Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Lifestyle // Making a gingerbread house and OOTN: Cosy Christmas Loungewear

Can you believe it's Christmas tomorrow?!?! Squeeeee all the festive feels! This year I am so excited as I have finally completed a task which I always aim to do at this time of year - MAKE A GINGERBREAD HOUSE! And I did it wearing a festive Christmas two piece - winning all round!

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I've tried so many times to make a gingerbread house in the past but have never quite managed it. It always seems to be a bit too much work and I never have quite enough time. Last year I even baked all the gingerbread pieces but just didn't get round to putting it all together. This year however I've been given a helping hand by the lovely little elves at Hobbycraft who have sent me this E-Z Create A Treat Gingerbread House Kit*. The set includes everything I need to build the perfect Christmas chalet - the gingerbread, sweets and icing to decorate and even a handy tray to make putting it together as easy as pie (or gingerbread)!

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Of course all good gingerbread house builders need to be comfy and dressed in suitably festive attire - and it doesn't get comfier or more festive than this amazing Christmas 2 Piece* from BuyTshirtsOnline Look how cool it is!! Which is ironic as it's actually really warm. And soft. And fleecy. And in amazing Christmassy colours with reindeers and snowflakes on. And it's so much more convenient than a onesie as you don't need to completely undress yourself whenever you need the loo. It's basically perfect!!!! Oh all the Christmas excitement!!


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Anyway, back to my gingerbread house...

I found putting it together so simple  thanks to the clear instructions on the box of the kit, the tray which allows you to simply slot in your walls and helps keep it stable, and the fact the icing is all pre-made and comes in a really handy icing bag with nozzle. Perfect! I simply had to line the square shaped canal in the tray with icing, outline my gingerbread wall pieces with icing and then hold it all together until it set. And make sure you do hold it all together as **someone** may have got  distracted, let go and had a mild collapse on their hands. The panic was very real! Luckily a slick more icing and it all went back together ok! Once the walls were in place it was time to pop the roof in place in the same way, then leave it to set for 15 minutes before BEING ABLE TO DECORATE WAHOO!!!

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Now things got a little bit messy at this point, and my boyfriend decided he wanted to help with the fun but rather than take photos so unfortunately I don't have pictures of the masterpiece coming together but....
TA DAHHH here's our finished gingerbread house!!!!

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It was so much fun to decorate and I loved choosing what sweets to put where. I did copy a lot of the design from the front of the box as I thought it looked really cute and they'd optimised the sweets really well. I did add some slightly dodgy looking flowers to the front of my house and line the bottom of the front wall with the little coloured balls which I thought was quite sweet. The icing bag and nozzle made it quite simple to decorate though it definitely took me a few goes to get the knack of precise piping (we'll just ignore the windows on the right side of the house!). When I first opened up my box I was a bit dubious about the white plastic tray used to build the house on as I thought it might look a bit naff but it actually looks ok! I think next time I would use some dessicated coconut to cover the area around the house to make it look a bit prettier and cover up the fact that I used a tray to help me (mwahahaha fake it till you make it sista!) 


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I think the E-Z Create A Treat Gingerbread House Kit is a really great set and would be perfect for making a gingerbread house with children. It took under an hour to put together and is perfect for busy elves this Christmas. If you didn't get from my sheer joy above I also absolutely adore my Christmas 2-Piece and will be wearing it constantly over Christmas! It is just so comfy to wear, is much more convenient than a onesie and with it's elastic waist line and oversized fit I can eat as many pigs in blankets as possible without looking too much like a stuffed turkey!


Have you made a gingerbread house before? 

What are your favourite outfits for  having lazy days at home over Christmas?



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*Thank you so much to Hobbycraft and Buytshirtsonline.co.uk for sending me these treats to get me on the festive spirit. All thoughts are honest and my own for more information please see my Disclaimer Page.

Lifestyle // Book Review - Escape for Christmas by Ruth Saberton

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of reading Escape for the Summer by Ruth Saberton (read all about that here). I absolutely loved it and really identified with the characters so was thrilled to hear that Ruth was penning a Christmas sequel - Escape for Christmas.

