Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Beauty Tuesday - Body Moisturisers, Current Favourites (Body Shop, Neutrogena and Garnier)

I've probably mentioned here before that I get pretty dry skin. This means I'm always on the lookout for decent body lotions and I have to use these lotions daily. Going without daily body lotion leaves me looking more lizard than human. And that's not attractive. I do sometimes cheat a bit and use my Nivea In-Shower Moisturiser for Dry Skin but I can't get away with that for more than a couple of days on the trot.

However I tend to shower daily and always first thing in the mornings so I need a nice moisturiser that doesn't sit on the skin as I want to get dressed and get going with my day asap (I'm a little demanding on my moisturisers!). I do like a lovely smelling lotion as well but that's just an added bonus.

Of course, given that they get daily use I also want my products to be reasonably priced. Therefore I'm a bit picky and its fair to say not many body moisturisers make the grade but the three in the photo above have wormed their way into daily rotation - sometimes I'll use a different one that's been languishing in the back of my cupboard for a while as I have to use them up eventually but its far more likely I'll reach for one of these three.

The lotions in question are Garnier Body Oil Beauty Oil-Infused Nourishing Lotion, The Body Shop Strawberry Body Sorbet and Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Deep Moisture Body Lotion for Dry Skin.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Recipe Review Monday - Bake Off Challenge #4 - DOUGHNUT MUFFINS

I'm back on track with my Great British Bake Off Challenge! I'll admit I skipped the enriched dough weeks - I figure if I can't quite get standard bread dough right, I don't stand much chance with more complicated dough! This week though the Bakers made doughnuts and I love doughnuts, so it seemed like a perfect opportunity to try making them.
Unfortunately I don't own a deep fat fryer so that was a fly in the ointment, until I remembered a recipe I'd once pulled out of a magazine (I think it may have been Good Food but I have so many recipe clippings floating around that I lose track!). This recipe was for Doughnut Muffins and they did not contain any yeast and did not require deep fat frying. Perfect.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Book Review - Giovanna Fletcher's 'You're The One That I Want'

I love a good book. For me, as a busy mum, getting to read is actually a little bit of a luxury. There's nothing quite like getting the kids off to bed, and once I've got everything cleared away, finding some time (even just half an hour) to snuggle up somewhere with a great read. I'm currently working my way through the Song of Ice and Fire series (the books behind the fabulous Game of Thrones tv series) and I'm loving them but all the incest and treachery can get a bit heavy going sometimes so I've had the odd break and dipped into something a little lighter.

(Image from Amazon as my copy is on Kindle) 
Now, some of my friends are seriously scornful of my love for a romance book or film but I can't help, I just love a good romance - no matter how cheesy, predictable or contrived, I can't help but smile when you read about or see the story of two people falling in love. The way I always sum it up is that there's enough bad sh*t going on in the world every day for me to want to always watch or read dark and depressing things - a bit of light relief is called for sometimes, a sense that things can turn out alright in the end and that there can be a happy ending! Sounds a bit daft and naive but I just enjoy a bit of escapism.

Anyway, that leads me on to today's review. I did read it a while ago now and I've only just managed to sit down and finish the review! But given the length of time since I read it, its surprising that I still feel so strongly about it, which suggested to me I really should sit down and finish this post off.

So here goes - You're The One That I Want by Giovanna Fletcher...

The blurb:

"Maddy, dressed in white, stands at the back of the church. At the end of the aisle is Rob - the man she's about to marry. Next to Rob is Ben - best man and the best friend any two people ever had.
And that's the problem.

Because if it wasn't Rob waiting for her at the altar, there's a strong chance it would be Ben. Loyal and sensitive Ben has always kept his feelings to himself, but if he turned round and told Maddy she was making a mistake, would she listen? And would he be right?

Best friends since childhood, Maddy, Ben and Rob thought their bond was unbreakable. But love changes everything. Maddy has a choice to make but will she choose wisely? Her heart, and the hearts of the two best men she knows, depend on it..."

