Sunday, October 2

Enjoying Rhodes

Stunning courtyard of the Palace of the Grand Masters in Rhodes town, Greece. Built by the Knights Hospitaller, medieval history and tourist spot.
With a past in drama and a lifelong Xena; Warrior Princess fan, I've long had a yen to visit Greece and this summer we finally made it, during August; the hottest possible time of the year! Oh, how would my English Rose, British constitution cope with the heat of Rhodes....?

We were on the Western side of the Island, near the tip of the spear head in Ixia; not the most cultural area but only a cock-stride to Rhodes town where you'll find culture and history on every corner.

The enduring symbol of Rhodes you'll see everywhere (from magnets to tea towels!)  is, of course, the colossus; a giant bronze statue of an Adonis-like warrior standing astride the harbour, Game of Thrones style, as visitors sail between the legs into the city. In actual fact the colossus stood next to the harbour in a Statue of Liberty type pose - without the dress! Although an earthquake destroyed the ancient wonder centuries ago, the harbour is still beautiful and in the same place as its ancient original.

Rhodes town restaurant, ancient storehouses or windmills in the harbour and large clock tower outside the church in ialysoss. Latin tiles in the town and crenelations by night with scooter, classic european scene.

Having never tried Greek cuisine and my long held hatred of olives and bell peppers, I wondered if it would be the food for me. Well, YES! I quickly discovered that the Greeks love meat and frying stuff -- 2 of my favourite things! The best thing I tried were battered and fried Aubergine slices served with Greek yoghurt and honey but we also tried parcels of pork, courgette fritters and some wonderful incarnations of lamb -- all DELICIOUS!

Our beach was a combination of pebbles, strong winds and sizeable waves which made for brilliant entertainment. We watched people of all sizes and ages wobble and limp over the piles of painful pebbles whilst being beaten and buffeted by strong currents sweeping into the beach. Once you made it past this pebbly boundary though, you were rewarded with velvety sand underfoot,  warm turquoise seas and rolling, glittering waves to jump around in under the 30+ degree heat of blazing Greek sunshine - stunning.

Beautiful Greek beach, pebbly beach and turquoise sea. Mediteranean sea in summer. A summer beach holiday in Europe.The Palace of the Grand Masters at night built by the knights hospitallers on the Greek island of Rhodes, in Rhodes town after entering through the ambrose gate.

For just 2euro and 8 minutes, we could hop on a bus and get to Rhodes town where we finally discovered the history we'd heard so much about. The Palace of the Grand Masters provided a dramatic welcome through the Ambrose gate to the mystical walled city beyond; one of the best preserved medieval towns in Europe. Narrow, cobbled streets contain centuries-old houses, inns and meeting places of the knights. Once inside the city walls, it was like stepping back in time into a medieval castle, just beautiful.

Narrow alleys, streets and walkways in rhodes town, Greece. Courtyard with a beautiful fountain and crenelations in the ancient, medieval city. Tourist spots and sights worth visiting.

In Rhodes town we explored the Archeological museum; the former hospital of the knights. I found I was more interested in the building's history than the endless relics and monuments, nevertheless the ancient Greek statues, jewellery and mosaics on display were stunning.

Courtyeard of the archealogical museum, Rhodes, Greece. Sites and tourist spots of the greek islands, ancient history.
The courtyard of the archeological museum - a little girl of around 4yrs thought the ancient canon balls were 'dinosaur caca' and got very excited when telling her sister and father!

Giant floor mosaic from Kos, Greece in the archealogical museum in Rhodes town.
These huge mosaics would have been the floor of salons where ancient Greeks would entertain guests and couches would have been positioned around the outside leaving the mosaic free for discussion or entertainers.

The Palace of the Grand Masters was a photographer's dream; archways, crenelations, stone stairways and imposing fireplaces made every angle beautiful.

The Palace of the Grand Masters, Rhodes town, Greek islands. The courtyard with statues in archways.

