Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Festive Food Traditions // A Retro Christmas Trifle

If there's one thing I love about Christmas, it's the food. Whether it's a festive meal in a local restaurant, Christmas dinner on the big day, home made mince pies or a Boxing Day buffet. There's something to be said about getting together with loved ones at Christmas time and sharing a delicious meal. 

The varied traditions surrounding food all around the world at this time of year are so fascinating. I remember last year writing about Finland at Christmas and admiring how differently we celebrate the season here in the UK when it comes to serving food. From Italian Semifreddo to German Stollen, each country has something different and equally delicious to offer!
Waitrose have recently launched their festive campaign which is complete with a comprehensive guide to Christmas Traditions from all over. If you'd like to try something a little different this year, why not hop over to their website and inspire yourself with their many recipes which includes a scrumptious sounding beetroot and dark chocolate yule log.

Waitrose got in touch with me recently and asked me if I would like to write about family food traditions in our household*. Christmas for us is a crazy busy time of birthdays, celebrations and visiting family as I'm sure it is for most folks! Christmas is eating too much food and overdosing on chocolate, playing games, relaxing, being together and listening to far too much cheesy festive music. Shakin' Stevens, anyone?! 

When I think of Christmas food and our traditions, there's one thing that instantly comes to mind for me.... my mum's Christmas day trifle. I honestly don't have a sweet tooth for 99% of the year but something funny happens to me on Christmas morning and all of a sudden I'm all about the puddings. I just can't get enough! 
Trifle is one of those things we don't have on any other day of the year, only on Christmas day. It's usually served in the evening following a round of turkey sandwiches, salad and endless savoury treats. My mum usually plonks it in the middle of the table and it tends to be one of those situations where you really try to not eat too much so you can leave room for the pudding. It's so good! 

I wanted to share the recipe for the trifle today. The thing I love about trifle is it that it's a retro Christmas classic but there are endless opportunities to mix it up a little when it comes to fillings and toppings! There really are no rules when it comes to putting this dessert together. It's so much fun to make.... and even more fun to eat, of course! This one usually serves around 10 people and is quite a large dessert so adjust the ingredients according to your needs!


  • 2 packets of raspberry jelly
  • 1 packet of trifle sponges
  • Raspberry jam
  • 400g frozen or fresh fruit (we used bags of frozen raspberries and tropical fruit from Waitrose)
  • A large tin of mandarin segments in juice
  • Custard powder
  • A large tub of double cream
  • Alcohol (Sherry is traditional but we used a bit of Malibu too in this one for a tropical twist!)
  • 1 pint of whole milk (for the custard)
  • Topping ideas - glace cherries, flaked almonds, festive sugar sprinkles, small biscuits, etc
  • Popping candy (to serve) 

1) Halve the trifle sponges and spread the middle with raspberry jam. Pop them back together and line the bottom of a trifle bowl (or any large bowl will do!) with them. 

2) Pour in a generous amount of your chosen alcohol (we used 50/50 Harveys signature cream sherry and Malibu), enough to soak the sponges. 

3) Next up, layer your fruit on top of the sponges. We used raspberries, tropical fruit and mandarin segments. 

4) Make up the jelly according to the instructions on the packet. Let it cool a little then pour over the fruit and trifle sponges. After this, pop the whole thing in the fridge to set for a few hours.

5) Once the jelly has set, make the custard according to the instructions. Make enough to cover about an inch of your trifle bowl! 

6) Empty the double cream into a bowl and whisk until soft peaks form. You can add a drop of vanilla essence or a heaped teaspoon of icing sugar to sweeten the cream if you wish but this is totally optional! 

7) Once you have made the custard and cream toppings, remove the trifle bowl from the fridge and layer on the custard and then the cream topping. 

8) All that's left to do after this is decorating the top of your trifle! I used a mixture of glace cherries, flaked almonds and adorable little Christmas holly sugar sprinkles from Waitrose. We also picked up an amazing little lazy baking set to make some Christmas shortbread star biscuits which we whipped up in less than half an hour. They made a lovely centrepiece and there were plenty left to share afterwards too! 

9) As a final twist, why not serve up your trifle complete with a sprinkling of popping candy? It'll be sure to surprise your guests and it goes really well with a dessert like this! Make sure you only sprinkle when you're ready to serve as it start popping as soon as it hits the trifle! 

Are you a fan of the Christmas trifle? And do you have any favourite Christmas food traditions? Let me know in a comment! 

* I was compensated with a Waitrose voucher to buy the ingredients for this post but as always, all words are my own.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

GIVEAWAY // Win a copy of MOLLIE MAKES Christmas

We're just over half way through November and I can safely say that I have made a good start on my Christmas shopping. I'm one of those people that hates crowds and can't think of anything worse than last minute Christmas shopping in December! Nope, once December 1st rolls around I want all of that to be out of the way so we can thoroughly enjoy the whole month.

