Thursday, 19 September 2019

Autumn Bake With Me: Choc & Hazelnut Cookies

It’s soon going to be the beginning of autumn! I love baking this time of year; it’s one of my favourite pastimes all year through but there’s something so cosy about it in autumn.

I’ve done a couple of bake with me posts previously but today I’m sharing chocolate and hazelnut cookies. I used the toll house cookies recipe from Mary Berry’s Fast Cakes baking book as a guide but tweaked it a little, adding hazelnut’s, raisins and swapping sugar to a sweetener.

These cookies came out pretty well, the combination of chocolate, nuts and raisins worked nicely. Also on another note my Mum bought a reusable baking sheet, which I used here; I recommend them if you are wanting to be a little more eco-friendly.

Hope you are all doing okay.

Leave a link to any of your autumn related posts and I’ll try and give them a read.

Speak soon! :-) Xx

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

The Snack Diaries | Part Seventeen

Twinings Sleep Herbal Tea
(From Morrisons, £2.00 for 20 teabags)
This was one of my favourite teas I’ve had in a while. The flavour is spiced apple, vanilla with camomile and passionflowers. It gives me serious autumnal vibes, and I can see myself repurchasing which I don’t often do.

Co-op Apple & Blueberry Fruit Infusion Tea
(From Co-op, £0.99 for 20 teabags)
This is one of my Nan’s favourite fruit teas; it has an authentic berry taste, although personally I find it a bit sharp for my palate. Co-op teas are really affordable though, and they have a good selection.

Kallo Lightly Salted Corn Cakes
(From unknown, unknown price for 130g)
These were a bit of an experiment as I’d tried corn cakes a long time ago and wasn’t keen on them. I mostly had them with a bit of peanut butter which was quite nice. They were acceptable enough but not worth repurchasing.

Nakd Cocoa Orange Snack Bar
(From unknown, unknown price for 35g)
I think this brand has a lot going for it, and I can see why their products are popular. The cocoa orange variety was lovely although out of all the flavours it’s not my favourite.

Have you tried any of these before?
Do you have any autumnal herbal tea recommendations for me? :-) Xx

Birthday Present Haul 2019

Hope my blog readers are doing well. Today I wanted to share what I received for my birthday this year. I sometimes try and fit to a theme, and last year it was mermaid/aqua colours. This year it’s more focused on prepping for autumn. I picked up a few related things in the summer sales to put away for my birthday, for example a winter coat and hat. The block calendar, fox book markers, body sprays and bedtime tea are giving me those A/W vibes too.

Books are one of my favourite things to receive, as I don’t normally buy new books throughout the year. I tend to mostly buy myself things on my birthday, as I’m rather fussy but my family picked out some lovely surprises such as DVDs, foodie items, shower gels etc. I go to a card making class, and the tutor was having a craft sale, so my Mum and I picked out some card toppers very inexpensively. I had quite a quiet birthday but it was nice to have a cake with close family, and receive some lovely things.

Have I given you any gift inspiration?
Do you like to ask for books on your birthday too? :-) Xx

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Jigsaw Log #1

Welcome to the first in the series of my jigsaw logs. I’ve been doing jigsaws on and off for a good number of years now, and more frequently just recently. I thought it would be interesting to share my progress sometimes, although it does take me a long time to complete a 500 or 1000 piece jigsaw.

After doing many different kinds of jigsaws, I’ve learned which brands are my favourite. One of my go-to brands is Trefl, as the quality is superb for the price. Trefl jigsaws can be bought at The Works, and in general there selection is really great. Luckily a family friend of ours has a contact who always passes on used jigsaws, so we’ve been delighted with those too.

So as you can see I’ve been working on this Taj Mahal jigsaw, it’s again by Trefl and was bought at The Works for £4.00. The difficultly level was fairly easy, and it was satisfying to get through one so quickly. Because the image was symmetrical, that added a layer of interest and I completed this 500 piece jigsaw over the summer.

I was given this secondhand Halloween inspired jigsaw, which in theory sounds quite fun for autumn but I wasn’t enjoying it as much as others I’ve done. The image was a bit doom and gloom, and didn’t feel in the mood for it. The quality was below average, and the colour palette didn’t inspire. Instead I have a few other jigsaws ready to complete, which hopefully you will see me progress with next time.

What kind of jigsaws appeal to you?
Has this post inspired you to do a jigsaw? :-) Xx

Friday, 23 August 2019

Summer & Autumn Clothing Haul

This collective haul spans over quite a long period, I bought a couple of bits on holiday, and other places. Some things were for the summer months, while a few I have the intention of wearing in autumn.

