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Friday, 30 September 2016

Made Me Happy This Week

made-me-happy-this-week

The weather today has been both beautiful, and at points intense! It's been one of those perfect days for walking around with a coffee, when its not too cold, but cold enough that you're happy you have something warm to hold. But then almost out of nowhere the darkest clouds and heaviest rain will come over, leaving you running for cover! What are your plans for the weekend? -I plan on making a huge cheesecake!

1. Finding a wood and marble (real marble) chopping board that looks as if it comes from Anthropologie, but actually comes from Sainsburys and was a fraction of the price!

2. Making apple pie with apples picked from our very own garden, you can see it here if you'd like.

3. Huge pumpkin spiced lattes with my favourite ever human.

4. Even though it's been raining quite a lot so everything's a little soggy and wet, I love seeing he leaves all over the ground. What I am looking forward to, is the crisp frosty weather so you can hear them crunch as you walk.

5. Finding pretty little details in the most random of places.

6. Playing with all the Halloween things that are popping up everywhere.

7. Buying our first Christmas decoration of the year, a very pretty star for the top of our tree.

8. The light in the evenings just now, it's beautiful.
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Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Apple Pie

apple-pie

Do you know something...I've never made an apple pie!

I could have sworn I had -in fact more than once, but it would seem not. After racking my brain, multiple conversations and looking through old foodie (pre-blog) pictures it appears it's not something I've ever made! Crumble, apple cakes and cupcakes, mini apple pastry things, but no apple pie...until now!

We've had such a fantastic crop of apples this year that I really wanted to give it a go, and after reading through recipe after recipe online, I decided to go with one from Mary Berry. It's a basic traditional recipe so I added a few changes as I went, you can find the recipe I used here -and my changes below.

apple-pie
apple-pie

- first of all, a confession! I used store bought pastry, to be honest I always do...it's just easier.

- the recipe says to use cornflour in the pie filling, I didn't have any corn flour left so I just used normal plain flour it seemed to work fine.

- it doesn't call for any spices, but I love cinnamon and all spice with apples so I added 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon of all spice...it tasted just how I like it.

- the recipe simply says "sugar", I assumed this meant caster sugar but I used some demerara I had open in the cupboard. It doesn't give quite the same finish on the top of the pie, but tastes great with the apples.

apple-pie

It's such a great recipe, we had a slice each while it was still warm from the over with cold ice-cream...yum! I also had some left over pastry so made a few leaves and a little plait just for decoration. I will most definitely be making more with our bumper crop of tasty apples before the season over.

apple-pie

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Monday, 26 September 2016

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Nails

sally-hansen-miracle-gel-review

I don't mention nail products very often -not because I don't love them, because having very pretty painted nails makes me feel quite good. But because my nails can be so rubbish at times that I end up just not bothering with them. One of the issues I find with my nails, and why I think I find it hard to grow them is because they are quite thin. So when they're acting up and just not playing ball, I find the best thing I can do is try to protect them with a good coat of polish...leading me nicely to the reason for this post!

The Sally Hansen Gel Polishes are by no means new, but seeing as I wasn't bothering with my nails for such a long time I never got around to trying them. A good few weeks ago now I was in Boots, and I found one of the colours in the sale by the till. It was a pretty lilac shade, perfect for summer so new it wouldn't be a waste. A few days later I tried it on, it went on beautifully in one coat, I didn't add a topcoat, let it dry and that was that. After four or five days I noticed that it had lasted SO much better than other polish would normally on me, it had started to wear at the tips of my nails, but in comparison to other polish -which would have mostly come off, it was doing well. I was intrigued, so wen't back to Boots and picked up the set I have here which included the gel topcoat.

sally-hansen-miracle-gel-review

First of all I'd like to say that I have fallen in love with this colour, -it's called birthday suit, and I only bought this one because I didn't like the other options in the sets but it's such a pretty nude/pink shade. I think it would make a lovely wedding day polish.

I've now tried these polishes with and without a base coat (they suggest without), and that first time without the gel top coat. With the gel coat on top, I can go five or six days before I notice any wear on the tips of my nails, and at that point it's minimal. After eight or nine days I start to notice wear around my nail bed and that's when I feel as if I have to redo it, as it's lifting up and really not looking great. They claim to give you up to fourteens days of shine and wear, but for me I haven't managed to go that long. But for someone who can only usually go a day or two without chips, this is a huge improvement!

My only, and main issue with this product is the drying time...it takes forever!! I struggle to let my nails dry properly at the best of times so this is a major pain, and I'd suggest only painting them when you know you don't have to be anywhere soon. Even when they feel dry, and they are dry to touch, you can still smudge them beyond repair and have to repaint.

