Favorites Friday! - from kitchenware to makeup!

Between now and just before Christmas I have collected a few new things that I really love and I just want to share with you! I’m going to say from the start that none of the brands or stores that I am about to mention have anything to do with this post. Everything I’m about to share with you are things I bought because I wanted them!

I don't buy a lot of kitchen stuff these days because I have most of the stuff I need. It's the odd occasion I add stuff to my collection and here are a few of the random things I've recently added!


The cookie stamp that says "Eat Me" I picked up at Home Sense on clearance for £1.99! I couldn't say no and I have yet to use it! Perhaps this post will make me go make some cookies so I can at least  say I used it once! If you have never been to a Home Sense I have to recommend that you do! It's a sister store to TK Maxx therefore it's very similar the main difference being that it's all homeware! It's wear I bought 2 of my 3 Nordic Ware bundt pans for only £16.99! 

The Mummy & Me mugs I bought around Mother's Day from Sainsbury's. My youngest loves elephants and a good cup of tea so I couldn't resist getting these mugs as a matching set! 

The butter dish is from Lakeland's and was bought with a gift card from my father-in-law gave me for Christmas! It was a little bit more spendy then just a regular butter dish, but it's insulated and is suppose to keep butter at a spreadable consistence at all times. Which has been mostly true as the weather has started to warm up. However our kitchen is the coldest kitchen and in the winter the butter was cold because the dish was cold and therefore not very spreadable! 

I used to have so many and as I love to share my baked goods with friends and family most of them have gone "missing." I decided it was time to invest in a nice set of cake tins - these are called Hearts Cake Tins and I also got them from Lakeland's with my gift card! 


I have a confession I am a coffee drinker! What I live in England! I know, but I just prefer coffee. I used to drink a lot of of those Nescafe cappuccino and latte sachets until they started effecting my bowels. No the most pleasant thing to talk about on here, but I realised that something in the sachets were upsetting my stomach so I was on the look out for an instant coffee that suited me. I have been drinking this CafeDirect for about a month and I really like it! I sometimes add the vanilla syrup to make it a bit like a latte! 


These post cards are my absolute favorite - Gotta love Paperchase! Especially the Loch Ness Monster one! As long as you believe in yourself then nothing else matters! 


Everyone always tells me to shop at Primark and when I do go in I very rarely seem to find something, but my last stop in I came across these two t-shirt and I couldn't say no! At about £5 a shirt why not? 


When I was in teenage years I loved candles! It's only been recent I've started buy candles again. The top one is from Paperchase and smells like avocado and mint - I have yet to burn it so will have to get back to you on it. The other two smell great and burnt evenly across. If a candle doesn't burn evenly and it just goes down the middle it's not a good value candle. Candles should burn straight across and another way to ensure this is by allowing candles to burn for at least an hour at a time. Of course as always with candles do be careful - never leave it unattended and in reach of children or on ledges where pets may jump up on. 


Never in my whole life have I ever been into make-up and beauty type stuff, but I suppose things change!

At the top is what I recently bought from Kiko at the Oracle in there 5 items for £10 deal. It was hard to choose, but I went with a nail buffer block, white shiny nail polish, a nude lip gloss, a red lippy and complimenting red lip liner. Wasn't impressed with the nail polish, but love the nude lip gloss!

Speaking of lip glosses I added my two favorites at the moment! Vaseline (limited edition) and classic Carmax! Keeps my lips from chapping! 

Speaking of chapping I love love love Soap & Glory's Hand Food lotion for dry/chapped hands! I have used it for years now! I also included a new face wash from Soap & Glory that I like and have been using for about a month now.

I ran out of eye make up remover and decided to try one by Simple and I find it quite nice. It doesn't try out my eye lids and is fairly gentle on my skin.

Since I had my hair cut shorter it means it needs to be styled more! When these two products, Smoothly Does It - Frizz Free Cream and Mega Hold styling mousse have been my saviours most days!

And I almost forgot the Barry M foundation primer and concealer! There isn't a bad thing about them and would recommend them to those who need make up on a  budget.


These are from Barry M - the lip glosses called Cor Balmy! are just the right about of color and moisturiser and they come highly recommended! The Sunset nail polish is also from Barry M and I have to admit I am pretty impressed with these! If the instructions are followed two coats of the color topped with the Sunset curing polish they last absolute ages! 

