Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Spooky Spider Halloween Cupcakes


If you are a long time reader of my blog you may remember that last year Ava and I made some Halloween biscuits together. I wanted to carry on the seasonal bake theme on the blog so decided to put together these tasty, chocolate spider cupcakes.



They are very easy and quick to bake, perfect to make with little people. This recipe makes 6 cakes.

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes-
50g plain flour
10g cocoa powder
60g caster sugar
1tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
20g butter
60ml milk
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cupcake tin
Cupcake cases

For the icing-
40g butter
30g Icing sugar
20g cocoa powder                                                                                                          
(You can add more depending on the amount you need)



For decoration-
1 pack of smarties
Chocolate sprinkles
1 pack of strawberry laces

Method:

Preheat your oven to 170c

Add the flour,cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter to a mixing bowl and beat with a handheld electric whisk until combined.


Mix the milk, egg and vanilla extract into a jug and add to your cake mixture little by little whilst whisking.

Put your cupcake cases into the tin and transfer your mixture into the cases. Then pop into the oven and bake for 20mins or until you inset a skewer into one of the cakes and it comes out clean,

Meanwhile make your icing by creaming your butter and cocoa powder together.

Once the cakes are ready leave to cool then add your icing and sprinkle on the chocolate spinkles. Add on the eyes (smarties) and cut up the laces to the right length to make the legs.



Enjoy!


Let me know if you end up making these creepy little critters.

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Sunday, 19 October 2014

Ava's Christmas list



With only 66 days until Christmas I've been thinking about what to get for Ava this year. What do you get for the girl who has it all?! I've found a few things that I think will go down a treat and thought I would share them with you.

1- Play Doh Cake Mountain Play Set.
Play Doh is a huge hit in our house. Ava can sit and play with it for hours so I thought the Cake Mountain would be a fun addition. It contains lots of tools and gadgets to make fun cakes and shapes.

2- Post Box Game.
This will be a great rainy day activity. The Orchard Toy games are fun and educational. In this game you have to match the coloured letters to the postbox.

3- Vtech Innotab.
Nath's mum mentioned buying an Innotab for Ava as her "big" present. She's taken a shine to the Ipad lately so this would be perfect for her, combining fun and learning.

4- Postman Pat The Movie DVD.
Ava and I went to watch this at the cinema but never saw the end as she became a little restless! Postman Pat is an old favourite of mine and Ava loves him too so I know this will be a hit!

5- Snow Glow Elsa Doll.
Ava is obsessed with Frozen so this had to be included. This doll has a dress that lights up and plays Let It Go.

6- ELC Rosebud Village Farm Set
This wooden farm house from Early Learning Centre is gorgeous and with Ava using her imagination whilst playing at the moment she will absolutely love this.

Have you started to think about Christmas yet?

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Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Our Wedding- The food, Music, Stationary & photography

For the last post in my wedding series I wanted to round all of the other little bits and bobs together.

I found the idea for our stationary on Pinterest, no surprise there! Stupidly I didn't take a picture of them but they were printed onto brown Kraft paper and held together with a hessian and lace band (the theme running through the wedding). All of our stationary was created by Nathan's cousin who is a graphic designer, they turned out exactly how I wanted them to. We used the same style of stationary throughout the wedding.

We were initially going to have a buffet but realised with 17 tables of guests that may be not the best idea we've ever had. We decided to give our guests the choice of two starters, three mains and two desserts. Then instead of place names at the tables we used the menu and I coloured in the hearts next to what they had chosen.



Our amazing wedding cake was made by Beth Bakes, a lady that I found on Facebook. I was beyond impressed with the designs that I had seen on her Facebook page and when I saw our cake on the day I was thrilled. I hadn't met Beth in person, I'd only sent over a picture of what we wanted but it looked and tasted amazing and was SO much more affordable than I had anticipated. I would definitely recommend checking out Facebook for any keen bakers near you. They may surprise you.


In the evening we decided to put out a huge cheese board with crackers and chutney for our guests along with some of the wedding cake. My lovely mum had also baked some fruit cakes which tasted so good!

