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Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Easy baking ideas for the Great British Bake Off final

*AD - SPONSORED* Tonight is the Great British Bake Off final and I can't wait! Who are you thinking will win this year? I'm rooting for Rahul because he is just adorable and apart from a couple of off weeks has been brilliant throughout. Like most of the nation GBBO ignites my love of home baking and we often bake more whilst it is on. There is nothing quite like the smell of baking in the oven, the taste of warm cookies or the sight of a show stopping cake. Even though Bake Off inspires technical bakes sometimes it's ok to make baking simpler and make it work for you.
Whilst I would love to tell you I regularly bake bread in the shape of a lion or three layers of mirror glaze cake, the truth is I don't. I could have a good go at it (though it might not look the best) but I don't. The fact is with just me and Ellie here huge bakes just don't get eaten. Spending hours baking something that will ultimately end up drying out and in the bin seems such a waste of food and time. We regularly make cookies, cupcakes, bread loafs and small cakes. Sometimes a small cheesecake or apple crumble for Sunday dinner dessert. But the giant and show stopping desserts? Nope. I'm also a fan of keeping packet mixes in the kitchen cupboards. A box of brownie mix ready to go when the craving starts and there's no eggs in is perfect.

Easy baking ideas for the Great British Bake Off final - cookies

Homemade chocolate chunk cookies. They are really quick and easy to make and don't need many ingredients. I love them both warm from the oven and a couple of days later too. Cookies are a perfect bake for us and they are so easy to add to a pack lunch or nibble with a biscuit and cup of tea.
Easy baking ideas for the Great British Bake Off final - chocolate chunk cookies

Easy baking ideas for the Great British Bake Off final - brownies

Chocolate brownies are another favourite in our house. These are a packet mix so there is no need to buy anything else and no weighing or measuring. Every time we make them they are perfect with a gooey centre and crispy outside. They also last well in a tin for a good few days which gives the two of us chance to eat them all.
Easy baking ideas for the Great British Bake Off final - chocolate brownies

My trophy for the Great British Bake Off final

I'm never going to be Great British Bake Off contestant material, and that is fine by me. I'm sure Paul and Pru won't approve of a box brownie mix or a simple cookie recipe, and that is fine by me too. We bake what we enjoy making. The food we enjoy eating. And the bakes I know will get eaten. Baking should be fun and enjoyable, especially if you are doing it with family like me.
So my easy bakes are winners in our house and for that I'm awarding myself star baker today.
Easy baking ideas for the Great British Bake Off final - my star baker trophy

My star blogger bake off is sponsored by Jackson Trophies so a huge thank you to them for my trophy.
Don't forget to let me know if you are watching tonight and who you want to win this year.

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Pumpkin picking at Farmer Copleys

Halloween is becoming bigger and bigger every year in the UK. For a few years now I have been seeing insta photos of pumpkin fields and have been longing to go myself. So, as I have a week off work we have finally got the chance to go pumpkin picking at Farmer Copleys.

Pumpkin picking at Farmer Copleys

The farm is in Pontefract, West Yorkshire, so not too far from Leeds for us. The pumpkin festival runs from the 6th October up to the 31st October. Thousands of pumpkins, in all shapes, colours and sizes, are grown especially for pumpkin picking at Farmer Copleys.

The festival, including car parking, is free and you just pay for your pumpkins. You can even carve them on site and leave all the stringy mess there!

Pumpkin picking at Farmer Copleys - pumpkins in the field

Pumpkin picking at Farmer Copleys

Pumpkin picking at Farmer Copleys - pumpkins in the fields

This is my first time pumpkin picking at Farmer Copleys (or anywhere) so I had no idea of what to expect. First the site is huge! There are several fields full of pumpkins and there are so many shapes and sizes to choose from. The pumpkins are pre-picked and laid out in the fields, I'm not sure if this is what all pumpkin farms do but it did surprise me.

Pumpkin picking at Farmer Copleys - Ellie holding our pumpkin in the fields

You can spend as much or as little time there as you want. We walked through all the fields looking at the different pumpkins and just enjoying being outdoors and were there around an hour. There are rides for smaller ones and stalls with food and treats but we didn't visit them.

Pumpkin picking at Farmer Copleys - Me holding our pumpkin in the fields

The pumpkin we have chosen is classed as "small" so is just £4. Ellie enjoys carving them so we brought it home to do here. How fab is our Jack Skellington pumpkin?

