Saturday, 30 August 2014

Easy to make butterfly cakes (with lemon cream and strawberry wings)

I have been partaking in a lot of baking recently, as my friend is currently raising money for a charity trek in September, meaning a few bake sales at work. As I lurve baking, I have taken the opportunity to get experimental and subjected treated my colleagues to interesting baked delights such as Chocolate chip mocha and peanut butter swirl cake, sweet toffee popcorn cheesecake cupcakes and sweet n savoury courgette vegetable muffins (check out the links to my blog). 

But for the most recent bake sale, I went back to simplicity, to a well known classic - the butterfly cake. The simple combination of plain sponge, jam and whipped cream is perfectly 

sitting pretty for the bake sale 

the sponge cakes are so easy to make 

2 eggs
115g caster sugar
115g softened butter
115g self raising flour
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
small carton of whipping cream (approx 150ml) 
zest of one lemon 
icing sugar (optional) 

makes 10 cupcakes 

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Ocean Beach Club, San Antonio, Ibiza

For the bank holiday weekend I had planned to go to Ibiza as some of the girls were there for the week but I hadn't planned anything beyond that! I sat back and let them decide where to go! And they made a good choice too with Ocean Beach Club!

Ocean Beach Club 
I admit- I didn't even get in the pool! 
A daytime pool party with a gorgeous, luxe feel, you can either kick back on a white linen bed or dance away under the glorious sun! I chose option number one and literally spent the day lounging around and only moved off the bed for the odd toilet break. Oh and to wash the kimono I spilt strawberry daiquiri over! You don't even need to move from the bed as it is all table service! I was so comfy I actually even fell asleep (not embarrassing at all). 

superstar DJ 
spend the day chilling on the beds 

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

House of Holland stick on nail art: game changer

I recently went to Ibiza for the weekend and wanted something fun on my nails. Nail vanish doesn't last more than 24 hours without chipping for me so these stick on nails were the perfect solution for me for a few days.

fun and bright
rings are from Forever 21 

Giving a blast from the past with old school games such as dominoes, monopoly and snakes and ladders, these are just so fun and received a lot of compliments whilst I was out there.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Salvador and Amanda, Spanish tapas bar, Covent Garden, London

A few weeks ago, after seeing a production of Orwell’s 1984 (see my blog post here for the review), me and Frenchy felt it was only right to have a few drinks after the show. I must confess, my knowledge of bars in the Trafalgar/Leceister Square area is pretty limited (apart from the Weatherspoons and Yates, but there is a time and place for that). Frenchy knew of this cute little tapas bar, “Salvadorand Amanda” on Great Newport Street, and we ended up there laughing over a litre of sangria (and some olives), which was one of the best sangria’s I think I have ever had.

amazing cocktails! 

So when the Boy came back from deployment, I made some not-so-subtle hints that we should go there to sample the food, seeing as the drinks were so good!

After a quick spot of shopping in Oxford Street and an epic fail in Primark (and a massive rant by me about people queuing in the “customer services and returns” line to purchase items), we headed to Salvador and Amanda for some much needed tapas and cocktails…I was starving!!! Luckily we bumbled in at 7.47pm (and just before a downpour) which meant we made it for happy hour (5-8pm Mon to Fri FYI) and it was two cocktails for a tenner (£8 each usually). Yay. Previous tensions in Primark now over.

two el toritos 

tapas plates 

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Chewy chocolate cornflake cakes...with mars bars

Do you know anyone that doesn’t like a chocolatey cornflake cake?!? Nah, didn’t think so.

The simplest of “baking” but the best of sweet treats, they’re perfect for bake sales, kid’s parties and an afternoon treat. The humble chocolate cornflake cake is essentially four ingredients combined to make a heavenly crunchy cake – chocolate, butter, golden syrup and cornflakes. However, I have added a twist to these...and added Mars bars!

everyone's favourite 

The Mars bar chocolate not only adds a creamier chocolate taste but the caramel in it adds a bit of chewiness to the cake too. If like me, you really like the chewy texture of these, then be generous with your golden syrup too!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

4 nights chilling in Railey, Krabi (Thailand)

After the hustle and bustle of Phuket and a few days diving (read my blog post here), we had a few days of lazy chilling in Railey, a secluded bay in the province of Krabi in the West coast of Thailand. Unfortunately for us, we were quite ill towards the end of the trip, but thankfully we had a lovely hotel, The Railey Pricess Resortand Spa, to mong in and feel sorry for ourselves.

arriving to Railey 

Travelling from Phuket to Railey is not too difficult – it involves a mini bus from the main bus depo from Phuket to Krabi (about 500 baht, £10), then a taxi to the pier, where you’ll have to catch the famous long tail boats with their coloured clothes tied at the front, much used and loved throughout Thailand to Railey. Depending on the tide, the sea will predict what pier you go from, for us it was Nammao pier.

