Yuletide Greetings

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Indeed, Yuletide greetings to you all.

Today is the day of the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, celebrated as the festival of Yule in ancient and modern Pagan traditions. Yule was the traditional mid-Winter festival of ancient Europe, before being adopted and adapted by The Christian Church into the festival of Christmas. Being the shortest day of the year – that is, the shortest period of daylight between sunrise and sunset, obviously every day is always 24 hours long – the festival of Yule is based around the celebration of the sun returning and bringing life back to the world with the (gradual) move out of Winter towards Spring.

Whatever you want to call it – this time of year always makes me want to bake and feed people! So I do like to mark the Solstice with a bit of baking. Of course, the Chocolate Yule Log derives from the tradition of the Yule Log which was an actual wooden log that was burnt to celebrate the Solstice. I didn’t fancy lining myself up for the stress of trying to roll my own Chocolate Yule Log – instead I decided to go down the route of orange, marzipan and cinnamon as ingredients that make me think of warmth and sunshine.

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I used this recipe from Sweet Paul for Norwegian Skillingsboller, that’s Cinnamon Buns, although this recipe has an awesome twist of added marzipan! It takes a bit of time to make as it is a yeasted dough, so you need to leave it to rise, but other than the waiting the recipe is pretty easy. Note: mixing the butter into the dough is very messy!

Mine turned out a bit, haphazard looking – but this isn’t GBBO and I’m not marking myself on presentation or uniformity, it’s all about taste for me.

The finished buns are delicious, I’m going to struggle to restrain myself from eating them all. I did a taste test when they were warm and they were amazing – I’ve also had one cold and it’s still really good, but it might be worth zapping one in the microwave for a few seconds to warm before eating.

I also made these Tangerine and Marzipan Muffins from Olive Magazine. I haven’t tasted one of these yet, I’ve been too busy focussing on the Cinnamon Buns, but they smell really yummy 🙂

UPDATE: I’ve just tried one of thee and they are lovely! Light and orangey and not too sweet, surprisingly! Recommended 😊

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I have a feeling I may take a few steps backwards on my weight-loss over the next week :/

Hope you are all enjoying the festive season, whatever you celebrate and whatever you eat!

Love

Betty

Christmas

Just thought I’d put up a post of pictures of my Christmas day. We were with Pete’s parents this year and had a lovely time, we were both thoroughly spoiled inn terms of food, drink and presents.

My Christmas make-up and Festive necklace from Clutterfly
Festive Puppy
Christmas table
Turkey!
So many presents under the tree!
Fluffy leopard print hot water bottle from Pete’s parents
Me with rum from Pete’s parents. Pete with whiskey from my parents
Decked out in my new leopard print dressing gown from my parents, faux fur tippet and headband crocheted by my mum
Hand crocheted headband from Mum
Books from Pete’s parents and my parents
Chocolate!!
Betty licence plate from my parents
Cath Kidston mug from my parents
Alf wants his present

Hope you all had a lovely and relaxing time 🙂
Love,
Betty
x

Get Stuffed

In a nice, festive, food related way of course dear readers! 🙂

I’m a big fan of cooking and making your own food from raw ingredients rather than using packets. As it’s a few days before Christmas I thought I would share with you my recipe for making some awesome homemade stuffing. Although I’m not a big lover of stuffing, my boyfriend is, so I’ve been making this with a lot of our roast dinners recently. I’m probably even going to make it on Christmas day for his family (eep!).
It’s really easy and much more satisfying that using a packet mix. Plus, you can vary the recipe to meet your own tastes.

Betty’s Homemade Stuffing

1. Breadcrumbs.
Breadcrumbs make up the bulk of your stuffing. You can buy breadcrumbs, but I prefer to make my own. Take two slices of stale bread (white/brown/granary, whatever your preference) and blitz them in a food processor. If you haven’t thought ahead to let two slices of bread go stale, as I often do, then you can toast them, and/or whack them in the oven for a bit. Just make sure the bread is really dry or you’ll find it hard to make crumbs (although some larger lumps aren’t the end of the world!).

