Friday 28 June 2013

NOTD Avon - Plum Seduction

Well I am loving this deep, rich cadbury purple type colour. The weather isn't up to much today so this shade matches my mood! It's called Plum Seduction and is by Avon, their Nailwear Pro+ collection (which I am loving incidentally!).

I also added these extra cute nail tips which are also from Avon as a little variety on both my middle fingers, they are so cute! 

You can purchase both the nail varnish and nail tips by clicking the link Avon.

Hels X

Helly's Top Tip: Remember to wear a good base coat to prevent staining of the nails. Also make sure you do a couple of clear top coats to ensure the nail tip sticks in place. 

Thursday 27 June 2013

Possibly the best bread & butter pudding?

This dessert is amazing, very calorific but ohhh so good! It's a variation of the classic bread & butter pudding which has been adapted by myself & Adi. It's so simple to make and tastes delicious and naturally as I'm a chocoholic there is lots of chocolate involved


1 loaf of brioche (sliced if you want an easy life!)
Butter to spread on the brioche ( I use salted to off set the sweetness)
Whole milk 500ml
Double cream 500ml
1 bar of milk or dark chocolate broken into chunks
2 Egg Yolks (use the whites in the mousse)
Sugar for sweetening and dusting over the brioche

For the white chocolate mousse
Double cream 500ml
2 Egg whites
White chocolate melted and cooled


Can I just share the love for my new pink whisk!!! I love it, it's made by Breville picked it up in Tesco for £15 instead of £25!! 

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Butter some of the brioche slices and arrange on top of each other (see top left picture) in an ovenproof dish.

2. Separate the eggs and put the egg whites aside until later (bottom left is a picture of one of our fresh eggs laid by Mavis, our Chicken that morning).

3. In a measuring jug make a custard  using the egg yolks, whole milk and cream. Make up to roughly 1 pint.

4. Break the milk or dark chocolate into chunks and pop in between each layer, does not need to be perfect it's just to add an extra dimension to the pudding.

5. Pour the custard all over the brioche, it will soak in and be reasonably wet. 

6. Sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of sugar over the brioche, this will help create a lovely crispy top. Don't use too much sugar though as you you don't want it to burn.

7. Pop in the oven and set the timer for about 30 minutes, you want to check on it after about 15 minutes and pour over some extra cream and milk if it is looking too dry. 

8. While the pudding is cooking it's time to make the mousse. First melt about 3/4 a bar of white chocolate in a bowl set over some simmering water. Once melted, set aside and leave to cool. 

9. Whip about 1/4-1/2 pint of the cream (depending how many people you are serving or how much mousse you want), once whipped set aside. 

10. In another bowl thoroughly whisk the egg whites till they are glossy and create little peaks when the mixer is pulled away. The more you whip, the lighter the mousse, it's quite hard to over whip egg whites.

11. Once the chocolate has cooled combine with the whipped cream and whisked egg whites, smooth the top and pop in the fridge to set.

12. Once the brioche is cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Serve with the white chocolate mousse and enjoy! 

Such a simple recipe to whip up if you have last minute dinner guests or just fancy a yummy pud. 


Hels X

Tuesday 25 June 2013

Wine of the Week - Surani Costarossa Primitivo (2011)

This wine is completely gorgeous. I need more, needless to say this bottle did not last long! It's a rich and fruity tipple that we purchased from Majestic Wines on our recent trip. They had a good offer on if you purchased 2 bottles of Italian wine the price was reduced to £7.99 instead of £9.99 per bottle. What's not to like about that?!

The official tasting notes describe this wine as:  'Deep, dense ruby in colour, with a nose of warm prunes, dates and figs, with hints of sweet spice. Full and voluptuous, the mouth-feel is soft and plush, with toasty notes that linger on the finish. Try with venison, or pan-fried calves' liver.' I would definitely agree with the description and the fruity richness of dates and figs. Can't wait to drink more of this!

Mmmmmm wine!

Hels X

NOTD Essie - Jamaica me Crazy

Now you all know my love of Essie nail polish and this is no exception. This shade is Jamaica me Crazy (no:34). Although it isn't my favourite Essie that I own, I love that it's a rich shimmery plummy, purpley polish. and it's a very pretty summer shade. 


Hels X

Monday 24 June 2013

A letterbox cake....?!

Yes, you are reading that right! A letter box cake! I was kindly sent one of these unique cakes to review from Baker Days. This is a company that specialises in personalised cakes for all occasions and also sells the unique letterbox cakes which are cunningly designed to fit through a letterbox and be a surprising gift for someone special. 

