My Everyday Grab Bag

I love that feeling of being organized; when you’re prepared as you can be for everyday life. While I’m not the most unorganized person in the world; let’s just say there’s plenty of room for improvement…

To give you an example: I was playing The Sims 4 one day recently when the characters in the game had their power cut off for not paying their bills. It was only then that it dawned on me that I had meant to pay my own real-life TV & Internet bill the night before…yes, this actually happened!

Normally — at least when it comes to the important things — I’m usually on top of it but that particular responsibility had just completely slipped my mind. I decided there and then to start making the effort to plan ahead and be more organized in general. To ease myself in to the process; I began with my bag. It’s important and I use it every single day so it seemed like a good place to start!

In my bag, I always carry my phone, keys, purse and a canvas shopping bag…as well as multiple loose items. I quickly realised that what I really needed in my bag was a “grab bag”. The idea is that this little bag — which easily fits in to a main bag — holds only the absolute essentials. After some thought, I narrowed it down to just six items — important items that I’ve found myself without on too many occasions.

everyday-handbag-essentials

  • Tissues
  • Hand Wipes
  • Mints
  • Hair ties
  • Painkillers
  • Plasters

small-essentials-for-bag

I was tempted to also throw in so many other bits such as pen and paper; lip balm; hand cream; feminine hygiene products; loose change and even a spare €20…but I resisted! I wanted to keep things as minimalist as possible. It’s all about convenience so the “grab bag” should be light and sleek and easy to slip in to your main bag. Its size means you’d barely notice it nestled in underneath your phone, purse etc. until you actually need it!

Such a simple thing but it’s so unbelievably handy to have all these little bits in one specific pouch. It means no rooting around your bag when you quickly need something; nothing gets tattered and you can easily see if anything needs replacing. Just having it on me when I’m out and about makes me feel better: definitely a good step towards being more organized!

everyday-purse-essentials

Chilli Chocolate, Coconut & Lime Bars

To celebrate the Bank Holiday and Cinco de Mayo, I came up with these seriously tasty little treats.

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Lately, I’ve been really liking the idea of homemade bars easily put together with a few simple ingredients. I saw this recipe for homemade Bounty bars and decided to put my own spin on it.

4-ingredients

 The result was zesty lime and creamy coconut encased in spicy chilli chocolate…so indulgent and so many gorgeous flavours in every bite! 

If you’re feeling a bit more virtuous, you could easily leave off the chocolate and enjoy these in a simpler form (I tried a few that way and they’re deliciously light and refreshing!).

coconut-lime-bars

chocolate-coconut-lime-bars

Ingredients:

  • 250g Chilli Chocolate
  • 200g Dessicated Coconut
  • 1 tin (397g) of Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • Juice of 1 lime

Method:

  1. Pour the coconut, condensed milk and lime juice in to a large bowl and stir well until it becomes one big sticky mixture.
  2. Lightly grease a baking tray and line it with parchment paper.
  3. With wet hands, scoop up a handful of the sticky mixture and, after placing it on the lined tray, shape it in to a bar.
  4. Repeat until all the mixture is used up, rinsing your hands after every 3 bars to make it easier to handle.
  5. Pop the tray in to your freezer for 30-45 minutes.
  6. When the bars have firmed up sufficiently, break up the chocolate and heat it in a bowl over gently simmering water, making sure the bowl and water don’t touch.
  7. Take the bowl of melted chocolate off the heat and place on a flat surface. Line a wooden or plastic board with a fresh sheet of parchment paper.
  8. Use two forks to cradle each coconut bar and quickly dip in to the melted chocolate. Place each piece on the clean parchment paper to set.
  9. Enjoy!

choc-coconut-lime-bars

Essence Gel Nail Polish

I’ve been a bit of a nail polish addict for a long time now. Over the years, I’ve had the usual reds, pinks, purples, nudes as well as a dozen other colours in my collection. The one colour I’d absolutely never had would have been yellow.

It’s just never appealed to me and you only have to look at any cosmetics stand to see it’s not a particularly popular colour anyway. Of course, there’s also the fact that yellow nails are associated with bad nail-care and poor health! So, needless to say, I’ve never even thought about trying the colour on my nails.