The other half of the holiday was, of course, relaxing, enjoying cocktails, Greek wine and generally lazing about by the sea or pool. If we'd been more daring we could have joined the windsurfers but I stuck to my Julia Quinn books! With a perfect sea view all the way to the Turkish hills in the distance and a vivid sunset to enjoy each day, it was like a 10 day dream, especially in the evenings.

Greek islandof Rhodes, the beach, meditteranean sea, orange sunset and the white painted trees. Aubergine croquettes and european beer for lunch.
As for the recent troubles that Greece have experienced regarding finances, employment and the immigrant crisis, we didn't see a hint of anything so please don't avoid the Greek islands. Go ahead and enjoy all the hospitality, friendliness and beauty on offer.

I'd love to visit Greece again and maybe next time rise early enough to catch the ferry to Lindos; one of the biggest and most beautiful ancient sites on the island!


Sunday, September 25

A Manageable Change - Lazy Girl's Fitness Routine

Lazy girl's fitness routine. Pastel pink, purple and turquoise mint title background.
Over the years I've dipped in and out of various fitness routines but one thing remained the same - boredom and lack of effort, which has never resulted in Cameron Diaz-like arms. Recently, I've been mixing Blogilates and T25 to build my own, manageable workout programme...

Come back to read my full guide to/review of T25

I started with a goal to workout 3 times a week at home in addition to 1 dance class. I created a ticksheet and added 5 short toning sessions too (just a few sets of squats, crunches and weightless arm exercises before bed). I really committed to it but, more importantly, kept it manageable and doable. When it's workout time I choose whatever workouts I please from T25 and the Blogilates YouTube channel and I've started seeing encouraging results!

Focus T25 screen shot Beta level Speed 2.0. Sean T cardio workout. At home fitness DVD, aerobics and toning to get fit and work out.

My 3 workout sessions;
* T25 cardio/speed x2
* Blogilates upto 30 minutes x1
* Blogilates Roar ab workout at the start of every session (around 4 minutes)

I throw in an extra one only if I feel like it but my target is 3. With such a manageable target to meet I achieve it every week  and feel good about my schedule; more than that and I'd see it as an unattainable chore to feel guilty about failing every week!

On my Blogilates day I pick around 4 videos to fill half an hour; Gangnam style, Daisy's dance workout, Heart on fire and a couple of others are among my most used.

Cassey Ho Blogilates screenshots from Katy Perry Roar ab workout challenge and heart on fire cardio work out. At home fitness and aerobic work outs from YouTube.
Blogilates Roar ab and inner thigh workout (bottom left) and Heart on Fire cardio workout.
I don't put pressure on myself to workout everyday, I keep it flexible and add other exercise only when I want to (dog walks, badminton, another T25 session). My aim was to make a start and stick to it and I'm happy to say that I see and feel a difference in my clothes, with my stamina and on the Wii fit (Love that little cheeky balance board).

A couple of weeks ago, with a foreign holiday coming up and 2 weddings in one weekend, I decided to go for it and try to workout everyday. I also realised I was slipping into my old habits of staying at my comfort level and not working hard enough, So, I took the plunge and moved up a level. To be continued.... :-)

Come back to read about my experience/review of T25 Beta level.


Tuesday, September 20

Indeed Labs' long awaited Vitamin C24 -- FINALLY!

Indeed laboratoties labs logo. Skincare products including vitamin C24 serum.
Vitamin C, the holy grail of brightening, anti-ageing and turning back the clock, oh how I love it! Let me first say that this is not sponsored (unfortunately); I have been sent no free products from my fave skincare line; Indeed Labs. I am simply a skincare fangirl for this amazing range that has transformed my anti-ageing skincare regime over the last few years.

Earlier in the summer Indeed Labs FINALLY launched a Vitamin C serum. Anyone who has tried to find a good Vitamin C serum will know just how expensive it can get. This one from Indeed Labs is not cheap but doable at £24.99 - especially when you take into account the special offers at Boots and how little product you actually need.

Indeed labs vitamin C24 snti ageing face serum. Anti oxidant for fine lines and wrinkles. Indeed laboratories box and tube for review.
Vitamin C24
My favourite anti-oxidant comes in the form of L-Ascorbic Acid at a whopping 22%; it's a thick cream with a texture unlike anything else I've used. It absorbs quickly, turns my face completely matte and gives a slight stinging sensation which is totally normal and strangely reassuring that the Vitamin C is in there and doing its thing.

