13 December 2015

Gift Guide For Geeks - 2015


Everyone has at least one family member or friend who is a total geek. You know, the complete know it alls who love a good riddle or who knows so many random facts. For me this is the Ian my fiancée and my uncle. Buying them presents is sometimes difficult (I find buying for men pretty hard), but when getting something to keep their clever minds busy there are so many fun options.

1. Addict-a-ball 3D Maze (£6) - Fun for all the family and will keep you pre-occupied for hours until you've conquer it!

2. Mensa puzzles (£12) - I usually buy these little puzzles as stocking gifts for everyone. They are so addicting to do, especially when your nan can easily separate the metal puzzle and you are still struggling half an hour later....lol!

3. Cooking for Geeks*(£18.02) - This is one of those books that you can dip in & out of. It teaches science through cooking, explores things like the science behind food and why we cook food the way we do. It's so insightful, I can definitely see this book being passed around on christmas day for everyone to have nose. I love to bake & cook so i'm looking forward to finding out how to create the perfect crispy and chewy cookie! Ian picked this up yesterday and just couldn't put it down. I'm hoping with his new found knowledge he will be cooking up a storm!

4. Tetris mug (£8) - When cold this Tetris mug shows an early stage of game, when filled with a hot drink it magically changes to show the game 'heating up'.

5. Virtual reality headset (£19.99) - This will definitely be a hit on Christmas day. With so many virtual reality apps available, this headset can change your phone screen into a whole new world. With lots of games to play or even to give a new perspective on your favourite film, this is sure to be popular.

6. Wind Powered Car (£6.50) - Created by Guinness World Records, this little model set challenges you to make a wind propelled car. Spend hours trying to perfect your model and break some records!

Gemma x


5 December 2015

Cable & Cotton Fairy Lights Review & A Giveaway! - CLOSED




I've been lusting after Cable & Cotton lights for a long time so I couldn't believe it when I got the chance to review a set of lights!! I was seriously excited : ) If I could only ever have one pretty thing in my living room or bedroom it would have to be fairy lights. They just give off such a beautiful light and create such a relaxing atmosphere. 



Something I love about Cable & Cotton is that they add instant colour to any room. I chose one of their pre-selected colours called 'Marshmallow'; I really love the soft colours which will go with most of our decor. They offer lots of other colour combinations or you can even choose to design your own! I can imagine the more vibrant colours would look great during a summer BBQ.




You receive your Cable & Cotton order in a box where the balls and string are organised so neatly. I was a little surprised to see that they are self-assemble but I guess that allows you to put the colours in any order that takes your fancy. To attach the balls onto the lights you push the bulb into the pre-made hole. At first it was a little tricky but after a while you get the hang of it.






Once all the balls are attached it looks so so pretty! I love how they look amazing when the lights are off, let alone on! If you know anyone who is into home decor then this would make a great Christmas present..or why not just treat yourself?







Cable & Cotton were generous enough to provide an extra set of Marshmallow lights for me to giveaway to one of you! If you'd like to enter then you must do at least one of the following (if you do all 3 you will have 3 entries!) - 

1. Follow me on Twitter and tweet me telling me you've done so.

2. Share my giveaway on Twitter with a link to this blog post (My twitter handle @musingsofagem must be included).

3. Comment below telling me where you'd put the Cable & Cotton fairy lights if you win (leave an e-mail address so that I can contact you if you win).

Simples!

The giveaway will end on 12th of December at noon. UK entries only please. The giveaway is now closed & the winner has been contacted!

Gemma x

26 November 2015

Home Decor Lovers Gift Guide - 2015




Botanical Art Work Frame* (£35) - I plan on having lots of art work & prints throughout our home and this from Graham & Brown would be perfect on any wall. I really like the soft colour and detail that is used on each of these individual prints, they are so pretty to look at. What I love even more is that you can add your own photos to it, creating a beautiful personal display.

Diffuser gift set (£30) - I really really want this for Christmas! The White Company scents are amazing! There is nothing better than a lovely smelling home. This is perfect if you want each room to smell different or you could make the present last by getting a diffuser out every other month.

Key holder (£10) - This would look great in any entry way and keep keys in one place (no more loosing keys!)

Pocket Watch Clock (£55) - This would be such an interesting clock to have and would most certainly be a talking point.

Snapshot Camera (£20) - A great gift for someone with quirky taste or is photography obsessed.


