Keeping cosy this winter!

I have a confession to make. I am addicted to buying homeware. The less useful and more pretty the better. I have little interest in things we actually need, but show me a string of birdcage fairy lights or another animal themed lamp and I am all over it. My pal Dawn recently showed me the Asda homeware catalogue and within a day I had already placed an order. It's somewhere I would never have thought of for homeware (there's not a store too close to me so it's off my radar usually). I shared the photo below of my goodies on Instagram and everyone was so impressed with the selection.


My own purchases: Rabbit Lamp //Pink Cushion // Mint Cushion // Birdcage lights // Items not linked are no longer available. 



You can imagine how excited I was to get an offer from Asda to try out some more of their home goods. Now, I had to try really hard not to buy another lamp and to be at least a little bit practical! Before we bought our home we lived in property owned by family, and everything in it was theirs. So when we moved, we had quite a lot of quick shopping to do. Ikea was our savior, and while our ikea items have held up well I have wanted to invest in some long lasting, quality items. A good down duvet like I used to have at my parent's house was high on the list.






So with that in mind, I chose a Fogarty feather and down duvet to try and let the impulsive side of me run riot with throw cushions that we really did not need but had to have, and some candles because for some reason when I became a homeowner I also became a compulsive candle buyer. Asda stock a great Yankee candle range at a really good price, and the Yankee Simply Home range seem to be the same thing as the normal range only cheaper. Win win.




I originally wanted the cushions in our initials but they were sold out, so I went for XO which I now think I prefer!

Do I like my new duvet? I love it. It is my new favourite thing and I tried deep fried cheese for the first time this week. So yes, I think it's fair to say I love it. It creates a warm, airy pocket of comfort over me and I am finding it nearly impossible to part with it in the morning. I would recommend it as a great investment for anyone who loves sleeping as much as I do, I also chose some gorgeous geometrical bedding from Asda in grey and yellow. This is a colour combination I clearly have a thing for as it's the same colour as our feature wall in the living room.





Although I was lucky enough to select these items for free, I woudn't recommend anything unless I really liked it. Do check out Asda homeware for some really unique pieces that won't break the bank, They also offer a free Click and Collect service in stores. Thanks Asda!

Recipe: Chocolate Fudge Cake






Hello all! I thought it was about time I shared a recipe here again. I bake so many cakes and hundreds of cupcakes a week now so I often find it hard to get time to share recipes or bake for myself! Last week I decided to bake a chocolate fudge cake for Ali and I to enjoy and lots of people wanted to know the recipe so here it is!

Chocolate Fudge Cake

Ingredients

Cake:
  • 200g good quality dark chocolate
  • 4 eggs
  • 350g caster sugar
  • 170g butter or Stork margarine (butter is preferable for flavour, but Stork still makes a deliciously moist cake so don't be afraid of using it). 
  • 370g plain flour
  • 1.5 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1,5 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
  • 400ml milk
Fudge frosting: 

  • 175g good quality dark chocolate
  • 250g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 200g icing sugar
Method:

Preheat your oven to 175 degrees celsius. Line and grease 3 7" sandwich tins.

  1. Cream your butter/marg and sugar
  2. Crack in your eggs and mix in with the creamed butter and sugar.
  3. Melt your chocolate using either a bain marie or microwave (in 30 second blasts, mixing in between until fully melted).
  4. Pour your chocolate into the mixure and combine until silky and smooth.
  5. Add your flour, bicarb and baking powder and combine. Scrape down the edges of the bowl and remix if needed.
  6. Gradually add your milk while your mixer or beaters are on low. Mix until fully combined. 
  7. Divide the mixture evenly between your three greased tins, 
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool on a rack for 20 mins before removing from tins. While you are waiting, melt the chocolate for the frosting and allow it to cool.
  9. Once the cakes are fully cooled you are ready to ice the cake. To make the icing, cream the butter and icing sugar on high until fluffy. Pour in your cooled melted chocolate and mix until fluffy and creamy. If you find this too runny then add a tablespoon of icing sugar until it begins to firm up enough to be a spreadable consistency. This isn't likely but if your chocolate isn't completely cool it could melt the butter slightly which is what you want to avoid.
  10. Apply the buttercream to each layer of the cake and then all around the outside with a spatula. I didn't do a crumb coat as it was just for us to eat, but if you want a really smooth finish then go ahead. Personally I like this cake rough and ready! Enjoy! It's delicious with some cream poured over it and a cup of tea to drink with it, of course.