December is usually the time I get to relax a bit and sometimes even indulge in a little crafting. With this in mind, i'm super excited to be hosting this giveaway to win a copy of "Christmas", a gorgeous little craft book which has been put together by the team at Mollie Makes. This inspirational books is packed full of ideas for creative gifts, cards and decorations. It's perfect for creative folk, no matter how experienced you are! It'll certainly keep you busy and inspired during the festive period.

Here's the blurb from the back of the book:

"We love to make - handmade is more than just a hobby for us, it's in everything we do. We can't resist hunting down treasures in thrift stores, then customising, re-covering and embellishing our finds with our endless stash of ribbons and bows, buttons and beads, fabrics and felt. We're forever on the lookout for new inspiration. Whatever we do, we're living and loving handmade."

Want to win this book and have yourself a crafty little Christmas? Entering couldn't be more simple, just follow the directions below! The giveaway is open to absolutely everyone and the winner will be picked at random on the 6th December 2015. Good luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Life Lately - Tattoos, haircuts and money making

This is going to be one of those blog posts containing things that I wanted to share but didn't really want to dedicate an entire blog post to. I've been super busy recently, but a good kind of busy! The kind of busy that's filled with holidays and parties and meals out and positive change. We're coming up to the busiest time of year so I'm really excited to say that I've already made a good start on my Christmas shopping (eek!) meaning that when December rolls around we'll hopefully be able to relax and enjoy it all. That's the plan, anyway!

So where do I start? Well, i've been eBaying my socks off recently. One last push for 2015 and then I'll be taking a break until next year. I have very almost claimed back our third bedroom from the dumping ground it had become and I'm excited to start buying bits for it after Christmas to make it a useable space again. I'll be glad to take a little break from endless trips to the post office, that's for sure!

I've well and truly been bitten by the tattoo bug. I'm going to admit that I actually really like the process of getting them done, it's quite addictive! Recently I got this super sweet trapeze lady on my leg and I am absolutely in love with her. She's a little bit of freedom and trapeze acts have always been a favourite of mine. I'm so over the moon to keep her on me forever!

I also recently had most of my hair chopped off. It was totally a spur of the moment decision but at the end of the day, it's only hair and it grows back quickly enough! It's now a messy graduated bob and the best thing about it is my hair feels a billion times better for it. It's also super easy to look after now, no more spending forever drying it!

This year we've really gotten back into seeing live music. Ben & I used to go out to see bands all the time and it's something we're now making an effort to do more of again. We generally have the same taste in music so usually all is good!
Next week we're off to see The Prodigy which I am stupidly excited about as we haven't seen them for years. Ben isn't so keen on them but he's a good un' and got us tickets nonetheless.... that's love for ya! They are literally one of my all time favourites and i've loved them solidly since I was about 8 years old. Not even kidding there.

Next up, we've been enjoying the last days of autumn and getting out as much as possible. I love being outdoors and can't think of spending a rainy day at home. Not when there are puddles to splash in and leaves to kick! Emilia's walking has been amazing during the past few weeks and not only do we rarely need the buggy now, she also hasn't needed carrying either which my arms have been super thankful for!

Lastly, we're currently starting to think about holidays for 2016. We've got a few destinations in mind and I really want to squeeze in another Disneyland trip too so we'll see how our time goes! Our passports are due to be renewed early next year so I want to make the most of having them and venture out to some new places!

What have you been up to lately? And have you booked any holidays for next year yet? Let me know your plans in a comment!

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

A November Weekend By The Sea

I'm a real fan of getting out and about whatever the weather. We're certainly not a family that goes into hibernation during the colder months as the changing seasons always bring something new and exciting. When I worked in an art gallery, there was a quote in a book that always put a smile on my face. It read....

 "Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; 
there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather."
 John Ruskin

With this in mind and once all the fun of Halloween was over, we recently decided to book a spontaneous last minute weekend away by the sea to get a bit of fresh air and have a bit of late autumnal fun. We've all been feeling a bit poorly recently so the bracing sea air was just what we all needed!

The foggy weather we arrived to in Blackpool was incredibly atmospheric. The sea was choppy, drizzle was falling and the wind was blowing but we absolutely had the best time!  Emilia had plenty of open space to run around and she had a blast chasing seagulls, trying to spot the tower through the thick fog, excitedly running round The Great Promenade Show (a beautiful series of outdoor art installations) and seeing all the fish at the Sea Life Centre.

In the evening we all wrapped up warm and headed out after tea for a walk around the world famous illuminations before bedtime. We all had such fun! Emilia wore her cosy cloud fleece, breezy fleece scarf and the drift base layer bottoms (under her trousers) from Muddy Puddles which kept her so nice and warm throughout the whole evening. We absolutely love these products for layering up and they were super lightweight to pack for going away too!

The rain had stopped but fog was still heavy at night. It seemed to make the experience so much more magical though! Illuminated heritage trams whizzed past us whilst we walked the length of the lights, there was so much so see and take in.

We really enjoyed our November break by the sea. Sure, it's not the most traditional time of year to visit but there is still so much to experience that I'm already looking into doing it again very soon! 

