Thursday, 2 October 2014

Life from the Tub has Moved!

Hey guys,


Writing from the Tub has a new home! I've moved to a custom URL and everything's had a new lick of paint, so please do update your bookmarks and visit me at:


Thanks :D

Friday, 19 September 2014

Five Recipes to Try This Autumn

So we're just over halfway through the month and I haven't tried many new recipes so far in September. I decided to rectify this by putting together a list of five recipes I want to try out over the next few weeks.


1. Homemade Gingerbread Latte

I'm not a coffee drinker but I am bit partial to some of the autumn/winter drinks that weave their way into our coffee shops every day. However, they're expensive and packed full of empty calories, sugar and saturated fat so this year I want to learn to make my own version of my favourites, starting with a gingerbread latte.

2. Smoked Salmon Hash

Lunch is the meal I most struggle with, as I'm busy working so don't have a long time to set aside to cook, though I still want something yummy and homemade. I've been looking for some nice lunch time ideas and I'm excited to make Rachael Ray's smoked salmon hash.

(Update: I actually made this for lunch today and it was lovely)



3. Banana Bread

I loooove banana bread and my best friends makes an amazing loaf, though I've never tried it myself! I think it's about time to give it a go and see what I can rustle up.



4. Prosciutto, Onion, Walnut and Blue Cheese Galette

Believe it or not, as they're currently a hot topic in cooking, I've never made a galette! I wanted to try one out and this recipe, featuring prosciutto, onion, walnuts and blue cheese sounds amazing.



5. Beef Stroganoff 

Another classic recipe I've never tried, I'm dying to cook this in my slow cooker an serve it with some lovely, fluffy rice.








So there you go, five recipes I'm planning on cooking over the next couple of weeks! I'll be back soon with another five recipes that are perfect to cook during autumn, but until then let me know, do you fancy cooking any of these?

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Things I Love About Autumn

As you might have guessed from my last post... I LOVE AUTUMN. As I get older it's quickly becoming my favourite season of the year and I can't wait for the most beautiful season of them all to hit. While we're waiting for autumn to properly arrive, here are the top few things I love about autumn.



1. Hot chocolate. 

Proper hot chocolate; thick and creamy with marshmallows on top. Drinking it snuggled up in bed late at night, while watching cartoons, is absolute bliss.

2. Everything looks lovely.

Autumn has a unique way of making grey, dreary days look beautiful. When I drive home from Bath I have to make my way down a huuuuuge, winding hill (Brassknocker Hill, if you fancy Googling it) and has incredible views all over Somerset and Wiltshire. It looks lovely all year round but nothing beats that view when the leaves have started to turn and the woods are the brightest oranges and reds.

3. New fashion and beauty releases.

A slew of new beauty releases are coming out over the next couple of months and the shops have switched bikinis and flip flops for duster coats and boots. Nothing beats browsing online and creating a huuuuge wishlist of all the gorgeous things I hope to buy for the autumn/winter season.

4. Goodbye salads, hello stews.

Well, I'm not going to pretend I spent the summer eating salad but, you know. Autumn is the time for comfort food: I'm thinking hot pots, pies and rich beef stews. 

5. TV becomes 1000x more awesome.

So many new shows and old favourites start up in September and October and I can't wait. I didn't watch much TV over the summer, so I'm looking forward to curling up on my sofa and getting into a great show.

6. Candles.

I do burn candles all year round but when it's sweltering outside I definitely don't partake as often as I do in the cooler months. As I work from home I'm pretty much burning a candle from when I get up until I go to bed and I have a huge bag of Yankee Candle wax melts to work my way through. I'm burning Cinnamon Stick as we speak and my living room smells incredible.

*

So, those are a few of the things I love most about the cooler months of September, October and November. How about you? What's on your list?

Monday, 15 September 2014

Autumn Nail Varnish Picks

The leaves have started to turn, there's a distinct nip in the air and the nights are gradually starting to draw in... Yup, summer's over and autumn's on the horizon. With autumn officially beginning on September 22nd I thought this would be the perfect time to talk about six of the colours I'll be wearing on my nails in the coming months.

I'm pretty traditional when it comes to autumn colours. I love mustard yellows, deep greens and rich burgundies. I think they go so well with a season of harvest and richness and I'm already filling my wardrobe with these luxurious, gorgeous colours.



First up, we've got one of the Barry M Autumn/Winter Gelly releases, Mustard. This one's been talked about a *lot* online and I couldn't resist picÄking it up in a Boots haul a couple of weeks ago. I'm not a big wearer of yellow on my nails but I'm glad I took a chance on this as it's something a bit different and will bring me out of the burgundy/purple/navy rotation I usually have going on.