Everyone's Favourite Anti-Oxidant!
Vitamin C goes has shown again and again (in clinical trials) that it not only protects skin against ageing, but is one of the only topical ingredients to have a noticeable effect on smoothing away fine lines and wrinkles. It retexturises, tops up our antioxidant shield and scares away free radicals and pollution; if you don't have a Vitamin C product in your arsenal - get one!

I combine this with Indeed Labs Retinol Reface every other night and my skin is never softer or more youthful looking. Come back in a week or so for a full round up of my essential products from Indeed Labs.

How To Use
It's essential to use Vitamin C correctly;
1. Always use at night-time - it is instantly destroyed and rendered useless by sunshine. Any antioxidants need time to do their work.

2. Don't let air inside the tube - As best you can, squeeze out what you need then put the lid back on before releasing the tube and letting air in. If there's air in the tube the precious treasures inside will start to deteriorate.

Basically, protect any antioxidant product from sunlight and air.

I've been using it for around 3 months in this way(every other night); I still have lots of product left and, no surprise, my skin is showing improvements and, yes, fine lines have been noticeably reversed. My skincare routine is complete.

Have you had a try of this or any other Indeed labs products? Let us know your results below!


Monday, September 19

Retinol, Vitamin C and Chemical Exfoliants; How to Combine these Powerhouse Ingredients

When shop for ingredients and not products you'll really kick your skincare routine into overdrive. Layering skincare is a great way to make sure your skin is getting all the ingredients it needs, but here I have 3 specific examples which are often misunderstood, misused and marketed poorly.

We’ve all seen those beautiful, prestigious beauty counters; a giant poster of a glamourous celebrity face,  a podium with a spotlight shining down onto a gorgeous bottle with a gleaming silver cap, and golden lettering – and we want it! But if we step back and see through all the nonsense to the actual product, we’ll not only save a heap of cash but build a great regime that fits our skin.

3 of the most mis-marketed and mis-used products are Vitamin C, Retinol and Chemical exfoliants, aka salicylic acid and glycolic acid. These 3 powerhouses of skincare are known for their retexturising, anti-wrinkle and anti-ageing properties but need to be used in a very specific way or you may as well throw your money down a toilet!

1. Vitamin C
Vitamin C serum by Una Brennan for anti ageing and birghtening. Skincare products.Our skin absorbs vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid - this is the magic ingredient to look out for turn back time and brighten your face. There are other forms of vitamin C out there but if you can afford it, stick to ascorbic acid ftw.
Take a look at this post ; Why and How to use anti-oxidants

How to use: Vitamin C is an anti-oxidant which means; 

a. It needs to spend a long time on your skin to work
b. It is rendered useless and destroyed by sunlight

So a vitamin C facewash? Useless! Vitamin C day cream? Waste of money! Apply your vitamin C serum/toner/moisturiser at night time to reap the many benefits.

2. Retinol
Indeed labd Retinol Reface antioxidant serum for anti ageing overnight. Skincare products.
Excellent for anti-aging and acne sufferers alike. Retinol is the cosmetic name for vitamin A and may also be called retinol, retinyl acetate, retinyl palmitate, or retinyl aldehyde. Again, it needs a long time on your skin to do its work!

How to use: Retinol is an anti-oxidant (not a chemical exfoliant) so also needs to be applied at night time to do its best. Vitamin C and Retinol can be used together and compliment each other beautifully in their different ways, (have a look at this article) but depending on the consistency of your particular products (as well as the size of your bank account!) you may wish to alternate them throughout the week - give them a go and see what suits your skin best.

3. Salicylic/Glycolic acid a.k.a Chemical Exfoliants a.k.a BHA and AHA 
Paulas choice BHA salicylic acid for blocked pores and acne prone skin and anti ageing. Chemical exfoliator skincare product.Salicylic acid comes in very small concentrations; usually no more than 2% whereas glycolic can be bought in much higher concentrations from 1% up to 10% or even 50% for a salon chemical peel. For day to day skincare 1-10% is usual.

