bus into town earlier this week and I had the happiest bus driver I've ever met. So nice and chatty...it really made my afternoon that bit brighter.

2. While we only went to pick some raspberries and strawberries yesterday we ended up picking some cherries too. I was like a 5 year old when we found them -I've never picked them and to see them all on the trees was pretty amazing,

3. Helping my best friend clear out her wardrobe and make some space. We seem to love doing these things together, and it's always much more fun with a friend.

4. Paul's come home from work early twice this week to surprise me -I love those days

5. Being woken up at dawn by a crazy little dog leaping around on the bed may not seem like a good thing but...it did mean I got to watch the sun rise and it was beautiful! I haven't done that in years.

6. I've had Christmas song's playing this week -too early??


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Thursday, 30 July 2015

Raspberry and White Chocolate Scones

raspberry and white chocolate scones

After going berry picking the other week and being left with an abundance of raspberries piled in the fridge I had to find some way to use them up and raspberry scones seemed like the perfect idea. Not far from where we live there's a garden centre and inside they have the most amazing little cafe. Its a small cafe, every thing's handmade, really fresh and well pretty much everything is delicious. When I was little my favourite thing to order was a chicken sandwich that came with a little bit of salad so that I could always have some of the amazing homemade dressings. After it I'd always have a huge hot chocolate with lots of cream and gooey marshmallows...but I'm getting off topic now -back to the scones!

They have a few different flavours to choose from but if they have berry and white chocolate they are always my go to so I thought I'd give them a try at home and use some berries in the process.

raspberry and white chocolate scones
raspberry and white chocolate scones
raspberry and white chocolate scones

For the Scones:
450g self-raising flour
4 tsp of baking powder
120g butter -chilled and diced
80g of caster sugar
2 eggs -beaten
250ml milk
100g-200g of fresh berries
and...
a bar of your favourite white chocolate for the top (around 120g)

Pre-heat your oven to 220 degrees (Celsius), line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and weigh out all of your ingredients.

In a large bowl, add your flour and baking powder then add your butter and rub it in with your fingertips until it kind of resembles breadcrumbs. Then tip in your sugar and mix through.

Make a well in the middle of your floury breadcrumb mix and pour in your beaten egg, half of the milk and start to mix together -trying to work the mixture as little as possible. I like to use a knife to do this. Add the rest of your milk little by little until you have a soft but not sticky dough -scone dough should never be sticky.

Turn your dough out onto a floured surface, knead lightly and then roll or press it out until you have a rectangle shape between 2-3cm think, then cut into two equal halves. Add your berries to one half of your rectangle and then top with the other -I find this to be the easiest way to get berries into your scones without them breaking up.

You can now cut your scones up however you'd like, and the amount you end up with will depend on the size you go for, if you go small you'll get around 12, if you go big you'll probably end up with half that amount. Feel free to use a cutter but I decided to cut mine into large triangles...no waste and I think they look pretty cool.

Pop them on your baking trays, brush them with a little milk and then they can go in to oven. Again, the time will depend on the size around 8-10 minutes for small scones and around 15 minutes for large. All you have to look out for is them being well risen and a pale golden brown. When ready just leave to cool on a wire rack.

Melt your white chocolate and then with a spoon drizzle little by little over your now cooled scones and that's you done!

I never think scones keep very well so eat as soon as you can, and at least withing 2 or 3 days but fresh is always best -with cream and jam of course!

raspberry and white chocolate scones

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Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Hair Care Tips: For Long Hair

care tips for long hair

I forgot sometime just how long my hair is until I catch a glimpse of it in a mirror, or see it in photo and because it's so long now I try to take as much care of it as I possibly can. Until around 5 years ago it had always been somewhere around shoulder length, then I made the decision to let it grow (bet you cant say those words without singing...can you?) -this was for two reasons. 1 because I'd always wanted really long hair but never got the chance with all the colour and style changing I did through my teens and 2, I'm not found of going to the hairdressers! I know most people enjoy it but I don't, I feel that I never found a stylist who would do just what I asked for so I kind of gave up trying and haven't had my hair cut in over 5 years!!

