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Monday, 28 September 2015

White Chocolate Chunk Brownies

White Chocolate Chunk Brownies
White Chocolate Chunk Brownies

These are possibly the best brownies you will ever eat, and trust me -I don't say that lightly!

I make cupcakes and other sorts of cake a lot, and while they're always lovely to have with a cup of tea or over a catch up with family...brownies are different! Brownies are the naughty, nothing but chocolate treats you have on those rainy days, in your non-matching pyjamas with your messy top knot. Of course yes, you could make a batch for family visits but they taste so much better in pj's on a sofa.

Paul came up with this recipe five or six years ago and it's been the only one we've used since so I had to steal it to share with you (but it's ok -he said I could). It's everything I want in a brownie, it's dense and slightly chewy, it contains huge chunks of white chocolate and its so simple to make with no complicated steps. I made a batch a couple of weekends back when the weather was a little grey and miserable and the day basically screamed for some home baking, I'm pretty sure we will be making them much more as we get into the colder months.

White Chocolate Chunk Brownies

As you can see from the picture (above) the recipe's been well loved, almost to the point that I'm now scared to touch it for fear of it falling apart!

So...let me introduce you to the recipe for the best brownies you will ever eat!

Ingredients:
170g caster sugar
75g butter (room temperature)
2 tablespoons of water
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon of salt
85g plain flour
180g dark chocolate
160g of white chocolate

Pre-heat your oven to 170 celsius (340 fahrenheit) and grease and line an 8 inch square baking tray.

Take your dark chocolate and chop it up, it doesn't have to be too fine -it's just to help it melt when we add it to our mixture. My absolute favourite chocolate to use for these brownies is the Asda own brand 200g bars which are quite thick, if your using something like Green and Blacks or Lindt which are thinner you can just snap your chocolate into little bits.

Then take your white chocolate and chop or snap it up so you have nice big chunks and set aside until later.

Add your caster sugar, water and butter to a pan and bring to a rolling boil on a medium heat while stirring constantly. Then remove the pan from the heat and stir in your dark chocolate until its completely melted and smooth.

Let it cool slightly for 2-3 minutes before adding your eggs. Add them in one at a time and stir quickly after each one is added until fully combined with your chocolate mixture.

Add in your flour and salt -no need to sift, and stir it all together. Then pour in your white chocolate chunks and mix through, but be quick so they don't melt too much -we want to keep them as big as possible.

Spread the mix out evenly in your tray and then bake for 25 minutes. After that you just have to leave them too cool, and that's you done!

However...if you would like hot melted chocolate brownies with a big scoop of ice-cream or double cream then straight from the oven is perfect!

This is such a quick easy recipe and I guarantee once you've made them once you'll make them again and again -plus if you don't like white chocolate feel free to swap it for anything you like.

They would keep for 4/5 days in a sealed tub although they never last that long in this house, they also freeze incredibly well! I sometimes even prefer them after they've been frozen, they become even more chewy and dense than they were before.

White Chocolate Chunk Brownies
White Chocolate Chunk Brownies
White Chocolate Chunk Brownies

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Friday, 25 September 2015

Made Me Happy This Week

made me happy this week

I've spent this entire week trying my best to fight of a cold -of which I'm pretty sure the full force has still to hit! Paul came home from work last Thursday, feeling a little stuffy and by Friday morning he had a full blown cold. All week I've been using home remedies I found online, lots of orange juice and green and orange vegetable where the main suggestions I came across -plus lots and lots of black tea with lemon and honey. I thought I was doing so well and suffering from not even a sniff until Tuesday night when I started to feel it, by Wednesday morning it was definitely on it's way so I had to turn to the Night Nurse. The past few days I've managed to keep it at bay but I think I've been beaten now, so this weekend may well be spent in bed with blankets and hot water bottles.

1. Perfect lattes and colourful place mats, a different shade for each place at the table.

2. This week the days are ending much earlier than they were last week, it makes me so happy when the sun starts to go down at 7.30pm

3. New coffees! I'm not one for instant coffee, I don't really rate many of them but Douwe Egberts is one I do enjoy and they have new flavoured varieties -I've only tried the hazelnut so far but its really rather good. And a good alternative if you want that caffeine hit but really don't feel like getting all the coffee equipment out.

4. Paul finishing work late and bringing home chinese food.

5. Toasty warm baths on cold evenings, followed by sofa blankets and tea.

6. This week seemed like the perfect week for apple and blackberry crumble, I'm sure the recipe will find it's way up here soon.