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Escape for Christmas revolves mainly  around Gemma Pengelley your typical girl next door who, when we last met her over the summer, had given up trying to become a professional actress and instead opened her own bakery after falling in love with fellow battler of the bulge and ex premier league star Callum South. Gemma's fun loving WAG-Wannabe best friend Angel is now happily married to her summer love Laurence and has wangled her dream come true - her own reality TV show Bread and Butlers which revolves around the gang as they work to restore Laurence's family home -crumbling Kenniston Hall. Unfortunately Escape for Christmas doesn't feature Angel's sister Andi and the loveable Jonty from Escape for the Summer, but Gemma, Angel and all more than kept me entertained. 

The main storyline of Escape for Christmas focuses on Gemma and Cal's relationship as they enter a bit of a turbulent stage following tensions at work and the ghosts of partners past. Gemma is desperate to get some alone time with Cal, away from the camera crews and the pressures of being on a reality TV show. Cal however seems to make Bread and Butlers his priority and has been very cagey about where his cash is going and why he's been meeting up with his gorgeous ex behind Gemma's back. Will they be able to make it up under the mistletoe or will they be starting the new year apart?

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I really enjoyed Escape for Christmas and it got me perfectly in the festive spirit. Gemma was my favourite character in Escape for the Summer and I think is the most relatable of all the three girls, so I was thrilled that she was also the main focus for Escape for Christmas. Once again she was so likeable and I could see traits of myself and my best friends in her too. We saw less of Angel this time around but I have a suspicion Ruth might write another sequel focussing on her (please do Ruth!!) I'd also love to read about what Andi's been up to too! (I told you I was a massive fan of the series!)

There were also some fab new additions to this novel including Laurence's hilariously outrageous mother Lady Daphne and Cal's outspoken family, especially Mammy South, who provide some real laugh out loud moments.

I also really enjoyed having a peek behind the scenes of a reality TV show. I'm a big fan of TOWIE, MiC and the like, so loved getting a sneaky look behind the scenes of Bread and Butlers. I've not read anything which focuses on this before so it was nice to read something completely different.

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I am so glad Ruth wrote a sequel for her Escape girls. Gemma, Angel and Andi are such great characters and I've loved following their stories for a second time, and seeing how they've progressed. It's also so much fun meeting their new friends and characters along the way. Ruth has a wonderful way of writing so that you really do feel as though Gemma and all are your friends and reading her books is (cheesy as it sounds) like sitting and having a catch up with your mates and hearing their hilarious tales of what they've been up to unfold. I can't wait to see what else Ruth has in store for these characters, and in her other books for 2015.

What are your favourite books for getting in the Christmas mood?







Sunday, 21 December 2014

InstaLIFE - fortnight commencing 7th December 2014

Last InstaLIFE post before Christmas! I think it will actually probably be the last one of 2014 as I if I were to do one next week it would literally just be picture after picture of food!! Mmmmm Christmas food! This week's edition is as you'd expect, mostly about gearing up for The Big Day wahooooo

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Saying that, my first image is nothing to do with Christmas lol! I saw that Ray Quinn is back (remember him from Brookside / X Factor?!)  and has recorded a song of which half the proceeds will be donated to Parkinson's UK. I've written before about this amazing charity as it's very close to my heart and it's amazing to see such a public fundraising effort on the charity's behalf. I think it's still quite a misunderstood and not very well known condition so hopefully Ray's single The Beauty of Who You Are will help raise awareness as well as lots of money. I absolutely love the song it's very beautiful and quite haunting with stunning string instrumentals. It's only 99p to download the single or for £1.98 you get a jazzy club remix too (so fancy!) so if you do enjoy it go and download it this Christmas and help a fantastic charity out as well! Tis the season and all that! Also if you want to learn a little bit more about Parkinson's I wrote a post earlier this year which may be of interest. 

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How pretty are these earrings? Try were kindly sent to me by Norwich based jewellery company Nova Silver and apparently the acorns are inspired by the acorn tree in the local village and are said to be lucky! Thank you so much guys! They're really well made from sterling silver and are so beautiful, I've had loads of compliments every time I've worn them :D  Nova Silver have a really wide range of styles available so I definitely recommend checking out their lovely jewellery. 

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Last week my friend Jen and I went to Winterville in Victoria Park. Hailed as the East London version of Winter Wonderland there was lots of festive wonder for us to enjoy, although it was heaps smaller than the Hyde Park offering and also really quiet. It is definitely aimed more at adults than kids with a vintage clothes market, several bars and a disco! We bought some amazing brownies (including a bacon and maple syrup flavoured one *drooool*) as well as checking out the Wall of Death. It was very cool though moderately terrifying at times! I also loved that one of the bars there was called Bar Humbug. Happy Hipster Christmas!

