Mince Pies


This is my first baking blog-post so wish me luck! Even though I really love baking this is my first go at
making mince pies and they actually turned out pretty good, so I thought I'd share how I made them. These pies are from one of those recipe cards they have in Sainsburys. Although I changed it slightly, the basic method is the same.

You will need:
  • 1 pack of shortcrust pastry
  • 1 jar of mincemeat
  • 1 egg
  • 25g mixed peel
  • 75g cranberries
  • 75g white chocolate chips 
  • Light brown/demerara unrefined cane sugar (for dusting)
  • Icing sugar (for dusting)
  • Plain flour (for surfaces) 
  • Some flaked almonds for the tops 

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C, fan 180°C, gas mark 6. Roll out the shortcrust pastry to about the thickness of a 20p. Using two different sized cutters cut out 12 circles for the bottom and 12 smaller circles for the tops. Gently push the larger circles into a fairy-cake tin and put into the fridge for about 10 minutes. Put the other circles aside. 

2. In a bowl mix together the mincemeat, cranberries, mixed peel and white chocolate chips. Remove the fairy-cake tin from the fridge and spoon some of the mixture into the pastry cases. 

3.Top the cases with the lids and push down. Brush with the beaten egg yolk, sprinkle with demerara sugar and top with some flaked almonds. 

4. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until they're a nice golden-brown colour. Leave them to cool, then dust them with icing sugar. 

And there you have it, of course you can make your own pastry and mincemeat, but that was way too time-consuming for me! Now all that's left to do is eat them, enjoy!


Fairisle Nails

I wish I could say that I did these, but that would be a lie. My sister actually did them and she handpainted them (yes she has a very steady hand!). I love how Christmassy and cute it looks and I basically never want to take it off!

She did the details using Rio Professional Nail Art Pens which can be found here. Each pen has a small-point end for creating tiny details like dots and small patterns and a long brush end which can be used for drawing lines.

I'd love to see any pictures of your festive nails, so leave me links in the comment box if you've done any Christmassy designs! 


Sleek Wishlist

Sleek products feature on my Christmas list a lot this year, especially because I haven't actually tried any of their products before and I've heard great things about them. They claim to be high quality and accessible because of their affordable prices, and if these products are as good as I've read then they really are great value for money! Being a student I definitely don't have the money to buy the higher-end make-up products so hopefully I can add Sleek to the list of drug-store brands that I love.

The first product on my wishlist is the Sleek Face Contour Kit Light, £9.99. I love the look of this palette and it also includes the infamous Rose Gold Blush! The colours look really good together and seem like they'd blend together well so hopefully you wouldn't be able to go far wrong with this. I'd love to be able to perfect the art of contouring!

The blushers are the Sleek products that I've heard the most about for being really pigmented and amazing value for money at only £4.49 each. The first is the blush in 'Flushed' which I think looks like a perfect shade for autumn. I really like that this one is a flat colour and would be good for when you don't want anything too shimmery. The second is 'Pomegranate' which, unlike Flushed, is a shimmer blusher. This one was recommended to me on Twitter and I think it'd be a great blush for the festive season.

My fourth product is the Sleek Brow Kit Dark, £8.49. At the moment I do my eyebrows with a dark matte brown eyeshadow but I really love the look of this little kit and it includes a wax too. I think eyebrows are really important - even when I'm having a day when I'm not wearing a lot of make-up I like to make sure my eyebrows are looking good because they really shape your face.

And finally it's the Sleek 12 Piece Shadow Palette in 'Storm', £7.99. I love the colours of this palette because they're perfect for creating both natural looks from the shades on the top line and more special and smoky looks from the bottom line. As I don't own any Sleek eyeshadows it looks like a great starter kit.

Hopefully I'll get some of these for Christmas and then I'll be able to blog about them too! Do you own any of these? Do you have any other recommendations? 


Top Christmas Films Countdown

I love how at Christmas all the great festive films get shown all the time no matter how old they are! I've spent this weekend decorating the house with my family and watching Christmassy films with my best friend, so I'm definitely feeling all warm and festive now. So I thought I'd spread the love and share my top 7 (I don't have 10!) Christmas films...