Pumpkin picking at Farmer Copleys - pumpkin carved as Jack Skellington

Whilst you can get a pumpkin in the supermarket for a couple of pounds it is nothing like going pumpkin picking at Farmer Copleys. Although Ellie is 15 we still had a fun hour walking around choosing our pumpkin. I'm sure little ones would love it even more. Hopefully it can be a pre Halloween tradition for us for a few more years. 

Pumpkin picking at Farmer Copleys - sitting on a pumpkin

Have you ever been pumpkin picking?


Thursday, 18 October 2018

Transforming a spare bedroom into a multi functional room

*AD - SPONSORED POST* For quite a while now our spare bedroom has been neglected and unloved. It is the only room that hasn't been redecorated since moving in and it just doesn't really have a purpose. It is a dumping ground for all the things that don't have a specific place in the house. And it is only cleared out on the rare occasion someone is sleeping over. This year I have been changing that. I want a room that can be useful for lots of different things. Somewhere to relax, somewhere to work and somewhere a guest can sleep. Today I am sharing my journey on transforming a spare bedroom into a multi functional room.

Transforming a spare bedroom into a multi functional room - the decor

The first step in transforming a spare bedroom into a multi functional room is the decor. Choosing decor and decorating is my favourite part of renovating. I have one olive green statement wall against creamy grey for the other walls. Green gives it a really relaxing, calming feel and the grey ties it in to the rest of the house.
Transforming a spare bedroom in to a multi functional room - the decor
 The feature I'm most proud of is the floor. As soon as the carpet was pulled back and near perfect floorboards revealed I had to keep them. Stripping and staining floorboards is a long and dusty job but the end result is worth it. Staining them white gives them a slightly unusual look and covers up any patches of paint the sanding doesn't remove.

Transforming a spare bedroom into a multi functional room - the furniture

I'm going to start by saying I'm lucky enough to have a large spare bedroom so transforming a spare bedroom into a multi functional room is easy here.
So firstly, our spare bedroom needs somewhere for visitors to sleep. A sofa bed is the best idea as it doesn't take up too much room and doubles as somewhere to sit too. It is my new cosy little reading corner. My lamp stand is a toddler chair that we've had since Ellie was little. I'm glad it has a new purpose now.
transforming a spare bedroom into a multi functional room - sofa bed
A few beanbags add some more seating spaces. Perfect for teenagers as it makes it a great hang out space for them.
transforming a spare bedroom into a multi functional room - bean bag
So, hi, I'm Helen. I hoard DVDs and CDs! I would like to tell you I need to go through and sort these, but this is the downsize. One wall is full with a bookcase and media towers so there is plenty of storage in the room.
transforming a spare bedroom into a multi functional room - book cases

Transforming a spare bedroom into a multi functional room - still to do

The next thing on the to-buy list for my multi functional room is a desk. I want the room to be somewhere we can work as well as relax, store and sleep. Lionshome have some gorgeous desks, two of which I really love. I'm torn between a traditional desk or a more modern ladder desk that I can work on and fill with pretty trinkets and plants.
The walls look a bit bare don't they? I have some art prints I want to frame and put up. A mirror opposite the windows is on my shopping list too.
transforming a spare bedroom into a multi functional room - the windows
What do you think of my journey transforming a spare bedroom into a multi functional room? Do you have any areas in your house that have a multi functional purpose?

Thursday, 11 October 2018

How to have a perfect pamper night in

*AD - GIFTED* This time of year my focus always shifts on to wellness and self care. My mood always dips slightly as the season changes. The colder, wetter weather and darker mornings and nights are not something I enjoy at all. Even if your mood doesn't change with the seasons we're moving in to a busy, expensive and stressful time of year, Christmas. Today I'm sharing my tips and tricks on how to have a perfect pamper night to relax the body and mind.

How to have a perfect pamper night - why you need to

Most of us know we need to look after ourselves, body and mind, but I'm sure a lot of us forget about ourselves in our busy days. With working, looking after families, housework, exercise and cooking etc it can seem like there just aren't enough hours in the day as it is. But you can't look after anyone else or keep running at full speed if you don't make some time for yourself too. The more you put in to your self care the more you will get out of it.

