Author: Sinead

Smoothie Sponge

Late last night, my boyfriend casually mentioned that his mum would be dropping by in the morning. As it’s her birthday this week, I decided that I just had to make a cake and planned on waking up early the next day to do so. Of course though I slept in and had less than an hour to sort something out…!

I decided to play it safe with a classic vanilla sponge; something that can be whipped up and in and out of the oven in thirty minutes. I wanted, however, to top it off with something a little more interesting. Seeing as it was both warm and early in the morning, a rich or heavy frosting was out of the question.

It was only when I was making a much-needed cup of coffee that I noticed a carton of Innocent Smoothie in my fridge. It was one of the extra juicy smoothies made with whole crushed fruit and juices. Containing pineapple, mangoes and oranges; I realised that the flavours would be perfect.

I quickly sifted some icing sugar in to a bowl (no time to measure!) and carefully added a few drops of the smoothie. Stirring it all together, I was beyond relived to see it become a lovely smooth consistency. I spread it lightly across the surface off the cake and finished it off with some wafer butterflies that I had in the back of the press.  I was just putting the final touches to it when his mum arrived at the door — talk about timing!

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In the end, she loved the cake so I was a happy baker. I’m intrigued now with this whole smoothie-and-icing-sugar concoction and I’m already thinking what other flavours to put together! I’d really recommend that you give this a try too because it’s so quick, easy and delicious! It turned a simple sponge in to something special. There’s only crumbs left on the plate now which is always a good sign! 

Honey Roasted Nectarines

Over the past few weeks, I’ve found myself buying tons of fresh fruit. I might seem pretty virtuous filling my shopping basket with various punnets and pieces but the reality is that once I’m home, the majority of it seems to end up as part of some dessert! To be fair, I kept it relatively simple today. Luscious juicy nectarines drizzled with a buttery honey sauce and roasted — it’s a pretty delicious treat just like that. You could, however, also pair them with fresh cream or ice-cream for a little something more indulgent. No prizes for guessing what I did ;-).  

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Wash and slice up four nectarines. With a fairly big solid stone in the centre, they can be a tricky fruit to cut. I tend to quarter them, working carefully around the pit. Line the nectarine pieces in to a lightly greased oven-proof dish. Melt a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of honey together in a separate pan and stir well before pouring the resulting liquid evenly over the fruit. Pop the dish in to a warm oven and cook for 10-12 minutes. Serve immediately — ice-cream optional but also kind of essential!

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By the Sea

Did everyone enjoy their weekend? It was a busy couple of days for us and it went so fast but it was really great too. On Saturday, I went to Wicklow with a friend. She’s moving there next month so I decided to tag along as she checked out a potential new home (it’s good to know where I’ll be visiting in the future!).

I love road trips, especially to places that I’m not overly familiar with. Wicklow has to be one of the most scenic counties in the whole country. It’s no surprise that it’s known as the Garden of Ireland. We drove through lots of little towns and some of the views were kind of breathtaking. When we came into sight of the Sugarloaf Mountain, I literally stopped mid-conversation and just gawped!

Before we headed home, we stopped in Bray for dinner and a walk along the seafront promenade. I didn’t get to take a huge variety of pictures during the day but I fully intend on visiting Wicklow again and again as soon as my friend settles in so you can definitely expect more then!

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Essence Glossy Lipbalm

I’m a big fan of trying different products from different brands and I was recently looking at Essence. Essence cosmetics are cheap and cheerful but there are some proper little gems in the range. I particularly love their waterproof eye pencils which cost next to nothing and are an absolute staple in my make-up collection. This week I picked up one of their Glossy Lipbalms. The flavours are all inspired by desserts and I chose 03 Cherry Brownie which — as you can imagine — smells and tastes pretty delicious! 

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After first application, my lips instantly felt softer. The packaging is vibrant and the shade within is a lovely cerise pink. You can build up the colour but I personally prefer how it looks after a single coat. Despite its name, this isn’t super glossy and instead gives your lips a delicate sheen which is pretty but really doesn’t last. Although that little bit of lustre is quick to fade, your lips will still stay nicely tinted for several hours after. 