7. Reading all the "I love Autumn" posts that have been all over the blogging world this week. It's so nice to hear whats making everyone happy.

Have a good weekend everyone :)
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Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Why I Love Autumn...

hello-autumn-leaves

Today officially marks the start of another autumn and let me tell you - I couldn't be more excited than I am while writing this post. Even though I was born in June, the cooler months will always have my heart, deeply, truly and forever. I don't dislike summer, and I fully embrace all the fun outdoor activities it brings with it but lets be honest...we haven't had much of one this year, so for what feels like weeks now I've been longing for all the little joys that Autumn brings with it.

I'm sure I've done one of these posts each year since starting my blog so I felt I couldn't miss out on doing one this year, and I'm sure we could all use another "I love Autumn" post, couldn't we? Of course -so here's what I love!

The Weather - It's still warm enough that you can enjoy spending time outside but you can feel it starting to cool down. Even on bright sunny days you know that winter is right around the corner.

Nights In - Little in life makes me happier than snuggling up under blankets and duvets as the nights begin to get longer. I know so many people who really hate this about the second half of the year but it's honestly one of my favourite things. It feels so utterly perfect to come home after a long day, to get into your most comfortable pyjamas and snuggle up on the sofa, with absolutely no added guilt about being in your pyjamas at 6pm. I mean...its dark outside -it's perfectly acceptable. All I'm missing now is the log fire.

The Clothes - Autumn is the absolute best time (for me anyway) for clothes. I just love layering, and feeling extra cosy when you go out. It's still warm enough that you can get away with jumpers, hats a and scarfs but not yet so cold that you need a coat everyday. I am the biggest fan of all things knitwear, and in autumn pulling the sleeves down over my fingers and walking around with a hot drink just makes me so happy.

Halloween - I adore Halloween, the dressing up, the caramel apples, the pumpkin carving, the tasty treats and the decorations but...I hate being scared! I mean HATE it. I never watch scary films and won't even walk into a room if I think someones hiding to jump out on me so I enjoy all non-scary aspects of it.

Bonfires Night - There's something about fireworks I've always loved, I find them fascinating and spending the evening in a crowd of people, all going "oooh" "aaahhh" is really a lot of fun. You of course leave smelling of the large Bonfire you've all been warming yourselves round while drinking your cider and eating your baked potatoes but it wouldn't be right if you didn't.

The Food - From the minute autumn arrives I crave all things comfort food, from mac n cheese to hearty soups and stews...I want it all! It's also no secret that I love to bake and come late September I want to make all things apple. Expect some seriously comforting sweet and savoury treats coming your way soon.

Crispy Leaves - I will always be a 5 year old at heart, and it fills me with joy to leap from pile to pile of crispy colourful leaves on crisp autumn days. Or walk through forests listening to them crunch under foot. I used to love walking Cody (before we lost her) when the ground was covered, she loved jumping in the piles as much as I did, coming up with a mouthful of leaves.

There are so many more tiny things I love about this perfect season, but these are the main ones. Are you excited about autumn, or are you still in summer mode?




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Monday, 21 September 2015

Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water

garnier micellar cleansing water review
garnier micellar cleansing water review

Oh how I love a good lazy alternative, but only when it actually does the job well! I've never been a fan of face wipes, I always feel as if they pull at your skin and are always a little too dry to actually do as they say. While I've tried quite a few make-up removers over the years I've never liked how they'd leave my skin feeling afterwards, some leave you feeling oily or worse -sticky! So for a long time I'd sadly been without any lazy but still effective way to take off my make-up until I found Garniers Micellar Cleansing Water in Boots. It was a while ago -I'm now on my second bottle, but I thought it deserved a mention because it's really quite fantastic!

Don't get me wrong, I still love my Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish and really enjoy the process of taking the day off with it, it's calming scent is perfect to use before bed and I'd never be without it. But you know those times when you've already got yourself comfy, or your just so sleepy that the thought of standing over the sink makes you consider sleeping with a full face of make-up on? Yes, those nights, this stuff is a life saver!