Sainsbury's Treats for Christmas 2014.

I was lucky enough to be invited along to the Sainsbuys Christmas press day a few weeks ago. I do all of my food shopping, as well as a lot of business shopping there so I was excited to see more of what they had for us at Christmas.

Well, I was not disappointed. I left full of cheese and Christmas cheer. I had already eyed up some of their Christmas decorations but the food ranges were new to me and I certainly ate my share...and maybe a few others shares too.

I was most excited about these magical reindeer, I have already bought the little one for our home and I think they're just super cute. I also had already purchased the tree log candle holder back in October and I love it. I have one of Sainsburys red Christmas candles in it and I just can't put my finger on what the scent is but it reminds me of Christmases of my childhood. It's spicy but not the usual cinnamon and apple combo that you usually see around these months.





How cute is the little Robin candle?





On to the food! This year I am hosting Christmas with my family and it'll be the first time in over 30 years that my mum has not cooked Christmas dinner. No pressure then! I'll be making a huge list and a trip to Sainsburys soon to collect everything I need for the main dinner but I have now also been drawn to the wonderful selection of snacks they have available. For NI folk there is also a wide range of local produce to avail of and many of the brands have seasonal ranges. Alistair particularly enjoyed the glittery mince pies! My  favourite item (apart from all of the cheese of course) were the Juice Press season juices, They're great for something a little different from the usual Shloer and would be delicious warmed up or mixed with the tipple of your choice! I'm thinkin some spiced rum for me.



They come in 2 seasonal flavours: Apple, Pear, Cranberry and Cinnamon and the second flavour is Apple, Pear, Cranberry and Clove. I loved them and I have to say their plain orange juice is also delicious and not from concentrate.





We also stuffed ourselves silly on some Genesis and Howell House baked goods. Those yellow things? Pineapple tarts. Pineapple! I loved them.



The aforementioned cheese which I probably ate half my weight in. I love cheese.

Thanks Sainsburys for inviting me along and allowing me to almost eat you out of business. I'll defintely be heading your way for my Christmas shop.

Please note this post is NOT paid for or sponsored and all views are honest, I was so impressed. Do check out their Christmas range and let me know what you think!

Belfast Stands for Defiance


I'll never forget my first pair of Dr Martens shoes. They were my chosen school shoes when I was 16, a new friend had them and she was really cool so I had to have them too. They reminded me of the cute dolly shoes I would see in my Fruits fashion book and they had to be mine. Totally against uniform regulation, in my teenage eyes there was nothing cooler. I'm almost certain that I still have them somewhere. I tried to find a photo and ended up spending 3 hours looking at old photos - oops. Of course the photo I want is nowhere to be found. I've had several pairs of Dr Martens since my old school shoes and each pair is still going strong.

Last week was the official launch of the new Belfast Dr Martens store in Corn Market. The new store has 2 floors of amazing boots and in true Dr Martens style, plenty of tartan clothing! I loved it all. What I love about this brand is you know you are buying something that will last for decades and only get better with age.

Dr Martens kindly let me pick a pair of boots to wear to the party. I went down the more practical route, not so much party wear but I wanted something I could get a lot of use out and these gorgeous Serena boots will be perfect for cold Sunday mornings at my market stall. They're fur lined too, they're like wearing bouncy slippers all day!




The launch night was a really wonderful event. I went along with my little sister and Dawn from Inanity and the Girl. There were beers from Farmageddon, amazing food from Love and Death Inc (I was expecting tiny canapes but no! Cups of fish and chips, racks of ribs! More of this please!) a set from The Groundlings and my favourite part, a DJ set from local legend Terri Hooley. We were also  treated to a 50% discount on anything in store.























I think most people in Belfast will know who Terri Hooley is, but if the name sounds familiar and you aren't from here you may recognise him from the film Good Vibrations. He discovered the Undertones and has spent his life supplying Belfast with some kickass records. I had a bit of a moment when he played Teenage Kicks and he was a total gentleman. So glad I got to meet him!



These are the killer boots I picked up for a mere £65 instead of the RRP of £130. I really can't wait to break them in and style them for Autumn and winter. Thank you so much Dr Martens for inviting me along!

A rare outfit post has appeared!



Dress - ASOS (old stock)
Belt - Primark
Boots - Topshop
Necklace - Eclectic Eccentricity





I headed over to the Autumn fair at Botanic Gardens on Sunday with my brother, sister and the dogs. Joe has just returned from 3 months in L.A. and my sister and I are usually working at the market on Sunday so it was a nice chance to catch up. I have a new lens for my old camera so I got Katy to snap some photos for me. I apologise that this is an extremely old dress! It's one of the very first things I bought from ASOS and I still wear it a lot today. It has pockets, what more do you need to know? 