I knew from the start that I wanted a band and a DJ. The tricky part was finding a band that we actually liked. I was particular with what I wanted. I didn't want a band who played just indie music, I wanted a range from Motown & disco to rock music. After browsing the Alive Network we finally found the band that ticked all of the boxes. They had a male and female singer and played a wide variety from Earth, Wind & Fire to Kings of Leon. They were brilliant and really got the party started. I would definitely recommend using the Alive Network, it's so easy to use and you can listen to snippets of the bands songs.


Choosing our first dance song was SO much harder than we thought! Songs were either too fast or too slow. In the end we chose The Temptations- My Girl, a song that I've always loved and it puts a huge smile on my face every time I hear it.


And last but not least our photographs, as I'm sure you'll be aware by now, were taken by Phil from Pbartworks. We worked with Phil when Ava was a newborn and I knew straight away that I wanted him to capture our day. He has a fantastic, artistic eye and I just love all of the photos from our day.




The day after our wedding Nathan said "When I saw Ava for the first time it was the best moment of my life but yesterday was the best day of my life." and I feel the same way. We honestly had the most wonderful day!

I just wish we could do it all over again! Thank you so much to everyone who took part in our special day. It was better than we could ever have imagined.

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Monday, 6 October 2014

Our wedding: My hair , make-up & flowers

I was in two minds about whether to get a makeup artist for the morning of our wedding. In the end I decided to do it myself. I have a makeup bag full of products that I use everyday and that I know suit my skin, so it seemed silly not to use them.

I decided to do my makeup as I would on a day to day basis although I did have eyelashes applied professionally. If you read my Barcelona posts you'll see that the contents of my makeup bag is still relatively the same. Although I have recently purchased MAC's Prep & Prime. I would definitely recommend using a primer as a base if you are planning to do your wedding make up . It made my makeup stay put throughout the day even through tears and a few too many shots at the end of the night!

My second new purchase was the Laura Mercier lipstick. I really didn't know what to do lips wise. For a while I wanted to go with my staple red lip but in hindsight I'm glad I kept it fairly neutral. The Laura Mercier lipstick had a lovely creamy sheen finish and the pretty pale pink colour is adeptly named "Girly".

For my wedding perfume I chose my favourite Jo Malone cologne , Nectarine Blossom & Honey. It has a lovely fresh, floral scent.

1. NARS Bronzer "Laguna"/ 2. L'Oreal Super Liner in Black Crystals/ 3. MAC Eyeshadow in Nylon Frost/ 4. YSL Touche Éclat/ 5. NARS Blusher "Deep Throat"/ 6. Eyebrow Powder "Blondie"/ 7. Laura Mercier Lipstick "Girly"/ 8. NARS Sheer Glow Foundation "Santa Fe"/ 9. NARS Illuminator "Hot Sands"/ 10. MAC Skinfinish "Soft & Gentle"/ 11. MAC Prep & Prime/ 12. Jo Malone Nectarine Blossom & Honey Cologne





My mum's super talented hairdresser friend, Emma did my wedding hair. I'd seen the image on Pinterest a while ago and fell in love with it. Emma is extremely good at her job and recreated it perfectly. Even now when I look back on the photos I swoon over it. I just completely love it.

My bridesmaids all had a similar half up half down style. I wanted them all to have something that they were comfortable with.

 

Finally my beautiful bouquet was from Lavender Blue. I was thrilled with it, I'd asked for no foliage just teacup roses tied with Hessian and they definitely gave me exactly what I wanted.

My bridesmaids had smaller versions of my bouquet and they also provided the gents button holes.

My advice to any brides to be is to get onto Pinterest. I found SO much wedding inspiration on there!

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Thursday, 2 October 2014

Our wedding- The venue and little touches

When it came to deciding on a venue for our wedding ceremony there was no doubt in our minds  where we wanted it to be held. We have a stunning church in the middle of our town. It holds mixed emotions for us, it's where we had Ava christened but also where we held my brother's funeral. There is no taking away the fact that it is completely beautiful. It has wooden pews, huge stone pillars and the most amazing stained glass window.


