Hair & Beauty

Neglected!

Sorry I’ve been quiet! In my defence i have been on holiday so not i’m back i shall make sure i’m making more of an effort.

While i was away i forgot my hair straighteners. For anyone with thick wavy hair like me you will appreciate that hair straighteners are a must and so i had to go buy some. I’m not a GHD girl, i don’t see the need to spend £100+ on some when some a third of the cost do the same job.

These are my trusty Babyliss straighteners that i forgot. Think they were about £30 and as you can see they are a bit battered but work great and have 3 different heat settings. Now i’m home these will be my go to straighteners and the new ones i bought will be the back up as i haven’t ever found anything to beat them and i’ve tried GHD and Cloud 9 ones.

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So this is my review of the Phil Smith Be Gorgeous straighteners i bought from Sainsburys. They cost £30 and were the ones that looked the nearest to what i had.20170815_182139

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The plates are a decent size and worked well with my thick hair. However, unlike my Babyliss ones they do drag a little bit and pull the hair but not too much. They’re designed well with a really long cord and are very light weight. However the place above the buttons where you put your thumb can get a bit hot so you have to be careful. They have 3 buttons, the right hand one for turning it on and also this has the feature to lock them so you can’t accidentally turn them off or adjust the heat, this is ace as i’m always turning my Babyliss ones off. They start at a heat of 180 and go up to 230 so a great range. I have thick hair and 210 works brill for me.

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Also the heat mat that comes with them is tiny, i’d have loved something bigger.

They do work really well and for £30 you really can’t go wrong, especially as i have thick hair. I’d give them a 4 out of 5.

 

home

Living room revamp

Just call me a blog neglector!

In my defence i’ve been ill and seriously felt like crap since last Thursday when i began with a sore throat and ended up at the emergency doctors on Sunday with a chest infection.
Anyway i think i’m on the mend. I don’t suppose i did myself any favours by building 2 bookcases and a TV Bench on Friday after my Ikea delivery but you know what it’s like when you have new stuff to build!
While there was nothing wrong with my bookcases and TV Bench i just felt the room could be brighter and just wanted things tidying up a bit.
So here is before, i really can’t believe the difference……

As you can see it’s fairly dark wood. I also had the surround sound system which i’ve now given away as i never used it. My books had started to breed and just looked messy.

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Isn’t Ikea furniture great? I find it really easy to put together although i did go wrong a couple of times. This is painted wood as well, not MDF so great value for money i think.

And how does it look now??

So i love it, and it makes the room look totally different. Now to find a little white console table!

Food & Drink

Fruit Scones and a bit of Bread!

I’ve neglected my blog for a few days, sorry! However i am poorly sick with the man flu and feel like death warmed up so i’m sharing some baking from a few weeks ago if that’s ok. I love baking but the problem is so do my hips! If i bake i eat it all cause i live with a fussy husband and teenager. My son won’t eat anything unless it has chocolate in it and my husband is a bit of (well actually a lot of!) a health nut so won’t eat anything that has fat or sugar in it haha!
Me on the other hand will eat anything with flour in it which i know is no good for my waistline.

So some Scones…….who doesn’t like a good scone. I’d only ever baked them once before i tried this recipe and it works a treat. The secret to a good rise? Bring the mixture together barely and don’t knead it, don’t roll out much either. Also when using the cutter don’t twist it, just push down and pull up!

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National Trust Scones (adapted slightly)

  • 450g/1lb self-raising flour
  • 115g/4oz hard butter
  • 85g/3oz caster sugar
  • 85g/3oz sultanas
  • 1egg, beaten
  • 200ml/7fl oz milk
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Add the flour and cubed butter to the bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in the sugar and sultanas.
  2. Add the egg and gradually mix in 150ml/¼ pint of the milk to make a soft dough. Knead lightly on a floured surface then roll out gently to a generous 2cm/¾ inch thickness, or two fingers.
  3. Stamp out circles using a 7cm/2¾ inch fluted biscuit cutter and transfer the scones to a lightly oiled baking sheet.
  4. Knead the trimmings and continue rolling and stamping until you have made eight scones.
  5. Brush the top of the scones with a little of the remaining milk, then bake for 10–15 minutes until well risen and golden brown.
  6. Serve warm, split and topped with jam and clotted cream.

