Sweet Snacks for Valentine’s

Valentine’s is just days away so I decided to put together a little platter of sweet snacks that everyone can enjoy! These are such versatile options and can easily be switched around to suit your own taste. I mixed sweet, salty and fruit flavours for a little variety but really, the options are endless!

romanticplatter

I think I make chocolate-covered strawberries every Valentine’s. It’s so simple but delicious and classic. It just works every time! I went with white chocolate on this occasion and threw in a large handful of heart-shaped sprinkles for good measure.

valentinesstrawberries

Recently browsing in Penney’s, I came across this alphabet ice-cube tray. I couldn’t resist it and I quickly put it good use by filling it with melted milk chocolate. Okay so that’s not exactly what it was originally meant for but how adorable (and yummy) do these letters look?!

penneystray

chocolateletters

Sweet and salty is another really great combination. Dip pretzels in to melted white chocolate, add some cute sprinkles and leave aside to set. It takes minutes to put together and they’re incredibly tasty (not to mention, addictive!).

valentinespretzels

Happy Valentine’s Day!

L’Occitane Cherry Blossom Hand Cream

Now that it’s February, it might technically be spring but it still feels very much like winter outside. It’s just been so cold and stormy every day! The weather definitely isn’t helping my hands which are naturally prone to dryness. Since they’ve been looking and feeling a little rough of late, I decided to treat myself to a brand new hand cream.

I went with L’Occitane en Provence Cherry Blossom. How gorgeous is that packaging?! It immediately appealed to me and looks so pretty now on my dressing table! Formula-wise, it’s not quite as thick as the original Shea Butter hand cream. It’s more runny than creamy but it’s still effective and leaves hand soft, moisturized and delicately scented. The fragrance is fresh, floral and so uplifting. The cream itself absorbs almost immediately and doesn’t leave hands feeling greasy afterwards which is always a bonus. I really love this and I’ll be using plenty of it over the coming months — hopefully the weather will start to improve in the meantime!

loccitaneenprovence-cherryblossomcream

Insta Lately

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  • These past couple of weeks have been horribly wet and miserable and a good hot chocolate is pure much-needed comfort in a cup!
  • I had a little splurge during the week…the Urban Decay Naked palette has become such a cult beauty product and I finally caved — I needed to see what all the fuss was about!
  • When I was in college, I spent a summer in Brussels and I’d often pop in to Le Pain Quotidien. The Belgian bakery opened up in Kildare Village at the end of last year and when I visited there recently, I picked up a jar of Speculoos spread — it’s as good as (if not better than!) Nutella!
  • From Marks and Spencer, these are the cutest and most delicious (and totally irresistible) little chocolates.
  • L’s cousin is getting married this summer and now that we’ve received a Save the Date, I know it’s going to come up so soon. Time to look for the perfect dress!
  • Chips smothered in cheese, bacon and spring onion…best thing ever.
  • Nothing like a good book and as soon as I started reading Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places, I couldn’t put it down! It’s so gripping — if you liked Gone Girl or Sharp Objects, you’ll love this.
  • How gorgeous is this make-up storage? Full post to come on it very soon!
  • This Ickle Baby Bot from Lush was almost too cute to use. It’s made with calming lavender oil and it’s one of the sweetest and most affordable bath bombs I’ve come across to date.

Valentine’s Lust-Haves

Valentine’s is only a week away so I’ve rounded up some gorgeous lust-haves for this most romantic time of year!

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Tom Ford Lip Colour Shine
V-Day is a good excuse as any to splash out on a luxurious lipstick!

Gucci Bamboo
With warm, woody and exotic floral notes; this is a perfume to fall in love with!

Bog Standard Rose Candle
Candlelight combined with the scent of roses — it doesn’t get more romantic than that!

Alex and Ani Romance Heart Ring Wrap
A little bit different but still so beautiful.

Butler’s Heart Tin Assortment
It just wouldn’t be Valentine’s without chocolate!

Paperchase Photo Album
A pretty place to store your most precious snaps!

L’Occitane en Provence Set
Pamper yourself with this Romantic Rose and Reines collection.

Lanson Rose Label
Because nothing says indulgent like bubbles in a beautifully packaged bottle!

