Monday 30 December 2013

New York, New York!!

As some of you may be aware I have recently visited New York. This was not just a visit for any old reason, it was mine and my best friends 30th birthdays (mine is December 12th and hers is 12th January), not only that but it has also been our 'silver anniversary' as we like to call it, we have known and been best friends for a whole 25 years.........longer than some marriages, I would go as far to see she is pretty much my sister. I love her to bits and I can't imagine life without her so it seemed fitting we should celebrate in NYC!! Our husbands also came along for the ride :-) Anyway I digress.......this post is all about 'The Big Apple!'.

To be honest I don't know where to begin to write about NYC, there is just so much about this city that has made me fall in love with it and I can't wait to go back! I will do a whistle stop tour of things we did and it will be pretty picture heavy. Myself and Adi travelled a couple of days before Kat and Paul so I was lucky enough to be there for my actual birthday :-) 

On arrival it can be pretty overwhelming but we found the best thing was to just go with the flow and just try to be quite relaxed about it all! We stayed pretty much right on Times Square at The Milford which was perfect for what we required (apart from it missing tea and coffee making facilities hmmph, the picture below shows the view from our room on floor 21). The only thing I can compare Times Square to is Leicester Square on acid, it's mental, but also very cool and iconic at the same time!

We did many of the touristy things that we wanted to do (with the exception of Empire State, Carries' doorstep - more me, Wall Street and more of Central Park as it was snowing when we went there, we also didn't see a show on Broadway, we just ran out of time). The 1st day we walked for miles, we also did a bus tour, both in the night and day to get a feel for the area, you can also use the buses as almost a taxi hopping on and off when required. We visited Rockerfeller Plaza (see the pictures above) and spent ages wandering around the streets like 5th Avenue etc.

Christmas at Tiffany's
I was a very lucky girl and treated to some beautiful Tiffany jewellery so I could really remember my trip, I chose a necklace from the iconic 'Return to Tiffany' collection and I was also surprised with the matching bracelet from my husband. You can view the range by clicking on the link to Tiffany.

Cartier all decorated

We also visited the very beautiful New York Public Library and Grand Central Station (on separate days) which were both stunning buildings. 

We also squeezed in going on the Statten Island (free) ferry so we could get a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty, next time we go I think I'd like to pay to actually visit her as the Statten Island ferry didn't go as close as I thought it would, it was also bloody freezing so we had to spend most of the journey inside!! 

On my birthday evening we ate at The Modern which is part of the Museum of Modern Art, it was very nice but sadly I took no photos, however I think there is probably better places to eat of the same standard.  

Our friends arrived on the Friday (13th eek!) and the first thing we did was eat at an amazing steak restaurant called Del Friscos possibly some of the best steak I have ever eaten (mind you the price reflects this!). We then went to Rockerfeller and to the Top of the Rock (observation deck), the night before Adi & I had debated about not doing this as it costs $27 each but my goodness I am glad we did, the views over Manhattan are incredible (even at 10:30pm at night when we went up!), if you are visiting NYC you must do this!

On Saturday it snowed and it snowed! Storm Elektra had hit NYC, this was both exciting and a little inconvenient haha. However we had planned to go ice skating so for it to be snowing while we ice skated in Central Park I have to admit it was magical, I don't think a visit to NYC in December would have been complete without some snow. 

I cannot tell you how cold it was! My hair actually froze to a degree so we thought the best option after ice skating was to head to Bloomingdale's, shelter in the warm for a bit and buy makeup (obviously, which I will feature in a separate post), after this we headed to a proper American bar where the bar was well stocked (see picture!) and then we went to FAO Schwarz which is the toy store with the big piano (think films such as Big and most recently The Smurfs). 

I am aware that this post is going on for a bit but I have so much to share! I will quickly go through the other bits and pieces that we did (mainly shopping!). We visited the 9/11 memorial and tribute centre, we paid our respects and were genuinely quite moved whilst there, there is a different atmosphere in this area of NYC, calm and almost serene, it's strange. A must visit to pay respects and gather your thoughts.

We did lots of other little things such as pop in to Magnolia Bakery and visit Little Italy and have a traditional pizza but if I tell you about everything we did I would literally be here for days!

I hope you've enjoyed reading about what we got up to in New York, it truly was a memorable break away and I cannot wait to go again.......once our credit cards have recovered! 