Even though I don't manage the full fourteen days, and even though they take forever to dry, I do love this product! The gel top coat is thicker than others I've used in the past, and it also dries very hard. It leaves my nails feeling protected and my thin little nails that can sometimes look quite sad, have actually had time to grow and get into a better condition. I know this isn't the intended use for this product, but it's one of the reasons I love it. Also, if you're like me and polish just doesn't last on you -for whatever reason, I'd recommend giving these a try.

sally-hansen-miracle-gel-review

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Friday, 23 September 2016

Made Me Happy This Week

made-me-happy-this-week

This week, autumn officially started, and the weather is most definitely doing all it can to live up to that. Even on sunny days you can now feel the chill in the air...I love it! As I'm sitting typing this I have a blanket covering me because it's getting chilly. The leaves on the tree's in the garden are slowly starting to turn, and all I want to do is get cosy indoors. Anyway, it's my grandmas birthday today, and we're now going to drop off her present, hope you all have a lovely weekend.

1. My new yellow carry on suitcase. My current carry on case (a horrible pink one) is being used as storage at the moment and I don't see that changing any time soon, so I picked up a new one in the sale.

2. Salted caramel candles. Yes, we have more than one that is because they are the perfect cosy autumn scent. I've had one burning nearly every day this week.

3. Sneaky cheeseburgers from McDonalds.

4. Finding little bits of Christmas making it's way into stores.

5. Hot water bottles...oh how I've missed you! It was really quite cold a few nights ago, so Paul put a hot water bottle in the bed, I had forgotten how wonderful and cosy it feels.

6. Sally Hansen gel nail colours, I started using them a couple of weeks ago and I'm honestly amazed with the results!

7. Movie night's on the sofa with Paul.

8. The fact that our dog seems to think she's a cat (picture above), if I open the blinds she will sit on the windowsill.
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Monday, 19 September 2016

A Homegrown Harvest

a-homegrown-harvest
a-homegrown-harvest

There's something really rather lovely about being able to go into the garden and pick your own fruit. Although this will be our third autumn in this house (that seems unbelievable!), it's the first time we've had a really good crop of apples from the trees. They were a little unkempt and unloved by the previous owners -as was the house to be honest, so over time time we've been trying to nurse them back to health. The larger tree was being starved by the over grown bed it was living in, so much so in fact, that the first time it produced any fruit, I think it only had three or four apples. The smaller tree of the two is always covered in them, but they'd never get very large and most of them wouldn't be good for much. Except of course for the birds who enjoyed eating them from the trees.

We've spent some time cutting off the unnecessary branches and all the bits that I'm pretty sure had started to die, and this year both tree have an abundance of fruit. And not just teenie tiny apples, good sized ones that can be used for lots of different things.

I do wish we knew what kind of apples they were though. I've tried through many internet searches and I've had no luck identifying them, but at least they are edible...we know that much.

This is our first crop of apples from the tree's this year. There are still plenty more to be picked but they don't seem ready just yet. We've already thought of a few tasty things to do with them. The standard stewed apples which is one of my favourite porridge toppings on cold mornings, apple pie -of course, and maybe even a chutney to put by for Christmas.

a-home-grown-harvest


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Friday, 16 September 2016

Made Me Happy This Week

made-me-happy-this-week

I've never been happier to have these little posts, than I have been this week. It's been a tough one, especially at the beginning, but making notes of the small happy things in each day really do help and remind you that the bad wont last forever. And that was really why I started them, even on the worst of days, it's hard not to find at least one thing to smile about. As the days have passed things have started to get better and now we've reached the weekend I'm hoping for some easier days. How has your week been?

1. Having the best friends I think we could ever ask for. They take your mind off even the most rubbish of times and always leave you smiling.

2. Picking some apples from our garden, I'm excited to make something with them soon. Or maybe even a few things because we have quite a crop this year.

3. An afternoon out with Paul's gran for her birthday. It was full of tea, scones and sunshine -and most importantly, she had a lovely time.

4. Seeing the leaves beginning to change almost everywhere now.

5. On rather rubbish mornings, when you haven't had much sleep the night before and you still wake up far too early. Going to pick up breakfast from McDonald's and coming back to eat it in bed is a wonderful thing to do...even if it's not the healthiest start to the day.

6. Mid-week visits from my grandma and little brother.

7. Finding the new Yankee Christmas candles in our local garden centre. They are nice...but nothing will ever replace our favourite Red Apple Wreath for that time of year.

8. Relaxing baths using my Jo Malone bath oil. Not just the bathroom but the whole upstairs of the house smell amazing afterwards. I think it actually also helps on nights when you can't sleep.
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Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Salted Caramel Brownies

salted-caramel-brownies
salted-caramel-brownies

There are some taste combinations that for me feel kind of seasonal -salted caramel is one of them. Since it's been feeling like autumn for a while now in Scotland, it's left me wanting salted caramel everything! Especially the hot chocolates from Starbuck -which I'm pretty sure they don't do anymore (please tell me I'm wrong?).

