Monday, 30 September 2013

a romantic italian theme night

I have been wanting to do a theme night for a while now, so I made it part of my September bucket list. As I wanted it to be a romantic evening, I decided it had to have an Italian theme.

I decorated the table with a red checked cloth to make it look authentic. I added candles and a rosemary plant. You can not have an Italian meal without Prosecco, it is a perfect accompaniment.
With olive bread and olives too, this is a winner.

Starter  - Bruschetta with tomato and basil.

Ingredients (for 2)
4 slces (2cm) ciabatta loaf
250g small plum tomatoes
5 fresh basil leaves torn
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
1 garlic clove halved

  1. Toast ciabatta slices on a hot griddle pan for about 3 minutes each side. Leave to cool a little.
  2. Quarter the tomatoes and place in a bowl. Tear in the basil then add the oil, salt and pepper. Mix together, cover and leave for a few minutes.
  3. Lightly rub the garlic on both sides of each slice.
  4. Place 2-3 tablespoons of the mixture on each slice of bread and place on serving board or plate.
  5. Drizzle with the remaining juices, then enjoy.

Main - Tagliatelle with prawns and creamy Marsala sauce.

15g salted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped
30g walnuts chopped
150g uncooked prawns, peeled
5 cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
30ml Marsala wine
125ml double cream
1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
200g fresh egg tagliatelle (shop bought or recipe here)
1 tablespoon freshly chopped flat leaf parsley
salt and pepper to taste
  1. Melt the butter and oil in a frying pan over a low heat then fry the shallots and walnuts for 2 minutes.
  2. Over a medium heat add the prawns and tomatoes, salt and pepper, and cook for 30 seconds.
  3. Add the Marsala wine and cook for another minute.
  4. Pour in the cream and the balsamic vinegar, and cook for 2 minutes. Set aside.
  5. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until 'al dente'. Drain and then tip back into the same pan.
  6. Pour in the cream sauce with the parsley. Toss everything together for about 30 seconds and serve. 
Dessert - Tiramisu

3 tablespoons drinking chocolate
150ml of semi-skimmed milk
150ml whipping cream
125g mascarpone cheese. 
1 1/2 tablespoons caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
10 lady finger (trifle) biscuits
2 chocolate flakes, or grated chocolate, to decorate.
  1. Put the drinking chocolate and milk in a saucepan over a medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  2. Pour into a bowl and leave to cool when dissolved.
  3. Whip the cream in a bowl until you can make soft peaks.
  4. Add the mascarpone, sugar and vanilla extract and whisk for 10 seconds.
  5. Dip 4 biscuits into the chocolate milk for a couple of seconds on each side and put one on the base of each desert dish. 
  6. Share out half of the mascarpone cream between the dishes, to cover the biscuits.
  7. Add layers of biscuits and cream, depending on the dishes, finishing with a layer of the cream.
  8. Chill for one hour.
  9. Serve with chocolate flakes on each dessert.
Of course, you need some music while you dine. You can have the usual cheesy music, but why not try something a little different like Anna Tatangelo, keeping the Italian theme but making it a little more contemporary.

We finished the night off with Limoncello and a favourite film of mine, 'Under The Tuscan Sun.' It's so perfect and dreamy, just right for an Italian theme night.

Have a great Monday.

Friday, 27 September 2013

make the most of october - a bucket list

It's bucket list time again! This year is just flying by. September has been a very busy month for me. Getting back into the swing of work after a six week holiday has been a shock! We have had major car problems and finally had to get another one which promptly broke down after two days of buying it. Nightmare; but fingers crossed it is back on the road for now...... 

I'm really looking forward to everything we have planned for October. It's that time of year for making fires, snuggling down and drinking hot chocolate. Do you enjoy this time of year?

We had a great day out at a food market at Hardwick Hall. There were some fabulous local food produce being sold from brownies to organic meat. We spent up on some yummy goodies!

I've enjoyed doing all the things on the bucket list for September. Seeing a McFly concert was a big highlight as I love them so much. Posts coming up soon on our movie theme night, eating brunch and discovering a new town.

You can see the pictures of our trip to mini golf, McFly, our gorgeous Vietnamese meal and my manicure on my Instagram.

What plans have you got for October?

Happy Friday everyone! Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

what I wore to a cocktail party

River Island came to my rescue last week when I was looking for an outfit for my daughter's 21st birthday cocktail party. I fell in love with this cream blouse with the gold tone metal plate detail. It has padded cap sleeves and a zip back fastening; very different to what I would normally buy. 