How to use: again, these ingredients need to sit on your skin for a long time to do their work so a glycolic facewash is a USELESS product, so is a salicylic face scrub – no matter what wonderful brand it is, it’s marketing nonsense rearing its ugly head again. Instead opt for a serum, toner, moisturiser or overnight mask.

For acne prone skin types, one daily application is all we need whereas other skin types may suit 1-4 times a week best. The great thing is chemical exfoliants are not affected by sunlight so simply apply the chemical exfoliant in the morning and the antioxidants in the evening.

Be aware: Chemical exfoliants and vitamin C will make your skin more sensitive to sunlight (don’t worry, this doesn’t get progressively worse over time) so make sure at least one of your skincare products contains sunscreen, for example, my moisturiser contains an SPF15 chemical sunscreen, my DD Cream contains SPF25 and my mineral make-up provides a physical SPF of up to SPF15 thanks to the titanium dioxide so I’m covered.

Don’t Shy Away from these Miracle Ingredients!

Antioxidants and chemical exfoliants are some of the most misunderstood and misused ingredients on our shelves, but they're also the most powerful; delivering dramatic results.

There are, of course, many more skincare ingredients which are used and abused by the beauty industry to sucker us into paying far too much for a fancy bottle under a spotlight, but if you're shopping for ingredients rather than products, you won't go wrong.

Find invaluable info in the Paula’s Choice ingredient dictionary – a comprehensive lowdown on all kinds of skincare ingredients.

Ciao for now

Sunday, September 18

1 Hero Ingredient - Eye Cream, Hand Cream, Lip Balm & Facemask....

Perfect when you need a hard working multi-purpose, versatile product that does it all - save money, time and luggage space if you're travelling! Drum roll please.... Shea Butter!

My big block of Shea Butter of 100g costs only £2.99 from Naissance - compare that with a 150ml tube of L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream which costs around £19. My 100g goes on and on; here's how I've been LOVING it!

Black eyeliner with a flick, green eyes and peach eyeshadow. Small wing cat eye, lift down turned eyes.
Eye Cream
My absolute favourite; apply a thick layer under the eyes, on the temples and the lids; when I wake up I'm a toddler! I have some very fine lines under my eyes which make themselves seen at the end of the day when my skin is drying; I have definitely seen a big improvement since using the Shea Butter.

You can also apply a very very thin, barely there layer under the eyes before make-up; it keeps my eyes moisturised, stops those dry little lines and doesn't interfere with my concealer/foundation.

My first choice is always Palmer's Cocoa Butter but Shea Butter is a great  2nd choice! I apply it thickly as an overnight conditioning treatment and it's absorbed by morning.

Legs and Body
I've written here and here about my ongoing battles with shaving irritation, however, Shea Butter is apparently antibacterial and anti fungal, so if your own irritation is caused by either of these two things, Shea butter might be a huge help!

Legs with gold sandals and cobbles.
Over the years, our decollate and neck tend to get the most unprotected sun exposure, mine in particular is very dry from the sunburn I suffered as an idiot 16 year old!! Our decollate has no layer of fat underneath so is similar to our elbows and knees in needing that bit of extra care. Shea Butter is wonderful for keeping this area touchably soft.

Not too thick, easily absorbed - concentrate it on the backs of the hands to avoid that greasy fingertip feel in the day. For a real treat, apply an indulgent amount and wear some moisturising/cotton gloves overnight.

Face Serum
A recent trend among bloggers and vloggers in the Autumn/Winter was to apply a touch of facial oil before makeup to keep the skin hydrated - well, as an acne prone girl this was not successful for me; at all. Although the oil cleansing method worked a miracle in clearing my skin, wearing it during the day resulted in blocked pores everywhere. Instead, I've started applying a very small amount of Shea Butter as a serum along my cheeks, temple and jaw before my moisturiser - this is still a new addition, but so far so good.

