29 December 2014

What I Got For Christmas

So that was Christmas for another year. I hope you all had fun! Time went by so quickly on the big day but luckily we have a large family so we've had a few Christmas gatherings since. I really wish it didn't have to end, it's been so lovely catching up with friends and family. 

Today I thought i'd share what I got for my birthday & Christmas. I love being nosey and seeing what Santa got everybody so I hope you enjoy this post. I got a nice mixture of goodies...


Starting off with home bits & bobs. I love candles so was thrilled to receive three beautiful scents! The Seychelles from The White Company smells so luxurious and the Verbena candle will be perfect in the warmer months. The cook book and stand will go to great use too!


I've been getting into herbal teas recently so the Mr got me this gorgeous box which is the perfect size to store them all in.


I was spoilt rotten and received lots of beauty stuff too. I love to wear perfume but find it so difficult to choose a new one. Ian did good and bought me this sample set from Boots which includes a voucher for a full size bottle of your favourite scent. Such a great idea!



I've been such a lucky girl & am very thankful. I have a few gift vouchers to spend so will be hitting the sales this week!

How was your Christmas? What did Santa bring you?

Gemma xXx

24 December 2014

Eat, Drink & Be Merry!

After a lot of anticipation Christmas is finally here! I love Christmas eve as everyone is full of excitement and cheer. We're spending Christmas at home this year so have spent the day preparing food for the big feast tomorrow. Now as i'm typing this we're watching the film we watch every Christmas eve, The Polar Express. 

Here are a few things we've done recently that have made me feel festive...

- Seeing the Christmas Coco Cola Lorry
- Wearing my Christmas jumper a little too often
- Relaxing in a fairy light/candle lit room
- Sitting by the fire
- Wrapping presents
- Baking
- Visiting family
- Robin Hood Panto
- Making pretty jar decorations
- Drinking lots of hot chocolate










Merry Christmas!!

Gemma xXx

18 December 2014

Homemade Marshmallow Gifts

Image Via Mybakingaddiction.com

If Christmas has suddenly crept up on you out of nowhere this year then don't despair, you still have this weekend to get prepared. This weekend I will be making my Foodie gifts. Homemade Sweet treats make the perfect gift as they cost little to make, take minimal time and best of all one batch can make multiple gifts.

This year I have made Homemade Marshmallows using a DIY kit from Sainsbury's. They were extremely easy to make and were ready in just under 3 hours. You can add an array of flavourings or colouring to make your marshmallows even more unique, Simply present your homemade goods in a clear celophane and tie with a pretty ribbon.

Are you making Foodie Gifts this year? If so what are you making?

Gemma xXx

N:B - Sainsburys kindly sent me the DIY marshmallow kit to try out. All opinions are my own.


10 December 2014

No7 Beauty Advent Calender Days 1-8



With so many alternative advent calenders in the shops I decided to treat myself to No7's beauty advent calender. Every day I am so excited to see what beauty treat is behind each door...it's like a little Christmas present to myself each morning. 

Here is what was in Days 1 to 8 of No7's advent calender...



- Eyeshadow

- Eyeshadow brush
- Nail Polish
- Mascara
- Eye Serum
- Exfoliator
- Lip Crayon
- Skin Illuminator

So far i'm really happy with each door I have opened. The mascara lengthens my lashes well and the lip crayon colour gives my lips a subtle natural colour. The only product I am not too keen on the skin illuminator, that may be more appropriate to wear during summer evenings.

Check back soon for days 9-16!

Have you got an alternative advent calender? Which one did you buy?

Gemma x

3 December 2014

My Christmas Wishlist - 2014

Jaffa Cakes // Tangle Teezer - Boots // Guerlain La Petite Robe Nore - Boots // Estee Lauder Perfectly Clean - John Lewis // Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair - John Lewis // Benefit Fun Size Flirts // Black Boots - Next // PJ's - New Look

Here is my wishlist for this Christmas. As I'm getting older I find that I'm wanting a few good quality things rather than lots of little bits and pieces. However new PJ's are a must..especially of they are festive in the slightest! 

I always ask for something chocolatey at this time of year too. When else is there the excuse of eating a whole box of chocolates to yourself?? Ha!

What is in your Christmas list this year? Do you always ask for new pj's too?

Gemma x


30 November 2014

Top Tips For A Good Nights Sleep



Now the holiday season is upon us we are all busy busy busy. I enjoy this time of year so much, but with lots to do sometimes it can be difficult to wind down and get a good nights sleep. Here are some of the things I do to make sure I get a good 8 hours of sleep:

- Stop over- thinking and write lists. If you aren't sure who you've got to buy for this Christmas then write all their names down and get brainstorming. List what you need to do to the house before the big day and plan when you are going to do it.

