Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Return of the Malteser Bunny

A quick post this to say that if you haven't picked up a Malteser Easter Bunny on your way through the check-out then you really don't know what you're missing.

This is a treat from the God's. It is way too heavenly for children who won't appreciate it's gorgeous creaminess.

It is the ultimate mid-morning treat. It is very, very sweet, just the way I like it.

I thank you.


There are just 155 calories in a Malteser Bunny. Image from Figandcherry.com.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Win Tickets for the Ideal Home Show



Spring is loitering just around the corner and with Spring thoughts turn to Spring cleaning and with that, well, with that comes the awful realisation that things in my house are not always as beautiful as I would like them to be. Long, dark winter days are good for several things. They allow us to curl up in front of the TV and not go out, and also they let us cover a multitude of sins as in a dim light our homes don't come under too much scrutiny. My home is just not like this....

 
...and I so wish it was!
Tired rooms become cosy in winter-time, but with the first low rays of the sun that Springtime brings, all the flaws are highlighted. Scuffed paintwork, cracks, cobwebs (!) all come into the view as does my annual dissatisfaction with the one room in the house I spend most of my waking home time hours - my kitchen.

It's not that it's in bad shape but it is getting a bit over the hill with doors that don't quite fit and paintwork that needs a bit of tlc. We have given it the occasional bit of a lift with a new floor and new work-surface, but what it really needs and what I wish I could just magic up, is space. 

I lust after my sister's conservatory kitchen - she has work-space, a large range cooker and one of those big American fridges. I don't. Far from it. Some would describe my kitchen as 'bijoux', I describe it with something beginning with B that is far worse.
So I'd really rather have this instead...
Ideal Home Show sponsors Everest


So I lust after the kitchen's of family and friends and I will no doubt lust after the Ideal Home kitchens that will be making their annual appearance at the Ideal Home Show once again this year. Everest are sponsors of the show and I must admit that I could do with some help myself, but there is nothing like a day's indulgence and a visit to Ideal Home at Olympia to get some great ideas. The show runs from the 16th March to the 1st April and those lovely people at Everest have given me 5 tickets to give away. So all you have to do is leave a comment (give me a twitter name or contact please) and tell me what you hate and about your home and what you would change and I'll put your name into a draw to win tickets! The competition will close on March 4th.


This is a sponsored blog post.
Ideal Home Show Sponsors Everest

Friday, 24 February 2012

Granny Boyd's Biscuits from Nigella Lawson

Granny Boyd isn't Nigella's granny - she's her editor's grannie and her biscuits are a heavenly melt in the mouth, all dark chocolate flavour and crumble.


The best thing about them is the ingredients is lurking in your store cupboard and they are simple to make.

You will need:

300g self-raising flour, 30g cocoa powder, 250g soft unsalted butter, 125g caster sugar, 2 greased baking sheets.

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees. Sieve together the flour and cocoa. Cream the butter and sugar then work in the flour. Do not add any extra liquid even though it looks dry.

Roll into walnut sized balls and put on sheet leaving lots of space around as they will spread. Squash down with a fork Bake for 5 mins then turn the oven down to 150g for a further 15 mins. Carefully remove ont a wire rack to cool.

Simply amazing! (makes around 35 depending on size - mine were big!)

Recipe from How to Be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Warehouse Spring/Summer 2012

Spring/Summer is all about pastels but the pastels to be found at Warehouse this season are no ordinary pastels. Forget muted and subtle and think zing this Spring/Summer. Prints are bold, shapes are soft and flowing - it's girly but still makes a massive statement. I think this is a truly versatile collection as you can dress it up for the office and wear it to the beach with a few parties thrown in for good measure.

I fell in love with the fabrics too - they feel expensive even though they're not - so I will be making a trip shortly to stock up on a fab shirt and might even go for a long-line dress that does the maxi length without looking like a maxi-dress. These gorgeous images are just a sample so if you haven't been into a Warehouse store recently I suggest you give it a visit.









Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Top Shop Bow bag

I bought this gorgeous little Top Shop bag for my daughter - it's cute but then so is she.



I would love to be young enough to carry a bag like this but I would just look a bit too sad - it's a perky little shape, fab colour for the season as it sets off all those coloured jeans that are in the shops (another thing I'd love to try but am way too old).

And it was a bargain at just £25. What price a half term treat eh?

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Shrove Tuesday Perfect Pancakes

No excuses now - Pancake Day pancakes can be made in minutes and are one of life's little pleasures. Here is a recipe for the perfect pancake - and will make four golden, crisp and delicious pancakes to top at will... Of course we all prefer lemon and sugar in this household!


110g plain flour, 2 eggs, 200ml milk, 75ml, water, 50g butter.

