Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Toblerone Tray Bake - Did It Get The Seal of Approval?!

It is a well known fact in our family that I am neither a great cook or baker! My skills are the butt of every family joke especially my dads as he saw fit to mention it in the wedding speech. So I decided yesterday I've had enough and I'm going to brush up on those non existent skills.

Back in January I came across this delicious looking Toblerone Tray Bake on Like Mam Used to Bake and I've finally got round to doing it! Check out how I got on with the process...........

Of course I forgot to put the Brown Sugar in this pic!

Ingredients:

150g unsalted butter, cubed
150g Toblerone
150g dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
150g ground almonds
50g cocoa powder
Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas Mark 3. Line a baking tray with parchment paper

1. Melt the butter and chocolate over a pot of simmering water. 

2. Let the chocolate mixture cool. Add the sugar to a large mixing bowl followed by the eggs and vanilla extract. Mix together with an electric mixer on a low-speed for around three minutes until smooth and creamy and slightly paler in colour 


3. Add the chocolate mixture to the sugar mixture and gently fold through.

4.  Sieve the ground almonds and the cocoa powder into the chocolate mixture to ensure that you do not end up with powdery lumps in the baked cake. Gently fold this through before pouring into the prepared tin.

5. Place into the preheated oven and bake for 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Place on a wire rack and allow to cool before cutting into squares


Overall I really thought this was an easy follow through guide by "Like Mam Used to Bake" and I was delighted with how they turned out! The only thing that I realised was that I really need to update some of my equipment! Hubby also gave his seal of approval on these which I was really surprised about too and I have to add that Lillibug even helped out in the kitchen!


Find Like Mam Used to Bake:

Website/Facebook/Twitter


Tuesday, 29 July 2014

School's Out For Summer! Netflix #StreamTeam.

So once again the summer months have arrived and the kids are all out of school. I miss the days of having 2/3 months off!! But this year something strange has happened in our little island. The weather has actually been good! Sometimes even better than good, it's been great! This however means that the TV has been pretty much on the back burner in favour of enjoying the great outdoors. That's not to say that it hasn't come in useful for teaching Lillibug about the great outdoors.


It's the evening time after an activity filled day that we sometimes use the TV to get Lillibug to wind down. We've attempted to stay away from cartoons, and focus on some wildlife shows. Now while she doesn't quite understand every single word of Sir David Attenborough's narration, she gets plenty of enjoyment from shows like "Planet Earth" and "The Life of Mammals" mainly because she is starting to recognise different types of animals in their most basic form. For example, the Cheetah's and Leopards in the episode of "The Life of Mammals" titled "Meat Eaters" fall into the "cat" category, which she can say easily, but it's fun teaching her the different names and hearing her attempted pronunciations.


Of course, it's not all educational. Sometimes she's just in the form to settle down with me and watch a movie. I sneakily try to make it something that she can interact with though. Disney's "Robin Hood" is a really good example as it's short, colourful and like the shows above, has a variety of different animals to quiz her about. Oh, and it's nothing to do with the fact that I'm a Disney fanatic and "Robin Hood" is one of my favourites. Nothing at all :p


While it might seem that I'm focusing on animals a bit too much, it's really what Lillibug is into right now so I'm just going to go with it. I'm sure as time goes on she'll find some new interests, and I have no doubt that there'll be something on Netflix to accommodate whatever these new interests may be.



*Disclaimer: I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team and for this I received a complimentary subscription for one year & an Apple TV (Box). All opinions are my own! Stay tuned........


Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Alex and Ani Charm Bangle: Tree of Life

"Embrace the power of Positivity"


Alex and Ani produce Earth friendly products that are all handcrafted in America. The positive energy is infused in the products in three ways:* 

1. The products themselves are manufactured (and infused) with positive intention in carefully selected American factories.
2. The symbols featured in each design carry their own energy and are accompanied by thoughtfully crafted and researched meaning
3. Each design is positively intended to empower the wearer and reflect the unique qualities of the individual.


The brand first came to my attention last year through reading reviews from fellow bloggers and of course I've had a bracelet on my wish list since. So to my surprise I found out that one of our local jewellers which is Hynes Jewellers of Wexford started stocking them. Hubby must have been paying attention as he treated me to one on Saturday!


I'm absolutely delighted with his choice. I always wear silver and the Tree of life has meaning to me so I'm bowled over as this is the one I would have chosen too. The Tree of Life to me means that we all share common descent, we all (every living organism) share the same ancestor (Mother Nature perhaps?).