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Last Friday it was Christmas Jumper Day in the UK and I was very excited to wear one of my many festive jumpers to work! I decided to wear this I Love Santa print one which I got in Primark last year. It was really good fun and I swear people should wear Christmas jumpers everyday as everyone was in such a great mood! We raised lots of money for Save the Children too which was fantastic. I also coordinated my nails with my outfit and went for a Snowflake Print Christmas Jumper manicure which you can see here.

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Last Saturday my girlfriends and I went to see Singalong Muppets Christmas Carol at the Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square. We'd booked up the tickets months ago so were really excited that the time had finally come! We had prime front row seats and had the best time watching and singing our hearts out! Becky Bedbug was also there and got up on stage to meet the real life Miss Piggy which I was very jealous about! They show so many films there and people often get really dressed up to match the theme of the movie so I definitely recommend checking it out to see what's on in the new year.

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My boyfriend and I decided to go and have a Christmas shopping day last Sunday and have a wander around the big department stores to look at all the Christmas decorations. We decided we wouldn't actually be buying anything (and have got most of our presents sorted already) as we just fancied a relatively stress free look rather than a mad dash and the pressure of having to buy things. We went to Harrods and over to Fortnum and Mason which was absolutely stunning! I'd never been before and was in awe of the beautiful interior of the store and their fabulous Christmas decorations. The food hall was my favourite (obviously!) and I fell in love with these beautiful iced biscuits. I wish I could decorate like that! After attending a cupcake decorating class a couple of weeks ago and seeing these biscuits, one of my New Years resolutions is to perfect my baking finishing skills! I'll let you know how I get on!

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When it comes to Christmas shopping I an very much a "one for you, one for me" kinda gal! (Much to the annoyance of my boyfriend - "I was going to buy you that!") This week after buying someone's present I picked myself a Tanya Burr Cosmetics lipgloss in the shade Exotic Island. I'd not tried any of Tanya's products before but am a big fan of her videos so couldn't resist when I saw it on offer in Superdrug! I absolutely love the colour and expect you'll see a post on this beauty in the new year!

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You may remember back in October I did an OOTD post featuring a very beautiful bangle from Pia Jewellery which has "BELIEVE" engraved in it. Whilst watching Miracle on 34th Street the other day whilst wearing my bangle I realised how  appropriate it was to wear this time of year! I totally believe in Santa and am showing my support loud and proud with my heart literally on my sleeve! I think the cuff would make a gorgeous present for a fellow Father Christmas fan!

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Well there had to be a Throwback Thursday picture in didn't there?! I love this photo of a Pickle Family Christmas in 1993! I can't wait to get together with my loved ones this week and make some more memories! I don't think we've taken many photos the last couple of Christmases but I am definitely getting the camera out so I can look back at the pictures in another 20 years! Oh blimey, I'm so old!!!
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Not long to go until Christmas now - just 4 more sleeps wooo!! I hope you've enjoyed having a quick peek at how I've been leading up to The Big Day. I'm sure there'll be plenty more pictures up on my Instagram in the next few days. Please leave me your Instagram names below too, I love seeing how everyone else is preparing for Christmas! 


Merry Christmas everyone!


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*My Nova Silver earrings and Pia Jewellery bracelet were kindly given to me by the brands. All thoughts are honest and my own. For more information please see my Disclaimer Page.

Lifestyle // My Christmas Decorations

Walking and driving around London to see all the Christmas lights and decorations is one of my favourite things to do at this time of year. Whether they be the beautiful display at Covent Garden or the monstrously tacky display at that house down the road, they all give me the same sense of joy and excitement. Although my little London flat is pretty small and doesn't have enough room for all my clothes, let alone a big tree, I do love collecting and displaying a variety of festive ornaments and decorations, so I thought I'd give you a little peek at some of my faves.

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My advent calendar is my favourite Christmas decoration. Not only does it give me a chocolatey treat each day, but it's also a little piece of family magic as my clever mum made it for me. How good is she?! I love the festive colours and I think it looks so much nicer than a cardboard shop bought one. Thanks mummy!

