My Month In Nails {September)

30 September 2013

This month I've bought a LOT of new nail colours. Firstly I went onto Fragrance Direct for my weekly check to see if they've got any new Essie colours in {they hadn't} but I ended up buying six Rimmel nail polishes. Well for only 99p each I couldn't say no!

Then a few days later I popped into Boots and saw the 'buy 1 get the 2nd half price' on make-up so I bought six new BarryM colours! I've just got no self control when it comes to nail polish.

Now I'm on a strict {self imposed} spending ban so I won't be buying any more make-up or nail polish for the whole of October. It's a bit like Sober October where you pledge to give up alcohol for the month, only I'm doing it for nail polish!

Anyway, here's my monthly roundup of all the colours that graced my nails in September...

Avon Speed Dry+ // Sprightly Mint
Essie // Maximillian Strasse Her + Nails Inc // Electric Lane
Rimmel Lasting Finish // Pop Your Pink
NYC // 246 Park Avenue
BarryM Gelly Nail Paint // Mango
Rimmel Lycra Pro // Trend Spotting
BarryM Gelly Nail Paint // Passion Fruit

What do you think? What's your favourite? I absolutely loved the BarryM Gelly Nail Paints, the colours are so vibrant and rich... but they chip so badly. Just 48 hours later and I had lots of chips.

Silent Sunday

Lemon Drizzle Cake

25 September 2013

 lemon drizzle cake

I'm happy to report that my baking mojo has well and truly returned. After a couple of months of only baking here and there, I suddenly want to bake all the time again.

I blame the lovely warm weather we had this summer. This Yorkshire lass was just too lazy to spend any time in the kitchen when I could be sunning myself in the garden! So I've been making up for lost time by baking lots and started with this Lemon Drizzle Cake.

lemon drizzle cake

Lemon Drizzle Cake has been on my 'must bake' list for such a long time. I just never remember to buy the lemons! This time I remembered to order lemons with my weekly online shopping... only for them to be out of stock {seriously Asda I do not believe you didn't have one single lemon in your massive Leeds warehouse!!!}

Anyway I was determined to make this and eventually hunted down some lemons {thank you Sainsburys!}

The recipe is for a traybake but I fancied using a loaf tin instead and there was enough batter left to make a 15cm round cake too. If you decide to make a loaf you could use the rest of the batter for some cupcakes.

This was one of the most quickly demolished cakes I've ever baked. I took the small round cake into work for two lovely friends {one ate hers for breakfast!} and the loaf was polished off by the four of us and my parents within 24 hours! 

lemon drizzle cake

Lemon Drizzle Cake

Serves 16
Preparation time 15 minutes
Cooking time 35-40 minutes

225g butter, softened
225g caster sugar
4 eggs
275g self-raising flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 tablespoons milk
Grated rind of 2 lemons

Drizzle Topping
150g  granulated or caster sugar
juice of 2 lemons

Pre-heat the oven to 160°C {325°F} Gas mark 3. Grease a 30 x 23 cm {12 x 9"} baking tin or roasting tin and line the bottom with baking paper or parchment.

In a large bowl add the butter and sugar and mix together with a hand held electric mixer {or freestanding mixer of you're lucky enough to have one!} until it's pale and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix thoroughly.  Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl, add the milk and lemon rind and mix thoroughly until all the ingredients are fully combined.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and pop in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes. When ready, it will look golden, spring back when gently touched and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Leave to stand in the tin for 5 minutes while you make the crunchy topping.

Mix the lemon juice and sugar in a small bowl to give a runny consistency. Turn out the cake onto a wire rack and remove the baking paper. Put a baking tray under the wire rack to catch any drips from the drizzle topping. Prick the cake all over with a skewer.

Spoon the mixture evenly over the cake whilst it's still warm. The juice will sink in and the sugar will form a lovely, crisp topping.

Cut into about squares or slices when cold... if you can wait long enough!!

I've entered this into Tasty Tuesday s. Pop over to have a look at all the yummy recipes!

Tasty Tuesdays on

Glossybox September 2013

24 September 2013

The September Glossybox is 'The London Edition' which is a celebration of London Fashion Week. First of all, I loved the Union Jack box and the cute tissue paper. The box will join my ever growing tower of empty Glossyboxes as I can't bear to throw them away!