Depending on the amount of make-up I have on I'll use between two to five cotton pads. It takes absolutely everything off with ease -even waterproof mascara, and doesn't leave behind any horrible residue. Unlike a lot of make-removers or cleansing waters I've tried in the past this doesn't leave your skin feeling stripped at all, instead it feels beautifully clean but hydrated. As my skin can sometimes be a little temperamental I went for the pink bottle -for sensitive skin, the green one is better for combination and I've not had one problem or brake out from using it . Also if you have in issue with scent them you'll enjoy the fact that this isn't perfumed. The last thing I have to add is the price, at £4.99 a bottle for a product that really does the job you can't complain. I'd definitely give this five stars and recommend it to anyone looking for a knew cleansing water. It's something I will always have in the house from now on, and if I'm travelling I will be picking up the smaller bottles too!

Have you tried these new Garnier waters? What do you think of them?

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Friday, 18 September 2015

Made Me Happy This Week

made me happy this week
made me happy this week

Today had one of the best starts it could have -look at those sandwiches! We love a good croque monsieur so if we get a recommendation to try what could be the best we've had then we obviously couldn't pass that up. It's a small cafe, local to us, that was totally empty when we got there so we had the place to ourselves and yes, in case you were wondering -they are quite possibly the best we've had! Paul had the croque madame and I have to say when it came I was a little jealous.

1. New pyjamas. I truly believe that you will always find the best pyjamas in supermarkets, they always have such lovely designs and they're always so much softer than any that come from more expensive places.

2. The new autumn designs on the Starbucks cups -they are so pretty and definitely get you in the mood for the chilly weather.

3. Walking around a supermarket with your best friend, trying to work out what you can buy for dinner with the change she found in her car -after you both forget to bring any money with you!

4. This song, it's been making me smile all week.

5. Christmas presents arriving all week -I'm seriously way past excited now! ...sorry, I know its still only September.

6. Talking Halloween plans, I've never been as excited as I am for this year -our costumes plans are probably my favourite ever!

7. Blankets and candles! We may be having some kind of Indian summer at the minute but the nights are cold! Its been perfect for snuggling up under fluffy throws while candles flicker away in the back ground.
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Thursday, 17 September 2015

Easy Eggs for Brunch

easy eggs brunch

This recipe came from a very late start to a very lazy Sunday morning. After waking later than normal and realising that we were starving we went foraging for something to eat, and seeing as it was probably too late for breakfast it definitely had to be brunch. It had to be quick but tasty and seeing as we were still in pyjamas with absolutely no interest in putting on actual clothes it had to be made from what we had int he kitchen, and so the since named "Easy Eggs" were born! While I whipped it up, Paul made a pot of tea, poured some fresh orange juice and set the table and by the time he'd done that they were pretty much ready. This is definitely going to become a regular in this house -I've already made it again since, for lunch for my best friend and it got the seal of approval.

easy eggs brunch
easy eggs brunch

What you need (serves two)...
1 tablespoon of oil
1 onion
1 red pepper
1 tin of plum tomatoes
2 eggs
salt (to taste)
2 teaspoons paprika
fresh parsley to serve
bread for dipping
and of course butter for the bread

Add the oil to a frying pan so it can start to heat up, our pan is just the right size for serving two people but if you want to serve more just use a larger one. Chop your onion and peppers so you have long thin strips of each, toss them in the oil, cook these out for a few minutes on a medium heat until they soften and have a little colour.

Add your tin of tomatoes -I always go for peeled plum and squish (technical term) them myself but pre-chopped is fine, then add in your paprika and a little salt to your taste, stir it all together and then let it bubble away for 4/5 minutes.

This is a great time to get your bread ready, toast it, butter it, have it how ever you like it. We used lovely soft baguettes, baked in the over for 10 minutes until crispy on the outside but so soft and warm inside -then served with plenty of butter.

After your tasty tomato mix has been cooking for a few minutes you can make two wells for your eggs, it should have thickened up slightly by this point making this easier to do -then just drop an egg into each space you've made. I like to cover the pan to help the top of the eggs cook, and how long you leave it is really up to you and how you like your eggs. We left ours around 4 minutes, the whites were cooked but the yolk still a little runny -just keep checking on it if you're unsure.

And that's it! Serve with fresh parsley and you have a perfect brunch, lunch, breakfast or dinner -I'd have this anytime of day and it really takes no time to make with very little clear up afterwards...just how all meals should be!

easy eggs brunch

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Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Tips: For a Successful Wardrobe Clear Out

tips for wardrobe clear out
tips for wardrobe clear out
tips for wardrobe clear out

Since we moved into our new house last June I've been slowly clearing out things from here and there as we decorate rooms and sort through boxes, but I hadn't had a proper wardrobe clear out, mainly because it felt like the biggest thing to tackle so I kept putting it off -until last week! I like to have a proper clear out every couple of years, it keeps things tidy and helps make sure I'm not filling our wardrobe with with nonsense that will never be worn, it also makes sure there's a little extra room for new thing's -always good! I actually really enjoy doing it so much so that I also love to help friends and family too so here are my top tips for making sure you do it successfully.

