Monday, 31 August 2015

Bank Holiday Baking

Today in England it is Bank Holiday Monday and it is of course raining. If you're British you'll know that this comes as no huge surprise, Bank Holidays never bring sunshine. I think we always have our fingers crossed that there will be an unexpected heatwave for this day off work - more fool us!

To cheer up this miserable day I decided to bake something warm and delicious. My recipe of choice today came from Jamie Oliver's Comfort Food cookery book and with Autumn just around the corner (hurrah for wooly jumpers and Chelsea boots!) this book is undoubtedly going to be well thumbed. The 'Devil's Double Choc Malt Cookies' were my first stop.

You will need:
50g unsalted butter
200g quality dark chocolate (70%)
1 x 397g tin of condensed milk
25g ground almonds
2 heaped teaspoons Horlicks
200g self-raising flour
100g Maltesers
50g quality white chocolate


Preheat the oven to 170 degrees/ gas 3

Melt the butter and dark chocolate in pan until smooth

Remove from the heat and stir in the condensed milk, almonds & Horlicks

Sift in the flour & a pinch of sea salt. Mix together

Leave to chill in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.

Once cooled, smash up the Maltesers and add in the white chocolate in small chunks. *I didn't use the 100g of Maltesers as it was already chocolatey enough for me. Add in as many as you like*

Grease proof two large baking trays and roll golf ball size chunks of the mixture before slightly flattening them and placing them in the oven for 12 minutes (or until they are slightly firm at the edges)

And Ta-Da!

I'm really pleased with how these turned out and I even have some mixture left over which I rolled into the right shape and put in the freezer for another rainy day. If you're feeling extra greedy (I was) then sandwich two cookies together with vanilla ice cream. Thanks to Mr Oliver I am now full to the brim but it was most certainly worth it.

Alex x


Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Monday, 24 August 2015

The Perfect Holiday | Corfu

I have just returned home from a week in Ermones on the west coast of Corfu. I have to say it was the most idyllic and lovely holiday I have been on from arrival to departure - prior to the sad transfer to Corfu Airport and I'm already planning my return trip.

We booked the holiday through Thomson a little apprehensively as there are always stories circulating about different travel agencies with bad customer services and horror stories of awful hotels upon arrival. I'm happy to say that our experience with them could not have been better (ignoring the little surname spelling mishap which was easily resolved with a quick phone call). When we got to the hotel we were greeted by the ever so friendly Emily, our Thomson rep and she advised us on where to visit, the best restaurants in Corfu Town and how to make the most of our week away. All the questions you really want answered on holiday but are normally too lazy or embarrassed to ask.

We stayed at the Grand Mediterraneo Resort & Spa after searching for the ideal place online. Located right on the edge of a cliff, there is another hotel tucked away down the road but nothing else for miles around. We were initially worried about the lack of easily accessible things to do, however once I saw the view from the pool and experienced the cocktails I knew I didn't want to venture too far afield after all. The temperature didn't drop below 30 degrees and the aqua aerobics with a view of the Mediterranean Sea was definitely worth the effort of leaving the comfort of my sun lounger and book.

We visited pretty Corfu Town and explored the cobbly streets and had the largest pizza to date. Not exactly Greek cuisine but when in Rome! No. Wait that's not right. We also went on a glass bottom boat where we were treated to a, slightly eery, view of the sea floor where divers showed us lobster and fish close up. I'm not the best with under water scenes so I enjoyed the boat ride from the deck around the island under a welcomed refreshing rain storm.

There was the typical buffet style dinner that you expect from most European hotels but the food at the Grand Mediteranneo was delicious and varied each night. Entertainment followed dinner every evening but no karaoke in sight, thank goodness. There was a mixture of jazz and traditional Greek music which was always such a relaxing way to end the evening.

I honestly can't sing the praises of this hotel enough and I've been annoying everyone with my holiday blues since landing back in London. I can't wait to visit again and I just hope it lives up to my high expectations again next time!


Sunday, 23 August 2015

Friday, 21 August 2015

My Jo Malone Collection

There is nothing quite like wandering around the floors of Selfridges and ending up submerged in the beautiful aromas that Jo Malone have to offer. My love affair with this fragrance collection started quite a few years ago with a duty free gift from my mum and from there it just grew and grew and almost all of these scents have been repurchased time and time again. 

My newest edition Peony & Blush Suede is the most fragile fragrance of my collection. It provides a floral aroma with a fresh undertone. This is the most perfect daytime date scent you will ever smell. Sophisticated but flirty. 