Block of pure shea butter for moisturising and nourishing the face and body. Non comedogenic skincare for acne prone or oily skin.Facemask
If I'm spending the day at home, I'll apply a thick layer of Shea Butter to really nourish my skin without blocking my pores; easy, quick and low maintenance. I have a list of other fantastic 1 ingredient facemasks here, just click for more!

Especially brilliant for travelling, a block of Shea butter will cut down on products and - bonus, it's a solid block so won't cut into your liquids allowance on the plane!

Are you a Shea
Butter fan? Let me know your tips below!

Ciao for now,

Friday, September 16

DIY Beauty - 1 Ingredient Facemasks!

1 area where I really do think the kitchen cupboards are the best option are facemasks! What's more, you don't even need a long list of ingredients to make a nourishing, soothing and brightening treat for your skin; there are a bunch of ingredients which work perfectly well as facemasks all on their own.

From overnight to 15 minutes, here are my favourite 1 ingredient facemasks!

1. Honey
Definitely a hero skincare ingredient - great for acne AND hydration!
BENEFITS: hydrating, soothing, anti-acne, antibacterial and brightening
HOW TO: Simply apply a layer onto your skin with your finger tips, leave it on as long as you like and rinse off. 10 minutes or an hour? it's up to you! I wouldn't recommend sleeping in this one...

Bowl of honey for skincare beauty. DIY facemask.

*Honey becomes much runnier as it warms so don't apply too much!
*It's particularly good if you have an event later as it works wonders as a brightening treatment.
*As soon as you add water to your face to rinse away, the stickyness disappears - it's much easier to remove than you may think.
*For an extra benefit, use it to cleanse with in the mornings

Read more about honey; Skincare Hero Ingredients - HONEY!

2. Coconut Oil
A beauty buzzword and gaining popularity!
BENEFITS: Hydrating, moisturising, softening, cleansing. Coconut oil closely mimics the texture of our skin's natural oil, won't block pores.
HOW TO: warm it between your palms or on the back of your hand until it becomes liquid, apply a generous amount to your face, leave it on throughout the day or sleep in it overnight for an extra treat - even for acne-prone girls, it won't break us out.

*Much of it will be absorbed by your skin so don't hold back - be generous
*Don't be fooled by the fact that it's an 'oil' - it won't block your pores
*Try using it as a cleanser if you try the oil cleansing method

3. Bentonite Clay a.k.a. Fuller's Earth (and water)
Ok, this one's 2 ingredients, technically, but surely water doesn't count right???
BENEFITS: Deep cleansing, purifying, anti-bacterial, anti-acne, pore-cleansing
HOW TO: take a tsp of clay and mix with enough water for a thick but smooth consistency - similar to whipped cream. Apply to your face - particularly the T-zone for around 10 - 20 minutes.

DIY facemask bentonite clay mask for anti acne deep cleansing. Beauty and skincare.
*For combination/normal/dry skin types, concentrate this only on the T-zone
*Add a drop or 5 of tea tree oil to kick it up a notch
*It takes a bit of time to mix into a smooth consistency but you can do it in the palm of your hand with your finger or with a mini whisk in a small bowl
*Particularly good when you're in the bath and your pores are open
*Follow with a soothing mask/toner/moisturiser to reduce any redness that you may experience (it's perfectly normal if you do.)

4. Rosehip oil
Similar to the coconut oil treatment, you can sleep in this one for a dramatic overnight difference!
BENEFITS: Hydrating, soothing, healing, anti-ageing, particulalry good for healing acne scars
HOW-TO: Apply a generous layer, spend some time massaging with your knuckles or fingertips, leave on for as long as you like. For best results leave it for a few hours or even overnight

*To help in healing acne scars, spend around a minute massaging over those areas (be aware that it will only heal discoloration and not physical skin depressions where tissue is missing, otherwise known as 'pock marks')
*Again, lots will be absorbed by your skin so be generous
*If you leave it on overnight, try to sleep on your back - manky pillow cases, yuk!
*For my acne-prone sisters, I have been using this for years as my evening moisturiser and it has never broken me out, this is a great choice if you have acne-prone but dehydrated/dry skin

5. Natural Yoghurt
You can add oatmeal when you've got more time or inclination to take this one up a notch - particularly good for acne-prone and sensitive skin and dry skin.....errrm all skin really!
BENEFITS: Anti-bacterial, cleansing, mildly exfoliating due to the lactic acid, hydrating, soothing/calming
HOW TO: use a foundation brush (grab a cheap one from primark/dollar store) to paint onto your face, leave on for as long as you can - I usually aim for 20 - 40 minutes. Rinse off with warm water and a massaging action.