- Make your bedroom a place of relaxation by putting a side lamp on or some fairy lights. These low lights will help you to feel calm and ready to sleep.

- Put away your technology and have some 'me' time. Make yourself a cup of tea and read a book.

- Close your curtains or blinds. It isn't a great feeling waking up to the bright light shining in on your face when you've just woken up. Personally I also feel a little vulnerable when my curtains are open at night time. I know i've got 100% privacy when they are closed and no one can see in.

- Have a routine. Wash your face and apply your lotions and potions. It's the worst going to bed feeling unclean.

- For the ultimate best nights sleep I find having a bath/shower, clean pj's and a fresh duvet set on the bed to work wonders. Beds always feel comfier when you've got clean sheets, don't they?

What do you do to get a good nights sleep? Tell me in the comments below!

Gemma x



23 November 2014

Turkey Soup With A Cranberry Swirl



With Thanksgiving around the corner and Christmas soon afterwards we are all going to have an abundance of turkey leftovers. Something I love to make with these leftovers (apart from turkey sandwiches) is turkey soup. It's perfect for when you're hungry but just fancy something light after the previous days feast.

Firstly you will need to make the stock. Simply put the turkey carcass in a large pot and over with water. You can add some dried bay leaves, an onion and a few carrots to add extra flavour. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 hours, skimming off any scum that rises to the surface.

Sieve the stock, keeping the liquid and disposing the bones.

To make the soup you will need:

- 2 handfuls of turkey meat
- 2 carrots
- 1 onion
- 1 1/2 litres of turkey stock
- 3 rashers of smoky bacon
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 large potato
- Smoked paprika
- Salt & pepper

Chop up your bacon and fry until cooked. Chop up the vegetables and lightly fry them with the bacon until they are starting to soften. Rip up your leftover turkey meat, crush your garlic and add to the frying pan, heating it all through. Move this mixture into a large saucepan and cover with your stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are completely softened. 

Blend your mixture to the desired consistency. Season with the smoked paprika to taste (I like it smoky so added a Tbsp or so) and salt and pepper. If the soup is too thick you could always add a splash of milk or cream for a touch of luxury.

For the cranberry swirl you can make your own sauce or opt for shop bought. I'll put my hands up and admit I used shop bought, it's just so much easier! Simply mix smooth cranberry sauce with a little water until its thin enough drizzle onto the soup.




Serve & enjoy!

Gemma x

N.B - Sainsbury's very kindly sent me some vouchers to create a recipe that uses up leftover turkey. Thank you Sainsbury's!

21 November 2014

Chocolate Fridge Cake Recipe

Chocolate Fridge cake is one of my favourite sweet treats to make. I always use this time of year as an excuse to make it as there are likely leftovers lying around from parties and gatherings. The chocolate that is a little too bitter or those last biscuits at the bottom of the biscuit tin can be transformed into something presentable and best of all yummy.



It is so easy to make and yet they look so impressive when serving to friends and family at your festive gathering (no one needs to know they take minimal effort and time to prepare!).


You will need:

-4oz/113g Butter
-4oz/113g Plain Chocolate (or chocolate of your choice)
-4oz/11g White Chocolate
-4oz/113g Dried Cranberries (or dried fruit of your choice)
-1 Can of condensed milk
-10oz Digestive biscuits
-Mini marshmallows 
-A small tin (I used this one)

Melt the butter and plain chocolate in a saucepan over a low heat. Crush your biscuits into a mixture of small crumbs and big chunks and mix in with your dried fruit and marshmallows. Stir this into your melted butter and chocolate and add your tin of condensed milk. Mix thoroughly until everything is covered in chocolatey goodness.

Line a tin with greaseproof paper. Flatten your chocolate mixture in the tin, cover with cling film and pop it into the fridge for a few hours or overnight to harden. Once it has hardened melt your white chocolate and spread it over, sprinkling some of dried cranberries on top. Allow to it harden in the fridge for another hour or so. Cut into small squares and serve.

------------------




From chocolate and biscuits to dried fruit and nuts, you can add almost anything to it. These different ingredients add great texture (I love a good crunch) and look so interesting when cut up into little squares. To make it even more festive you could roughly chop a candy cane and sprinkle over the chocolate topping.

What would you add to your Chocolate Fridge Cake?

Gemma x

N.B - Sainsbury's very kindly sent me some vouchers to create a recipe that uses up leftover chocolate. Thank you Sainsbury's!

18 November 2014

Christmas Gift Guide For Him!