As always thankyou so much for reading and Happy New Year!
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Helly's Top Tips: 
-Don't take much with you you will come back with more than you went with.Fact.

-Take a travel cash card, much safer than carrying stacks of cash with you but beware that if you use to pay meals and drinks with it they often add a service charge to it which you don't realise!

- Take comfy shoes and invest in a good guide book with a decent map, we used this one from Amazon which is a perfect hand bag size. 

- Remember that in New York/America tax is added at the till and not the advertised price, also tipping is seen as mandatory and at times expect quite alot from you, we tipped what we felt reflected the establishments. 

Saturday 28 December 2013

NOTD Nails Inc - Chester Street

Today I feature another beautiful shade from Nails Inc, I am slowly working my way through the Chic Treats collection which I absolutely adore. This shade is similar to London that I featured a while ago, which you can see here: Nails Inc - London; the main difference being is that Chester Street is iridescent and shimmering, even though this is a more sparkly shade it's incredibly wearable and a beautiful winter shade, I can't get enough of this polish!

I love. 
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Friday 27 December 2013

Ella's Kitchen First Ever Mini Queen's Speech

Over at Ella's Kitchen they have been busy over the festive season creating the first ever mini Queen's speech (honestly it's adorable!). Designed specifically for little ones to enjoy, it sums up the years events from the mouths of babes. 

You can view the video by clicking on the link to You Tube, it's well worth a watch with you little ones to see what they think!

When Alfie is talking properly I can't wait to see what he will come out with in his own little way.

Below are a couple of images from the video itself, so adorable!

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Tuesday 24 December 2013

Happy Holidays and Festive Greetings!! :-)

My last very brief post before Christmas Day and before I've had too many glasses of bubbly to be able to write, is to simply wish you all a wonderful Christmas and to thank you for the continued support. 

See you on the other side!!


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Cheaty, Cheats Mince Pie Making with Alfie!

Yesterday I started my last annual Christmas leave before I start my new job, what better way to spend the day with a fractious toddler by making things!! With it being the festive season we decided to make mince pies. Not any old mince pies but uber simple and fuss free that are guaranteed to keep a toddler interested for a few minutes!

Recipe (makes about 12-14 mince pies)


Pre-rolled shortcrust pastry
1 jar of mincemeat ( I usually use the finest/luxury range as it has more fruit in it)
1 apple grated & mixed into the mincemeat (my Mum's tip!)
White icing to drizzle over the top


1. Unroll the pre-rolled pastry sheet and cut out as many rounds of pastry as you can. Gently press them into lightly greased tins (Alfie did help push them in at this point!).

2. Pop a teaspoon of the mincemeat into each pastry circle, be careful not to overload so the mixture doesn't spill out. 

3. Bake in a pre-heated oven (about 200 degrees) for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

4. Once cooked place the mince pies carefully onto a baking tray to cool. Once cooled drizzle icing over the top of the pies to resemble snow (if you like!).

5. Once iced sprinkle with icing sugar and finish off with some edible glitter for some festive sparkle. 

6. Grab a mulled wine (juice for your toddler!) and put your feet up and enjoy :-)

As I said this is an incredibly easy way and cheats way to making mince pies, if I was being extravagant I would have made the pastry and maybe the mincemeat but this year I haven't had time. I would also recommend Jamie Oliver's perfect mince pies my husband makes these and they are incredible but quite faffy, well worth the effort though if you have the time. 

Who else loves mince pies?
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Monday 23 December 2013

Poundland Santa Blogger Challenge

Christmas can be a very expensive time and it's so easy to go overboard if you're not careful. When I was approached to take part in the Poundland Santa challenge I thought it sounded like a fun thing to be involved in and I accepted the challenge.  I was sent £20 to spend in store on festive bits and pieces and I was surprised at what I came out with, 2 bags bursting to the brim! I have to be honest I have never really shopped in Poundland mainly, I do love a good bargain though and was quite surprised at some of the brands that I spotted while shopping.

So what did I get? 

While I was looking around the store (which was packed incidentally!) I decided that I wanted to purchase things I'd actually use and not just waste the £20.00, as you can see from the picture above I got quite a decent selection!

A closer look at what I purchased
So here is a run down of what I bought. 

1 pack of gift bows & ribbons (I always use loads of these when I wrap pressies up!).

2 packs of gift tags - I never seem to have enough tags so I thought 16 extra to what I already have would see me through.

1 pack of 10 Finish dishwasher tablets - I definitely do not want to run out these on Christmas day, that would be a complete disaster!