How to have a perfect pamper night

The majority of my perfect pamper night takes place in the bathroom. For me, my bathroom is my happy place. A place where I can be totally alone to relax and hide myself away from the world. I don't have the bathroom of dreams, it's super small but has everything I need and I have made it a cosy, relaxing space. My ultimate house goal is a large bathroom with a huge freestanding bath. Imagine the relaxation (and insta photos) I could get in one.

How to have a perfect pamper night - bath with bath tray

How to have a perfect pamper night - Tip one

If I am having a pampering night I have to start with a clean and tidy house. There is nothing worse than spending an hour or so pampering myself only to have to do the washing up or ironing afterwards.

How to have a perfect pamper night - Tip two

Change the bedsheets. Getting in to clean, fresh bedding is the best feeling in the world. And getting in to clean, fresh bedding after a perfect pamper night is even better.

How to have a perfect pamper night - butterfly bedsheets

How to have a perfect pamper night - Tip three

Have a long hot bath. Add your favourite bath bomb, bubble bath or bath oil and soak all the stress and tension away. I love relaxing in mine with just candlelight and wearing a face and hair mask whilst I'm soaking to make it even more luxurious.

How to have a perfect pamper night - Lush bath bomb

How to have a perfect pamper night - Tip four

Pamper your skin. Whilst I religiously stick to my facial skin care routine I can't say the same for the rest of my skin. So a good exfoliate then moisturise with my favourite body butter or lotion is a real treat.

How to have a perfect pamper night - beauty products on bath tray

How to have a perfect pamper night - Tip five

Treat your tastebuds. I love a huge mug of hot chocolate or a glass of fizz when I'm relaxing. A bar of chocolate or slice of cake is always a good idea too.

How to have a perfect pamper night - hot chocolate in a flamingo mug

How to have a perfect pamper night - Tip six

Give yourself a manicure and pedicure. A lot of you already know I am a former nail blogger so always keep up to my nails but if you don't, do them. A fresh manicure always makes me feel happier and more "put together".

How to have a perfect pamper night - new nail art manicure

How to have a perfect pamper night - Tip seven

Have an early night. That crisp fresh bedding will feel amazing after a perfect pamper night. Curl up in bed with a book or your fave Netflix show and enjoy the rest.


Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Finding my perfect tea company in Adagio Teas

*AD - GIFTED* I'm a huge tea fanatic, nothing makes me happier than having a mug of hot tea in my hand. For me tea solves everything, rough night - tea, celebrating - tea, bad day - tea... you get the idea! Being caffeine intolerant makes finding a range of teas difficult though. Most brands stock a generic decaf black tea and leave me looking at the flavoured teas longingly. Fortunately for me Adagio Teas stock a huge range of teas and a large selection of them are decaf.

About Adagio Teas

Adagio Tea loose leaf tea and infuser mugs

Adagio Teas specialise in hand picked loose leaf teas, working directly with the farmers who produce them. Every tea is full of nutrients, all natural flavours and no added sugar.

Adagio Teas loose leaf tea

You can find a range of black, white and green teas, iced teas, flavoured teas, herbal teas and rooibos teas on Adagio Teas. There are a great selection teaware and infusers too.

My Adagio Teas review

Adagio Teas flat lay

Adagio Teas very kindly sent me a range of their teas to try, both decaf black tea and rooibos tea. For the last couple of weeks I've been drinking my way through a selection trying them.

Each sachet of loose leaf tea along with the infusing ceramic mug is really easy to make. A couple of teaspoons of tea in a paper tea filter, pop it inside the metal infuser in the mug (which fits perfectly), fill with hot water and pop the lid on. I leave mine to steep for 5-10 minutes then lift the infuser out and drink.

Adagio Teas infusing step one

Adagio Teas infusing step two

Adagio Teas infusing step three

All of the Adagio Teas taste amazing, and just as they should. So far I don't have a sachet I don't like. A couple have been strong (for my personal taste) but a drop of honey or teaspoon of sugar sweetens them so they are perfect for my taste buds.

I am loving the Autumnal flavours the most at the moment, Honeybush Pumpkin Chai and Rooibos Vanilla Chai are my favourites. The decaf Earl Gray is another favourite, it is SO hard to find a good decaf earl grey tea.