On arrival I was impressed with the packaging. It arrived in a sturdy box, fitted perfectly through the letterbox and the cake itself was packaged in a cute little tin (which is now being used for Alfie's Biscotti!) with a little card and I received love hearts too :-) 

Once open you can see that the cake is sealed within some protective plastic for extra freshness, although there are instructions on how to remove it I found it was just easiest to carefully take the cake out and cut the packaging off. 

I chose the 'All you Need is Love' design but there are lots more to choose from on the website, you can also personalise and choose different sizes and varieties of cakes. Obviously for the purpose of this review it was specifically the letterbox cake size which I was sent.

I have to admit as soon as I opened it my Husband, Alfie and I tucked right into the cake. It was absolutely gorgeous! It was a ginger cake and tasted yummy, it was incredibly moist and considering it had been sent through the post I was really impressed by that fact, it also tasted sublime and the icing wasn't at all cloying or overly sweet.  

The cake can be purchased for £14.99 which includes the postage and packaging and generally next day delivery is available. I personally thought that this was quite good value but my Husband thought it was a little expensive considering the size of the cake, but then he is a man and men don't understand cake.......  ;-) 

Nearly all gone!!

I think that they are fantastic and a great alternative to sending flowers or even a card. What could be more lovely than receiving a cake through your letterbox??!!

You can purchase these cakes through the Baker Days website and you can also follow them on Twitter @BakerDays


Hels X

* Please note I was kindly sent this product to review and the views and opinions are of mine and my husbands.

Thursday 20 June 2013

NOTD OPI - Play the Peonies

This pretty shade by OPI is called Play the Peonies (peonies are flowers....I've no idea how you play them?!) ;-). 

OPI 'Play the Peonies' with added nail art stickers.
I admit, I find it hard to wear these pale, shimmery colours and this particular OPI shade requires 2-3 coats to give a good coverage and it is a bit brushstrokey.  It is a very pretty colour, it's got a very slight tint of pale pink to it which I like and it's not overly shimmery so makes it a very wearable shade.

I also had a little play around with these cute nail art stickers that I picked up in Peacocks for £1.50!!! How cute are they? I used the bottom left on my index fingers as a feature nail, I likey and look forward to playing around with the other ones included in the pack.

You can purchase the OPI shade from Amazon for £8.99.

You like? 

Hels X

Wednesday 19 June 2013

NOTD Avon - Coral Reef

A stunning colour to add to my collection  it's another Avon nailwear pro+ polish. The shade is Coral Reef and it is gorgeous. 

I'm loving the Avon polishes at the moment, they give a great gel like shine and apply brilliantly! This shade is more pinky than coral like in my opinion but it is gorgeous. 

You can purchase the nail polishes by clicking here: Avon They are on special offer for £2.99 instead of £6.00 at the moment so don't miss out! 

Hels X

Monday 17 June 2013

An Indulgent Hot Chocolate Fondant Recipe

This has to be one of my most tried and best loved recipe's. Hot chocolate fondants.....need I say more?!?!

These are actually surprisingly easy to make and they taste sublime, the trick is in the cooking and knowing how hot your oven is to determine the optimum cooking time for the yummy gooey centre. I use a Gordon Ramsay recipe which I've always been successful with. If you want a great dessert that looks really professional I say give it a go!


Makes 2 fondants with the quantities below.

50g unsalted butter, plus extra to grease
2 tsp cocoa powder, to dust
50g good quality bitter chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids)
1 free range egg
1 free range egg yolk
60g caster sugar
50g plain flour
Icing sugar to dust


1. Heat the oven to 160C/Gas 2. Butter 2 large ramekins/pudding moulds (about 7.5'' diameter), dust liberally with cocoa powder. 

2. Slowly melt the chocolate and butter together in a small bowl set over a pan of water, take off heat once melted and stir till smooth. Set aside for 10 minutes or so until cooled down.

3. Using an electric whisk, whisk the whole egg, egg yolk and sugar together until pale and thick, then incorporate the chocolate mixture.

4. Sift the flour over the mixture and gently fold in using a large metal spoon and then divide between the ramekins and then bake for 12 minutes (depending on your oven).

5. Turn the fondants out onto warmed plates and serve immediately, serve with ice cream or clotted cream for extra indulgence. 

