31 December 2014

A Year of Adventures in Tea and Cake

Its only been a week since my last post, but by heck it's been a busy one! Last minute Christmas preparation, a fun and family filled Christmas day, my son's birthday (NINE! how did that happen?!), my birthday (and no one needs to know how old I am!), my blogs first birthday (and yes I'm aware tradition dictates I owe you a giveaway - it'll be up in a couple of days!) - with lots of food, films, board games and other fun things in between! 

Since I'm not *quite* ready to process new thoughts and organise new pictures I'll do what most of you seem to be doing today (Yup, I've been working my way through my Bloglovin' feed too!) - looking back at my 2014 and forward to 2015! 

Tea and Cake

My New Years Resolution, if you'd call it that, for 2014 was to enjoy lots of tea and cake and I think I definitely succeeded in this! One particular standout was the Wentbridge House afternoon tea - this one has ruined all afternoon teas for me since! 

cake tray wentrbidge house afternoon tea

And Bettys is always a treat - I made it to five of their six cafes this year..

Tea and scones at bettys

Though sadly they can't all be gems - this was also the year of the bizarre squirty-cream-scone, and the beautiful but not particularly edible Mad Hatters Tea Party.

I'm hoping 2015 will be chock full of amazing Afternoon Tea so if you have any recommendations I'd love to hear them in the comments! Yorkshire-based is preferable but I WILL travel for cake! 

Holidays

I was lucky enough to have a few great little getaways this year - including two brilliant weekends away with some of my most favouritist bloggers, one to Arnside and one to Osmotherley, staying in a brace of holiday homes available from Sykes Cottages. I also managed a short trip to Bruges, and a couple of lovely days in lovely Reykjavik - Iceland is such an amazing place! 

View from hallgrimskirkja in iceland

I have a thing or two in mind for prospective travels in 2015 so fingers crossed they work out! 

Blog Stuff

It's been an interesting year! I've loved rambling away here this year and I'm so happy and grateful that anyone goes out of their way to read my musings. I know there a few things I'd like to change about my blog in 2015 but haven't quite worked out the details of what and how - would love to hear any suggestions for improvement! Though for the most part I'm very pleased with how this year has gone, blog wise. I've had some amazing opportunities and worked with some brilliant brands, but most importantly I've made some truly excellent friends. I have all the love in the world for Tea Party Beauty's Hayley and Little Blonde Life's Sammie  - Simone, Jess, Dannie, Sharon, Corinne and Kellie are all completely awesome too and are so many people that I'll feel bad for missing out as I remember them! Not only some super ladies in this lot, but some of my very favourite bloggers. 

There's definitely a few other bloggers out there that I want to make my best buddies in 2015 - please come for tea and cake with me! 


Anyway, this is the last of my 2014 rambles! Just wanted to say a last big thanks for reading and hope you all have a Happy New Year! I shall be celebrating the changeover cosy at home with the remainder of the Christmas Chocolate, but would love to hear about your exciting NYE plans! 


22 December 2014

Memebox Christmas Collection - Stress Free Holiday and My Holiday Glam

I know I'm a good day late for a Memebox Monday post but hey, it's Christmas - we'll all have lost track of days before too long! And to make up for it I've got two shiny new boxes to show you today - Stress Free Holiday and My Holiday Glam were both released by Memebox recently as part of a special Christmas Collection!

Here's the Stress Free Holiday Box contents:

Memebox Christmas Box

Recipe by Nature Ice Cream Swing Gloss in Very Lovely ($6) - I know I should be old enough now to be above getting really excited about things because they are shaped like cute desserts.... but I'm not. I never mind getting excess lip products because I'm forever losing them - though I hope this doesn't go missing too quickly as it's very sweet!

Cute novelty Korean cosmetics

Angel's Black Head Eraser Coconut Soap ($12) - I've been using a similar sounding coconut soap from a previous Memebox for a little while now and I really like it (a surprise as I was really unsure about using soap on my face, expecting it to be really harsh and drying) so it's nice to have a back up - though I don't think I'll need it anytime soon, these bars seem to take a lot of use without getting any smaller!