Unfortunately you can't see the patent and mock croc panels of the skirt as these were very quick grab shots. The light was fading fast and I wanted to get some photos to show you this outfit. I love pencil skirts, they are just so feminine.

These shoes are my favourite pair! My daughters bought me these beauties for my birthday last year and I love them. The gold heels go perfectly with the detail in the blouse.

I treated myself to this bag and gold cuff to finish the outfit off and a new manicure to go with it.

Have a lovely day everyone.

Kurt Geiger heels
Primark gold tone cuff
Topshop midi rings

Monday, 23 September 2013

insta memoir

Moments of my life in Instagram. 

Have you noticed there is a theme running through my Instagram photos? I am in love with eating and drinking. If you fancy following along with me, my link is here

Here are just a few of my insta moments from the summer. Time to welcome Autumn.

What have been your best Instagram moments lately?

Friday, 20 September 2013

how to make lemon curd marble muffins

Today's Blogtember prompt is: React to this term: comfort

These muffins are my idea of comfort food. They are gorgeous to eat on a cold, autumnal day by a roaring fire. Brilliant too if I fancy baking something tasty and delicious but I don't have a lot of time. As they should be eaten while they are still warm, it's a great excuse to have more than one!

This recipe makes about 12

225g plain flour
2 tsps baking powder
100g caster sugar
a good pinch of sea salt
125ml milk
1 medium egg
125g plain yoghurt
75g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
150g lemon curd

 First, place muffin cases in a muffin tray. Then in a bowl, put the flour, caster sugar, salt and baking powder and mix together lightly.

 Stir together the milk, melted butter, yoghurt and egg in a jug. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix lightly. 

Put six or seven dollops of lemon curd in and quickly 'marble.' A couple of light stirs will do.

Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases and bake in a pre-heated oven 180C/Gas Mark 4 for about thirty minutes. Leave to cool and eat while slightly warm.


I used a recipe from the River Cottage Everyday cookbook by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

Enjoy. Have a lovely weekend.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

a memory I would love to relive

The Blogtember prompt for today is 'a memory you would love to relive.'

People who know me know how much I love musicals, but I didn't see my first West End musical until three years ago. I can't believe I left it so long! My daughter shares my passion for musicals too! We can sit for hours on a cold, rainy day watching them. We have our favourites which are The Sound of Music, Calamity Jane, Mary Poppins and The Lion King.

It was coming up to my daughter's eighteen birthday and we wanted to do something extra special for her. I knew how much she wanted to see Les Miserables in the West End, so I booked us a hotel and tickets to see it. She was so excited when I told her; her face was a picture!

On arriving in London we were like giggly girls all day waiting for the big event. We dressed up and went for a lovely meal beforehand. The theatre was stunning inside; breathtaking. I made sure we had tissues handy because I knew there would be tears!

I will never forget my daughter's face when the music started. She was mesmerised. Of course it wasn't long before I started with the tears! It was an emotional rollercoaster. I knew it would be good but it was better than I could ever have imagined.

She has always wanted to see this show and I am so glad I got to share this experience with her. I will never forget it! We have since been to see the film version, bought the DVD, got the CD and cried again! Thank you Amber for being in love with musicals just as much as me, so we can share this love together.

Have you got a memory you would love to relive?

Happy Tuesday everyone.

Monday, 16 September 2013

love is all you need

Today's prompt is to 'write a public love letter to someone in your life'

Hi everyone, this is my second post today. I am taking part in a Blogtember blog challenge so this is today's post for that. Here is my first post today, 'How to make a sparkling rose with raspberry liqueur cocktail.'

Dear Steve
When you asked me to marry you I felt like the luckiest person in the world. What a beautiful setting we were in. I will never forget anything about that wonderful evening. I'm so excited about all the plans we have for the future together.

It still amazes me how well you know me, knowing what I like and knowing what I will say next. I love the fact that we can be thinking the same things at the same time, even if it is nothing to do with what we are talking about at that moment.

You are always there to lift me up when I am feeling low, always seeing the good in everything and everyone. Putting up with my OCD tendencies can't be easy at times; my love of all things straight and you know how I love the certain angle of my cushions to be!

I love the way you encourage me in everything I do, telling me constantly that I can do things when I say those dreaded two words 'I can't.' You have helped me gain so much confidence by your positive attitude.

Where would I be without your love of cooking? Italian, Greek, Mexican, Thai and Chinese meals are your best, but my favourite has to be your special eggs benedict. No one makes one as good as you.

I have found my soul mate in you, I know we have great times ahead. Thank you so much for just being you.
I love you.

sparkling rose with raspberry liqueur cocktail

A perfect cocktail for eight party guests or as we did, a Saturday night treat. We have had some raspberry liqueur in the cupboard for quite a while and I have been looking for the ideal cocktail to use it in.

