Glossybox November 2013

29 November 2013

I think it's safe to say that last months Glossybox should have been renamed Crappybox. Four out of the five products were sample sizes and the products were just totally meh. But it looks like Glossybox have listened to the feedback from last month and upped their game for November.

The theme for the November Glossybox was the Glossy Wishlist. Which is not much of a theme really as absolutely anything could fit into that category. I was hoping the wishlist theme would mean it would be full of must-have/mega- hyped products. Sadly not. I don't really think you could call anything in this box a must-have and I'm not sure they would be on many wishlists either.

Having said that I was pleased with the contents. I wasn't wowed  and it wasn't the best box ever but it was still good. Shall we take a closer look at what was inside?

Yves Rocher, Cacao and Orange Hand Cream {full size}
Terry's Chocolate Orange in a tube! I have this hand cream on my desk at work and first thing every morning I apply some... then spend the next couple of hours intermittently sniffing the gorgeous chocolate orange scent on my hands! Not only that but it's the most un-greasy hand cream I've ever used. It just sinks in to the skin and leaves my hands really soft and moisturised. Even better is that it costs the bargainistic price of £1.95. What's not to love?
Full size price £1.95 for 75ml

Elegant Touch, Rapid Dry For Nails (full size}
With my ongoing love affair with nail products anything nail related is going to be a huge hit with me. And I really love something that speeds up the whole nail painting process. The product actually does what it says on the tin. It doesn't immediately dry the nail polish but it does help them to dry within a minute or so. Like it!
Full size price £3 for 125ml

Vichy Idealia Life Serum {3 x sample sizes)
Inside the cute little organza bag, there are two tubes of the 'Idealia Life Serum - Skin Idealizer Serum' and one of  'Idealia - Smoothing and Illuminating cream'. Each tube is 3ml so a total of 9ml of product which makes it a nice little sample when the full size is 30ml. Serum is a very important part of my skincare routine so I love trying new ones. Previous serum's in the Glossybox have left me unimpressed but these were actually fab. I liked the feel of it on my skin and I'm sure with continued use it may well live up to their claim of transforming your skin. Unfortunately it's way out of my price range.
Full size price £29.50 for 30ml

Connock London, Kukui Eau De Parfum {sample size}
OK enough of the perfume samples! I've changed my Glossybox profile now so that I don't receive any more as I'm sick of them. Anyway, I won't go on about the top notes and layers and all that malarkey but it's supposed to smell like the Hawaiian Islands. I thought the scent was floral and musky and would say it's a mature scent without being old-ladyish. Quite nice.
Full size price £75.00 for 100ml

Emite Make Up, Micronised Eyeshadow in Dams {full size}
The only make up product in the box {I would have liked more!} so I was excited to see this. Emite is a brand I've heard of as a previous Glossybox contained their fantastic eyelash curlers. They say the eyeshadow is oil-free and highly pigmented and yes it is, but really it's just another black eyeshadow and no better than Blackout in my Urban Decay Naked2 palette.
Full size price £19.00

Glossybox have redeemed their selves with this box. After last months big box of rubbish, the November box didn't exactly blow me away but was so much better. Could have done with more make up products but I'll live with it.

Now I absolutely can't wait for the December box. I'm expecting fantastic things from the Christmas box and the anticipation is building even more as I've just received an email saying it's going to be sent out a little later this month due to such high demand. Please don't disappoint me Glossybox!

What did you get in your Glossybox? What did you think of this month's box?

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Bailey's Chocolate Cheesecake

28 November 2013

So it's just under 4 weeks until the big day. Hands up who's feeling in the Christmas spirit yet? I'm not quite... but I'm getting there. I've finished my Christmas present shopping and bought the darlings birthday presents which I always like to get done as early as possible. Just the wrapping to do, cards to write, advent calendar to fill, Christmas Eve box to organise, make everything on my list of Christmas baking and about a million other things!

Oh and there's Lydia's birthday party to plan and birthday cake to make in about 10 days... but I'll just gloss over that! We don't put our Christmas tree up until after her birthday, so I should be well and truly in the swing of things by then.

Anyway here's one more to tick off my Christmas baking list. You already know that Bailey's is my favourite drink... alcoholic drink I mean! I personally don't know why anyone would just buy Bailey's at Christmas... I have a bottle in my fridge all year round!

When I made this I just happened to have the orange truffle flavoured Bailey's in the fridge so I used that... and it was amazing. The Bailey's flavour is quite subtle but is the perfect partner for the chocolate and creamy cheesecakeyness!

