Inside Out…

I felt like I just had to share this with you since I came across it on YouTube today – I can’t believe it’s been around so long without me even realising! This is the extended trailer for Inside Out, the new feature from Disney Pixar and it looks like it’s going to be another cracker. This little clip really made me really laugh and got me excited for how the entire thing will turn out once it hits cinemas next year. It’s such a fun concept for a movie, and really got my imagination going, so I’m looking forward to it and hearing the familiar voice of Amy Poehler, who I just adore alongside some other great cast members. Take a look for yourself below.

 

DIY: Clay Snowflake Decorations

DIY: Clay Snowflake Decorations

I have been a bit partial to making simple Christmas decorations over the years (see here, here and here), so I thought I’ve give it another go this year. I don’t like anything that’s going to take a ton of time, or that requires way too many supplies, so I’ve stuck with something simple, which can totally be customised to the colours you have chosen for your Christmas decorations this year. These clay snowflake decorations only really require oven-bake clay, a couple of cookie cutters and then supplies to hang them up, so nothing complicated at all. We’re using mint/aqua and peach/coral, with pops of metallic and white this year, so I decided to follow that route with these colours for my snowflakes, but pretty much anything will work. I love how these turned out and love how they look on our tree – a really lovely addition.

Supplies

  • Blocks of oven-bake clay – 6 blocks of 56g clay made 12 mixed decorations
  • Parchment paper
  • Rolling pin
  • Snowflake cookie cutters – in 2 sizes
  • Paintbrush – to make a hole in the clay [not pictured]
  • White paint pen [not pictured]
  • String
  1. Warm one block of clay up by rolling it in your hands – this will make it easier to roll out. Lay out some parchment paper, place your ball of clay on top and then cover with another piece of parchment. Roll out until approximately a quarter of an inch thick, ensuring it’s big enough to fit the largest cookie cutter on top.
  2. Cut out the first snowflake shape, rolling up excess dough to create a couple more snowflakes in different sizes. Repeat with each block of clay.
  3. This is where you can customise your flakes as you like, placing some of the smaller sized ones on top of the larger ones, or just keeping them separate – it’s up to you. They should stick together easily, and mine didn’t come apart after baking, so they worked well placed together. Just remember, they will be heavier with a couple of layers, so take that into account based on the strength of your tree branches. I didn’t do any more than 2 layers.
  4. Make a hole near the top of each snowflake, large enough to fit your string through.
  5. Place the snowflakes on the parchment paper on baking sheets and bake according to the packet instructions – mine was half an hour at 100C/210F.
  6. Allow to cool, before drawing on some snowflake style patterns using a white paint marker – again, customise to taste, anything which will make your flakes pretty and snow-like. Push a few inches of string into the holes and tie up at the ends.
  7. Hang on your tree and admire.

DIY: Clay Snowflake Decorations 1

DIY: Clay Snowflake Decorations 2

DIY: Clay Snowflake Decorations 3

DIY: Clay Snowflake Decorations 4

DIY: Clay Snowflake Decorations 5

DIY: Clay Snowflake Decorations 6

DIY: Clay Snowflake Decorations 7

DIY: Clay Snowflake Decorations 8

DIY: Clay Snowflake Decorations 9

DIY: Clay Snowflake Decorations 10

DIY: Clay Snowflake Decorations 11

DIY: Clay Snowflake Decorations 12

DIY: Clay Snowflake Decorations 13

The Best Hot Chocolate Recipes

I’m not a bigger drinker of your traditional hot drinks like tea and coffee, but I do make the exception when it comes to a creamy hot chocolate. I’m open to all sorts of flavours as long as the main ingredient is good quality chocolate. I’ve put together a selection of my favourite recipes for you to try on these cold winter nights, so wrap up warm in front of an open fire and sip on some of these delights.

 hotchocolate001

White Hot Chocolate

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of milk of your choice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 8 oz. white chocolate, chopped into small pieces
  • whipped cream or marshmallows for topping

Method

  1. Stir together milk, vanilla and chopped white chocolate in a medium saucepan.
  2. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the white hot chocolate comes to a simmer.  (Do not let it come to a boil.)
  3. Remove from heat and serve immediately, topped with whipped cream or marshmallows if desired.

