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I knitted the Pandora Diamond Lace Sweater!

23 May 2015

As most people know, I love knitting. I find following a pattern, counting stitches and thinking about the process really relaxing and it takes my mind off a busy day. I guess it's like mindfulness in a way - when I'm knitting I'm in the moment, creating something which gives me a sense of pride!


Anyway, my recent projects have been little fiddly things like this bride and groom for my BFF Becky

So I decided to make something a bit bigger. I normally knit things and give them to other people (whether they want them or not) so it was a big deal that I made something for myself. Becky and I have a shared knitting pattern Pinterest board and she pinned the pattern for this jumper which was called "diamond lace sweater". It was posted as a free PDF from Prima magazine (the link is here), although I have since discovered the pattern was called Pandora and was from Rowan Seascapes.

The suggested wool was Rowan Savannah, although to my dismay they stopped producing this yarn a while ago. I couldn't find enough in the colour I wanted, so I had to find an alternative. I have discovered in my years of knitting that alternative yarns are fine for small items or things you don't have to wear, but when it comes to clothes, it really matters (I knitted Sam a cardigan for Christmas this year and it came out tiny as I used the wrong yarn! It doesn't matter that they were both called chunky, the one I used wasn't chunky enough. I get to wear it though!). I found Ravelry  a good source of information on the weight and texture of the yarn suggested so I could compare it to other yarns, and I also found Yarnsub - a fantastic website which scours the databases to find close matches to the yarn you are asked to use! I ended up using Sirdar Cotton Rich Aran in Double Denim which I got from Hobbycraft! I thought I'd need 6 balls, but for the small size I actually only needed 5. The yarn is 60% cotton and the way it is spun makes it light, comfortable and soft. It's also not shiny which I think makes it look a bit more expensive.


The pattern is really chunky, in garter stitch with the lace motif. It knits up really quickly and would have taken me about 2 weeks to knit if I hadn't have started a new project in between! The jumper is so light and airy which will be perfect for the evenings on holidays! I am really proud of it and it's knitted up to a good size. I can't wait to wear it! 

The Holiday Shopping List 2015

21 May 2015




EEK!! It's just over a week until I go on holiday to Sorrento! I have wanted to go here ever since I was a little girl and my Nanny would tell romantic stories about going out in the evenings, the gorgeous shops and having coffee in little shops. We're planning on going to Pompeii and Vesuvius but don't know where else to go yet so if you have any recommendations please let me know! 

I've started shopping for my holiday and I thought I'd take you through what I am buying

Daytime

I got some glitter sandals for walking around in the day around Pompeii. They were £20 from a shop called Zig Zag in Chichester but these ones are similar from New Look 


I got this plunge swimming costume from ASOS for £30. There's no real beach for sunbathing but we can go jumping off cliffs and boats so I need a proper swimsuit. This one is beautiful and has a low back.


I am big into my sun protection so a big brim hat is necessary. This floppy hat was £12.99 from New Look

I like a little handbag for holiday and have been watching this mint bag on The Cambridge Satchel Company website for months. They recently had a huge student discount event and I finally got my hands on it for less than the £75 it currently is. It's been sitting on top of my wardrobe, taunting me for about a month and I can't wait to wear it!

I'm going to be smothering my face in Clinique City Block SPF 40 in the day (which my mum really recommended) underneath Clinique CC cream which also has SPF25 in.

I find denim shorts really hard to buy - I want something short but not TOO short so I've bought two pairs and I'll return the one which don't fit me.


I got these ones from Boohoo which were £15


and these ones from New Look which were £17.99


I also got this crop top from Boohoo which was £8 to go with the shorts

Evenings


I got these palazzo trousers from Long Tall Sally which I will wear in the evenings with a crop top

This stripy one is was £7.99

and this tropical one was also £7.99. I got them both in a 2 for £12 offer.

I also got a couple of day to night dresses

This Boohoo Nina dress was £20


And this Boohoo Libby backless dress was £10. 

We'll see how much I keep and how much I send back when I get them all delivered this week! If you have any holiday recommendations or any ideas of things to do when in Sorrento please let me know! 

Review: Imperial Candle (with a hidden ring inside!)

19 May 2015

 When I heard about Imperial Candles I needed to try one! Imperial Candles are scented candles which contain jewellery! You burn down the candle to find a little jewellery package embedded in the wax. Each piece of jewellery it worth between £10 - £2,000 and you can choose between earrings, necklaces and rings.

I tried out the Wild Passion Fruit candle which is £28.99 for a huge candle


The candles are made with soy wax and have two wicks for an even burn. The scent is a mixture of peaches, strawberries, pineapple, orange and coconut with vanilla and smells really strong - the scent can fill a large room within about 15 minutes of burning. The candle is £28.99 but burns for 150 hours. You can see how big it is compared to the other candles. 


I burnt mine most days for about 3 weeks to get to the ring which was halfway down the candle. Soy wax is meant to be better than traditional wax as it burns without soot, for longer. It's also pesticide  and additive free. 


The ring I got was a Stirling Silver, Gatsby style green gem and diamond ring. It was meant to be £30 and is so sparkly! I was absolutely thrilled with it, I love the style and it definitely made burning candles a more exciting experience. 



Overall, I'd totally buy another candle! I love the idea of getting a ring inside a candle, the element of surprise is very exciting! I also think although the candles are quite expensive, they're on the same level as a Yankee candle and are massive so will last a long time! I'm really pleased! 

