Thursday, 1 December 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

I can't believe it's December. This excites me no end. December is normally a pretty manic time but this year my calendar is over flowing with fun and exciting plans for the festive period. Some might think it's too much and that I'll get bored of the festive season. I can assure you that this most definitely will not happen. I'm like a child! I don't know if this is partly due to the fact that I am told by Dave regularly in the run up to Christmas that I am not allowed to start doing 'Christmassy things' until it is December, and I am forbodden to even mention the 'C' word before his birthday (20th November). So I've been like a wound up spring waiting to burst with all the pretty sparkly lights and Coca-cola adverts all over the place begging me to join in the festive fun. Now I finally can! *Does little jig of excitement* I thought I would share with you all my over growing list of plans for December as there are going to be opportunities galore for posts and reviews. It all kicks of tomorrow:

2nd-4th: Lincoln Christmas Markets (I also get to see the lovely Primps and Preens while I'm there)
6th: Wreath Decorating-yes, I make my own wreath!
7th: Decorate my tree
8th: Decorate my grandparents tree (these are annual events in my family that involve dinner, decorating, mince pies, music and the official 'switching on' of the lights)
9th: Decorate Dave's friends tree (we all get together and the girls decorate while the boys get drunk!)
10th: Burlesque Night at the Proud Galleries in Camden
11th: Trip to Brighton
15th: Book Club Christmas Meal
17th: Girls Christmas Meal
19th: Trip to London to see the lights
22nd: Christmas Drinks and Secret Santa swapping with my friends
24th: Chrsitmas Eve
25th: Christmas Day!!

I cannot wait. What fun things do you all have planned for Christmas?

One of the best things about Christmas!

Monday, 28 November 2011

Some Sex, a Mug and a LOT of Rock and Roll

On Saturday night I spent a fabulous evening with some of my best girl friends at the Sex, Mugs and Rock and Roll event hosted by the lovely High Tea Cast girls Lea and Sam. The evening was all organised to raise money for Janie's School. Janie's School is a charity set up by Jennifer in memory of her mum. She is trying to raise £25,000 to build and open a school in Cambodia for girls who would not normally get the opportunity to an education. This is such a fabulous cause and big high fives to Lea and Sam for choosing to support this cause in their first event.

My friends and I decided that this would be a great opportunity for an excuse to get dressed up and hit the big city. The promise of cupcakes and cocktails was a sure fire way of getting us all on board. So on Saturday night we got all dressed up in our glad rags, the fake tan was out, the eyelashes, the lippie, the gorgeous but impractical heels. We were set! Unfortunately our *lovely* taxi driver was late to pick us up by 20 minutes, we therefore missed the two fast trains and had to get the 50 minute jobby into town. This meant that we were over an hour later than originally planned and therefore missed all but one of the Burlesque acts, boo! However we quickly got over this with a couple of delicious cocktails (they really were super yummy) and a win on the raffle!

My raffle prize

Shortly after this I spotted a platter of cupcakes being carried by non other than The High Tea Cast girls. Of course I had to get a photo. The girls were shouting their excitement about the music and the need to dance and my charitable side came out and I offered to pass round the cupcakes for them. They did not last long, luckily I managed to grab one for myself before they were devoured by the crowds. 

Lea and Sam with their cupcakes

One of the cupcakes

After cocktails and cupcakes there was little else to do but get our boogie on. And Boogie we did. Tune after tune was coming out of that DJ both. I started dancing and I didn't stop. I really needn't have bothered doing my hair or make up after the session I had on the dancefloor. Let's just say that 'sweaty mess' would be a good way to describe my look by the end of the evening. 

The DJ even had a funky phone

It was a truly wonderful evening. All of my friends had a brilliant time and there were choruses of 'we must do this again'. All in all a resounding success. Made all the more brilliant in the fact that it was all for such a good cause. I even got a chance to speak to Jennifer about the possibility of going out to Cambodia and volunteering during my summer holidays once the school is up and running. May as well make the most of the fact that I'm going to be a teacher and I get long summers. 

My only downside of the evening was the 'mug'. A complete idiot of a man who was responsible for essentially ruining the end of our evening. I won't go into details but the result of it was my dress looking like this...

...and one of my friends came out even worse. A shame that someone had to spoil such a fantastic evening. Here's to the next High Tea Cast night out!

A selection of the more sensible photos from the evening:

Finally, if you guys are feeling generous then please click on the link above to the Janie School website to read more about it and make a donation. 

Sunday, 27 November 2011

My week in photos

ROTD: Delia Smith Christmas Creole Cake

I LOVE this time of year. Love it, cannot get enough of it. I'm also very excited that this year I will be in school with the little people in the run up to Christmas- best*time*of*year*EVER.

