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A Winter Cocktail

Life changing magic

Life changing magic
The Life Changing Magic

A puppy dog bath

I am 100% sure that there is something important that I should be using this blog post for but quite honestly, I think these pictures from Melles first proper bath are far more important than anything I could write right now. 
And after bath time - dressing gown snuggles on the sofa! What could be better?
Not a bad blog post to finish the year on is it? 
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One Little Word for 2016

For the last few weeks I have been putting thought into my word for 2016 - which completely freaks me out because I swear it was 2006 about 3 weeks ago. The word I will take with me through the year. It was tough for me this time, deciding between a few different words that had very different meanings for me too. 

But I have settled on one that I think will be good for me in 2016 on a couple of  different levels; 
I know that this might seem like one big new year cliche to be thinking about being healthy but over the last 18 months I have descended from being reasonable healthy to being positively unfit and podgy. And I am unhappy about it. I hate not feeling right in my body. I hate not fitting into so many of my clothes. I hate the way it shatters my confidence. 

The last 18 months haven't been particularly good for my mental health either so this isn't just about getting my body into a better place but it's about sorting out my mind too. Getting my mind to a place that I can focus on things properly and I'm not dwelling on the bad. 

I want to get myself into a position where my body and my mind aren't battling against me. I'm going to be working to sort out my body and my mind - I'm hoping that when one starts to improve the other will follow. First things first I am going to weep a little as I throw out the panna cotta that is sitting in the fridge and then I am going to start looking at the little changes I can make to kick start this life change. 

So this is my word for 2016. Have you chosen a 'One Little Word'? If so, what is it? 
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Chocolate, Cherry & Amaretto Fudge - a last minute Christmas treat.




I have been so unorganised this Christmas. I blame it on the illness that has taken over my life for the last few weeks (I finally have antibiotics to combat the lingering chest infection - yay!) and I also blame it on the 3 month old puppy that requires constant supervision because he is want to pee where ever he fancies. Chasing him round takes up a lot of time.


But I am nearly back to being 100% now and with 3 days to go, I am getting ready for Christmas. And in these 3 days to go there is still time for some baking and making. Top of the list is this chocolatey, cherry, boozy fudge. Basically 3 of my favourite flavours in one delicious bite. And it's super simple to make - it only takes a few minutes to whip up a batch.

What you need:
  • 300g chocolate. I use milk but you could use dark
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons Amaretto Liquor
  • I pot of chopped up glacee cherries

What to do:
  • Line an 8x8” cake tin with some tin foil. 
  • Smash your chocolate up into small pieces (don't judge me but I love this bit) and put it in a medium/large saucepan. 
  • Add the can of condensed milk to the chocolate. 
  • Turn the gas on to a low heat and warm gently until everything has melted. Make sure that you keep stirring so that nothing burns (it's really easy for it to catch!)
  • When all the chocolate has melted take off the heat and add the cherries, vanilla and Amaretto. Stir really well to make sure that the liquids are fully combined. 
  • Pour into your cake tin and smooth the top.  
  • Leave to cool at room temperature and then pop in the fridge to set. 
  • Cut into bite size pieces and package for Christmas. 

So, what are you panic making in time for Christmas? 
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Meet the newest member of our family.


I want to introduce the newest, adorable, member of our family - Flash's little brother, Melle. He's an 11 week old, 3.2kg Jack Russell x Pug, just like Flash, and he's melting hearts left right and centre. He's a mess of flailing limbs, needle sharp teeth and incredible amounts of poop but we love him!


We've been chatting about getting Flash a brother for a long time. In fact before we got Flash we'd thought about getting two puppies, so it's something that's been on the cards for a while but the timing never seemed right. But with timing being better and a certain pug lover egging me on every time I saw her, I started looking for a brother for Flash. 