It even has a broadwalk at the back, perfect for photo opportunities.





Crucially it was also big enough for our 150 strong party, which brings me to my next point. The reception venue. Initially I'd set my heart on  a marquee in one of my Uncle's fields but after discussing the pros & cons and the volatility of the Great British weather we decided against it. We racked our brains for a suitable venue. Everywhere was either too expensive, too small or too unoriginal. Then my Stepdad had a brainwave, what about my workplace. I know what you're thinking, crammed inbetween desks and a photocopier sounds far from a romantic wedding venue but I'm lucky enough to work in an old 18th century, independent boarding School. It gets compared to Harry Potter's Hogwarts all the time, it certainly was big enough and beautiful enough. It was perfect.










Most of my inspiration came from Pinterest. My theme was rustic French (having lived in France for 9 years) We had so much help from family and friends. Our table plan was an old barn door, sanded down & filled with photoframes containing our table plan. Our card box was an old vintage case picked up by Nath's mum for £5


Fairy lights were strung on pillars & in trees outside, tables were decorated with hessian and jugs of wild flowers picked from my aunties garden.


The hardest part for me was trying to transform the school assembly hall into our wedding venue which I'm proud to say we managed to achieve. I  did have to pinch myself a couple of times to remind myself that I was at work!

We couldn't have done it without everyone's help and I was so touched by the amount of people who got stuck in! I also scoured shops such as Home Bargains (where I bought the spotty jugs above for £2,99!) and the Pound Shop where I bought vintage style photoframes for our table plan. I would definitely advise any brides-to-be to do the same. I was so surprised with what I found!

Once again all of the wonderful photos are by Pbartworks

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Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Our wedding: Dresses, Suits & Bow ties

I've been dying to share details of our amazing wedding day on my blog! I've been waiting for our wedding photos from our wonderful photographer and they certainly didn't disappoint.

I didn't just want to dump photos into one post and after reading Milly's blog, I've decided to do a wedding series.

I thought I would start off with what we all wore on the day.

If you followed my wedding update posts you'll know that it took us a few attempts to find "the one". We finally found it in a bridal shop in Chester, my auntie actually picked it off the rail so she deserves all of the credit. It had a silky, oyster coloured slip underneath, the lace dress went over the slip and it was finished off with a silk, oyster bow. As soon as I tried it on I knew i'd found my wedding dress. It had my mum & auntie in tears so it was a definite winner.











At first I wasn't sure whether I wanted a veil but I'm so glad I had one. I chose a long veil with a lace trim at the bottom which complimented my dress. I felt that having a veil added so much more to the dress and really turned it into a "wedding" dress.




And I loved how Phil our photographer used my veil to create some amazing photographs.




My bridesmaids wore Ghost dresses. Finding the perfect bridesmaid dress was particularly tricky and we just stumbled upon these dresses by chance whilst in John Lewis one day. I think the colour really compliments my own dress and they all look stunning. The dress is modern but still very classy.




Ava wore a Debenhams lacy, flowergirl dress with a ribbon bought from John Lewis and stitched on by my gran.




Her little shoes were from Next and mine from Carvela


My cousin James, my page boy, looked very dapper in his grey Ted Baker suit.


All the men's Bow ties were from Mrs Bow Tie. The quality and service was superb! I went for the palest pink, satin bow tie.


Our ushers suits and waistcoats were slim fit and both from ASOS, as were their brogues. All of the shirts are from Ted Baker. Bow ties & pocket squares, Mrs Bow Tie. Nathan's suit is Ted Baker as were his brogues.

I've said it before I'm not a fan of morning suits and I'm so glad we went with modern slim fit suits. They all looked so smart!



I'm glad Nathan went with a different coloured suit. At one point he was going to have grey aswell but the navy really suits him and makes him stand out. He also had braces rather than a waistcoat.



So there you have it the first (very picture heavy) post! You can find more of Phil's work on his website if you are local and have a wedding coming up or would like some family shots, Phil's your man.

I hope you enjoyed the first of my wedding posts keep your eyes peeled for the next one!

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