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This bread is easy but bread does take time so don’t rush it or it will fail.

This is the recipe for a White Cob by Paul Hollywood 

Makes 1 loaf
Prep 3 hours
Bake 30 minutes

500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
10g salt
10g instant yeast
30g unsalted butter, softened
320ml cool water
Olive oil for kneading

1. Tip the flour into a large mixing bowl and then add the salt and yeast, making sure they are placed on opposite sides of the bowl. Add the butter and ¾ of the water, turning the mixture around using your fingers. Slowly add more water until all the flour has been incorporated. When the dough is soft and not soggy it is ready. Move the mixture around the bowl to clean the sides until the mixture forms a rough dough.

2. Cover your work surface with a little oil and then begin to knead the dough. Knead for 5 – 10 minutes, working through the wet stage until the dough starts to form a soft, smooth skin and feels silky. Put the dough into a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel. When it has risen to at least double in size and the dough is bouncy and shiny it is ready. This should take at least 1 hour, but can be left for 2 or even 3 hours.

3. Line a baking tray with baking parchment or silicone paper.

4. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and shape into a ball by knocking it inwards several times until all the air is knocked out and the dough is smooth. Then flatten the dough into a rough rectangle and then roll it into an oblong. Turn the dough so that the longer edge is running away from you and flatten it slightly. Now roll the two ends in towards the centre, so you end up with a chunky squarish shape. Turn the dough over so that the join is underneath.

5. Next, using both hands you need to shape the dough into a smooth domed cob. With your palms turned upwards, position your hands on each side and slightly under the dough. Using your hands tuck the dough neatly underneath itself. Continue, softly forcing the sides of the dough down and underneath, creating a smooth, taut top and a rough underside. Try not to add too much extra flour during shaping.

6. The dough is now ready for proving. Place it on your baking tray and place this in a clean plastic bag. Leave to prove for about 1 hour, until it has at least doubled in size and the dough springs back if you prod it gently with your finger. Whilst the dough is proving turn your oven to 230°C and put a roasting tray in the bottom to heat up.

7. Once ready dust your dough with some flour and then slash deeply with a knife. Add hot water to the hot roasting tray, this will create steam in your oven giving your bread a lighter crust. Put your bread into the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until it is cooked and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Leave your cob to cool on a wire rack.

If you’re anything like me i can’t wait for it to cool before i smother it with best butter!!

 

Hair & Beauty

REVIEW – Umberto Giannini Miracle Worker Smooth Serum

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I’ve always strived to have sleek, shiny hair but unfortunately it’s not to be, well not without a lot of effort.
Mum always used to cut my hair short when i was little, well when i was a teenager, she said it would make my hair thicker and she was right! I have enough hair on my head for a few people!
My hair is thick, course and very wavy. If i leave it after washing and don’t put on any treatment i resemble ‘Humidity Monica’ from Friends……you know the one right??

frizzActually this was my hair after i’d added the serum but let my hair dry naturally. It tamed it immediately and to be fair if i’d wanted a tousled look i could have added a bit more and probably left it as it was.

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As most women will probably agree we spend a small fortune on products in the art of perfection. This serum wasn’t cheap at £8 but if something works it’s money well spent isn’t it?! There’s currently a deal on at Boots for 3 items for £15 so i took advantage of trying a few things.

So, a bit about the serum. You get 75ml of this clear serum and the instructions tell you to apply 4 to 8 pumps depending on hair length. I have thick shoulder length hair and have been using way less than that to get the desired affect (about 3 or 4 pumps max).
The serum is what you’d expect from a serum, thick and syrupy, clear and has a beautiful fragrance. After applying to my damp hair i usually leave it to dry naturally unless i’m in a rush. Once dry i use my trusty Babyliss straighteners on a medium heat to style.

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20170720_071803.jpgI have to say my hair has never been softer! Usually my ends feel like straw but not with this, it’s probably one of the best hair products I’ve used and I’ve tried a lot. I will most definitely be buying this again. It’s definitely one of those staple hair products everyone should have!

Food & Drink, Uncategorized

Raisin Flapjack

Easiest flapjack recipe you will ever need and pretty fool proof.