A lot of thought has gone into these gorgeous bangles and I definitely would love to stack a few more of these on my arm (hint, hint, nudge wink to hubby).


These range from €30 upwards, and here is a link for stockists of Alex and Ani in Ireland.

Alex and Ani


*Taken from the Alex and Ani website.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Blank Canvas Cosmetics: Makeup Brushes



Thanks to Eileen from Eileen's Corner I discovered Blank Canvas Cosmetics! These brushes have changed my makeup routine forever. An Irish brand that bring top quality but affordable brushes! There is a small postage charge, but it's so worth it.


I started off with the E26 Blending Brush (€6.99) which I got in a Powder Pocket Box and got down to using it after I heard such great things. This blends my shadows perfectly in my crease as well as the corners and I also have been using it for applying highlighter on the tops of my cheeks. This is without a doubt one of the best blending brushes I have used on my eyes. I've had it for a number of months now and the shape has held up perfectly even after a hundred washes! 


The Hot Pink F20 Flat Buffer Brush (€13.99) just blew me away. I really noticed a difference in the appearance of my foundation using this as it gives a flawless HD finish to it. The short synthetic fibres that the bristles are made from make it super soft and can be used by stippling or buffing into the skin. I've used this on all forms of makeup from cream, liquid and my bare minerals and all applied beautifully using the F20! This also has stayed in shape but takes a little longer to dry but again, it's worth the wait! I'm also loving the pink handle on this.

Rating: Both brushes deserve a 5/5

Have you tried these brushes?

Sunday, 20 July 2014

A Day Out with Lillibug!

Yesterday was such a beautiful day in Wexford town that we just had to get out and about and embrace the day. We had no plan of action so just went with the flow.

First thing was a trip to the Centenary Stores for lunch:


Food was absolutely delicious and staff fabulous! Today FM were broadcasting from there so got to enjoy listening to Phil Cawley and great music as we enjoyed lunch. We even got to meet Don Conroy (that name will mean more to readers of a certain age!) Lillibug even entertained all the customers with a little dance.

Next we took a stroll along the quay:


This is our favourite place for a gentle stroll. Lillibug loves watching out for "fishies", "tweet tweets" and boats. Sometimes we even park ourselves on a bench with an ice-cream :-)

Trip to Rosslare Strand Beach:


Lillibug loves the beach and can't get enough of being down there. She gets a great kick out of building sand castles and burying my feet in the sand! It was a bit like a jelly fish graveyard down there so I avoided going for a dip!



On the way home we stopped in with Grandma and Granddaddy for some evening delights and it was the perfect way to end the day!

We were all a little worse for wear when we got home after all the running around on the beach so it was a great night sleep for Lillibug!

What did you get up to this weekend?

Review: Benefit They're Real Push-up Liner


 

 At this stage I think I am sure you have all heard of Benefit's latest offering which promises a new and easier way for us to master the dreaded skill of putting our eyeliner on! After a few weeks of trying out Benefit They're Real Push-up Liner I think it's time to do a review.



The liner has a lot to offer novices like myself in terms of easy application. The innovative soft AccuFlex™ hugs your lash line on every application without any pulling or tugging and leaves a beautiful lined eye. I love the matte black gel formula that doesn't budge in anyway shape or form. I also find holding the pen very comfortable the way it sits in my hand, which also helps with application.



In all honesty it did take me a few tries to get a feel for this new liner, but once that is mastered you will glide a tight line with a very easy cat flick. Yes, even I was surprised at how easy it was to do! 

However I have found a few irritating things about it. If you mess around too much trying to either make a thicker line or if trying to fix a mistake it goes a bit flaky. Also the line isn't as smooth as I can get it with a liquid liner so that has taken a bit of getting used to.

I also got a sample of They're Real Remover (€19.50) and it's really good but really messy. When the makeup breaks down it just spreads across your face. I'll stick with my Holos Love Your Skin Cleansing Cream as with two uses with that it's completely gone.

At €25 is it worth it? For some it will be, just so you can master the fine art of applying eyeliner. If this is a skill you have I think you can leave it and save your money. A lot was put into this by Benefit but I just wasn't as bowled over the more I used it!

Tell me what you think?