Toasted bread ready to go in the oven to dry
Breadcrumbs!

2. Onions and Mince
I used half an onion, but you can use more or less depending on how much you like it. It needs to be diced, again the exact texture is down to you, you can really mince it up finely or leave quite large chunks. Heat up a pan with around a tablespoon of oil, then add the onions and fry gently, until they begin to look translucent.
Then add the mince. I’ve never really measured how much mince I put in, but I would guess about 1 cup or a large handful. I always use really cheap lamb mince for stuffing, because it’s cheap and also it tends to have a higher fat content, which is good for this recipe. The mince is also quite flexible, it can be lamb, beef, pork or even veggie if you’re not a meat eater (although I would add some more oil/fat if using veggie mince). Alternatively, you could use sausage meat, chopped up sausages or bacon. It’s purpose is really to add fat and flavour.
When the mince is cooked, take the pan off the heat while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Lamb Mince

3. Herbs and Spices
Again, this stage is really open to changes to suit your own taste. Recently, my stuffing of choice has used rosemary, mixed herbs and hazelnuts; pretty much because that’s what I’ve had around. I finely chop the rosemary and nuts (usually in a food mixer as doing it by hand is quite tedious, but you can buy chopped nuts if you need), then mix them in with the breadcrumbs, along with salt and pepper to taste.
There are loads of variations you can do with the herbs though. Sage and Onion is obviously a classic stuffing combination. You could try a Moroccan twist with some paprika and dried apricots and raisins. Go nutty with loads of nuts in the mix. Try adding garlic and lemon, which would go particularly well with chicken. If you fancied a meatier stuffing, use a larger amount of pork mince alongside chunks or apple or apple sauce, for another taste classic. If you’re feeling a bit more experimental, how about adding mint for a stuffing to go with lamb? Basically, just get in there and try out flavours that you like and experiment a bit!

4. Mixing
Once you’ve added your spices to the breadcrumbs, pour the dry ingredients into the pan and mix thoroughly (not on the heat). If the mix seems a little dry then add a bit more oil.
Put the mixture into an oven proof dish and press down. You can pour some of the juices from the meat you’re cooking over the stuffing as well, for added moisture and taste. Cover the dish with foil and bake at 190 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes, then a further 10 minutes with the foil removed (this is in my oven which is pretty poor, if yours if quite powerful then reduce the time and keep and eye on it).

Ok, so my bread wasn’t quite dry enough and there are some pretty big chunks in there. It’s just added texture!

5. Serve and Enjoy!!

I hope you are all looking forward to many happy celebrations and a relaxing day tomorrow.
Happy Holiday Wishes,
Betty
x

Absolutely Shattered

Today, I tried out my new OPI shatter polish in gold, that came in my December JolieBox.
I don’t own any other OPI polishes, largely due to the price, but have been aware of the brand ever since I first heard about their Muppets collection (want). I have also never used a shatter polish before, but have been interested in trying one out for a while, so I was really pleased when I found this in my box.
While gold isn’t a colour I wear a lot of, this polish is so pretty and just screams Christmas, so I’ve been eager to try it ever since it arrived!

Here I’m wearing a No7 polish in Damson Dream underneath the shatter polish. I liked the combination of the deep purple-toned red under the gold, especially during the festive period 🙂 I’ve also got a top coat on top here, which I don’t always do, as suggested on the bottle, and it did really increase the shine and sparkle of the gold.

The OPI polish was really easy to apply, with a good brush and consistency. The shatter effect developed a lot quicker than I was expecting and was fun to watch. I think I would buy more OPI polishes in future, if I’m feeling flush!

This months JolieBox (actually the first UK JolieBox, previously known as Boudoir Prive) was really impressive. While the (full size) polish is probably my favourite product, the others were all also really exciting. Unfortunately, I’ve had to leave the rest of the box at home while I’m away for Christmas so can’t play with or write about the rest of the box yet.