Where's Wally Puzzle - Tesco //  Pringles Socks - ASOS // Fairisle Onesie - ASDA // Terry's Chocolate Orange // Apple TV - Currys //  Versace Aftershave Miniatures - Boots // Shot Glass Drinking Game - John Lewis  

If you are anything like me I find it really difficult to think of Christmas gift ideas for the boy in my life. He isn't very forthcoming with a list and when I do suggest something he is rarely enthusiastic. Awkward or what?! 

These gift ideas are things i'd happily gift to the men in my life. The Pringles socks always go down well as they are such great quality...plus you can never have too many socks. The Apple TV is perfect for any Ipad/Iphone lover and a good puzzle at Christmas time will keep all family members occupied! 

Do you find it difficult to buy for the men in your life? What are you planning on buying your other half?

Gemma x


16 November 2014

Country Living Christmas Fair 2014



Yesterday I spent the day with the lovely Gemma from Gem's Country Life Dream. We were long overdue a catch up and there was no better place to have it than at the Country Living Christmas Fair in Islington. We both love Christmas so as you can imagine we were in our element at the fair! Once we arrived we were greeted with the smell of dried scented fruits...it smelt divine. 










The fair is great if you are planning on purchasing all your gifts in one go or just simply looking for inspiration. From bespoke clothes and toys to beauty and food gifts, the fair has it all. 




If we weren't saving for a house/wedding I could of bought loads. The things that caught my eye the most were all the pretty Christmas decorations, the dried scented fruits and lots of twinkly fairy lights. These stalls really made the fair feel christmassy.



The highlight of the Christmas fair for me was meeting Cherry Menlove and watching her class on table decorations. She was one of my inspirations for starting this blog and my interest in crafts so it was great to finally meet her! 

If you love all things Christmas and to shop till you drop then i'd definitely recommend the Country Living Christmas Fair. Today was the last day in London but if you are close to Harrogate or Glasgow then be sure to pop it in your diary.


14 November 2014

Finally!

Image Via Pinterest

Today I just wanted to do a little update on life at the moment. After many years of saving Ian & I are finally starting the adventure of hunting for our first home together! For so long it seemed like it would never happen but at last we are here. I am so excited!

Right now we are in the very early stages of trawling Right Move for potential houses, with one or two viewings lined up already! For now we are trying to view as many different types of property to see what we like & dislike. Hopefully in a few weeks time we will have narrowed down on areas and have some more news about it all : )

Wedding wise - we are also looking to book a venue! It's very exciting but with so many options it has got a bit overwhelming. Some places are ridiculously pricey for what they offer but with lots of deals around i'm sure we'll find somewhere that we like.

I'll be sure to keep you all up to date with moving & wedding shenanigans as they happen. In the mean time we are keeping busy with investigating my parents new area and of course the build up to Christtmassss..YAY!!

Happy Friday!

7 November 2014

Christmas Gift Guide For Her!

Yankee Candle Selection - ASDA //  Clarisonic Face Brush   //  Mercury Hurricane Candle Holder - B&Q Home // Chunky Knit Throw -  Laura Ashley // White Musk Smoky Rose Perfume - The Body Shop // Benefit Fun Size Flirts - Boots // Slipper Boots - New Look

It's that time of year again when wish lists are made and the shops are searched for that perfect gift. These ideas are a mixture of things that I would buy for others and products that I received last year and still absolutely love!

The White Musk Smoky Rose perfume is a beautiful scent. This 'mysterious' and 'seductive' floral scent smells like it is a high end product when in reality it is very reasonably priced! The Body Shop do some great gift sets which include this scent so I really recommend that you check them out.

I was a lucky girl last year and received a Clarisonic face brush. It's absolutely fantastic if you've got problematic skin or just can't get enough of that clean fresh faced feel. The Clarisonic brushes away any impurities that may be left behind from general cleansing and gets rid of dry skin like no other exfoliator that i've tried. This gets a huge thumbs up from me!

Other gift ideas include:

- Chunk knit throw, Candles & Mercury candle holder (perfect for any home       decor fanatic)
- Make up miniatures
- Cosy socks, slippers, pj's 
- Bra & knicker sets 
- Magazine subscription
- Baking/cooking sets
- Chocolate!!

Are you starting to think about Christmas yet? If so, have you started any Christmas shopping?? We have bought the odd bits & pieces but really need to put our thinking caps on and make a proper list.

31 October 2014

Lately...

Keeping Warm On A Chilly Evening //  Decorating For Autumn
Kitten Play // Chilly Walks

Wishlists // Tea Drinking
Running On The Fields // Christmas Shopping

If you don't follow me on Instagram then here is what you have missed recently. As much as I love taking photos with our good camera, you cannot beat a snap on the phone when a moment quickly passes by.