First of all you have to take everything out of the wardrobe, drawers and where ever else you have clothes and pile them all on the floor. I find this does two things, it forces you to actually go through every piece and it means you have to actually do it, or the huge messy pile of clothes on your floor will stay there forever!

Now you have to begin sorting it all into four main piles -keep, throw, charity/sell and repair, and you have to be HARSH when you do this! And I mean harsh! Especially if you haven't done it in quite some time (or ever!). Things you know you want to keep go straight into that pile, and things that you know you're keeping but need fixing up (missing buttons, a small burst seam, small things) go into repair. Things that are past it, completely ruined or worn to death go straight into the throw pile -these should never go to charity, and then what you're letting go of goes in the charity/sell pile. If you struggle to be harsh enough on your own, it's sometimes better to have a friend help you.

Ask yourself these question to help you sort though everything:

 "if I found this in a shop today, would I buy it?"
"does it fit properly?"
"if I was seen out in this, would I be happy about it?"
"has it seen better days?"
"can this be repaired?"
"does this suit me or my style now?"

That last one is really important! Styles change as we get older, if you bought something at 18 that you loved, and you're now 28, how likely is it that your tastes are still the same -not very. 

I like to ignore that rule that if you haven't worn something in a year, you should let it go - I don't agree. I think you should base your decision more on you and your style, if it suites you, and works well with your style then yes, keep it! I have plain white and navy grandad shirts from Topshop that I absolutely love! They suit me, my favourite slouchy tailored style and they flatter my figure -I'd be silly to let them go. Even if I haven't worn them in the past year they're basics that suit my wardrobe and I wouldn't be without them.

What makes a must have item for me won't be the same for everyone else and that's something you have to think about as your going through this process. For example, my best friend and I have pretty much the opposite basic style, so those grandad shirts I love along with some very tailored blazers wouldn't be a good fit for her wardrobe. Where as the sweeter more baby doll style clothes she prefers would do nothing for me.

Now the most difficult part -the sentimental or hopeful items your holding on to. I've been guilty of it so many times, I'm sure everyone has at some point. First sentimental! Really if your just holding onto it because it reminds you of a first date or your first holiday without your parents -it should really go, but...because I'm a sucker for romance and all things like that I'd say its fine to keep one or two things just because they make you happy...but only one or two (maybe three) any more and well, you're just defeating the point of doing this in the first place. I have a green patterned bandeau top from Topshop that I bought for the first holiday Paul and I ever took together. I worn it non-stop with denim shorts and then for the rest of the summer when we got home. The elastic has totally gone and it couldn't ever be worn again but it just makes me so happy when I see it.

Now the others, the "hopeful" clothes, the "I'll wear this when I'm thinner clothes" -they need to go! I know we like to think of them as incentive pieces (I've been there so many times) but they aren't, all they're doing is making you sad and taking up space in your wardrobe. A better way to look at it is that if you are trying to lose weight instead of holding on to a pair or jeans that you may never fit in to, why not treat yourself when you get the the size you want to be. That way those things can find a place with the rest of your things and you can enjoy them.

Once you've cleared out all that had to go from your wardrobe you can start to build a capsule or seasonal wardrobe and fill in any parts your missing. I think once our bedroom has been decorated and I have my clothes rail back up I'll show you mine.

Do you enjoy having a good clear out?

tips for wardrobe clear out

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Friday, 11 September 2015

Made Me Happy This Week


Hello there lovely people -it's Friday! Do you have any plans for the weekend? Tomorrow we're going to a party for Paul's gran, she's turning 80 and the picture above is her cake -I've spent the past two days making it but I think it was worth the time. It's hard to get a great picture of it because the butterflies curl all the way around but I wanted to share at least a little bit of it (*proud face). Apart from that we have no other plans except to relax after a busy week and possibly do a little bit of online shopping -only the necessary of course, I could do with a few new autumn bits.

1. On Thursday night I was in the garden letting the little dog pee before bed, I looked up and found myself staring at the sky! It was so clear and such a deep beautiful navy/black and I could see so many stars -I think we all forget sometimes to appreciate the world around us, it really is amazing!

