Wednesday, 30 September 2009

My Beauty Regime

This regime of mine is nothing new (at least the products aren't) but I am on a real kick to look after myself better including skincare.

I have been addicted to Eve Lom Cleanser since a shopping event at Space NK last year where the goodie bag contained the travel size cleanser. Since then (as the price tag is huge) I have given it to myself as a prize for finishing a charity walk and I had it on my Wish List for Christmas last year.

I love the whole ritual with the cleanser - from applying it to a dry face, placing the hot muslin cloth on your face and then using warm water with circular motions to remove any dirt/makeup. Finishing off with a cold flannel (to close the pores) makes it even better. I highly recommend this product.

On a week day I don't use a morning moisturiser - my skin is currently in good condition and I am always worried about overloading it too much. I therefore use the daily moisture from Garnier at the weekends or when I am not wearing makeup.

At night (and this is stuck to religiously) I use the Garnier night cream and then the Eye Roll-On. My skin always feels lovely afterward and I have been happy with the results.

Lastly, following a tip from Martha that she uses a Serum one hour before she gets out of bed (seems she sets her alarm clock an hour early to apply) I had to get one. Martha uses a YonKa product but that is not in my price range. Instead I turned to trusted Garnier again. Now, I don't do this every night, as I quite like my sleep, but when I do wake early this little tube is on my bedside table waiting for me.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Martha Mondays - Apple Brown Betty

This weeks task was chosen by Abby from I was excited. I love apple crumble (although mum's version is so floury that we have many other names for it!!!) but this sounded really interesting and was completely new to me.

I did this for dessert on Saturday night whilst we watched Stictly Come Dancing and it followed on from roast pork for dinner so I thought I was on to a winner.

It was easy to make and I followed the recipe to the tee. Even the oven instructions were right.

I had given strict instructions to mum and dad to prepare themselves and that they had to eat some of it before adding extra sugar or cream (which always happens in the Singer household). They agreed. Although dad then ate trifle and didn't try any pudding (I'm still annoyed), mum and I were game - we both agreed that it had the winning ingredients - bread and apple for mum - and apple and cinnamon for me.

We both decided that it was a bit bland - mum blamed the apples of which she suggests using cooking apples and I wished I had used the demerara. Usually I find the Martha puddings to be so sweet. We both added cream and sugar.

I will try this recipe again and change it slightly. Thanks Abby for a good Martha Mondays project. I look forward to next week!

My photo doesn't show the dessert in a great way (if anyone knows of a way to show good looking crumble please let me know).

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Martha Mondays - Mollases Spice Cake

It was my turn to choose the Martha Mondays project and I had had it worked out for weeks - the Mollases Spice Cake from the October 2007 issue of Living. Ever since I had seen the cake I had wanted an excuse to make it but there was never a good enough reason to use every spice known to man (I know, I exaggerate - slightly) and then cream cheese, sour cream and brown sugar glaze.

But the time had come. I printed out the recipe and ingredients from the internet and headed to the supermarket. I had most of the ingredients although ground mace still is nowhere to be found, and I ended up using blade mace and mashing it through a sieve, but everything else I managed to find.

As I had Friday off from work I put everything on the counter and got to work. Just one problem - the Singer household had only 1 cup of brown sugar so I used caster sugar as well. (Martha I know would never have run out).

The cake was easy to make, besides using up three different bowls. I often wonder what would happen if I just dumped in the flour and spices in one go, but I persisted. The cake for me took an hour to cook, but my cake pan was slightly smaller in size and deeper.

We all liked the cake. I did the cream cheese frosting in a separate bowl so we could add as much or as little as we liked. I wouldn't add the butter to the cream cheese again as I don't think it needed it. And I didn't make the brown glaze as we had no brown sugar.

To anyone who makes the cake, I'm sorry that it had so many ingredients and probably wasn't a good idea if you were on a diet. I hope other people liked the cake. I will certainly make it again and am thinking of trying it as cupcakes for Christmas.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Book Review - The Help

In June I had seen a review for The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I was intrigued and quickly asked in the bookshop but was informed that the book was not released until the end of July. I had to have it. For weeks I kept on nipping into the bookshop to see whether they had put it out early, mum gave it to me as a surprise when it was released. I loved it.

The book is centres around two maids (Aibileen and Minny) who work in Mississippi in the 1960s. The book tells a story about life back then from both Aibileen and Minny's perspective and their bosses.