So when I found a litter of pups 45 minutes away I couldn't help but going to look, and whist I wasn't actually planning on bringing one of them home, once I got there and saw the dogs and the house there was no way that I wasn't expanding the family. It's not that the breeders didn't love the dogs it's just that it wasn't very nice place for puppies to be. So after a call to Jim in India and a trip back the next day with Toni as my puppy carrier, our family expanded by one small, slightly crazy. 


I'll be completely honest, because I can't in any way sugar coat this - the integration with Flash was hard work. More so as Jim was in India or the first 12 days of Melle. In no uncertain terms, Flash is a spoilt brat and he can sometimes be a little snappy to some dogs - so there has been, and still is, lots of supervision when they are together, especially when they are playing. It took about 2 weeks before I allowed myself to think it wasn't a bad decision and that Flash wasn't just going to eat Melle. 

But I do honestly believe that Flash loves his little brother now, (even if the little monster bites his tail) and he even instigates a lot of their playing. I think it helps that Melle gives as good as he gets when they are playing! They've cuddled, they've had fight fights, they are slowly learning to not eat each others food, but most importantly they are learning to like each other. It's still going to take time before we'll leave them unsupervised together but for now I am so proud of Flash and how he's taken to this huge change in his life! 


One of the things I have been asked and I am sure I will continue to be asked is why a puppy and not a rescue? Well, the answer is in a few parts. One - As I've mentioned Flash can be a bit strange with older dogs. He can be a bit jealous. We felt that introducing a puppy would be easier for him to adjust to. Two - We tried to adopt. Twice. We randomly found two Jugs in Yorkshire rescues. One of them didn't even reply to my application and the other said we weren't suitable as we had a male dog and they wouldn't place two boys together. But that's too long an answer to tell to the haters in the park.....


So, there we go. Melle Mel, our new family member. As I type I have two pups asleep on one of my legs. Flash is mostly sitting on his brother in an act of this is my leg not yours, but they are cuddled up and I couldn't be happier.

You can head over to Instagram for more puppy pictures and follow him growing up. But isn't he just adorable? 
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Getting our wrap on!

**3D friends, the ones who think they might be betting a card from me might want to look away now**

The lovely people at Zazzle asked me if I might like to try out making some cards and paper goods for the holiday season and as one of my favourite parts of Christmas is making my gifts pretty, I knew that this would be one review that I could make the most of. 

My first port of call was Christmas cards. One of the things that we do every year is send a Flash themed Christmas card. We assume everyone wants to see his face as much as we do but I think that's part of being a crazy dog lady. 

Now you might have seen a baby brother for Flash appear on my Instagram and you might note that he's not on the cards but they went to print when he was just a twinkle in our eyes (or 2 days before we got him) but hey - Flash rocks the limelight, and he looks adorable here don't you think?

The cards themselves are lovely, glossy and thick too. You get to add a greeting inside and a message on the back too.

And I also snuck a few more papery bit in to the order to make our gifts a little bit more special under the tree. Our tree is covered in red and white and silver so I thought I'd carry the red theme through and compliment it with a bit of craft brown too.
My first stops were tags that I adorned with this adorable little winter scene in a bottle on them, and some tissue paper covered in stars. I love that I got to design them to compliment my Christmas theme.
One of my favourite items is the Flash wrapping paper. I used the same image as the card but it's repeated across 6ft of paper and is just magnificent. This paper is going to be saved for our parents gifts because it is just so special!
I then discovered envelope stickers. What could be lovelier than a sticker to seal your envelope that lets people know that you're sending a Christmas card, not a bill? I went with a beanie and mittens design from the same collection as the stars and winter in a bottle. I adore them.
And I also added some wreath gift stickers to my order too to help me hold the gifts together.
Along side the bits I created, I picked up some double sided gift wrap from Ikea and some red and white washi tape from Ikea. I can't wait for my gifts to start arriving so I can get going with the wrapping and the tree to be picked so that they can take their pride of place under it.

What are your gift wrapping must haves?