Bailey's Chocolate Cheesecake

Serves 8
Preparation time 15 minutes
Chilling time 3 hours

100g butter
250g digestive biscuits
500g full fat cream cheese
50ml Baileys
100ml icing sugar 
300ml double cream
100g grated chocolate
 Cocoa powder to decorate

Break up the digestive biscuits and whizz them in a food processor until they turn to fine crumbs. Alternatively, you could put the biscuits in a strong plastic bag, fasten tightly and bash with a rolling pin until you get fine crumbs. Tip into a bowl.

Melt the butter in the microwave and add to the biscuit crumbs. Tip the mixture into a 20cm/8" loose bottomed flan dish or cake tin and press into the base with your fingers or the back of a spoon. Put in the fridge to chill for about 1 hour.

Whip the cream until it forms stiff peaks and leave to one side. Lightly whip the cream cheese then beat in the Bailey's and icing sugar. Fold in the whipped cream and grated chocolate. When smooth, spoon evenly onto the biscuits and smooth the surface with a spatula.

Spoon the cheesecake mixture over the biscuit base and smooth the surface. Place back in the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Dust with the cocoa powder or grated chocolate.

Linking up with these lovelies...

Link up your recipe of the week
Tasty Tuesdays on
Festive Friday at Thinly Spread

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This Week #9

22 November 2013

Getting rid of the grey  ●  Preparing to make homemade mincemeat  ●  Visiting the Blackpool Illuminations  ●  My mincemeat waiting to be bottled  ●  Remembrance Day  ●  Testing out a new playgym... it got the darlings seal of approval!  ●  Oliver/Batman with his balloon sword  ●  Loving the November Glossybox  ●  Mincemeat finally ready in pretty jars  ●  Filo Mince Pies... look and taste incredible!  ●  So it begins... Father Christmas arrived in town  ●  Uber chilly morning  ●  Pretty sunset on the school run  ●  The darlings having some autumn fun with the leaves  ●  Christmas Tree Brownies... Yum!

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 :)
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Filo Mince Pies

21 November 2013

Last Christmas I made mince pies and they were seriously bad. I used shop bought mincemeat {how watery is that stuff?!} and flavourless ready made shortcrust pastry. Yes they were edible but I think I ended up throwing some away as no one wanted to eat them. I didn't even blog about them, they were that bad.

On Sunday I made mince pies again and this time they were a million times better. I used mincemeat made by my own fair hands which quite frankly tastes incredible. Yes I used ready made pastry again but anyone who's ever seen The Great British Bake Off will know that filo pastry is a pain in the arse to make! Hey if you want to use shop bought mincemeat too I promise I won't hold it against you.

These mince pies are mega simple to make. There's actually only three ingredients... well four if you count the icing sugar to dust them with! But how impressive do they look? I posted a photo of them on my personal facebook page and now have a massive list of friends waiting for me to make some more so they can try them!

Filo Mince Pies

Makes 12
Preparation time 15 minutes
Baking time 16-20 minutes

1 x 270g pack ready made filo pastry
600g Mincemeat
1 egg, beaten
Icing sugar to decorate

Preheat oven to 190C {375F} gas mark 5. Lightly grease a 12 hole deep muffin tin with vegetable oil or spray oil.

Lay the sheets of filo pastry on top of each other on the work surface. Cut in half vertically so that you have two large squares. Then cut each large square into four quarters.  Take three of the small squares and place them on top of each other, off-setting them slightly to make a kind of star shape.

Gently push the 3 filo pieces into the muffin tin, making sure you push it right to the bottom and up the sides. Repeat until all 12 muffin holes are lined with filo. There should be 12 squares of filo left, cover these with a lightly dampened tea towel so they don't dry out.

Spray each filo case with a little oil and pop in the oven for 6-8 minutes until crisp and a pale golden colour. Remove from the oven and fill each case with mincemeat. Take the remaining squares of filo and gently scrunch each one up and place on top of each pie. Brush lightly with the beaten egg.

Place on a preheated baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes until crisp and golden. Dust with a little icing sugar. They're great either hot or cold with a dollop of brandy flavoured cream.

Linking up with...

Romanian Mum
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Christmas Tree Brownies

19 November 2013

Thank you once again to the wonderful world of Pinterest for the idea for these Christmas Tree Brownies! Pinterest really comes into it's own at Christmas with the endless ideas for baking, crafts, home decoration and activities. I've been pinning like crazy these past couple of weeks! Pop over and take a look at my huge Christmas board if you so wish.