Korean Coconut soap

Dipodeur Dress Perfume in Lime & Mandarin (£19) - I love the name 'dress perfume' for a fabric spray, makes it sound so much more exotic and sophisticated! The gorgeous classy packaging of this product doesn't hurt in that respect either! There were a few different scents that went in the boxes, but the one I received - Lime & Mandarin - is really lovely! I really like these sprays for bed linen - so lovely and fresh!

Korean Dress Spray
  
DD'ell Moisture Facial Mask in Gold Kiwi ($7) - I've not opened it up yet but even through the packet this feels pretty thick and luxurious so I have high hopes! This one is supposed to and detoxify skin while giving a brighter and more youthful complexion.

thick korean sheet masks

Neogen Neoday Don't Cry Armpits Deodorant ($17) - The best name for deodorant, ever. This just makes me smile when I look at it! The fragrance is pretty strongly perfumed, and I don't usually use stick deodorant, but I'll give it a go anyway to see how we get on!

Korean deodorant

Shara Shara Gold Label Repescargo Cream ($41) - Once I got over the initial 'ick-factor', I've found very pleasant results using snail-based products before so will definitely crack this open one I finish my current moisturiser!

Korean snail moisturiser

The second box for this Christmas was more make-upy, here's the My Holiday Glam Box:

memebox Christmas box korean cosmetics

Peripera Wholly Deep Jewel Pot in Burgundy ($29) - oooh this is pretty! It's certainly bolder than anything I'd usually wear on my eyes - I'm a bit of an eyeshadow wimp - but it's go gorgeous and sparkly and Christmassy that I might have to be brave and bust this out on Christmas morning! It can help counteract my otherwise casual approach to dressing for the day!

glittery eyeshadow from korea

Deoproce White Flower BB Cream ($12) - I've discovered some amazing BB creams in these Memeboxes but have built up a bit of a stash now so might be a while before I get to this one! I like the pretty packaging though!

Korean BB creams

Vivito Painting Jelly Tint in Squeeze Cherry ($29) - This is such an odd consistency, different to any other lip products I own! The weird jelly formula is a breeze to apply though and gives an instant tint that is noticeable but not too unnatural. Its really pretty, I like this a lot. Its a teensy bit sticky on at first but nothing on most glosses out there.

Korean lip gloss

Cool Enough Studio Mirror ($15) - I never carry a mirror with me, so must look a right state while out and about half the time but I'm blissfully unaware of it! This could definitely come in handy for those days when I really should make sure I don't look too wrecked!

handbag mirror

Dearberry Rockat Girl Waterproof Pencil Eyeliner Purple ($5) - I really like this colour - sorry you can't see it very well in the pictures! (I'm blaming my entire lack of decent lighting for not getting anything better but hopefully I can show this off fully in the springtime!) It's a really dark purple - not too far from black - with just a hint of sparkle.

Purple korean eyeliner

Eclipse Poppy Red and Fresh Green Nail Polish ($7 each) - What a festive duo! I haven't actually painted my nails in ages as I wrecked half of them in a cupboard door incident and I've been trying to nurse them back to health so I can get them pretty looking at Christmas! I'd be likely to use both of these individually through the year too.

korean nail polish brands

I'm altogether very pleased with my festive offerings from Memebox! Most of the products here fit the theming a lot better than in recent boxes (even if I can't quite make the connection for all of them!) and nearly everything will get used at one point or another! More than anything though I think I was just overjoyed to see some new boxes after a bit of a drought! Hopefully this wont be the end of new boxes either, as it looks like they are releasing a series of Boxing Day Specials too!
Hopefully there'll be lots more along these lines in the new year!

21 December 2014

Bluebird Tea Co - The Christmas Collection

I was too slow in the autumn, waited too long, and before I knew it all the autumn teas from the amazing Bluebird Tea Co that I'd wanted to get my hands on had sold out - so I knew that there was no time to waste when the Christmas Collection was released! I got these all ordered as quickly as I could and they've been fueling my December work afternoons since they arrived - and boy am I glad I got my hands on these! 

