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This Week’s Nails – Glittery Polka Dots

It’s been a good weekend so far; quiet, but a good’un. There have been Christmas lights, Krispy Kreme doughnuts, Ian’s pulled pork and some more meal planning for the week ahead.

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Quiet weekends also mean there is more time for the things you can put off when you’re busy and that includes some pampering! I love a hair and face mask whilst soaking in a long bubble bath on a Sunday night and my weekly manicure usually happens then too.

I don’t believe you need to banish all pastel shades from your nails in the colder months, especially when you can add a little festive sparkle with some glittery polka dots!

Mint green is probably one of my favourite colours to wear on my nails. I think it looks fresh and seems to stay on trend.

For my base colour this week, I painted on two layers of ELF’s Mint Cream.

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I then took a nail dotter and Essie’s Beyond Cosy and added my polka dots in a random pattern. I even did my right hand which proves this nail art is very simple and straightforward to attempt!

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Finished off with a layer of Seche Vite, this manicure lasted me a week with only one nail chipping after some rigorous washing up.

These glittery polka dots are quite subtle on a pastel nail but I think you could swap the base colour for a deep burgundy or navy blue for a little sparkle in December.

Recipe – Mac ‘n’ Cauliflower Cheese

Hello! I hope you are having a good weekend. We have a quiet one planned before several busy weekends and festive plans start kicking in. I’ve been to get my hair cut and coloured this morning in Bath where I had a wander and bought a ‘coatigan’…yeah, I’m not 100% sure what it is either but it’s cosy and fluffy!

Today’s recipe is classic cold weather food although I for one could (and do!) eat mac ‘n’ cheese all year round. Any guilt you may feel at eating a plate of pasta and cheese is eased slightly with the addition of cauliflower and it really does add an extra flavour and texture to the dish. I kept mine veggie this time but if I made it again, I would try adding some bacon and maybe some spinach or broccoli florets too. I’ve stuck to Cheddar and Parmesan cheese for this recipe but it could be good to mix these up and experiment with some flavoured cheese as well.

I will hold my hands up and say that today’s recipe is one inspired by a Jamie Oliver dish my friend told me about where everything is cooked over one pan and the need to make a roux from scratch is avoided making this a perfect mid-week quick supper.

Ingredients

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350-400g of macaroni

1 whole cauliflower (remove the leaves and cut into small florets)

300g Cheese (I used about 200g of Cheddar and 100g of Parmesan)

200g tub of crème fraîche

Salt and pepper

A bunch of fresh parsley

Another handful of grated cheese for the topping (optional but necessary!)

How to make it

  • In large pan of boiling water, add the pasta and cauliflower florets
  • Place a large bowl over the pan, making sure the bottom of the bowl isn’t touching the water, and add the cheese and crème fraîche

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  • Now, the theory is that in the time the pasta and cauliflower takes to cook, the steam from the pan should melt the cheese and crème fraîche to create a smooth cheese sauce! This did work for me although I did have to remove the bowl and give the pasta the occasional stir to ensure it didn’t stick together.

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  • Once you have a lovely smooth cheese sauce, season well and add a generous amount of chopped parsley

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  • Remove the cheese sauce and drain the pasta and cauliflower
  • In a large ovenproof dish, mix the cheese sauce through the pasta – you could serve it like this but I think you have to go for a crispy topping!

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  • Sprinkle over some grated cheese and pop it under the grill until the top has turned golden brown and crispy

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You can enjoy this with a nice green salad but I prefer mine piled high in a bowl with a final sprinkling of fresh parsley whilst catching up on Gogglebox on the sofa! x

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Restaurant Review – Afternoon Tea at BRGR.Co, London

I love afternoon tea but Ian isn’t as much of a fan so in my search for a more man-friendly version of afternoon tea I found BRGR’s offering. Priced at £17, it really isn’t too bad for a treat and I think it is a cool and original way of combining two of my favourite things: burger and cake!