This was very much an impulse purchase and not a bad one either. At the end of the day, you really can’t go wrong with an 8ml tube that gives you rosy-coloured and moisturised lips for just €1.29! This one is going in my bag for future regular use.

Iced Apple and Lime

I love to make all kinds of drinks at home (see my Berry Kiss cocktails from Valentine’s or last year’s pink lemonade) and with this heatwave that we’ve been having; I’ve been making more and more.

One of my favourites is this iced apple and lime. It’s incredibly refreshing, makes a great alternative to fizzy drinks and it’s non-alcoholic so everyone can enjoy it! If you make these in jam jars, you can just screw the lid on and shake them up. If you’re opting for proper glasses, use a cocktail shaker to mix these (failing that, just stir it well!).

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Start by putting together a simple lime syrup using equal parts lime juice and sugar. Dissolve the sugar in the lime juice over a medium heat, stirring constantly. Don’t allow this to boil for too long or the syrup will thicken. 

Set the syrup aside until it has cooled a bit and then divide it among the jars or pour it in to your cocktail shaker. Add in plenty of ice followed by equal parts apple juice and sparkling water and finish off with an extra squeeze of lime. Shake well, serve and savour!

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Mixed Berry Fool

A creamy fruity fool has to be one of the best summer desserts. Light and silky, it makes good use of seasonal produce and can be whipped up in no time at all.

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I start with 200g of fresh berries. You could puree the fruit in a food processor if you want it super smooth but I just pop the lot in a big bowl and smush it with a fork. Add in a tablespoon of icing sugar just to sweeten it a little, then fold in 250ml of whipped cream and…that’s it! It really couldn’t get any easier.

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This will serve four and I like to divide it in to individual portions. Berries and cream are a match made in heaven and I love the fruity bits throughout. This is perfectly delicious on its own but it’s often served with buttery shortbread biscuits on the side — an absolute must for an extra indulgent treat!

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Sweet Dreams

As much as I love this time of year, the hot and muggy weather can make it almost impossible to sleep at night. Our bedroom windows have been permanently open since June and the poor old duvet has been completely abandoned.

Now we all need our beauty sleep (I’ll take a full eight hours every time!) so I’ve tracked down some lovely and light sleepwear. These gorgeous sets will definitely help to keep us looking cute and feeling cool all summer long.

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Pink Print Pyjamas @ H&M

Black Jersey Jumpsuit @ H&M

Coffee Lover PJ Set @ Forever 21

Blogger PJ Set @ Forever 21

Daisy Print Cami & Shorts @ Topshop

Lace Trim Cami & Shorts @ Topshop

Daisy Dream by Marc Jacobs

I’ve picked up a few different samples of perfume this summer and wanted to share my most recent find. It’s the latest from Marc Jacobs and called Daisy Dream. 

With notes including blackberry, jasmine and wisteria; it’s very floral and feminine. I personally love the scent of jasmine so I was instantly drawn to this. I spray this eau de toilette on my wrists and get about four hours wear out of it. It’s quite light but lovely while it lasts. 

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In typical Marc Jacobs fashion, the full-size bottle is incredibly pretty — spherical and light blue and adorned with white daisies. It would instantly brighten up any dressing table! While I’d be more than happy to have this perfume in my collection, I’m on a self-imposed spending ban this month so unfortunately I won’t be getting this one for keeps! I have to say I’m not too disappointed though — there seems to be lots of great fragrances coming out in autumn so I’m happy to wait ’til then! 

Summertime Trifle

For as long as I can remember, trifle has always been one of my absolute favourite desserts. It’s such a classic and there must be endless varieties out there. I love this summery version which is light and luscious and packed with juicy fruity flavour.  

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I made this trifle in old jam jars. I love desserts that are presented in beautiful big dishes but it was as easy and personally more convenient for me to make these individual portions. These jars are so sturdy and become instantly transportable if you simply screw the lids on which makes them perfect for picnics!