The pyjama bottoms, dressing gown and baseball cap were mostly purchased for practical reasons. I’ve been needing a few extra pairs of pyjama bottoms, and I was getting a bit warm in my winter dressing gown over summer. My last baseball cap has seen better days, so I invested in a new one.

The military jacket, and bag were both treat purchases, bought on holiday in Helmsley with my family. I see these two pieces working quite well together in autumn.

Haul Details:

Age UK Charity Shop, Helmsley.
Military jacket, originally from Boohoo. £4.50

Helmsley Market
Pink and grey cross over bag. £14.99

Marks & Spencer
Elephant design cosy pyjama bottoms. £15.00

Neon summer dressing gown. £12.00 (+20% off offer)
Denim summer baseball cap. £6.00 (+20% off offer)

Do you have a favourite item from the haul?
Is there anything you are currently on the lookout to buy? :-) Xx

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Recent Reads Reviewed #15

As Weekends Go by Jan Brigden - 5/5

I picked this book from the library, after being intrigued by the premise, and the striking front cover. The story develops around Rebecca, who gets the chance to join her best friend Abi for a weekend away in York. We learn that a famous footballer is also staying there at the same time, and sparks fly. My thoughts were it was going to be one of those guilty-pleasure reads, with the scandalous characters and mishaps, but at the core of the book, was this very sweet romance. I liked that it was the best of both worlds.

I thought the way it switched between each characters perspectives added an extra level of interest. There was such a large span of different character types too. For example, we get to experience a very authentic account of a stag-do, as well as the breakdown of a marriage between Rebecca and Greg. The characters were far from perfect, and yet extremely readable. I think the highlight for me, was the girls weekend in York, it was so escapist and fun to read. This was a book I won’t be forgetting in a hurry!

Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson - 5/5

This is the second Morgan Matson book I’ve read, the first being The Unexpected Everything which I actually rated only 3/5 stars. Since You’ve Been Gone pleasantly surprised me; it was a really great story about friendship and long summer days. I don’t read a great deal of YA but I dip my toe in now and again and this was one of my favs from this year so far.

I liked the themes of running that was threaded into the narrative and it made me want to give it a go. There was an element of mystery with Sloane’s disappearance, but it wasn’t always the focus but instead Emily’s journey to discovering herself and making new connections. Without a doubt, I recommend this book!

Turning the Tide on Plastic by Lucy Siegle - 5/5

This was a remarkable book that has had an impact on my outlook to this topic. I found this read incredibly eye-opening, with the facts shared and ways to change my daily routine. I really hope more people read it as I think it has the power to change a lot of people’s habits in response to the environment and reducing plastic.

One Hundred Muddy Paws for Thought by Simon Whaley - 3/5

This is what I would define as a toilet read because of its quick, humorous style. This book is told from the eye of your misbehaving pet canine and I love dogs so I picked this one up. It was a cute read, despite being repetitive in a few places.

The Naughtiest Girl Again by Enid Blyton - 4/5

I’ve been thoroughly enjoying quite a few Enid Blyton books recently. The Naughtiest Girl Again is the second book in a series although it works just fine as a standalone. We follow young Elizabeth at boarding school, as she learns some important lessons in how to treat others kindly. I found this one to be a cosy read, with the old fashioned story and writing style. I appreciated the simplicity of plot, with an important underlying message for all ages.

The Storm Keeper's Island by Catherine Doyle - 5/5

Let me begin by saying – how stunning is this cover! This book is described on the reverse as funny, dark and blazingly beautiful which I have to agree. Darker themes are normally outside my comfort zone, but this middle-grade book had just that edge to capture my imagination.

We follow Fionn Boyle as he sets foot on Arranmore Island, the magical journey he endures and rekindling family connections. This is one of the most unforgettable reads for me this year and there is actually now a sequel which I hope to read at some point.

Gangsta Granny by David Walliams - 4/5

David Walliams is a prolific and well known children’s author and I’ve been curious to try one of his books for a while. Gangsta Granny called out to me as the idea of a jewel thief grandma appealed to me.

I knocked it down one star as in a few places, I felt the representation of elderly family members could have been better. The ending was sweet, if a little drawn out. However the story of Ben and his Grandma was really heart-warming to read and I can see lots of children enjoying it.

Have I inspired you to read any of these books?
Do you have any recommendations for me? :-) Xx

Thursday, 15 August 2019

The Snack Diaries | Part Sixteen

Morrison’s Best Seeded Cheese Bites
(From Morrisons, £1.50 for 75g)
I stumbled across these in the Morrison’s savoury snack isle and was super intrigued. They turned out to be one of my favourite snacks since doing this series! They were so delicious and the authentic cheese taste is superb. I could have eaten these in one go, but enjoyed the experience of having a few a day with family.

