Sunday, 31 January 2016

WEEKENDER: January


So January was good and bad.

The majority was awesome, we spent a lot of time putting a lot of effort into eating well and visiting family. We found a new favourite restaurant to eat at and spent a lovely weekend away up on the North Yorkshire Coast.

On the other hand though, our old family cat passed away suddenly. After eleven years we were forced to put her down due to a random, undiagnosable issue where she wasn't able to open her mouth to drink or eat. The vets were super helpful and tried as much as they could to make whatever was preventing her from drinking less painful, but nothing worked. In the end the vet (who, incidentally, we took her to when we found her abandoned aged six months at the end of our road) gave us two options: to put her through a major ordeal to try to find the source of the issue and then find a course of treatment to aid recovery (if they could) or to just stop her pain. I cried like an absolute baby, but more that she was in pain and I couldn't stop it without hurting her more rather than having to put her down.

So overall, January could have been better.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

REVIEW: Battle of the Drugstore Red



I bite my nails. Or rather, correction: I used to bite my nails.

Every year I say to myself that I will break the habit of my entire life and stop, but as yet I haven't ever kept it up for very long. It gets to the point I have to actually cut them to keep them sort and my hands useable and then it all goes to pot.

Red is a great colour for nails. Whether horribly bitten or long and gloriously manicured. Not only does it look mint whatever outfit or season, but it also helps a long-term biter like myself to cut back - otherwise I'd have a load of red flakes in my teeth.

Not a great look.

I've acquired quite the stash. My current favourite is the Rimmel Double Decker Red, closely followed by the MUA Red Rose, though going into Spring I can see the Rimmel Glason-berry getting some wear.

Which is your favourite red polish?

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Tuesday, 26 January 2016

BAKE: Flapjack


I'm fairly certain that very, very few people dislike flapjack.

That means I had to share this out with pretty much everyone I know. Damn.

But, I don't mind because they are the easiest things ever to bake and surprisingly, I usually have all the ingredients in my cupboards.

60g golden syrup
170g butter
250g oats
100g sugar


Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a pan until all the butter has melted and the sugar dissolved. Then bash the oats in, slap in a tray and bake at 180C for about 30 minutes. NOTE: I didn't cook these for the whole 30 minutes - they started to look golden, so I took them out and they taste just fine.

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Saturday, 23 January 2016

LIFE: Nine Years


Today marks a whole nine years since the Lad asked me to be his girlfriend. It's been a long nine years - not in a bad way, just in a woah-a-hell-of-a-lot-has-happened way. I think what's more overwhelming is that nine means 'nearly ten'. It's a countdown. A fucking decade!

I feel old.

I keep thinking it can surely only be like five years? Six at a push? Never seven already?! But it's nine. And I'm glad.

I'm glad I experienced everything that I have in these past nine years with him alongside me. I'm glad that I've had my hand in his through difficult times and good times. And I'm glad that he's chosen to share these nine with me and choose to hold my hand when he could easily have his pick of all the ladies.

He's the best and I love him.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

REVIEW: Jo Malone Mimosa and Cardamom Fragrance


I've seen plenty bloggers rave about Jo Malone scents in the past and never really thought myself one of those people who could pull off such a rich fragrance. In essence, I'm a pleb.

But, with my friends birthday last month I knew just what to get her - although seeing as I've not given her it yet I won't disclose it now - and alongside the main present I was given a gift. A sample of their Mimosa and Cardamom cologne.

First impressions, it's very low level, musky and leafy. With wear there are higher, slightly floral tones, but it still remains very much a base for their famous layering of scents. 

I love it. All I need now is to pluck up the courage to purchase a higher level fragrance to layer it with!

Which is your favourite Jo Malone cologne? Which ones do you layer up?

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BAKE: Oat bran and Blueberry Muffins


Beagles love blueberries. Well, so do I.

I also love a good muffin. Though, before baking these I'd never tried a breakfast muffin before. These beauties are made with spelt flour, oatbran and do not have any oil in them - something that usually features highly in any recipe for muffins I've used before.

These are perfect for those mornings where time seems to be running really fast, but you are not. And you're late. And you're rushing out of the door. Hello, me every morning.

This are the ingredients I used, though in the original recipe much more fruit was used (which next time I'll heed).

200g butter
75g light brown sugar
100g oat bran
200g oats
200g spelt flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp bicarb
A handful of chopped almonds
2 eggs
350ml yoghurt
60g blueberries

Melt the butter and sugar together and then leave to cool whilst you bash the bran, almonds, oats, salt, bicarb and flour in a bowl. In another separate bowl (sorry for the washing up here) beat the eggs and yoghurt together and throw in the fruit. I wish I'd've used more fruit because these exact muffins were pretty dry (I ate them whilst dipping them in Quark like little biscuits in tea) so feel free to bash a load more in. The original recipe states to use 250g of fruit so add as much or as little as you prefer. I just ran out of blueberries.

Mix the melted butter mix in with the yoghurt mix and then mix that into the dry mix. So much mixing. Mine was pretty a pretty sticky rigid texture so I took a good palmful to make each muffin. In total this made 30, but you can see they're cute and small.

Bash these in the oven for 25 minutes at 170C and try not to devour all of them immediately when your timer starts ringing.