My favourite of this year's Christmas range is the Christmas Cake Tea. It says on the packet 'combines our three favourite things: tea, cake and Christmas!' - I don't really think you can say fairer than that! Though I don't really like Christmas Cake, I love the smell of it - and that delicious fragrance is recreated perfectly in this packet of dried tea! This contains Ceylon black tea, vanilla, almond, cinnamon, cloves, orange peel, spruce needles, and the prettiest little snowflake sprinkles. Unfortunately we seem to have rinsed right through this and only have a teeny bit left - hopefully enough to get us through the next few days is we use it sparingly! 

spiced festive tea

christmas cake flavoured tea

The Snowball Tea is another beauty - containing coconut, chocolate and mini marshmallows along with Ceylon black tea for a lovely sweet tea. The additional flavours are a little more subtle than in the Christmas Cake version but still very interesting and tasty. The melted marshmallows give the tea a nice sort of cloudy appearance - makes it feel very indulgent while being a lot lighter than hot chocolate! 

coconut chocolate and marsmallow in tea

Christmas Teas

The Mulled Wine is my least favourite of the seasonal releases but that's entirely down to personal preference (I'm not so keen of fruit teas) rather than lack of quality. The 'mulled' fragrance is incredible and it's that gorgeous festive combination on orange. clove and cinnamon that that makes this incredible enjoyable even for someone not so keep on the base tea. Plus it's the closest I can get to drinking mulled wine while working! 

Mulled Wine flavoured tea

Christmas Teas

The last of the new teas is Candy Cane - Ceylon black tea with spearmint and vanilla to really capture that sweet minty taste of the favourite festive treat from which it takes its name! This is just lovely - my favourite way to finish off a meal as it's sweet enough to cover dessert (the addition of stevia gives it a bit of an extra sweetness!) while being refreshing. Mint always feels like a 'finishing off' flavour - I guess 'cos it feels a bit like brushing your teeth? 

Sweet Minty Tea


I'm SO glad I didn't miss out on this lovely range! And - even more good news! - these are all still available on the website! If the Christmas ones aren't your thing there's loads of amazing tea flavours and varieties available on the site - I'm trying to work my way through them but I'm nowhere close yet!

20 December 2014

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (via Lush)

Seems like ages now since I went to an event at the Lush Leeds Store to check out all the fab new Christmas products, yet at the same time I can't quite believe how quickly Christmas has come around this year! At the event I was sent away with one of their awesome gift sets and I've been busy trying it all out since! 

Not only is the box for the Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (£33.95) set rather special - a house that comes with stickers so you can make your own cosy festive scene! - but it's chock full of some of Lush's finest seasonal items too!

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town Gift Set

Butterbear Bath Bomb - Isn't he a cutie? Unfortunately I didn't get to try this fella out as the little lady fell in love with him and claimed him for herself, but she just bought another today with her own spending money so she must have liked him very much! He has a lovely sweet vanilla scent - the same as the Butterball Bath Bomb - and contains skin softening cocoa butter. 

Lush Christmas bath bombs butterbear

Dashing Santa Bath Bomb - this is the one that caught my sons eye in the store but thankfully he's a shower kinda guy so I get to keep this one! His little golden boots fizz away first making him look like he's running around the bath, leaving a red citric fizz in his wake. This bath bomb contains mandarin oil, bergamot oil and orange flower absolute to recreate a 'satsumas at Christmas' fragrance and certainly does lead to a cheery bath... even if my lazy santa sauntered more than he dashed! 

Lush christmas bath bombs santa

Lush christmas dashing santa

Snow Angel Bath Melt - I've not much to say on this one at the minute as I'm saving it for my Christmas Eve bath! It's a pretty thing though with a marzipan scent and golden shimmer aplenty so hopefully it'll help me forget all my last-minute wrapping stress and drift away into a peaceful slumber (until I get woken up at the crack of dawn by the enthusiastic little ones!) 

