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Glittery Jewelled Soap DIY

Earlier in December I was sent a Stephenson Personal Care soap making kit through a promotion on the AO blog. It was originally for a competition, but the kits were posted with quite a short deadline so I had to send my apologies as I knew there was no way I'd be able to make the deadline of a few days the week I had 4 Christmas 'dos'. (The soap making competition was however won by the lovely Laura of The Mrs Makes with some amazing sounding soaps.) 

I did want to get round to making the soaps as I thought they'd be perfect prezzies and I managed to squeeze in a crafting session before it was time to hand out my Christmas gifts. 
The kit that arrived contained a 'Melt and Pour' soap base, which is really as easy as it sounds. At the simplest end of soap making, you quite literally melt the blocks of soap and pour it into a mould for setting. But as it is such a basic set, there are loads of ways that you can enhance it. I decided as these would be gifts for Christmas I'd make them a bit sparkly and special and I knew exactly what to do. I set about raiding my cupboard for baking supplies - food colouring gel and edible glitter were required. As was the super cute ice cube tray that makes jewel shaped cubes. Whilst on the hunt I also found a little bottle of frangipani essence too. Making the soap was far easier than I imagined it might be. I started early one morning and had it all done ready to package before Jim woke from his hangover.  
What I used; 

  • 1/2 Melt and Pour soap base kit
  • Gel food colourings in all the colours you fancy
  • Edible glitter
  • Ice cube tray/mould. 
  • Essence for a fancy smell. 

How to make your soap; 

  1. Cut the soap base into little bits and roughly put them into your mould to gauge how much you'll need to use. I was using 4 different colours of colouring so did it four times over. 
  2. You can melt your soap in a microwave, but we don't have one so I had to melt them on the hob. I used a trick I've used before for melting wax - I popped the soap base into jam jars and melted it in that. This way it was separate for the colouring stage and I could just throw the jars away after. My laziness knows no bounds sometimes! 
  3. Add small amounts of the food colouring. I used the end of a wooden skewer to add the colouring bit by bit and mix the soap (again fully disposable). Once I was happy with the colour, I waited for all the soap to melt. Food gel is so much stronger than liquid colouring so I have learnt to be quite sparing with it. 
  4. Now add your fragrance. Go slowly as you can't take it out again - I added a few drops to each jar. 
  5. Whilst waiting for the soap to fully melt I lined the ice cube tray with glitter so the outsides of the soap glimmered. 
  6. Once all the soap was melted I carefully poured the soap into the based and popped it in the fridge to set. 
I repeated this with the four different colours, melting the soaps whilst the previous lot was setting in the fridge. As they were quite small, it didn't take long and they just popped right out of the moulds too. 

I think for my next go I might make some actually skin nourishing ones like Laura's, but for now we're rocking the girlie smell and glitter. 

One Little Word - 2014

At the end of 2012, I chose my 'one little word' for 2013. I was TRY. Which was a great word to keep with me in 2013. I have really pushed myself to try new things, to try and be nicer, to try harder. And I've really enjoyed having it there with me. 
With Christmas over and the new year looming, it felt like the time to finalise my word for 2014. 

I don't quite know when it decided to be my word for the year, but it seems like an obvious one. In many ways. Having started the clean eating regime towards the end of this year, and having lost a bit of weight, I really feel the need to start physically moving more to carry on with it. And if we don't move out of this bloody house this year I might go crazy. And there are some friendships that maybe I need to move on from too. So, there we have it, my 'one little word' for 2014. 

Do you take part in one little word too? If so, what is your word? 

Puppy Presents - Lust List

Everyone knows that Flash rules to roost in our house. He's officially top dog. Which means he's also a bit of a spoilt puppy at Christmas too. I haven't really done gift guides for this festive season as there are some awesome ones already out there, but given I have been over pinning beautiful pooch presents in abundance I thought I'd share a few with you. 

1. Woodland walking pouch - Yes, I know, this isn't really for Flash, but hey, I want a stylish way of carrying his poo bags and he knows that, so he'd be ok with it I think. 2. Nina Ottosson Tornado toy - Flash is pretty clever and needs a lot of brain training so we're hoping this interactive toy might keep him occupied for a while. 3. Octopus toy - Plush toys don't last long in our house, but ropes ones are perfect for us, and I love the look of this little cutie. 4.  Diamond Plate Ball - Balls are another thing that we seem to power through. The green fluff gets stuck in Flash's teeth and the rubber insides of tennis balls get EVERYWHERE. This one is minty fresh and fairly hefty. 5. Free People Fairisle Sweater - how cute is this jumper? What dog wouldn't need it to add to his growing list of wardrobe items? And look at that face - can I have the puppy too?