Next is something which is going to be a big pain for you if you like the look of it, as I think it was a limited edition shade from Halloween last year. It's shade 1134 Black Magic from Sinful Colors and I picked it up in Florida last year. I don't think I wore it at all last year but I tried it out last week and absolutely love it. It's a shimmery grey base with burnt orange glitter and I've never seen anything like it before. This will go perfectly with so many of my autumn dresses and provides a nice little somethin' somethin' to make a plain outfit a bit more exciting.

Something else from Barry M, one of the Matte Nail Paints in Crush. This, or something similar, is probably going to appear on everybody's lists as it's a quintessential autumn shade and the matte finish is perfect for the season. It's a straight-forward burgundy and I'm already excited about pairing this with the mustard shade I mentioned earlier to create some nail art.

Another product from last year's A/W collections, I'm still loving Essie's For the Twill of It. I wore this a lot last year, retired it when the warmer weather rolled in and resurrected it a couple of weeks ago. It's a beautiful, multi-faceted metallic shade and it goes with pretty much everything in my wardrobe. It brings a real touch of class to a manicure and I'll always reach for this during the cooler months of the year.

My third and final Barry M pick is another one from the new Autumn/Winter Gelly releases and this time it's Cardamom. It's quite a muted, forest green and it's not like any other green I have in my stash, which is always nice! Barry M Racing Green is one of my autumn staples but this year I'm going to give this new bad boy a whirl.

Finally, last but absolutely not least, we have Royal Navy from Butter London. Will there ever be an autumn where navy isn't hugely popular? I hope not. This has a gorgeous formula, lasts for days and days and is a no nonsense, straight up perfect autumn colour.

So there you have it, six of the varnishes I'm going to be sporting as the nights get darker and the leaves start to turn. Let me know, what are your top picks for autumn nail varnishes?

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Blog Holiday

Hi guys!


Just a quick one to let you know I'm taking this week off blogging to have a nice, chilled out week with my boyfriend before he starts his new job - so you won't see any new posts from me until September.

Have a great week,

Carly xxx

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Crafternoons: DIY Birdhouses!



Last weekend my and one of my very best friends had our first ever crafternoon together - and it was a huge success, mostly because I got to say crafternoon over and over again...

The main attraction was painting some gorgeous little birdhouses my friend picked up while she was in the States last month. These are readily available for your crafting delights in the US but sadly much harder to get hold of over here. Sad face.

Anyway, we gave them a whirl and I'm absolutely in love with my finished birdhouses - they look like little beach huts and I'm particularly impressed with myself, taking my lack of artistic talent into account!

The green one is for my bathroom (which has the same colour scheme) and I'm still looking for the perfect home for my little pink and grey one, which I'm hoping to add more details to with a nail art pen...here's hoping I don't balls it up!

So that's it from me today, just a little crafty post to get your creative juices a-flowing. What do you think of little birdhouses as interior decorations?

Friday, 8 August 2014

Adventures with Applewood - More Glorious Cheesy Recipes!

On Monday I posted up the first three recipes I created using the selection of cheeses that Applewood very kindly sent me. Today I'm going to share the final three - so feast your eyes and get ready to feel a little bit peckish!

Chicken, Chilli Jam and Applewood Taquitos:


I'd never made taquitos before but these involved spreading a mini tortilla with chilli jam and Applewood Speadable, adding some cooked shredded chicken and sprinkling with grated cheese. After that I rolled them up, popped them into a baking dish (with the seam facing down) and baked them for about 15 mins. I'd cooked my chicken just before assembly so it was already hot but you may need to adjust the cooking time if you're using pre-cooked chicken.

The result was a spicy, smoky chicken parcel that absolutely hit the spot - the combination of chilli and Applewood was a match made in heaven!

Cheesy Stuffed Bread:


This one's a bit of a centre piece! Take a round loaf of bread (sour dough would be great) and slice it into a dross hatch  pattern - don't slice all the way through as you want to keep it in tact.

Chop up a bit of an Applewood Wedge and stuff a chunk into each cut you've made into the bread. Make sure it's fully pushed down as you want it to stay in the loaf, not melt all over the outside.

Next, melt butter, garlic salt and sage together and drizzle all over the bread and into the slits. This will give the bread a lovely flavour but do use whatever flavours you prefer - rosemary would be amazing, I reckon!