Hope you are all getting in a festive mood. These nails have definitely helped me 🙂
Betty
x

Xmas Blogger Meet

Last Friday, I travelled all the way to Bristol to attend the South West Bloggers Xmas Blogger Meet, organised in association with MyStreetChic.com.

I had been aware of the event for a while, but had put off buying a ticket, largely due to nerves. The idea of travelling on my own to a city I had never visited before in order to attend an event with a lot of people I didn’t know put me well out of my comfort zone! But challenging myself to do things that take me out of my normal, safe behaviour is an important part of trying to enjoy my life more; so I took the plunge and booked the ticket, then swiftly booked a hotel to ensure I didn’t try to back out at the last minute.
I’m so glad I did.
Although I had intended to head up to Bristol reasonably early in the day and explore the city a little, my manically hectic schedule last week meant I didn’t end up getting in to Bristol until about 5 pm. I navigated my way to my hotel, which wasn’t far from the station, checked in and set about dolling myself up for the event. Picking the right outfit had been a bit of a trial. At first I bought a gold sequin bodycon dress from TFNC, which I had been lusting over for weeks before hand. Although it was really pretty in itself I wasn’t comfortable wearing it, they call it bodycon for a reason, and it showed off every unwanted lump and bump of my body. In addition, although it was pretty, it felt a little too ordinary as a Christmas party dress, and didn’t showcase my personality particularly well, which I felt was important for meeting a group of fashion conscious strangers for the first time!
My second purchase was a black and white polka dot sequined playsuit from ASOS.com. It was perfect. As soon as I tried it on I loved it. I was comfortable, flattering, fun and so me! I also discovered it had pockets, which is such a bonus in a glam going-out outfit, as pockets are so useful but not usually high on the design specification. As the playsuit was a pretty big feature in itself, and I had dyed my hair pink again, I decided to keep my accessories pretty simple, with black (thermal) tights for warmth (M&S), a pair of black and white jazz type brogues with a small heel (New Look) and my Bah Humbug necklace (Clutterfly Jewellery).
I was very pleased at the number of comments I got on my outfit, particularly my necklace.
Striking my best model pose in the hotel room
The event itself was held in Java on Park Street, which looked pretty flashy both inside and out. It was nice for private hire but probably isn’t the sort of place you’d find me on a standard night out. We were greeted with goody bags, free cocktails and photographers documenting outfits for the live blog and twitter feed. I was immensely nervous but everyone was so nice and welcoming I got totally swept away by the great atmosphere and quickly found my stride in meeting and greeting loads of the other blogger girls and guys (mostly girls) and the staff from MyStreetChic. A few of the free pink MyStreetChic cocktails helped me on my way as well 😉 I even got to chat and be photographed with Gina Dyer, editor of MyStreetChic.com, who was thoroughly lovely and super stylish.
MyStreetChic Martini
Me (L) and Me with Gina Dyer (R) Photos by Chloe Lee
After a good amount of drinking and mingling there was a fashion show put on showcasing party looks from Boohoo.com. It was quite exciting to get to sit and watch the models strutting their stuff on the catwalk as I’ve never been to a proper fashion show before. Not everything was my taste, but there were some nice pieces that will hopefully still be available by the time I actually have some spare cash for clothes again!
A selection of the outfits from the fashion show. It might be a while before I make it as a catwalk photographer
There were so many more people at the event than I had expected and I didn’t get to find and chat to a lot of the people I had hoped to. Having said that, I also met some really great people whose blogs I haven’t read before, which turned out to be even better as I got to chat and hang out with some really fun people and find some great new blogs to read. You should definitely check out; Dream In Colour, A Day in the Life of…, Style Eyes Ethical Fashion Blog, Cherry Pie, and UnlimitedByJK as just a sample of the lovely people I encountered.
The crowd gathering in Java
I had such a wonderful evening, made all the better through being super proud of myself for actually going! I won’t be having second thoughts about any future blogger event and will probably be seeking them out in future. If you do get the opportunity you really should attend something like this, you’ll meet great people, pick up some new blogs to read and new people to read yours, and maybe even make out with a stack of freebies if you’re lucky!
Speaking of freebies; the goody bags were amazing. I made out with a can of Batiste Dry Shampoo, Tea Tree Spot Stick, 2True nail polish, MyStreetChic lipbalm, tights from tightsplease.co.uk, a fancy looking cleanser and, possibly my favourite item, a Colour Cycle Light up lipgloss! I have to say, I thought the idea of a light up lipgloss was a bit of a silly novelty at first, but, although I haven’t needed to light itself, the lipgloss is great and I love the mirror on the side!
If you haven’t already checked out MyStreetChic.com then head over there now. It’s a great website for current high street fashion and style, they also have more features about the blogger even, including a video and blog. Or, have a look at their facebook page, where there are links to lots of other blog reviews of the evening.
Finally, I just want to thank Bee, Lyzi, Gina, MyStreetChic and Boohoo for putting on such a great event.
Best Wishes,
Betty
x
PS. All photos are my own except where otherwise stated. Any photos borrowed from elsewhere should link back to their sources.