Anyway! If you're a brownie lover {like me!} then you just have to make these at Christmas. They'll be a hit with both children and grown-ups and they look like you've spent lots of time on them when really they're incredibly easy to make. Just take your favourite brownie recipe, cut into triangles and decorate. Couldn't be more simple! Here's how I made mine...

Christmas Tree Brownies

Makes 12
Preparation time 20 minutes
Baking time 30 minutes 

200g dark chocolate
200g unsalted butter
250g caster sugar
3 large eggs
120g plain flour 
150g white chocolate, chopped into chunks
12 peppermint candy canes
Green coloured icing

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 orange zest and juice and beat again. Sift in the flour and fold in gently, until the flour is just combined. Pour into the prepared tin. Sprinkle the chocolate orange chunks over the brownie mixture in the 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 wobble the tin and the middle of the brownie should slightly wobble when it's ready.

Leave to cool in the tin 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 the brownies into triangles. Decorate with green icing {make your own or use writing icing in a tube} and stick the Smarties on. Break the curved part of the candy canes so you just have a straight piece and insert that into the bottom of the brownie to make the trunk.


Linking up with these lovelies...

Link up your recipe of the week
Tasty Tuesdays on
Hosted this month by Rebecca at BakeNQuilt
Romanian Mum
Festive Friday over at Thinly spread
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Monday Motivation #5

18 November 2013

Welcome to the start of a new week once again. As I always say, lets make it a fabulous one, filled with positivity and happiness.

This week's quote is just about that. Surrounding yourself with positive people. If you're trying to lead a positive life, negative people can bring you down. Positive people will encourage, empower  and believe in you.

My work colleagues were laughing at my PMA {positive mental attitude!} last week! I'd only been at work for about ten minutes when I heard two people saying they thought it was going to be a bad day, so I told them 'Positive things happen to positive people'. They thought it was funny but at least I made them laugh and spread a little of my positivity around.

Have a great week x

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So It Begins...

17 November 2013

The Reindeer parade through our village always marks the beginning of the Christmas season for us. It's so magical when Father Christmas rides through the streets in his sleigh pulled by his reindeer.

So yesterday was officially the start of the run up to Christmas for us.

This year we positioned ourselves outside the garden centre which is Santa's final destination where he lives in his grotto for the coming few weeks. We had a fantastic view of the procession coming down the hill towards us.... followed by a few hundred people! Lydia was so excited this year, she was really waving at Santa when he passed us which was so sweet it brought a lump to my throat.

When Santa was settled in his grotto, we went to say hello to his reindeer who were having a well deserved snack.

Then on to the playground which was probably the highlight for the darlings.

And we had to have a look in the garden centre at all the wonderful Christmas decorations.

While we were standing there waiting for Father Christmas to arrive, I thought to myself how I'd love to keep the darlings this age forever! It's ever so magical for them which of course makes it all the more special for me to see them so happy. I know in the blink of an eye they'll be grown up and the magic will be gone. So I'll hold on to the memories and cherish days like yesterday.

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Homemade Mincemeat

12 November 2013

With both of the darlings birthdays close to Christmas, this time of year is doubly exciting and stressful in equal measures. I like to be ultra organised but inevitaby find myself panic stricken at some point. Not this year though! I've vowed to take it easy and not take on too much this year.

The only thing I want to commit to is lots of lovely Christmas baking. I spent a whole evening a few weeks ago researching Christmas recipes and making a list of everything I want to bake. Top of the list was homemade mincemeat.

This recipe was kindly given to me by the wife of a work colleague who's been using it for many years. I tried her mincemeat in some baking she did for a cake sale and immediately asked for her recipe!

I've read in so many recipe books how if you make your own mincemeat you'll never buy it from a shop ever again. And I have so say that's absolutely true! Not only is it a doddle to make {the hardest bit is chopping the apple!} but the flavour is on a whole other level. It tastes smoother, less acidic and more citrussy {is that even a word?!}

I can't wait to use it in my Christmas baking. Obviously there'll be mince pies and I'm going to make some mincemeat crumblies too. Watch this space!

Homemade Mincemeat

Makes approx 1kg/2lb mincemeat {enough to fill two jam jars with a bit leftover}

225g bramley apples
8g butter
115g currants
115g raisins
115g sultanas
65g dried cranberries
65g chopped dates
115g soft brown sugar
90g grated vegetable suet
Finely grated rind and juice of 1/2 orange
Finely grated rind and juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon all spice
3 tablespoons brandy, whiskey or rum {I used brandy}

Core, peel and chop the apples. Melt the butter in a medium sized pan, add the apples and cook gently to soften them. Leave them to cool completely.