*this is a collaborative post but all the views are my own*
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Gift Guide - Travel Addict

Whilst I love where we live, escaping from Sheffield is one of my favourite things to do and I really don't do it nearly enough. I am a big believer in making sure that I'm fully prepared for the trip though and love buying new things to take away with me. Havign the perfectly packed travel bag is a big must for me......


I have a deep love for this Escape bag from Southwood Stores. I really don't need another travel bag, but oh my, I want this one so much. 2. Have you ever been on a long journey or an early flight that's meant you've had 2 hours sleep the night before and not been able to sleep because your head flops all over the place? Well, I have and I hate that feeling of not being able to rest. This neck pillow scarf seem to be the perfect solution. It holds your head up and keeps you warm! 3. I adore this passport cover from Nikki McWilliams. I mean biscuits are essential travel accessories right. 4. I know that you can't take a full water bottle through customs, but you need to stay hydrated and a super cute bottle is a must. Plus this S'well bottle keeps drinks cold for 24hrs and is fine for fizzy drinks so your G&T will travel perfectly. 5. How cool are these crumpled city maps. You can screw them up and push them in your pocket or bag without worrying about ruining it! This is like my dream as I am the worst with keeping maps readable! 

Right, what are your travel essentials? What do we all need to be taking on our next trip? 
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Gift Guide - Geek Girl

For me it's not Christmas unless I get a new bit of fun tech - whether it's to enhance something I already own or it's something i can completely geek out with I'm happy either way. One year my dad bought me a hard drive and my mum apologised before I opened it not knowing that it was exactly what I needed and wanted. So here is the gift guide for the geeky tech lover in your life! 


1. For the Instagram addict in your life this Sony mobile phone lens would be a dream come true. It fits over the camera on your phone and transforms it into a 'proper' camera. Who wouldn't love that? 2. These Studio Sweden Vasa headphones are completely beautiful. I love a good set over ear cans but sometimes they are just too bulky and when that happens you still need an awesome set of headphones. 3. I'm not sure why someone wouldn't need a little gadget to turn their phone into a projector - imagine netflix taking over your entire wall! Amazing right? 4. These pocket video cameras from Polaroid are the cutest. We have one for attaching to Flash's harness and the video quality is great plus it's really wide angled. 5. Do not settle for a boring laptop. Decal Girl has some stunning stickers to fancy up your laptop. My Surface Pro 3 had this design but there are literally thousands to choose from - you can even have a giant pug face covering your laptop!

What would your ideal techy gift be? 


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Gift Guide - Snow Bunny

Buying snow gear is one of my favourite activities. I love it. Even if I don't have any trips planned I can still spend hours looking at new gear. Buying cosy mountain clothes and accessories can never get old, and no matter what Jim tells me you really do need different beanie and pair of goggles to match your outfits.  

1. I adore these SunGod Googles. There are loads of options to customise them which means you can get them in the best colours to match your outfit. Yes. That's what people do. They match their googles to their outfits! 2. Awesome thermals are a must. The key to being happy on the slopes are layer layers layers - and afternoon beers and mountain snacks. 3. To keep the mountains and the snow with you all year round these hand embroidered hoops are just adorable. 4. I need to confess something - I have a beanie addiction. The more beanies, the better in my eyes. I love this colour combo on this beanie. Its so 80's Pony trainers! 5. If you go near the snow then you need a pair of these bad boys. Yaktrax are so functional you might not want to gift them but they are awesome and as we got them as a gift, we both have a pair. You pop them over your shoes and you can still wear your completely snow inappropriate Converse no matter how icy the floor might be.