Because of that and as it grown longer I've found really great tips for looking after it and keeping in the best condition it can be, so thought I'd share them with you and hopefully they can help you in some way too :)

care tips for long hair
care tips for long hair

Tools...

You have to brush your hair, obviously, of course you do...but standard brushes can be really quite harsh even pull and brake your hair. For years I thought that all brushes must be the same and "why waste money" on a special one -but I was wrong! Paul put one in my Christmas stocking last year and the difference it's made already it quite astonishing! I have less split ends and find that it doesn't pull out as much hair when you brush with it -it also doesn't hurt AT ALL when you brush out tugs and tangles. Even really bad backcombed and slept in it tangles!

Crocodile Clips:
I'm not exactly sure if that's what they're called but that's my name for them. I used to tie my hair up and twist it all ways in elastic bobbles when I wanted it out my face but they can serious damage your locks so I switched to these little things. You can pick them up for very little -mine usually come in a pack of four from Primark for £1, and do the job even better without the damage. 

Silk Pillow Case or Silk:
Silk is a lot more gentle on your hair than your normal cotton bedding so it's definitely something to consider if you feel it's something you could sleep on. You can find silk pillow cases online but they can be around £30 each in some cases and to be honest, a bit of silk from your local fabric store will do exactly that same thing...for a much better price.

care tips for long hair
care tips for long hair

Products...

This is a pricey product (great deals on QVC!!) but I've never found a more affordable alternative that does the job -it really is a stand alone product! I'm a HUGE fan of this stuff and I will not be without it now, from the first use it starts working and you do see the difference. If you've never heard of it, its a pre-shampoo treatment that restores elasticity to damaged hair. When your hair gets wet it should stretch, and when dry return to normal. If yours doesn't and it sometimes snaps then this stuff will solve your problems and improve your hairs condition

Conditioning Masques:
From time to time in place of my normal conditioner I'll use a more intensive treatment, one that you leave in for a while longer and let it do it's thing. My favourite masque is this TREsemme one but since I ran out I've been trying this new one from Dove. So far I like it, my hair feels soft, smooth and conditioned but if I'm honest I don't like the smell. It's not a bad smell, but scent is so personal that no brand is ever going to get it 100% right for everyone.

Leave in Conditioners / Heat Protectors:
I've put these together as my go to for years now has been the Aussie "Take The Heat" Leave in Conditioner. After I towel dry my hair I spray this through from mid-lengths to ends before drying. Protection from heat and lasting conditioner in one :)

care tips for long hair

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Friday, 24 July 2015

Made Me Happy This Week


It's raining right now -and it's heavy, I've honestly no idea where summers gone, or if it even started to be honest but we make the best of it don't we. However...this evening I couldn't be happier that the grey rainy outside is making me want to sit in bed with tea in my pyjamas because it's the final of Celebrity Master Chef! I don't think I've ever mentioned my love for this show but it's real, almost as much as my love for The Bake Off (which is back on again soon *happy dance), so the fact that it's my only real plans for this evening makes me very happy indeed. Bring on the weekend!

1. Paul saved me his last Oreo, and he loves his Oreos -he's such a sweetheart.

2. Earlier this week I got to introduce my best friend to the world of blogging, I love that I now have someone else in my life to share my love of this world with :)

3. My Friday afternoon started with a massive order arriving from Asos. I love when you order clothes, it's so much more fun trying things on at home.

4. Watching my little niece at her swimming lesson at the beginning of the week. She's so good! It's amazing to see her do these things, I don't think I'll ever stop comparing her to the tiny thing my best friend brought home from the hospital a few years ago.

5. Finding so many things I've loved reading online this week -I'm thinking of starting a "links I love" kind of series as a way of sharing them...what do you think?

6. Rainbows. I've seen three this week and I'm pretty sure I've never seen that many in the space of a few days before. So pretty :)

Have a great weekend everyone :) 
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Friday, 17 July 2015

Made Me Happy This Week

{recipe testing for an upcoming post}

This weekend the weather is supposed to be very stormy, it could be wrong (usually is) but even if it's true I don't mind as my only plans include making a golf themed birthday cake. I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out, especially as I have no idea myself right now how its going to look! ...fingers crossed it turns out well!