the longtail boats 

I didn’t find the journey too bad but if you asked the Boy and my friend’s boyfriend (both over 6 foot), I guess you’ll get a different answer. If you’re tall, likelihood is you are going to be uncomfortable when travelling in Thailand – the people are small and they like to take everything and their kitchen sink with them on journeys (I have seen chickens as ‘hand luggage’) so what space there was is gone. As my freaked out friend describes it, we were in a “coffin” on wheels. We were also particularly unlucky that that day was a choppy sea, meaning that the longtail boat was up an down more times that Jordan’s knickers, splashing the mini waves into the boat, our faces and on to our luggage. We arrived absolutely soaked and never so grateful to discover that our hotel was opposite a pier. Good choice of hotel. 

the dramatic coast line of Railey 

jagged rocks hug Railey beaches 

Railey (there is an east and west side, separated by a 5 min walk) is a small bay with a tiny collection of nice hotels, shack like restaurants, mini marts and bars that close when the last person leaves. If you are looking for a touch of calm in the madness of Thailand, this could well be the place for you. As we were there in the height of monsoon, the weather was a tad overcast, rained on occasion and didn’t offer the glorious blue skies that we assume but it was still hot enough to don a bikini and for the Boy to get a classic dodgy sunburn and Steph to get a touch of sunstroke.

the infinity pool 

Whilst a sleepy little bay, there is actually quite a lot to do to keep you occupied, that is just a stone’s throw away on the longtail boat. Unfortunately, being ill and confined to the hotel meant that I missed out on most activities but you can take one day ferry trips to nearby islands such as Phi Phi and Hong island, try out rafting, and go quad biking, etc. The beaches are small but a beach none the less to chill on. 

enjoying the sun 

the beach 

The only activity I managed on our 4 night stay was rock climbing, which was brilliant! Hard work but so much fun! Krabi is renowned for rock climbing so can cater for any ability. An afternoon of clinging to a rock cost us 800 baht (about £15) and a serious amount of sweat. I forgot to get changed and ended up doing it in white and pink denim hot pants and a white boob tube, but I would advise something more loose fitting and of a darker shade!

made it to the top! 

We stayed at the Railey Princess resort and spa which for £25 per night per couple was amazing – infinity pool, helpful and friendly staff, large rooms and set in lush green grounds. There are plenty of restaurants to chose from, most are on the beach front but there are some set off the paths. The menu's are all pretty similar and you'll find they all kind of run into each other, so I don't have any specific recommendations. 

Pad Thai - a classic 

deep fried icecream! seriously! 

turns out this was NOT chicken?!?

If you are looking for remote, peaceful and easy then Railey offers pretty scenery and a chilled vibe. 

X x X 

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Yvonne’s healthy cornflake chicken goujons

My friend at work, Yvonne, seems to be a secret Delia Smith, always rustling up dishes in the kitchen for her dinner or for dinner parties, often making us jealous when she brings in her left over for lunch the next day. She is keen on making things from scratch too, which means they are often a more healthy option than other tasty delights.

Recently Yvonne bought in some breaded chicken goujons to accompany her lunch time salad. But it turns out they weren’t breaded and deep fried – they were made from cornflakes!

Yvonne's cornflake chicken 

Yes the humble breakfast cereal! Who knew you could make more than just chocolate corn flake cakes with them!

And as well as being delicious, it is so simple, cheap and quick to make! It’s also a lot lower in fat and healthier overall as there is no need to fry and there is no fat in a corn flake! I had to try them and share them with you!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Scuba diving (PADI) in Phuket, Thailand

Back in December, whilst me and the Boy were in Sharm el Sheik, I went on a little discover dive. Just a 20 minute dive to five metres to see if I would like it as the Boy was really keen to go scuba diving on our next holiday.

After an initial freak out that I couldn’t breathe properly and smacking my head back on the oxygen tank, I found that I did actually like scuba diving and so we booked a trip to Thailand.

exploring a wreck 
getting kitted up! 

Thailand is one of my favourite countries and I’m luckily enough to have visited about six or so times before and I have been told before that the diving there is pretty decent. We decided that I would do my PADI open water course in Phuket as we saw that you could do a live aboard boat trip to the Similan islands.  Phuket is Thailand’s largest island and connected to mainland Thailand by two bridges.

the sea was awash with beautiful fish

think this is a parrot fish

After booking flights to Phuket, booking accommodation, arranging for my parents to fly from Cambodia to meet me for a few days and roping my friend Steph in to do the PADI with me, we discovered that the Similar Islands trip doesn’t run in August, so we ended up just having the 4 nights in Phuket.

going down! 
getting up close and personal 

We booked our PADI courses (about £250) whilst in England as we wanted to get cracking right away but if you are travelling then you don’t really need to book to far in advance. We went with Thailand Divers who I must admit were brilliant. The staff were lovely and our instructor, Simon, was the most patient teacher in the world, as to be frank, me and Steph were mongs when it came to diving.

Diving fascinates me (I have always enjoyed tropical fish and aquariums) but at the same time, equally petrifies me – being that deep down, with countless of things that could go wrong and the reliance on a tank of air. My nerves clearly translated into me being utter useless and I totally underestimated how hard the exam was (especially doing it on day one of the course).

"oh shit...air!!!"