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Favourite TV Shows with Freeview Play

It's no secret that I don't watch an awful lot of television. Not for lack of wanting though, it's just that we always seem to be doing something else when a good programme is on! Also, anything we do watch during the day usually has to be Mr Tumble or Sooty shaped as requested by a certain little lady (can't say no, can I?!). 

When Emilia has gone to bed and everything has been done around the house though, sitting down and flicking through the tv guide to find a good programme to watch is one of my favourite ways to relax! 

My husband recently told me about the new Freeview Play service from Freeview which is now built into some television sets or can be used with your existing screen by purchasing a Freeview Play Recorder. It's catch up TV made easy and with no subscription costs, it would mean I could catch up on my guilty pleasures (Jezza!) in the evening when it's suitable for me. You can catch up on TV from the last 7 days, so you'll never miss out on must see shows again. Definitely something we might invest in after we've got the Christmas shopping out of the way!

I thought that it would be fun to share my top five TV shows on the blog today. There's no doubt that they are certainly almost all guilty pleasures though. I realised recently that I don't do serious TV and I can't commit to sitting through months of seemingly endless shows like the X Factor. So in no particular order, here we go....

1. Jeremy Kyle
People are always shocked when I tell them I actually enjoy watching this programme. I was lucky (whatever floats your boat, ay?!) to receive priority audience tickets recently and it was amazing to see how the show is all filmed and put together. The guests are nuts and I do see why people dislike it but for some reason I can't stop watching it when it's on! Also, ever played Jeremy Kyle bingo? You should!

2. Birds of a Feather
I used to watch this when I was younger and have probably seen every single episode so I always love catching the re-runs whenever they are on! 

3. Paul O'Grady: For The Love Of Dogs
When we watch this, we usually have to arm ourselves with heaps of treats to stop Elsie barking at all the dogs on the screen! The series sees Paul O'Grady following the canine residents of Battersea Dogs and Cats home who are looking for loving new homes and a fresh start. It's emotional and i'm a sucker for anything to do with animals, especially dogs! 

4. Come Dine With Me
Cookery-based reality show seeing contestants battling it out for the crown of the ultimate dinner party host. It's so easy to watch, it's fab!

5. Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners 
I love watching documentary series like this. Anything quirky or niche, I'm on it! This one follows people who are obsessed with cleaning and have been set the task of cleaning up some of Britain's dirtiest homes. It's fascinating to see people at different ends of the scales and seeing what they take from each other.

What are your favourite TV shows? And have you heard of Freeview Play before? Let me know in a comment below!

Disclosure - This post was a collaboration with Share It Quick but as always, all words are my own.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Farewell October

October, forever my favourite month of the year. So many happy memories for us, some of the best in fact (and some of the worst too, admittedly). This year October seem to arrive all of a sudden and was over in the blink of an eye. Disneyland, birthdays, parties, our 6th wedding anniversary and numerous other celebrations on top of normal life. I managed to down just one single pumpkin spice latte before the infamous red cups arrived. It was such a busy but insanely fun month! 

We spent the last day of October pottering through the woods at Whirlow in Sheffield and around the quarry gardens. It's always so peaceful there, it's a bit of a hidden gem especially as it's not in a particularly quiet location! 
In the evening we attended a wonderful Halloween party complete with carved pumpkins, plenty of cake and heaps of fireworks. Emilia loved having kitten whiskers painted on her nose though I think the chocolate cake was the highlight for her! A lovely end to a lovely month. See you next year, October! 

Friday, 30 October 2015

Magis Puppy Chair // Review

Say hello to the latest puppy shaped addition in our house! Unlike Elsie, this one doesn't bark at birds in the garden or shed fur all over the house (we love you really, Elsie!).

Designed by Eero Aarnio for Magis, the playful abstract puppy chair is sleek and minimal and is available in a range of four sizes to suit all ages of children. Pink Apple kindly sent us one to try out recently and Emilia has had heaps of fun trying to ride it, take it for a walk and balance things on top of it!

The puppy chair is made from super tough polyethylene plastic and comes in six choices of finish including a super cute speckled dalmatian print. I opted for the contemporary plain matte white version which I thought would look perfect in Emilia's bedroom.  

The chair is much lighter than I expected but the design ensures that it is sturdy and robust and is easily moved or carried around by a small child! According to the website, the chair is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use so we'll certainly be taking it out in the garden once spring comes round again.

Prices for the Magis puppy chair start at £53.00 for the smallest size which isn't exactly pocket money but it's a lovely quality product that will last for years. I anticipate that even when it has been outgrown, it'll still look lovely as an ornament of sorts in our home! 

Pink Apple have a wonderful website crammed full of inspirational and design-led homeware, lighting, accessories, furniture, etc. They sell products from many of my favourite brands and designers including Ercol, Kartell, Philippe Starck, Knoll and countless more! If you're looking for unique and quality products for the home, then I really do recommend taking a look at their website. You'll be browsing it for hours, I promise!

* I was sent this product to review but all words are my own