I know I am not the only crazy person wrapping their pets up presents for Christmas......What are you buying yours? 

Feeling Festive

When Jim left for India he is only instruction for me was to make the house a bit festive for his return. I don't think that I've done a bad job. Do you?

(Almost diet friendly) Coconut Macaroons

I've been trying to stick to our diet whilst Jim has been away but it is tough when there is no-one to guilt you into staying healthy. I have no will power. It's official. I crave sweet things and my advent calendar chocolate is not getting me through these cravings.

When we first started the eating plan I popped to see the friend who put us onto it and she was eating coconut macaroons. I wasn't allowed them at that stage (we were in our 2 weeks of cutting out EVERYTHING) but as soon as I started craving snacks remembered she was eating them and went about adapting some recipes. So here are my pretty much healthy (even paleo - if you leave out the chocolate - can you eat chocolate as a paleo person? I have no idea!) coconut macaroons. I've made a batch up for Jims return from India this week and I'm hoping he likes them, although I know his complaint will be that they don't contain cherries! 
  • 2 cups shredded coconut
  • 3 egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons agave syrup (instead of sugar or honey as we're not eating either)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Chocolate to cover - I used about 50grams of chocolate we had left in the cupboard to add something a bit extra for the guys at work who aren't on this plan but if you are really dieting they taste great without the chocolate too. 

What you need to do; 
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees
  2. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg whites and the agave syrup until they are quite frothy. 
  4. Quickly add in the vanilla, don't mix too much. 
  5. Stir in the coconut and mix with a spoon until it's all coated. 
  6. Place mound shaped spoons of the mixture on to the baking sheet. They don't spread so you can place them quite close together. I used my tablespoon measurement to get the little domes although they were a little hard to get out sometimes, but you could just roll them into balls with your hand I guess. 
  7. Bake for about 15 until they are starting to go golden. 
  8. Once cooked, put the baking sheet on a cake rack and allow to cool slightly. 
  9. If you are covering them in chocolate, whilst the macaroons are baking, melt the chocolate. We don't have a microwave so I bain marie it, but if you are using a microwave, make sure you don't burn the chocolate. 
  10. When the chocolate is melted, using a fork, drizzle chocolate over the coconut macaroons and leave until set. 
  11. Try not to eat 5 in one go as that probably isn't diet friendly!
This makes about 24 of the little spoon measures which are just the right size for a sweet fix.

Thorntons Christmas Hero

Picture from Global Gathering a few years ago! Yes we rocked those palm tree shades long into the night!
Not too long ago Thorntons got in touch and asked me if I had a friend I’d like to surprise with a box of chocolates as my Thorntons Christmas Hero. This seemed like the perfect blogging offer because it meant I could do something lovely for a friend rather than me getting the treat. After a little thought about the person I’d most like to give the chocolates to, I figured my friend Katie would be a most worthy recipient.

Katie and I have been friends since we were in primary school. We attended dancing classes together, Wednesday night club (*ahem* Guides), we went to 6th form together, we snowboarded together. We discovered NYSushi together. We fancied the same boys (and didn't that cause some arguments). But we've been friends for, well, forever. 

She now lives in Southampton (a looooong way away from Sheffield) and is working hard as a Dr down there, and well, I am a rubbish friend, so we hardly ever see each other anymore which really sucks. But I did get to spend a couple of awesome days at Wilderness festival with her this summer and I’m crossing my fingers she will be home to see her dad at some point this Christmas. On my list of things to do next year will be ‘see Katie more’ - for one, she lives by the sea and I love the sea. Plus Katie has been working hard this year to raise money for Coppafeel - an amazing breast cancer charity. She ran the Bath half marathon for them this year wearing a giant boob! Yes, that's right, a boob! And last summer she went out to Nepal to help in hospitals there. So she seemed like a worthy recipient to me, don't you think?

But hopefully, sending her a surprise box of chocolates let her know that I thinks she’s lovely and I miss her and was a little pick me up for her hard working doctoring life. 

Who would you send a surprise box of chocolates to if you had the chance? 

A Christmas DIY Round-up

When your friends know your blog URL it means there are some things you just can't blog about, which includes the Christmas gifts that you are making them, which when you like bloggging about your DIY's kind of sucks a bit.  
But in the spirit of the festive season I've rounded up some of the Christmas gifts that I've made for my friends in recent years for you, in case you need any inspiration; 

DIY Baubles (made as a gift for my brothers Christmas wedding)
Christmas cookie pots
Hot chocolates on a stick
DIY bath bars
Vanilla essence (if you start making this now you'll just about have time to give it as a gift)
Limoncello (again, you'll need to get started pretty sharpish)
Amaretto truffles

Are you making Christmas gifts this year? If so, can you share what you're making or will it give the game away?