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Sunday, 17 January 2016

REVIEW: Sproutmark (the most awesome bookmark)


My mum knows me well.

My family are avid readers - even my gamer brother. Give him a good story and he's on it like a tramp on chips.

I'm anal when it comes to books. The spines MUST be kept pristine. The corners must NOT be bent. NO moisture must ever come into contact with any part of a book - that means no licking of fingers to turn pages, or bath time reading.

I got these Sproutmarks in my stocking for Christmas. At first I was a bit like, wtf do I do with that? But, once my Ma carefully explained, I got it, and I loved it. The concept is awesome. I usually keep the sprout stuck out of the top (like the first photo), but on the occasion I've put it in so it springs up when I open the book, a smile always appears on my face.

So, going back to the anal thing, I was worried that the size of the sprout would affect the pristine-ness of my books. Never fear though, the sprouts are flexible silicone and seeing as I read pretty quick, the sprouts aren't in one place for two long. They are also pretty good for chewing on instead of nail biting at the good parts.

I love these. Such a simple, but fantastic design.


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Friday, 15 January 2016

REVIEW: No7 Beautiful Skin Overnight Radiance Boost



It's January. The weather is shit - as usual. And my skin has decided to shrivel up and break out.  I look like death on a daily basis. Super!

Not.

No7 isn't usually a brand I head for, but I had a voucher so I thought I'd have a gander. This Overnight Radiance Boost seems to tick all the boxes. As someone who normally washes her face and then drops straight into a dribbly sleep, applying this was a bit indulgent for me. 

I love the smell of this. It's lovely, fresh and subtly floral. And it lasts on the skin, so I drift off to sleep I'm surrounded by the gentle scent.

After using this for a week, my skin feels supple, looks brighter and I feel more confident with my skin. Definately a winner.

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Tuesday, 12 January 2016

REVIEW: M&S Bodywash



I love these M&S body washes for two reasons: they smell awesome, and they smell awesome.

Each one smells incredibly aromatic and pungent - exactly as it describes itself on the front. I've had these since Christmas and I struggle to chose which to use every day. I adore the packaging - it's a fantastically cute olde worlde style that sits with the strength of scent and scent combinations of them. My particular favourite is the lavender and thyme because I tend to bathe in the evenings and it's a great combination to settle my body and mind down for sleep.

The combinations themselves are intriguing. The lemon and fig is acidic, but humble (pretty weird way to describe a smell, but the more I sniff it, the more I wholeheartedly stick by that description) and the elderflower and rhubarb reminds me of Springtime when everyone starts pruning and giving their grass the first cut - super fresh.

I'll be saddened when I come to the end of them, but they're all lasting very well considering the use.

 Have any of you tried these? What's your favourite scent combinations?

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Monday, 11 January 2016

COOK: Baked Eggs and Blue Cheese


I wouldn't say I was huge fan of blue cheese - despite always choosing the Blackjack cheese dip at Frankie and Bennys. However, with the leftover Christmas cheese selection gradually hardening off in the fridge, I thought using the cheese in something would encourage me to use it up.

Baked eggs have always intrigued me. I've never had them. Never seen them on a menu in any restaurant I've eaten at. And randomly never actually tried making them myself. Until now.

For this recipe for one person I used:

one egg
90(ish)ml double cream
a knob of cheese
a sprinkling of dried mixed herbs

To begin, set your oven to about 180C and find a ramekin (I've seen people use one dip in a muffin tin for this too). Mash the cheese and cream together in a bowl and mix in the herbs. Bash the mix into the ramekin and crack an egg over the top. Put this into a bain marie (basically find a dish to set your ramekin into and fill it with boiling water to about halfway up the sides of your ramekin). Pop this into the oven for as long as it takes for your egg white to have cooked through.

Then get dipping!

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Sunday, 10 January 2016

READ: #47 Chewing the Cud, #48 The Small Hand, #49 Pegasus



To conclude my 2015 reading list, these are the final books I managed to read. I'm gutted I didn't reach my 52 goal, but as I said before, 49 is pretty close and I'm happy I managed to get that far!

This is an autobiography of Dick King-Smith, one of my all time favourite authors. I've read numerous of his books as a child and I think everyone and their Grandma's have watched Babe: The Sheep-pig before. I love his stories, the way he writes openly about his failures and about his love for his wife and family. I'm sad that this man is no longer with us, though he's left a grand legacy behind him.

A lovely little ghost story that's well written and presented. It's set in current time so there's a good juxtaposition between old times and newer times. There's a super twist in it, though a bit saddening too. I can't write a blurb for this without giving it away, so if you like ghost stories and fancy adding another to your collection, I would recommend this.

This has been on my wishlist for SO LONG and I finally got it for Christmas. It's typical McKinley - the story is well thought out and it's hard to put the book down, however (and this is quite a big however) it's similar to Sunshine in that there's a lot of repetition and I get the urge to shout 'hurry up!' a lot. Sylvi has the power to speak to her Pegasus - something no other human has ever really been able to do, or not recently anyway. She's the fourth child to her father, the King, and so she wasn't really supposed to come into any limelight and it totally unprepared for the shitstorm that hits the fan when everyone realises that normal traditions are under strain of being broken. A good, if not weird end read to my year of books.

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