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BRGR is a cool exposed-brick, hot-Spanish waiters kind of place near Oxford Circus where I could easily spend an evening with friends, gossiping over burgers and milkshakes.

Our afternoon tea began with two drinks; a raspberry and bellini and a refreshing ice tea. If I’m being picky, I would say that service was a little slow to get our drinks and food in front of us, especially as the restaurant wasn’t that busy but we weren’t in a rush so it didn’t matter too much.

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Our tray arrived and my first thought was that everything looked very ‘miniature’ but I got stuck in to the burgers straight away. First up was a southern fried chicken and coleslaw slider which was delicious. Crunchy yet juicy in a perfect brioche bun.

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Next up, a cheeseburger which was enough to convince me to return for the full-sized version! I saved the best for last – a lobster and crayfish slider. Overall, the three burgers were the star of the show, well the tray, and I could have eaten another three of them!

I liked the way the puddings were separated on their own little tray to avoid burger-juice contamination and there was a lovely mini vanilla milkshake too.

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The puddings were great actually; a raspberry and white chocolate cheesecake, a mini doughnut with a salted caramel sauce and a chocolate brownie.

Overall, this was a perfect pre-theatre treat and a nice twist on afternoon tea if you don’t have much of a sweet tooth.

 

Meal Plannin’

Yeah, that title is my lame attempt to make this post sound cooler than it is!

In recent weeks I have found myself doing something I never thought would happen and it weirdly makes me very happy!

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Dinner through the week for us can be quite varied. I usually try and make a large meal, like a lasagne or fish pie, at the weekends which I can usually stretch out for another few meals. The rest of the time is a hodgepodge (great word!) of items found in the cupboard, fridge or freezer that sometimes work together but sometimes don’t! I also found myself popping to the supermarket 3 or 4 times a week which soon adds up when you have other things you want to do in the evenings like binge on Netflix or catch up on your vlog watching.

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Cue my new money and time-saving habit of meal planning. We have a chalkboard in our kitchen that I use to write up our meals for the week ahead and I have to say it has been a revelation and here’s why:

  • Rather than scrabble around and try to create something out of my fridge contents, I really enjoy leafing through my recipe books to find new dishes I want to try out. This has a great knock-on effect for my blog too as it means I have one or two new recipes being tested out each week which I can share.
  • We have switched to doing one big weekly shop which is a great time saver and I think will turn out to be a good money saver too as all those little midweek trips to buy one ingredient always turns into a basket full of things we probably don’t need.
  • I’m not a particularly organised person so I feel a little smug when I look at my blackboard for the week and know exactly what we will be eating that week and what I need to cook each evening. It is a little piece of calm in an otherwise hectic routine!
  • We are wasting a lot less food with this new routine. Usually I have to bin a few veggies and bags of salad that have gone past their best without me realising but for the past few weeks, I haven’t had to do this which feels good as I hate food waste.

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There are loads of meal planning apps online if you wanted to give this a go…I highly recommend it for a little foodie piece of mind! x

This Week’s Nails – A 10-day Polish?

By now, we are used to beauty products making outrageous claims: ‘Look 10 years younger’; ’24-hour wear’; ‘Tattoo-style eyeliner’ and so on.

When I saw the promise of ’10 Day Wear’ on this nail varnish bottle by Seventeen I knew I had to put this to the test (although they have very cleverly used the term ‘up to’ in front of this timescale!)

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I got this fuschia-pink shade (Miami) in last year’s Boots advent calendar and love the bright colour of it. It has a nice wide brush and two coats give a lovely shine and good coverage.

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I decided to add one of my favourite layers – L’Oréal’s black and white confetti top coat and sealed the look with Nails Inc’s Kensington Caviar Effect Plumping Top Coat.

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In retrospect, I guess I really should have left out the Nails Inc top coat to make it a truly fair test but I always wear a top coat over nail varnish so it is a fair test on my nails!