Lush Christmas bath products Snow Angel

Holly Golightly Bubble Bar - This is one I remember the Leeds store staff were very enthusiastic to show us, and I can see why! It's a corker alright, huge and glittery - it definitely looked the part! the silver coating hides a gorgeous deep green core, and when crumbled under running water provides masses of festive bubbles as well as colourful bath water! The scent - comprised of patchouli oil, persian lime oil, clove leaf oil and sweet orange oil - is sweet and warm and spicy, so the result is 'like bathing in a hot toddy'. These are £4.75 to buy on their own but could easily get a few baths out of it so works out not badly priced at all! 

Lush Christmas bath products green water

colour of holly golightly bath from lush

So White Shower Gel - this is one of the new shower gels released this season and I'll be honest on first investigating all the Christmas shower gels, this was my least favourite. Compared to the other scents, like the much hyped sugary sweet Snow Fairy or my beloved Rose Jame, this one just seemed to be lacking a little power. Tried at home though, where it doesn't have to directly compete against a store full of other Lush products, it's actually really lovely, with a crisp apple scent and a hint of shimmer. I'd still be unlikely to buy this again over some of the other festive fragrances, but will enjoy using it until it runs out! 

lush apple christmas shower gels

Golden Wonder Bath Bomb - I can definitely say, in no uncertain terms, this is my favourite thing in the box. It's glorious! I've seen it in store for years over Christmas time, but for some reason this one never really called to me like a lot of the other bath products - and I'm SO glad I this gift set made me finally give it a go! The fragrance is lovey - an uplifting blend of sweet orange, lime and cognac oils - but it's the magic this works in the water that makes it so extraordinary! The most beautiful sea-blue colour with gorgeous golden shimmer running throughout and little gold stars floating around you, it looks perfectly fine in the picture but you need to be IN the bath to see just how beautiful this is! 

Lush Christmas present bath bomb

Prettiest bath bombs

Reindeer Rock Soap - I'm tempted to not use this and just keep in hanging around so I can sniff it frequently! It has the same gorgeous berry scent as the Comforter bubble bar, which is one of my favouritess so it's lovely to have it available in other products! It's a gorgeous looking bit of soap too - the reindeer design is inspired by ancient Scandinavian cave paintings and the silver shimmer against the gorgeous deep red of the soap is pretty darn festive too! 

lush christmas soap smells like the comforter

Snowman Shower Jelly - I was so impressed when I was shown this in store and realised that he unfolded into a snowman! How cool! Since I let my bath loving daughter play with all the bath bombs, its only fair I give this one to the young lad to have in the shower. Since I hate the idea of this all disappearing down the plug hole on first use, the helpful Lush Leeds staff suggested cutting him into cubes and using one at a time - genius idea! Though I feel bad about giving him the chop! 

christmas shower gel lush

I generally think you can't really go wrong with any of the Lush gift sets as Christmas Gifts, and this one is no exception - there are some amazing products and you certainly wouldn't need to give this any extra gift wrapping! If you still have Christmas shopping to do, you could do much worse that heading to your nearest Lush store and picking up one of these! 

18 December 2014

Messy Baker Apron - More Christmas Ideas from Toxic Fox!

Still Christmas Shopping? Someone panicked me at the weekend by telling me that all the couriers were too busy and were refusing to pick up any more packages, meaning nothing was going to get delivered - arrrghh! Thankfully of course it all turned out to be not true, but it did inspire me to get my skates on and finally get some presents ordered, and it looks like just about everything is here with days to spare, phew!

For anyone later than me (I can't be the only useless one who has lost all track of time!), I've seen on twitter today that you can order all the way up to Monday to still expect a pre-Christmas delivery from Toxic Fox! Unfortunately you'd be cutting it a bit fine for any of the personalised items (a real shame since I already wrote about what lovely presents I think the Typology Of Love frames are)  but they also carry loads of great ready-to-ship items and have a little something for everyone so no one needs go without! You can find all the 'guaranteed for Christmas items here.