We are having a quiet Halloween this year. Instead of the usual mini party, we have put a few decorations out the front of the house & have a bowl of sweets at the ready for Trick-Or-Treaters. My parents new area seems to be full of oldies so I doubt there will be anyone knocking tonight. O well - atleast there will be lots of leftovers!

What are your plans for the weekend? Are you doing anything special for Halloween?

24 October 2014

Homemade Doughnuts







Today I wanted to share with you probably the best thing I've ever made...Homemade Doughnuts!! Before making them I hadn't eaten a doughnut in years because they all have that dreaded nut allergy warning on them. As you can imagine I couldn't wait to taste them...they were heavenly!

The thought of making them is a little daunting because you deep fry them. I was nervous about that aspect of it but once you are confident in safely deep frying they are unbelievably easy to make (this is probably a bad thing because they are so calorific!!). Make these when you have guests over otherwise you may end up eating the whole lot!

Recipe by Paul Hollywood (makes 12)

For the dough you will need:

500g Strong White Flour
2x7g sachets of yeast
50g sugar (plus more for coating the doughnuts in)
40g softened unsalted butter
2 eggs
150ml warm milk
130ml water

For your filling you can choose whatever you'd like. From jam and custard to chocolate spread and apple sauce the world is your Oyster. We went for Sainsbury's Organic Strawberry Conserve. It had the perfect amount of sweetness with little chunks of Strawberry running through it...scrummy!


Method:

Put all the ingredients in a bowl (holding back a bit of water) and mix until the dough comes together. Slowly add the remaining water and knead on a clean floured surface for 10 minutes until you have a soft elastic doughy ball. Place into a clean bowl, cover and let it prove for an hour or until double in size.

Knock the dough back gently on a lightly floured surface and knead a few times. Divide into 12 equal balls and place on a lined baking tray (leaving an inch or so gap between each ball). Cover and let it prove for another hour or until doubled in size.

Pre-heat your oil in a deep fat dryer to 180c/350f. Gently lower a doughnut or two in at a time and cook 2 minutes on each side until golden brown. Carefully remove from the oil and roll on some kitchen towel to remove excess oil. Then roll in your sugar to coat the outside of each doughnut. Allow doughnuts to cool.

To fill your doughnuts use a small knife to poke a hole into the centre, wiggling it around to make a decent sized hole. Pipe your filling into the centre and enjoy!



Safety advice: It's best to use a deep fat fryer but we do not have one. Instead we used a deep saucepan and used a cooking thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature. It's best to take precautions and read up what to do in case of a fire. You can read about it all here.



17 October 2014

Moving

Sorry that it has been quiet around here this past week or so. The reason is because we've moved house! 

My parents have been wanting to move for ages and finally bit the bullet. We've moved to a village on the outskirts of Milton Keynes, about 50 miles from our old house! It's the best of both worlds as it's lovely and quiet but the big shops are only a 10 minute drive away (probably not great for my bank balance).

As we come from London it's going to take a while to get used to this country lifestyle. I'm looking forward to lots of walks in the fields near by, stopping off at the local pub and best of all lighting the open fire on a chilly evening.

I'll be back soon with a few new recipes and some adventures discovering our new area.

To new beginnings!





3 October 2014

Eating Organically


September was Organic month and to help raise awareness of the selection of organic products we have at hand, Sainsbury's sent me some ingredients from their SO Organic range to rustle up some delicious delights.


When you think of organic food, fruits and vegetables are the first thing to spring to mind. I was genuinely surprised to find out how you can now buy organically for the majority of your weekly shop. From wines and pasta to meats and jams you really can eat purely organic food. One thing that I love about cooking is that you know exactly what goes into what you eat. Eating organically and cooking for yourself takes it that much further as you know that nothing untoward has gone into your food.







The first meal I made was a delicious organic Chicken & Mushroom Risotto. It's perfect to make on a chilly Autumnal evening as it is so comforting. It was absolutely divine! The creamy rice was plump and full of yummy flavours from the vegetable stock. That paired with the chicken and luxurious Porcini mushrooms made the perfect Autumnal dinner. It's difficult to describe how it tastes exactly, but it definitely reminded me of a winter Paella. Scrumptious!

You can find the recipe I used here. All I did differently was cook up some diced chicken breast and cooked it through before frying up the vegetables. 

Do you eat organically? Let me know & remember to check back soon for some more organic dishes.

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Disclaimer: Sainsburys kindly sent me some food items and vouchers to make a few dishes to share with you all! As always all opinions are my own and honest.

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