Saturday, 12 December 2015

Manchester Christmas Markets

Ok so I love Christmas. Like a lot. I practically wait all year for December because it's just my favourite time of the year. Aaaand since moving to Manchester my love of Christmas has only grown, there's so much to do and see around here at Christmas time so everything just seems more exciting.
But obviously the main attraction for this time of year is the Christmas Markets that are dotted all around Manchester city centre. I've been to the markets a few times over the last several years but was excited to be living so close by this year, meaning I could take a trip into town and have a nosey around whenever I fancied it. 

The markets are a must-visit for anyone who likes this time of year, they really do offer a bit of everything from quirky gift ideas to amazing food and drinks (the best Baileys hot chocolate and those coconut macaroons are to die for) and if you weren't feeling the festivities at first I guarantee a visit here will change your mind. 

The majority of the market stalls are set up right outside the cathedral at Albert Square, which is where the giant Santa sits (I heard a rumour it's supposed to be Zippy but I'm not so sure..) and the whole area looks amazing. 

A lot of the stalls are also popped up down side streets and different parts of town so you can really spend a whole day just wandering around and getting lost in all the Christmassy goodness and treat your loved ones (or yourself) to some really nice gifts. 

I managed to pick up a fair few Christmas presents for family and friends and had a really lovely day exploring and taking in the sights, who knew Manchester could look so pretty?! 
Anyway I'm now in full Christmas mode and I'm excited to revisit the markets as soon as I get the chance because I'm sure there's some parts I probably haven't even seen yet.. 

Thursday, 26 November 2015

The Best Peanut Butter Brownies

Hey guys!
Just another quick recipe post today for one of my all time faves.
It's that time of year where it's cold out and all you want to do is get cosied up on the sofa with a film or a book and a sweet treat, and these brownies are perfect for just that. I mean they're SO good.

The recipe is super easy and requires only 5 ingredients.. yeah I'm not seeing any downsides here either.
I always keep stocked up on peanut butter and the rest of the ingredients are stuff I normally have in the cupboard, so for me this is the perfect go-to recipe for when I'm craving something good.
The brownies always have just the right gooey-ness (is that a word?..) and the peanut butter/chocolate mix makes sure they're nice and sweet but also have a hint of salt which go perfectly together.

What you'll need:
225g of your favourite peanut butter
200g dark or milk chocolate (I like to use a mix)
280g demerera sugar
3 eggs
100g self raising flour
1. Set aside 50g each of the peanut butter and chocolate and preheat oven to 180°c/160°c fan/gas mark 4. Line or grease your baking tin (I sometimes use muffin tins to make individual brownies- easier to serve and no faffing about cutting them into squares!)
2. Place the remaining peanut butter and chocolate in a pan, along with the sugar. Heat on a medium temp. until the sugar has just about melted, stirring occasionally so it doesn't stick.
3. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool for a couple of minutes before beating in the eggs one by one.
4. Stir in the flour until fully combined, giving a thick, glossy mixture.

5. Heat the leftover peanut butter in the microwave for around 45 seconds until runny. Transfer your brownie mix into your tin and drizzle the peanut butter straight on top. Now get a fork/skewer and swirl the peanut butter into the brownie mix slightly.
6. Bake the brownie mix in the oven for 30-35 minutes until a crust forms on top but the middle still appears slightly uncooked (it will set on cooling- this is how to keep them nice and gooey!)
7. Melt the reserved chocolate and drizzle over the brownies. Now allow to cool before removing from the tin.
8. Enjoy! (Try not to eat them all in one sitting, as hard as that may be..)

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

The Christmas list of my dreams..

Hey guys, it's been a while..

I last posted over a month ago and I'd love to pretend it's because I've been mega busy, but the fact is I just haven't had much to write about. But that's all about to change!
We can no longer deny that Christmas is just around the corner (31 sleeps if I'm not mistaken..) so I thought I'd do a bit of a 'never going to happen but I can still dream about it' kind of Christmas list (maybe not the wisest idea because I'm now quite sad that I'll probably never own any of these things..) but anyway let's get started.

These are just a few of the things I'm lusting over at the moment, but the list of things Nathan wishes he could afford could go on forever..

Check back soon for my much more practical and affordable Christmas wish list!

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

Hellooo guys.
So.. I love to bake. Like, a lot. I'd say I try to bake at least once a week if I can and I'm always up for trying new things.
It's no secret that Autumn/Winter is my favourite time of year. I love everything about it, from the weather to the clothes to the food. Big emphasis on the food.
This year I've had a bit of an obsession with Starbucks' pumpkin spice latte and one day I thought 'this would be really good in cake form' (as you do) and so I set to work finding the perfect recipe- nailed it, by the way.
I found this recipe while browsing Pinterest although it's actually from Sally's Baking Addiction. I read the recipe and it sounded perfect and there's even a few different variations for the cakes, like cheesecake filling and streusel topping, but I opted for the cinnamon swirl frosting because I figured the more cinnamon the better, right? The recipe was dead easy to follow and requires ingredients you probably already have in your cupboard (with the exception of the pumpkin, probably).
I also managed to pick up the best Autumn leaf sprinkles and some nice cupcake cases from Homesense just to make them extra special.
The recipe calls for pumpkin puree, which is really easy to prep if you're unsure. Just simply peel and cut up the required amount of pumpkin, cover with water and bring to the boil, cooking for about 20 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender. Then just blend this up so it's nice and smooth, and let it cool (probably best to prepare a bit in advance).