1. This song! It's one of those songs that makes me want to jump around and dance and sing and just generally makes me feel happy.

2. Late night driving, after realising I hadn't left the house in 6 days and instant claustrophobia began to set in. If it wasn't stormy weather I would have rather gone for a walk but the car journey did the trick

3. Making my first ever banana bread, AND that it turned out perfectly! I love banana bread but it's something that other people have always made so I've never had too, I thought it was about time I learned and now I can too!

4. The further into summer we get the happier I'm becoming with my skin, I think the (slightly) warmer weather must be doing it some good and most of this week I've had a little concealer and mascara on. I'm putting it down to that because nothing else in my routine has changed so that's the only answer for it.

5. Top knots! Not just this week, but for a good 2 or 3 weeks now my hair -which is normally always down, has been piled up on top of my head. Firstly I really like how it looks with my glasses but mostly it's due to the horrible muggy weather we keep having. Regardless of the reason I'm enjoying them...it also makes getting ready so much quicker.

6. Lots of tea! The nights have been a little colder this week, not buy much but enough to make drinking tea under a blanket feel like the best way to end an evening.

7. Picking up some early Autumn Winter bits in the sales, I can't to start wearing jumpersdresses and heavy knits :)
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Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Raspberry and White Chocolate Cheesecake Ice-Cream & Custard Making Tips

raspberry white chocolate cheesecake ice-cream

I've said many times before I've never been the biggest ice-cream fan, but I decided to give it a go and make some myself to see if my opinion could be changed as there are a few things that I much prefer to be homemade than shop bought -cakes and cookies being the main two! And what better time than national ice-cream month! As I'd been berry picking last week and had come away with nearly 2 kilos of raspberries I knew it was going to have to include them so we picked up an ice-cream maker and I set about trying out a few ideas. After a few variations and forcing (not that it actually took much force) my creations on everyone, I came up with this recipe and I have to say I'm a convert to the ice-cream world. There's something different about homemade ice-cream and now I've got the bug I'm sure our freezers going to be full of all different kinds -I'm already thinking Nutella!! I'm so pleased with this recipe and how it turn out, so I hope you like it, there are a few steps but it's totally worth it -I promise!!

Also I've included some tips for making custard at the very end :)

raspberry white chocolate cheesecake ice-cream
raspberry white chocolate cheesecake ice-cream
raspberry white chocolate cheesecake ice-cream
raspberry white chocolate cheesecake ice-cream

This recipe makes around a liter of ice-cream.

For the ice-cream base:
4 egg yolks
100g caster sugar
300ml full fat milk
300ml double cream
180g tub of Philadelphia
I bar of Milky Bar -chilled in the fridge (or your favourite white chocolate)

For the biscuit base:
150g digestive biscuits
80g melted butter

For the raspberry sauce:
300g raspberries
120ml water
170g caster sugar
2 tablespoons of cornstarch

{This sauce will leave you with extra left over, I've also doubled this recipe before and its kept for around two weeks in the fridge.} 

Starting with the raspberry sauce so it has time to cool, add your raspberries to a pan and crush them with a fork or potato masher, add your water and sugar and bring to the boil -stirring constantly so it doesn't stick or burn. Mix your cornstarch with a little cold water and add it to the bubbling berry mixture. Then reduce the heat to simmer and let it cook down for as long as you like -the longer you simmer the thicker your sauce will be. Around 5 minutes will give you a thinner sauce but 20 minutes will give you a much thicker jam like sauce -I went for 20 minutes, it cooked down by nearly half.

For the biscuit base part -which of course no cheesecake ice-cream would be complete without. Simply crush your digestives, add your melted butter and mix together. When its all mixed press it down as you would any base, into a container and leave to set in the fridge, we want it to be solid for chopping up later on.

Next take your chilled white chocolate and carefully start to chop it up as fine as you can, almost so you have shavings, then put this back in the fridge to stay cool.