7. The Grinch - This film reminds me of being at school in the last week of term where the teachers would let you watch films instead of working. Unfortunately they don't seem to do that at uni... 

6. Bridget Jones's Diary - OK so it's not strictly a 'Christmas film' which is why it's only number 6 but there are Christmas jumpers, snow and turkey curry!

5. The Santa Clause - Even though this was made in 1994 I only saw it for the first time a few years ago. It's a favourite now though - better late than never!

4. The Snowman - You HAVE to watch this every Christmas, it's a classic! 

3. The Holiday - I love this film so much I watch it even when it's not Christmas. 

2. Love Actually - This film shares the number 1 spot because I absolutely love it - me and my best friend just watched it! 

1. Elf - I didn't think I'd like this film as much as I do, but I get so excited about watching this every year and watch it at least 3 times every Christmas!

Are there any I've missed? What are your favourite Christmas films?


ShopStyle Christmas Competition

This is my entry for ShopStyle's amazing Christmas competition to win £1000 in vouchers for a retailer of your choice. With a prize like that I couldn't not enter! If you want to submit your own entry all you need to do is create a Christmas party outfit from ShopStyle and send them a link to the post at shopstyle@shopstyle.com.
As you can see my entry is all about sparkles because Christmas is the one time you can go completely overboard with glitter, gold and sequins.

Love Navy Yolk Lace Shoulder Swing Dress, £32 - This is the piece that the whole outfit is based around. I love swing dresses - they're stylish and easy to dress up or down. I especially like the lace detail on the shoulders of this one. I went for a plainer dress because I knew I wanted to dazzle with accessories!

Steve Madden Rhinestone T-Bar Sandal, £60 - Amazing sparkly shoes, perfect for Christmas!

Dorothy Perkins Stunning Pearl Necklace, £10.50Gorgeous necklace, amazing with the high-neck of the dress.

Accessorize Pretty Eclectic Grip Set, £8 - For some extra sparkly detail!

Miss Selfridge Filigree Circle Drop Earrings, £6.50 - Great earrings for an up-do!

Monsoon Mika Sequin Box Clutch, £45 - A lovely sequinned clutch to bring the whole look together.

Topshop Lip Bullet in 'Bewitched', £8 - Statement lips in a gorgeous winter shade.

ORLY Nail Polish in 'Halo', £10.25 - Last but not least, the look wouldn't be complete without some gold sparkly nails! 

Hope you guys like it! Let me know if you've entered so I can check out your entry! 


Christmas Countdown: Snowmen Nails

I've been excited to have festive nails for ages, especially after seeing so many on twitter and other blogs. So me and my sister decided it was time to get our nails in the Christmas spirit! For my first Christmas design of the season I went for snow, snowmen and glitter! 

1. Max Factor 01 Ivory | 2. 17 Midnight Sapphire | 3. Barry M Yellow Topaz Glitter | 4. 17 Knockout Red 
These are the bases we used, for the glitter nails we did two coats of the Max Factor and then two coats of the Barry M glitter. I couldn't use one of the new Rimmel Space Dusts like I wanted to because I'm trying to save my pennies, but I think this works really well!  

1. Natural Collection Nail Tip Whitener | 2. Rimmel 080 Black Cab | 3. Natural Collection Antique Coral 
These are the colours we used for the details on the snowmen and the snow. Natural Collection colours are really good for adding little details because they're quite thick so they don't look really transparent on top of other colours.

I can't wait to do more Christmassy nails! What's your favourite festive nails look?


Christmas Countdown: Home for Christmas

It's always lovely to come home after you've been somewhere else for a while but it's even more special when it's Christmas time! Yesterday I came home from Venice after 10 weeks away and it feels so great to be back! Even the four hour delay was worth it. So I've spent today unpacking, spending time with family and friends and eating all the things I've missed!

This is a selection of photos from my last week in Venice - we had a late night wander to St Mark's Square to see the Christmas lights, made hot chocolate, ate out for the last time and went on a long walk.