The sweet little dachshund necklace is from Eclectic Eccentricity and I completely love it! So many trinkets that I own now are Lola themed, guess I was bound to fall into that trap! The necklace is currently in the sale for £7!

A Vegas Wedding

I wondered if too much time had passed to share these photos, since they were taken in April. Then I thought why the heck not? I also have a bunch of proper camera photos to edit now I have a new computer but for the mean time Instagram shows a pretty good representation of one of the best holidays of my life.

Our good friends Dawn and Dave got engaged two years ago and I was so excited and honoured when Dawn asked me to be her bridesmaid. It got even more exciting when Dave asked Ali to be his best man. 

Finally the time arrived to fly to Vegas to watch one of the most wonderful couples around get hitched. We stayed at New York New York which was just wonderful, and huge! Honestly Vegas was just like another world, you just have to see it to experience it. After a day there nothing will shock you any more! We spent the days leading up to the wedding relaxing, eating, some drinking, shopping and a touch of gambling. I am not good at gambling. It was so refreshing to get to spend so much time with our friends, and to see the city through their eyes as they had told us so much about their previous trip there.

The wedding was held at the Venus Gardens in Cesar's Palace, with the reception in The Venetian and an after party in Nine Fine Irishmen, NYNY, The whole day was just a magical whirlwind - I can't imagine what it felt like for Dawn. From the relaxing morning getting our make up done by the amazing girls at Amelia C, to seeing Dawn in her dress for the first time, post wedding selfies and dancing to trad irish music - every moment was just perfect. This trip is full of treasured memories for me. Thank you Dawn and Dave for asking us to be a part of such a special and important day, we loved every minute! When are we going back?


1. Our Hotel 2. The view from our room 3. Sunny Vegas outfit 4. I got drunk in the afternoon and lost some money and then bought donuts 



1. Another outfit snap 2. Ali and I outside the Chandelier bar in Aria 3. Blow Pop Popping Candy cocktail at Sugar Factory 4. The Bellagio



1. Covering up with a Kimono as I may have got slightly sunburnt! 2. Rainbow Rolls 3. The best dressing gown ever 4. The morning of the big day!



1. Grown up pyjama choices 2. Cinnabon breakfast since I got carried away and bought fifteen rolls instead of one roll 3. Dawniepants and I 4. Wedding hair! 




1. & 2. Ali and I just a few minutes after the ceremony 3. Wedding flowers and my favouite Amaretto Sours 4. The view from the wedding dinner.



1. CAAAAAKE 2. Newly married Dawn! 3. My beautiful bridesmaid shoes 4. The buzzing Vegas strip.

Although they aren't instagram photos I couldn't end this post without a few snaps of the newlyweds!






A foodie weekend in Dublin City




Hello everyone! I wanted to share a little of a recent trip to Dublin. Ali and I have been lucky enough to go to many lovely places just this year but we realised we hadn't been away just the two of us for quite some time. Alistair's aunt recently treated us to some experience gift vouchers and we used them on a Fab Food Trail of Dublin. It was a really wonderful afternoon and I would highly recommend it!



Our first stop was Sheridan's Cheesemongers which was one of my favourite stops on the tour. We were treated to some really delicious cheeses and told about the history of cheesemaking in Ireland - I was surprised to love the Crozier Blue cheese when I thought I hated blue cheese. Delicious!

After Sheridans we visited The Pepper Pot and sampled some of their cream cheese and salmon bagels. They make their bagels by hand in store and I was craving another bite! My only negative here is that sadly they are closed on Sundays and we had hoped to get our breakfast there. It was truly tasty and the owners clearly had a real passion for food.

After the Pepper Pot we went to Blazing Salads, a healthy pitstop that has been around in Dublin for many, many years. They do really fresh and varied salads as well as freshly baked bread. We sampled the lavender bread and learned about dulse (that's seaweed!) and it's many uses in cooking.

By now it was approaching midday and time to pop into one of Dublin's most historic pubs, The Swan. A shot of Power's Irish Whiskey and a great talk on the history of the Pub by the charasmatic barman perked us up for our next location.



Our next treat was a sample of Savage Sausage from Lolly and Cooks in George's Arcade. A little spicy and sweet, we were told this is a common hangover cure for the Dublin party goer. It was very tasty!