Then, this week when I picked up the latest copy of U magazine, I got myself a free Essence gel nail polish…in a very definite yellow colour! So obviously I had to at least give it a chance. I’d only ever tried a couple of Essence products before and nail polish wasn’t one of them. As it turned out with this one, I was pretty surprised with the results.

essence-gel-nail-polish

First of all, the wide flat brush makes this easy to apply. It’s recommended that you use this with Essence’s own gel nail polish base coat but I just went with my usual favourite that I already own (Rimmel’s Nail Nurse).

essence-yellow-nail-polish

I then applied three coats to achieve an even opaque finish. It dries to a matte finish which I really love — so much so that I skipped my usual glossy top coat. It’s been three days since I applied it and, even without a top coat, there’s no chips in sight — how good is that?!

essence-nails

As for the colour, it’s a bright, vibrant, New-York-taxi shade. It’s got a fun urban feel to it and I like it way more than I thought I would. Even better, Essence — which generally retails here in Ireland in Penney’s and some pharmacies— is a seriously affordable brand. If you can’t get it free with U magazine, you could buy this nail polish with the loose change in your purse. I’ll definitely be trying these again — who knows what colour will be next!

Three Popcorn Treats

Popcorn is one of my favourite snacks. Quick, tasty and so versatile — what’s not to like? Confession though: despite the fact we have a popcorn maker, I still cheat sometimes and use the microwavable stuff.

popcorn-trio

Whatever way it’s cooked, it’s always good anyway. I’m also a huge fan of adding in different toppings and flavours to change it up!

flavored-popcorn

My favourite way to start things off is to simply add 2 tablespoons of melted butter in to a large bowl of freshly popped popcorn. Use a spoon to coat as much popcorn as possible with the butter — add a generous sprinkle of salt too if your popcorn is unsalted. Then it’s only a matter of dividing the popcorn in to separate bowls/tubs and tossing in your favourite toppings. It’s always fun to mix and match!

cheese-popcorn

a handful of grated cheese

cinnamon-sugar-popcorn

1 teaspoon of cinnamon mixed with 3 tablespoons of regular sugar

nutella-popcorn

1-2 tablespoons of Nutella, melted.

flavoured-popcorn

So easy to make and even easier to eat! :-)

My Sims Legacy: Part Two

Let me start by saying that The Sims 4 has to be the glitchiest game of the whole series. I’ve never had so many problems with a base game! I’m particularly annoyed at the most recent update which wiped the family trees. Back in February, I’d been full of enthusiasm when EA finally added in this all-important genealogy feature. I even started the Legacy Challenge for the first time with the aim of creating ten generations of a single Sim from scratch.

It was all going so well and then this stupid patch had to happen…! I gave up on it for a while but then I found myself drawn back in. In the end, I decided to try and start up my legacy again. The family tree may be wiped but the family themselves are still there and I can go from there so I figured I’ll just carry on…

 sims-4-family

Last time, the story ended with the tragic deaths of Bran and Olive Beauvoir. Their young now-orphaned children Charlotte and Charlie were left in the care of their aunt Bethany who stepped up to the challenge. She found out that she loved raising the kids so much that she wanted to add another to the mix and so adopted baby Amelie. Growing up together, the cousins became best friends.

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Time flew by and suddenly Charlie had become a young adult and ready to take on the Beauvoir estate as his own. He met and quickly married upbeat Elsie in a beautiful backyard ceremony!

After the birth of their first child — and future heir — Dexter, the household composition changed dramatically. Having spent her entire life in the Beauvoir home, aunt Bethany decided it was time to move on. Her teenager Amelie and niece Charlotte went with her to live in a new place in another neighbourhood.

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With the house so empty, Charlie and Elsie decided to expand their brood even further. Darcy was born soon after and then a second daughter called Daisy arrived to complete their family.

The fourth generation of the Beauvoirs grew up happy in this well established home. Tragedy only struck when Darcy brought home her adopted daugher Ariana for the first time and found the Grim Reaper towering over her father :-(.

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Following in her sister’s footsteps, Daisy adopted a little girl too and the four moved out together. Desperate to do his father proud and continue the family legacy, Dexter immediately eloped with the local librarian. Although they barely knew each other, they were young and in love and certain they were meant to be together. Their son Ezra was born soon after.

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Sadly, Dexter and Janey’s marriage barely survived Ezra’s baby years. After multiple arguments and one affair, the pair went their separate ways.

Ezra developed the mean trait and went through a rebellious phase until Dexter finally put his foot down when his beloved mother Elsie passed away. As had been done before by his great aunt Bethany, Dexter bulldozed the house and created a new home for a fresh start.

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As Ezra entered his teen years, Dexter found love again — he even unexpectedly had a second child with his new wife. Ezra adores his cute new baby sister, Essie!

