Author: Sinead

Shades of Halloween

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve never really tried fancy nail art before. I feel like I’m lacking the tools (and a steady hand!) at the moment but it is something I have an interest in so I’ll definitely get around to it at some point.

For now, I keep things simple….although that doesn’t mean plain! I love purple as a colour for Halloween — it’s elegant, dramatic and just a little more fun than black. I used an old Nail’s Inc polish Franklin’s Row which is a beautiful deep shade with a subtle hint of shimmer. For an accent nail on each hand, I applied Rimmel’s Lycra Pro Orange Bliss. I figured why not; it ties in with the Halloween theme while making the overall look pop that little bit more! The colours work so well together too and I think they make for a cute little nod to the season.

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Pumpkin Carving

During the week, L and I are both in class all day and a good part of our evenings is often taken up with assignments (mostly him), blog work (me) and household chores (mostly me…!). By the time that’s all done, we tend to get lazy and our spare time ends up being spent in front of the TV.

So when we actually make the effort to do something different on a week-night, it’s always good. We’d already picked out our pumpkins over the weekend but, up until yesterday, they had just been put to one side. Then we realised how close it actually is to Halloween and we got to work straight away!

Before we started, we decided that it would be more fun if we weren’t allowed to see the other person’s design until they were completely finished. We sat on opposite sides of our kitchen table and had a lovely grown-up conversation while carving competitively like big kids! When our pumpkins were done and we had the candles lit inside them; we turned off the lights and finally got to see the other’s handiwork…

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His is obviously better than mine (which is the one with the “heart shaped” eyes, if you couldn’t guess!)…although I think, to be fair, that was probably my first time carving a pumpkin by myself?! It was lots of fun anyway and such a perfect way to spend an evening for Halloween week. Well it just wouldn’t be Spooky Season without a pumpkin or two, now would it?!

By the way: I’m only just getting in to Instagram now (late or what?!) so you can follow me here if you like. Hope to see you over there soon :-).

Chocolate Graveyard Cupcakes

You can’t beat a few fun cupcakes at any time of the year and Halloween is a perfect opportunity to get creative. Over the weekend, I made chocolate cupcakes with a spooky graveyard theme.

halloween-cupcakes

Start with a batch of chocolate cupcakes. If you’re making them from scratch (which I always prefer), allow them to cool completely before moving on to the next step.

Break up 12-15 Oreos and whizz them in a food processor until they resemble fine crumbs (or dirt!).

crushed-oreos

Make a simple chocolate frosting — I used 8 squares of melted milk chocolate, a splash of milk and enough icing sugar to thicken it up. I usually make an indulgent buttercream frosting for my cupcakes but since this lot are going to be coated in cookie crumbs, I figured they’d be rich enough (and have enough calories) as it is!

Spread the frosting on to each cupcake and top with the crushed Oreos. Work quickly as this simple frosting will start to set faster than most.

tombstone-biscuits

For the tombstones, I used plain rectangular-shaped biscuits (I cheated and used shop-bought!). A food colour pen or tube will help you to draw on little inscriptions. Gently but firmly push each tombstone in to a cupcake. If you’re not serving the cupcakes immediately, skip this step until the last minute as the biscuits may soften quickly and crumble once they’re out of their packet.

graveyard-cupcakes

Finish off your cupcakes with some small edible decorations — gummy worms, pumpkins, cats etc. This would also be a really good way to decorate a traybake and you could even add more fun touches such as chocolate matchsticks for a fence and white candyfloss for cobwebs. There are really just so many possibilities!

deathly-chocolate-cupcakes

The only downside of these cupcakes is that the fine Oreo crumbs make these super messy to eat so be sure to have some napkins to hand…But as far as downsides go; that’s hardly a bad one now, is it? ;-)

chocolate-graveyard-cupcake

All Better

Here in Ireland, we’re coming to the end of the last Bank Holiday before Christmas. It’s been a blissfully lazy few days for us, filled with lie-ins and little walks and DVD marathons. I’ve (finally) just about recovered from the worst cold and it feels so good to be getting back to normal — just in time for Halloween too! This has always been one of my favourite times of the year so I’m really looking forward to getting in to the spirit of things. Here’s to a great week!

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Homemade Hot chocolate & Chips Ahoy!