That's it for my Favorites Friday! There is no way I could write one of these every week or month for that matter as it's taken me months to collect all these new things! I haven't been baking as much lately because life stuff has been taking priority. It's unfortunately not easy life stuff either. I do hope to bake this weekend and will be sharing with you next week!!

Five on Friday - 5 Shows I'm Currently Watching on Netflix

I am a bit late to the Netflix bandwagon! So, I have a load of series and movies I need to catch up on! Here are the five shows I've either just finished watching or in the middle of!


Shadowhunters - The Mortal Instruments 

I read all the books except the last one so I was curious about the show. I haven't seen the movie, it apparently flopped and if it's anything like this show I understand why! The show is actually not that good, but because I love the Shadowhunter world I'm stuck watching it!!


Fuller House

I watched most of the series in one sitting! I grew up watching Full House and I can't help, but love this. Yes it's a bit cheesy and all goody goody, but I can't help but think we need a bit more of that in the world.


The Ranch

As a huge fan of That 70's Show (see previous post) when I saw that Danny Masterson and Ashton Kutcher were to be reunited in this made for Netflix series I just had to watch. It's about a prodigal son returned to help out on the family ranch. A different kind of show and I hope there is a second season!


Mako Mermaids

My girls really wanted to watch this show and I was all "Ugh, it looks terrible." However, I spent one Saturday night watching the last four episodes of season 1 with the girls because we, me included, just had to know does Zac takeover Mako Island? Does the pod return? I have refrained from watching season 2 as I was sucked in once and didn't want to get sucked in again!


Him & Her

A series that really focuses on the characters and they are loveable and completely outrageous. I started watching this on TV, but never caught all of them and now they are all in one place! Steve and Becky live in a bedsit and most of the show takes place in that bedsit with their friends and family coming in and out bring drama and comedy with them! I can't wait to get through the seasons!!

Classic shows that I love:


  • That 70's Show
  • TMNT
  • Buffy
  • Arrested Development 


On my too watch list:


  • Once Upon a Time 
  • Firefly
  • Daredevil
  • Jessica Jones
  • Orange is the New Black
  • Making a Murderer 
  • Between
  • Scream (the series)


Series I wish were on Netflix


  • Ugly Betty 
  • Angel
  • Felicity 
  • Coupling 


And one show I don't have to wish for: Gilmore Girls! I am so looking forward to the reunion!

Are there any other shows I should be watching? 
Please leave a comment below if you have any suggestions!

note: images are not my own, they come from Netflix or Wikipedia - this post is also in no way associated with Netflix, all opinions are my own please see my contact/policy page for more information. 

Chocolate Chip Brownies - Inspired by That 70's Show


One of my favorite shows of all time is That 70’s Show and now it’s on Netflix. I binged and finished all 8 seasons in a few weeks. See when it was on I only made it to about season 5 before I stopped watching due to real life commitments - like university, part -time job, participating in my sorority and hanging out … down the street.

I think the reason I love the show so much is that I relate to it. It reminds me of my life between the ages of 15-18. My parents had moved us to a small remote town in northern Minnesota. Where it was cold and not much to do.

We did what Eric, Donna, Hyde, Kelso, Fez, and Jackie did we literally hung out down the street! We had to make our own fun running around town or hanging out at each others houses hosting movie nights.


We all had crappy part time jobs and drove cars from the 70’s and 80’s and in winter would pull donuts on the frozen river and in the summer “cruised the dubs.” The Dubs was short for double as in double lanes - there was one road that had double lanes. All part of spending your teenage years in a small town.

I can’t go back to being in high school and I’m not so sure I’d really want too, but I don’t mind having flashbacks through a well written TV show! Kitty was always baking from scratch and one of the things we saw her bake over and over was brownies!

In the last season she baked them for Jackie to win over her boss (Mary Tyler Moore) and was very upset when Jackie took the credit. It was after watching that episode I had a craving for brownies and made them the next day!

I’d like to think these brownies would have passed Kitty’s approval! It’s the only brownie recipe I use these days and this time time I added chocolate chips to it! If I were Hyde I would have added a different “special” ingredient!