Helly's Top Tips: Make sure the ramekins are well greased and dusted with cocoa otherwise the fondant's are a nightmare to remove! I often find my fondant's need about 14 minutes cooking but I know my oven and how it cooks things so don't worry if it takes a couple of attempts to get them right. 

Last but not least enjoy this indulgent pud!

Hels X

Wednesday 12 June 2013

NOTD - Avon Perfectly Flesh - Incredible dupe for Essie Eternal Optimist!!

Essie on my index & ring finger, Avon on my middle & little finger

Literally could not believe my eyes when I received my Avon order and checked out the polish I'd ordered in the shade Perfectly Flesh. I was a bit annoyed in a way as I was thinking I've got a shade just like this and the picture in the Avon brochure did not look this colour when I ordered. 

In the pictures I am wearing Essie Eternal Optimist on my index finger and ring finger and Avon Perfectly Flesh on my middle and little finger. There is barely any difference at all!!!! The only small difference and I mean small is the Avon is a bit gloopier on application. Unbelievable, what a great dupe!

You can buy the Nailwear Pro polishes by clicking Avon for £2.99 and Essie polishes can be bought from Boots for £7.99. If the shades are not available on these websites I'm sure it would be pretty easy to track them down, I did purchase these both recently though.

What a great dupe, although I am still favouring Essie for staying power :-) 

Anyone else found any good dupes recently? 

Hels X

Wine of the Week - Berryleaf Falls (A Californian Red)

I had to share this little gem, it's so good I took the photo after the wine had been drank! I picked up a few of these as they were on offer in Sainsbury's for £3.99 instead of £6.99 the other week. This is a Californian red, quite light and very easy to drink, it didn't last long!

What I liked about this particular wine is that it didn't have a lot of tannin's  it's full of berry flavours and quite jammy. Delicious!!! I just wish I'd picked up more while they were on offer. 

Hels X

Monday 10 June 2013

Oh what a beautiful garden.........

My husband and I love spending time in the garden, especially when it's a sunny day. When we first moved into our house our little garden was nothing but mud but now it is a mixture of flowers, veggies and herbs. We've spent the best part of the last 3 years trying to make the most of a small garden and I promise it can be done. I thought I would share with you a few pictures about how it can be achieved. 

Left hand side of patio area with butterfly LED lights and solar lantern
The left hand side which includes our herb patch (top section) & veggie patch (middle & bottom sections)
Right hand side with lawn grown from grass seed.
Chicken coop in bottom right. On the back fence  a Clematis & Honeysuckle.
Everything you see in the pictures we planted ourselves, we really have tried to make the most of the space and grow lots of things.  The only thing I insist is that I'm allowed a few flowers to brighten the garden up else it is very green! 

Let me tell you what we grow.

A view of our herb patch
In our herb patch pictured above we have mint, tarragon, chives, rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, marjoram, fennel and occasionally basil, parsley and coriander in the tubs. The herb patch does brilliantly and goes on for quite some time even on the approach to winter. The mint is especially useful for making Mojitos! One tip about mint, it grows like mad so plant  in the actual pot in the ground so it doesn't take over too much (Helly's top tip!).

My planter
This is my planter to the right hand side of our garden, this is where I'm allowed to grow lots of pretty flowers! This year I have chosen to grow pansies (always successful in our soil), petunias and trailing lobelia (very pretty when established).  To make use of all the space I use lots of pots and a drain pipe pot which is pictured below (an excellent space saver for small gardens). I also have some trailing lobelia at the front of the veg patch, I usually have sweet peas to which grow up so excellent for small gardens.

Drain pipe flower pot (picture taken last month) Great space saving idea!
Veggie patch

In our veg patch this year we are growing lots of yummy stuff, we are trying a couple of things we haven't grown before so fingers crossed we are successful. We are growing carrots, peas, beetroot, runner beans, courgettes, radishes, tomatoes, lettuce, rocket and strawberries. 
A variety of tomatoes in grow bags
Boysenberry bush

This is a boysenberry bush that we are growing on the right hand side of our garden up against the fence, it's in its 3rd year now and starting to really establish. It produces fruit that are a mixture of a common blackberry, a raspberry and a loganberry. The berries are really lovely, I'm hoping to get quite a lot of it this year!

One of the butterfly decorations in the garden :-)
Tumbling tomatoes in a hanging basket - another great space saving idea

Pictured above is another new addition in the form of tumbling tomatoes, I think this is a fantastic idea if you're short of space and costs about a tenner for the whole thing! Looking forward to seeing how this goes during the summer. 
Mr pride & joy. A 'Dr Ruppel' Clematis.