Lime, Basil & Mandarin is one of Jo Malone's signature scents. Described as a modern classic and I couldn't agree more, this fragrance is so distinctive and recognisable. If you invest in this smell expect to hear "Ooh is that Lime, Basil & Mandarin?" A LOT

154 is one of my favourites. This iconic scent is affectionately named after the first ever boutique store. This woody fragrance has a sexy masculine feel. This is truly a fragrance that anyone could wear, and one I find myself reaching for in the evenings. 

Ginger Biscuit was one of those limited edition smells that you wish so hard that you had stocked up on, this scent is Christmas in a bottle. Even in the height of summer one spritz of this fragrance and you will be instantly transported to 25th December.

Where my love affair began, Blue Agava & Cacao not like anything you have ever smelt before. If I had to choose one fragrance for the rest of my life I would need to look no further. Sexy enough for your hottest date, subtle enough for running errands. 

Pomegranate Noir the ultimate evening fragrance. Daring with a hint of spice, happily unisex, deep, meaningful and leaves you wanting more, more, more. This is a marmite scent, I have had people compliment me and move away from me when wearing Pomegranate Noir, personally I am a huge fan.

And lastly, here it is the holiday scent White Jasmine & Mint let this sun drenched fragrance take you to a white sandy beach or the rainforest. Light and Floral and perfect for a summer picnic, guaranteed to put you in a good mood. I purchased this on the way out to Australia and every time I spray it I am back sitting beside the lagoon in Cairns. 


Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Monday, 17 August 2015

Last Minute Packing

There are two types of people in life, Penelope Planners and Last Minute Millies. I, unfortunately am the latter as brought to my attention by Gemma when I still wasn't packed at 11pm for my flight the following morning.

There's just something instilled in me to leave everything to the last possible moment. I'll find everything and anything to distract me from the task at hand. It could be something to do with laziness but either way this doesn't bode well for my somewhat anxious nature. Erm, logic? 

The morning of a flight usually consists of panicked calls across the house 'passport... Boarding passes... Money... Passport.... Got everything?'. If I was slightly more organised there wouldn't be a frenzied search in my over spacious hand luggage bag of choice for my passport.

Luckily for me I didn't forget anything and remembered all the essentials for my in flight bag. Here's what I always pack (if I have enough time amongst the procrastination that is...)

Books and magazine - Time always flies with a good book and if there's an annoying passenger next to you on the plane then flicking through pages of clothes and easy to read articles in a magazine is perfect.

iPad - Download a film or programme before the flight and block out anyone else around you

Hairbrush - Napping, nervously pulling at hair when hearing a strange and unfamiliar noise on the plane and tying hair up when the air con goes haywire calls for a swift brush through the hair upon landing 

Paracetamol - Sometimes the early morning and lack of comfortable sleep on the plane can mean a brief headache. I pack these just in case

Money - I always carry valuables on the flight incase for some reason my suitcase doesn't arrive and I'm left stranded. Also, if there wasn't enough time before boarding to nip to WHSmith to buy a bottle of water and some cherry drops then there's always the in flight trolley!



What else do you make sure you take with you in your hand luggage? I'm sure in missing some vital bits that I could include on my next trip!

Alex xx


Thursday, 13 August 2015

Barry M Daylight Curing Varnishes

It has been a long time coming but I have finally taken the plunge and removed my acrylic nails. 

This may not seem like the biggest deal in the world but I have never had nice natural nails. They are brittle and my nail beds are small. When I worked for Clarins I had to keep my nails short so as soon as I made my exit from the industry on went the acrylics and that is where they firmly stayed, until now. 

There are a few reasons why I decided to remove them, but mainly I feel as I am getting older I am more interested in making what I have the best it can be rather than disguising my flaws. I still think that hands say a lot about a person and mine aren't about to get neglected thats for sure. 

Once I had dared to bare, I headed into Boots on a mission impossible to find something (anything) to make my nails bearable until the damage had grown out. The first thing I picked up without hesitation was OPI nail envy, if your nails are in need this is the number one go to product. And f course I needed a daily treatment oil, I am using the CND RescueRXx and it is working magic. But I also needed something to give the nails an immediate boost. 

I didn't want to break the bank so when I stumbled across the Barry M daylight curing nail varnishes I squealed in delight. There is only a small range of colours (lets hope this expands) and then a universal top coat you use with them all. I picked up two just to start me off Can't get you out of my red & Do it like a nude. The polishes really do dry like a gel manicure, I am just hoping they add some sparkly ones to the collection. 

I am not confident enough yet to post an image of my poor thin nails on the world wide web so I will leave you with a picture of my feet :) you lucky lot! 

Love Gemma xx


Monday, 10 August 2015

Lunch | Yauatcha

I'm definitely one for trying all different types of food. So far in my 24 years of life I've discovered I'm not a fan of baked beans and mushrooms - Pretty good going but awkward asking for them not to be present on my plate when ordering a Full English as apparently I'm in the minority here. 