Add all the ingredients to a large bowl and mix together well. Leave in the bowl, covered with a cloth or tea towel and stir occasionally during the next 24 hours. This gives the flavours time to mingle and develop.

Wash the jars in warm soapy water, rinse well and sterilise. I cold sterilised mine using Milton fluid but if you sterilise with heat {ie oven or dishwasher} make sure the jars are cold before you fill with the mincemeat.

Fill the jars with the mincemeat but don't quite fill to the top. Put lids on and store in a cool, dry and dark place. Usually this will keep well, up to 12 months after being bottled.

Tasty Tuesdays on Time Treats

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Monday Motivation #4

11 November 2013

Happy Monday! It's the beginning of a new week which means a fresh start. Let's start the week off on a positive note shall we?

This week's quote is to remind you that you're beautiful. Yes you! In today's superficial world, there can be lots of pressure to look perfect. I can be as guilty as anyone, especially with my love of make-up, I do like to enhance what I've got. But beauty's not all about how we look, it's what's inside too. I think there's nothing more beautiful than a true act of kindness. I tell my children every single day that they're beautiful. I want them to grow up really believing it, to give them the confidence to do whatever they want in life.

Have a beautiful week!
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Five Things...

8 November 2013

... that have made me happy this week...

♥ Bonfire night. We went round to my parents house along with my sister and nieces for a firework display organised by my dad. The fireworks were pretty tame but the kids loved them and it was wonderful watching their little faces watching all the sparks and crackles.

♥ Christmas baking. I spent the other evening researching all the Christmas recipes I want to make. I've compiled quite a long list which I'm kicking off todat by making my own mincemeat.

♥ Christmas shopping. I've made great headway into buying the darlings Christmas and birthday presents. I've almost got everything for them so just need to buy gifts for my neices and friends children. Being organised makes me so happy.

♥ Happy hair. I had my highlights redone and hair trimmed yesterday. I was so glad to see the back of my awful grey roots! I'm growing my hair and it's just about reaching past my shoulders, which is nearly as long as I want it.

♥ Surprises. Oliver brought home a tshirt that hes made at school for Children In Need. It was a complete surprise as he's never mentioned it. He has to wear it on the day as part of his schools fund raising activities.

What's made you happy this week? 

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Chocolate Chip Shortbread

7 November 2013

The other day I had the sudden urge to bake some shortbread! As I'm always looking for something new to make, I wanted to have a go at chocolate shortbread. Im not sure how or why but I ended up making chocolate chip shortbread biscuits instead and I'm glad I did.

I had my glamorous assistant Lydia helping me and she was a wonderful cookie cutter. I did the rolling and she did the cutting out, we made a fantastic team. Since oliver started school its just her and I at home in the afternoon and its lovely to spend some mummy and daughter time together, which we haven't done much before.

The shortbread is beautifully buttery and simply melts in the mouth. I think shortbread is quite Christmassy so would make a lovely gift wrapped up in pretty paper and ribbon.

Chocolate Chip Shortbread

Makes 16
Preparation time 10 minutes
Baking time 25 minutes

225g butter softened
110g caster sugar
225g plain flour
110g cornflour
Pinch salt
150g milk chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 170C {350F} Gas mark 4. Line a baking tray with parchment or baking paper.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with a hand held electric whisk, until pale and fluffy. Sift in the flour and cornflour and mix with a wooden spoon until everything comes together. Add the chocolate chips and mix in well. Tip out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until you have a smooth dough.

Roll out the dough to a thickness of 1.5cm and cut out with a circular cookie cutter. Re-roll any spare bits until you've used all the dough. Prick each circle a few times with a fork and place on the lined baking tray.

Pop in the oven for 25 minutes until they are just turning a light gold colour at the edges. I turned the tray in the oven half way through the cooking time to ensure an even bake. Keep an eye on them so they don't bake for too long and go brown, they must stay quite a pale colour.

Leave on the baking tray for a few minutes for the biscuits to firm up slightly. Then transfer to a wire rack and sprinkle with caster sugar while they're still warm. Enjoy!

I'm linking up with these lovelies...

Link up your recipe of the week

Hosted this month by Rebecca of BakeNQuilt

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