If you've got a snow lover in your life, what are your must have gifts for them?
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Gift Guide - The Bar Fly

In our house our bar corner is one of the most used bits of the house. Jim is an awesome cocktail maker, his Amaretto sours are just the perfect amount of sour and a little sweet, his Zombies are lethal and he's always raving about his Old Fashioned making skills. I am more of a gin and t maker or prosecco pourer, but I like to make sure that the corner is always stocked and looking pretty. The important stuff. I am the one that makes sure we have drink appropriate glassware and accompanying embellishments. 
So I bring you the gift guide for others who place as much importance on a beautiful bar area as we do!
1. We're a big fan of Pop Chart Lab posters in our house and this constitution of classic cocktails poster is so detailed and awesome, it'd be a great addition to any bar area. 2. If you're serving good gin then the last thing that you should be doing is ruining it with cheap tonic. I love 1724 tonic as it lets the gin shine through! 3. Bitters are one of our must have bar items and I love that these Crystal Bitters won't ruin the look of your clear drinks - or discolour your fizz. 4. Talking fiz, don't you think a champagne coupe is just more glamorous than a flute, and I'm not really down with the whole rose gold thing but I adore these and think they would be beautiful out on show. 5. Another G&T must have - botanicals to bring out the flavours of the gin. It's amazing how adding botanicals can enhance the gin. 

These are just a few of my picks for the bar fly in your life - what would you add? 
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Gift Guide - Puppy Lovers

We all know there are about a thousand cute things you can buy for your dog but there are loads of great things that the dog lover in your life might love too



If you're like me you've got bags of dog food all over the house but this Dog food store is pretty enough to keep on show in the kitchen. 2. Just as you have festive treats in store for human guest popping round during Christmas, make sure you have some puppy mince pies in for furface visitors too. 3. Is there anything better than a book of dog selfies? Nope, there isn't! This is the best book ever and a great stocking filler! 4. This hair of the dog hip flask, once full, will hopefully keep you warm on your walk, and maybe help with the festive hangovers too! 5. I'm a big fan of a good pair of wellies but lets be honest they aren't exactly comfy to wear or, well, all that warm in the winter, so a decent pair of walking boots are a must for frosty, cold, muddy, dog walks - and these ones look good too.
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Gift Guide - Some DIY gift ideas

If you're planning a handmade christmas then you still have some time to get your craft on and I thought it might be nice to round up some of the gifts that I have made for people that are easy to replicate and you can start on today. 

Gittery Gem Soaps
These went down an absolute treat - they are glittery, pretty colours and in the shape of precious gems - what more could your recipients want? Find the DIY here!

Mountain Cushion DIY


I made this mountain cushion for a friends housewarming as she is a snow bunny but it would be great for the mountain lover in your life. And it was super simple to make. The DIY details are here.

Hot Chocolate Stirers
I make these as small extra gifts for people as they are so easy to do and everyone loves hot chocolate. There are two versions of them in my DIY's - one is PG rated and has a white chocolate recipe and one contains boozey pipettes.   

Dog Treat Jars


Here's a simple and super easy to make gift for any dog lovers in your life. You can probably find all the ingredients in your cupboards so you just really need a jar! Find the instructions to make them here

Lemoncello


If you get started now then your lemoncello will be ready to give come Christmas so if this one takes your fancy get to the shops today and buy some vodka and lemons. After spending our Christmassy in the Italian mountains and having lemoncello warmers for me it's the perfect winter drink, especially if it snowing! 

Amaretto Truffles


This was one of my very first Christmas DIY gifts. My old housemate and I made these Amaretto truffles one night and we really were not expecting to get as covered in chocolate as we did. But take heed, they are super rich so don't eat too much of the mixture! 

Wedding Christmas Tree Baubles


If you have friends who have been married recently then these are the perfect idea as a gift for their first Christmas as a married couple. Festive wedding baubles are the so sentimental but pretty! 

Vanilla Essence


Not the greatest picture - I'm sorry - but everyone who goes near the kitchen needs vanilla essence. Its so easy to do and once you've started you'll wonder why you pay so much for it. I make it in a big bottle for myself in the house, but you can get the instructions here.