One cuisine I'm not too familiar with is Chinese. When I think of going out for dinner an Indian or Italian meal always springs to mind and so when I was offered the chance to eat at the lovely restaurant, Yauatcha I wasn't sure what to expect. 

Yauatcha is a mix between Chinese dim sum and a French patisserie. It shouldn't work but it does. Luckily for me I was in the company of people who knew what to order from the numerous pages of choice. Everything came out as and when it was ready which I quite enjoyed as I didn't know what I would be eating next as I sipped away on my Ginger Martini - An adults ginger beer as I like to think of it. 

We started with the crispy duck. Which might I add was the most delicious crispy duck I have ever tasted. I don't know what it had been marinated in but I want the recipe right now. It was sweet and moorish and quite frankly I could have eaten the whole thing to myself. 

Next we had small dishes and I liked all of them bar one. The King Crab Sui Ma was first and foremost the most tricky thing to eat. In the end it was a rather unglamorous affair as I had to stab at it to eat it. Not ideal in such a swish establishment. Everything else was amazing though and it was fun experimenting with dishes I probably wouldn't have picked if I was choosing for myself. We had, Venison Puff, Chili Squid, Prawn Toast, Char Sui Bun, King Crab Sui Ma, Pork and Prawn Sui Ma and Spicy Szechuan Pork Wanton.

Then dessert. I am a huge chocolate fan, I always have room for chocolate after every meal - judge away - and I can say hand on heart that the Chocolate Pebble is the best dessert I have ever had. It was rich, smooth and melt in the mouth joy. Luckily for me, Yauatcha have a shop dedicated entirely to Patisserie goodies just around the corner from where I work. Dangerous but wonderful. Close friends watch out, I may be dragging you here for dessert in the near future.

Have you got any recommendations for different restaurants worth a taste test? Let us know, we're always looking for an excuse to dine out!

Alex x

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Summer Afternoons

It is not that often that the weather in England becomes scorching, so when we do get a bit of sun the first thing on the agenda for me is to grab my husband and our child (Shih Tzu named Ralph) and get out into the country side to enjoy some of the beautiful English scenery.

Last Sunday was one of those days, so we headed out on a family trip to Heybridge Basin in search of a pub to have some lunch in and a walk along the canal. 

Shirt & Top: New Look Jeans: Primark Slim Boyfriend Cut Sandals: Sophia Webster Glasses: Ray Bans

After consuming a very naughty lunch of fried halloumi and chips the sun had taken it out of me and we headed home for a long nap YAY! Love you summer :) 


A Primark Haul


Sunday, 2 August 2015

Tough Mudder Monday

If you haven't previously heard of 'Tough Mudder', here is a brief description to enlighten your mudless minds - 'A series of hard core 10-12 mile obstacle race'. When I initially heard the words 'Tough Mudder' and read a bit more into it my head screamed 'not on your nelly!' but alas in 54 days I will be completing this with my work team.


After the first stage of panic I decided enough was enough and started to get my fitness levels up again. I rejoined Virgin Active and started jogging again at weekends. I quickly realised that endurance would be key to get me through the 12 mile run, muddy hills and climbing walls. (Not forgetting the electrocution obstacle. I mean really?!) I used to be a keen runner but now it's a very different story. However I have managed to go from 3k to 5k and I'm pretty happy with that.
YouTube has helped with toning up as I can set up my iPad in my room and complete exercises involving squats, lunges and weight work at my own pace. I could of course complete this in the gym with all the equipment I could ever need but right now I am still a little self conscious at my total lack of core strength so my room, iPad and workout tunes are getting me through.
Popsugar Fitness is a great channel with every workout you could ever need to get your body in shape.

Fitness Blender is another at home workout channel. It takes you through step by step how to correctly work different aspects of the body. Perfect for beginners like me.
Now the upside to all of this is that I had to purchase some new gym gear. Obviously.  I actually think that buying fitness clothes that you look and feel good in really does help when you're new to working out. I prefer to do exercise in long leggings or shorts and a breathable tshirt. TKMaxx is great, they have racks and racks of different brands like Ellesse, Elle Sports and other big names for a fraction of the original price. I have also been surprised to find good quality work out clothes from Tesco and Sainsburys which is where I picked up a few bits when I started to get back into fitness. Definitely worth a look.

I'll do another update closer to D-Day (if there's any progress that is!). In a strange way I'm looking forward to it and it's made me get up and do some more exercise which can only be a good thing. At the moment I'm 90% terrified, 8% curious and 2% excited.

Gulp. Wish me luck!

Love, Alex x
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