Rating: 3/5


Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Ballinkeele House: I found Wexford's Hidden Gem

Yesterday saw the women of the Women's Inspire Network meet up at Ballinkeele House! It is a chance for us to network as well as brainstorm with each other. On a arrival through the gates of Ballinkeele House my breath was taken from me, as I felt like I had just driven into another world. We were welcomed by Val and Laura Maher who are now running the estate. With a beautiful classical house as well as a working farm and stables, it's a place where your imagination could run wild!


The present house was commissioned and built by the Maher family in 1840 and is steeped in local history! We got to have peek around and to say I fell in love with the architecture of the house would be an understatement, I actually fell in love with a home and the atmosphere it offers.

Let's go inside and take a look around.......

Interior of Ballinkeele House


Staircase in Ballinkeele House

I live in Wexford and to think that this hidden gem was under my nose the whole time make me wonder who else is unaware of this beauty and what lies within.

Dining room of Ballinkeele House

Dining Table in Ballinkeele House

Table setting in Ballinkeele House

Val and Laura do all the cooking themselves, with breakfast served every morning around the huge mahogany table. There is also a three course set dinner menu which is served by candlelight.

Interior of Ballinkeele House

The accommodation is complete luxury. With a relaxing and friendly surrounding you will be sure of a tranquil visit and leave refreshed and rejuvenated.

Master Bedroom in Ballinkeele House
Master Bedroom. Love the four poster bed!

Twin Room in Ballinkeele House

Each room is uniquely decorated in period style and you will actually start to imagine yourself in a time gone by. For a house of it's time, every room we went into was light and airy, but most importantly there is history around every turn..

Grand Piano in Ballinkeele House

Homemade shortbread biscuits and homemade cake. Tea & coffee
I ate all the shortbread, sorry, but they were too Yummy to pass up! Thanks Val!

Sitting Room of Ballinkeele House

Wellies for the guests
Wellies for the guests, best idea ever!

Ballinkeele House has a variety of gardens and as visitors drive up the avenue to Ballinkeele House, they pass large rhododendrons and fully grown monkey puzzles. On the right is the yard and stables where Frigate, the first mare to win the Grand National back in 1889 was bred and trained. 

You will be guaranteed an amazing stay at Ballinkeele with your hosts Val and Laura Maher!

Hidden door in wall.

Hello there, Niamh from Holos Skincare! Niamh is helping to demonstrate that this wall is actually a door! As I said you will find something around every corner that will amaze you. We had a fun time exploring the house and grounds, it really was the perfect setting for Women Inspire Network to get together. We were made to feel at home so much so that I really didn't want leave! 

You can also check out Roz's post from the day all about the Women's Inspire Network at Ballinkeele, where you will find out about who was there on the day! Big thank you to Samantha Kelly (Tweeting Goddess)  for creating the Women's Inspire Network and bringing us all together.

I can't finish without thanking Laura, Val and their family for a relaxed and beautiful day. 

Gardens of Ballinkeele House

Bay Window

Grounds surrounding Ballinkeele House

Ballinkeele House,
Ballymurn,
Enniscorthy,
Co. Wexford.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

EcoTools: Fresh & Flawless Five Piece Complexion Set for a Smooth Airbrush Finish! (Review)

EcoTools: Fresh & Flawless Five Piece Complexion Set

I spotted these in Boots a few months back but after walking away from them I regretted it, especially after a text from Nicole from Beauty, Lifestyle, Rambling telling me how great they were! Then I knew I had to get my hands on them. I would like apologise for the bad pictures, I'm having camera issues!


I love the packaging to begin, and you could definitely keep the brushes in there to keep them clean or for using on your travels as it's compact. The bristles are so soft and clean really well without losing their shape. You get 5 brushes in the set and I love them all. They are small, but great at applying product and giving a flawless finish.

The flat concealer brush is my favourite of the lot and I own nothing else like it in the collection of brushes that I have acquired over the years. If it was sold separately I would buy another one just so I could have a backup!


 These brushes are great for the finer detailing of applying makeup.


Although they are small, they are sturdy and the bristles seem to be set into the barrel brilliantly, as I haven't lost one hair from them.

Isn't the design on the barrel just beautiful? I really love that they thought out a fun design.

EcoTools are 100% cruelty free!


So overall I think it was €15.49 well spent for 5 brushes that aren't just pretty but do an excellent job too!

Have you tried EcoTools yet? Or tell me what makeup brush you can't live without?



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