After this you just need to bake the bread in the oven for about 25 minutes (or until the cheese has melted) and you can enjoy a crusty, herby, cheesy loaf that pulls apart so is perfect for sharing.

Applewood Pizza Rolls:

(Apologies for the weird lighting - my camera was throwing a hissy fit so I snapped a couple on my iPhone!)

Out of all six recipes I cooked this is the one that was the most popular. So popular, in fact, that my boyfriend requested it for dinner the next night - that's when I know it's s hit!

This is so easy to make but so tasty and comforting - perfect for a naughty treat!

Either make your own or take pre-made short crust pastry and roll it out into a rectangle (about .5cm thick if you're doing it from scratch). Layer Applewood Slices all over the pastry and then add chorizo and pepperoni on top. After this you just need to roll it up like a Swiss Roll, slice up (one Jus-Roll short crust sheet cut into 8) and stand up on your baking tray. Brush the tops with beaten egg, cook for about 15 minutes (adjust slightly either way if you like your pastry more or less done. I like mine a little underdone in the middle!) and then enjoy your cheesy, meaty, gooey pizza roll.

*

So that's the last of my Applewood posts! I absolutely loved creating these recipes and they're all so simply to make but completely delicious - who doesn't love smoked cheese? I hope you enjoyed having a read about my kitchen concoctions; do let me know in the comments which recipe you like the look of the most!

Thank you again to the lovely people at Applewood for sending me the range to try out. You can find out more about Applewood on their website or on their Twitter feed.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Cupcake Decorating with Yolli


Last week I received a lovely package from Yolli, who sent me a few baking-related bits and bobs to try out in my kitchen. I got stuck in and whipped up a batch of cupcakes last week, then used some of Yolli's products to decorate them. I'm a bit of a cupcake decorating novice but had so much fun decorating them and trying out all different designs.

I haven't used a piping bag since I was a child so I wasn't sure how it was going to turn out but the Latex Piping Bag Yolli sent me was so easy to use and super easy to wash and dry - latex is definitely the way forward with baking supplies! I used the large size and it definitely is pretty sizeable - you'd fit loads and loads of icing in there but I only filled it about a third of the way up and it worked great.

I also tried out the 16 Piece Piping Nozzle Set and they were also really easy to use - I just picked out a nozzle, popped it inside the piping bag and off I went. As you can see this set has a massive selection to choose from and really does cover everything you'll need - I tried out four of the nozzles this time but I'm excited to try out the rest, particularly the crescent shaped ones!


So, here are a few of the cupcakes! As you can see, I mixed up a few different bowls of buttercream icing so we had different colours to play with - I also made a batch of peppermint flavoured icing which was absolutely gorgeous.

For someone who hasn't really piped icing before I think I did a pretty good job! A few of my early attempts were a bit ropey but it was great fun trying out the different nozzles and decorating the cupcakes with different sprinkles. Oh, and glitter, don't forget about glitter.


So, what do you think? Do these look good enough to dive into right now or what?


To have a look at Yolli's full range of products you can visit their website here.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Adventures with Applewood - Glorious Cheesy Recipes!


So a couple of weeks ago the lovely people at Applewood sent me a box of their products to use to create some yummy, cheesy recipes - and, boy, have I enjoyed myself! I came up with six recipes so I'm going to spread this out over two posts and share three at a time.

As regular readers of Life from the Tub will know, I love cooking and cheese in all its wonderful forms is one of my favourite ingredients, so this was such a fun process. I got to try out some recipes I've wanted to cook for a while and come up with some brand new ones - all with a delicious smoked cheese twist.

So, here are the first three recipes I created:

Applewood and Prosciutto Croissants



I'd been wanting to make my own filled croissants for a while so I figured this was the perfect opportunity. I took pre-made croissant dough (if you're less lazy you can make your own!) and layered prosciutto and sliced Applewood Cheese Sticks. I rolled them up, baked them in the oven for about 15 minutes and ate them warm. As you can see, the cheese melts into a gooey, smoky, delicious mess and me and my boyfriend wolfed these down in a matter of minutes. Definitely one to make again!

Pulled Pork and Applewood Sandwiches:


A super easy one but perfect for a lazy Sunday dinner - I took inspiration from the Applewood website and simply sliced open a bread bun, filled it with lashing of BBQ pulled pork and topped it with a dollop of Applewood Spreadable. This was incredible!

Chicken, Gnocchi and Applewood Casserole:



I cooked this for dinner last week and it was an easy dish to make in advance, pop in the oven and enjoy at dinnertime. This will be a brilliant comforting dish for the colder months and I'll definitely be making it again later in the year.