And these are my snaps from the weekend. I unpacked my things, caught up on my advent calendar and enjoyed good old Marmite and an English cup of tea! It's so great to be home.


Christmas Countdown: Gloves

So I've done hats and scarves, so a selection of gloves is perfect for my next Christmas countdown. I'm really attached to the gloves I have right now, my mum got them for me a few Christmasses ago from Tesco and they have a really thick lining which makes them super warm and they're really cute. Buuut they've been looking a bit worse for wear for a while now, so I figured it's time to let go and look for my new favourite pair.
1. Accessorize, £15 | 2. Accessorize, £15 | 3. Dorothy Perkins, £6.75 
4. New Look, £6.99 | 5. River Island, £12 | 6. Accessorize, £12 
I really like the fingerless ones with the flip-over cap because they're a lot more practical than the mitten style. Although the mittens are fur-lined which is a big plus! Gloves are also a great idea for a little Christmas present for best friends/sisters/mums!

What do you think, which are your favourites?


Christmas Countdown: Slipper Boots

One thing that is always on my Christmas list is a new pair of slipper boots. They're so cosy and perfect for wearing around the house that by the time December comes around again they're looking worn out and I'm after a new pair!
1. F&F, £10 | 2. Accessorize, £17 | 3. Next, £20 
4. New Look, £12.99 | 5. F&F, £10 | 6. New Look, £14.99 
These are my favourites at the moment, the £12.99 New Look pair is on my Christmas list! I much prefer this type of slipper because I find them cosier, warmer and comfier and they also last better because I do wear them a lot.

These are the pair I've had since last Christmas, and after a year a small hole is forming on the right foot, but apart from that they've lasted really well. Amazingly you can still get this exact pair from River Island here.

What are your essentials for wearing around the house?


Christmas Countdown: Cute Bobble Hats

I really love bobble hats, especially around this time of year, because they're really cute and also great for keeping warm! However, there's just something about hats that means I'm not always brave enough to wear them! But there are so many great styles available this season that I'm really trying to branch out. These are some of my favourites that I've seen...
1. New Look, £9.99 | 2. New Look, £5.99 | 3. H&M, £6.99 

4. Dorothy Perkins, £6.40 | 5. River Island, £12 | 6. H&M, £7.99 
I think these are all super cute and very reasonably priced. The one I'd be most likely to buy is the black H&M one because it'd go with loads and it's quite subtle. I do love the bright River Island one too though!

Do you like bobble hats? Which is your favourite?


Christmas Countdown: Festive Mugs

Robin Teacup | Robin Heart Mug | Emma Bridgewater Red Christmas Mug

Now that it's December it's time to swap your boring, regular mug for a fun festive one! These make me want to have hot chocolate and watch a cosy Christmas film and maybe wear one of the onesies from my post on day 2!
These are also good presents if you're doing a Secret Santa with colleagues or friends because you get to give it before Christmas which means plenty of time to use it before the festive season is over.
The robin designs are from Marks & Spencer for £6 and £8. The other one is an Emma Bridgewater design, so it's a bit more expensive at £19.95 but makes such a lovely present.

Also, if you're stuck on a little gift for someone who happens to love tea, why not get a personalised knitted mug cosy! You can get them from Not On The High Street here - they're so cute!

(Personalised Knitted Mug Cosy by CHI CHI MOI at notonthehighstreet.com)


Christmas Coundown: Cosy Scarves

Pink & Grey Tassel Fairisle | Pink & Grey Snood | Blue & Grey Striped Snood

In every post of my countdown so far there has been something pink and fairisle so it's safe to say I've found my favourite Christmas pattern! Cosy scarves are great for staying warm whilst getting in the festive spirit, and they also make great presents for sisters or best friends (or you!). These are some of my favourites at the moment, and most importantly they're all under £20!

I know the blue & grey one isn't technically a Christmas scarf, but I still think there's something quite festive and wintery about it and plus I just really like it! The other two are more Christmassy but you could definitely still get away with wearing them in January without looking strange...