After that we popped into Cocoa Atilier to try some of their chocolates made just outside of Dublin city. We had the chestnut honey and it reminded me of the floral honey Ali's parents buy in France. Yum!

Around the corner from Cocoa Atilier is the food store and café Fallon and Byrne where we browsed the aisles and were amazed at all the fancy foods out there - I think you could probably find anything out of your Nigella cookbook there. They had so many specialty and imported foods as well as a meat and fish counter. We had strip steak and horseradish on soda bread (or Wheaten bread to us Northerners).

Our last stop was the Temple Bar Market to try some Oysters...or, rather ashamedly on my part to watch Alistair bravely try an oyster and then be forced to also eat mine. I was assured that the onion and tomato vinaigrette and Tabasco sauce made them go down easy but Oysters are just not something I am brave enough for.


And that was our Saturday morning/early afternoon in Dublin! It was a walking tour but very manageable, and took around 3 hours in total. Our guide was very informed and friendly and you should definitely check them out if you are visiting Dublin. After we finished, Ali and I walked out to The Cake Café, it took us a little while to find and yes it is tucked down a little backstreet, so keep going if you think you are lost - you'll find it! I opted for the Victoria Sponge as that's my favourite cake. Sadly I was a little underwhelmed, it was a bit dry and tasteless. Ali had the lemon and poppyseed cake with fresh cream which he was really happy with and said it was tasty. We ordered the homemade lemonade to drink - I'm not entirely sure this is what we got as it seemed to be orange flavoured but it was very refreshing!



My bacon ribs at The Woollen Mills.


Although not on our tour I also wanted to mention The Woollen Mills which is where we opted to go for dinner. It is on the opposite side of the river from The Temple Bar, right beside the Ha'penny Bridge. It had only been open a few weeks and we had heard good things from our tour guide.

I had a raspberry sours cocktail which was fresh and sharp, for my main meal I chose the Bacon ribs with mashed potato, cabbage and mustard seed. Now - this was probably the most delicious meal of my weekend. The bacon ribs were so tender and bursting with taste and the jus that covered the meal sealed it for me.

Sadly, Alistair had worse luck! He was a bit confused by the menu, and felt more descriptions would be useful. He played it safe and ordered the chicken and chips. If you visit The Woolen Mills, do not order the chicken and chips. It's a total waste with so many other tasty offerings on the menu. You literally will get roasted chicken with no seasoning or garnish and plain chips. It was dry and disappointing and to be honest completely not fitting with the rest of the menu.

Luckily the dessert made up for Ali's main. He got an oreo chocolate peanut butter tart and it was completely amazing. I know this as I decided on the 'platter of nice things', an intriguing risk! Luckily it paid off, I got a selection of desserts including a taster of the aformentioned tart and some of the most light and fluffy marshmallows I have ever eaten and am still dreaming about 2 weeks later.

Overall I would really recommend The Woollen Mills, just don't try to play it safe! Oh and here is a bonus photo of me chowing on a chicken burger at Eddie Rockets the night before, I don't think I have ever been to Dublin and not indulged there!

 

I'm Back!


Hello! It's definitely been a while. As I explained in my previous post, my computer broke a few months ago leaving me totally in the lurch. Well the good news is that Amazon decided to refund me and I have a brand new sparkly laptop. The bad news is that it was impossible to get back into my old laptop and although I had backed up most of my documents, some photos I had planned on sharing on here did get lost.

I'm excited now to get back up to date and get posting again! Have you noticed any changes? If you are viewing this in your reader you should head to my blog directly and check out the absolutely beauiful blog layout designed for me by Kaelah of The Clueless Girl. I'm so happy with it, and excited to finally put it to good use!

So what have I been doing lately? Well, mostly work. A lot of baking! The new house has also been keeping me busy, we have been moved in for 8 months now and the bulk of the decorating is done. We just have a few bits to finish up but I am so happy we have come so far with it in such a short space after moving in with the only piece of furniture we had was a bed. I'm looking forward to sharing some detailed room tour photos with you shortly!

This weekend we are heading off on a trip I have been so excited about for a year now. My lovely friend Dawn of Inanity and the Girl is getting married in Las Vegas. Dawn's husband to be is another good friend of ours and we can't wait to share in their excitement! So we are heading to Vegas for 5 nights and then to New York for 5 more nights with 2 of our good friends and neighbours. Can't wait to get snapping with my camera again and share it all with you! Do you have any recommendations for Vegas?