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I used leftover plain cupcakes for the base and filled each jar a third of the way with strawberry jelly. I left them to set in the refrigerator for a few hours and then got to work on a simple strawberry compote. Simmer fresh strawberries with a squeeze of lemon juice and some sugar for the most delicious and versatile fruity sauce. Top the set jelly and sponge with the cooled compote and some chilled custard. Finish each jar off with sliced fresh strawberries. Either serve immediately or return to the fridge until ready. Ideally consume within twenty-four hours. Enjoy!

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The Sims 4: Two Months To Go!

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Over a year ago, EA Games announced their plans to bring out The Sims 4 but it was only last month that the release date was finally confirmed. The game will be coming in early September and for now, it is only being made available for PC. According to creators, this latest version of The Sims is built upon an entirely new technology. It has been designed with the intention of giving the player a chance to “play with life like never before”.

The new Create-a-Sim mode promises a completely different experience than before. Rather than using multiple sliders, players can now click directly on the face and body to change a Sim’s appearance. This option will allow for more unique and detailed characters. Players can also deck their Sims out with various accessories and tattoos; choose a walk-style and even change their feet size! Last week a CAS demo was given to selected Sim players and this is expected to be available to everyone at some point over the summer so be sure to keep an eye out for it!

Also in Create-a-Sim, players give their characters three traits that will determine their personality and also one aspiration which can unlock specific traits. For the first time, emotions will be introduced which will affect everything your Sims do in their day-to-day lives. I’m so looking forward to this aspect of the game — bring on the tantrums, breakdowns and happy dances!

Build Mode has also been completely reinvented. All-new tools make it faster and easier to create a home. Walls can be set to different heights; windows no longer have to be in a single line; a whole foundation can be added and altered at any time. If you’re in a hurry or not a fan of building, you’ll be glad to hear that fully furnished rooms can be selected from a menu and placed directly on your lot. Finished rooms and even the entire building can be moved in one single motion. I enjoy creating and designing new homes but I find it so frustrating when I make a big mistake or change my mind and have to start again so this new mode really appeals to me.

So far, it seems that the general response to Create-a-Sim and Build Mode has been relatively positive. Of course, there has been a bit of an uproar over certain changes — specifically the fact that there will be no pools or toddlers in The Sims 4. Executive producer Rachel Franklin defended this decision with the explanation “rather than include toddlers, we chose to go deeper on the features that makes Sims come alive…Instead of pools, we chose to develop key new features in build mode”.

I’ve got to say that while I don’t use pools all that often in my games, I do like having the option. Pools have been a part of the game since the beginning and a lot of other players do seem to love them so it is a shame that they’re being left out. I’m personally more disappointed, however, that there won’t be toddlers. They’ve been a part of the series since The Sims 2 first came on the scene way back in 2004. For players like me who love the family aspect to The Sims, it will be hard to imagine the game without those little guys. It seems instead that babies will now develop directly in to children like in the original Sims games. I guess that means that things like teaching offspring how to walk, talk and so on will no longer be an option. I’ve always felt like a Sim’s parenting skills came out the most during the toddler stage so that’s the main reason why I’ll miss them in The Sims 4.

One positive on the family front is that there are no more so-called “burrito babies” where the infants are completely swaddled in a pink or blue blanket. They now have their own tiny little legs and arms which is admittedly pretty cute. I’m hoping that they’ll require a bit more attention and that there will be more interactions available between parent and baby. EA have already confirmed that mamas will be able to breastfeed their newborns. It would be great to see more of this realism throughout the game — perhaps in the form of spit-up, random tantrums and dirty diapers that don’t just magically disappear in to thin air!

Overall, I’m excited about the new game and I’m looking forward to its release in September. I created a post last year in which I detailed my hopes for The Sims 4 so it’ll be interesting to compare these expectations with the reality in autumn. If you’re a Sims player, what are your thoughts so far?