I have to hide this after I’ve made it because it just weirdly disappeared otherwise. I think we have elves!

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So here’s the recipe:

  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 125g light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of golden syrup
  • 200g porridge oats
  • a good pinch of salt (optional)
  • 80g of Sultanas (exchange for nuts or apricots etc… if preferred)

Grease a 20cm square tin with butter and set aside. Preheat the oven to 150 C/ 300 F/ Gas Mark 2

Melt the butter in a pan with the sugar and the golden syrup.

When melted take off the heat and add the porridge oats, salt and raisins.

When everything has been incorporated put into the tin and using a spoon pack it down well.

Bake for around 25-30 mins until golden brown. After 5 mins of cooling score the flapjacks into the size you like (big pieces for me!) When cooled completely remove from tin and place on some kitchen roll for a few minutes to remove excess butter then store in an airtight tin.

Happy Eating!!

 

Crafts, home

Junk/Craft Room

I live in your standard 3 bed semi. It isn’t very big but it’s fine for our needs (there are only 3 of us).
I’m lucky enough that hubby let me have the spare room for my craft room. I’ve crafted for yrs but i can’t actually remember when it was. I think it must have been after my son was born so maybe 12 or so years. I predominantly scrapbook but also make cards and some other arty stuff which i’m sure i’ll share more of at some point. Here’s a few things i have made…..

Anyway, back to what i was talking about……my craft room. Since starting the kitchen, well actually probably since before Christmas, i haven’t crafted at all. I lost my Dad in November and haven’t had the inclination to do anything, and since my craft room became a storage/dump it/throw everything in there cause you don’t use it room it’s literally been a dump! Here, i mean take a look, this was my room this morning, i actually feel quite embarrassed just showing you!

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Yesterday i bought a new scrapbook album from Hobbycraft and i’m determined to document our Florida photos from the last few years. So i set to work making it cosy again and it’s done! I’ve moved things, thrown things away that needed throwing away years ago, dusted and hoovered and it feels so much better. I need to sort out my cubed storage as there is stuff in there i’ve not used for years but it’s certainly ready for me to get crafting again and i can’t wait.

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Here’s to actually doing something productive, although with it coming up to the kids school holidays who knows if i’ll actually find the time!

Happy Tuesday!

Crafts, Garden

Garden crafting

So, whilst perusing Ikea yesterday i spotted a stack of wooden crates and i thought to myself they may look great in my garden if i could find some nice colours to paint them. I’m currently going with a bit of a tropical them so bright turquoise and pink etc…. They were £9 each which for the quality of them thought was a good price (you can get them cheaper).20170716_144243

After Ikea it was a trip to B&Q to try and find a small pot of paint for it and i found the perfect colour, Summer Sky from Ronseal and a small tin was £3.97, perfect.

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It was fairly easy to put together although i did get one of the ends the wrong way round and had to take it off and turn it around, typical for me!

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The painting seemed to take forever! It didn’t get it was about 45 degrees(well 25 but felt hotter!) but it dried well and i was able to add a couple of coats in quick time really. It says apply 3 coats but 2 was enough for me.

I’m chuffed with the colour. It really goes well with my theme. This was a bit of a test so i’ve left it just painted but with a bit more time i’d probably jazz it up a bit with some lettering or something. 20170717_11581320170717_115807

Happy Painting!

Crate – Ikea 
Paint – Ronseal from B&Q
Bottom containers – The Range
Garden Herb pot – Asda
Turquoise Mosaic pot – Matalan 

Food & Drink

Pass me the coffee!

I absolutely love my coffee! I couldn’t possibly function daily without it. It’s definitely my go to drink. I rarely drink other hot drinks other than the odd cup of tea but i really have to be in the mood for that. If i’m out it’s generally a Latte or a Flat White and usually always either Starbucks or Caffe Nero (Costa is just way too weak).