I took gnocchi, chopped chicken breast and smoked bacon and mixed it with a sauce I made from Applewood Spreadable. I sprinkled grated cheese on top and baked it in the oven for half an hour. This was super filling and was enough for me and my boyfriend to have dinner (with seconds - oops!) and then lunch AND dinner the next day. It's definitely not the healthiest option out there but when I'm cooking with cheese I'd rather make a cheat meal I can enjoy once a week!

*

So, that's the first three recipes I made with my Applewood ingredients. I absolutely love cooking with these cheeses and I was sent them for free, though I've been using Applewood products for a longgg time now - if you haven't had crackers topped with Applewood Spreadable you haven't lived!

Next time I'll be posting my final three recipes, including Applewood pizza rolls! You can find out more about Applewood on their website or on their Twitter feed.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Out and About: A Picnic at Stourhead

Last weekend we headed to Stourhead for a picnic and I wanted to share a few of my favourite snaps with you. I'm lucky to live close to Stourhead but even if you're not local, it's well worth a visit because it's absolutely stunning and a fantastic day out. I've been coming to Stourhead since I was a kid and I love it more and more every time I visit.

The scenery is incredible and you won't be able to stop taking photos - I took well over 100 and we were only there for an afternoon! There's a gorgeous lakeside walk that takes you all around the gardens, through a 250 year old grotto and past the famous pavillion, which you'll probably recognise from a few movies - it's definitely in the Pride and Prejudice remake.

Anyway, I'll stop wittering on and leave you enjoy some of the photos I took, hopefully they'll convince you to visit the gorgeous Stourhead this summer!




Homemade parmesan and sesame seed lollipops - amazing!












Monday, 28 July 2014

Sweet Cecily's Lip Balms: Mojito, Pina Colada and Espresso Martini

So, a particularly exciting and gorgeously wrapped package arrived for me the other day and as soon as I saw the logo on the envelope I couldn't wait to delve in and discover what was inside.

Sweet Cecily's is a natural skincare brand that's famous for beautiful packaging and lovely products - everything is handmade by Cecily on the North Yorkshire Moors, so it's great to see a truly homegrown brand doing such great things. Three cheers for Sweet Cecily's, eh?


So, shall we have a look at what was inside?

(Apologies for the wishy washy colours in this one - the clouds were being a pain!)
Pina Colada Lip Balm*


This balm smells of the gorgeous cocktail that's completely reminiscent of summer - coconut and pineapple and everything exotic, this is just like a beach holiday in a pretty little tin.

Espresso Martini Lip Balm*



Sweet Cecily's latest lip balm creation (launching in September) is Espresso Martini, which smells exactly like the swanky cocktail. The smell of coffee is what hits you as soon as you open the tin and it lasts and lasts - my boyfriend kissed me a couple of hours after I'd put this on and he could still taste the flavour. So this one definitely passes the smooch test!

Mojito Lip Balm*


Saving the best for last, I was so excited to discover Sweet Cecily's has a mojito flavoured lip balm! I'm definitely a mojito girl and no night out for drinks passes without me ordering one of my favourite cocktails - the humble mojito. There's something about the blend of mint, lime and sugar (and rum, of course) that goes together perfectly and this couldn't be a lovelier flavour of lip balm.

All of the Sweet Cecily's balms taste gorgeous, apply super smoothly and keep my lips hydrated and moisturised for hours - they've certainly had a good test with the weather we've been having! I definitely recommend you check these out, not only is the price great and the formula perfect, you'll also be supporting a great homegrown company.

All of the lip balms mentioned retail for £2.95 and can be purchased from the Sweet Cecily's website.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Bubble T Cosmetics - Hibiscus & Acai Berry Shower Gel and Moroccan Mint Tea Bath Bombs

I've got a two in one for you all today, as I'm going to be talking about a new (to me) cosmetic brand, Bubble T Cosmetics. The brand very kindly sent me two products to try out and after giving them a good test (this heatwave has meant many extra showers so it's been a great week to test out bath products!) I wanted to share my thoughts.

Bubble T sent me their Hibiscus and Acai Berry Tea Restoring Shower Gel and a tube of their Moroccan Mint Tea Reviving Fizzy Bath Bombs, which you can see in the picture below.


As you can see, Bubble T's packaging is vibrant, fun and eye-catching. I love the bright colours and sleek design of the bottles - it means the products look great on my shelves, as well as feeling lovely and luxurious when I use them. Double whammy!