Beat together the eggs, milk and water. Gradually add the flour until you have whisked up a smooth batter. Add a nob of butter to a frying pan then a ladel full of the batter. Tilt the pan to cover the bottom and fry until the bottom is golden. If you are feeling brave toss your pancake, if not flip it with a spatula. Fry second side. Serve with lemon and sugar or chocolate spread or whatever takes your fancy really.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Spring/Summer fashion at Comptoir Des Cotonniers


Although I love Autumn/Winter fashion after a few month's hibernation in greens, greys and blacks I'm more than ready to welcome in the new season with a splash of colour. Comptoir Des Contonniers is a label that cleverly makes sure that it appeals to all ages without anyone looking like they are dressing outside of their age range. Their clothes use fine fabrics and are timeless pieces that will last and I can't fault this Spring/Summer 2012 collection in terms of the colour palette and variety. Makes me want to take a road trip...








The full collection (some of which are shown here) mixes urban suits with loose tops in neon colours or lemon (loving that lemon) and there's a nodd to rock and glam. Little A-line jackets and a beautiful white tuxedo set off the more relaxed separates. I like these longer length trousers but 7/8 skinny pants also feature for the thinner amongst us. There's also a fair amount of Mexican influence with embroidery and graphic shapes making an appearance.



Comptoir Des Cotonniers boutiques are nationwide.


Sunday, 19 February 2012

Etre Touchy Gloves for texting, tweeting, touching

Gloves with the thumb and forefinger missing? Now what is the point of that?

Every point actually, if you've struggled as much as I have this winter taking my gloves off to answer my phone, get change out of my purse, text, tweet - all with my gloves stuffed under my armpit.

I love the idea of these Etre Touchy gloves - bonkers to lose two fingers and so darn practical - why has no-one thought of them before? They are cashmere so no quality has been lost - just a couple of fingers...








Etre Touchy Gloves, £35.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Vaishaly Cleansing Balm for Dry/Sensitive Skins


I have run out of my Shu Uemura Pure:Nu Gentle Cleansing Oil-In-Gel cleanser so was happy to get my hands on a suitable replacement - and what a replacement! Vaishaly Cleansing Balm for Dry/Sensitive skin  is wonderfully aromatic and organically based, with sweet almond and olive oils to nourish skin as it cleanses, and arnica, ginkgo and calendula to soothe and relieve dry skin.

Essential oils include lavender, geranium, chamomile, rose absolute and ylang ylang. The bottle is a pump which keeps things clean and easy-to-use. A couple of pumps is all you need, you simply emulsify with water and it lathers up - not a huge amount but enough to cover and no need to use a cloth (which again can by unhygienic). Massage into the face and neck for 30 seconds and voila gorgeously clean skin. This cleansing balm is refreshing on the skin, washes off easily and my skin did feel super-smoth and moisturised!

Oh and it smells great too.





Vaishaly Cleansing Balm, £69.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Prolong the life of your Ugg's!

Okay before I finally come off the topic of Ugg's (well for the time being anyway) I want to tell you about a fantastic little company I came across while drifting around the internet.

Sheepland Ltd sell sheepskin crafts from their home in Somerset all hand-made by local women, and yes there are loads of 'old-lady' skeepskin slippers and  mittens. HOWEVER... they also sell not just boots that would happily give Ugg a run for their money but a nifty little sheepskin insole that will prolong the lift of your sheepskin boots. After all these are not a cheap purchase and it's the lovely, fluffy insole that is the first to go.

My sheepskin insoles (£5) arrived this morning and I am really thrilled by both the quality and value for money. If you like Sheepskin you'll love this site - refresh your Ugg's, buy a gift for a friend with a baby or simply treat yourself to a pair of slipper boots to snuggle up in.



£5 for insoles


Slipper boots £57.50


Tall sheepskin boots, £95.99

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Ugg Spring/Summer 2012

So last night we popped along to a blogger event at the Ugg store in Knightsbridge. Along with some heady cocktails and free flowing Prosecco, the store had been stripped of the remnants of the winter 2012 season and replaced with all the new Ugg Spring/Summer 2012 collection.

And what a collection! The problem with Uggs's as I have said before in a recent article about whether I should go for a pair of Ugg trainers or not, is that we associate them with the sheepskin boot favoured by the under 25's. But there is so much more to the range.

I won't tell you about the strappy sandals for £600 because I'm afraid they really didn't do it for me. Now I know they are real snakeskin and hand-made and I could see that a lot of work has gone into each pair but £600? Really? For Ugg's? I will probably be proved wrong and they will fly off those shelves in Knightsbridge but they won't be entering my shoe collection anytime soon....

Anyway some of these might as I won't feel like I'm dressing like my teenage daughters if I treat myself to any one of these styles... and it's nice to see a few accessories creeping into the collection too. Roll on Summer!







