Wednesday, 31 July 2013

how to make chocolate and nut bites

Part of my July bucket list was to bake a treat and these yummies are what I made. These are a great little treat for someone if you wrap them up in a sweet gift box. Mind you, it is difficult to make them last that long! Mine didn't.

1 x 400g can of condensed skimmed milk
350g 70% dark chocolate, chopped
40g salted butter
pinch sea salt
100g shelled and skinned pistachio nuts
50g hazelnuts
icing sugar (to decorate)

  1. Break the nuts in a bag with a rolling pin.
  2. Put the chocolate, condensed milk, butter and salt in a thick-based saucepan. Stir everything together with a wooden spoon until melted.
  3. Stir in the broken nuts.
  4. Pour into a foil tray about 23cm (9") square and smooth down with a flexible spatula.
  5. Leave in the fridge for 4 to 5 hours until set.
  6. Remove from the tray onto a chopping board. Chop into pieces about 3cm (just over an inch) square, using a sharp knife for a clean cut.
  7. Dust with a little icing sugar and serve with a cup of tea.
  8. Enjoy!
I found this recipe in La Dolce Diet by Gino D'Acampo. So, they are even a healthier treat. Does that mean you can eat more??

Monday, 29 July 2013

365 project

Here is another selection from the photos I am taking in my photo a day challenge. I'm having great fun with this and meeting some lovely people. If you want to see more, drop by the 365Project site.

Themes (left to right): shoes, in my bag, three things, negative space, into the sun, empty, cold, bad habit.

Friday, 26 July 2013

make the most of august - bucket list

Is it really the end of July? I want time to slow down a bit because before you know it, it will be Autumn! I'm determined to make the most of this month as I am on holiday from work for six weeks! These are the things I am planning to do in August, weather permitting of course! (Click picture for a larger, printable version.)

I have ticked off the things we have done this month. We have had some lovely weather lately which has meant we could spend much more time outside. We have enjoyed having friends over for meals in the garden and I am engrossed in Gatsby, imagining Leonardo Dicaprio as I read! But we still haven't managed the bike ride and roller coaster ride yet. Watch this space!

I have started a happy book which is fun, recording things that put a happy smile on my face. From little things like watching a butterfly in the garden to sitting outside with a glass of wine. Every time something makes me smile I am writing it down.

What are your plans for August?

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

small sighs

A pretty gift from my girls which is hanging in my dining room.

My new happy book and journal where I have started to record everything that makes me feel happy. This was one of the things I planned to do on my July bucket list.

My cottage garden in bloom.

We saw this little tuctuc outside an Indian restaurant. I was fascinated so couldn't resist having my picture taken in it.

Have a lovely day everyone.

Monday, 22 July 2013

insta memoir

Moments of my life in Instagram.

Just a few of my insta moments from May and June.

What have been your best Instagram moments from last month?

I am off on my jolly holidays to Greece for two weeks tomorrow. I will schedule some posts for you as normal, and catch up on reading your lovely blogs when I get home. Bye for now.

Friday, 19 July 2013

black lace dress and ankle boots

You already know how much I love lace dresses. You will have seen me in them before, I own a collection of them. I have worn this dress for a city shop before here.

I decided to wear this for a night out with my girls for tapas and cocktails. I always feel very feminine in this dress, and I love the bow on the belt. I paired it with tights and ankle boots as it was quite a chilly evening.

I'm new to wearing belts with dresses, it's not something I do very often. But I think I will start to do it more now as I love the look of the belt with the dress.

Topshop black lace dress - wardrobe (last seen here)
Burgundy ankle boots - wardrobe (last seen here)
River Island bag - wardrobe
Topshop belt - wardrobe
River Island watch - wardrobe
Topshop necklace - wardrobe
Topshop & River Island bracelets - wardrobe
H&M black tights - wardrobe

Have a great weekend everyone.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

how to make the best summer trifle in the world

You have to try this White Chocolate and Red Fruit Trifle! I have made a lot of trifles but this is a cut above the rest. It has to be one of the best trifles I have ever made!

We were invited to a friends house for a meal and I offered to make a dessert. I wanted to make something a little indulgent so I decided on this. It went down a treat. Our friends loved it and we devoured it all! A lovely dessert for a special, occasion or for when you have friends for dinner.

Here is the recipe, just in case you want to try it. (You will be glad you did). If you love chocolate and cream, you will love this.

