Tuesday 30 July 2013

Home Improvement Hero - A Challenge!

Afternoon Beauties

So the lovely chaps over at Money Supermarket were running another little competition to transform a room in the house for just £50. With money being tight for many people, Money Supermarket challenged us bloggers to see what home improvements we could do with £50. 

I thought this would be an easy task but actually I did struggle with just what to improve as such. Our house is only 4 years old and was bought as a new build so we had little to do to it other than personalise when we 1st moved in. It took me a while to decide just which room could do with sprucing up and in the end decided our bedroom could do with a little TLC. 

Before shot

Here are a couple of before shots from different views. It's not a massive room so we have to make the most of the space (the door to the right is the en suite).  I didn't want to paint as I still like the colour on the back wall, so I figured the best way to 'improve' was to accessorise (wahoo, I love accessorising......much to my husbands dismay!).

A collection of some of the bits purchased!

Another view from the other side of the room.

In the pictures above are a view from a different angle and some of the accessories I bought to freshen up the room. I also bought some new pillows for the bed which you can see below. 

I chose to put my favourite duvet cover on the bed which is a pure white one from Marks & Spencers, I love it but having 2 cats and a baby with sticky fingers don't go well with this set son very rarely use it these days! I love using a white duvet as I think it really freshens up a room and also lightens it.

A close up of some of the accessories

Love this cute wicker heart

Quite a picture heavy post tonight but I think that's the best way to see what I did rather than me waffle on.  Here is what I purchased for this challenge anyway..........
Heart string lights (Dunelm) - £3.00
Wicker heart (Dunelm) - £2.99
Love heart (Dunelm) - £1.99
Purple bird (Dunelm) - £1.99
Purple jars x3 (Dunelm) - £10.00
Butterfly I already owned one and love it so bought another! (Next) - £6.00
Pillows x 3 (Dunelm) - £18.00
White metal hearts x 3 - £3.00
Total: £46.97

I gave the rest of my change to a local helicopter ambulance charity collector so I also did a good deed for the day :-) 

I think little small changes can make a difference, it shows that you don't need to do huge home improvements or spend massive amounts to make a difference. 

I wonder what Money Supermarket will challenge bloggers next?

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Please note: I was kindly given the £50 by Money Supermarket to participate in the challenge. Thank you so much Money Supermarket !

Wednesday 24 July 2013

Wine of the Week - Chablis 2009

Evening Beauties

Ahh I've been a bit slack on blog posting and my wines of the week, cramming for my final exam has taken over, hopefully come Friday normal service will resume. 

This weeks wine of the week is a 2009 Chablis. Chablis is a chardonnay grape variety so is predominantly a dry white wine. Quite often Chablis is described to have an almost flinty taste to it which I can kind of get, mostly though I find that they've got that classic Chardonnay taste which is crisp, dry acidity.

Sometimes it's nice to step away from the Sauvignon's and Pinot's and enjoy a dry wine for a change :-) 

Sadly I have no information where you can buy this as it was a booze cruise purchase from Citi Europe, Calais.

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Tuesday 23 July 2013

Homemade Raspberry Ripple Ice Cream

There is nothing better than home made ice cream, it's gorgeous and actually surprisingly easy and quick to make (even quicker if you go all 'Heston' and use dry ice!). 

My first bit of advice would be to invest in an ice cream machine if you can, it just helps with the churning part, although you can of course do it manually it just takes a bit longer. 

I have the Kenwood IM200 which you can buy from Amazon for £24.50 so it's a great investment.  Not only does it make ice cream but can also churn out a nice sorbet too. The one thing about making homemade ice cream is the fun of being able to experiment and you can whip up nice ice cream really quite quickly. 

My suggestion would be make sure the bowl that you churn the ice cream in has been frozen for 24 hours prior to using and also make sure the ingredients are fully chilled. Anyway, enough yapping you want to see the good stuff!


Ingredients (this is a custard based ice cream)
3 egg yolks
75G caster Sugar
225ml whole milk
225ml double cream
1 vanilla pod (seeds scraped out)

For the raspberry ripple
500G fresh raspberries, blackcurrants, strawberries (or whatever you want really!)
50G caster sugar
3 tbsp water


1. Place the egg yolks and sugar in a glass bowl and beat together well. 

2. In a pan add the milk, vanilla seeds and pod and slowly bring the milk to boiling point. Remove the vanilla pod and then pour onto the egg mixture beating together. 