This was definitely the right choice, I would have been quite happy to drink it for all the eight guests! Of course, as I love pink............

60ml raspberry liqueur
2x750ml chilled sparkling rose
fresh raspberries, to serve

Share the liqueur evenly between eight glasses. Pour over the sparkling wine. Add the raspberries and serve.


Have a great Monday.

Friday, 13 September 2013

a fantastic, friendly food fair

I have been wanting to visit a food fair for a while as I mentioned in my September bucket list. We got the chance to visit one that was not far from home on Saturday. The weather forecast wasn't too good but we kept our fingers crossed.

We fell in love with the brownie stall pictured above. There were so many different versions of brownies to try, malteser, oreo, snickers and lots more but we chose a golden honeycomb one. Melt in the mouth deliciousness! Andy and Wendy from #brownies are such a lovely couple and I can't wait to try more!

I'm automatically drawn to chocolate stalls like a magnet! Look at all this chocolate yumminess! I loved the fact you could try a piece of any of the chocolate. The flavours we decided on after trying them all of course was black olive, lavender and may chang. The black olive had bursts of saltiness, unusual in a good way. I love the flavour of lavender in food so I had to have this one and the may chang had hints of lemongrass and ginger. Divine! Thank you Bittersweet chocolate company for making such excellent chocolate.

Nicky who runs the Secret Cake Club makes the most delectable cakes. There were so many to choose from but we decided on the lemon drizzle. It was so moist and melted in my mouth!

I have never seen so many different varieties of pies but the cornish pasty looked too good to resist. Kevin the pieman was so friendly and was enjoying lots of banter with everyone. Look at that pork pie! This reminds me why we should use local shops to buy from. The quality is so much better.

By the time we reached this food stall, our money had run dry! We were quite disappointed as the cured and smoked products looked delicious. These guys have won awards for their speciality salmon. The great thing is we found out their shop 'Jaquest' is only a few miles up the road. We will definitely be visiting soon for some of their yummy goodies.

We bought this delicious green olive sourdough bread too. There were no little pieces of olives. It was full of big, whole olives! Heaven!

Finally finishing the day off with the golden honeycomb brownie and espresso. Yum! It was a lovely way to spend a day and everyone we met was so friendly. I was chatting to Wendy from #brownies for quite a while discussing weddings. There was such a positive vibe surrounding everyone.Looking  forward to the next time and I will make sure I have enough pennies to buy something from every stall!

Have a fabulous weekend everyone.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

my top five favourite online shops

Today's Blogtember prompt is 'share links to your favourite online shops, with a few photos of your favourite items.'

I could go on forever about all the online shops I love but I thought I better narrow it down to my top five favourites. Friends who know me will not be surprised with my top favourite! It has to be the beautiful, wonderful lust love shop Topshop!

My Topshop wish list includes this gorgeous white blazer that I have had my eye on for a while. I love the cut of it and I think it would look great dressed up with jeans and heels. What do you think?

I have always wanted a leather doctor's bag and this one is perfect. A little expensive so maybe a Christmas gift?

I love Cath Kidston products. When I walk into one of her shops, Steve usually has to drag me out after about an hour! She is the queen of shabby chic. These rose tea mugs are just so cute and in pastel colours which I adore. Tea and coffee would definitely taste better in these!

Gorgeous fragranced candles are a must for me. I have them in every room. These Blossom candles would be lovely lit in the bathroom while relaxing in the tub. A great little present too! Where would I be without a browse on the River Island website? I love looking through their 'Get The Look' page where all the best new trends usually are. I am lusting after these strappy sandals, don't you think they are beautiful? Perfect for a night out, I might have to treat myself.

Tea dresses are my ideal day wear at the moment. I can dress them up or down and this red heart print tea dress really caught my eye. I love wearing them with tights and brogues in the colder months.

If I could choose any watch to buy right now, it would be this circle bracelet watch from Ted Baker. It is so pretty and I love the style of it.

Would you use this pastel pink tablet case? It is just so girlie with its colour and bow, the cutest of cute!

Urban Outfitters has a really quirky vibe. It sells funky clothes, accessories and home goods. There is always something unusual that I've never seen before. Look at this cheeky face? This book 'Feminist Ryan Gosling' is my next purchase from Urban Outfitters. Do you think I could get away with pretending to buy it for my girls but just happen to read it before I give it them?

How cute is this mini, pink camera? All good things come in small packages and this is just adorable? I love vintage looking cameras and the colour pink so this is just perfect!

Have a wonderful Wednesday