Matte & Gloss

Apologies for not posting at all this week. I have really wanted to but have been so busy preparing for Christmas and Christmas related events; most significantly the My Street Chic Christmas Blogger Party on Friday in Bristol (I shall post about that later though).

So this is a post is one I lined up last weekend, before my super busy week, of two items I picked up during the week. I quite liked the contrast between the two so thought I’d combine them in one post.
I’ve been very interested in trying out matte nail polish for a while, but always seemed to forget to look at matte top coats whenever I was in Boots/Superdrug. Last week I finally remembered and picked up the Rimmel Pro Matte Coat in Boots. At £4.95 I don’t think it’s particularly expensive, especially as it will give you as many matte shades as you have existing nail polishes (so, I have now doubled my nail polish stash!!).
I knew my first try would have to be on a black polish, there was just something so classy and appealing about a matte black nail. I’m really happy with the finished effect. The bottle has a nice wide brush which helps make the polish really easy to apply. The matte finish begins to develop really quickly, although this does give a false impression of being quick drying; I did mine late-ish at night and though it was dry before bed but woke up with fabric impressions in my nails (this was easily solved with another coat of the matte polish in the morning however). An added benefit of the top coat is that it makes your polish last longer, at least it did for me. The bottle says up to 10 days, I got about 5 out of mine without any chips, which is quite a long time for me!
Rimmel Pro Matte Top Coat over M&S Autograph Nail Polish in Black
I haven’t had the time to try it out on other polishes yet, but will hopefully find some spare time tomorrow, if I can make a decision on what polish colour to try next! I also like the idea of trying out a black matte nail with a black gloss leopard print over the top, it sounds awesome in my head, if I can pull it off.
I think I’ll be getting through quite a lot of this stuff, although maybe not until after Christmas now as I have a lot of glittery festive shades that are just crying out to be used at this time of year!
I just looked and Boots have a 3 for 2 offer on Rimmel at the moment, so it could be a good time to try this out!
As I mentioned, two contrasting items, moving from matte to gloss!
I’m sure by now a lot of you have heard about these lipglosses, from Models Own in  association with Diet Coke, that you can get free when you buy two bottles of Diet Coke from Boots until December 27th. For those of you that haven’t, well, you have now!
There are four shades available, all of which are pretty appealing, but the red was always top of my list! So when I was in Boots and feeling a bit thirsty, it was a bit of a no-brainer!
I’m totally in love with it! So much so that I’m a bit worried about what I’ll do when it runs out and they are no longer available in Boots! The colour is great, you can apply it as thin or thick as you like, for a more subtle or bold effect. I’ve been applying it a bit thicker for a bolder, red lipstick look. It lasts as well as any lipgloss and keeps your lips moisturised unlike some lipsticks. Obviously the ultimate benefit is that it was free!! The only possible downside is the smell, it isn’t really bad, but it’s a bit chemically and weird, but does fade pretty quickly after application.
Me out ice skating with Pete (L) and getting ready for a Christmas meal (R)
I would like to get my hands on another, although I would be torn between another red and the pink. I also don’t know if I’ll be able to get to a Boots again between now and New Year 😦 I will be very sad when I run out of this.
If you happen to be in or near a Boots I would really recommend you get yourself a couple of bottles of Diet Coke, I’m more of a Pepsi girl myself, but it’s not often you get the chance to pick up a Models Own lipgloss for free!!
Hope you are all well and getting ready for the festive season!
Love,
Betty
x