Having already read and enjoyed Billy & Me, I was awaiting the release of Gi's next book with a significant degree of anticipation. It was preordered to my Kindle to automatically download on release day. I started it that morning and I barely put it down. The Kindle came with me round the house all day - it sat on my lap while I did my hair, perched on the kitchen side while I cooked dinner - you get the idea!

You're The One That I Want is one of the best books from this genre that I have read in ages. I really had no idea how it was all going to end (much as I don't mind a touch of predictability, I like to be kept in suspense more!), which meant it was a real page-turner for me. The characters were so well written, I really went on the emotional roller-coaster with them. I laughed and I cried at this book. It was just wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys this type of book.

I loved it so much that it actually inspired me to sit down and finally flesh out the plan for a book that I've had in mind for ages. Who knows if it will be any good or even if I will ever manage to actually turn it from a plan into a book but I've made a start.

If you haven't please do pick up this book (and her previous one - Billy & Me). If you have read it, did you enjoy it as much as I did?

Friday, 26 September 2014

Family Friday - Beverly Hills Formula Perfect White Black Toothpaste*

I recently received a lovely email from Samantha at The Whole Caboodle about a fabulous new product from Beverly Hills Formula and offering to send me a sample. As it was a toothpaste suitable for the whole family I thought I'd give it a shout out on Family Friday!


Now I must admit this brand is one I've heard of but never actually used, add to that the fact that, as Samantha explained, this toothpaste is black and I was completely intrigued. BHF say that this toothpaste will help keep little ghosts and goblins keep their teeth clean as we approach Halloween. In my book anything which encourages my kids to brush their teeth can only be a good thing!

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Fitness Thursday - Benefits of Walking

I received an email earlier this week from the lovely Sophie at www.worldwalks.com about their intiative to try to get people walking. For me, their message was spot on - walking can be such a great form of exercise! For a start, its completely free - even for running you need a decent pair of trainers and probably some running leggings and maybe an armband for your phone or MP3 player; its suitable for anyone of any age and can be done any time you like. What's not to love?

My mum is 63 now but she still likes to keep herself fit so I often go out with walks with her (although my pace is a bit brisk for her liking!). For someone leading a fairly sedentary lifestyle who is looking to lose weight, you will definitely see results just from getting out there and walking a couple of times a week. Just make sure you keep a good pace - no dilly dallying down the road!

Find out more here:

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Beauty Tuesday - Tips & Tricks

A quick post and run from me today - life's a little crazy here at the moment, did I say that already?! But I want to leave you with a few quick tips and tricks from me.

Basically I'm a lazy madam a lot of the time and I also hate wasting things I have bought, so...

1. If I buy a lip balm and find I don't get along with it for some reason, it doubles up as a handy cuticle balm! (The cult Nuxe Reve de Miel lip balm has been consigned to this category for me - didn't like the texture, too thick!)

2. Baby shampoo doubles up as a cleaning solution for my make up brushes

3. Any hair conditioners I find I don't like get used to shave my legs! (I actually think I now prefer using conditioner to proper shaving cream)

4. When I use bronzer during my make up application, after I've contoured my face, if I'm short on time or want a quick fix, I gently run the remnants of bronzer on the brush over my eyelids (literally one quick sweep) to perk them up a bit.

5. If I don't get on with a face exfoliator (particularly if I find it too harsh), I will use it up as a body exfoliator on more sensitive areas or on an exfoliating glove all over.

What tips and tricks do you have for making your products go further or using up things you've been disappointed with?

Monday, 22 September 2014

Recipe Review Monday - Bake Off Challenge Week #3 - Custard Tart

I know, I know, I missed it last week! I'm really sorry to anyone who was looking out for my post. Things just got so hectic and custard tart was a bit more time consuming than I could manage!