For the ice-cream:

Add your egg yolks to a large bowl and start to whisk in your sugar until you have a pale yellow mixture and you can no longer feel the sugar granules.

Add your milk and double cream to a large saucepan and bring to the boil.

As soon as your cream and milk mix is boiling, take it off the heat and slowly start to mix it into your pale egg mix. Whisk constantly so that your eggs don't scramble and you have a smooth but thin custard, once all whisked clean your pan to remove any residue.

Add your custard mixture back to the clean pan and cook over a low heat until it's thickened up.

When you have thick tasty custard pour it into a clean bowl and leave to cool completely, cover the top of the custard with clingfilm so a skin doesn't form.

Once completely cool whisk in your tub of Philadelphia, it looks horrendously lumpy at the start but it does come together -honestly! Now add this mixture to your ice-cream machine and start to churn. When your custard is starting to look much more like ice-cream add in your white chocolate shaving so then can mix through.

Take your biscuit base out the fridge and chop of break how ever you'd like. I like to crumble mine leaving some slightly bigger chunks. Add your buttery biscuit crumbs to a bowl (leaving some aside for topping) and spoon in your now semi-frozen ice-cream and mix both together. You could add these crumbs to your ice-cream machine to save your self this step but mine was too full for that.

Nearly finished!

Start to add your ice-cream to the container where you will be storing it in layers, after each thin layer adding swirls of your chilled raspberry sauce -think raspberry ripple. Keep going until you have finished layering everything and adding as much or as little sauce as you like. Top with your left over crumbs and freeze.

End! I did say there were a few steps but none of them are too taxing and it leaves you with the most tasty, creamy homemade ice-cream.

raspberry white chocolate cheesecake ice-cream

Tips for making custard...

I've made quite a few custards over the past two weeks and I've learned some great tips for if things start to go wrong.

1 - Never have the heat too high when cooking your custard! It will just scramble your eggs and you wont be able to save them, keep the heat low!

2 -Clean your pan and bowl between steps, the left over residue can leave lumpy bits in your finished custard.

3 - Have your sink empty and half fill it will cold water, this is in case you need it quickly.

4 - If things do start to curdle slightly no matter how careful you've been, it can be saved as long as your quick. Strain your custard mix into a bowl and immediately add this bowl to your sink of cold water. Add two teaspoons of cornstarch and frantically whisk until things come back together. You have to keep going for a few minutes but as it cools the mixture starts to get back to normal and you wont have to start over again, just don't add it back to the heat after this.







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Sunday, 12 July 2015

Sunday


{"A Sunday well spent brings a week of content"}

Is there anything better than a Sunday spend relaxing exactly as you'd like? For me it's one of the best ways to spend a day and round of a week rather nicely. Today's been one of those perfect Sundays, this is what I've been up to...

*A bacon roll and fresh pot of coffee for breakfast, a treat best saved for Sundays in my opinion.

*Watching Lord of the Rings with Paul, not them all as we haven't quite had time for that -how many hours in total?

*Painting my nails. Sundays always a good to do that, for me anyway. I find more times than not, that I'll try to do it quickly throughout the week and I never give it long enough to dry. Resulting in smudged nails and nail polish over everything...you'd think I'd have learnt for the past 100 times it's happened but no.

*Reading some of my Elle magazine, I picked it up a few days ago but it's taken until today to actually get to read some.

*Making yet another batch of ice-cream (the recipe will be up here this coming week), not because I keep getting it wrong but because the batches just don't last long enough -it's bloody good stuff!

Tonight will more than likely be spent having a tasty dinner (I'm thinking chilli con carne), catching up on blog posts and watching the latest episode of Human. We're addicted, and Gemma Chan is excellent in it -she plays a robot very well!

How are you spending your Sunday?

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Friday, 10 July 2015

Made Me Happy This week

made me happy this week
{I love these details in our living room}

1. On Monday my brother and I went berry picking, and I came away with nearly 2 kilo's of raspberries - I know, I went a little overboard but I do love them! It was such a great afternoon and we've both been busy trialing recipes out with our berry hauls all week - a couple that will be up here really soon so if you like raspberries be sure to pop back :)

2. My peonies that are still hanging in there, they may be starting to look a little sad now but they still have a few days in them.

