Friday, 29 October 2010

Supermarket sweep

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Here is the debut of my playsuit which you may have seen me twittering about. The toilet dilemma! Argh! It worked out ok, it's a bit more of a pain than when you wear a dress but the playsuit is very comfortable. The playsuit was kindly sent to me by clothing @ Tesco. When I was offered any item of clothing, I was a bit dubious. I have a love/hate relationship with Tesco, I will admit. When they were nearly opening a Tesco on Hope Street in Liverpool i was livid and signed many petitions to stop it. There are just TOO MANY Tescos in Liverpool already! Sometimes their quest for world domination worries me... 

However, their clothes are actually rather good. I remember the first pair of high heels I ever bought, they were from Tesco. I was 16 and hardly ever wore heels, but these were plain black wedges and so began my love affair with high heels. One thing that Tesco is very good for is basics and work wear, as you can see in my collage below: 

tesco


And bloody cheap too! That red dress is high up on my wish list and only £25! The sweetheart collar is beautiful. I was offered this item of Tesco clothing on the premise of then passing on the favour to another blogger. So, I have chosen a fellow Helen of Clear Your Heart to also choose an item from Tesco. A fellow Helen AND fellow north-westerner, I love her blog and think you should all go and visit! In a few days time she will also be posting about her Tesco clothing. 

Disclaimer: I had a real moral dilemma with this offer, as I hate when blogs over-advertise things, but I do genuinely like their clothing and thought it was  a a great idea to pass the love on to fellow bloggers. 

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Apple, cider & sultana cake

This is my second version of this cake. That blogpost was over 2 years ago, gosh! I think my photos have come a long way since then.

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I decided to make this cake because I had some apples and cider left from when I went apple picking the other week.  I wrapped the apples up in newspaper and put them in my shed and they have kept fine for nearly a month! Bramley apples are my favourite ever apples for baking with. I always sprinkle them with brown sugar and cinnamon before adding them to anything. The cider I used is pressed on the farm that I picked the apples from. So it's a rather locally sourced cake!


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Hmm look at those plump sultanas! This cake involves soaking the sultanas overnight in the cider so that they plump up all nice and fat. The cider doesn't completely soak in so the rest of it is added to the cake to make it all lovely and appley and moist. Hmmm. 

Here is the recipe, you should all try it because it is so easy but so tasty and perfect for autumn. 

Ingredients
225g sultanas
150ml cider 
125g butter, softened
125g soft brown sugar (dark or light really)
2 large eggs, beaten
225g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
1 tsp mixed spice
2 bramley apples, peeled, cored & thinly sliced


Method
1. Put the sultanas in a non-metallic bowl with the cider. Cover and leave overnight.



2. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 (180c). Grease a 9 inch round cake tin. Put the butter in a bowl with the sugar and whisk with an electric whisk until fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs until incorporated.



3. Sift in the flour, mixed spice and baking powder and fold in gently. Add the sultanas and any cider that hasn't been absorbed and mix.


4. Pour into the tin and level with the back of a spoon. Mix the apple slices with some cinnamon and dark sugar and then arrange the apple slices over the top of the batter and bake for about an hour. Leave to cool in the tin slightly, then turn out onto a wire rack before serving. Enjoy! (I like mine with custard nom)

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Sunday, 24 October 2010

NW3 by Hobbs

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pumpkins

I went pumpkin picking again! This time we went with Scott's brother and sisters, as they all wanted to get big pumpkins to carve for halloween. I can't believe halloween is only a week away, I'm quite excited though! Anyway, we went to get more pumpkins but I just got some squashes (baby ones! my favourites) to roast and make into soup. Last time we went I only wore little ballet pumps, so this time I took my joules wellies with me so I could stomp around freely in the muddy puddles. I also wore my new NW3 jumper with a cute little dog on it. NW3 is a collection by Hobbs, I'd say it is the more on trend branch of Hobbs and I am loving so much of their stuff at the moment. They're classic yet quirky. Their shoes are particularly fabulous! Their clothes are a bit more expensive that things I would usually buy but I had a voucher from my birthday so I finally decided to buy the Alfie Sweater. It's so cute and perfect for the autumn. Below are a few more of my favourite things from NW3.




Some of the clothes kind of remind me of things that Peggy Olsen in Mad Men might wear (in a good way though!). How cute is the hedgehog badge too?!


Friday, 22 October 2010

Raspberry picking

When we went pumpkin picking, we also picked some raspberries. They are just coming to the end of their season here so they aren't quite as sweet as the raspberries that you might pick in the middle of the summer, but they were still lovely.


So, I thought I ought to bake with them to bring out their sweetness. I decided to make white chocolate and raspberry blondies and they were so so delicious. The crust of the blondie was really crunchy and chewy, with the inside being super moist and gooey. What a perfect combination!

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The recipe is available here.  (God, I love the bbc good food website! Could spend hours browsing it)

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Matte nails

I first remember seeing matte nails on Nubby Twiglet I think, in black. This was over a year ago and it's taken a while for the craze to really hit the UK, but more and more matte top coats are available now. No. 7 brought one out but I read quite a bad review of it, but last week I discovered that Rimmel had released their own top coat too, thanks to Laura! When I popped into Liverpool the other day I decided to pick a bottle up. It's only £3.49 (cheaper than the Barry M crackle!) and I'm impressed with it so far. It's weird when you first put it on, because it's all shiny and wet and then dries to a matte finish that feels smooth and almost velvetty.