3. Return the mixture to the pan and stir constantly. You want it to thicken up (it will still be liquidy but you'll see that it does thicken), you want the mixture to form a film over the back of a metal spoon.  DO NOT let it boil else the mixture will separate and that would be a disaster!

4. Remove from the heat and leave until fully cold (on a hot day it's worth putting it in the fridge to help with the cooling process)

5. Once cold, stir in the cream. This is usually where you would add this liquid to the machine but I've found that actually, it's better to start it off in the freezer for an hour or two before adding to the machine to churn. I find it just helps the churning process along a little bit.

6. Once chilled for a couple of hours (it will still be at a consistency where you can pour, almost like melted ice cream), put the machine on with the paddle running, pour the ice cream into the machine and allow to churn until it reaches the desired consistency. 

7. While churning put the raspberries, sugar and water in a pan and bring to the boil, simmer for about 10 minutes until all the raspberries have broken down. Once all the fruit has broken down sieve into a bowl to make the sauce smooth, return to the pan and simmer until it's a thick syrup, allow to cool and put aside until the ice cream is ready.

8. Once churned, remove from the machine and transfer to a tub to freeze until it's frozen! To make the raspberry ripple you can add a layer of ice cream and then a layer of raspberry, then another layer of ice cream and another layer of raspberry, then use a knife and swirl around to marble it in slightly. YUM!

Sorry for the lack of pictures, when it's hot you have to work quite quickly making the ice cream, the end result is much more exciting though wouldn't you agree? :-) 

Has anyone got any nice ice cream flavours they particularly like?

Helly's Top Tips: Ensure that the bowl from the machine is fully frozen. The churning is to ensure that no ice crystals develop, if making it by hand once in the freezer it's best to give it a good stir every 30 minutes to stop any crystals developing, do this until it's frozen. Experiment and have fun with different flavours.

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Sunday 21 July 2013

NOTD Essie - Lilacism

A quick nail of the day post! I change my nail colour so regularly these days that I sometimes forget to take a picture. My bad. Anyway, here is the my latest shade, a cute, candy coated lilac shade, yet again by Essie! A nice, summer shade that is light and girly. 

For some reason the picture above makes the colour look more grey but it is lilac, promise! You can buy Lilacism from Boots for £7.99.

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Thursday 18 July 2013

House of Wonderland giveaway!!

Afternoon Beauties!

The beautiful folk over at House of Wonderland have kindly agreed to give away one of their completely cute and quirky cupcake necklaces. Even more exciting this is Beautiful Things first giveaway!

For anyone who doesn't know, House of Wonderland was founded by Tessa and launched in 2012. She has a vast knowledge and passion for fashion, jewellery and costume and enjoys creating fun and quirky products. 

How gorgeous are they! I love them. Anyway, I'd love it if you enter my giveaway using the Rafflecopter below. The competition will run for 10 days and the winner will be picked at random. Winner will be notified via twitter or email.

If you want more information about the necklace you can win, visit HOW for more information and to visit their store full of loveliness. 

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Tuesday 16 July 2013

Childhood Memories - coke float anyone?

Anyone for a nice cool coke float?

Who remembers coke floats (or ice cream soda if you're American!), all you do is get some ice cold Coca Cola (or similar) and a dollop of ice cream, oh and a straw! Ahhh I love them, I know they are probably a bit like marmite, you either love them or hate them, but I love them on hot days! Takes me right back to being young and me and my Dad enjoying one and my Dad acting like a big kid. 

Just out of curiosity I got looking into how the coke float/ice cream soda was created. For anyone who wants to know this is what I found out. Apparently they were invented in Philadelphia, America by Robert M. Green. It was on a hot day in 1874 and Robert ran out of ice for his flavoured sodas and decided to try using ice cream in them instead. It was after this that a revolution began and the coke float/ice cream soda was born.  You can find out more information by visiting Crowne Plaza Hotels where you can read more about it.

I love finding out the history of things, even if it is a little bit random like this, but then.....I'm a little bit random! :-)
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Monday 15 July 2013

The Charcoal Challenge!

I recently accepted a challenge from the beauties at Money Supermarket to throw a BBQ on a budget. They kindly gave me £50 to see how much you can get for your money and have a great time. I'm a firm believer in letting the food do the talking so this is how we got on!

We decided to get all our meat from our great local butcher (M&M in Stowupland), I always find we get fantastic quality meat for a great price, we paid £24.00 in total for all the meat we bought. We got the rest of our bits from our local Tescos and provided some of the items ourselves that we already had. Check out the pictures below and a total of the cost to see how we did!