Recipe from Gimme Some Oven

hotchocolate002

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • ¼ tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 4½ cups room temperature milk
  • 8 oz milk chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • Big pinch salt
  • Whipped cream and caramel sauce, to garnish (optional)

Method

  1. In a small bowl, rub together the sugar and the lemon juice, until the sugar is damp and fragrant.
  2. Place a medium saucepan over medium heat and let it preheat for several minutes until the pan is hot. Once the saucepan is hot, add the sugar. Begin stirring immediately and continuously. Because the pan was preheated, the sugar will start cooking very quickly. Soon after it liquefies it will start to take on color. Cook, stirring constantly, until it is a medium amber color.
  3. Continue to stir while you stream in the milk. The caramel may seize and form small chunks of sugar, but continue to stir and heat the mixture, and by the time the milk is piping hot, the caramel will have melted and you will have a smooth liquid.
  4. Once the milk is at a simmer (small bubbles forming along the sides of the pan) remove the pan from the heat. Don’t let the milk come to a boil! Add the chopped chocolates to the pan and whisk until the mixture is smooth and the chocolate is melted. Add a pinch of salt, taste the milk, and add more salt if desired.
  5. Serve Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate with whipped cream and caramel sauce. It can be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator for up to a week. Reheat it in the microwave or on the stove top.

Recipe from Sugar Hero

 hotchocolate003

Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups of milk
  • ⅓ cup hot cocoa mix
  • ¼ cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • whipped cream or marshmallows

Method

  1. In a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat, whisk together milk, hot cocoa mix, vanilla, and pinch of salt.
  2. Add pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice.
  3. Heat thoroughly, whisking as the temperature rises. When desired temperature is reached, pour into 3 small mugs (or two large ones), top with whipped cream and marshmallows. Sprinkle a bit of pumpkin pie spice for a little extra love.

Recipe by Baking With Blondie

hotchocolate004

Boozy Raspberry Hot Chocolate

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces milk chocolate chips
  • 1½ cup whole milk
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Chambord, to taste, plus another ⅓ cup for reducing
  • Whipped cream and raspberries, to top

Method

  1. Add everything but the Chambord, whipped cream, and raspberries to a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir occasionally until the chocolate completely melts.
  2. After the chocolate melts, continue to cook, but stir more frequently. The mixture should thicken a bit and all of the chunks should dissolve. After 5-10 minutes, remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes.
  3. As it cools, add ⅓ cup of Chambord to another small saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for a few minutes, until the Chambord has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Don’t over cook, or it will become hard like candy, rather than syrupy, which is what we want.
  4. Pour the hot chocolate into little mugs (servings should be small because it is so rich), add Chambord to your liking, and top with whipped cream. Drizzle with the Chambord reduction and top with a few raspberries. Serve.

Recipe by Host The Toast

A Little Time Away

My boy and I were lucky enough to get away for a few days the back end of last week, as we often do around this time of year (see here and here). It was a chance for us to do a little food and drink tasting for our wedding, as well as enjoy a couple of nights away from home around our 6 year anniversary, so we loved every second. We visited our wedding venue, got to spend the night at the hotel attached to our venue, meet with our florist, visit the towns nearby and eat way too much food. We love getting away at least once a year, especially as we haven’t been on a proper vacation this year, so this was the perfect opportunity to enjoy the festivity of a small town, get some wedding stuff checked off and spend some quality time together. We hope to continue this tradition after we’re married, as I love getting away in December and enjoying some of the Christmassy things going on all over the country, even if there will be another anniversary to celebrate from then on.

