30 January 2015

Valentine's Day Dessert



With Valentine's day only a few weeks away it's time to start thinking about the day of love. This year it is on a Saturday so there is no excuse not to do something special! I know a lot of people feel that it is very commercialised, but personally I think it is what you make it. If you want to go all out then fair enough, but just a cosy night in with a special home cooked meal, a film and cuddles is all I want.

When Sainsbury's shared their easy peasy make your own Panna Cotta mix with me, I knew it would be a fool proof dessert to serve on Valentines day. If cooking/baking isn't your forte or you're lacking in time then this is definitely for you!

You simply bring some double cream and milk to the boil and stir in the Panna Cotta mix, pour into your moulds and then leave them to set in the fridge.  They are absolutely delicious, very creamy but light in texture. Perfect after a heavy meal (I'm dreaming of steak or a mushroom risotto..yum!).

Serve with some fresh berries or make a little fruity sauce to top. 



N:B - Sainsbury's kindly sent me this mix to try. As always all opinions are my own and are honest.

22 January 2015

Instalife Lately (January)

I would say January is usually my least favourite month of the year, but so far it hasn't been half bad. Apart from working here is what we've been up to recently...

01. Chilly walks. We've discovered a huge lake just a short drive from my parents new home which is perfect for winter walks. The scenery is beautiful, it's just perfect when you want to blow the cobwebs away after being stuck in an office all week.





02. Saturday night drinks. With a pub just a stones throw away from the house, it's always tempting to pop down for a drink or two. These past few weeks we've managed to get a table right by the fire..it's just so cosy! It's been nice just to sit and chat about life and house hunting.



03. Hibernating. If I know i'm not going out any more you can guarantee i'll be in my PJ's and slippers. It's just soo cold at the moment! So far we have avoided the snow, but it was -5°c on the way to work the other morning. 






04. Running. We've signed up to a 5k in the summer (more on that soon!) so to get prepared for it i've started the Couch to 5k program again! I really didn't want to run on this particular evening but once I spotted this sunset it was worth it.



I'm really looking forward to lighter warmer evenings. Not long now! Until then it will be more hot drinks and candles for me!

Gemma x

18 January 2015

#Loveyourfreezer



January is a bleak bleak month. When it's dark and cold outside I just don't have any get up and go. It's a struggle to get out of bed in the morning, and after a long day at work I really don't have the energy to prepare and cook a tasty healthy dinner. 

In a battle to beat the January blues and get us organised Sainsbury's have launched a #loveyourfreezer campaign. Your freezer really will be your best friend when you realise how much time it can save you. From sliced frozen mixed peppers, mushrooms and onions to frozen spinach, garlic and ginger Sainsbury's have it all. Store these essentials in your freezer and you'll save prep time (and no more watery eyes from those onions!). All you need to do is throw in your choice of frozen ingredients into your pan and cook as normal. They are perfect for fajitas, pasta sauces, currys, stir fry, casseroles, pies...the world is your oyster! 



So far we have made a Lasagne, Risotto and Meatball pasta using these time saving ingredients and you cannot fault them in flavour or texture..you really wouldn't know the difference.

Another way to save time in the evenings is to prepare some of your meals ahead of time. In an attempt at trying to eat better at lunch time, we spent an hour or so making a few soups over the weekend. Using sandwich bags to store each portion of soup, we froze them individually so we can take a portion as and when we need to. This has made our evenings so much easier (no more last minute lunch making!). So far our favourite has to be this Red Lentil & Tomato soup.

Some other handy things to keep in your freezer are:

* Breadcrumbs - Blitz up stale bread and freeze, ready to grab by the handful       whenever you need them.

* Pizza Dough - We've made a big batch of pizza dough and divided it up into portions. Freeze and defrost a few hours before needed. Perfect for a Friday night in.

* Cheese - Grated Cheddar is also great to store in the freezer. Perfect for topping homemade pizzas or omelets.

Do you make the most of your freezer? What #loveyourfreezer tips do you have? Do share!

Gemma x

N:B - Sainsbury's kindly sent me some vouchers to try their frozen products. As always all opinions are my own and are honest.