Natural yoghurt for skincare and sensitive skin. DIY facemask.

*A hero ingredient if you have redness or sensitivity
*Particularly good for calming allergic reactions and rashes
*Thicken it up with a touch of oatmeal or oat flour
*If you're one of those strange people who enjoy cold things on your face, you'll like this straight from the fridge...
*... otherwise, leave it out for a while to warm up to room temperature (I have issues with cold things...)

6. Oatmeal/oatflour (and water)
Along with honey and yoghurt, oats are an absolute hero!! Put them in a blender to make them powdery and easier to use (and yes, I'm using water again, but water doesn't count as an 'ingredient' surely?)
BENEFITS: soothing, cleansing, calming, softening, mildly gently exfoliating
HOW TO: grind up in a blender to make oatflour/oatmeal, mix with water and apply to your face. Don't worry if there are little holes, as long as your skin is enjoying the milky liquid , you'll be getting the benefits. After 20 minutes - an hour, massage as you rinse off for some gentle exfoliation.

Oats or oatmeal for DIY beauty facemasks. Acne prone and sensitive skin skincare.

*This is the one most likely to cause a mess so it's great to use in the bath
*Mix it with natural yoghurt for a double dose of nourishment
*Use it to cleanse with for daily soothing, anti-acne benefits (and virtually free!)
*If you leave this for any length of time, the oats will thicken the mixture until it becomes 'set' so try to use it straight away
*Rinse out the container immediately - oats+water+time=concrete!
*Excellent for soothing allergic reactions and redness

7. Oat milk
A variation of the one above for those who love sheet masks!
BENEFITS: Soothing, calming, nourishing, anti-acne
HOW TO: mix around 1tbsp of oats with plenty of warm water in a bowl, stir it around and leave for a minute or so. When the water looks milky, take out the oats and soak your compressed facemask (cheap cheap cheap from ebay) in the mixture - add more water if you need to. Apply to your face, let sit for 20 - 40 minutes (it really depends on your time), rinse away.

*You can replace the water with milk for extra softening benefits
*Rinse the oats first to wash away the first, slimy layer of liquid
*Really squeeze out the oats as you remove them - you can even do it with a muslin cloth if you have one handy
*Great to do if you have an event later, as it'll brighten your skin
*Excellent for soothing allergic reactions and redness

8. Activated Charcoal (and water)
This is becoming more and more readily available as it gains popularity as a teeth whitener and can be bought in tiny quantities for equally tiny amount of money from ebay, amazon, etc.
BENEFITS: Anti-acne, deep cleansing
HOW TO: take a small amount - less than half a tsp, mix with water and paint on using a foundation brush. Leave for 10-20 minutes, rinse off.

*WARNING! - this one is super messy!! The powder is so fine and so black, that it's easy to make a mess so be careful
*Swap the water for apple cider vinegar and only apply on your t-zone for a super anti-acne mask
*Combine with bentonite clay and a touch of warmed honey to keep it from drying as quickly and bump up the benefits
*Follow with a soothing mask/toner/moisturiser to reduce any redness that you may experience (it's perfectly normal if you do.)

9. Avocado
I heard an old saying somewhere 'she who can harness the oil of the avocado, can harness eternal youth' - the large amount of fat make it perfect for anti-ageing! A great one if your avocado is too mushy to eat or if the supermarket is selling off the expired avocados at 20p!
BENEFITS: anti-ageing, moisturising, nourishing,
HOW TO: Wait until it's past its best and soft and mushy, mush it up and apply to your face. Use a blender or a fork to get the smoothest consistency you can and apply a generous layer with your foundation brush or the back of a teaspoon - an excellent smoothing out tool. Leave on for 10 - 40 minutes or even longer depending on your time and remove.