Anyway, tonight is another episode of The Bake Off and when this years series kicked off a few weeks ago, I made a batch of salted caramel brownies. Seeing as they are one of the easiest desserts you can make, and because they taste amazing I wanted to let you know how I do them.

I've written about our never fail, super easy brownie recipe here twice before (so I won't bore you again). You can find white chocolate chunk ones here, and left over Christmas ones here. The basic recipe is always the same. No matter what I add to them be it white chocolate, nuts, or what ever I have to hand, the base of the recipe doesn't change. If you like sticky gooey brownies then this is the recipe for you.

salted-caramel-brownies
salted-caramel-brownies

Once you've made your brownie mix, missing out the additions -although, if you wanted to add something else too I'm sure it would taste fantastic, pour half of the mixture into your brownie tin. Take a tin of condensed milk caramel, give it a stir so it's easier to work with and then spread half of the tin over your brownie mix. Sprinkle over around 1/2 a teaspoon of sea salt crystals and then cover with the remaining brownie mix. Because you have half a tin of caramel left over, I usually end up making a second batch because trust me...they don't last for very long! But if you don't want to do that, you can always warm up the left over caramel and use it as a sauce.

Sadly we don't have any for tonight's episode, but at least there are some biscuits in the cupboard. How are you enjoying it so far? Do you have any favourites yet?

salted-caramel-brownies

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Friday, 9 September 2016

Made Me Happy This Week

made-me-happy-this-week

It's raining today. As I'm sitting typing this, the wind is blowing the rain against the window and I couldn't be happier with my cup of tea, in my fluffy socks and with a tiny dog curled up at my feet. It really is starting to feel like autumn is making an appearance and I'm so ready for it now. On that same thought, it doesn't feel as if we can be that far into the year yet. I wonder if the time passing so quickly will ever stop being a surprise? Tomorrow is our very best friends 5th wedding anniversary...yes, 5TH! I think I've mentioned before how we like to follow the tradition gifts for each year and this year is wood. I wont tell you what it is, just in case C happens to read this before tomorrow, but we're very excited and I hope they like it.

1. Having my mum, and Paul's mum and dad up for dinner at the beginning of the week to tell them something very exciting.

2. Having an abundance of baked goods in the house. There's nothing better than fresh blueberry muffins and brownies.

3. My little brother coming up to tell me he has a new job...I'm so excited for him, and I think he'll be fantastic at it.

4. My growing trainer obsession.

5. How the sun is starting to sit much lower in the sky, I love the glow of autumn.

6. My little niece saying "apple", it's honestly the cutest thing I've ever heard. She can say quite a few words now but apple is my favourite.

7. Hot porridge on rainy mornings.

8. Pumpkin spiced lattes...need I say anymore?
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Friday, 2 September 2016

Made Me Happy This Week

made-me-happy-this-week
{Just look at those apples. I'm sure they're almost ready for some Autumn baking}

I'm sure I'm about to sound like everyone else online this week, but I'm going to say it anyway...its September!! The joy that brings me is unbelievable. I know it's not quite Autumn yet, that doesn't technically begin until the end of the month -but, it's sort of, kind of beginning and I love it!! Christmas may be my favourite time of year but Autumn is by far my favourite season, it's so beautiful, how could you not love it. Also, the pumpkin spiced lattes have returned to Starbuck so I must pick one of them up soon so kick things off in the proper way.

1. Our next door neighbours have chickens, and I think ducks too. I love to sit in the garden late morning time and listen to them clucking and quacking away.

2. Squares of dark chocolate with a twist of sea salt, it's become my new snack of choice this week and its far too tasty.

3. I love that on certain days at the moment, even though we aren't quite there yet, that you can smell and feel Autumn in the air. I say that to so many people but very few understand what I mean...do you? 

4. Sitting in the sunshine, on the grass, eating creme brulee - and a very good creme brulee it was too!

5. All the baking I have planned for the next few months! I feel as if I go a little baking heavy here during the colder months but I just can't help myself, it seems to be what I want to do most of the time. 

6. My skin. What I mean by that is that it seems clear and problem free at the moment, and while it will always be a little red, its looking pretty good.

7. Knitwear! I'm not saying this to complain, because honestly it's not bothered me at all, but Summer in Scotland this year has been the odd few days here and there. Some days it's been really bloody cold, and I can't lie, it just makes me happy that I can throw on some knitwear. 

8. Our new living room throw that we bought last weekend. It's honestly the softest thing I have ever felt and I want to buy one for each room. 

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