Sparkly Vase (£22) - As mentioned in a previous blog post I am so loving Mercury glass at the moment! Everyone loves a bit of sparkle at Christmas and you can never have too many vases in my opinion. This one would be amazing with some twig fairy lights standing in it.

Flower Subscription (£50 for 3 months) - Another idea that is so nice. I love having fresh flowers in the house so imagine receiving a seasonal bouquet gift subscription each month.

Cable knit throw (£65) - Any home decor lover needs a luxurious blanket/throw in their lives. Imagine cosying up with it on the sofa on a chilly afternoon. Bliss!

Vanilla Creme Home Fragrance Gift Set (£17 or in 3 for 2 offer) - More smellies!

Jewellery Stand (£12 or in 3 for 2 offer) - Another pretty way to keep things organised. This would look gorgeous on a bed side table or on top of a chest of drawers in a bedroom.

As someone who is pretty much obsessed with home decor I can safely say that I'd be very happy to receive anything along the lines of my suggestions. You can't really go wrong with a nice candle or diffuser though : )

Gemma x

21 November 2015

5 Festive Things To Do This Weekend

As Christmas is approaching fast, it's time to start feeling festive. Here are 5 festive things that I will be doing this weekend:

1. Go for a walk -  I love to bundle up in a big jacket and scarf and go for a walk with family in the run up to festivities. We have a good laugh and plan what we are doing over the festive period (like which Panto we are going to see - Yay!). It's so good to get some fresh air and blow the cobwebs away after a long working week.

2. Have a hot chocolate - This is perfect after a nice walk (See number 1). I only ever drink hot chocolate at this time of year so I make sure I get my quota when the temperature drops! Find somewhere warm and cosy and RELAX!


Image Via Google


3. Go to a Garden Centre - Now I am almost 25 but I do love a good Garden Centre at this time of year. I always let out a little squeal when I see the fantastic Christmas displays they put on. Everything is colour/style co-ordinated which makes decoration shopping so much easier if you have a colour scheme in mind. Plus there are always a great selection of foodie/stocking presents to look at.

4. Buy a Christmas Jumper - Give in to the cheesiness and buy one before they sell out. Last year I left it quite late and all the good ones had gone. I have my eye on a fair few this year, some are actually quite nice. I desperately want the one from Fat Face.


Gingerbread Jumper / Fairisle Jumper / Kiss Me It's Christmas Jumper

5. Have a movie night - We always watch more films over the festive period. Why not have a buffet style dinner (I'm thinking cheeses, crackers, chutneys, fruit, sausage rolls etc) in front of the TV with lots of blankets and thick socks. I usually end up falling asleep half way through films because i'm just so snuggly and warm. Zzzz!

What are you doing this weekend? What do you do to get you in the festive spirit?

Gemma x

12 November 2015

Christmas Foodie Gift Guide - 2015






Herb Rack £30- With all these herbs and spices the choices of potential dishes to make are endless. A definite must for any budding cook who also likes an organised kitchen!

Fondue Set £18 - This is such a lovely present for a couple. You can't beat chocolate dipped strawberries after a romantic dinner for two.

Heart Chopping board £5 - Ideal for a girly girl for day to day or to use as a serving board for special occasions. I'm thinking cheeses and grapes. Yum!

Make It Easy Cookbook* £11.99 - Perfect for the home cook who likes to be organised and make dishes ahead of time for everyday meals or even dinner parties. With such a variety of dishes there is something for everyone. As much as I love to cook, I hate being flustered and stressed out. This cook book is simple to follow and makes cooking a joy! Definitely one for the cook book collectors out there.

Cake in a mug £7.99 - I love that cake in a mug is now a thing. It's great for when you want a sugar fix but makes just enough to stop you from eating TOO much.

Krups Nespresso Coffee Machine £80 - A bit more of a splurge but could earn you major brownie points if bought for your other half. I love how this would add such a pop of colour in the kitchen.

Jamie Oliver Pie Set £16.50 (also in the 3 for 2 range) - I can imagine this would be put to good use when making turkey pies with Christmas leftovers. 

I am such a foodie myself so making this gift guide was so much fun! I want one of everything! If you know someone who needs a little boost then I think a good cook book and a range of herbs and spices will allow you to try new things in the kitchen.

Have you started your Christmas shopping? I'm usually so organised but i've barely started this year.