Chocolate Chip Brownies

300g dark chocolate, broken up
250g unsalted butter
400g light muscovado sugar
4 large eggs
140g plain flour
pinch of salt
50g cocoa powder
100g chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 180C/gas4 and line a brownie tin (8x11) or an 8in square pan with parchment paper.
Very gently melt the chocolates with the butter and sugar in a medium saucepan. Just before the chocolate is completely melted, take off the heat and gently stir until it’s completely melted.
Then add the eggs one at a time to the melted chocolate mixture. Sift the flour, salt, and cocoa powder into the pan and stir until just combined.
Then pour the mixture into the prepared tin/pan. Scatter all the chocolate chips over the top of the brownies before baking in the preheated oven for 35 minutes. If you want them a little gooier only bake them for 30 minutes.
Cool completely before cutting into squares. They are good for 3 days in an airtight container not that they will last that long!


notes: recipe is adapted from a recipe in Bakes & Cakes Magazine Summer 2013 (BBC Good Food Mag) - If you haven’t seen That 70’s Show I highly recommend watching it! The image I used of the cast comes from this website, I doubt they own it, but I thought I'd link anyway! I used milk chocolate chips to help cut through the dark chocolate, but use whatever suits you!

Strawberry Milkshake Cupcakes & Kids on Social Media


It's sometimes hard for me to remember my life before social media. It's also weird for me to know my girls will never a life without it. Recently they have been asking me for phones, they are 8 and 6! I felt like a right old fuddy duddy explaining to them that I didn't have a cell/mobile phone until I was 20 years old and that when I was there age cell/mobile phones weren't widely available.

They were more widely popular by the time I was 20, but I was one of the last of my friends to get a phone. I really hated the idea of people thinking they could get ahold of me 24/7 and now I live on social media sites that inform strangers of my whereabouts. What a turn around!

Myspace was a thing just as I was leaving high school and my friends in college had live journal accounts. If you had told me then that I would have stuck to writing a blog for nearly 5 years I would have thought you were crazy. I can't help but be grateful for being almost literally the last generation to grow up without Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

It's somewhat disturbing to me to know that my girls know what all three of those things are and I have never sat down and told them about them. We took a big step last Christmas and their grandmother bought them Kindle Fires. They love them! The first thing they did was vlog all their Christmas presents.


You read that right. They charged their Kindles and the first thing they did was video themselves showing off the rest of their Christmas presents. So, now when they bake with me they video it. Or as much as I will let them video it. They took turns videoing each other decorating the cupcakes and then when I set them up for photos they were right there with me taking pictures.

Part of me loves it and part of me is sad that it's normal for them. I like to think that I maintain a balance of online and real life for myself as much as for them. We are strict on how much time they get to spend online, playing video games, and TV. I don't keep it from them completely because it's just not the world we live in, but it doesn't have to be the end all of everything.

This half term we've been outside everyday rain or shine. Maybe a day out or just to the park, but we haven't just sat around. Early last week it was just to wet outside and to keep them from udder boredom we made cupcakes and they got to choose whichever ones they wanted!


After looking though almost every baking book I own (which is a lot - just see the tab up above (it hasn't been updated recently either so it's just an estimate of how many books I own!)) they wanted to make Strawberry Milkshake Cupcakes from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook Home Sweet Home.

They are super sweet! If I ever make them again, I'd probably cut some of the sugar out! However, they are super good too! They taste exactly like a Strawberry Milkshake. I didn't taste it in the actual cake so might not be necessary, but I followed their instructions.

Strawberry Milkshake Cupcakes were all the rage 3 years ago when the book was published. So, a bit behind the times, but they were so good! If you'd like to try them out here is the recipe:


Strawberry Milkshake Cupcakes

70g unsalted butter, room temperature
210g plain flour
250g caster sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
210ml milk
2 large eggs
40g strawberry milkshake powder (Nesquik)