Wish List: Books

I love books. I buy a lot of books, I read a lot of books and I give a lot of books as presents.
Now, I’m sure there are some of you out there who don’t consider books to be good gifts, but a thoughtfully selected book can be the best present. Fair enough, some of the little novelty books they have by the tills in book shops can be a bit of a waste of a (small) tree, but even then, if the joke is appropriate, it can still be a good gift.

One problem I have with giving books as gifts is that, for every book I find to give to someone else, I find at least two I want for myself! So, for anyone out there thinking of getting me a Christmas present who is stuck for ideas, here is a brief run-down of some of the books currently loitering on my Amazon wishlist.

In no particular order;

1. The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking by Kate Payne

I only found out about this book a week or so ago when I saw it reviewed in the latest edition of Mollie Makes, and it went straight on to my wishlist. It has airs of Domestic Sluttery (which I love and still need to write about), cheap and easy ways to get on with being domestic without it taking over your life.

2. Outsider Tart: Baked in America by David Muniz and David Lesniak

What better than being a Domestic Slut and an Outsider Tart (combined with Happy Hooking, there seems to be a downward turn in the morals of domesticity).
As you should know by now, I love to bake and eat cake, so this book is pretty perfect. The recipes inside are described as ‘decadent’ and cover all my favourites from cupcakes to brownies and cookies.
The obvious American influence suggests a significant calorie content as well.

3. Chic on a Shoestring by Mary Jane Baxter

Another book for living a stylish but budget lifestyle, with an added vintage twist. Bringing together my other loves of clothes, accessories, crafting and vintage styling.

4. How to Make Jewellery with Tatty Devine by Rosie Wolfenden and Harriet Vine

Oh look, more crafting and accessories! What can I say, I know what I like!
I’ve always been a fan of Tatty Devine jewellery, although so far haven’t ever had enough excess cash to buy myself any. So, this book seems like a good solution, make my own TD inspired pieces and keep myself occupied in the mean time.

5. Preserves: A Beginner’s Guide to making jams and jellies, chutneys and pickles, sauces and ketchups, syrups and alcoholic sips by Jill Nice

I really enjoyed my first attempt at making jam earlier this year. While I still have quite a lot of what I made left, I’m keen to find out more about jams and preserving so I can try something different next time.
This book seems pretty comprehensive and I like the cover (not that I’m judging…).

6. CakeSpy presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar Filled Life by Jessie Oleson

I may have a bit of a cake obsession, but as long as part of that obsession is filled with cake related books, I should be safe from obesity and diabetes for a while.
I’ve been a reader of the CakeSpy blog for quite a while now, and when I heard she was publishing a book I knew I would have to have it.
Yet more high calorie american baking goodness, all wrapped up in a pink cartoon-y shell. Perfect 🙂

7. Bossypants by Tina Fey

Something a bit different.
I like Tina Fey, I have heard good things about this book. Not much more to say!

At present, there are 151 books on my Amazon Wishlist, so I think I’ll leave you with just this selection for now. The rest are a pretty eclectic mix of brief introductions to…., popular science, lifestyle, autobiography, fiction, craft and a lot of things in between.

I’ll leave you with this video of a kid who doesn’t want books for Christmas, just because I think it’s funny.

Best Wishes,
Betty
x