Gemma x

5 November 2015

Wedding - First Time Wedding Dress Shopping

The treasure hunt has begun for my wedding dress! I have to admit I wasn't particularly looking forward to start looking, I felt so apprehensive and a tad nervous as I didn't really know what to expect.

After visiting my first bridal shop it's safe to say I absolutely loved it! I went to a lovely shop called Clifford Burr in Herfordshire where I felt completely at ease. The ladies were so down to earth and helpful (not snooty like I was imagining). The shop itself was beautifully decorated and very spacious which was perfect.

The dresses were all so pretty. Some long, some short, some sparkly, some lacey..perfection! With so much choice it was difficult to know where to start at first. I knew I wanted something simple with some lace detail so the staff pointed me in the right direction and I started to pick a few. 



After choosing about 10 dresses it was time to try them on. Taking my clothes off in front of a complete stranger was one thing I wasn't looking forward to, it is just something you have to do. These ladies have seen women of all shapes and sizes so there was no need to worry. Plus the dresses are so big and heavy that it's almost impossible to get into one independently!





Trying on the beautiful dresses was magical. I guess it's a moment we all look forward to! I felt like a princess in all them but as soon as I put them on I knew what I liked/didn't like. Unfortunately I didn't find 'the dress', there were a few I liked but none that I LOVED. However I definitely identified what styles, cuts, fabrics etc suited me best, which is one step closer to finding my dress. Eek!

The hunt continues! 

Gemma x


26 October 2015

Fashion - Autumn Essentials

Now that the clocks have officially gone back it's time to dig out some wardrobe essentials & favourites. I love dressing for autumn. I adore the layering, the colours, wearing cosy oversized jumpers and best of all living in my favourite pair of comfy boots. 

I've put together some of my autumn wardrobe essentials. This would be a cute outfit in its own right but individually they are so versatile and you could dress them up or down.

1. Plaid Scarf (New Look) - I tend to stick to darker colours out of habit during the autumn season, so a plaid scarf like this will add an instant touch of colour. Throw it over a plain tee, cardigan and jeans or wear it with a black skater dress, tights and boots.

2. Tan Boots (Next) - Next tend to bring these boots back each year. I bought them 2-3 years ago and have lived in them ever since. They are super comfy and will go with almost anything in my A/W wardrobe.

3. Black Jeans/Jeggings (Tu) - Again these are a firm favourite of mine. My social calender always ramps up at this time of year so it's handy to have a day/night outfit up my sleeve. Wear a jumper and boots by day and a cute blouse and heels by night.

4. Chunky Knit tunic (M&S) - I've got a few longer jumpers like this but this one has really given me the 'wanties'! You can't beat anything chunky knit really can you? 

5. Red Nail Polish (Lookfantastic.com) - Definitely a classic for this time of year. As far as high street brands go, Maybelline Forever Strong is my favourite. It leaves a nice shine finish & stays chip free for 3-5 days in my experience.

6. Tan handbag (Debenhams) - Another classic for me. Timeless & goes with almost anything.

What are your go to items in your wardrobe for Autumn? 

Gemma x

22 October 2015

Autumn Candle/Decor Haul

This time of the year is my very favourite so whenever I spot something that somewhat screams Autumn, I need it in my life! These little finds have been bought over the past few weeks so should definitely still be in stock if you take a fancy yourself.



Candles are a must now that the evenings are drawing in and when they are scented it is even better. I'd been following a Lollyrocket on Instagram forever before giving in and buying some of their handmade candles. The scents they have at the moment were just too tempting! I bought Pumpkin Pie, Brownie Sugar & Fig and Amaretto. As I type this I have the smell of Pumpkin Pie wafting around the room. So cosy & inviting!


Lollyrocket Candles

Silver mercury glass is a little obsession of mine. I'm like a magpie when I spot its glimmer and shine (I'm on the look out for Mercury glass baubles for Christmas). I love how Americans decorate for Autumn and embrace the season before Christmas time. With that in mind I've been on the hunt for this style of pumpkin to add to our autumn decor and finally got my hands on one in TKMaxx. This one was only £4.99 which is a complete bargain!

Lastly I got two more mercury glass candles from Primark. Not that I really need any more candles at the moment but I spotted these like I said..OBSESSED!