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This year I was kindly sent a parcel of goodies from No 6 Finkle St, who are a Cumbria based, family run business who have just expanded to an online presence too. They have loads of beautiful gifts and trinkets and I'm so grateful to have some of their treasures in my house this Christmas. I also have a discount code for you to use too, so keep on reading! This beautiful velvet embellished Christmas star* matches my advent calendar perfectly and is filled with a gorgeous winter scent which is making my living room smell festo-fabulous! 

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I can't wait until I move into a bigger flat and can have a larger, real Christmas tree, but until then I'm quite happy with little fake one I bought a few years ago from Tesco. I love the hessian base and pre-decorated berries and pine cones which give it a nice rustic feel. I have also added a few of my own decorations including these pretty jingle bells I bought from the dot com gift shop stall at the Spirit of Christmas fair.and some classic candy canes. I've also hung a wooden Christmas tree and star, and some little robins which are all from Sainsburys. They fit nicely with the rustic theme too! I also like to collect the table name tags from weddings we go to and hang these on the tree to remind us of good times celebrating with our friends. I've also popped the glass charm from my friend Tori's hen do a couple of weeks ago, and am looking forward to adding the place name from her wedding in a couple of weeks. So exciting! 

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As my tree is quite small, I like to nestle some of my larger decorations underneath (which are holding out for when they can hang on a full size tree). I think the distressed style silver bauble* is simply gorgeous and just the style I would one day like to cover my entire tree with. They'd also look stunning with lots of them sat in a glass vase or bowl. The silver walnut* is also really cool and I love how detailed it is. Walnuts always remind me of Christmas as when growing up we'd always have bowls of nuts in the living room, and my brother would always try and crack walnuts by bashing them on his forehead ahaha! I also really like the silver antlers*, and again these fit nicely with my rustic theme. And look at how lovely the cherub snow globe* is! It's so delicate and pretty and has really dainty snow particles inside which swirl so elegantly when shook up.

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Now these are some of my favourite decorations - look how cute they are! I bought this handmade mouse nativity set from the Plaid Tidings stand at the Spirit of Christmas Fair last year and absolutely adore them! Look at baby Cheesus!!! They were a little pricey at £48 for the set but they're really lovely and I'm sure I'll have them for years to come. They also remind me of the mice from one of my favourite Christmas films, Muppets Christmas Carol (no cheeses for us meeces)

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I saw this miniature real Christmas tree for only £4 in Waitrose and couldn't resist. I love the festive red tin tub it sits in and the silver glitter that covers it's branches. And as you can never have enough felt mice I couldn't help but add another 2 to my collection (named Mabel and Theodore!). They go really well with the red base of my Christmas tree - meant to be! Also nestled behind is my olive wood nativity scene. It's really beautiful and so special because of it's origins - my mum brought it back from her trip to Bethlehem a couple of years ago. Of course you can't go through Christmas without a solid collection of candles to give a festive glow. The red and white reindeer tea light holder is actually a plant pot holder which had a mini poinsettia in last year and the rose gold one* is just so beautiful and another beauty from No 6 Finkle St. It's silver inside so the candle light dances all around and looks so so pretty. (And yes that is a flag of the Queen's mum on my wall! Just cos, you know?!) 


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Like felt mice, you can never have too many candles and I'm really enjoying this trio from Primark which cost me just £2.50. Bargain! I love the snowflake print on the glass and they have a nice cinnamon smell too. The luxe pillar candle* next to them is from No 6 Finkle St and is so pretty I almost don't want to burn it! The powder pink colour and luxe silver and hardware detailing give it a really premium feel which is just perfect for Christmas. I've popped it inside my Noël hurricane jar which I bought from the Country Living Christmas Fair this year.


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I hope you've enjoyed having a peek at some of my Christmas decorations. I've really enjoyed building up my collection and like that each one has a special memory attached to it - which is what Christmas is all about for me. I am so thankful for the lovely additions from No 6 Finkle St this year - thank you guys. They sell so many beautiful trinkets for Christmas time and all year round, so I definitely recommend checking out their store. And as it's Christmas they've also given me a code just for emsypickle readers to get 10% off orders online until 1st January (valid on full price items only). Just enter code PHMUHL at the checkout. Perfect for last minute gifts!


What are your favourite Christmas decorations?


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*Thank you so much to No 6 Finkle St for kindly giving me these Christmas decorations. As always, all thoughts are honest and my own. For more information please see my Disclaimer Page.

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