Everything about this book is wonderful. I could imagine every character and every scene. It was a book that I couldn't put down - I would read on my way to work, at lunch, on the tube - everywhere. But as the last 20 or so pages came up I was in two minds as to whether I wanted the book to end or whether I should leave it so that the book never had to end. Of course I finished it. And it was beautiful from the moment it started until the very last page.

Since I have read it, mum has read it and loved it (although she didn't cry like I did) and I have now given it to a friend. I know that I will pass this book along to all of my friends and then read it again.

It was truly wonderful.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Martha Mondays - Apple-Honey Challah

Well after being so late last week with the pom poms I am extra early in posting this weeks (next weeks) Martha Mondays task.

This was a joint task with my mum as we were both home to do it whilst doing other chores (mainly gardening). It turned out that it was lucky that neither of us needed to go out for a long period of time as this recipe took for ever!

We started at about 1.15pm and got it out of the oven at about 5.30pm.

Despite my dislike of honey, I embraced the recipe and bought all the right ingredients including Granny Smith apples which I don't really like (I'm more a pink lady girl!)

The problem for me was that it took too long, three times I had to take it to the airing cupboard, I found the instructions hard to follow (why preheat the oven 45 minute before it can go in the oven? - I disobeyed this).

We didn't like it either. I wasn't sure if you ate it as it was, had it with stewed fruit or something/cream/butter. Mum suggests that we through it to the birds and I agree. The pigeons I am sure will love it.

I will leave on a positive though, and say that despite us not liking it, it was good to try something new. I had never made Challah before (and probably won't again) but at least I can say that I have now made it.

Ready to (finally) go in the oven.

Just before being cut.

The leftovers - quite a bit - but the birds will be happy tomorrow!


Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Martha Mondays - Pom Poms

I apologise for this post being so late - I started these on Thursday, then went away (for a disasterous holiday - see post below) and then stayed with a friend on Tuesday night.

I admit that when I first saw the project I said "Oh no!". Crafting isn't my strong point and I never have the things required. But I decided to give it a go and I enjoyed it.

Here are my results:

Instead of thin wire which I don't have I used pipe cleaners which were available in the colours I required in our stationary shop.

I was worried that I would end up breaking them when 'rouching' them up but I did not break any. I think they could look very effective in a big grouping.

I will be making these for Halloween (which I plan to celebrate in great style this year. In total I made one large one and then two napkin rings which I thought looked the best.

Thanks Megan for a great Martha Mondays!

The Best Laid Plans...

Sometimes even the best made plans I make don’t go as I wish.

We went away to Devon for the August Bank Holiday this past weekend. It had been booked for a few months, a nice self-catering cottage in rolling hills within a complex which had a tennis court and indoor swimming pool.

I now see that holidays with my family just aren’t meant to be. We argue and as three very headstrong people (mum, dad and I) it just doesn’t work. When I go on holiday (and I hadn’t been away since Australia last year) I want it to be as perfect and stress free as possible. I want to relax, glass of wine on the table with a good book. A nice lunch, or food and see some sights whilst visiting a different part of the country. I enjoy being able to 'tick off the list' a place (or usually a county).

I admit that in some ways we are restricted slightly by taking Violet (my beautiful dog) with us. Until 30th September only certain beaches are accessible if you have a dog and going out and leaving Violet in the cottage is against the rules. However she was very good and enjoyed the different beaches that we took her to, walks in the fields she really enjoyed and she got used to her new surroundings very quickly. We even took her with us to eat one evening (the other time she stayed in the car until we brought her out some leftovers as a reward).

We stayed a few miles away from the town of Honiton. I had been led to believe from a friend that it was a pretty market town, with some good shops and a market on a Saturday. Maybe my expectations were too high, but it wasn’t great. Mum and I had walked up both sides of the road, stopping in shops and at the [very] small market within an hour.

As dad had decided to fish in one of the lakes at the complex on Saturday, mum and I made our way to Gittisham a small village a few miles away and then went for coffee at the Combe House Hotel (not as posh and well serviced as you would expect). Coffee with biscuits for two came to £10.00 – I was shocked!

I had been looking forward to this holiday since we had booked it (in May). Maybe my expectations were too high. I hoped that we would not argue, (and that started the afternoon before we even went), that we would go away and come back relaxed and refreshed. It wasn’t to be.

On the journey back I started to wonder ‘What Would Martha Do?’ I decided that she would have planned the venue more, looking up restaurants to try, places to visit. I also think that she would have back up plans. I am also sure that she would not have put up with the mood of one of the party for very long either!

Oh well, I have learnt my lesson for future trips and hopefully anyone reading this will see how lucky they are when they go away with family!