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Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Biotherm Skin-Ergetic Moisturiser Review

I have been using the Vichy Liftactiv Serum 10 for about a month now. My skin does look good and I must admit I am looking slightly less lined in terms of the tiny wrinkles you get especially under your eyes and around the mouth area - so am pretty impressed with it's efficacy. What I am not so impressed with is that it is slightly drying - well it is on my skin anyway, and you don't really need that especially when your skin tends to be drier anyway with age.

So using Vichy Liftactiv Serum 10 in conjunction with a good moisturiser is a must in my book. I have always been a fan of Biotherm, especially the Biotherm body-milk (check out my review) so decided to give the Biotherm Skin-Ergetic Moisturiser a trial.

 Just like the body-milk it is fresh in fragrance, lovely and citrussy, and therefore does indeed perk your skin up after you use it. It is described as 'non-stop anti-fatigue moisturiser' and because it is so fresh and easily absorbed I must admit skin does feel soft and revitalised. Because it is easily absorbed and not too heavy (even though the formula is described as rich) it is perfect to use with a serum, I certainly don't like to feel I am over-loading my skin, especially when I then use make-up on top of it all.

Biotherm Skin-Ergetic Moisturiser has proved to be great in everything the weather (oh yes lots of snow) and consequently central heating abuse has attempted to do to my skin. I must say it has withstood it all and is not looking like we have been through some pretty harsh times. It's just a shame you can't say the same for the rest of me really!

Biotherm Skin-Ergetic Moisturiser, £33.70 for 50ml, is paraben and mineral-oil free and contains 5 fruit and vegetable extracts including apples, oranges and pomegranates. 97% of the ingredients are natural, and Biotherm advises applying it in the morning though I've been successfully using it at night-time too.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Lamb Korma - winter food to warm hearts

This is a mild dish but if you make it from scratch rather than resorting to the usually too bland shop-bought jars it has lovely flavours and creaminess to boot. We have it with naan bread which no, I didn't make myself, and pilau rice - oh and a healthy dollop of lime pickle as I like things a bit more spicy.

You will need....
(serves 4)
600g lamb
2cm piece root ginger peeled and chopped
3 cloves
2 garlic cloves peeled
2 bay leaves
3 crushed cardomom pods
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 onion chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons tomato puree
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder (or half a fresh red chilli)
black pepper
40g cashew nuts
1 tablespoon coriander leaves
optional cashews to toast and serve with

Grind up the ginger and garlic in a pestle and mortar. Heat oil in large casserole and add cinnamon stick, cloves, bay leaves, cardamom, fennel seeds and onions and saute until onions are soft. Add garlic and ginger and all the other ingredients then cook gently for about 5 minutes. Add lamb and stir around to cover meat and brown the outsides. Add water to cover, put on lid and put in oven for 1-1.5 hours on a low heat until the lamb is beautifully tender. Grind the cashew nuts  with a little water to make a smooth paste. Add to cooked meat and stir in then simmer for 3 mins. Remove and garnish with toasted cashews.

Also try my One-Pan Spanish Chicken which is delicious and so easy to make!



Sunday, 12 February 2012

Monkey Nuts, Crouch End, London N8 8TD

Taking a group of teenagers out for lunch especially on a Sunday can be a bit of a hit and miss affair. Sometimes they can be monosyllabic, sometimes they would rather just be in bed, and when you have a mixed age range (in this particular instance it was 12 and three 17 year olds) keeping them all happy while enjoying it yourself can be a real stretch.


So we decided on the 17th birthday of one of the group to try a visit to Monkey Nuts, a steak house and wine bar in North London's Crouch End. Reviews online started off well in 2008 but became worse and worse with time and by 2011 they were downright poor and of the 'avoid at all costs' variety, but my nephew wanted to go somewhere fun for his birthday and it was not far to travel so we put on a smile and an optimistic approach and decided to give it a go.

Situated on Park Avenue. so a short hop from Alexandra Palace station and Muswell Hill Broadway, Monkey Nuts is American Diner meets themed British burger bar with the onus being on 'Monkeys' and 'Nuts'. It really does cater for the Crouch End thirty something parent with kids and is spacious but a bit noisy, even on a Sunday lunchtime. The menu is great for burger fiend's but not so great for vegetarians and for those wanting something a bit more grown-up there were great steaks, sirloin, t-bone and the like.
They also do an all day brunch which looks good...




I opted for the regular burger which was prime beef with lots on top (tomato, tomato salsa, mayo etc) and came on a small bread-board with steak knife, I also had a generous (well they should be for £3) portion of chips. My daughter had the Hot-Dog which came with chips, this was a really small bowl and to be honest a bit of a disappointment, if you say it comes with chips and you are catering for youngsters then it should come with the same size chips as everyone else. She liked it anyway.
Birthday Boy had a generous sirloin steak and my sister had a large, crisp portion of fish and chips...