What are your favourite scented candles for Autumn/Winter? I love finding candles which have a good scent throw so do let me know : )

Gemma x

18 September 2015

5 Good Things



1. Wedding planning

We have finally booked our wedding! Yay! I'm planning on doing a proper post on it all soon but planning is in full swing. We've booked our venue, we've found a photographer that we love and i've found a lovely make-up artist to doll me up on the big day. There is so much to think about but i'm loving every minute of it so far!

2. House progress

The hard work is nearly over. Our bathroom is being delivered tomorrow and after that has been installed we are on a home run!

Image via Pinterest


3. Autumn

It's almost that time of year where we get our scarves and boots out again. I really love autumn! I can't wait for comfort food in our new home, candles and blankets on chilly evenings and crisp walks through the fields. 



4. Pinterest

With all the house renovations and wedding planning, Pinterest has been my best friend. I could sit for hours on there looking for inspiration. One thing i've been loving is quick and easy meals for week nights & how to get the most out of your freezer pins. You can follow me here.

Image via Pinterest


5. The weekend!

TGIF! Although the weekends seem to come around quickly they are always welcome with open arms. This weekend I would like a nice lie in and a yummy breakfast or brunch.

Gemma x

28 August 2015

Kitchen Progress

Nearly a 2 month break from blogging! It wasn't intentional. Our lives have literally been consumed by the house renovation. Our week days are spent at work, going on to the house in the evening to do an hour or so of work there. The weekends are half spent working at the house or going to DIY stores. It is a lot of hard work but it will pay off in the end!

The kitchen is one of the rooms that is nearly complete and we are so happy with it! The room was just not to our taste before with dark green kitchen cupboards, a dark green boiler, funky wall tiles and broken laminate flooring (plus the smell of it was just revolting). 



We literally gutted the place and after some new windows, some fresh air, getting a new boiler put into the garage and a good lick of paint the room was ready for a new kitchen.






The kitchen came all pre-built but Ian spent hours getting it all positioned, level and with the doors on. He's really worked so hard getting it to where it is. 


We both wanted a light and airy kitchen and we are on our way to achieving just that. 


We had the work tops put in last weekend and it makes all the difference. It is finally starting to feel like a real kitchen! All the electrics need to be connected and the tiling and flooring are yet to be done but we are almost there! I'm looking forward to having friends and family over soon enough and cooking/baking up a storm. 

Once there is more progress in the kitchen I will share another update.

We are starting on the bathroom renovations this weekend. Once the bathroom is usable we will be moving in finally!! 

Happy long weekend : )

Gemma x

4 July 2015

Honey Mustard Salad Dressing Recipe




Good morning & happy Saturday! It's been a scorcher of a week and I really can't tell you how happy I am that it's finally the weekend. Along with spending some time all day at the house waiting for a delivery and decorating, we plan on having a BBQ with my family to make the most of the sunny weather. My job for this BBQ to make a salad and a yummy salad dressing we tried last weekend. It made boring salad a lot more appetising and gave it an interesting tang!


You will need:

½ cup rapeseed oil
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
A good pinch of salt
1 clove garlic, minced
A pinch paprika
Black pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon of runny honey

It's really easy to make. All you need to do is whisk everything together or better yet grab a clean jam jar and shake shake shake!


What do you put in your salads to add a bit of interest? I'd love to eat more salad but find them to be boring after a few mouthfuls. I definitely need to start making more dressings!

Gemma x

N.B- Thank you Sainsbury's who provided some ingredients for me to share this recipe with you.

11 June 2015

Small Bathroom Inspiration

The bathroom in our new house is on the small side so careful and clever storage is going to be a must. I've been on Pinterest (Follow me here) and have found some great ideas.

Image via Marthastewart.com

Fixing towel rails on the back of the door to store your towels

Image Source
Using little shelves between the toilet and the wall

Image Source
Storage below the sink will be a must! I especially love the ceramic sink on top of the wooden stand.

Image via Pinterest
Every girl needs somewhere to keep her lotions and potions. This storage solution keeps everything in one place.

As it's small we will be using neutral colours and hopefully a decent sized mirror to give the illusion of space. I'll be sharing progress soon!

Gemma x

8 June 2015

Sea Bass with a Lemon & Caper Dressing Recipe



Sainsbury's are hosting a #Switchthefish campaign again this year to show their customers how tasty lesser known fish can be. I am a creature of habit and admit to choosing the same fish often. There are so many varieties to try so why not broaden your horizons? On Friday the 12th of June, customers who ask for one of the 'Big 5' fish will be offered a free portion of a lesser known fish. So make sure you get to Sainsbury's this Friday and catch one of the other many fish in the sea!