Phase Eight Christmas Blogger Competition

I came across the "Phase Eight Blogger Christmas Party Outfit Competition" online and decided to give it a go because it looked like great fun! All you have to do is put together a Christmas party outfit from their website and the winner gets a £100 voucher - what's not to like!? Anyone can take part and you can find the details here
Here's my Christmas party look: 

Beaded Clutch Bag | Velvet Heels | White Lace Top | Black Ponte Trousers | Statement Tribal Necklace | Beaded Bracelet
I decided to go for something different to a Christmas party dress so I chose some plain black ponte trousers and a lovely white lace top as classic pieces that I'd definitely wear again and again. As I'd gone plain with the outfit I jazzed it up a bit with the accessories, so I chose the dark purple velvet heels and this amazing beaded clutch bag which is definitely my favourite item. Because the top is quite simple I chose a big statement necklace to go with it and finished it off with the sparkly beaded bracelet. 

Let me know what you think! Have you entered the competition? 

Christmas Countdown: Winter Onesies

Red Polka Dot | Pink Fairisle | Cream Faux Fur 

There is no better time to throw on a onesie than Christmas right?! I actually don't own a onesie at the minute, but the pink fairisle one is firmly on my Christmas list. The other two are so cute too, I love the cream River Island one (but I would definitely get it so dirty), and unfortunately the picture doesn't show it but the red polka dot one has a hood that looks like a reindeer - is there anything cuter?! I'm really hoping to get a onesie for Christmas so that after dinner, when I've eaten way too much food, I can snuggle up in this on the sofa and maybe fit in one more mince pie ;)


Christmas Countdown: Cosy Socks

Cream Fairisle Socks | Red & White Socks | Reindeer Socks (all New Look)

It's December which means it's now officially Christmas! So after you've opened your advent calendar each day pop on over and see what's on my Christmas Countdown! Basically there will be a small Christmassy treat of the beauty/fashion/food/cute variety, great for prezzies too :)

So the first one is cosy, fluffy, Christmas socks. Who doesn't love a pair of these! They're great for getting in the festive spirit (if you're not already!) and they also make a great stocking filler :) Lots of them aren't too Christmassy and so will be great for when the festivities are over too :) Sometimes they aren't too practical - but who wants to leave the house when it's cold outside anyway!

These are all from New Look, they have so many lovely Christmas socks at the minute, but you can find super cute pairs almost anywhere right now! 


Fortnight in Photos #2

Looking at these photos, I'd definitely sum up this fortnight as food, floods and essay. We've had our first proper acqua alta (high tide) since being here which was very exciting and involved wading around St Mark's Square in wellies! Venice doesn't seem to go as mad for Christmas in November as we do in the UK, so it doesn't really feel like it's approaching, but I've finally seen the first signs of Christmas lights so excitement is mounting! I also went inside St Mark's Basilica for the first time, visited Vicenza and went to the Festa della Salute which is an annual thing with loads and loads of stalls with crepes, candy floss and toffee apples, yum! Apart from that I've just been writing my 5,000 word essay... 

Where I'm staying in Venice - Delicious patisserie - Can't stop eating this - Wellies in the flood - Toffee apple - St Mark's Basilica - Very grand library - Pastel nails - H&M treat - A lovely picture of a gondola sign - Sunny Vicenza - St Mark's Square in acqua alta - Doge's Palace - Work, work, work - First signs of Christmas! - Very tempting chocolate shop

Follow me on Instagram: http://instagram.com/x_lisabella_x


Studying abroad...

If you'd told me when I first started my degree that in 3 years I'd be spending 2 and a half months in Venice I'd have smiled politely but thought you were crazy. But here I am :) Lots of people study abroad nowadays but I thought I'd share my experience anyway :)

Going to university has given me a lot of exciting, new opportunities and this is definitely one of them. I'm studying History of Art at the University of Warwick and for one term of my final year I get to spend it here in Venice. My experience of studying abroad probably differs a bit from the 'norm' because everyone from my course is here with me - so really it's like one big extended school trip! It's perfect for me because there's no way I'd have been able to/would've wanted to hop on a plane by myself and leave behind everything I know - I'm just not that independent! 