Puddings were yummy - the ice-cream is particularly rich and good quality. And the over-sized Nickerbockerglory type thing had marshmallows, ice-creams, sauces and smarties!
If you have a family young or teenage I can really recommend this venue. There is a disabled/changing toilet on the ground floor (the other loos are up the stairs), it is clean and has a nice vibe to it. The staff are laid-back but we were served fairly swiftly and never felt hurried to leave when we had finished whic is often the case in fast-food places. All good, clean fun and will go back again..
Monkey Nuts, Park Road, Crouch End, N8 8TD London

Saturday, 11 February 2012

New CID Cosmetics - i-bronze

Having been wearing my Rimmel London Wake Me Up Foundation for a couple of weeks now, I wanted a bit of a lift in terms of adding a bit of warmth to my skintone - my normal blusher wasn't enough and my summertime bronzer was way too much. I always try to look out for things that are versatile so I was pleased, in my quest, to come across the i-bronze from New CID Cosmetics.



As you can see it is marbled with a whole range of subtle tones from palest shades of pink to deep bronze. This is what makes it so versatile - you can use the differing colours at different times of the year depending on your own natural skin colour. So it doubles up as a blusher as well as a bronzer - neat eh? There is now no excuse for me not to look beautifully glowing all-year-round. It also goes on easily and isn't at all patchy so I really could be putting this into my list of fave products...

The compact is a chunky ivory in colour and what I really like is the huge mirror which is really useful - all in all a neat little package. The colourway is Rio and it's made in Italy - buy it now from New CID Cosmetics for £22.

Here is how to use the i-bronze to best effect...



Friday, 10 February 2012

Ugg Trainers - gotta have them!

 Ugg's are not on my personal fashion radar. My daughters wear them like a second skin but they are horrendously expensive in my opinion and I find my eye's water when I have to replace their Uggs which, it's fair to say, is not that often as they do seem to last. I will stick to my FitFlop boots for the winter which are cheaper (though not much) than Uggs and don't scream middle-aged fashion victim with questionable fashion sense at me.

Mukluk boot £145 FitFlop
However I am really really tempted to buy a pair of Ugg trainers as my Converse are literally wearing thin and these are sheepskin-lined so will give me loads of comfort in the summer without socks...

What do you think? Bad idea? Ugg trainers £105.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Add a Bobble and Spread Some Warmth...

I love to knit but I never have time – doesn’t stop me from loving hand-knitted sweaters, scarves and hats though and I love them even more when they are produced to raise funds and awareness for a truly great cause.

Knitwear label Grannies, Inc. has designed a limited edition hat to raise money for Age UK’s Bobble Day (Friday 10thFebruary) – the annual fundraising event which urges Brits to dig out their brightest winter woollies and dress them with fluffy Age UK bobbles to raise funds to help keep older people warm and well in winter.

Lovingly crafted by grannies in the UK, the official Bobble Day hat in vibrant orange, yellow and pink, with an oversized bobble (or pom pom) on top, is made from 100% British spun merino wool yarn. The limited edition hat is available exclusively from Grannies, Inc, costing £35, with £8 going directly to Age UK’s Spread the Warmth campaign.

Bobble Day aims to highlight the plight of people in later life during the colder months, as over 200 older people die needlessly every day in winter because of the effects of cold weather. Age UK's Bobble Day is part of the Charity's annual Spread the Warmth campaign, which aims to make winter warmer for 360,000 older people by providing information, advice and practical services. These include getting warm and nutritious meals to older people, helping to keep homes warm and giving free information and advice 365 days a year.
  
Please help Age UK Spread the Warmth this winter. Make a donation simply by calling 0800 169 87 87 or visiting Age UK. You can show support for Bobble Day by turning your Facebook profile picture all woolly with the new Knit Me app at http://on.fb.me/knitmeapp.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Herself Silk Scarves come to Matches.com

I'm always on the look-out for new accessories that are not just here-today, gone-tomorrow in terms of their style. If I am paying a bit more for a scarf or gloves I want to know I will get more than a season's wear out of them. That is why I love this new label to come to Matches Fashion. Herself, designed to complement the illustrative magazine of the same title, is a range of pure silk scarves featuring tropical and big cat designs that leap out. Brilliant colours and bold geometrics make a statement that will liven up your Spring wardrobe no end. I am tempted to get more than just one if I'm completely honest as I have fallen in love with them all! Herself from Matches Fashion, £149 each.




Bird of Paradise


Fantasia


Panther Chain


Tancredi Leo

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