Friday, 18 December 2015

Long Tall Sally Christmas wish list - by Bex

I was asked to make a wish list from Long Tall Sally's Christmas gift guide recently so here are a few of my favourites from the collection.  The idea was supposed to be "#oneforyouoneforme" to treat yourself as well as your loved ones for Christmas.  I found so many things I liked for me, it ended up being more "one for you, two for me" - but that's because I'm useless at buying clothing for other people and very good at it myself ;)

You know I love a festive jumper, be they full on cheesy Christmas pudding hoodies or nice subtle fairisle styles.  This monochrome one is stunning and a lovely long length.
Fairisle sweater

I also have a bit of a thing for pyjama bottoms.  I have quite a large collection and love this pair which would make a worthy addition.

Palm print PJ bottoms

And I think Roz would probably like these polar bear ones too!

Polar Bear print PJ bottoms

This blanket scarf is gorgeous, I like that it has a smaller check on the back.  It would look fab with a bright red jumper and indigo jeans and I think my mother-in-law might like it too.

Blanket check scarf

And this black poncho looks so cosy, I love easy style you can just throw on.

Chevron stitch black poncho

I love these metallic copper jeans and think they'd look great with my chunky buckle boots to ass a bit of glitz to a night out.  (Which I've actually had recently!  I was invited out to a nice pub for dinner with some other local mums and had a lovely time.)

Copper metallic jeans

I also like this gorgeous suede skirt.  It's such a lovely shape and colour in the lovely tan autumn tone and has that funky 70s vibe with the big poppers down the front.  If it wasn't for my slooooowly reducing post-twin waist, I'd be very tempted to invest but I'm guessing suede isn't the easiest to adjust.

Suede skirt

This grey patterned tunic is very funky and probably quite slimming with the darker panel down the centre and all the zig-zag lines.

Patterned tunic

And of course, there's this olive green jumper.  It's so long it would be wearable with comfy leggings in the house and so cosy with the turtle neck, I reckon I'd wear it a lot with my flares and skinny jeans.  I wasn't sure about the textured fabric in the pictures online as it looked like it might be a bit shiny but having now seen (and felt) it in real life, I love it!  It's soooo soft and not at all as I expected.  If Mum didn't live in Saudi, I could see her in the berry version of this jumper!

Green turtle neck jumper

Long Tall Sally sent me my favourite item as a Christmas gift in return for writing my wish list.  I chose the grey patterned tunic so watch this space for an outfit post!  (I'm also tempted to buy the green one as it's just SO cosy!)

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Pear & Fig Mince Pies with Rum and Marzipan - recipe by Bex (Pin it Do it)

I can't believe there are just 10 days left until Christmas already!  If you fancy baking some mincepies, I can highly recommend this recipe, they're quite boozy but very scrumptious!

I've made mince pies with orange pastry from the Hairy Bikers' Christmas recipe book before and really liked them but this year I wanted to try something slightly different and had a look for inspiration online.  I came across this pear & fig mincemeat recipe and adapted it slightly to my taste.  It turned out really well and it was delicious so I thought I'd share my version here.  I made lemon pastry to go with it (another adapted one from this orange pastry recipe) and kept nibbling the raw mixture as it was so nice!  To top them off I used marzipan stars instead of pastry lids.  They were yummy!

Make the mincemeat a few days (or weeks) in advance to let it mature.  This recipe makes a large tub full which will make plenty of pies.  I also thought I might use some to make mince pie ice cream but I haven't tried it yet!  It's quite a boozy recipe, I used rum in mine as I'm not a big fan of whisky or brandy.  (Ditto for my Christmas cake!)

For the mincemeat:
3 pears, diced
150g glace cherries, chopped
150g mixed peel
250g dried figs, diced
200g sultanas
250g raisins
zest of 2 oranges
juice of 1 orange
zest & juice of 1 lemon
5 tbsp brown sugar
200ml Captain Morgan rum
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg

For the pastry:
500g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
175g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
375g cold butter
zest and juice of 1 large lemon

For the tops:
Marzipan (I used approx 100g for 12 small pies)

Combine all of the ingredients for the mincemeat in a large bowl and mix thoroughly.  Store in an air-tight container in a cool dark place, stirring every day for 3+ days.