I will definitely be keeping my kitchen cupboard stocked up with Adagio Teas and I have my eye on an infuser teapot for my next order too!

Are you a loose leaf or tea bag person? What is your favourite tea flavour?


Thursday, 4 October 2018

Visiting Steeton Hall Gateway

Visiting English Heritage sites is rapidly becoming an obsession of mine. The history behind the sites is usually fascinating. The monuments are beautiful, even in their ruined state, and hold so much history. And they are usually set in gorgeous surroundings so are great for a day out walking or with a picnic. Steeton Hall Gateway is the closest English Heritage site to us and somewhere we've never visited before.

About Steeton Hall Gateway

Steeton Hall Gateway view from the road

Even though we are only 13 miles away, I knew nothing about the site before our visit. Steeton Hall Gateway is the surviving element of a medieval manor estate from the 14th century. An apartment and newer buildings still remain but they are private with no public access.

Steeton Hall Gateway is free to visit and is open during daylight hours. There is no parking on site so you will need to park in South Milford village and walk along the country road to it.

Steeton Hall Gateway South Milford sign

Steeton Hall Gateway country road

Our visit to Steeton Hall Gateway

Steeton Hall Gateway

Steeton Hall Gateway really is just the gateway! Although I knew that from the photographs on the English Heritage website I was surprised at how small it is.

The building itself is stunning though. It is really impressive as you see it from the road and walk up to it. From the ruins you can picture the walls carrying on and protecting the manor.

Steeton Hall Gateway - standing inside the gateway

You can walk through both the pedestrian and vehicle gateways but can't go much further as the hall behind is private.

Whilst you can't go inside the gateway you can still see some of the stairs and doors.

Steeton Hall Gateway - the lower level door

Steeton Hall Gateway - the upper level door and staircase

Sitting in a rural part of Leeds means there are some gorgeous views around Steeton Hall Gateway, especially looking back through the archways.

Steeton Hall Gateway - view through the gateway

Steeton Hall Gateway - final thoughts

Steeton Hall Gateway - sitting on the steps

Although the remains of Steeton Hall Gateway are small they are beautiful and really interesting. We enjoyed the time we spent there looking at them.

Whilst it probably isn't worth a visit just to see them if you are passing near by it is worth stopping off for half an hour. There are some cute looking pubs nearby so a Sunday lunch in one and walk down to the Gateway would be worth doing too.

Steeton Hall Gateway

Do you like visiting English Heritage sites? Where is your favourite one to visit?


Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Eyewake Intense Effect face cream

*AD - GIFTED* Regular reader will know I am a huge skincare fan. Finding new lotions and potions to help fight the battle against the signs of ageing is becoming a hobby of mine. My favourite anti-ageing eye cream, the Eyewake eye serum have a new product out, Eyewake Intense Effect face cream.

About the Eyewake Intense Effect face cream

Eyewake Intense Effect face cream

The Eyewake Intense Effect face cream is an anti-wrinkle face cream to protect skin from premature ageing, reduce fine lines and improve the complexion. It contains premium ingredients such as Hyaluronic acid, Coenzyme Q10, pure essential oils, natural plant botanicals and natural anti oxidants.

My Eyewake Intense Effect face cream review

Eyewake Intense Effect face cream

The Eyewake Intense Effect face cream comes in a 30ml glass jar. The sleek, monochrome design won't look out of place on any dressing table. I really like the clear glass jar as you can see exactly how much product is left. There is nothing more annoying than using the last of your favourite cream and realising you don't have the next jar waiting!

I am using the cream daily on a morning, after cleansing, and have been for the last six weeks. The cream has an almost gel like consistency that is really lightweight and absorbs into the skin really quickly. It is unscented so will suit lots of skin types. (Although I personally do prefer products to have a scent.) After six weeks of use I really like the effects. My skin is hydrated, plumper and softer. I haven't had any reactions to the cream or any breakouts.

Whilst I can't tell you I am completely fine line and wrinkle free, given how plump my skin is feeling I do believe they will improve with longer term use.

Eyewake Intense Effect face cream

Like the eye serum, the face cream is a permanent addition to my daily skincare routine now. I really hope Eyewake bring out a heavier, night cream next as I love soaking my skin in rich creams overnight whilst I sleep.

You can get the Eyewake Intense Effect face cream here and it is currently on offer at £14.95.

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