16 January 2015

Trials And Tribulations Of A First Time Buyer

Image via Pinterest



Today I thought i'd do a little bit of an update about our house hunting. To be completely frank so far it has been an emotional roller coaster. We have viewed just over 10 properties now, most have been complete time wasters. Once we saw them in the flesh we realised that there has been a lot of trick photography that makes rooms look much larger or just cuts off a random 'quirky' feature (i.e a window from one bedroom looking into the next bedroom?!?!). I'm sure those houses will be snapped up by someone else, they just weren't for us.

We have had two houses that we instantly loved and ended up putting an offer in. The first house we were outbid, which was disappointing but at the time we didn't want to go any higher.

The second property we ended up matching all other bids. It was nearly perfect for us..we absolutely loved it and REALLY wanted it! We were told by the estate agents that we were in a good position for the vendor as we are first time buyers. They said the vendors kept mentioning us and that we were promising. Everything seemed positive and we actually thought it was going to be ours! 

Then the estate agent started being funny.

They started to put pressure on us to get our mortgage through their broker as (according to them) all other bidders were doing the same and we may lose out. We've been warned off doing this so we stood our ground and said no. They basically said that if we do not go through their broker we will likely get turned down. 

Unfortunately we didn't get the property. We feel that the estate agents may have pushed for the vendor to go for someone who was going through their broker, and making us look unappealing for choosing not to. Being young and first time buyers we feel like they were trying to take advantage of our naivety. After talking with family and doing a little research we now know what they were doing is illegal. It's okay for them to offer their services but to manipulate a buyer to sign up to it is just not right. As they get commission on mortgages that go through their broker they will push until they get what benefits them.

Sorry for such a rant, I just needed to vent but also share this experience. So now it is onwards and upwards. The house search continues but we just keep on comparing all other houses to the one that was just out of reach : (

What was your experience like as a first time buyer? Do you have any hints and tips for us?

Gemma x

9 January 2015

Trying Estée Lauder Skin Care


As mentioned in my previous post, I am trying to take better care of my skin. After a little treasure hunt online in the sales I managed to score this reduced Estée Lauder set. Before I invested in full size products I wanted to try some miniatures in case they didn't agree with my skin. 


 The set includes:

- Idealist Even Skin Tone Illuminator (50ml)
- Daywear ( 15ml)
- Advanced Nigh Repair Eye (15ml)
- Perfectly Clean Foaming Cleanser (30ml) 

At first I was a bit disappointed at how 'miniature' the creams actually were. However after a few applications I realised a little goes a long way so these will last me a good few months!

I've only been using the creams for a week or so but my skin feels like it's in a much better condition. My skin around my eyes looks brighter and softer and my face feels a little more supple. It's been awfully cold and breezy here which usually gives me dry flaky skin. The cream has helped me to avoid this so far thankfully! 


Do you use Estée Lauder skin care? What's your favourite skin care product?

Gemma x

1 January 2015

2015

Image via Pinterest
Happy new year! 2015 is set to be an exciting year for us. We will be buying our first home and finally getting our wedding date set & organised. Woohoo! I'm extremely excited and just a tad scared at how grown up life is becoming. 

As always I like to set a few personal goals for the new year. 

Organisation

I wouldn't say i'm terribly disorganised but recently i've been leaving things to the last minute. Only little things like not preparing lunches for work or getting clothes ready for an outing but it's resulted in unnecessary stress which could of been avoided.

This year i'm aiming to think ahead. I want to make batches of soup to freeze for work lunches, to get all my clothes ironed and organised the day before, to write lists and actually cross things out!

Health

This seems to be an ongoing goal for me. Last year I was pretty pants at keeping up with an exercise regime of any kind. Being disorganised for work lunches also meant snacking on naughty food in the office a little too often! As we are attending a wedding in March (and getting our own wedding booked!) I am using this as a time frame to get a toned and in better shape. We took a long walk around some local lakes today so i've made a start!

Be A Better Blogger

With so many big things happening this year I want to capture the memories through pictures and share it here on my blog. It's so lovely to look back at old posts and get all nostalgic. I'm hoping to give this little blog a revamp and start posting more regularly. This blog has also brought me so many fun opportunities and I hope this continues in 2015!

Skincare

This should probably come under health too. I've noticed some blemishes, discolouration and tiredness on my face. I'm 24 now so it's about time that I start to look after my skin a bit more otherwise i'll regret it when i'm old and grey! I'm planning on using some of my birthday money to invest in some quality creams. Hopefully this and keeping up with drinking lots of water will help!

Have you got any big plans for 2015? What are your aims and goals?

Gemma xXx

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