3. My first ever attempt at ice-cream was a success! I've never been much of an ice-cream fan but making it our self at home has definitely converted me.

4. Cadbury's Chocolate Fingers as a mid week treat but eaten in a very specific way -each end bitten off, then used as a straw to suck tea through then quickly eaten while soft. Trust me, it's the only way they should be eaten!

5. Home deliveries, there's been a couple this week. Getting a package be it clothes, home good or the most random of things makes me so happy. A dangerous habit I know!

6. Paul having Friday off as he has to work a whole day on Saturday -rubbish! But if I'm being honest I much prefer Fridays to Saturday so it's not all bad.

7. Mash with butter, is there anything better to eat on a rainy evening I ask you?

8. The fact that I'm feeling super organised at the moment so I'm trying to ride that wave and get as much done as is possible for me to do, including some DIY and wardrobe clear outs.
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Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Adult Colouring Books: Enchanted Forest

adult colouring book enchanted forest
adult colouring book enchanted forest
adult colouring book enchanted forest
adult colouring book enchanted forest

When I was much younger I loved to colour in, I could do it for hours on end and I had countless colouring books, pens and pencils -and if I do say so my self I was an expert at staying in the lines! As you grow up it becomes "uncool" to colour in and it's something that's seen as a child only activity...until now! Adult colouring books have become quite a big thing lately and adult colouring is really taking off, so when I was given this book and these pencils for my birthday a couple of weeks ago the inner child in me was ecstatic and I couldn't wait to get started! 

I think these book appeal to people for so many different reasons, for me they're a great way to be instantly creative with colour and they can be picked up and put down without a second thought. I used to draw all the time, and I often wonder why I stopped (I'm thinking I may start again?) but with that comes everything you use when you do it and sometimes it's not a case of just stopping as you can with these books. As I'm also quite an anxious person, who also tends to overthink everything - I find this a very calming, relaxing activity. You know when people tell you to just "switch off" and try to not think of anything? I can't do that, I've never been able to work out how exactly you empty your mind of all thoughts -mine is constantly going. If that's something you also find hard to do then I'd definitely recommend picking up one of these books, you get so caught up in colouring in the tiny details that you end up concentrating on nothing but the book, no room for all those other thing floating around up there.

...it's also a great way to spend a rainy afternoon :)

What do you think of adult colouring books?
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Friday, 3 July 2015

Made Me Happy This Week


This week has gone by SO fast! It's really just been one big blur, so much so that I'm struggling to remember most of it -I'm hoping for a slightly more relaxed weekend. We have kicked it off with one really quite epic BBQ (credit to Paul), it's our first one in this house so we decided to have it just the two of us. We had far too much food for two people but we are having a chilled out Saturday at home with some films so I'm thinking for dinner we can have BBQ leftovers. To say we were stuffed full we did manage a little dessert -it had to be s'mores didn't it! The obvious choice for a Friday night BBQ.

1. My beautiful peonies from Paul, they honestly have to be one of the prettiest flowers out there.

2. Mid-week baking with my best friend and niece. We made some serious cakes on a rainy afternoon, lots of chocolate, jam, icing, magic stars, buttercream and of course Nutella.

3. My new laptop, I am loving it! To be honest I've needed one for quite a while but I've been trying to put it off until Paul stepped in and we went out last weekend to get one -I'm glad he did, mine was near giving up on me.

4. A new nail colour that I think I'll be wearing all summer, its the most perfect lilac blue shade, right up my street.

5. My art deco side table find, it's in pretty great condition so now I can't wait until we decorate the bedroom so I can find the perfect spot for it.

6. Finally getting around to wearing a tropical print jumpsuit I found in a Topshop sale either just before or just after Christmas. It's great for throwing on and running out the door.

7. Channelling my inner 5 year old and colouring in. I was given one of those adult colouring books for my birthday and its becoming my favourite way to relax.

8. Ending the week with a glass of Pimms in the garden while the sun is still shining.
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