To make the pastry, In a food processor, blitz together the flour, icing sugar and butter until you have fine crumbs.  With the processor still running, add in the zest and 3 tbsp of lemon juice.  The mixture should form clumps quite quickly.  Add a little more juice if required.

Bring the dough together and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.  It will keep for 3 days.  (It can also be frozen for up to 1 month.)

When ready to bake your pies, preheat the oven to 180oC.  Grease a muffin tin

Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to approx 3-4mm thick.  (I used about half the pastry to make 6 large pies and 18 mini ones.)  Use a cutter to cut out circles to fit your tin, I used a small, deep tin so needed medium sized circles.  Place the bases into your tin and fill generously with mincemeat.  (Not too much though as it will overflow and make the pies difficult to get out as it sticks around the edges!)

Roll out the marzipan to the same thickness, cut out shapes (I used stars) and place on top of the pies.

Bake for around 10-15 minutes (bigger pies will need longer) until golden.  Leave to cool for a few minutes in the tin then lever out carefully with a knife to cool on a wire rack and dust with icing sugar to serve (optional).

Or, eat while still warm with a dollop of cream, my favourite way to indulge!

Monday, 14 December 2015

Twins' 1st birthday part 2 - by Bex

As I said in my first post about the twins' 1st birthdayLaura just took too many gorgeous photos for me to not share even more so here are the ones taken out in the daylight, outside the Sea Life centre and on Brighton beach.

Again, my favourites are the full size images.  I wish I had more walls in my house for more photo frames!!  I'm going to have to do some re-jigging.

When we came out of the Sea Life Centre, we had some fun with the shark cage, each twin took turns being the shark and when Kalyan headed for Priya and I, they shared their first kiss together!  (Their version of kissing looks like this!)  So cute and I can't believe it happened when Laura was there to capture it!

They also had a lot of fun playing with the stones in a big planter outside and Kalyan loved looking at the big flag and various other things up in the sky.

We then made our way down to the beach by the pier.  This is the first time I've been actually on the beach in Brighton.  Again, Laura blew us away with her amazing photos - she's captured our little family perfectly, Priya's cheeky smiles and Kalyan's excitement.

As much as I love bright colours, these muted tones in the photos of us down on the beach are just gorgeous.

Priya's selection of stones.  I've kept every one.

And before we said goodbye to Laura, Granny (who, if you didn't see on instagram, showed up the Sunday before as a huge surprise!) got in on the act too ;)  She also paid for the shoot as our Christmas pressie!  Thank you so much Mum & Dad and Laura, we'll treasure these photos forever!

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Twinkly Twins - Pin it Do it by Bex

I wanted to do this last year but they were only 4 weeks old so obviously not sitting up and it was tricky enough getting them lying on the blanket with lights underneath so wrapping them in lights was sure to be a disaster!  I love these fairy light images from Pinterest showing babies staring at glowing Christmas lights and tried to recreate something similar in the kitchen (to get a bit of reflection on the floor tiles).

We did it after dinner on Wednesday evening, stripped them out of their messy clothes and made sure the underfloor heating was on.  (I did consider putting them in jeans but wanted their chubby legs to be out, I just wish the nappies were plain.  It's not like the babies care if they have animals on and I certainly don't!)

Anyway, again I practised the camera settings and lighting with my much more willing models before trying with the real McCoys!

I preferred it with a bit more ambient light, provided by the hall, dining room and utility lights.

Initially, as you can see, Priya was not keen on the idea at all!

So Nik took her away and I took a few of Kbops as he seemed quite happy.  He does love lights.

Sadly, he didn't like being left alone with them for long so we had to rescue him as well.

With Daddy's help, they soon both got used to the lights and started to enjoy playing with them, trying to eat them and generally having fun.

I even tried to get some shots of them wearing a santa hat - very ambitious, especially given Priya's new found aversion to all headgear which she was more than happy to demonstrate again!

She didn't want to wear the lights either.  (I feel I should point out that these are LED lights which do not get hot in the slightest!)

Kalyan was slightly more co-operative with the hat and light wearing.

And there was a little sabotage by Priya:

There were a few escape attempts too of course...

But overall, they seemed to enjoy it and I am delighted with the photos!

And there were quite a few as usual!  Since I'm not that good a photographer, I just take as many as possible to increase the odds of getting good ones ;)  The problem is, when I manage to capture all of their cute/funny expressions, I just can't choose favourites!

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