Bubble T take their inspiration from the Taiwanese drink of the same name - I'm sure you've seen bubble tea bars popping up all over the place lately, I know I have in Bath. Let's have a look at how the company describes themselves, in their own words:

'We work to the philosophy that our products should not just look and smell good but should leave you feeling good too.
Working alongside industry experts, we have crafted and blended a divine combination of rich tea based infusions, mixed with fruit essence and extracts.
Our extensive research has helped us to combine different benefits offered by tea as an ingredient in toiletries to create a range which replenishes, cleanses and hydrates your skin as well as provide a long lasting fresh smell.'

First up, let's talk about the shower gel:


The first thing I noticed when I used this is, oh holy balls, it smells absolutely incredible. It's rich, fruity and warm and I cannot stop sniffing it. It lingers on the skin after use and every time I catch a whiff of myself it's a treat - which is pretty surprising, given the weather this week (hello, sweaty upper lip, I'm just delighted you're making an appearance).

Infused with acai berry, cranberry and wild strawberries, this shower gel is supposed to calm and restore and that's exactly what it does. This is perfect to use at the end of a busy day and will leave you feeling chilled out and ready for a long, good sleep.

As well as smelling great, this product is made up of tonnes of lovely ingredients that will leave you skin feeling super soft and nourished. All of Bubble T's products are formulated without parabens and are SLES and SLS free so are a great choice for all skin types.

The Hibiscus and Acai Berry Restoring Shower Gel costs £8 and can be purchased here.

And now, onto the bath bombs:


With Lush firmly lodged in the forefront of my brain, it's not often I use bath bombs by any other brand as I find some are so full of nasties that they leave my skin feeling a bit sensitive and dry. However, as Bubble T's bath bombs promised to leave my skin hydrated and cared for, I was excited to try them out.

The bath bombs react the way you'd expect them to - fizzing all around the bath while they dissolve. I'm still a kid when it comes to bath products and I'm still wholly entertained by bath bombs! These are much smaller than any I've used before but filled my entire bathroom with the most incredible minty fresh fragrance.

This product is part of Bubble T's 'Reviving' range and that description couldn't be more apt - I felt rejuvenated and ready to face the day after soaking in the bath for a good twenty minutes, letting the bath bomb's ingredients of peppermint, white jasmine and spearmint do their thing.

The Moroccan Mint Tea Reviving Bath Bombs cost £6 and can be purchased here.

*

I'm so impressed with Bubble T as a brand. Everything from their products, their ethos, packaging and their customer service (they are really, really lovely on Twitter so hop on over to @BubbleTCosmetic to follow them) is top notch. I'm absolutely loving the two products I have and I'm already keen to get my hands on something from the 'Stimulate' range, which uses lemongrass and green tea as its main ingredients. 

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Maybelline Dream Nude Airfoam Foundation

Throughout my years at university my staple foundation was the Maybelline Dream Satin Liquid foundation, which gave me a light, flawless finish. I was in one of my local cheapy shops the other day picking up some baking supplies and the make up display caught my eye. 

I don't usually bother looking at make up in discount shops, as I know it's often opened or out of date, but I spotted a few Maybelline foundations that were sealed so took a closer took and spotted the Maybelline Dream Nude Airfoam foundation. On a whim I decided to buy it and it was only when I got home and read the reviews online I thought I might have made a mistake...

It's pretty impossible to find a positive review of this online... oh dear. I thought maybe the reviews were a bit harsh and tried it out for myself... Nope, if anything they were a bit forgiving as I can easily say this is the worst beauty product I've tried in my life. Across all categories. Yup, it's that bad.


The packaging is nice enough but certainly nothing special. The product is an 'air-infused' foundation that promises a nude perfect finish and easy application. You dispense it via the pump at the top and it comes out in the foamy formula you can see below. Be warned, if you don't shake it properly you'll end up with a palmful of white mousse...


It's a soft, light mousse that feels very watery as soon as you touch it. As you can see below, the bubbles soon disappear and you're left with a watery mixture that takes a *lot* of buffing to work into the skin:


After a few minutes of buffing this is what you're left with - an orangey, streaky mess that somehow manages to be oily and drying at the same time. It looks a lot better on my hand than it did on my face, where it managed to make my entire face look greasy but also clung to any dry patches of skin - what a great combo!


However heard you try, it's impossible to get a good finish with this. It just sat on top of my skin and promptly disappeared after a couple of hours. Honestly, don't get tempted by the gimmick like I did - this is truly terrible and I can't imagine any skin type that this would be good for. Run like the wind.