The clematis is my pride and joy in the garden, it adds a beautiful burst of colour during the summer months and the flowers as you can see are simply stunning. 

I find it so satisfactory growing our own fruit, veg and flowers. I'm not a great gardener and our garden is small but I'm proud that we've made the most of the space we have, even if you don't have a garden it just goes to show there are ways to grow lots of different things. 

If you want some more advice on starting your own veg patch or growing plants then you must check out this excellent website Grow Your Own, it's got loads of great articles, hints and tips to get you started, and of course if you want to ask me any questions then please get in touch!

Sorry about the picture heavy post, I thought it was best instead of me rambling on and on!

Hels X

Helly's Top Tips: The drain pipe planter is available from Homebase for £6.99. Many of our plants and flowers are bought from our local garden centre and plant sales which are always worth looking out for.  The butterfly decoration is also from Homebase. The butterfly LED lights, pink lantern and pink parasol are from B&Q .

* Please note that this is a sponsored post.

Saturday 8 June 2013

GlossyBox Review June 2013 - Summer Looks

It's GlossyBox time again! Here we are half way through the year and we're into 'summer' now (I say this loosely!) so naturally the theme for this months box is summer looks.  I'd already read a couple of spoilers and was keeping my fingers crossed not to receive any Helen E products as I'm not a fan. I breathed a little sigh of relief when I opened the box :-) 

As always products arrived in the familiar pale pink box nestled in black shredded paper with the standard paper information leaflet (please GlossyBox make the leaflet more professional looking!!). My first impressions of items received were hmmmmm, I need to take a closer look at them. Not a bad first impression but the items didn't excite me as much as the last couple of boxes. 

So what did I get? 

GlossyBox contents from L-R: 

1. Organic Surge Conditioner (£5.00 for 200ml full size received) This is a shine boost conditioner which promises to detangle your locks and make them super glossy. It contains organic grapefruit and citrus essential oils. I will be intrigued to see if it does what it promises, I'm not keen on the scent of it if I'm honest. This is my least favourite item received this month. 

2. GOSH Growth Mascara (£8.49 for 10ml full size received) Very pleased to receive this as 1. I need a new mascara even though I just got the Model Co freebie in this months Glamour and 2. I really like GOSH products so very happy with this item. GOSH claims that this mascara will visibly increase your lash length after two weeks as it contains SymPeptide (registered trademark) which is a growth activator. I'll be interested to see what happens and if it works!

3. Monu Hand & Nail Cream (£10.50 for 50ml full size received) I'm not overly familiar with the brand Monu but was quite pleased with the face mask that I received in a past GlossyBox so was happy with this product. It smells like lavender mixed with citrus, it's a very pleasant scent,it's exactly what I'd expect a spa product to smell like, on application it's lovely and made my hands feel lovely and smooth, It's a nice item. 

4. Figs & Rouge Cherry Blossom Natural Lip Balm (£5.00 for 12.5ml full size received) This is a lovely item, smells pleasant, gorgeous packaging and it's lightly tinted which is nice. As far as lip balms go it's nice and it will be well used. 

5. MeMeMe Long Lasting Nail Colour (£5.00 for full size received) Another nail polish  , although I'm not complaining as it's always nice to receive a full size nail polish to add to my collection, plus you receive colours you might not normally choose. I received the shade Elegant which is like molten gold. I definitely wouldn't normally choose a gold shade but it actually looks really nice as a feature nail next to the Avon Serene shade. I also think it would look fab if you have a nice tan. It's really nice to apply too but takes a little while to dry. Nice item to receive. 

I think this months box is good, I'm only really disappointed with the conditioner but pleased with all the other items, I look forward to trying them all out. 

Did anyone get any other good items in this months box?

Hels X

Note: GlossyBox is a monthly beauty subscription and costs £12.95 inc. p&p. Please click the link for more information! GlossyBox

Friday 7 June 2013

NOTD Avon - Serene

How simply gorgeous is this colour polish! It reminds me of tropical shores or a lagoon, totally puts me in the mood for a holiday. This shade is called Serene, it's a pale turquoise colour (looks more blue in the top picture but it's more minty). 

It's easy to apply, requires 2 coats and dries pretty quickly. You can purchase by clicking on the link Avon (RRP £6.00 for 12ml but at the moment they are £2.99). It's a very pretty shade!

Hels X