Moser Roth Dark Chocolate
(From Aldi, price unknown for 125g)
I was gifted this chocolate at Easter, and have been sparingly enjoying a piece here and there. This dark chocolate is not bitter at all and the cocoa really came though. If you are after some dark chocolate, I recommend this brand.

Tesco No Added Sugar Hazelnut Chocolate Spread
(From Tesco, £1.50 for 400g)
This product is a great option if you are making conscious steps to consume less sugar or generally eat healthier. It works well as a topping for a cake or general spread. The authentic hazelnut taste is lovely, although the spread is not very thick/whipped.

Twining’s Chocolate Coconut Green Tea
(From Morrisons, £2.00 for 20 tea bags)
After absolutely loving their lemon drizzle variety, I experimented with the chocolate coconut in hope it would be just as nice. It was interesting to try it, but I didn’t think it was one of my favourites.

Which of these snacks interest you most?
Do you have any foodie recommendations for me? :-) Xx

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Healthier Cocoa Biscuits

I’ve been baking again! I haven’t shared a baking post in a little while although I’ve been making quite a few different things lately. I’ve been faithfully using my Mary Berry Fast Cakes recipe book for nearly all my recent bakes, it’s my new favourite! The recipes in there are simple, easy to follow and great if you want to tweak things a little like I do.

These biscuits went down quite well, and I liked the rich taste of cocoa, as it gave me freedom to swap the sugar for a good quality sweetener. They took no time to make really, and little time to bake too. I often like experimenting with new recipes, and rarely go back to reuse them, but I can see these being a bit of a staple. They would be a lovely, healthy treat to snack on and ideal to freeze for later.

Are you in the mood to bake? 
Where do you get your recipes from? :-) Xx

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Recent Reads Reviewed #14

The Little Book of Kindness by Bernadette Russell – 5/5

This book was wonderful, and had some heart-warming suggestions to encourage more kindness into your life. Chapters cover things like how to be kind to yourself, strangers, those you love, the environment and so on. I came away fully inspired to implement the ideas mentioned and would recommend you give this book a read.

Kaspar, Prince of Cats by Michael Morpurgo – 5/5

Morpurgo is quite an acclaimed author, and I was intrigued to delve into his work for the first time. The story of Kasper the cat was fairly extraordinary, and I enjoyed the retelling of Titanic’s sinking. Although aimed at children, I can see all ages taking something from this book.

The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle by Beatrix Potter – 4/5

I picked this one up for nostalgia as I remember these books being read to me as a young child. As we follow Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and into her world it feels magical. There is a lovely unassuming, sentiment to the way it was written. They still capture my imagination as an adult, and I will be looking out for other stories by the author.

The Beano book 1988 by unknown – 5/5

I got this book from a coffee morning book stall very cheaply, just for a bit of fun. I had never really read a Beano book or magazine cover to cover, and thought this was my opportunity. It’s an annual, which includes mini illustrated stories from the different characters. It made me laugh and put a big smile on my face.

How to Be Confident by Anna Barnes - 5/5

This was a wonderful, life-affirming book that addresses in a light-hearted way techniques in which to feel more confident. There’s a mixture of famous quotes, beautiful illustrations as well as more in depth chapters such as understanding confidence, treating yourself well, etc. The chapter on eating well struck a chord with me, as it provided some insightful thinking and tips on nutrition. Another favourite chapter of mine was about how to feel good about your clothing style which touched on clearing out and revamping your wardrobe, as well as wearing colourful clothing. I fully recommend this book and the author has a whole series covering other topics such as how to be happy, how to be mindful and so on I would love to delve into.

Little Book of Tidying: Declutter your home and your life by Beth Penn – 5/5

After reading Marie Kondo’s tidying book, I was after something to further spark my interest. This book was a lovely surprise and surpassed my expectations. It had some really clever and thoughtful ideas in our approach and attitude towards tidying. It covers lots of things such as, the act of tidying, shopping, etc. I would fully recommend you give it a read.

Words on Kindness by Helen Exley – 3/5

This life-affirming book was quite enjoyable and with being short, I finished it very quickly. The Illustrations were traditional and had a charm about them. I liked many of the quotes, but some were better than others. If you’re feeling like a pick me up, this might be the one for you.

Do you reread books for nostalgia?
Where do you generally like to buy books? :-) Xx