Heat the oven to 170C and line your muffin tin. Be prepared that this recipe makes between 12-16 cupcakes. Beat the butter, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together until it resembles bread crumbs. In a separate jug mix the milk, eggs, and milkshake powder together. Gradually pour in half of the liquid mixture into the dry mixture while beating continually (low speed for stand mixers.) Beat on medium for a few minutes to remove any lumps before gradually adding the rest of the liquid mixture - again on a low speed.
Fill the cupcake cases two thirds full and bake for 20-25 minutes. Use the skewer test to determine if the cupcakes are cooked through. Once baked leave in the tin to cool for about 5 minutes before removing them to a cooling rack - leave to cool completely before frosting.

frosting
500g icing sugar, sifted
160g unsalted butter, room temperature
50ml milk
100g strawberry milkshake powder (Nesquik)
mini marshmallows to decorate
paper or candy straws to decorate

Beat the butter until soft before adding a little bit of the icing sugar. Continue to gradually add the rest of the icing sugar, beat until smooth. In a jug whisk the milk and milkshake powder together. Pour the mixture into the butter/icing sugar mixture and beat on medium/high until smooth and fluffy.
Fill a piping bag and nozzle with the frosting and pipe onto the cooled cupcakes before decorating with mini marshmallows and straws!


notes: Recipe is adapted from the hummingbird baker Home Sweet Home - I reviewed the book here! They are some of my favourite books check them all out on the hummingbird bakery website!

My New Adventure with Jamberry Nail Wraps UK


I'm about to embark on a new adventure. I have slowly been adding more lifestyle things to my blog like days out and beauty tips/products and stuff. This will probably be a one off post about this as it's a separate thing, but as is this is my longest running space in the world wide web I wanted to share it!


For the last couple of years I have been seeing my friends back home post pictures of their fun manicures. Manicures of nail wraps that go by the name of Jamberry. My sister even bought some for my nieces and they are super cute and I totally wanted some! Unless my friends sent some to me I didn't have anyone to buy them off of here.

That all changed when I started to see things on Instagram and Facebook about Jamberry launching in the UK! I started reading up on it and how I could get involved. I then sent out for my free sample and joined some great Facebook groups before deciding on becoming a prospective consultant myself!


In the past I have always been skeptical of these sorts of selling schemes, because they seem to be too good to be true. But with minimal commitment it's for me to make what I want out of it! There is a minimal yearly target not a monthly one, which allows me the freedom to space it out as I choose fitting it around my life more easily.


Before I got involved I needed to know and understand how it all worked and was relived to know it did not function as a pyramid scheme. Instead it uses a multi-level marketing business model. Which in a nut shell means it focuses on selling the product aka nail wraps, not on recruiting more sales people. However, that doesn't mean you can't recruit people to sell under you. In this type of business model if you want to progress or get promoted so to speak you need to recruit new people.

Saying that if this post has inspired you to become a consultant please don't hesitate to contact me!


You can contact me by 
visiting my website
or by email lisa.smoothjam@gmail.com
or on Twitter

On to the product! The nail wraps are really easy to use and are applied with tools you probably already have in your house. All you need is alcohol wipes/liquid, nail scissors, cuticle pusher/orange stick, nail file, and hair dryer/mini heater. They last up to two weeks, are vegan friendly, and come in 300 different colors, patterns, and styles! At £15 a sheet and the 4 for the price of 3 offer you can't go wrong! Each sheet will give you 2 manicures and 2 pedicure - that's a pretty good deal!


If you want to see what sort of patterns and styles there are check out the new Spring Catalog! I made a wish list that is way too long to share in full on here, but here are my top 12 I can't wait to get my hands on! Make your own wish list on the website linked below!




Don't worry my blog isn't going to turn into a Jamberry sales point! It's a one off post telling you about my new adventure! Although I might have an occasional update, but if you'd like to know more follow any of the links above where there is a wealth of more information! If you'd like to make an order be sure to follow the link to my page here!



notes: All opinions are my own - I wrote it to promote myself and is in no way associated directly with Jamberry. This article is very useful when it comes to telling the difference between Multi-level Marketing and Pyramid schemes. Visit the official Jamberry website for more information. All the images are mine or branded images I'm allowed to use for promotional purposes.

Making Smoothies with Boost at the Oracle!

Everyone has had a smoothie at some point in their life. If you are reading this thinking "I have never had a smoothie in my life!" then one you're weird and two you should remedy that like right away by visiting your local Boost! 