My BFF's Hen Weekend

17 May 2015

In August my BFF Becky is getting married and I'm going to be a bridesmaid! I'm so excited. We went away last weekend to the Isle of Wight for a classy hen weekend. We stayed in Binfield House which is near Newport - a huge house with super cosy beds and lots of room for hanging out. 

On Saturday, we went out for an afternoon tea in Newport at God's Providence House. This is our beautiful bride  Becky

Look at her red Michael Kors bag! It's so beautiful. 


Our afternoon tea was a crazy affair with hundreds of sandwiches, mugs of chips, loads of cakes, cheese scones, normal scones and gallons of tea! 



We then came home, chilled out with a romcom and drank wine before getting ready to go out

 Look at everyone looking gorgeous!


First we went to the Marina for delicious food and a bucket full of wine!



and then on to Ryde to party! We were meant to go to a silent disco but there was a massive queue because people kept stealing the headphones! Instead we went to Joe's 



Where we met a touring rugby club who kept us company! 



and I got a dance with my girl!




The next day, to recover from hangovers we had a PJ day and two ladies came round to do manicures, facials and massages! I had my first massage which was surprisingly painful!



We then had a massive roast dinner which was cooked by the amazing Tracey and I made a penis shaped cake for pudding! Our weekend was so classy we had to do something naughty!



My first hen weekend was awesome, I had the best time meeting all the other girls and I can't wait for the reunion at the wedding! 

Recipes: Eaton Mess and Trifle Cupcakes

15 May 2015

A few weeks ago I went to see my boyfriend's family in Dover for a weekend of paddle boarding. It was Sam's cousin's birthday so I made cupcakes as usual, but decided to invent my own recipes.

Fancying something fresh and summery, I decided to base cupcakes upon 2 of my favourite summer puddings, Eaton Mess and Raspberry Trifle.

Eaton Mess Cupcakes 
(makes 12)


Ingredients
For the cupcakes
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 150g butter
  • 3 eggs
  • baking powder
  • vanilla flavouring
For the meringues 
  • 3 egg whites
  • 150g caster sugar
  • few drops of vanilla essence
For the icing
  • 250g icing sugar, sifted
  • 80g room temperature butter
  • 25ml milk
  • couple of drops of strawberry and vanilla flavouring
  • pink gel colouring
  • Strawberry jam

  1. Heat the oven to 180 degrees, line a cupcake tray with cupcake cases
  2. In a mixer, cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the other ingredients and whip until smooth. 
  3. Pour into the cupcake cases until two thirds full.
  4. Bake for around 20-25 minutes, until they spring back when you touch them gently. 
  5. While the cupcakes are baking, make the mini-meringues. Line a baking sheet with grease-proof paper. Then whip up the egg whites until they are in stiff peaks. Finally fold in the sugar and flavouring with a metal spoon. Using a piping bag, make little meringue shapes. 
  6. When you've taken the cakes out, turn the oven down to 110 degrees and let it cool. Then pop the meringues in for an hour. 
  7. When the cakes have cooled, using a teaspoon, cut the middle out a cupcake, put a blob of jam in the well and put the core of cake back over the top. 
  8. Mix together the icing sugar, milk and butter in a mixer until really smooth and creamy. Separate the mixture into 2 different bowls. Into one bowl, add a drop or two of vanilla extract and mix. I used one with vanilla seeds in. Into the other bowl, add a couple of drops of strawberry essence. I have a very strong one and you only need 2 drops! Give it a taste to make sure it's the right flavour and add some pink colouring. Mix them both up well. 
  9. Get a piping bag and put on a star nozzle. Then layer the 2 icings in the bag, first drop a tablespoon of pink in, then a table spoon of white. Repeat, but don't worry if it's not uniformly spread. Twist the bag to secure it and prod it a little to make sure the colours are mixed.
  10. Swirl the icing from the outside in using the piping bag. Pop a meringue on top and you have lovely Eaton mess cupcakes! 

Trifle cupcakes
(makes 12)





Although not quite as pretty, the trifle cupcakes were really yummy. They use fresh cream and custard rather than butter icing making them really fresh, light and more-ish. Perfect for the summer! Next time I make them, I think I'll pipe the topping on, rather than dolloping for a neater finish. However the more ugly a cupcake, the more delicious in my experience!

Ingredients
For the cupcakes



  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 150g butter
  • 3 eggs
  • baking powder
  • vanilla flavouring
For the icing
  • 1 large pot of double cream (not Elmlea)
  • 1 tin of Ambrosia custard
  • Raspberry jam
  • Raspberries
  • (optional) Sherry or Amaretto

  1. Heat the oven to 180 degrees, line a cupcake tray with cupcake cases
  2. In a mixer, cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the other ingredients and whip until smooth. 
  3. Pour into the cupcake cases until two thirds full.
  4. Bake for around 20-25 minutes, until they spring back when you touch them gently. 
  5. When the cupcakes have cooled, use a measuring teaspoon to scoop out a core from the middle of each cupcake. Then blob some jam into the well and replace the core you removed. You can quickly soak the cake core in some sherry or amaretto if you want the sherry trifle experience! 
  6. Using an electric hand whisk, mix the cream to stiff peaks, being careful not to over-mix. Then fold in custard about a tablespoon at a time until you have a mixture the consistency of butter icing. I made sure I didn't over-mix to ensure there were stripes of custard within the cream. You can blob this into the cakes with a palette knife or pipe it on. Then pop a raspberry on the top and eat! 


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