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Do you ever make homemade hot chocolate? I don’t mean with cocoa powder (although I do love this too!); I’m talking about adding real chocolate pieces to warm milk. It’s so good! I don’t make it that often as it’s just a bit too rich and indulgent to be a regular thing but that means it makes for an even better treat.

As I mentioned (numerous times) on Twitter this week, I’ve not been very well lately. It’s nothing serious — just a really heavy cold — but it was enough to stop me from blogging for a few days. I’ve over the worst of it now and ready to make up for my recent lack of posts so I thought I should share one of my favourite pick-me-ups: this luxurious hot chocolate with marshmallows and cookies on the side!

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When it comes to cookies, I don’t discriminate. Whether they’re homemade or shop-bought, I love them all! We’re trying Chips Ahoy Cookies for the first time this weekend. We chose the crispy choco caramel variety and they’re lovely and crumbly and moreish. There are 12 cookies in each 168g pack and I have a sneaking suspicion that we’ll tear through them in no time ;-).

homemade-hot-chocolate

To make the hot chocolate: simply heat the milk gently for five minutes and then thoroughly stir in your favourite whole chocolate.

I used 8 squares of milk chocolate for 450ml of milk which made enough for two teacups. If you don’t drink it all immediately, it will naturally separate so just give it a stir before reheating. Add some marshmallows lightly dusted with cocoa powder for a finishing touch and enjoy!

hot-choc-cookies

Spooky Sticks

The Sweetie Sticks that I made last year were so well received (one of my most popular posts, in fact) that I decided to give them a little makeover for this Halloween. With the same base of marshmallows and fresh fruit, these have enough of a twist to become Spooky Sticks!

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They’re the perfect treat — easy to make, cute to look at and fun to eat! You just dye some jumbo white marshmallows and decorate them however you like; pop them on to skewers with some fruit and they’re done.

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When you’re choosing what fruit to use; think about what will work overall. I briefly considered using chunks of caramel apple but soon realised that they could be a bit too sticky and sickly, especially paired with the marshmallows (which, let’s face it, are basically pure sugar in a fluffy package!). Grapes, on the other hand, always seem to be popular around Halloween; they’re juicy but not too sweet and they’re also the perfect size so they work incredibly well here.

dyeing-marshmallows

The first thing to do when you’re making these Spooky Sticks is to dye the marshmallows:

1. In a small bowl or cup, mix 4 tablespoons of water with around half a teaspoon of food colouring. If you’re planning on mixing colours; just experiment to see what works for you. I used half a teaspoon of blue and a quarter of a teaspoon of red to make purple.

2. Use a skewer to dip the marshmallows, one by one, in to the coloured water for 15-20 seconds a piece.

3. With each freshly coloured marshmallow, tap the skewer off the rim of the cup/bowl to shake off any excess water.

4. Leave the marshmallows to dry completely on a plastic sheet or board. Don’t worry if they look a bit blotchy at first, they always dry to a reasonably even finish.

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Don’t forget to turn the marshmallows upside down to allow the base to dry too!

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I originally wanted to use a black food gel pen to draw the faces on to the marshmallows but despite all my efforts, couldn’t find one in any of the five supermarkets I searched (although I swear, I’ve seen them there before!). In the end, I used melted chocolate since I was already working with that for the Frankensteins’ hair.

The hair part is easy; just a matter of quickly dunking the top of the marshmallow in to the chocolate. I used a skewer to draw on the eyes and mouth on each character which was — I have to say — fairly awkward! The features didn’t turn out perfect but I’m happy with them nonetheless. Having said that, if you have the choice of using a food gel pen; probably go with that as it would be easier. For an extra touch, I also used a red food gel pen to add a little blood around the vampires’ lips. Be sure to melt your chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water — it’s the best way to guarantee smooth results.

halloween-marshmallows

When the chocolate is completely set, you can start threading the marshmallows and grapes (or whatever fruit you choose) on to the skewers. I really hope that you try these out and enjoy them as much as I do. :-)

spooky-sticks

Rain and Artrave

Met Eireann have issued a weather warning for this weekend, predicting thundery showers and gale force winds. Chances are I’ll get caught in it but I’m really not too bothered because we’re off to the Lady Gaga concert in Dublin tonight! She’s one of those artists that I’ve always wanted to see live so I’m really excited to be finally going! What are your plans for the next couple of days? Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, I hope you have a great weekend!

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