This month was also the introduction of the new GB Mag. It's a cute little glossy magazine containing interviews with fashion and beauty experts, the latest trends and must-have products. I like it. It's a nice little addition that I can flick through when I have a minute to sit down with a coffee.

Anyway, shall we take a peek inside and see if the contents are as good as the box?

Elizabeth Arden, Untold {sample size} // Even though this is a sample size it comes is a beautiful glass bottle which is a miniature of the full size one. It's a lovely elegant bottle with a beautiful scent to match. I'm rubbish at describing smells so here is how they describe it... "A luxurious and modern floral fragrance... Untold's sparkling and fruity introduction, radiant, floral heart and mysterious addictive warmth captures femininity in a bottle." I love it!
Full size rice £48 for 50ml, £69 for 100ml

Eyelure, Pre-Glued Lashes {full size } // I love false lashes but don't wear them very often. I usually save them for special occasions {of which I don't have many} but I can't wait to try them out when I have a night out next month. They're very natural looking and it sounds like they're easy to use as they're pre-glued, so no messing or waiting for the glue to go tacky.
One set £5.06

Toni & Guy, Hair Meet Wardrobe Classic Shine & Gloss Serum {full size} // An interesting product as I'm the queen of frizz! I straighten my naturally curly hair or or else it turns into a big frizz ball. They say to use on blow dried hair and work through the lengths to ends to controls frizz with lightweight shine. I does what it says but didn't blow me away and it's no better or worse than any other similar product I've used. I will use it but probably wouldn't repurchase. 
Full size price £7.19

Be A Bombshell Cosmetics, Onyx Eye Liner {full size} // In addition to being the queen of frizz, I'm also the queen on eye liner! This a felt tip type liner with a really thin tip so you can control and vary the thickness of the line. I liked that it's easy to use, goes on smoothly and that it lasted really well. But I won't be replacing my beloved Rimmel Exaggerate Eye Liner that I've used for years... it doesn't even come close.
Full size price $14

HD Brows, Bronzer {full size} // Be still my beating heart! I almost jumped for joy when I saw this in my box! And it didn't disappoint either. It's finely milled so you only need a tiny bit on your brush but it blends like a dream and gives a really natural sun-kissed glow, even on my fair skin. Love love love it.
Full size price £19.95

This is my favourite box yet, by a mile. Mine was predominantly make-up products which suits me down to the ground. This seems to be the general consensus on beauty blogs and Instagram so take note Glossybox! Make-up products equals happy ladies.

So what do you think? What did you get in your Glossybox this month?

Sunday Soul Food #9

22 September 2013

I hope you had a fantastic weekend. Here's some Sunday Soul Food to bring you a few words of inspiration, motivation and food for thought to lift your hearts on a Sunday evening.

This Week #8

20 September 2013

My beautiful cheeky Lydia ● I made some easy peasy Marshmallow Krispy Squares ● Oliver cycled the whole 2.5 miles round the lake ● An excited Oliver on the way to his first day of school ● Some pink purchases ● Nails: Rimmel Lasting Finish in Pop Your Pink ● I'm obsessed with taking photos of clouds ● A sculpture in the park... Hubby said it was a meerkat, I said a beaver and Lydia said a kangaroo!! ● Yay Glossybox delivery day! ● Banana and White Choc Blondies ● I forgot to take my overnight oats to work for breakfast so had them for lunch instead! ● Nails: NYC in 246 Park Ave ● Full moon :) ● Couldn't resist buying these 5 BarryM nail polishes on special offer in Boots! ● More washi tape to add to my collection ● Nails: BarryM Gelly Nail Paint in Mango with a gold glittery accent nail.

I post on Instagram LOTS! You can follow me @mydarlingsandme
Feel free to leave a comment with your instagram name so I can follow you :)

Banana Chocolate Brownies

19 September 2013

banana chocolate brownies

Oh how I love The Great British Bake Off! It's most definitely the TV highlight of my week. Have you been watching this series? Obviously I love all the baking but Mel and Sue are just hilarious too. I adore Mary Berry, she's my baking guru and I use a lot of her recipes. And Paul Hollywood with his twinkling blue eyes.