*Remove easily by first scraping off as much as you can with your teaspoon, then rinsing with water
*You can freeze any extra and save for another day
*If it's too hard, add a touch of water or milk to make blending easier
*You can buy avocado oil from but beware - it stinks!
*if you're worried about blocking up your sink, drop the mask into the toilet instead as you scrape it off with a teaspoon

We're all lazy sometimes - but that doesn't mean we can't all pamper ourselves, have great skin and mix up a little magic in our kitchen!

For more DIY beauty recipes check out the list st the top for cleansers, masks, and a post-shave soothing spritz for irritated legs.

Do you have any 1-ingredient facemasks of your own?

Ciao for now

Wednesday, March 2

Yearning for Spring! - Instagram#8

Resevoir in britain, english countryside, sun flare on water ripples in the early spring and summer. Riverbank or lake would do too.It's a long dark journey from Autumn to Spring in the UK, but over the last couple of weeks we've been lucky enough to hold on to the sun's last rays until after we've braved the rush hour home. Spring is coming, it'll be here before you know it! In celebration of March, here are some cheery, spring time Instagram photos from my account, @PromisingYellow. . .

Are you also yearning for spring?

Chrysanthemums and daisies in purple, orange, yellow and pink Romantic bouquet of spring flowers, colourful nature.

Last month was Valentine's Day and boyfriend followed my not so subtle hints to buy me this gorgeous bouquet of flowers. It makes such a difference to a room and they've brough so much colour and cheer to my kitchen. ^__^

Valentines day biscuits or cookies with chocolate frosting in heart shapes. Chocolate shortbread, scones and chocolate chip.

...and in turn I baked boyfriend a d basket of goodies! Scones, shortbread, jam filled biscuits, oatie hearts and chocolate shortbread - delish!

Small white wildflowers, quite possibly meadowsweet. English countryside in early spring and summer in the sunshine.
A snap from the very end of last summer during doggie walking time. Beautiful white wild flowers (possibly meadowsweet?) in the sunshine.

Bright, colourful rainbow with a seagul flying under it. Colorful nature on a rainy day in the spring with grey clouds and sunshine. Beautiful colours.

RAINBOW!! - one of the few good things about dark, dreary, wet weather. I still get excited for rainbows!

Avon nail polish in a shimmery peach colour with glitter topcoat of black and gold glitter.

If in doubt - wear the springtime on your nails. A W7 glitter over a peachy avon colour.

Small green yellow leaf from a Rowan tree in summer in the sunshine. Sun shing through the leaf with yellow polk dot manicure.
Last summer; a baking hot morning, sitting in the sunshine in my back garden, listening to a Ricky Gervais podcast from back in the day and enjoying breakfast. I see this photo and I'm back there, warm and relaxed.

Saturday, December 19

Dos and Don'ts of Gift Giving

Christmas is HERE and in the spirit of all things fun and festive here is a look at some of the Dos and Don't of gift giving!! Some of these are useful, some are tongue-in-cheek - do you have any Dos and Don'ts?

...And if you're having trouble finding those last minute gifts in time, check out this list of 17 Gifts When You're Stuck For Ideas.

Do give something they'll use up - check out this list for lots of great ideas - candles, hot chocolate, bath treats, baked goodies etc

Don't become their decorator - ornaments, paintings and nik naks are very personal matters of taste, don't buy unless you're sure!

Do choose easy pieces- the exceptions to the above rule are scented candles and photo frames - just don't make the frame too big! 

Don't try to 'change their mind' - if they're very vocal about something they dislike, don't think 'oh but they'll like this one!' they wont - case in point, someone once bought me furry boot toppers.... it's a no from me...

Do think of them as you buy - football tickets? Couples aromatherapy massage? His and Hers gym membership??? Are you sure you're not just buying something that you'd like? It's the thought that counts - so think of them

Don't make it too big - a giant friendship collage is very sweet but consider if they have the space for it and, do they want it?