To inspire you to cook with lesser known fish, Sainsbury's have challenged 12 bloggers to share a fish recipe with our readers. I've chosen to cook with Sea Bass.

Serves 2
Original recipe here

Ingredients

2 x Sea Bass fillets
Olive oil
1 Tsp Dijon Mustard
1 Heaped Tbsp Capers
1 Lemon
Parsley
Salt & Pepper
1-2 Maris Piper potatoes
2 cloves of Garlic (Minced)
Seasonal vegetables (We used french beans & roasted peppers)

Method

To make the dressing, mix the Dijon mustard, Capers, a pinch of salt & pepper, 2 Tbsp of Olive oil, 1 Tbsp of Lemon juice & the zest of half a lemon.

Pre-heat your oven to 200c/ Gas mark 7.

Peel & chop your potatoes and boil until they are just soft. Lay on a baking tray, with the minced garlic, salt, pepper and a generous drizzle of olive oil. Toss the potatoes and bake from 40-50 minutes until golden (turning them every 15 minutes or so).

Line a baking tray with grease proof paper. Lay the fillets of Sea Bass skin side up on the tray, drizzle a little olive oil on top and season lightly with salt. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. 

Chop up a handful of parsley and mix into the dressing before lightly pouring over the cooked fish.

Serve with seasonal vegetables.



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

I really enjoyed this dish. It was so easy to put together and the fish barely took any time at all to cook. It tasted really nice, I will definitely be purchasing Sea Bass again and hope to try many other species of fish.

I hope you are feeling inspired!

Gemma x

N.B - Thank you Sainsburys for sending me some vouchers to purchase these ingredients : )


3 June 2015

Buying Our First Home

Sorry for going a bit quiet on here but I have a genuine excuse...we finally have the house!! The past few weeks have been a little stressful getting all the paperwork finalised and getting the formalities out the way, but it was worth it as it is now OURS!

We got the keys last Friday and the short drive from the estate agents to the house was so nerve racking as we were both excited and petrified at the same time. We've been saving for years and the moment we dreamt of was finally happening. Buying your first home is a big deal! 

Once we were in it felt so weird. As I mentioned before the needs house renovating. The windows, kitchen and bathroom need replacing, the flooring needs redoing and then a big overhaul of decorating etc. Because of all this I don't think it will begin to feel homely or welcoming until we start putting our stamp on it.


From this picture the kitchen doesn't look awful but i'm telling you it was bad!!
We worked all weekend getting the house back to its 'bare bones' so to speak. The kitchen has been ripped out, the broken laminate and brown carpets are up and we've started to take the bathroom out too. 

Rooms are becoming more neutral which I love! Now to get on with paint stripping, hole filling and sanding.






I'll be back soon with a few inspiration posts and lots more pictures to share!

Gemma x

24 April 2015

5 Good Things

1. Since the beginning of Spring i've been a little obsessed with flowers. They just add a touch of colour and joy to any room. There is a plant stall at Berkhamsted market (every Wednesday) that sells beautiful blooms for great prices. I've bought a few Rananculus plants and some Lavender so far. I think i'll be a bit of a regular : )






2. My parents adopted a new cat recently (after our beloved Timber passed away last November). I wasn't sure at first but it's nice having another cat around. I know this sounds soppy but I really love my furry friends. They make me so happy and I can pretty much guarantee a cuddle when it comes to our pup Ollie.






3. Sweet and Salty Popcorn has been another recent obsession of mine. I've always liked both flavours and when they are combined it is just soo good! I've bought many different brands and Sainsbury's and Morrisons win hands down. Buy a bag and crack it open on your next movie night. I can almost guarantee that you will eat it all in one go! 



4. Sunset walks. Now it's light in the evenings we are making the most of the local fields and enjoying a little evening sun. As we both work in an office it's nice to stretch out and be active after work.



5. Running. In June we are doing a 5k 'Colour run' with some friends. I'm very excited but I need to work at my training. We are doing a run every other day and so far I am progressing! It's really hard (especially when the stitches kick in) but it's worth that euphoric feeling afterwards.

Happy Friday all : )

Gemma x

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