This week was traybakes, tuilles and biscuits towers. The biscuit tower showstoppers had to be over 30cms high! My favourite was Howards Japanese Tea Tower... very elegant! And I felt sorry for poor Frances whose biscuit tower collapsed.

Anyway, mention the word traybake and I immediately think of chocolate brownies. I think you'll know by now that they're one of my favourite things to bake. Remember my quest for the perfect Chocolate Orange brownie?! This time I thought I'd throw in some bananas that were sitting in the fruit bowl looking all  forlorn.

banana chocolate brownies

They're just what I love in a brownie.. squidgy and rich plus the banana flavour perfectly compliments the chocolate.

I thought I'd enter these into the Great Bloggers Bake Off hosted by Helen at The Crazy Kitchen and Jenny at Mummy Mishaps. It's a weekly linky based on what's been baked on each week's GBBO. Pop over to see what traybakes, tuilles and biscuits everyone else has baked this week.

banana chocolate brownies

Banana Chocolate Brownies

Makes 12
Preparation time 20 minutes
Baking time 30 minutes

175 dark chocolate
175g butter
150g brown sugar
2 medium sized bananas
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
100g self raising flour
2 teaspoons cocoa
¼ cup chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 180C {350F} Gas mark 4. Line a 25 x 20cm baking tin with baking paper. 
Melt the butter and chocolate together in a heatproof bowl over a simmering pan of water or in a microwave on 50% power in 30 second bursts. Give it a really good mix and set aside to cool slightly.

Beat the eggs and sugar in a large bowl with a hand held electric mixer until really thick and creamy. Add the chocolate mixture, plus the mashed up banana and stir to combine everything. Sift in the flour and fold in gently, until the flour is just combined. Pour into the prepared tin.

Pop in the oven for 30 minutes. When ready it should be set and crispy on top but still gooey in the middle. Gently shake the tin and the middle of the brownie should slightly wobble when it's ready.

Leave to cool for at least 2 hours before you even attempt to cut it. If you cut it up too soon, the brownie will leak all over the place. Cut into squares. These would be fab as a dessert served with vanilla ice cream.

mummy mishaps

Banana and White Chocolate Blondies

16 September 2013

banana and white chocolate blondies

If you check out my recipe index, you'll see there are quite a few recipes using bananas. I love baking with them but the family love them even more so I rarely get the chance to try out any banana flavoured recipes. Imagine my excitement when we had five - yes five - bananas left in the fruit bowl this week looking a bit brown and manky!

banana and white chocolate blondies

I'm not sure where the idea to make banana blondies came from. I think I've seen it somewhere before and I mentally filed it under must-try recipes.  I had so many bananas though that I had a bit of a baking marathon and made these plus some chocolate banana brownies too.

banana and white chocolate blondies

They're deliciously gooey and not too cakey which in my humble opinion is how brownies/blondies should be.

banana and white chocolate blondies

There's no way we could get through the huge quantity of brownies and blondies, so some were dispatched to my parents and sister who agreed they were indeed yummy.

banana and white chocolate blondies

Banana and White Chocolate Blondies

Makes 12
Preparation time 20 minutes
Baking time 35 minutes 

280g caster sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
160g butter, softened
2 medium/3 small bananas (weighing approx 200g unpeeled)
250g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
250g white chocolate

Preheat oven to 170C {325F} gas mark 3. Line a 25 x 20cm baking tin with baking paper or parchment.

Beat the butter and sugar  in a large bowl until really thick and creamy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract and beat again until fully combined. Roughly mash the bananas and stir these in then add the flour, baking powder and cinnamon and fold in gently, until the flour is just combined. Chop 200g of the white chocolate into chunks and stir into the mixture.

Pour into the prepared tin and pop in the oven for 30 - 35 minutes. It should be set on top but still gooey in the middle.

Leave to cool completely  then melt the remaining white chocolate  {I melted mine in the microwave in 30 second bursts on 50% power} and drizzle over the top of the blondies. Cut into squares. Enjoy!