Usually in a morning i reach for the easiest which is Nescafe Azera. Before this i used to use the instant granules but since i started to use this i could never have a normal coffee again. This is the middle ground. Has the instant coffee hit and doesn’t taste dissimilar to a filter coffee.20170714_162055

Today whilst shopping in Asda i spotted some new coffee (well new to me!) and as it was only £2.50 i thought if i didn’t like it then i hadn’t wasted an exorbitant amount of cash. Well no, no thank you Asda. It’s way to bitter and harsh for my liking. On first appearance it looks like a filter coffee but does disperse well in water. It left a really horrible taste in my mouth so that will be resigned to the cupboard as a backup to my back up if ever i run out (in other words it’ll still be there in a couple of years).

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Throughout the day it’s filter coffee for me these days. I only used to make it about once every weeks but since coming back from the States where it’s the staple drink (and they always seem to get it right!) i have found myself making some if not every day then every other day. My go to blend is the House Blend from Starbucks. I love it. It’s a smooth, rich taste and you don’t need too much for a nice deep cuppa. I don’t actually like it too strong but it’s easy to add a bit of water if you’ve added too much coffee. I used to use a cafetiere but these days i use my trusty peculator, it’s just really easy.

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Occasionally if i really want filter coffee but i’m pressed for time i’ll get out my drip feeder. This means i can get a good cup of coffee but fairly quickly.

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Right, time to take 10 minutes to sit with a bit of TV and this beaut before i have to make dinner!
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Garden

Garden makeover in progress

Do you ever start something and then realise you don’t have any before pictures? Yes that would be me.
Now this isn’t a huge project but it’s definitely in need of some TLC!

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It’s kind of split into 3 sections, the top which is way in a mess and needs digging and things planting. I used to grow my own veg but haven’t for a few years so it’s been neglected. There are established plants on the right hand side and i’d like to do the same on the left. We’ve just hired a skip and moved all the crap that’s built up over the last 6 months from it like tree cuttings and weeds.
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Then there’s the lawn, which is actually more weeds and clover than grass. Ideally it would be relaid but for now i think weed and feed will have to suffice. We’re also in the process of taking the ivy off the garden. That stuff gets everywhere and it’s so damaging. It’s made its way into the garage through the floor and the walls! It’s pretty indestructible stuff! We also want to replace the little brick wall with maybe some sleepers as the wall is leaning and will fall at some point.
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And the last 3rd is the part we do actually use during the summer and we look out onto it from the new kitchen which we use a lot more. I wanted something bright and tropical seems to be the in thing at the moment and seems to be everywhere. We’ve just had a new fence and gate put up on one side and i’m not sure whether to paint it, stain it or leave it so watch this space. I need more plants to really get a summer vibe going and have bought a bird feeder and a bee hotel to hopefully bring some more wildlife into the garden. We used to have a resident Squirrel but i think he must have died as he hasn’t been seen in months which i’m really sad about. I used to call him Cyril and he would take monkey nuts from my hand. Take a look at the header of my Blog, there’s a picture of him. We’ve also had hedgehogs, field mice and many birds as well as a local Indian ringneck parakeet!

Hope you like the pictures!

Plants  – B&Q and Wentworth Garden Centre
Cushion and Adventure sign – Matalan
Blanket and table runner – Ikea 

Books

Review – Milly Johnson – The Queen of Wishful Thinking

Who doesn’t love a good feel good read, but with a difference. Whilst this is definitely that it also has many sub plots that consistently made me want to shout at the characters in the book as well as making me feel anxious at times and ultimately bringing me to tears! Not many books have made me do that. I remember one book ‘The Story of Us‘ by Dani Atkins doing just that and the only other one i can remember is another by Milly called ‘It’s Raining Men‘. I finished it in the bath and when my husband walked in and saw me crying i had to tell him i had soap in my eye or he’d call me a daft sod haha!

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The characters in this book are really believable. Some you love, some you hate and others you just wish you could meet and have a cuppa with.
Without giving the plot away the book ultimately has two likable main characters, Lew and Bonnie, who both lead very different lives although they are very similar people behind the exterior. The story shows how their lives, although very different become intertwined.
This book leaves you teetering on the edge, waiting for more on each turn of the page. The chapters aren’t too long which i really like in a book. It was so descriptive i could imagine what the inside of Stephens house and then Bonnie’s house looked like as if i’d seen a photograph.
I was so disappointed when it ended but loved the little Epilogue.
Now what i would really love is a continuation of the story so come on Milly, lets have another one!

You can buy Milly’s book here or at other leading book stores.