2. With my mum being away this week we have a little dog staying and I've loved having her here. She is the sweetest most adorable little thing and as long as she has someone to cuddle into shes happy.

3. The weather this week's been perfect! Its been clear and warm but you can feel the chill in the air so you know autumns coming (woohoo).

4. Little evening doggie walks. Shes only tiny so we don't walk her too far but they're still fun.

5. The new channel 4 show "Hunted" -It's so good! We've only seen episode one but I'm already totally hooked!

6. Making lists for Christmas, I'm feeling super organized this year.

What's made you happy this week?
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Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Autumn Nail Shades

autumn nail colours

I only really switch up my nail colours twice a year, throughout spring and summer I'm constantly drawn to all the pastel shades that I come across -with the occasional bright, but around this time of year I start to lean more towards the darker tones. These are five of my favourite colours for the colder months and while they vary from brand to brand each year I always like to have a dark blue, a pinky red, deep purple and two neutrals. I feel like these cover me for most occasions and if you decide on a small group of polishes it's makes the decision of "what colour do I paint my nails?" much much easier.

autumn nail colours

My two more neutral shades look quite similar on camera but they do dry every different on your nails. Tanya Burrs "Penguin Chic" is a beautiful cool toned light grey and dries slightly lighter than it looks in the bottle. Barry M's "Cappucino" is my darker neutral, it's quite a bit warmer that "Penguin Chic" and has more brown and purple too it. Both stunning colours and both look beautiful on the nails.

autumn nail colours

My dark blue at the moment is a Nails Inc shade which I don't think you can buy on it's own. It's "Night Sky" and it was part of the Alexa Edit around Christmas time -I got mine in a set. They do have a very similar shade that you can buy though called "Prince Arthur Road" -it's just as lovely.

autumn nail colours

My deep purple shade is another Tanya Burr polish called "New York Night" and is one of my very favourite purple polishes, I wore it so much last year and I think I will be again this year too. It also makes a great toe colour! There's also a Rimmel polish I love that's similar and have worn for years called "Black Cherry".

My pinky red is the only pinky red I've ever really worn and that's because it's perfect! Barry M's "Raspberry" is my go-to for that kind of colour, it dries darker on your nails that it look in the picture and is such a beautiful winter shade.

I know we're not quite there yet so sorry to those of you who are still clinging on to the last bits of summer but my head and heart have well and truly moved onto autumn now :)

What are your favourite shades for the colder weather?

autumn nail colours

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Friday, 4 September 2015

Made Me Happy This Week


This is the first week that it's really started to feel as if Autumn's creeping in and Summer is well and truly leaving for another year. The air is slightly cooler, you can feel the chill when the wind blow and possibly the most exciting of all -Pumpkin Spiced Lattes have once again returned! Does anything make you feel more Autumnal than walking around in a cosy knitted jumper warming your hands with a hot drink? I can't even explain my excitement for all that's coming up so I will more than likely do another "All About Autumn" post or some type of post listing everything I love about it soon, I've done them before and the Internet can always use another list of happy things, don't you think?

1. Early, EARLY morning shopping. Supermarket shopping at 1am is so relaxing, understandably there is nobody around and we spent quite a lot of time trying on clothes and shoes -I got a gorgeous jacket! I wish other shops where open as late.

2. My Blog turned 3 last week, I still can't quite believe that it's been all that time since I started it -or that anyone wants to read my rambles about anything I choose. If you haven't already you should enter my giveaway to celebrate, you can find it here.

3. X-Factor has returned! This is exciting for a few reasons but mainly because well, it's basically Christmas isn't it! Not really, but it does mean that Saturday night TV has got a whole lot better, and seeing as you can usually find us cuddled up on the sofa on a Saturday night this makes me happy.

4. Pumpkin Spiced Lattes, already mentioned above but let's be honest -they deserve another.

5. The new John Lewis advert (watch here), I think it's for home insurance but it's so funny. John Lewis do the best adverts, I can't wait to see what they come up with for Christmas this year.

6. Sometimes I'm not so happy when we get to Sundays, but it's only if I feel we've wasted it so when we have super productive ones it makes me feel so good! Last week was one of those days, we got so much done and it was so satisfying to sit down that night with a cup of tea.

7. Flipping through the new Anthropologie book, it's just bloody beautiful! If it where possible, and if I where aloud I would live in one of they're stores.
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