1 roll of kitchen foil - An essential kitchen must have, so many uses and always a staple in our household. 

Rudolph stop here sign - This is obviously for Alfie's benefit and is (dare I say!) a little tacky but hey is that not what Christmas is about?! I just hope it doesn't get stolen haha! 

3 packs of cotton Christmas napkins (2 per pack) - These are actually quite sweet and feel reasonable quality, it'll be nice to have cotton napkins on the table over paper ones!

1 Christmas themed snack tray - I thought this was quite sweet and I love the little gingerbread theme on it, always handy for the Christmas snacks.

Shortbread biscuits - Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without some shortbread and I know my Mum and Dad will enjoy eating these. 

Fox's chocolate biscuits - Always handy to have some chocolate biscuits in the cupboard over the festive season even though I know they won't last for long!

1 pack of sweet almonds - My husband needed these for the homemade stuffing so grabbed them while he saw them.

My last selection were the sweets & chocs! 

2 packs of after eights - I love after eights and find them perfect after dinner (obviously I know that's what they're created for!) I just love them!

1 pack of chocolate coins - Again another one of those items that I don't think Christmas would be complete without.

1 pack of chocolate bites - I plan on using these on the Christmas table to make it look  festive and colourful, they look really cute :-) 

1 pack of chocolate buttons, 1 pack of jelly tots and 1 pack of fruit pastilles - These 3 are all perfect little stocking fillers :-) 

As you can see I did get alot for the £20....funnily enough it cost £20.75! I really enjoyed taking part and look forward to using every single item purchased. I also have to say that even though the store was packed there was plenty of staff serving and even though the queue to pay was quite big I was waiting less than 5 minutes and the young lad who served me was ever so sweet! 

Not only did I take part in this particular challenge I also participated in the Poundland blogger secret santa, I received a very cute, pink mini diary which is perfect for writing in my shifts at work so whoever it is who chose this gift I thankyou!

Did anyone else take part in this challenge? How did you do?

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* Please note I was kindly sent £20.00 to participate in this challenge but the thoughts and opinions are that of my own.

Christmas Crafts!

I am not overly crafty at any time but I will always try my hand at anything and when I was offered the opportunity to make some Christmas cards I thought why not, I'll give it a go. 

I was sent a festive red stocking full of Christmassy crafty card bits and I admit I couldn't wait to design my own cards. I was sent everything I needed to make a set of really nice cards.......I had wanted to get Alfie involved, however when I sat him down to start he immediately ripped one of the cards so I opted to go it alone! 

So what was I sent? 

Various embellishments pictured below, detailed information and links below picture. 

From L-R: 

Angel Glitter Toppers (Approximately 50p per pack) - This is not a direct link to the angels but it will take you to the topper collection.

Glitter Foam Christmas Tree Toppers (Approximately £5.00) - Not the exact link but these are similar, these were my favourite item to use. 

So how did I get on?

So I definitely established that I'm not particularly good at card making but I did have fun making the cards. I was sent plenty of items to accessorise my cards and I really enjoyed using the Christmas trees as all that was required was to simply peel them from the backing and stick them straight onto where you wanted, mess free! I also liked the gold bows, I think they make a really nice finishing touch to the cards I used them on, these require sticking down so I just used a dab of the glitter glue to secure. 

The angel toppers were a bit strange to use as there was no glue on the back, so again I had to use the glitter glue to secure them which seemed a bit of a shame to waste the glitter glue but it did stick them quite securely once dried, they look so beautifully festive too and so glittery. 

I really liked the glitter glue but I found it difficult to make it look neat, I think if I had more time and items like paint brushes to distribute the glue it would have looked much nicer, I only used the glitter glue on one of the cards so it's difficult to see in the picture (fifth picture down you can just see the glue on the left card). The glue itself is packed full of glitter and has tiny little iridescent stars which are so lovely!

As you can see from the pictures I opted for quite simple designs rather than fussy, I don't think I'll be giving up the day job but I certainly enjoyed a couple of hours of craftiness. Maybe next year Alfie will be able to help and make his own cards for Christmas! 

If anyone would like to get any of the items or check out the world of Hobbycraft, click on the link to Hobbycraft

Who else likes to make Christmas crafts? What do you think of my attempt (dare I ask!)?
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*Please note I was kindly sent these items for review purposes and the thoughts and opinions are that of my own.