One thing I've loved this year from Toxic Fox are the beautiful 'Messy Baker' aprons they stock - see how pretty this is?

pink hearts baking apron

toxic fox baking gifts

And it has a real-life pocket too! Nothing winds me up like those pretend pockets that I keep going to put things in only to find they are sewn up and just for display. And if you are going to include a pocket, it might as well be a frilly heart shaped one!

baking gifts

pretty aprons

These are available in four different designs on the website, all prices at £24.99 and they'd make the perfect present for any bake-happy lady in your life (or treat for yourself as a great incentive to bake other people Christmas gifts!) The only problem with this it's too pretty to use as an apron, I'd rather get my clothes messy than this!
If this isn't what you are looking for I'm sure you'll find something suitable by browsing their Christmas Gift section - don't forget to watch the gift guide videos for inspiration too! And if you find that special something for that special someone, you can get 10% off orders with the code TFBlog!

17 December 2014

Nutella Cheesecake and New Kitchen Toys

You may or may not have noticed, but Christmas is nearly here! I've never allowed myself to be responsible for cooking Christmas Dinner - instead I always dash to the nearest relative who has offered to feed me (usually my dad!), but I do always take dessert! 

I find cheesecake to be a perfect Christmastime dessert, as you can make it in any festive flavour you wish, it's mega easy to chuck together and it always tastes amazing! I was recently pointed in the direction of Nigella Lawson's Nutella Cheesecake Recipe and figured the delicious combination of chocolate and nuts (two things irrevocably linked with Christmas as far as I'm concerned!) would be just the thing for this years post-dinner treat! 

And of course,... I had to make a practice one first!

Nigellas nutella cheesecake

I was sent this awesome Russell Hobbs 6-in-1 blender to make the job easier! This is my new favourite kitchen toy (shhh, no one tell my Soup Maker I said that!) It has six different attachments for whisking, blending, creaming and slicing so comes in handy for all kinds of cooking scenarios, as well as being hand-held, light weight and not taking up loads of room - perfect for my kitchen! 

great kitchen gadgets

It's a nice short and simple ingredients list for this one!
250g biscuits (Nigella uses digestives but mine are choc-chip hobnobs, 'cos I'm fancy like that!)
75g butter
400g Nutella
100g chopped hazelnuts
500g cream cheese
60g icing sugar

personalised nutella jar

And yes, that jar of Nutella does indeed have my name on it. The coolest thing ever? I think it might be! Here's a closer look! 

kelly nutella

I feel famous! 

Anyway. simply chuck all your biscuits in the blender bowl with the butter and a healthy spoonful of Nutella and blitz 'til it starts to clump together. If you don't have a fancy blender thing you can just beat them up a lot with a big spoon, which is how I'd have done it previously, but trust me it's a lot easier with the blender!

how to make cheesecake

Throw in a couple of spoonfuls of the nuts and pulse until you have this sort of sticky crumbly mess.

russell hobbs blender

Then, line the bottom of a springform cake tin with the biscuit mixture. Pop it in the fridge to chill.

heart shaped cake tin

While the base is chilling, beat together the cream cheese and icing sugar.

easy cheesecake

 I used the whisk attachment, and like an idiot I was half way done when I realised the hand blender has different power settings - oops! This thing has a surprising amount of power once you've got it turned to the right place! 

mixing cheesecake filling

When it's all mixed in, add the rest of the Nutella and give it another whisk until smooth.

blob of nutella

Spread the cheesy Nutella all over the biscuit base. Sprinkle with the remaining hazelnuts and pop back in the fridge for a good four hours, if not overnight.

heart shaped cheesecake

hazelnut topped cheesecake

Once it's completely chilled, it's ready to serve. I recommend a big slice, this is delicious!

 nutella desserts

It tastes like it's harder to make than it is, if you know what I mean. Apart from chilling time, it takes pretty much nothing to throw this together but definitely wouldn't be out of place served up after the most important meal of the year. Or, to be fair, anytime. Like now. Just going to the kitchen for a moment....

* I gratefully received the Russel Hobbs blender to play with for free, as well as my amazing personalised Nutella!