I've entered these little beauties into:

Tasty Tuesdays on

Sunday Soul Food #8

15 September 2013

I hope you had a fantastic weekend. Here's some Sunday Soul Food to bring you a few words of inspiration, motivation and food for thought to lift your hearts on a Sunday evening.

Five Things...

14 September 2013

that have made me happy this week...

♥ Oliver has finally fallen in love with his bike. He cycled 2.5 miles around Hollingworth Lake and loved it.

♥ I've been off work all week so that I could be there for Oliver's first week at school and I've done lots and lots of baking!

♥ I bought my winter boots at the end of last winter so didn't get to wear them much but I'm loving wearing them now and how comfy they are.

♥ We had a fab day out at Legoland Discovery Centre in Manchester. We went for a special treat the day before Oliver started school.

♥ Lydia has settled back into playgroup. I dropped her off this morning and she just gave me a kiss and skipped inside.

How are you spending your weekend? For a change we don't have any plans but I think we'll be spending some time with my parents and my sister and nieces as we haven't seen them much this week. And if the weather behaves itself we'll have a trip to the park or go for a long walk somewhere. We need to make the most of it before winter!

Child Free!

13 September 2013

Here I am, all alone in the house. This never happens! Oliver's at school, Lydia's at playgroup and I'm off work this week. So I've got some very rare child free time on my hands. 

What shall I do? I thought about going shopping but I'll only spend too much money on make-up and nail polish so I decided to get my blog on instead. I've got so many half written drafts and just haven't had the time lately to get them finished and posted.

So I've got my coffee and cake {it's never too early for cake!}, laptop and tablet {why do I need both?!} so expect to see a week packed full of new posts coming up!

Oliver Starts School

12 September 2013

This time last year I was writing about Oliver starting pre-school. I can't believe how quickly this year has flown and now he's started school. 

Tuesday was his first day and I've never seen him so excited. He got dressed in his uniform in record time with no shouting encouragement from me and he even asked for some gel in his hair! 

The short walk to school was hilarious. He was so hyper I couldn't get a decent photo of him. Luckily I took some nice photos the previous week when he'd tried on his uniform!

When we got to his classroom, his best friend was already there as he started a couple of days earlier. Oliver ran straight over and started playing with him. His new teacher Mrs Williams {who seems lovely} prised Oliver away and showed him where to hang his coat and bag, where to put his water bottle and where to put his name on the board. Then he was off. I managed to give him a quick kiss but he'd found much more exciting things to do. Walking home I had a huge lump in my throat and tears in my eyes but I managed not to cry.

So now I'm the mum of a schoolboy. I know it's a cliche but it really does seem like yesterday that he was a tiny baby and suddenly he's grown into a very tall independent four year old who loves his new school!

Peppa Pig Birthday Cake

4 September 2013

Peppa Pig Birthday Cake
Peppa Pig Birthday Cake
Peppa Pig Birthday Cake
Peppa Pig Birthday Cake
Peppa Pig Birthday Cake

Yesterday was my beautiful niece Chloe's 2nd birthday and as she loves Peppa Pig, that was her request for a cake. My sister gave me free reign over the design so I spent the last few weeks researching different designs. I decided on a muddy puddles cake but wasn't 100% sure what the final cake would look like.

It had to be ready for Chloe's party on Sunday so I set to work on Friday evening, making the Peppa and George figures. Oh my goodness, they were really hard! The eyes and hands were the most difficult. But three hours later they were finished and I was happy with them. I think I dreamed about them all night.

Saturday was baking and decorating day, so hubby took the darlings out so I could get on with it in peace. I baked the cake which was a simple but delicious Victoria sponge cake {recipe here} filled with raspberry jam and vanilla buttercream. 

The best bit for me was decorating the cake. I just love getting creative, making all the little pieces and putting it all together. The little duck in the pond was a last minute addition and I decided to add some leaves and flowers round the sides too.

I'm absolutely delighted with the finished cake. I still can't believe I made it! The birthday girl loved it, my sister loved it and I got lots of really lovely compliments from everybody at her party. As much as I love making cakes like this, I'm glad I only make them every few months as it's exhausting!