I've definitely realised that I'm a home-girl and that I love my home comforts - going to the supermarket for the first time was interesting. And who knew that Italians don't feel the need for kettles, toasters or ovens?! I've also developed quite a desire to go shopping due to only having one suitcase of clothes for 2 and a bit months. As for homesickness, it's fair to say that Whatsapp, Skype and Snapchat are the best inventions ever - being in constant contact with people that are in a different country still blows my mind!

But I'm glad I pushed myself out of my comfort zone because I've been to more places in the last 8 weeks than the rest of my life put together! My best friend flew out to see me for travel week (a week off from lectures when we could travel to other places in Italy) and we went to Pompeii, Rome, Florence and Pisa and saw some of the most famous landmarks in the world (my Instagram looks so great now). It's also given me a lot more self-confidence, which is probably one of the reasons I started my blog whilst being out here.

I'm really excited to come back to England to see my family and friends, have Christmas (yay!!) and have some toast, but first I'm going to make the most of my last 2 weeks in Venice and hopefully get some more wear out of my wellies...!

Have you ever studied/would you like to study abroad?


Little Spend Trend...

(Find links below)
'Little Spend Trend' is a feature I've decided to start doing to show how to incorporate the current trends into your wardrobe for less! All of the items shown will be under £25 so it's perfect if you're on a bit of a budget.

This week's trend is 1920s Glam which is of course inspired by the release of The Great Gatsby earlier this year. This look is all about more is more - more sequins, pearls, rings and glitter! Even if you can't afford to buy a new outfit you can incorporate this look with accessories alone. It's such a great look for winter and screams Christmas party outfit!

1. Cream Glitter Crop Top, New Look, £14.99 
New Look has lots of great items for the 1920s trend at the moment. This top is perfect because it has both lace and glitter, which is great for pairing with a plain skirt that you already own. I would team it with number 4. It is also available in black. 

2. Gold Glitter Clutch, Dorothy Perkins, £7
I love how Christmassy this bag is! I think it looks a lot more expensive than £7 and would easily dress up any outfit. It would look great with both the dress and skirt & top combo. 

3. Cream Lace Dress, H&M, £24.99
This dress is only just in the £25 budget, but I'm so glad I could include it! The lace pattern is so perfect for the 1920s look and I think it's one of those dresses you'd wear again and again. It's also available in blue and black.
4. Black Chiffon Skirt, H&M, £14.99
This would look so great with number 1 - a whole new outfit for under £30! I love the simplicity of this skirt, it would look great with loads of accessories and some sky-high heels.

5. Barry M Glitter Nail Varnish, River Island, £8
These nail varnishes are a set sold in River Island, although you can buy them individually in Boots for £2.99 each. It's easy to forget about nails when thinking about an outfit, but with the 1920s look it's about adding glamorous details wherever you can! 

6. Gold Tassel Pendant Necklace, New Look, £5.99 
I love the unique style of this necklace - it would immediately add a 'Gatsby' feel to any plain dress.
7. Rhinestone Cascade Earrings, Dorothy Perkins, £7 
These are also great for adding glamour, any dangly, glittery earrings are perfect for this trend. These would look amazing with a 1920s up-do for a Christmas party look!

8. Black Sequin Headband, H&M, £3.99
If you want an immediate way to add a 1920s feel to your outfit then the headband is how to do it! These are everywhere at the minute, but I liked the simplicity of this one. 

9. Black Faux Fur Cape, New Look, £14.99 
This is a bit more special because you probably wouldn't get as much wear out of it as some of the other items here, but it's so perfect for the 1920s and for Christmas! These are great for adding luxury to an outfit. 

10. 17 Stay Pout Lipstick in 'Rule Breaker', Boots, £4.49
Don't forget the finishing touches with this look! A darker lipstick is great in winter anyway, but is also especially perfect for this trend!

Will you be trying out the 1920s look this Christmas? 
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