Christmas Cookie Pots


A great gift to have in the house for surprise visitors or people you know love baking. You could have them for any occasion but by adding the labels and festive cookie cutter gives it a holiday touch. The instructions are here

So what are you making people for Christmas? 
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The perfect Christmas gift for the person who has everything & the best Lemon Olive Oil Cake ever!






You can thank me now or just send me prosecco at your earliest convenience because I have solved the problem of what to buy for the person who has everything and I'm giving you a delicious recipe to go with it. 

I know that there is that person in all our lives who quite genuinely has everything and is a pain in the ass to buy gifts for - I know there is. For us, it's our parents. They buy themselves everything they can possibly need, even the things they decide they want in December.

But I have the solution - An Olive Tree. Now don't worry if your recipient isn't the green fingered type, this isn't an olive tree they have to care for, this is an olive tree from a company called Nudo. Nudo lets you adopt a tree in a grove in Italy, a tree that someone else looks after for you, and most importantly presses the olives it produces into olive oil for you and delivers straight it to your door throughout the year.


We discovered Nudo through a friend last year and immediately I knew that an olive tree would be the perfect gift for my dad and Jim's mum. And it was. Nudo sent through an adoption certificate to us and we also bought a can of oil and a gift tin to wrap up and put under the tree too. And as a gift it went down amazingly. My dad raves about the oil - saving his deliveries for 'good' meals and Jim's mum took a trip to Italy to visit her tree.

So when I was given the chance to try some of the Nudo oils myself I couldn't say no. I mean I've tasted them at dinner, but I've not had the chance to have any at home to use. The set I received, the Three Tenors Gift Box, included chili oil, extra virgin olive oil and lemon olive oil. Jim is obsessed with the chili oil. He pours it on pasta, swirls it in soup and I think he'd bath in it if he could. Me, I use the extra virgin oil for dipping with some herbs and a bowl of balsamic. But the lemon oil I wanted to use for something special. Something different. Lemon Olive Oil Cake.


This was my first time baking with olive oil and it was a great experience. The cake was light and fluffy and really moist. My only thought was my lemon zest - maybe it wasn't grated enough as there were still quite big bits in some of the cake.

What you'll need:
  • 1/2 cup lemon olive oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 225g sugar
  • 2 1/2 tbsp lemon juice 
  • 140g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 40g icing sugar to decorate

What you need to do:
  • Preheat your oven to 170c and grease cake or cupcake tin. 
  • Beat the eggs and sugar on high in a mixer until they are fluffy and have at least doubled in size. 
  • In a seperate bowl mix together the flour, baking powder and lemon zest. 
  • Fold the lemon olive oil and the lemon juice into the egg and sugar mixture with a rubber spatula. Then fold in the flour mixture until the flour disapears. Be carefult to not mix it too much to make sure the eggs stay fluffy. 
  • Pour the cake mix into the prepared tin and make sure you tap it a few times to get rid of any bubbles. 
  • Bake for 15-18 mins for small cakes or 40-45 minutes for a cake pan. 
  • Let the cake rest for 10 minutes before turning out of the pan - you might have to run a knife around it to loosen it. 
  • Dust with a little icing sugar before serving. 
  • Enjoy.  

So now I have told you the secret behind my gift for the people that have everything, tell me yours. I still have parents to buy for and they've renewed their tree subscription themselves! Damn it.

*I was sent the olive oil to sample but all the words and views are my own. We bought the tree subscriptions before Nudo got in touch so they had nothing to do with that!*

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Woodlands walk with Flash

One of the best things about having some time working from home on my own things is that Flash and I get to spend loads of time going for walks and adventures. Mostly I just throw my phone, some treats, a ball thrower and some poop bags in my pocket and we go but sometimes I remember to take my camera out and have some fun snapping the places we go. So indulge me if I share some of them with you. 
So apologies if there suddenly becomes an abundance of Flash walking posts. It's not my fault. Honestly.  
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