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As Ezra hits adulthood, it’s clear he hasn’t learned from his parents’ mistakes. His father, stepmother and stepsister move out when it looks like he’s about to settle down with his high school sweetheart. However, like his mother, he cheats on his first love and the relationship comes to an abrupt end. He’s not alone for long though when the lady Sim he had an affair with turns up on his doorstep…with a suspicious bump!

Just like his father, Ezra worries about family tradition and rushes in to marriage. The same day of their hasty wedding, Kayla goes in to labour. Much to their surprise, the newly-weds are soon left holding not one, not two but three little bundles of joy!

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Flynn, Florence and Fidel are the sixth generation of the Beauvoir family. Who knows what fun lies ahead — the legacy continues… ;-)

Loving Lately

April has been such a great month; filled with some unexpectedly warm weather and fun random day trips. Summer is so close, I’m practically in a permanently good mood! As well as that, these are three things I’ve been loving lately:

irish-countryside

We’ve been getting these bursts of sunshine over the past few weeks and it feels so good to finally get to spend some time outdoors! You can’t beat the Irish countryside for peace and quiet and lots of natural beautiful scenery!

skincare

I’ve noticed that I’m taking more of an interest in skincare these days. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and slightly wiser or else it’s just from reading so many beauty blogs (!) but I’m definitely becoming more aware of what I’m using on my face. I picked up these two items during the week and to me, they’re both essential. I’ve been a fan of Garnier Micellar Water since I first tried it out last year and I chose Piz Buin face fluid for its UVA/UVB protection.

blogging-book

I’ve been blogging for three years now and I’ve always found it really useful to jot down my thoughts for posts and keep track of things in general with good old-fashioned pen and paper. I picked up this super-cute notepad for €3.99 in TK Maxx and can’t wait to put it to good use!

Icylc Vodka Ice Pops

Summer is just around the corner and I think we’re all looking forward to all the beach trips, barbecues and (hopefully) sunshine that’s ahead of us!

On a long hot night, there’s nothing better than an ice cold drink and I’ve expressed my love for frozen cocktails many many times before. I was recently given the opportunity to try Icycl Vodka Ice Pops and of course, the chance to sample a new variety of one of my favourite kind of drinks immediately appealed to me.

icycl

Made with natural fruit juices and infused with vodka, Icycl Ice Pops are currently available in three flavours: blackcurrant, apple and lemon & lime. A further three flavours — orange, pineapple and pear — are due to be launched later in the year. Pear vodka has always been my favourite flavoured vodka so I would definitely be interested in trying that flavour when it comes out!

icycl-icepops

Sadly, when I was sent some samples, lemon & lime was out of stock so I only got to try the blackcurrant and apple flavours. Both are refreshing and pleasantly sweet with more of a natural taste instead of being overly sugary as you might expect. Individually packaged, they have a similar feel to the frozen drinks/freeze pops that we all had every summer as kids!

icycl-frozen-alcohol

My immediate reaction with these Ice Pops was, of course, to compare them to similar products that I’ve tried in the past like Parrot Bay and Smirnoff Frozen Cocktails.

compare-frozen-cocktails

While Icycl Ice Pops are smaller in size, they also have a higher alcohol content. The flavours are well-balanced too. With Parrot Bay and Smirnoff, I had to give them a stir beforehand so that the alcohol was evenly distributed throughout the drinks. This isn’t the case with the Ice Pops; you just snip off the top and that’s it.

Although they need to be frozen for longer, I found that the Icycl Ice Pops are ready to go as soon as they come out of the freezer whereas with the other two, I’ve had to squeeze them and even run them under warm water to break them up and get them to a consumable condition. I also really like that the Ice Pops are in a self-contained pouch so you can just grab and go.

Another good point is that both Parrot Bay and Smirnoff advise against defrosting and refreezing their products after they’ve been frozen whereas that isn’t a problem with Icycl. I tried and tested this theory and found that these Ice Pops taste just the same even after the refreezing process.

frozen-alcohol-drink

Overall, I’ve really enjoyed trying out these Icycl Ice Pops. The flavours are great, they have a decent alcohol content and they’re fun and easy to consume. However, I do think it’s a shame that they’re not bigger. I’d personally prefer if they were at least twice the size so they’d be better value and also last longer to save us going back and forth from the freezer. Ultimately, I do love the concept though and they’re definitely great for a quick refreshing hit on a hot day!

Icycl Ice Pops will be available in supermarkets and off-licences from June 2015 or you can order online now and have them delivered straight to your door.

icycl-alcohol

Please note: as stated above, these items were sent to me for my consideration. As always, all opinions expressed are my own and 100% honest. The official site for these items can be viewed here.