Do use your skills - are you a whizz in the kitchen? Can you make jewellery? Can you use a pyrography tool? A great dressmaker? Use your skills to impress! Scan Pinterest and YouTube for ideas and check out these easy Christmas Treats - Chocolate Covered Brazils Nuts.

Don't buy perfume - unless you know for sure that they like it

Do make it look pretty and give in advance - part of the fun of receiving gifts is having it there under the tree, looking beautiful. If it's given late and you have to open it right away, you're missing out on the pleasure of anticipation.

Don't go too far down the novelty route - giant slippers that light up and sing will soon be slung to the back of a cupboard never to be seen again

Do wait until you're alone - if you've bought something suggestive for after dark, don't open it on Christmas morning with all the family watching, wait until you're alone together.

Don't use this opportunity to reveal your long-held Fifty Shades of Grey fantasies - a blind fold is one thing but have a discussion before you present a selection of whips, handcuffs and paddles!!

Do get a gift receipt! - so they can return it...

Don't get offended - if they do return what you buy; maybe it doesn't work for them, maybe it just isn't their taste, maybe they know they won't use it or maybe there's just something else they want more -- try not to take it personally, I've returned a lot of things over the years but I've always felt grateful and was touched by the thought.

 And finally, Do remember Christmas is much more about having fun, together, than what's wrapped under the tree, so eat, drink and be merry! 
Merry Christmas
Joyeaux Noel
Happy Holidays
Feliz Natal

Tuesday, December 15

Easy Christmas Treats - Chocolate Brazil Nuts

Chocolate and Brazil nuts - what could be easier. cheaper to make and yummier?! My family loves chocolate Brazils at Christmas time but for some reason they're pretty expensive these days. Luckily, home-made treats are always appreciated so grab your apron and let's create!

Don't forget to also check out my list of Christmas gift ideas - 17 Christmas gifts when you're stuck for ideas and improve your hot chocolate with this post;

 You will need...

 Chocolate, about 100g-150g depending on size - whatever kind you like, you don't need cooking chocolate and it doesn't need to be fancy, the European brands from Aldi and Lidl are good choices as they have a mild nutty flavour like Ritter's 'Alpine Chocolate'.

Brazil nuts - we like a whole brazil nut in the middle but you can usually buy "brazil nut halves" slightly cheaper if you prefer

A cake pop tray - or an ice cube tray or chocolate flower tray, basically any kind of tray with individual shapes but I like the half cake pop shape.
A saucepan and bowl or microwave (I finally have a microwave after 9 months going crazy without one!)

1.) Melt the chocolate - If melting in the microwave take out and stir every 20 seconds. If on the hob put about 2 - 3 inches of boiling water in a saucepan and your bowl on top; make sure the water doesn't touch the bowl or the chocolate will 'seize' (become stiff and gritty) and be unusable.

2.) Assemble your treats - Place a brazil nut in each little mold and spoon melted chocolate over the top - be as generous as you like but make sure the nut is covered.

Use anything you like for the topping but if you want crushed brazils like me just use the bottom of a pint glass and crush each nut; the best way I've found and really easy. You could also use white chocolate chips, honeycomb, smarties, sprinkles, marshmallows, crushed candy cane - anything you have tucked away in your baking drawer.

 Once they've hardened simply pop them out and decide how to package them!

I chose an ex-scented-candle jar (which has been thoroughly washed and aired out) and then it was a simple case of double sided tape and a cute paper label. Then I did what I always do when I need a touch of ribbon - I went through my wardrobe and snipped off some of those annoying little tags that are always attached to women's clothing. You could attach any kind of little Christmassy decoration you like; bells, pine cones, glittery prettiness.

Place under the tree and enjoy!

Totally yummy and super easy. Perfect if your present offerings are lacking a little, you can just pop round the off licence or cornershop and grab what you need, and a great addition to a Christmas hamper or giftbox.

Merry Christmas all, I'm currently enjoying gazing at the beautiful Ben Barnes in Narnia; Prince Caspian, a lovely afternoon!