The participants (excluding myself & Adi!)
Some of the fresh ingredients
Local meat, delicious!

For the meat we had local steak (literally from the field opposite the butchers!), venison burgers, homemade beef burgers and sausages, all fresh from the butchers earlier in the day.

We only needed to buy a couple bottles of Pepsi and one bottle of wine as we were able to provide more from what we already had at home.

Alfie wanted to help us get prepared

We bought ice lollies for Alfie (and for any adults who wanted one!), we had strawberries and cream for pud with boysenberries from our bush in the garden. We were able to use lettuce, fresh peas and chives from our garden which saved us some pennies.
Alfie loved his ice lolly!

We even managed to pick up this bucket & spade set from Mothercare for £2.00 instead of £4.00 so that kept Alfie entertained in his sand pit for a while!

In total we spent £56.15 so we went a little over budget but we got so much great stuff for that and we had a fantastic afternoon. 

Here is the breakdown: 

Charcoal: £5.00
Local meat (steak,chuck steak, 16 sausages, 5 venison burgers): £24.00
Bread buns: £1.00
Cheese slices & mozzarella: £2.00
Sweetcorn, asparagus, tomatoes: £4.50
Coleslaw: £1.00
Salad: Free from the garden
Pepsi (x2): £1.98
Wine: £9.99
Strawberries: £2.00
Boysenberries: Free from the garden
Double Cream: £1.68
Ice Lollies: £1.00
Bucket & spade: £2.00
Condiments: We provided what we already had (ketchup, fruity sauce, reggae reggae etc)

We had a lovely afternoon and the gorgeous weather made it even better. 

How do you think we did?
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If you would like to take part in 'the charcoal challenge' check out the details here: Money Supermarket, thanks to them and their generosity we had a great, fun filled family afternoon. 

A new widget to check out!

Just a very quick post to introduce you to the new widget that I've started to use here on my blog.  If you look down the right hand side of the blog, just above my labels you will see a voucher codes box. All you need to do is click on the deal that interests you, it will then take you to the correct page and you enter the code provided in the box when paying. Great idea right? Who doesn't love a discount?!

 As someone who loves a discount I will definitely be making use of the vouchers codes courtesy of Love my Vouchers.

Happy Clicking my beauties!
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Let's do London!

I love going to London for a weekend or a day out, there is so much to see and do and it's so much fun to explore. There is far too much to see in just a weekend but in this post I'll write about a few things to do and give you some tips about my favourite places to eat and drink. I will pick just a few things as otherwise this post would go on for pages!

Firstly getting there: I will generally always use the train to get me to St.Pancras or Liverpool Street unless I'm visiting friends then we will stay with them and use the overground or underground. I generally use Trainline to  pre-book my tickets to save time and panicking at the station! 

A couple of years ago I visited Buckingham Palace for the 1st time, it was to see the Royal Wedding collection (which was fantastic) and we also got to look around the Palace, including the State rooms and grounds, I'd definitely recommend. Currently there is a special Coronation exhibition running till the end of September which would be interesting for any Royalist. I would strongly advise booking and all information on opening times and prices can be found by clicking this link

Image courtesy of visitlondon.com

No trip to London would be complete without a trip to the theatre. I love going to the theatre and becoming immersed in the story telling, especially musicals. There is so many to choose from, you will be spoiled for choice and there is something for everyone.  


A great website for purchasing theatre vouchers is theatretokens.com you can buy them online or from leading retailers and choose from various shows in London  so that way you have lots of choice!

The first places I head for when in London are the shops, generally Oxford Street. I usually pay a visit to Harrods (which is situated in Knightsbridge) and Selfridges (which is on Oxford Street), sometimes just browsing around both of these can take up most of a morning. I love visiting the food halls and looking around all the different departments, and of course celeb spotting!

With all this shopping and visiting the sights you're going to get hungry so will obviously need to refuel. I have eaten at several fantastic places when visiting London, but personal favourites are Belgos (reasonably priced, think Belgian fruit beer, steak & frites) or Bodean's (BBQ smoke house, think pulled pork, ribs etc). If budget isn't and issue I cannot recommend enough either Dinner by Heston which is at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel (think a unique take on old recipes) or The Ledbury (think exquisite, fine dining with a price tag to reflect!). The latter two are extremely popular so pre-booking is essential. If you want something a little bit different I can also highly recommend the pret-a-portea (afternoon tea) at The Berkeley , it's not be missed and it's simply stunning-check out my pictures below.