Afternoon Tea at Killashee House

To celebrate my 27th birthday at the weekend, my sister treated me to afternoon tea at Killashee House. We had been to the Gresham and the Atrium Lounge last year and I was looking forward to our first afternoon tea experience outside of Dublin. A four star luxury hotel nestled in the Kildare countryside, Killashee House is just 30km away from the capital’s city centre.

killasheescone

On arrival, we were welcomed in to the hotel’s restaurant, an oval-shaped room with pretty details and lots of natural light. I was immediately slightly taken back by how large a space it was — there could have been thirty to forty other customers there and it didn’t feel even half full. While I like a spacious area, this almost felt like too much. It’s undoubtedly a gorgeous setting but it didn’t feel as intimate as the other places we had visited for afternoon tea.

afternoonteakillasheehouse

When it came to being served, we (of course!) opted for the sparkling afternoon tea which included a glass of prosecco. Shortly after our bubbles arrived, a tea trolley also came along which was a sweet touch. I wasn’t very adventurous and just stuck with my favourite regular breakfast tea but there was a nice selection of other varieties such as peppermint, chamomile and strawberry and mango.

afternoontea-sandwiches

Once we had our pots of tea, our sandwiches were served to us almost immediately. There was honey baked ham, smoked Emmental cheese and tomato chutney on onion bread; oak smoked Irish salmon on brown bread; and egg, parsley and lemon mayonnaise on sourdough bread. My sister loved the flavours of these savouries but I wasn’t quite so taken. They were tasty enough but I felt like there wasn’t a whole lot to them. They were all open sandwiches and fairly small in size as well. I would have preferred to have at least one “proper” sandwich with a filling between two slices of bread for something more substantial.

killasheeafternoontea

When we finished the sandwiches, a three-tiered stand was brought out. On the bottom tier were the biggest scones with a cute teacup filled with fresh cream on the side. I think a good scone is such an important part of afternoon tea and these were delicious. Fresh, light and crumbly; my only issue with them was that they were so big, I could only manage half and as much as I wanted to finish it, I just couldn’t — that really can’t be classed as a bad thing though!

killasheehouse

On the second tier was a selection of miniature cakes. The menu listed coffee and walnut cake, mini battenburg and strawberry sugarrolls. We got two of each except for the coffee and walnut. There was one of those and — either due to a little mix-up or a shortage — a substitute of the same size. That turned out be a pretty great thing as the substitute cake ended up being one of the most delicious cakes I’ve ever had…as in, ever! A dense chocolate miniature loaf soaked in kirsch, it had the most beautiful flavour and texture. In fact I was so distracted with that, I forgot to try the other cakes! They looked lovely though — maybe a little too retro for my taste but still a nice offering.

afternoontea-desserts

The top tier was definitely the most fun part: coconut and lime white chocolate truffles, raspberry and popping candy macarons and mini lemon meringue pies. These were all so yummy; my sweet tooth was definitely satisfied!

kildarehotel

Having been to a couple of other places for a similar experience, I did feel that there was some small details overlooked on this occasion: no water on the table, jam served in sealed jars rather than ramekins and no little chocolates with the hotel’s name on it (admittedly a slightly insignificant thing but it’s something that’s shown on their site and that we had at both our previous afternoon teas — it’s the sweetest little touch, I don’t know they they’d leave that out!). Also I much prefer it when afternoon tea is served all in one go, rather than sandwiches before sweets. Of course, that’s just a personal preference but I do think it makes a bigger impact overall.

Ultimately, however, the quick service, friendly staff and some delicious treats meant that this was another lovely afternoon tea experience. The Atrium still stands as being my favourite to date — we plan to continue trying new places throughout the year so watch this space for some more reviews! :-)

Insta Lately

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  • I had a lovely low-key birthday this year which ended with a trip to the cinema. We went to see Room and I hadn’t a clue what to expect…it turned out to be brilliant. From start to finish, we were completely engrossed and I’ve been recommending it to everyone ever since! We always splurge on treats at the cinema — lots of popcorn and sugary drinks and (not pictured) my favourite pick-and-mix!
  • Also for my birthday, we went for afternoon tea at Killashee House (full review to follow soon!).
  • Homemade strawberry and raspberry smoothie in the super cute glass jar that L got for me!
  • Breakfast bunch — the pancakes and bacon in our local café is my favourite!
  • I’m never without some eyeliner. I usually just use kohl pencil but I’ve been wanting to perfect the liquid liner look for some time now and I loved the look of this one from Maybelline.
  • It’s always fun to just sit back and zone out with a glossy magazine and the latest issue of Stellar has been one of the best I’ve read in a while.
  • I got this seriously pretty Ted Baker set for Christmas — perfect excuse for another indulgent bath!
  • These Salted Caramel nibbles are from Nakd which means healthy and natural ingredients. Made with dates, cashews and raisins; they’re more sweet than salty and they make for a really good little snack.
  • Shellac again — this time I opted for a Barbie pink colour to brighten up the grey January days!