My current schedule includes - attempting to move house (Offer accepted today! Exciting but also terrifying!), going on holiday in a few weeks to Disney World with the Make a Wish Foundation, taking two NVQ courses (make up and facials), one finishes before our holiday and the other starts the week we get back, plus the usual mum and work stuff, and blogging and writing a book, oh and I've started selling nappy cakes properly too! No I'm not sure where I fit it all in either....

Anyway, on to the good stuff... cake! Well tart!

I decided as pastry is a bit of a nemesis for me and I've never really made custard (I'll make you a pudding but your custard will be shop bought, and no I'm not sorry!), to stick with a simple basic custard tart, following Delia Smith's recipe, which can be found here.

The recipe was easy to follow but, as anticipated the pastry was a b*tch to do. I'm not sure why I can't get the hang of pastry. It might be my lack of patience but its just never quite right.

On this occasion, though it had its problems, the pastry was pretty good in terms of taste and texture (and only a slight soggy bottom!).

Yes, I know it looks a little rough and ready but I'm not about to actually go on GBBO any time soon so let's work on taste first, shall we? Looks can come later!

The skin did catch slightly in the oven - annoyingly about a minute or so before it had looked fine, but it didn't actually taste burnt so that was fine.

Overall though it was a nice tasting custard tart but the recipe has a lot of steps - each one is simple but added together its a bit of a faff to be honest. Would I make it again? I'm not sure I would.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Fitness Thursday - Exercise DVDs

You may have read me mention here before that I have a weekly exercise date with a friend from work - we both needed a bit of a boot up the bum to get fitter so we decided, about 6 or 7 months ago that one night a week we would meet up at her house or mine to workout. Neither of us wanted to commit to an exercise class - especially given that they're about £6 or £7 a week, not a lot on its own but it adds up pretty quickly over a month! Plus with kids and so on, it was easier to just go to each other's houses and do a DVD workout. So my epic collection has come in handy and has in fact expanded since we started having our exercise date.

In fairness, if ownership of fitness DVDs were a guarantee of your level of fitness, I would have thighs that could crack nuts and abs you could bounce a penny off.... But I don't. I do however have a hell of a lot of fitness DVDs!
The picture above is just what I currently have out - as we're living with family at the moment, the majority of my collection is in storage, I just kept my favourites out and I rotate through them.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Recipe Review Monday - Bake Off Challenge Week #2 - SELF-SAUCING PUDS

On last week's Great British Bake Off, the theme was puddings. I decided to go for the signature bake idea, which was self-saucing puddings. I've done this sort of thing before - in fact there's a post I did a while back on Banana Batter Cake which was a self-saucing pud of sorts.

Now on the Bake Off they had to make 12 (or maybe it was 24?!) small self-saucing puddings but as I'm yet to get around to buying some ramekin dishes, I decided to find a recipe that would make one large pudding.

I must apologise at this point for the horrendous photo but I wanted to make the pudding last night in time to do this post today and that meant making it late and having awful lighting. Plus the camera had no batteries in and my family wanted their pudding dished up so I just took a quick snap on my iPhone.

Self Saucing Butterscotch Pudding

Monday, 1 September 2014

Recipe Review Monday - Bake Off Challenge Week #1 - BREAD

Well, as promised in my post last week, I made bread! I used a recipe that Beca Lyne-Perkis posted here. Its a chocolate chip loaf and being as my husband and daughter particularly are chocolate fiends, I just had to try it.

I should say here that this was my very first attempt at bread (aside from in a bread machine but that doesn't count!) so my results here are in no way a reflection on the recipe itself.

The recipe was simple, clear and dead easy to follow. However I think what let me down is my kneading technique. Firstly I kneaded it just for the amount of time shown but having read further tips afterwards (thank you Paul Hollywood's website!) I've discovered that if you're new to bread making then the kneading will usually take a bit longer. I also now know what properly kneaded bread dough should likely (mine did not...).

It came out ok and as you can see from the photo above it looks fine from the outside. The taste was nice but....