The Berkeley
Afternoon tea at The Berkeley

Dinner by Heston
'Meat Fruit' at Dinner by Heston

If you're after a couple of nice bars I would recommend Jewel Bar or Kensington Roof Gardens both are really nice (you would need to check if you need to pre-book before just turning up).  

After all these activities you'll be shattered so a lovely place to grab some zzzz's is the Saint Georges Hotel which is conveniently located on Regent Street so fairly central to be able to access all of the tourist spots. 

I seem to have waffled on for quite some time now so I hope you've enjoyed reading my whistle stop tour and recommendations  There are so many places to visit, eat and drink in London it would be impossible to mention them all but these are some of my favourite's.

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* Please note that this is a sponsored post.

Saturday 13 July 2013

GlossyBox Review July 2013 - Summer Splash

As soon as I'd heard the theme for this months GlossyBox I was pretty excited. I envisaged beach hair, bronzed skin and summer colours. I haven't really been left disappointed. 

Firstly, I LOVE the box! It's so cute and a nice change from the usual pink.

Seeing as it's beach themed what better way to display than in some sandy, sunny pictures

I admit that I did see some spoilers so I had an idea of what I might be receiving. First impressions are great! My predictions were pretty spot on too (even before seeing the spoilers).  The usual paper information leaflet was included, although this month it looked a bit better with the seaside splash theme. 

So, what did I get? 

It's really hard taking pictures without shadows on sunny days!
GlossyBox contents: 

1. Coola Organic Mineral SPF 20 Tinted Sunscreen (£29.99 for 50ml full size, received in GlossyBox 7ml) I've not heard of this brand before, it's sort of a multi-tasker, it promises anti ageing benefits, to reduce inflammation and balance moisture while providing complete UVA/UVB protection. It's also lightly tinted. I think it's a nice product, I'll use it during the summer months but I honestly don't think I would ever purchase a full size one purely on the basis it's £29.99!!!

2. Nip & Fab Anti Blemish Gel/Spot Fix (£9.95 for 15ml full size received) Ohhh I like Nip & Fab products, this contains Salicylic Acid (used in spot treatments to clear spots and blemishes) it aims to help retain a blemish free complexion and gets rid of spots quickly should they appear. I am prone to the odd break out here and there so will definitely find this handy, although I did find the smell of it quite chemically.

Sunscreen & Spot Fix
3. Ciate Paint Pot in Island Hopping (£9.00 for 13.5ml full size received) Yes I know it's another nail varnish BUT it's full size and it's Ciate!!! I love these paint pots, I really do think they are the prettiest polishes around. I don't think I've got a shade quite like this, it's called 'Island Hopping', it's a glittery red shade with hints of gold. It.is.gorgeous. My favourite item out of the box! We do seem to have been sent quite a few nail polishes recently but I really don't mind as long as they are great brands and nice shades.

Ciate 'Island Hopping'
4. Bamboo Style Boho Waves Tousled Texture Mist (£23.00 for full size 125ml, received in GlossyBox 25ml) I don't know why but whenever I think of the beach and/or seaside I imagine having this tousled, just got out of bed hair. I don't think this mist will ever help me achieve that look if I'm honest as my hair is a bit of a nightmare to control at times and I suspect it will make it frizzy. I will give it a go but I suspect my best friend will be getting this for her hair! 

Tousled Texture Mist
5. Anatomicals Facial Spritz (£6.00 for 100ml full size received) I've read a lot of other beauty blogs not loving the Anatomicals range but I don't mind it. I like the packaging, I think it's young and fresh and the I like the quirky names for the products. Although I perhaps wouldn't go out of my way to purchase the products (I prefer other brands) I think it's a nice range. This facial spritz is nice, handy to pop into a beach bag and have around on hot and muggy days. It smells nice, it reminds me of Imperial Leather soap though which reminds me of my Grandad so not necessarily a bad thing but an old scent...if you get what I mean? A very fitting product to be included in the seaside splash theme however. 

Anatomicals Facial Spritz

Overall, ever so pleased with the contents. I will use all the products with the exception of maybe the texture mist. I love the concept of the box and the actual box itself it's so lovely. It's definitely the nail polish that wins it for me though (again!).

What did everyone think of their box this month? Anything different?
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Note: GlossyBox is a monthly beauty subscription and costs £12.95 inc. p&p. Please click the link for more information! GlossyBox