Like most things I do, I had a few classic blond moments, including forgetting the turn the air on, getting my fin stuck under a barrel of water on the boat and going to jump into the sea without my BCD (the jacket that fills with air) pumped of air. I also had a run in with some coral (the coral won, resulted in cut arms and legs) and being under water in the ship wreck disorientated me more than usual causing me to bounce off the walls of this coral and barnacle covered ship like a pinball, again cutting my arms and legs.  I also learnt that the lion fish is pretty dangerous and you shouldn’t get too close to it!!!

Monday, 11 August 2014

VO5 hot oil treatment for dry hair: review

I am in love with ”VO5 hot oil” for dry hair.  
I came back from a glorious week in the sun with not only golden skin (yay) but frazzled hair too (boo). One use of this magic oil though has transformed my locks. Gone are the dry and straw like ends.

V05 to the rescue! 

It couldn’t be simpler either. 

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Hand painted wine glasses: gift idea

I love getting arty but it has been a while since I had a go. Last week was my nan’s birthday and it meant the perfect opportunity to get creative. As her present, I gave her these… four hand painted wine glasses.

my hand made gift to my nan
I wrapped the glasses up in red tissue paper 

it is all about the finishing touches -
don't forget the base

All you need is some nail vanish pens and a steady hand (the latter being something I couldn’t buy at the shops so went without). The beauty of these nail vanish pens is that the thin nib allows for precision and the quick drying.
Opt for any design, I went for hearts, and simply draw away!!

selection of nail vanish pens 

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Eye lash perm - beauty treatment

I am currently in Thailand on a scuba diving trip, which means a lot of time in and out of water. Sounds great but it does mean that make up is a complete waste of time, which for someone like me (aka a beauty junkie) is a disaster. Whilst waterproof mascaras are a must on beach holidays, unfortunately my eye lashes are so straight that not even the super dooper, promise-to-make-your-eye-lashes-curly kind of mascaras ever do the trick. 

I recently discovered eye lash perming however!  

having my eye lashes permed 

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Tips on how to survive a long haul flight (part 2)

I am currently sunning it up in Thailand, well actually I am doing a PADI diving course so not really seeing much sun in the classroom or under water. Anyway, Thailand is one of my favourite countries (I think this is something like my 7th trip...the Boy does tell me that I need to branch out and see more of the world!) but it is a mission to get here with a 12-13 hour flight from London to Bangkok. That is a serious long haul flight! 

Whilst I love flying and don't mind a long haul journey (hey, nothing is ever going to be as bad as the 32 hour coach trip to Rome I once did) I know that a lot of people dread it. But there are things that you can do to make the journey a little bit more bearable, maybe even enjoyable...
goes without saying that you need to arrive on time

Top tip 1: arrive to the airport in plenty of time

Over the years my dad has taught me a thing or two about travelling well and this is another one my dad's specials. My mum is notorious for leaving at the very last minute and she has missed some flights before. Do yourself, and your blood pressure a favour, don’ rush. As my dad preaches leave plenty of time (including what I like to call ‘cock up’ time) and get there early. Once you are air side and through security then you can relax and get yourself a glass of wine (I think my dad said that is compulsory). 

relaxing at the airport before the flight

Top tip 2: look after your health

Sounds silly but flying can take it out of you, what with the drying air, lack of space and the pressure. Make your flight more comfy by taking any medicines with you – after all there is no pharmacy up there! I always take peppermint oil capsules to soothe my stomach and sudefed to assist in my congestion and blocked sinuses.

Garnier softening toner: review

A few weeks ago I went for a skin analysis, which cleverly took "photos" of my skin in microscopic detail (I am not sure on the science of it but it was extremely clever, detailing every sun spot and line invisible to the naked eye!) Generally on the whole, it seemed my skin was in an ok condition but one thing that is quite noticeable on my skin was my large pores. The consultant asked if I was using a toner, which when used after cleansing, tightens pores back up.

toner for dry skin

Although I do, it dries my skin out and so I only use it once every few days. I thought the drying out of skin was normal so didn't even consider that I might be using the wrong toner, as in fact, it isn't meant to dry out your skin and you are meant to use it every day. Seems pretty obvious now she pointed it out.

Anyway, so I set out to buy a new toner, ditiching the old one, in favour of Garnier's softening toner for normal to dry skin, which is also suitable for sensitive skin.

Friday, 1 August 2014

My work summer social - picnic and sports day in the park

For the past few weeks, me and my colleagues on the social team at work have been planning our work summer social party,  an afternoon of games and a picnic in the park in Archbishop's Park, Lambeth. 

I must admit, it took a wee bit of organising, a few team meetings and a sun dance to the weather gods to pull it off, but we did it. And much to all of our surprises, really really well. People were even thanking us for a fab afternoon of fun and games!!!

I wanted to share this on the blog as I hope it can provide a little inspiration for anyone organising a social or party. 

we decorated the park with signs, bunting and balloons
the social team! 

The essence of our summer social was a sports day and picnic. We had a limited budget of £50, which meant encouraging people to BYO booze and food and the budget paying for a few bits such as prizes, playground games (think skipping rope, bubbles and a frisbee), sweety goody bags and the like. People provided their own sweat bands (seriously, people did arrive in sweat bands and leg warmers!)