Every year my mum and I put aside some time to do our Christmas baking. We normally make a normal Christmas cake, a Creole cake, a Christmas pudding and some mince pies. This year we have made a normal cake and six, yes SIX Creole cakes. This is what happens when your mum joins facebook and starts telling everyone she is making alcohol overloaded baked goods-everyone wants one! Mum, being mum, of course says yes. We love Christmas making so much that we actually have TWO different Delia Christmas books. One is her classic one and the other was released last year with her latest TV show. We also have Nigella's Christmas which has some delicious recipes in. One of my favourite things about Christmas cook books is the pictures. I get so inspired with ideas for presentation and decorating.

We normally make ours at the end of October to allow for a decent amount of maturing and 'feeding' of more alcohol. However this bad boy has so much booze in it already that making it a bit nearer to Christmas shouldn't be a problem. You can always feed it with a bit extra if you want. Depends how drunk you want to get off of one slice!


For the Pre Soaking:
3 tablespoons rum
3 tablespoons brandy
3 tablespoons port (we used chocolate port this year-yum!)
3 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons Angostura bitters
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon molasses sugar
450g raisins
225g currants
110g no-soak prunes, chopped
50g glace cherries, chopped
110g candied peel, finely chopped
50g mixed chopped nuts

For the Cake:
250g self-raising flour
250g demerara sugar
250g butter, at room temperature
5 eggs

This mixture will fit a 20cm square or round tin. This needs to be greased and double lined with baking parchment.


One week before you intend to make the cake, measure out the alcohol into a large saucepan. Now add the rest of the pre-soak ingredients. Tick them off as you go so you don't forget anything. Stir and bring to a simmering point, then, keeping the heat low, simmer gently for 15 minutes. Leave the mixture to cool (it smells AMAZING) then put it into a jar with a lid or an airtight plastic container. Store in the fridge for 7 days, shaking or stirring it around every now and then.

When you are ready to bake the cake, preheat the oven to 140C/GM1. Mix the sugar, butter, flour and eggs in a large bowl until everything is blended.
(I normally do the old method of creaming the butter and sugar then adding the eggs one at a time with a bit of flour then the rest of the flour)

When everything is evenly blended gradually mix in the fruit until it is evenly distributed.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, levelling the surface with the back of a spoon. 
Bake the cake in the centre of the oven for 3 hours without opening the door. Then cover the cake with a double thickness of baking parchment and continue to bake for another hour or until the centre feels springy when lightly touched. 

Cool the cake for 45 minutes in the tin, then remove and finish cooling on a wire rack. When it is completely cold, wrap in double baking parchment and foil and store in an airtight container. This will mature well over a month. Feed with with more alcohol at odd intervals if you wish. 
Decorate with glazed nuts or a layer of marzipan and icing. 

Mine is maturing in the cupboard and so has not been decorated yet but I will post a picture when I do.

Happy Baking!

A small note: the photos from this post were taken of a cake that I made with gluten-free flour. It all looked ok when it came out so hopefully it will taste as good as the normal one too. 

Saturday, 26 November 2011

NOTD: Bourjois 10 days Nail Enamel No. 18

I picked this nail varnish up a few weeks ago when Bourjois were doing a 3 for 2 offer in Boots. I'm generally a big fan of blue nails and this colour looked good. I was also interested to compare this against by 'ole faithful' the Rimmel Lycra Pro nail varnish. Both products have a 10 day promise, albeit with small print that is something along the lines of 'with touch ups'. From previous posts you will know that I'm a fan of the Lyrca Pro and am always impressed with its longevity without a top coat (this is an important point for me as I often don't have time to do one).

Looking at the small print on the bottle the Bourjois varnish is meant to last 10 days with touch ups but a minimum of 3 days without. From this I am going with the idea that it should last perfectly for 3 days before you have to touch up. This seems doable, non? Especially for a product that is selling itself on it's lasting power.

On application I'm impressed. The brush has an angled tip which allows for easy application. I applied 3 coats to get a good solid colour on my nails. This is one of those products that names it's colours with numbers. If I were to give it a name it would be 'denim'. It also has a very subtle shimmer to it.

In natural light

With a flash-the shimmer is more obvious here

These are photos of my nails after 3 days:

The main wear is on the tips and around the base. The right hand wore more than the left. This might be because I'm right handed?! After three days wear going about my normal day to day life this isn't too bad. However from a product that is selling itself on lasting 10 days, yes with touch ups I know, I don't think it is that great. The bottle states that your nails should last a minimum of 3 days. I'd have expected the nails to still look near on perfect with 3 coats after 3 days for this kind of product. They'd have definitely not looked their best after 10!

Overall, I love the colour and the application is easy and fuss free. For a long lasting product though I'd stick with the Lycra Pro. This will do for normal wear and with a top coat, if I have time...

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

My Week In Pictures

I've seen a lot of blogs do this feature and quite frankly I love it! I'm always snapping away with either my camera or phone. Therefore I've decided to start doing this every Sunday (yes I am aware that it is Tuesday-it was a busy weekend!)