Mine is in Reading at the Oracle and I am ashamed to admit I have been walking past it these last few months looking, but never stopping. Until last week when I was invited to get a behind the scenes look at how they make their smoothies! 

Boost was founded in Australia and was introduced to the UK in 2007 by Richard and Dawn O'Sullivan. They saw a lack in the UK market for freshly made smoothies and changed that by opening a Boost here in the UK. The first shop is in Manchester and is to this day the 2nd most popular store in the world! Melbourne of course is number 1.


Smoothies, although a very simple concept, are super good for you and taste great! There is probably a diet trend or someone out there ready to disagree with that statement. There are a million arguments for and against blending and juicing fruit and vegetables. 

From what I gather is that no one has a solid answer. Because some fibres are increased and some decreased by blending and some nutrients absorb better when juiced and others not so much. At the end of the day people today don't eat the amount of fruit and vegetables that they should be eating. A smoothie has at least one type of fruit or vegetable and usual contain more. In my opinion that can only be a good thing and when they taste amazing it's hard to argue how they aren't good for you.


I chose to make the Strawberry Squeeze, it is made with strawberries, banana, apple juice, no fat milk, TD4 strawberry yogurt and ice. I replaced the apple juice with orange juice. It means I got to use the fun orange juicing machine pictured above! One of the perks of Boost - you can make the smoothie your own! Swap fruits or juices or add a supplement; Boost want you to like and enjoy your smoothie so they are flexible!

I believe all of us added or changed things in our smoothies one of us even asked for something off menu! We all had a lot of fun making our smoothies and were all happy with our choices! After my experience I will definitely be stopping by for a smoothie and not just walking by looking at it! I know my girls will love it too!


Unit 20, The Oracle, Reading, RG1 2AG
Located in the Upper Mall 


notes: I was invited to visit Boost by the Oracle and Boost as a PR event, I was compensated for my time, but was not asked to give a positive response - all opinions are my own please see my contact/policy page for more information.

Oh and one last thing we were given a gym bag full of fun Boost stuff! Polo shirt, cups, key chains, hats, and stuff!! 

Day Out: Free Half Term Event at Reading Museum {Doodle Tree Trail}

It's half-term! Again! Half-terms have a tricky way of sneaking up on you unexpectedly. You're busy taking the kids to school, picking them up, doing homework, and other school things and then it's half-term and you have to plan all these things! I don't know about your children, but my two are now used to a routine and struggle with not being told what to do next.


That means it's up to me to give them suggestions or to take them out! It can be hard to get out and about without spending a lot of money at the movies or indoor play centres. I went looking online at free stuff for kids to do in Reading over the half term and was directed to the museums site.

Now this event was outside, but I thought rain or shine it's a good way to get out of the house for the afternoon. There is only so much baking, crafting, and watching movies parents and children can do!

The event was called the Doodle Tree Trail: discover some extremely special trees in Reading town Centre. It sounded different and interesting so I signed us up!

We started outside of the museum with a fun activity pack that asked us not only about the trees, but included fun facts of the trees or local history!


Trees we saw: 

Hornbeam (carbines betulus)
Judas Tree (circus siliquastrum)
Mulberry (mores nigra)
Maidenhair Tree (ginkgo biloba)
Weeping Willow (sail babylonica)
London Plane (platens xhispanica)
Indian Bean Tree (catalpa bignonioides)

The crew of people who were running the tour were very friendly, informative, and patient with the children... and adults who had questions! My girls seemed to really enjoy it. At 8 and 6 they might not have taken it all in, but they liked walking around the different parts of town we rarely go too and filling out their activity packs along the way.


This tour won't be happening again, unless they get funding, but they will be leaving the activity packs and a map of the tour at the Reading Museum for anyone interested in checking it out! If anything it takes you around the town centre and shows you a bit more then just shops!

I would recommend checking it out if you happen to be in Reading and looking for something a bit different to do! Plus there is so much more to see and explore at the museum as well as hosting other free half-term events!

Find it here:
Reading Museum
The Town Hall
Blagrave Street
Reading
Berkshire
RG1 1QH


notes: all opinions are my own and in no way associated with the Reading Museum - I really enjoy local events and sharing them with my readers, for more information please see my contact/policy page.

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