On Turning 27

Two years ago, I drew up a list of 30 things I want to do before I’m 30. This past weekend, I celebrated my 27th birthday so I thought it would be interesting to look back on the list to see what’s left to do!

27

1) Read 100 classic books

Umm…nope, I’m not even close to reaching that goal! Time to hit the library, I think…

2) Get married

I got engaged last summer so I’m on the right path!

3) Live abroad for at least six months

Nuh-uh. Being realistic, I’m not sure that’s going to happen either. My guy is in college right now so we’ll be staying put for at least the next couple of years.

4) Do a First-Aid course

Not yet…I’ll get around to it eventually.

5) Get my full Driver’s Licence

I swear, (I think) I’m super close to this happening! I’ve just been so busy with work and stuff that I haven’t had the chance to put in much practice lately…

6) Donate blood

Every time there’s an opportunity to donate blood in my local area (happens every six months or so), I’m always sick! You have to be in full health so unfortunately I haven’t had a chance yet. I promise I’m not making excuses, I’m not in the least bit scared of needles and I genuinely want to do this!

7) Completely redecorate at least one main room

I’d love to do this but not sure our landlord would approve…

8) Publish a book

I started working on a little something earlier this month so we’ll have to wait and see how that turns out!

9) Draw up a family tree

I’ve kind of started this but it needs a lot more work!

10) Visit London again

I finally went back last summer and it was so much fun! I might even be planning another trip for later this year…

11) Take a photography course

Nope — I’ve never come across any in my area although I might need to look a little harder!

12) Go skiing

Hasn’t happened yet and definitely won’t happen this year…Maybe some time in 2017?!

13) Adopt another puppy

So…we recently came extremely close to adding the sweetest smallest Dachshund puppy to our household. As in, we’d even started buying things for the little guy! Then we had to face the sad reality that we just don’t have the space in our little apartment. We’re in the process of looking for a house so hopefully we’ll have a new four-legged friend in the summer!

14) Eat lobster and drink champagne in a beautiful restaurant (preferably by the beach!)

I’ve never really been a big fan of seafood but I’d still like to try lobster! This hasn’t happened yet so maybe I need to change that!

15) Get my Master’s degree

Hmm…not sure this will happen. A part of me is still interested in doing this while another part of me is like, nope I’m done with college!

16) Become a mother

Not yet!

17) Become a godmother

Not yet!

18) Visit all 32 counties in Ireland

I had to look up a list so I could check them off and it turns out I’ve been to all bar eight. So Derry, Kerry, Leitrim, Longford, Monaghan, Offaly, Tyrone and Westmeath: I’ll be seeing you over the next three years! Also maybe Down because I’m not a hundred per cent if I was there or not.

19) Learn to knit

No…I should have made the effort over the winter but that just didn’t happen.

20) Run a marathon

Ha! No.

21) Hold a baby lion or tiger

Omg I need to find out where I can actually do this!

22) Meet and chat with someone really famous

Still hasn’t happened. Not from a lack of trying though, I can assure you!

23) Learn to make bread from scratch without needing a recipe

Bread, no. Profiteroles, yes.

24) Go to New York

I wish! We can just about afford a mini break in Europe.

25) Go to Los Angeles

Same as 24.

26) Do a cooking course at Ballymaloe

Same as 24, really! Since it’s on the other side of the country as well, it would practically be a a mini break in itself!

27) Meet my pen-pal from school in real life

I’m not sure if this could happen but we’ll see!

28) Open a saving’s account for the future

Done! Although I’m glad I only specified open an account and not regularly add to said account…

29) Take a wine class

One day…

30) Go on a hot air balloon ride

We’re doing this! I’ve checked out all the details and I’m so excited! We still need to book in but the season doesn’t really start ’til April so we have to figure out what date will work — but it’s definitely going to be some date in 2016!