So…did it last 10 days I hear you ask?

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Here are my nails after exactly 10 days with this manicure. Apart from a tiny bit of wear at the tips, this pretty much stayed put. Obviously, there is a gap of colour at the base of my nails where they have grown in those 10 days which is the reason why, despite its obvious wear-time, I still probably wouldn’t keep the same nail varnish on for that length of time.

I have to stay I was very impressed with the staying power of this Seventeen ‘Supreme Shine’ nail varnish and it would tempt me to purchase another shade in this range…I’ve already got my eyes on ‘Mink’!

 

Recipe – Easy Lemon Meringue Pies

Sometimes you want a really nice dessert but just don’t have the time/ ingredients/ inclination to make both pastry and lemon curd from scratch. Cue my super-easy lemon meringue pies using good quality but short-cut ingredients!

I bought the sweet pastry cases but would also buy a roll of ready-made pastry for this recipe too…it’s definitely OK to cheat when it comes to pastry. Lemon curd is one of my favourite things to spread on toast. I’ve never made it before but it looks pretty simple so I may give it a go in the near future. This time however I bought a jar and it worked perfectly for a quick and easy pudding.

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Ingredients

6 mini sweet pastry cases

6 generous teaspoons of lemon curd

1 egg white

50g of caster sugar

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How to make it

  • Begin by preheating your oven to 200°C, Gas Mark 6
  • Fill each pastry case with a generous spoonful of lemon curd

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  • Whisk the egg white until stiff peaks have formed
  • Gradually add the sugar until the mixture is thick and glossy

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  • Spoon the meringue mixture onto the tarts – I like to use the back of a teaspoon to pull into little peaks

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  • Bake for 6 – 8 minutes until the meringue has started to brown

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These looked and tasted great – they were quite light so would be perfect after a hearty Sunday roast! x

Beauty Review – November Birchbox

I am officially in cosy-mode now. Candles are burning, sofas have soft blankets draped over them and huge pies are being made and devoured!

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So, when I saw this month’s Birchbox theme was ‘Cosy at Home’ I knew I would love it and I have to say the contents were pretty damn great.

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Here was my first peek:

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I couldn’t help but notice the whopping great bottle of Dr Jart’s Turnover Booster, a lightweight serum that promises a hit of moisture. I really like this brand and was surprised to see this full-sized product which is worth £32! Now that it has got colder and the central heating is blasting, I am using a serum most nights and this will find a home on my bedside table.

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A funny item next, some Drinkwel mutlivitamins designed to help with the dreaded hangover. I think I will save this for the festive period when I overdo the mulled cider and champers! I’m not sure I’d ever buy this but I will report back if these capsules are any good.

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Next another brand I love: Weleda. There all-natural products always smell amazing and this Sea-Buckthorn Body Oil is no exception. I don’t use body oils regularly but I do sometimes put a few drops in a bath to up the moisture-factor.

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Another unusual inclusion comes in the form of this Lash Extender and Conditioner from Jane Iredale. This product will help lengthen and strengthen lashes before the application of mascara. I already think mascara is pretty amazing and I am loathe to add unnecessary steps to my morning beauty regime but I am always on the lookout for my next wonder product so will give it a whirl.

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There are some brands that keep popping up in my Birchboxes and Beauty Protector is one of them. I quite like their hair products and this hair mask is right up my street, especially as there were two of them in the box in very cute tubs.

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Finally, one more ‘wow’ item – a full sized OPI nail varnish (worth £12!) in a gorgeous vampy, deep purple shade. Part of a limited Coca Cola collection from one of my favourite nail brands, I gave a little squeal of excitement when I saw this!

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I know there is a move away from beauty boxes towards more ‘lifestyle’ boxes but I think Birchbox is going from strength to strength and this one in particular was amazing value.

Right, I’m off for a second helping of pie!

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