For me and my boyfriend, this is our first Christmas living together. Up until now, we always spent the main day with our own families so I’m really looking forward to sharing the whole season with him this year. We started putting up the decorations in our new apartment today and it was such a fun and sweet experience (I definitely didn’t almost ruin it by obsessing about the arrangement of tree lights…).
The rooms were looking suitably sparkly in no time and after all our good work; I was in the mood for a seasonal snack. The Costa goody bag that I had received during the week had been filled with festive treats but the only thing left in it today was a slice of Christmas cake. I’ve never been a fan of the traditional Christmas cake but this came packaged as an appealingly neat and sleek bar. I tried it out of curiosity and, to my surprise, I loved it. Every bite was rich, dense and satisfying. Bursting with fruit and flavour, the portion was also the perfect size. I won’t go so far as to say I’ll be making my own (too late now, perhaps anyway?) but I’ll definitely be trying everyone else’s versions whereas before I wouldn’t think to go near them. It’s funny how our tastes – and traditions – change over time! What has changed for you since last Christmas?
During the week, Costa hosted an event in Dublin city centre where bloggers were invited to sample the new festive range in-store on College Green. Held downstairs, away from the crowds, it was a cosy and intimate setting. Subtle touches in the form of twinkling fairy lights and delicate hanging decorations created a lovely festive atmosphere. Local buskers Evan Walsh and Joanna Byford provided fantastic musical entertainment and two very friendly and helpful Costa reps were on hand to welcome us in, answer our queries and ensure we had a steady supply of hot drinks!
A table laden with the most enticing looking treats was set up and we were encouraged to try everything (we did our best!). Anyone with a hint of a sweet tooth would have been in heaven. Think buttery mince tarts, rich raspberry and chocolate torte, dense gingerbread muffins, gooey marshmallow chocolate cupcakes…
We also discovered six decadent hot drinks in this year’s festive collection, each worth an individual mention:
Black Forest Hot Chocolate – Classic hot chocolate with blackberry syrup topped with cream, cherry sauce and dark chocolate curls.
Salted Caramel Latte – Salted caramel blended with signature Mocha Italia blend topped with fresh cream and caramel sauce.
Honeycomb & Cream hot chocolate – classic hot chocolate with honeycomb syrup topped with cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce
Gingerbread & Cream latte – espresso with steamed milk and gingerbread syrup topped with cream, edible gold glitter and a mini gingerbread man!
White Hot Chocolate & Cream – White chocolate sauce steamed with milk and topped with cream, cherry sauce and edible gold glitter.
Hot Spiced Apple – spiced apple juice served hot with a star anise and cinnamon stick.
We really enjoyed the event with its delicious food and drink, great music and relaxed setting. We didn’t leave empty-handed either. Every attendant was given a goody bag bursting with lots of lovely things including a handy travel mug, a Ruby-the-Reindeer cookie and a preloaded loyalty card! Thank you Costa for a wonderful evening; it was the perfect way to kick-start the Christmas season!
Earlier this evening, I got a notification from WordPress informing me that I registered my blog two years ago today. I registered back then because I was determined to start a blog and that was the first step. I didn’t, however, actually start posting until a good four months later. I spent those weeks in-between considering what to write about (oh, and studying for my final exams!). Finally, nearing the end of March, I just went for it. I’ve been putting up posts on a semi-regular basis ever since and I love discovering, reading and following along with other blogs too. There are quite a few that I visit on a regular basis and it’s exciting to see so many bloggers doing so well for themselves.
I write my posts based on my day-to-day thoughts and experiences but I’m also always looking for advice and inspiration everywhere. I’m constantly browsing through glossy magazines, other blogs, books, books by other bloggers…! I think these are great sources for new trends, different ideas, examples of creative pictures and tips on your areas of interest. Fellow bloggers: where do you find your inspiration?
Cheesecake is one of those things that you can easily eat all year round. It’s easy to make and when it comes to flavours, the possibilities are endless. From zesty lemon to sweet strawberry, chocolate chip to caramel; there’s something for everyone.
Today I decided to go with a classic vanilla. Simple but sweet and satisfying, most people find this hard to resist. As a finishing touch, I sprinkled crushed hazelnuts on top. I did consider caramelizing the nuts but that required the addition of a lot of sugar and I figured this dessert didn’t need that! In the end, I was glad I left the hazelnuts in their natural raw state as they provided a delicious contrast to the sweet creamy topping.