This if the first time I've worn it and I decided to go for a matte grey, using Barry M's grey. It has quite an industrial/wintery feel to it worn with grey, which is quite nice for this time of year I think. I think I prefer this over the Barry M crackle glaze that most bloggers are raving about at the moment - it's more subtle and doesn't look just like weird chipped nail varnish! Haha. What do you think? Crackle or matte?

Monday, 18 October 2010







Last weekend we went pumpkin picking! We go to a place near Warrington called Kenyon Hall and it has amazing fields full of different sized pumpkins plus a little farm shop where you can buy local produce. It really makes me love Autumn.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

New shoes

Whilst I was in Edinburgh, I strolled past the front of the Duo shoe shop a fair few times and lusted over the shoes and boots in the window. Then, on the final day, I finally decided to pop in and try a few pairs on, to treat myself and to give myself a rather nice souvenir from Edinburgh.

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There were so many nice shoes I could hardly decide which ones to treat myself to. In the end, I plumped for these because they were a classic design with a lovely red accent that means they will go with pretty much everything in my wardrobe. My favourite feature of them is the red heel. It also means I can't drive in them because of the fear of scuffing the heel, but hey.

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I really recommend Duo shoes, haven't tried their boots yet though but they come in so many calf sizes, which I think is brilliant for someone like me with petite legs! If you're ever in Manchester, Bath, Edinburgh or London, be sure to visit their stores. The customer service was really very good and I came away feeling a little bit special, like you always should after buying shoes.

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I am wearing them today for work, trying to wear them in. They are pinching me slightly at the moment because of the stiff patent leather, but I know they will be a classic addition to my wardrobe once I've got them worn in.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Edinburgh

Edinburgh

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I am back from Edinburgh! I took so many photos. We visited the castle (of course), the National Museum of Scotland (amazing view from the rooftop!), wandered around the Grassmarket & Victoria Street, had afternoon tea at the Caley, watched Romeo & Juliet at The Lyceum and went on 2 open top bus tours! It was horrible to come back home but it was such a nice break. You can see even more photos in my Flickr set. Now I have the dreaded task of catching up with my google reader...wish me luck. 

Thursday, 7 October 2010

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Shoes - Topshop, Dress - eBay, Cardi - Zara. 

This is what I wore on Monday to visit my little niece before I went to Edinburgh. She is so gorgeous now, always giggling and smiling! It was the most glorious autumnal day so I thought I would wear my mustard tights. 

My creation

Oh I could wax lyrical about autumn. When I get back from Edinburgh I really want to go pumpkin picking like we did last year, to get little gem squash and big pumpkins for carving jacko lanterns. Does anyone else squee over baby pumpkins? I love little squash, I could buy loads of them just because they are so cute! Scott thinks I am a bit crazy...


Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Apple baking results

I promised you all I would share my apple crumb bars with you, but I've got 2 apple recipes for you to enjoy!

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First up are my apple crumb bars. Inspired by the blackberry crumb bars and using Smitten Kitchen's recipe as a base, I made some very seasonal treats to take into work. Instead of using a similar filling though, I sliced the bramley apples up and mixed them up with 2 tablespoons brown sugar and cinnamon.

Next, I made these apple galette's, after finding the recipe here on Joy of Baking. They have a frangipane filling which makes them a bit more sophisticated than an apple pie or apple turnover I think. However, as you can see mine are slightly 'high baked' as my mother calls it! They caught slightly at the edges when I was grilling them, but they tasted lovely and not burnt.

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Yummy yummy. As you read this, I will be in Edinburgh with Scott! God bless scheduled posts though. Oh I also want to mention the We Love Baking facebook page, set up by Tate & Lyle. I was kindly sent some sugars by the kind folks at Tate & Lyle (I always use theirs anyway so was flattered by the offer! Plus, fairtrade ftw!) The facebook page is a great place for bakers to share their goodies, look at this nail varnish bottle cake! 



Barry M, my fave! 

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Love your library card

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This is my most 'librarian'-ish outfit ever!
Shoes - Jones, Skirt - New Look, Shirt - Dorothy Perkins, Cardi - Zara

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Inspired by Diana's post about her library card, I decided to do a similar post. Your library card is one of the smartest cards you can ever have, even smarter than a credit card! It lets you borrow free books, find out your family history, give you free access to the Internet and lets you rent cheap DVDs. There's a lot of talk in the news lately of libraries suffering under the new ConDem budget cuts, so it is more important then ever to support your local library. People might wax lyrical about using the library when they were younger and how great the idea of a library is, but if you don't use it, you're gonna lose it!

 Library cards are FREE and give you access to so much information. Wanna learn how to crochet? Bake a nice cake? Want a travel guide for your latest trip? Wanna find out who your great great grandfather on your Mother's side was? Visit your library! 

I know I am kind of biased towards libraries, but I think even if I wasn't a librarian I would be using my library lots. Are you a member of your local library? 

If you want to find out more about supporting your local library in the UK, visit Voices For The Library

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