Getting Away: December 1

Getting Away: December 2

Getting Away: December 3

Getting Away: December 4

Getting Away: December 5

Getting Away: December 6

Six for Saturday

I’m seeing my blog feeds simply full to the brim of amazing content right now, as the holidays get closer and everyone is stepping up their blogging game. I’m loving every second of it, and can easily spend a few hours at a time looking around at everything, gathering inspiration and ideas for my own life this December. Here are a few from over this past week which have caught my eye.

Six for Saturday

1. DIY HOLIDAY GARLANDS — 5 WAYS | 2. HAIR TALK: THE LOB | 3. Pro Tips: How To Take A Perfect Food Picture | 4. Wrapping Paper Room | 5. DIY MINI WOODEN CHRISTMAS TREES | 6. Oh My Dear Home Tour

My 5 New Favourite Beauty Products

Favourite Beauty Products - December 2014

Favourite Beauty Products - December 2014 2

Favourite Beauty Products - December 2014 3

I’ve been trying a few new beauty products over the last few months (see here, here and here) and so I thought it was the right time, going into the festive season, to let you guys know about the products I’m excited about at the moment. I love finding pieces that I love going towards Christmas, when I feel like I want to look more fancy more often and I’m often getting my photo taken – we all want to look our best over the holiday period, especially if it’s going to be documented.

1. Clinique Sonic System Purifying Cleansing Brush & Liquid Facial Soap

This was a bit of an extravagance for me – I’m usually a simple hot cloth cleanser kind of girl, but I knew that I wanted to buy something that I could use twice daily that would really brighten up my skin. I feel like it really gives my skin a deeper clean, getting rid of impurities, dirt and pollution that I feel sometimes sits on my face and can be difficult to dislodge, and I’m loving the results so far. I’ve been using it for over 2 months and although I had a few breakouts right at the beginning of use (I assume down to my skin being cleaned out) it now makes my skin clear and really fresh. I’ve only needed to charge it once and I’m using it with the liquid facial soap, which still has two thirds of it still left in the bottle – great value for money.

2. BareMinerals Flawless Definition Mascara (Black)

I’d never tried a BareMinerals mascara before giving this one a go and I have to say that I’m completely in love. I have quite long lashes, so don’t need a huge amount of length enhancement from mascara, but this does a great job of separating, defining and enhancing what I have, and it looks great. I’m going to find it tough to switch back to any other product once this one runs out, so it might have to become my new regular.

3. BareMinerals Frame & Define Brow Styler (Universal Taupe)

I never used to bother with defining my eyebrows, as they’re pretty much a match with my hair colour and grew fast enough that they didn’t really get patchy. But since I bought this and started using it, I’ve realised what a big difference filling in my brows does for my overall look – everything looks more framed and polished when they have an extra bit of colour and definition, so I’m definitely a convert to the humble eyebrow styler. There are probably lots of products out there that do a lot more to your brows than just a little filling in, but that’s just what I like at the moment, so I’m going to be sticking with this product – I may move onto something more adventurous in the future!

4. Benefit Benetint Cheek Stain

Again, I’d been pretty limited with my face colour before I tried this cheek stain, sticking to powders and creams for my cheeks in the past, but I have to say that I think I’ve found a new beauty staple in this gorgeous stain I’ve recently started using. I love the bright colour it gives, and the ability to build on that colour in stages once each layer has dried. The brush applicator makes for a targeted delivery of the product, and I would definitely be excited about trying some of the other options available in the tint range for a bit of a change every now and then.

5. Benefit High Beam Highlighter

I’ve tried a few highlighters over the last year or two – some good (Bobbi Brown) and some pretty bad (Avon), but this one is awesome and adds such a beautiful glow when applied to cheek and brow bones. Again, the brush applicator is pretty fun and means you get full control over how much you add, layering if you want to for a bolder finish. I only had a little bottle included in the set I bought, but I imagine it’ll still last me a decent amount of time, as you only need a small dab here and there to create the perfect look.