200g digestive biscuits
400g cream cheese
75g icing sugar
250ml fresh cream
3-4 tsps. vanilla extract
Break up the biscuits and pop the pieces in to a small clean plastic bag. Bash with a rolling pin until they’re completely crushed in to rough crumbs.
Put the butter over a medium heat and when it has melted, take it off the heat and stir in the biscuit crumbs. Press this mixture in to a loose-bottomed tin, using the back of a spoon to make it level. Refrigerate this while you make the topping.
In a large bowl, stir together the cream cheese and icing. Add in the vanilla extract and then the cream, mixing until it’s well combined. Test a little and make any necessary adjustments, to your own liking.
Take the base out of the fridge, cover with the creamy topping and return the lot to be chilled in the fridge for one-and-a-half to two hours. Before serving, crush the hazelnuts in the same style as the biscuits and sprinkle generously over the cheesecake. Enjoy!
It’s been a while now since I went to the cinema, eager to see a particular film. Sure, there were a few that sparked my interest but none had me queuing up to pre-book tickets. That changed, however, this weekend with the release of Catching Fire. I feel like we’ve been waiting forever to see this sequel to The Hunger Games. I’ve been a fan of both the novels and the films since I discovered them last year. Although I loved the first film and the latest preview looked promising; I had to consider the fact that, as it’s a sequel and a book-to-film adaptation, it was twice as likely that this film might disappoint.
Fortunately that wasn’t the case. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is 146 minutes of action-packed entertainment. As the victors of the 74th Hunger Games, it is the duty of Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark to tour the twelve districts of Panem. As they reluctantly embark on their travels, the pair quickly realise that their previous act of defiance has inspired a rebellion across the nation. Determined to put a stop to any trouble, President Snow plans the 75th Hunger Games to show that nobody – not even a surviving tribute – can renounce his power and the rules of the Capitol.
Jennifer Lawrence is simply fantastic as the courageous but conflicted Katniss. The other characters are also noteworthy from the noble Peeta to the cynical Haymitch, flamboyant escort Effie Trinket to the supportive stylist Cinna. We get to see how they have all changed since the 74th games and we are also introduced to new and complex characters. Even more so than in the original, we get to see the sheer horror and brutality of the districts’ reality. There are multiple moments of suspense throughout that will keep you gripped to the end. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is a must-see and definitely my favourite film of 2013.
images sourced from rottentomatoes.com
There are only 35 more sleeps ’til Christmas so it’s time to get in to the festive spirit! I’m really looking forward to browsing for potential presents, cooking up some festive dishes and desserts and decorating our new apartment. There are so many different things that I love about this season and to kick things off, I want to share my five favourite Christmas ads.
“He’s a wewy good Santy!” How could that line not melt your heart?! This whole ad sums up a perfect family Christmas.
This shows different parts of Ireland as the clock strikes midnight to mark the start of Christmas Day. It’s soothing and simply beautiful.
The song, the snow and the curly-haired girl waiting for her big brother to come home…it’s just one minute of pure loveliness.
I always like the seasonal ads from this department store but the 2011 offering is by far the best. It shows a little boy impatiently waiting for the big day to come – and when it does, it’s guaranteed to bring a tear to your eye!
A classic – I remember this being on TV since I was very small. In fact, I don’t think I’m much older than this ad!
It’s amazing how little touches can make a house a home! I still haven’t unpacked everything after moving over the weekend but I’m already making changes to our new apartment. Since we’re renting – and also because we’re on a budget – we won’t be doing anything too drastic. We are, however, keen to put our stamp on the place.
All the rooms are quite neutral which I really like because it makes it easier to add our own touches. The first thing that had to change was the couch. It was a plain brown leather piece that had definitely seen better days. Walking in to the main room, it immediately catches the eye so something had to be done. I picked up a multi-coloured knitted throw and some comfy cushions in Penneys for less than thirty quid. I love the cosy kitschy feel of the throw. The cushions – emblazoned with monochrome images of London and Paris – make for a nice contrast. It’s a small change but it makes such a difference to the room. Slowly but surely, we’re going to make this new place our own.