3 x 500g bags frozen mixed berries
125g (4oz) golden caster sugar, plus 1 tsp
250g (9oz) biscotti or cantuccini biscuits, plus extra biscuits, lightly crushed, to decorate
5 tbsp dessert wine or cranberry and orange fruit juice

For the topping
450ml (3/4 pint) double cream, lightly whipped
200g (7oz) good-quality white chocolate, broken into pieces and melted
500g carton fresh custard (at room temperature)
500ml (18fl oz) creme fraiche, beaten until smooth

1. Put the berries into a large pan with 125g (4oz) caster sugar, and heat gently for five minutes or until the sugar has dissolved and the berries have thawed. Sieve the mixture over a bowl to catch the juices. Pour the juices back into the pan, then tip the berries into the bowl. Bring the juices to the boil and simmer for ten minutes or until reduced to about 150ml (1/4 pint).

2. Lay the biscuits over the base of a three litre (5 1/4 pint) trifle dish and sprinkle with the wine or fruit juice. (I used wine!). Scatter the berries over the top.

3. Transfer half the cream to a bowl, cover and chill; leave the remainder at room temperature.

4. Pour the melted chocolate into a cold bowl and gradually fold in the custard. Fold in the room temperature whipped cream. Pour the chocolate custard over the fruit to cover it evenly. Fold the chilled cream into the creme fraiche with the 1 tsp sugar, then spoon over the custard. Chill for two hours. Remove from the refrigerator twenty minutes before serving. Decorate with crushed biscuits.


Monday, 15 July 2013

my top ten summer playlist

Now we are well into summer, I thought it was time to put together a summer playlist. I had put it down on my July bucket list and I have chosen songs that are perfect to listen to inside with an iced drink and for when I'm on the beach, which won't be long!

Which songs are on your summer playlist?

Friday, 12 July 2013

summer maxi dress for a picnic

At last, the maxi dress is out of the closet! It is so lovely to be able to get out all my summer dresses and finally wear them. This is the dress I wore for a lovely picnic we went on yesterday. The last time I wore it was here for a party we went to last summer. I definitely don't get enough wear out of my summer clothes due to the bad weather we normally get at this time of year!

 Light, airy and floaty. Perfect for today.

 Thank you Steve for another delicious picnic. Gorgeous! The pear cider went down a treat!

This is definitely a favourite view of mine and it was so peaceful; no one else was around. It felt like it was ours for the evening.

Do you have a special place to go for a picnic?

Have a great weekend everyone.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

how to make a delicious smoothie

As part of my June bucket list, I planned to make a healthy smoothie. I don't tend to make a lot of smoothies as I've always felt they take a lot of time to prepare. But this was really quick and easy with a delicious taste. Here is the recipe for a strawberry and blueberry smoothie if you fancy making it. You will be glad you did. I am now addicted!

Ingredients - makes two drinks
125g/4oz strawberries, hulled
125g/4oz blueberries
1 small banana, peeled and cut into chunks
125ml/4fl oz fresh orange juice
A cupful of crushed ice

Place the ingredients in a smoothie maker, blender or food processor.
Blend until smooth and frothy.
Serve immediately.

Sit back and think how good you are for being so healthy!


Monday, 8 July 2013

a tourist in my town - part two

Thanks for joining me for part two of our tour around town. The photos above are of our little lunch break. Coco's is a lovely tapas bar and bistro, a great place to stop for a bite to eat. The cheese and pancetta burgers were divine, washed down with a glass of wine!

I love the seating outside, it reminds me of holidays in Greece.

St Mary's church is also known as 'the crooked spire.' This is what our town is most famous for and it draws people to visit. It was built in the late 13th century. The spire twisted as it was built of green wood and thirty two tons of lead tiles placed on top!

The town dates back to Roman times, originally a Roman fort. It grew into a town in the 12th century with a market that we still have today. The Tudor building in the bottom right picture above is one of the oldest inns in England, and still sells a good pint of beer today. It was a rest house for 'The Knights Templar' in the years of 'The Holy Crusades.'

The quaint, little chapel sits quietly in a little courtyard where it can be easily missed. In fact, I have lived here all my life and have never been to look at it! It was built in 1694 and is one of the oldest surviving buildings in town.

The little tearooms you can see are a great place for afternoon tea or a coffee and homemade cake. I'm a regular visitor!

I am so glad we toured around our little town, I have learned so much that I didn't know even though I have lived here all my life. I think it's easy to take places for granted when you live in and around them. I'm going to be looking at our little town in a different way from now on.

Have you ever been a tourist in your town?

Have a great day.