If you've never tried pumpkin in cake before (which I hadn't) I'd definitely recommend trying these, the flavours scream Autumn and they're a perfect accompaniment to a good brew and your favourite Halloween film!
You can find the recipe here. Enjoy!

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Autumn Favourites

Hey guys, just a quick post about a few of my favourite things at the moment that I thought everyone should know about!

First up is skincare. Like a lot of people I suffer from dry skin, and like a lot of people this dry skin becomes more of a problem around this time of year.
Autumn/Winter is definitely my favourite time of year and I'm not about to let it be ruined by dry, irritated skin so I've been on the hunt for some really good new skincare products to introduce into my daily routine. I've always struggled with finding skin and face products that actually work and feel good at the same time, but these products seem to do just that (fortunately)

 This is my first ever purchase from Lush, even though I always love going into the store for a nosey around. The lady in the shop told me it was great for dry skin as it's a good exfoliator but also helps to wake up your skin and make you look and feel a bit more awake, which is always helpful in my case as I'm used to just rolling out of bed looking like a zombie. So far I've only used the mask on my face and it's been working really well and smells amazing too! All it needs is about 10-15 minutes to work its magic and leaves my skin feeling smooth and awake.

2. Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser (REN Skincare) - £15
Now REN products are a little pricier than what I'd normally go for, but they're so worth it. This cleanser is basically just a face wash but it's really easy on the skin and works really well. It helps to remove excess dead skin cells and other pollutants and also uplift and detox your skin. The cleanser doesn't cause any irritation which is great because my skin is extra sensitive around this time of year and also smells super nice because of the peppermint oil. Definite fave at the moment!

3. Emollient Rescue Cream (REN Skincare) - £20
Another lifesaver from REN, this moisturiser is magic in a tube. (Again a little pricey but totally worth it..) The rescue cream is nice and thick so feels really good on the skin and has tonnes of benefits, like protecting from UV damage, protecting against free radicals, reducing skin sensitivity and protecting facial vessels. Basically an all rounder and can be applied whenever you feel like you need it but I find it works best if you try and use it morning and night to keep your skin feeling nice and soft.

4. Lip Balm (REN Skincare) - £9
This is my final purchase from REN and like the previous 2 had really good results! I always find that I buy lip balms every so often but they only seem to work for about 10 minutes and just leave my lips feeling greasy. This one from REN is a different story though, it's really good for dry, chapped lips and is great for soothing and protecting lips from the cold weather.

5. Hydra Energetic Eye roll-on (L'Oréal Men Expert) - Currently £10.99 at Boots
I've always been a bit sceptical about buying eye roll-ons as to whether they actually work or not, but I also always seem to have bad bags and dark circles under my eyes so thought it was high time I tried one out. This is one of only a few eye products for men I could find for relatively cheap (I didn't want to spend too much on my first one) as the ones for women sometimes seemed to contain some sort of concealer to cover up dark circles. I use the roll-on morning and night and so far have found it works quite well at combating tired eyes and makes my eyes feel refreshed and more awake which is definitely good!

The last thing on my faves list is this fragrance from Zara (£12.99). I first bought aftershave from Zara when holidaying in Tenerife for about 8 euros or something ridiculously cheap and expected it to be just alright, but was really surprised at how nice it smelt. So when that recently ran out I thought I'd try a new one from Zara and actually like this one even more. The smell is quite similar to Hugo Boss' original fragrance and is perfect for everyday wear, and at 100ml it should last me a while too so definitely a good purchase!

Thanks for reading!
Nathan x

Thursday, 1 October 2015

propertea Manchester

Like a lot of people I LOVE drinking tea. I'm definitely a tea kinda person. So when I found this quaint little tea room/café at Manchester Cathedral I just had to pop in for a brew.
Since moving to Manchester I made a promise to myself that I would explore often and try out new places a lot more than usual, and this was my first stop. Anyone who knows Manchester will know that there are a lot of quirky, independent shops and eateries around and so it's hard to know where to start, but I can definitely recommend propertea. It's located in the City Centre right next to the Manchester Cathedral but is tucked away a little bit, so avoids the hustle and bustle of the nearby shopping centre, which is great if you want to get away from the chaos for a while.
I didn't even have to look at the menu to know that I wanted to stop for a drink here, the old brick work and the duck-egg blue wood drew me in straight away.
Once inside the interior décor didn't disappoint, and propertea's menu certainly didn't either. They have an array of fancy teas (most of which I've never heard of, I won't lie) and also serve food which sounded delicious. However, since we'd already eaten lunch I opted for a traditional breakfast tea and a scone, all of which are home-made and temptingly on display just in case you were trying to tell yourself you didn't want one (nice try)..
So obviously the tea came and it was lovely and the scone was amazing but it's the little details that made it all the more exciting, like the fact you get your own 'Perfect Tea Timer' which tells you when your tea will be ready, according to your preference, and the fact I managed to get 3 cups of tea out of my teapot, which is a first for me and something I was probably a little too excited about.
I've now added propertea to my list of faves and will definitely be going back soon to sample the food. It would be rude not to, right?